Sunday, 31 May 2009

CESC FABREGAS still hopes Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger will sign his countryman Xabi Alonso from Liverpool.

Rumours on Merseyside persist that Alonso, 27, could go in a new round of Rafa Benitez transfers.

Fabregas believes Alonso’s experience would be perfect for a team of young, exciting talent.

He said: “We have lost big players, but the boss knows what he is doing.

“The days of signing a new player aren’t finished.

“We need someone in the middle to make competition and make a difference, plus give us a new dimension.

“I think that is all we need. The rest is perfect.

“Xabi would be great. He’s experienced and can score goals. I’m sure the boss is aware of that fact.”

[+/-]


He will also have to fend off mega-rich Manchester City, who are prepared to break the bank for Lescott, 26, and the
Toffees’ Spanish playmaker Mikel Arteta, 27.

Gunners boss Wenger is desperate to sign an experienced central defender to bring stability to his back four.

And the usually cautious Frenchman would be willing to offer around £12million to sign the classy Everton star, who joined the Blues from Wolves.

The Goodison club rate Lescott at a much higher price, somewhere in the £18m bracket.

Not that they would be willing to do business anyway, as Moyes prepares to strengthen his FA Cup Final squad, not dismantle it.

Lescott is one of Moyes’ prized possessions and he will be firmly against any attempt to snatch his cultured defender away from Goodison Park.

But that won’t stop the Arsenal chief from making his summer move, although it is clear that Moyes is under no pressure from chairman Bill Kenwright to cash in on any of his high-profi le players.

The Arsenal squad is packed with star-studded youngsters but Wenger is desperate to bring in older heads in vital positions.

Lescott would come in after firmly establishing himself as an Everton and England player of note.

He is versatile too, easily able to slot into the left-back berth.

And that has appeal for Wenger, who needs players who can switch positions comfortably at the back.

[+/-]

Agent: 'Russian Ronaldinho' signs Chelsea deal  

Friday, 29 May 2009

Chelsea have completed the signing of CSKA Moscow's left sided attacking midfielder Yuri Zhirkov according to reports in the Russian press.

Zhirkov, nicknamed the 'Russian Ronaldinho,' has already signed the deal with the Stamford Bridge club earlier this week according to the player's agent.

Russian tabloid Tvoi Den spoke to the Zhirkov's agent"

"Yury (Zhirkov) has signed the contract with Chelsea just a day or two ago. He will join his new team this summer.

“Zhirkov recently signed a contract with the British club.

“The transfer is not being announced as it was agreed in the strictest confidence.

“Yuri still has to complete his duties in the Russian championship, so the bosses did not want the fans to know.

“The transfer will be formally announced in mid-summer.”

Chelsea are also reportedly locked in a battle with Real Madrid to sign Bayern Munich winger Franck Ribery. The French international is rumoured to be interested in joining Madrid but the Bundesliga club have reiteratedthat their prized asset is not for sale.

[+/-]

Barry to snub Anfield in favour of Arsenal move  

Liverpool’s long pursuit of Aston Villa’s Gareth Barry seems to have taken a twist after reports emerged suggesting the player would favour a move to Arsenal.

According to the Daily Star, Barry is holding out for a move to the Emirates, and the England ace believes he should be granted his leave by Villa in light of his service to the club.

Barry was expected to be on top of Liverpool’s wanted list, but Rafa Benitez is not keen to spend the vast majority of his budget on the midfielder, particularly as Xabi Alonso’s form at Anfield has been scintillating this year.

The newspaper suggests Wenger has earmarked Barry as the experienced, dominant midfielder required to take his young side to the next level, a £12 million would be enough to sign the player who only has one year left on his current deal.

[+/-]

Henry ends long wait for glory  

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Thierry Henry admits that he has fulfilled a dream by getting his hands on the Champions League.

Henry helped Barcelona see off Manchester United 2-0 with a quite stunning display of football.

United are world champions following their success in January, but there is little doubt as to who is the best side in Europe after Samuel Eto’o and Lionel Messi scored the goals that secured a stunning success.
Henry came so close to Champions League glory with Arsenal in 2006 and he admits this is a trophy he has craved above all others.

”Finally,” he told ITV Sport. “I have been waiting so long to get this title.

”In the last five minutes they were the longest minutes of my life. You never know what can happen, we are playing against the best team in the world, they won it in January, so you have to give respect to United, but it was amazing.”

Henry says Barca remained true to their beliefs throughout the glorious success in Rome.

He added: “We have played the same all year, we want to play football. We did not start well, United were dominant, but once we had the ball and passed it like we can it was unbelievable.”

[+/-]

Bayern Munich sign £26million striker  

Bayern Munich have signed Mario Gomez, as they look to add more quality to their squad after missing out on the Bundesliga title to Wolfsburg this season.

The German international has been on Bayern’s radar for some time, and the Allianz Arena club have reportedly paid £26million to take him from Stuttgart on a five-year deal.

"Bayern Munich are delighted that Mario Gomez has decided to join our club," said chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. "Mario is a top class striker.

“He has scored over twenty goals in each of the last three seasons. He has proven to be one of the best strikers in the Bundesliga. We are now looking forward to having him on our team."

[+/-]

Barca duo ready for final  

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Thierry Henry and Andres Iniesta have resumed full training ahead of the UEFA Champions League final.

The duo had been doubtful for Barcelona's meeting with Manchester United in Rome on Wednesday.

However, both men came through a light work-out on Monday and will take their place in Pep Guardiola's travelling party.

Henry injured his right knee during Barcelona's remarkable 6-2 victory at Real Madrid on 2nd May, while Iniesta suffered a thigh strain during a 3-3 draw with Villarreal on 10th May.

France international Henry has scored 25 goals this season and will be hoping to resume his devastating three-pronged partnership with fellow hot-shots Lionel Messi and Samuel Eto'o.

Iniesta is also desperate to feature in the crunch European contest after snatching the last-gasp equaliser at Chelsea in the last four which sent the Catalan giants to the final on away goals.

[+/-]

Top Ten: Summer Transfer Targets 2009  

With new rumours surfacing every day, this summer’s dealings are shaping up to be some of the most exciting we’ve seen for years. Here’s a quick run-down of some of the superstars who could be on the move in the coming months...

1. Xabi Alonso (Liverpool)
If Rafa Benitez continues his pursuit of Gareth Barry this summer then the rumours of Xabi Alonso moving in order to secure first team football could well become a reality. Real Madrid are said to be favourites to sign the midfielder, but they will face stiff competition from the likes of Juventus and Manchester City who will all be expecting to pay around £20m for the Anfield favourite’s services.

2. Marko Arnautovic (FC Twente)
Arnautovic is a 20 year-old Austrian forward in the Zlatan Ibrahimovic mould who has impressed this season with some dazzling performances for Dutch outfit FC Twente. Despite boss Steve McLaren pleading with him to stay, it looks as though Arnautovic will be on his way to either Chelsea or Inter Milan for around £15m this summer, with the Italian side favourites to secure his signature.

3. Kaka (AC Milan)
Kaka, arguably the world’s best player, has recently stated that he will not leave Milan unless the club are willing to sell him. With a number of interested parties said to be lining up bids of upwards of £65m, Milan may be faced with little choice but to reap the economic rewards selling the Brazilian will bring them. At present Real Madrid, who are looking to revive the galactico era with a number of marquee signings this summer, are the favourites to buy the player.

4. Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich)
FC Bayern’s French maestro is one of Europe’s finest talents and has been generating a huge amount of interest from a number of the planet’s biggest clubs. Real Madrid and Barcelona are said to be interested in signing the winger despite Bayern allegedly holding out for a world record transfer fee. Manchester United are also rumoured to be interested should Cristiano Ronaldo move on this summer.

5. Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United)
One of football’s longest running transfer sagas, that involving Cristiano Ronaldo and Real Madrid, doesn’t look like coming to an end any time soon. Despite constant rejections from Manchester United, Madrid seem determined to sign the Portuguese forward and claim that a pre-contract agreement has been signed between the player and the club. At present the move looks unlikely to go ahead for at least another year, but things move fast in football and Madrid most certainly have the funds to prize the player away from Old Trafford should negotiations take place.

6. David Silva (Valencia)
With Valencia’s finances in dire straits the club will be forced to conduct a fire sale of their best players during the summer window. David Silva is one of Los Che’s greatest assets and will, in all probability, be one of the first players out the door this summer. Liverpool are still said to be the favourites to sign the Spanish winger, despite Valencia slapping a £30m price tag on the player. It is thought Valencia will need to lower their asking price to between £20-25m in order to attract a serious bid from Liverpool, with Real Madrid, Barcelona and Manchester City all also said to be interested.

7. Wesley Sneijder (Real Madrid)
With Real Madrid said to be chasing some of world football’s biggest stars, the club will need to free up funds in order to pursue the likes of Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo. A significant portion of Madrid’s current first team squad is set to be sold on, with Wesley Sneijder the most high-profile player likely to depart. Sneijder has been linked with a part-exchange deal involving Inter Milan’s Brazilian winger Mancini, which would see the Dutchman head to the Italy to join Jose Mourinho’s Scudetto-winning side.

8. Jeremy Toulalan (Lyon)
Over the last two or three seasons Lyon’s Jeremy Toulalan has developed into one of Europe’s most effective defensive midfielders, playing a key role in Lyon’s domination of Ligue 1 in recent years and snatching the holding midfield berth away from Lassana Diarra in the French national team. Arsene Wenger is said to be interested in the 25 year-old, seeing the Frenchman as a potential replacement for Mathieu Flamini. However, if Wenger wants to bring Toulalan to The Emirates then it’s likely the club will have to shell out around £20m for the player’s services.

9. Carlos Tevez (Manchester United)
The wave goodbye Carlos Tevez appeared to give the Old Trafford faithful in United’s last home game against Arsenal seemed to signal the player’s departure from the club. With his opportunities in the starting XI having been relatively limited this year, Tevez may well be looking elsewhere for first team football next season. The Argentinean is said to want to remain in England in order for his children to grow up here, and it has been English clubs, most notably Manchester City and Liverpool, that have been linked with the player. The asking price for Tevez would probably be around £30m, but if Sir Alex Ferguson gets his way then the forward will be staying right where he is.

10.David Villa (Valencia)
As with David Silva, David Villa, one of the world’s best strikers, will likely be forced to leave Valencia over the summer as a result of the club’s financial catastrophe. Villa’s asking price is rumoured to be around £35m with Real Madrid and Barcelona the favourites to sign the marksman, however Manchester City are also said to be interested in tabling a bid during the transfer window.

[+/-]

Melo drama takes Russian twist  

Fiorentina midfielder Felipe Melo could join Zenit St Petersburg after the Russian side made an approach for the Brazilian, according to reports in the Italian press. Tuttosport claims that the 25-year-old’s Serie A form has already attracted interest from both Real Madrid and Arsenal but that last season’s UEFA Cup winners could now join the race for the player’s signature.

Melo has enjoyed something of an itinerant football career taking in stints with Brazilian giants Flamengo, Cruzeiro and Gremio, Malaysian side Sabah FA and Spanish trio Mallorca, Racing Santander and Almerio. Only since arriving in Florence has the midfield enforcer appeared to fulfill his full potential winning himself a call-up from Dunga to the Brazilian national squad and earning plaudits from the Italian press.

Despite appearing settled at the Stadio Artemio Franchi, Melo has resisted the temptation to commit himself to the Viola, hinting that his future could lie elsewhere.

[+/-]

I'm staying for now, says Adebayor  

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Emmanuel Adebayor has rejected the idea of leaving Arsenal this summer.

The 25-year-old has been linked to Serie A giants Milan, as well as London rivals Chelsea, and he has welcomed the Rossoneri’s interest in his services in the recent past.

But the striker, who only bagged 10 Premier League goals this term, has claimed he is fed up with speaking about his future, as his target is to carry on progressing at Emirates Stadium.

But Adebayor has affirmed that he will leave The Gunners if manager Arsene Wenger shows him that he is not wanted.

Arsenal legend Robert Pires has backed his old club to keep the Togolese striker.

“I have always said that I feel good here and I am tired of repeating it,” Adebayor told Marca. “This team has a bright future ahead and this year we have made a step forward in the Champions League, which means that we are progressing.”

Wenger will have the final word regarding the forward’s future.

“I have no idea of what Wenger has in mind,” he said. “He has always been by my side, he is aware of my qualities.

“He is the one who takes decisions and for sure if he tells me that he does not count on me anymore, then I will search for a new team, but if he wants me to stay I will stay. Besides I will have to stay because I am under contract.”

When asked if he has received offers from big clubs, Adebayor said: “If it is the case it is a good sign which shows that I have improved.

“Winning the African Ballon d’Or fills me with pride, from now on I am part of African football’s history and if other clubs want me it means that I have progressed.

“Anyway, I am grateful to Arsenal because they made of me who I am today, and for that reason I am still here.”

The former Monaco striker has refused to close the door on Real Madrid, and he said: “I am under contract and I want to win more titles in England. [Why not] in a few years’ time, but right now I am happy here. One day maybe, why not, within two or three years, but today I am happy in England.”

[+/-]

Chamakh: Linked with Arsenal  

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Arsene Wenger has revealed he is an admirer of Bordeuax forward Marouane Chamakh, but has refused to give any indication of how much money he will have to spend during the summer.

Wenger plans to strengthen his squad at the end of a disappointing campaign for Arsenal which has again failed to yield any silverware.

25-year-old forward Chamakh is a player who has previously expressed a desire to play in the Premier League at some stage in his career.

Wenger admits he has been impressed by the Moroccan's performances this season, with Bordeaux in pole position to take the Ligue 1 title.

However, the Gunners boss has played down suggestions that he has already made an approach for Chamakh.

"He is a very good player, but that doesn't mean I have contacted him," Wenger told L'Equipe.

It is understood that Wenger will have considerable funds at his disposal following the club's run to the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League.

Major shareholder Alisher Usmanov has also indicated he would be willing to meet some of Arsenal's long-term debt payments to help free up more cash for team building.

But Wenger, who last week insisted he was not the man to 'get the club bust', is expected to be careful with his spending during the transfer window.

"If I tell you I have £250m, every player I call will cost three times more," he explained.

"When I am manager of a club I do with what I have available and you have never heard me complain about the money that was available.

"But as well I do not accept people to think that I am stupid enough to have £100m at my disposal and put it in the bank because I am scared to spend it."

Wenger added: "Considering transfers and the money available, the less you talk the better it is. Let other people talk and you do what you want.

"I believe the more everybody shuts up inside the club and does not talk about anything and works hard is the best."

[+/-]

Arsenal in for Hangeland  

Friday, 22 May 2009

After Arsene Wenger admitted Arsenal lacked experience and leadership at the back, Fulham centre-half Brede Hangeland is being tipped for a big-money move across London.

The Norwegian colossus has marshalled what was previously a leaky back four to the fourth-best defensive record in the Premier League and, after a long meeting with chief executive Ivan Gazidis, French tactician Wenger has been promised a big war-chest to allow a £15 million bid for the ex-Copenhagen stopper.

Now £15m is a lot of money but there are very few affordable, proven centre-backs with the experience and dominance that the Gunners require.

One option - Joseph Yobo - just came off the market after signing a five-year deal to be third-choice behind Joleon Lescott and Phil Jagielka at Everton. Loyalty or lack of ambition?

In return, Fulham will ask for the bulk of the cash plus one of Swiss defensive duo Philippe Senderos or Johan Djourou , and promising Norway U21 starlet Havard Nordveit.

The rumours linking Emmanuel Adebayor with a move to Chelsea intensified when he failed to show at the Arsenal end-of-season party at posh Mayfair bar/restaurant/boast-house Sketch.

The Togo hit-man could argue that his time in Gaul-land has made his palate immune to the dubious delights of the venue's nouveau-French cuisine, and that the chinny-reckon hamstring injury that kept him out of the goalless draw against Manchester United needed treatment ahead of his non-appearance at home to Stoke this weekend.

But the writing is on the wall and the ex-Monaco player will join one of Milan, Chelsea, Internazionale or Juventus this summer.

Dean Ashton could be on his way out of Upton Park with West Ham ready to cut their losses on the big striker due to his chronic injury problems.

One of the best target men in the division when fit, the £7m former Crewe and Norwich goal scorer has played only 51 games in two-and-a-half years and just four this season.

With former suitors Newcastle set to drop into the Championship, A ston Villa and Everton are primed to pounce in a cut-price deal for the 25-year-old.

He could be replaced by Juve forward Vincenzo Iaquinta who, despite impressing when used, is not first-choice in Turin and, with a big-name manager set to take the reigns following Claudio Ranieri's sacking, a big-name striker is set to follow.

One man who will not be moving to London from Italy is Inter right-back Maicon.

The Brazilian had been linked with a move to Chelsea, which is bizarre enough in itself as he is effectively Jose Bosingwa without an EU passport.

However, the 27-year-old - who almost joined Manchester United in 2004 but was refused a work permit - has insisted that he will stay at the Giuseppe Meazza.

Midlands rivals Aston Villa and Birmingham have both been linked with Argentine midfielder Lucas Biglia.

The 23-year-old Anderlecht man is valued at around £8m and, despite Villa having more cash to spend, Birmingham are at the front of the queue by virtue of having less options in midfield.

Should Martin O'Neill opt to sign him, it would be a clear indication that Gareth Barry is on his way to Liverpool .

Blues desperately need to add some flair to their solid but tedious squad if they are to stay in the top flight next season, and the names keep coming.

Derby duo Kris Commons and Giles Barnes - the latter currently on loan at Fulham - would cost around £6m together.

Boss Alex McLeish could also raid former club Rangers, with defender Madjid Bougherra and disgraced former captain Barry Ferguson on his list.

"He has done well but I would expect Rangers to ask for a high fee," the Scot said of Bougherra.

"Barry (Ferguson) can be anything he wants to be," he added. "I feel for him, the way it has happened. He came back from England and helped myself, my staff and the Rangers followers to a title in 2005."

A move back south of the border beckons for Ferguson.

[+/-]

Arsene has £15m for Bred splash  

ARSENE WENGER will test the backing of the Arsenal board with a £15million move for Fulham defender Brede Hangeland.

The unhappy Gunners boss has been offered the club’s ‘unequivocal support by chief executive Ivan Gazidis following a long meeting this week.

And now Wenger intends to cash in on promises of financial backing by making a club record bid for a defender.

Wenger is still angry that he has been blamed by fans for refusing to spend big money in the transfer market.

The Frenchman feels he has been left to carry the can by a board that promises major funds for new signings but rarely delivers.

He will not back down in his pursuit of Norway international Hangeland and expects Arsenal to meet Fulham’s asking price.

The 27-year-old cost just £3.7m from Danish side FC Copenhagen 18 months ago.

But 6ft 4in Hangeland’s value has rocketed this season on the back of solid performances.

Now Wenger believes he is just the man he needs to plug the holes in his leaky defence.

The Gunners chief knows opposite number Roy Hodgson will not easily part with the defender, who still has two years left on his Fulham contract.

But the hard-up Cottagers are in no position to turn down £15m and Wenger has made it clear he sees this issue as a test of Arsenal’s commitment to challenge for major honours next season.

[+/-]

The new Arsenal away kit  

Thursday, 21 May 2009

The new kit embraces design features including a pinstripe in the shirt and a polo collar inspired by the shirts worn by the all-conquering side of the 1930s.

Along with the midnight blue shirt, the kit features midnight blue shorts with a photo blue stripe along the side with white canon stitched in to the back of the shorts on the waist-band and midnight blue socks with a photo blue stripe on the top band and Arsenal printed on the calf.

The shirt is made from Nike’s innovative Dri-Fit fabric, which keeps players drier, cooler and lighter by drawing sweat from the body to the fabric’s surface, while its three-dimensional construction gives more air space around the skin to reduce clinging.

Fan favourites Andrey Arshavin, Cesc Fabregas and Theo Walcott were chosen to model the classy new kit, with young Theo proffessing his love for the new pinstriped number:

‘The new kit is a good colour, and it’s nice to have a contrast with the red home kit.’

[+/-]

Arsenal in the hunt for 'little Messi'  

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is tracking Lille youngster Eden Hazard, who can play through the middle and on either midfield flank according to reports in the British press. The Arsenal manager has been linked with other French Ligue 1 prospects Yohan Cabaye, who plays alongside Hazard at Lille, Henri Saivet at Bordeaux and Paris Saint Germain's Mamadou Sakho in the last year, employing former player and chief French scout Gilles Grimandi to monitor the talent in Ligue 1.

The attacking forward, who can play on both wings forced his way into the Lille first team last year and has become recognised as one of the hottest properties in French football. Chelsea, Inter Milan and Macnhester United hasve had scouts watch the player over the last year, but Wenger has reportedly instructed French scout Gilles Grimandi to watch Lille closely as the Arsenal mansger is interested in Hazard and his teammate Yohan Cabaye.

Former Lille manager and Current Olympique Lyonnais manager Claude Puel dubbed the talented Frenchman the 'Little Messi' after overseeing the youngsters move from Belgian minnows A.F.C Tubize in 2005.

[+/-]

Shakhtar takes UEFA Cup with win over Bremen  

Shakhtar Donetsk have become the first Ukrainian team to win the UEFA Cup by beating Werder Bremen after extra-time in Istanbul this evening.

In the last ever UEFA Cup final, the two sides could not be split over 90 minutes and Rodrigues Jadson was the late hero for Shakhtar as he grabbed the winner in extra-time.

The Ukrainian's actually began the game the better of the two teams and Luiz Adriano should have got them off to the perfect start after five minutes but he smashed wide from the edge of the box with just the 'keeper to beat.

The Brazilian soon atoned for his miss though as he latched onto a through ball behind the defence and calmly chipped over the onrushing Tim Wiese to give Shakhtar the lead.

The Ukrainians were rarely troubled at the back but they gifted Werder an equaliser when Andriy Pyatov palmed a relatively straightforward free kick from Naldo into his own net.

After the break, neither side created any clear cut chances and just like the last European final held in Istanbul, Liverpool against AC Milan, the game went to extra-time.

This time the deadlock was broken after the interval though as Jadson got on the end of a cross from Darijo Srna and finished past Wiese from close-range.

Even though Alexandros Tziolis went close in the second-half of extra-time, Werder could not draw level again as Shakhtar won the first European title in their history.

With the Sukru Saracoglu Stadium a sea of colour, the game started at a decent pace and Shakhtar should have had the lead within five minutes. A lovely flowing move from the Brazilian contingent of the Ukrainian team ended with Ilsinho finding Luiz Adriano wide open in the box, but he drove his shot wide of the near post with Tim Wiese rooted to the spot.

Werder took some time to get into the game and find some possession and the defence was split open a couple of times by some incisive breaks from Shakhtar. Fortunately for the Germans, the crossing was less than impressive from their opponents and Thomas Schaaf started to look more relaxed on the bench as his side enjoyed some of the ball.

Just as the game seemed to be balancing out though, Shakhtar took the lead as Luiz Adriano atoned for his previous miss with a delightful finish. Somehow the Brazilian received the ball through two Werder defenders and after taking a couple of touches towards goal, he delicately chipped over the onrushing Wiese to send the Ukrainian fans into wild celebrations.

Minutes after the goal, and with his confidence up, Luiz Adriano could have doubled the lead when he cut inside from the left and shot, but his effort was well over the bar. Despite not troubling Andriy Pyatov too much, Werder did look dangerous coming forward, mainly with balls into the box, and they leveled with ten minutes left in the half.

A free kick from 30 yards out would have usually had Diego's name written all over it but instead it was Naldo who drilled it at goal and produced an awful error from the 'keeper. With the ball coming nearly directly at him with plenty of pace, Pyatov decided to palm it rather than punch the ball away, but did so straight into the back of the net, gifting Werder an equaliser.

Even though Srna tried to lift his 'keeper with a high-five, he looked nervy a few minutes later as he came out and flapped at a cross from the right wing. At the other end, Wiese was forced into a brilliant one handed stop from a Mariusz Lewandowski rocket from 30 yards and Clemens Fritz had to clear from under his own bar as the half came to an end.

After the break, the Werder goalkeeper was busy again as he had to dive to his right to make a decent save from a Rodrigues Jadson free kick. Young Mesut Ozil showed flashes of his talent as he burst away down the right and crossed for Markus Rosenberg, only for the Swede to see his shot from the penalty spot well blocked.

With the game perfectly poised, Luiz Adriano very nearly grabbed a second when he turned brilliantly on the edge of the box, but Naldo did well to block his goal-bound shot. Along with the rest of the Werder backline the Brazilian looked solid and Shakhtar struggled to break them down and create any clear cut chances.

Likewise, Werder didn't threaten Pyatov's goal too often and only when Claudio Pizarro flicked on a free kick towards the bottom corner in the 78th minute was the 'keeper finally called into action in the second-half. As the clock ticked down, both teams seemed resigned to extra-time, and when referee Luis Medina Cantalejo, standing in his last European match, did finally blow his whistle, the pace had slowed dramatically.

Any fears that game would peter out towards penalties were soon brushed aside though as another goalkeeping mistake, this time from Wiese, saw the deadlock broken. Srna was the man with the assist as he crossed from the right and even though Jadson hit his shot well from around the penalty spot, the Werder 'keeper should have done better than let it slip through his grasp and into the net.

Werder nearly hit back straight away but Pizarro's near post shot was well kept out by Pyatov, and as the half came to a close Willian tried an ambitious lob over Wiese from 35 yards, but saw it go just over the bar. With just 15 minutes left in the match and holding the lead, Shakhtar began to run the clock down and only Alexandros Tziolis went close for Werder with a shot from outside the box, before the referee called time on the match and the UEFA Cup as a competition.

[+/-]

Gunners to sign Brazilian ace?  

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Arsenal are thought to be considering a move for Wolfsburg's Brazilian international midfielder Josue.

The Gunners have spent the season scouting Wolfsburg striker Edin Dzeko, and they have also been impressed by Josue's powerful displays in midfield.

It is widely accepted that Arsenal lack bite and experience in central midfield, and the 29-year-old would provide both qualities. He has performed consistently this season, and has broken into Dunga's Brazilian national squad.

Wolfsburg, who are on the verge of securing the Bundesliga title, would be keen to hang onto the player. However, Josue is thought to have been unsettled by the potential departure of boss Felix Magath, and he could be tempted by the chance to play Premier League football.

[+/-]

Adebayor’s Gunner go to Milan  

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Arsenal striker Emmanuel Adebayor could soon be packing his bags for AC Milan.rf

The Togo international is unsettled at the Emirates and the Italian giants are expected to put him out of his misery.

Milan owner and Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has confirmed that Adebayor (pictured) could be swapping the red and white of Arsenal for the famous red and black of the Rossoneri.

Berlusconi also said that Chelsea-bound coach Carlo Ancelotti will be replaced by Marco van Basten.

“Marco for me is like a son,” said Berlusconi.

“He is a piece of Milan history.” Then when asked which new players would arrive at Milan, he said: “There is a good chance we will get Adebayor.”

Chelsea could join the race to sign Adebayor but the player himself has done little to dampen speculation linking him to Milan, saying the club's interest is as flattering as being fancied by singer Beyonce Knowles.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger last week insisted he would have no qualms selling to a Premier League rival.

[+/-]

Goal-machine Dzeko tipped to replace Adebayor  

Monday, 18 May 2009

Reports in the German press claim that Bosnian striker Edin Dzeko is being lined up by Arsenal to replace Emmanuel Adebayor as the Togo striker edges closer to a move to AC Milan. Dzeko, who has also been linked with Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea, has been in amazing form for Bundesliga leaders Wolfsburg and netted another hattrick at Hannover on the weekend to take his total to 25 goals in 28 league appearances.

Speaking earlier in the season, Arsenal first team coach Boro Primorac told German sports magazine Kicker that the Emirates outfit were keeping close tabs on Dzeko’s impressive form.

“We [will] keep our eyes on him," Primorac is quoted as saying.

"He is a striker able to make it in the Premier League."

Similar in style to former Manchester United predator Ruud van Nistelrooy, the 23-year-old is something of a tour-de-force inside the penalty. Noted for his heading ability and willingness to score scrappy goals from close range, Dzeko could prove to be the missing part in Arsene Wenger’s jigsaw.

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Emmanuel Adebayor set to replace Didier Drogba at Chelsea  

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Didier Drogba will leave Chelsea this summer and Arsenal’s Emmanuel Adebayor is favourite to replace him.

Carlo Ancelotti, who has given a verbal undertaking to Roman Abramovich that he will leave AC Milan for Chelsea, has named Adebayor as the man he wants to replace Drogba.

Adebayor’s future at Arsenal has been clouded in doubt for over a year and his recent performances in the Champions League semi-final games with Manchester United infuriated Gunners fans.

Drogba will pay the price for his outrageous Champions League antics and Chelsea will want around £10millionfor the African, even though he has just 12 months left on his contract.

Senior club figures were livid at Drogba’s behaviour at the end of last week’s game against Barcelona and the FA Cup Final could now be his last in a Chelsea shirt.

UEFA will decide what disciplinary action to take tomorrow and Chelsea are also likely to fine the striker.

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Nicolas Anelka is set to remain at Stamford Bridge. His 23 goals this season, including a career-best haul of 17 in the Premier League alongside his commitment in training and displays in the recent pressure games, have seen his stock rise and his sale is no longer seen as a priority.

Chelsea are also keen on landing left-sided Russian Yuri Zhirkov, who is versatile enough to fill any position on that flank.

Meanwhile, one of the men Ancelotti is poised to leave behind in Milan has come out in support of his boss, despite owner Silvio Berlusconi’s attack on the 49-year-old.

Gennaro Gattuso said: "When I wanted to leave, our vice-president Adriano Galliani and Ancelotti, locked me in Milan’s trophy room and convinced me to stay. Now, if necessary, I will lock up Ancelotti. He has a great relationship in the dressing room and everyone at Milan wants him to remain."

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Arshavin nominates Zhirkov to take over Gunners left-side role  

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Arsenal star Andrey Arshavin has revealed that he is still struggling to come to terms with being played on the left-hand side of midfield and stressed that he has no idea how he is maintaining his performances from such an unfamiliar position. The 27-year-old also feels that compatriot Yuri Zhirkov could fulfill the wide role for the Gunners but isn’t sure the CSKA Moscow man is ready to trade his homeland for the Premier League despite a reported offer from Chelsea.

Speaking this afternoon, Arshavin relayed, “My personal plan for my initial three months with Arsenal wasn't about scoring a certain number of goals or making a set number of assists.

“I wanted to get the feeling whether I can play in England or not. Sometimes I feel that I can but other times that I don't. It's probably because that I play as a left midfielder.

“I still can't get used to the idea that I'm capable of playing on the left of midfield - and frankly having to do it keeps me baffled.

“I don't understand if it's only because God is taking care of me, or I really can play so well as a left-winger.”

Responding to suggestions that 25-year-old international colleague Zhirkov could take over on the wing and thus allow Wenger to push him more centrally, Arshavin further responded:
“Yes, I know Yuri well,' he added. 'But problem is would he like to move to Arsenal?”

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Arsenal close in on former United striker  

According to reports in Spanish publication Sport, Atletico Madrid hitman Diego Forlan could be leaving the Vicente Calderon at the end of the season with both La Liga rivals Barcelona and Premier League side Arsenal leading the chase for his signature. The 29-year-old, who played in England for Manchester United before transferring to Villarreal in 2004, has been in inspired form once again this term netting an amazing 27 goals in 29 matches a feat which sees him one shy of Barca’s Samuel Eto’o in the Pichichi race. Already linked with a £10m move to Manchester City it appears his tremendous prowess in front of goal has not gone unnoticed.

It has long been suspected that Los Colchoneros would have to offload numerous key players, such as Sergio Aguero and captain Maxi Rodriguez, this coming summer in order to free up much needed funds to rebuild their squad, but this is the first time that the 29-year-old Forlan has been included in the list of potential departures.

While Barcelona’s attack line of Thierry Henry, Lionel Messi and the aforementioned Eto’o looks formidable, it appears that things are far from harmonious amongst the Arsenal attack line. Arsene Wenger has already admitted that he is weighing up his options ahead of a summer reshuffle and with Emmanuel Adebayor continuing to flirt with AC Milan he could be the likely candidate to be sacrificed should a move for Forlan progress.

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Arsenal line-up Russian star to replace Emmanuel Adebayor  

Monday, 11 May 2009

Arsene Wenger is eyeing up Russian striker Pavel Pogrebnyak as a potential replacement for Emmanuel Adebayor.

Pogrebnyak, 25, is a target man at Zenit St Petersburg and is out of contract at the end of the Russian season in November.

Arsenal boss Wenger’s first choice is Blackburn’s Roque Santa Cruz but will face competition from Tottenham and does not want to pay over the odds and is looking at other options.

Wenger already signed Andrey Arshavin from Zenit in February and that £12m deal has been a huge success and the connections have already been made.

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Blackburn have also been looking at Pogrebnyak, but the Russian international - top scorer for Zenit in last year’s UEFA Cup campaign - is holding out for a bigger move.

Bayern Munich are also looking and Pogrebnyak is stalling on a new deal at Zenit to try and secure a move this summer.

Adebayor could be set to leave Arsenal this summer with AC Milan chasing the Togo striker and Wenger will find it hard to resist a big-money offer after a disappointing season.

Blackburn have also been looking at Pogrebnyak, but the Russian international - top scorer for Zenit in last year’s UEFA Cup campaign - is holding out for a bigger move.

Bayern Munich are also looking and Pogrebnyak is stalling on a new deal at Zenit to try and secure a move this summer.

Adebayor could be set to leave Arsenal this summer with AC Milan chasing the Togo striker and Wenger will find it hard to resist a big-money offer after a disappointing season.

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Tevez says goodbye to Man United  

Sunday, 10 May 2009

The frustrated Argentinian has had enough of sitting on the bench at Old Trafford, writes Jason Burt in London.

Carlos Tevez has revealed that he will leave Manchester United at the end of this season and wants to join another Premier League club.

In an interview published in London's Sunday Telegraph, the 25-year-old striker talked of his sadness at leaving Old Trafford, how Alex Ferguson had never explained to him why he had not played more regularly this season, or been offered a permanent contract, how his confidence had been affected - and why he was determined to stay in England.

Tevez's adviser, Kia Joorabchian, also revealed that an offer "in excess of £40 million ($79 million)" has already been submitted by a foreign club for the Argentinian but that Tevez's "first-choice" was to remain in the Premier League, even if his fee will be lower. Joorabchian insisted that it would have cost United far less than the £32 million it had been claimed they would have to pay to sign Tevez on a permanent deal.

Tevez decided to speak out before the Manchester derby and with United on course to retain the Premier League and Champions League, because he has grown increasingly frustrated at the way he has been treated - and to refute claims that he wanted to leave England, his family was unsettled and he was asking for too much money.

"It is goodbye," he said. "I respect the fans, and it has been a great two years. Obviously, in the last year my participation on the pitch has been less but that has been the choice of the coach, not my choice. I have given everything to the shirt of Manchester, and I'm grateful to the fans. But I'm leaving, and I do so with my head held high. Manchester United will always be a part of my history.

"To say sincerely, and to be honest, I don't think I will be a Manchester United player next season. It makes me sad because I don't feel I deserve to be in the position that Manchester United have not made me an offer. My time is over, and I have to concentrate on my future, my family's future, and so I think at the end of this season I will move to another club."

Tevez was signed by Ferguson on what amounted to a two-year loan deal in August 2007, after a controversial season at West Ham United, and is hugely popular with the United supporters. Last week they chanted "sign him up" after he starred in the Champions League semi-final first leg victory over Arsenal - only then to be left out for the return fixture last Tuesday. United have not taken up the option to sign him permanently, even though it looked like they intended to do so last summer.

Because he is now in the last six months of his contract, Tevez has been free to talk to other clubs since January, but has decided to wait until the end of the season out of "respect" for United. "I don't feel wanted," said Tevez, whose availability could start a bidding war involving Chelsea, Manchester City and Everton. Joorabchian, who heads the group of investors who own the rights to sign Tevez, said: "There are also a lot of foreign clubs but since Carlos's preference is to stay here, then that is the first place we have to look.

"I think he would be a first-team player at Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Real Madrid, AC Milan, Inter Milan, Everton and Aston Villa."

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Messi open to Premier League move?  

Lionel Messi has left the door open for a move to England in future after admitting: If I ever leave Barca it's the obvious destination. The Barcelona superstar insists he is happy at the Nou Camp and has no plans to quit in the near future - especially with a Champions League Final against Manchester United to look forward to.But the skilful Argentine - compared to Maradona by his Barca team-mate Thierry Henry this week -refuses to rule out the possibility of pulling on a United, Liverpool, Arsenal or Chelsea shirt in future.

"The Premier League and the Spanish leagues are the top two leagues in the world, I'm sure of that," he said.

"So it is normal for any professional that we like to play there. I know that several English clubs were interested in me in recent times, but at the minute I am content at Barcelona.

"However, it is logical that if you ever leave Barca, England might be a good destination."

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The Duo Gunners Target Ecstatic After Valencia Hammer Real Madrid  

The duo Arsenal Target has been shine after dispatching of Real Madrid, Carlos Marchena and David Silva made no attempt to hide their delight with Valencia's performance.

This is the prove that they are suitable player to join arsenal and it will be great for Wenger to get both player after the gunner has been difficult season since viera, henry and pires gone.

Speaking to reporters after the match, Marchena said, "We knew that they would not have the same intensity after their loss last week.

"We played with great rhythm and intensity."

Marchena still found time to praise Real Madrid, continuing, "They had a good attitude and never gave up.

"They were hard to beat even though it is difficult when you have nothing left to play for."

Finally, Marchena reflected on Valencia's recent rise in form (notwithstanding last week's loss to Espanyol): "We have rediscovered our form, and our style of play deserves these results."

Silva, meanwhile, thanked the fans for their role, saying, "With the help of the fans, we took the three points."

He then sought to once again clear all speculation over his future, stating, "I am under contract at Valencia, and I am very happy here."

Silva and Marchena will both be suspended for Valencia's trip to Atletico Madrid next week, having picked up five yellow cards throughout the season.

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Alisher Usmanov ready to fund Arsenal spree  

Alisher Usmanov ready to fund Arsenal spree
Russian-based billionaire Alisher Usmanov, a major shareholder at Arsenal, has said the squad is not strong enough to compete with Manchester United and that he is ready to give Arsene Wenger funds to invest in the transfer market.

Usmanov attended the 3-1 Champions League semi-final defeat to United last Tuesday and spoke afterwards about the need to strengthen the squad.

“Of course, to be first in the world, to be first in Europe you must have a much stronger bench,” Usmanov said. “Today you have seen with Manchester at least £100 million in talent on the bench.” Farhad Moshiri, Usmanov’s business partner, who also attended the game, described it as “boys against men”.

Usmanov first bought shares in 2007 and has now built up his shareholding to 25 per cent through his investment company Red and White Holdings, but it is understood that he is unhappy with the way he is being treated at Arsenal. Usmanov still finds himself shut out from the boardroom because of a 'lockdown’ agreement, led by Danny Fiszman, which gives other board members first option on shares that become available. But despite Arsenal insisting they would resist foreign ownership, American investor Stan Kroenke was invited onto the board and at the beginning of the month he increased his shareholding to 28.3 per cent.

The Takeover Panel are investigating Kroenke’s earlier purchase of 5,000 shares from Fiszman in March. Telegraph Sport also reveals today another businessman, Stephen Perry, is hoping to buy a stake in the club to ensure a foreign takeover does not happen.

Usmanov feels that there has not been sufficient recognition of his co-operation with helping the club develop and his offer to strengthen the squad. Moshiri claimed that they “don’t understand anything” about Kroenke’s growing shareholding and the intentions of the board. “We read the papers to find out,” he said.

Wenger’s Arsenal have gone four seasons without winning a trophy and Usmanov believes significant investment in the team is required if that run is to be stopped. A spokesman for Red and White said: “We originally decided to invest in Arsenal based on the manager and the ability of Arsenal to compete at the very highest levels. If the manager and the board decide that the club requires additional funds to invest in the squad then we stand ready to support them.”

Wenger has been criticised for failing to invest in the squad, although it is debatable how much money he has had available. The club are still paying off the debts incurred by building the Emirates Stadium and while they have an impressive turnover, they have to spend a significant portion of their profits on servicing those debts. But in signing Andrei Arshavin for a club record £15 million in January, Arsenal have shown there is money available and that Wenger is prepared to move for expensive players at the peak of their game. Whether he gets to spend heavily in the summer might well depend on how the ownership issues are resolved.

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Mario Gomez: Arsenal Renew Interest in £9M Bundesliga Star Striker  

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Reports in the German media suggest Arsenal have reopened their interest in Stuttgart’s Mario Gomez in view to a bid this summer. The 6 ft 2 international had been the subject of interest from both Arsenal and Man City last summer with the Gunners unsure whether Emmanuel Adebayor would remain with the club. The Togolese star finally agreed to stay though once again his future is uncertain after a poor season with Gomez a possible candidate to replace him in the Arsenal attack.

The 23-year-old Stuttgart forward burst onto the international scene with 6 goals in 15 caps including scoring his debut a 3-1 win over Switzerland in February 2007. However, Gomez failed to impress alongside Klose in the German assault on Euro 2008 and did not live up to his pre-tournament billing as one of the expected stars of the competition. His record now reads 6 goals in 23 caps and he has come in for criticism from the German press for his international goal drought although Gomez continues to score regularly for his club.

He has represented his country at every level from U17 despite his father being Spanish and his mother German. He’s only ever played his club football for Stuttgart’s amateur side as well as their first team.

The striker has only really proved himself at Bundesliga level in the past 3 seasons. He scored 14 goals in 25 League games (22 starts) in the 2006/07 season as Stuttgart won the League title in only his 2nd full campaign with the first team. In fact, his scoring record is superb for such a young player after scoring 21 goals in 43 League games for Stuttgart’s 2nd team and 58 goals in 118 League games (80 starts) for the first team.

Last season the forward scored an astonishing 19 goals in 25 League games (23 starts) and this season he has scored 19 goals in 29 League appearances (28 starts). Only two players have scored more than Gomez this season in the Bundesliga. At 6 ft 2, Gomez is built to be a success in the English Premier League with both his strength and power.

Gomez won the 2007 German Footballer of the Year award but apart from the Bundesliga title in the same year he has yet to win any further trophies. This season Stuttgart are currently fourth but 5 points behind leaders Wolfsburg with just 4 games to go.

Bundesliga Star on His Way to the Emirates?The German star was expected to move to Bayern Munich last summer but after his disappointing showing at Euro 2008, the German Champions pulled out of the deal. However, Gomez may still get a big money move to the Emirates with a price tag of £9-10m expected.

So have you been impressed with Gomez? Do you regard his failure to shine at Euro 2008 as an indication he would struggle in England? Do you think he would be a good replacement if Arsenal sold Adebayor? Let’s hear your views.

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Monday, 4 May 2009

ARSENAL are on the trail of another young French-African prospect, 19-year-old defender Mamadou Sakho from Paris St Germain.Sakho would add to manager Arsene Wenger’s contingent as he has been capped by France at Under-21 level and is of Senegalese descent.

The £12million-rated Sakho said: “Arsenal watching me? That is very good. It gives youngsters such as myself the belief that you can make it to the top level.”

The 6ft teenager is the youngest player to have captained PSG – he was given the armband when he was 17.

Everton, meanwhile, have stepped up their quest to land the Cameroon international Stephane Mbia.

Goodison boss David Moyes is a longtime fan of the £8m-rated Rennes midfielder and tried to sign him last summer.

The Scot made a personal check on 22-year-old Mbia on Wednesday, when Rennes lost 3-2 at home to Bordeaux.

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The Gunner Warm Up Before Big Battle  

Sunday, 3 May 2009

The Dane scored twice in the first half before young Mexican Carlos Vela netted a third after the break and Pompey had Noe Pamarot sent off for a professional foul.

This result give Arsenal opportunity to improve before they met Man United in champion league clash and sent Arsenal 13 points clear of fifth placed Aston Villa, who play Hull City on Monday.

Defeat for Pompey saw Paul Hart's side stay in 14th, seven points above the drop zone, but still close enough to feel threatened with four games remaining.

Pre-match, Arsene Wenger had said he wanted to give several players a breather with one eye on Tuesday's Champions League semi-final second leg against Manchester United.

But at the same time the Gunners boss had admitted he did not want to compromise the result and that putting daylight between his side and Villa was imperative.

But such is the wealth of young talent Wenger has available to him, he was able to fulfil both wishes as he made sweeping changes to the side that lost 1-0 at Old Trafford during the week, while at the same time watching their replacements cruise to victory.

Out went the likes of, amongst others, Manuel Almunia, Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri and Emmanuel Adebayor while in came Lukasz Fabianski, Aaron Ramsey, Vela and Bendtner.

Andrei Arshavin - cup-tied for the United clash - and Theo Walcott also started, but Wenger's side was for the most part a reserve XI.

There was an element of fortune to Arsenal's first two goals.

Bendtner opened the scoring on 13 minutes, heading home from Arshavin's cross, but the ball only found the back of the net thanks to yet another howler from David James.

England's number one looked a safe bet to make what should have been a routine save, only to let the ball slip through his fingers when it most mattered. It was a classic James moment, and another he will want to forget in a hurry.

Vela had a chance to add a second - only Herman Hreidarsson's excellent saving tackle denied the Mexican - before the Gunners did manage to double their advantage on 39 minutes.

Again, the goal arrived under fortuitous circumstances, after referee Lee Mason adjudged Sean Davis to have brought down Arshavin in the penalty area. Replays showed the Pompey midfielder to have played the ball before Arshavin fell over his leg.

Bendtner stepped up to net his second of the day, despite James having guessed the right way.

Portsmouth boss Paul Hart made two changes at half-time, bringing on Kanu and John Utaka for Herman Hredarsson and Jermaine Pennant, and the double switch initially seemed to work as Pompey pushed for a goal that would get them back into the game.

Utaka, Peter Crouch and then Kanu all had decent chances to find the back of the net but the hosts were made to pay for their profligacy in front of goal when Vela netted Arsenal's third on 56 minutes.

It has a difficult few days for the Mexican, who was asked to stay away from training earlier in the week amid fears over swine flu, but the striker put all that behind him as he found the bottom corner with a crisp low drive.

Vela nearly had a second soon after - James showing another side to his game with a brilliant stop - as Pompey's resistance crumbled.

Pamarot's sending off, for a tug on Arshavin as the Russian threatened to break through on goal, sealed Pompey's fate although Crouch, Utaka and Sylvain Distin all had good chances to register a consolation goal at full-time approached.

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