Champions League? Easy! 'I honestly think we will get in the top four,' says Liverpool skipper Gerrard
“I am not being unrealistic, because if we play like we did in a lot of games last season, but be clinical and take our chances, we will be higher up the table,” insists the Reds captain<!-- Can pick up the first element because is searching for author name -->'We’ll definitely see a much bolder and exciting Liverpool team': Steven Gerrard is optimistic about this season
Steven Gerrard claims Liverpool will “definitely” make the top four under new boss Brendan Rodgers next season.
The Reds skipper has seen enough after just two days on the pre-season trip to America to predict a bright future for the Anfield club with the Irishman in charge.
It is a remarkable prediction given Liverpool’s desperate form last season which saw them finish 17th in the form table over the second half of the campaign.
It is even more remarkable given that Gerrard is never anything but brutally honest about the club’s prospects.
His optimism is based on what he has seen at close hand after joining Rodgers for the first time to get a crash course in the tactical revolution planned for Anfield.
Gerrard arrived in Boston late on Monday night, too late to even be considered for the friendly game against Roma on Wednesday, where Liverpool offered some encouraging signs in a 2-1 defeat.
Yet the England captain already feels a different mood around the place and can sense a real enthusiasm for the new manager’s approach among battle-scarred troops wearied and bloodied by last season’s grim failures.
“We’ll definitely see a much bolder and exciting Liverpool team,” he said after watching the Roma game. “Every time you speak to the manager you can’t help but be impressed by his vision. And his man-management is fantastic.
'You can’t help but be impressed by his vision': Steven Gerrard says Brendan Rodgers is going to transform Liverpool
“I’m realistic after last season, I don’t want to make excuses for that. I don’t think it’s ever happened for a team to have gone from eighth to first.
“But there’s still other big targets for us to achieve – like getting in that top four again, that’s certainly the priority.
“I honestly think we will get in the top four. I am not being unrealistic, because if we play like we did in a lot of games last season, but be clinical and take our chances, we will be higher up the table.”
Given the depths Liverpool sometimes plumbed during the second half of the league campaign, many fans would be hard pressed to share that optimism.
Yet Gerrard has long been of the belief that there is a quality within the Liverpool squad, that needs to be encouraged in the right way to adopt a bolder, more ambitious tactical philosophy. And he believes Rodgers is just the man to do that.
“Over the years, sometimes Liverpool have come up against a certain type of opposition and we have shown them too much respect,” he explained.
“Maybe we have had to do that, because of the style we’ve been asked to play. There were times under previous managers when we did that, but I think this manager is the opposite, he wants us to play like a big team.
“There is a lot of hard work and a lot of learning to be done sharpish if we want to implement that straight away.
“We’ll definitely see a much bolder Liverpool team, but with a quick transition into organisation when we lose the ball.”
It says much for Rodgers that he has already been able to win over such battle-hardened veterans as Jamie Carragher and Daniel Agger, who have spoken out in impressed support of their new boss.
Another fan of the new boss: Jamie Carragher is looking forward ot playing under Rodgers
And now Gerrard has joined the party. “It’s not just been these last few days that I’ve had a chance to learn about the new manager because he’s been in touch with me since he came,” he said.
“I’ve had a lot of banter with text messages and quite a few calls throughout the Euros, and he has made me aware of where he’s at and what he’s trying to do – I’ve been really impressed with him.
“I’ve only seen him on the training ground for a few days. But as a guy, how he’s dealt with me on a personal level, I’ve been very impressed.
“The players who’ve worked with him over the past few weeks have said the same.”
The new Kaka? What Premier League fans can expect from Oscar by South American football expert Ed Malyon
Oscar's name may not be that well known now, but in no time at all the whole world will know who he is<!-- Can pick up the first element because is searching for author name -->Internacional's Oscar celebrates after scoring against Penarol
Chelsea have completed the signing of Brazil playmaker Oscar from Internacional.
The deal is another piece of marvellous long-term business done by a manager who until now has shown a particularly short-term outlook.
At the end of last season Roberto Di Matteo shunted aside Andre Vilas-Boas' patient building plans for Chelsea, reinstating an aging duo of Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba to his team in order to gain immediate results and it earned him a Champions League title, but this summer has been all about revitalising that same squad. And Oscar would be a phenomenal addition to it.
Vilas-Boas will look on ruefully at Stamford Bridge goings-on once more but the North London club know that due to their partnership with the Porto Alegre club they have first refusal on the player, so the only possibility is that Spurs have been financially outgunned and have decided to turn their interest elsewhere.
Where has he come from?
Oscar: Are Internacional about to see the back of him?
In both a footballing and geographical sense, Oscar is very much a product of Sao Paulo.
He was born in Americana, Sao Paulo State, but was spotted by talent scouts at 13 years of age. They took him to the state capital where he signed for the imaginatively-named Sao Paulo FC - Brazil's most successful side in international competitions.
It was there that Oscar started to dazzle as a young player with his playing style compared to Kaka, another famous alumni of the club. By the time Oscar broke through to the first team at the age of 18, he had helped the Morumbi side to become the first team in Brazil to win six national titles.
He would only make eleven appearances for his boyhood club though, as a disagreement over non-payment of wages saw the youngster attempt to walk out on the club as they refused to pay him. The player seemed helpless, a prisoner held behind the steel bars of a contract until in an unprecedented move, Oscar sued them, and the Brazilian FA allowed him to make the move hundreds of miles south to Porto Alegre where he would sign for Internacional.
There then followed long-term wrangling between the two clubs as to who owed what. Thus when Oscar dazzled in the Brasileirao (the national league) of 2011 with 13 goals and ten assists, no foreign club could try to sign him as it wasn't even clear who he belonged to as the legal battle continued.
The moment that will most brought him to the attention of scouts worldwide, though, was his performance in the Under-20 World Cup in 2011. Having a stellar cast around him was no doubt an assistance, but Oscar's hat-trick from midfield in the final against Portugal won his country yet another world title.
Although much of the global attention since then has been on Neymar and Ganso, as they won the Copa Libertadores with Santos, Oscar has continued to grow as an exceptional talent.
While Neymar's talent marks him out as by far the biggest star in Brazilian football - on a marketing level even more so than the obvious sporting one - Ganso has gone the other way. Following his own fall-out with Santos, he is now being painted as Oscar's replacement should a move to London being completed.
What kind of player is he and where would he fit in?
The most important thing to note about Oscar is that he isn't a loping playmaker like Ganso, nor is he a speedy winger like Manchester United target Lucas Moura. Rather he is a mix of the two, boasting a more rounded game and a lot of footballing intelligence.
Oscar is such a talented central midfielder that he could certainly play in the same sort of role as Luka Modric does at Tottenham. And although his tackling is not great and he could do with beefing up a little, the same was said about the Croat when he arrived in England.
With his record of scoring goals and his inherent footballing qualities it is only natural to want to see Oscar play high up the pitch and closer to goal, which would put him in the central attacking role of a 4-2-3-1 at Chelsea, shifting Juan Mata out to the left. When he was younger he sometimes played on the right of that three, but it seems unlikely that we would see him there regularly now. He could be a player that moves further and further back during his career, though, as the likes of Modric - who was a 'number 10' at Dinamo Zagreb - and Danny Murphy have done in the Premier League to help their sides keep possession and build from deeper.
That sort of shift should be some way off though. Just as Sir Alex Ferguson killed the dynamism of a young attacker in Anderson, so any manager that tries to shackle the brilliance of Oscar would be making a big error and his goal in the recent Brazil friendly against Argentina last month shows some of his best attributes.
With plenty of attacking options ahead of him, Oscar slows play down and assesses his options before sliding the perfect pass into a forward. It is then that he flies through the gears, from foot on the ball and stationary one second, he is suddenly flying through a gap in the opposition defence the next, driving beyond the attacking line and then finishing with aplomb.
As for those Kaka comparisons, Oscar doesn't have the same explosive acceleration that his fellow Sao Paulo product used to such devastating effect with AC Milan but he is still speedy. Oscar's eye for a pass and drifts into pockets of space off the ball are arguably better than the now unwanted Real Madrid star.
In the same way that Paulinho of Corinthians (closing in on a move to Inter Milan) has been described as a modern midfielder, Oscar's playing style entirely fits the description of a contemporary attacking midfielder. No longer can a player drift around the pitch hopelessly without the ball, they must involve themselves in several phases of play - in Oscar's case this includes chipping in with goals from deep - as well as having the elegance and ability with both feet that is so desirable in the modern game.
Quite simply he is a player that would benefit any top team and at 20 he is a phenomenal talent with untold potential. If a club can purchase him for the sums mentioned then it is brilliant work considering the figures being mentioned for higher-profile but less able players like Lucas Moura.
The fact that Oscar's contract court case between Sao Paulo and Internacional was only settled a month or so ago (Internacional had to pay £5million to buy him outright) means that there has been no long-running speculation with him.
His name may not be that well known now, but in no time at all the whole world will know who Oscar is.
I’d have sacked Kenny even if he won the FA Cup
JOHN W HENRY last night admitted not even winning the FA Cup would have saved Kenny Dalglish.
The Kop idol was axed four days after a disastrous campaign which saw Liverpool limp home in eighth, with their worst home record in more than half a century.
Arguments have raged whether King Kenny would have survived the chop had he followed the Carling Cup triumph — Many of the King's adoring fans have openly wondered what may have happened if their hero had lifted that famous trophy, to go with the Carling Cup that he won in February.
Yet now Henry, front man for Kop owners Fenway Sports Group, has finally ended the debate, after revealing Dalglish would have been dumped even if they had beaten Chelsea in the FA Cup.
Henry admitted: “The FA Cup would not have made any difference had he won it, no, no. For us we were 17th over the second half of the season and Liverpool should not be in that position.
“I don’t place the blame on Kenny and assistant Steve Clarke but I think it was obvious to every fan that something was wrong and something needed to be done.”
But despite 2012’s woeful form and the Luis Suarez race storm, Henry insisted there were others in the dock beyond Dalglish and his backroom team.
He added: “That Suarez situation did not really play a part. It did not come into play.
“No one man is bigger than the club and no one issue is going to determine the long-term viability of the club.
“We had a very poor second half to the season last year. You could say the response to Kenny and Steve from the players was lacking, the play was lacking, so that entered into our considerations.”
Makes no difference: The result of the FA Cup Final didn't doom
Ayre explained for all the romance of the cup runs, the Premier League and a top four tilt remained the minimum target... and for very good financial reason.
With Liverpool finishing an eye-watering 37 points off the league’s top two, the owners needed to make a critical decision on whether the Reds legend would be able to turn things around next season...and the answer was clearly in the negative.
“In the end, it’s a very simple decision based on results and based on do you believe that the results are going to change?” he explained.
“As I said, 37 points off the winners and 17 points off fourth place and 14 losses, that was the measurement on which the owners made their decision.
“Fans want trophies, but you have got to have both. The Carling and FA Cups don’t generate the revenue and the success that is needed to keep investing, and to be successful, you have to keep investing.
That is the emphatic message from Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre, who has explained to stunned supporters exactly why Kop idol Dalglish was shown the door .Edited by zocoss 26 Jul `12, 9:44AM
Blues land Brazil starlet
CHELSEA have completed the £25million capture of Oscar ahead of his Olympic debut for Brazil tomorrow.
The 20-year-old playmaker has been signed on a long-term deal by the European Champions after a deal was concluded with Oscar’s Brazilian club Internacional this afternoon.
Oscar, who underwent a medical at a private hospital in West London last week, was not planning to complete his move until his Olympic commitments were over.
But the deal was rushed forward by Chelsea after a work permit was obtained yesterday for the young man who destroyed Stuart Pearce’s Great Britain team in a pre-Olympic warm-up match last Friday.
Confirmation of Oscar’s arrival at Stamford Bridge takes Chelsea’s summer spending spree to a staggering £76m.
Roberto Di Matteo’s team have already signed £32m Eden Hazard from Lille, £2m for Hazard’s brother Thorgan from Lens and a further £7m for German international Marko Marin from Werder Bremen.
And Chelsea fans will get an early look at their exciting new attacking midfielder when he plays in Brazil’s opening Olympic game against Egypt in Cardiff’s Milennium Stadium tomorrow.Edited by zocoss 26 Jul `12, 9:57AM
Rodgers 'broke promise' in £12.5m bid for Allen
Liverpool believe their manager, Brendan Rodgers, is perfectly entitled to return to his old club Swansea City for players who wish to leave, despite the club's accusation that he has broken a promise with a bid for Joe Allen.
Swansea's position on the midfielder leaving had started to soften and it became clear last week that a £14m bid may be too good to refuse. But their chairman, Huw Jenkins, was infuriated yesterday when details of the release clause in Allen's contract – allowing him to leave if a £15m bid comes in from one of Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea or Arsenal – leaked out.
Liverpool are understood to have bid £12.5m but yesterday's development has potential to cause friction when a likely second bid comes in for the player, who is expected to start Great Britain's match against Senegal at Old Trafford tonight. Swansea said yesterday evening that Liverpool had "expressed an interest" in Allen, despite "a written agreement with Liverpool not to approach any players within the 12-month period of former manager Brendan Rodgers leaving for Anfield."
Their anger over the publication of release clause details was also obvious. "The club is not prepared to release any details on whether any formal bids have been made at this stage or details of Joe's contract, which are private and confidential," Swansea's statement said. "The club is extremely disappointed that speculation regarding certain aspects of his contract have been released to the media by parties outside the club. Fortunately the club is in a financial position where it does not need to sell any of its players."
Swansea feel that Rodgers has an unfair advantage, in being privy to the minutiae of Allen's contract, and the view from South Wales last night was that the northern Irishman has lost the goodwill which he had retained after leaving the Liberty Stadium for Anfield. Rodgers' predecessor Roberto Martinez experienced the same backlash when he went back to take Jordi Gomez to Wigan Athletic. Rodgers said last week that if Allen was subject to bids from elsewhere he would make his move for the 22-year-old.
Shanghai Shenhua 0-1 Man United: Fergie hails goal-getter Kagawa as United seal pre-season win in China
The Japan international, playing in the hole just off lone striker Federico Macheda, was United's most influential player and scored a deserved goal in the 68th minuteGoal man: Shinji Kagawa opening his account for United and was named as man of the match
Sir Alex Ferguson hailed Shinji Kagawa as his first Manchester United goal saw them wrap up the first part of their pre-season tour with a win.
Kagawa was United's most influential player and served notice of the impact he can have at United following his £12million move from German champions Borussia Dortmund.
"Kagawa was man of the match and I thought he deserved that," said Ferguson.
"He has settled in really well and is going to be a really good player for us. I was really impressed with him tonight.
"One of the features of our game over the years now has been the speed of our counter-attacking. Antonio Valencia is good at that, but Kagawa adds to that.
"But more than that, I think his awareness of receiving the ball and speed of turning defenders, I think that's going to be an asset for us."
The Japan international, playing in the hole just off lone striker Federico Macheda, scored a deserved goal in the 68th minute.
Substitute Bebe beat his man on the left before squaring for Kagawa, whose dipping shot from 10 yards out took a deflection before settling in the net.
Ferguson sees Kagawa as a key man for United this season and it was easy to see why as the 23-year-old, making only his second start, played with impressive guile and industry.
Fellow new signing Nick Powell, making his first start since his £4million move from Crewe, looked lively but squandered a great chance to put United ahead in the 23rd minute.
Spotting Powell's run, young midfielder Davide Petrucci chipped an exquisite ball over the top to his intended target, who took the ball down with one touch.
But Powell, perhaps fearing he had less time than he did, snatched at the chance and screwed a quickly-taken left-foot shot wide of the target.
Powell had earlier been lucky to come away unscathed from a reckless challenge, when Shanghai's Shouting Wang clattered into him with a studs-first tackle.
It was enough to get furious United boss Ferguson off his seat in the dug-out in protest, Shanghai midfielder Wang somehow escaping a booking for the dangerous lunge.
Thereafter United controlled possession without causing their hosts any real problems.
But the visitors themselves were almost caught out on the counter-attack three minutes before the break.
Shanghai midfielder Joel Griffiths managed to get in behind Rio Ferdinand, leaving him one-on-one with United keeper Anders Lindegaard.
Lindegaard, who has already declared his intention to depose David De Gea as United's first-choice keeper this season, made a superb save to divert the shot.
With no Didier Drogba or Nicolas Anelka in their squad, the hosts lacked the requisite quality to trouble United, despite being tidy in possession in the first-half, after which they tired.
At half-time Lindegaard, Powell and Petrucci made way for Sam Johnstone, Ryan Tunnicliffe and Bebe, as Ferguson sought to give his young players as much game-time as possible.
Kagawa set up Macheda in the 55th minute, but his weak angled shot was diverted, while Bebe, scorer of United's late equaliser in Cape Town, struck a shot straight at keeper Xiong Fei.
But the goal came 22 minutes from time, allowing Ferguson to make another glut of substitutions before the final whistle, with Paul Scholes among those making a late cameo.
United, who return to Manchester tomorrow, play Valernega in Olso on August 5, before taking on Barcelona in Gothenburg three days late.
The final warm-up game for Ferguson's men, before their Premier League opener at Everton on August 20, is away to Hannover on August 11.
(4-4-1-1): Lindegaard (Johnstone 46); Veseli (Vermijil 71), Ferdinand, Carrick, Brady; Valencia (Lingard 71), Anderson (Scholes 71), Powell (Tunnicliffe 46), Petrucci (Bebe 46); Kagawa; Macheda(Hernandez 60)Edited by zocoss 25 Jul `12, 11:32PM
Yes we can-can! PSG are ready to outbid Real Madrid for Spurs' Modric
Spanish champions claim they'll only pay £27m for the Croatian but big-spending French side are willing to match his 40m valuation<!-- Can pick up the first element because is searching for author name -->I see England, I see France... Could Modric be getting the EuroStar soon?
Real Madrid claim they urged wantaway Tottenham star Luka Modric to end his one-man protest.
The Spanish champions also insist Modric acted alone when he went AWOL from Spurs' pre-season training programme, amid suspicions they put him up to it.
Real president Florentino Perez is still hoping to sign the Croatia playmaker, who is now back in training at Spurs' Essex base but will not be jetting out to join their pre-season tour in the US.
However, their chances will not be helped by the fact that big-spending Paris Saint-Germain are back in for him – and have made it clear they are ready to meet Tottenham's £40million asking price.
Modric would prefer to join Real, but PSG’s interest could spark a bidding war which Perez insists his club cannot afford.
Perez has already said he will not go above £27m for Modric, but boss Jose Mourinho is desperate to land the 26-year-old and may try to boost his chances by off-loading Brazilian superstar Kaka.
Adios? Selling Kaka would help Real Madrid pay more for Modric
Kaka is being linked with a return to South America, and the fee he'd bring would enable Mourinho to give PSG a run for their money.
The intrigue deepened on Tuesday night when the La Liga giants didn't even take Kaka as part of the squad that played a pre-season friendly away to Real Oviedo, which they won 5-1.
Mourinho's assistant, Aitor Karanka, told AS: "We decided he [Kaka] would stay in Madrid. Kaka and the club are working to find a good solution for all parties."
Asked about Modric, Karanka added: "Which club would not want a player like him?
"He is an outstanding footballer and had a great tournament (Euro 2012). It is clear that he would fit in Madrid."
TAKING FLIGHT ... Mod hoped Heathrow no-show would force through move
LUKA MODRIC has made a grovelling apology to chairman Daniel Levy for going on strike.
The Croatian playmaker stopped off at Tottenham’s HQ to play down his latest bust-up with Levy before he eventually flew to America for his club’s pre-season tour.
Modric, 26, hoped his no-show at Heathrow on Sunday would force Spurs to push through a deal with Real Madrid. But the tactic infuriated Levy, who wanted to hit him with a £15,000 fine for each day he was on strike.
Boss Andre Villas-Boas said last night: “The club must protect themselves. We have to hold on to our values and rights. Last year Luka behaved professionally. Unfortunately this is the first time he has taken these actions and it is not common professional behaviour.
“Either the clubs interested must now meet our demands regarding his value or the player must continue with his club duties.
“Hopefully this won’t drag on as it doesn’t help Luka or us.”
Modric has already been fined £80,000 after refusing to train last week and Levy has made it clear he can only leave if a club meet his £40million valuation.
Luka Modric move from Tottenham on hold as his old club demand sell-on feeModric faces Spurs' wrath as midfielder goes AWOL ahead of US tour
Luka Modric’s dream move from Tottenham to Real Madrid has been put at risk because his former club, Dinamo Zagreb, are entitled to five per cent of the transfer fee.
The Croatia international is determined to leave White Hart Lane for the Bernabeu this summer but a price cannot be agreed for the player.
Standard Sport can reveal negotiations have been complicated because Modric’s old club, Dinamo Zagreb, inserted a five per cent sell-on clause when he joined Spurs for £16.6million in 2008.
It is why Tottenham are demanding close to £40m for his signature, rather than the £35m fee that has been reported.
Dinamo Zagreb president Zdravko Mamic, whose son, Mario, is one of Modric’s representatives, said: “I don’t deal with Modric, professionally speaking, but Luka is like a son to me, as well as a friend.
“Of course I want him to sign for Real because Dinamo stand to earn a lot from the transfer. We would get five per cent of the fee.”
Real Madrid have offered £27m so far and their president, Florentino Perez, is adamant they won’t go any higher.
He said: “The limit for the Modric deal is 35m euros. We will not pay any more than that for him.”Edited by zocoss 23 Jul `12, 11:17AM
Tottenham midfielder Luka Modric's representatives to meet with Real Madrid after he fails to arrive in LA
Luka Modric’s future could become clearer on Monday with a meeting scheduled between his representatives and Real Madrid after the midfielder refused to take part in Tottenham Hotspur’s pre-season tour to the United States.
Luka Modric has been fined by Tottenham Hotspur for the second time in three days after refusing to travel on the club's pre-season tour of America, in his latest attempts to force through a transfer to Real Madrid.
The club had previously been discussing leaving the player behind in London as they tried to come to an agreement with Madrid but, on Saturday, Modric took matters into his own hands and did not turn up for the team flight to Los Angeles. While it was always a possibility that he might miss the three-match tour, the club feel that the way in which the player has gone about it has been ill-judged.
Modric has been fined for a second time by the club for missing the flight, following an earlier fine for missing training on Friday without permission. He stands to lose up to four weeks' wages – around £160,000 – with the likelihood he will be fined the maximum two-week fine for both offences.
Modric’s whereabouts were unknown by Spurs on Sunday although it is understood he may have returned home to Croatia as he contemplates finally handing in a transfer request.
Much may depend on the outcome of Monday’s meeting with Real so far refusing to go beyond the £27 million - including add-ons - that they have already bid for Modric who is also wanted by Paris St-Germain and Chelsea although Spurs chairman Daniel Levy will not sell to another Premier League club.
His absence prompted an angry response from Andre Villas-Boas, the new Spurs manager, who told the Spanish sports newspaper AS that this latest move on Modric's part would not go down well with the club's chairman, Daniel Levy. Villas-Boas said: "I think Modric is wrong. This will go against him. He has worsened the situation with what he's doing and now the chairman [Daniel Levy] is very angry."
The deal to sell Modric to Madrid has been accepted by both sides as a probability for some time, but the two clubs have not been able to get close to agreement on a fee for the player, with Levy chasing a value of around £40m. Spurs' priority is a cash deal and that is still the most likely outcome, although it is not impossible that a player might be put in by Madrid. So far they have offered the Turkish midfielder, Nuri Sahin, whose high wages are a problem for Spurs.
Villas-Boas admitted selling Modric would be a “big loss” and has already warned the 26 year-old of Spurs’ determination to achieve the right price for him and the club is braced for a transfer saga that could run until the window closes.
Modric’s advisers, however, hope to move things along on Monday and are trying to persuade Real to raise their bid.
Levy has consistently proved to be not only a stubborn negotiator but a man who will dig in his heels if needs to be - as he proved when stating that Modric was not for sale at any price last year and had to stay despite a series of offers from Chelsea culminating in a bid of £40 million. In return, Modric refused to sign a new contract.
As has been the way in recent dealings with Levy and big-name departures from Tottenham, the chairman holds all the cards having persuaded Modric to sign a six-year deal in May 2010, which puts the club firmly in the driving seat. The 26-year-old took Spurs to the brink last summer in an attempt to leave for Chelsea but failed, and once again he is unlikely to break the resolve of Levy.Edited by zocoss 23 Jul `12, 10:51AM
Moura the merrier: United have agreed £26m deal for Brazil superteen Lucas
Fergie will get his man (boy) as 19-year-old Olympian dazzler's club Sao Paulo finally settle on massively upped price – now it's down to personal terms<!-- Can pick up the first element because is searching for author name -->Different class: Lucas of Brazil holds off Aaron Ramsey and Jack Cork of GB during the recent friendly
Manchester United have agreed a staggering £26 million deal with Sao Paulo for Brazil sensation Lucas Moura.
Boss Sir Alex Ferguson is being backed by the Glazers to land the 19-year-old wonder boy, who appeared as a sub against Team GB, and the move is now down to agreeing terms with his camp.
Ferguson’s negotiators have astonishingly doubled their valuation in the talks on Lucas, who has been a target for months as the Mirror first revealed in March.
Sao Paulo have accepted the sale price on Lucas, who is in England for the Olympics, and United are confident they can come to an agreement with his agents.
Lucas is looked after by his father and an agency and they want a big payment too, with United trying to agree those figures in a hurry.
Inter Milan and Chelsea also chased Lucas but backed off at the price tag. However Ferguson is determined to land a ‘worldie’ for his squad.
Amazingly Lucas would need a permit appeal to be allowed to play in England, but with the money involved the authorities are sure to be convinced he is in the ‘special talent’ category.
Face of the future: Fergie's got himself another young diamond in Lucas
Rough stuff: Lucas has probably spent his career getting lumps kicked out – but how will he fare in the Prem?
Lucas would ideally have a medical as soon as possible, but Brazil are favourites for the gold medal - and it would be disruptive for them at the moment.
He's a bit special....Edited by zocoss 23 Jul `12, 9:55AM
Barcelona cannot afford to surpass transfer budget again, admits vice-president
The Catalan giants' financial situation remains a worry, and the club director has warned that they must avoid making numerous mega-money signings this summer..Barcelona vice-president Javier Faus has stressed that the club must be cautious with its transfer dealings in the future in order to sustain financial stability.
The Blaugrana exceeded their transfer budget in the summer of 2011 following two high-profile arrivals, and Faus has stressed that they cannot afford another summer of big spending. "Last year we surpassed our transfer budget with the signings of Cesc Fabregas and Alexis Sanchez," Faus stated in the end-of-year financial report.
"We cannot overspend our budget by €20 or 30 million each year. It would put our business plan at risk. It would not be sustainable.
"The club needs to be cautious if it is to be able to take on ambitious future projects. We have to look to the medium and long-term stability of the club. Rational and austere measures need to be applied in order to secure a positive balance sheet.
"The club must reduce the debt to sustainable levels and, above all, not take on more debt. We have to prepare for what could happen in the near future and have stronger assets. For ambitious real-estate projects, we need a healthy balance sheet."
Barcelona's current debt stands at €335m.Edited by zocoss 22 Jul `12, 9:42PM
Suicidal defending: Dalglish's support for Suarez got him fired - Fergie
United manager says he wasn't surprised to see his fellow Scot get the chop at Liverpool after the way racism saga was mishandled<!-- Can pick up the first element because is searching for author name -->Walk on: Liverpool ditched club legend Dalglish in May
Sir Alex Ferguson says Kenny Dalglish got himself sacked by Liverpool with his mishandling of the Luis Suarez racism row.
Dalglish was fired at the end of last season and Manchester United opposite number Ferguson said his fellow Scot's unstinting support of Kop star Suarez ultimately cost him his job.
"I wasn't surprised at Kenny leaving," said Ferguson. "I think John Henry [the Liverpool owner] has obviously looked at the Suarez incident and felt it wasn't handled in the right way.
"I think that must have been part of it. It certainly wasn't a nice thing to happen, you know."
Suarez was banned for eight matches by the FA after an independent commission found him guilty of racially abusing United's Patrice Evra during a game last October.
Suarez re-opened the race row this week in an interview in his native UruguayT for trouble: Suarez and team-mates sport those now notorious t-shirts
Dalglish continued to back his striker, even after Suarez was found guilty, and claimed the player was the victim of a conspiracy.
Among Dalglish's ill-advised actions during the saga was his idea for the Liverpool squad to wear t-shirts in support of Suarez before a Premier League game.
Suarez re-opened the race row this week in an interview in his native Uruguay, during which by claimed Manchester United's 'political power' had got him banned.
He spoke out even though Dalglish's successor Brendan Rodgers has said it is time for Suarez to move on and for the whole issue to be consigned to the past.
"I've seen that Suarez has gone back and talked about it," said Ferguson. "If Suarez keeps on making headlines out of it then it's not going to go away."
Ferguson, speaking in Durban, South Africa on United's pre-season tour, dismissed the idea Suarez was the victim of a conspiracy orchestrated by Liverpool's arch-rivals.
"I don't think that was anything to do with Manchester United," said Fergie.
I think that was to do with Patrice Evra. But it wasn’t Evra’s contribution, it wasn’t Suarez’s contribution, it was the expert they called in to explain the cultural differences. He was the guy who killed Suarez.’
Ferguson also refuted Suarez’s claims that Evra was at fault for their failure to shake hands before the two teams met again at Old Trafford in February.
He said: 'The handshake was disappointing. He came out and said Evra’s hand was low. There is no doubt Evra put his hand towards him. I think Evra expected him not to shake hands. Evra actually said that to the lads.
'He just felt that he wasn’t going to shake his hand. He was sort of embarrassed to put his hand there.
'It's Suarez, he’s the one who should be making the effort to do something about it.'
Despite football being shown in a poor light by the Suarez/Evra episode and John Terry's recent trial, Ferguson said he did not envisage a return to the dark days of discrimination.
"I don't think there's cause to worry about racism in England," said Ferguson. "Since I've been down in England we've made great strides forward. I don't see any problem with the game in terms of race.
"Obviously, I don't know what he [Terry] said - there's a lot of speculation about what he said and why he said it - but I don't think it's a problem."
Flashpoints: Suarez and Evra clashed last season with damaging effectEdited by zocoss 20 Jul `12, 9:09AM
Ade wages warMONEY TALKS ... Emmanuel Adebayor
TOTTENHAM target Emmanuel Adebayor is threatening to see out the remainder of his contract at Manchester City.
The striker, 28, is unhappy at being asked to take a £3million-a-year pay cut to join Spurs.
A close pal confirmed: “Manu is digging his heels in and I don’t think this is going to be sorted any time soon.
“He’s the sort of guy who will see out his contract rather than cave in.”
The two clubs agreed a £6m deal last week but Adebayor, who last played for City in December 2010, is stalling on the move because of the huge gulf in wages.
City paid Arsenal £25m for Adebayor in 2009 and he still has two years left on his £175,000-a-week contract at the Etihad.
Spurs’ offer of a four-year deal comes nowhere near so Adebayor, who scored 18 goals on loan at White Hart lane last season, is holding out for a sizeable increase from the Londoners or a big pay-off from City.
Roman panicked! Chelsea chief fired AVB too soon says ex-Blue Alex
Former Bridge defender reckons club's dread of being overtaken by Manchester City and Tottenham got Villas-Boas the sack<!-- Can pick up the first element because is searching for author name -->Chelsea boot: AVB lasted just eight months
Shaky ground: Villas-Boas and Alex during their brief spell together at the Bridge
Roman Abramovich has been accused of being panicked into sacking Andre Villas-Boas.
Chelsea's billionaire Russian owner was spooked into the move by the rise of London rivals Tottenham and the growing power of Manchester City, according to ex-Blues defender Alex.
Villas-Boas - ironically appointed as Spurs boss earlier this month - was sacked in March, less than a year after Abramovich triggered a £13million release clause to sign him from Porto.
Now, Alex – who played for AVB at Stamford Bridge before moving to Paris Saint-Germain in January – has revealed the extent of the pressure the Portuguese was under in west London.
The centre-back said: “We [at PSG] certainly aren’t under the same amount of pressure.
“Mr Abramovich never hesitated to show up and demand more effort – there were several team meetings.
“We’ve met representatives of the owners, but the relationship at PSG is definitely less intense.”
Although he slipped down the pecking order behind David Luiz and then January signing Gary Cahill under Villas-Boas, Alex believes Abramovich should have shown more patience with the 34-year-old.
He told Champions magazine: “Andre should have been given more time.
“After all, the club spent a lot of money getting him from Porto and needed to take into account that there was a new manager with new players to settle in.
“Everybody [at Chelsea] was starting to look over their shoulders because Manchester City had arrived in the top four and Spurs were catching up.”
Fall guy: Abramovich feared dropping out of the Premier League's top four
Villas-Boas’ predecessor at Chelsea was Carlo Ancelotti, who Alex has since followed to PSG.
The Italian was also dismissed prematurely last year, 12 months after winning the Double at Stamford Bridge.
By contrast, Ancelotti retains the confidence of PSG's Qatari owners, despite finishing second in the French League to shock winners Montpellier, who have a far lower playing budget.
PSG have responded by splashing the cash to land defender Thiago Silva and striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, both from AC Milan, for a total of £51m.
Alex went on: “A team needs at least two seasons to gel properly and get itself into a position to challenge regularly for trophies.
“When I joined PSG it was clear to me that we would not start winning things overnight.
“It’s understandable that the arrival of the new owners and all the media coverage the team was receiving could get people overexcited.
“But the players were always aware that we are in the process of building a foundation.”
£35m for Modric
AVB warns Real'RIC PICKINGS ... Modric is in demand
ANDRE VILLAS-BOAS last night told Luka Modric he will not be sold unless Real Madrid stump up Tottenham’s £35million asking price.
The Croatian schemer was absent from Spurs’ victory over Stevenage in their opening pre-season friendly having been given extra time off following his involvement at Euro 2012.
But the midfielder has made no secret of his desire to leave White Hart Lane, with Spanish giants Madrid leading the chase.
And Villas-Boas let slip last night that two other clubs — thought to be Manchester United and Paris St Germain — are also keen on signing the 26-year-old.
But the former Chelsea boss is adamant Spurs will not lower their asking price and says Modric understands the club’s position.
Villas-Boas said: “There has been continuous interest from three different clubs in Luka. But it is important for Tottenham to hold on to their rights.
“His situation will continue as it is until the price is right.
“It’s important to understand his feelings. We have been speaking and I understand his point and he understands the club’s point.
“Luka is an intelligent person and understands the club has to defend his value their values, rights and interests. It’s a difficult situation for the club but we have been co-operative by openly saying we are willing to listen to offers.
“But the offer has not been met to what the chairman wants. If that is met, there won’t be any problems.”
Villas-Boas also denied he is interested in Porto ace Hulk having been photographed with the striker in a London hotel on Tuesday night.
He added: “Hulk is a very special player for me as we achieved a very good year at Porto — but we were just talking.”
The man who is likely to be Modric’s long-term replacement, Gylfi Sigurdsson, impressed as he scored within 10 minutes of coming on against Stevenage, Yago Falque grabbed a late second.
No Liverpool offers for Clint Dempsey, claim Fulham, as west Londoners warn Brendan Rodgers off making bid
Fulham deny Clint Dempsey’s move to Liverpool has already gone through after a report on the Liverpool owners’ official website claimed the attacking midfielder had joined the club in time for their US Tour.Wanted man: Clint Dempsey's performances for Fulham have caught the eye
The Fenway Sports Group's site audaciously posted a headline that read 'Fabio Borini, Liverpool gear up for North American Tour as Clint Dempsey joins club' and further went on to say Liverpool had "added Fabio Borini and Clint Dempsey to a team that came within a game of winning the FA cup".
The accompanying video, however, although captioned with 'report: Clint Dempsey signs with Liverpool FC', acknowledged that stories in England were merely speculation.
The seemingly false content was later removed and a Fulham spokesman said that, not only were such claims 'totally untrue', but that the club had 'not (even) received any bids' for the player.
"We have received no offers from any club for Clint Dempsey," the spokesman said. "We would discourage any club from making a bid for him."
Brendan Rodgers is in need of a midfielder who can link up well with attack and score goals and, after missing out on Gylfi Sigurdsson, who surprised his former manager by linking up with Tottenham Hotspur, Dempsey is seen as an ideal candidate.
Despite today's embarassment, the FSG website's blunder will only fuel speculation further amid reports that a £10 million fee has been agreed between the clubs.
Liverpool want to sign Dempsey quickly so he can join up with their tour of his homeland, where he is swiftly overtaking Landon Donovan as the nation's most famed and marketable footballer.