Back pages | Anorak - Part 32

Back pages Category

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

The FA, Andy Walker and The Sun’s PR disaster

andy walker FA The SunAndy Walker is the FA’s “Communications Chief”, says the Sun. Walker has, in his own words, “harnessed a passion for social media to become a specialist within this field”. So good at social media is Andy that when he posted on Linked In a picture of his personalised head rest aboard a private jet charactered by the FA for the Euros, the Sun noticed the “fans’ fury”.

In a front-page story “ENGLAND Shame – Off With Their Head Rests”, readers are told: “Fan Mark Elgar accused the PR boss of an own goal while Julian Jackson called the FA ‘a bunch of f****** losers’.”

The Mail adds: “Walker uploaded the cringe-worthy post while England midfielder Dele Ali was pictured celebrating on party island Ibiza days after the team’s exit from the competition.”

It all reminds us of Max Clifford:

max-clifford assault


The Birmingham Mail, where Walker used to work, sticks up for him.

…the Sun’s criticism of him is as wide of the mark as a Kane free-kick, as misplaced as a Wayne Rooney pass and as flaky as a Joe Hart save. If England’s playing squad had done their jobs as well as Andy does his then the England party would still be in France.

The “England party” is an unfortunate phrase given the allegation that it was all one big jolly.

The paper finds no room for the brickbats, but does produce a story fragrant with bouquets:


FA shame fury andy walker


To say Walker epitomises “everything wrong with English football”, as one fan quoted in the Sun puts it, is pushing it. Everything wrong with English football is reflected in the score lines when England lost to Iceland, drew with a dreadful Russia team and failed to score against the mighty Slovakia. The job of the FA’s communications manager is easy so long as the team win. When they lose, they need to earn their gravy…

Posted: 4th, July 2016 | In: Back pages, Reviews, Sports, Tabloids | Comment

Transfer news: Manchester United’s Mata to Everton, Liverpool eye Pjaca, West Ham await Payet bid

Transfer news: a round-up of football gossip in the Press.

The Liverpool Echo claim Manchester United midfielder Juan Mata, 28, is on his way to Everton. Jose Mourinho has, apparently, given Mata’s shirt number to Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The humble Swede must be surprised that not all of his new teammates have offered him their numbers, too, moreover their first born, homes and thanks.

Deporte Valenciano adds that Everton are also keen on Valencia goalkeeper Diego Alves, 31.

Sticking with Manchester United, the Sun reports on Adnan Januzaj, 21. News is that the stalled starlet will leave the club. Januzaj will head to Juventus, be hailed as “the new Pogba” and cause United offer £70m for his signature. Maybe.

Passing Mata and Januzaj on the way in to Old Trafford is Mexican forward Hirving Lozano, 20, says the Manchester Evening News.

The Express says Croatia’s Marko Pjaca, 21, is on his way to Liverpool. The Daily Mail says Liverpool are looking to offload Joe Allen, 26, for £14m. Given his showing for Wales that looks like a steal.

Liverpool would like to sign Newcastle United’s Moussa Sissoko for £12m and sell Christian Benteke to Crystal Palace.

One player whose performances in France have been less than great is Manchester City’s goalkeeper Joe Hart. When not shouting and swearing like a nutter on his night bus, Hart’s been letting in soft goals. The Express says Hart’s Manchester City have agreed term for Geronimo Rulli, 24, from Uruguayan club Deportivo Maldonado.

The Telegraph says Diego Costa is considering leaving Chelsea because the Blues have signed striker Michy Batshuayi, 22.

And lastly, the Express hears West Ham co-owner David Gold say that if a big bid comes in for Dimitri Payet, 29, the French start could be on his way out. Real Madrid reportedly covet the player.

Posted: 4th, July 2016 | In: Back pages, Sports | Comment

Manchester United sign Mkhitaryan and cash in on fans

More Manchester Untied news now. Having been graced with a year-long audience with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the Red Devils have secured the services of Henrikh Mkhitaryan. The Armenian will complete his move from Borussia Dortmund to Manchester United today, says the Daily Mail.

Sky says the deal has already been done.

Man United have posted pictures on the club website with Henrikh Mkhitaryan name on away shirts.


Manchester united Mkhitaryan



“An accident,” asks the Star. No. It’s marketing, of course. The United site crashed amid the interest.  “Unfortunately an error has occurred on the page you were trying to view,” the website told fans. “The Store Technicians have been informed of this error and will deal with it as soon as possible, in the meantime please use the menu at the top of this screen to navigate to other areas of the site.”

As United buy the message from the club’s owners continues: spend! spend! spend!

Posted: 2nd, July 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Reviews, Sports | Comment

Wales into Euro 2016 semi-final – the front pages

Wales, the last British side left in the European Championships, are into the semi-finals. Last night the Welsh were magnificent, beating a fancied Belgian side 3-1. It was a performance versed in cohesion, grit, skill and guile. I am delighted. Full disclosure: I am Welsh, having once spent a week camping in the Brecon Beacons with school and consider Ivor the Engine a role model. We can all agree that that makes me Welsh. Send in your own Welsh heritage stories.


wales front pages wales front pages euro 2016 wales front pages euro 2016 wales front pages wales front pages euro 2016  wales front pages euro 2016

Posted: 2nd, July 2016 | In: Back pages, Reviews, Sports, Tabloids | Comment

Transfer balls: Manchester United get Zlatan and ‘close in’ on Paul Pogba

Manchester United are all over he tabloids backpages. The Star leads with news that Paul Pogba is on his way to United in a deal worth £80m. Looking for facts to support the story is like looking for one of Jeremy Corbyn’s Jewish “friends”. You get the words without the facts to support them.

The Star says United are “closing in” on the deal for Pogba. How close? The Star doesn’t say. But its sister organ, the Daily Express, has told us “Juventus and Barcelona agree pre-contract deal over Paul Pogba sale” and “PAUL POGBA has agreed in principle to join Paris Saint-Germain in the summer”.

Meanwhile, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, as the Sun reports, is on his way to Old Trafford. “Time to let the world know,” said the ageing star before one last tour. “My next destination is @manchester united.” He then added the sticky-fingered hastag to  #iamcoming.”

As Zlatan catches sight of his reflection and reaches for the tissues, the Sun says the Swede “can be United’s next Cantona”. Only better. After all, Zlatan is a black-belt in martial arts, whereas Canton was a mere amateur enthusiast. But, like Cantona, Zlatan is shy and retiring, stating: “The legend can still deliver.”

As the Mirror adds, “The ego has landed.” And on £220-a-week, he can come and go as he please.

The Mail is less sure. It wonder is Zlatan is the “new  Cantona…or Falcao”. He’s agree to join United or a year. And whoever he is or isn’t, it will be interesting.




Posted: 1st, July 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment

Transfer Balls: Manchester United and Liverpool sign Arsenal’s Higuain as Chelsea wait

Transfer Balls favourite Argentina striker Gonzalo Higuain, 28, will not be renewing his contract with Napoli, reports Spain’s Radio Continental. We know, of course, that Higuain plays for Arsenal. The Sun reported Higuain signed for the Gunners in 2013.


higuain transfer


He never did, of course. The Sun was wrong.

So is Higuain leaving Napoli for the Premier League?

“There was talk of a project worthy of the Champions League, a convincing plan to fight for the Scudetto,” says Higuain’s agent and brother.”

The agent then dangles a large carrot:





“I don’t need to talk with the Parisian club about my brother, if PSG want him they should call [Napoli chairman] De Laurentiis.”

The Express says this puts Liverpool and Chelsea “on alert”.

But what of Manchester United? On March 16, the Metro declared: “Gonzalo Higuain agrees Manchester United.” One day later the Express added: “JOSE MOURINHO has personally agreed a deal to bring Gonzalo Higuain to Manchester United if he becomes manager.”

On May 30, the Metro changed its mind: “Napoli striker Gonzalo Higuain is keen to sign for Liverpool.” The Sun agreed. On June 7, it reported: “Liverpool set to seal mega-money deal for Napoli’s goal-scoring hero Gonzalo Higuain.”


Higuain liverpool


Such are the facts in the tabloids.


Posted: 29th, June 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, Liverpool, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment

Transfer balls: Arsenal get Lukaku to partner Benzema

Arsenal transfer balls with Sky Sports. The website has a question: “Is Romelu Lukaku the answer for Arsenal?” Dunno. Who is asking the question? Readers are told:

Sky Sports has teamed up with Football Whispers to bring you the hottest transfer talk of the moment, as Arsene Wenger looks to improve his squad ahead of the upcoming Premier League season.

Football Whispers?

Football Whispers have developed a unique algorithm to take all of the transfer rumours from across the globe and calculate the likelihood of them happening.

What utter balls.

The Belgian has been linked with a return to former club Chelsea but Football Whispers thinks a move to Arsenal is more likely.

Why? Well, the mysterious algorithm, man. It knows. It knows more than the Evening Standard which says, “Milan rival Chelsea for Lukaku.” Perhaps it just read the story that “Arsenal have agreed personal terms with Everton striker Romelu Lukaku, according to Italian journalist Emanuele Giulianelli.” The Express hears the same source and cries: “Everton Transfers: Arsenal ‘agree’ Lukaku terms as Milan prepare bid.”


Screen Shot 2016-06-27 at 17.24.38


Who he?

Benzema deal is on: best offer is from Arsenal, £45mln. They will take a decision soon. He wants to reach Wenger.

Did Benzema ever “reach Wenger”? No. The Real Madrid player told Journal du Dimanche:

“I laugh about it with my brother and my friends. We wait for the media to come out with these rumours. In my opinion, I think that Real and Barca are the pinnacle in football. Why would I leave? I’m a starter for the best club in the world. I am happy; it’s that simple,”

On 24 August 2015, Benzema adds: “For all those clowns who want to make believe things at my fans. Here this is my home !

But pump the Emanuele Giulianelli ‘news’ into the Football Whispers algorithm and you have more chance of it being true.

There is balls and now there is computer-generated balls.

Posted: 27th, June 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Reviews, Sports | Comment

Transfer balls: Arsenal to sign PSG’s Alexandre Lacazette from Lyon

Having missed out on Jamie Vardy, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has turned to Lyon striker Alexandre Lacazette. The Sun says the £45m-rated 25-year-old has scored 72 goals in 172 appearances for Lyon.

Will Arsenal get him?

The paper says West Ham, who launched two failed bids for the player, “believe” the forward is “already destined to join French champs PSG”. You can believe is density up until the very next line because the Sun adds that Champions League runners-up Atletico Madrid are also interested.

The British Press love Lacazette. In 2015, the Express said he was “set for £21million Liverpool move”. In January 2016, the Mail said Lacazette “snubbed” Newcastle’s £22 bid. The Mail said Chelsea wanted the player. In June 20-15, the Star thundered: “Arsenal and Man Utd target Alexandre Lacazette AGREES shock five-year deal to join PSG.” In April 2016, the Mirror said Tottenham were “leading the chase” for Lacazette.

Manchester City it is, then.

Posted: 27th, June 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports, Tabloids | Comment

Transfer balls: Spurs star Eric Dier to Bayern Munich

In September 2015 Eric Dier signed a contract that ties him to Spurs until 2020. Dier was signed from Sporting Lisbon in 2014 for a £4m fee. He’s become a mainstay of a dynamic Tottenham team and a key player for England. One site says Dier earns £60,000-a-week. Surely he can earn more at another club. And maybe – just maybe – if another club shows an interest in him he can negotiate a new contract?

Cue Neil Moxley in the Sunday People to report that Bayern Munich are looking Dier: “Backroom staff at the five-time European Cup winners have been making background checks on the England international during the last few days.” Background checks? His credit rating. Any criminal convictions or banning orders?

The Express has heard enough, yelling: Carlo Ancelotti eyes Tottenham swoop: Eric Dier in shock link to Bayern Munich.”

But what are the facts? There are none. But we do know that in April 2016, the Standard reported: “At this stage, Dier is simply a player Bayern will keep under observation.”

Is he ill? No. But he could earn a pay rise if he plays his cards right…

Posted: 26th, June 2016 | In: Back pages, Sports, Spurs | Comments (2)

Transfer balls: James Rodriguez to Manchester United

More Manchester United transfer chatter in the Daily Mirror, which says the Red Devils are once again talking with Real Madrid. The paper says James Rodriguez, 24, “has been told” he can quit the Champions League winners for life at Manchester United. He must be delighted. Europa League football, here he comes. And just as soon as United stump up £50m he can be on his way.

The Sun says James to Manchester United makes sense because the Colombian and the club’s new manager Jose Mourinho are both represented by Jorge Mendes. Or maybe he’ll join Arsenal. Rodriguez is married to Daniela Ospina. sister of Arsenal goalkeeper David Ospina.

Pick a link and hammer it. After all, the Express says James was “edging closer” to Manchester United back in April, when Louis Van Gaal was in charge.

The Star says Rodriguez it’s United all the way because the player is house hunting in Manchester’s “golden triangle”.

Not so says Marca, which notes that James could be on his way to Juventus. The, er, Mirror agrees, stating that Juventus and Bayern Munich fancy James.


Posted: 25th, June 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment

The 4 ‘real reasons’ Jamie Vardy snubbed Arsenal

So why did Jamie Vardy reject a move to Arsenal? Was it because when, as reported, his agent called Arsenal to tell them about the “escape clause” it was just a ruse to get a rival team to bid for his client and so kickstart negotiations on a new deal with Leicester City? Vardy was on £70,000 a week when the agent called Arsenal. After Arsenal bid the £20m (Sun) / £21m (Telegraph) / £22m (Guardian) to trigger Vardy’s release, and offered him a reported £120,000 a week, the player scored a new deal with the Foxes worth £100,000 a week basic and maybe bonuses for ‘loyalty’, goals and appearances.

Other reasons why Vardy snubbed Arsenal are all over the media.

Sky: “Vardy: Arsenal style put me off.”

Words from Vardy: nil.

The Guardian: “It appears as though Vardy feels that he has unfinished business at Leicester.”

Gary Lineker: “A show of loyalty from @vardy7″

Telegraph: “…it is understood he was always reluctant to leave Leicester.”

At least it had nothing to do with money.


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

Transfer balls: Manchester United want Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey

ramsey arsenalTransfer news: Manchester United are after Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey. In an “esclusive” The Sun says United think the Welshman is worth £35m. The Mirror reads the Sun, thinks the story sound, and declares, “Manchester United plot £50m Aaron Ramsey swoop”.

United wanted Ramsey in 2008 when Alex Ferguson was at the helm. Arsenal won his signature because they wanted him more. As Ramsey said in 2010:

“I felt more wanted here [at Arsenal]. By that I mean they did more things to try to get me. They had a plan set out for me and knew exactly what they wanted to develop me. The sort of thing they said was ‘You can improve on this’ and ‘This is what you are good at, so we will do this’.

“I think that the boss here has brought through a lot more youngsters and given them opportunities on a more regular basis. And that is what he believes in, picking out talented young players and turning them into great players so hopefully I can be in that category.”

As Ferguson dallied, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger arranged for Ramsay and his family to be flown to meet him in Switzerland. Wenger was working as a French television pundit at the European Championships. Ferguson talked with Ramsey on the phone. Wenger met him in person. Ramsey added:

“As for the plane trip I was just really looking forward to meeting the boss and hearing what he had to say. It was a great experience. That was a factor in making up my mind.”

Would Ramsey, a hit at Arsenal, leave to join Mourinho’s Manchester United? The Sun floats the idea, saying the “if he [Mourinho]  fails to lure Borussia Dortmund star Henrikh Mkhitaryan” he’ll move for Ramsey. “The Special One is ready to wind up bitter rival Arsene Wenger by targeting the £50million-rated Arsenal star.”

Would Ramsey leave Arsenal to become Mourinho’s second choice, to antagonise the man who has helped his career? It seems highly unlikely.

Posted: 23rd, June 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports, Tabloids | Comment

Transfer balls: Gareth Bale gets ‘deal for life’ as Manchester United ‘believe’

Is Gareth Bale heading to Manchester United? No. Moreover, the Daily Mail says Real Madrid are all set to offer Bale, 26, a “contract for life”.  The Mail says “Bale can expect a deal stretching way beyond his 30th birthday.”

We don’t know how old the Mail’s Ian Ladyman is but we suspect he consulted with a Snapchat of 14-year-old girls before deciding that 30 is very old and reaching the milestone constitutes a “life”.

The odds on Bale leaving Real are longer than Victoria Beckham’s shopping list. That doesn’t stop the Manchester Evening News teasing its readers with news that Bale and Manchester United are linked. Today’s MEN readers are told: “Why Manchester United manager Mourinho is a big fan of Euro 2016 star Gareth Bale.” Is it because Bales is the star of Euro 2016. Or does Jose like Bale’s hairstyle?

Stuart Mathieson reveals all: “New Man Utd manager Jose Mourinho believes Wales’ tournament leading scorer is a match winner.” Jose believes it. The rest of us know it.

Posted: 22nd, June 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment (1)

Transfer balls: Leicester City want Deeney to replace Arsenal target Vardy

Following news that Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy will reject any move to Arsenal comes news that The Foxes are readying a £30m bid for Watford Troy Deeney. Leicester have already seen a £25m bid for Deeny rejected.

At £30m Watford captain Deeney – 13 goals last season, including six penalties (Guardian); 15 goals (Mail) – would become the third most expensive English player ever, behind Andy Carroll and Raheem Sterling.

The Mail says Watford will not sell Deeny at any price – which is, er, why they are looking to buy Granada forward Isaac Success.

The Mirror says Watford will sell – maybe: “If Leicester want to sign Troy Deeney from Watford, a bid of about £100million should do it.”

Mike Walters writes:

Whatever the champions may think Troy Deeney is worth, they will never, ever match the value Watford fans put on their captain – because it cannot be expressed in £ sterling or any other monetary currency.

The Telegraph says £30m is a “staggering” sum for Deeney, who “has expressed a desire to speak to Leicester”.

Why would Leicester want Deeny so badly? Well “Sky sources” say Vardy could still go to Arsenal.

Jamie Vardy is yet to make up his mind about a summer move to Arsenal, and could still go to the Emirates, Sky sources understand.

Vardy’s going to Arsenal, isn’t he?

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

Pogba transfer balls: Manchester United boost and Real Madrid talks

The Daily Paul Pogba: a look at the former Manchester United player being touted as future Manchester Untied player.

Marca says Real Madrid have open talks with from Juventus.  “We are talking [with Real] but nothing is decided,” says Pogba’s agent Mino Raiola. “[The manager Zinedine] Zidane’s wish is important and the club’s wish is important. We are in the initial phase, it’s not a negotiation.”

It’s just a natter over coffee.

The Manchester Evening News has an alternative view, yelling: “Manchester United get Pogba boost.” How so? Isn’t his agent talking with Real Madrid? Samuel Luckhurst finds a single thread and ties in it knots:

It is difficult to think of one Jorge Mendes client who has not been linked with Manchester United…

Bébé, Nani, Anderson, Falcao, Angel Di Maria all were. In fact, United bought all of them. Nani was ok. The rest were not so good.

…but the politicking and mischief-making of the transfer window could work to Jose Mourinho’s – and Mendes’ – advantage. Valencia midfielder Andre Gomes has recently reaped the benefits of being represented by Mendes but is one Gestifute-connected player who might not end up at United.

Gomes not going to Manchester United. Ok. Got it. How is this linked to Pogba giving United a “boost”?

The Portugal international, 22, has been tipped to join Juventus by Gazzetta dello Sport in a €40million deal, which is more good news for United.

Top player could be joining Juventus. And that is “more good news for United”. What was the original bit of good news?

Mourinho vetoed signing Miralem Pjanic , who joined Juve last week, from Roma so United could focus on the Serie A champions’ prized Paul Pogba. A second midfield addition in Gomes would suggest the France international has played for the Bianconeri for the last time.

Luckhurst then write in another story on Pogba in today’s MEN: “Manchester United have not bid for Pogba.” This we know because Juventus chief executive Giuseppe Marotta told media “We have not received any offers. He is a fundamental and indispensable player for the present and future of Juventus.”

And the bidding war cranks up.

Posted: 21st, June 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment

Arsenal balls: Wenger quits before he stays

Arsenal balls in the Daily Mirror, where the talk is of the club’s manger staying on for more years. Says the Mirror:

Arsenal planning Arsene Wenger contract extension keeping him in charge for THREE more seasons

That’s news in the Mirror which not too long ago told us:


Daily Mirror wenger quits Arsenal


Wenger set the date for quitting Arsenal, says the Mirror. It’s June 30, 2017.  Unless it isn’t…



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

Manchester United transfer news: Bonucci bid, Matic Chelsea swap, Pogba choses

Manchester United are using the TV to watch Italy’s Leonardo Bonucci. The Juventus defender who performed so well for Italy as they defeated Belgium at Euro 2016 is admired by Jose Mourinho. United are looking to make a £25m bid for Bonucci, says the Guardian.

Mourinho is less keen on another Italian, one Matteo Darmian. New Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte is reported to be eyeing an exchange deal, swapping United’s Darmian for Nemanja Matic.

Of course whenever we mention Manchester United we must (10th rule of journalism) mention Paul Pogba, the player that left them to make it big with Juventus. Marca say Juventus have informed Pogba that he can move away from Turin so long as the transfer fee is right. Overlooking the obvious that any player can move so long another club is willing to pay a fortune for them, Marca, being a Spanish organ, say Pogba would pick Real Madrid over Manchester United.

Not so says the not-at-all-biased Manchester Evening News. It says Pogba is a credible target for United. “They will face fierce competition to land the Frenchman – but Mourinho might be just the man to convince him to return to the club he left three years ago,” the paper adds.

United are also being linked with a move for ageing Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic. TF1 says The Zlatan has yet to decide on his future. When he does do United the whole favour of playing for them, and United agree to his demands to be renamed Zlatan United, we’ll let you know.

Oh, Ryan Giggs is all set to leave Old Trafford, says the Mirror. Where he goes next is not said, but Gay Neville’s mate does own Valencia, so…


Posted: 20th, June 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment

Transfer balls: Vardy to reject Arsenal – Wenger says he’s staying at Leicester

The BBC is reporting that Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy, 29, will reject a move to Arsenal. The BBC says Vardy has “not made a final decision, but is understood to favour extending his time at the King Power Stadium.”

No final decision mean no decision at all, of course. But the BBC adds that Arsenal, who made a reported bid of £20m for Vardy, are looking at alternatives.

Indeed, Sky says Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger told Chinese TV: “Jamie Vardy is, at the moment, at Leicester and from what I know, he will stay at Leicester.”


What does Wenger know? Well, according to Vardy, not much. The players told media yesterday:

“There is only one thing I want to do here and that is play football to the best of my ability. If I let things start distracting me, I’m not going to be able to do that, which will jeopardise the team as well. So everything has been completely blanked out except for England, England, England.”

Vardy’s made no decision on moving to Arsenal and is focused on Leicester. That’s what we know…

Posted: 19th, June 2016 | In: Back pages, Sports | Comment

Transfer Balls: Arsenal blow out Cavani, keep Wenger, chase Boufal and go Blind

Arsenal will offer Arsene Wenger, 66, the chance to manage the club for two more years when his current deal ends next summer. So says the Sunday Mirror. It’s not surprising news. Wenger is Arsenal’s easiest option. No deal has been agreed.

In other Arsenal news, the Observer says Wenger is keen on Lille’s Morocco forward Sofiane Boufal, 22. He’s valued at £19.6m. Chelsea and Barcelona are also interested.

The Sunday People says Wenger wants Manchester United’s Dutch defender Daley Blind, 26. Why? We are not told? And the Star fails to tell its readers why Wenger would want to sign Man United’s Morgan Schneiderlin. Is the plan to buy United players Jose Mourinho might not rate?

It all adds up to a lot of nothing. But the real transfer balls is in the Mirror. The paper says Edinson Cavani has dealt Arsenal a “blow”. Cavani, a player the Gunners weren’t interested in signing, has agreed to a new deal with PSG. Of course the Mirror has a been a source of Cavani news for some time:

29 June 2013: “Chelsea agree personal terms with Edinson Cavani”

9 Decemeber 2014 “Arsenal news and transfers: Edinson Cavani to ask Paris Saint-Germain for Gunners move”

15 May 2015: “Edinson Cavani agrees Juventus deal as Uruguay forward spurns Premier League interest”

Such are the facts.

Posted: 19th, June 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports, Tabloids | Comment

Transfer balls: Neymar to Manchester United

Manchester United are competing with Paris St-Germain and – get this – Real Madrid to buy out Neymar’s £157m contract at Barcelona.  Well, so says the Manchester Evening News, which reports the words of Neymar’s agent, Wagner Ribeiro. He says:

“There are three big clubs in the world that want to sign Neymar and pay a clause of €200m to Barcelona. I cannot say more than this because it is sensitive. I can only guarantee that Neymar is happy at Barcelona.”

Neymar wants a new and improved deal at Barcelona, the current Spanish champions, where he plays in a coruscating forward line with Suarez and Messi. If Neymar fails to get it he will move to Real Madrid – have the pig’s heads ready, lads – PSG and the French mono-league, or to live in Manchester and play in the Europa League. So says the Manchester Evening Post.

As negotiating tactics go, Neymar’s agent looks a bit desperate.


Posted: 18th, June 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment

Transfer balls: Manchester United turn to Mkhitaryan, Arsenal chase Gotze

Transfer balls: Are Arsenal buying Mario Gotze? The Sun says the Gunners are in for the German international. The paper tells its readers:

Arsenal are lining up a sensational £27million move for Bayern Munich outcast Mario Gotze according to reports in Germany.

The Sun says Arsenal did prefer Henrikh Mkhitaryan, but he’s rejected them and told Dortmund “he has his heart set on Manchester United”. The Sun cites its source for that as the BBC. The story appears to have some legs.

Borussia Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke tells Bild the Armenian would not be extending his contract which ends next summer:

Dortmund chief executive Hanz-Joachim Watzke said: “We have been negotiating with Henrikh Mkhitaryan for four months for him to extend his contract with us. Now we know that it is not extended, it was never our commitment that Mkhitaryan may leave us prematurely. We have intensely discussed the question of an early transfer in all club bodies and came to the conclusion that Mkhitaryan will stay in Dortmund next season.”

No deal has been done. And, in any case, it was earlier this month the Sun told readers that Man United weren’t interested in the Dortmund man: “Gunners boss Arsene Wenger is looking to wrap up a quick deal for Borussia Dortmund’s £25million-rated Armenia midfielder. Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham are also keen on Mkhitaryan, 27.”

As Mkhitaryan’s agent calls Old Trafford, Arsenal turn to Gotze. The Sun continues:

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp is desperate to be reunited with former Dortmund man Gotze at Anfield, but it appears the Gunners have now stolen a march on them.

The Sun’s story contains not a single link to any of the reports it mentions. And there are other “reports” that Gotze’s current club, Bayern Munich, are keen to get shot of him and will not include him on their roster for next season’s Champions’ League squad.

Helpfully on the Bayern Munich website, there’s a statement on Gotze:

FC Bayern München has demanded that various media sources cease and desist from reporting false claims. It has been reported that FC Bayern has “threatened” Mario Götze by stating he would not be nominated to play in the Champions League if he remains at the club. FC Bayern München AG chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge commented: “This is complete fiction. It remains the case that we will resolutely defend ourselves against all false or even malicious reporting using all legal means available to us.”

Such are the facts.

Posted: 17th, June 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment

Dea Gea commits to Manchester United (again)

Good new for Manchester United fans: the team’s best player, David De Gea, is staying at Old Trafford. The Sun’s “exclusive” tells readers that David de Gea wants to stay at Manchester United. As the headline states:

‘DE STAYER: David De Gea gives Man United boss Jose Mourinho huge boost by saying: “I’m staying here”’

Unequivocal stuff. Or not. The paper hears not from De Gea, rather from a “friend”, who says:

“Jose played a big, big part in this story. If the other one was still manager, David would be a Madrid player today.”

This friend wouldn’t happen to know De Gea’s agent, Jorge Mendes, would they – the agent who also represents Mourinho?

“Jose has been texting David all the time to say ‘stay and play for me’. Madrid have been pushing and pushing the boy to come, but in the end it was his decision to stay in Manchester.”

Praise for Mourinho is fine. He is, after all, the self-style Special One. But that slight on Van Gaal is odd, especially given that De Gea told Marca last week (not an exclusive) that he wanted to stay at United and Van Gaal did a decent job:

“This FA Cup is important for the club, it’s important for the fans, and it’s an important step towards winning major titles again.”

So much for “the other one”.


Posted: 16th, June 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment

Liverpool chase Arsenal’s Walcott with £25m

Transfer balls: Liverpool are keen on Arsenal forward Theo Walcott. The Sun says Liverpool will pay £25m for the 27-year-old.

The Sun says Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp intends to offer Walcott more first team game time than he can expect to get at the Emirates. If Arsenal do buy Jamie Vardy – and, c’mon, that deal is a sure thing – Walcott, who covets the striker’s role, will move one step down the rung. And then there is Alex Iwobi, the powerful forward who broke through into the Arsenal first team last season.

Walcott is not a vital cog in the Arsenal machine. He can leave.

The Gunners were shrewd enough to secure Walcott on a four-year deal last summer. That deal keeps the player at the Emirates until 2019. It also means any move away will come with hefty fee.

And they should sell. There has always been something of the nice middle-class boy about Walcott. Does he want it? How badly? Walcott has been “one for the future” for so long you wonder when, if ever, he’ll rise to the fore. He is infuriating, rarely imposing himself on a fullback you feel he can beat with ease.

At Liverpool he’ll gets a fresh start. And that’s Walcott all over – a player who petitions for a new go in a better position but never quite convinces in any.

Posted: 14th, June 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Liverpool, Sports | Comment

Russian Ultras, Joey Barton irony overload and Igor Lebedev mocks Andrew Bache

Russian thugs are in France for the Euros. The Star says 150 of the “hyper-violent” Russian Ultras are “on their way to ambush England fans again”. Surely to ambush people you need the element of surprise. The only surprising thing these goons are capable of is breathing with their mouths closed.


Russian ultras


The Star says the goons have given “bungling” French police “the slip”. The paper posts a picture of what appears to be pre-steroid Ultras division. The Mirror goes for the more pumped up version on its front page, and the news is no less inflated. The hooligans are “ULTRA EVIL”. They are “planning to attack the England v Wales match”.  They are reportedly supported by Russian MP Igor Lebedev, who the Mirror says tweeted, “Well done, lads, keep it up.”

Over page 4 and 5 we get more from Igor: “I don’t see anything wrong with the fans fighting. quite the opposite, well done lads, keep it up.”

As General Igor urges more aggro from his Moscow hilltop, we read that a few Russian Ultras were stopped at the airport, but other “slipped away from Marseilles by train”. You might wonder how anyone can slip anywhere in a country monitored by CCTV and armed police on the look out for jihadis.

We also read of Andrew Bache, 51, an England fan batted by Russian with an iron bar by Russian fans. He is in medically induced coma. Perhaps Igor can send him a card?

The Sun says Russians chanted “DIE! DIE! DIE! as Mr Bache lay on the ground.


Russia ultras

And then we see an oddity. On Page 4 Joey Barton tells how he “feared for his safety” on the street of Marseilles as he came face-to-face with the Russian nutters. He as “petrified”. His pals had a “”young lad” with them. Readers may recall that this is same Joey Barton who in 2008 was jailed for assault and affray. Barton was caught on CCTV in Liverpool punching one man 20 times before an attack which left a teenage boy with broken teeth. Judge Henry Globe QC said it was a “violent and cowardly act”.

Finally, we note that six England fans were jailed over hooliganism in Marseilles. There are not Ultras. But they are ultra thick.

Posted: 14th, June 2016 | In: Back pages, Key Posts, Reviews, Sports, Tabloids | Comment

Transfer balls: Mahrez doesn’t mention Arsenal

Transfer balls: The Daily Express says Leicester City winger Riyad Mahrez, 25, fancies a move to Arsenal.

Is that right? Is Mahrez that crass as to court a rival team, one that finished below Leicester in last season? No. The Express says Mahrez “has refused to rule out a move away from Leicester”.

We have heard that Arsenal have bid £25million bid for Mahrez. So…

The Express’s story is based on a story in Get French Football, which quotes the player thus:

“It is flattering to hear [about links to other clubs], as I said nothing is agreed, nothing is done. We will see. For the moment I have not made a decision. We will see. It is possible that I stay, it is possible that I leave. We will see.”

In other words, Mahrez ‘has refused to rule out leavingLeicester’. He makes no direct mention of Arsenal. But nonetheless the Mirror hears Mahrez and yells:

Arsenal transfer news and rumours: Riyad Mahrez ‘flattered’ by interest from Gunners

And the Standard says:

Riyad Mahrez to Arsenal: Leicester City star flattered to be linked with the Gunners

What no tabloid find room for is what else Mahrez said at the Nike promotional event:

“The season went very well. As you know, we have won the league which was very important. It is incredible. It was by far my best season in my career… I am not putting pressure on myself (for next season). It will be a season about confirming (my ability). Without pressure, I will have to work hard… Leicester is a family club. I would like to stay. I am very happy.”

Such are the facts.

Posted: 13th, June 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports, Tabloids | Comment