Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “Xabi Alonso is a priority if he fits into our budget, but that does not seem to be the case. We are very far away from the figures that Liverpool have presented. As for RibÃ©ry, the asking price is a figure that is out of place. It is the same thing as them saying that they do not want to sell him. But, after the great players who have arrived already, we aren’t in a hurry.” – Jorge Valdano, Real Madrid’s general director.
Runner-up: “My time was a little different â€“ we did not have the big sponsors. Today they have big sponsors, big companies to support football. But in my point of view and the point of view of Fifa, these [players’ salaries] must be controlled. You get a player today that they announce in Manchester United, Real Madrid or Milan or any other team, and they kiss their shirt. The next day, he goes to another team and he kisses that shirt. This, I think, is something we have to pay attention to for the next generation.” – Pele.
Today’s overview: For the first time in a while the papers are a meaty read this Wednesday, with topics ranging from a new European Super League, reports over the latest uprising at Newcastle, to analysis of Manchester City’s transfer policy as well as all the latest transfer news.
Picking up on Florentino Perez’s comments in favour of a new European Super League, Matthew Syed admits that such a future appears inevitable in The Times. “A Super League replacing the existing European and domestic fixtures would allow Europeâ€™s best teams to play against each other twice a week, providing them with huge additional income… The commercial logic of a European Super League looks unanswerable, however depressing that may sound to those devoted to the English top flight with its history and traditions.”
Are the inmates running the asylum at Newcastle? With Mike Ashley a lame duck owner andÂ Chris Hughton a lame duck manager, it now seems that the Newcastle players are looking to take control of their club.
According to Louise Taylor, “disaffected Newcastle United players are threatening to demand transfers if the owner, Mike Ashley, does not sell the club or appoint Alan Shearer as manager within the next fortnight… It is understood that the defenders Steven Taylor and Habib Beye are leading the calls for Shearer… [and] it is thought they will be joined by SÃ©bastien Bassong, Nicky Butt and Alan Smith in handing in transfer requests.” The Telegraph’s Rob Stewart also reports on the latest troubles dogging the Toon, claiming “as many as seven key players are understood to be considering submitting transfer requests unless the former England captain is awarded the job.”
On those revolting at Newcastle, Colin Young farts that SÃ©bastien Bassong’s unhappiness “will immediately alert Arsenal, Sunderland and Tottenham, who monitored his impressive debut season in England following a Â£500,000 move from Metz 12 months ago.” Over in The Mirror, Alan Nixon prints “Newcastle’s Argentine winger Jonas Gutierrez is set to join Italian giants Roma.”
Suggesting that Manchester City refuse to know when they are beaten, Ian Herbert and Pete Jenson club together to report “City are likely to bid a third time for John Terry’s services.” The Citizens will also be encouraged that they can still land JT after reading Matt Parker’s lead article in The Sun that reveals “John Terry is demanding showdown talks with Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich over his future. The Blues skipper is furious nobody at the club has spoken to him since Manchester City tabled a Â£30million bid last week and cannot understand why he has been left in the dark.”
Having watched Manchester City try and prise John Terry away from Chelsea, Paul Wilson today slams the Citizens for their manner of doing business. “All City seemed to be interested in was making a statement â€“ we can sign the England captain, we can sign anybody, we have enough money to turn any player’s head â€“ and all they actually managed to achieve was the not inconsiderable feat of making Chelsea look shrewd and financially astute.”
But, challenging Paul Wilson’s position head-on is The Sun’s Ian McGarry, who believes City may yet manage to snare John Terry to Eastlands. “At present, Terry is only the third highest-paid player at Stamford Bridge after Lampard and Michael Ballack, who earns Â£139k per week. He may feel his service, achievements and loyalty make him worth at least the same as the others… The club don’t want to sell him but neither are they keen to make him feel wanted and respected in the way he feels they should… So will he join Manchester City? Well, let’s just say that even the most loyal of dogs will turn on you if you kick him hard enough.”
Chelsea’s hopes to claim a marquee signing have been boosted this Wednesday according to Dominic Fifield. “Chelsea have earmarked Real’s Dutch midfielder Wesley Sneijder, who is available for transfer, as an alternative target should they receive no encouragement that [Franck] RibÃ©ry would entertain a move to west London, yet they retain hopes that the Frenchman can be prised from Bayern.” However that position is challenged head-on by Pete Jenson who reveals “Real are understood to have reached an agreement with Franck RibÃ©ry that they will sign him next summer. Using a tactic that worked last year with Cristiano Ronaldo, it seems the Bayern Munich midfielder is being lined up as a 2010 galactico.”
Andy Hunter barks that Manchester United are “close to making the Bordeaux winger Gabriel Obertan [their] third summer signing in a Â£3m deal,” however it is left to JObertanâ€™s credentials are far from resounding… [and] some would argue that Unitedâ€™s need for a holding player in the continued absence of Owen Hargreaves has been overlooked by their apparent obsession with wingers.”
Keeping with Obertan, Ian Herbert agrees that United now have too many wingers claiming “the future of Manchester United’s Portuguese winger Nani appears increasingly uncertain.”
David Hytner is one of several hacks reporting how Arsenal are back in for Felipe Melo, while Gary Jacob goes out on his own to announce “Arsenal have moved closer to agreeing a deal to sign Blaise Matuidi, the midfield player, from Saint-Ã‰tienne.” Also digging a lone furrow is Ashley Gray who makes trouble at the Emirates by claiming “Andrey Arshavin returned to Arsenal training to today find his former agent apparently stirring up a move to Barcelona.”
With rumours continuing to circulate that Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano may be set to leave Anfield this summer, Rory Smith scribbles that “reports in Spain and Italy suggest Liverpool may look to Esteban Cambiasso, the Inter Milan midfielder.”
Rovers fans, knowing their club are in need of a striker, will be hugely disappointed this Wednesday. As explained by Andy Hunter, “Sam Allardyce has conceded that Ruud van Nistelrooy and Peter Crouch are out of Blackburn Rovers’ price range as he continues to search for Roque Santa Cruz’s replacement at Ewood Park.”
Spurs fans, also waiting for their club to finally splash some cash, will be infuriated by John Ley’s wishy-washy article in the Telegraph which dramatically headlines “Tottenham to sell Darren Bent and chase Richard Dunne” however when examined at a closer level you discover the article is littered with ifs, buts and maybes. Staying with Spurs, a faceless article in The Sun links the Lilywhites with Stoke centre-half Ryan Shawcross. “The Londoners are willing to pay Â£2million for the England Under-21 star and throw in Didier Zokora as part of the deal.”
Are Everton about to land their first major signing of the summer? According to the Independent, “Everton are eager to secure the services of Standard Liege midfielder Steven Defour… and [David Moyes] has tabled a second bid for the player, believed to be around Â£13m.”
Lastly, Australian football fans will be angry to read John Edwards’ article in the Daily Mail that suggests that the North Queensland Fury striker Robbie Folwer “is being lined up for a dramatic return to Merseyside [to Tranmere] before the new season starts by his former Liverpool team-mate John Barnes.” Keeping in The Mail, their perchance for printing articles with no-names continues as we learn “Everton are to make Â£4m move for Middlesbrough striker Tuncay.”