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Back pages | Anorak - Part 29

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Premier League news. Stories from the newspapers and BBC sport – sports news from tabloids Daily Mail, Daily Express, Daily Star, the Guardian, Daily Mirror, the times, daily telegraph

Jack Wilshere leaves Arsenal for Bournemouth

Good news. Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere has agreed to join the mighty Bournemouth on loan for the rest of the season. He will play under Eddie Howe, the man many see as Arsene Wenger’s replacement. The Cherries have gained a top talent. Arsenal see their protege playing regular Premier League football. England watch their most talented midfielder find his form.

And perhaps the best news of all: injury-prone Jack Wilshere passed his medical!

The BBC says he was heading to Italy but “The Gunners refused to do business with Roma because of the way they handled a potential move for defender Kostas Manolas earlier this summer.”

Oliver Kay in the Times:

Since turning heads across Europe with a wonderful breakthrough season as a teenager in 2010-11, Wilshere has started only 49 Premier League matches in five years. Injuries have blighted his career but so too, increasingly, has competition for places at Arsenal.

Wenger wants a fit Wilshere competing for selection but, with Granit Xhaka added to a wealth of midfield options, he no longer feels able to give him time to build up his rhythm and confidence. Wilshere knows that a loan move is now his best hope of getting his career back on track.

The Guardian calls Wilshere the “biggest loser”:

In terms of individuals, there can be no doubt who has been the summer’s biggest loser…

Arsène Wenger is by a distance the longest-serving manager in the Premier League and a byword for stability and consistency. He still has his vision for the future but as things stand Wilshere is no longer part of it. While there is plenty of support and understanding for the player within the club, patience appears to have run out.

Paying £90,000-a-week to a player who rarely performs is too expensive. If he plays well at AFC Bournemouth – and Arsenal get their usual rash of injuries – we should expect Jack the lad to be back at the Emirates.

 

Posted: 31st, August 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment (1)


Transfer balls: Moussa Sissoko to Spurs, Chelsea show late interest and Odemwinge II

Transfer balls: Moussa Sissoko is on his way to Spurs from Newcastle. He’s been allowed to leave the France training camp at Clairefontaine to seek a new club.

Newcastle want £30m for him. Spurs are offering tuppence and an IOU. Well, not quite. Sky Sports says Newcastle will “accept five payments of £6m each for Moussa Sissoko”. The Guardian wonders, “Is it six payments of £5m each or, hang on, now it’s 15 payments of £2m each? Can we get to 30 million payments of a quid each before the midnight deadline?”

Or as Harry Redknapp tells Talksport: “If Newcastle are asking for £35million Daniel (Levy) will bid £5m.”

The paper adds that Chelsea are also talking with Sissoko.

As for Newcastle, for whom Sissoko still plays, the fans are unimpressed.

@NewcastleStats looks at Moussa Sissoko’s career:

15/16: 37 apps, 1 goal, 7 assists
14/15: 34 apps, 4 goals, 2 assists
13/14: 35 apps, 3 goals, 6 assists

£30m…

People are saying Daniel Levy’s a genius for bidding £16m for Sissoko. He’s not. It’s the prices that are insane.

And finally Sissoko’s gone all Odemwinge:

 

Screen Shot 2016-08-31 at 14.49.37

 

Never mind. There’s always China.

 

Posted: 31st, August 2016 | In: Back pages, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Arsenal transfer balls: Bournemouth overtake Crystal Palace in Jack Wilshere chase

Arsenal will allow Jack Wilshere to join Crystal Palace, says the BBC. But the Daily Mirror says Palace are just one of 22 clubs who have expressed an interest in taking Wilshere on loan.  It would be more but Arsenal will not countenance Wilshere moving to a direct rival for Arsenal’s Champions’ League place.

The Mirror says Everton are top of the list to get Wilshere. The paper’s list runs: Everton, Juventus, Espanyol, Roma, Valencia and Celtic.

The Sun says AC Milan want Wilshere and will add factor in a £30m option to buy the player at the season’s end. “ARRIVEDERCI,” says the paper, “Jack Wilshere poised for AC Milan.” Confusingly, the Sun also says Palace are top of the pile to get Jack. The Times agrees. It adds that Roma and Watford are keen on the England player.

The Guardian says Palace won’t pay all of Wilshere’s Arsenal wages (£90,000-a-week). Bournemouth will. Also, under Eddie Howe, Wilshere will be allowed to use his skill in keeping the ball on the floor. Many have tipped Howe to be the next Arsenal manager. What will he learn at Palace?

Sky says Wilshere will choose between Crystal Palace and Bournemouth, adding that the Arsenal midfielder and his representatives met Palace boss Alan Pardew on Tuesday afternoon and Cherries manager Eddie Howe in the evening.

The south coast or south London?

 

Posted: 31st, August 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Manchester United ‘hero’ Marcus Rashford shames Man City’s ‘obscene’ Raheem Sterling

Do the Press build them up to knock them down? The Sun writes about Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford who “proves he’s a top guy after buying his mum £800,000 home”.

The story continues:

“Manchester United’s latest hero Marcus Rashford has moved his mum and two brothers to a luxury £800,000 house in the leafy Wythenshawe suburb of the city. The English striker, 18, grew up in that area of Manchester and was quick to give his mum a more comfortable pad after bursting onto the scene last year and earning himself a bumper pay day of £25,000-a-week.”

 

obscene raheem the sun

 

Buying your mum a big house is lovely. But he’d better not get too rich or fail to score for England.

When Raheem Sterling showed everyone the house he’d bought for his mother, the Manchester City player was castigated by the Sun. The front-page headline screamed “Obscene Raheem”, noting “England failure steps off plane and insults fans by showing off blinging house”. A source opined: “Any normal person would hang their heads in shame after how they performed in France but these guys come home and show off about how rich they are.”

A “friend of Sterling” told MEN:

“Raheem and his family are really upset that the fact he’s bought a nice house for his mum is being used to hammer him by the media and make him the scapegoat for England’s failure… He bought her the house as a thank you for all her support and help. Now to have his mum’s private life and house being mocked and thrown into the public spotlight has left him furious and frustrated.”

Enjoy it while it lasts, Marcus, you hero.

Posted: 30th, August 2016 | In: Back pages, Manchester City, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comments (3)


Jack Wilshere seeks new Arsenal deal by demanding to leave the club

So, goodbye Jack Wilshere. Arsenal are happy for their midfielder to leave the club on loan. Of course, were a club to offer a loads of money for the England player, then Arsenal would sell him. In an inflated transfer market, what is Jack Wilshere worth – £40m? £50m? £60m?

Although the Telegraph says “Wenger has no intention of selling Wilshere”.

That’s an theory expanded on by the Sun, which reports that “Wilshere demanded a loan move during crisis talks with manager Arsene Wenger”. The paper adds:

The injury-jinxed midfielder, 24, is yet to start a game for the Gunners this season and has been axed from the England squad… Wilshere was hoping to win a new contract at the club. But talks were shelved following another season spent on the sidelines through injury.

Is that demand to leave from Wilshere part of a play to secure that new deal? His current contract that earns him £90,000-a-week has two years left to run.

In May, the Telegraph said: “Arsenal are ready to reward Jack Wilshere for a positive showing at this summer’s European Championship with a contract extension.”

The Sun echoes: “Jack Wilshere set to be offered new deal at Arsenal — but only if he comes through Euro 2016 unscathed.”

We all know how well that tournament went for Wilshere, who was poor.

In April, the Mirror wondered about Wilshere’s off-filed activities:

Arsenal have reportedly shelved plans to hand Jack Wilshere a new contract after he was caught up in a nightclub fracas in the early hours of Sunday morning. The 24-year-old, who is yet to play this season after breaking his leg last August, was thrown out of London hotspot Cafe de Paris at 3am before being questioned by police.

He vehemently denies claims he threw a punch during the incident. Arsene Wenger is running out of patience with the £80,000-a-week midfielder, and the Sun claim he has instructed the club to put renewal talks on hold.

Wilshere’s current deal will expire in the summer of 2018.

Of course, Wilshere could stay at Arsenal and fight for his place in the side. But in the pecking order, he’s behind the hugely promising Granit Xhaka Santi Cazorla, Francis Coquelin, Mohamed Elneny and Aaron Ramsey. 

So what next for Jack, the 2011 PFA young player of the year and the one Arsenal player who identifies with the club, signing off his tweets “Gooner” and goading rivals Spurs? Surely Arsenal will aim to keep the 24-year-old, whose best years lie ahead of him?

Posted: 30th, August 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Spurs and Crystal Palace both want Wilfired Zaha on the cheap

Wilfried_Zaha SpursThe BBC says Crystal Palace have rejected an £18m bid from Tottenham for Wilfried Zaha, 23. Palace want £25m.

Palace chairman Steve Parish says the offer is “ridiculous”.

The Mirror says Crystal Palace striker Christian Benteke “admits he is desperate” for Zaha to remain at Palace. He is? What he said was: “I came to Palace because of the way that they play. Everyone knows Wilf’s ability on the ball and he helped us a lot when he came on. Of course we’d like him to stay. I’ve tried to convince him to stay, but that’s football.”

So not desperate, then, just answering a journalist’s question about a teammate and answering with no little diplomacy. Or as the Mail puts puts in hyperbolic terms: “Christian Benteke pleads with Wilfried Zaha to stay.”

Over in the Telegraph readers get “The curious case of Wilfried Zaha and a very weird transfer window”.  We learn that Spurs manger “Mauricio Pochettino considers Zaha to have the potential of a Cristiano Ronaldo”.

Sam Wallace says Spurs are doing what Spurs do:

It should be said that his Spurs chairman, Daniel Levy, wants to pay a Ronaldo-sized fee – although the fee in question is not the record-breaking £80 million Real Madrid paid in 2009. Rather it was the £12.25 million Manchester United paid Sporting Lisbon for the 18-year-old Ronaldo in 2003.

Was it just Levy doing what Levy does so well? That being, antagonising the competition with derisory bids for their best players while simultaneously demanding top dollar for Spurs’ own collection of waifs and strays? The early signs would suggest so.

So Levy wants a “bargain”. Don’t all clubs want that? Well, not Manchester United, obviously, who paid well over the odds for Paul Pogba. Wallace says if Levy were “serious” he’d start the bidding at £30m.

Maybe it’s all just a way for Zaha to get a fat raise?

Certainly Zaha, on around £40,000-a-week already, will get a new contract out of this wrangle, despite having four years left on his existing deal, which he signed last year when his move back from Manchester United was made permanent. Palace are one of many clubs who are now paying new signings such as Andros Townsend the kind of wages that they have never paid before, and if one talented, erratic winger can earn big money, then it is only a matter of time before the other talented, erratic winger wants the same.

Fair point. When Jamie Vardy’s agent offered his client to Arsenal, the Leicester City striker ended up getting a pay rise to stay at Leicester.

Andros Townsend’s wages at Palace are close to £80,000 a week.

Are Palace getting Zaha on the cheap?

Palace manager Alan Pardew is quoted in the Guardian:

“I’ll try and be as fair and honest as I can be with Wilf and try and take his game forward. I’ve worked so hard with him this year. I’ve probably spent more time with Wilf and [Yannick] Bolasie than with any other player at the training ground, and I’d like to think there’s been an improvement in both. One I’ve lost [to Everton]. I don’t intend to lose the other one, and the chairman’s feelings have obviously enhanced that.”

In September 2015, Bolasie signed a new deal at Palace that saw his wages double from around £20,000 a week to £40,000. At Everton he earns around £80,000-a-week, and very probably secured a percent of the signing-on fee.

Pardew adds:

“At the end of the day, sport is a business, and there are business decisions to be made. But I’ve been at other clubs where the business sometimes comes first. Here I generally feel we try and do it the right way, and we’re trying to help Wilf to become a better player. We think his ambitions to play for England can be realised here, and there’s no reason why that can’t happen.”

Pardew can’t guarantee that Zaha will get better, but Palace can guarantee one of their best players more money in an inflated market.

Posted: 30th, August 2016 | In: Back pages, Sports, Spurs | Comment (1)


Transfer balls: Arsenal in for Antoine Griezmann, Kostas Manolas and Oliver Burke

Transfer balls: No sooner have Arsenal splashed a huge amount of cash on Shkodran Mustafi (£35m) and Lucas Perez (£17m), than Sky Sports says they are in for the excellent French striker Antoine Griezmann and Greek defender Kostas Manolas.

Sky says Atletico Madrid’s Griezmann rejected a move to Arsenal earlier this summer, but Wenger is still keen on the pint-sized scorer, whose six goals won him the Golden Boot at Euro 2016.

The Indy says Wenger was informed that Griezmann “was settled in Spain and would not consider a move to England”. Not even for – get this – £80m, which one site says Arsenal were happy to bid.

The Sun adds that Arsenal “also made a move for Bayern Munich ace Robert Lewandowski, but could not match his huge wage demands.” Well, quite. Arsenal can make a move for lots of players, but if they can’t afford the wages, any approach is at best hopeful.

Instead of the superb Pole, Arsenal are “in the race to sign Nottingham Forest sensation Oliver Burke”, according to the Sun on Sunday. The only other team in the ‘race’, says the Sun, is Manchester United. Which is odd because Burke has just joined Bundesliga newcomers RB Leipzig.

 

Posted: 29th, August 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Manchester United: Luke Shaw on the tackle that nearly ended his career

Manchester United’s Luke Shaw has been talking with the Guardian. His return from a badly broken leg has been arduous – a double break caused by a tackle when United played PSV Eindhoven on September 15 2015.

Is he angry with the tackler, PSV’s Héctor Moreno?

“I partly blame myself. I’d run into their penalty area and I should have shot with my right foot but I wanted to come inside. I wanted to be on my left foot. And then, obviously, the tackle. I don’t even want to think about the tackle, to be honest. At the time I thought: ‘Give him the benefit of the doubt, it wasn’t actually a bad tackle.’ But the more I’ve seen it since, the more I think: ‘You know, that was actually a really bad challenge.’..

The memory has not faded.

 “To be fair to him, he did come to say sorry. He came to the hospital and I saw him face to face in my room. I was quite sympathetic at the time – ‘Aah, look, you can come in, it’s fine’ – but at the end of the day it was me lying there with a broken leg, and I went through so many bad times since then I did start thinking about it some more. It really annoys me they [Uefa] gave him man of the match. Some people were saying it was a good challenge, others were saying it was a bad challenge. For me, it’s a bad challenge.”

Immediately after the tackle, Shaw felt little or no pain.

“Then, that night, lying in hospital, I swear to God the pain was something else. Oh God, the worst you could ever imagine. My mum was next to me and I remember saying to her: ‘They have to do something because I actually can’t keep going with this amount of pain.’ They had to open up my leg to pull out all the clotted-up blood. They put me to sleep, but it didn’t stop the pain when I woke up again.”

And now?

“I still get aches. I don’t go a day without feeling it. It’s 100% better but it’s normal, apparently, to feel it after such a bad injury. In the first three or four weeks when I started training outside it felt good, but then all of a sudden it started aching. It didn’t hurt, but it was aching and aching and even before I went out I could feel it and I was thinking: ‘Fuck … is it ever going to go away?’”

Such an horrendous injury affects the mind.

When Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsay had his leg broken in a bad tackle from Stoke City’s Ryan Shawcross, he told the Indy:

“I realised how much football actually means to me. When you are watching all the games, while sitting on your settee, you think: ‘I should be there’. That’s one of the most difficult parts of it.”

Read it all…

Posted: 26th, August 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment (1)


Transfer Balls: ‘shrewd’ Arsenal ‘panic buy’ ‘star’ striker Lucas Perez

Arsenal have hired Lucas Perez. The Mirror says it is a “PANIC BUY”, which is odd because Arsenal are usually criticised for being over cautious in the transfer market.

 

Lucas Perez Mirror Arsenal

 

The paper goes on to say that Arsenal “compiled several scouting reports on the Deportivo La Coruna striker”. So not a panic buy, then, but something they considered at length.

The Mirror adds: “Arsenal’s first offer was rejected by Deportivo on Thursday after they tried to pay the modest fee in two instalments.” Paying a “modest fee” does not suggest panic, either. It suggests the Gunners have done a good deal for the player the Mirror has called a “star striker”, hailing him as “a relative bargain for a man who scored or assisted 25 goals in La Liga last season”.

In yet another Mirror story on Perez, the paper show him “scoring a nuclear thunder volley” and says he is a “shrewd buy”.

Today’s headline is utter balls.

 

Posted: 26th, August 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Reviews, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Arsenal get Lucas Perez and line up Mustafi for £26m

Arsenal can have Valencia’s German defender Shkodran Mustafi for £26m. so says Sky Sports, who describe Mustafi as the ” wantaway defender”.

The Star says the deal has been agreed.

No news elsewhere that is has been. The Telegraph says it hasn’t, noting that Arsenal are keen on Mateo Musacchio and Kostas Manolas. “It is unclear whether the third target…is still Valencia’s Shkodran Mustafi or another player,” says the paper.

The BBC has news of another Arsenal target, reporting that the Gunners “are hoping to beat Everton to the £17m signing of Deportivo La Coruna striker Lucas Perez Martinez”. The Telegraph says Perez “has been compared to Leicester forward Jamie Vardy”, who rejected a move to Arsenal in the summer.

But unlike Vardy, who rejected Arsenal, Perez is on his way to the Emirates. The Indy says “Gunners agree deal to sign Lucas Perez”, adding: “Arsene Wenger has finally got his hands on a striker after reportedly agreeing a £17m deal to sign the Spaniard from Deportivo.”

The Telegraph says “Arsenal have reportedly gazumped Everton in the race for his signature”. The Mail says “Arsenal beat Everton to signing Lucas Perez after agreeing £16.9m fee”.

The Express says “Arsenal to announce £17m La Liga striker signing tomorrow”.

Or as the Metro and Sun put it: “Lucas Perez move could be off because Arsene Wenger wants to pay release clause in two instalments.” Says the Sun: “Deportivo striker is on the brink of Emirates move but stingy Gunners boss is arguing over fee.”

Such are the facts.

Posted: 25th, August 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Arsenal tells Calum Chambers he can leave on loan

Transfer balls: Will Arsenal ever hire Shkodran Mustafi? Do they want to? How much is he worth? Questions for media experts:

The Daily Mirror has news: “Shkodran Mustafi will cost a staggering £50million as Valencia play hard-ball over German defender.” The Mirror hasn’t the foggiest what Mustafi is worth.

Arsenal are clearly in the market for a central defender. The Star says they are are letting one already on the books go: “ARSENAL have reportedly told Calum Chambers he can leave the club on loan.” The Star adds that Chambers could be leving permanenetly.

The Daily Mail says any move will be a loan. Arsenal want to keep the player they signed for £17m. It’s not new news because in June the Mail said “Chambers is closing in on a deal to spend next season at Watford”.

Also in June, the Mirror added: “Arsenal’s Calum Chambers close to transfer back to Southampton on season-long loan 2 years after leaving.”

The Star says he’s off to West Brom. The Telegraph says it’s Crystal Palace, Bournemouth and Swansea.

In short: they don’t know.

 

Posted: 24th, August 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Spurs want Arsenal fan Moussa Sissoko who joins PSG after Real Madrid

Transfer balls: Spurs are after Newcastle United’s Moussa Sissoko, or at least they fancy the version of the Magpies’ midfielder who played well for France at Euro 2016.

The BBC says “Tottenham may offer midfielder Nabil Bentaleb, 21” as part of any deal. Or they may not. Bentaleb ‘may’ have read the news on ESPN that he “will not be sold by Tottenham this summer”. Things are far from certain.

Have Spurs seen enough of Bentaleb, of whom the Mirror reported in 2014, “Tottenham’s Nabil Bentaleb: I’m getting my revenge on the clubs that snubbed me”? He’s now playing for the Tottenham Under 21s. Revenge is a dish best served cold.

As for Sissoko, well, he was once batting his eyelashes at Arsenal. Sky Sports reported in June: “Moussa Sissoko wants to leave Newcastle and join Arsenal.” Arsenal were on “red alert” said the Sun. Sissoko was very keen, cooing: “…Arsenal is the club of my heart… The beautiful Arsenal. We will see. I cannot tell you if I am going to go to Arsenal.”

We can. You’re not.

As Arsenal didn’t call, Sissoko looked again. “I hope Real will come for me, I’m still waiting,” Sissoko told World Football in August. “If Real Madrid are interested in you then of course you will be happy, but right now I am still a Newcastle player.”

But he’s off to PSG. We know that because the Mirror wrote: “Paris Saint-Germain preparing move for Moussa Sissoko – once Paul Pogba joins Manchester United.”

Such are the facts.

 

 

Posted: 24th, August 2016 | In: Back pages, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Arsenal: ‘guilty’ Wenger admits his transfer policy (again)

In “ARSENE WONGA”, the Mirror says Arsenal’s manger Arsene Wenger (geddit?!) “finally admits he treats the club’s money as if it was my own”.  No, he’s not admitting to embezzlement.  Wenger just says he’s cautions with spending tons of cash on players.

 

Arsenal Mirror

 

Of course, Wenger should spend, spend, spend because the Mirror has already told us this will be his last season at Arsenal.

 

Daily Mirror wenger quits Arsenal

 

Wenger has been quoted in Game Changers: Inside English Football, written by former Charlton boss Alan Curbishley: ”

“I personally believe the only way to be a manager is to spend the club’s money as if it were your own, because if you don’t do that you’re susceptible to too many mistakes. You make big decisions and I believe you have to act like it’s your own money — like you’re the owner of the club and you can identify completely with the club, because if you don’t do that I think you cannot go far.”

 

wenger daily mirror 

 

Some revelation there. At least it will be to the Mirror readers who didn’t see the paper’s story from one year ago:

Arsenal manager admits being tight with transfer cash because he feels club BELONGS to him

He has often been accused by his club’s frustrated fans of treating Arsenal’s money as if it is his own…. Now, for the first time, Arsene Wenger has unashamedly pleaded guilty to the charge and given a rare insight into the hurt he feels when his work is questioned at the Emirates Stadium.

 

wenger daily mirror

 

As ever, Wenger was not talking with the Mirror, but with a magazine in France.

The Frenchman said: “I’ll give myself merit for one thing: I’ve always treated Arsenal as if it belonged to me. I have sometimes been criticised for it — because I am not enough of a spender, not carefree enough… My great pride will be to be able to say the day that I leave, that I am leaving behind a good team, a healthy situation and a club capable of performing in the future. I could have said to myself: ‘I am here for four or five years, we win everything’, [then] I leave and leave the club on the verge of bankruptcy. For me, consistency at the highest level is the true sign of great clubs.”

When he ‘admits’ it to the Mirror, that might be the end of the story.

Posted: 24th, August 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Reviews, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Liverpool for sale: China courts the Reds and the media plays ball

When the Sun led with news that Liverpool’s American owners had rebuffed Chinese attempts to buy the club we enjoyed the headline “You’ll Never Wok Alone”.

Readers were told that “Liverpool chiefs will reject moves from the Far East to buy a stake in the club”.

It all looked an exercise in PR. Liverpool’s foreign chiefs are much more in tune with the Reds than other foreigners who want to be chiefs. The club is in safe hands.

The Chinese are a “state-backed group called Everbright”, who “value the club at £700m”. Liverpool chairman Tom Werner, part of the Fenway Sports Group, says the club would work with the right partner and offers are made “just for the publicity”.

Today the Times has more.

Liverpool, or Liwupu as it is rendered in Chinese, has received admiring glances in China. Over the weekend it emerged that China Everbright, a state-backed investment company, was looking into making a bid with Amanda Staveley’s PCP Capital Partners.

You wonder how these things emerge?

The club has also caught the attention of Fosun and Dalian Wanda, Reuters reported yesterday. Both are Chinese conglomerates with a proven taste for western consumer brands with Chinese cachet, counting Club Med and a Hollywood studio among their most recent deals.

How depressing to have your beloved football club bracketed with Club Med and cinema chains.

Liverpool’s owners, Fenway Sports Group, insist that the club is not for sale despite the £800 million approach said to be in the works. However, leading figures have indicated that they would take a proposal for a minority stake seriously from investors who could open doors for the club commercially.

£700million has now become £800m. That figure could go up and up.

Nick Davis, chief executive of Memery Crystal, a law firm that advised on the sale earlier this month of West Bromwich Albion to Yunyi Guokai, said that Chinese interest in Liverpool was part of a trend established at the top of the Chinese hierarchy. Xi Jinping, the president of China who last year posed for a selfie with Sergio Aguero, the Manchester City striker, has said he wants China to become a “world football superpower” that could win the World Cup by 2050.

China buys Liverpool. China picks the Liverpool team?

David Shambaugh, a China expert at George Washington University, said that the explanation was partly domestic. “China has so much pent-up money looking to be invested abroad and the Premier League is a very sound financial investment,” he said. “It also offers excellent opportunities to expand China’s ‘brand’ abroad.”

An £800 million valuation for Liverpool compares with the £300 million paid by Fenway Group in 2010.

Kerching!

And what is China’s brand? Well, Amnesty International says:

A series of new laws with a national security focus were drafted or enacted that presented grave dangers to human rights. The government launched a massive nationwide crackdown against human rights lawyers. Other activists and human rights defenders continued to be systematically subjected to harassment and intimidation. Five women’s rights activists were detained for planning to mark International Women’s Day with a campaign against sexual harassment. Authorities stepped up their controls over the internet, mass media and academia. Televised “confessions” of critics detained for investigation multiplied. Freedom of religion continued to be systematically stifled. The government continued its campaign to demolish churches and take down Christian crosses in Zhejiang province. In the predominantly Muslim Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, the regional government enacted new regulations to more tightly control religious affairs and ban all unauthorized religious practice. The government maintained extensive controls over Tibetan Buddhist monasteries. The UN Committee against Torture regretted that previous recommendations had not been implemented.

All very fit and proper.

 

Posted: 23rd, August 2016 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, Money, Reviews, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Shkodran Mustafi to Arsenal for £21m, £25m, £30m and £42m

Transfer balls: With the business over Paul Pogba to Manchester United sorted to great relief at the Daily Mirror – the paper said Pogba had signed for United three weeks before he did – we look at Arsenal’s pursuit of Valencia’s German defender Shkodran Mustafi.

Daily Mirror, July 28:”Arsenal target Shkodran Mustafi has a release clause of €50million, MirrorFootball can reveal, but Valencia would sell him for half that as they look to recoup losses from missing out on the Champions League.”

Valencia are willing to sell a player worth €50million for €25million. That’s just over £21m.

Daily Mirror, August 11: “Muatfi has a £42m buy-out in his contract and Valencia are ready to accept around £30m, but Arsenal have yet to agree a fee”

Sorry, Arsenal. The fee’s gone up.

Daily Mirror, August 13: “Injury-hit Arsenal set to recall Mathieu Debuchy for Liverpool visit to fill in for trio of absent centre-halves.”

Arsenal have no need to buy anyone new. Debuchy to the rescue. (He was not picked.)

Daily Mirror, August 15: “Arsenal move for Shkodran Mustafi stalls as Valencia demand £25million for German defender”

Is that around £30m?

Daily Mirror, August 16: “Arsenal transfer news and rumours: Jeremy Mathieu emerges as Arsene Wenger’s top target.”

Arsenal no longer want Mustafi. It’s Mathieu for the Gunners.

Daily Mirror, August 17: “Arsenal are hoping to sign Mustafi for around £20million… Valencia have been holding out for closer to £30million for Mustafi.”

Wasn’t it £25m they wanted?

Daily Mirror: August 20: “Liverpool are in full negotiations with Valencia over the German’s availability and could beat the Gunners to the deal.”

Go for it, Liverpool. Arsenal don’t want him.

Daily Mirror, August 22: “Arsene Wenger has been quoted a staggering £50million for Valencia defender Shkodran Mustafi.”

And on its goes…

 

Posted: 22nd, August 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Reviews, Sports, Tabloids | Comment (1)


Arsenal Balls: bitter Vieira snipes at Wenger

Patrick Vieira, the former Arsenal captain now working for the Manchester City project, is critical of the Gunners. He tells The Telegraph.

“In the last five or six years, Arsenal went with more of this type of technical players. The Invincibles had it all. Now when I watch Arsenal, they play good football, but I just have a feeling they are missing something – the physical presence, the personality. The team is not doing as well as it used to and you need to win football matches. They’ve been disappointing, losing games they should have won.”

Yes. Yes. All true. But what Vieira fails to mention is money. Manchester City, for instance, are doing rather better than they were when Vieira’s Arsenal were top of the pile. Back then the idea of City winning a cup was a joke, a pretty good one for those who can recall the brilliant banner displayed at Manchester United – the one that counted the years since City had won something.

 

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JANUARY 27: Manchester United fans display a banner taunting Manchester City during the Carling Cup Semi Final second leg match between Manchester United and Manchester City at Old Trafford on January 27, 2010 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

 

Vieira adds:

“I’m disappointed not to have ex-Arsenal players working at Arsenal. It is good for the young players could see a Thierry Henry, a [Freddie] Ljungberg, or a [Martin] Keown who have been at the club a good few years working in the academy, or working somewhere. I think they can do it a bit more, players want to do it but do not have the opportunity.  I don’t understand it, the perfect example is Ajax. You see all the old players working for the club, on the field, in the office – the door is always open for them – but Arsenal don’t do it and I don’t know why.”

Well, Henry was at Arsenal but left because, reportedly, Wenger wasn’t happy with him pontificating on Arsenal players’ flaws in his other job for Sky Sports. Freddie Ljungberg coaches the U15s. Keown did coach at Arsenal but now works as pundit on the BBC.

The Sun says “Freddie Ljungberg and Steve Bould are the only former players on their staff.” No. The current Arsenal set-up also includes Kwame Ampadu.

Vieira does not work at Arsenal. Might he be a little bitter? In 2009, Wenger explained why he had let Vieira leave the club for Juventus: 

“When Cesc Fàbregas was 18, 19, I would play him in a 4–4–2 with Patrick Vieira and I saw it did not work. Then I had the decision to make about letting Patrick go, because Gilberto Silva and Vieira worked, Fabregas and Silva worked, but I could not play Fàbregas and Vieira. But Fàbregas was 19 and if he did not play I knew he would want to go, so we risked destroying everything, all the work we had put into this player.”

And who says a great player makes for a good coach? Not Arsene Wenger, Jose Mourinho, Alex Ferguson…

Posted: 22nd, August 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Transfer Balls: Arsenal hope and believe in Shkodran Mustafi

Transfer balls: The Indy says Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger “hopes to sign Shkodran Mustafi before deadline day”. Adding: “Personal terms are believed to have been agreed with the German defender.”

Only believe? Maybe the Indy didn’t read its own news on August 11: “Arsenal have agreed personal terms with Valencia centre-back Skhodran Mustafi.”

Such are the facts.

Posted: 21st, August 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Media Balls: Arsenal fail to pay penalty at Leicester

Media Watch: a look at monocular football reporting. In today’s match we look at biased views on Arsenal’s away draw at Leicester City. The game ended o-0.

THE PENALTY CLAIMS

Leicester Mercury:

Leicester City…can feel aggrieved they weren’t awarded a late penalty. Hector Bellerin appeared to trip substitute Ahmed Musa inside the penalty area but referee Mark Clattenburg, who had earlier waved away City’s appeals for a penalty after Danny Drinkwater went down in the area, again said no.

Should it have been a penalty, or two?

Islington Gazette:

There was drama on 42 minutes after Drinkwater appeared to have been tripped by Koscielny as he burst into the box following Cech blocking a Vardy burst, but referee Mark Clattenburg decided it was a fair challenge – much to the displeasure of the vociferous home fans and their execrable paper clappers that seem to be needlessly encroaching on our game. It has to be said the referee made the right decision – just.

Only one penalty claim is mentioned.

The Times:

Drinkwater claimed a penalty, but replays suggested Mark Clattenburg made the right call.

No mention is made of the second penalty claim.

Leicester City FC website:

The loose ball fell to Danny Drinkwater, and while the midfielder appeared to be tripped by Laurent Koscielny in the area, there was nothing given.

The Guardian:

A draw is probably the right result overall, though Leicester should certainly have had a penalty in the 88th minute.

Daily Mirror:

Leicester City had two penalty appeals turned down – one in the first half, which he [the referee] got right by ruling that Koscielny poked the ball away from the feet of Drinkwater. But in the second half he got it horribly wrong. Substitute Musa skipped past Bellerin and the Spanish defender brought the winger down with a clumsy challenge.

The Star was watching a different match:

Shame referee Mark Clattenburg got booed off by home fans. He’d hardly put a foot wrong but has to be said his decision to turn down penalty appeals when Musa was clipped by Holding near the end, looked dubious.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 20th, August 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Reviews, Sports | Comment


Media Balls: Liverpool robbed by Burnley

Media Watch: a look at monocular football reporting. In today’s match we look at biased views on Liverpool’s away defeat to Burnley. The game ended 2-0.

CLYNE’S ERROR

Liverpool Post:

Ragnar Klavan’s cross-field pass didn’t do Nathaniel Clyne any favours and as Burnley pressed, the full-back coughed up possession cheaply.

The Times:

Nathaniel Clyne, Liverpool’s England full-back, was badly at fault, with a poor pass deep in his own half finding only Gray who, in turn, fed Vokes.

Burnley Express:

Gray picked up the pieces from Nathaniel Clyne’s poor pass, fed the ball in to his strike partner and, with Dejan Lovren or Ragnar Klavan not even in close proximity, Vokes swept the ball beyond Simon Mignolet from the edge of the box.

Liverpool FC website:

Nathaniel Clyne’s pass infield from the right flank was stolen by Gray

Clyne was not at fault. Clyne was robbed!

Posted: 20th, August 2016 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, Reviews, Sports | Comment


Media Balls: Chelsea benefit from ‘stunning’ ‘poor pass’ to beat Watford

Media Watch: a look at monocular football reporting. In today’s match we look at biased views on Watford’s home defeat to Chelsea. The game eded 1-2.

THE WINNING GOAL

Watford Observer:

The difference was to be two mistakes. Heurelho Gomes let a Eden Hazard shot squirm away from his body which substitute Michhy Batshuayi pounced on for the equaliser and with three minutes of normal time remaining, a poor pass from Adlene Guedioura was seized on by Cesc Fabregas and within seconds Diego Costa had netted the winner.

A poor pass and a mistake led to the second Chelsea goal, says the Watford local newspaper.

Chelsea FC website:

Fabregas was the instigator, winning possession on the edge of his own box and instantly threading a beautiful, bending pass that sent Diego Costa racing clear. The striker kept his cool as he bore down on goal, slipping his shot under Gomes and putting the Blues ahead very late on. He was quick to thank Cesc for the stunning through ball.

A great pass and cool led to the second Chelsea goal, says the Chelsea FC website.

THE NEW PLAYERS

The Times:

Yet, as if they were Hertfordshire’s most ardent Trotskyists, Watford exist in a state of permanent revolution and yet more change is afoot: before kick-off new arrivals Younes Kaboul and the Argentine winger Roberto Pereyra were paraded to muted delight.

Watford Observer:

An already upbeat atmosphere was lifted when new signings Roberto Pereyra and Younes Kaboul were paraded on the pitch before kick-off

Such are the facts.

Posted: 20th, August 2016 | In: Back pages, Reviews, Sports | Comment


Ashley Cole will ‘snub’ Arsenal to help Chelsea kids understand greed

The Evening Standard reports that LA Galaxy defender Ashley Cole, 35, “says he wants to work for Chelsea after his playing career is over rather than Arsenal.”

It would take a touch of lunacy for Arsenal to offer Cole a job, presumably one tutoring young players in the way of modern football. As he says:

“I enjoy scouting, watching the young lads come through. I have done a little for my agent, but I’d like to do something a bit more serious. I’d love to go back to work at Chelsea somewhere, somehow.”

It was Cole, of course, who provided the words that more than any others sum up the greed rife in modern football. In My Defence, Cole wrote:

“Ash! Are you listening?” said a virtually hyperventilating Jonathan [his agent]. “I’m here in the office and David Dein is saying they aren’t going to give you £60k a week. They’ve agreed £55k and this is their best and final offer. Are you happy with that?”

When I heard Jonathan repeat the figure of £55k, I nearly swerved off the road. “He is taking the piss, Jonathan!” I yelled down the phone. I was so incensed. I was trembling with anger. I couldn’t believe what I’d heard.”

All yours, Chelsea. (Best to sort of Ashley’s fee first, though.)

 

Posted: 20th, August 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, Sports | Comment (1)


Transfer balls: Lukaku wants Chelsea, commits to Everton, goes nowhere

Transfer balls: The BBC says Everton striker Romelu Lukaku, 23, “will turn down Chelsea to stay at Goodison Park for at least another season”.

The BBC claim links to the Daily Mirror, which is adamant:

Romelu Lukaku is staying with Everton… The news is a massive boost for new boss Koeman.

All good news, then, for Everton fans. Much better than when the Mirror told them:

29 Jul 2016 – “Chelsea closing on transfer of Everton’s Romelu Lukaku as Toffees accept the striker wants Stamford Bridge return.”

27 June 2016 – “Arsenal transfer news and rumours: Romelu Lukaku wants Gunners move – but is the price too high?”

 

mirror lukaku everton

 

And:

Chelsea have had a £57million bid for Romelu Lukaku rejected by Everton – but are confident of agreeing a deal to re-sign him this summer. The two clubs are haggling over a fee, with the Toffees holding out for a club-record £75million. But they have finally accepted the 23-year-old striker is determined to rejoin the club they bought him off two years ago.

All wrong. Lukaku is a Toffee.

But hold on. The BBC has more news:

But Koeman has admitted that he is preparing a Plan B, in case the Belgium forward leaves the club.

That story links to the Daily Mail, which says:

Everton are planning for life without Romelu Lukaku in the eventuality their striker departs this month. Chelsea are heavily interested in the 23-year-old and Ronald Koeman has targets lined up should they bow to a mega offer, as with John Stones and Manchester City.

Such are the facts.

 

Posted: 20th, August 2016 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, Reviews, Sports | Comment


Arsenal balls: José Giménez and Shkodran Mustafi are just stop-gaps in a steady decline

That Arsenal are looking fore a centre-back is daily news in the Press. Arsène Wenger’s side have been talking with Atlético Madrid over Uruguayan stopper José Giménez.

Is he the man to full the voice caused by long-term injuries to Gabriel and Per Mertesacker? Valencia’s Shkodran Mustafi was supposed to arrive at the Emirates this week. But there has been no sighting of the German international.

Although the Telegraph says: “Shkodran Mustafi to have medical on Monday after £29.5m fee agreed.” It also says former Manchester United player Jonny Evans is “free to make Emirates move”. Why would Arsenal want him?

They need something fast. Arsenal look soft. The opening-day defeat against Liverpool showed that the Gunners are no longer a tough act.

Richard Williams sees a bigger problem:

Wenger’s past decade has also demonstrated that, in football at least, good husbandry can be an overrated virtue. Arsenal built a 60,000‑seat home at a cost of £390m. But where once they had a proper football ground, vibrant with history and designed to allow the fans’ passion to influence the mood of a match, now they have an elegant bowl where the emotions are easily disengaged and the most familiar one is dissatisfaction.

Says Wenger:

“If Mertesacker and Gabriel had not been injured in pre-season, we would have been less under pressure to sign a defender but once you are under pressure everybody knows you are, so it makes you weaker. We have been in the market a long time but, if you look around in Europe, all my friends I call are all looking for centre-backs but they cannot find them.

“That is why we also buy young centre-backs to develop, because when you have one or two of the quality to make it to the top it is fantastic because it is a position that is difficult to find, especially at the big clubs.”

True enough, Calum Chambers and Rob Holding, who partnered so ineffectively in Arsenal’s opening-day defeat to a pretty ordinary Liverpool side, point to the future. But neither look like win-hungry tough nuts in the mould of Tony Adams, Martin Keown or Steve Bould.

Only one game into the season and Arsenal look like disappointing all over again.

Posted: 19th, August 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Reviews, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Manchester City offload Joe Hart to Everton by loan and sale

What news of Manchester City’s ranting goalkeeper Joe Hart?

The BBC says Hart will “join Everton on loan”.

The Daily Mirror agrees that Hart will leave on loans because Manchester City have are buying Claudio Bravo, 33, from Barcelona for £17.4m.

But the Sun says Manchester City are “refusing to let England goalkeeper Joe Hart leave on loan”. They want him gone for good.

Or as the Richmond and Twickenham Times‎ puts it: “Joe Hart’s Manchester City future remains unclear.”

Such are the facts.

Posted: 19th, August 2016 | In: Back pages, Manchester City, Reviews, Sports | Comment


Take Hart: Manchester City given lesson in ‘common human decency’ by Joey Baton

When not shouting like the loon on the night bus, Joe Hart is letting in goals for England. Manchester City have seen enough, and are looking to offload the goalkeeper. The Mirror says Hart has told City teammates he will leave before the current transfer window shuts.

 

hart joe disgusting

 

On Talksport, former City player Joey Barton says City’s treatment of Hart is “disgusting”. In the pantheon of disgusting behaviour, telling an overpaid footballer prone to clangers he is no longer first choice for his club is not disgusting. It’s sport. Disgusting might be, of instance, stubbing a lit cigar into the eye of young team-mate Jamie Tandy (as Barton did in 2004, when he was on City’s books), exacting common assault and affray in Liverpool city centre (Barton was jailed for his crimes in 2008), and assaulting Ousmane Dabo during a training match row in which the other player was knocked unconscious and punched repeatedly while on the ground (yep, Barton did that).

Says Barton:

“It is not the club I left. The club I left and watch now are two totally different organisations. The club I played for wouldn’t have treated a player that has been a servant for as long as Joe has in the manner that it has. It is disgusting.

“He is a full international, somebody who, probably before City took the money, could have gone on to bigger and better things himself but stayed and wanted to be at City.

“I don’t see what he has done wrong to be treated the way he has. His attitude isn’t terrible. I don’t like this.

“It is common human decency, regardless of how good a coach you are. Why treat him like that?”

If Manchester City are taking lessons in common decency from Joey Barton, they really are in trouble.

 

Posted: 18th, August 2016 | In: Back pages, Manchester City, Reviews, Sports | Comment