Apr 2, 2011

Fifa & Uefa suspend Bosnia-Hercegovina

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Bosnia beat Romania 2-1 in their Euro 2012 qualifying campaign last week

Bosnia-Hercegovina have been suspended from world football after refusing to comply with governing body Fifa's regulations.

The Bosnian Football Federation (NSBIH) had been ordered to change its three-man presidency into one single position by both Fifa and European body Uefa.

But the move was rejected at a NSBIH meeting on Wednesday, prompting Fifa to take immediate action.

The suspension means Bosnia cannot play any international matches.

They are currently fourth in Group D of the 2012 European Championships qualifying campaign, five points behind leaders France and a point behind Belarus and Albania but with a game in hand over their rivals.

But Bosnia's next match away to Romania on 3 June looks unlikely to go ahead unless Fifa and Uefa lift the suspension, which also prevents Bosnian teams or officials from participating internationally.

"Fifa and Uefa deeply regret that this decision had to be taken," the governing bodies said in a joint statement on Friday.

The FFBIH is run along similar lines to Bosnia's complex political system, with a rotating presidency shared between a Muslim, a Serbian and a Croatian.

Although Fifa tolerated the system because of the deep ethnic divisions following the war with neighbours Croatia and Serbia in the 1990s, the world governing body demanded the FFBIH fall into line with the rest if the world in October last year.

The federation was given a 31 March deadline to comply, but the move was rejected at a meeting in Sarajevo on Tuesday by the Bosnian Serbs, who opposed the single-president plan because of fears it would jeopardise their autonomy after 28 of the 53 NFSBiH representatives voted against the motion.

"Consequently, the NFSBiH loses all its membership rights with immediate effect and until further notice," said the Fifa and Uefa statement.

"The NFSBIH representative and club teams are no longer entitled to take part in international competitions as of 1 April 2011 and until the aforementioned problem is solved.

"This also means that, as of 1 April 2011, no NFSBiH official or representative may participate in any international match or event."

Bosnia manager Safet Susic

The move has angered Bosnia manager Safet Susic, who said Uefa should formulate a solution to allow his team's Euro 2012 campaign to continue.

"There is absolutely no chance that the NFSBIH might find a way out of the present deadlock and get the job done," said the former Paris Saint-Germain midfielder, whose team have never qualified for a major international event as an independent country.

"These people are incapable of running the NFSBIH properly, although this situation is partly a result of political orders because Bosnia is an ethnically divided country where a dysfunctional system has now caught up with football.

"Denying the players a chance to perform on the big stage through no fault of their own is like sending innocent people to prison.

"We can only hope that Uefa and Fifa will show some level of understanding for our political situation and come up with a feasible model because, quite frankly, I don't see another way."

Fifa could install an emergency committee to run emergency panel to run the federation for 12 months, a process which has been used in El Salvador, Kuwait, Senegal and Samoa.



Liverpool Plot Bids for £43m English Trio: Dalglish Makes Summer Transfer Plans

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Anfield boss hopes to land talented trio.

Wolves manager Mick McCarthy says he would be powerless to turn down a substantial offer for winger Matt Jarvis.
Liverpool and Everton are among a clutch of clubs monitoring the England international who signed a new five-year contract in the summer.

Breakthrough: Jarvis takes on Ghana’s Morgan Ayew-Dede on his England debut
McCarthy does not want lose the 24-year-old, but knows it will be an almost impossible task to keep him should Wolves be relegated.
McCarthy said: ‘If a top-four club offers unbelievable amounts of money for him – he wants to be a regular in the England team, and he can do whatever he wants with his salary and his career – then it becomes very difficult.
‘There are certain scenarios you just cannot stop.’

SOURCE: Daily Mail

Tottenham and Liverpool are reportedly leading the race for the £15 million-rated striker, who turned 18 on Thursday.

Jewell said: ‘I am hopeful he will stay but, let’s be honest, we are all at the mercy of the big clubs.
‘If Liverpool or Tottenham come in with money that is going to help us plough back into the team – silly money if you like – we have to listen to it.’

SOURCE: The Metro

As well as these two top talents Kenny Dalglish is also said to be one of many clubs looking to sign Bolton centre back Gary Cahill this summer, a player who apparently seems destined to leave the Reebok Stadium with Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal and Man United all also keen on the consistent centre back.

The Anfield club’s owners are ready to hand the Liverpool boss a significant transfer fund injection and those funds will be fuelled in part by the sales of some squad players who are not part of the club’s long term plans with the likes of Alberto Aquilani, Milan Jovanovic, Christian Poulsen, Emiliano Insua, Philipp Degen, Paul Konchesky and Joe Cole all reportedly set to leave the Merseyside club.

With veterans Jamie Carragher and Sotiris Kyrgiakos getting on a bit Dalglish is looking to boost his defence and is a big admirer of Bolton defender Gary Cahill who is now a regular part of the England set-up. He is also looking to boost his wide options and may feel that a move for Matt Jarvis a more realistic one that Ashley Young who is apparently hoping to seal a move to Man United.

Connor Wickham is very much one for the future and the Ipswich Town man seems very likely to leave Portman Road although the £15m valuation may scare off many potential suitors.



Ferdinand boost for United

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Rio Ferdinand has provided Manchester United with a boost by returning to training and he could be involved against Fulham later this month.

The defender has not played since suffering a calf injury in the warm-up prior to United's first Premier League defeat of the season at Wolves in early February.

The former England captain had been making slow progress in his recovery and there were fears he could miss the rest of the season.

However, Ferdinand was back in training on Wednesday and he is close to being ready to play his part in United's Treble bid.

He will miss Saturday's game at former club West Ham United and the first leg of the UEFA Champions League quarter-final against Chelsea next Wednesday, but could feature at home to Fulham on Saturday 9th April.

"Rio has started training," said Ferguson.

"He has only been training two days and then just a light session today.

"I have to decide whether we bring him in tomorrow, or give him a day off and start him on Wednesday again.

"He is more likely to be fit for Fulham."

Ferdinand's impending return will provide Sir Alex Ferguson with a timely lift due to the defensive problems currently crippling the United squad.

Wes Brown has joined the list of absentees and he will sit out the trip to Upton Park, along with Rafael and John O'Shea, while Jonny Evans is suspended.

Rafael's twin brother Fabio is in contention to start at right-back and captain Nemanja Vidic is fit after a calf injury, having played for Serbia in midweek. source


Arsenal Insider Confirms Shock £10m Bid for Everton Full Back Leighton Baines

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Emirates outfit plan move for Toffees defender.

Arsenal are preparing a £10million move for Leighton Baines as fears grow over the future of left back Gael Clichy.
Sportsmail revealed last month that manager Arsene Wenger is worried Clichy will not sign a new deal at the Emirates. The French defender, who is out of contract at the end of next season, later admitted he would not recommence discussions over a new deal until the end of this campaign.
Now Everton’s Baines has been identified as the man Arsenal want should Clichy be sold.

The Gunners have looked at Celtic’s Emilio Izaguirre but Baines has been a shining light in a mediocre season for Everton and his performances have alerted Wenger.
An Arsenal source told Sportsmail: ‘Baines is a good defender first and foremost but Wenger likes how comfortable he is on the ball, particularly his delivery and set pieces. Wenger thinks Baines would slot straight into the team with little fuss. Also Baines knows the Premier League inside and out so he would not have to get used to English football like a foreign signing would.’

SOURCE: Daily Mail

How much should we believe about this Daily Mail report? Could it be true? Who is the Arsenal ‘source’? Perhaps however the biggest question would be, how can a reputable article about prospective left back targets that Arsene Wenger may make a move for, not make one single mention of a certain Kieran Gibbs? Yes, that’s right the ready made England international replacement for Gael Clichy, if indeed the Frenchman does leave the Emirates.

Clearly Leighton Baines is a quality player, a very effective wide option both on the attack and in defence. He is also a damn good set piece taker but surely Wenger would not look further than Gibbs, a player he has taken time to help build into the very talented youngster that he is now, surely it is not the Gunners manager’s style to ignore young talent he has at the club?

It seems a fair few of Arsenal’s squad are linked with exits that depend very much on whether the North London club fails to clinch the Premier League title, at least that is what the tabloids will have you believe. Cesc Fabregas, Robin Van Persie, Samir Nasri and Andrei Arshavin have all been linked with high profile exits but just how likely is it that they will leave this summer?



Arshavin: Title run-in favours us

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Andrei Arshavin believes Arsenal's end of season run-in gives them the edge in the race for the Premier League title.

Second-placed Arsenal trail leaders Manchester United by five points, with a game in hand, but have a much less congested schedule after being dumped out of the Carling Cup, UEFA Champions League and FA Cup.

Meanwhile, United face neighbours Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley, Chelsea in the quarter-finals of the Champions League and must play both Arsenal and the Blues in the league next month.

Arsenal, who have not won a trophy for six years, only have the Premier League title still to play for and while Arshavin would prefer to be fighting on all fronts he feels a sole focus could be beneficial.

"I think our schedule is not so bad, that is why if we win all our games we have a good chance to be champions," Arshavin told Sky Sports News.

"I think everyone in our team would prefer to have more possibilities than only one trophy, but everything is in the past, that is why we have to concentrate on the Premier League matches.

"Straight after it was very difficult for everyone, but now we have come back after the internationals and have refreshed our minds and maybe it will help us. I think we are in the race."

Arsenal resume their Premier League campaign with a home clash against struggling Blackburn Rovers while United face a tricky trip to West Ham. Arshavin joked: "I met with Avram Grant yesterday, we had a chat and I have asked him to steal some points from Manchester United this weekend!"



Real trio ruled out of Spurs game

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Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho says Cristiano Ronaldo will not play in the first-leg Champions League quarter-final tie against Tottenham next week.

The forward is struggling with a hamstring injury, while striker Karim Benzema has sustained a thigh problem and full-back Marcelo has sore ribs.

Mourinho said the trio will not be available until 9 April when his team play Athletic Bilbao.

"That is what the reports that the medical staff say," said Mourinho.

"If they were available they would play [against Sporting Gijon]. Saturday's match is more decisive than next week's against Tottenham because the latter is the best of two.

"If we don't win the first we still have a chance in the second.

"It will only get harder if we lose points at home. La Liga will be lost if we lose [against Gijon]. If we lose on Tuesday we can still win the following week.

"I cannot rest or bench players like [Mesut] Ozil, [Angel] Di Maria or [Ricardo] Carvalho. I cannot make any more changes."

Benzema and Marcelo sustained their injuries on international duty during the week - for France and Brazil respectively - while Ronaldo, who has scored 37 goals for Real in all competitions in his second season at the Bernabeu, missed Portugal's match against Finland.

But Mourinho has been boosted by the sooner-than-expected return of striker Gonzalo Higuain following back surgery.

The Argentina striker has been included in Real's squad to face Gijon on Saturday, the first time he has featured since November.

"His recovery is a positive surprise because we thought he may miss up to the final 15 games of the season and having him is important," added Mourinho.

"Not even with the best estimate would we expect him to return to playing so soon. We're very happy."



Arsenal Are Not Going To Make A Move For On-Loan Wigan Goalkeeper

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Emirates boss linked with move for DW Stadium keeper but this should be an April’s fool.

          Skysports.com understands that Arsenal have joined the race to land Bolton’s Ali Al Habsi.

The Oman international is currently on a season-long loan with Wigan, where at times he has performed heroics for Roberto Martinez’s side.

His arrival has seen England international Chris Kirkland relegated from the No.1 spot at the DW Stadium, and his performances have been attracting attention from across Europe.

Bolton rate the 29-year-old very highly and would be loath to lose him, but they already have the excellent Jussi Jaaskelainen as their first choice.

But skysports.com understands that Arsenal are now very much in the reckoning.

Al Habsi had a world-class game for Wigan at Arsenal in the 3-0 defeat in January when he produced a string of top-class saves.

Arsene Wenger has since been keeping a close check on Al Habsi’s progress and is now seriously considering making a move to add him to his goalkeeping ranks.

Source: Sky Sports

If this story has any truth in it, which it very well may not, Arsene Wenger deserves to be shot.

This transfer move is indefensible.

Why on earth would Monsieur Wenger buy Ali A Habsi when he constantly reiterates his confidence in his current goalkeepers.

At the moment, Arsenal have a crisis in goal but that is because three keepers are injured, not because they are rubbish.

Wojciech Szczesny, Lukasz Fabianksi and Vito Mannone are all highly-rated by the club and fans.

And at their ages of 20, 25 and 23 respectively they could be in the squad for a very long time.

The only criticism one may have is that they lack experience of playing at the top level over a long period and have never won a major trophy between them.

But Szczesny looked far from nervous when he was repelling wave after wave of Barcelona attacks.

So why would Arsenal go for Al Habsi? He has not played in the Premier League very long and he has not won anything in this country.

Jens Lehmann is on a short-term contract and Manuel Almunia should finally be sold in the summer so an experienced keeper could be an option.

Gianluigi Buffon is tipped to be on the Gunners radar and that makes more sense.

Nothing against Al Habsi because he is a fine shot-stopper.

I was at the game Sky Sports mention when he was ‘world class’. He was not!

He made some good saves but the Arsenal attack missed a lot of chances and should have done better with a lot of them.

Credit to Al Habsi for making the saves but he still conceded three. Hardly world class.

And if he really was that good, Owen Coyle would never let him go.

Either Sky are trying to make an April fool of us or Wenger has truly lost his marbles.



Manchester United May Accept £22m Bayern Munich Offer for Striker Dimitar Berbatov

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Old Trafford side may opt to sell Bulgarian international.

Manchester United are reportedly considering selling top scorer Dimitar Berbatov to Bayern Munich this summer. The Bulgarian international has found himself warming the bench in recent weeks and has not appeared particularly happy about sitting out on the action given his prolific goals return and reports are filtering through that the Allianz Arena side are readying an offer of €25m (£22m) for the former Tottenham striker.

Berbatov enjoyed a successful time in Germany with Bayer Leverkusen, netting 91 goals for the club before moving to White Hart Lane in the summer of 2006 and now incoming Bayern Munich boss Jupp Heynckes wants to bring the 30 year old to spearhead the Bavarian side’s attack. There is growing speculation that current top scorer at Bayern Munich, Mario Gomez, may well be heading to Italy where there is interest from both Napoli and Lazio.

Given that Sir Alex Ferguson has a successful strike pairing in Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez the Old Trafford boss may well be ready to listen to offers for Berbatov, but only if the cultured front man asks to leave the club. Perhaps crucially the player is in talks to secure a new three year deal but as yet no deal has been completed and come the summer the Man United man will have just a year left on his current contract.

Ferguson knows he will struggle to keep all three of his main striking options happy and given Javier Hernandez is just 22 and already a prolific marksman having netted 17 goals this season already. The Man United boss may feel that he could more easily deal with back up strikers who are young and up and coming and may feel the time is right to give youngsters Danny Welbeck and Federico Macheda a chance to become part of the club’s first team squad.

Michael Owen, United’s other attacking option, is unlikely to receive a new contract when his current deal comes to an end this summer.

Some may feel that a fee of £22m may be a little inflated given Berbatov’s age but it’s worth noting that the Man United striker is having the best season of his career and may well be tempted by the offer of a new challenge in familiar surroundings back in Germany.



Saha set to miss rest of season

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David Moyes has confirmed Everton striker Louis Saha is set to miss the rest of the season through injury.

Saha suffered an ankle injury during the 2-1 victory over Fulham last month and has since undergone surgery on the problem.

The striker had scored nine goals already in 2011, and his injury now leaves Everton with a shortage of strikers and means a heavy reliance on Jermaine Beckford for the final weeks of the season.

Everton are also suffering from injuries in midfield and defence, with Mikel Arteta and Marouane Fellaini certain to miss Saturday's game at home to Aston Villa on Saturday and Jack Rodwell, Seamus Coleman and Tim Cahill all doubtful.

"We have got a lot of injuries," Moyes said. "Louis has had an operation this week which will probably rule him out for the season.

"It is football, isn't it? You pick up injuries and we try not to talk too much about them but we have a spate of them at this present time.

"Mikel has been away in Spain for a few weeks, recuperating and recovering from his hamstring problem. He is due back over the weekend and we will see how he is."

Moyes believes international friendlies, such as England's game against Ghana on Tuesday, are contributing to clubs' injury problems.

"To have a friendly at this stage of the season is difficult," he said. "I understand why the national teams want them but we are into the last six or seven weeks of the season and you can see the amount of injuries players are having, probably on the back of the World Cup and other international tournaments.

"I think that is why you are probably seeing so many injuries if you look around the Premier League. People are probably not getting to see the best players right now because the football is taking its toll on them.

"They are all involved in so much football and they need a break."

He added: "I do take a lot of pride because I want them to be selected for their country, but I am beginning to doubt if that is what I want.

"I am just beginning to look and say, 'Is it worth it?'. We have lost quite a few players. They don't pay the players' wages - we have to."



W.Ham 2-4 Man U: Rooney treble turns game

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Wayne Rooney scored a dramatic hat-trick as Manchester United produced another sensational late comeback to beat West Ham and edge closer to the Premier League title.

United appeared certain to open the door for Arsenal and Chelsea when their defence went into meltdown, gifting the Hammers two first-half penalties which Mark Noble duly dispatched.

But the leaders were rewarded for going for broke in the second half, Rooney starting the fightback with just 25 minutes remaining, completing his 14-minute treble from the spot before substitute Javier Hernandez sealed the points.

The result moved United eight points clear ahead of Arsenal and Chelsea before their respective games, while dragging West Ham back into the drop zone on goal difference.

Old Trafford boss Sir Alex Ferguson spent the build-up to today's game bemoaning refereeing decisions he claimed had gone against his side this season.

But United got the rub of the green today, with returning captain Nemanja Vidic lucky to stay on the field when it was still 2-0.

United went into the game having won only four away league games this season and were facing a Hammers side who had won their last three home games in all competitions.

They also thrashed United 4-0 in the Carling Cup in November but that was against a weakened side.

And the visitors showed they were more serious about today's game in the fourth minute when Robert Green was forced to tip over Chris Smalling's header from Ryan Giggs' fourth-minute corner.

United were dominant but fell behind in dramatic fashion in the 10th minute when a long ball from Thomas Hitzlsperger cleared the entire defence to put Carlton Cole clean through.

The striker hesitated and Patrice Evra looked to have recovered but the full-back inexplicably handled the ball and Lee Mason rightly pointed to the spot.

Noble sent Tomasz Kuszczak - in for the injured Edwin van der Sar - the wrong way and Upton Park erupted, but West Ham were immediately on the back foot again, giving United far too much time and space out wide.

A desperate clearance from Manuel da Costa denied Giggs but the Hammers settled and United pressed the self-destruct button again in the 24th minute.

Cole teased Vidic on the edge of the box and the Serbian took the bait, tripping the forward for an obvious foul.

It was tight as to whether the offence took place outside the box but Mason had no doubt and Noble blasted penalty number two into the roof of the net.

The bizarre pattern of the game continued and United looked certain to pull one back just past the half hour, the fit-again Park Ji-sung blasting a left-foot drive too close to Robert Green, who nevertheless pulled off a superb reaction save.

The visitors' frustration boiled over when Darron Gibson was booked for kicking out at Noble.

Hitzlsperger blasted a difficult volley from Gary O'Neils' cross wide and although the visitors ended the half stronger, Vidic pressed the self-destruct button again when he hauled down Demba Ba three minutes from the break.

The United captain was last man but was spared a red card, with Mason controversially appearing to decide Ba would not have retrieved the loose ball.

Ferguson threw on Hernandez for Evra after the interval, moving Giggs to left-back.

The substitute almost made an instant impression when his improvised flick from Giggs' cross sailed over.

Vidic could easily have earned a second yellow card after tangling again with Ba.

Rooney, who had orchestrated United's good play in the first half began to look lost.

His hesitation soon got him a hefty kick on the ankle from Da Costa, who was rightly yellow carded.

United went for broke in the 64th minute when Dimitar Berbatov replaced Park as they were awarded a free-kick, which saw them finally get back in the game as Rooney curled home from 25 yards.

Cole was replaced by Frederic Piquionne before Green saved from Berbatov from the tightest of angles.

Rooney came to the rescue again when Antonio Valencia's ball found him on the edge of the box and West Ham's defence allowed him to take a touch and fire low across Green.

United were rampant and were awarded a penalty of their own for handball with 12 minutes remaining.

Fabio's skill left Matthew Upson on the deck and when the defender got back up, the full-back kicked the ball against his arm.

While the Hammers opposed the decision Rooney stepped up to complete the most unlikely of hat-tricks.

Gibson should have made it 4-2 before West Ham threw on Victor Obinna and Robbie Keane for O'Neil and Noble.

Smalling survived another handball shout before Hernandez pounced on a piece of terrible defending six minutes from time to turn in Giggs' cross.



Real Madrid to Offer £15m for Chelsea Striker Didier Drogba

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Bernabeu boss to be reunited with his former Stamford Bridge star.

Real Madrid are preparing to offer £15million for Chelsea striker Didier Drogba in a bid to keep Jose Mourinho as manager.
The Spanish club have been wracked in turmoil behind the scenes this season with Mourinho jostling for more power from president Florentino Perez and general director Jorge Valdano.
The ‘Special One’ has made it clear he is willing to walk away at the end of the season unless he gets his way and Perez is ready to hand him the control he craves.
Drogba has been long coveted by Mourinho and Perez sees the potential signing as a sop to the coach he believes can topple fierce rivals Barcelona from the summit of world football.

Despite his advancing years, Drogba will give Real the cutting edge and power they have sorely missed this season.
They have leaned heavily on Cristiano Ronaldo’s goals return following Gonzalo Higuain’s back injury and Karim Benzema is only just starting to show the potential they invested in. Although Emmanuel Adebayor has been a moderate success, he is more likely to return to Manchester City in the summer.
A £15m fee for the 33-year-old Drogba would suit all parties. The Chelsea idol’s status as number one striker is under threat from Fernando Torres’s arrival and he knows owner Roman Abramovich is determined to lower the age of the club’s squad as he looks to prolong the club’s success.

SOURCE: Daily Mail

This is indeed a deal that could suit all parties and one that does appear to have semblance of truth about it. Chelsea would surely deem £15m a very fair price for a player of 33 years of age and it would helpfully avoid issues of dressing room harmony that would surely ensue if next season saw one of Ancelotti’s main strikers sitting out large chunks of the season the bench.

Jose Mourinho has made it clear he needs another striker and Emmanuel Adebayor doesn’t look the part and although Karim Benzema has shown good form of late, having another effective option to call upon would be very handy, especially when battling on multiple fronts.

The Stamford Bridge side will hope that Fernando Torres will get into gear sooner rather than later and Nicolas Anelka is the current top scorer at the club and may work better alongside the Spaniard than Drogba.



Newcastle United to Make Shock Move to Sign £7m Manchester City Striker

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Eastlands man set for St James’ Park return?

Newcastle United are reportedly considering a move to re-sign former striker Craig Bellamy this summer. Alan Pardew is open to the idea of bringing the Welsh international back to St James’ Park and will make a move for the 31 year old at the end of the season.

Currently on loan at Cardiff City Bellamy has had a terrific season with the Bluebirds and has helped them to remain in or around the promotion picture all season and Pardew is interested in purchasing the attacker in order to boost the Magpies attacking options.

Roberto Mancini is said to be more than willing to offload Bellamy who had a solid season at Eastlands last term but then found his starting options compromised by the signing of Mario Balotelli and the further addition of Edin Dzeko would appear to effectively end Bellamy’s Man City career.

Man City are said to be looking to secure a fee in the region of £7m for the much travelled striker who arrived at the City of Manchester stadium for a fee of £14m in January 2009. That is a fee that Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley may well be willing to pay because even though Bellamy is clearly at the latter stages of his career he still clearly has a lot to offer.

Currently Alan Pardew has to make do with the rather limited attacking abilities of a current strike force that includes the likes of Leon Best, Peter Lovenkrands, Shola Ameobi and Shefki Kuqi as well as up and coming youngster Nile Ranger.

Though his previous spell with Newcastle United ended somewhat acrimoniously, and resulted in abusive text messages being sent to Alan Shearer, Craig Bellamy had a very successful stint at Newcastle United netting 43 goals in 119 starts.



Man United Complete Signing of “Next Dunga”

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Old Trafford welcomes another Brazilian.

Manchester United have signed midfielder Rafael Leao on loan from their Brazilian feeder academy Desportivo Brasil and have the option to make the move permanent.
Leao, a tough-tackling midfielder who has been compared to 1994 World Cup-winning captain Dunga, turns 18 next week and will train with the United academy for the rest of the season.
Sportsmail revealed last week that United had options to sign five promising youngsters from Desportivo Brasil and Leao is the first to reach the age at which he can legally leave his country.
Three of the five – Aguilar, Lucas Evangelista and Agnaldo – played in a friendly for Twente last week and the Dutch champions have been lined up to be a transition club for the teenagers before they come to Europe.
However, United have decided to take Leao straight to their Carrington training base, though it has not yet been confirmed whether the move is subject to a work permit.
Part of the reason for the link-up with Twente is so that the players can take steps to gaining an EU passport, though some South Americans can gain passports through family ties.

SOURCE: Daily Mail

Clearly Manchester United have drafted in a number of Brazilians in recent years and currently they have the likes of Fabio, Rafael and Anderson on the club’s books and the partnership with Desportivo Brasil is beginning to bare fruit and it seems this form of squad building is far more financially prudent than splashing out huge sums on established talents.

Sir Alex Ferguson is looking to refresh his Old Trafford squad and to this end he brought in Chris Smalling and Javier Hernandez last summer and both have taken great strides during the season and it seems that the Man United boss sees this as the best way to build a new generation of talent, and whether that decision is down to financial constraints placed on the club by the Glazers or not, it makes a great deal of sense in the long term.

By all accounts slightly built Leao is a tough tackler who is apparently likened to 1994 World Cup winner Dunga, so that can’t be all that bad.



Roy admits Dalglish troubles

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Roy Hodgson admits the presence of Kenny Dalglish made his job at Liverpool difficult as he prepares his West Brom side to face his former employers.

Hodgson was replaced by Dalglish in January after overseeing the worst start to a Premier League season in Liverpool's history

Dalglish claimed earlier this week that Hodgson had nothing to prove after his disappointing spell at the helm at Anfield.

However, Hodgson believes his position was not helped by the fact that Reds legend Dalglish openly admitted he wanted the manager's job prior to his appointment.

Hodgson believes Dalglish's shadow hung over him at Anfield leading to calls from fans for his head following bad results.

"It's difficult to compete with icons," admitted Hodgson.

"I came to the right club, perhaps I didn't come at the right time because Kenny did make it clear at that time that he wanted the job.

"But the people who were making the decisions at that time decided to go for me, and of course as a result that left Kenny in a difficult position because he is one who wanted the job.

"So when things didn't go well, having him in the background wasn't easy and wouldn't have been easy for any coach.

"But that's such an obvious statement and that happens at virtually every football club, to be quite honest.

"There's always someone in the wings who's a little bit of an icon and who's ready to take over if the results don't go that way."

"Again I can only repeat I have nothing negative to say about the club or my time at the club other than it would have been nice to have won a few more games.

"My time at Liverpool is over, I'm very happy in my job here.

"I am disappointed of course I didn't get the full three years which i was hoping for at Liverpool but I have been in football long enough to know that is what sometimes happens especially when there is a change of ownership during your time at the club.

"I was realistic, I knew the risk when I went into the job, I still think it was the right think to do to accept the offer.

"I am still disappointed of course it did not work out in a better way, but I have no regrets or bad feelings about Liverpool as a city, certainly I don't have any bad feelings about the football club and I have only good feelings about the people I worked with there."

Hodgson admits he is unsure of the reception he will get from the travelling Liverpool supporters at the Hawthorns.

"The reaction to my appointment from a large body of the fans was not positive so I don't know if that would have changed now I'm no longer there.

"Whatever the reaction is, we as managers have to accept that and get on with it.

"It would be nice if their response was not a negative one, but if it is, I'll have to learn to live with it.

"Hopefully the West Brom fans will will try to buoy me up in the other direction."



Man United Plot Move for £20m Italian Owen Hargreaves Replacement

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Old Trafford boss targets Juventus midfielder.

Manchester United are planning a summer move for Juventus star Claudio Marchisio. The talented Italian international is reportedly ready to quit the Turin club after running out of patience after prolonged talks failed to result in a contract he is willing to sign. Sir Alex Ferguson is in the market for a defensive midfielder after seemingly giving up on long term injury victim Owen Hargreaves.

Machisio is a product of the Juventus youth system but is ready to leave the club and is reportedly interested in a move to the Premier League. The Old Lady of Italian football has suffered somewhat in recent years and after finishing in seventh spot last term Luigi Delneri was drafted in as the new boss but has failed to halt the club’s slide and the Bianconeri currently lie five points from a Europa League finish and 11 adrift of a Champions League qualification spot.

The £20m rated 25 year old has been a regular in the Italian set up and is the type of tough tackler that Tuttosportbelieves Ferguson is looking for, local born Juventus man is also known for his range shooting abilities and is also reportedly a Chelsea target.

Man United have a number of central midfield option though none of them are out and out defensive midfielders. Darren Fletcher and Anderson can indeed put in tackle but there game also involves forward momentum, Michael Carrick and Paul Scholes are not famed for their ability to effectively halt an opposition attack and Marchisio may be the right man for the job, not least as it is unlikely Owen Hargreaves will be offered a new contract when his current deal expires this summer.



Arsenal Striker Passed Fit To Play Against Blackburn

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Emirates hero will lead the line in crucial match against Ewood Park club.

Arsenal striker Robin Van Persie has shaken off a knee injury and is fit to play against Blackburn Rovers tomorrow.

The 27-year-old picked up the knock playing for Holland in the 5-3 victory over Hungary.

He scored his country’s first goal but came off before half-time and was considered a doubt for this weekend’s Premier League action.

But he, along with Cesc Fabregas (hamstring), Theo Walcott (ankle), Nicklas Bendtner (ankle), Alex Song (knee) and Abou Diaby (groin) are all fit to return.

The only bad news for manager Arsene Wenger is that Aaron Ramsey (groin) and Denilson (toe) will sit out the game at the Emirates.

“He’s (van Persie) alright. He will be in the squad,” Wenger said.

“It was a kick on his knee, but he had a test this morning and felt alright. If he has no reaction overnight he should be OK.

“I am an optimist so always I hoped it would not be too severe. That was the case – for once we had good news.

“We all [hold our breath] because it’s the final part of the season and losing a player now is basically losing them for the rest of the season.

“We are in the final sprint for the championship so we want all our players available.

“We have available again Diaby, Fabregas, Song, Walcott. They are all back in the squad,” added Wenger.

“Out is still Denilson and the long-term injuries like Djourou, Fabianski and Vermaelen of course.”



Grant - We will recover

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Mark Noble had put the relegation-threatened hosts in control at the interval with a brace of penalties and had the home fans dreaming of a repeat of their Carling Cup success over the Red Devils.

But a second-half hat-trick from an inspired Wayne Rooney saw the visitors run out comfortable victors in the end, with Javier Hernandez adding a late fourth.

On what effect the nature of the defeat will have on morale, Grant told Sky Sports: "It will not damage it.

"We are a strong team and we have showed we can recover well.

"We are disappointed. It was 2-0, we played well and then they scored."

The result saw the Hammers slide back into the relegation zone, although Grant would not read too much into the loss.

"We had a big job before. We can get over this," he added.

"We came strong, we were very good in the first half and it is more disappointing."

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West Brom 2-1 Liverpool

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Roy Hodgson relished the satisfaction of victory against Liverpool as Chris Brunt's late penalty gave West Bromwich Albion a crucial triumph against the club that sacked him after a short Anfield reign.

Hodgson was dismissed in January after only 191 days in charge at Liverpool - and while he insisted revenge was not on his agenda, there may just have been extra pleasure in the manner in which Albion earned three priceless points in their battle to stay in the Premier League.

Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish greeted his predecessor warmly before kick-off in front of a bank of photographers.

Martin Skrtel gave the visitors the advantage with a header five minutes after the break.

But Liverpool's defence, reshuffled after losing Glen Johnson and Daniel Agger to injury in the first half, was always vulnerable to the pace and direct approach of Albion striker Peter Odemwingie.

And he was the pivotal figure as Albion earned two penalties, both converted by skipper Brunt to secure the win that extended Hodgson's unbeaten run as Hawthorns boss to six games and pushed the Baggies up to 12th in the table.

Sotirios Kyrgiakos was penalised for pulling Odemwingie down after 62 minutes, although the defender appeared to make contact with the ball. Odemwingie was fouled again by Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina two minutes from time to allow Brunt to repeat the punishment and send The Hawthorns wild.

Red letter day for West Brom - Hodgson

Liverpool's Luis Suarez - whose energetic and threatening display was in sharp contrast to his listless £35m strike partner Andy Carroll - almost forced an equaliser twice in the dying seconds but Albion held on for a hard-earned win.

And while the scars on Hodgson's reputation as a result of his ill-starred stay at Anfield will take time to heal, he was afforded a great reception from Albion fans at the final whistle.

Liverpool, in the continued absence of captain Steven Gerrard following a groin operation, were unchanged, with Carroll and Suarez paired up front.

The continuity Dalglish hoped his selection would afford was soon disrupted when Johnson pulled up with a hamstring problem early on and was replaced by Kyrgiakos. Agger followed suit later in the half with what looked like a knee injury, forcing Dalglish to introduce Danny Wilson.

Carroll endured a frustrating first 45 minutes in which he allowed himself to become distracted by the close attentions of Albion's defenders and the taunts of the home support. He was booked for a lunge at Steven Reid in the area before receiving two further lectures from referee Martin Atkinson.

Albion posed what threats there were in a low-key opening 45 minutes as Liverpool keeper Reina saved Reid's low header and had to be alert to turn away a deflection off Skrtel as the ball flew towards his own goal.

Skrtel's sense of direction was more accurate as he powered Liverpool into the lead five minutes after half-time, beating Paul Scharner in an aerial challenge to head in Raul Meireles' corner.

Injuries and mistakes costly - Dalglish

Brunt had already tested Reina even before Skrtel's opener and Albion were not discouraged by the setback of falling behind, with the winger again testing the keeper with a powerful effort.

Suarez was a constant threat with his direct running and he was furious with team-mate Dirk Kuyt for shooting straight at Albion keeper Scott Carson when he was free inside the area.

Albion drew level just after the hour when referee Atkinson pointed to the spot when Kyrgiakos tangled with Odemwingie in the area. The Greek defender appeared to get a touch on the ball but Brunt accepted the decision gratefully to slam an emphatic penalty past Reina.

The lift of that equaliser prompted Albion to carry the fight to a lacklustre Liverpool - and their ambition was rewarded with that dramatic late winner.

Kyrgiakos never looked comfortable challenging with Odemwingie under a high ball and when he inevitably lost the battle, Reina tripped the Albion forward as he attempted to round the keeper. Brunt's penalty was as confidently dispatched as his first.

As the game entered three minutes of stoppage time, and with Reina joining the fray for a corner, Suarez twice came close to earning Liverpool a point.

Carson saved magnificently from his low shot and Nicky Shorey scrambled back towards the goal-line to head away his lob as it looked destined to drop in.

Seconds later, Hodgson had the victory that will give him so much satisfaction as Albion took a stride towards Premier League safety.



Premier League round-up

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Wayne Rooney inspired a Manchester United comeback at West Ham, Chelsea drew with Stoke and Birmingham climbed out of the bottom three.

On a potentially pivotal day in the title race and relegation battle, West Brom manager Roy Hodgson tasted victory over former employers Liverpool, Newcastle got the better of Wolves, Tottenham were held by Wigan and there was major controversy at Goodison Park.

Manchester United had the opportunity to pile pressure on their rivals as they took to the field at Upton Park in the day's early kick-off, but in the end were indebted to a second-half hat-trick from Rooney as West Ham let slip a 2-0 lead to lose 4-2.

Avram Grant's improving Hammers had knocked the Red Devils out of the Carling Cup earlier this season and looked set to seal another shock victory which would have significantly boosted their survival hopes.

Mark Noble scored both their goals from the penalty spot, the first after a Patrice Evra handball and the second after a Nemaja Vidic foul on Carlton Cole, when the Serbian protested that it had occurred outside the area.

United needed something special in the second half and it was provided by a resurgent Rooney, who reduced their arrears with a curling free-kick on 65 minutes.

The England striker equalised with a high-class second after latching onto Antonio Valencia's pass, before putting United in front with a penalty of his own following a harsh handball decision against Matthew Upson.

Rooney's treble came in a breathtaking 14-minute period, and there was still time for substitute Javier Hernandez to add a fourth for United.

Chelsea were unable to respond to United's victory in the manner they wanted as the Blues' title dreams faded following a 1-1 draw with Stoke.

Jon Walters broke the deadlock for the Potters with a stunning solo effort on eight minutes, skipping away down the left before cutting inside and coolly firing past Petr Cech.

Fernando Torres had started on the bench for Chelsea after failing to score since his £50million January switch, and Carlo Ancelotti's selection was vindicated as Didier Drogba athletically headed in an equaliser from Nicolas Anelka's cross.

But Chelsea could not complete the turnaround despite carving out a number of excellent chances, as Stoke held on to maintain their good record at the Britannia Stadium and leave Carlo Ancelotti's side trailing United by 11 points, albeit with a game in hand.

Hodgson admitted this week that his Liverpool reign was not helped by the presence of Kenny Dalglish behind the scenes at Anfield, but the West Brom manager came out on top in their battle of wits at The Hawthorns following a 2-1 triumph that will go a long way toward retaining the Midlands club's Premier League status.

Dalglish's Reds have been in decent form of late but were frustrated in a goalless first half which also saw defenders Daniel Agger and Glen Johnson withdrawn due to injury.

They did not have to wait much longer to make the breakthrough though, as Martin Skrtel directed a header beyond Scott Carson from Raul Meireles' corner.

Chris Brunt drew the Baggies level just after the hour mark with a penalty after Sotirios Kyrgiakos had clumsily brought down Peter Odemwingie just inside the area.

Another spot-kick then proved decisive, as Brunt hammered home his second effort of the afternoon after Reina tripped Odemwingie.

Wolves' fine recent run came to an end as Newcastle eased their own relegation fears with an emphatic 4-1 success at St James' Park.

Kevin Nolan made a well-timed run from midfield to seize on a Shola Ameobi flick-on and place his shot past Wolves goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey midway through the first half to give Newcastle the lead.

Wolves' frail defence was again exposed on the stroke of half-time when Ameobi rose highest at the back post to powerfully nod home Peter Lovenkrands' left-wing delivery.

Lovenkrands then got in on the act with a third for Newcastle in the 50th minute, before Sylvan Ebanks-Blake pulled one back for the visitors.

Jonas Gutierrez completed the rout for the Magpies late on to further dent Wolves' goal difference.

Birmingham picked up a vital 2-1 victory over Bolton to move out of the drop zone and gain revenge for their FA Cup exit at the hands of the Trotters last month.

Birmingham have slipped into deeper Premier League trouble since winning the Carling Cup at the end of February but in Kevin Phillips they have a player with experience of tough situations, and the veteran striker gave them an ideal start with a fourth-minute strike that proved too powerful for Jussi Jaaskelainen to keep out.

Craig Gardner made it 2-0 with a fine effort off the post in the 59th minute, only for Johan Elmander to respond for Bolton courtesy of a volley 11 minutes later.

Bolton battled hard in an effort to rescue a point but Birmingham held firm to take the spoils.

Everton and Aston Villa both had reason to feel aggrieved at refereeing decisions following a dramatic 2-2 draw at Goodison Park which is sure to reopen the debate into goal-line technology.

Darren Bent's slick double looked set to seal victory for Villa and put an end to talk of a revolt against manager Gerard Houllier, but Leighton Baines salvaged a point for Everton after match official Mike Jones controversially adjudged that Jean Makoun had fouled Phil Jagielka.

Diniyar Bilyaletdinov did well to release Leon Osman for the opening goal on 38 minutes, although Brad Friedel could perhaps have got a firmer hand on the midfielder's shot.

Stewart Downing and Bent, two of the players to impress for England last week, combined for Villa's leveller at the start of the second period as the former Sunderland striker converted stylishly from the winger's cross.

But the real turning point came in the 68th minute when the referee waved play on after a Jermaine Beckford strike crashed down off the underside of the crossbar, with replays suggesting it may have just crossed the line, and Bent scored at the other end moments later with another composed finish.

Baines' late equaliser eased some of Everton's pain, but Villa may also feel hard done by as they remain precariously placed just above the drop zone.

Tottenham could only warm up for Tuesday's trip to Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League with a goalless stalemate against bottom club Wigan.

Having also been held to a 0-0 draw by London rivals West Ham before the international break, Spurs were again missing a creative spark as their top-four chances suffered a setback.

The Latics, meanwhile, inch a step closer to survival but remain at the foot of the table, with Wolves and West Ham also in the bottom three.



Prem Lge: Rooney inspires United, Chelsea held

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Wayne Rooney netted a second-half hat-trick to lift Manchester United to a 4-2 win at West Ham United, while Chelsea's title hopes were dented by a 1-1 draw at Stoke City.

After a lacklustre first half, the leaders looked in real trouble two goals behind but Rooney produced a virtuoso display, netting his 100th Premier League goal in the process, to keep his side in charge in the title race.

The Hammers were excellent in the first half and led at the break through two Mark Noble penalties, the first following a Patrice Evra handball and the second after Nemanja Vidic had felled Carlton Cole on the edge of the box.

Sir Alex Ferguson threw on Javier Hernandez at the interval and his appearance pepped up United's attack. The threat was there long before Rooney cut the deficit on 65 minutes with a stunning free kick.

Rooney showed his class is not restricted to set-pieces as he collected a pass on the edge of the box, took the ball in his stride and slotted beyond Robert Green.

The comeback was capped when United won a contentious penalty of their own, which Rooney stroked home to secured the three points. West Ham wilted in the face of the Red Devils onslaught and some sloppy defending allowed Hernandez to slide home a cross-shot from Ryan Giggs.

Meanwhile, Chelsea's chances of retaining the Premier League crown are hanging by a thread after a 1-1 draw at Stoke.

Jonathan Walters handed the hosts a dream start after eight minutes, outmuscling David Luiz before deceiving Michael Essien in the area and driving past Petr Cech, but the early setback only served to galvanise Chelsea. After creating a rash of chances, they eventually pulled level on 33 minutes, Didier Drogba combining with Nicolas Anelka before nodding home from the penalty spot.

Despite the introduction of Fernando Torres early in the second half, it was Stoke who looked the more likely until the final ten minutes, when Chelsea rattled the crossbar via Drogba. Stoke had already hit the woodwork twice themselves and had a header cleared off the line.

West Brom boss Roy Hodgson landed a blow on his former club as Liverpool were beaten 2-1 at the Hawthorns. The visitors were fortunate to enter the dressing room on level terms at half-time, having endured a testing opening period. Glen Johnson and Daniel Agger both limped out of the action, and the Reds failed to settle after the subsequent tactical reshuffle, with Pepe Reina forced to bail them out on several occasions.

But, against the run of play, it was Liverpool who moved into the lead shortly after the interval - Martin Skrtel took advantage of the Baggies' set-piece woes to unleash an unstoppable header. Hodgson's frustration was short-lived, however, as Chris Brunt equalised from the penalty spot on 62 minutes following a foul on Peter Odemwingie.

And it was another penalty that earned West Brom all three points, with Brunt again converting following Reina's foul on Odemwingie, who had bamboozled Soti Kyrgiakos earlier in the move.

The pressure on Gerard Houllier was eased as Aston Villa claimed a creditable 2-2 draw against Everton in a dramatic clash at Goodison Park.

An injury-ravaged Toffees side took a deserved lead five minutes before the break through Leon Osman, who made no mistake from Diniyar Bilyaletdinov's through ball after the Russian had robbed Kyle Walker.

Under-fire Houllier, who has been plagued by rumours of dressing room unrest, was boosted on 47 minutes as Darren Bent, his ?24 million January signing, thumped the ball into the top of the net after meeting Stewart Downing's cross on the full. And it was Bent who edged Villa into the lead twenty minutes later in controversial circumstances, slotting home just seconds after Everton felt Jermaine Beckford's drive had crossed the line at the other end.

But that was not the end of the drama, as Everton were awarded a contentious penalty on 83 minutes, converted by Leighton Baines, following a collision between Phil Jagielka and Jean Makoun.

Birmingham City gained revenge for their FA Cup quarter-final defeat by snatching a 2-1 home win over Bolton Wanderers.

Kevin Phillips rewarded Alex McLeish's decision to hand him a rare start by rifling in on four minutes after a corner was half-cleared into his path. That strike laid the platform for a prolonged spell of Birmingham dominance - but it wasn't until the 60th minute that they doubled their lead, with Craig Gardner slamming home from the edge of the box after exchanging passes with Cameron Jerome.

Johan Elmander ensured a nervy finish by halving the deficit with 20 minutes remaining, with the Swede notching his first Premier League strike since Boxing Day after getting on the end of Kevin Davies' knockdown, but Blues held on.

Newcastle moved just one point away from the coveted 40 mark with a comprehensive 4-1 win over Wolves at St James' Park. Following a couple of near-misses, Kevin Nolan put the Magpies ahead after 22 minutes, connecting with a Shola Ameobi flick for his 12th league goal of the season, before Ameobi got himself on the scoresheet just before the interval, soaring highest to meet Peter Lovenkrands' centre.

Wolves' hopes of a comeback were crushed five minutes after the break when Lovenkrands rattled in his third of the season, before Jonas Gutierrez added a fourth after Sylvan Ebanks-Blake's consolation.

At the DW Stadium, Wigan and Tottenham Hotspur were forced to settle for a point after a 0-0 draw.

Roman Pavyluchenko's unsuccessful claim for a penalty was the most notable incident of a forgettable first 45, in which Spurs appeared guilty of having one eye on their midweek clash with Real Madrid in the Champions League.

Tottenham were similarly lacklustre in the second half, with their midfield looking shorn of invention in the absence of Aaron Lennon and Gareth Bale - but Peter Crouch did come close to snatching all three points when he sent a header narrowly over the top.



West Ham Plan £5m Double Man United Swoop

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Upton Park boss would is keen on Old Trafford pair.

West Ham are planning a hopeful summer swoop for Man United pair Wes Brown and Michael Owen. The East London side’s co-owners are keen to provide significant funds to beef up the club’s squad if they manage to avoid the dreaded drop to the Championship this season.

Avram Grant will hope that he is still in charge if they do retain their Premier League status and he will then push for an injection of transfer funds so that he can offer Old Trafford striker Michael Owen.a deal that would help lure him to Upton Park. The former England man’s Man United contract ends this summer and there are no signs that Sir Alex Ferguson will renew the deal due to both his continuous injury issues and the fact that Javier Hernandez has made a seamless transition to Premier League football.

West Ham have a number of attacking options but have still managed to net just 36 Premier League goals this term and they are hopeful that a fully fit Michael Owen would be an effective attacking weapon and the promise of regular first team football and a move to London may appeal to the 30 year old. Currently Carlton Cole and Frédéric Piquionne plus on loan strikers Victor Obinna, Demba Ba and Robbie Keane are the club’s attacking options with the top scorer among them only yielding six Premier League goals this season.

Wes Brown has a year left on his current deal but a falling out with Sir Alex Ferguson has left many to believe that the defender could be on his way out of Old Trafford and West Ham are just one of many clubs interested in the adaptable 31 year old who is apparently available for around £5m.

The one club man has amassed over 350 appearances for Man United and has a vast amount of high level experience and that is why the likes of Tottenham and Everton are also said to be interested and Grant is looking for a reliable player to beef up his defence.



West Brom 2-1 Liverpool

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Chris Brunt's second-half penalty double enabled West Brom to win the battle of Liverpool managers past and present at The Hawthorns.

Current Reds manager Kenny Dalglish saw Martin Skrtel head his side in front five minutes into the second half.

But his predecessor, Roy Hodgson, was indebted to Brunt for initially levelling matters from the spot and then scoring the 88th-minute winner.

Albion were worthy of their victory and are now unbeaten in five games under Hodgson.

They had the game's most potent attacker in Peter Odemwingie while Youssouf Mulumbu anchored the midfield effectively.

Luis Suarez again showed flashes of his quality for the Reds but Andy Carroll had a quiet game after scoring his first England goal in midweek against Ghana.

Liverpool were the first to settle and almost went ahead after two minutes.

Carroll won a header from a Paul Meireles corner and the ball fell to Dirk Kuyt whose close-range effort was blocked by Scott Carson.

Kuyt was first to react to the rebound and his shot clipped the top of the bar.

Carroll appealed in vain for a penalty after a challenge by Baggies central defender Jonas Olsson.

Liverpool suffered a setback after six minutes when Glen Johnson pulled up with a hamstring injury when trying to close down Brunt.

He was replaced by Sotirios Kyrgiakos who went into the middle of the back four with Daniel Agger replacing Johnson at left-back.

Kuyt dragged a low shot wide after Suarez had turned the ball into his path.

Brunt tried to catch Jose Reina out with a low 35-yard free-kick but the keeper was alert to the situation.

Liverpool received another injury blow after 25 minutes when Agger hobbled off with what appeared to be a knee setback to be replaced by Danny Wilson in a straight swap at left-back.

Paul Scharner became the first player to be yellow carded after 27 minutes for a foul on Jay Spearing.

Carroll followed him into Martin Atkinson's notebook late after a challenge on Steven Reid inside the Baggies box.

Reina was brought into meaningful action for the first time to cling on to a Reid header from Brunt's deep free-kick.

Wilson was yellow carded after bringing down Odemwingie two minutes before the interval.

Albion began the second half brightly and Reina parried away a well-struck drive from Cox.

But Liverpool broke the deadlock after 50 minutes through Skrtel's second goal of the season.

Carroll won a corner after his shot on the turn was tipped over by Carson at full stretch but he was well beaten by Skrtel's header from the resulting cross by Meireles after he had outjumped Scharner.

Carson then had to be alert to block a swerving shot from Kuyt after he had ran unopposed into the Albion box.

The home side tried to regroup and Reina went down to hold Brunt's left-footed shot.

Then after 62 minutes Brunt brought Albion level from the penalty spot.

Kyrgiakos was adjudged to have brought down the impressive Odemwingie inside the box and Brunt sent Reina the wrong way from the spot.

It was the third goal of the campaign for the Northern Ireland international.

Odemwingie was a constant menace to Liverpool and Reina did well to turn aside a fierce drive.

Hodgson made his first substitution after 74 minutes with Marc-Antoine Fortune replacing Cox.

Liverpool skipper Jamie Carragher made a crucial block on Odemwingie's powerful shot.

Then Odemwingie flashed a shot across the face of goal after being found in space by Fortune.

A minute late Brunt put the Baggies ahead with his second penalty of the game.

Odemwingie shook off the challenge of Kyrgiakos and then was brought by Reina.

Up stepped Brunt to hammer the spot-kick past Reina.

In injury-time Nicky Shorey headed off the line from Suarez.



Arsenal Could Turn to Fiorentina’s Artur Boruc to Resolve Keeping Crisis

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Emirates boss interested in former Celtic hero.

Arsenal are reportedly interested in signing Fiorentina keeper Artur Boruc as Arsene Wenger looks to bring in an experienced keeper to the Emirates Stadium. The Polish international arrived at the Serie A club last summer but is seen as the number two keeper behind Sebastien Frey and the former Celtic man is reportedly considering his options with a number of other Premier League sides said to be interested in the 31 year old.

After five successful years at Parkhead Boruc left for Italy hoping to be the starting Viola keeper but it has not proved that way and the Pole has only managed a run in the first team due to a knee injury suffered by Frey and with the Frenchman set to return speculation is rife that the eccentric keeper will leave Italy this summer.

Arsenal have had a number of issues with their crop of keepers this season, having started with Manuel Almunia as first choice custodian, Wenger was forced to drop the Spaniard after a succession of errors and Lukasz Fabianski was then drafted in and although much improved may not be seen as number one starter, especially after being forced out of the side with a long term injury.

Youngster Wojciech Szczesny was then thrown in at the deep end and although clearly a player with great promise the 20 year old also committed errors before he too was struck down injury. Wenger had attempted to sign Mark Schwarzer last summer and has been linked with moves for Liverpool keeper Pepe Reina but a move for Boruc may be a more realistic and cost effective addition.

Tottenham and Everton have also been linked with moves for the experienced Fiorentina man.



Chelsea Are Not Interested In Neymar Says Carlo Ancelotti

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Stamford Bridge boss denies speculation linking club with Brazilian star.

Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti says signing Santos forward Neymar is not in the club’s plans.

The 19-year-old declared it would be his dream to play at Stamford Bridge and was subject of £23million bid last summer.

After the Scotland game, Neymar said: “It’s a dream of every player to play at Chelsea.” He made similar comments earlier in the season.

But Ancelotti, who watched the Brazilian play in the 2-0 victory over Scotland, says the club are not interested having spent £50million on Fernando Torres in January.

“It’s good news because it’s good for the club and the manager if players want to come here,” Ancelotti said.

“It shows the rumours are true – there’s a good atmosphere here. He’s very young, a fantastic talent. At this moment, we’re not interested.”

“It was a good performance (against Scotland), but the best player on the pitch was [the Chelsea midfielder] Ramires – 100%.”

Since Neymar made his comments, he has shown interest in Barcelona whilst saying he wants to see out the remaining three-years on his contract with Santos.



Fergie - Champion performance

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The Premier League leaders looked destined to slide to defeat against the relegation-threatened Hammers after Mark Noble's brace of penalties before the interval.

But the Red Devils roared back after the break with Wayne Rooney hitting a superb 15-minute hat-trick before Javier Hernandez added a late fourth.

And Ferguson told Sky Sports: "We played like champions today, we kept our heads up and didn't lose faith in our ability.

"It's never easy coming here. They are fighting relegation but we had to do our thing.

"We dominated that second half and it was a real championship performance."

He added: "It was eventful. Being two goals down was a travesty in terms of possession and chances created.

"We were under the cosh so I felt we had to go for it. We needed to get something from it."

Victory put United eight points ahead of Arsenal before the Gunners' evening kick-off against Blackburn but Ferguson added: "Arsenal have a game in hand. It could go to goal difference but I somehow don't think so."

The Old Trafford manager insisted Nemanja Vidic's tackle on Carlton Cole which resulted in West Ham's second penalty was outside the box although he conceded the Serb could have been sent off later when he fouled Demba Ba.

"He could have been sent off for the free-kick outside the box and maybe got a lucky break," he said.

"It would have been harsh but he could have been sent off."


Sir Alex Ferguson felt Manchester United displayed the determination of champions against West Ham.

Wayne Rooney inspired a Man Utd comeback at West Ham, Chelsea drew with Stoke and Birmingham climbed out of the bottom three.

Avram Grant insists West Ham will recover from the disappointment of their defeat by Manchester United.

Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti refused to rule his side out of the title race despite a 1-1 draw at Stoke.

Wolves boss Mick McCarthy could not hide his frustration at his side's defending in their defeat at Newcastle.



Apr 1, 2011

Liverpool told to buy Asian stars

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Liverpool's sponsor wants the club to sign Asian stars to help tap into commercial opportunities in the region.

Standard Chartered sponsorship chief Gavin Laws cited Manchester United's signing of Park Ji-sung as an example of connecting with the Asian market.

"The real power Liverpool could do for us, and for the Premier League, is if there was a way they could nurture foreign players from Asia," said Laws.

He added that the bank wanted Kenny Dalglish to stay as Liverpool boss.

"I'd like to see Kenny as the long term manager - I'm sure the club would," commented Laws.

"They are going to be talking to him if they aren't talking to him already.

"The Kenny magic is all around the world, everybody believes Kenny can take the club [forward] and that means they stay focused and that means they stay in the newspapers around the world... we are looking for brand awareness."

Liverpool signed an £80m, four-year shirt sponsorship deal with Standard Chartered in September 2009.

And while the company is based in London, much of its income comes from the Asian market.

Speaking at the SoccerEx conference in Manchester, Laws added: "The markets in Asia and the Middle East are so nationalistic, they are very proud about their countries.

"One appearance from a player, say from Dubai in the Premier League, and you'd have the whole of Dubai watching it."

I would have thought that Liverpool have had more exposure around the world this season than anybody else

Laws felt that the exposure would be commercially beneficial to his company as well as to Liverpool.

He continued: "You see what Park Ji-sung does for Manchester United."

Liverpool are unlikely to finish in the top four and so are set to miss out on the riches of the Champions League for a second successive season - however, they could still qualify for the Europa League.

With eight more matches remaining this season, Dalglish and his men find themselves sixth in the Premier League, four points adrift of fifth-place Tottenham, having played one game more, and eight behind Manchester City in fourth.

However, Laws thought it was "not that important" if Liverpool once again miss out on a place in European club football's most prestigious competition because matches are played when the bank's target audience in Asia is asleep.

He also said that the club's struggles on and off the pitch this season had actually benefited his company.

"I would have thought that Liverpool have had more exposure around the world this season than anybody else......without the turmoil at the club there wouldn't have been [the publicity]," he said.

"They are a mid-table team with an outside chance of getting into the Europa League again."

The takeover of Liverpool by US company New England Sports Ventures, owner of the Boston Red Sox, was completed in October 2010 and generated huge global media coverage.



Rangers' debt increases to £29m

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Rangers have suffered a period of financial problems

Rangers' total debt has increased by nearly £3.5m to £29m, according to the Scottish champions' half-yearly report.

The club suffered a drop in pre-tax profit from £13m to £9m during the six months to 31 December.

Turnover for the six-month period decreased by £4.1m to £33.7m because of fewer home games for the Glasgow club in the Scottish Premier League.

And there was 4.9% decline in the number of season tickets sold, together with a reduction in sponsorship income.

Rangers chairman Alastair Johnston said the current economic downturn and the disruption to fixtures due to extreme weather conditions in December had added to the club's financial problems.

But he took the opportunity to criticise the club's banker, Lloyds Banking Group, for making manager Walter Smith more difficult than necessary.

"While we appreciate the support of the Lloyds Banking Group through the Bank of Scotland in extending our credit arrangement and recognising the progress that has been made in developing a template for collaboration, certain provisions imposed on the club continue to compromise, in our opinion, management's ability to conduct its role with maximum efficiency," Johnston said in his statement.

Alastair Johnston Rangers chairman

"Having said that, as has been widely reported, the majority shareholder is currently engaged in ongoing discussion with a view to selling its equity interest in the cub.

"The outcome of this process could change the role that the bank will play in going forward in its financial structure."

Johnston was making reference to an ongoing takeover bid by Scottish tycoon Craig Whyte, who this week appeared to move closer to a buy-out of Sir David Murray's shares.

"We are all acutely aware of the distractions off the park but can assure all stakeholders that our objective of adding the SPL trophy to the Co-operative Insurance Cup and providing Walter Smith with a fitting finale is resolute," said the chairman.

"The strength of the club is in its collective and unyielding support to achieve footballing success."

Indeed, despite Smith being restricted in his movements in the transfer market, player costs have remained around the same thanks to the addition of Nikica Jelavic, Vladimir Weiss and James Beattie.

The latest figures also show that Rangers' gained more from the sale of Danny Wilson to Liverpool and Thomson to Middlesbrough than they did the previous year for Barry Ferguson to Birmingham City and Charlie Adam to Blackpool.

"Net operating expenses at £21.1m are in line with last year, with base salary costs at similar levels and reduced matchday costs offset by higher maintenance expenditure and provisions for doubtful debts," explained Johnston.

"The increase in amortisation of player registrations reflects the additions of Jelavic, Weiss and Beattie to the squad, whilst the gain on disposal of player registrations of £3.7m includes Wilson and Thomson compared to the lower gains for Ferguson and Adam in the prior year."

Johnston also acknowledged the investigation by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs over a tax issue relating to offshore payments to players and the Murray Group Management Limited Remuneration Trust.

"I would emphasise that no allegations have been made to suggest any illegal activity and tax vehicles of this type have been used by a number of companies throughout the country," he added.

"We continue to vigorously contest HMRC's challenge on the taxation treatment of the trust and, in doing so, continue to receive reassuring opinion from tax, accounting and legal specialists."



Liverpool to Sell Seven to Help Fund £30m Summer Spending Spree

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Anfield boss ready for a clear-out.

Liverpool are preparing a clear-out as the Anfield side looks to generate funds for significant signings this summer. Kenny Daglish and director of football Damien Comolli have reportedly been considering which players in the club’s squad they are willing to offload and perhaps unsurprisingly a number of those are players brought in by Roy Hodgson.

Milan Jovanovic has failed to make an impact at the club and will be allowed to leave should a decent offer come in for the Serbian who is being chased by a string of Bundesliga sides. Philipp Degen is currently on loan at Stuttgart and the signs are that the Swiss international is unlikely to return to Liverpool.

Paul Konchesky has had a dire time at Liverpool and was sent out on loan to Nottingham Forest where he has proved a success and there is talk that Fulham may be interested in buying the 29 year old back and given that he cost the Merseyside club nothing in the first place it could take as little as £1.5m to take the defender back to Craven Cottage.

Christian Poulsen came in for a torrid time during the Hodgson reign and has barely featured since Kenny Dalglish arrived on the scene and the defensive midfielder will be offered at a reduced price of around £3-4m and there is reported interest from some Serie A sides including from Genoa and Cagliari.

Emiliano Insua is also very much up for sale and looked likely to join Fiorentina last summer until the deal stalled but a move to Florence may be back on although the Argentine may seek to stay at Galatasaray where he is currently in the middle of a loan spell.

Alberto Aquilani is having a great season at Juventus and has fought his way back into the Italian national team set-up but the Turin side are unwilling to pay the £15m that Liverpool are demanding, although the 26 year old has stated that he would be open to a return back to England the signs are that there are a number of other Serie A sides who may well be willing to pay the asking price.

Finally Joe Cole stands on something of a precipice. Dalglish is keen to give the former Chelsea man a chance to prove himself and the England international has not really had a run of games to show the Liverpool boss what he has to offer. There is apparently a queue of clubs who would jump at the chance to sign the attacking midfielder with West Ham and Everton apparently willing to take the 29 year old on if he is indeed offloaded.



Anelka happy with Chelsea striker rotation

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Chelsea striker Nicolas Anelka says he accepts Carlo Ancelotti's policy of rotating his strikers since the arrival of Fernando Torres, admitting it is that sort of tough decision that means he will not become a manager.

Anelka, 32, said he has the experience to understand the need to take his turn on the bench while also speaking of his enjoyment of retirement from France duties and the extra time with his family that the international windows now afford him.

"I have been playing football for 16 years now," Anelka told Chelsea's website. "Sometimes to rest, even to watch your team-mates from the bench, is not too bad. It is part of the game and you try to be fresh when you come on the pitch. This is a big club and we have big players, so it's like this.

"We do our best on the pitch anyway and we know now we have a different tactic with two up front. We are four - [Didier] Drogba, Torres, [Salomon] Kalou and me, so we can swap and we know that, even if we have a good game, we may not play in the next game. It is frustrating when you are 20 years old; when you are 32, not any more."

Anelka admitted he sympathised with Ancelotti's need to keep all his players happy and that the difficult choices confronting a manager means he will consider a different career path after retiring.

"When you're a manager it is even more difficult than playing because you have to keep everybody happy and make choices. I know I won't be a manager, I don't want to do it, never. You have to make everybody else happy also and if you are 20, you don't understand this rotation but, if you are 32, I won't say you have nothing to prove but you have the experience to understand."

Anelka has been resting over the last week while most of Chelsea's squad have been on international duty. The 32-year-old retired from international football last summer after his role in the mutiny against former France head coach Raymond Domenech saw him receive an 18-match ban. The ban is due to come to an end just before next summer's Euro 2012 tournament in Poland and the Ukraine but Anelka insists he will not end his exile.

"I don't miss it, I am glad to be out of it (international football),'' Anelka added. "Of course it can help to not play, you play less games so it is perfect to be off and to think about something else for one or two weeks then come back fresh to the club. You get some family life, go to Paris, wherever you want with your family, it is perfect, but I used to be like this when I played for City and in the beginning at Bolton, so I know this situation and I like it. I really don't think about the national team or playing games.''

Anelka called on his team-mates to prove that they are good enough to win the Champions League by beating Manchester United in their upcoming showdown. Chelsea edged one step closer to May's Wembley final by beating FC Copenhagen in the last 16. Their reward for victory over the Danish minnows was a tough tie against Premier League title rivals United.

Anelka admits the draw could not have been much harder for Chelsea, but concedes that they must beat the best sides on the continent to become European champions for the first time in their history.

"We know them (United) but I don't think it's a good draw because they are a good team and difficult to beat with a lot of quality players,'' Anelka said. "But, if you want to win the Champions League you have to beat good teams."

Chelsea overcame United in a controversial clash at Stamford Bridge last month, and Anelka believes fans can expect a similar type of game in Wednesday's first match and the return leg six days later.

"These two games with Manchester United will feel like Premier League games, we have already played them in so many games so these will be the same, and we will just have to see what happens," said the former Manchester City and Arsenal man, who lifted the trophy with Real Madrid 11 years ago.

But first, Chelsea head to Stoke on Saturday hoping to maintain their chances of lifting the title. Yossi Benayoun could play his first game for the Blues in six months after making his comeback from an Achilles injury in Israel's win over Georgia on Tuesday.



Ghana Fans Demand FA Action Over Carlton Cole Immigration ‘Joke’

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Upton Park star could be punished but he takes a more light-hearted look at events.

Ghana fans have demanded the Football Association to punish Carlton Cole for his twitter immigration joke.

The West Ham United striker received a backlash of abuse from unhappy Ghanaian fans and removed the tweets from his page.

“Immigration has surrounded the Wembley premises! I knew it was a trap! Hahahaha,” @Carlton9Cole tweeted.

“The only way to get out safely is to wear an England jersey and paint your face w/ the St. George’s flag!”

NSU says the West Ham player must be reprimanded by the English FA especially when he’s an England international.

“His comment was not a joke but an attack on all the people of Ghana all over the world,” Abdul Aziz Haruna, president of NSU, told GHANA soccernet.

“Black Stars fans travelled from Ghana, all over the UK and other parts of the world to watch this game and support their country and give money to the English economy.

But Cole has taken a more light-hearted, if not entirely more subtle, approach to the criticism again via twitter.

“To all my followers the year is 1984 the thought police are on to me I’m no longer Carlton Cole call me Winston Smith,” @Carlton9Cole posted.

“I sit here as the clock strikes 13 a prisoner of the thought police! Anything u say will offend someone these days.”

“Sitting here outside room 101 wondering what my punishment will be! Lool.

“In room 101 they are making me watch my penalty miss against Bolton over n over again.”



Arsenal Close To Agreeing Deal For Swedish Wonderkid

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Emirates boss wants to bring midfield starlet to North London.

Arsenal are on the verge of completing a deal for Swedish wonderkid Kristoffer Olsson.

The 15-year-old has had several trials with the Gunners and even turned out for the Arsenal U16s against Crystal Palace.

The IFK Norrkoping midfielder is set for a permanent move to North London with the deal costing around £200,000.

“They want him,” his agent, Per Jonsson, told Aftonbladet. “He has been over a few times and really made an impression.

“It’s up to the clubs to agree and also the personal contract, but Arsenal really want this to go through – that’s 100 per cent certain.”

Norrkoping’s sporting director Tony Martinsson confirmed the teenager has spent time with Arsenal but says any deal is yet to be agreed.

“He was over a week-and-a-half back to train and play games,” he said. “Now he’s home again and we haven’t heard more from Arsenal since then.

“He is a fantastic, interesting player. Sometimes you say things like that to get attention but he really is.”



Houllier - Villa are united

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Houllier is set to recall James Collins and Richard Dunne for Saturday's trip to Everton after the defensive duo were fined two weeks' wages.

The pair were disciplined by the club for their behaviour towards members of the coaching staff during a team-bonding session at a health spa three weeks ago.

Collins (calf) and Dunne (shoulder) were ruled out through injury but proved their fitness when on international duty this week with Wales and the Republic of Ireland, respectively.

And Houllier is adamant the spa incident is now firmly behind all involved as Villa focus on their last eight games of the season.

"The only thing I can say is that the events are finished," said the Villa boss. "It has been dealt with, it is gone and over.

"The players expressed their will to the club and to myself that they want to give their best for their fans and the club. It is good.

"They were unfortunately both injured for the last game against Wolves but they are available after playing for Ireland and Wales.

"If they are fit, they will play. It is as simple as that because they are personality players and they have the club at heart. They also have strong experience."

Villa fans unveiled a banner reading 'Houllier out' even before losing 1-0 to Wolves, which was Villa's first defeat by their local rivals since March 1980 and left them just one point above the bottom three.

The Frenchman, who was appointed as Martin O'Neill's successor last November, insists he is committed to seeing the job through though.

"Everyone is entitled to think what they want but I took the job because it was a challenge," he said.

"The challenge is bigger now because of what happened but sometimes you battle to get in Europe or a cup.

"Here we are battling adversity together. Together - that means the team, the staff, management, the owner, chief executive, the fans, everybody.

"The fans play an important part," added the former Liverpool boss. "When the fans show the banner, you are not very happy about that.

"But I came here because I've got pride in being at this club. I said that straightaway and that hasn't changed.

"I've got pleasure in what I'm doing. It's not because things are not particularly easy. Sometimes you go through hard times at this job. I've got a challenge -the challenge is eight games - and the unity is there."



Arsenal Hope to Sign Juventus Keeper Gianluigi Buffon for Free

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Emirates boss considers move for Italian keeper.

Arsenal are weighing up the option of signing Italy’s veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon on a free transfer from Juventus.
Arsene Wenger has turned to Jens Lehmann to try and solve his long-standing problems in goal, but the 41-year-old made a less than impressive return for the reserves at Wigan on Tuesday. Now the Arsenal boss is considering Buffon whose 10-year stay in Turin is expected to end in the summer as Juve look to offload his £125,000-a-week salary. It is doubtful that Arsenal would pay that much for a 33-year-old who has struggled with injury but, surprisingly, there would be no fee for Buffon under a clause inserted in his contract when he agreed to stay with Juve following the club’s demotion to Serie B in 2006.

SOURCE: Daily Mail

Given the keeping crisis Arsenal are currently in, although perhaps crisis is too big a word, Arsene Wenger will be licking his lips at the prospect of being able to land a keeper as accomplished as Gianluigi Buffon for nothing. Quotes coming from the player’s agent have suggested that a move to the Premier League interests the Italian international.

Arsenal started the season with Manuel Almunia as first choice but a series of clangers appear to leave the Spaniard without much of a future at the Emirates. Lukasz Fabianski was then brought in and although improved the Pole still looked liable to make mistakes, he then got himself injured. In came youngster Wojciech Szczesny who very much looked the part but then he too made some costly errors but clearly still has great potential. Vito Mannone was loaned out to Hull City and is apparently likely to leave in the summer.

Wenger chased Mark Schwarzer last summer but Mark Hughes was unwilling to allow the Fulham keeper to leave and the Gunners boss has since been linked with very real interest in Liverpool goalie Pepe Reina. One can understand how the North London club would be interested in Buffon, there are few keepers in the modern game who have accomplished more than the 33 year old, but no doubt there will be many clubs who will make an offer for the goalie should he look to end his ten year long association with his Turin employers.



Diego Forlan Open to £12m Tottenham Move

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Uruguayan international warming to White Hart Lane move.

Diego Forlan: I’ll consider good offer from Spurs for summer transfer
Atletico Madrid striker Diego Forlan has said he would be prepared to speak to any interested clubs, including Spurs, if they make a ‘good offer’ for him in the summer. The Uruguayan international was said to have been the subject of a concrete bid from Tottenham in January after manager Harry Redknapp made a special trip to Madrid to see him play.
And 31-year-old Forlan, who is rumoured to be unsettled at the Vicente Calderon Stadium, has said he is willing to speak to other clubs about a move. ‘You never know in football,’ said former Manchester United flop Forlan, when asked if he would consider a move back to the Premier League. If there was a nice offer, for the team and for me, then you have to see. You have to see if it is good enough.’


Given just how much Diego Forlan has achieved since his poor spell at Old Trafford one would imagine that Uruguayan international has no need to prove to anyone what he is capable of but perhaps a big money move back to England to show just how lethal a finisher he really is, may well tempt the 31 year old into a move to White Hart Lane.

Since leaving Man United Forlan has gone on to score an incredible 155 goals in just under seven seasons with first Villarreal and now at the Vicente Calderon and with Atletico currently in something of a financial bind and unlikely to nab a Champions League spot, then the Montevideo born striker may feel that now is the time to move on.

Harry Redknapp has been looking for fresh attacking options for some time, mainly because his current quartet of Robbie Keane, Jermain Defoe, Peter Crouch and Roman Pavlyuchenko have under performed this season. A move for Forlan would cost Tottenham around £12million and whilst his age may mean he is not a long term solution to the striking problems at the club he would be a very effective immediate term solution.



Arsenal Manager Will Fight Off Chelsea And Manchester City To Sign AC Milan Ace

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Emirates boss believes San Siro hero will add steel and experience to midfield and will not allow the player to move to Stamford Bridge or Eastlands.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger wants Ac Milan midfielder Andrea Pirlo to add the steel and experience he feels his side are missing.

The 31-year-old is a free agent in the summer but Wenger will face strong competition from Chelsea and Manchester City.

Wenger wants Pirlo to compete for a place with Alex Song and Abou Diaby, whilst help guide and teach youngsters Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey.

Pirlo’s experience of playing the holding role allied with his exquisite passing make him an ideal Wenger signing.

The Italian international has won a World Cup, two Champions League and a Serie A title in a 16-year career.

But both Carlo Ancelotti and Roberto Mancini want to bring Pirlo to Chelsea or Manchester City respectively.

Ancelotti wants to work with Pirlo again, after their time at Milan together, but his signing will go against the Blues policy of signing youngsters.

Mancini knows all about Pirlo from his time as manager of Inter Milan, and would love to have San Siro legend to replace Patrick Vieira.

Arsenal Manager Will Fight Off Chelsea And Manchester City To Sign AC Milan Ace, 9.0 out of 10 based on 6 ratings