A FORMER World Player of the Year, a Real Madrid ‘Galactico’ no less, who cost £56m last time he moved – could Kaka be the midfield menace that both Manchester United and Arsenal are angling for this transfer window?
With the imminent transfer of Spurs’ Gareth Bale to Real, and the news that Mesut Ozil is staying put, Brazilian attacker Kaka has made it clear he wants to leave Spain, and soon.
The news has put top clubs around Europe on alert, and despite the rumours that AC Milan is a likely destination, it’s clear that two of the Premiership’s big boys, Manchester United and Arsenal, could do with his services.
Since joining Old Trafford, David Moyes has been linked, albeit sometimes ridiculously, with a parade of talent – Cesc Fabregas, Thiago Alcantara, Marouane Fellaini, Luka Modric, Cristiano Ronaldo, even Bale.
What is clear from these rumours is that Moyes is in the market for a midfielder.
And at Arsenal, Arsene Wenger recapturing Mathieu Flamini, while a solid piece of business, is not the sort of transfer activity that the fans crave after a similar summer of disappointment.
With Kaka out of favour, hankering for a move from Real Madrid, the player should be within both’s budget, and there’s time to do a deal – could the Premier League have a new star player in the coming days?
THIS season, more than any I can remember anticipating, is a hard one to call.
The top three teams from last season, Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea, all have new men at the helm.
Arsenal underperformed last season – but then, Arsenal have underperformed for a good few years now – while Spurs and Liverpool could both be facing up to life without their star men next season.
I can’t see any other team seriously breaking into the top four, but which of these six elite squads will is a hard call.
There’s my disclaimer out of the way.
But neck on the line I find it hard to see past Mourinho’s Chelsea for the title.
His team has a strength in depth matched only by Manchester City, with some real creative talent in the form of Hazard, Mata and Oscar – plus if anyone can hit the ground running it’s the Special One, a manager adept at settling into new clubs, with the benefit of having been here and done it before.
It’s this that gives him the edge over Pellegrini’s star-studded legions of Manchester City, who I’m placing second come May.
Last season, Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal gave themselves a mountain to climb, and they climbed it admirably during the second half of the season. If they come out of the traps in the same form as they finished last time around, I can see them overhauling David Moyes and Manchester United’s defending champions, who’ll have to settle for fourth place.
Liverpool and Spurs I see missing out, without the depth in their squad to maintain a season-long campaign – although I will tip the Lilywhites’ new boy Roberto Soldado for the Golden Boot.
Tomorrow, I’m going to have a look at the other half of the table and predict who’ll be relegated…
THERE’S merit in the argument that Arsenal’s two-legged affair with AC Milan is Arsenal of recent years in a microcosm.
An initial frustration and disappointment creating a mountain to climb, followed by the climbing of it admirably but ultimately failing to reach the peaks promised.
But I disagree after tonight’s 3-0 win, I tip my cap to the Gunners – they played their socks off and deserved parity over the 180 minutes.
And were it not for a whistle-happy ref and a small helping of luck, and of course those four Milan aggregate goals, they’d have been contesting extra time as I type this.
An attack with the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Robinho, which is tearing Italian domestic football asunder currently, was subdued throughout tonight while a dangerous-looking Arsenal probed and threatened and took almost all their chances.
One allegation oft levelled at Arsenal in recent years is a lack of character – on tonight’s showing, that is not the case.
Maybe a bit strength in depth might be useful though, Arsene…
MANCHESTER United striker Wayne Rooney is the only Englishman on the 23-man shortlist for the prestigious Ballon d’Or.
Rooney has bounced back from an awful 2010, helping to guide United to their record 19th league title, reach their third Champions League final in four seasons and contribute to a rapid start to this campaign before the shuddering derby defeat to Manchester City.
Yet the only other United player listed for the award is Nani, who won his club’s players’ player of the year prize but was surprisingly left out of the starting line-up for the Champions League final defeat to Barcelona at Wembley by Sir Alex Ferguson.
Ferguson has been nominated in the coach of the year category, along with Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas and Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.
Only five players on the shortlist have Premier League connections, two of which – Cesc Fabregas and Sergio Aguero – spent only half of 2011 in England – compared to 15 in Spain.
Liverpool’s Luis Suarez has been included and while Manchester City fans will be delighted at the recognition afforded to Aguero, they may be surprised at David Silva’s omission.
European champions Barcelona lead the way with eight nominees, including Lionel Messi, winner for the last two years, with close rivals Real Madrid boasting five.
HINCKLEY United boss Dean Thomas is willing to listen to offers for every one of his players after a 5-0 “capitulation”.
Following the hammering by Blue Square Bet North League rivals Bishop’s Stortford, Knitters boss Thomas placed every player on his books on the transfer list.
Apologising to fans, he said: “I cannot find words to describe such an awful performance. It must go down as the worst I have witnessed.
“Every player had a job to do and an opportunity to make their mark but failed.
“I take full responsibility for that and changes will be made. I will turn this around as I have done before.”
Are you reading this, Arsene?
ARSENAL signing Chu Young Park did a runner while signing for French champions Lille – and was chased by angry Frenchmen all the way to the airport.
The Ligue 1 champions had the Monaco striker and South Korean captain waiting while a contract was drawn up, after he passed a medical and agreed to sign.
But a last minute phone call from Arsene Wenger changed his mind – and Park sneaked off to fly to London to complete a £3m deal with The Gunners.
Lille chairman Michel Seydoux – who dispatched staff in a failed attempt to intercept the player before he left the country – said: WFor someone who’s always preaching about morals, Wenger showed distinct lack of class.”
ARSENAL have offered to buy another away ticket for fans who travelled to Old Trafford to watch their team lose 8-2 to Manchester United on Sunday – the first time Arsenal have shipped eight since playing Loughborough FC in 1896.
Around 3,000 fans are thought to have made the 400-mile round trip to Manchester, only to see their team humiliated by the Red Devils.
Manager Arsene Wenger and his inexperienced, injury-hit team were widely criticised for their showing on the pitch, but the travelling support gained widespread praise for backing their team throughout.
A statement said: “Arsenal Football Club has announced it will be writing to fans who travelled to Old Trafford on Sunday with an offer to cover the cost of a match ticket at a future Barclays Premier League away game.
“Sunday’s result was obviously disappointing for everyone connected with the club. Our travelling fans were magnificent throughout and we want to recognise their fantastic support. We will be writing to them shortly with the details.”
ARSENAL may organise a charity football match to help raise funds for tsunami and earthquake-hit Japan.
Manager Arsene Wenger, a former J-League manager with Grampus Eight Nagoya, admits the natural disasters have cast doubts over Arsenal’s possible summer tour of the region, but he has hinted the Gunners may still take to the field to help the country.
He said: “We were supposed to go to Japan, I am personally not sure that will happen now. They have put the whole championship on hold.
“The immensity of the disaster will be will so big that the whole country will be focused to get things right again and put money into that and rebuild, knowing Japan – cities have complete disappeared.
“We might go to a different country or we might even go to Japan for a charity game, we don’t know yet.”
RECENT weeks have seen both Arsenal and Manchester United competing for the unwanted honour of having an even worse time of things than the other.
In the run-up to today’s FA Cup clash, Arsenal have contrived to lose the Carling Cup Final to Birmingham, disappointingly draw in the league to Sunderland and be knocked out of the Champions League by Barcelona.
Asked if he felt sorry for Arsene Wenger, his Manchester United counterpart Sir Alex Ferguson said: “I have sympathy for myself. I didn’t have an easy week myself.”
In fact, Manchester United have themselves seen sore losses to bitter rivals Liverpool and Chelsea in the league in the run up to the Arsenal encounter.
And to compound matters for both, injuries have been suffered to key players so ahead of the make or break FA Cup match, which will see at least one of the sides continue their shameful run of form – or both should they draw – here is a pretty sweet-looking XI of players missing out due to injury –
GK – Szczesny
DEF – Ferdinand – Vermaelen – Evans
MID – Valencia – Park – Song – Fabregas – Nani
ATK – Walcott – Owen
ARSENAL manager Arsene Wenger was in an unrepentent mood as he discussed the fall-out from Tuesday’s Champions League defeat to Barcelona – but still managed to wow the assembled press pack by offering the chance to win a top, top prize.
The Frenchman blasted UEFA as arrogant and a dictatorship for charging him and midfielder Samir Nasri for “inappropriate language” against the referee who sent Robin Van Persie off in the second leg of their 4-3 aggregate defeat, for playing on after the whistle.
But despite his heavy mood he reeled out some light entertainment – offering the chance to win an all expenses paid vacation, out of his own pocket, for anyone who could think of an instance of him spilling the beans on goings-on in the tunnel after any match from the last 15 years.
He said: “As for what is said in the tunnel, if you can get only one thing where I have come out on what has been said against me or against the referee during my 15 years in England, I will pay for you to have a big holiday.”
Goaltastic is now off on a Google trawl – Bahamas here I come…