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Back pages | Anorak - Part 8

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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: Chelsea buy Higuain who joins Arsenal and waits for Ronaldo

The Daily Mail says that Chelsea are to sign Juventus and Argentina striker Gonzalo Higuain for £53m. Just as soon as Chelsea tell Antonio Conte to vet thee hence, they will recruit Maurizio Sarri from Napoli as their new manager and get Higuain. Or not.

Sky Sports hears Higuain’s agent say that nothing has been agreed and his man has not spoken to Chelsea. And the Times says Conte is not going quietly. The paper says someone on Chelsea’s technical staff emailed players not involved at the World Cup to tell them to report to the club’s training ground this weekend for fitness tests. Conte saw the missive and told everyone that the manager – him – doesn’t want to see any players until the following Monday.

As Chelsea’s pre-season implodes, it’s worth noting that Higuain plays for Arsenal. The Sun told us he does:

 

higuain arsenal sign

 

That was 2013. And the story is still on the Sun’s website, having been updated in 2016 – when Higuain still wasn’t playing for Arsenal.

Says the Sun:

ARSENAL last night smashed their transfer record when they agreed a £23million fee for Real Madrid striker Gonzalo Higuain….

The Argentine will undergo a Gunners medical today…

The deal, which has been confirmed by the player’s father Jorge…

Now Wenger wants to build on Higuain’s imminent arrival by pressing ahead with negotiations for Wayne Rooney and Julio Cesar.

 

higuain arsenal

 

Now the Sun has more to say about Higuain:

 

chelsea higuain

 

Higuain to Chelsea is a done deal. Fact.

Or as, er, the Sun says one day later:

 

chelsea higuain

 

Such are the facts.

Posted: 5th, July 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


World Cup Watch: Stones, Maguire and Henderson might be cheating Colombians

stones falcao
 

Last night as England beat Colombia in the World Cup John Stones “rose above the nastiness, the skulduggery, the crying, the whingeing, the play acting, the pulling, the pinching, the pushing” – “none set a better example than Stones”. So says the Mirror’s Andy Dunn. Or as the Daily Mail’s Riath Al-Sammaria puts it: “John Stones looked as though he might have left a little boot on Radamel Falcao”. And as for the moaning, cheating Colombians, “Henderson held his eye when Barrios’ contact was with his chin” and “Harry Maguire dived for a penalty”.

Former referee Graham Poll says Stones was “no angel and “caught Rademal Falcao in the head.

 

 
Good old England rising above those cheating foreigners:
 

 

Your chin bone’s connected to your eye bone…
 

Posted: 4th, July 2018 | In: Back pages, Sports | Comment


World Cup Watch: Daily Mail singles out Sterling for criticism

Raheem sterling england colombia

Raheem Sterling is rubbish in the Daily Mail

 

Did you know Manchester City and England striker Raheem Sterling has not scored for England in 1000 days? It’s a fact Matt ‘Statto’ Lawton wants to share with his Daily Mail readers. Sterling could have scored last night as England defeated Colombia on penalties to progress to the World Cup quarter-final but he was “hooked” off after 88 minutes. Sterling was replaced by Jamie Vardy, who in the Mail’s all-important “Jamie Redknapp’s Big Match Ratings” scores 6.5 – the same as Sterling gets. Sterling was not the worst England player on the pitch according to Redknob. He scored higher than Kyle Walker (6), Deli Alli (6) and Ashley Young (6). But why does Sterling feel the hatchet between his shoulder blades and the rest do not?

And what of Eric Dier’s scoring a 7? He had a “pass completion rate of less than 25 per cent in his first 24 minutes on the pitch” (source: Martin Samuel, Daily Mail) and was “ordinary” against Belgium. He did score in the penalty shoot-out, a shot that was a “bit scuffed and [David] Ospina got a hand to it”. But there he is on the Mail’s back page “The Coolest Man in Moscow”.

 

Raheem sterling england colombia

Sterling was “dangerous” in the Daily Mirror

 

He was cool? No. In the Mirror, Dier says he was “nervous”. Andy Dunn says “Sterling at least remains one who can dash past a defender, take a risk, create splash of chaos”, factors described as “rarities” in a game big on “chaos”. The Mirror gives Sterling a 7 – the same as Pickford, Trippier, Henderson and Kane. Only John Stones with 8 scores higher. Sterling was “dangerous”.

 

Raheem sterling england colombia

The Sun

Raheem sterling england colombia

The Sun says Sterling was “lively”

 

Over in the Sun, Sterling gets a 6. That’s a higher mark than Lingard and Henderson, and the same as Pickford, Walker, Young and Dele. The Sun says Sterling was “slippery and lively” and “darting”.

 

Raheem sterling england colombia

Sterling is “lively” in the Daily Express

 

In the Express, “lively” Sterling who “caused  Colombia all kinds of problems” scores a 7 – that’s more than Pickford, Stones, Maguire, Henderson, Dele and Young. Only Harry Kane (8) scores higher.

So why is Sterling derided in the Mail? Has the Mail got a problem with Sterling?

It’s been while since Sterling scored in an England shirt, his last goal coming on 9th October 2015. But only Sterling gets compared to a “mascot” and a “jockey” in the Mail. No other player is so diminished.

Posted: 4th, July 2018 | In: Back pages, Key Posts, Manchester City, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Transfer balls: Ronaldo to Juventus but Manchester United lead

All that talk of Cristiano Ronaldo heading ‘home’ to Manchester United is trumped by news that he’s been talking with Juventus. The BBC says the Italians have “opened talks” with Ronaldo, 33, to Italy. They have? Well, Marca agrees with the Beeb that Juventus want Ronaldo:

 

ronaldo juventus

 

Over on Marca, however, news is that Italian media are only “speculating” that Ronaldo could be on his way to Juventus. Slap the scoop through Google Translate and we learn:

  • “Italian media speculating that Juventus could be his next destination.”
  • Ronaldo was “incredibly flattered when some Juve fans gave him a “standing ovation after his stunning overhead kick in the Champions League”. Although some others called him a *****.
  • It’s an option that can now be discussed given that Ronaldo is out of the World Cup. “It’s not the time to talk about the future,” the player said after losing to Uruguay. Er…
  • Ronaldo’s agent Jorge Mendes, is the “Tom Cruise of agents.” He a Scientologist?

Over in Italy, the headline is:

 

ronaldo italy

 

TuttoSport is the source of the BBC’s scoop and Marca story. Once again we look at he news through the prism of Google Translate:

Any reasoning deserves a premise: the chances of seeing Cristiano Ronaldo with the Juventus shirt in the next season are few. But being the strongest player on the planet, even the few make noise, especially if there is Jorge Mendes , his agent, who will now start a glowing phase of his summer: on one hand waiting for the relaunch of Real Madrid for a consistent retouching of the engagement, on the other the search for alternatives for his client, now on vacation.

In short: Ronaldo and his agent want more cash from Real. Will they get it at Juventus?

To avoid mistakes, CR7 greeted Real Madrid in Kiev , where he said: “It was nice to play in this club” , just a few minutes after raising the third consecutive Champions League . Now you look around. What are you looking for? First of all, more money: a folly for those who earn 21 million a season, but in the logic of his infinite (and partly irrational) long-distance challenge with Messi wants to take more of him, set new records, get ahead of everyone even at the economic level so he wants at least 40 million net per season, even if they say that to Florentino Perez, president of Real, he asked for 50.

And this for Juventus would be the main problem. Almost insurmountable, because the top salary is now 7.5 million net per season (received by Dybala and Higuain) and to give 40 to CR7 would mean putting 80 gross into the budget. Too many. This is why a complex commercial operation would be necessary, in which the FCA of the Juventus shareholder John Elkann could enter , which, through advertising contracts, could contribute substantially to the achievement of the quota.

To conclude: Ronaldo to Juventus would be nice for Juventus but Juventus don’t have the money to get him. Or as the BBC outs it: “Juventus have opened talks with Real Madrid to take Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo, 33, to Italy.” And in the Sun: “Juventus begin negotiations to sign Real Madrid star Ronaldo.” And in the Express: “Ronaldo could leave Real Madrid with Manchester United spearheading the list of teams aiming to snap him up.”

Fake news or just utter balls? Read all about it…

 

Posted: 3rd, July 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Lyon ‘trick’ Liverpool with Fekir to Manchester United talk

This summer’s transfer saga centres on Nabil Fakir’s move from Lyon to Liverpool. The transfer was so far progressed that Fakir was filmed wearing a new Liverpool shirt. But the £52m transfer (£48m plus extras) collapsed amid Liverpool’s concerns over the state of Fakir’s knee – the player suffered a bad injury to his knee in 2015.

And  then it all got a bit weird. Lyon president Jean-Michael Aulus told us: “I was with Jose Mourinho the other day. We had long discussions. Personally, I am no longer in discussions with Liverpool. At the moment, we are waiting for France and Nabil to have a fantastic World Cup.”

Can it be that Fakir, who has had a very ordinary World Cup on the France bench, is now off to Manchester United? In “Man Utd transfer news” the Express reads Aulus’s words and conjures the story: “Why Nabil Fekir is likely to snub Liverpool for Manchester United.” As the Express reads Fakir’s mind, the Mirror goes with: “Nabil Fekir could be forced to choose between Manchester United and Liverpool if he leaves Lyon.” Eurosport goes further. “United pounce for Liverpool target Fakir,” it yells.

 

fakir transfer

 

And then the Manchester Evening News tells us; “Nabil Fekir receives Manchester United transfer offer.” Well, that’s the headline. The truth is something very different. Deep into the MEN clickbait, the paper wonders why United want Fekir when they already have Fred, Fellaini, Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata and Paul Pogba as attacking midfielders. It adds:

The Fekir tales are probably just that and there is no concrete evidence United want him. He only has two years left on his contract, so Lyon would prefer to sell the 24-year-old this summer while he is coveted by a big Premier League club, rather than in a year’s time when his value will have dwindled.

Clubs have previously fabricated United’s interest in a player to smoke out a bidder and the biggest sucker for the ruse tends to be Liverpool.

It’s all a trick?

If it is, it’s hard luck on all you readers who have followed the story of Fakir to Manchester United, like those told over and over in the, er, MEN:

 

 

But will Liverpool resurrect the deal? Well, yesterday the Sun said Liverpool had ‘resumed” talks with Lyon:

 

 

fekir liverpool

 

They have? No, says the Times. They have not:

 

fekir liverpool

 

 

Such are the facts.

Posted: 2nd, July 2018 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Liverpool stick with Karius as concussion vanishes

Hard cheese on any Liverpool fans hoping for an upgrade on goalkeeper Loris Karius, whose errors cost the reds so dear in the Champions’ League final. The Sun says Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has given up on signing Roma’s Alisson Becker and wants Karius to remain as his number one. Karius “made two horrendous mistakes” as Liverpool lost to Real Madrid in the Champions League final, says the Sun.  It was “his calamitous Champions League final where he gifted Real Madrid two goals”. At no point does the Sun mention the claim that Karius was suffering from concussion.

Is that an oversight? The Mirror adds: “Karius’s errors in the Champions League final had appeared to highlight the Reds’ need for a new man between the sticks.” Again no word on any concussion. Why is it that something so serious as concussion is now dismissed?

 

karius concussion the sun liverpool

 

The Sun once thought it serious enough to explain Karius’ injury in full and advise its readers to go to hospital if the’ve suffered a bang to the head. “The effects usually only lasts up to a few days or weeks,” said the paper, “although in severe cases sufferers will need emergency treatment and can be left with longer-lasting symptoms.

It’s all balls, anyhow. Because Sky Sports notes: “Liverpool’s may see long-term target Alisson pinched from under their noses, with Chelsea planning a £65m offer for the Roma goalkeeper.” Can you pinch something the victim never owned and doesn’t want, according to the Sun and Mirror?

Posted: 1st, July 2018 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Arsenal Transfer balls: Wilshere out to Turkey, Sokratis, Torrerira and Golovin in

Departing Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere, 26, is off to Turkish club Fenerbahce. There’s been much chatter about Wilshere wanting to stay close to London. And, in truth, you can reach Istanbul from London in just under four hours flying time. If he makes the move, Wilshere will follow in the footsteps of other British footballers to have played for Fenerbahce, like Horace Armitage and Dalian Atkinson. 

As Wilshere leaves for the mayhem of Turkish league football, and the shops – does anyone think he won’t be injured? –  Arsenal will parade Borussia Dortmund defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos, 30, in a XXL shirt and then buy a much smaller shirt to fit Sampdoria and Uruguay midfielder Lucas Torreira, 22.

Not that anything is done until the money is in the bank. “I have spoken to the boss and he says he will speak to me – I’m sure it will get done,” said Wilshere about a new Arsenal deal last season. The Gunners offered him one, which Wilshere rejected. But not regrets, Jack. Right?

Arsenal are also looking to sign Aleksandr Golovin of CSKA Moscow and Russia, but Chelsea are after him, too. the Gunners also fancy Real Madrid midfielder Lucas Vázquez.

 

Posted: 29th, June 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Transfer Balls: Bale to Manchester United is more if than when

The Week magazine’s news on Manchester United transfers begins: “If Gareth Bale leaves Real Madrid…” And if he doesn’t? Well, then we will repeat the line next year, and the next and keep on repeating it until Gareth Bale is too old even for a desperate United to recruit. (See Anorak passim).

The Express says United manager Jose Mourinho “is intent” on recruiting the 28-year-old. Intent enough to lend United a few million of his own cash to bolster what would be a huge transfer fee? Or is intent measured in how many times Mourinho can moan about not being able to pick a side made up of  the world’s costliest first XI? The Times says Mourinho has told the club’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward that Operation Get Bale is of paramount importance to his plans.

The nadir of this hopeless balls is found in the Star, wherein we learn that Bale’s agent “breaks his silence” over Bale to United – because if there is one thing agents are known for it is their decorum. Jonathan Barnett, chairman of the player agency Stellar Group,  says: “I think we need to talk to Real Madrid to see what’s going on, he wants to play more, that’s top priority for him. He’s one of the top three or four players in the world. So he has to play, it’s not about money.”

Mentions of Manchester United: nil.

Oh, and here’s what Barnett had to say in April: “Gareth is a Real Madrid player and loves Real Madrid and Real Madrid love Gareth. All this talk about leaving is written by reporters who have no idea what is going on and who need to write something and don’t care if it is true or not.”

More Bale to United to follow…

Posted: 28th, June 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Transfer balls: Asensio ‘agrees’ to Chelsea, secretly wants Manchester United and courts Arsenal and Liverpool

Transfer balls round-up now, readers, as Liverpool are linked with a £158m move for Real Madrid’s Marco Asensio. The Guardian says Asensio, 22, has “refused” to rule out any move. This usually means the player said nothing on the matter. But the player who signed a six-year contract with Real last September – it has a £442m buyout clause – did speak. When asked at a press conference if he was heading to Liverpool, Asensio looked perplexed and replied: “When the World Cup is over, we’ll talk about that sort of thing.” But according to Metro, Asensio is to hold  “crunch talks” with Real Madrid.

Should it not go to plan, Liverpool will splurge a massive wedge of cash on the midfielder who played a full minute in the Champion’s League final.

As the Daily Star tells British reader that Liverpool are “preparing” to buy Asensio, AS (Spain) rubbishes any link. “Asensio only has eyes for Real,” says the paper. “The forward is determined to fulfil his lifelong dream and be a success at the Santiago Bernabéu and, as things stand, no offer – no matter how enticing – will change his mind.” In a world where Neymar can leave Barcelona and then agitate for a move to their great rivals, Real, Asensio has a price. The trick for his agent is to find it. Good idea, then, to see his name being linked to the world’s richest clubs:

 

asensio transfer

 

The guff about Asensio leaving the glory for Real to play for Arsenal worked. He scored a great new longterm contract.

So why not see if that can be improved upon? Liverpool want shim. And so too do:

 

 

asensio transfer

 

asensio arsenal

 

asensio transfer

Asensio agrees’ — nothing

 

So that’s Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United all in for Asensio. Yeah – what about moneybags Man City? The Express has that covered:

asensio transfer

 

Such are the facts.

Posted: 27th, June 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Gareth Southgate is a living god

Gareth Southgate is a living god. The England manager is rightly venerated. There will be statues and churches. And then they will be smashed. He will be ordered to get three hence. We will see him again on a World Cup magazine show, in which he will provide a great anecdote about how waistcoats gave him purpose. The Times sums up:

 

gareth southgate god gareth southgate god

 

Elsewhere in the Times, Southgate is called “awkward and ordinary”, “the most timid of Englishmen”, “an International Man of Non-Mystery” and and his side a “secret order of style-conscious executive pillocks with flat caps and art chat”.

Amen.

Posted: 26th, June 2018 | In: Back pages, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Bale and Ronaldo to Manchester United (again)

Transfer Balls likes how every summer a player is the primary focus of all the chatter. Remember when Marco Reus was leaving Borussia Dortmund for the Premier League. The Telegraph told its readers it was a sure thing, reporting that “Arsenal planning to hijack Liverpool’s £50 million bid”. He never came. He never even left Borussia.

 

reus agrees arsenal

 

And then there are the transfers that crop up every year, like Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to Manchester United. The Guardian says that – yep – this summer the move is on:

Having proved beyond sane dispute that he is the GOHG, Cristiano Ronaldo is reportedly heading back to where it all started. No, not his mother’s womb; we mean Old Trafford!

Not even his mother’s womb. Ronaldo out at started Sporting Clube de Portugal – in the B team. Manchester United did not hatch the world;’s greatest player. They bought him for £12.24 million, outbidding all rivals. “We have been negotiating for Cristiano for quite some time, but the interest in him from other clubs accelerated in the last few weeks so we had to move quickly to get him,” said United manager Alex Ferguson at the time. “It was only through our official association with Sporting that they honoured our agreement.”

ronaldo manchester united the sun newspapers

 

The money was the key factor in Ronaldo choosing to join Man United. At the time, it was widely reported that Sporting received just two-thirds of the transfer fee. The rest went to Ronaldo’s advisers. And now the talk is that he wants to return. He wants United over Sporting because:

a) His heart is in Manchester

b) United are desperate and would pay a shedload of money to get him

c) He misses the weather back ‘home’

bale manchester united

 

In other Ronaldo news, the Manchester Evening News thunders: “Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo odds to join Manchester United – Manchester United are favourites to land Real Madrid star Gareth Bale”.

Quick! Place your bets. And tell the bookmaker to place the same bet every summer. You can’t lose.

Posted: 23rd, June 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Gareth Bale’s agent over the moon to join Arsenal

Is former Spurs forward Gareth Bale heading to Arsenal? Is Bale going to swap glory in Real Madrid for the Europa League with the Gunners? When Bale’s agent Jonathan Barnett was invited to respond to the notion of his client joining Arsenal, he replied: “I’d love him to play there but it’s got as much chance as me going to the moon.”

Slap it through the mincer and it’s a sensation:

gareth bale arsenal

 

“Arsenal transfer news: Shock Bale claim, third Emery signing today, Argentina star wanted” – Daily Star

“Is Gareth Bale moving to Unai Emery’s Arsenal? –  former Tottenham star turning out for north London rivals Arsenal are very slim” – Evening Standard

“Bale’s agent provides update on Real Madrid future – and possible Arsenal move” – Daily Mirror

Gareth Bale’s agent has admitted the Welshman will look to leave Real Madrid if the club cannot offer him assurances over regular game time.

But the chances of the former Tottenham star turning out for north London rivals Arsenal are very slim.

“Bale’s agent discusses chances of Arsenal move” – Standard

Chance of the agent heading to the moon: “very slim.” But there is a chance he will.

Posted: 21st, June 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Spurs striker Kane in heartbreaker horror

harry kane daily mail

 

The Daily Mail is not alone is praising Harry Kane, the Spurs and England footballer. His bare chest fills the Sun’s back page. “Everybody loves Harry,” says the Mirror on its. But only in the Mail is there a focus on Kane’s looks. Over pages 10 and 11, David Jones and Sarah Rainey gells readers that Kane is -“Shock horror!” – a footballer “England can be proud of”.  His list of accomplishments are headlined:

  • no tattoos
  • polite
  • patriotic
  • engaged to his child his sweetheart

And handsome. “What a heartbreaker cooed one devoted fan on twitter.”

 

harry kane daily mail

 

They did? Sort of. A search on twitter delivers this:

 

 

 

No-one called Kane a heartbreaker on twitter.

Posted: 20th, June 2018 | In: Back pages, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Clickbait balls: Hazard keeps agreeing to leave Chelsea for Real Madrid

On a break from advertising biscuits, Chelsea and Belgium footballer Eden Hazard is doing his best to alienate the club’s fans. Well, he is if the BBC and Sun’s back-page headline is to be believed. “Belgium forward Eden Hazard, 27, has warned his club side Chelsea that ‘Real Madrid could interest me’,” says the BBC. The Sun leads: “EDEN WARNING – Eden Hazard has warned the club he will quit unless they sort things out in the summer.” Warning your employer to work hard to please you is an iffy move. But is that what Hazard really said in an interview with L’Equipe before he flew to Moscow for the World Cup?

What can we believe? Reporting on Hazard is so much more clickbait than fact.

 

hazard chelsea the sun real madrid

 

On January 11, the Sun reported: “EDEN HAZARD has NOT agreed to join Real Madrid in the summer, despite reports.”

Reports like… this one in the Sun from July 2o17. The word ‘agrees’ is in inverted commas but fro SEO purposes hazard to Real Madrid is a statement of fact.

 

hazard chelsea the sun real madrid

 

Not that the Sun is alone in milking the ‘Hazard has gone nowhere for years’ story. In January the Independent said Hazard was staying at Chelsea. Fact.

 

hazard chelsea the sun real madrid

 

The Express told its readers: “…the Belgium international has now quashed rumours that he will leave the Blues by confirming he intends to sign a new deal…However, he has claimed he will not do so until his fellow countryman Thibaut Courtois has also extended his stay at Stamford Bridge.”

Really? No. He said nothing of the sort.

So much for the trusty Express, then, which performed the same trick as the Sun in gearing news for the robots. Like the Sun, the Express said Hazard ‘agrees’ to join Real Madrid. But because Google’s bots don’t read those conniving inverted commas, Hazard to Real is a statement of fact:

 

express hazard transfer

 

So will Hazard remain at Chelsea or leave for Real Madrid? This is what he said when pressed on his future as quoted in the Sun:

“I will stay at Chelsea if the team is better than it was last season. I don’t want to stay if we are less good,” says Hazard, who might reflect on is role in the team and how you can know next season is better before its been played? “It would be too easy for me to say that I want to leave because I have done it all. I have won everything bar the Champions League in London. I am where I am in my career thanks to Chelsea. Above all I would love to know what will happen at the club next season. I will wait and see whether the manager stays or goes. As everybody knows, Real Madrid could interest me. But if tomorrow they don’t want me, I won’t talk about them any more. If they want to buy me they know what they have to do.”

And this is what he said in May, as quoted by the Guardian:

The 27-year-old knows his next contract could well be the last in his prime. “That’s why I’m taking my time,” he said. “It’s something big, so I need to think about a lot of things. But one thing is for sure: I’m happy here.”

Asked to elaborate on the factors that would influence his decision, he added: “I’m waiting for new players next season. I want good players, because I want to win the Premier League next season.

“Like I’ve said many times before, I think the FA Cup final is not my last game for Chelsea. It’s the last game of the season, that’s it. After the World Cup then we will be ready for the next season. But, for me in my mind, I’m here. I have one week to play now. Saturday is a massive game, I just want to win, for me and them also.”

He’s not warning Chelsea over anything, is he? Hazard’s Chelsea contract runs til 2020. He’s not going anywhere unless Real Madrid or any other club pay a huge transfer fee.

NOTE: Maybe he just wants more money? Chelsea are to offer him £300,000 a week says the Sun:

 

hazard chelsea

 

Although according to the Sun they made the offer last year:

 

hazard chelsea wages

 

Such are the facts.

Posted: 19th, June 2018 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, Key Posts, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Arsenal will miss Jack Wilshere if the go-to Gooner leaves for Crystal Palace or West Ham

More Jack Wilshere news now. The Arsenal midfielder is wanted by Crystal Palace. Wilshere might take the offer. He wants to remain in London, and confronted with the choice of playing for vibrant Palace or desperate West Ham the choice should be simple.

Palace wanted to take Wilshere on a season-long loan in 2016. He opted for Bournemouth. Should he move to Palace, Wilshere will once more hook up with former England manager Roy Hodgson, who picked him to play in the Euro 2016 championships. Hodgson reasoned that a not fully fit Wilshere was still better than anyone else. England were dire. Wilshere’s performances were in keeping with the trend.

But he might stay at Arsenal. He’s been offered £110,000-a-week – plus a £65,000 win bonus at Arsenal. He won’t start many matches, but the money’s not too shabby for player so often out through injury; and surely playing for Unai Emery offers a restart of sorts. Wilshere’s career has been stalled by injury and a sense that he has long considered himself to be the finished article. He can move to West Ham and keep chugging along; head to Palace and be the fulcrum in Hodgson’s exciting team, but not learn much; or adapt to new regime and new team-mates Arsenal.

One thing: behind the scenes at Arsenal, Wilshere is the go-to Gooner. Henry Winter has a word:

It never gets publicised but frequently after home matches Wilshere goes straight from the dressing room to a private meeting with young Arsenal fans suffering from sickness, some with cancer, others wheelchair-bound.

Wilshere talks away, giving them shirts or other match-day mementos, and patiently satisfies all the selfie and autograph requests. Away from the ground, he is an assiduous backer of the life-changing Arsenal In The Community, assisting initiatives with Great Ormond Street Hospital and the Centrepoint homeless charity, among others.

After the Carabao Cup final humiliation to City, Wilshere was one of the few players who made the effort to go over to salute those lingering stoics in the Arsenal end. Wilshere leaned over the advertising boards and threw his shirt to a kid. Few of his team-mates ventured near, fearing a deserved slating.

When Arsenal won the FA Cup against Aston Villa in 2015, Wilshere celebrated on the pitch and then went back inside to continue the party in the changing room. An Arsenal official was alerted to a poorly young fan still waiting in the deserted stadium with his father, hoping the players would return. The club knew which player wouldn’t think twice about heading back out to see the fan. Wilshere grabbed his playing shirt, ran back out and gave it to the boy.

Wenger’s gone. He was the only Arsenal manager Wilshere, 26, has played under, having joined the club age 9. Time’s changed. Will Jack, tipped as a future Arsenal coach, stay, learn and fight?

 

Posted: 18th, June 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Arsenal fans rejoice: Jack Wilshere is leaving

Jack Wilshere is leaving Arsenal on a free transfer. TeamTalk says Arsenal manager Unai Emery has told the player he’s  not a guaranteed starter. The website says this means Wilshere’s Arsenal career is coming to a “heartbreaking close”. Grab your little violins, readers, as Wilshere rejects a derisory £100,000-a-week contract to remain at the club of his youth and his dreams. We read that “given his love and affection for Arsenal” Wilshere has sat on his sun lounger and thought long and hard about accepting the deal.

The Mirror also has the “exclusive” news that Emery has told Wilshere –  injury prone; largely ineffectual in the penalty box; predictable; talented but lacking in pace; can’t beat a man which is why he gets fouled so much; and years since his debut as 16-year-old still talked about as having potential – that he won’t be a regular starter. This means, says the paper, Wilshere is off to West Ham, Wolves, Everton, Sampdoria, AC Milan or Juventus.

The Sun says the Hammers are favourite to sign Wilshere with a pay package worth £130,000 a week. Wilshere hasn’t improved at Arsenal for years. He won’t improve at West Ham.

Arsenal fans won’t miss him. Wilshere, Theo Walcott, Kieron Gibbs and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were first XI players full of promise who too rarely delivered.  Wilshere is the last of that clutch of England journeymen. Arsenal can do better. They need to if they are to compete for the league title.

Posted: 17th, June 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Transfer Balls: Gareth Bale to Manchester United and Real Madrid chatter

Stop the back page bilge about Gareth Bale leaving Real Madrid for Manchester United. The BBC says Bale’s career at Real Madrid has been given “a lifeline”. Why? Because Real’s new manager Julen Lopetegui “can speak English”. Zinedine Zidane, his predecessor who led Real to three successive Champions’ League triumphs, could not, as the Beeb.

The BBC links to the Express, which bills Lopetugui’s ability to speak English as an “Exclusive”. Presumably up til now the Spanish manager has been pretending not to speak English or else using Stephen Hawking’s old voice system. But now the Express‘ Bruce Archer can “reveal the truth”:

bale transfer

 

As readers wonder if Jose Mourinho can speak England as well as Lopetugui can, and if the pair should compete in a Spelling Bee to see which one is best for Bale, the Express reports:

It has already emerged that Bale is now happy to stay and expects to be given a life line but Express Sport can reveal the reason why.

Bale feels more comfortable in his position because Lopetegui can speak English, whereas Zidane couldn’t.

Bale tried to learn Spanish when he first moved to the Bernabeu but has made little progress despite being there since 2013 and winning four European Cups.

Or to repackage the story: Bale can’t speak Spanish, something that’s hardly prevented him from being terrific. His first goal in the Champions’ League final looked good in any idiom.

And so having told us in an “exclusive” that Bale can now talk to his manager in English, deep into the story the Express adds: “Manchester United are ready to make their move if it is indicated Bale is available, but they are also tracking Willian and would be keen on Neymar if a deal was possible.”

How do you say “total balls” in Spanish?

Posted: 17th, June 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Arsenal and Liverpool both favourites to sign Mario Gotze

With two Borussia Dortmund players already on the books, and another scheduled to be announced on July 1, Arsenal are looking at recruiting Mario Gotze. The  Germans want £18m for the 26-year-old Dortmund – the kind of money Arsenal can afford. The Mirror says Everton and West Ham are “among the clubs keeping tabs” on the man once hailed as Germany’s answer to Lionel Messi.  The same paper then adds in a separate story that Gotze wants to play for Jurgen Klopp again. We’ve been here before:

 

Liverpool Gotze klopp

The Daily Express got it wrong

 

 

This latest story of Gotze to Liverpool is rooted in the players words on the DAZN documentary Being Mario Gotze. Gotze left Dortmund for Bayern Munich in 2013. He made the reverse trip in 2016, picking Dortmund over Liverpool.

Says Gotze: “I decided to leave Bayern and Jurgen Klopp was interested in getting me to Liverpool. And I was also interested in working with him again.. He is a world-class coach and that’s why it’s always an option. I decided to join Borussia Dortmund, but it was not a decision against Liverpool or Jurgen Klopp.”

Churn that through the journalism mincer and the Metro can declare: “Mario Gotze drops Liverpool transfer hint and reunion with Jurgen Klopp.” “Mario Gotze still keen on reunion with ‘world-class’ Jurgen Klopp,” says Goal.com. “Liverpool transfer news: Mario Gotze talks up reunion with former manager Jurgen Klopp,” yodels The Independent’s clickbait factory.

In March 2016, the Guardian told its readers: “Liverpool confident of signing Mario Götze because of Klopp connection.”

Liverpool are confident of completing the marquee signing of Mario Götze this summer with the World Cup winner understood to be keen on a reunion with Jürgen Klopp.

 

Liverpool Gotze

The Express got it wrong…again

 

gotze klopp

Gotze ‘snubs’ Liverpool in 2016 – the Sun

 

This dire reporting on a player being touted round the Premier League by his agent is summed up on Google, where a search for ‘Gotze Liverpool’ guffs out these three top stories:

 

mario gotze liverpool

 

Liverpool are favourites to sign Gotze, says the Express – because, er, Gotze, who turned Liverpool down in 2016, says Klopp is a good coach. Liverpool should not want Gotze says the Liverpool Echo. Liverpool and Arsenal both want Gotze says the Star.

Type ‘Arsenal Gotze’ into the world’s largest search engine and you get:

 

arsenal gotze

 

The Metro’s news that Gotze wants to play in the Premier League is a “boost” to Arsenal but, oddly, not a boost to Everton and West Ham. The Guardian just wonders if the Gunners will sign him. They don’t know.

In other news, ESPN says Arsenal not Liverpool are favourites to sign Gotze:

 

gotze arsenal liverpool

 

Such are the facts…

 

 

Posted: 15th, June 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Key Posts, Liverpool, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Jack Wilshere hints at Arsenal stay

Jack Wilshere has lots of time on his hands. Not picked for England’s World Cup squad, the Arsenal midfielder is posting things on the web. The Telegraph reads one of his missives and creates a story around it. “Jack Wilshere hints at Arsenal exit with cryptic social media message,” says the paper of record. Wilshere is cryptic? The player who asked Arsenal fans what they thought of Spurs and replied “Shit!” has now taken to talking in codes. What did he say?

Daniel Zeqiri writes:

Jack Wilshere has hinted he could leave Arsenal for pastures new this summer with a suggestive late-night message on social media.

Wilshere is out of contract at the end of June. Arsenal have offered him around £100,000-a-week to carry on playing for the club he loves. He’s thinking about it. Feel the love, eh. On Wednesday, Wilshere told Instagram: “There comes a time when you have to choose between turning the page and closing the book.”

Some books are too boring to bother with. Aside from the books, what did Jack says about lacing Arsenal? Nothing. That was it. That is the long and short of his “cryptic message”.

Look out for another story in the Telegraph based on Wilshere’s message:

Jack Wilshere has hinted he could stay at Arsenal with a suggestive late-night message on social media.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 14th, June 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Arsenal transfers: Torreira agrees Leno sought and Papastathopoulos signs

How much money do Arsenal have to spend in the transfer window? The BBC says Arsenal “are close to spending their £50million summer transfer budget”. The Gunners are in for Lucas Torreira, Bernd Leno and Sokratis Papastathopoulos. The trusty Beeb is relaying the Standard’s news:

Arsenal are close to spending their £50million summer transfer budget on Lucas Torreira, Bernd Leno and Sokratis Papastathopoulos.

The Gunners are closing in on the £26m signing of Sampdoria midfielder Torreira and they have approached Bayer Leverkusen over a £20m deal for German goalkeeper Leno.

Arsenal are expected to sign Borussia Dortmund defender Papastathopoulos for £16m… Unai Emery will be under pressure to sell players if he wants to bring more new arrivals in.

So says the paper’s James Olley. He should have a word with his colleague Alex Young, who tells Standard readers Arsenal have £60m to spend:

 

transfer arenal alex young

What’s a mere £10m?

 

And when one clickbait factory reports the £50m budget being spent on three players, another does just the same. The Express has the same story as the Standard:

 

transfer arsenal

‘I read it in the Express’

 

Is the Arsenal transfer budget £50m, £60m or…£70m? Michael Hunks told Sky Sports readers Arsenal have £70m to spend this summer:

 

transfers arsenal sky

Do we have any advance on £70m?

 

Unable to agree on the budget, the Standard might be expected to get other facts right. Wrong. The £26m Arsenal have earmarked for Sampdoria midfielder Torreira is to be paid in instalments. Perhaps half will be paid up front. So that’s £16m for Papastathopoulos plus, say, £13m for Torreria and £20m for Leno. That equals £49m – leaving Arsenal with, £21m left over. As for selling players as the Standard says they “must”, well, Arsenal fans will not mourn the sales of Calum Chambers, Shkodran Mustafi, Joel Campbell, Lucas Perez, Carl Jenkinson and David Ospina.

Posted: 14th, June 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: MEN dupes Manchester United fans with fake news

“Justin Kluivert completes Roma move,” declares the Manchester Evening News in its “live” blog of “Manchester United transfer news”. Ciaran Kelly is scathing of the fools who thought Kluivert was heading to Old Trafford.

 

manchester evening news fake manchester united

 

 

Kelly writes on the page for Manchester United transfer news:

Amazing how that friendly word at the end of the Europa League final between him and Mourinho, who knew him as a kid from his time at Barca, sparked hundreds of articles and rumours.

Kluivert never was heading to Man United, you saps. All he did was have a chat with an old pal – which you can read about at the following links to Manchester Evening News stories:

Justin Kluivert gives major update amid Manchester United transfer links – 18 May 2018

Manchester United target Justin Kluivert and more transfer rumours – Manchester United are planning a summer move for Ajax forward Justin Kluivert, according to reports. – 11 May 2018

Justin Kluivert’s dad advises him over Manchester United transfer – Justin Kluivert has been advised to snub a move to Manchester United by his dad Patrick.

What did dad say? Said Patrick:

“I’m very proud of him. He’s doing very good at Ajax,” Patrick Kluivert told Omnisport, speaking courtesy of Hublot. “He’s now a first XI player. If he’s playing like this in the long-term, he could be one important player in the future. Of course, I prefer that he goes to Barcelona but in football everything can happen. He’s an adult, he can make his own decisions but he’s already said it’s a dream for him to play for Barcelona. But you never know in football.” – 23 March 2018

Mentions of Manchester United: zero.

Manchester United ‘target’ Justin Kluivert subject of Jorge Mendes talks claims Ajax insider – Man Utd have been tipped to sign Ajax wonderkid Justin Kluivert and an Ajax insider has revealed Jorge Mendes has asked about him – 20 Feb 2018

Justin Kluivert talks up Manchester United move – 13 Feb 2018

Justin Kluivert speaks out on Manchester United transfer rumours – United manager Jose Mourinho was filmed commiserating Kluivert after the Europa League final last season and a satirical Dutch programme released a mock transcript of the exchange, suggesting the Portuguese wanted to sign the young forward – 5 Feb 2018

The Manchester Evening News writes lots of story linking Justin Kluivert to Manchester United and then tells readers on the day the player signs for Roma it knew they were all utter balls.

Local paper treats its readers like mugs. Nice.

Posted: 12th, June 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Transfer Balls: Torreira is Arsenal’s new one-man midfield

In what TeamTalk calls a “boost” for Unai Emery, a “€25m Serie A star” Lucas Torreira has  “agrees” to transfer to Arsenal.

 

Lucas Torreira

Done deal!

 

Teamtalk says Lucas Torreira’s arrival jeopardises Granit Xhaka’s Arsenal future. Why Arsenal would replace a man who likes playing higher up the pitch with a defensive midfielder is moot. Another site says Torreira will replace Elneny. The Mirror says: “Why Lucas Torreira can be Arsenal’s very own N’Golo Kante.” Presumably because like the Chelsea harasser, The Uruguayan is short.

In other news away from Torreira being as good as three players and goo enough to constitute the entire Arsenal midfield: no deal has been done.

And in other Arsenal transfer news, Portuguese newspaper A Bola says Arsenal “insist” on signing Sporting winger Gelson Martins. Gelson, we read, if willing to buy out his own contract in order to secure his transfer to Arsenal, who have offered €30m for the winger.

 

Posted: 11th, June 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Fakir kisses the Liverpool badge but still plays for Lyons

Liverpool have not signed Nabil Fakir for £53million. News is that the Reds stalled after the Lyon took his medical with the club. Fekir performed media duties in a Liverpool strip, says the Mirror. And then nothing happened.

The Telegraph says “Liverpool are offering no indication as to the nature of the problem”. But there is a problem? Speculation focuses on Fekir’s right knee, which he injured playing for France three years ago. But it’s guesswork. The Mirror cites reports in France, which “claimed an issue related to Lyon and their accounting practices”. They Express says Lyon “are reluctant to sell Fekir before the World Cup because they are listed as a publicly listed company”. So..? “It means they are also supposedly planning to use funds from his sale in their financial report for next season.”

Lyon says: “The information on the transfer of Nabil Fekir is false. Olympique Lyonnais categorically denies the false information disseminated by many media about the transfer of Nabil Fekir to Liverpool. In this period of transfers where the slightest rumour is often presented as a reality, Olympique Lyonnais recalls that only the information disseminated by the club on its website is authentic.”

FFF president, Noel Le Graet, has a theory. “It’s under negotiation, I think it will be done,” he says. “I spent a quarter of an hour with him this morning (Saturday), and his main focus is France. He (Fekir) was rather optimistic because the meeting he had will prove to be positive. It’s always like that when you talk about a transfer. Everyone tries to raise their price, to lower their price, and when a little issue flares up, it’s part of the game.’

Lyon’s fans must be delighted to hear that their captain has been wearing another club’s shirt. And since when has £53m bene not enough for a talented but not out-of-this-world player?

Isn’t modern football balls.

Posted: 9th, June 2018 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Higuain and Lewandowski to Chelsea; Arsenal still waiting

Whenever Argentina striker Gonzalo Higuain pop up in transfer chatter, we laugh a little. It’s been five years since the Sun told its readers that Arsenal had “smashed their transfer record” and signed Higuain from Real Madrid for £23m. On 27 July, Napoli signed Higuain.

 

higuain arsenal sign

 

Today’s Higuain transfer news comes to us via the BBC, which hears the player say the Premier League “fascinates me a lot” and links him with move to Chelsea.

The Mail reports:

Gonzalo Higuain has fuelled the speculation that he could be leaving Juventus by saying he ‘would love to play in the Premier League’.

The Argentina striker has been on Chelsea’s radar this summer and has already reportedly been offered to the west London club.

This news stems from what said Higuain told ESPN in Argentina. It tells us: “In the next few days the Argentine striker could receive a formal offer from a European top-level club.” The Sun has him saying: “I am relaxed. I have a contract with Juventus and no one has told me anything about my future. Right now, I am happy in Turin and I think my daughter will grow up here, but one day I would like to play in the Premier League, where the games are all spectacular.”

What he said was: “I am calm, I have a contract with Juventus and nobody has told me anything about the future, I am happy in Turin but someday I would like to play in the Premier League.”

Italy’s Corriere dello Sport says Juventus will let Higuain leave if they can sign Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski. But that won’t happen because one Spanish website says the Pole has agreed to join Real Madrid. But the Sun says Lewandowksi’s decision to leave Bayern “is a massive boost” to Chelsea.

Which means, presumably, that Higuain stays at Arsenal?

Posted: 8th, June 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Nabil Fakir wants Liverpool; dreams of Barcelona

Joyous transfer balls balls on the BBC.  The national broadcaster picks up the tale of Nabil Fakir’s move from Lyon to Liverpool. Get a load of this: “Lyon will allow forward Nabil Fekir, 24, to join Liverpool this summer – but only at the right price.” No s***, Sherlock.  Of course, if you read some sources, the deal is done. This from Sky on 7 May 2018: “Lyon have agreed to sell Nabil Fekir to Liverpool when the transfer window opens in a deal reported to worth be in the region of €70m. And there was the time Fakir was joining Arsenal. On 13 Nov 2017, the Daily Express told its readers: “ARSENAL are close to completing the £60million capture of Lyon playmaker Nabil Fekir.”

Over in today’s Daily Mirror, we are told: “Fekir has been identified as the marquee signing of the transfer window, and a natural replacement for Philippe Coutinho.” A marquee is a large tent.

And then the facts: “…it is understood a breakthrough of sorts has been made, with the player indicating he will only go to Liverpool – and the president conceding he will do a deal with the Reds if he feels the price is right.”

Like us, we got as far as “understood”, the word that means sod all in the world of clickbait football reporting. “Understands” is shorthand for “maybe or “maybe not”.

But he wants to play for Liverpool. that much is understood and indicated. Or as he said: “My favourite club is Barcelona. But I need to work a lot, I am aware of that.” If he plays well enough at Liverpool, he may yet achieve his dream of playing in Barcelona.

All hail the new Coutinho, then.

 

Posted: 7th, June 2018 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, Sports, Tabloids | Comment