While “the Emirates bloodletting must stop” (Rob Kelly), “it is still difficult to imagine Arsene Wenger going back for Patrick Vieira” (John Cross)

Comment & analysis round-up

Quote of the day: “I am hearing Vieira, pay-as-you-play, back at Arsenal. That’s what I’m hearing and that’s what I’m hoping.” – Ian Wright.

Runner-up: “I am delighted to welcome Kolo to Manchester City. It is no secret that we have been looking to strengthen our defence and, in Kolo, I feel we have recruited a world-class player. He brings a wealth of Premier League experience from his seven seasons with Arsenal. Kolo has been a central figure in a very strong Arsenal team for many years and I have been an admirer of him for a long time. He is strong, quick, reads the game well and will be an influential figure in the dressing room.” – Mark Hughes.

Today’s overview: For once strikers are not the talk of Fleet Street this Thursday as Kolo Toure, Joleon Lescott, Patrick Vieira and Xabi Alonso take the lead in the juiciest stories of the day.

The Citizens spending machine continues to work in overdrive, Daniel Taylor summarising how “Manchester City completed the £14m signing of Kolo Toure… and immediately set about trying to bring in another central defender by bidding £19m for Joleon Lescott of Everton.”

Any deal for Lescott appears complicated, James Ducker writing how David Moyes “believes that Lescott is worth about £30 million… although the situation may come to a head if the player decides to submit a transfer request.” And while most papers suggest that Matthew Upson will be Hughes’ target in the event that Lescott stays put, Rory Smith claims “Hughes will turn his attentions to Roma defender Philippe Mexes.”

With Kolo Toure now joining Adebayor at Eastlands, will Arsenal look to bring in new blood as replacements?

Yes, scream The Sun, as Charlie Wyatt splashes with news that “Wenger wants Patrick Vieira to make a shock return to Arsenal… [Spurs,] Fulham and Birmingham are also interested but Arsenal are favourites and would only have to pay an initial £750,000.” In a secondary article, Charlie Wyatt assesses the merits of Vieira returning to the Gunners. “If Vieira does arrive, there is no guarantee he can turn back the clock… Bringing a 33-year-old back to the club might not seem the way forward.”

The Mirror’s John Cross also questions the value in signing the Frenchman. “Vieira would jump at the chance of going back to Arsenal but even though the club are keen to sign a midfield anchorman it is still difficult to imagine Wenger going back for his former skipper.”

Citing the “£39m question,” David Hytner questions whether Arsene Wenger will bring in any fresh meat to Arsenal before the transfer window shuts. “To [Wenger] it makes no sense to develop a young player, only then to place the obstacle of a name signing in front of him.”

The oodles of money sitting dormant in Wenger’s pockets are driving Rob Kelly up the wall. “The Emirates bloodletting must stop. Enough is enough. Wenger must either spend some of the £50m that is coming Arsenal’s way or announce that the club’s well of money has run dry. No more talk about the potential of his young squad. Some have potential, while some – such as Abou Diaby - simply cannot cut it. The fans want signings and if they do not get them, they deserve answers.

For Oliver Kay, Arsenal’s need for new recruits is an issue which “comes down to whether you trust Wenger’s judgment… To the outsider, there is a glaring need for more experience, more physical presence and more character – shortcomings that would seem to have been compounded, rather than addressed, by the sales of Toure and Adebayor. But when Wenger, while continuing to search for reinforcements, has told his board that Arsenal will be a force to be reckoned with next season, he has done so with conviction, rather than hope.”

the mark of a top-class entrepreneur is that he does good business in a slump, marvel afresh at Arsene Wenger… That would have been good business even if the forthcoming season did not include the African Cup of Nations.”

Is the Bhoys’ Champions League adventure already over?

Having watched the loss to Dynamo Moscow, Graham Spiers concluded “Mowbray can have no complaints – his team were just not good enough on the night.” Ewan Murray has little cause for optimism the Celtic can turn the tie around, noting “Celtic’s recent away form in European competition is so bad that the sanity of even their most fanatical followers should be questioned before they board charter flights from Glasgow airport for such games.”

Newcastle’s squad continues to disband amid the Magpies’ debacle, Louise Taylor reporting how Obafemi Martins is set to leave Newcastle for Wolfsburg for £9m while “Sebastien Bassong, a much coveted centre half admired by Arsenal and Tottenham, and Habib Beye, a sought after right-back, are ‘desperate’ to depart Newcastle.” Geoff Sweet tries to inject some sunshine onto the Toon lying that “Kevin Keegan could make a sensational return to Newcastle if a Dubai tycoon succeeds with a £100million bid for the troubled club.”

James Ducker reports how Liverpool, desperate to cling onto Xabi Alonso, have issued yet another seemingly baseless ultimatum in which Real Madrid have been given yet another “48 hours to complete the signing of Xabi Alonso as the Merseyside club seek to end speculation about the Spain midfield player’s future.” However, in the Daily Mail Chris Wheeler splashes with news that “Liverpool are on the verge of striking a compromise deal to sell Xabi Alonso to Real Madrid and will plough part of his transfer fee into bids for Wigan midfielder Lee Cattermole and Hull defender Michael Turner.”

The Blues’ remain in the hunt for a marquee signing with Jeremy Wilson trumpeting that “Chelsea have not given up on signing Franck Ribery, despite Bayern Munich on Wednesday placing an extraordinary £80 million valuation on their winger.” On the outgoings from the Bridge, the Independent publish that “Chelsea striker Claudio Pizarro is still interesting Werder Bremen, where he spent last season on loan,” while the Mail toots “Inter Milan are ready to revive their interest in Chelsea midfielder Deco if Alexander Hleb snubs a loan move to the Italian champions.”

Sam Wallace claims that Aston Villa have joined Sunderland in the race for Darren Bent’s signature, the Daily Mail add that Hull are also interested in dazzling Dazzer, while a second opinion in the Daily Mail farts “Aston Villa are monitoring Robbie Keane’s situation at Tottenham following Peter Crouch’s £9m move to White Hart Lane from Portsmouth.”

In classic tabloid nonsense, two polar opposite opinions are today forwarded over the liklihood of Nikola Kalinic moving to Pompey. The Daily Mail confidently cry “Croatia striker Nikola Kalinic has flown home without completing his £5.5m move to Portsmouth following a row over the transfer fee.” But the Express’ Peter White scribbles “Paul Hart hopes to strengthen his squad today by signing Croatia striker Nikola Kalinic from Hajduk Split.”

Elsewhere a couple of defenders could be on the move as the Mirror claim “Robert Huth is ready for a return to London in a £2million deal with Fulham,” and the red-top also boast that “Aston Villa are poised to make a £12million move for West Ham defender Matthew Upson.”

Lastly, Jonathan Wilson procudes yet another standout article in the Guardian, centrally focused on whether a Russian team can win the Champions League. But tucked inside the paragraphs is an amazing observation “that no side from any of the seven largest metropolitan areas of Europe – Istanbul, Paris, Moscow, London, St Petersburg, Berlin and Athens – has ever won the European Cup.”


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