“There are enough attacking options at Old Trafford to make the risk of injuries to which [Michael] Owen has become prone less of a problem than at most other clubs.” – Ian Herbert

Comment & analysis round-up

Quote of the day: “If someone’s paying you [Beckham] more than anybody in the league, more than double anybody in the league, the least we expect is that you show up to every game, whether you’re suspended or not. Show up and train hard. Show up and play hard. Maybe he’s not a leader, maybe he’s not a captain. Fair enough. But at a minimum you should bust your ass every day. That hasn’t happened. And I don’t think that’s too much for us to expect. Especially when he’s brought all this on us. I can’t even say he’s a good team-mate any more. He’s not shown that. I can’t think of another guy where I’d say he wasn’t a good team-mate, he didn’t give everything through all this, he didn’t still care. But with Beckham, I’d say no, he wasn’t committed. Let’s say he does stay here three more years. I’m not going to spend the next three years of my life doing it this way… I don’t want to have soccer be this way. I’ve got to confront it somehow. If that’s the way he’s going to be, fine, then hold him accountable. Bench him. Just say, ‘We’re not going to play you, we don’t think you’re committed.”‘ – Landon Donovan.

Runner-up: “The player [Benzema] wishes to take the opportunity offered to him by Real Madrid to become one of the key players in an ambitious new policy involving several of the world’s biggest players. Lyon has accepted Karim Benzema’s decision and negotiated the terms of a transfer which satisfies all sides.” – A statement from Lyon.

Today’s overview: The big transfer news this Thursday is that Real Madrid, and not Manchester United have signed Karim Benzema from Lyon.

According to Jason Burt, United simply could not attract the attention of Benzema. “Once United became aware that Lyon had accepted Real’s bid they then submitted an offer of 40 million euros (£35 million). However Benzema was already too far progressed in his discussions with Real, having also spoken to United, and the Spanish club were also willing to add extra payments, depending on targets and bonuses, which meant their bid came in slightly higher than United’s. Benzema has agreed a six-year deal.”

And it gets worse. Rory Smith makes the case that “Manchester United have £80 million to spend but nobody to buy,” while delivering news that no United fan will want to hear James Ducker warns the Red Devils that no new strikers may be in the offing. “Some well-placed sources have claimed that Ferguson may not even sign a striker this summer and will instead look to Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov to spearhead United’s attack next season. Injuries to either player, however, would leave his front line severely depleted.”

But that does not stop others trying to play matchmaker for United. A typically faceless article in the Daily Mail prints “United are thought to be in discussions with Chile forward Alexis Sanchez, but the little-known young Chile star would hardly excite the Old Trafford faithful and suggestions that Udinese’s asking price has risen to more than £20m is a barrier to a deal.” Over in the Mirror Kevin Francis claims that “Toulouse striker Andre-Pierre Gignac [is] a realistic option” for the champions.

Amazingly, after suggesting that United could turn attention to Zlatan or Eto’o, Ian Herbert then makes the case for Michael Owen to move to Old Trafford. “Michael Owen as a short-term measure? The prospect is an intriguing one. Ferguson tried to sign the 29-year-old as a youngster and there have been rumours that he has returned with inquiries since. The £40,000 a week Owen might be prepared to accept will certainly not hurt United and there are enough attacking options at Old Trafford to make the risk of injuries to which Owen has become prone less of a problem than at most other clubs.”

Speaking with Arsenal’s chief executive Ivan Gazidis, the Guardian’s David Conn learns about the Gunners’ ambitions of self-sufficiency. “That means spending within its means, from the booming revenues at the Emirates, and that none of the billionaires like Kroenke, or millionaires like Fiszman, are expected to put their money into the club itself.” In a separate article David Conn focuses on Gazidis’ belief that the Premier League should have a salary cap, and why such an idea appears a non-starter. “The idea of a salary cap has never gained support with Premier League owners, who have always preferred the free and unregulated system in which they can pour in money to buy the players they want, and then pay them what they want.”

Keeping with the North Londoners Dominic Fifield reports on William Gallas’ decision to see out the final year of his contract at the Emirates. “[Wenger] may decide to seek a fee for the player now rather than risk losing him for nothing in a year.” And it looks like Wenger has moved quickly to shift his centre-half as over in the Telegraph Jason Burt reports that “Chelsea’s deal to sell Ricardo Carvalho and Deco to Inter Milan is close to collapse… Inter are now turning their attentions to signing William Gallas from Arsenal, who may be sold for around £4 million.”

Sick of hearing his complaints, Lawrence Donegan lays into Carlos Tevez for his “self-regard and sour grapes.” “Carlos Tevez is not the first player to believe his own publicity but he might be the only man alive who thinks he, too, possesses the hindsight that allowed Lord Griffiths to pronounce on football matters not as they were but as they might have been had they not been as they were.”

Moving over to Eastlands and Rob Kelly pokes fun at the figures involved in the propsed transfer of Samuel Eto’o. “At £200,000 a week I would want him to score a hat-trick in every match, find a solution to swine flu and restore Michael Jackson to rude health… Eto’o is notorious for possessing an ego large enough that he has to check it in separately at airports.”

The Independent’s daily transfer column today reports “David Villa is closing in on a move to Barcelona after reportedly meeting the Catalans’ sporting director Txiki Beguristain. Barca are also set to turn their attentions once more to Arsenal’s Cesc Fabregas.”

What is it about the Daily Mail refusing to have hacks sign their names to crappy transfer stories. Does the tabloid not realise how shady these articles look?! That said the pseudo-tabloid today coughs the lies that Dean Ashton may be on his way to Stoke, that “Aston Villa have inquired about Middlesbrough’s England winger Stewart Downing,” and that Wolves are interested in Monaco’s £1.5m-rated midfielder Jerko Leko.

Sadly the nameless articles are also a staple of today’s nonsense spouted in The Sun. The red-top manages to churn out several articles which seem to have little substance including news that “Clint Dempsey is in line for a shock switch to Everton after he turned down Fulham’s latest offer of a new two-year contract.” Elsewhere we learn that Steve Bruce is also closing in on Reading’s Steven Hunt and £6.5million Chile forward Humberto Suazo, new Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti remains on the case of signing Alexandre Pato, while Patrick Vieira has apparently been given a final £100,000-a-week offer by Birmingham.