FORMER AC Milan and Chelsea striker Andriy Shevchenko, former European Footballer of the Year, is to make his professional golfing debut today.
The 36-year-old Ukrainian is to take part in golf’s Challenge Tour at the Kharkov Superior Cup in his home nation, after getting a special invitation to the event.
He said: “This is the first big event for me and of course it is the first event in Ukraine so it’s a huge event for golf in this country.
“I have played with many good players in pro-ams but this is different. I hope I play well…but I just want to have a good time and enjoy the week.
“It’s quite different to football alright. I started to play golf to escape from the pressure from football.
“I come on to a golf course and turn off my phone and just walk the course and hit some balls. It’s one of the reasons why I started to play. I just found this great game where you have to be focused and balanced and that’s why I like it. I like that mental balance.”
DEADLINE day spending by Premier League clubs pushed the total splashed out in the summer transfer window to £630million – smashing the previous record.
Analysis by the business advisory firm Deloitte said spending on players was 29% up on the 2012 figure of £490m and £130m more than the previous record of £500m set in 2008.
Dan Jones, partner in the sports business group at Deloitte, said: “The story of this summer transfer window is of new records: a new record for Premier League spending as well as a new world transfer record fee.
“Premier League clubs’ gross spending this summer is £630m, beating the previous record of £500m set in 2008. Whilst the sale of Gareth Bale brought £85m into the Premier League, net spending is also a record, at £400m.”
The record spending follows the start of the huge new Premier League TV deal which will top £5.5billion over three years.
Jones added: “As the financial rewards for participation and success in the Premier League increase, so it follows that clubs are investing on the pitch to ensure they continue to benefit from the remarkable Premier League growth story.”
Top-flight clubs spent around £140m on deadline day compared to £110on the same day last year.
The four English clubs competing in this season’s Champions League – Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United – accounted for for £230m, 37% of the total. With Tottenham having spent more than £100million it means the leading five clubs last season made up more than half of all spending.
ARSENAL fans must be feeling like top transfers are a bit like buses today, after waiting all summer for a big name and then Mesut Ozil and Demba Ba come along.
Rumours are rife that the capture of Real Madrid’s German international Ozil is all but a done deal, with personal terms and a 50m Euro price tag already arranged – smashing Arsenal’s previous transfer record by around £30m.
And now it is believed that Chelsea are in talks with The Gunners over a loan deal to allow Ba to move across London.
Exciting attacking moves for Wenger’s men.
LIVERPOOL kicked off transfer deadline day with the signing of Portuguese defender Tiago Ilori, and have confirmed the signing of France defender Mamadou Sakho from Paris St Germain.
With the recent injury to Kolo Toure, the Anfield club have been after additions to the back-line – and today two have been secured.
London-born 6ft 3in centre-back Ilori, who moves from Sporting Lisbon, has represented Portugal at Under-18, Under-19 and Under-20 level.
He said: “I know the history of the club and the Premier League is the best league in the world, in my opinion.”
Paris St Germain’s Mamadou Sakho – as well as Chelsea loanee Victor Moses – wsd alongside Ilori at Sunday’s game ahead of his arrival today.
Speaking after the match, Rodgers said: “We hope the deals can be completed.
“We need that depth and more numbers. If we can get them over the line, they are quality players.
“And having competition for places is a nice problem to have.”
CHELSEA boss Jose Mourinho is to be the star of a new cartoon series called Mourinho and the Special Ones.
The self-styled Special One has been used as the basis for the show, which is launching first in his native Portugal before expanding to other countries, as well as a series of spin-off trading cards and computer games and apps, and even a grassroots coaching programme.
A spokesman for developers Sports Stars Media said: “The opportunity of a lifetime comes by when you least expect it and for Alex and his friends, a chance meeting with their hero, changes their lives forever.
“What was supposed to be a simple football match attracted the attention of the world’s greatest football coach. The Special One himself, Jose Mourinho.
“Mourinho is so impressed with Alex and his friends that he decides to help them follow their dream whilst also settling a few old scores with his longtime nemesis, Viktor Von Haii, the owner of the Junior Sharks football team.
“Alex and his team mates have been given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. But do they have what it takes to be the best and realise their potential to become…. The Special Ones.”
OH HOW we’ve missed you Mourinho.
The Special One is well known for doing things his own special way, and that extends from the touchline to the transfer market, but this week’s work will take some beating.
Despite a medical being completed and a transfer fee being arranged between Anzhi Makhachkala and Tottenham Hotspur for midfielder Willian, an 11th hour bid by Chelsea this week saw the Brazilian winger change his mind and agree a move to Stamford Bridge.
This is despite Chelsea owning more attacking midfielders than you can shake a Oscar, Juan Mata, Eden Hazard and Andre Schurrle-shaped stick at – a strange move it seemed at first.
Rumours were rife that the swoop would allow Mata to become the bargaining chip needed to prise his top target Wayne Rooney away from Manchester United – which could still be a possibility.
But now it appears that Gareth Bale’s mooted £93m move to Real Madrid is on hold as Daniel Levy won’t let Bale leave without a replacement in the bag.
So the Willian move has messed with both Chelsea rivals Spurs and former employer Madrid’s dealings, and made his own business look much more likely too – talk about two birds with one stone, Jose.
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…