Back pages | Anorak - Part 33

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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

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

Manchester United: David De Gea decides on Real Madrid transfer this Wednesday

Having declined to join Real Madrid from Manchester Untied last summer, David De Gea is once more being tipped for a move to Spain. The Sunday Times leads with news that the United goalkeeper “faces an ultimatum” this Wednesday.  That’s when an “exit clause” in his contract says he can join Real Madrid for £47m.

The story goes that De Gea was mentally winning Champions’ Leagues with Real when the a mix up with fax machines and deadlines caused him to sing a new four-year contract with United and eye next season’s Europa League.

de gea

Now we read that De Gea is even less decided than he was last summer, thinking that the arrival of new Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho could make the Red Devils a better team than Louis Van Gaal’s army. On the other side, Real’s president Florentino Perez wants De Gea has asked Madrid’s Spain national team players to use the country’s Euro 2016 campaign to convince De Gea to move.

Whichever way De Gea falls, he will surely kiss that club’s badge and tell everyone he has made the correct decision – until next summer…

Posted: 12th, June 2016 | In: Back pages, Broadsheets, manchester united, Sports | Comment

Transfer balls: Manchester United chase Bale with reasons

Transfer balls: The Daily Star says Gareth Bale will join Manchester United this summer. Bale, will – get this – leave Real Madrid, where he’s won two Champions’ Laegue medals and seen his star rise, to play for United in the Europa League.

United will pay Real £94.6m for Bale who is – get this II – “keen to return to England”. Colin Harvey adds, Bale will be “United boss Jose Mourinho’s marquee signing this summer”. A marquee is a large tent. Bale to United is a fantasy.

The Star’s scoop is a rehash of a report in Spain’s El Confidencial. Over there we learn from Kike Marin (via Google translate):

Gareth Bale is back in the crosshairs of Manchester United , but this time in the offices of Old Trafford are convinced that his move is feasible…. the Welshman is eager to return to the Premier League…

It is known that Florentino Perez feels predilection for the Welshman, who has always seen as the heir to Cristiano Ronaldo, although Bale asks him to return home, neither will be easy for the president to keep him…

Is Marin right? His report contains no word from anyone. His track record is a little mixed. And then there is the Star:


Bale Manchester United


Oh, and this is what Bale said on May 26th:

“I feel much more comfortable this year, it’s true. You can notice that on the pitch. I feel more integrated, I have more personal relationships with my team-mates and that always gives you more happiness and that reflects on my game. I’m enjoying myself a lot in Madrid and I hope this continues for many years.”

He’s chomping at the bit.


Posted: 11th, June 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment

Manchester United’s David De Gea and the sex crime he didn’t commit

de gea sexA Manchester United “ace” is embroiled in a “vice probe”. The player is David De Gea, the Man United goalkeeper. The Sun says he “faces calls to be left out of Spain’s squad for Euro 2016”. The Times talks of “Spanish turmoil”. The Star cranks it up and leads with news that De Gea is “linked to child porn probe”.

But Spain’s manager says De Gea is going nowhere. What turmoil? What calls? As the Guardian notes:

“I think De Gea has given all the explanations he had to give and he has made it clear that he has nothing to do with this issue,” said the Spain coach Del Bosque. “He said that to the whole squad too. We all met up and the lad, calmly and sincerely, has explained that he has nothing to do with this issue. The squad is here to support him at all times and to give him the affection he needs at these times. Everything is normal and we’ll carry on.”

De Gea is not going home. Spain are calm.

So why is “Spain’s main man between the sticks” in the news ?

In “‘IT IS ALL A LIE’ Man Utd star David De Gea denies organising underage sex parties for footie pals”, the Sun delivers the facts.  “De Gea has been named by a protected witness in court documents which claim he contracted a prostitute against her will.”

He says it’s all nonsense.  “It is all a lie,” the Sun quotes him as saying. “I feel even stronger about staying with the national team… it is all false and it is in my lawyers hands. I never thought about leaving. It gives me more strength to train even harder.” The Sun adds:

Spanish website El Diario reports the stunning allegations were part of evidence given to prosecutors in a high profile case that saw porn baron Torbe, real name Ignacio Allende Fernandez arrested. The pot-bellied director was remanded in custody in April after being accused of running a prostitution ring and using under-age girls for his shoots.

You can read more on El Diario. Or you can read parts on the BBC:

Torbe was remanded in custody in April charged with offences including sex attacks, sexual exploitation and child pornography. The protected witness, who claims she was forced into the prostitution ring, said she was taken to a Madrid hotel and introduced to another girl and two footballers.

Once in a room with the other girl, the witness – known in police interview papers as TP3 – said that she was told by Torbe that she had to comply with the sexual demands of the two Under-21 internationals. When she said she did not wish to take part, she claimed to police that Torbe “grabbed her forcefully by the arm”.

The Times says Ignacio Allende Fernández is also being questioned into alleged money laundering and extortion. We get a few more facts:

According to newspaper reports, a witness has come forward to police — who is known only as TP3 — and claimed that she and another woman were taken to a Madrid hotel and forced against their will to take part in sex acts with Iker Muniain, the Athletic Bilbao striker, and another player, who has not been identified, and were victims of both “physical and sexual abuse” at their hands. She claimed the meeting had been arranged by De Gea and Fernández. The 25-year-old former Atletico Madrid goalkeeper was not alleged to have taken part.

Muniain denies any wrongdoing. The other alleged player is unidentified.

Neither De Gea nor Muniain has been accused of any offence or called to give evidence by police or the judge investigating the case, but the police unit conducting the investigation — codenamed “Universal” — say she shows “a high degree of credibility,” it is claimed. They have ruled out the possibility that she is trying to discredit the people concerned for “economic or personal interests”. She has alleged that neither woman was paid for the encounter, although Fernández was.

It’s all a very nasty business.  De Gea is accused of having committed no crime. It cannot be good for his morale and focus to be linked to such vile alleged crimes, but to say the entire Spanish team is in turmoil as a result of the case is baseless.


Posted: 11th, June 2016 | In: Back pages, Broadsheets, Reviews, Sports, Tabloids | Comment

The Sun balls: Alen Halilovic is a ‘rising star’ in his living room

The Sun asked its football experts to pick their stars and winners for Euro 2016. Martin Blackburn was on it. For his “new star” he picked Alen Halilovic (Croatia). That’s the Croatian whose on Barcelona’s books, but spent last season on loan at Sporting de Gijón.


Alen Halilovic


It’s the same Halilovic who appears in the Reuters story: “Ivan Rakitic shocked by Alen Halilovic’s omission from Euro 2016 squad as Croatia prepare for opening clash with Turkey.”

Yeah, the Sun’s new star isn’t at the tournament.


Posted: 10th, June 2016 | In: Back pages, Sports, Tabloids | Comment

Manchester United ‘favourites’ to land £78 Pogba who wants Real Madrid

As the summer arrives so too does the newspapers’ obsession with Paul Pogba, the former Manchester United player now starring for Juventus and France.

The Daily Mirror says Manchester United “must” pay £78m if they want Pogba back at Old Trafford. The Mirror says news United manager Jose Mourinho wanted Pogba when he was at Chelsea last season. But Chelsea and Manchester City baulked at the £71m asking price.

The Sun spots the Premier League’s “scramble” for Pogba. The clubs need not bother. The Sun says Pogba’s “dream is to play in La Liga for Real Madrid or Barcelona”.  The Juventus player is “waiting on Spain’s big two before making any decisions”.

Not so says the Manchester Evening News’s Rob Pollard: “Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester City and Chelsea have all been linked with him in the last 18 months – but it seems the path has cleared somewhat and United are now clear favourites to land him.”


manchester evening news pogba

Manchester Evening News 


So United will pay £78m? No, says the Express : “JOSE MOURINHO will offer Matteo Darmian as part of a deal to try and land Paul Pogba.” The deal is Darmian plus £60m cash.  So says the Express, which has also told its readers that Pogba has agreed to join PSG and Barcelona.


Pogba Barcelona Man United


Such are the facts.


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

Benteke ‘warns’ and ‘threatens’ Liverpool as Klopp reaches for the bullet

Transfer balls: The Sun says Liverpool’s striker Christian Benteke has “warned” Jurgen Klopp: “Pick me regularly or I’m off.” Benteke has issued a “Kop Threat”.

Klopp must be fretting. Will Benteke, who scored ten goals in 42 games, leave the club unless he gets more chances to score? The Belgian striker started eight league games after German Klopp was appointed Liverpool manager in October 2015,

Will Klopp take kindly to being threatened?

What Benteke said was far from threatening:

“I still have a contract at Liverpool and I’d like to stay there, if I remain in the coach’s plans. If that’s not the case, it will become difficult to stay… When Klopp arrived I saw that I wasn’t in his plans. That was frustrating because I knew that during my first season at Aston Villa he wanted me. But we had several discussions together – I respect and I understand his decisions. I’ll think about if after the Euros.”

Not exactly a warning, then. More resignation that if Klopp doesn’t rate him, he’ll be on his way.

And the Sun has been trailing Benteke’s departure for months.

Jurgen Klopp’s Kop clear-out: Liverpool boss ready to ring the changes at Anfield this summer. German boss wants to overhaul the squad at the end of the season. The main casualty will be Christian Benteke after the £32.5million summer capture from Aston Villa – The Sun, Feb, 2016

Liverpool transfer news: Reds flop Christian Benteke set to be offered lifeline by Italian giants Juventus – The Sun, March 2016

Dean Sturridge reckons Christian Benteke will not be a Liverpool player next season. Uncle of Reds striker, Daniel, claims Belgian is not part of Jurgen Klopp’s plans – The Sun, May 2016

He’s been warned.

Posted: 9th, June 2016 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, Sports, Tabloids | Comments (2)

Chelsea: Dr Carneiro is ‘disgruntled’ but Mourinho is just ‘Jose’

Dr Eva Carneiro turned to the courts when Chelsea failed to take a stand against her co-worker Jose Mourinho, who publicly humiliated her. Having rejected the club’s offer of £1.2 million to shut up and go away, Dr Carneiro continued to sue for justice.

Yesterday she settled her dismissal claim against Chelsea on confidential terms. She had claimed constructive dismissal against Chelsea. In addition she reached a discrimination settlement against Jose Mourinho.

Chelsea said it apologised “unreservedly”for its treatment of its former first-team doctor.

“The club regrets the circumstances which led to Dr Carneiro leaving the club and apologises unreservedly to her and her family for the distress caused. We wish to place on record that in running onto the pitch Dr Carneiro was following both the rules of the game and fulfilling her responsibility to the players as a doctor, putting their safety first.”

Mourinho, who denied calling the medic “daughter of a whore” (she alleged that he did) never issued a public apology. The Chelsea statement merely noted:

“Jose Mourinho also thanked Dr Carneiro for the excellent and dedicated support she provided as first team doctor and he wishes her a successful career.”

But why should Jose says sorry? The Manchester United manager (£15m a year) remains good ol’ Jose in the Mail, whereas the victim is a moody woman who got lucky:


dr carneiro sexist



Posted: 8th, June 2016 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, Reviews, Sports, Tabloids | Comment

Jamie Vardy Watch: ‘Snubs’ Arsenal, ‘stuns Wenger’, says nothing

vardy snubs arsenal


“VARDY SNUBS GUNNERS,” declares the Daily Star. Can it be that Jamie Vardy has gone back on his verbal agreement to join Arsenal?  Jeremy Cross says he will: “Jamie Vardy will snub a £20m move to Arsenal.”

How Cross knows this is unsaid. Readers are just expected to take it as fact. But Vardy has said nothing in public. He has not signed for Arsenal, which means he remains a Leicester City player.

The Sun says “Vardy is a stop Gun”. Charlie Wyett says Vardy will decide on his future after Euro 2016. We’re told that Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was “stunned when Vardy did not  immediately jump at the move”. Well, if Wenget gets his news in the Sun he must be surprised with Vardy’s circumspection. The Sun told everyone Vardy had his Arsenal medical last weekend and would agree to join Arsenal before the England team flew to France. They flew. Vardy said nothing.

In the Mirror, Vardy has “delayed” his decision to stay or leave Leicester. Vardy wants to “focus on England”. John Cross says Arenal must decide whether to wait for Vardy or go for another striker. Why wold they? The Mirror said Vardy’s agent approached Arsenal. But the Express agrees, writing that Arsenal will look at “alternative targets”. The paper says the Gunners are in a “sweat”. Why would they be? They made an offer. If the offer is not enough they will either offer an improved offer of look elsewhere.

Vardy will either earn more cash at Leiecester with an improved deal, or more cash at Arsenal with a big signing-on fee.

There are problems – and then there are Premier League problems.

Posted: 8th, June 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports, Tabloids | Comment

Arsenal and the mysterious £25m Mahrez bid

Are Arsenal “close” to signing Leicester City star Rihad Mahrez? Yesterday, the Sun had an “exclusive“. It said Arsenal were in for the Premier League’s top player last season. Sadly, the scoop contained not a single fact. In fact, it got the one fact in the story wrong: Vardy has not had an Arsenal medical:

England striker Vardy reportedly having medical today and Premier League-winning Leicester team-mate could join him

Daniel Cutts added:

The Gunners have been shocked that Mahrez’s release clause is so low…

If the Gunners have seen the clause, you might wonder who showed it to them and why?

A few hours later, the Mirror told its readers that Arsenal and Mahrez is a non-starter: “Arsenal are NOT interested in Riyad Mahrez.” John Cross stated, “he will not be moving to the Emirates.”

But the Indy had heard different. “Arsenal transfer news: Gunners in talks to secure Riyad Mahrez transfer in Leicester City double-swoop,” stated Jack de Menezes.  “Arsenal have activated Jamie Vardy’s release clause but are also being linked with his Leicester team-mate Mahrez.”

In talks or linked? Jack merely says he read it in, the, Sun.

As did the Metro’s man in the know, Sean Kearns, who said: “Arsenal clear to sign Riyad Mahrez as Leicester City winger decides to leave the Foxes.” Are Arsenal “clear to sign” the top player because no other club are after him?

It was way back in April that the Mail told us: “Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger rules out move for Leicester City star Riyad Mahrez.”

But today’s Express states: “Arsenal submit £25m Riyad Mahrez bid.” This it know because one Tancredi Palmeri tweeted: ” @tancredipalmeri Arsenal, before bidding for Mahrez, had several meeting with the player’s entourage and the player is open for moving.”

He also tweeted this:


Screen Shot 2016-06-07 at 21.07.14


There has been no confirmation of Ibrahimovich to Manchester United.

Posted: 7th, June 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports, Tabloids | Comment (1)

Jamie Vardy agrees Arsenal move then waits for wounds to heal

Leicester City v Manchester United - Premier LeagueJamie Vardy is in “transfer turmoil,” says the Sun. The paper, which stated Vardy would join Arsenal yesterday, says the Leicester City and England striker is torn between remaining with the Foxes and joining the Gunners.

A “source” says Vardy “does not know” if he will join the Gunners for £120,000-a-week and any bonus form a £20m transfer fee. The paper says Vardy is “prepared” to wait until after the Euros in France to make his decision”.

In the Mail, the advice is “SORT IT VARDY – England manager Roy Hodgson wants decision on star’s Arsenal switch”.

But the Mail notes that the decision has been made, stating that Vardy has “verbally agreed a three-year deal with an option of a further 12 months“. Add to this the Mirror’s claim that Vardy’s agent instigated the Arsenal move and you have player not exactly “in turmoil” and “tormented”, as the Mail’s mind-reading expert Matt Lawton says he is.

Is is really such agony to be deciding between playing for Leicester, the Premier League champions where you are adored, or moving to one of Europe’s biggest clubs for an extra £4o,000 a week? Come on. Vardy must love it. If Vardy has given his word that he will join the Gunners, this waiting for an official announcement looks like a PR job.

Is Vardy the right man for Arsenal?

Ian Wright tells Sun readers “James ticks all the boxes for Arsenal”, save for the bit of the form which says “sign here”. Wright reminds readers he joined Arsenal at 28. Vardy is 29. Wright was magnificent at the Gunners. He says Vardy will be a hit at Arsenal because he’s “clever” and can change his game.

Dave Kidd tells Mirror readers “Vardy to Arsenal makes no sense”. Kidd says it is the “most un-Arsenal transfer move  imaginable, making neither footballing no economic sense.” Vardy is the Football Writers’ player of the year. He is a proven winner. At 29 he is the same age Robin Van Persie was when he joined Manchester Untied and made them title winners. The Arsenal fans will love his work rate and desire to win. But Kidd says Vardy doesn’t score goals the Arsenal way (after lots and lots of passing). He says Vardy will be on the bench as Arsenal’s Plan B.

Stop Press: The Guardian says “Jamie Vardy set to make Arsenal decision after European Championship.”  Or as the Leicester Mercury puts it: “Leicester City transfer news: Vardy decision to come in next few days.” They don’t have the foggiest.

Posted: 7th, June 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports, Tabloids | Comment

Arsenal transfer balls: desperate Wenger buys Leicester glory

Anyone want to play for Leicester City? As news of Jamie Vardy’s apparently imminent departure to Arsenal fills the news media, the Sun says the Gunners are also keen on Leicester’s Riyad Mahrez.

Vardy has taken his medical at Arsenal, and, one assumes, passed it. It’s not known what the Arsenal medical involves but given their annual injury crisis, it could amount to a man in a white jacket asking he player, “How’s things?” as he rubber stamps the health insurance certificates.

The Sun’s exclusive contains not a single source, quote nor fact to support it.

Over at ESPN, the news is that Mahrez is not an Arsenal priority. The headline states:

Arsenal prioritise Henrikh Mkhitaryan over Riyad Mahrez

Readers are told that “signing Borussia Dortmund’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan is Araenalk’s priority this summer”. Again, readers get no facts. 

Meanwhile, Anorak readers can recalls the Sun’s report from February 2016. The headline ran: “Arsene Wenger reveals he rejected chance to bring Riyad Mahrez to Arsenal because he thought Leicester sensation was too CHEAP.” Mahrez joined Leicester for £400,000.

“We live in a strange society. If I sign a player for £400,000 before he plays people will say, ‘What is that, that is not serious for Arsenal’. If you say we signed a player for £40million they will think he is really good.”

As Wenger treats fans as fools unable to know a good player when they see one, we remind him that Lionel Messi cost Barcelona nothing in transfer fees. And the Barcelona fans are largely happy with his efforts. Every player was cheaper at one point in their careers and looking for a big break. The difference now is that with Wenger towards the end of his career, he’s desperate to win the title and will pay to do so.

Posted: 6th, June 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports, Tabloids | Comments (2)

Transfer Balls: Vardy keeps Arsenal and Leicester waiting for the inevitable

Transfer balls: Has Jamie Vardy told Arsenal he is joining them? The Sun said Vardy told the Gunners of his decision before 11:30am this morning, when he and the rest of the England squad jetted off to France for the Euros.

Why he needed to make his move before the flight left is moot point. surely in France there are mobile phones?


Jamie Vardy the sun arsenal


The Mail says Vardy never did make the call, declaring: “Jamie Vardy jets off to Euros while still thinking over £20m move to Arsenal as Leicester try to keep star striker.”

Is it all PR, making Vardy look torn? After all, the Mirror claims Vardy’s agent instigated talks with Arsenal. The Mail notes:

Vardy, travelling with England, is not believed to have put a time limit on when he will make a final call and any announcement may take longer than another 24 hours.

The Leicester Mercury adds:

Mercury sources have stated there is no decision imminent as the player has much to contemplate.

After all, the Mail did report:

Leicester hero Jamie Vardy commits future to Premier League champions as he looks forward to competing in Champions League

Surely he’s already made his mind up.  More money in his weekly wage packet plus a huge signing-on fee and life in London with Arsenal.


Posted: 6th, June 2016 | In: Back pages, Sports, Tabloids | Comment (1)