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Transfer Balls: Liverpool £61m for Felix; Martial stays at Manchester United; Everton in for Chelsea striker; Higuain jets in for Spurs

Arsenal Emery newspapers

A round-up of today’s transfer rumours and other fluff and nonsense in the Press. Let’s kick off with Liverpool, who’ve bid £61m bid for Portugal Under-21 attacking midfielder Joao Felix, 19. Correio da Manha says Benfica, his current club, think the teenager is worth more. Someone arguably worth less is Philippe Coutinho. The Liverpool Echo in a no-news special says Liverpool won’t be resigning the Brazil midfielder, 26, they flogged to Barcelona for a whopping £142m just 12 months ago. Many other clubs also won’t be buying Coutinho.

One player who could be finally on his way to the Premier League is Juventus and Argentina striker Gonzalo Higuain. Chelsea want to sign the 31-year-old before week’s Carabao Cup semi-final second leg against Tottenham, says the Sun. That’s the same paper that told us Higuain played for Arsenal. That story remains live on the paper’s website. Chelsea fans shouldn’t buy those Higuain replica shirts just yet.

higuain-arsenal the sun transfer
qhen

In the sunny uplands of Manchester United, Anthony Martial, 23, is all set to agreeing a new five-year contract, says Sky Sports. And Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (aka Fergie Mark 2) wants to leave his rooms at the Lowry Hotel in Salford and find a permanent address in Manchester.

Everton have £40m for Chelsea and Belgium forward Michy Batshuayi. Everton are determined to catch the so-called Big 6. That means gaining ground on Arsenal, a club seemingly determined to return to a state of mid-80s torpor. News is that James Rodriguez, 27, will remain at Bayern Munich for the rest of season. The Express says Arsenal have as much chance of signing him as they have of keeping a clean sheet.

And finally Barcelona have had enough fo Malcom, 21. ESPN says that any club offering the £35.2m they paid Bordeaux for the player last July can have him. Spurs are interested.

Posted: 19th, January 2019 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, Liverpool, manchester united, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Jose Mourinho rewrites Chelsea history; Petr Cech and me

News that Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech is to retire at the season’s end is exciting the mouth of Jose Mourinho, who managed the goalkeeper when they were both at Chelsea. Talking to beIN Sports about life at Manchester United before he was sacked and more, thoughts turn to Cech.

“When I arrived in Chelsea, he was a kid, only 20 years old. The goalkeeper was Carlo Cudicini – the season before he was elected the player of the season – and the first game of the season was Chelsea against Manchester United and I decided to leave out our player of the season before, and play a kid that nobody would know how to even say his name because Petr Cech was quite difficult to say. After that everything was about him. My influence was zero.”

Really?

On 2 June 2004, Mourinho moved to Chelsea on a three-year contract. Chelsea bid for Cech (born 20 May 1982) on 7 January 2004 – when Claudio Ranieri was Chelsea manager. Real Madrid and Inter Milan were also interested in him thanks to, as the BBC put it, “some stirring performances for his club and country over the past 18 months”. Cech was in goal for the Czech Republic team that reached the semi-finals of Euro 2004. Chelsea got their man in February for £7 million. Cech signed a five-year contract, to commence in July 2004. He was 22. Cech competed for a first-team place at Stamford Bridge with Cudicini, Marco Ambrosio, Jurgen Macho and Neil Sullivan.

The Chelsea player of the season the year before Cech arrived was Gianfranco Zola.

Mourinho did not decide to leave out Cudicini. The Italian was injured. Sky Sports reported:

Czech Republic international Petr Cech was satisfied to keep a clean sheet on his competitive Chelsea debut. Cech was given the nod by Jose Mourinho to start Sunday’s Premiership meeting with Manchester United and he repaid his manager by shutting out the opposition. The summer signing had relatively little to do between the posts and is hoping to retain his spot ahead of Carlo Cudicini.

But after all that Mourinho says his influence was “zero”. Claudio Ranieri is away.

Posted: 18th, January 2019 | In: Arsenal, Chelsea, Sports | Comment


Arsenal balls: Petr Cech retires

Farewell, Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech. He’s due to retire at the end of the season. “Having played 15 years in the Premier League and won every single trophy possible, I feel like I have achieved everything I set out to achieve,” says the former Chelsea ‘keeper.

“I will continue to work hard at Arsenal to hopefully win one more trophy this season… I am looking forward to seeing what life holds for me off the pitch.”

This is good news for the Gunners. Cech has been no more than a decent goalkeeper at Arsenal. His best days were behind him when he signed from Chelsea in June 2015. At his best he was formidable.

Cech’s career nearly ended in October 2006 when he required surgery for a skull fracture after a collision with Reading’s Stephen Hunt. The injury caused him to miss three months playing. He returned to the field wearing that now familiar scrum cap. As Giles Smith quipped in the Times, the cap contain a “lightweight electronics and incorporates a personal organiser and an entertainment system, enabling the.. custodian to access crucial match-play data in real time and also, during bored moments, book cinema tickets or download and listen to the latest Beyonce album.”

We can expect to see him sat on the BBC pundit sofas dwarfing lesser ex-players soon…

Posted: 15th, January 2019 | In: Arsenal, Chelsea, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Higuain to Chelsea, Morata to Milan and Arsenal’s ‘record signing’

The BBC tells us that Chelsea are signing Gonzalo Higuain, 31. Currently on loan from Juventus at AC Milan, Higuain would add some proven finishing ability to a side reliant on the unconvincing Alvaro Morata. The Sun adds that this is a swap deal and Morata will head to Milan on loan. Can the Sun be relied upon to deliver the facts? Not always, no:

 

higuain-arsenal the sun transfer

In 2013, the Sun told us: ‘Arsenal last night smashed their transfer record when they agreed a £23million fee for Real Madrid striker Gonzalo Higuain.’

 

Any deal hinging on Morata, who joined Chelsea from Real Madrid in 2017 for £60m, has to be problematic. Morata has scored seven goals this season but lacks confidence. Chelsea coach Gianfranco Zola wants the player to step up: 

“It should be a motivational thing. You are at Chelsea. You’re not playing for Southampton or Brighton, with all due respect for those clubs. People expect a lot from the No 9 of Chelsea. This is normal and Álvaro has to get used to it.

“If he goes to another big club, it’s going to be the same. There is no way you can avoid your responsibilities. It’s part of your job and the better you can handle those situations, the better you’re going to be.

“I know he feels he doesn’t score enough and he feels a lot of responsibility on that. He has to learn to leave everything behind because these are only burdens you take on the pitch and they won’t help you to perform better.”

Bet AC Milan can’t wait to rely on him for goals.

Posted: 5th, January 2019 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Chelsea fans denies calling Raheem Sterling a ‘black c**t’

You do what you can to upset the opposition, right? Raheem Sterling was collecting a ball at Stamford  Bridge when a group of Chelsea fans of a type that used to constitute a large chunk of the club’s fans before Roman’s billions bought success shouted at him. What was said is the subject of much heated debate. According to the Daily Mail, one of the fans opined: I’m deeply ashamed by my own behaviour and I feel really bad. But I didn’t call him a black cunt, I called him a Manc cunt. I’ve been going to Chelsea for 50 years now and, because of where I sit, I’m picked up on the camera most weeks. If I had a history of saying this sort of thing I would’ve been caught by now.”

Police are investigating. No arrests have been made. Chelsea have suspended four people from attending their matches, pending further investigations into allegations of racial abuse directed at the London-raised England player. 

The fan adds: “I offer him an unreserved apology. Even if it wasn’t racist, it’s not right what I said.” You can argue amongst yourselves if this Chelsea fan is deserving of an epithet before expressing in four-letters what he might or might not be. 

A spokesperson for the Metropolitan police adds: “Officers continue to review footage and CCTV to determine whether any offences have been committed. Officers are in possession of the details of those reportedly involved – there have been no arrests at this time. The Met continues to work with both clubs and a number of inquiries are ongoing.”

Why don’t they just ask Raheem Sterling what he heard?  

PS: More on Chelsea and what they did and didn’t say, here.

 

Posted: 11th, December 2018 | In: Chelsea, Key Posts, Manchester City, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Transfer balls: Real Madrid break rules to sign Chelsea’s Hazard

Big news for Chelsea fans is that the slowest burning seduction in football is reaching a climix: Real Madrid have agreed personal terms with Chelsea’s Eden Hazard. The BBC brings that news but supports it with no facts. Hazard is under contract at Chelsea. Do the rules permit him to agree terms with another team? Surely not. FIFA’s rules are clear:

Regulation 18.3 of the FIFA Regulations:

“A club intending to conclude a contract with a professional must inform the player’s current club in writing before entering into negotiations with him. A professional shall only be free to conclude a contract with another club if his contract with his present club has expired or is due to expire within six months. Any breach of this provision shall be subject to appropriate sanctions.”

Hazard’s Chelsea contract runs until June 2020. Did Real break the rules or did Chelsea allow them to speak with Hazard?

And just two days ago, the BBC told us: “Chelsea are ready to “immediately” agree a new contract with Eden Hazard, but are waiting for the forward to make a decision, says boss Maurizio Sarri.” Confused?

Admittedly, Hazard hasn’t helped things by telling us: “Sometimes in my head, I wake up in the morning and think I want to go. Sometimes I think I want to stay.” Adding: “Real Madrid are the best club in the world. I don’t want to lie today. It is my dream since I was a kid. I was dreaming about this club.”

 

hazard chelsea

It’s true – I read it on Google

 

As the BBC plays fast and loose with the facts, Spain’s AS reports: “Onda Madrid claims that Real Madrid have reached an agreement with Eden Hazard as they seek to take the Belgian to LaLiga in the summer.”

What is Onda Madrid? Well, it’s a radio station based in the Spanish capital. The website features football stories exclusively about Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid. It’s pretty partisan. But its site has no news on Hazard. You’d suppose signing a player for 170m euros would a pretty big story. But no. Nada. But one local news station’s uncorroborated claim is still reported as fact all over the web. Clickbait rules – even at the BBC.

 

Posted: 6th, December 2018 | In: Chelsea, Sports | Comment


Chelsea and Manchester City rethink business as FIFA gets tough over loan players

Fifa wants to stop big clubs stockpiling talent. From the start of the 2020-21 season, clubs will be able to loan out 6-8 players; the exact figure has yet to be agreed. This is will hit Chelsea hardest. The Blues have a whopping 39 players out on loan. Fifa want to create “the loans of players for the purpose of youth development as opposed to commercial exploitation”. 

These are the top Premier League clubs with players on loan:

Chelsea 39
Man City 28
Wolves 27
Brighton 16
Watford 14
Everton 14

Easy to sneer at Chelsea, who have turned a tidy profit from recruiting young players and selling them on. But none of the young brood had to sign for the club. And maybe having Chelsea on their CVs helps their careers? The worry is that the young player won’t improve at lesser clubs, where they train and play with less talented players. Stay at Chelsea or Manchester City and you play with Eden Hazard or David Silva, respectively. Chelsea have three players on loan at Vitesse Arnhem. Will they improve as quickly at the fourth best side in Holland? 

Oliver Kay has a tale from June 2018:

Matej Delac and even fewer would recognise him. He is the Croatian who signed for Chelsea in September 2009, four weeks after his 17th birthday, as one of the most promising young goalkeepers in Europe. He left last month without making a first-team appearance, without even having qualified for a work permit to play in the United Kingdom.

He was the club’s longest serving player. Chelsea loaned him out nine times. He’s now at Horsens in the Danish Superliga. He recalls:

“They [Chelsea] said to me: ‘We are buying you for the future. You will go on loan, gaining experience at a better level than the Croatian league. Then you will come back, maybe as No 2 goalkeeper. Then after that, anything is possible.'”

They might even make a profit on you. 

Posted: 30th, November 2018 | In: Chelsea, Sports | Comment


Media bias: Chelsea denied clear penalty, Hazard tumbles and lucky Spurs

Spurs tonked Chelsea 3-1 in the Premier League. At 1-0 to Spurs, Chelsea’s Eden Hazard was felled in the Tottenham box. Penalty! No. None given. But should one have been? Let’s look for any signs of bias in the media: 

BBC: “Chelsea will be furious at a soft free-kick for Spurs’ first goal and a failure from Martin Atkinson to give them a penalty when it was only 1-0 when Juan Foyth appeared to foul Eden Hazard in the 18-yard box.”

Chelsea website: “We had our moments in the first half, with Eden Hazard denied what looked like two clear penalties”

And again:

Chelsea website: “The Blues had what looked like a legitimate penalty appeal turned away when Hazard was bundled over in the box by Juan Foyth”

Former referee Peter Walton was in the studio for BT Sport: “…when you re-run it there’s a knee-on-knee and the foul comes when Foyth’s knee touches Hazard and that’s enough to put him over. For me that was a penalty.”

Guardian: ” Eden Hazard ought to have had a penalty on 14 minutes when Juan Foyth went into him from behind ”

Chelsea blog We Aint Got No History: “An early goal from a dubious foul, then a clear penalty uncalled on Hazard, then an unlucky second goal.”

And on the Spurs website? Only this: “13 mins – Hazard over in the box, appeals waved away.” No word on how he went over. 

Such are the facts.

Posted: 24th, November 2018 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, Spurs | Comment


Transfer Balls: Rashford makes Manchester United an offer they can refuse and a Liverpool move is back on

Good news for Chelsea fans: N’Golo Kante has signed a new five-year deal. “It has been two beautiful years and I wish for more to come,” he said after signing the news contact. “Since I came, I have completely improved as a player, challenged myself and got some awards I never thought about. I like the city, I like the club and I am happy to be here for more time.” Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia hails him for his “tireless and unselfish displays”. Kante is the player every other side wants in their team. 

Liverpool, however, are still chasing Nabil Fekir. Jurgen Klopp is said to be keen to rekindle a move for the France midfielder. Fekir was on his way to Liverpool in the summer. He never arrived. But Liverpool still want him. They also fancy Dortmund’s Julian Weigl. Arsenal like him, too, chiefly because they like pretty much anyone that plays for Dortmund with a hard to spell name. If he comes to the Emirates, Weigl will join fellow ex-Dortmund players: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and head of recruitment Sven Mislintat. 

Over at Old Trafford, news is that Marcus Rashford would find it hard to refuse a move to Real Madrid. He would also find it hard turn down the job of Prime Minster, the manager for Victor Secrets On Tour, £1bn in spun gold and the French throne. The odds of Rashford playing for Real are slim. But with two years to go on his current deal, rumours abound that United must do more to keep him happy or else another huge club will. So Real Madrid it is. Or Wolves. Or maybe Everton. Or, well, anywhere that will give him a game. “Manchester United’s England striker Marcus Rashford, 21, is ready to talk to Real Madrid if he fails to win a regular first-team place at Old Trafford,” says the BBC. To which the obvious answer from United is: “Let us know how it goes.”

Finally, Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez wants to sign Atlanta United’s attacking midfielder Miguel Almiron. Arsenal, West Ham and Everton also like the Paraguay international. Magpies owner Mike Ashley will surely swoop to get his man, sealing the deal with a 10% discount is one of his Debenhams stores (not applicable with any other promotion) and a Saturday job for any of Almiron’s loved ones in Sports Direct.  

Posted: 23rd, November 2018 | In: Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Transfer Balls: Real Madrid in for Harry Kane at Spurs and Liverpool want Demirbay

Transfer Balls: undaunted by their apparent failure to recruit Aaron Ramsey from Arenal – he’s on his way to Bayern Munich, reportedly – AC Milan have begun talks with another player with ‘Arsenal captain’ on his CV, this time former Gooner and Spain midfielder Cesc Fabregas. The 31-year-old has had enough of warming the bench at Chelsea and Italy beckons. 

Manchester United are ready to offer Roma’s 22-year-old Italy midfielder Lorenzo Pellegrini twice his weekly wage. We’ve no idea what that amount to but estimates put it shy of Alexis Sanchez’s £500,000-a-week but north of what Marcus Rashford pockets by way of a monthly goal bonus. We are told, however, that Pellegrini will cost United £26m in transfer fees.

You can expect to hear lots about Harry Kane or Eden Hazard heading to Real Madrid because the Spaniards are desperate for a goalscorer, having worked out that Cristiano’s Ronaldo’s 50 goals a season were hard to replace. Gareth Bale, 29, and France’s Karim Benzema, 30, are not quite up the task. so Kane it is. A huge money offer will surely tempt Daniel Levy, the Spurs chairman. 

Finally, Hoffenheim central midfielder Kerem Demirbay is wanted by Liverpool. Another centre back for the Reds? Why not? 

Posted: 19th, November 2018 | In: Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, manchester united, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Clickbait Watch: how to BAFFLE an Arsenal fan

baffled footballWriting clickbait for football fans is hard graft. All those budding hacks who dream of talking truth to power are reduced to spinning for clicks at sister newspapers the Daily Express, Daily Star and Daily Mirror.

Language is mangled. Simple facts are “revealed”. “Five things” are learned from watching paint dry. Rumours are mutated into ‘fact’. But every so often, clickbait talent emerges to connive a new meme for the SEO gurus running websites to applaud. Right now everyone at Arsenal – fans, players, Gunnersaurus – is “baffled”.

“Arsenal fans left baffled by Graeme Souness’ comments about Mesut Ozil” – Daily Mirror, October 23

“Lucas Torreira baffles Arsenal fans with what he did in training”  – Daily Mirror, October 10

“Arsenal fans left BAFFLED at staggering claim: ‘Are you mad? He can’t be serious'” – Daily Express, November 14

But it’s not just Arsenal being “baffled”:

“Jurgen Klopp baffled by remarkable Liverpool statistic” – Daily Mirror, Oct 19

“Graeme Souness leaves Manchester United fans baffled” – Daily Mirror, Oct 22

“Mohamed Salah leaves Liverpool fans baffled with social media post” – Daily Mirror, Oct 24

“Matteo Darmian leaves Manchester United fans baffled” – Daily Mirror, October 25

“Cesar Azpilicueta baffled by inconsistent Chelsea’s struggles” – Daily Mirror, Oct 26

“Celebrity Gogglebox: Fans baffled by Dele Alli’s composer comment” – Irish Mirror, Oct 26

“Man Utd news: David De Gea baffled by what Jose Mourinho said” – Daily Express, October 31

“Chelsea news: Sky Sports pundit baffled by one Maurizio Sarri” – Daily Star, Nov 4

“Manchester United fans left baffled by Paul Pogba’s ‘heartbreak’ haircut” – Manchester Evening News* Nov 4

* The MEN is sister title to the Star, Express and Mirror. It’s true? Unless you’re a football fan, in which case it’s baffling!

Posted: 16th, November 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, Key Posts, Liverpool, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Transfer Balls: Spurs and Arsenal in for Bailly as Manchester United get a new defence

Transfer Balls: José Mourinho will change Manchester United’s defence early next year. From “When we win it’s all down to me; when we lose it was everyone else”, the new defence will feature new defenders. United plan to bring Toby Alderweireld and Diego Godin to Old Trafford in January, and get rid of Chris Smalling, Eric Bailly and Marcos Rojo. Spurs and Arsenal both like Bailly; Everton fancy Rojo; and Smalling could return to Fulham. Godin, 32, could cost £53m. 

In London, Arsenal will be waving a none-too-teary adieu to Aaron Ramsey, the midfield who resisted signing a new contract for so long that even Arsene Wenger left. He’s off to play for Bayern Munich. Either than or Ramey will be a sub at Chelsea or Liverpool. Arsenal and Chelsea are both looking at spry Atlético Mineiro right-back Emerson. And reports from Italy says AC Milan want to sign Liverpool’s Brazil midfielder Fabinho, 25, (who he?) in January. 

Over at West Ham, Marko Arnautovic, 29, wants a weekly living wage of £200,000 to continue working at the London Stadium. If he does;t get it then he could be off, possibly to Manchester United. 

Posted: 16th, November 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, Liverpool, manchester united, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Transfer balls: Martial offers 45m reasons to stay at Manchester United

Transfer Balls: how much is Anthony Martial worth to Manchester United? Whoah, there. That’s a rhetorical question. The answer is £45m. That’s a lot of money for a player who was on his way out when his current contract expires at the season’s end. United do have an option to extend that by one year. But Martial holds the cards. So United will sign him up on a new deal and then flog him when Jose Mourinho starts calling him names. The Sun says the new deal will last for five-year deal and earn the Frenchman £190,000-a-week. The paper doesn’t say if that figure includes extra cash for doing his job – scoring goals; being on the winning team; getting selected – or the absurd ‘loyalty bonus’. But it’s decent money, albeit not in the Alexis Sanchez bracket of more than double that figure. You get real value at United.

Manchester United also fancy Sampdoria’s 22-year-old Danish defender Joachim Andersen. No idea what his fee would be, but Inter Milan’s 23-year-old defender Milan Skriniar, a player wanted by United, is reportedly worth £100m, according to the club’s manager Luciano Spalletti.

Away from Old Trafford, Chelsea and Bayern Munich are chasing Lyon’s Nabil Fekir. The Star says the man who looked to be on his way to Liverpool last summer could arrive in London. Joining him in the Smoke is Lille winger Nicolas Pepe, 23, who has “welcomed speculation linking him with Arsenal”, says the BBC. How that plays out with his team-mates is moot.

 

Posted: 8th, November 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, Liverpool, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Spurs fear, Dembele to Liverpool, Newcastle wait and Sanchez plots Manchester United escape

Tottenham players “fear” Mauricio Pochettino is to leave the club for Real Madrid or Manchester United. Which Spurs players are in dread of the Argentine leaving, and maybe taking them along for the ride and the huge hike on wages that would come with it, is unsaid by the BBC. Over in the Telegraph that “fear” is reduced to a mere “feeling”. The Sun tell us that Real Madrid will double Pochettino’s wages to £17m a year. How it knows that is moot. It just does. It feels it.

But why would Pochettinho want a job with a shorter shelf life than a Halloween pumpkin? AS tells us that former Real Madrid star Michael Laudrup has rejected down the chance to become the club’s new manager. Fair enough. After all, Marca told us former Chelsea boss Antonio Conte would be appointed as soon as Real sacked Julen Lopetegui as manager. He wasn’t. Meanwhile, the Mail says Belgium manager and former Everton and Wigan boss Roberto Martinez is the white-hot favourite to become the next Real Madrid chief. Or as the Guardian puts it: “Mauricio Pochettino has emerged as Real Madrid’s No 1 choice.”

To recap: they don’t know.

In other news, Alexis Sanchez is off to play at PSG, says the BBC. Manchester Untied will replace their striker by digging huge hole in the ground and pouring £600,000-a-week into it.

And then some bigger news in Spain’s Sport. Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembélé is to be shunted out of the club this January. He turned up late for a game, we read, and Barcelona “have decided to act strongly on the issue”. Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea all want the Frenchman. Will it happen? Dunno. Back in August the Express told its readers: “Arsenal transfer news: Gunners make £90MILLION bid for Barcelona star Ousmane Dembele.” They didn’t.

And finally, get this from the BBC: “Newcastle are understood to be ready to offer Rafa Benitez the contract extension he wants – providing he is prepared to wait for certain requests.” Such as his discount voucher for Sports Direct and a chance to win the Championship.

 

Posted: 31st, October 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, Liverpool, manchester united, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Transfer balls: Martial wants to stay at Manchester United

Do Manchester United buy players to fit the team or advance the global brand? Rumours abound that Manchester United want to sell Paul Pogba but any exit would blow a big hole in the club’s marketing scheme. The trick for United is less who wants Pogba, but which mega-star replaces him and why they’d want to? The Mail says the marketeers who run United are stuck on who could match Pogba’s commercial value. Think less of the overrated player and more of how much merchandise he shifts.

The media is full of stories about how Pogba would leap at the chance to join Barcelona – he’d leap higher than he did when he lost Antonio Rüdiger at a corner for Chelsea’s opening goal last weekend. The bigger question is: why would Barcelona want the hype-powered France footballer whose shown few signs of being worth a fraction of his £90m fee that took him from Juventus to United? The still bigger question is: why would Barcelona spend £200m for the privilege?

Another Frenchman less than chuffed with life at Manchester United is French forward Anthony Martial, 22. Last week he was all set to see out his contract and leave on a free. Today the BBC says he’s ready to to stay at the club. First Jose Mourinho heaps prise on Luke Shaw, a man he once branded a brainless plodder, seeing to it that the asset nearing the end of his contract was awarded a new contract; now Jose starts praising and picking Martial just as he looked all set to leave for nought. Who picks the side at United: Mourinho or the moneymen who run the club?

The Sun says LA Galaxy forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic looks set to rejoin Manchester United on loan during the MLS off-season. He’s one for the future.

Across town, Manchester City fancy Juventus’ Brazilian full-back Alex Sandro, 27, and Japan midfielder Ritsu Doan. Down south, a resurgent Arsenal are monitoring Ajax’s Argentina left-back Nicolas Tagliafico, 26. Chelsea are closing in on 18-year-old Italian midfielder Sandro Tonali. And Crystal Palace like Inter striker Gabriel Barbosa, whose on loan at Santos having failed to command a place with the Italians. Barbosa tells Marca his “intention is to go to a place where I can be as happy as I am here [at Santos]”. Palace it is, then.

And Wolves – they’re after Inter Milan’s 25-year-old Portuguese midfielder Joao Mario and a striker. Maria is also liked by Leicester and Southampton.

Posted: 25th, October 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Chelsea’s Ross Barkley gets rid of his tattoos

Chelsea midfielder Ross Barkley says he got his tattoos removed because he “got them at a young age and sometimes when you are young you do stupid things and not think about it. But I went into it too quick and over the years I felt I wanted to get them removed, so I went through the process in the last couple of years.”

 

Barkley got his first cry for help and sign of low-self esteem, sorry, tattoo, when he was 14. He just kept filling in the gaps with crosses, words, faces, stars and swirls until his armed looked as confusing and unnecessary as a Where’s Wally cartoon, only without the purpose.

But not of that lasering and scabbing off means Ross is off tatts forever. “I would never rule out getting another,” he says, “maybe when I have kids I might have something done to go with that. I don’t know.”

Whereas once we had the high-street portrait photographer to serve up awkward family photos, we now have the inkologists who can draw the face of your beloved nipper on your arms, back, chest or, well, face, leading to the full meta line, “He looks just like his dad.”

Posted: 22nd, October 2018 | In: Chelsea, Key Posts, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Manchester United chase Koulibaly, Arsenal take Malcolm on loan from Arsenal and Chelsea underpay Hazard

Cancel the trip to Jose Mourinho’s hotel room in Manchester and the one-way ticket to Real Madrid, Eden Hazard will stay at Chelsea. The BBC says Chelsea will offer their best player £350,000-a-week to stay at the club. This, says the Express, will make Hazard “the highest-paid player in the Premier League”. Which is odd because the Express says Alexis Sanchez is the league’s number one earner on £500,000-a-week.

 

daily express sanchez

Daily Express facts by Dany Wilson October 2 2018

 

As the Express delivers the facts and then fact that counter those facts in a SEO blizzard of utter balls, the Express also says struggling Real Madrid want to hire Raheem Sterling to bolster a forward line missing Cristiano Ronaldo’s 50-odd goals a season. There are no facts to support the claim. The Mirror says Sterling wants more money to stay at Manchester City, who will of course find it down the back of the sofa.

Finally, the Star says Arsenal fancy taking Barcelona’s Brazilian winger Malcom, 21, on loan in January. That’s be the same Malcolm the press told us had agreed to join Spurs, Arsenal and Manchester United before he went to Spain.

More facts from the twilight zone of football reporting every day…

Posted: 21st, October 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, Manchester City, manchester united, Sports, Spurs, Tabloids | Comment


Transfer balls: Hazard to Manchester United because he loves Chelsea

Is Eden Hazard leaving Chelsea for Manchester United? Surely not. But the Manchester Evening News implies that United is on the brilliant Belgian’s radar. The Twitter feed for the Manchester Evening News dedicated to Manchester United news – “Manchester United Football Club news from the Manchester Evening News” – tweets a photo of Hazard and a link to a story on the paper’s site. In anyone still can’t understand the story that Hazard is looking at his “future plans” which seem to included a move to Manchester United, the paper includes the tag ‘#mufc”.

 

eden hazard manchester united

hazard mufc

 

Taking the bait, we click the link and are told:

 

hazard cheslea

 

Words form Hazard on playing for Manchester United: nil. In fact, the MEN merely ping readers a post by Sky Sports, in which Hazard says he loves Chelsea and could end his playing days there:

 

hazard chelsea

 

So what is the story on Hazard that will be of interest to Manchester United fans? Oh:

Eden Hazard reveals his future plans
The Chelsea superstar previously revealed he would love to work with Jose Mourinho again, but that’s not going to happen unless the United boss ends up back at Stamford Bridge for a THIRD spell it seems:

Total tosh from the trusty MEN.

Posted: 19th, October 2018 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Manchester United, Spurs and Chelsea in a ‘bidding war’ for Ake

Manchester United, Spurs and Chelsea are all in for Netherlands international Nathan Ake, 23. Well, so says the BBC. And United and Spurs “will have to wait” to see if Chelsea want to re-sign the player they sold to Bournemouth. So that’s three top clubs who all want Ake in a story that has taken on a life of its own.

Over in the Telegraph we learn that as part of Ake’s £20 million transfer to Bournemouth, Chelsea negotiated “a gentleman’s agreement that would allow them to re-sign him for a fee of around £40m”. What utter tosh. Football club’s do not employ lawyers on multi-million pound deals to work with a handshake. And then this:

There has not yet been any sign that Chelsea are ready to try to take Ake back to Stamford Bridge and any move to re-sign him would have to be agreed by the player. But a summer bid from either Spurs or United would force Bournemouth to offer Chelsea the opportunity to make a move and leave the other two clubs sweating.

This transfer news is tosh. But that doesn’t top the Express from milking the balls to produce the gem: “Man Utd news: Nathan Ake transfer battle takes fresh twist, Chelsea hold the key.”

When asked if he’d read the story of his transfer to Spurs, Ake told Football Oranje: “I’ve also seen it pass by, but of course it’s rumours. At the moment I play everything at Bournemouth and that goes well, so I focus on that. If I’ve already signed in London? No, certainly not. This does not say much about my status yet, they are rumours that come on the internet and as long as I do not hear anything myself, I will not go into that.” The story on the Dutch website was titled: “Ake to Tottenham: its only rumours.”

Mentions of Manchester United: nil. The story is about interest from Spurs. But the Daily Star hears the same words and manages to report:”NATHAN AKE has addressed the rumours surrounding his future amid reported interest from Manchester United.” In The Metro it’s: “Nathan Ake speaks out on Manchester United transfer speculation.” “Nathan Ake breaks silence on Manchester United speculation as Bournemouth defender addresses future,” chimes the Mirror.

All newspapers connive to omit the part where Ake says he’s not signed “in London“. Worse still, the Metro thunders: “Man Utd transfer news: Nathan Ake responds to Jose Mourinho interest.” Words from Mourinho: zero. But as the Mail says in a story about a “bidding war” for Ake, “Jose Mourinho, who worked with Ake at Chelsea, wants to revamp his defence with Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof failing to impress the Portuguese tactician.”

Ake did play for Chelsea nine times. But he was loaned out to Reading, Watford and Bournemouth. Aké made his Premier League debut on 26 December 2012 – when Rafa Benitez was Chelsea manager. Under Mourinho, Ake only made one league appearance, as a substitute in a 3–0 loss at West Bromwich Albion on 18 May.

Such are the facts.

 

 

Posted: 16th, October 2018 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, manchester united, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Transfer balls: Manchester City’s Foden to Dortmund, Hazard’s Chelsea dream and Manchester United want Ake

Borussia Dortmund are keen to hire Manchester City’s cake-loving reserve Phil Foden to keep Jadon Sancho company. All the noises from those with vested interests in young Foden earning loads money at City say he’s very happy at the club. But he hardly plays for the first team, and if a big name in his position became available, City would surely swoop and push Foden further down the hierarchy. RB Leipzig and PSG also want Foden, but Dortmund with their reputation for developing young talent must be the pick.

Bournemouth’s Nathan Aké is talking about a rumoured move to Manchester United. “I’ve seen it pass by but of course it’s rumours,” says the former Chelsea loanee. “At the moment I play at Bournemouth and that is going well, so I focus on that. This does not say much about my status yet. They are rumours on the internet and as long as I do not hear anything myself, I will not go into that.” No comment is still a comment, Nathan. But he’s not heard anything himself about the things he’s chatting about to Dutch journalists so let’s just leave him alone.

Still at Chelsea is Eden Hazard, who having stated it his childhood “dream” to play for Real Madrid, no says he won’t head to Spain in January. He also says he won’t ever force a move to Madrid. Instead, he’ll just keep on talking about his ambitions in Spain, batting his eyelashes and seemingly talking abut Madrid every single day.

Heading back to Chelsea is midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko, 24. Reports are that AC Milan have “threatened” to cancel his loan deal because of “defects in his game”.

Arsenal are looking at cheaper options than Hazard, like Rennes’s Ismaila Sarr and Bayer Leverkusen’s Kai Havertz. They’re said to be promising, young, athletic, skilful and cheap. You know the story. Some things at Arsenal never change.

At the other end of the pay scale, Manchester United are all ready to offer Spain goalkeeper David de Gea a new deal that would make the 27-year-old the club’s highest earner – m re than the £600,000-a-week they pay Alexis Sanchez to kiss the badge.

As for Spurs, well, Madrid captain Ramos says Harry Kane would be great in La Liga, and Mousa Dembélé will quit the cub at the season’s end to live out his own fantasy at Beijing Sinobo Guoan in the Chinese (Not So) Super League.

Posted: 15th, October 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, Manchester City, manchester united, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Chelsea offer fans free trips to Auschwitz

Chelsea are to send their racist fans on a free holiday to Auschwitz instead of banning them. In the 1980s, that would have meant a large group booking. But the days when Chelsea was a recruiting round for the NF are long past. The few remaining goons and would-be gassers able to afford tickets to a club owned by a Russian Jew are being addressed by Chelsea’s chairman, Bruce Buck, who says educating racists by way of visits to a Nazi death camp can “make them want to behave better”.

 

chelsea thugs

We’ve come a long way, baby

 

“If you just ban people, you will never change their behaviour,” says Buck in the Sun. “This policy gives them the chance to realise what they have done, to make them want to behave better. In the past we would take them from the crowd and ban them, for up to three years. Now we say: ‘You did something wrong. You have the option. We can ban you or you can spend some time with our diversity officers, understanding what you did wrong.’

Ban me. Ban me now! Are the fans singing nasty songs all bigots, or are they just letting off steam and trying to wind up the opposition, most notably the self-styled ‘Yid Army’ who follow Spurs? Context matters. Don’t real racists boycott clubs owned by Jews and staffed by players from all over the world, many of whom are black?

No-one sane goes to the football to be re-educated. But Chelsea have a cause. Last week, the Blues showed a new film at the Houses of Parliament, which featured offensive chants, social media posts and images from the Holocaust. Said Buck: “We are just trying to make a dent in the antisemitism in this world. Over time we hope to make a real contribution for good to society.”

And you thought football was just a fun leisure activity.

Posted: 12th, October 2018 | In: Chelsea, Sports | Comment


Transfer Balls: Abramovich wants $3billion for Chelsea and Manchester United offload Pogba

“We’re the biggest sports team in the world,” declared Ed Woodward, the Manchester United chief executive. A few hours after that boast, Derby County arrived at Old Trafford and booted United out of the Carabao Cup. That was preceded by Jose Mourinho, United’s miserabilist manager telling the club’s most expensive recruit, the well-marketed Paul Pogba, he’ll never captain the club again. Pogba wants to play for Barcelona, just as he wanted to leave United to play for Juventus, which he did, before coming “home” for £89m and earning the chance to fulfil his dream. The Mirror says Pogba will cost Barcelona £200m – which would give money-mad United a massive profit on a player who, if style and putting bums on seat, should outlast Mourinho at the club.

In other news, Cristiano Ronaldo is to return to Real Madrid after he’s used up the Touche Eclat at Juventus. “He is one of those that one day will come back,” said Real Madrid president, Florentino Pérez. “I think that he is one of those players who will be in the hearts of the Madrid fans and will be remembered from generation to generation.” But when will return? Who knows but expect lots of stories on ifs and whens.

To finish: Arsenal like the look of Rennes’ 20-year-old Senegal winger Ismaila Sarr, who, says the Mirror, has been “likened” to Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembele. In what way the cheap young blade is like the very pricey Barcelona star we’re not told. Maybe he just looks like him and the Arsenal board will sign the lad, print ‘Dembele’ on his shirt.

But the biggest transfer news of all is that Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich wants at least £3bn to sell the club, according to Bloomberg.

Abramovich bought Chelsea out of near-bankruptcy in 2003 for £140 million (about $223 million at the time) and has since loaned the club more than £1.1 billion. Until he came along, Chelsea hadn’t won the top domestic trophy, the Premier League title, since 1955. His big spending changed all that and set off a kind of arms race in English football. In some ways, it was similar to the U.S. model: Buy talent, buy titles, and sell merchandise and media rights. But unlike owners of American sports teams, Abramovich didn’t seem bothered by racking up huge losses. (And he didn’t have to contend with caps on spending, until new rules came into force in 2010.) At the Arsenal game, Chelsea supporters taunted their rivals with the chant “We’ve won it all!” to which Arsenal fans sang in response, “You’ve bought it all!”

Chelsea fans still love their high-rolling owner, even as the U.K. government hits back at the Kremlin. Now Abramovich is mulling a sale of Chelsea, frustrated by his British visa problems and concerned about the potential fallout should the U.S. expand sanctions against wealthy Russians and target him. He’s already rejected bids for the club in excess of $2.3 billion—which would be a world-record price for a sports team—according to people familiar with the talks. Earlier this year, Abramovich hired Raine Group LLC, a merchant bank in New York, to advise on the possibility of a full or partial sale of the club. A person familiar with the discussions says Abramovich wants £3 billion. Abramovich’s representatives declined multiple requests for comment for this story and insisted all communication go through his lawyers, who also declined to comment.

If Chelsea is worth that much, imagine what the world’s biggest sports brand, Manchester United, are worth? And then try to work out the motives of the person who’d buy it…

Posted: 26th, September 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Arsenal, West Ham and Manchester City can’t find enough bankers to fill their grounds

The Arsenal Supporters’ Trust (AST) says every empty seat at the Emirates is “a tragedy for those who want to watch but can’t get in”. Too true. The suits buy the pricey seats then can’t be arsed to attend. And it could be a scam. Just as Facebook promises to show your advert to a defined number of accounts, a large proportion of which turn out to be operated by robots not humans, thus making the deal much more costly per head than advertised, Arsenal say the official average crowd for home games last season was 57,054. Balls, says the AST. It says the real average attendance was around 46,000. Any advertisers and sponsors are paying potentially 20% over the odds to reach the fans.

The BBC has  more:

West Ham: Newham council says the average attendance at West Ham was 42,779 based on the 12 games it attended – which is 12,530 fans fewer than the club’s season average figure of 55,309.

Manchester City: Greater Manchester Police’s average figures were 7,482 lower than club figures, again based on 12 games.

Southampton: Hampshire Police figures were an average of 4,246 fans lower than figures issued by the club.

Tottenham: Brent Council says crowds at Wembley Stadium were on average 3,740 less than the club’s stated numbers.

Chelsea: Hammersmith and Fulham council says its average was 3,505 fans lower than club numbers, based on six games.

And the most honest club whose figures were shared with the BBC was Manchester United. Trafford Council and Greater Manchester Police both said United’s published attendance figures matched its own, based on 12 games.

Why does it happen?

Most teams in the Premier League choose to publicise the number of tickets sold for a game rather than the number of people actually in the stadium. That means they include season ticket holders who don’t attend, and complimentary tickets that are not used.

If only you could still pay on the gate and just rock up with your mates. It’s all so corporate and organised. Where is the next generation of fans coming from?

 

Posted: 12th, September 2018 | In: Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, manchester united, Sports, Spurs | Comment


West Ham guarantee Pellegrini £15m for losing every match

Do managers who score a job at a Premier League club need to try hard? Players on contracts of £50,000 a week have no need to perform to the best of their abilities, train with an obsessive desire to be the best and give it 110%. The managers job is to make them want to win. Bu what if the manager is Winston Bogarde in a suit?

Bogarde signed for Chelsea, hardly played and rather than seek opportunities at another club reasoned: “Why should I throw fifteen million Euro away when it is already mine? At the moment I signed it was in fact my money, my contract.” By the time his four-year £40,000 a week deal had ended, Bogarde had played 11 times. “This world is about money,” said Bogarde, “so when you are offered those millions you take them. Few people will ever earn so many. I am one of the few fortunates who do. I may be one of the worst buys in the history of the Premiership but I don’t care.” He is now – get this – a coach at Ajax in his native Holland.

So to the news that Manuel Pellegrini is due £15m if he’s sacked by West Ham. Played four, lost four is not an inspiring start to Pellegrini’s Hammers career. West Ham’s owners, doubtless thrilled by Pellegrini’s results at Hebei China Fortune, gave him a £5m-a-year three-year deal that means his contract is paid in full unless both sides agree a severance package. Why would Pellegrini change terms that are so favourable to him? West Ham can lose every match, but their manager cannot be defeated.

And what of the players? West Ham invested £98 million on new blood over the summer. And someone thought it a good idea to get Jack Wilshere from Arsenal on a three-year contract worth £15 million. Have they seen his injury record?

But no fear. West Ham have time to recover and make their elegant but soulless home ground a fortress. Their next three Premier League matches are Everton (away), Chelsea (home) and Manchester United (home).

Posted: 4th, September 2018 | In: Chelsea, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Chelsea lead race for Real Madrid bound Lewandowski

After a disappointing World Cup, Poland striker Robert Lewandowski should console himself with his imminent relocation from Bayern Munich to Real Madrid. “Robert Lewandowski’s manager, Pini Zahavi, has come to an agreement with Real Madrid over his client moving to Los Blancos at the end of the season,” trilled Joe.ie in June. “Man Utd news: Robert Lewandowski agrees personal terms with Real Madrid,” echoed the Metro. “CHELSEA and Manchester United have been dealt a huge transfer blow after Robert Lewandowski agreed personal terms with Real Madrid,” announced the Star.

But hold on a moment. It turns out that all that news was bunkum. “Striker ‘tells Bayern Munich he wants to leave’ as Chelsea consider bid,” says today’s Sun. So much for the “huge blow” to Chelsea.  Or not. Because a few days ago Bild told its readers that Lewansdowski has decided tor remain at Bayern. Or as talkSport puts it: “Chelsea are ahead of Real Madrid and Manchester United in the race to sign Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski this summer.”

Such are the facts.

 

Posted: 30th, July 2018 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, manchester united, Sports | Comment