West Ham face fresh Tevez inquiry & Cristiano Ronaldo has “reached a verbal agreement” to join Real Madrid

Comment & analysis round-up

Quote of the day: “We can’t get the top players. We are looking for players where there is something wrong with them. We are not at Crufts, we are at Battersea Dogs Home. We go looking for strays, get them in and cuddle them. He has had his problems. I have dealt with players who have had these problems before. It is a fresh start for Matty [Etherington]. I’m just hoping it works out here.” – Tony Pulis.

Runner-up: “I don’t think it [a move to White Hart Lane] is in the interests of our club or in the interests of Stewart. There’s a certain level that, if Stewart’s going to leave this club, he should be going to. I’m not knocking Tottenham but I’ve had plenty of conversations with Stewart about his future, the majority of which I’d prefer to keep private. He totally understands I want the best for him.” – Gareth Southgate.

Today’s overview: And just like that West Ham find themselves in the middle of a fresh crisis which could have far reaching consequences.

The news that the FA are set to reopen their investigation into West Ham’s Carlos Tevez affair could not have come at a worse time for the Londoners. Owen Gibson explains the essence of the new investigation, “which will focus on the conduct of West Ham chief executive Scott Duxbury in the wake of the Premier League’s original ruling on the matter.” Paul Kelso adds that “if they are found to have misled the League they could be charged with a breach of rule B13, which requires clubs to act in good faith, and may face a new round of disciplinary hearings and the prospect of further fines or points deductions.”

For David Hytner, “the decision by the Football Association and Premier League to open a fresh inquiry into the affair raised the prospect of the club being pressed further towards the abyss.” Gary Jacob adds to the negative assessment of the situation, saying “West Ham were already a questionable purchase in the short term, but the chances of concluding a takeover now appear dead.”

Henry Winter comes to the defence of West Ham in face of these latest developments arguing “This is getting stupid. When it comes to the Football Association and Premier League punishing West Ham for breaking rules on the third party ownership of Carlos Tevez, the horse has not only bolted, he is halfway across the country and wearing a different livery.”

Ahead of the meeting between Manchester United and Chelsea on Sunday, Matt Hughes calls on Scolari to prove himself in the big games. “Chelsea will soon discover if they have recruited a genuine champion, or whether a World Cup triumph can be used to mask mediocrity.” Staying with the Blues,

In news that no Manchester United fans will enjoy reading, Gabriele Marcotti reports that “Cristiano Ronaldo has, via Jorge Mendes, his agent, reached a verbal agreement with Florentino Pérez, the former Real Madrid president, to join the Spanish club, according to reports in Spain. It is understood that Pérez will use this promise when he stands for election as Real president in 2010.” Kevin Garside is also convinced that “Ronaldo will go to Spain on United’s terms, most probably this summer” arguing that “it would be nice if the light could return to Ronaldo’s eyes on Sunday and for the big games to come so that he might remind the club of what he once meant to them. The dislocation at Derby was gut-wrenching for any that feels the pull of the red shirt.”

Ivan Gazidis joined the Arsenal management structure this week and Jeremy Wilson investigates the impact of his arrival. “From sorting out new contracts for existing players to overseeing the club’s strategy through the worst recession in modern times, the in-tray is probably already overflowing… Gazidis should bring an injection of dynamism and youth to the Arsenal boardroom, though his commitment to the club’s long-term philosophy of being self-sustainable appears absolute.” And staying with the Gunners, Mikey Stafford reports on a hamstring problem for William Gallas that will have him sidelined for at least 3 weeks thereby seemingly ruling “out any chance of the disaffected Kolo Touré leaving during the January transfer window.”

In other transfer news, Oliver Kay quotes Charles N’Zogbia, who “has said that Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur have expressed an interest in signing him, but the Newcastle United midfield player would prefer to move to Arsenal.” Emily Benammar claims that “Spurs have had a £6 million bid for Sunderland striker Kenwyne Jones rejected” with their attention now turned to Emile Heskey. And Portsmouth have apparently fended off Liverpool’s pursuit of Glen Johnson, the Daily Mail saying Johnson “will instead sign improved terms with Portsmouth.”

The latest Manchester City transfer rumours include Rory Smith’s report that the Citizens are chasing Lazio’s Mauro Zarate for £30 million, while Ian Wright talks up the chances of Carlos Tevez moving across to the blue half of the city. “There’s rumours Manchester City could be in for him and when you think about it, not many clubs have the money to pay the amount needed. Apart from City. And, maybe Tevez could be persuaded to make the move to Eastlands, particularly as he wouldn’t even have to move home. It wouldn’t surprise me.”

The Independent have taken time out to list their 20 best players outside the Premier League. “Michael Kightly, second to Hutton last year, is now top. He is one of five Wolves players selected, reflecting their impressive first half of the season. Second-placed Reading have four representatives but Birmingham, the other front-runner, just James McFadden, and he is not considered to be performing at his best.” The full list can be seen here.