Monday, June 30, 2008

Ajax - Dutch Striker Link To Emirates Stadium

Arsenal Football Club are ready to make their move for Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.

The Dutch international striker is rated as one of the brightest young talents in European football, and his decision to reject a new contract with Ajax has put a number of clubs on alert.

One of these is said to be Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal, who are in the market for a new forward and are willing to pay around £21million to take Huntelaar to the Emirates Stadium.

Although Ajax will do all they can to keep the 24-year-old in Amsterdam, he only has two years remaining on his contract and would be available for much less if they keep him for another season. 


But the the transfer rumours could be one of the sensational signing for Arsenal squad as they need an extra option of striker to replace Adebayor if he may go somewhere else.
 

Arsenal to Sign Young Starlet from Bremen

Werder Bremen midfielder Amaury Bischoff claims he will be transferred to Arsenal in the next few weeks.

The transfer rumours of the 21-year-old is being tipped to put pen to paper on a long-term deal with The Gunners as soon as Arsene Wenger returns from Austria.

The French domestic press claim that the North London club first approached the French-Portuguese six month ago, and he has now agreed to step up to a new stage in his career.

The former Colmar and Strasbourg player is believed to be in England to undertake a medical prior to pledging his future at the Emirates Stadium.

“A few details are still to be finalised,” Bischoff told DNA. “And most of all we’re waiting for Arsene Wenger’s return, he’s in Vienna for the Euros final.

“But I’m hopeful I’ll sign in the next few days. Arsenal are a step higher (than Werder). I think I’ll play for the reserves at the start to recover my sensations, as I’ve not been playing for a long time.

“And then it’s up to me to earn my place. The asset is that there’re a lot of games in England."

Bischoff has spent three seasons in Germany but a number of injuries have prevented him from showing his best form.

“I’d have played much more without my thigh injury, because the technical staff trusted me,” he added. “But I at least took part in 10 or 15 Bundesliga games from the bench and did train with great players such as Diego, [Johann] Micoud, [Torsten] Frings or [Ivan] Klasnic.

“It made me improve a lot. For the moment, my career is abroad."

The France Under-18 international and then Portugal Under-21 international has opted to play for La Selecao. He could play at Wembley against England on October 14.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Aquilani in Route to Arsenal?

Arsenal Football Club could yet strike a deal for Alberto Aquilani. 

Arsene Wenger was linked with the Roma midfield player earlier this summer, but the player insisted there was no chance of leaving the Giallarossi in the near future.

However, reports in Italy suggest the 23-year-old is currently engulfed in a wage war with the Serie A runners-up, who reluctant to meet his wage demands of €2.5million-per-season.

Roma are only willing to pay Aquilani €1.5million-per-season, and unless an agreement is reached within the next fortnight, Wenger will offer £10milion for his signature as well as wages of €3million.
 

Superboy Could Start in Final

Spain coach Luis Aragones has hinted that Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas will start during his side's Euro 2008 final against Germany on Sunday night in Vienna.

In comments broadcast on private television Cuatro, he said his starting line-up for the match would be the same as the squad that beat Russia 3-0 in the semi-finals on Thursday when Fabregas replaced an injured David Villa.

Asked if Spain were the favourites against Germany, Aragones said:

"I think so, Spain is better than Germany."

It will be Fabregas' first start of the tournament. Aragones has up until now used 21-year-old as a second-half subsititute.

Fabregas scored the winning penalty in Spain's quarter-final 4-2 shootout victory over world champions Italy and he set up two of Spain's goals in its win over Russia.

Spain last lifted the European Cup in 1964 with final victory over the former USSR in what was their only triumph at a major tournament to date. The country last reached the Euro final in 1984 when it lost to France.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Hiddink - Fabregas is Like Torres+Villa


Guus Hiddink pinpointed the introduction of Cesc Fabregas as the moment when Thursday’s Euro 2008 semi-final slipped away from Russia.

Spain beat Russia 3-0 thanks to goals from Xavi, Daniel Guiza and David Silva, two of which were created superbly by Fabregas.

The Arsenal man arrived as a first half substitute for David Villa, who misses Sunday’s final due to injury, and Hiddink admits his team could not handle his creativity.

"We could handle Torres and Villa in the first half okay, but with the change to a midfielder in there came more mobility," he said.

"It is difficult to play that and control it. They also do it at a rather quick pace. You can feel it and it's a matter of time, that's their class.”

Russia’s story is nevertheless one of the talking points of a marvellous tournament, and Hiddink remained proud of his side’s achievements.

"The disappointment of tonight is in our head, but when our emotions calm down we are very proud, not just the results but the way they have played.

"Of course after a game where we are defeated we are disappointed, that is logical. We could play with Spain for the first half and part of the second, there was still a game, but their plan to tire us led to our marking being loose in midfield so we had to run a lot.

"That is the moment they had the quality to strike. It is a very deserved win - it's very difficult to play against a team like that who can play one-touch football. I hope they play a good final."

Adebayor - "No Barca, No Milan!"


Emmanuel Adebayor plans to stay at Arsenal despite rumored interest from FC Barcelona and AC Milan.

The 24-year-old Togo striker, in Austria during the European Championship, has three years left on his contract.

"No matter what, I have to stay,'' Adebayor said Friday. "I'm staying at Arsenal. I've three more years with Arsenal. I have a good contract, we have a good team there and I'm playing for one of the biggest teams in the world.

"The most important thing is to keep enjoying myself.''

Like Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, Adebayor has been at Euro 2008, but the pair have not spoken about any transfer.

Adebayor said he wants to win trophies with Arsenal, which has gone without a title since the 2005 FA Cup.

"You have a chance to play in a team where everyone is between 21 and 26 years old, we are all the same generation,'' he said. "We all have the same ideas and we all want to achieve something. We feel like brothers and like family.

"Those are the reasons that give us a chance to play the football we play. We play good football, now we look forward to winning trophies.''

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Arsenal vs Liverpool : Who Will Get The Spaniard?



Arsenal Football Club have entered the race for David Silva.

Liverpool have earlier this summer been linked with the 22-year-old Valencia winger, who is impressing during Euro 2008 as Spain have progressed to the semi-final stage.

Che rate the player in the £20million bracket which is also within the Gunners range, and reports claim Arsene Wenger is ready to fight Rafael Benitez all the way to land Silva.

Regardless of how Spain get on against the Russians on Thursday, Benitez and Wenger will wait until the end of the tournament to start their battle, with both determined to emerge successful.

meanwhile...

Arsenal has miss out their long time target, Hatem Ben Arfa who had deal with french club Marseille. It is reported that :

"An agreement has been reached between Olympique Lyonnais and l'OM for the permanent transfer of Hatem Ben Arfa," read a statement on the official I’OM website. "The player will be in Marseille in the next few hours to undergo the traditional medical checks before signing the contract."

Transfer Chit-Chat : Daniel Guiza for Arsenal?


Arsenal Football Club are lining up replacements for Emmanuel Adebayor.

The Togo international has been tipped to sign for AC Milan during the summer transfer window, and the Daily Mail believe Arsene Wenger has lined up Real Mallorca’s Daniel Guiza as a replacement.

Gunners fans, would you be happy with Guiza?

Monday, June 23, 2008

Official first-team squad numbers announced

Arsenal’s official squad numbers for the 2008/09 season have been confirmed.

The most notable change is Manuel Almunia, who has taken the No 1 shirt in the wake of Jens Lehmann's departure.

Mexican forward Carlos Vela, who has completed a successful season-long loan with Osasuna in Spain, has been allocated the No 12 shirt. Finally, new signing Aaron Ramsey has taken the No 16 shirt following Mathieu Flamini's move to AC Milan.

Looks like no 14 left by 'King Henry' and no 8 left by Legendary-Ljungberg still empty. Who's gonna fill it? is it Nasri? or Podolski? or Arshavin? or Villa? Just wait n see yaa=)

Here are the squad numbers in full:

1. Manuel ALMUNIA
2. Abou DIABY
3. Bacary SAGNA
4. Francesc FABREGAS
5. Kolo TOURE
6. Philippe SENDEROS
7. Tomas ROSICKY
8.
9. EDUARDO
10. William GALLAS
11. Robin VAN PERSIE
12. Carlos VELA
13. Alexander HLEB
14.
15. DENILSON
16. Aaron RAMSEY
17. Alexandre SONG
18.
19. GILBERTO
20. Johan DJOUROU
21. Lukasz FABIANSKI
22. Gael CLICHY
23.
24. Vito MANNONE
25. Emmanuel ADEBAYOR
26. Nicklas BENDTNER
27. Emmanuel EBOUE
28.
29.
30. Armand TRAORE
31. Justin HOYTE
32. Theo WALCOTT

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Gunners fail with Diogo bid

Brazilian club Portuguesa claim they have turned down an Arsenal bid for their highly-rated striker Diogo.

The 21-year-old has emerged as one of the most promising strikers in Brazil after scoring 18 goals in the league last season.

He has continued his form this term with four goals in six games and now he is attracting major attention from Europe.

Arsenal first showed an interest earlier this year and now the Sao Paolo-based club claim that they have not turned down a bid from The Gunners.

"We have refused an offer from Arsenal, because it was too low," Portuguesa director Andre Heleno was quoted by the Daily Star.

"Up to now the biggest offer has come from Italy, which was £9million, but we will start to think about selling him at £12million."

Keen on move

Benfica, Sporting Lisbon, Fiortentina, and Olympiakos have all been linked with Diogo - who admits he is ready to move to Europe.

"I'm going through a great moment with Portuguesa, but I have a dream of playing in Europe and if it happens now then I'm ready for it," he said.

"But I must respect my commitment to this team, and I'll only go if there's an offer that's good for both me and the club."

Podolski weighing up options

Lukas Podolski accepts that he may have to leave Bayern Munich to get regular first-team football.

The Germany international, who has three goals at Euro 2008, is under contract at Allianz Arena until 2010 but has become increasingly frustrated at being forced to play back-up to Miroslav Klose and Luca Toni.

He has been linked with a host of clubs since the Bundesliga season came to a close, with Stuttgart, Arsenal, Manchester City and Tottenham all believed to have expressed an interest.

The 23-year-old admits that he will consider his options over the summer, but insists that, for now, he remains fully focused on helping his country claim European Championship glory.

Future

"The Euros are the only thing that counts for me at the moment," Podolski told Bild.

"I will start thinking about other things when they are over.
"If I don't see the chance of playing for Bayern under Jurgen Klinsmann then I will have to consider my future.

"I am not a footballer who is prepared to just sit on the bench."

Thursday, June 19, 2008

£ 10 million bid for Arshavin?


Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is hunting Europe for new players, and are now closing in on a Russian forward

Russian forward Andrei Arshavin is, according to Daily Mirror, close to becoming an Arsenal player if a bid of £ 10 million is accepted by his club Zenit St Petersburg.

Arshavin might not be the most known player in Europe, but his abillity to play in a number of positions and the fact that he has been such a great success under Guus Hiddink and was included in the Euro 2008 squad despite the fact that he couldn't play in the first two games of the tournement.

Arshavin impressed heavilly in his first and Russia's 3rd game of the tournement, when they hammered Sweden 2-0 and went through to the quarter finals.

Arshavin (27) has been loyal to his club Zenit where he started his career in 2000, playing more than 200 league games for the Russian 2008 UEFA Cup winner.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Raul Albiol, Gokhan Inler are Wenger Latest Target


ARSENE WENGER is preparing to make a bid for versatile Valencia star Raul Albiol as the Gunners boss looks to replace the departed Mathieu Flamini in his Arsenal squad.

The club confirmed the purchase of Welsh teenager Aaron Ramsey last week, and the Gunners are now ready to make Albiol their second signing of the summer - if a fee can be agreed.

The 22-year-old came on as a substitute for Spain in their 2-1 win over Sweden on Sunday night that booked their place in the quarter-finals of Euro 2008.

And Albiol, a defensive midfielder by trade, showed his versatility by replacing Carles Puyol at centre back for the final hour of the win in Innsbruck on Sunday.

That is the kind of flexibility that has persuaded Wenger to approach the hard-up La Liga club with a bid of £5million for Albiol, who is a close friend of Arsenal's Cesc Fabregas.

He is keen to leave the cash-strapped Mestalla club which has just endured a disastrous season that saw it sack two managers in Quique Flores and Ronald Koeman and battle against relegation.

Although Valencia stayed up and won the Copa del Rey, there will be no Champions League football next season for a club which is also hampered by debts after building a new 75,000 capacity stadium which it will move to in 2009.

Leading stars David Villa and David Silva are also both set to leave, but the Gunners will be priced out of bidding wars involving Chelsea, Liverpool, Barcelona and Real Madrid.

However, Albiol would come a lot cheaper and would provide cover for both the defence and the centre of midfield, where Flamini's departure for AC Milan has left a sizeable hole.

Wenger confirmed this week that he is not looking to sign any out-and-out defenders this summer, and put paid to a move for Hamburg's Vincent Kompany.

"I have been interested in Vincent Kompany ever since he was 16, but I am not interested in him this year," admitted Wenger. "There is nobody I need for my team's defensive department.

"I still follow Kompany's progress all the time and I know him very, very well. But he will not be an Arsenal player next season.

"I know all the good Belgian players. Arsenal are following a number of them with great interest, although I won't name names."

Another player on Wenger's radar is Swiss midfielder Gokhan Inler, a 23-year-old currently playing for Italian Serie A side Udinese.

Inler was one of Switzerland's best players in their failed Euro 2008 campaign, and the Gunners may turn to him if they cannot agree a fee for Albiol, who Valencia value at £10million.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Wenger Mahu Turan dan Silva



Arsenal are on the verge of making a double swoop on two of the tournaments young stars.

The first is Turkey’s 21 year old striker Arda Turan, Wenger has reportedly been impressed by the youngsters performances and attitude on the field, he has already scored once at this level and proven that he can handle the big stage.

Galatasary will no doubt smack a huge price tag on the player who it was reported was close to signing for Newcastle United, but since his impressive performances in the group stages he has caught the attention of Wenger among others and Newcastle may well find that Wenger’s reputation will see the young lad join Arsenal for a figure believed to be in the region of £10 million.

The other player that Wenger is prepared to make a bid on his David Silva of Valencia, the 22 year old has played very well for Spain and has done enough to persuade Wenger that the player shares the same footballing philosophy that Arsenal have mastered.

Silva is available for sale from Valencia but they will be looking for over 20 million euros for the player and while this is not out of Arsenal’s reach the figure will have to come down some, the chances are that Arsenal will agree to incentives depending on how many appearances for Spain and Arsenal which will increase a basic fee.

Both players will cost Arsenal but both are young with huge potential and as usual Wenger is the man to bring that potential to its fullest.

Euro 2008 has thrown up a crop of young talented players and if this tournament will be remembered for anything it will be remembered for the time that a new generation burst through on to the football scene leaving the old guard behind.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Fabregas- Why not you take him Wenger?


Cesc Fabregas hopes David Villa's stunning Euro 2008 hat-trick against Russia will convince Arsenal to sign the Spain striker.

Villa is expected to leave Valencia for a team playing in the Champions League this summer if one of his many admirers are prepared to pay about £25million for the prolific marksman.

And with Chelsea and Tottenham also among clubs interested from the Barclays Premier League, Fabregas has urged boss Arsene Wenger to make his move.

Following Spain's 4-1 victory over Russia at Innsbruck, Fabregas said: "He would be amazing for the English league. I would like to have him in my team because as you can see he can make the difference.

"He has mobility, he scores goals and he is brave. And for us he has formed a great partnership with Fernando Torres."

Wenger was in the stadium to see Villa's hat-trick help Spain establish an early lead at the top of Group D.

Villa is coming off a rocky season by his own standards after scoring 18 league goals. Though Valencia lifted the Copa del Rey trophy, the club didn't do well in the league and fired coach Ronald Koeman.

Real Madrid are also thought to be interested in his signature.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Hot Prospect Ramsey set for Arsenal

Aaron Ramsey is to join Arsenal from FA Cup finalists Cardiff City in a £5m cash deal, BBC Sport understands.

Champions League winners Manchester United and Premier League giants Everton were also fighting to sign the 17-year-old Welsh wonderkid.

But Ramsey has signed a three-year deal at Arsenal after they flew him out to Switzerland for face-to-face talks with boss Arsene Wenger at Euro 2008.

Unlike United, the Arsenal deal does not include a loan back option.

Cardiff have confirmed Arsenal's bid for their highly-rated youth academy graduate was the "best cash offer" for the young star.

The deal equals City's transfer fee received record, held jointly alongside Michael Chopra's £5m switch to Sunderland in the summer 2007.

AARON RAMSEY
Dave Jones and Aaron Ramsey
Born: December 26, 1990 in Caerphilly
Position: Midfielder
Club: Cardiff City (22 games, 2 goals)
Height: 5ft 10ins
Weight: 12st
Did you know?: Ramsey was an excellent rugby player and played on the wing for Caerphilly
Cardiff striker Steve Thompson on "Rambo": We call him Marge Simpson because his hair is a proper thatch - and his first car is a luminous, lime green Ford Fiesta with a black and white checkerboard roof. If he goes to the Premier League, the car will have to go!

Bluebirds chairman Peter Ridsdale, who accepted bids from Arsenal, Manchester United and Everton, told BBC Sport: "It is a very straightforward, no strings attached £5m cash offer - simple.

"We felt that Manchester United equalled it because it included a loan back option."

Ramsey, who has made just 22 appearances for the Championship side, is expected to have a medical at Arsenal's plush Hertfordshire training ground within the next few days.

A Cardiff City statement read: "Cardiff City were informed on Tuesday morning that Aaron Ramsey's preferred destination this summer is the Emirates Stadium with Arsenal.

"We will now continue the dialogue with the Gunners with a view to Aaron's move being completed.

"The move, unlike other options, does not include a loan back period at Ninian Park for the 2008/09 season.

"We would like to wish Aaron every success in the top-flight."

Ramsey, the most wanted player outside the Premier League, spoke to Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson on the telephone as initially Premier League champions United looked favourite to sign him.

United even put a statement on their website on 3 June, announcing: "Manchester United is delighted to announce it has agreed terms with Cardiff City for the transfer of Aaron Ramsey subject to terms being agreed and the player passing a medical."

Cardiff made no secret of the fact they wanted Ramsey to join United to take advantage of the loan-back agreement.

The Welsh Under-21 international met Everton manager David Moyes before being flown out on a private jet to Basel on Saturday to meet with Wenger, who has now beaten his old rival Ferguson to landing Ramsey.

But Ridsdale said: "We would have much preferred him to remain as a Cardiff City player or returned here on loan next season had he gone somewhere else.

"The only deal with a loan-back option was with Manchester United but ultimately it is up to the player to decide where he wants to go.

"In an ideal world I would have wished him to go to Manchester United were to he to leave us but we have to be careful as we have relationships with Arsenal and want to do business with them in the future."

Ramsey caught Arsenal's eye when the young midfielder shone in a goal-scoring display during Cardiff's FA Youth Cup quarter-final defeat to the Gunners in February 2007.

He beat John Toshack's record to become Cardiff's youngest ever player at just 16 years and 124 days when Ramsey replaced Paul Parry in a 1-0 home defeat to Hull City in April 2007.

The player known as 'Rambo' was included in Toshack's Wales squad for the first time this summer for their friendly double-header with Iceland and the Netherlands but Ramsey didn't play.



Ramsey - hailed as "sensational" by Wales youth guru Brian Flynn - is one of a crop of promising Welsh youngsters tipped for the big-time.

Cardiff boss Dave Jones has hailed Ramsey's versatility as the teenager has played in his favoured central midfield role, on each flank, at full-back and also in a free role behind the striker this season.

Ramsey, his former Cardiff colleague Joe Ledley, Tottenham's Gareth Bale, Wolves keeper Wayne Hennessey and West Ham midfielder Jack Collison have been earmarked as Wales' stars of the future by Wales boss Toshack.

The Caerphilly-born playmaker is the latest off the Cardiff production line of players to move to the Premier League following Chris Gunter, Danny Gabbidon, James Collins and Rob Earnshaw into the top league.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Ramsey Would Join Arsenal or Not?


Cardiff City youngster Aaron Ramsey is to decide whether he will join Manchester United, Arsenal or Everton within the next 48 hours...

All three clubs had bids of £5 million accepted by the FA Cup finalists, who have been forced to let go of their promising youngster.

Manchester United were initially thought to have landed the 17-year-old and still remain favourites for his signature, with Arsenal and Everton waiting in the wings.

The Welshman has already had a tour of Carrington - Manchester United's training complex - by club captain Gary Neville, and has now taken a private jet to Switzerland to meet with Gunners boss Arsene Wenger.

He has also met David Moyes and discussed the possibility of moving to Everton, who may not be at the dizzying heights of either of their two competitors, but are not too far off, and will offer the attacking midfielder more first team football than either of them.

However, Manchester United have countered this by including a loan back clause in their deal, so should they win the race for the player, he will spend his first year as a United player back at Cardiff on loan.

“I spoke to Aaron on Friday night," said Cardiff chairman Peter Ridsdale. "He told me he’d had a great day at United and was on his way to see Arsene. After that, the final decision is up to the youngster himself.

“Aaron spoke to Sir Alex Ferguson before visiting United. He’s a sensible person and will listen to what Arsene has to say.”

Hleb is The Last Barca's Wishlist


Joan Laporta is facing a vote of no confidence on June 21 and has vowed to complete their summer spending before that happens in order to be ready for the new season.

Hleb is the fifth and final name on the list after the recent acquisitions of Martín Cáceres and Daniel Alves and the Blaugana will step up their efforts to buy him before the end of the week.

Last Thursday, Hleb's agent, Uli Ferber, admitted that there were contact between the parties and that Barça were now frontrunners after Inter had pulled out of the race to sign his client.

According to reports in England, Arsenal are preparing for life without the former VfB Stuttgart playmaker and are waiting to here what Barcelona are proposing.

The arrival of Hleb at Camp Nou could spark a revival in Thierry Henry's form as the pair combined so well together in Arsène Wenger's side and Pep Guardiola will be hoping to reproduce some of that form.

Catalan daily Sport ran a story ten days ago outlining the three players that Barça would sign to complete their squad and named Cáceres, Alves and Hleb.

Seydou Keita has signed to bolster the midfield from Sevilla while Gerard Piqué was bought back from Manchester United to add strength to the defence.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Liverpool Wants Bendtner


Reds boss Rafa Benitez is keen to add depth to his forward line over the summer, and reports from England claim he is considering a shock swoop for the Danish youngster.

The 20-year-old has received limited opportunities with the Gunners due to the emergence of Togolese striker Emmanuel Adebayor, with whom the Dane has had a rather drastic falling out.

Bendtner has generally struggled to live up to his billing as one of the most promising young strikers in Europe, although late last season he exhibited glimpses of his significant potential.

Wenger will be reluctant to sell given the respective injury issues of Robin van Persie and Eduardo da Silva, not to mention the growing uncertainly surrounding Adebayor’s future at the Emirates.

But Benitez will almost certainly have to replace the unsettled Peter Crouch, and is willing to offer ₤6million for a player Wenger snatched virtually free of charge from Copenhagen outfit Kjøbenhavns Boldklub.

The deal would prove something of a coup if it went through, given that almost all Premier League clubs flat-out refuse to trade with their rivals these days – as evidenced by Benitez’s failure to secure defender Gabrielle Heinze from Manchester United last summer.

Fabregas Now A 'Great European Player'


Arsenal.com, the official website of the Gunners, for whom Cesc Fabregas has become a pivotal player, has been asking reporters from each of the countries who will have Arsenal players involved at Euro 2008, to assess the Gunners concerned.

And Inigo Gurruchaga of Spanish newspaper El Correo spoke to the website about midfielder Fabregas.

Asked what the perception of Fabregas was in his native Spain, Gurruchaga replied: "There has been a real transformation of this young guy from a promising player into a great European player and certainly one of the best Spanish players."

He added: "From last summer to this one, or the last couple of seasons, people are no longer saying that perhaps Fabregas will be useful, now people are relying on him to do a heavy workload, to take the team on his shoulders."

Nevertheless, Fabregas himself said this week, ahead of the Euro 2008 kick-off, that he was not sure of his starting place in the Spain side, and Gurruchaga echoed this when he said: "I am not sure whether Fabregas will be one of the first names on the team-sheet because Spain has the same problem they had at the World Cup in 2006. They have so much quality in midfield but they have to find the right balance."

Gurruchaga criticised Spain's team manager, Luis Aragones, saying he had been unable to solve that problem, and had "made a mess" of the World Cup 2006 quarter-final against France.

"In the first group game they won 4-1 and the combination of Marcos Senna and Xabi Alonso worked well. Everyone was enthusiastic, because the Spanish press is like the English press, they said 'now we are going to beat everybody'. But Luis never played the same combination. Fabregas came into the team and suddenly all the technical players played together, it was seen as a very risky strategy. Spain basically said 'we will play our game' so they had Alonso, Xavi and Fabregas, and that's one reason why France beat Spain."

Asked whom he thought Aragones would select, Gurruchaga replied: "I think he has to have Senna and Xabi Alonso or Senna and Fabregas and I think that is the big question. He has to play a player who can help recover the ball alongside Fabregas or Alonso because that has worked very well in my opinion. It works for other teams with Javier Mascherano at Liverpool and Mathieu Flamini or Gilberto at Arsenal.

"What I will say in favour of Fabregas is that he can be useful on the right or the left too. He has more pace than Alonso. I don't know what I would choose, it is a difficult one because you have to get the balance right, but it is a happy dilemma for the manager."

When Arsenal.com asked Gurruchaga how important Fabregas had been in Spain's qualifying campaign, he replied: "He has been a regular, in terms of minutes played he has featured more than Alonso.

"Senna is only just coming back to the Spanish team now while David Albelda was in great turmoil at Valencia, and both are good recovery players. Ruben Baraja is over the hill now in terms of pace and age, but Albelda has been crucial for Spain in terms of recovering the ball. But he wasn't playing for Valencia because of a dispute so that helps Fabregas in terms of being a regular at Euro 2008."

Can Spain win the competition? According to Gurruchaga, everyone knows that Spain are capable of winning Euro 2008.

"There can always be a surprise but if Spain are there then they can win it. They need to get it together in the short time you have at a major tournament, you have to get a good result at the beginning and get into tune, but everyone knows Spain have the quality if they get into the groove.

"If they get over-excited, if there are changes in the team, tensions in the camp or the manager is angry with players... all of these things can stop them, but everyone who knows anything about football knows that Spain can do it. They have failed constantly to prove themselves beyond the quarter-finals but this could be their year."

Asked if the Spanish team are stronger than they were at the 2006 World Cup, he told Arsenal.com: "I am not sure if they are better than two years ago.

"Torres is a better player, he is more experienced now, he is a grown-up. Xavi's quality has not been as good this season but he is a top Barcelona player. Fabregas is better than in 2006, Senna is a good player, Ramos in defence and Casillas in goal are still strong. There is no Raul, despite Madrid's players pressing for it, so it is a younger squad but we will wait and see."

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Milan Want Adebayor for £32m

AC Milan are planning another raid on Arsenal with a reported £32m bid for striker Emmanuel Adebayor.

Having already prised midfielder Mathieu Flamini from the Emirates Stadium this summer, sources in Italy claim manager Carlo Ancelotti is set to turn his attention towards Adebayor.

The Togo striker joined the Gunners for £7m in January 2006 and netted 30 goals last season. The Daily Telegraph claims Adebayor met Milan officials this week and agreed to join the club - despite recently insisting he was going to stay with Arsenal.

adebayor

Goals pay the rent - and will cost £32m in this case: Adebayor nets against Tottenham and could be doing so for Milan next season

The 24-year-old returned to his country this week to receive the BBC African player of the year award where he insisted moves abroad were fuelled solely by cash.

He said: "If you move, it is about money. When we were young we played because we love the game and we were passionate about it. But now, when you reach this stage you are thinking about the Champions League and big things like that.

adebayor

Simply the best: Adebayor with his African Play of the Year award

"Whenever I come back to my country people love me. If I didn't go to Europe for money, what else would it be for?"

Arsenal were in contention to win the Premier League and Champions League before four consecutive draws in March scuppered their hopes in the league, and a late collapse against Liverpool at Anfield ended their European hopes.

They won nothing for a third successive season but Arsene Wenger's attacking style won them many admirers.

However, Adebayor is keen to wins things and added: "If you gave me the option of playing beautiful football and winning nothing, or playing ugly and winning then obviously it would be the latter.

"You are judged on what you win. We play in a great team with a great manager, but we don't want to play beautiful football just to put smiles on the faces of the fans."

Milan finished fifth in Serie A last season, so will not be in the Champions League, a factor that could influence Adebayor, leaving the Italians to focus on Chelsea duo
Didier Drogba and Andrei Shevchenko.

Santa Can Be Adebayor's Replacement


Arsene Wenger is prepared to make a £12 million bid for Blackburn striker Roque Santa Cruz to prevent his side falling apart as he contemplates losing Emmanuel Adebayor to AC Milan in a £30m move.

Adebayor's relationship with Arsenal has become so fraught that it seems inevitable that Wenger will allow him to leave, assuming that Milan come up with the money.

Mathieu Flamini has already left on a free transfer to the Italians while Alexander Hleb has agreed a deal with Barcelona and is waiting for the clubs to fix a fee.

Wenger insists the Togo striker will stay at Arsenal but the player has infuriated directors by demanding more than £80,000 a week.

Arsenal are prepared to fight Manchester United for Santa Cruz, a clear sign that the departure of Adebayor is being considered. Paraguay striker Santa Cruz, 26, has been a revelation in his first season in the Premier League, scoring 19 goals in 37 appearances.

Despite costing only £3.7m from Bayern Munich last season, the player's value has soared and, with three years left of a fouryear contract, he will not be easy to prise from Ewood Park.

It is hoped Santa Cruz's arrival, along with Marseille's £11m midfielder Samir Nasri, will go some way to appeasing key players, Cesc Fabregas, Kolo Toure and Robin van Persie, who are alarmed by the departure of Flamini and the probable exit of Hleb.

Adebayor also looks certain to go unless he makes a dramatic U-turn and backs down in his contract talks. Despite having improved his contract last year, the Arsenal board were prepared to increase his salary to around £50,000 a week, but the club will not give in to what are seen as excessive demands.

Adebayor's agent Stephane Courbis declined to comment on the claims yesterday but it is understood that the striker sees himself as one of leading stars of the Premier League, having scored 24 League goals last season.

Wenger Target Men During Euro 2008

Arsene Wenger has praised Cesc Fabregas for bucking the trend and coming out on
top in a football world he believes is geared more towards athleticism than
intelligence.

The Arsenal manager has tipped the Spain midfielder to impress as much in this
month's European Championships as he has for the Gunners in the Barclays Premier
League over the last few seasons

Wenger has also pinpointed three other young talents - Germany forward Mario Gomez, France striker Karim Benzema and Croatia playmaker Luka Modric - to watch out for at the Euros this summer.

The Frenchman continues to be amazed at how Fabregas, slight compared to many
modern-day midfielders, gets the better of his more robust and muscular
counterparts.

"His intention is always to play football, and that is fantastic to see at a
young age," said Wenger at a press conference, sponsored by Castrol.

"I see him every day, and he has a great understanding of the game.

"I like it that in a period where football is going more towards the athletes
only, as long as you have the quality, you don't have to run 100 metres in 10
seconds.

"Intelligence still means a lot - and in the modern game where everyone is
quick and strong, it's good that players of average size can still play at the
top level and be the best players."

Aside from the 21-year-old Fabregas, Wenger has pinpointed three other young
talents to watch out for at the Euros this summer.

He expects Germany forward Mario Gomez, France striker Karim Benzema and
Croatia playmaker Luka Modric to achieve breakthrough tournaments in Austria and
Switzerland.

"What has changed in these major tournaments is that you don't really discover
players any more," added Wenger, who admits he has come to the Euros "with my
chequebook".

"You expect (Cristiano) Ronaldo and Thierry Henry to be up there - but I am
now looking at younger players like Gomez, Benzema and Modric.

"Apart from all the stars we know, these could be the three players who will
be interesting to watch and maybe see overall if they can perform physically and
stand out."