There’s an implication too that Milan wouldn’t want to sell the player to another Serie A club which would rule out the likes of Napoli who may soon be looking to replace the irrepressible Edinson Cavani.
Meanwhile the player’s agent has put the dampeners on any move to Man City.
Roberto La Florio told SportItalia (reported here).
“Although we can say that the market is a bit crazy and anything can happen, that is indisputable. The boy is doing well at Milan and for us nothing has changed.
“Offers from City? Nobody has called me regarding this. He is Milan through and through and looks great with the Rossoneri.”
So that’s it. Done until August. Or July. Or the end of June, depending on where your club sits geographically or hierarchically.
The 2012-2013 football season is, more or less, over, bar a Champions League Final at Wembley between two German teams (so twice as guaranteed to end with penalties), and the Championship Playoff Final two days later at the same venue.
Has it been a vintage nine months? No. Not when its highlight has been the retirements of a manager and the replica shirt salesman who once played for him.
Not when the Premier League is won four weeks early by an in-development Manchester United, with the reigning champions failing to put up much of a fight.
And not when the wooden spoon positions of third and fourth become so critical to clubs’ fortunes that they become performance objectives in their own right, fought over like the last grains of rice in a famine.
The 2012-13 season has, to be honest, been pretty mediocre. And that mediocrity hasn’t been helped by the recurrence of racism as a core issue, the brief flare-ups of old-school hooliganism, and players and their clubs doing little to protect their reputations from their own behavioural misdemeanors.
Added to that, we’ve witnessed the sorry, greedy, paranoid state of affairs in which by March, 103 English league managers and coaches had been sacked, resigned or, to use that old chestnut, departed “by mutual consent”. What kind of season is it when onetime European champions Nottingham Forest fire four managers, and that chickens-in-a-basket case Blackburn Rovers end up with their fourth their season since August?
Like a Grand Prix, it is rare these days to end a football season feeling completely satisfied. Tired, yes, out of pocket, certainly, but after the requisite 38 games (or 69 if you’re Chelsea…), it’s difficult to look back completely objectively and say “that was brilliant from start to finish”. Because, short of 20 teams taking it down to the wire at either end of table, seasons tend to be as attritional as a French battlefield in 1917.
So, to formerly shutter this term, What Would David Bowie Do? presents its club-by-club end-of-term opinion on the Barclays Premier League 2012-13, in the process offering no apology whatsoever for the longer rant about Chelsea than anyone else (at least it’s spared you a separate post…):
Manchester United (89 points, goal difference +43) Champions
On the opening day of the 1995-1996 season, that football sage Alan Hansen told Match of the Day viewers that “You can’t win anything with kids” after a somewhat juvenile Manchester United team went down 3-1 to Aston Villa. That United team went on to win one of the club’s 11 league titles under Sir Alex Ferguson.
United looked similarly young this season, and history repeated itself with a defeat, at home on the opening day. It would appear that Hansen’s retirement from Match of the Day hasn’t come soon enough. But enough about him.
This may not have been a vintage season for Manchester United, but in his customary manner, SAF fixed his one main problem audaciously by bringing in van Persie, and blooded more youngsters in to the extent that the likes of Phil Jones ended the season looking like he’d been a first team regular for years. United’s season ultimately prevailed, but you have to wonder what a more spirited title defence from City would have achieved, and what if more teams like Chelsea had gone to Old Trafford and played United at their own game.
I’m not going to add to the already universal lament for Sir Alex, save that despite all we have vituperatively aimed at him from the terraces down the years, his remarkable record at Manchester United does speak for itself. Less so Paul Scholes – an inspirational midfielder at times, an unguided cluster bomb on occasion – whose eventual retirement deserves recognition. So, too, David Beckham. OK, he hadn’t played for United in ten years, spending that time in Spain, Italy, California and France shifting merchandise for Adidas, but it was at Old Trafford under Ferguson that one of football’s greatest stars was created, along with a modicum of ability.
Manchester City (78pts, GD +32) 2nd
Chelsea responded to their first league title in fifty years by winning another one in 2006. Manchester City responded to their first league title in 44 years by becoming increasingly dysfunctional, with their much respected manager Roberto Mancini losing his focus (Balotelli) and his political nouse in both the boardroom and the dressing room.
Finishing second is never a bad thing, but as successive managers at Stamford Bridge have found, second is always second best in the eyes of ambitious and success-greedy proprietors who believe that their investments owe them a right.
Getting sacked was an astonishingly cruel outcome for Mancini, but with Manchester United not being as rampant this season as their points and securing the title prematurely might suggest, the 11-point, 11-goal deficit with their neighbours became enough of a gaping chasm to expose a team that could have done much better with the right management approach. To end the season with a management clearout before the final game suggests a poisonous atmosphere
Next stop – The Londoners
In form Uruguayan striker Edinson Cavani has dropped his biggest hint yet that he might be on his way out of Napoli in the summer.
The player, who has scored 29 times in 36 appearances this year, told Italian newspaper La Repubblica.
“I’m fine in Naples, but in football there are lots of things to consider. I can only say that I will give my all in this shirt until the last day I wear it.”
The news, reported here and several other places, is likely to alert a host of suitors. Chelsea and Man Cit have both allegedly been tracking the player, while Arsene Wenger admitted that Cavani was a player he’d love to sign back in January.
So what did you make of Stevan Jovetic last night then? It was a game of two halves for the Montenegrin striker. In the first half he was sloppy when passing, wandered into offside positions and troubled the England central defending pair very little.
But in the second half, with the arrival of Dejan Damjanoviche dropped deeper, got more possession, ran more at the English defence and created several goal scoring opportunities.
Did he remind you of anyone? RVP perhaps? You get the feeling that he would link up very well with Santi Cazorla with Olivier Giroud as the option as the main striker.
‘Reportedly in advanced talks over a move to sign Fiorentina striker Stevan Jovetic the first Gunners signing of what may well prove to be a very busy summer for the North London side.
Though the La Viola attacker is said to have a host of prospective suitors Arsenal are said to be the favourites to sign Jovetic, with Arsene Wenger looking to bring in the forward to help beef up his strike-force.’
Arsenal can clearly afford him and the money on offer is reputedly £90,000 per week. Like a lot of Montenegrins Jovetic is a big fan of the Premiership and is seemingly very keen to play in England.
What could,possibly go wrong?
Well Arsenal could very easily be gazumped with Man City the favourites to make Jovetic a better offer. But then again the Blues are apparently chasing a number of high profile players including Falcao and Cavani. Jovetic knows that he is Wenger’s number one target.
“If he has to leave, then make it for a real top club. Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United fit that bill, but Arsenal are not better than Fiorentina.”
Which in many ways is a fair point, especially if Arsenal don’t qualify for the Champions League.
There’s also the possibility of a move within Italy too.
It is clear that Jovetic is the man who could ignite Arsenal’s season next year. The club’s lack of firewpower especially when compared with United who have Rooney and Wellbeck (arguably England’s best players last night) alongside RVP is woeful.
Well after yesterday’s revelation that Yaya Toure could be about to quit Mnan City the papers today are hinting that Chelsea could be favourites, alongside Real Madrid, to land the 29 year old.
ESPN suggests that Chelsea see Toure as the perfect replacement for England international Frank Lampard, who may or many no be with the club after the summer.
Chelsea are one of only a handful of clubs in the world who could afford to match Toure’s current wages which rank at £220,000 a week.
There doesn’t appear to be too much weight to this story, but it is one to keep an eye on.
Meanwhile the Express suggests that Chelsea are a step nearer signing Atletico Madrid’s sensational striker Radamel Falcao after the club had a secret meeting with the player at the weekend.
According to The Express Spanish TV station Punto Pelota claims a secret meeting between Atletico Madrid and Chelsea took place on Sunday to discuss a proposed move for Falcao. There are however a few sticking points namely that as part of any deal with Chelsea, the club want to keep Chelsea’s on loan goalkeeper Thiabut Courtois another year.
Falcao would be a hugely impressive addition to the Chelsea squad. Were Toure to sign too surely Chelsea would start the season being perceived as potential Premiership winners.
Apparently the player has been in contract talks with City for six months now and according to the paper if he doesn’t sign a new deal by the weekend the 29 year old will look for a move.
And depressingly for City fans Toure’s agent has said that the deal isn’t about money.
Dimitri Seluk said
“I do not feel he will stay at City. This is not about money. He wants to leave because of many reasons.
“He is one of the best players at Manchester City but does not feel the respect of the staff. Only Roberto Mancini respects Yaya.”
It could be that City simply have decided that they can’t afford to keep their star player. He is currently on £220,000 a week which makes him the club’s top earner and is one reason why City’s wages bill is astronomical.
The tricky part for City though would be finding a a club willing to pay his gargantuan wages, especially as Toure heads towards the end of this career.
The most obvious destinations would be PSG or a Russian club like Anzhi Makhachkala who are ambitious and could afford to pay him. Though Barca, Chelsea or even Man United might be tempted to stretch their wage bill further to land one of the most talented players on the planet.
To be honest though this feels like agent posturing. My money would be on the player singing a new contract at the club very soon as he angles for a better deal. What do you think?
The paper suggests that Carlos Tevez, Gareth Barry, Edin Dzeko and Samir Nasri head a group of 11 whose futures are in doubt.
This is because of the huge pressure on Roberto Mancini to compete with his rivals from across the city. The players simply aren’t deemed good enough any more.
So might Arsenal be in a position to profit from the release of one or more of the players?
I think that it is unlikely that Arsenal will qualify for the Champions League next season. It will be close but I think next season will be all about rebuilding a side that will ensure a top four finish and go on to mount a series Premiership challenge in the 2014-15 season. So the club needs players who will guarantee that the team qualifies for the Champions League next year as well as providing the building blocks for something better.
An awful lot of these players have done just that with City. Sure they may have been attracted by the huge wages, but they helped take city from middle table to Premierhsip winners.
What Arsenal need at the moment is three things. Leaders, winners and players who have excelled in the Premiership. Man City are offering players that have all three of those attributes.
So yes I would welcome Nasri back and Wenger has been a long term admirer of Edin Dzeko too. Kolo Toure, and especially Garth Barry could well be very useful squad players whose bags of experiences could help bring on Ramsey, Wilshere, Jenkinson and the rest of the Gunners’ youngsters.
As much as I would love Arsenal to spend £70 million on marquee signings – they simply won’t be able to compete with their rivals for Jovetic and Falcao. The club need a degree of stability in the Premiership and the Man City cast offs could certainly help them there.
It is Man city’s avowed aim to snap up the best English talent in the Premiership. No surprise then that they have set their sights on Arsenal’s right back Carl Jenkinson.
The Mirror has a story this morning which suggests that Manicni and his men have been tracking the player and will make a move for him in the summer.
They sense an opportunity if Bacary Sagna leaves and Arsenal don’t promote Jenkinson to first choice right back.
This seems like an odd one. Jenkinson is a childhood Arsenal fan, who is living the dream at the moment. He is an intelligent man, but someone who is passionate about the team. I really can’t see this happening. Besides he will have noted how smoothly the careers of Sinclair and Rodwell have progressed at The Etihad too.
The United striker clearly has a problem in that he has fallen down Fergie’s pecking order of players and many papers are suggesting that he will leave in the summer. But where to? City apparently don’t want him, Everton can’t afford him and he is unlikely to move to Spain or Italy.
The proposed move to PSG, which is in many of the papers, doesn’t seem to fit either. But what about London? It is a move that means the player could keep his base in the North West but still play Premiership football. Chelsea would be the favourites to sign him but Arsenal and Spurs have been mentioned in dispatches.
Yes it is true that Arsenal need a reliable and predatory striker, but the fact that Rooney earns twice as much as any other Arsenal player should be enough to mean any talk of a deal is fantasy football, even if the club could afford him. Wenger is an admirer of the player, but he is arguably not what Arsenal need at the moment and there must be queries about his injury record. Btw anyone else noted that RVP has only scored once in eight games now?
Finally a couple of sources are linking Arsenal with a bid for the – wait for it – new ‘Niklas Bendtner.’ Wenger is keen on FC Copenhagen striker Andreas Cornelius, who has scored 14 goals in 20 matches for Copenhagen this season.
“The Premier League is the best league in the world, and I would love to play in it,” Cornelius is quoted as saying in the Metro, with Arsenal his preferred choice. The player certainly knows where the sticks are and would come cheap (£3 million is mooted), but defenses in the Premiership are a bit tougher than the ones he has played against so far. One to watch.
Ok Gunners fans, stop sniggering. Over the last few days there have been rumours about the next move of one time Arsenal hero Samir Nasri.
After a season in which he has been very poor and only scored twice it seems that Man City have decided that he is surplus to requirements at The Etihad. The player, that they signed from Arsenal for £25 million, is now being linked with a move to French League two side Monaco.
One thing is for sure City are going to have take a serious hit on the player, perhaps selling him for around the £10 milion mark. Nasri’s big money pay days will be at end (well relatively anyhow) as he is unlikely to earn £175k a week anywhere else.
It does beg the question though might a return to Arsenal be a possibility. Well I know the player has burned a lot of bridges with the fans, but does the 25 year old still have the respect of the manager and the team? Quite possibly. Wenger clearly rates Nasri as he was very sorry to let him go. Meanwhile Nasri seems to harbour some affection for the club, even though he has been a little bit disrespectful in tweets. He went to the game against West Ham recently running the gauntlet of irate Gunners fans.
So, and it is a big if, if they management team fancy a reunion what would they be getting? Is he the player he was three seasons ago?
There’s an intriguing article here on the always excellent Squwaka blog which outlines his problems. It suggests that the Frenchman might be being playing out of position at City which has seriously dented his confidence.
He has always dreamt of playing in the hole for a top European club, this hasn’t been the case at Manchester City where he finds himself on the wing in a two-sided role. He is there to create from out wide by cutting in but also to make it difficult for other teams to penetrate through the middle by tucking in when they have the ball. His efforts with the ball have been good, a pass completion rate of 91% is excellent.
However only 54% of these are forward passes, indicating a lack of incisive play. Nasri has created 32 chances this season although mostly from set-pieces where he has an array of enormous men to aim at hence his tally of only 3 assists.
With Arshavin out the door, Gervinho wayward at best and Oxlade Chamberlain not quite capturing his early form Arsenal could clearly use a player who can play behind the striker, but also wide if necessary. I guess he wouldn’t start every game (but at least he would give Santi a break), but I am sure Wenger would find much more use for his undoubted talents than Roberto Mancini.
The Arsenal manager clearly knows how to get the best out of the Frenchman – I wonder if he would like another opportunity. Talented players with this amount of Premiership experience don’t come along at cut-down prices too often.
It seems that top of Arsene Wenger’s striker wants list these days is not David Villa but Fiorentina’s Stevan Jovetic.The 23 year old has been in sparkling form this season, something which hasn’t escaped the attention of Man City’s Roberto Mancini too. Italian league leaders Juventus are also said to be very keen on the Montenegrin.
So there’s good news for the English clubs as Fiorentina’s sporting director Daniele Prade yesterday admitted that he is unsure of the player’s future
“We will see what happens from here until the end of the season. It depends on where we finish in the league, our goals for the future and other things.”
The big sticking point for Jovetic is that he wants to play in the Champions league. Fiorentina are currently sixth in Serie A and battling with the two Milanese clubs for fourth place. If they aren’t successful then Jovetic may choose to force the club’s hand.
Obviously not qualifying for the Champions League would also rule out Arsenal, who face Bayern Munich in the next round of the competition on Tuesday, too.
Edin Dzeko may have opened the scoring against Liverpool last weekend, but his all-round game was disappointing, and it’s still difficult to find evidence of a promising partnership between he and Sergio Aguero.
City were lucky to snatch a point against Brendan Rodgers’ side, and it was frustrating to see Carlos Tevez left on the bench throughout. Another feature of City’s game was their lack of pressing high up: Dzeko sitting down and feigning injury as Liverpool made it 1-1 was a fine example of that. On the other hand, Tevez brings boundless energy.
Tevez also boasts a fine partnership with Aguero, where the roles are more obviously defined. Tevez drifts around in the hole, while Aguero plays upfront and sprints in behind the opposition defence. His acceleration will be crucial against a Southampton side that are pressing heavily and using a high defensive line under Mauricio Pochettino, despite the lack of pace from their central defenders.
Tevez’s commitment to closing down is another key feature. City can’t afford to play another game where the opposition are simply more energetic in the opposition half and force defensive mistakes more readily.
For all Dzeko’s quality, he still seems better suited as a substitute. His height and ability with his back to goals makes him the perfect Plan B, when the opposition no longer press, and are sitting deep to guard against pace in behind, Dzeko provides a different option. All three forwards will have more opportunities following Mario Balotelli’s departure, but Aguero and Tevez together makes sense this weekend.
This post courtesy of Pick Our Team is by Michael Cox. PickOurTeam is a new type of football community giving fans an opportunity to have a meaningful say on the formation and selection of their team. PickOurTeam is the voice of the fans – collecting views on who should play where and ratings on how the players, manager, and referee perform each week. Every match the findings are compiled and presented back to the fans. The article was originally posted here.
You have to feel sorry for Villa fans. They are in the midst of a desperate relegation battle, weren’t able to strengthen their squad in the window and now see others clubs circling like vultures around their star player.
Yep, The Mirror and The Star are reporting that Christian Benteke is ready to quit Aston Villa and that his preferred destination is Arsenal.
Benteke has been in scintillating form this season scoring 14 goals, and this in a team that’s not just low on confidence but really lacking forward firepower.
Arsenal have been linked with a series of strikers. The current favourite is apparently Stevan Jovetic, but David Villa is almost certainly still on the radar.
You can see why the Benteke rumours make sense in that unlike Stevan Jovetic and David Villa Benteke has already shown he capable of scoring a lot of goals in the Premiership.
He would probably cost less than the other two as well.
It sounds too like Paul Lambert is already thinking about fending off bids from rivals.
He said at the morning’s press conference
“He’s only 22 and he’s got years and years ahead of him. He’s not at his peak, but what he’s done for me and for the club is fantastic. If someone wanted to buy Christian, they’d better have a few quid in their pocket. He’s not just going to walk out of here for the value he came for (£8 million), that’s for sure.
Man City will be looking for a striker to replace Mario Balotelli in the summer transfer window and it seems that their number one target is Napoli’s extraordinary Edinson Cavani, a man who has scored 27 goals in 26 appearances this season.
Blues coach Angelo Gregucci recently told a Naples radio station – which was also reported by the Manchester Evening News - that Cavani was a target for the Blues but he acknowledged that they would face a tough battle to sign him.
Gregucci told the station:
“City will definitely have competition for Cavani, who is dominating the Italian league with his goals and sacrifices for the team and whose contract has a £55m buy-out clause.
“Edinson is scoring a huge number of goals this season, and it will be difficult for City to take him. The ten biggest clubs in Europe all have Cavani in their sights.”
The Blues secured at least £20 million for Balotelli, but will may need in the region of £50 million to land Cavani. Many top European sides including both Arsenal and Chelsea are said to be keeping an eye on the player.
Really great stat from the people at TalkSport who have put together the table showing who would be where if only the second half of games counted.
It turns out that Arsenal would be second in the league behind Man City on goals scored. Man United, in spite of their many late goals this season, would be five points adrift and Chelsea would be down in eighth place.
Well Arsenal fans have been painfully aware of how poor they have been in the first half of recent games and how much better they have played as the game has gone on.
In some games at The Emirates at least it appears that the team only start trying after they have quaffed their half time cuppa (or it more likely sports energy drink these days).
The trend was once again show on Saturday against Stoke when the club had an indifferent first half but created a great deal more in the latter part of the game culminating in that Podolski free kick goal.
It also adds a bit more firepower to those who still proclaim that ‘Arsene Knows’ in that his substitutions have had a very significant in pact in a number of games this season.
As for other surprises in the table – Liverpool in at fifth are higher than you’d expect. No prizes for guessing the bottom two – Newcastle and Aston Villa neither of whom seem to be able to hold on to a lead. Well not until the Geordies got their latest French imports in anyhow.