Chelsea search for John Terry’s replacement, Manchester United move for £25m Eto’o & Ashley Young, Villa target Downing & Ozil and Sunderland want Vieira

Comment & analysis round-up

Quote of the day: “I am fully aware that Chelsea want to sign me and, of course, it is very flattering. They are one of the biggest teams in Europe and the Premier League is one of the best leagues in the world. Money is not the most important thing. I will base my decision on what’s good for me, what suits me. It is about asking: will I still be able to be special in the league that I am going to, the team I am going to? Are my qualities right for the Premier League or not?” -  Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Runner-up: “We had a couple of games to play before the Barcelona match. Mourinho picked me for a game and told me in front of five witnesses that if I played well, I would keep the shirt. I immediately told my agent that it didn’t matter how well I played, I would be dropped because Mourinho wouldn’t want me anywhere near the team for the Barcelona game. Sure enough I was voted man of the match – and I was dropped from the squad. You would have to ask Mourinho what his reasons were but I know it was because he didn’t want to see me play well and be forced to pick me for Barcelona. That was the day I knew I had to leave Chelsea. Managers have to stick to their word. You have to be able to trust them.” – Glen Johnson.

Today’s overview: We start this Sunday’s round-up with a terrible sex scandal exposed by The People.

“Six soccer stars were last night facing an agonising wait for the results of HIV tests. The shocked Premier League players have all slept with the same female soccer groupie. They had tests for HIV – the virus that causes AIDS – after the girl told them she had found out she was infected. She has no idea whether she contracted the disease before or after she slept with them all. The stars, who play for three different clubs, cannot be named for legal reasons.”

The John Terry-Manchester City saga is spilling over into its second week as Chelsea continue to battle to keep their club captain from moving to Eastlands.

Amid rumour and counter-rumour, Duncan Castles reported that “Roman Abramovich met John Terry yesterday as Chelsea called their captain’s bluff over his highly public flirtation with Manchester City… Terry is understood to have requested permission to speak openly with City about their plans. Chelsea denied that was the case last night. There have already been significant under-the-table discussions and the England international has asked football dealmaker Chris Nathaniel to help negotiate with City.” Over in the Observer, Jamie Jackson spills the beans that Chelsea “are not prepared to offer John Terry an increase in salary to stay at the club, following the 28-year-old’s reported interest in a move to Manchester City. ‘He will not be paid a penny more by the club,’ a Stamford Bridge source said. ‘There is a strong confidence that John Terry will stay.'”

Unsurprisingly, the red-tops go into overdrive this Sunday pumping fresh lies into the Terry story. The Mirror’s Paul Smith claims how “John Terry and Roman Abramovich were locked in crisis talks last night… [and that City] will put £50million on the table, believing it is the offer Chelsea can’t refuse.” Neil Ashton goes one step further in the NOTW scribbling “John Terry demanded the chance to speak to Manchester City during two hours of crisis talks with Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich yesterday… Chelsea are reluctant to let Terry leave for City, even for an astonishing £50m. But the defender is determined to hear what they have to offer.”

Anticipating the departure of JT, John Richardson bleats in the Sunday Express that “Chelsea are ready to move in for Newcastle United’s England Under-21 defender Steven Taylor as they prepare to sell skipper John Terry to Manchester City.” Dave Kidd also forecasts life after JT at the Bridge by bleating “Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti is lining up moves for three defenders with John Terry’s future still in the balance. West Ham’s Matthew Upson, Porto centre-back Bruno Alves and Genoa’s Domenico Criscito are all in the frame.”

Picking up the slack from the other end, should the Citizens miss out on landing John Terry then Paul Hetherington claims “City will switch their sights to Portugal’s Bruno Alves.”

In news that will hopefully cheer up Blues’ fans, Rob Beasley writes that “Chelsea are ready to make a stunning £60million move for Inter Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic.”

Duncan White explores how Chelsea appear to be falling off the pace in their ability to attract football’s big names. “The fact is Chelsea have not signed a player for more than £20 million in three years, not since Andrei Shevchenko arrived from Milan for £30 million in May 2006… Now they are no longer at the top of the food chain. One financial crash and an ambitious sheikh later and they are in the position of trying to ward off predatory Manchester City, who are coming in with another, £32 million offer for their captain.”

Rafa Benitez has revealed that he turned down an offer for Fernando Torres, thought to be about £60m and to have come from an English club other than Manchester City, this summer.” Gareth Bebb fleshes out the story reporting that Liverpool “have turned down three huge offers of around £60million for star striker Fernando Torres, from Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City.” While looking to out-splash their competition, The People’s Steve Bates shouts “Rafa Benitez put a stop to Real Madrid’s incredible spending spree – by rejecting a massive £65million bid for Anfield idol Fernando Torres.”

Speculation is mounting that Manchester United could be about to sign Barcelona hitman Samuel Eto’o. According to Duncan White, “the Barcelona striker’s agent, Josep Maria Mesalles, is optimistic that the English champions will make a formal bid of £18 million for the Cameroon striker tomorrow.” Aidan McGee toots a similar story in the NOWT printing “Alex Ferguson is aiming to snatch Samuel Eto’o from under the noses of Manchester City with a £25million bid.” Simon Mullock muddies the water by adding that “Barcelona were last night fighting a losing battle in a bid to persuade Manchester City to resurrect their £25million offer for striker Samuel Eto’o.”

The latest story to dog Newcastle sees Brian Mcnally make public that “Michael Owen is still being paid by Newcastle despite his free transfer to Manchester United… Under Premier and Football League rules, Owen is entitled to have the shortfall between his £105,000-a-week Newcastle wages and his £50,000 Old Trafford basic made up for a month.”

In a rumour unlikely to come to fruition, Joe Bernstein barks in the Mail on Sunday that “Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp is preparing a £25million swap deal, involving David Bentley, to take Aston Villa winger Ashley Young to White Hart Lane.” Spurs will struggle to sign Ashley Young if Paul Hetherington’s article is to be believed, the hack claiming how “Young has emerged as Manchester United’s top transfer target with Sir Alex Ferguson poised to offer £25million for the England winger.”

Completing the picture that Villa may be prepared to sell Ashely Young, Chris Bascombe reports that “Villa have opened negotiations for the £12million signing of crocked Middlesbrough striker Stewart Downing,” while The People’s Dave Kidd suggests “Aston Villa will shell out £10million for Stewart Downing.” That leave a faceless article in the NOTW to bleat that “Aston Villa will turn their attention to Werder Bremen star Mesut Ozil after refusing to up their bid for Fabian Delph.”

In other transfer news Sunderland are continually mentioned in connection with a raft of potential signings.

Joe Bernstein blabs that “Sunderland and Fulham are leading the way as four clubs vie to sign Portsmouth’s £12million England striker Peter Crouch.” The NOTW link Sunderland with a move for Tottenham’s Michael Dawson, while Richard Dunne has rejected two £4million bids from both Stoke and Sunderland according to the Mail on Sunday. Steve Bates adds that “Sunderland boss Steve Bruce will make a £7million move for Arsenal defender Philippe Senderos after losing patience in his bid to sign Manchester City’s Richard Dunne,” while Dave Kidd wraps up the lies claiming “Steve Bruce is lining up an audacious move to bring Patrick Vieira back to the Premier League.”

The Mail on Sunday deliver the distressing news that “Charlton are poised to be the next club to fall into administration, with a takeover bid on the brink of collapse because of debts of up to £40m.”

In one of the few opinion articles available this weekend, Ian Bell examines the new world of marquee signings. “That’s a new one, the latest in a long and dismal series of football cliches. At Madrid, the current problem is just to find a marquee big enough, given the acreage required for Ronaldo’s ego. People who score goals or stop the other lot are nice, but what the modern commercial juggernaut (‘club’) truly craves is a name, or rather Name, that can be exploited to the hilt.”

Lastly the backlash against David Beckham is gathering momentum ahead of Goldenballs’ return with the LA Galaxy. Guy Adams traces how “the manager, players and fans at LA Galaxy are lined up to tackle David Beckham as he returns to the team he abandoned for AC Milan.”


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