Yes, Kenyon and Dein are still haggling over Ashley Cole’s final transfer fee. The rumours currently circulating about the fee being 23 mil are nothing more than educated guesses – asking for 20 million for Cole is within Arsenal’s prerogative, but it would be interesting to see Chelsea say ‘ok, we don’t want to pay this much, we’re going to go buy someone else’. Wishful thinking, as Chelsea have the money to pay whatever Arsenal is asking for.
Whether they choose to is a different matter. As much as I want Chelsea to show some spine here, it is very unlikely that they will. I don’t see why not not though – they clearly have the upper hand.
Mourinho has said again that there have been no offers for Gallas – and you know what, it sounds more and more like Gallas is playing the club in order to get the wages that he feels are ‘deserved’. I’ve said this earlier – the Gallas-Chelsea dispute is about respect – Gallas feels that Chelsea don’t respect him enough and don’t treat him like they treat his ‘equals’ – Terry, Lampard, Ballack, Sheva, Essien.
Whatever the real story behind it (I don’t believe the agent is telling the truth, and all we’ve heard from Gallas is that he wants to move away because he hasn’t been respected), Chelsea have made it abundantly clear that unlike Gudjohnsen and Duff, Gallas is not for sale. In the process they have also disciplined him, taking away his squad number and giving it to Ballack. If he stays, will Gallas be able to turn in the same quality performances as he has over the past few seasons? I think Gallas has too much pride to play poorly, but will surely run into more ‘disciplinary’ trouble with Mourinho over the course of next season.
Apart from the Cole saga, very little is happening on Arsenal’s front. The Sun is sensationalising ticket prices at the new Emirates Stadium, while the Reyes deal is being delayed because of an disagreement in transfer fees. Arsenal are doing an excellent job this summer of making the most money out of their assets – and this is said in a totally non-judgment, non-sarcastic way. I’ve admired their business sense in the transfer market, and it’s shining through once again.
Henry is still making noises about trying to keep Cole at Arsenal but that’s just Henry. He’s also talked about the ‘need’ for more signings at Arsenal and while they have good young players, an established defender and midfielder would turn them from fighting to reach 3rd place to fighting to reach 2nd :).
Now that James is set for Portsmouth, Manchester City will be moving to fill the keeping void by signing Andreas Isaksson from Rennes. There were rumours that Manchester City were interested in Kuszczak, but the Isaksson-City link was always more credible, and now the move should go through before next weekend’s games.
One gone, one more to go – Sylvain Distin is being chased by Middlesbrough – The Sun puts it as a 4.5 mil bid, and with the Huth transfer from Chelsea hitting a snag, Boro are eager to sign a new centre-half this summer. Distin has refused to sign a new contract and has only an year to go. Manchester City don’t want him to go, and it is rumoured that it is his wage demands that are proving the major stumbling block.
England are blessed with a vast number of talented central midfielders – the ones NOT to make the current squad include Scott Parker, Kevin Nolan and Nigel Reo-Coker, three highly rated players and pivotal for their respective clubs. All three of them (along with Jenas, Carrick and Hargreaves) have a very good chance of breaking through the Lampard-Gerrard axis, and at least England should not have a problem in provding to backup in that area.
Whether we’ll actually live up to heady expectations in the next four years is a different question altogether.
Under new coach Dunga, Brazil are to play a number of games in Europe in the next month or so. They start off against Norway, with a squad that does not include many of the star players that Brazil have relied on in the past. Dunga’s reasoning is that he wants only those players who are match-fit, but it could also be that he’s looking
The Community Shield match between Liverpool and Chelsea is up tomorrow, hopefully I’ll be able to watch it and do a full report.
I’ve said earlier that Cassano might be on his way out from Real Madrid, but with his increased involvement in pre-season matches and Capello’s familiarity with him from their Roma days could mean that Cassano will end up staying. At least Cassano thinks so.
Obafemi Martins, who has been linked with Newcastle and Manchester United, is now also being linked with Portsmouth. I’ll wait till Harry says something on this (he always does) before believing that one.