Roundup of the latest news in the last 24 hours involving the following clubs:
Arsenal, Chelsea, Bolton, Newcastle United, Tottenham and Real Madrid.
Newcastle have finally sealed the transfer of Obafemi Martins, and apart from the usual platitudes of getting the player we always wanted (after losing out on Dirk Kuyt, the player they also wanted) Newcastle can finally look at the season with more confidence. They still need a defender, and if possible a striker (although there’s little time left).
Newcastle also got through their UEFA Cup qualifying round yesterday and will now be playing Levadia Tallinn in the first round. They play their first game away on the 14th and the return leg will be at St James Park on the 28th of September. For all of the digs this column makes against Newcastle United, I wish them the best of luck – they should clear this round and get into the group stages quite comfortably.
Just signed Anelka for 8 mil from Fenerbahce. Gives the squad a decent striker and improves their chances of ending in the top 6 this season. Europe is a realistic target for them as long as they can keep scoring goals.
Rob Smyth writes this in the Guardian:
“There had been a sense this summer that Allardyce had taken Bolton as far as he could, but now he is armed with exactly what he wanted in order to take the next step: a 20-goals-a-season forward of genuine international class. It is a brave move, because Allardyce could have taken the easy option and stuck with a system that, all things being equal, guarantees Bolton mid-table security at worst.
Instead he has opted to fundamentally change to an established, successful modus operandi, a decision which carries considerable risk. Look at Gérard Houllier, who tried to purify Liverpool’s game in the summer of 2003 and was out of a job within a year; or Ferguson, who broke up the greatest midfield quartet in British football history to accommodate Juan Veron and ended up killing a golden goose that was delivering a Premiership every year. In altering the status quo, Allardyce could leave Bolton in dire straits. Or it could be the genesis of something big. Either way, he should be applauded for taking the gamble.”
The link between Real Madrid and Tottenham over Baptista is ridiculous speculation. Baptista does not want to move and Real Madrid are not likely to sell him.
Real Madrid may yet sign Reyes towards the end of the month, and they certainly have the finances to do so. However, it’s also the time when Real Madrid are interested in selling, and players such as Gravesen, Woodgate and Ronaldo will be shipped off to other clubs if possible.
AC Milan are most likely to acquire Ronaldo, while Gravesen cannot seem to decide between Newcastle United and Celtic (Celtic play in the Champions League, Newcastle will give him the Premiership and most likely more money – go for the money!). Woodgate is rumoured to return to the Premiership, although Madrid could still keep him and use him as backup.
Then there’s the issue of Tevez…no more news on him, but Madrid remains a valid option for him if he decides to move to Europe.
Chelsea & Arsenal
I deliberately refuse to talk about Ashley Cole, William Gallas and Reyes. If you don’t know about it, consider yourself very, very lucky. Myles called it Chinese torture, and he’s not far off the mark.
The French coach Domenech has warned Makelele that if he doesn’t report for the Euro 2008 qualifiers Domenech will move to get him banned from playing for Chelsea for two matches. Note that Makelele has already announced his retirement. Domenech’s being an idiot, and this recent spate of managers throwing their weight around to intimidate players is getting tiring. Makelele is 33 and won’t be around (or won’t be in great shape) for Euro 2008 anyway – blood a young player and let Chelsea play in peace.
Although, if Makelele has to go play for France it makes it easier for other teams to beat Chelsea, so there’s an advantage right there.
Arsenal? Said no to Atletico Madrid’s bid for Reyes, with Wenger saying that the offer was not good enough. Good on Arsenal for sticking to their guns on Reyes and Cole. How Arsenal will cope with an unhappy player and even more ‘links’ with Real Madrid, well that’s not our concern, is it? Obviously the club management feel that it’s an acceptable risk to take.
Freddie Ljungberg – he of Calvin Klein fame (former model) and new captain of Sweden (also turns out for Arsenal now and then) has told the world what the Arsenal squad have recently discovered: that Chelsea are beatable. It’s good to see Freddie and Henry (who also said something similar elsewhere) take the lead in encouraging the young players, but seriously…
Chelsea have always been beatable, it’s just that the opposition has never been good enough.
That could have changed this year – let’s see what happens this weekend.
Also see the Champions League groups here.