Newcastle’s Ben Arfa linked to Liverpool & Monaco, Arsenal chase Reina, Jedvaj & Higuain, Saints agree Wanyama fee

Comment & analysis round-up

Quote of the day: “My situation is clear. I have three more years of my Liverpool contract — but I never say never. I’m very happy and satisfied at Liverpool. But of course if I’m given the chance to improve and go to a bigger club, and now there are a few bigger than Liverpool, I’m sure the club would understand.” – Pepe Reina.

Newcastle Close Shearer’s

Shear cheek: Alan in Toon bar snub (Neil Custis, Sun) Alan Shearer’s name was ripped down from St James’ Park this week — and Newcastle did not even consult him. Cranes arrived on Wednesday to take down the ‘Shearer’s’ sign from the bar named after him at the Gallowgate End. Shearer said: “There was no consultation, I was simply informed by email of their decision to change the name. It was not a question of me agreeing or disagreeing. It is their ground and it is up to the owners what they do with it. It won’t stop me from buying my season tickets and supporting the team.”

Shearer left stunned by bar rebrand as Kinnear is dealt ‘Domestos’ nickname (Neil Ashton, Mail) Alan Shearer has been stunned by the timing of Mike Ashley’s decision to rebrand the bar named in his honour at St James’ Park, where Joe Kinnear is nicknamed ‘Domestos’.

Newcastle deny row after ripping down iconic ‘Shearer’s’ sign outside bar (Louise Taylor, Guardian) Club officials said the wrecking crew began work on Wednesday, hours before Shearer’s caustic comments were published. “It’s purely coincidence,” the official said, explaining that the decision to revamp the popular venue situated beneath the Gallowgate End was taken some time ago.

Newcastle want Joe Kinnear to end “horrible” power struggle between Alan Pardew and scout Graham Carr (Simon Bird, Mirror) Joe Kinnear has been brought to Newcastle United to bang heads together and end a feud between manager Alan Pardew and his chief scout, Graham Carr. Pardew and Carr have been at odds for months, and there have been disagreements over the Magpies’ past and future signings. Now Kinnear, a man ironically renowned for his confrontational style and ability to divide opinion, has been parachuted into the internal battle as all-powerful referee and peace-maker.

Joe Kinnear’s arrival casts doubt on Hatem Ben Arfa future at Newcastle (Martin Hardy, Independent) The France midfielder wants to stay at the club and talks were due to start about him extending the contract he signed when he moved to the club. Despite problems with injury, in the last two years the 26-year-old has still scored 11 goals for Newcastle from 56 starts. That form has caught the eye of both Liverpool and Monaco.

Arsenal Track Reina, Jedvaj, Higuain

Reina: I’d go to a bigger club than Liverpool (Mark Irwin, Sun) Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is a long-time admirer who is looking to replace the inconsistent Wojciech Szczesny while former club Barca are also in the market for a new keeper after Victor Valdes recently confirmed he will be leaving the Nou Camp when his contract expires next summer. Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers is already lining up Sunderland’s Simon Mignolet.

Arsene’s Tin man (Andrew Dillon, Sun) Arsene Wenger is lining up a £6million bid for Croatian wonder kid Tin Jedvaj. The Arsenal boss is keen to pounce after Italian giants Roma failed with a £5m bid for the Dinamo Zagreb defender just days ago. Jedvaj, 17, is the most highly-rated player from Croatia since midfielder Luka Modric.

Arsenal seal £50m deal for Higuain and Rooney could be set to follow (Sami Mokbel, Mail) Arsenal have finally joined the Premier League’s biggest spenders after finalising a record-breaking deal to sign Real Madrid striker Gonzalo Higuain that could be worth a staggering £50million. And the club’s billionaire shareholder Alisher Usmanov has also urged manager Arsene Wenger to keep splashing the cash with a move for Wayne Rooney.

Gonzalo Higuaín agrees terms with Arsenal as transfer edges closer (David Hytner, Guardian) Gonzalo Higuaín has reached an agreement in principle with Arsenal over personal terms on a four-year contract, as his move from Real Madrid edges closer. The Argentina striker is the marquee addition that Arsène Wenger wants this summer and the manager is ready to break the Arsenal transfer record to sign him.

Thiago To Man United, Part XVIII

United close on £17m deal for Barca midfield maestro Thiago after agreeing personal terms on £5m-a-year deal (Chris Wheeler, Mail) Manchester United are on the verge of signing Barcelona midfield star Thiago Alcantara in a £17million deal… They still have to finalise a deal with Barcelona and sources say that it is unlikely there will be any announcement on Friday, but discussions between the two clubs will continue over the weekend.

Manchester United transfer target Thiago Alcantara is also being eyed by Chelsea and Bayern (David McDonnell, Mirror) Bayern boss Pep Guardiola, who gave Alcantara his first professional contract at Barcelona, wants to bring the 22-year-old to Germany. Thiago’s release clause dropped to £15million after he failed to play over 30 minutes in 60 per cent of Barca’s league games last season.

Liverpool Paid Carroll To Leave

Liverpool paid Andy Carroll around £1m to finally say yes to West Ham transfer (Darren Lewis, Mirror) Liverpool have paid Andy Carroll around £1million to leave Anfield… The Mirror understands the Anfield giants increased the amount of money they were demanding from West Ham so that they could in turn pay Carroll off.

Who’ll Land Wanyama?

Southampton agree £10m fee for Celtic’s Wanyama but Liverpool, Arsenal and Inter could join the race (Chris Wheeler, Mail) Southampton have agreed a £10million fee with Celtic for Kenyan midfielder Victor Wanyama. The Saints are among a number of clubs interested in Waynama – including Arsenal, Liverpool and Inter Milan – and there are now likely to be a number of rival bids for him. The 21-year-old has become one of Celtic’s top players since joining the Scottish champions from Belgian club Beerschot for just £900,000 two years ago.

Saviour Sol

Campbell Keen On Lions (David Woods, Star) Sol Campbell is interested in the England Under-21s manager’s job… Michael Appleton, Gareth Southgate and Peter Taylor have been put forward as the most likely candidates for the job.

Not-Breaking News: England Can’t Win The World Cup

You think it’s all over (Harry Redknapp, Sun) SunSport’s exclusive survey shows a staggering 91 per cent of fans have written off our chances of winning the World Cup in the next decade and 84 per cent think the Premier League don’t care if England are successful… Perhaps I was over-optimistic in the past. I believed we would win the World Cup in South Africa three years ago. I thought we had a great squad and, man for man, we did. It looks like I got carried away but we have always had, and still have, great players, I just don’t think we use them in the right way. I can’t believe things are as bad as many fans feel though about the future. It can’t be that grim for the next 10 years can it?

A Fans’ Revolution? Really?

A Waterloo moment is on the horizon as the average football fan walks away from the beautiful game (Jeff Powell, Mail) The Battle of Gloucester Place – against soaring ticket prices – was lost just as surely on those elegant pavements as Napoleon’s Imperial Army was routed in the mud and gore of a Belgian field. They just don’t know it yet because the fatal blows were inflicted by soft words and hard-nosed avarice, not bayonets and gunshot. But they will two years from now, by when the last drops of financial lifeblood will have been squeezed from the less privileged followers of the national game. The cost of attending matches here is severing football from its roots. The final phase in altering the landscape of the stadium from the cloth cap era to the domain of those who can afford to rub shoulders with wealth and celebrity is under way.