“Cash n’ Barry,” Manchester City are still tracking John Terry & Eto’o while Barca & Real Madrid fight for Arsenal’s Fabregas

Comment & analysis round-up

Quote of the day: “Maybe it’s just me but in this market, the top level, I don’t think money is the most important thing. At this level everyone earns big money. The question is do you make the right decisions and do what is best for your career? If it’s just for money sometimes you will make mistakes and I’ve been surprised by some decisions this summer – like [Gareth] Barry. I won’t say too much but it was clearly 100% for money. The most important thing for me, though, is the passion of the players… [on Alonso and Mascherano] When you are the manager of a top side you can tell players that they are staying. You have to decide about the way to do things but I don’t have a problem with that. We have to be strong enough and, if we have to be, we will be. Both players are under contract and we are really pleased about that.” – Rafa Benitez.

Runner-up: “We make Ballon d’Or winners and others have to buy them. It’s fine by me that Real have bought Cristiano Ronaldo but at present Barcelona are the point of reference for everyone. Real have erupted aggressively into the transfer market and distorted reality. We could go into debt like Madrid but it isn’t our way of operating. We already have a competitive team and all we want to do is to make some prudent investments.” – Joan Laporta.

Today’s overview: Completing almost a week of paper-talk, once again this Friday the future of John Terry is said to be in doubt although it remains highly dubious that the Chelsea captain will be moving to Manchester City.

Jason Burt continues the stoke the alleged rift between the Blues and their captain writing “it is understood that Terry wants to be provided with evidence that he is highly valued by the club in the face of bold interest from Manchester City… it also is understood that [Terry] has serious concerns that Chelsea have not, for the last two seasons, signed any big-name players as they attempt to compete with Europe’s elite.”Following in suit, Sam Wallace writes that JT “is eager to talk to them about his own situation and that of the club, who have conspicuously failed to sign any of the big players available this summer.”

Somewhat surprisingly, it is The Sun’s Vikki Orvice who attempts to draw a line under the Terry-wantaway rumours by claiming “the Blues are now ready to make the 28-year-old the best-paid player at Stamford Bridge in a bid to fend off City’s assault for the England skipper…  they are willing to give him a pay rise that would see his earnings rise by around £25,000 per week to £155,000 a week or £8m a year.”

In news to buoy Liverpool fans, Ann Gripper scribbles in Mirror that “the odds on Franck Ribery leaving Bayern Munich for Liverpool tumbled yesterday, plummeting from 66-1 to 8-13 on.”

On Manchester City, Phil Thomas spreads the latest rumour that the Citizens have moved to play hardball with target Samuel Eto’o. “City have given Barcelona a weekend deadline over Samuel Eto’o… City have decided enough is enough and want a definite answer from the Spaniards in 48 hours.” Alan Nixon spices up the Eto’o story by revealing “Mirror Sport can reveal that Eto’o has told friends he would rather join Chelsea if they moved in for him – but that is unlikely given the fee and his wages.”

As usual, the Daily Mail adopt their faceless article tactics to fart out a rumour that will infuriate Arsenal fans. “Arsenal are bracing themselves for an approach from Barcelona for Cesc Fabregas, with Bayern Munich’s Franck Ribery looking beyond the Spanish club’s reach.” Never one to miss out on a good lie, The Sun’s Antony Kastrinakis also toots from the same hymn-sheet reporting “the Catalan giants’ president Joan Laporta claimed signing £40million-rated Fabregas is high on their agenda this summer.”

Over in the Mirror, Martin Lipton claims that Barca and Real Madrid both want the Arsenal skipper but “Arsenal have insisted Fabregas is not for sale, with the player himself understood to be reluctant to break his contract, feeling that would be a betrayal of Wenger and Arsenal.”

Do Tottenham have a serious transfer policy for signing a striker this summer? It would appear not according to Michael Walker’s description of the Lilywhites latest transfer targets as we learn that while Spurs and Aston Villa are said to be battling for Peter Crouch’s signature, Redknapp could also “pursue either Emile Heskey or John Carew. Redknapp is also likely to see if there are implications for Kenwyne Jones at Sunderland – Spurs offered £16m for him in January.”

More apparent guff is spread about Spurs in the Daily Mail as we read “Joe Cole is close to signing a new four-year deal at Chelsea – all but ending Tottenham’s hopes of signing the England midfielder.”

Writing in The Times, G

According to nameless hack in the Daily Mail the “prospective Pompey owner Al Fahim promises strong squad as [Roberto] Mancini heads manager search.”

As reported in the Independent, “Real Madrid appear to have dropped their interest in signing Internazionale full-back Douglas Maicon this summer.” Staying in the Independent, the broadsheet claims that “Arsenal have been offered a lifeline in their bid to sign the Brazilian Felipe Melo from Fiorentina.”

Steven Howard wishes bon voyage to Cristiano Ronaldo in a glowing send-off for the for Manchester United forward. “Like everyone, Ronaldo has flaws. But nowhere near as many as Eric Cantona and a few others you could mention whose United legacies are regarded as sacrosanct. Had it not been for his goals, it’s unlikely United would have won either of their last two titles or the Champions League. The Portuguese star also gave them a cachet and sprinkling of star dust that added millions to their global fan base.”

With a year to go until the 2010 World Cup, Owen Slot exposes the latest mismanagement by the South African organisers which will adversely affect their hosting of the tournament. “Fans travelling to the World Cup finals in South Africa next year will find that the host nation is so pushed for accommodation that they may be encouraged to base themselves in neighbouring countries. Zimbabwe is being promoted as one of the most likely options.

Amy Lawrence turns attention on former Gunner Jose Antonio Reyes to trace how the Spaniard’s career has fallen majorly off course. “Reyes now finds himself in limbo. In the past few days – in addition to the wrangling between Atlético and Benfica – he has been linked with Everton, Olympiakos, Porto, Roma, Fiorentina … Suffice it to say his agent has been in loquacious mood, although the more soundbites that are reported about where Reyes might be playing next season, the more they seem to resemble nothing more than hot air.”

Lastly, the Daily Mail today offer two articles which list the first 31 Premier League fixtures to be broadcast live on Sky TV (read here) and the first 17 Premier League fixtures to be broadcast live on ESPN (read here).