JT set for summit meeting with Roman; Micah Richards catches swine flu & Sheario

Comment & analysis round-up

Quote of the day: “They say of Ancelotti in England that he is Prince Charles. But I only know one Prince Charles – and that is the Prince of Wales. Ancelotti is no friend of mine.” – Jose Mourinho.

Runner-up: “I will be really pleased if we can keep this squad together because I don’t think we need to do too many things. I don’t think we’ll be signing anyone else for big, big money, just maybe the ones who can fit into our team. Right now we are just thinking of improving the fitness of the players, not thinking about the transfer market. We have the quality there and we will have our chances again.” – Rafa Benitez.

Today’s overview: Manchester City continue to dominate the summer transfer window with their move for John Terry still not ruled out. Micah Richards is also in the news for being the first professional footballer in England to contract swine flu. Newcastle’s first pre-season match brings much analysis of the sorry state of affairs on Tyneside and there are a bunch of features on Ken Bates, Mo Johnston and the Glenn Hoddle Academy. 

Manchester City have upped their bid for John Terry according to the Daily Telegraph. Jason Burt: “Manchester City are to lodge a bid of £32 million for John Terry as they continue their pursuit of the Chelsea captain. The new offer will be submitted once City chief executive Garry Cook returns from Brazil, where he is attending Robinho’s wedding. City will step up their transfer activity next week before they head off on their pre-season tour to South Africa. They will announce the signing of Carlos Tevez, but they have ended their interest in Samuel Eto’o, despite having a bid of £25 million accepted by Barcelona.”

The Times also explain why City may have a chance of securing the services of the England captain: “John Terry is insisting on a meeting with Roman Abramovich, the Chelsea owner, to seek assurances about the club’s future as Manchester City were given fresh encouragement in their pursuit of the England defender. City believe that a £35 million deal could be reached before the squad fly to South Africa for their pre-season tour on Wednesday. Terry, the Chelsea captain, has concerns about the club being unable to attract a top player this summer, after several failed attempts, and is seeking a pay rise of about £20,000 a week, to increase his wage to about £150,000 a week — short of what he could earn at City.”

Simon Cass explains why Manchester City pulled out the Samuel Eto’o deal. “Manchester City last night pulled out of the race to sign Samuel Eto’o after growing tired of the Barcelona striker’s failure to respond to their stunning offer of £180,000 a week after tax. City expect to clinch a deal with Carlos Tevez in time to unveil him on Tuesday and are planning a further move for John Terry but have given up on Cameroon striker Eto’o.”

The Sun also believe that “Manchester City will complete the signing of Carlos Tevez before jetting out on their pre-season tour of South Africa on Wednesday. The Argy hitman, 25, has finished his holidays and is now committed to the move across town from Old Trafford after becoming a free agent.”

In other City news, The Sun seem to take great delight that Micah Richards has contracted swine flu whilst on holiday in Cyprus. “Last night Micah told The Sun: “At first I thought it was a really bad chest infection, or maybe alcohol poisoning. I felt so weak that I couldn’t move or eat. My friends had to bring me drinks in bed. When I was told I had swine flu all sorts of things started going through my mind. You see on the news people dying of it. My club have been very understanding. I’ll get some stick from the lads when I do return — they will probably all turn up to training in surgical masks. No one out there is so fit and healthy they can’t catch swine flu. If I can get it, anyone can.”

Sam Wallace claims in The Independent that “Liverpool are understood to have considered a move for [Lee] Cattermole in the event of Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano leaving, a prospect that looks less likely after Rafael Benitez took a defiant stance about their contracts on Thursday.”

The Times’ Window Watch claims Gilberto Silva could be returning to the Premier League and The Daily Mail also run numerous transfer stories, including Peter Crouch to Fulham, Kyle Naughton to Everton and that Richard Dunne is standing his ground at Eastlands. 

Everton’s bid for Naughton could be pipped by Spurs, according to The Sun, who also claim Aston Villa will swoop for Downing & Tuncay from Boro, Everton are set to swoop for Standard Liege’s Steven Defour and Bolton are after Achille Emana from Real Betis. The Daily Mirror suggest Manchester United are still eager to sign Sergio “Kun” Aguero.

One of the more surprising transfers of the summer, Jermaine Pennant’s move to Real Zaragoza, is explained by David Hytner. “It is the detail of Pennant’s deal at Zaragoza with regard to taxes that will have some English players and agents salivating. His three-year contract is worth £6.24m net, with the Spanish club effectively paying his taxes. They have been helped to do this by top-bracket tax perks or what has become informally known in Spain as the ‘Beckham law’. In an attempt to encourage overseas businesses to place their leading executives in Spain, the government introduced legislation to cut taxes in the top bracket to 23% for the first five years. Real Madrid, a club synonymous with galáctico signings such as Beckham, then argued successfully that leading overseas footballers ought to enjoy the same privilege. Zaragoza will pay £9,200 a week in taxes on behalf of Pennant, as they have guaranteed him take-home pay of £40,000 a week. In England, where players tend to be paid gross and, as of April, the tax rate for high earners stands at 50%, Pennant would have needed a salary of £80,000 a week to match what he will now get.”

The lead story in The Sun, titled “Sheario,” details how “Alan Shearer is ready to walk out on Newcastle because he is sick of being kept in the dark over the club’s future. The furious Toon idol has no firm idea who is involved in the bidding to take over the relegated Magpies and feels isolated by owner Mike Ashley and managing director Derek Llambias. The Sun can also reveal: Shearer has held secret talks with the BBC about returning to Match of the Day. He is sickened at the way Joey Barton has been allowed back at the club. He feels it is already too late to rebuild the side with the new season just four weeks away.”

Ahead of Newcastle’s first pre-season match today, Michael Walker looks at the mess on Tyneside. “Rudderless, managerless and still on the market, Newcastle United today make their first public appearance since May’s humiliating and embarrassing relegation from the Premier League. It will be in Dublin at the home of Shamrock Rovers and it is another indication of Newcastle’s reduced status that Rovers’ manager Michael O’Neill, a former Newcastle player, said: ‘We could do without this game, if I’m being honest.'”

George Caulkin in The Times also looks at the sorry state of affairs at Newcastle. “The club specialise in low farce and if the sight of the team returning to action — the start of the Coca-Cola Championship is less than a month away — does not put a desperate situation into sharper focus, nothing will. But who is taking notice? Leadership at all levels at Newcastle, from the boardroom to the dugout, is non-existent and every day that elapses represents an opportunity squandered.”

Nick Sczcepanik looks at another side facing uncertainty: Portsmouth. “A skeleton Portsmouth squad has returned to pre-season training as uncertainty about the immediate and long-term future continues to dog the club. With the proposed takeover by Sulaiman al-Fahim well into its second month, the club have no permanent manager and no money with which to add to the number of senior professionals at their Eastleigh headquarters that just about scrapes into double figures.”

The always humorous Giles Smith looks back on Cristiano Ronaldo’s unveiling at the Bernabeu on Monday night. “as an entertainment format, the player unveiling ceremony is a half-hearted and uncertain mess at the moment. If we’re going to be seeing more of these events (and the indications are very much that we are), then we need a root-and-branch overhaul. For instance, was it out of the question to have Ronaldo borne into the arena on a velvet cushion or, better still, descending to the stage on wires while wearing a pair of golden hotpants? Could there not have been fireworks and dance routines — some involving the playmaker himself — and, perhaps, a duet with Sir Elton John or, at the very least, Brandon Flowers from The Killers? And at the end he could have disappeared through a trap door in a plume of purple smoke, leaving everyone looking forward to next season.”

All the papers report on the death of Denise Hendry, wife of former Blackburn Rovers and Scotland central defender Colin Hendry. The Times report is here.

David Conn on his Inside Sport blog analyses Ken Bates’ recent libal trial defeat and what it says about his Leeds. Also in The Guardian, Ewan Murray explains why Mo Johnston still stirs emotions across Glasgow.

Laura Williamson in the Daily Mail features the Glenn Hoddle Academy. “On a pristine football pitch, nestled next to a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course in the baking mid-morning heat of southern Spain, Ikechi Anya makes a speech. The 21-year-old from Oxford has just won a two-year contract with Sevilla, who will play Champions League football next season. He cannot keep a beaming smile off his face. Released by Oxford United and Wycombe Wanderers by the age of 18, Anya, or ‘Kechi’ as he is known, played non-league football for Halesowen Town before joining the Glenn Hoddle Academy (GHA) last September. Nine months later he watched the Confederations Cup on television thinking he could soon be training alongside Luis Fabiano, a Brazil international. Football might not throw up many Cinderella stories these days, but they do not come much better than this.”