Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Wenger: One thing's for sure, we're not selling him to United.

It is a possibility that Arsene Wenger and Arsenal could let their player of the season, Samir Nasri leave due to contract renewal issues, but the Arsenal manager has assured fans that the club would certainly not sell to Manchester United, as was rumoured.

DBS Football very recently ran an article evaluating the possibility and likelihood of Nasri leaving Arsenal for United, with the conclusion that the negotiations would surely continue between the player and the club, and Arsenal would hold on to him. However, there remained the possibility, with Sir Alex Ferguson's substantial transfer funds available, that Nasri could move on with United a trophy winning club capable of fulfilling his ambitions. 

Now though, that possibility is out of the window, with Wenger definitively stating that although there were problems in contract negotiating, there was no chance of Arsenal allowing him to join United:
"We have a financial disagreement which hasn't yet been settled. We are still in discussions but we haven't agreed a deal." 
"'One thing's for sure, we're not selling him to United."
Apparently, the deal on the table that has been offered to Nasri is a five-year deal in the region of £90,000-per-week -  but the player is stalling on the signing of it. Nasri is trying to get himself a weekly payment of £110,000 which would bring him up the the payment of Arsenal's highest earner, Cesc Fabregas.

Arsenal fans would be furious if Nasri were to leave because of an expiring contract next season for free, especially if the issue was how much he should get paid. Wenger needs to get the contract sorted out whilst bringing in some new recruits. It is a problem Wenger doesn't need when attempting to improve his squad to win trophies.

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Modric to Manchester United? The Likelihood Of A Move.

Paul Scholes's inevitable departure has been announced, and as Manchester United reflect on the wonderful achievements that Paul Scholes has reached in his 17 years at the club, Sir Alex Ferguson will have to start looking seriously, if he hasn't already, for his replacement. Scholes's retirement was described as an "absolute tragedy" by Sir Bobby Charlton, and millions of United fans all over the world paid their respects to a fantastic career of the 36 year old United star, so whoever comes in will have big boots to fill.

Luka Modric has been mentioned more than a few times in connection with Manchester United, but most reports from inside the clubs or with insider knowledge seem to think that any deal is highly unlikely. The Tottenham manager recently said that he would not sell the Croation midfielder for £100 million or even a a billion pounds - a comment that should be taken with a pinch of salt as that sort of money would buy a football club.

However, Modric has a contract with the London club until 2016 so he would cost a lot of money for any club, presumably somewhere in the region of £25-35 million. Despite a possibly huge transfer fee, there remains a small possibility that Modric could make a move to Old Trafford if he is made a prime target by Sir Alex Ferguson. A Manchester United insider said a few weeks ago that the United manager has been given substantial transfer funds and "what Sir Alex wants, Sir Alex will get", so if Ferguson really is after Modric he will put up a serious fight to get him, which is promising for United fans keen for a quick replacement for the legendary Paul Scholes.

The 25 year old recently stated that although happy at Tottenham, if an offer were to come in for him there was every possibility that he could move:
"Everybody wants to know what will happen with me. I'm trying to stay calm as my national team has a really important match coming."
"So I will tell you the same as all ways - my club status is the same as it was before. But of course, if there will be an offer which will be good for Tottenham and for me also, then a transfer is of course possible."
"That doesn't mean that I'm bothered with leaving Tottenham - I'm not thinking about that every hour and every minute. I'm happy at White Hart Lane - my status is great, the fans like me and I do have everything I need."
"But then again - when you experience playing in Champions League, you want to keep playing in this tournament."
So from this we can take that although he is happy and comfortable at White Hart Lane, the lure of Champions League football and bigger success would certainly turn his head. If Manchester United were to show a real interest and place a bid on the table, and Modric were to kick up a fuss about a move, it would put Tottenham in a difficult situation despite having him tied down to a long contract.

They would not want to keep a player against his wishes and the amount of money that could be offered is substantial - at least a £9 million profit - possibly £19 million profit after buying him for £16 million from Zagreb in 2008.

There is also talk that Tottenham are already looking for a replacement for Modric, in the form of another Dinamo Zagreb Croation, Milan Badelj. Zagreb are apparently asking for £8.5 million for the 22 year-old deep-lying play-maker, and may have to move fast due to interest from several other clubs including Wolfsburg and CSKA Moscow.

Tottenham may just be adding to their ranks in the hope winning back that Champions League place next season, but there is also a real possibility that this is an insurance policy just in case they are forced into letting Modric go.

Chelsea are also said to be interested in Modric, and some say that a move to Chelsea is more likely as the player does not favour a move all the way to Manchester but would rather stay in London where he is settled. It may seem obvious, but any deal comes down to a significant offer and Tottenham's willingness to sell - but an offer must be significant.

Tottenham may be purposely reluctant to sell to Manchester United, who have purchased a good few of the clubs best players in the past, including Michael Carrick and more recently, Dimitar Berbatov. However, other rumours state that the unsettled Berbatov, who was left out of United's Champions League final squad could be used as a make weight in a deal; possibly £20 million plus Berbatov.

As you can see, there are quite a few possibilities, so we shall have to wait and see what happens in the transfer market, however, I tend to side with the pessimists on this one; despite United and Chelsea's obvious interest and funds, Tottenham will put up a fight to keep him - he is the hub of the team and could prove invaluable.
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Eden Hazard to Arsenal Transfer Latest

Arsenal and Arsene Wenger have made it very clear that they are looking at Eden Hazard very closely in the hope of one day buying the 20 year old Belgian. Currently owned by the French Champions Lille though, Hazard is very much still wanted, and the clubs president has made clear his intentions to keep their young play maker.
Hazard's club president Michel Seydoux confirmed:
"Eden is not available for transfer. We have met, and the decision is that it he will not be sold for any price." 
"We have won two trophies this season and have a project we are working on." 
"Hazard is included in this plan and is an integral part of it. That is why he will not be leaving."
That is a big blow to Arsenal's "busy summer", as Wenger's interest in January was made clear as he said: 
"We are following him (Hazard). Personally I think he has real talent and the level needed to play at Arsenal."
Hazard played 37 times in Lille's Championship winning side this season, scoring seven and assisting eight.
An explosive, attacking winger who can often be a defenders nightmare with a similar style to Barcelona's Lionel Messi, Hazard is described as having "immense talent".

At 20 years-old, his potential is huge, and is the kind of player Wenger is constantly looking for. However, thanks to both the players huge quality and Lille's desire to keep him, he would cost a hefty fee, with at least £16 - 20 million being quoted.

Arsenal's rivals Tottenham are also said to be interested, but the player has said on several occasions that if he does leave Lille, which I believe can only be a matter of time, he will go to only Arsenal or Real Madrid. He has also very recently said that he wants to play for a big club in the future, in a major championship and has also expressed an interest in Arsenal's system of helping younger player make a name for themselves in the first team very quickly.

Lille may not want to let him go, but with Hazard's quality and aspirations both very high, as well as interesting several top teams, it seems the French club will have to let him go in the near future.
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Paul Scholes: A Special Player & A Footballing Legend

A footballing legend has retired today. A legend who has been praised by some of the best because he is one of the best. Nothing and no one can take away from the fact that Paul Scholes, the now former Manchester United midfielder has been a sensation at Old Trafford, and anyone who has had the privilege to play alongside him, play against him or even see him in action should count themselves very, very lucky because this man is one of the greats.

Described as the "complete footballer" by Zinedine Zidane, a "role model" by Xavi, and "the best" by Ryan Giggs, Thierry Henry, Edgar Davids, Laurent Blanc, Pep Guardiola and Nani, you really do get the feeling straight away that he is a special player. He may not have developed the ability to tackle over his 17 years as a Manchester United professional, but with his stunning passing quality and precision, super natural vision and devastating shot accuracy and power, you can forgive him.

When you look at his career highlights, of which there are many in abundance, you get the feeling that you are witnessing something like magic. He can pick a man out from anywhere on the football pitch, he can spot a through ball that any one else who think of as impossible, and he can keep the ball like it is his life objective to not let it go. Sometimes words are not enough for a player like this.

It is sad to see such a fantastic footballer retire when many believe that he could go on so easily for a few more years and show up countless of players so much younger and quicker than him, but it was very fitting in my opinion that his last game in a Manchester United shirt came against Barcelona.

It was of course hugely disappointing that his career could not end on a perfect high note of lifting his third Champions League trophy, but when you look at the players in the Barcelona team and notice how much they admire the man, you can see why going out to Barcelona was so appropriate.

When the Spanish midfield maestro Andres Iniesta goes out of his way to ask for your shirt because he is afraid that your last game has been played, you know your different - superior to the rest. Iniesta averages 2075 passes per season when the average a player is only 658, and with a success rate in those 2075 passes of 93.7% last season, it is easy to see why Scholes is held in such high regard.

In just 19 games for Manchester United this season, 13 being starts, Scholes managed an amazing 1348 passes with a success rate of 90.4% - at the age of 36! It really is unbelievable, and playing his last game against the pair of midfielder's in Xavi and Iniesta who have seen Scholes as their role model really is a fantastic tribute to him.

17 seasons at Manchester United, 675 appearances, 150 goals, 24 trophies, and a huge impact on the world of football, this shy, humble 36 year old man has made a big name for himself all over the world, letting his football do all of the eloquent and articulate talking. Thank you Paul Scholes.
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Monday, 30 May 2011

The Legend of Paul Scholes

It may sometimes be hard to believe that in Paul Scholes's 17 seasons in the Manchester United first team, he has amassed an amazing 10 Premier League titles, 2 Champions League trophies and won 3 FA Cups among many other awards. 675 appearances and 150 goals for one of the biggest and best clubs in the world is not bad going at all, and along with his stunning passing, sensational vision and intelligence on the field he has received countless plaudits. From team mates to footballing legends, Scholes really has attracted huge appreciation. Not that Scholes listens to it, in 2010 he said:
"I try to ignore the plaudits. It is nice for people to say positive things but I just put it to one side and concentrate on the next game."
What a player he is. The mini clip above shows just a fraction of the maestros considerable talents and with his career unfortunately drawing to a close with talk of retirement constant, I looked back on the players, managers and footballing legends who have heaped praised on this man's shoulders.

Ryan Giggs
"I have played with some great players during my time at United but I would have to put Paul Scholes down as the best.”
Sir Bobby Charlton

"Paul is always so in control and pin-point accurate with his passing—a beautiful player to watch."
Zinedine Zidane
“There is no doubt for me that Paul Scholes is still in a class of his own." 
“He’s almost untouchable in what he does. I never tire of watching him play. You rarely come across the complete footballer, but Scholes is as close to it as you can get." 
“One of my regrets is that the opportunity to play alongside him never presented itself during my career.”

Michael Carrick
"Paul Scholes is just fantastic."
"When you play alongside him, you realise what a special talent he is. He is so intelligent and clever, he makes the game look really simple and showed it against Celtic by creating two goals."
"Believe me, it is a pretty hard skill to be able to slot people through gaps when everything is going on around you. Paul can do that and I felt he was the big difference between the teams." 
Thierry Henry
“For me the best player, and every time we used to play against Manchester United, we always used to be scared of Paul Scholes. For me, he was the best I have seen in the Premiership in the middle of the park."
“His vision, the way he sees the game, his goals ratio...a bit more now obviously, because we all, you know have to stop one day...but his goal ratio, his vision, he could put his foot in, whatever you wanted."
“I’m also a big fan of Steven Gerrard but for me, Paul Scholes was amazing.”
"In the last 15 to 20 years the best central midfielder that I have seen — the most complete — is Scholes. I have spoken with Xabi Alonso about this many times. Scholes is a spectacular player who has everything."
"He can play the final pass, he can score, he is strong, he never gets knocked off the ball and he doesn’t give possession away. If he had been Spanish then maybe he would have been valued more."
"A role model. For me, and I really mean this, he's the best central midfielder I've seen in the last 15, 20 years. He's spectacular, he has it all, the last pass, goals, he's strong, he doesn't lose the ball, vision. If he'd been Spanish he might have been rated more highly. Players love him." 
Edgar Davids
“I’m not the best, Paul Scholes is. We can all learn from Paul Scholes.”
Marcello Lippi
“Paul Scholes would have been one of my first choices for putting together a great team — that is how highly I have always rated him." 
“An all-round midfielder with quality and character in abundance.”
Laurent Blanc
"I tell anyone who asks me — Scholes is the best English player.”
Peter Schmeichel
“His reading of the game is unsurpassed. He has the best eye for a pass, for what the play or the game needs at that precise moment, that I have never seen anyone else have."
“He controls and distributes the play and the game better than anyone I have ever seen.”
Sir Alex Ferguson
"He's one of the great players to come through the ranks here."
Pep Guardiola
"Out of everyone at Manchester United, I would pick out Scholes – he is the best midfielder of his generation."
"I would have loved to have played alongside him."
"He’s the best midfielder I’ve ever seen. He can pass, score goals with his left, right, his head – he can do anything."
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Sunday, 29 May 2011

VIDEO: Sir Alex and The "Stupid Question"

Sir Alex Ferguson is routinely thrust in front of the worlds media after games to answer questions from the journalists, and so over the 25 years he has been at Manchester United, you can imagine a good few questions have been asked of him. None though, were more "stupid" in his opinion than the one shown in the video below. 

A reporter asked who Sir Alex would sign from the Barcelona side which beat his on Saturday if he was given a blank cheque from the United owners in the summer. Basically, who would Sir Alex have from the Barcelona side if he could have only one. With the choice from the likes of Messi, Iniesta, Xavi and so on, the players regarded as the best in the world, Sir Alex ironically said "Mascherano", drawing laughs from his audience. 

The Manchester Untied manager was understandably frustrated after seeing his team beaten convincingly in the biggest game of his and United's season, so a question like that only tests his patience more. Whether planned or not, humour takes your mind off tough situations and is a tonic for mind and body. It is a tonic needed after that loss. 
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Berbatov Quitting Manchester United?

A lot of Manchester United fans were left shocked and a little bemused that Dimitar Berbatov, Manchester United's top scorer and winner of the Golden Boot was left out of the squad entirely for the Champions League final. Fair enough, he wasn't expected to be in the first team, but many thought that he at least deserved a place on the bench, through merit mostly, of what he has achieved over the season in terms of goals.

But no, instead, his place was given to someone whom I am a big fan of, Michael Owen. I absolutely understand Sir Alex's thinking over the decision to pick Owen over Berbatov, especially considering the Bulgarians lack of clinical finishing during the latter half of the season. Michael Owen would always be a sure choice if there is a one on one opportunity late on in the game, even when the pressure is huge - he proved that with his winner against City last season.

In hindsight, Ferguson would have chosen Berbatov to sit on the bench if he knew that in the last 20 minutes of the game, a consolation would have been close to worthless. Barcelona had plenty left in the tank after controlling the game for 90 minutes, and even if United had scored another and taken it to extra time, Barcelona would have again been favourites. It would then, have been best to have Berbatov as an unused substitute to appease him and make him feel just a little bit wanted - a little bit needed at the club, rather than expel him to the stands.

Now it seems, Berbatov is unhappy with his position at the club after this blatant rejection. Only a few days ago, the Bulgarian was delighted with his position at Manchester United, saying:
"I have one year left on my contract and I am not going anywhere. We won our 19th title this season, it is time for the 20th."
"I am probably the happiest among my team-mates, because I became the top goalscorer and we won the title."
Already behind Rooney and Hernandez in the United pecking order, he now found himself fourth choice for Sir Alex in the biggest game of the season, and of course, he is understandably disappointed. There is talk of him quitting the club, rather than be left on the bench, unused and unwanted.

When questioned over whether Berbatov left Wembley after discovering he wasn't even in the squad, Sir Alex Ferguson said dismissively that he was in the dressing room. 

"It was a difficult decision. It was not something I found easy. I wanted to overload my substitutes in the midfield positions because that was the area which most important in terms of the way Barcelona play.
"It came down to a choice between Michael Owen and Dimitar Berbatov. My view was that if we needed someone to nick a goal in the last few minutes of the game, Michael Owen, with his experience, was the man."
At 30 years of age, Berbaov isn't getting any younger, and will only become less effective - unfortunately. Sir Alex would deny the fact that leaving Berbatov out was a subtle hint that he is no longer needed at the club, but that is how it seems. With only a year left, maybe time has run out for Berbatov.

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Would Hargreaves Have Made a Difference v Barca?

As Manchester United stood on that Wembley pitch at the end of a long, tiresome, punishing 90 minutes, their knees would have been quivering and their teeth gritted at the sight of Barcelona once again lifting the Champions League trophy at their expense. Of course, United accept that the Spanish Champions deserved it and were better on the night, but they would have been wondering as they stood there with bitten lips and exhausted bodies, what exactly they could have done differently.

The battle, the pundits said, would be in the middle, in the midfield. Whoever wins that battle would win the game. On paper there was only one winner, and in practice that proved to be too true. Michael Carrick and Ryan Giggs are very good footballers in their own right, but if Manchester United wanted to prevent Messi from weaving his magic as well as Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets and Pedro all wreaking havoc, they needed some players, or at least one player with the capability of breaking it up before the last line of defence.

It was just unfortunate that possibly the only man in the Manchester United team who could have done this job effectively and to a high standard had not played 90 minuted in the United kit all season and had recently been confirmed as released by the club because of his fitness. Yes, that man is Owen Hargreaves, and yes, I believe that if he was fully fit and deployed in his defensive midfield position behind Carrick and Giggs, the game would have panned out differently, and possibly better for Manchester United.

The fact of the matter is, Lionel Messi had too much time and space to unleash the shot for his goal and Barcelona's second and effectively, their winner. It killed off an already weary United side who had been chasing all game. Imagine if Hargreaves was playing, and imagine, would Messi have been allowed that time - the time he needed to pull his magic little foot back and pull the trigger? The shot was a pretty average one, and one that the retiring van der Sar will be slightly disappointed about not saving, but the answer to the question is no. Hargreaves would not have allowed Messi that time to shoot.

Think then, about David Villa's absolutely beautiful goal to seal the victory. There was nothing the goalkeeper could have done about this one, unless he had stood next to his post as if somehow possessing the ability to see into the future to see where the shot was going. That goal was placed with finesse that sums Barcelona up well, but what sums Owen Hargreaves up is his gritty, hard-working, tireless attitude, and the definite ability to stop Villa from having that space to shoot.

With a more compact midfield, including that defensive midfielder, which could have perhaps been played by the ever energetic young Anderson or maybe only in the second half due to illness, Darren Fletcher, Manchester United may have fared better than a few small bursts forward.

United have excellent capabilities when attacking themselves, but after pressing, pushing and chasing for pretty much the whole game, the tired legs and tired minds against the energy of the greatly unchallenged defence and covering midfield, of Barcelona, only a very well worked goal could be managed.

The endless chasing meant that when they had the ball, the only player left already up field was Hernandez, and so only a hopeful long pass was managed to him which got lost on the bounce or lost in the forest of Barcelona defenders. When United got the ball on the floor to pass it, Barcelona, who had not been pressing to the extent of United, could easily take the ball and press further down the pitch. With an insurance policy in the guard in front of the United back four, Sir Alex would have seen his side win the ball back faster and keep the ball more to allow for a better attacking and defensive option.

What I am saying is, there were two very avoidable goals conceded by Manchester United, and if there were a defensive midfielder deployed in place of a largely ineffective Javier Hernandez, United would have fared better. The argument is based on "ifs" and "buts", however, "if" Sir Alex wants to come back next year and win the Champions League like he undoubtedly does, then he needs to find or nurture a player in that position.

Barcelona were the better side, and overall deserved to win the prestigious trophy for the fourth time in their history, but they are by no means unbeatable. United and other top teams will come back fighting next year as Barca seek to defend their crown, and though it will take some doing, it will be done.
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Saturday, 28 May 2011

PICTURES: Wayne Rooney Champions League Final Goal

Manchester United came up against their toughest test of the season in their biggest game of the season. United had prepared well for the game according to Sir Alex Ferguson, but there was nothing that could have prepared United, the Champions of England, for the best team in the world. Despite Wayne Rooney's fantastic equaliser in the first half, Barcelona came back to score two stunning winners in the second half through Lionel Messi and David Villa.

The pictures above show the elation and relief of such a big goal in a massive game. United would have hoped to progress from this goal, but it was not to be. However, this goal was a huge goal in Wayne Rooney's career, and a goal which he really deserved in a Champions League final in which he worked his socks off to make an impact.

Congratulations Barcelona.

More reaction tomorrow.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Downing Will Leave Villa For Arsenal or Liverpool

Stewart Downing, the Aston Villa left winger will leave the club this summer. He has not explicitly said so in public as yet, but has rather dropped a major hint that he will look for a new club soon by saying that he will not be signing a new contract at Aston Villa at the moment because he is at a "major crossroad" in his career.

My sources, whom I believe to be very much in the know, say that in private, he is looking for the exit door this summer, and that Arsenal and Liverpool are interested in signing him - particularly the latter. Kenny Dalglish is a big fan of the England international, and the Liverpool manager apparently got in contact with Downing a few weeks ago. D
owning said:
"Martin O'Neill, left and that was strange. He was one of the main reasons why I went to Villa. It was difficult when he left, everything changed. It took some getting used to, but credit to the new manager (Gerard Houllier) he led the team through a very good run in the end and I have enjoyed being such a big part of the team."
"I know the club are keen for me to extend my contract as I only have two years left on my deal and that my agent (Struan Marshall) had a recent meeting with our chief executive (Paul Faulkner). However, I am 26 and at a major crossroads in my career so I won't be committing to a new deal at the moment."
However, a major factor that may swing in Arsenal's direction is Downing's desire to play Champions League football. The 26 year-old added: "The most important thing is to play football, but I do want to play in the Champions League at some point."

While Liverpool have failed to even reach the Europa League, Arsenal have secured a qualifying place in the Champions League, and this is a qualifying place which they surely must be favourites to progress through. If Downing wants immediate Champions League football, then Arsenal would be his choice between the two clubs. But, with Liverpool's new manager and new signings, he could either join immediately and help them to a Champions League spot next season, or ride out another year of his 2 year Aston Villa contract and join Liverpool next summer.

In other transfer news, Liverpool are close to signing Wigan's James McCarthy for £10 million while Arsenal's Gael Clichy looks set to leave on the cheap due to his expiring contract in a £5 million deal to Bayern Munich. Arsenal are also once interested in signing long term target Chris Samba for £10 million from Blackburn.

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Thursday, 26 May 2011

The Likelihood of Nasri Joining Manchester United

Arsene Wenger will be working this summer to bring in some key players for next season. He has said that it will be a "very active" transfer window for his club, and it will surely be one where he will bring in some established footballers who can make an effective difference in the side, rumoured to be Karim Benzema or Radamel Falcao.

However, Wenger will also have to fight on another front, and on a front which is arguably just as important if not more; he needs to keep the current key players in the squad. Among the annual rumours of Cesc Fabregas packing his bags and leaving The Emirates, there are also those who are worried about the future of another key player, Samir Nasri. A new contract is yet to be signed, and with his current contract expiring in just a year, Wenger needs to act quickly to avoid him leaving on a free transfer next season.

Apparently, the deal on the table that has been offered to Nasri is a five-year deal in the region of £90,000-per-week -  but the player is stalling on the signing of it.

Naturally, when a deal is yet to be done, the player will be linked to other clubs, and clubs who are looking for a player in a similar position for the future. As a result, the p
redominant rumour circulating is that Manchester United will make a move in the summer to bring the 23 year old midfielder to Old Trafford.

Sir Alex Ferguson has been given a significant or "substantial" transfer fund this summer by the Glazers and the figurative nod being given to the United manager to spend big. It would certainly be imaginable and possible that the Scot would be interested in signing Nasri. The attraction of, as Patrice Evra put it "a guarantee of a title" would be a big carrot for Nasri to follow considering that during his three seasons at Arsenal he has won nothing.

However, is a deal really very feasible? Arsenal and United hold a strong, often fierce rivalry stemming from over 20 years ago, and continued through the 2000's (more in my time) when the Roy Keane - Patrick Viera feuds were as intense and passionate as they were entertaining. Would already disgruntled Arsenal fans be happy at letting their player of the season go to those fierce rivals United? Of course not.

The French publication L'quipe state sensibly that contract negotiations will resume in mid June, as Nasri is currently reflecting and relaxing on holiday in Dubai. You have to think that these negotiations will go somewhere positive from Arsenal's point of view. Another source states that Samir Nasri's agent leaked to the media news of Manchester United's interest so that Arsenal would panic and offer Nasri a better contract. In today's world though, improved pay in contracts at big clubs are regular occurrences.

Wenger knows the danger of not signing a player up on a longer contract, and has made clear of his intention to avoid the situation that ensued when Mathieu Flamini did not sign a new contract in 2008. He will however, not be held to ransom over the new contract; he will not pay Nasri or Clichy, the other contract "rebel" over the odds for their weekly wages. Wenger has a wage structure which he is comfortable with and would not be changing it any time soon.

There are a few possibilities about what is really going on: Samir Nasri is waiting for a new improved contract extension to stay at Arsenal, or is waiting for a trophy winning club to come in and offer him a way out of Arsenal and that club may be Manchester Untied.

Evra has blatantly urged his compatriot to Manchester United, saying how he would become a "king" rather than just a "prince" at United, however, whichever way you look at it, a deal with Manchester United does not seem likely. I suspect a new deal will be offered by Arsenal to Nasri in June and that he will accept. Bear in mind though that if the Manchester United manager makes Nasri a prime target, a deal would be possible.

It is a rumour tangled in various routes and sub rumours, but if Wenger cannot sort this out in time, Arsenal fans will be furious, and Arsenal's side will be much weaker without him.
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Arsenal "Willing to hit the £26m Clause" for Falcao

Arsene Wenger seems to be backing up the claim that Arsenal will be having a busier than usual transfer summer, or "very active" as the Arsenal manager put it. They have already been linked to Real Madrid's Karim Benzema, and now it is Radamel Falcao of FC Porto. 

The Colombian striker has been in top form for Porto this season, scoring a fantastic total of 39 in 41 games, with 16 coming in the League and 17 coming in the Europa League in which Porto successfully won. His agent has confirmed that this form is attracting real interest from the Premier League. Claudio Mossi said:
"England are crazy about Falcao. Among the leading candidates are Arsenal and Tottenham. They are willing to hit the €30 million clause. The figure is not an extraordinary value for them."
Falcao has said that he is happy at Porto after their Europa League win, saying that he intended to see out his two year contract at Porto despite all of the rumours linking him away from the Portuguese club. He said he was happy and the club wanted him to stay - so there was no reason for him to go, but among fresh interest from top English clubs, such as Arsenal and Tottenham may leave him no choice with that release clause.

The main reason for him staying in Portugal was the fact that he will be playing Champions League football next season, so if he were to move clubs, they would need the European perk. Tottenham missed out to City, while Arsenal have a place, but they must qualify first, finishing in a disappointing League position of fourth. 

The young Porto coach AndrĂ© Villas Boas, has paired Falcao with the Brazil striker Hulk this term and the move has paid off, with the duo scoring a remarkable 72 goals between them. Hulk himself has been linked with a move away to England with Manchester United and City but it seems doubtful that Porto would allow their two best players to leave, especially when they are now in the Champions League.
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Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Sir Alex Has "Substantial" Funds for Big Name Players

The Manchester United owners may be supremely unpopular at Old Trafford, with the majority of United fans wanting the American family to leave as soon as possible, but they have apparently given the go ahead to a big summer of signings for Sir Alex Ferguson.

Reports suggest that the clubs bank account will rise to £169 million due to huge profits this season thanks to massive sponsorship deals. This will be added to the £80 million from the Ronaldo sale which is largely still unspent, and it adds to a very healthy transfer fund for Sir Alex to do with it what he pleases. One insider said: "What Sir Alex wants, Sir Alex will get."

Of course, the transfer policy will remain the same; young players with big potential and a decent resale value is what the Glazers and Ferguson have agreed on, with only one player in the past 14 years having been over 27 and cost more than £3.2 million - Dimitar Berbatov.

And with United set to have raked in a whopping £50 million from their Champions League journey if they beat Barcelona on Saturday, it is understandable that the Glazers are said to be "relaxed" about the United manager bringing in at least one marquee name to the squad.

After the sale of Ronaldo and the departure of Tevez in quick succession, doubts were raised, if they weren't already about the Glazers long term ambition with United. Wayne Rooney needed the persuasion of a mega money weekly contract renewal to convince him of that ambition, and he must have been told about the funding Sir Alex had when they had those crunch meetings about his future.

The United chief executive has said again and again when questioned that Sir Alex has money at his disposal, doing his utmost to defend the Glazer ownership and handling of the club. This summer may be the summer in which these claims are supported with the showing of cash and the purchasing of players who will be brought in to help United to further success.

The last time United spent substantially was back in 2007 when Nani, Anderson and Owen Hargrevaes were brought in for around £17 million each. Injuries have been a big downer on Hargreaves and Andersons success, with Hargreaves recently released, but Anderson and Nani have begun to show what they are capable of - especially the latter.

United have already confirmed the purchase of Athletico Madrid goalkeeper David de Gea as replacement for Edwin van der Sar, for a reported fee of £18-20 million. Rumours circulating about other players include interest in Aston Villa's Ashley Young, Arsenal's Samir Nasri, Tottenham's Luka Modric and Inter Milan's Wesley Sneijder.

I hear that a deal for Ashley Young is close, while the situation with Arsenal's Nasri is that due to his close expiring contract, his agent has leaked United "interest" to the media in the hope that Arsenal will act by offering Nasri and new, improved contract. Modric and Sneijder would indeed be marquee signings, but would perhaps cost too much.

Despite the big money signings being rumoured, Sir Alex could always look to his youth side, and with a few exciting young talents coming through may decide to slowly begin to integrate them more in the team, much like he did with the class of 1992.

Nevertheless, the funds are there for Sir Alex to spend, and whether he raids Arsenal for Nasri, tests Inter Milans resolve for Sneijder, or tempts Luka Modric with Champions League football is down to him. United fans should confidently leave it all in his very capable hands.

Follow Me on Twitter @DBSFootball 

Wenger Makes Progress With Benzema

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger may finally make that big name signing that many have been crying for for a while. He has already confirmed that Arsenal will be having a far busier summer than usual in the transfer market, but now he has, somewhat uncharacteristically, gone ahead and named the player he wants.

Karim Benzema is that player, a player who is owned by Real Madrid and who was bought in 2009 for €35 million.

If Wenger can somehow persuade Madrid to let go of Benzema, Arsenal fans would surely be appeased for the time being. Wenger said:

"Viewed from the outside, signing him does not seem impossible. He's a player that I like." 
"He's intelligent in his movement, he is capable of combining well with others and making a difference, and of doing individual moves as well." 
"So, for me, he's a player who's at the top level in the world."
Benzema has scored 26 and assisted 9 goals in 48 appearances for Madrid this season and has settled down well after a poor first season in front of goal at the Bernabeu.

Consider Arsenal's current crop of players and how much they cost Wenger, and you would be impressed. Robin van Persie cost as little as £2.75 million from Feyenoord in 2004 which was a fantastic deal in hindsight, taking into account the 95 goals and 53 assists he has collected in just 230 appearances for Arsenal.

Samir Nasri was also a bargain in today's market, with Arsene grabbing him from Marseille for only around £12 million while Tomas Rosicky cost Arsenal a reported £7 million from Burussia Dortmund in 2006 when he had cost Dortmund a Bundesliga record of £18 million five years earlier.

What I am trying to say is, although Wenger has been criticised many a time in the past for his reluctance to spend, it is often because he has a knack of grabbing very good players on the cheap. Of course, he has let a few key players slip through his fingers because of this policy, but it seems with the confirmation of the Benzema interest, he is making some progress in the transfer market - something that can only be pleasing for Arsenal fans.

Follow Me on Twitter @DBSFootball 

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