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Liverpool and Chelsea stumble, Arsenal stick to selling, Manchester United bag Kuszczak?



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Today’s million dollar question: How much is Ashley Cole really worth as a player?

It’s a question that is seemingly the root of the delay caused between Arsenal and Chelsea’s transfer negotiations. Media speculation as placed the number Arsenal are asking for at 25 mil, which is ridiculous and overblown. It’s a lot more likely that Arsenal are asking for 15 mil and Chelsea are holding out on 10 (or it could be even lower – Arsenal asking for 10-12 and Chelsea not willing to pay double figures – but that’s not likely considering past performance).

In a move to clarify their position over the pending Ashley Cole transfer, Chelsea have released the following statement:

“Chelsea FC has been in discussions with Arsenal Football Club for some time over the possible transfer of Ashley Cole.

Chelsea has made a very substantial offer for the player. Although discussions have continued, Arsenal’s valuation of the player does not match Chelsea’s and therefore no agreement can be reached in the current circumstances.”

It’s in Chelsea’s advantage to play this transfer through the media – after all, it’s them and not Arsenal who hold all the cards. Cole’s relations with Arsenal fans and the management are at a breaking point, he’s made it abundantly clear that he wants to leave and Chelsea are Cole’s first choice and Arsenal need money to finance transfers. There’s always the chance that Arsenal could snub Chelsea and choose to deport Ashley Cole to Real Madrid, but I doubt that Madrid would pay more than Chelsea for Cole.

Ashley Cole isn’t the only player David Dein is negotiating a sale for. Real Madrid’s sporting director (Pedja Mijatovic) is supposed to be in London to close a deal with Arsenal over Reyes. The fact that Reyes badly wants to go to Madrid and that they need a left-sided player (although Abdu tells me Cassano and Robinho can play there), which should push this transfer through fairly quickly. I doubt that Baptista will be swapped for Reyes (just as it is unlikley for Gallas to be swapped for Cole) and Arsenal will still be left looking for a central midfielder.

Update: Arsenal have reportedly put a 16.5 mil price tag on Reyes.

They have Ribery in their sights – a player who would give Arsenal a devastating edge in attack (Fabregas, Ljungberg, van Persie, Henry, Ribery, Rosicky/Hleb – all 5 playing at the same time, it’s enough to beat 16 other Premiership teams hands down). Whether Wenger will move for him is a different matter – right now, all we have is media speculation.

Chelsea are in troubles of their own. They are rushing through their pre-season trying to get their players badly needed match-fitness, and in the process have been very unconvincing in their recent matches (although SWP, who bagged his first goal for Chelsea yesterday, might disagree).

The Sun is reporting that Gallas’ outrageous wage demands are driving another wedge between him and the club. According to this news item, Gallas is on 35K per week and has been offered a 70K per week contract – one that he has turned down and asked to be put on the same level as Terry and Lampard (i.e. 90K per week).

Chelsea are in a real danger of starting the season slowly – something that could make the Premiership title race this time much more open.

They aren’t the only club that is showing poor pre-season form. Liverpool’s stumbling 2-1 win over Maccabi Haifa means that they go to the second leg having conceded an away goal. If Haifa are able to score first next week, Liverpool face a real danger of dropping out of the Champions League and losing out on the 10 mil jackpot guaranteed to them from the group stages. Liverpol’s pre-season form hasn’t been peachy either.

With Bellamy in his side, Benitez can very easily try playing 4-4-2 or 4-4-1-1 and exploit Bellamy’s pace. As things stand, his preference for 4-5-1 means that Liverpool will continue to struggle to score.

AC Milan are also through their first leg with a 1-0 win – not convincing, but the Italians would prefer getting by rather than impressing at this stage.

Tottenham have denied any interest in Obafemi Martins – not surprising really, although what is surprising is that the media is reporting that Martins has handed in a transfer request. Manchester United are an obvious target, but whether they will actually move for him is another matter altogether. Right now, we’re struggling to sign a defensive midfielder, so one thing at a time.

Speaking of Manchester United, Rooney and Scholes have finally been handed bans by the FA and are appealing, which will then have the straight reds turned into yellows and will allow Rooney to play with Scholes getting only a one-match ban. It’s a silly process, but hey, whatever gets our players on the pitch.

Manchester United have also seem to completed a deal for Kuszczak, with West Brom agreeing to a 2.9 mil deal involving 2.5 mil in cash and defender Paul McShane moving the other way. Good keeper, but what’s the point?

Last, a mention for Keano16’s Mark Graham, who is blogging about his trip to South Africa on Manchester United’s pre-season at United Rant. Lucky bastard…

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Ahmed Bilal created Sportslens in 2006. He is a business consultant and entrepreneur who helps businesses identify and overcome their biggest challenges. He’s also the founder of Football Media, an online advertising agency that specialises in sports and male audience targeting, with a monthly reach of 100m+ sports fans in the UK and US. He’s also the previous owner of Soccerlens.com – a sports news site that reaches 3m+ readers / month.