Monday, 1 September 2014

Manchester United transfer spree reveals extent of Old Trafford upheaval

Radamel Falcao’s arrival shows that Sir Alex Ferguson’s impregnable-seeming dynasty is being dismantled rapidly
Manchester United’s decision to take on Radamel Falcao is a sign not just of instability but of historic upheaval at the club. Photograph: Guillaume Horcajuelo/EPA
Manchester United’s shock, high-priced loan grab of the Colombian striker Radamel Falcao from his odd year out at tax-lite, thinly supported Monaco planted the transfer deadline day story where the focus has been all summer: on the tumultuous leavings and frantic arrivals at Old Trafford.

It is acknowledged now that clubs doing huge deals as late as United have this year are not as stable or organised as their rivals – notably Chelsea and Manchester City – who have recruited players early enough to show them round, at least, before the season starts. Yet this feverish United activity, more than £120m spent including the staggering £59.7m for Ángel di Mariía’s left-midfield thrust, £6m for a season of Falcao and Daley Blind at £14m, goes way beyond that truth about thinness of planning. This is historic upheaval – as, in hindsight, the eventual retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson, like Sir Matt Busby’s before him, was always going to be.

How odd it is to recall Ferguson leaving 16 months ago, the 2013 Premier League won, an impregnable-seeming dynasty to pass on to his anointed heir David Moyes, a farewell statement in which Ferguson said credibly that he was leaving “an organisation in the strongest possible shape”. Of the players he promised enviable continuity. “The quality of this league winning squad, and the balance of ages within it, bodes well for continued success at the highest level,” he said, “whilst the structure of the youth set-up will ensure that the long-term future of the club remains a bright one.”

Few foresaw anything like the crumbling which Ferguson’s leaving, and that of his chief executive David Gill, has in fact revealed, leading to Moyes’ rapid dismissal and this summer’s scramble for Louis van Gaal. The hectic squad stocking, pursued to the last day, has lent yet more awe to Ferguson’s managerial record: that he wrested such triumphs from a squad which, as Moyes complained in vain, actually needed major reconstruction.

Shocked out of eight merry years re-financing and brand-sweating, United’s US owners, the Glazers, have had to sanction their eager executive and former banker, Edward Woodward, to tear up years of restraint. Luke Shaw, a £27m left-back, and Ander Herrera, £29m, would have sufficed in a normal Ferguson years but Woodward has clattered on. He will hope that Di María, an undoubted star acquired at a seller’s price, the £16m Argentinian defender Marcos Rojo and the late coup of Falcao will reburnish the brand Woodward has sold for the Glazers to multiple sponsors from an office in Mayfair.

His work does appear frantic compared with the strategic reinforcing by Chelsea, with the £30m Cesc Fàbregas and £32m Diego Costa, among others, signed early, and City securing the defender Eliaquim Mangala for £32m, Fernando’s midfield bite for £12m and more squad depth including Bacary Sagna and Frank Lampard’s once golden legs.

Yet there is a sadness here, too. In the rush two at United deemed as surplus stock were Danny Welbeck and Tom Cleverley, two young English players polished in the “youth set-up” whose merits Ferguson sang. It was another of Ferguson’s distinctions that he continued to promote homegrown players through a period when his rivals mostly stopped. These deals risk ending a great Old Trafford tradition. Cleverley and Welbeck were both Ferguson first choices in the 2013 Champions League round-of-16 second leg, when United were thrillingly beating José Mourinho’s Real Madrid until the turning point of Nani’s sending-off.

The money reaped by Premier League clubs, from the record £5.5bn 2013-16 Sky, BT, BBC and international TV deals, plus high-priced tickets and merchandise the fans stump up for, and layers of sponsorship, has meant more than £700m spent on players this summer. The transfer window has been open between a World Cup in which England wanly flopped, and the first international since, Wednesday’s friendly against Norway, for which the FA has stacks of unwanted tickets.

After brief, dutiful head-shaking following England’s exit the clubs’ response has been to spend around £600m of that £700m on talent from overseas. The stand-out exceptions have been the elevations from a shaken Southampton of Shaw, Calum Chambers, signed for £16m by Arsenal, Adam Lallana, and Rickie Lambert, bought for £25m and £4m respectively by Liverpool, where Brendan Rodgers is continuing with a core of English players. Clubs with less to spend or more modest hopes have still bought British: promoted Burnley and Leicester City; Hull City signed Tom Ince from Blackpool, Jake Livermore and the sterling Michael Dawson from Tottenham Hotspur, and Robert Snodgrass from Norwich City; Aston Villa and Sunderland have signed some, as have Southampton.

Yet Liverpool apart, at the clubs eyeing the title and elite European competition, movement is the other way. Ryan Bertrand, who famously made his Chelsea first-team debut in the 2012 Champions League final victory over Bayern Munich, has gone to Southampton, his seventh club on loan in seven years since joining from Gillingham. Manchester City prided themselves at first under Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s ownership on fielding a corps of England internationals, but that policy has been revised. Joleon Lescott and a largely unused Jack Rodwell left this summer, while Micah Richards, City’s one academy graduate in the billion pound Abu Dhabi makeover, signed for Fiorentina on a season-long loan. Manuel Pellegrini went back for his former goalkeeper at Malaga, Willy Caballero, to provide competition with Joe Hart, the one English regular left in City’s team.

Transfer deadline day, the incomparable rolling soap opera, gives way now to a week of kitchen sink suffering with Roy Hodgson, lamenting modest players called up, the retirement of Lampard’s “golden generation” who were given first team chances young, and several England internationals no longer regulars at their globalised clubs.

There was never going to be much of a debate after England’s World Cup failure, despite the many lessons in Germany’s triumph. The chances of having one now can be measured in the frenzied summer at the Glazers’ Manchester United.
The Guardian

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Vidal to Man Utd? Welbeck and Carvalho to Arsenal FC? Destro to Chelsea FC?

Arturo Vidal (credit: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)
- Juventus midfielder Arturo Vidal is Manchester United’s top midfield target but the club’s concerns about his fitness are so great that it may require a complex, appearance-based contract if he is to follow Angel Di Maria into Louis van Gaal’s squad, according to The Independent.

- Manchester United have completed the signing of Di Maria, with the winger joining the club from Real Madrid for a British record transfer fee of £59.7million.

- Manchester United are yet to make an approach for Daley Blind, according to the Ajax defender's agent.

"At this moment Manchester United have not been in touch with me or Ajax about Daley and I’m not sitting here waiting for the call," Rob Jansen told talkSPORT.

- Arsenal could turn to Danny Welbeck or Loic Remy as fears grow that striker Olivier Giroud has broken his ankle, according to The Sun.

- Arsenal have been anded a major transfer boost after Sporting Lisbon agreed to lower their demands for defensive midfielder William Carvalho, according to the Daily Express.

- Lukas Podolski has not agreed a move to Italy, the Arsenal striker's agent has insisted.

"I read in the newspapers that Juventus and Napoli were interested in Lukas," Ali Pektas told Tuttomercatoweb.

"But there has been no approach from either of those clubs. I don't know if he will go to Italy in this transfer window. I can't say anything for sure. The only certainty is that Lukas has a contract with Arsenal."

- Chelsea are in talks to sign Roma forward Mattia Destro, according to the Daily Star.

- Harry Redknapp is signing Liverpool left back Jack Robinson to solve one of Premier League new boys QPR's problem positions, according to the Daily Mirror.

- Sunderland are closing in on a deal to bring Liverpool defender Sebastian Coates to the Stadium of Light on a season-long loan, according to the Daily Star.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Vidal and Di Maria to Man Utd? Alderweireld to Arsenal FC? Khedira to stay or go?

Angel Di Maria (credit: GERARD JULIEN/AFP/Getty Images)
- Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti has confirmed that Angel Di Maria, who is closing in on a move to Manchester United, is "close to a transfer."

"[Di Maria] came in, but this morning he did not train," Ancelotti said on Sunday.

"It is not fully done, but he is close to a transfer.

"He came to say goodbye. We thanked him for what he has done for this team and we wished him luck for the future. It is not official, but it is resolved."

- Manchester United have made a second bid for Juventus star Arturo Vidal, according to the Daily Star Sunday.

- Manchester United forward Danny Welbeck is set to 'reluctantly' leave Old Trafford if the club complete a deal for Di Maria this week, according to the Mail on Sunday.

- Sami Khedira, who has been linked with a move to Arsenal, has admitted that he is unsure if he will still be at Real Madrid when the summer transfer window closes.

"Right now I'm a little out of Real Madrid," he was quoted as saying by Bild.

"But until August 31 anything is possible."

- But Khedira will NOT be on the move this month, according to Real Madrid coach Ancelotti.

"Khedira is happy here and he is staying," he told reporters.

"The matter is resolved and he stays at Real Madrid."

- Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is showing serious interest in Atletico Madrid's Toby Alderweireld as a replacement for Thomas Vermaelen, according to the Daily Star Sunday.

- Arsenal are lining up the Olympiakos defender Kostas Manolas to replace Vermaelen, according to the Sunday Express.

- Jose Mourinho insists Chelsea will not sell Fernando Torres this month.

- Ronny Deila is hopeful that Celtic can complete the signings of Wakaso Mubarak and Stefan Scepovic this week.

"We hope things will happen this week," Deila told BBC Scotland.

"We're working a lot on this and I think we're going to get things how we want it."

- Manchester City ditched a plan to sign Ross Barkley after being told it would take a bid of more than £50million to tempt Everton to sell, according to the Sunday Mirror.

- Queens Park Rangers manager Harry Redknapp has confirmed his interest in signing Wilfried Zaha on loan should the Manchester United winger become available.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Real Madrid midfielder Xabi Alonso says goodbye to Angel Di Maria on Twitter and Instagram - wishing the Argentine luck 'even at Manchester United'

  • Former Liverpool midfielder made dig at United during his farewell message
  • Di Maria is poised to complete a club record £60million move to Old Trafford
  • Alonso also referenced Di Maria's brilliant display against Atletico Madrid in Carlo Ancelotti's side's Champions League final win in Lisbon
  • Earlier on Sunday, Ancelotti admitted Di Maria had already said his goodbyes to club staff and his team-mates at training
  • Madrid full-back Marcelo also took to Twitter to wish the Argentine well 
Former Liverpool midfielder Xabi Alonso slipped in a sly dig at the Merseyside club's rivals Manchester United while saying goodbye to Real Madrid team-mate Angel Di Maria on Twitter ahead of the Argentina international's expected move to Old Trafford. 

Di Maria is edging closer to a record £60million move to United after turning down a new contract at the reigning European champions.  

In his tweet Alonso made reference to Di Maria's Champions League heroics against Atletico Madrid in May: 'Thanks for everything Fideo! I wish you all the best, even at Manchester Utd :) never forget the zigzag in extra-time in Lisbon.'

Out the door: Although Angel Di Maria's Manchester United move isn't locked in, he's been farewelled
Out the door: Although Angel Di Maria's Manchester United move isn't locked in, he's been farewelled
Social media: Alonso also posted a message on Instagram saying goodbye, with a picture of him with Di Maria Earlier on Sunday, Madrid left-back Marcelo also bid farewell to Di Maria on social media.

The Brazil defender took to Twitter to pay tribute to the pacy attacker, who starred for Madrid during their successful Champions League campaign last season. 

'Thank you for everything you have done for Madrid! I love you!' Marcelo wrote in a touching statement to the winger. 

Tribute: Brazil and Real defender Marcelo praised Di Maria's contribution to the club in his Twitter post
Tribute: Brazil and Real defender Marcelo praised Di Maria's contribution to the club in his Twitter post
Real manager Carlo Ancelotti has already said Di Maria has said goodbye to his team-mates as he prepares to join Louis van Gaal's side.

Real's asking price for Di Maria has reportedly increased during negotiations as it became clear how desperate United were to add quality to their squad.

'Di Maria has said goodbye,' Ancelotti said in a press conference.
'We thanked him for everything he has done for the club.

Champion: Di Maria wears his Argentine flag after winning the 2014 Champions League in Lisbon
Champion: Di Maria wears his Argentine flag after winning the 2014 Champions League in Lisbon
Off you go: Real boss Carlo Ancelotti has conceded Di Maria is leaving the club
Off you go: Real boss Carlo Ancelotti has conceded Di Maria is leaving the club
'We tried everything possible to keep Di Maria, but he has decided something else. Good luck to him.'

Di Maria is set to be handed the No 7 shirt famously worn by two of the Red Devils biggest ever stars, Cristiano Ronaldo and David Beckham. 

The left-side dynamo is expected to earn about £200,000-a-week at United.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Manchester United transfer news: Is a £56million Angel Di Maria move imminent?

Louis van Gaal has made three signings this summer but after a disappointing start against Swansea is still after more

Big money: Di Maria has little future at Real Madrid under Florentino Perez

English trio to leave on loan

Manchester United will let Danny Welbeck, Tom Cleverley and Wilfried Zaha go ON LOAN in a shock move by Louis van Gaal, writes Alan Nixon.
The Dutchman  has assessed the young English trio and decided he wants them to go out for regular Premier League football before  deciding whether he wants to use them long-term.
News of the decision flashed round the Premier League grapevine yesterday as interested clubs formed a queue for striker Welbeck, midfielder Cleverley and winger Zaha.
Van Gaal does not want to write off the players and thinks they would benefit from spell at rival teams in a typically decisive move by the straight-talking manager.

No rival move for Welbeck
However, Danny Welbeck will not be allowed to move for one of United's top six rivals.
Louis van Gaal has told  the England striker  he can leave United, with Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie his first-choice strike partnership, writes David McDonnell.
But United have told Welbeck and his representatives the forward cannot join a top-six club,  despite interest from Arsenal and Tottenham.
United do not want Welbeck to sign for a club that could potentially deny them a return to the top four and the Champions League.

Don't see rojo, Rojo

Louis van Gaal has warned Manchester United's new signing Marcos Rojo he must control his temper.
Argentina World Cup star Rojo, a £16million capture from Sporting Lisbon, arrives at United with a reputation as a hot-head.
Rojo amassed 15 yellow cards and four reds during his previous two league seasons at Sporting - more than any other player in the Portuguese Primeira Liga.
And United boss van Gaal has warned the left-sided defender he must improve his disciplinary record if he is to be a success in the Premier League.
"He has to be aggressive in the right moment and when I have to say something - or criticise - maybe that’s it," said van Gaal.
"He has to control himself in every moment. That might be something he needs to improve and I hope I can help him.

Saturday's Manchester United stories from other newspapers and websites

£56million Angel move is now

Angel Di Maria has declared he wants to leave Real Madrid and on Friday was left out of Los Blancos' 1-0 defeat by Atletico Madrid.
And according to Marca, Manchester United will move with a £56million bid in the next 24 hours.
It's claimed that the Agentine will be offered a big-money four-year deal to swap the Bernabeu for Old Trafford, with Louis van Gaal keen on adding his energy to midfield.
Paris Saint-Germain have also been linked, but Laurent Blanc has declared that the French champions may be unable to move for the former Benfica man because of Financial Fair Play.
Reds miss out on Depay
PSV Eindhoven star Memphis Depay will not be moving to the Premier League this summer after signing a new four-year deal with the Dutch club.
The Netherlands international had been linked with a move to both United and Tottenham.
But Depay has instead chosen to continue his education at the Phillips Stadion.

Sporting to move for Anderson

According to the Daily Express, Sporting Lisbon will hand United back £5.5million of their Marcos Rojo money - by moving for out-of-favour Brazilian Anderson.
The 26-year-old has fallen well down the pecking order at Old Trafford in recent years, and his £20million move of seven years ago has petered out.
A loan move to Fiorentina in January came to nothing more than seven appearances and now Sporting could look to take him back to Portugal, where he used to play for FC Porto.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Liverpool have £16m fee for Mario Balotelli accepted by AC Milan and striker could face ex-club Manchester City this Monday

  • Liverpool have had a £16m bid accepted by for Balotelli
  • Italian striker left Manchester City in 2013, and has scored 30 goals for Milan
  • Balotelli thought to want around £125,000 a week 
  • Brendan Rodgers still searching for another striker after selling Luis Suarez
  • Former Liverpool star Michael Owen says it'll be great fun having Balotelli back in the Premier League 
  • Liverpool face Balotelli's former club Manchester City on Monday
Liverpool have had a £16million bid accepted by AC Milan for Italy striker Mario Balotelli.
Balotelli is thought to want £125,000 a week to move to Anfield and the transfer is nearly complete, subject to personal terms. 

Brendan Rodgers had said Liverpool would categorically not be signing the errant Italy striker last month, but has had a change of heart.   

How it's going to be: Mario Balotelli mocked up in a Liverpool shirt in anticipation of his £16m move to Anfield
How it's going to be: Mario Balotelli mocked up in a Liverpool shirt in anticipation of his £16m move to Anfield
Drive to succeed: Balotelli leaves Milan's training ground in his red Ferrari
Drive to succeed: Balotelli leaves Milan's training ground in his red Ferrari

Super Mario: Balotelli left the Premier League in 2013, but now seems to be on his way back with Liverpool
Super Mario: Balotelli left the Premier League in 2013, but now seems to be on his way back with Liverpool
Change of heart: Rodgers had previously said he would not be signing the Italian striker
Change of heart: Rodgers had previously said he would not be signing the Italian striker
Balotelli earlier told Sky Italia: 'This will be my last day at Milanello.' 
Later, he left Milanello training complex in a red Ferrari. He had lunch after training and stopped to tell reporters: 'Nothing is decided yet nothing is black and white.'

Former Liverpool striker Michael Owen posted on Sportslobster: 'Going to be great fun having Balotelli back in the Premier League. There is no doubt about his talent and I'm sure Brendan Rodgers will make sure he behaves having witnessed the problems (Luis) Suarez inflicted on the club. If that's the case, £16m looks good value.'

Samuel Eto'o is still an option for Liverpool should the Balotelli deal fall through, for any reason.

Balotelli has to be registered by noon on Friday if he is to figure for Liverpool against former club Manchester City on Monday.

It would be a sensational return to the Premier League for the 24-year-old, who left City in 2013.

Balotelli has been involved in a series of scrapes during his career to date, especially during his time in the Premier League. 

On the field, he was sent off for Manchester City against Arsenal in 2012 in a defeat that almost derailed their title charge.

And off the pitch, there was the notorious incident when Balotelli set off fireworks in his house, leading to him revealing the famous 'Why Always Me?' T-shirt when he scored in the Manchester derby at Old Trafford in 2011.

He also had a set-to with City manager Roberto Mancini on the training ground, and a scrap with Jerome Boateng.

The striker's agent Mino Raiola flew to England on Wednesday to try to thrash out a deal.
Since returning to Italy, he has scored 30 goals in 54 games, the same amount he scored for City in 80 games. 

And it is easy to forget that he has already won four titles in two countries, a Champions League and the FA Cup and Coppa Italia by the age of 24.