Demba Ba is ‘the ultimate football mercenary’ after moving to Chelsea, Joe Cole returning to West Ham, Cavani put on Man City’s radar

Comment & analysis round-up

Quote of the day: “I’ve signed to be here for as long as possible. It’s a humongous club – for me, one of the biggest in the world – and to have the fans and world-class players we have here is amazing. I see myself as a striker. I think I perform best there because my attributes, I believe, are best as a central striker. But I have played on the wing and have learned a lot doing so. I’d never refuse to play in that position and I’ve never demanded to play up front, either. ‘For me, whatever the manager wants me to do I will do it and work as hard as I can for the club and the fans.” – Daniel Sturridge.

Runner-up: “If you ever spend any time with Mario then you love Mario. Even though he is not always the easiest player for the coach to manage, speak to any of his old coaches like Jose (former Inter and current Real Madrid boss Mourinho) and they will tell you when you work with Mario you always have a smile on your face… Manchester City are already a way behind Manchester United in the Premier League – but if any player can retain the title for them it is Mario. All the class that Manchester City have I would still say Mario is the most capable.” – Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Chelsea 0 – QPR 1

Happy New Year (Sun) Harry Redknapp hailed his side’s shock win at Chelsea as one of the greatest of his career. Redknapp’s rock-bottom QPR got the new year off to a flier as Shaun Wright-Phillips’ superb 20-yarder sank the European champions. Redknapp said: “This is one of my greatest-ever victories. It will send shockwaves through the other teams at the bottom.”

Is this what Chelsea fans have been waiting for? Marin launches into horror challenge… just four minutes into his first league start, and SIX MONTHS after joining for £7m (Frank Foster, Mail) Chelsea winger Marko Marin was lucky to escape a red card in the opening stages of his first Premier League start against QPR on Wednesday night… Marin’s miserable start to life at Chelsea continued when he was substituted for Hazard after a n hour of the match, which QPR surprisingly won 1-0.

Park ‘n’ slide: 2012 was a hard year for Redknapp, but a new one’s just begun! (Ollie Holt, Mirror) Sure, they are still bottom of the table, still five points adrift of Southampton and safety. But this result – just their second win of the season – suggested that Redknapp’s management is starting to have an effect. After three defeats in succession, the last a sobering 3-0 humbling by Liverpool at Loftus Road, QPR at least stopped the bleeding last night. They defended for their lives, they rode their luck and owed much to a couple of brilliant saves from Julio Cesar. But they deserved their win courtesy of a superb strike by Shaun Wright-Phillips after a beautiful lay off by Adel Taarabt. Most of all, for the first time in quite a while, they played like a team, not a collection of expensively acquired individuals.

Ba Is Turning Blue, Probably

Chelsea might struggle to fit in Fernando Torres and Demba Ba (Michael Cox, Guardian) Even before Chelsea sold Daniel Sturridge, who seldom played up front but at least provided an option in times of crisis, there was an urgent need for Rafael Benítez to recruit another striker. Fernando Torres, still yet to convince since his £50m move from Liverpool two years ago, was Chelsea’s only true centre-forward… Ba will surely replace Torres at times, but his ability to play on the left has prompted speculation they can play in the same team. However, the more you consider the history of the two individuals, the harder it is to understand why Benítez would start both players together.

Chelsea risk Ba medical after using £7.5m clause (Independent) Chelsea will insist that Demba Ba undergoes a medical tomorrow morning in spite of the Newcastle United striker’s chronic knee problem, with the club eager to register him in time for Saturday’s FA Cup tie after last night’s shock league 1-0 defeat to Queens Park Rangers.

Newcastle United will be better off without Demba Ba, the ultimate football mercenary (Luke Edwards, Telegraph) It is an unusual, perhaps startling, thing to say about the departure of a player who has scored half of Newcastle United’s Premier League goals this season, but Alan Pardew’s side will be better off without Demba Ba… Ba is the ultimate football mercenary. He does not make emotional decisions, he is not hindered by a sense of loyalty, he plays football to earn a living for himself and his family. There is nothing wrong with that. There are plenty of people in plenty of professions who will always go where the money is best. Ba is from a large family. One of his brothers is his agent. He is the breadwinner for that family and he is motivated by a burning desire to make as much money as he can for them.

Tottenham Need A Forward

Reinforcements! Despite Spurs’ excellent run they need a new striker if they are to beat Arsenal to fourth (Darren Lewis, Mirror) The fine run during the festive fixtures should not mask it. Spurs need a striker this month – badly. Jermain Defoe has done a fine job this season and Emmanuel Adebayor is back in the groove with his first league goal for the north Londoners since November against Reading. But if either of those two get injured or lose form – or if Adebayor goes off to the African Nations Cup – it could all go horribly wrong.

Fifa Fudge Diving Cancer

Why Fifa’s war on diving is blighting referees and the game (Paul Wilson, Guardian) Not only is the Fifa war on simulation not working, it is showing unexpected and undesirable results. Referees should be booking players only for obvious dives, not that there are ever many of those. They should stick to making up their minds whether a foul has taken place and leave the subject of impugning players’ honesty to television panels with their endless replays. If Atkinson had refused Bale the penalty and told him to get on with the game it would still have been clear he was unimpressed with the claim, after all. Bale would not have been happy, but in a way he would have been given the benefit of the doubt. A reasonable compromise, one would have thought. Much better than calling someone a cheat when an area of doubt existed.


Asking Footballers On Their Take Of The Game

Shame of the beautiful game (Richard Moriarty, Sun) Football is shamed today after players admitted RACISM, DRUGS, MATCH-FIXING and HOMOPHOBIA are all rife in the beautiful game. The shock findings emerged from a poll of 100 professional players, including 11 Premier League aces. More than a quarter (26 per cent) said they had heard another player make a racist comment during a match. Half agreed that some of their fellow pros regularly take recreational drugs such as cocaine — while 14 per cent admitted knowing that match-fixing goes on in the game. Others said some players also use performance enhancing drugs.


Joe Cole To West Ham: Deflation

Cole Kops £4m to make Hammers return (Sun) Joe Cole will get a £4million pay-off from Liverpool to join West Ham for nothing. The free transfer to Upton Park ends the midfielder’s miserable spell at Anfield… Nicolas Anelka has priced himself out of a move to Upton Park after demanding £100,000 a week for a six-month stay.

Cole nets whopping £3m pay-off from Liverpool ahead of switch to West Ham (Mail) Joe Cole will join West Ham this week after Liverpool agreed to hand the former England midfielder a £3million pay-off.

Cockney comeback: West Ham snatch Joe Cole from Redknapp’s grasp (Mirror) Key to the whole deal is an amazing £3million ‘golden goodbye’ from Liverpool, to offset the drop in Cole’s salary from £120,000 to £50,000 a week. Although that £3m represents only six months of the 18 left on Cole’s Anfield contract, the 31-year-old will get the security of a three-year deal – as well as the chance to resurrect his career at his boyhood club.

Value In January

My bargain XI could turn relegation strugglers into a team of iron-willed winners (Jim White, Telegraph) A little bit of smooth talking could land the following team ahead of pre-season training: Carlo Cudicini (Tottenham); Jamie Carragher (Liverpool), Sylvain Distin (Everton), Brede Hangeland (Fulham), Ashley Cole (Chelsea); Phil Neville (Everton), Paul Scholes (Manchester United), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), Ryan Giggs (Manchester United); Theo Walcott (Arsenal), Florent Malouda (Chelsea). What experience there is in that line-up. What dedication, what professionalism, what will to win. That is not a team likely to surrender in the manner of Redknapp’s current bunch.

Transfer Window: Day Three

Inter line up Lamps (Sun) Chelsea are set to unveil £7.5million striker Demba Ba as Inter Milan line up a swoop for Frank Lampard.

Spurs ready to rival Arsenal for Villa signature with Barca prepared to accept bids of £16m (Mail) Tottenham are the latest club to show interest in Barcelona striker David Villa. The 31-year-old has been the subject of enquiries from Arsenal also but Barca will not loan him out and will only sell for around £16m.

Cavani’s Edin ‘ere (Sun) Edinson Cavani has put Manchester City on alert after his agent revealed he is likely to quit Napoli in the summer… His agent, Mino Raiola, said: “For now Cavani will stay but I wouldn’t be so sure about that once June arrives. “I’m sure there are clubs ready to pay that. But only five clubs in the world can afford to do that — Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester City, Chelsea and Paris Saint Germain.”

Hughton looking to bring Celtic’s Kayal to Carrow Road (Mail) Norwich City are believed to be weighing up a shock £5m move for Celtic midfielder Beram Kayal… Under contract until the summer of 2015, the Israeli international lasted 71 minutes before heading off for the two week winter break.

Swansea’s star man Michu attracting interest from mega-rich Russians Zenit and Anzhi (Mail) The 26-year-old Spaniard was believed to have had a buy-out clause in his Swansea contract but that has been denied.

Hanndover time? Arsenal’s Johan Djourou wanted in the Bundesliga (Mirror) Arsenal defender Johan Djourou is a target for German club Hannover. Italian outfit Napoli are also keen on the centre-back who is not in the first-team plans of Gunners boss Arsene Wenger.

Toon’s eye on Modibo (Sun) West Ham seem willing to let misfit striker Modibo Maiga quit for Newcastle.

Ex-Portsmouth and Chelsea defender Ben Haim set to join QPR until end of season (Mail) The Israeli defender has been without a club since leaving Pompey in August and has been training with the Rs since the start of December.

Fulham close in on Ghana midfielder Derek Boateng (Star)