Manchester United make £7m move for the “new Ronaldinho” as Chelsea’s Roman Abramovich learns “he is now no longer the biggest boy in the school yard”

Comment & analysis round-up

Quote of the day: “What happened last season was desperately disappointing but just when you think there’s an opportunity for this club to put itself right, build and get straight back up, the opposite happens. We want it to be resolved so we know where we are and where we’re going because at this moment the football club is dying a slow, painful death. For five or six years now it’s been a gradual, slow implosion. We’ve got to soldier on but the sooner the better for everyone concerned but most importantly for Newcastle United. A lot of fans have come up to me and said ‘in two or three years, it might be a blessing that relegation happened.’ Obviously everyone is very disappointed that it happened but if something good comes out of it and the club rebuilds then maybe I can see that point. But at the moment the club isn’t rebuilding — it’s in a state of limbo and it’s no good for anyone. We just want to get this club going back in the right direction and the situation is very, very frustrating for all of us.” – Steve Harper.

Runner-up: “I would not get into criticising anyone who has the onerous responsibility of running a football club. It is a tragedy what has happened. We have to regroup, reassert ourselves and move back up again. Newcastle had the third biggest gate in the Premier League and we are in the Championship now. There is no doubt they are a massive club. They will have to come back, but they will have to do a lot of sorting out in the meantime.” – Tony Blair.

Today’s overview: Is Gremio’s Douglas Costa the marquee signing that Manchester United fans have been waiting for this summer?

According to Daniel Taylor the champions have their radar locked on the 18-year-old by having “put together a financial package, with an initial outlay of £7m, plus a series of success-related add-ons if the player lives up to the promise that has brought him to the attention of Ferguson.” And it is Ian Herbert’s understanding that Costa may be Fergie’s last target this summer. “Josep Maria Mesalles, the agent for Samuel Eto’o, is hopeful that United will bid for the Cameroon striker who could be secured for £18m. However, United appear to feel that Owen, Valencia and potentially Costa could be enough striking reinforcement.”

Another day and more speculation over the future of Chelsea captain John Terry.

Dominic Fifield attempts to relay the latest facts by reporting how JT and Roman Abramovich “are understood to have spoken for around two hours although the defender did not hand in a transfer request and Chelsea later said he did not press for an opportunity to speak to City.” Elsewhere, Sam Wallace claims that the relationship between Chelsea and their captain is now on a knife-edge. “Roman Abramovich told John Terry that he will not be allowed to leave Chelsea and that the club will not match the extraordinary £280,000-a-week offer from Manchester City in a tense meeting… The meeting on Saturday was understood to be frosty with Terry telling Abramovich that he wanted the club’s permission to talk to City – essentially signalling his desire to leave. Abramovich refused to yield.”

In a separate article Sam Wallace offers little sympathy to Chelsea for their current predicament with JT. “Abramovich can have no complaints. Just as he took Ashley Cole from Arsenal, Shaun Wright-Phillips from City and countless others from less wealthy clubs, he is now no longer the biggest boy in the school yard. He took the culture of paying bigger fees and bigger wages to a different level. Now someone else has picked up the baton.”

Picking up the story from a different angle, Martin Samuel focuses attention on John Terry’s “moment of truth.” “Manchester City have shown him the money, now John Terry has to show them the love. If it takes a transfer request to leave Chelsea, Terry must be prepared to make one. Otherwise, forget it. For Terry, it is make your mind up time; for City, the moment of truth.”

More bad news for the Blues is served up by Ian Ladyman in the Daily Mail. “Carlos Tevez will fly back from holiday today to complete a £25million move to Manchester City and disappoint Chelsea.”

New Black Cats’ boss Steve Bruce continues to be one of the busiest managers in the transfer window, with Louise Taylor scrawling how as well as making an improved bid for Wigan’s Lee Cattermole, “Bruce… is also understood to be competing with Aston Villa to sign the Turkey forward Tuncay… [and] he has also submitted an £11m bid for Portsmouth’s Peter Crouch. The latter bid’s success or failure may determine whether Darren Bent swaps Sunderland for Portsmouth this summer.”

Staying in the North-East, the Independent report that “former Sunderland shareholder Charlie Chawke is putting together a syndicate to bid for Newcastle.”

Seemingly writing with a straight face, John Ley makes it known this Monday that “Portsmouth are set to turn to Tottenham’s versatile defender Pascal Chimbonda to replace the recently departed Glen Johnson.” For their part, Martin Lipman links Spurs with a move for Sheffield United’s young right-back Kyle Walker. And keeping with defenders on the move, the Daily Mail report that Zat Knight is attracting attention from both Bolton and Wolves.

The battle to pen the signature of Fabien Delph is hotting up,

Offering something a little different this Monday, Tom Dart reports on how the Steel City is looking to confirm its entry as one of the 15 cities included in England’s 2018 World Cup bid.

We close out with the sad news that former Celtic striker John Hartson has been diagnosed with testicular cancer and told the illness has spread to his brain. (Telegraph)