Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “A fundamental agreement over the fee in the transfer of the player has been reached between the clubs, subject to a medical. But, at the moment, the basic obstacle preventing the transfer going through are Andrei Arshavin’s personal terms. The player and his agent have made it clear to Arsenal that they will require a higher wage, which the management at Arsenal are not prepared to pay. At the moment, Arsenal will only satisfy those demands at a lower transfer fee. This puts the whole deal in doubt.” – a statement from Zenit St. Petersburg.
Runner-up: “Darren came to see me to say, â€˜I hear Sunderland want me, what do you know?’. I said, â€˜I haven’t spoken to anyone and if they are interested they will have to ring the chairman.’ He said, â€˜Well, my agent says they want me.’ So someone is talking to someone. I could say they [Sunderland] have done the same thing to Darren Bent because his agent has obviously been talking to someone at Sunderland to know they are interested. So if they are mentioning Darren Bent, why are they mentioning Darren Bent? Is someone upsetting Darren Bent?â€ – Harry Redknapp.
Today’s overview: Having watched Jermain Defoe and Robbie Keane fail to strike up a useful partnership at White Hart Lane over the past several seasons, Spurs fans wake up this morning to the possibility of having both diddy-men back on their books as the Lillywhites struggle to avoid the drop to the Championship.
Could Robbie Keane be heading back to Spurs? David Hytner and Andy Hunter come together to report that “Redknapp has brought back two former Tottenham players to the club during this month’s transfer window [Defoe and Chimbonda] … and Keane’s return would complete a remarkable hat-trick.” Oliver Kay thinks about how Keane’s return to Spurs may come about, noting Tottenham “are likely to offer Liverpool a small sum while waiving the balance of approximately Â£10.8 million that is outstanding on the July agreement. Liverpool may prefer an exchange deal, with a player such as Aaron Lennon or Gareth Bale moving in the opposite direction.”
Andy Hunter cynically argues that Keane is being used as a pawn in a wider game at Liverpool. “It is difficult to escape the conclusion that Keane’s particular treatment from BenÃtez stems from the manager’s attempt to secure control over Liverpool’s transfer policy as part of his next contract with the club.” While Ian Herbert looks at the previous strikers shunned by Benitez at Anfield – “Anfield has become a graveyard of strikers in Benitez’s four and a half years at Liverpool, with Michael Owen, El Hadji Diouf, Djibril CissÃ©, Fernando Morientes, Craig Bellamy and Peter Crouch all sold by the Spaniard in the end. Many of his strikers at Valencia experienced the same, with Fernando Torres a rare, if extraordinary, exception to the rule.”
Talking tactics on who should partner Fernando Torres, James Lawton concedes that “Keane’s agony is Gerrard’s glory â€“ and perhaps, it needs to be said, Benitez’s point of redemption in a season so littered with confusion.” And Matt Dicksinson also swoops in to focus minds on the bigger picture at Liverpool. “More than 70 per cent of Barclays Premier League goals conceded by Liverpool this season have come from crosses… This may be a failure of concentration, of coaching or, in BenÃtezâ€™s eyes, probably a lack of resources to purchase better full backs. Either way, it is his job to resolve the problem before it starts causing any more damage.”
Tucked away inside an article by Jason Burt it is reported that “Portsmouth are optimistic that they have sealed a six-month loan deal for the Real Madrid striker Javier Saviola.” The Daily Mail also print that “Emerson, the AC Milan midfielder, is set to join Portsmouth according to the Brazilian’s agent.” However Tony Adams’ transfer record is torn to shreds by a mocking by Jim White. “After signing Jermaine Pennant, who once served time for drink driving, Adams is keen to bring to Fratton Park that other erstwhile jailbird, Joey Barton. With those two on board, it can only be a matter of time before Paul Gascoigne is offered a coaching job in what is rapidly becoming the seaside branch of Adamsâ€™ Sporting Chance clinic.”
In other transfer news, the Daily Mail report that Wigan “will have to find at least Â£6million in a straight cash deal to buy Cardiff City midfielder Joe Ledley,” Neil Ashton writes that “Tottenham hope to clinch the loan signing of Lyonâ€™s Fred… to end their search for a striker to partner Jermain Defoe.” While, for Ross Gregory, “Aston Villa are lining up a Â£6million bid for Wiganâ€™s Paul Scharner.”
In a standout article in The Times,6. Radio phone-in shows ‘The next caller is Gary from Guildford. What do you want to get off your chest, Gary?’ ‘Well, Alan. I think Rafaâ€™s got to go. How can you leave Torres on the bench when you need three points? And as for that ref, heâ€™s got to be the worst ref Iâ€™ve ever seen.’ ‘Were you at the game, Gary?’ ‘No.'”
The FA Cup is put through the wringer by Kevin McCarra, who bleats that “with managers not bothered and fans fighting, interest in the FA Cup almost expired.” Alan Hansen also adds his two cents pointing out “the top four will not name their strongest sides, neither will those vying for a European place, and neither will those who fear relegation. Ultimately, it will be to the detriment of the Cup but you have to remember that it is not just happening now â€“ it has been going on for five or six years.”
In other Premier League news, Pascal Chimbonda’s return to White Hart Lane is slammed by the Hatchet Man. “For Spurs, Harry Redknapp and the Premier League it is just plain wrong. Even for Sunderland it makes manager Ricky Sbragia look like someone whose word may not always be relied upon.” Shaun Custis reveals in the Sun that “Robinho was NOT fined for his unsanctioned trip to Brazil.
Despite the economic downturn, Andrew Baker and John Ley join forces to note that “somewhere in England on Tuesday night, an unwitting football fan will become the 200 millionth to pass through the turnstiles at a Premier League game.”
The Guardian offer their usual Tuesday European round-up. Paolo Bandini analyises the weekend’s action in Serie A,Â Leander Schaerlaeckens wonders whether the success “of the two best players in the Eredivisie, Mounir el Hamdaoui and Ibrahim Afellay” will help ease relations between the Dutch and Moroccan communities in Holland, while Sid Lowe calls Dani Alves the second best player in the world (after Messi) – “He offers killer passes and crunching tackles: a screeching lunatic kid, perfect technician, tactical genius and – let’s face it – sneaky little cheat, all wrapped into one hyperactive ball. A footballing Sonic the Hedgehog.”
And keeping with European football, John Lichfield writes a feature on Bordeaux star Yoann Gourcuff. “Does the emergence of Gourcuff explain why Milan considered the idea of allowing Kaka to go to Manchester City? Maybe. But there is a further huge complication. Milan did not just allow Gourcuff to leave on loan, they gave Bordeaux a firm option to sign him at the end of the season for â‚¬15m (Â£14.1m). This is a huge fee for any French club, but peanuts compared to what the Girondins might expect to recoup on a subsequent transfer.”