Arsenal linked with Higuain, Gundogan & Bender, Man City want Di Maria + Chelsea chase Alonso

Comment & analysis round-up

Quote of the day: “Did you not see me training? I was speaking to Robbie Fowler about (retirement) the other week. He hasn’t officially retired. Three weeks ago, everyone in the world seemed to be retiring. I thought ‘I’m not jumping on this bandwagon’.’ I just wanted it to be a smooth, quiet turnover. I didn’t want that (focus). When I made a statement that I was leaving Everton, everywhere I went I seemed to be getting “oh you’ve been brilliant”. I didn’t like it. I didn’t want to be seen as an attention seeker. In my heart, I knew I wouldn’t be playing again – at any level. I just wanted to drift away. The biggest thing I will miss is July 4, when Everton are due back for pre-season training. I loved that day. I lived for it, getting back with the lads… My wife, Julie, she knows what I’m like. She’s saying “for God’s sake, don’t have any more time off!”‘ – Phil Neville.

Runner-up: “I am well, calm and not worried about it. I know we will reach a deal.” – Cristiano Ronaldo confident of a new Real Madrid deal.

Arsenal linked with Higuain, Gundogan & Lars Bender

Arsenal ready to smash records in £62m splurge on Higuain, Gundogan and Bender (Rob Draper, Mail on Sunday) Arsene Wenger is ready to smash Arsenal’s transfer record this week with bids for three of Europe’s fastest-rising stars. The news that the club are thinking big, with moves for Real Madrid’s Gonzalo Higuain, Borussia Dortmund’s Ilkay Gundogan and Bayer Leverkusen’s Lars Bender, will come as a massive relief to Arsenal fans after years of frugality and summers of losing their own stars. Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis promised ‘an escalation in our financial firepower’ last week and Wenger is convinced he can transform his team into title contenders. The Arsenal manager believes that Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement from Manchester United represents an opportunity for the for the club to regain some prestige and challenge for the title and the signing of Argentina striker Higuain is expected to be their most important transfer of the summer at around £25million.

Manchester City want Di Maria

Manuel Pellegrini targets £30m Angel Di Maria for Manchester City title challenge (Tom Hopkinson, Steve Bates, People) Manuel Pellegrini takes charge of Manchester City this week and will ask Etihad chiefs to sanction a move for £30million Real Madrid star Angel Di Maria, write the Sunday People’s Tom Hopkinson and Steve Bates. Ex-Malaga boss Pellegrini loves wingers and has ­already given the thumbs-up to the arrival of Sevilla wideman Jesus Navas – whose £17m City switch was revealed exclusively by Sunday People Sport last week. Now Pellegrini has made Di Maria – highly rated at the Bernabeu – his next target as City prepare to break the bank to win back the Premier League title. City have already splashed out more than £50m on Navas and Brazil star Fernandinho, and Di Maria would take their summer spending past the £80m mark.

Chelsea in for Alonso

Jose Mourinho to target Xabi Alonso as he starts to rebuild the Chelsea attack (Jason Burt, Sunday Telegraph) The former Liverpool midfielder was highly rated by Mourinho at Real and has just one year left on his contract, having not responded to Real’s offer of a two-year extension. Alonso underwent groin surgery in Munich last week but hopes to be fit for next season. The 31-year-old has claimed to have made his peace with Chelsea’s Frank Lampard after the pair clashed several times when the Spaniard was at Liverpool. Mourinho could also attempt to hijack Manchester City’s attempts to sign striker Edinson Cavani or make a move for Fiorentina’s Stefan Jovetic.

Chelsea ahead of United in race for Eliaquim Mangala

Chelsea nip ahead of Manchester United for Porto’s Eliaquim Mangala – because of David Moyes’ holiday! (Steve Bates, People) Chelsea have stolen ahead in the race to sign Porto’s Eliaquim Mangala – with new Manchester United boss David Moyes on holiday, writes the Sunday People’s Steve Bates. Now Sir Alex Ferguson has gone and chief executive David Gill is clearing his desk, no one is holding the fort at Old Trafford in the absence of Moyes. That has given Chelsea the edge as they bid to sign the 22-year-old France defender. Mangala was tracked by incoming Blues manager Jose Mourinho while he was in charge at Real Madrid. And Mourinho’s interest has increased now he is back at Stamford Bridge as he looks to put pressure on centre-backs David Luiz, Gary Cahill, Branislav Ivanovic and John Terry. He believes the defence needs a revamp and is impressed by Mangala’s speed and strength.

Nani set to leave United

Nani could be for hire (Geoff Sweet, Sunday Sun) Nani will call David Moyes tomorrow before making an announcement on his future in the next couple of days. The Manchester United winger is a £12million target for Monaco, Galatasaray and Napoli. Talks over a new deal at United have stalled amid speculation linking him with a move away. It is not yet clear whether he has a place in new boss Moyes’ plans. And the Portuguese star, 26, said: “I have not yet decided where I am going or if I am going. “I do not want to speak about rumours but I will decide my future in the next few days.”

Demba Ba heading out of Stamford Bridge

Demba Ba faces Chelsea axe as Jose Mourinho looks to shake up striker options (Matt Law, Sunday Mirror) Demba Ba faces a fight to save his Chelsea career after just five months at Stamford Bridge. And captain John Terry is not expecting any special favours from boss Jose Mourinho over his long-term Chelsea future. Striker Ba will be a ­surprise casualty of ­Mourinho’s return to ­Chelsea unless he can dramatically change his new manager’s mind. Mourinho is on the hunt for strikers. Chelsea are still trying to push through a deal for Bayer Leverkusen forward Andre Schurrle. They will bid for Wayne Rooney if Manchester ­United decide to sell. They have also registered interest in Edinson Cavani, Stevan Jovetic and Hulk while Romelu Lukaku has also been promised he will be given a chance. As a result Fernando Torres will be allowed to leave Stamford Bridge if Chelsea can find a buyer.

Liverpool want Mignolet

Liverpool want Mignolet to replace Reina as Spaniard refuses to commit his future (Joe Bernstein, Daily Mail) Liverpool will step up efforts to sign Sunderland No 1 Simon Mignolet after mixed messages from current goalkeeper Pepe Reina about his own future. Reina has been linked with a move back to his first club Barcelona and Belgian international Mignolet would be a cheaper replacement at £7million that Stoke’s impressive Asmir Begovic who is valued at £12million. Reina has insisted speculation about his future is not a distraction but would only say he is committed to Liverpool ‘right now’.

Fellaini staying at Everton

Fellaini staying put (David Facey, Sunday Sun) New Everton boss Roberto Martinez insists Marouane Fellaini is going nowhere.
The Belgian midfielder is wanted by Arsenal, who are keen to trigger his £22million release clause, and has also been linked with Chelsea and Manchester United. But Martinez said: “I don’t think it is an issue. “You are not talking about a player who is out of the squad or in negotiations with another club. I won’t look to speak to him about this because there is nothing to speak about. “What I want is him to be ready for the next season, to be ready to take an important role at the club and understand that it is a big season for him. “As an individual, he has got an exciting year in front of him and I don’t think he is personally thinking, ‘Am I going to be here?’ I don’t think that’s in his head.”

West Ham want Bony

West Ham turn sights on Wilfried Bony after fearing snub from Andy Carroll (Jason Burt, Sunday Telegraph) West Ham, who failed with a bid for Sevilla’s Alvaro Negredo last week, have already held talks with Bony’s representatives about a possible move, although they are not the only Premier League club interested in the prolific 24-year-old Ivory Coast international, who was the Eredivisie’s top-scorer last season with 31 goals. Stoke City had been thought to be favourites to sign Bony. The departure of Tony Pulis as manager may have changed their plans, although his replacement, Mark Hughes, is in the market for a striker. If West Ham fail to secure Bony, they have also given consideration to making bids for either Stuttgart’s Martin Harnik, an Austrian international who can play on the wing, and Eintracht Frankfurt’s Algerian international Karim Matmour. Harnik, 25, has three years left on his deal and West Ham considered making a move for him last January.

Is Stuart Pearce the worst England manager ever?

Stuart Pearce’s England Under-21s eliminated after defeat by Norway (Stuart James, Observer) The only thing missing was a Norwegian commentator shouting into his microphone: “Your boys took one hell of a beating.” This result may not go down in history in quite the same way as that famous Norway victory over Ron Greenwood’s senior side in Oslo in 1981 but it was a humiliating defeat for England Under‑21s nonetheless. Vanquished by a far superior Italy side in the opening group game, England turned in another hugely disappointing performance against Norway and can now pack their bags in preparation for a return flight home after Tuesday’s final group game against Israel in Jerusalem. So much for England getting lucky with the draw and avoiding the leading nations. Stuart Pearce’s side have been eliminated from these finals at the earliest opportunity and, with the manager’s contract up at the end of the month, this will surely bring an end to his six-year reign.

Henry Winter’s match report (Sunday Telegraph) Norway loosened up for this deserved victory by going surfing in the gentle breakers outside their Tel Aviv hotel and then expertly showed England’s players the way back to the beach, the holiday beach. Norway were more organized, more hungry, more alert defensively and quicker of thought and movement going forward. England’s new wave were embarrassed and embarrassing. The tide is certainly running against Stuart Pearce. It is impossible to see how the Under-21s coach can retain the faith of the FA after this wretched tournament record here in Israel of played two, outplayed two. Pearce was typically defiant afterwards, stating he wanted to extend his six-year association with the young Lions but a new chairman, the incoming Greg Dyke, will surely seek a new start.

On Jose’s return

José Mourinho, Chelsea and the English game all need a revival act (Paul Wilson, Observer) City would have represented a fresh challenge for him too, whereas Chelsea feels like a backward step. Returning to England at all is possibly a backward step, since Germany and Spain are setting the Champions League pace at the moment. When Mourinho first turned up at Chelsea, a job in England was his prize for winning the Champions League with Porto. Rafael Benítez arrived at Liverpool at the same time, after winning the Uefa Cup with Valencia. Chelsea won the league at the first attempt, and might have reached the Champions League final too but for Luis García’s phantom goal in the semi-final and a Liverpool side destined to overturn all the odds in Europe that year. Despite Mourinho’s claims to the contrary, the Premier League is not quite at that level any more. The talent is elsewhere, the excitement has moved on. Roman Abramovich would have preferred Pep Guardiola, and Mourinho knows it, but the former Barcelona coach preferred Germany. Second choice and second time around, Mourinho might still be the man to supervise a Chelsea revival and shake up a rather staid London scene, though behind the warmth of the welcome it is possible to sense a slightly desperate desire to turn the clock back too. That is a lot to ask of any coach. Even a special one.

Harry Redknapp on QPR

Let me buy who I want for QPR and I’ll carry the can if it goes wrong (Harry Redknapp, Sunday Sun) As manager of QPR, who have just been relegated, I am not looking for loads of cash to throw at the transfer market. All I want the owners of the club to do is back my judgment. I do not want to spend all their money either. I don’t have to. But the one thing I am asking for is to be given the authority to make the decisions about which players we go for. Then I know it’s been my handiwork and my ideas. And also if it goes badly wrong then it is nobody else’s fault except mine — and I will take full responsibility for it. When I was last in the Championship, with Ports-mouth, we did not chuck money at transfers. What we invested in were characters. The likes of Paul Merson, Arjan de Zeeuw, Tim Sherwood and Steve Stone. Players coming to the end of their careers but who still had that hunger to want to achieve something. Players who could back me up and get us playing the right football — and to win matches of course.