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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Real set for 60mln euro Ribery bid: press

Real Madrid are preparing an audacious 60 million euro last minute bid to lure Franck Ribery away from Bayern Munich before the transfer window closes at midnight on Monday, Spanish sports daily Marca suggested here Saturday.

Real, who on Friday sold Dutch striker Arjen Robben to Bayern, are ready to make “a last attempt” to buy the highly coveted 26-year-old, the paper states.

The Spanish club’s president Florentino Perez held talks about the French star’s transfer with his Bayern counterpart, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge on Friday, As reported.

Real have been chasing 26-year-old Ribery for weeks but up to now have met with stiff resistance from Bayern who insist Ribery is staying put in Munich.

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Real´s Robben signs with Bayern

ayern Munich announced on Friday they have completed the signing of Real Madrid winger Arjen Robben for an undisclosed fee.

The 25-year-old Robben, one of several Dutch players being sold by the Spanish giants, signed a four-year deal with the Bundesliga club which has so far failed to make an impact in the league and currently lie 14th.

Robben is set to train with Bayern on Friday afternoon and could face Bundesliga champions VfL Wolfsburg on Saturday, according to the German giants’ boss Uli Hoeness on Thursday.

Reports said Bayern paid 25 million euros for Robben.

With Cristiano Ronaldo blocking Robben’s path to the Real Madrid team, the Dutchman is expected to play a key role in helping Bayern get their stuttering season back on track.

The Bavarian giants who are coached by Dutchman Louis Van Gaal have struggled to their worst Bundesliga start in 43 years having taken just two points from their first three games and were humbled 2-1 by minnows Mainz on Saturday.

Robben’s arrival would complement Bayern play-maker Franck Ribery, who is still a target of Real according to latest reports, and give the German giants more options in attack.

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Friday, August 28, 2009

results of champions league draw

Group A: Bayern Munich, Juventus, Bordeaux, Maccabi Haifa

Group B: Manchester United, CSKA Moscow, Besiktas, Wolfsburg

Group C: AC MIlan, Real Madrid, Marseille, FC Zurich

Group D: Chelsea, Porto, Atletico Madrid, Apoel Nicosia

Group E: Liverpool, Lyon, Fiorentina, Debrecen

Group F: Barcelona, Inter Milan, Dynamo Kiev, Rubin Kazan

Group G: Sevilla, Rangers, Stuttgart, Unirea Urziceni

Group H: Arsenal, AZ Alkmaar, Olympiakos, Standard Liege

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

O'Neill prepared to go on attack against Vienna

Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill has promised a bold approach to try and overturn the first-leg deficit against Rapid Vienna in Thursday night's Europa League tie.

Villa lost last week's clash in Vienna 1-0 - conceding the goal after just 16 seconds. It has left them with it all to do in front of their own fans at Villa Park - especially as they know that conceding a goal would mean them having to score three to get past the Austrians.

O'Neill said: "Obviously we are at a disadvantage. We will have to go with all guns blazing in the game mindful of the fact that then we might end up having to score three to win. It is a game to be careful about but by the same token not to be too cautious.

"Vienna will present difficulties to us. But the confidence we got from the win over Liverpool on Monday will stand us in good stead.

"It could happen that we might well concede an early goal but we have shown in the past that we can come back from a deficit."

Villa's bid to score the goals they need to get past Vienna could be boosted by the return of striker John Carew who has missed the first three games of the season through injury and illness. Winger Ashley Young also hopes to recover from a knee problem that he suffered during the 3-1 win at Liverpool on Monday.

After such a high-tempo performance at Anfield, O'Neill admits he may have to make changes to his side but accepts that will not be easy.

He added: "We will have another look at the team. It is a difficult balance trying to change the side around without losing cohesion and still trying to win competitive games. But there will be one or two after the exertions of Monday night I will have a look to see how they are.

"Ashley Young, for instance, came off at the end. He is still uncomfortable but is feeling better than right after the Liverpool game."

Villa defender Habib Beye thinks that the momentum built up by the success at Anfield could hold the key to seeing off the challenge of Vienna.

Beye, who joined Villa in a £2.5m deal from Newcastle United last month, said: "The way we played at Liverpool we showed our quality and how we can fight with the top four. We do need to do it week and week out as it is of no use doing it just for one game.

"It will be a tough game against Vienna because when we played away it was difficult. They have a strong team and scored an important early goal which made us chase the game. But I feel we have the quality to win the game and progress into the qualifying stage."

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Arsenal vs Celtic: Key Battles

We look at some of the key battles between Arsenal and Celtic in their Champions League clash.


Croatia striker Eduardo is likely to be handed a start should Arsene Wenger rest Robin van Persie. The striker has returned looking sharp following the best part of a year out with a broken leg. Eduardo opened his account for the season in the 6-1 victory at Everton, and Celtic will be all too aware of his prowess in the six-yard box.

Scotland international Caldwell did not enjoy the best of nights in the first leg at Celtic Park, when he put through his own net to gift the Gunners a crucial second away goal. However, the centre-back is made of stern stuff and will be looking to prove a point at the Emirates Stadium tomorrow - where a clean sheet is vital to Celtic's slim hopes of progress.


With Gunners captain Cesc Fabregas sidelined by a slight hamstring problem, Cameroon international Song looks set to play an even more important role in breaking down Celtic's attacks and feeding the Arsenal front line. The 21-year-old has impressed so far this season, and shown he can more than mix it with the best.

McGeady has enjoyed a new lease of life under Tony Mowbray after suffering under the stifling tactics of Gordon Strachan, scoring a brace in the Hoops' opening league game at Aberdeen. Much of Celtic's positive play goes through him, and the Ireland winger will enjoy any extra space on the Emirates Stadium flanks.


Gunners boss Wenger looks to have unearthed another gem in the former Ajax captain. Belgian centre-back Vermaelen has settled in quickly alongside William Gallas. Displayed his great recovery skills in some fine saving tackles during the first leg and is also a danger at set-pieces.

Frenchman Fortune, who was with Mowbray at West Brom, netted twice in the 5-2 win over St Johnstone to stake his claim for a place in the side tomorrow night. Started the first leg on the bench, but looks set to partner Australian forward Scott McDonald as the Bhoys go in search of goals.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Three words to sum up Lucas Leiva

Well after yet another pathetic performance in a Liverpool performance, isn’t it time we had a proper go at Lucas Leiva.

Lucas scored an own-goal as Liverpool feel to an emabarassing 3-1 home defeat to Martin O’Neill’s Aston Villa. I am sure you Liverpool fans will have something to say about the 22-year old.

So, Football Corner would like you, the readers, to sum up the Brazilian international (how is he an international player?) in just three words. Tell me your three words by leaving a comment below.

My three words : waste of space.

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West Ham on the brink of landing Arsenal and Sunderland target

West Ham are today close to completing the signing of Bordeaux striker Marouane Chamakh after weeks of speculation regarding his future.

Chamakh, 25, has been strongly linked with a move to the Premier League ever since the transfer window opened on July 1st, with Arsenal and Sundelrand also understood to be interested, however it looks as though Gianfranco Zola has today won the race.

The Moroccon international has never hidden his desire to move to England, however once a move to Arsenal was ruled out, talk of a move to these shores cooled. It is thought that Chamakh will complete his move to Upton Park some time this week, with £7 million likely to be the transfer fee.

I must admit, I have only seen Chamakh on a number of occassions at Bordeaux but whenever I have seen him play, I have been impressed. He has got bags of pace and he certainly knows where the goal is, scoring 56 goals in just over 200 appearances. I personally think he will be a huge hit at West Ham and I look forward to seeing him banging in the goals in England.

What do you think? Comments below please.

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Everton’s Demise: Confusing and Disappointing

While I can’t hide my glee at the Premier League being back in action, with all of that joy comes a bit of sadness. As a Manchester United fan I’ve already witnessed the ups and downs that every Premiership season brings, but even outside of my own club I have already experienced some dreadful emotions.

Everton Football Club brings the most sadness for me. While I’m not a diehard Toffees fan by any stretch of the imagination, I have always found a soft spot inside for the hard working people’s club of Liverpool. Couple that with the fact that they’ve got the USA’s number one goalkeeper, and you’ve got a second team of choice for any American.

This season, though, has brought far too much disappointment for David Moyes and his men. Two matches into their season, and two losses later, Everton fans – and football fans in general – are still scratching their heads at Everton’s woes.

I, for one, can’t put a finger on their problems. Look around the pitch and you’ll see some of the most exciting talent in the league. The defense in front of Tim Howard (who is one of the best goalkeepers in the Premiership) is solid: Phil Neville, Leighton Baines, Joseph Yobo, and Phil Jagielka are just some of the talented and experienced heads in the back.

Everton’s midfield is even better. Tim Cahill and Marouane Fellaini combine to form one of the Premier League’s most balanced midfields. Steven Pienaar and Mikel Arteta are two of the most skilled wingers with the ball at their feet, and goals have never been a problem for this foursome.

Up top Everton enjoys a wealth of riches. Louis Saha, while he missed his penalty against Burnley, has proven that he knows how to score. Combined with Jo and Yakubu, the Toffees front line has goals, pace, and power to spare.

Their manager is no slouch, either. David Moyes is one of the most proven managers in the world, and the man often tipped to replace Sir Alex Ferguson at United has a lot to figure out. The distraction of Joleon Lescott should end soon with his move to City imminent, and injuries to key players such as Yakubu and Mikel Arteta should be resolved soon.

So perhaps it’s that Lescott distraction, or maybe it’s the injuries. Whatever it is, Everton’s disappointing start to the season is a bit confusing for football fans. With so much talent spread around the pitch, Everton could find themselves challenging the top four for a Champions League spot. In order to do that, though, Everton will need to sort themselves out. Fast.

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Is Lescott really worth £24 million?

It looks as though Manchester City have finally got their man, however have they payed too much for him?

Yes, after weeks of negotiating, Everton have tonight accepted a bid of £24 million for defender Joleon Lescott.

I must say, I’m delighted it’s finally over because it really has been wrecking my head over the last few weeks, however I’m sure we haven’t heard the last of it. The deal is likely to be finalised on Monday morning after Lescott, 27, completes the second part of his medical.

Everton boss David Moyes has already had many things to say about City’s pursuit of Lescott and I’m sure you will also have an opinion on it. I’m keen to hear what you have to say on the matter. Have City payed over the odds for their man or is it a bargain? Comments below please.

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Arsenal must spend if they want to challenge for silverware

That’s the opinion of Arsenal’s Andrei Arshavin.

Arsenal have got off the a flying start this season, with Arsene Wenger’s men winning every competitive game they have played, scoring an impressive 12 goals, however Arshavin believes that they need to enter the market if they are to challenge for silverware.

“We still have to buy. That’s my opinion. We shouldn’t set Everton as a benchmark, we should be looking at the top teams of Chelsea, Manchester United, Real Madrid, Barcelona. We should buy first-class players, regardless of their age. We should buy the ones who should improve our game. The top teams have much bigger squads than ours and that is why we have to buy.”

I’m not too sure I agree with Arshavin. Before the season started, I felt Arsenal were in desperate need of a few new faces, however, having seen them in their opening two league games against Portsmouth and Everton, I think they could manage without any new signings. Having said that, I would not be one bit surprised if Arsene Wenger does get the cheque book out before the transfer window shuts next week so stay tuned to Football Corner for all the latest.

What do you think? Do you agree with Arshavin? Comments below please.

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Who needs Adebayor when you have this man

I, along with many others, thought Arsenal may struggle for goals without Emmanuel Adebayor but how wrong was I.

In two Premier League games this season, Arsene Wenger’s men have scored an impressive 10 goals.

Today’s 4-1 win at home to Portsmouth may not have been a surprise, however the goalscorers were. A certain Vaasiriki Diaby (I probably spelt that wrong) got on the scoresheet twice for the Gunners. His first goal was Adebayoresque. A stunning finish from the edge of the Portsmouth box.

With over a week of the summer transfer window still remaining, do you think Arsenal need to go out and buy a new striker or are they ok as it is? Comments below please.

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No more arrivals at Stamford Bridge this summer

Before you read on, do you fancy winning a £500 Sony Ericsson phone? You do, then simply e-mail your name, address and answer to the following question to

Question : Who won the first ever World Cup back in 1930?

Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti has today stated that he won’t be signing any more players before the transfer window shuts next week because he doesn’t need anyone.

The Premier League giants have been heavily linked with a moves for some of Europe’s top strikers, including Sergio Aguero and Alexandre Pato, however Ancelotti has told poured cold water on the rumours. Speaking today, the Italian had this to say :

“The book is closed. We have to wait one week for the end of the window, but the book is closed now. When I arrived in Chelsea we worked together and we took a decision together. We are not interested in players because we always thought we had a very good team.”

I would tend to agree with Ancelotti. Chelsea have a very good team and it would be a massive shock if they weren’t in the hunt for the title come the end of May. I must admit, before the season started, I really felt that Chelsea needed a new frontman, however the early season form of Didier Drogba has made me change my mind. What do you think? Are Chelsea ok as they are? Comments below please.

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Manchester City & Manchester United ready to go head-to-head for Real Madrid midfielder

Before you read on, do you fancy winning a £500 Sony Ericsson phone? You do, then simply e-mail your name, address and answer to the following question to

Question : Who won the first ever World Cup back in 1930?

Both Manchester City and Manchester United are lining up bids for Real Madrid midfiedler Arjen Robben.

The Dutch winger has been told he is surplus to requirements at the Bernabeu and in recent weeks, he has been strongly linked with a move back to the Premier League.

Robben, 25, has previously admitted that a move back to England may interest him, however he has also claimed he would be willing to stay and fight for his place in Madrid.

Both Mark Hughes and Sir Alex Ferguson clearly have money to spend so money is unlikely to be an issue in any potential deal. I would personally love to see Robben terrorising defenders in the Premier League once again. I was a huge fan of his whilst he was at Chelsea and I firmly believe United and indeed City could use him.

What do you think? Comments below please.

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Lescott affair leaves a nasty taste in the mouth

Few could blame David Moyes for dropping Joleon Lescott from last night’s 4-0 victory over Sigma Olomouc, with the England international’s mind obviously focused on a move to Eastlands rather that events on the pitch at Goodison Park. With the saga threatening to rumble on until the end of the transfer window, can anybody claim the moral high ground in the affair?

David Moyes has labelled Manchester City’s pursuit of Joleon Lescott as “disgusting”, claiming that Lescott “has had his head twisted”. Whilst Moyes displeasure at having the cornerstone of his defence lured away from him is understandable, it is difficult to see exactly what Mark Hughes has done wrong. He himself maintains he has gone through the correct channels.

Unfortunately for Moyes, once City’s first bid came in for Lescott, the player’s head had been turned. His submission of a verbal, and then written, transfer request served to highlight this. Whilst Moyes’ reluctance to accept this in a bid to keep Lescott at Everton is admirable, it is also highly unrealistic. In spite of Everton’s achievements last season, City have proved this summer that they have the financial clout to secure the signature of any player they want.

Moyes would probably be best served in accepting City’s bid and using the funds to strengthen his defence, and the rest of the squad, before the close of the transfer window. It’s difficult to argue with those who suggest that a fee in excess of £20 million is a lot of money for an accomplished, but not outstanding defender.

Regardless of the position between the two clubs, Lescott’s attitude has left a lot to be desired. Like any other player, he has the right to submit a transfer request, but whilst he is still employed by Everton he should be giving 100% to the cause. Anybody who watched his limp display against Arsenal last weekend will know that is not the case.

Claiming his ‘head is not in the right place’ is a feeble attempt to force through the move, and Moyes and Everton frankly deserve better. Moyes paid the not insignificant sum of £5 million in 2006 for a defender who was unproven in the Premier League. He has gone on to win seven England caps and has every chance of being on the plane to South Africa next summer. Lescott needs to repay this with commitment to the club whilst he is still there. Let us also not forget that he still getting £40,000 a week, for which Everton can rightly expect to have their employees head in the right place.

There are ten days left to go until the transfer window shuts and this deal is likely to be the focus for that period. How hard Moyes is prepared to dig his heels in remains unclear, but Manchester City are unfortunately a formidable force with which to pick a fight these days. On Sunday, Everton play a Burnley side invigorated by their mid-week victory over Manchester United. Whether Lescott has any part to play remains to be seen.

What do you think? Should Moyes stick to his guns or give in to Manchester City’s spending power? And what do you make of Lescott’s attitude? As ever, let us know your thoughts.

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Are Tottenham over-priced at 4/1 to finish in the top 4?

No matter what way you look at it, Tottenham have been impressive so far this season. The 2-1 win against Liverpool, coupled with the emphatic 5-1 win away to Hull City last night, see’s them topping the Premier League table.

Some bookmakers have Harry Redknapp’s men priced at 4/1 to finish in the top 4 this season and in my view, that definitely represents value for money. I know some of you may think I’m getting a bit ahead of myself, however the fact they have already come through two tricky enough fixtures makes me think they could really challenge this season.

Spurs undoubtedly have one of the best, if no the best, strike forces in the Premier League and if Redknapp can keep Defoe, Keane, Crouch and Pavlyuchenko fit for the course of the season, I see now reason why they can’t finish in the top 4.

So what do you think? Can Spurs break into the top 4 this season? Comments below please.

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Now this would be a great signing for Liverpool

It was only a matter of time really before Real Madrid midfielder Rafael Van Der Vaart was linked with a move to Liverpool.

It has been claimed today that Liverpool will make a £10 million bid for the Dutch international, who has himself admitted that a move to the Premier League would be of interest to him.

Van Der Vaart, 26, is desperate to leave the Bernabeu before the transfer window shuts on September 1st after falling down the pecking order at the Spanish giants. The arrivals of Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka and Karim Benzema has seen several Real players looking for new clubs and Van Der Vaart is no different.

The former Ajax man has been linked with dozens of clubs in recent weeks including Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal, however Rafael Benitez is now understood to be interested. As much as I would love to see Van Der Vaart move to Anfield, I find it hard to envisage. If Liverpool really wanted him, they would have demanded him as part of the Xabi Alonso deal.

I am a massive fan of Van Der Vaart’s and I personally feel that Liverpool would be far better off with him in their squad. For all the latest on this and much more, stay tuned to Football Corner over the coming weeks.

What do you think? Comments below please.

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Calcio Debate: Why Serie A 2009-10 Could Be A Special Season

Inter's Jose Mourinho 'bored' his way to another championship in his career and Juventus' Claudio Ranieri at times almost beat him at his own game. Milan desperately tried not to finish third but eventually did so, Genoa did their best to finish fourth but ended up fifth.

Roma were depressingly short of fit players, Milan were overwhelmed with the old and Inter were maddeningly starved of creative midfielders. Napoli looked like a Champions League team in the first half of the season and struggled to stave off relegation in the second and Antonio Cassano inspired a first half relegation candidate Sampdoria to a 13th place finish in the end.

Paolo Maldini retired and so did Luis Figo. And so did Pavel Nedved. Mourinho called Ranieri "too old to change his mentality" and Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis exposed that English "women do not wash their genitalia". Roma fans once again stormed Trigoria, Zlatan Ibrahimovic stormed Serie A and Diego Milito stormed opponents' goals. And so did Marco Di Vaio, for a side that finished one place above the relegation zone.

If that was interesting, then what 2009-2010 has to offer would be doubly so, especially in the title race.

Title Race

Especially in the title race. Juventus couldn't recover from the Calciopoli scandal until now and Inter haven't really felt threatened of losing their new found perch until now. Summer signings Diego, Felipe Melo and Fabio Cannavaro combined with the first full season of coach Ciro Ferrara and his pledge to play Barcelona-esque football have strengthened a squad that didn't lack so much as quality as tactical awareness, stability and consistency.

What Will Eto'o Add To The Serie A?

Inter might have added Samuel Eto'o, Thiago Motta, Lucio and Diego Milito but the absence of a playmaker augmented by the departure of their best player for three seasons, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, mean the Nerazzurri would have to restructure their strategy.

And who knows what Milan might conjure up? Klaas-Jan Huntelaar guarantees goals if given the service, Alexandre Pato can only improve on his 15 league goals last season and although Leonardo's perhaps over-reliance on a past-his-prime Ronaldinho is a gamble, maybe this being a World Cup year Ronnie could rediscover a fraction of his Barcelona magic.

As for the other teams, well, 'impossible is nothing' but a Scudetto triumph is unlikely.

Finishing Fourth And Conquering Europe

What is probable, though, is at least seven teams fighting for the fourth spot. As's Italian football editor Carlo Garganese persistently insists almost to the point of obsession, quality in the Serie A is spread very thinly across the 20 teams. Which is why Roma could finish only sixth last season and why Genoa, Napoli, Lazio and Palermo might like a crack at that 'Florentined' fourth spot.

But this is as much a boon as a bane. While the spread of quality implies the depth in the Serie A, it is also a reason why Italian clubs have not been very successful in Europe in recent seasons. And until an Italian side wins the Champions League and wins it with some style or at least reaches the semi-finals, Serie A will never get the recognition it deserves.

Which is why the onus will be on Inter, Juventus and Milan. And if 2009-10 turns out to be another disappointing campaign for Italian clubs in the Champions League and the Europa League, then the fans won't be happy.

The Tifosi

Oh yes, the fans. For an outsider or non-Italian like this columnist, the tifosi in Italy can be mystifying at times. Italian football fans don't think twice before invading their club's training ground or throwing oranges and what not at club coaches, and while this might superficially seem very ugly, it also has a dark and perhaps fatal attraction attached to it, like the gaze of a snake.

True, the chants by certain fans and behaviour of others demonstrate that Calcio is not clean yet, but perhaps behind the violence that Italian football has yet to cope with lies a strange and unbreakable bond between the fans and their clubs, a bond that has not been diluted by foreign ownership or shameless selling of the soul, a bond that reflects the unbridled passion and unalloyed love the nation retains for football.

Italian Football Fans Are A Different Lot

The Rest Of The Package

Strange as it may seem, perhaps it is through such 'ugly' incidents and not through what can be flat atmospheres in stadiums that one truly appreciates and understands Calcio and realizes that it is unique.

Calcio can be ugly, it can be violent and at times the rigidity of tactics and the slow pace can make it seem boring but it is intellectually pleasing, has its own place in football, is known for its subtle skills and cannot be undermined.

Then there's the media headed by the pink paper, La Gazzetta dello Sport that is the largest selling newspaper in Italy in spite of being a sports-only paper in which the majority of news is football. The Machiavellian politics and dark underlying forces in the game add to the enigmatic character of Calcio and recent talks of AS Roma and Bari takeovers have imported more 'openness' to the game in Italy.

Add to that Mourinho forcing Marcelo Lippi to apologize, Walter Zenga's conviction of overhauling Inter at the top and De Laurentiis making this columnist wary of all English women, and Calcio becomes as much spicy as beautiful.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Three words to sum up Tottenham tonight

So, Tottenham are top of the league.

What a contrast to this time last year, eh?

A Jermain Defoe hat-trick helped Harry Redknapp’s men earn a 5-1 victory away to Hull City this evening. I am sure all you Spurs fans will be happy as larry, so while you are all in a good mood, Football Corner wants you to sum up Tottenham in just three words.

As always, make them funny.

My three words : Defoe Defoe Defoe.

Tell me your three words by leaving a comment below.

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If only Manchester United still had this man

Only two games have gone in this season’s Premier League but I think it’s fair to say Manchester United miss Cristiano Ronaldo.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s men have tonight lost 1-0 away to newly promoted Burnley, raising question marks as to whether or not United can cope without Ronaldo.

To make matters worse, Michael Carrick missed a penalty to put the sides level just before the break.

Disgraceful result for United tonight and personally I think if they don’t win away to Wigan on Saturday, they won’t win the title.

So what do you think? Do United miss Ronaldo? Comments below please.

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Betting suspended on Benitez to leave Liverpool

It looks as though Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez may have quit the club after five years in charge.

Leading bookmakers have suspended betting on Benitez to be the next Premier League manager to leave his post.

So, what do you think? Would Benitez leaving Liverpool be good or bad for the club? Comments below please.

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Liverpool still interested in former Manchester United defender

Stoke City defender Ryan Shawcross has been linked with a number of clubs in recent days, however it looks as though Liverpool remain the only club with a genuine interest.

Shawcross, 21, is widely regarded as one of the best young defenders in the Premier League and Rafa Benitez knows he needs to fill the void left by Sami Hyypia’s departure last season, so it would certainly make sense for Liverpool to make a move.

Stoke boss Tony Pulis is obviously desperate to hold onto one of his most prized assets and he has today had this to say : “We want to keep Ryan among the younger players in the squad. He will be a big asset to us as this club looks to push on.”

Shawcross moved to the Britannia stadium back in 2007 on an initial one-year loan deal, however Stoke soon made that loan deal permanent. Shawcross cost Stoke just £2 million, however that £2 million would likely be quadrupled if any move to Liverpool was to happen.

I personally think Shawcross would a superb signing for Rafa Benitez. I have no doubt that over the next few years, Shawcross will become a regular in the England set-up and I certainly wouldn’t be backing against him making England’s squad for next year’s World Cup in South Africa.

What do you think? Would Shawcross be a good signing for Liverpool? Comments below please.

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FC Timisoara hit purple patch and hope to write history they can call their own

What is a football club? In countries that operate a franchise system, the answer is relatively simple: it is the legal right to be a member of a league. It's the same in baseball where the Dodgers remain the Dodgers wherever they happen to play, even if it doesn't quite feel like it to fans in Brooklyn, who saw their team uprooted to Los Angeles in 1958.

Where the league structure is organic, the situation is rather more complex, as the case of Wimbledon has proved. Everything about AFC Wimbledon suggests that they are a continuation of the old Wimbledon – they have a similar name, they wear a similar kit, the programme for their game against Luton last week included a feature on the 1988 FA Cup semi-final between Wimbledon and Luton, while various historical artefacts and trademarks associated with Wimbledon were ceded by MK Dons in 2006 – and yet it is MK Dons who remain the league club.

History, geography and the feelings of supporters – at least in the case of AFC Wimbledon, and they appear to have popular sympathy among British fans – combine to form a nebulous entity that is somehow that club's soul and it is that, rather than any legal stricture, that seems to define a club's identity. But if the case of Wimbledon seems complicated, consider that of FC Timisoara who, after overcoming the Uefa Cup winners Shakhtar Donetsk, face Stuttgart in a Champions League play-off tonight.

Timisoara is a proud university city in the west of Romania. In 1921, students there established a football club, Politehnica 1921 Stiinta Timisoara – or Poli, as they were more popularly known. They were never giants, but they did reach six Romanian Cup finals, winning the competition in 1958 and 1980.

Then, in 2000, their owner, the Italian entrepreneur Claudio Zambon, decided to relocate the club to a suburb of Bucharest, seemingly reasoning he would attract larger crowds in the capital. He was wrong, and Politehnica Timisoara now play in the 600-capacity Comprest GIM Stadium in the Bucharest Municipal League, in the fourth tier of the Romanian pyramid.

That left a vacancy in Timisoara, which was filled two years later when the top-flight AEK Bucharest moved west. AEK themselves had not long before been the southern Romanian team Fulgerul Bragadiru. In a similar quest for fans, they had been moved to the capital by their owner Anton Dobos, who then changed the name of the club to ensure nobody forgot that he had once been a good enough player to turn out for AEK Athens.

In Timisoara, he changed the name of the club again, to Politehnica AEK Timisoara, and altered the badge and the kit to reflect the original Poli's violet and white colours. Effectively there were two Politehnica Timisoaras: the "real" one who played in a regional league in Bucharest, and the ersatz one, who played top-flight football in Timisoara. Most local fans, not surprisingly, adopted the ersatz Poli, regarding them as a continuation of the old Poli. They did, after all, play in the same place, wear the same kit with the same badge and have a very similar name.

The situation was not quite as bad as that in South Africa in 1986, when two completely separate squads of players, each purporting to represent Orlando Pirates, walked out for the opening game of the season against Jomo Cosmos, representatives of one stabbing the owner of the other live on national television, but it was absurd enough.

Zambon sued the new Poli, and won, so the Timisoara-based Poli were forced to relinquish all claim to the history of the old Poli, and were ordered to change both their crest and their kit. Accordingly, they ditched the violet-and-white striped badge for a quasi-heraldic design featuring a black helmet with horses rampant, and added black to their kit.

Last year, though, the Court of Arbitration in Sport ruled that "there is barely a hint of black" on their shirts and that "violet remains the predominant colour", and ordered the Romanian FA to dock them six points. FC Timisoara's owner, Marian Iancu, protested and threatened to withdraw the side from the league, but eventually switched to an all-white kit – appropriately, perhaps, for a club that now appears as a tabula rasa on which anybody can write whatever history they choose. They did though retain the web address, which features splashes of provocative purple, and appealed against the points deduction.

It was overturned on 11 June, catapulting Timisoara above Dinamo Bucharest and into second place in the table, thus securing them a place in the Champions League qualifiers, and consigning Dinamo to the Europa League. They have taken full advantage, two goals from Gheorghe Bucur earned them a 2-2 draw in Donetsk that was enough for an away goals victory over Shakhtar.

It is his partnership with the Costa Rica international Winston Parks that offers Timisoara greatest hope, although the full-back-cum-holding midfielder Stelian Stancu has begun the season well, as have the Armenian Karamyan twins, Artavazd and Arman. The goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon was impressive against Shakhtar, while Alex Bourceanu, nicknamed "the Romanian Gattuso", adds bite in midfield.

The 32,000-capacity Stadionul Dan Paltisanu is likely to be full tonight, leaving little doubt that the locals have fully embraced the new incarnation of their team. Just don't ask why their ground is named after a defender who used to play for a club now based 350 miles away.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Harry Redknapp only looking to bring players to White Hart Lane, not let them go

Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp has today confirmed that both David Bentley and Jermaine Jenas will not be leaving the club before the transfer window shuts on September 1st.

Bentley and Jenas have both been strongly linked with moves away from White Hart Lane in recent weeks, with Aston Villa boss Martin O’Neill understood to be interested in the pair. When asked about the reported interest from Villa, Redknapp had this to say :

“I keep hearing that. I’ve never heard from Martin or anyone else about it. I just think it’s probably a football agent trying to sell one of his players to make some money.”

Meanwhile, one player who Redknapp would love to bring to North London is Portsmouth keeper David James. The England international is desperate to leave Fratton Park before the transfer window shuts due to the much publiced problems on the south coast with regards the take-over of Sulaiman Al Faihim.

Speaking about David James, Redknapp had this to say : “Anyone would want him but I have two keepers and I cannot take another one. If I didn’t have a goalkeeper he would be top of my list.” Although Redknapp has ruled out the possibilty of a new keeper coming in, I personally wouldn’t rule out a move. James is a far better keeper than Heurelho Gomes and I think Spurs would be a much better side with the former Liverpool keeper in goals.

What do you think? Comments below please.

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Duff signing will give Fulham what they have been missing

Newcastle midfielder Damien Duff has today completed his long awaited move to Fulham after the two clubs agreed a fee of around £5 million.

Duff, who arrived at St.James’ Park from Chelsea much to the adulation of Glenn Roeder, was seen as a major coup especially for the £5 million The Magpies paid for him. However, injuries, a behind the scenes circus and managerial changes meant Duff never really got going at Newcastle.

When Duff did begin to shine at Newcastle it was towards the end of last season, when Newcastle got relegated. He played most of the campaign at LB, and this year, Newcastle’s first game of the Coca Cola Championship, Duff scored a memorable equaliser.

Now, a confirmed Fulham player, Duff will add that dimension that Roy Hodgson has been lacking for the last two seasons. Fulham usually play down the centre but now, with a pacey winger in Duff you can expect more goals for the London side.

For Newcastle, they’ve lost a high earner most of all which is a positive, but they’ve also lost a player who fought for the club. The fans have nothing against Duff but would’ve loved him to stay.

What you get with Duff is a high work rate and the Irishman has the ability to pull something out of the bag, the kind of things Figo would be proud of. Good luck to Damien, he’s now back in the league which he deserves to ply his trade in. What do you think? Comments below please.

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Liverpool pair heading for Anfield exit door?

Both Albert Riera and Andriy Vornin have been linked with moves away from Liverpool this morning.

Riera, 27, has attracted the interests of both Real Madrid and Barcelona after spending just a year at Anfield. The Spanish winger admitted last week that he would be interested in a move back to La Liga at some stage in his career, however it would appear that may happen sooner rather than later.

Liverpool spent £8 million to sign Riera this time last year, so Rafa Benitez will obviously be looking to make a profit if he is to sell in the coming days. Personally, I don’t think Riera’s done too bad during his time on Merseyside. He is a bit hot and cold but I feel Liverpool should probably hold onto him for another season at least.

Meanwhile, Andriy Voronin. Well what can I say. Shocking hair, shocking player. The Ukrainian international has only returned from a year long loan spell with German side Hertha Berlin, however it looks as though he may be on his way back to Berlin. The 30-year old came on as a second-half sub in Liverpool’s 2-1 defeat at Tottenham on Sunday, however he failed to make any kind of impact.

I would be surprised if Liverpool let go of both players without bringing in any replacements. I can see Riera still at the club on September the 1st, however the same cannot be said about Voronin. The sooner he leaves the club the better. Enough said. What do you think? Comments below please.

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Hamburg find a new lease of life

Fans of the cult US TV show Curb Your Enthusiasm will remember the classic episode when Cheryl asks her husband Larry David to commit to love "after death through all eternity" in their renewed wedding vows. "I thought this was over at death," stammers a reluctant David, "I had a different plan for eternity … I thought I'd be single again." He eventually yields to her pressure and goes ahead with the vow, in obvious discomfort.

Should football supporters entertain similar doubts when presented with the chance to stay loyal to their club well into the afterlife?

This is no longer a purely theoretical question since Hamburg's Altona cemetery opened a specially branded HSV section last September. Five thousand square metres have been made to look like a stadium and 300-500 burial places with a nice view of the HSH Nordbank Arena are available to, ahem, die-hard fans. So far, only one supporter has found his final resting place there but there have been "30 serious inquiries", according to the board member Christian Reichert. He thinks the proposal is "not necessarily crazier than travelling to an away game in Romania". Maybe so. But at least that's not on a one-way ticket.

Perhaps it might be better to hedge your bets for the afterlife. Imagine you're a 1.FC Köln fan, for example. The city has just agreed to allow burials of up to eight people in communal plots that can be draped in red-and-white colours. Will it be really prudent, however, to sign-up to a post-lifetime of unreasonable hubris, unfulfilled expectations and baseless Lukas Podolski-worship? And we haven't even mentioned Schalke, a byword for eternal pain, yet.

Hamburg fans must be equally wary. The only club to have continuously played in the top-flight since the Bundesliga was created in 1963, the northerners have not won a thing in 22 years. The lack of genuine success is glaringly obvious when one looks at, an attempt to collect 100 great supporter memories for publication in a book. As most of the contributors are too young to remember anything really worthwhile, the entrants mostly relay random meetings with players or describe their behaviour when signing autographs. This column's favourite contribution tells of a young fan's visit to the house of the HSV legend Uwe Seeler … "Uwe S wasn't there," writes lini, "but papa was talking his to wife and we were allowed to watch TV and eat gummy bears. On the way home, Uwe's wife gave us some autograph cards." One really had to be there, I guess.

The 100-memories project runs for 100 days. The 22 November deadline is presumably designed to get the book ready for Christmas sales but the concept is deeply flawed: Hamburg fans may be presented with much more exciting and significant moments to dwell on when the trophies are handed out in May - if matchday two is anything to go by. By beating much-fancied Dortmund 4-1 in emphatic fashion on Saturday, "Hamburg were revealed as a real title candidate," wrote the daily newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung.

The oldest member of the squad and one of the youngest were the stars of the show. Eljero Elia, the latest Dutch import (€8.5m [£7.3m] from FC Twente) was tearing up the wings and getting poor Patrick Owomoyela's shorts into a twist. "It was … wow!" said the 22-year-old after a devastatingly effective performance. Dortmund, whose "bar was set so low today that we should have crossed it even at three in the morning", according to the manager Jürgen Klopp, were 3-1 down after 12 explosive minutes that had the stadium shaking. "Incredible, wonderful," said Zé Roberto about the atmosphere; the same was true of his game.

Picked up on a free from Bayern, who puzzingly preferred to renew the contract of pantomime enforcer Mark van Bommel and sign Anatoly Tymoschuk three years after his prime, the 35-year-old scorer of the second goal provided a masterclass in central midfield. "When you see him play your heart leaps with joy," said Dennis Aogo admiringly. The young Swede Marcus Berg, a scorer four minutes into his Bundesliga debut, thought the Brazilian was "the best player I've ever played with".

"He's the key player in the new HSV system," gushed the local tabloid MoPo.

Written off as confused and lame only a week ago, Hamburg have made a very big statement. Crucially their bench looks fabulous, too: two top defenders, David Rozehnal and Marcell Jansen, were there on Saturday and the Dutch winger Romeo Castelen only made the stands. This team will not need an eternity to deliver.

Elsewhere, Mario Gomez rescued a point for a painfully pedestrian Bayern against the most defensive Werder team in living memory. Franck Ribéry, on with 30 minutes to go, needed only one decent turn to open up the defence but spent most of his time on the left in a blatant act of insubordination. Louis van Gaal wants him behind the strikers; the Frenchman, however, "avoided the middle as if he believed it full of pitfalls like in the jungle of New Guinea, with spears, snakes and other vermin," said Süddeutsche Zeitung.

While Bayern are still in search of a first win, Wolfsburg and their former manager Felix Magath are again top, both with six points from six and a goal difference of plus four. His new Schalke side made short shrift of Bochum with a 3-0 win in the "small" derby and Wolfsburg had the experts drooling - they look even better and stronger than last season.

The city of Cologne was getting hot under the collar about Prinz Poldi's first match after his return from exile in Bavaria but after some early pressure and the opener for the home side, the Volkswagen-owned champions roared back to spoil the party. A goal from Edin Dzeko and an own goal from Pierre Wome turned the tide before Obafemi Martins added a late third. Sweet, dude.

Results: Bayern 1-1 Bremen, Frankfurt 1–1 Nürnberg, Leverkusen 1–0 Hoffenheim, Hannover 1–1 Mainz, Köln 1–3 Wolfsburg, Stuttgart 4–2 Freiburg, Hamburg 4–1 Dortmund, Schalke 3–0 Bochum, Gladbach 2–1 Hertha.

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Do Tottenham really need this £10 million midfielder?

Tottenham have today been linked with a £10 million move for Celtic midfielder Scott Brown, however I’m not too sure Harry Redknapp really needs him.

Brown, 24, is considered by many as one of Scotland’s finest midfield players and in recent years has been strongly linked with a move to the Premier League.

The Scotland international has spent two seasons at Celtic Park, making over 90 appearances in the process. He won the SFA’s Player’s Player of the Year last season, despite the fact Celtic missed out on the SPL title to bitter rivals Rangers.

The reason why I don’t think Brown will be on his way to White Hart Lane is the fact that Spurs already have an abundance of midfielders to chose from in the shape of Tom Huddlestone, Wilson Palacios, Luka Modric, Jermaine Jenas and Jamie O’Hara.

So what do you think? Do Tottenham really need Scott Brown or should they be spending money in other areas of the field? Comments below please.

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Three words to sum up Liverpool’s performance today

Liverpool got their Premier League campaign off to the worst possible start with an away defeat to Tottenham.

Rafa Benitez’ men were beaten 2-1 at White Hart Lane this afternoon and in truth they never really looked like getting a result.

I’m sure I’m not alone by saying that Liverpool were poor today and to be honest, if they play like that every week, they will struggle to make into the top four.

Football Corner wants you to sum up Liverpool’s performance in just three words. Tell me your three words by leaving a comment below.

My three words : not very good.

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Cesc Fabregas is worth more like £50 million

After watching Cesc Fabregas’ incredible performance for Arsenal yesterday, it made me laugh.

All summer long, Barcelona have been linked with a move for the Spanish midfielder, with the majority of papers claiming that a deal could be done for £30 million. Now, given the fact that Real Madrid signed Kaka for £58 million this summer, I personally think it would be insulting for Barca to bid just £30 million for Fabregas.

His performance yesterday reminded us all, just what a quality player he is. His ability to pick a pass is exceptional and I for one, feel there is no one better at that in the Premier League. In my opinion, without Fabregas, Arsenal would really struggle.

There is no doubt that Fabregas will eventually leave the Emirates, however I for one hope it’s not for at least another two years. When he does eventually leave, it would be a real shame if it was for anything less than £50 million. What do you think? Comments below please.

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Napoli's invite to party with Serie A-list puts spotlight on Roberto Donadoni

Believe it or not, there might just be a manager out there under even more insufferable pressure to deliver than Manuel Pellegrini or Mark Hughes. Napoli might not have been quite so lavish in their squad refurbishments this summer as Real Madrid or Manchester City, but Roberto Donadoni is working for a man who is putting his money and equally substantial mouth towards turning his boyhood club into a fairy story.

Napoli are owned by the flamboyant movie mogul Aurelio De Laurentiis, the local hero who rescued his club from bankruptcy in 2004, relaunched them in Serie C, pushed them up and up, and now appears to expect nothing less than a serious tilt at the Scudetto.

Napoli and Genoa, two of the faded old names of calcio who are undergoing a renaissance, both spent heavily this summer in an attempt to catch up with the big boys. De Laurentiis outlined his intentions by throwing a glitzy ceremony on board the Costa Concordia, a cruise ship moored in the dock of Naples, to unveil this season's reinforced team. It was a party worthy of Hollywood, with nine new signings topping the bill.

Fabio Quagliarella, the predatory striker signed from Udinese on the opening day of the transfer window, was particularly excited. A prodigal son returning to the city of his birth, he is the man Napoli expect to lead the charge. He turned down more lucrative offers, explaining, "I had always longed to come and play in Napoli."

But the real Oscar moment came when De Laurentiis planted a kiss on the cheek of Ezequiel Lavezzi, the darling of the curva who had dangerously crossed swords with the owner. De Laurentiis was incensed when the maverick Argentinian front man asked for a pay rise, and accused him of being overly dedicated to the art of parties, rather than doing his scoring on the pitch.

"Tonight starts my new five-year era at the club," announced De Laurentiis from the Costa Concordia. "This is a key time for Napoli and we can't afford any more errors." By his standards, this rallying call was uncharacteristically polite. Sometimes De Laurentiis can come across as his club's biggest fan and worst critic in the same sentence.

Donadoni did the right thing by publicly thanking De Laurentiis for the "great party" but it is hard to escape the feeling that the former Italy coach would prefer to get on with the job at hand more quietly.

Donadoni is, however, absolutely correct to appeal for caution about the season ahead. "I would leave expectations aside for now," he said. "I understand the euphoria surrounding this side, but we must be calm. The squad has certainly been reinforced with interesting players, but aside from Quagliarella, they don't have much experience. The overall quality of the team has been increased, but I don't like to make proclamations. We need to be solid."

The coach also mentioned recently that he could still do with somebody on the left, which merely provoked De Laurentiis to snarl, "If he wants one, he can buy it himself." If success can grow from this potent Neapolitan cocktail of tension and anticipation, then Donadoni will have earned his wages big time.

Napoli's progress should be worth keeping an eye on, and luckily for English viewers, live Serie A is back on our screens this season. ESPN has struck a deal to add the Italian league to its stable, and will open the season on 22 August with Siena v Milan, who have lost a worrying six pre-season matches. Yes, that's right. Six defeats in one summer.

Donadoni might think the title is a long shot, as Inter and an upgraded Juventus squad both look powerful, but a top three finish is not beyond the realms of possibility. His old team Milan could be there for the taking.

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Mario Gomez equaliser saves Bayern Munich against Werder Bremen

Bayern Munich needed a second-half goal from the Bundesliga's most expensive signing, Mario Gomez, to salvage a 1–1 draw at home to Werder Bremen. After falling behind six minutes before the break when Mesut Ozil fired home a cross from Aaron Hunt in the box, Gomez came to the rescue with less than 20 minutes remaining.

However, Werder then struck against the run of play. Ozil gave keeper Michael Rensing no chance when he notched his second goal in as many matches. But with Ribery on for his first appearance of theseason dGomez levelled in the 72nd minute, beating Wiese from five metres.

Former Newcastle striker Obafemi Martins scored his first Bundesliga goal as Wolfsburg continued their impressive start to the new campaign. The defending champions came back from being a goal behind to beat Cologne 3-1 with last season's 26-goal hitman Edin Dzeko also on target.

If scoring goals was not a problem last season, it appears to be even easier this term with Martins strengthening what was already a record-breaking attack. Wolfsburg now have maximum points from their opening two fixtures and have won 16 of their past 18 Bundesliga matches.

Borussia Moenchengladbach moved up to third thanks to victory against Hertha Berlin in their first home game of the season. Roel Brouwers put Gladbach ahead against the run of play in the 23rd minute before Karim Matmour added a second in the 52nd. Gojko Kacar reduced the arrears immediately, but he then missed a golden opportunity to equalise as he struck the woodwork in the dying seconds.

In the opening 12 minutes, Hamburg SV struck three times and conceded one against Borussia Dortmund, before grabbing another in the second half to win 4–1. Defender Guy Demel gave the hosts the lead in the third minute with a tap-in before Dortmund levelled through Nelson Valdez only 62 seconds later.

Brazilian Ze Roberto put Hamburg ahead on the rebound after his first effort rattled the post seven minutes later and striker Paolo Guerrero made it 3–1 from just inside the box in the 12th. Swede Marcus Berg completed the rout 18 minutes from time.

VfB Stuttgart also scored four times as they beat Freiburg 4–2 with new signing Pavel Pogrebnyak scoring the first goal and winning the penalty that led to the secon

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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Three words to sum up Manchester City

Everton boss David Moyes only needed one word to sum up Manchester City today. “Disgusting.”

After weeks of chasing Joleon Lescott, many people have critisced City for their lack of respect when persuing their transfer targets.

I am keen to hear what you, the readers, have to say about Manchester City. Whenever we do the ‘Thee words to sum up” feature we always seem to get a really good response so I hope we can get that again.

Please tell me your three words by leaving a comment below. Make them funny.

My three words : Top four beckons

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Three words to sum up Liverpool’s chances this season

The Premier League kicks off in less than 24 hours and boy am I getting excited.

I feel like a little kid on Christmas eve wondering what Santa will leave.

A lot of the talk in recent days and weeks has been about Liverpool and how they might do this season. They came ever so close last season, however they have now lost one of their most influential players in the form of Xabi Alonso, so it will be interesting to see how they get on.

Football Corner wants you to sum up Liverpool’s chances this season in just three words. Whenever we do this feature we always seem to get a magnificent response, so lets continue the trend. Tell me your three words by leaving a comment below.

My three words : Will beat United.

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A bad year just got worse for this Tottenham midfielder

After having, what can only be described as, a woeful season, things just got even worse for Tottenham midfielder David Bentley.

The England international has today been charged with drink driving after he drove his porsche into a tree. The 24-year old has been released on bail until the 28th of August.

Things can only get better David, eh?

Comments below please.

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Is this the signing of the summer?

I was shocked to see that Lee Cattermole has today joined Sunderland for an initial fee of just £6 million, the fee will rise to £10 million based on appearances and international caps etc;.

The England under-21 international was strongly linked with a move to the likes of Arsenal and Liverpool in recent weeks, however it is Steve Bruce who has today won the race.

I don’t really know why I admire Cattermole so much, but I do.

He is just 20-years of age and he has already captained a Premier League club at Wigan. He has that bull-dog like approach which, for a midfield player, is vital. He is certainly not afraid of a tackle, although he does sometime mis-calculate his challenges.

I personally feel he has the potential to become the best midfielder in the country and I would be extremely surprised if one of the so-called, bigger clubs doesn’t come in for him in a year or two. In fact, I’m surprised none of the big 4 made a move for him this summer.

There have already been some cracking signings this summer, including Manchester City’s pruchase of Gareth Barry for just £12 million, however I firmly believe that Sunderland have today completed the signing of the summer in Cattermole.

I’m keen to hear what you have to say. Is Cattermole really the signing of the summer or was it someone else? Leave your comments below.

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Should Arsenal cough up £15 million for this guy?

It would appear that Arsenal will need to cough up £15 million if they are to have any chance of signing Fulham defender Brede Hangeland.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is desperate to bring Hangeland to the Emirates before the transfer window shuts on September 1st. Should a deal go through at the rumoured £15 million, it will be one of Wenger’s most expensive signings since arriving at the club in 1996.

Hangeland, 28, is open to a potential move to Arsenal, however he also claimed that he would be more than happy to stay at Craven Cottage for another season.

Personally, I think Hangeland would be a perfect replacement for Kolo Toure, who left the club earlier this summer to join Manchester City. Arsenal clearly have a bit of money to spend and I feel they should just give Fulham the £15 million because the sooner they get Hangeland to the club, the better. The Norwegian international is without doubt one of best defenders in the Premier League and at £15 million, he would still prove value for money.

What do you think? Comments below please.

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Three words to sum up Joleon Lescott

So, as you all probably know by now, Joleon Lescott has today had a transfer request rejected by Everton, however rumours persist that a move to Manchester City may still be on the cards.

The England defender has been the subject of several bids from Manchester City, however Toffees boss David Moyes still remains hopeful of keeping Lescott at Goodison Park.

It is now thought that should City meet Everton’s £21 millionvaluation of Lescott, then the 26-year old will be on his way to Eastlands. So, Football Corner would like you to sum up Lescott in just three words. Whenever we do this feature we always seem to get a really good response so it would be great if you could make that happen again.

Tell me your three words by leaving a comment below. My three words : going to city.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Liverpool finally agree to sell Xabi Alonso to Real Madrid

Xabi Alonso is poised to seal his protracted move from Liverpool to Real Madrid tomorrow after the clubs agreed a fee believed to be around £30m for the Spain midfielder.

A statement on Liverpool's website this evening read: "Liverpool Football Club have reached agreement for the sale of Xabi Alonso to Real Madrid, subject only to a medical. The terms of the deal will remain confidential and undisclosed."

But although they will not reveal the details of the deal, privately sources were maintaining that manager Rafael Benítez had got his own way over the fee. It is believed that Madrid made another attempt to end the deadlock today with an offer of £30m that will rise to £34m depending on Alonso's success over the first two years of what is believed to be a five-year contract.

Real Madrid issued a statement of their own, confirming he will have a medical tomorrow. Assuming all goes well, he will join his former Liverpool team-mates Alvaro Arbeloa - who moved to Real last week for £3.5m - and goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek at the Bernabéu.

The Alonso deal will bring Real Madrid's spending under new president Florentino Pérez to around £220m. Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, Karim Benzema, Raúl Albiol, Esteban Granero, Arbeloa, and Álvaro Negredo have all moved to the Bernabéu this summer.

Liverpool are now likely to step up their attempts to sign Roma's £18m-rated Alberto Aquilani as Alonso's replacement.

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Andrea Pirlo reveals Carlo Ancelotti's irritation at Milan's Chelsea snub

After his potential move to Chelsea broke down, the Milan midfielder Andrea Pirlo has revealed Carlo Ancelotti's disappointment not sealing a deal. "Ancelotti didn't take it so well," Pirlo told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "I spoke to him and he understood. I told him [the Milan manager] Leonardo had dug his heels in and this is a source of pride for me."

However Pirlo said his decision to remain in Italy was founded on the club's renewed ambition. Critics have suggested Milan have relied too heavily on ageing players, such as of Pirlo, Clarence Seedorf and Gennaro Gattuso, after two low key seasons. However Pirlo believes Milan will challenge for the Serie A title this season.

"If I thought Milan's aim was a good place in the standings I'd be at Chelsea now," Pirlo said. "I want to win. That's not just words. I'm convinced this is possible. You'll see what the historic group can do. We'll make everyone rethink and eat lots of criticism."

Pirlo was also confident his side would deal with the loss of Kaká and the retired captain Paolo Maldini. "Obviously the absence of Kaká and Maldini will be felt, but each one of us will give a bit more," he said. "Their goodbyes closed a chapter, now it's time to write another and I'm happy to be here to try."

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'Untransferable' Daniele De Rossi plays down speculation of Arsenal move

The Roma midfieleder Daniele De Rossi says he is unaware of Arsenal's reported interest, adding that he has no plans to leave the club he joined as a youth player.

The 26-year-old has been linked with a move to the Emirates, alongside a surprise return to the club for Patrick Viera, but De Rossi insists he would rather stay in Rome unless the club decide to sell him.

"Arsenal? I have never heard anything," said De Rossi. "Roma have declared me untransferable, I want to stay only here. Things would change if they wanted to offload me but they have always wanted me.

"I was on holiday, I read certain figures and even I didn't know if it could be true, I told myself 'maybe this time they will really sell me'," he added. "But the club always came out and declared that I was not for sale and that really pleased me. It's the only thing I want."

Alberto Aquilani has also been linked with a move to the Premier League, with reports suggesting Liverpool are close to signing the midfielder. De Rossi believes it would be a good move for his team-mate despite the effect it might have on the Roma squad.

"He's a footballer with exceptional skill and above all he grew up in Roma's academy and has a love for this shirt that you cannot buy," continued De Rossi. "But if you think about his career I think it would be a good opportunity, he would grow a lot by being close to the best midfielder in the world – Steven Gerrard."

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Barcelona set to sign Inter's Zlatan Ibrahimovic in swap with Samuel Eto'o

Barcelona have confirmed they have agreed a deal for the Internazionale striker, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, with their own forward, Samuel Eto'o, travelling in the opposite direction. The conclusion of the deal depends on both agreeing personal terms, according to Barcelona's official website.

The fee involved was not specified, although Spanish media have reported it will be in the region of €40m. Barca's out-of-favour midfielder Aleksandr Hleb could also be heading to Inter on loan as part of the deal.

Barcelona's president, Joan Laporta, has made clear the deal had not yet been completed and the club were still considering other options, including the purchase of Valencia striker David Villa.

"The Ibrahimovic deal is not done and dusted and it would be too early to say which of the two options is the most satisfactory," Laporta said. "In the end we will choose the option that is best for Barca."

Ibrahimovic would be Barcelona's second buy of the close season following the signing of Inter's Brazilian left-back, Maxwell, in a €4.5m deal which could eventually rise to €5m.

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Monday, August 10, 2009

It only takes 2 days to recover from a dislocated shoulder

That’s if your Nani of course.

The Manchester United winger suffered a dislocated shoulder during yesterday’s Community Shield defeat at the hands of Chelsea, however he now believes he will be fit for Portugal’s friendly in Liechtenstein on Wednesday.

Speaking today, Nani had this to say about the possibilty of lining out for Portugal on Wednesday : “I think I can recover in time. We’ll see how it turns out. It’s painful and it needs treatment. It’s not a very serious injury. I need to take care of it and I expect to get better in the coming days.”

Somehow, I think Sir Alex Ferguson will have something to say about this.

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Barcelona just won’t give up on £25 million Premier League midfielder

It would appear Barcelona just won’t give up on Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas.

The Spanish midfielder has been strongly linked with a move back to the club where it all began for him, however Arsenal are adamant he won’t be leaving North London anytime soon. Barca sporting director Txiki Beguiristain has today claimed that a move may happen but only at the right price.

Beguiristain had this to say about the possibility of any deal to take Fabregas to the Camp Nou : “It depends on how much we want to spend. If we spend a lot of money, it is possible. We do not know how much it will be yet. We have not asked Arsenal. If the amount is too high, we will not try.”

Fabregas, 22, recently admitted he was growing frustrated at the lack of silverware at Arsenal, however he retracted the statements just hours later and proceeded to committed himself to the club. I would be surprised if any deal was to happen this summer but I do feel that it is only a matter of time before Fabregas is on his way back to Barca. It will be a sad day when Fabregas does eventually leave England but lets hope it’s not for another few years at least.

Also, I must admit I would be very surprised if Arsenal let Fabregas go for anything less than £35 million as oppossed to the £25 million which one paper *cough* The Times *cough* reported today. What do you think? Comments below please.

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