“Manchester United fans must be getting anxious that City could soon overtake them as Manchester’s biggest spenders and most glamorous club” – Terry Venables

Comment & analysis round-up

Quote of the day: “There’s going to be interest [from City] because the money’s there and the investors are there, and they’ll want great players and great talent in the team, but I don’t think JT will move because he’s Chelsea through and through. Chelsea won’t want to lose him either. A player’s happiness is the biggest thing. If you’ve got passion to play for the club you’re at and if you’re at the club you always wanted to be at, then that goes beyond any money. JT’s like that. He’s passionate about football, not passionate about money. He’ll decide what’s best for his football career. It won’t be about money for him. At the end of the day he’s England captain and you don’t become England captain by being greedy. You become captain because you’re passionate about the game.” – David Beckham.

Runner-up: “Michael Owen is an experienced player. He has played at the biggest club, he has everything to win at United. He is at a fantastic club and he is a great player. It was a good decision to give him the number seven. You don’t have a lot of pressure just because you have the number seven. It was a good decision by United… Real Madrid can win many titles, I believe we are going to win the Spanish league and the Champions League as well. We have a great coach, great players, so we have the possibility of winning.” – Cristiano Ronaldo.

Today’s overview: As Manchester City continue to splash their cash, the transfer window is getting busy with a whole raft of clubs making moves.

The main story in The Guardian today is that “Manchester City have responded to David Moyes’ public insistence that he will not sell Joleon Lescott by trying to call the Everton manager’s bluff with a first official offer for the player. The Eastlands club made a bid of £15m… The offer is likely to be rejected but Everton are aware that City have the financial muscle to follow up with an improved financial package. The biggest spenders in the English game have been encouraged to think that Lescott is keen to join a club who seem determined to buy their way into the Champions League.”

The Independent also run the City-Lescott story, Ian Herbert writes: “Manchester City tabled a bid of around £15m for Everton’s Joleon Lescott yesterday, underlining manager Mark Hughes’ belief that the England international is needed as a partner for John Terry, and not a back-up.”

The main transfer rumour in The Times is that “Manchester United have cooled their pursuit of Douglas Costa, the Brazilian forward, amid frustration at the exorbitant demands of Grêmio. United opened negotiations with Grêmio last month, but discussions are unlikely to resume this summer unless the Brazilian club dramatically reduce a prohibitive £20 million asking price for the teenager.”

Peter Crouch is set to join Fulham and snub Sunderland, according to the Daily Mail, Manchester City could swoop for Diego Forlan if their move for Emmanuel Adebayor falls through and Tottenham are closing in on Alvaro Negredo.

On Crouch, The Times claim “Tottenham Hotspur and Fulham have been given until next week to make an offer for Peter Crouch after the Portsmouth and England forward held talks on Wearside yesterday.  Sunderland have agreed a fee of £12 million with Portsmouth, but Crouch would prefer to remain in the south of the country despite being impressed by Steve Bruce’s set-up.”

The Sun have a host of transfer stories: Chelsea are closing in on Nemanja Matic, Blackburn have lined up Erwin Hoffer and Wigan have won the race for Scottish wonder kid James McCarthy.

The Independent claim “Blackburn Rovers target Nikola Zigic is being chased by 15 clubs, according to the Valencia striker’s agent,” and “Tottenham Hotspur have beaten Everton to the signing of both Kyle Naughton and Kyle Walker from Sheffield United. The two right-backs will join Spurs this month in a deal worth a total of £8m, despite Naughton having been a long-term target for David Moyes.”

On the one major completed transfer from yesterday, Stewart Downing has praised Martin O’Neill. “As soon as I spoke to the manager at the training ground, I wanted to play for Villa and I wanted to play for him. He has great ambition and wants to build a good squad to take the club forward. I want to be part of that. As an outsider looking in, it was obvious that Villa were a club on the up. You can see a chairman and manager who want to build great things. They have done that over the past few seasons, particularly by finishing sixth last time around, which was great.”

Terry Venables, in his column in The Sun, urges Manchester United to sign Samuel Eto’o. “If there is no need for panic. United fans must be getting anxious that City could soon overtake them as Manchester’s biggest spenders and most glamorous club. Ferguson needs to allay those fears with a marquee signing. Eto’o is a realistic target and world-class player. They need one more top striker and this would be United’s chance to not only sign a world-class player but exact some revenge for Tevez’s switch. Eto’o might not have been keen about moving to City but United would prove a much more attractive prospect. City are aiming to become a force in Europe. United already are. They need to make sure they stay that way.”

As ever The Guardian have a selection of off-beat articles to keep the discussions flowing. John Deurden in The Guardian reports on “the other United” targetting Asia with FC United playing in South Korea in the same week as Manchester United. “For FC United, formed in 2005 after the Malcolm Glazer takeover by disaffected Manchester United fans and now playing in the seventh-tier mouthful that is the Northern Premier League Premier Division, pre-season Asian exhibitions are the kinds of things that Glazer would approve of. But FC United deny that the match with fellow fan-operated team Bucheon 1995 is like ‘Big United’s’ tour.”

David Conn writes of Wycombe Wanderers, “football’s original members club is now wholly owned by businessman Steve Hayes.” “Wycombe Wanderers supporters voted by 81% last week to transfer their shareholding in the club to businessman Steve Hayes, who now owns Wycombe 100%. There is, though, a significant, disgruntled minority of fans who either voted against it, or who voted in favour but felt they had been given no choice.”

Anna Kessel analyses whether our attitude towards South Africa “is evolving as rapidly as the nation itself.” “South Africa is still finding its feet, still feeling the reverberations of decades of oppression and persecution of its indigenous population. So things aren’t exactly rosy, but are you surprised? South Africa 2010 won’t be like Germany 2006 – that last World Cup was organisational genius. Still, let’s not lose perspective here. South Africa hosts approximately eight million visitors a year; this is a country where tourism is a well-established industry, with tourists swarming to beaches and game reserves, mountain trails and holiday resorts – this is not some random backwater run by despots.”


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