£40m is the magic number as Manchester City eye Chelsea’s JT & Arsenal prepare to sell Cesc to Barca or Real Madrid

Comment & analysis round-up

Quote of the day: “It would be hard to imagine but sometimes in life people want to have new challenges and new adventures. Anything can happen but JT is really blue through and through and he has been all his life. If you say ‘Chelsea’ to a lot of people, they say ‘John Terry’. This is one of the reasons why I wouldn’t expect it to happen. You have to stay when it is right and if you leave you should leave at the right time. It’s always hard to say that the best option is to stay 20 years with one team. Maybe not. It depends on which team you play for. Sometimes the change comes but it should come at the right moment.” – Petr Cech.

Runner-up: “The Premier League is a very good competition, but I think that the Spanish league is going to have a little more quality because of the players that are arriving. Both leagues are going to be very good, but I think that with [the Real president] Florentino Pérez’s signings the Spanish league is superior to the English. It’s going to be a magnificent competition in Spain this year. All the players have a lot of quality and the referees protect the players more… The priority is the league. The Champions League is very nice, but it also depends on luck and the ties that you get. My hope is to win at Real Madrid everything that I won during my time at Manchester United. With the structure Real Madrid have, this is possible.” – Cristiano Ronaldo.

Today’s overview: Slowly, slowly, catch the monkey. After a weekend full of stories talking up Manchester City’s pursuit of Chelsea captain John Terry, suggestions in the Monday papers are that the Citizens could be about to get their man. But JT won’t come cheap.

Did Manchester City tap-up John Terry? Although Shaun Custis stops short of making that accusation in The Sun, the hack drops the breadcrumbs leading to that conclusion by splashing with news that “John Terry and Mark Hughes stayed in the same Dubai hotel complex last week. Just days afterwards, Manchester City had a £30million bid for the Chelsea and England skipper rejected… Holidaymakers at Jumeirah Beach have told SunSport how they saw Hughes and Terry there the weekend before last.”

On the likelihood over the deal being completed, David Hytner and Dominic Fifield join forces to announce “City are convinced that the player has had his head turned by the project at Eastlands, bankrolled by Abu Dhabi billions, and a revised offer of £40m could seriously test Chelsea’s resolve… It is believed that some figures at Chelsea are also uncomfortable with the level of influence that Terry wields. City are willing to make Terry, the Chelsea and England captain, the most highly paid player in world football, going so far as to double his current £135,000-a-week wage.”

Over in The Times James Ducker explores how Chelsea are viewing City’s tracking of John Terry. “Chelsea suspect that Terry may be using City’s interest as leverage in an effort to secure an improved contract, but if he is serious about leaving Stamford Bridge, the club will insist that the defender submits a transfer request as they are determined not to be painted as the villains in any prospective sale.”

Over in The Star, David Woods appears to start the slur campaign against John Terry. “It is understood owner Roman Abramovich has become increasingly frustrated with the Blues skipper’s recent antics… Terry’s increasingly powerful role at Stamford Bridge has become of increasing concern to senior figures… Claude Makelele claimed in his autobiography that Terry was even responsible for the sacking of former boss Jose Mourinho.” John Cross and Martin Lipton continue to bitch in The Mirror printing “senior Chelsea figures accept [that Terry] is not universally loved within the dressing room.”

Sam Wallace questions whether the deal makes sense for Terry. “It would be difficult to make a case for it being the right moment for Terry to leave Chelsea when City have not qualified this season for the Champions League or the Europa League – the revamped version of the Uefa Cup. It would mean that the England captain was not playing in the two big European competitions in a World Cup year.”

There is a growing body of opinion though that sees City’s potential capture of John Terry as a watershed moment signalling a change in the balance of power in the Premier League.

John Edwards observes how the “once unrivalled for financial muscle, the club bankrolled by Roman Abramovich’s billions are in danger of losing their inspirational leader to an offer he cannot refuse as City activate an audacious plan to spend £100million inside a week.” Martin Samuel then goes one step further by mocking the Blues’ frustration with JT.

Samuel: “This is the club who were caught sitting down for what was described as ‘general chit-chat’ with Ashley Cole, while he was still an employee of Arsenal. The club who paid £5million for two Leeds United youth players rather than face investigation by the Football Association over alleged illegal approaches. And they are now upset over City making a formal bid, in writing, for Terry. Oh, go on, if Peter Kenyon went on stage at the Palladium with this stuff, nobody would ever pay to see Peter Kay again.”

In the Independent Petr Cech speaks with Sam Wallace, with the keeper denying that his influence helped get Felipe Scolari the sack last season.

Other news circling over the Blues includes John Ley’s assertion that “Ancelotti is planning a move for Wesley Sneijder, the Real Madrid winger, after all but giving up on Bayern Munich’s Franck Ribery.”

After Cristiano Ronaldo went public in stating that La Liga is now better than the Premier League, Rory Smith tests that statement through the prism of the summer transfers. “Yuri Zhirkov and Thomas Vermaelen aside, the dabblings of the ‘Big Four’ have been parochial, rather than international, concerns. No wonder Ronaldo sees Real’s battle with Barcelona as the clash which will determine European primacy.”

The agony of Newcastle supporters is set to continue a little while longer, Louise Taylor explaining that it “hoped Mike Ashley would have found a buyer by this week but sources suggest it could be another month. In a bid to accelerate the process Ashley has tried to move some high earning players on, but many of Newcastle’s squad are on unusually generous pay.” On a slighter brighter note, Alan Nixon claims “Birmingham boss Alex McLeish is offering to pay £25,000 a week to Newcastle to take Joey Barton on loan for the season.”

James Callow lifts the lid on a potential club versus country clash in Blighty. “England risk angering Premier League clubs fearful of player burn-out by taking part in a friendly against Brazil in the Qatar capital Doha during November.”

Gunners’ fans will be spitting fire after reading Antony Kastrinakis piece in The Sun claiming “Arsenal have slapped a £40million price-tag on Cesc Fabregas as they brace themselves for a bid from Real Madrid or Barcelona… Arsene Wenger is desperate for funds to strengthen his squad in order to mount a credible title challenge.”

Flogging a dead horse, a faceless Daily Mail article barfs “Manchester United have asked about Barcelona midfielder Yaya Toure amid growing concern over the fitness of Owen Hargreaves.” In a separate no-name article The Mail claim “Steve Bruce is ready to make Paraguay centre back Paulo da Silva his first signing at Sunderland.” While over in The Sun the nameless phenomenon continues as we learn how “Spurs and Aston Villa will battle it out for £10million-rated Marcus Berg.”

Lastly, has the Daily Mail been hired by David O’Leary to find the out-of-work Irishman a job? Something weird is definitely going on here.

Just a couple of weeks ago Patrick Reilly sat down with David O’Leary in what appeared to be an effort to help raise the Irishman’s profile to get a job back in football. And now the pair have got back together again with Patrick Reilly virtually sending out a press release farting “David O’Leary has revealed he is prepared to return to the game as a number two but only at his former club Arsenal or with league champions Manchester United.”