Hargreaves a United Man

31/05/2007

Hargreaves

Owen Hargreaves has completed his medical and agreed personal terms with Manchester United and will officially become a United player when he returns from holiday in Canada on July 1st. The announcement comes soon after United revealed deals to bring Nani and Anderson to Old Trafford and brings their spending up to an initial 40million pounds, a number that could rise depending on certain clauses being achieved in the contracts of the two youngsters.

Other United news is that Ben Fosters hopes of starting next season as United’s number one could be over after it was revealed that he may need knee surgery that would keep him out of action for a few months. This could give Edwin van der Saar the chance to reclaim his berth after some shaky performances at the end of the season

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Anderson and Nani United Bound

31/05/2007

Nani, Anderson

Accused of sometimes not acting quickly enough in the transfer market, leading to losing many of their top targets down the years, including Ronaldinho, Berbatov and just last week Gareth Bale, Manchester United seemed to have learned a lesson and have moved with haste is signing two of the most promising youngsters in world football, Nani of Sporting Lisbon, and Anderson of Porto.

Following on from the Owen Hargreaves signing, which is virtually done and dusted, United have flexed their financial muscles with the imminent signing of the two wonder kids in deals worth around 17 million each, taking their spending to around 50 million pounds on three players, in a first real showing of the Glazer money since their controversial takeover two years ago.

While the Nani signing had been talked about for over a year, the Anderson deal has taken many by surprise. Anderson, who was named the best player at the U-17 World Cup in 2005, has been hugely impressive in the Portuguese League, and has been linked with Barcelona, Real Madrid, Chelsea, Inter and AC Milan.

United acted swiftly in flying Assistant Manager Carlos Queiroz, and chief executive David Gill, to Portugal to personally see the deals through, and finalise personal terms with both players. Fee’s have been agreed with both clubs, personal terms have been reached with both players, all that is left are the medicals and obtaining a work permit for Anderson.
With the capture of two of the worlds hottest prospects United have clearly shown their intentions to improve their Premiership winning squad for the long term and signal a clear signal to Chelsea and the chasing pack that they intend to pursue a dominance that they enjoyed in the 90’s again. United are expected to also sign a top class forward in the coming months.


Spurs Revolution

30/05/2007

Berb, Keane

The Challenge to Liverpool and Arsenal’s top four positions is likely to come from Tottenham next season.
Under Martin Jol a quiet revolution has been taking place at White Hart Lane that is taking shape to launch Spurs into the Champions League equation over the next few years. Two seasons they came close to that elusive fourth place finish; however that was perhaps premature in their increasing status, and owed more to Arsenal struggling, then to their own improvement. Things are starting to take shape nicely for Spurs, and the new season may see them announce themselves as a serious contender to the latter half of the big four.

While Arsenal’s team are a young up and coming outfit, that are lacking in experience rather than talent, and Liverpool have just reached their 2nd Champions League final in three years, the job Martin Jol has been overseeing in London is perhaps the one that may have the best chance at long term effectiveness. He seems to have taken a leaf out of Sir Alex’s book and has gone about constructing a team that has at its core a strong British nucleus with a heavy weight on youth. Jermain Jenas, Ledley King, Michael Dawson, Jermain Defoe, Aaron Lennon, Paul Robinson, Tom Huddleston and Robbie Keane have been together for a few seasons now, building an understanding, camaraderie and team spirit. Last season saw the introduction of Didier Zakora to add some steel to the midfield that had just lost Michael Carrick, another young British player, to Manchester United. Zakora showed glimpses of the talent that saw him a much sought after player after some good seasons in France and an impressive World Cup for the Ivory Coast, but the consistency that is needed should come in his second season. The pivotal capture was however that of Berbatov from Bayern Leverkusen, in retrospect a bargain at 10 million pounds. Berbatov has added class and flair to a hard working outfit that has relied on the unorthodox Keane as their leading man over the years. The combination of Keane and Berbatov has been the highlight of a steady if not spectacular season for Spurs. The two have forged a quick understanding that has seen Keane having his best scoring season for Spurs, and Berbatov having the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool hovering with bids said to be in the 35 million pounds plus region. Generally with strikers it is the second season where they come alive, having taken the first season to settle in, get used to the pace and physical nature of the English game and get to know their role in the team, Didier Drogba is a case in point. With that in mind Spurs fans may have a lot to look forward to in the new season from Berbatov, should he stay. Inclinations are that he is happy at Spurs and may follow in Keane’s footsteps by committing himself to White Hart Lane with a new improved contract. Keeping the nucleus and star players is what will take Spurs from an almost club to competitive force.

They have recently completed the signing of young Welsh wunderkind, Gareth Bale, from Southampton. Manchester United were said to be favorites to sign the young left back, but just as in last year with Berbatov, Spurs acted quickly and decisively in acquiring the young star in a deal that could be worth as much as 10 million pounds. Bale fits the young, talented and British mould that Spurs are looking for in the core of their squad. They are also said to be looking at the impressive Giles Barnes of Derby, who played a significant hand in his team gaining promotion to the Premiership next season. Their targets also include the latest Portuguese boy wonder, Nani, who is also on Manchester United’s wanted list. This shows that they are prepared to rival the big boys in the transfer market and is a clear indication of their intentions to catch Arsenal and Liverpool. Their transfer policies could see them move ahead of Liverpool in the near future, as they have shown a greater understanding of what is needed to be a consistent league team and not just a cup team. While Liverpool have won a Champions League, FA Cup and reached another Champions League final in the last 3 years, their league form has shown that they are moving backwards rather than forwards. Benitiz transfer policies are primarily foreign based, and although they may be good players, they don’t have what is needed in the day to day jungle of the English game. This is why Liverpool have been a far more effective cup team and ineffectual in the league. Spurs British core, with the talented foreign investment playing around them is a recipe for success that has eluded Liverpool.

Spurs are on the way up, and while they may not be challengers to Manchester United and Chelsea for the title, they are moving in the right direction, and Arsenal and Liverpool will be casting a nervous look over their shoulders in the forthcoming season. Unless they act soon they may risk falling behind, and missing out on the Champions League, and all the money that comes with it. The Spurs revolution is gaining momentum. Next season can’t come soon enough for the Tottenham team.


Transfer News

28/05/2007

ForlanHeinze

Manchester United are set to complete the deal for Owen Hargreaves on Tuesday. This will bring to ab end a transfer saga that began a year ago, but one that always felt like it would happen. The deal is expected to cost United 17million pounds, and does not look like being the end to their big spending, with Nani of Sporting Lisbon, Samuel Eto’o of Barcelona, and Fernando Torres of Athletico Madrid all targets for Sir Alex.
United defender Gabriel Heinze is said to be on the verge of a 5 million pound move to Real Madrid. Heinze has found himself playing back up to Patrice Evra for much of the season, and is said to have already met Madrid officials. If the deal goes through he will join the likes of David Beckham and Ruud van Nistilrooy, who have moved from Old Trafford to Madrid in the last few years. However with United having missed out on Gareth Bale they may not be ready to cash in on Heinze just yet.
Valencia are weighing up a move for ex United forward Diego Forlan of Villareal. Forlan has a buy out clause of around 24 million pounds, but Valencia will test the waters with an initial 15 million bid. This may be Valencia’s bid to cope with life without top scorer David Villa who is wanted by all of Europe’s top clubs. Valencia however will argue that they are looking for a partner for Villa rather then a replacement.

News that will raise the spirits of every non Chelsea fan, and sicken the Chelsea fans to their stomachs, is that owner Roman Abramovich is said to have decided to no longer pour money into the club. He wants Chelsea to be run as a proper business and to generate their own transfer funds, as other clubs do. He is also set to put an end to sky high wages by putting in place a salary cap. This means that John Terry and Frank Lampard, both of whom have had contract negotiations stall as they seek to be in line with the top earners at the club, will have to either settle for less then they want, or leave.

Lampard is set to be involved in a tug of war between Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus, as they all seek to bring in the midfielder who seems likely to leave Chelsea this summer. Lampard is said to be favouring a deal with Barcelona, as his fiancee is from Catalunya, but will listen to all offers if Barca delay.


Percy Sonn Dies

27/05/2007

Percy Sonn

The ICC president, Percy Sonn, has died at the age of 57, in Cape Town, South Africa. Sonn had surgery on his colon on Monday and passed away due to complications that arose after the surgery.

Sonn was the former head of the United Cricket Board of South Africa, and became president of the ICC in 2006. He was well known and respected as an administrator in cricket during Apartheid, and played an important role in the integration of cricket in South Africa. He also formed, and headed, the Scorpions, who went after people committing serious economic crimes, drug trafficking, and organized crime.

Sonn is survived by his wife, Sandra, and their three children.


SA to Lose Donald?

25/05/2007

Alan DonaldAlan Donald, the former South African fast bowler, is set to take up a role with the England national team, as a bowling coach.

Reports suggest that Donald is set to join the new setup in English cricket under new coach Peter Moores. Moores has already acted swiftly in bringing in former Zimbabwe captain Andy Flower as his number two, and an appointment of Donald will prove that the English set up are keen an appointing the best men for the job, irrespective of nationality. Flower and Donald have both had extensive experience in County cricket, as well as international cricket, and so would be well accustomed and knowledgeable of English cricket.

Suggestions coming out of South Africa are that Donald will join the team for the third test against the West Indies, and will stay with them on an initial 5 week deal, rather then permanently. Whatever the case it is surely a call to the South African cricket authorities to be more proactive in using the vast experience and knowledge that they have in their former playing greats, or risk losing them. Jonty Rhodes was employed by Pakistan for a similar 5 week period before being brought into the South African fold as their fielding coach. They improvement in standard was noticeable for all to see and surely they don’t want to risk the same impact that a former player of theirs would have on another national team? Rhodes was only contracted up to the end of the World Cup, and if he wants to carry on South Africa must take every set to ensuring it is with them.

Donald, who has ties in England from his county cricket days, is known to want to coach at the highest level, and would love to be involved in the South African set up, but must be growing tired of waiting. If he is to be offered a full time deal by the English, and is thus lost to South Africa, it will be through no fault of his or the English. They have recognised the need for someone like Donald in their setup, especially with the miss firing Harmison, and they must be applauded for making a positive move in rectifying the problem and ensuring that their bowlers have all the help that is needed. A South African attack that has been accused numerous times of not being able to finish off the tail would benefit from someone like Alan Donald. The reluctance of the Proteas setup to involve past players is an aspect that must be addressed. The past players are willing and able but can not sit around waiting forever. The high performance centre is making use of Gary Kirsten and has had Donald involved, but the deals should be set up to ensure that they are looked after so they will not be tempted by other teams. While Donald has enjoyed his time working with young players, he sees his role as working with international players, and not up and coming hopefuls, and they should have been rectified.

People such as Brian Macmillan, Fanie de Villiers, Craig Matthews, Darryl Cullinan and Pat Symcox have something to offer and if South Africa want to be the best then they need the best to help them. By allowing their assets to be used by others, by allowing others to benefit from their resources, while they themselves are in need of help and improvement, is not only foolish, but stubborn to. Donald should not be in a position to be looking for work with England, he should be working with the South African national team – his national team.


Let the Madness Begin!

24/05/2007

Eto’oTevezTorres

Fuelled by the new TV deal, worth around 2,7 billion pounds, and an increasing amount of billionaire owners looking to flex the muscles in their wallets, the next three months could prove to be a record for spending in the transfer market for the English Premier League clubs.

With smaller clubs having spending budgets that only the big teams have had access to for the last few years, with the teams in the middle looking to spend big to challenge for a top four position, with Arsenal and Liverpool hoping to challenge for the title, with Chelsea looking towards regaining the title and with Man Utd hoping to keep the chasing pack at bay, it seems most of the money in Europe will be coming from England during this close season.

Manchester United’s summer spending has already begun, with the signing of Owen Hargreaves likely to be completed this week. This has been one of the longest transfer saga’s of recent times, as United tried several times to sign the Bayern Munich midfielder from August last year, and seem to have finally captured their man. The fee is expected to be in the region of 17million pounds. While this may seem like a chunk of Uniteds transfer budget already spent in the opening weeks, it must be remembered that this money was put forward for Hargreaves last season, and so this seasons budget has not been touched yet. United, who only signed Michael Carrick last season, will also have the money received from Chelsea as part of the Obi Mikel deal to add to their inflated funds. This means that United could be more active than usual in the spending season as they look to add quality and size to their squad that will allow them to lay a double assault on the defending of their league title, and on Europe, next season. Sir Alex has already handed in his target list to David Gil and can expect some movement in this regard in the coming months. Young Southampton left back Gareth Bale, Nani of Sporting Lisbon, and Fernando Torres of Athletico Madrid are said to be his main targets. Berbatov and Lennon of Spurs are also wanted, but it is thought Ferguson is likely to wait another season before making a move for the pair. Nani, who is believed to favour a move to United, where he would link up with another ex Sporting youngster in Christiano Ronaldo, Torres and Bale, fit the mould of young, talented players that Fergie would like to inject into his improving team. Samuel Eto’o of Barcelona is also reputedly a target, but an asking price of 40 million pounds may put United off.

Chelsea, who have been the main spenders of recent times, and are responsible for the inflated prices of many players, may be the quietest of spenders this time round. If Mourinho is given another year in charge of Chelsea, as is being expected, he is likely to have to spend less then he has been accustomed to in previous close seasons, as the Chelsea board attempt to make the club more economical, and are unlikely to give vast sums of money to a manager they are giving one last chance to. This means that he may have to spend to buy, something that Chelsea have not had to do for three seasons now. Alex of PSV, who is virtually a Chelsea player already, should arrive to bolster the defence, with Jorge Andrade of Deportivo La Coruna also mentioned. Andrade could cost as little as 2 million. Steve Sidwell is expected to arrive on a Bosman free from Reading. Chelsea have also been mentioned with a move for Benni McCarthy of Blackburn, who was at Porto with Mourinho. Should Mourinho not survive into the off season it is very likely that Chelsea will look to a high profile manager and back him with the blank cheque that has greeted the managers under Abromovich’s reign.
Arsenal and Liverpool will be looking to close the increasing gap on the front to and mount a serious title challenge themselves, instead of fighting over third and fourth place, their battle of the last three seasons. Arsenal will first look to convince Thierry Henry to stay at the Emirate’s Stadium, and then show him that they are serious about competing with United and Chelsea, and in Europe, buy bringing in some quality players to add to their youthful squad. Wenger has said that he is will only add one or two names to the squad, and that they will only be of “super, super class.” Franck Ribery and the Ajax youngster Ryan Babel are two who have been mentioned, and would look to fill the gap by the departure of Freddie Ljungberg, who has been touted to be on his way out. Liverpool, who will have the American backed millions to add to their slice of the TV revenue have already signed three new players in Lucas Leiva, a 7million pound signing from Gremio in Brazil, Sebastian Leto from Lanus in Argentina, and Andrei Voronin, the Ukraine striker from Bayern Leverkusen,on a Bosman free. They would also like to reunited Javier Mascherano with Carlos Tevez, but whether this will be done is open to debate, as Tevez is also wanted by the big teams in Italy and Spain. Darren Bent of relegated Charlton is also on their hit list.
West Ham and Spurs are also linked with Bent, and for the first time we could see other teams in the division matching the big four with spending. Spurs and West Ham are likely to be joined by Aston Villa, with Randy Lerner’s investment, Newcastle, Sunderland, Man City, Everton, Blackburn, Portsmouth and Middlesbrough in the spending game, as they all chase European spots. Promoted Sunderland could give manager Roy Keane as much as 35 million in a bid to ensure survival, and he is said to be making moves for former team mates Nicky Butt, Wes Brown and Diego Forlan, as well as Damien Duff. Spurs are likely to join the chase for Gareth Bale, as well as showing interest in Pedersen of Blackburn and Bent.
With so much money injected into the league through the new TV deal, with higher stakes involved in insuring you’re around for the next TV deal, it isn’t just going to be the big four spending vast sums of money in the quest for glory. Big money is about to be spent in Europe, record breaking money. The madness should begin soon.