Sparky is set to spend, while Arsenal could lose Theo Walcott for just £400,000

Comment & analysis round-up

Quote of the day: “There is no doubt Theo is frustrated at the lack of action over a new deal. The club said talks would start in October because they wanted to see how Theo started the season. Theo accepted that because he has the utmost respect for Arsene Wenger. Most people would agree Theo was one of Arsenal’s best players until he picked up his latest shoulder injury. He was doing well for both his club and country but still nothing happened on the contract front. The fact is, he feels as if he’s being taken for granted at the moment, as if people simply expect him to sign a contract.” – a “source” speaking to the Daily Telegraph.

Runner-up: “Mark is part of building the club, from the playing side right through to making this a great place for employees. What we don’t do is sit around worrying about what happens if it goes wrong. Once we get through the first window, when Mark’s impact will be able to advance the future of the football club, things will start to settle down. Mark’s plans and the way he is running the team are going to build and change and the confidence will start to build.” – Manchester City’s chief executive, Garry Cook.

Today’s overview: On day five of the transfer window it finally looks like things are hotting up, with Manchester City homing in on further recruits after signing Wayne Bridge, while Tottenham are linked to a couple of familiar faces. But the biggest transfer story of the day revolves around Arsenal’s fight to hold onto Theo Walcott.

Manchester City are all set to splash the cash again, Daniel Taylor reporting that a £12m deal for Scott Parker and a £18m deal for Roque Santa Cruz, with Tal Ben Haim going to Rovers, are close to conclusion. Offering a slight difference of opinion, Sam Wallace claims that City are to bid £20m for Craig Bellamy and Scott Parker.

But the biggest transfer news surrounding the Citizens is delivered by Rory Smith, suggesting that Theo Walcott could move to Eastlands. “Theo Walcott was also linked to Manchester City on Sunday with Arsenal reported to be dragging their feet on a new contract. Arsene Wenger knows he runs the risk of losing the England striker for just £400,000 if the club allow his contract to end. Under Fifa rules, any buying club would have to pay £80,000 training costs for every year that Walcott has been at Arsenal, which would equate to just under £400,000 by the time his contract expires next year.” Matt Law picks up on the same story adding that “Walcott could even buy himself out of the last year of his contract for £1million in May, but that is not an option the player or his advisers are currently considering.”

Whipping up a frenzy is The Sun’s Steven Howard, who today explains why Sparky has to go. ” Everyone – Hughes especially – keeps banging on about how they are ‘proper’ football people, imbued with patience and unlikely to make knee-jerk reactions. But the present situation cannot continue. If the Sheikh’s second tranche of millions does not bring immediate results, then Sparky cannot expect to survive the summer.” And in a supplementary article, The Sun even put together a list of managers they suggest to take the top job at City. (How did Gordon Strachan get his name on the list?)

By contrast, Alan Hansen applauds the City owners for supporting Mark Hughes. “They haven’t had a knee-jerk reaction; they have looked at Hughes’ track record and decided he is the right man for the job. Let’s hope they stick to that policy.”

Jermain Defoe’s time at Portsmouth could be ending soon, Anna Kessel writing “Defoe has made it plain he wants to leave and [Harry] Redknapp’s determination to wrap up a deal swiftly has been heightened by injury to Darren Bent.” And according to Simon Jones Defoe’s return to Spurs is all but done “as the clubs thrashed out a fee close to £15million” last night. Jamie Redknapp used his column in the Daily Mail to explain (in very basic language) the Defoe transfer – “Jermain Defoe scores goals. It’s why my dad wants to sign him again. Dad loves his fox in the box.”

According to Antony Kastrinakis, Spurs are also looking to recruit another former player who they recently let go, as “Pascal Chimbonda is in line for a shock return to Tottenham. Spurs boss Harry Redknapp is looking at a loan deal for the French right-back.”

One team not set to buy is Chelsea, although Jason Burt is puzzled as to why. “It is a curious state of affairs especially in view of the failed £30m bid for Robinho that Chelsea made, and Scolari prayed would succeed, during the summer.”

In other transfer news, Mike Anstead puts together a list of the best free transfers around in 2009. “No2: Daniel Sturridge How did Manchester City let their young hotshot’s contract run down? Sturridge will be offered a big new deal but with competition already tough and new faces set to arrive, he may fancy his chances elsewhere. City face a nervy few weeks as the striker makes up his mind.”

The Merseyside derby was the picks of the draws in the fourth round of the FA Cup yesterday, but Steven Gerrard may be forced to miss the tie according to Under the terms of a new contract with Setanta and ITV, one match in each round takes place on a Friday night this season, which would present a problem for Liverpool as Steven Gerrard is due in court on January 23, which would rule him out of any match that evening.”

Elsewhere, Gabriele Marcotti investigates Adriano’s recent troubles at Inter Milan, noting “unless Mourinho decides he wants to embark on one of the greatest reclamation projects in footballing history (and manages to pull it off), the love affair will be over.” And lastly, tonight sees the airing of Channel 4’s fly-on-the-wall documentary about Paul Gascoigne, “Surviving Gazza,” and Oliver Kay describes the Gazza that will be seen on screen. “He is at his lowest ebb, again, and the only question is how much lower he can possibly sink, how much more of it he can take before the demons win their final battle.”