Back pages | Anorak - Part 32

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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

What rich fools will rid Liverpool of Mario Balotelli?

balotelli saleLiverpool are panicked by the sight of Mario Balotelli returning from his season-long loan at AC Milan.

Balotelli joined Liverpool for £16million on a three-year, £125,000-a-week deal from AC Milan in August 2014. In his time at Liverpool, the Italian striker has scored four goals.

Balotelli’s contract offers him the option of a fourth year when this deal runs out.

Understandably, current Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp wants shot of the overpaid Italian signed by his predecessor, Brendan Rodgers, now the Celtic boss, who opined in 2014: “I think to get someone of that quality in this market is a very good deal for us.”

Balotelli cost Manchester City £22.5m when he signed from Internazionale in 2010. He was sold to Milan for £19m and to Liverpool for £16m. It was a risky singing, which Rodgers acknowledged.

But Rodgers and the Liverpool transfer committee should have paid more heed to José Mourinho, his old boss who coached Balotelli at Inter.

“We went to play Rubin Kazan in the Champions League. All my other strikers were injured. No Diego Milito, no Samuel Eto’o,” recalled Mourinho. “I was really in trouble. Mario got a yellow card in the 42nd minute and when I got into the dressing room at half-time I spent 14 minutes of the 15 available speaking to Mario. I said to him: ‘Mario, I can’t change you, I have no strikers on the bench, don’t touch anybody and play only the ball. Mario, if someone provokes you, don’t react. If we lose the ball, no reaction. If the referee makes a mistake, no reaction…. The 46th minute: red card.”

Klopp has seen and heard enough.

“He’s not at the stage of his career where he should be battling with four or five players for one or two positions,” says Klopp. “So it’s clear we need a solution. There will be a club who would be happy to have the new Mario Balotelli.”

But will there be a club willing to cough up a big whack of cash and pay the likeable lunk half a million pounds a month?

As Mario Sconcerti put it in Corriere della Sera, Balotelli possesses  “the strange talent of making everyone happy when he arrives and even happier when he leaves”.

Posted: 14th, July 2016 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, Sports | Comment (1)

All the facts on Graziano Pelle’s move to Shandong Luneng

How much is Italian footballer Graziano Pelle earning at Shandong Luneng, the Chinese club that just bought him from Southampton?

The Times says the 31-year-old* is on £120,000-a-week.

The Mirror: “Graziano Pelle offered £125,000 a week by Chinese Super League”

Metro: “Graziano Pelle has become the sixth highest paid player in the world after his transfer to the Chinese Super League. The 30-year-old… has signed a contract worth £260,000 per week.

The Mail says: “It is understood Pelle will earn £260,000 per week in China, making him the joint-fifth highest paid player in the world.”

The Guardian: “He is expected to earn £34m over the next two-and-a-half years.”

Such are the facts.

*Pelle is 30.


Posted: 12th, July 2016 | In: Back pages, Money, Sports | Comment

Transfer balls: Paul Pogba will reluctantly join Manchester United unless Real Madrid cough up

The Daily Pogba: is the France player heading to Manchester United for £100m? News is that Juventus, his current club, are to offer the player a pay rise. Stick with Juve and earn £130,000 a week (source: The Times). Manchester United are willing to pay him – get this – £200,000-a-week. Given Pogba’s showing at the Euros, Manchester United are rich, desperate and a touch mad.

So, Pogba’s a shoo-in to join them, says the Sun, which declared on July 9:

PAYING THE PRICE Paul Pogba transfer news: Real Madrid turned Juventus star down because he was too CHEAP… and have now been priced out by Manchester United

Priced out by United. Fact. Or as the Sun puts it today:

Reports the Spanish giants are out of the race… were wide of the mark. A top source said: “Madrid are very much still in for Pogba.”

Of course, Sun readers know that. After all, on July 2, they read:

POGBA WANTS SPANISH SWITCH Paul Pogba would rather join Barcelona, Real Madrid or even Manchester City than link up with Jose Mourinho at Manchester United

One thing the Sun can agree with itself on: Pogba is leaving Juventus. As the paper says today: “Paul Pogba must make his mind up whether to move to Man Utd or Real Madrid.”

He MUST. Or as his agent tells the Times: “Paul is not desperate to move. We are very happy at Juventus.”

Such are the facts.

Posted: 12th, July 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment (1)

Arsenal balls: Wenger and Henry declare war in the Sky

Arsenal are under “threat”. In an “exclusive”, the Mail’s Charles Sale thunders beneath the headline “THIERRY THREAT” that Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has delivered an “extraordinary ultimatum”. He has “ruled” that Henry must leave his punditry role at Sky Sports if he wants to be an Arsenal coach.

Wenger “feels his fellow Frenchman cannot work within the club during the week and then criticise their players at the weekend”. Well, quite. That seems obvious. Henry has been highly critical of Olivier Giroud, the Arsenal and France striker.

But then Sale says Wenger is “hypocritical” because he worked as a pundit for beIN Sport during Euro 2016. That job ends when the season begins. Henry’s job just gets going.

Posted: 12th, July 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports, Tabloids | Comment

Arsenal manager Wenger won’t rule out England job

Who will be the next England team manager? Will it be Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger?

Metro says “Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger gives massive England job hint”. Really? This is Wenger who saw England’s desire to recruit foreign managers and mused: “In a country of 50 million people, you would think you could find one of your own.”

The Times says: “Wenger keen on England if FA waits a year.”

Is Wenger worth waiting for? Is he The One, the figure so vital to the FA they will wait? In 1996 Wenger arrived at Arsenal from Nagoya Grampus Eight. He was a sensation. Why can’t England be as bold and go for someone young and innovative?

For years the FA has been eyeing Wenger – the manager who became “the first to pick a 16-man Premier League squad that did not feature a single Englishman”.

Does Wenger really want the job? When asked about managing England, the Arsenal manager told BeIn Sports:

“Could I manage England, why not? I would never rule that out, but I am happy and focused in club football… I have one more year to go with Arsenal and I have been with them for a long time. I have always respected all my contacts [throughout my career] and will continue to do that. What will I do after that? Honestly, I don’t know.”

Arsenal have already lined up a two-year extension to that deal. They want him to agree to it by October. Wenger knows his value to the Gunners.

The FA know the routine.



Posted: 11th, July 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment

Manchester United’s secret deal for Ighalo and Liverpool get Clyne by default

Here are a couple of stories that offer insight into how football transfers work. First up the news that last January Manchester United offered a massive £35m for Watford’s Odion Ighalo. You didn’t know about this because both clubs kept quiet. Watford didn’t want to upset their striker. Manchester United didn’t want the markets and money men to know their pulling power was so diminished that signing a Watford player for a huge fee was beyond their reach.

On the upside, Marcus Rashford got his chance and the then United manager Louis Van Gaal looked like he knew what he was doing.

The second story is that Barcelona have not bought Liverpool’s Nathaniel Clyne. Barcelona don’t buy lots of players, of course. Clyne’s story is newsworthy because the story goes that his people offered him to Barcelona. The Catalans  weren’t interested. Good for Clyne that he sees himself in one of Europe’s top sides but surely bad for his Liverpool career.

Clubs and players are not always in harmony.

Posted: 10th, July 2016 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, manchester united, Sports | Comment (1)

Transfer balls: Arsenal sign Morata twice as Chelsea gazumped

Rub your eyes Arsenal fans. The Telegraph says Arsenal are planning to gazump Chelsea and bid – get this – £65m for Real Madrid’s Alvaro Morata.

The Sun tells us Arsenal will offer Morata £144,000-a-week, making him their third highest paid player behind Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez.

The Daily Mirror says Morata to Arsenal is very much on because the player wants Champions’ League football, something Chelsea can’t offer.

But would Arsenal really bid such a huge sum for a talented but far from sensational player? The Tele says Chelsea are “more than willing to pay that price”. The Blues want to stick Morata up front with new boy Michy Batshuayi. But Morata “would rather move to the Emirates than Stamford Bridge”.

The Standard says Arsenal are offering too much. “Chelsea bid £51m for Alvaro Morata,” says the London free paper.

The Indy says Morata to Arsenal is on. But in case it isn’t, the paper of record names NINE other strikers who could join Arsenal. The list is a sensation, featuring, as it does, Brazilian superstar Neymar. Neymar to Arsenal! That would be the same Neymar of whom the Indy wrote on July 1 this year:

Neymar’s contract with Barcelona has been extended until 2021… The announcement ended speculation that Neymar was unhappy in Spain and was looking to move to another club.

It did – unless the Indy has to find 10 names for a dire story on Arsenal strikers.

Of course, there is balls and there is utter balls. We’ll leave you with the news from 2014 that Morata already plays for Arsenal:


morata arsenal transfer


Such are the facts.


Posted: 10th, July 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Broadsheets, Sports, Tabloids | Comment

Transfer balls: Manchester Untied offer Paul Pogba £11m a year and Mata to Juventus

football transfers mata juventus paul pogba manchester unitedTransfer balls (with the Daily Paul Pogba) brings facts from Spain’s ASManchester United have agreed to pay Paul Pogba £11m a year and will table a £100m offer to Juventus for the France midfielder.

It only seems like yesterday (it was – ed) the media was telling readers Pogba to Man united was a”agreed”.

Does the mainstream media know anything?

Just one month ago, Pogba was a player who had joined Chelsea for £69m. A few days ago, Pogba was on his way to Real Madrid, his dream destination. And there was reporting on an agreement for Pogba to join Barcelona, his, er, dream destination.

Today’s Sun on Sunday reports that to fund Pogba’s purchase, Manchester United manager will sell Marcos Rojo, Morgan Schneiderlin, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Juan Mata and four others.

The Sunday Express says Mata will head to Everton for £20m. The Sunday People says Mata will head to Juventus as part payment for Pogba.

Mata says nothing.

PS: If Pogba does join United for £100m, the player’s agent Mino Raiola stands to pocket around a quarter of it, says the Sunday Times

Posted: 10th, July 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment

Transfer balls: Manchester United ‘agree’ Pogba deal amongst ‘friends’

Transfer balls hears a few more words on Paul Pogba and Manchester United, the club chasing the Frenchman they let go.

The Mirror says United are “closing in” on the Frenchman.

The IBTimes says United have “agreed a deal in principle” with Juventus. The player has “informed his friends” he wants to play for United. Friends like his agent, perhaps.

Sky Sports says “Paul Pogba’s priority is to join Real Madrid over Manchester United this summer”.

The Guardian says, “Paul Pogba has hinted he will join Manchester United only if his first choice of Real Madrid proves impossible.”

With the facts established, Sky Sports asks former Man United player Paul Ince what he thinks of Pogba:

“I think his style of football will suit the Premier League more than the Spanish league. I remember when I first went to Inter Milan in Serie A and I was that kind of aggressive player and every time I made a tackle I was getting booked, that was frustrating.”

Pogba plays for Juventus in Serie A. Ince played in Serie A for inter Milan. He did not play in Spain. Ince seems unaware that Inter Milan is in Italy.

Pogba joined Juventus in the summer of 2012. Every year since Pogba and Juventus have won Serie A.

Ince adds:

“So Pogba now coming into a league where it is tough, where he can show what he’s all about, I think is a perfect fit for him and for Man United.”

It’s worth looking at Pogba’s disciplinary record in Italy, where ‘every time Ince made a tackle he was booked’:

2012: Matches, 22; Yellow Cards, 2; Red Cards, 1

2013: Matches, 45; Yellow cards, 5

2014: Matches, 35; Yellow cards, 7

2015: Matches, 42; Yellow cards 10

As for joining Inter and playing in Italy, this is the Paul Ince who said of leaving Manchester United: “When I look back it’s the best thing I did because I went to Inter Milan and had a great time.”

Leaving United was the best thing Ince ever did. Pogba might well agree.

Posted: 9th, July 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment

Manchester United: Jose Mourinho says he’s The Different One

New Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho is a right one. Ever since the Portuguese manager declared himself the Special One, journalists have spoken with one voice. At his first Manchester United Press conference, the opening question was fired in:

Q: You were the special one, then the happy one. What does Manchester make you?

Mourinho: I don’t know, really. The other two times, I was arriving at the country, this is a Different One.

“Can José Mourinho be the Right One for Manchester United?” – Irish Times

“José Mourinho suggests he could be the Right One for Manchester United” – Guardian.

“Jose Mourinho is on the rebound from Chelsea but the Special One at Manchester United makes for a match made in heaven” – Daily Mail

“Jose Mourinho: The Impatient One eager to bury Manchester United’s three years of bad memories” – Independent.

“Now Mourinho is The Hungry One” – Daily Mirror.

“From ‘The Special One’ to ‘The Happy One’, Jose Mourinho’s opening news conferences have come with no shortage of entertainment.” – Sky Sports

“Arsenal news: Fans label Mourinho The Obsessed One” – Metro.

“Jose Mourinho shows Manchester United fans he means business in opening press conference as he becomes Serious One” – Daily Mail.

“Jose Mourinho doesn’t talk like The Tamer One in first Man United press conference” – Yahoo.

Posted: 7th, July 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment

Transfer Balls: Pogba to Manchester United as talks progress

Is Paul Pogba on his way to Manchester United? Jason Burt explores the story with his Telegraph readers:

Big problem for Man Utd with Pogba remains persuading him to leave Juve and come back to them. Plus all the fees.

It’s that kind of insight that gets you the top reporting jobs.

The Guardian says United will pay the £84m for Pogba but Real Madrid is the player’s preferred destination.

Jose Mourinho wants United to agree to Pogba’s wage demands and cough up €300,000 (£250,000) a week. But – get this – Juventus, where Pogba plays, say £84m is just the starting point. They want more.

The paper adds that United’s club’s chief executive, Ed Woodward, is “holding face-to-face talks” with the player’s representatives. No negotiations via fax machines this summer at Jose’s more determined United.

Marca says United are favourites in the betting markets to land Pogba. So put your shirt on Pogba to Barcelona, then.

The Metro says Paul Pogba is heading to United because he “recently followed Memphis Depay, Jesse Lingard and Adnan Januzaj on Instagram”. How many of those three will be at United next season is uncertain, but you’d not bet on Januzaj and Depay making the cut.

Pogba also follows Justin Bieber. Make of that what you will…

Posted: 6th, July 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment (1)

Transfer balls: Van Persie and the Arsenal return

Transfer Balls spots the Daily Telegraph’s story that former Arsenal captain is set for a “shock” return to the London club. The paper of record repeats the scoop in the story’s first line: “Robin van Persie could make a shock return to Arsenal”.  The Dutchman, who left Arsenal for Manchester United just as soon as he could walk on his oft-injured legs, is leaving Fenerbahce. The paper adds:

The Mirror are reporting that his preferred move would be to the Premier League.

No link to the Mirror in the Tele. But we go looking. And, indeed, the trusty Mirror says:

Arsenal transfer news and rumours: Robin van Persie to return to Gunners in shock bargain swoop… Robin van Persie could return to Arsenal after Fenerbahce admitted the striker is on the move, report the Independent.

Over to the trusty Indy, then, wherein we read:

West Ham and Crystal Palace have both been linked with the striker after missing out on Marseille’s Michy Batshuayi, according to the Sun.

What about Arsenal?

…Arsenal fans have already made calls for Arsene Wenger to bring back one of their most prolific strikers.

Which fans are making the calls, presumably not the ones who regale Van Persie’s ears with boos and a nasty song about rape? Do any of these fans have influence over RVP or the Arsenal transfer policy?

We’e looked. We found this on Pain In The Arsenal blog: “Arsenal: Robin Van Persie Could Be Perfect Stop Gap”. And as many as three tweets, one of which is from an egg:


And, er, thats it.

Posted: 5th, July 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment

Manchester City ignore Wenger’s Arsenal in war on Manchester United

It’s war between Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United and Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. Guardiola has “come out fighting” in “the Clash of the Titans with Jose Mourinho”. So says the Sun. In a first fight, I’d go with Guardiola, a former athlete who has the height, reach and stamina on the shorter Mourinho, who could counter with a low blow, the sneaky finger in the eye and a hissy fit. But never mind the physical stuff because Pep has started “mind games”. He has made his “first dig at Jose”.


Pep fighting the sun


What did the new City manager says? Well, get his: “In England the most important thing is football. The people don’t come to see the manager.” Ouch! That’ll sting Mourinho, who thinks they do. “There is Klopp, Conte, Ranieri, Mourinho, Pochettino. Koeman but the reason I work here is just to help the players.”

“EN GUARD,” puns the Sun, the French twist making us notice that the Spaniard never name-checked Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger. That first dig at Mourinho looks like a first dig at Wenger.

In any case, it’s war. Or as the Express and Star put it, it’s peace in our time:

mourinho guardiola Mourinho


Posted: 4th, July 2016 | In: Back pages, Manchester City, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment

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