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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Valencia ponder swoop for Real Madrid's Sergio Canales

The youngster is continually linked with a move away from Santiago Bernabeu and the Mestalla side remain a possible destination
Sergio Canales is edging closer toward the Real Madrid exit as Valencia are ready to open talks over a transfer window move, AS reports.

Although the capture of a centre-back is currently Valencia's top priority, they are also closely monitoring the situation of Canales at Santiago Bernabeu, and are pondering a swoop for the attacking midfielder

The 20-year-old joined from Racing Santander in the summer of 2010, but has been unable to make an impact at the capital club, and the player is reportedly keen to move on in order to secure regular first-team action.

Madrid appear ready to cash in on the starlet, but prefer to sell him to a foreign club rather than to a domestic rival, despite Canales allegedly setting his sights on remaining in Spain.

Aside from Valencia, Canales has recently been linked with a host of clubs including Lille, Roma, Aston Villa, Everton and Villarreal.

Canales was left out of Real Madrid's squad for their pre-season tour of the USA as he is expected to feature at the Fifa under-20 World Cup in Colombia from July 30 until August 20.

Ivorian fans share mixed feelings about Gervinho’s Arsenal move

Gervinho’s transfer from Lille to Arsenal has been broadly greeted with enthusiasm by the Gunners’ fans, but the player’s local supporters may not be too excited :)))

As widely expected, Gervinho’s transfer from French Ligue 1 champions Lille to Arsenal was confirmed on Monday by Gunners boss Arsene Wenger. Like wildfire, the news swept across the player’s homeland Cote D’Ivoire, arousing street debates fuelled by differing views

“It’s good news for himself and Arsenal, perhaps, but has little to do with our national team, which is most important to me, to us,” said Kouakou Oliver, a 26-year-old job seeker based in Abidjan, who is a Barcelona fan.

“Personally, I feel the Premier League is not the right place for Gervinho to land. His style of play and physique fit more La Liga,” Kouakou added.

While Kone Memoh, a 35-year-old navy officer stationed in Abidjan who happens to be a Chelsea fan, sees nothing special in the move.

“If Arsenal think Gervinho is the messiah they need to heal their more than half a decade trophy drought, then it’s a big mistake. We at Chelsea know Gervinho’s recruitment is the least threat to us from the Gunners, so we are not worried.”

Leon Djo Bi, a 41-year-old school teacher based in the Ivorian political capital Yamoussoukro says he does not think Gervinho will survive the physicality of the Premier League.

“Gervinho is not a physically strong and rugged player. He is the smooth and elaborate-playing guy, which makes him fit Arsenal, but I doubt if he can survive the bone for bone general tempo of the Premier League.”
However, Jean Francois Aka, a 23-year-old undergraduate resident in Abidjan, believes Gervinho’s basic skills could make him an asset at the Emirates.

“Although we’ve seen little of him within the Elephants, Gervinho has always succeeded at each of his new clubs. His pace, slippery ball walks and accurate assists would add to Arsenal’s youthful baggage.”

Too early to judge perhaps, and the new season will certainly tell us more about Gervinho's ability to adapt to English football, but for now it seems his countrymen are divided among words of praise and caution.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Arsene Wenger confirms Arsenal have signed Gervinho

Gunners boss confirms deal as side prepare to begin tour of Far East, with Ivory Coast international arriving from French champions for a fee believed to be €12m

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has confirmed the club have completed a deal to sign Lille striker Gervinho.

The Ivory Coast international, who notched 15 goals and 10 assists to help the French side to their first league title in 57 years last term, arrives at the Emirates Stadium for a fee believed to be €12m million.

Wenger revealed the news about Gervinho as his side arrived in Malaysia ahead of their pre-season tour of the Far East.

The Gunners reportedly agreed personal terms with the 24-year-old last month, but have spent the intervening period in talks with Lille over an agreed price.

Gervinho, who will not join the Gunners on their Far East tour, becomes the second summer arrival at the Emirates Stadium after the signing of full-back Carl Jenkinson from Charlton Athletic, as Wenger looks to revamp his squad in a bid to end the club's six-year trophy drought next term.

The news could well constitute the final nail in the coffin of Nicklas Bendtner's Arsenal career, with the striker currently the subject of interest from Borussia Dortmund and Sporting Lisbon as well as several English clubs.

Neymar, Tevez, Sanchez, Aguero - how the Copa America is holding up the European transfer market

The continental competition means many South American stars have yet to sort out where they will be playing next season - and that's blocking movement in Spain, Italy and England

The new football season is already looming and for some clubs, it has actually already started with European qualifying matches. But with the big kick-off just over a month away for most sides on the continent, there is still much rebuilding to be done.
While sides such as Real Madrid and Malaga have already conducted business this summer, many other major teams in Europe are still posturing as the transfer season has yet to reach full frenzy. And it is unlikely to do so until the conclusion of a continental competition currently being disputed in Argentina: the Copa America.

So far, despite huge interest, none of the influential South American players based on the continent or in Europe have made a move this summer

'Unique' Pep Guardiola is more important for Barcelona than their players

The Argentine coach has voiced his opinion that the Catalan tactician is the main reason for the European champions' recent success
Argentine World Cup-winning boss Cesar Luis Menotti has voiced his admiration of Barcelona's Pep Guardiola and has stated that the coach is the main reason behind the club's success in recent years.

Barca have collected three La Liga titles and two Champions League trophies among a host of other silverware since Guardiola took over in 2008, and Menotti, who enjoyed a brief spell in charge at Camp Nou in 1984, feels that the former midfielder deserves the majority of the praise.

"It has been proven that Guardiola is more important than the players. Of course, he always says that's not the case, but what else can he do? You can't claim you are the best," Menotti said to El Pais.

"Just have a look at the players. Where was Pique before Guardiola? Or Pedro? Busquets? Those players have become phenomenons under Guardiola's guidance. There's obviously a bit of luck involved, but it's madness to say that Guardiola is only successful because of his players."

Menotti then went on to compare Guardiola with Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho and believes that the Catalan, unlike his Portuguese colleague, is unique.

"They are very similar conceptually. However, there was a huge difference between them when it mattered most on the pitch. There are many coaches like Mourinho, but nobody is like Guardiola."

West Brom to offer former Manchester United star Owen Hargreaves Premier League lifeline

Baggies boss Roy Hodgson is considering offering the injury-stricken midfielder a pay-as-you-play deal at The Hawthorns after his contract at Old Trafford expired
Owen Hargreaves, who was released by Manchester United when his contract expired last month, could be offered a route back into the Premier League with West Brom, according to the Daily Mirror.

The 30-year-old endured an injury-hit four years at Old Trafford, making just 39 appearances in his time at the club, but Roy Hodgson is said to be considering offering him a pay-as-you-play deal at The Hawthorns

Albion flew out to California on Sunday for their pre-season training camp, and Hodgson is believed to be open to the idea of meeting Hargreaves in America.

Leicester manager Sven-Goran Eriksson has also declared his interest in the former Bayern Munich man; the two having previously worked together at international level with England.

Just last week Hargreaves posted videos of himself training on YouTube, in an attempt to prove his fitness and earn a contract before the start of the upcoming season.

Hodgson is also said to be weighing up a deal to bring former Tottenham defender Jonathan Woodgate to The Hawthorns following his White Hart Lane exit earlier this summer.

Woodgate is another player who has endured an injury-plagued career, so any deal offered is also reported to be on a pay-as-you-play basis

Jonathan, Lichtsteiner & Taiwo - Inter, Juventus & AC Milan have addressed their full back problems

The big boys have made moves to address the chronic issue in the Italian game, which has proven a particular ailment for the big three over the past 12 months

It's not unusual for even the biggest of clubs to find fault with an area of their first-team squad, indeed it's a natural course of action for any team looking to stay at the top to be on the lookout for ways to improve. But Italy's three supergiants found themselves in a state of flux over the very same issue at one time or another last season. The traditional powerhouses of Inter, Juventus and AC Milan all struggled to answer questions asked of their full-backs during the course of 2010-11 and all three have made moves on the market to resolve the problem ahead of the new Serie A campaign.

Whether looking for answers within Italy, across Europe, or indeed by scouring the world, the triumvirate have managed to plug gaps in the positions causing consternation to many clubs across the peninsula. Perhaps tellingly, only one Italian is likely to start the season as a first choice right-back within the big three, and Ignazio Abate was originally a winger before being converted to the deeper role.

Crisis-hit Argentina must beat Costa Rica or it could be chau chau Copa America & bye bye Batista

The Copa America may not be the World Cup, but there is nevertheless no argument that success in the continental competition is key to the preparations of South America's most prestigious footballing nations. By the same token, failure could prove to be disastrous; and that is exactly what Sergio Batista's Argentina face if they cannot overcome Costa Rica on Monday evening and win their place in the quarter-finals.

Two timid, shambolic draws against Bolivia and Colombia have raised the temperature for the coach in the middle of his first tournament at the helm of the Seleccion, and a first-round exit could mean that his 12-month reign comes to an abrupt end if Argentina endure such humiliation on home soil.

One must look back to 1983 to find the last time the Argentines exited in the first stage of the Copa America, although back then qualifying was an altogether more difficult prospect. The Albiceleste were edged out on goal difference by a Brazil team who boasted the talents of Roberto Dinamite, Renato Gaucho and Socrates, unbeaten in a group stage which allowed just one team from three to advance to the last four. This time around, however, with groups almost hand-picked to allow the hosts to go through with minimum fuss, elimination would come with far graver consequences.

The results have been worrying for Lionel Messi and Co., but the most damning aspect of the two stalemates thus far has been the lack of ambition and attacking penetration shown by the pre-tournament favourites. Batista's sacred 4-3-3 with Messi at No. 9 failed to click, and at times the approach to goal against Colombia and Bolivia was nothing short of desperate. Sunday's Group A clash in Santa Fe, where two goals from Falcao sealed a Colombia victory over Bolivia, betrayed the weakness of the Andean nation, and left stark just how poor Argentina were in failing to overcome the team already condemned to last place.

That win confirms Colombia's place at the head of the group, with seven points and not a single goal conceded by Hernan Gomez's formidable defensive unit. The Albiceleste, then, have only second place to fight for, and if they draw against Costa Rica the team will be left praying that three points is enough to secure one of the best third-placed spots. A loss, and home interest in the Copa will be over sooner than anyone could have foreseen

Bayer Leverkusen's Rudi Voller admits club are willing to listen to 'suitable' offers for Inter & Juventus target Arturo Vidal

The Chile international has caught the attention of several Italian sides and his current team are ready to cash in on him, although a domestic move has been ruled out

Bayer Leverkusen's sporting director Rudi Voller has confessed that the club are ready to part company with star midfielder Arturo Vidal this summer if a sufficient offer is received for the player.

The Chile international has been linked with clubs such as AC Milan, Inter and Juventus in the past couple of months, with his contract set to expire in 12 months time.

"We are willing to listen to offers higher than a certain amount. His good performances at the Copa America only further increase his transfer value," Voller was quoted as saying by Express.

Leverkusen have already turned down a €10 million offer from Milan for the 24-year-old as they appear to be holding out for a fee in the region of €15m.

Nevertheless, Voller has stated that Vidal will not move to another Bundesliga side, regardless of the price, thus effectively ruling Bayern Munich out of the race for his services.

He added: "He will definitely not move to another German club. We are the ones who are in charge of the negotiations."

Vidal recently revealed that he'd be open to a move to Juventus, but will not make a final decision until after the Copa America.

Sevilla after Barcelona's Jeffren Suarez

The Spain under-21 starlet is allegedly no longer needed at Camp Nou and the Europa League hopefuls are keen to add him to their roster

Jeffren Suarez continues to be linked with a move out of Barcelona this summer, as fellow La Liga outfit Sevilla are the latest side to have shown an interest in signing the attacker, Sport reports.

The winger appears to be surplus to requirements at the Spanish champions and is widely expected to leave the club before the start of the 2011-12 campaign. He has previously been linked with Valencia and Atletico Madrid, but Sevilla now appear most keen to capture the player.

The Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan side are looking to add some more depth to their attack and new head coach Marcelino Garcia Toral sees the Spain under-21 starlet as a valuable addition to his squad.

Efren Suarez, the player's father and agent, has hinted that the Andalucian outfit have already approached Barcelona to discuss a possible summer move, although he refused to confirm any contact

"It's possible that an important club like Sevilla are interested and there is a possibility that they've already been in touch with Barcelona to ask about his availability," Efren was quoted as saying.

It was initially thought that Barcelona would include the 23-year-old in the proposed deal that could see Alexis Sanchez leave Udinese for Camp Nou, but Jeffren has made it clear that he has no intention of joining the Serie A side.

Barca and Udinese remain locked in talks over the transfer of Sanchez and Gino Pozzo, son of the Italian club's owner, Giampaolo, stated last week that a number of meetings between both sides are scheduled for this week.

Aston Villa target Charles N’Zogbia will not be sold on the cheap

Latics chief has warned clubs looking to make a bid for the French international that they will have to meet the player's price tag if a deal is to be done this summer

Wigan Athletic chairman Dave Whelan has warned that it may take a bid of around £20 million to sign in-demand winger Charles N’Zogbia.

As exclusively revealed last week, Aston Villa have joined the race to sign the French midfielder as Stewart Downing attempts to force through his move to Liverpool.

However, despite Wigan’s admission of having to sell N’Zogbia due to his contract expiring in a year’s time, Whelan is adamant the France international will not be allowed to leave on the cheap.

"I see some players being sold for £20m or £30m and Zoggy's better," Whelan was quoted as saying by The Sun.

"We’ve had bids but they’re nowhere near our valuation."

The 25-year-old has become a vital part of the Wigan team in his two-and-a-half years at the club, making 90 appearances and scoring 18 goals.

He also played a part in Wigan’s successful bid for survival last season, scoring five goals in the last six games of the campaign, including a last-minute winner against relegation rivals West Ham.

Juventus have the quality to return to Champions League

The new signing is brimming with confidence ahead of the new season and expects his club to be back among Europe's elite sooner rather than later

New Juventus defender Stephan Lichtsteiner has voiced his opinion that the Turin giants have what it takes to qualify for Champions League football again in the season ahead.

Juve only finished seventh in the Serie A table last term, but the full-back is determined to do better in 2011-12 and underlined his ambition to succeed with his new club.

"This team has quality, if we work well we have a great opportunity to get back into the Champions League. I had an enjoyable experience in Rome, but Juventus are Juventus; the team has a rich history. It’s a club that want to win, just like myself," Lichtsteiner said on Juve's official website.

"I work with the aim of winning. I do everything to achieve this. When things don’t go well I get angry. I know that the pressure’s higher at Juventus, but it was also difficult in Rome from the expectation point of view. I’ve found an organised set-up here and very accommodating, friendly team-mates."

The Switzerland international then briefly discussed the club's head coach, Antonio Conte, and remarked that he enjoys working with the newly-appointed tactician.

He added: "It’s nice to be able to train alongside many champions and with a manager like Conte who demands a lot. He’s making us focus heavily on tactics, but it’s currently too soon to know exactly what my responsibilities will be during the game."

The 27-year-old joined Juventus from Lazio this summer and has signed a contract until 2015 with his new club.

South African Matthew Booth keeping fit on his own while he waits to sign for a new club

The tall former Sundowns defender is not happy with the way The Brazilians ended things with him, and they have forced him to look for another club while he is injured

Matthew Booth has admitted he could be forced to get back to full fitness on his own before he can find a new club.

The former Bafana Bafana defender has been effectively unemployed since his contract with Mamelodi Sundowns ended on June 30 and has been completing his rehabilitation from home.

And despite reported interest from SuperSport United, Booth admits that the fact he has not kicked a ball since sustaining his injury back in February is putting teams off.

“A lot of people thought I was part of the furniture at Sundowns and were therefore immediately suspicious as to why they let me go,” he told

“A number of clubs have said ‘thanks, but no thanks’ and there a couple still in the mix, although there is nothing concrete as yet. I could very well have to get fit on my own and then go on trial somewhere locally or even overseas.”

Booth’s agent Paul Mitchell ruled out Santos and Bidvest Wits last week after the 34-year-old left Chloorkop for the last time. So frustrated was he by the decision that the veteran took to social networking site Facebook to vent his anger at Sundowns management, and Booth remains unhappy with the way he has been treated.

He said, “They’ve really got me on the back foot as regards finding a new club. I’ve still got nearly two months to go until I recover fully from my injury and teams are already preparing for the new season.

"Before the injury I felt I still had another couple of years left in me so hopefully I can get back to fitness soon and show what I can do.”

Arsenal's Nicklas Bendtner being chased by Borussia Dortmund and Sporting Lisbon

Neither club has yet made an offer which matches the Gunners’ €13.5m asking price but 23-year-old Dane has been excused from club’s pre-season tour to finalise a deal

Borussia Dortmund and Sporting Lisbon are leading the race to sign Arsenal’s wantaway striker Nicklas Bendtner, according to the Mirror.

The 23-year-old Dane has repeatedly expressed his frustration at a lack of regular first team opportunities at the Emirates, and has been excused from the Gunners’ pre-season tour of the Far East reportedly in order to meet interested parties and finalise a move away.

Both Dortmund and Sporting have identified Bendtner as a top target, with the German side looking to build on last season’s astonishing Bundesliga triumph and the Portuguese outfit seeking to build a team capable of challenging the domestic duopoly of Benfica and Porto.

Bayern Munich and a host of English clubs were also believed to be tracking Bendtner but have been put off by Arsene Wenger’s €13.5 million asking price. Dortmund and Sporting are also yet to meet this valuation, although both have had opening offers rejected.

Arsenal’s willingness to part with Bendtner is thought to be borne out of the desire to use the sales of several fringe players to finance moves for top targets such as Juan Mata, Stewart Downing and Gary Cahill.

Defender Gael Clichy has already departed for Manchester City and keeper Manuel Almunia is thought to be close to an exit with clubs in Spain and Turkey interested.

The midfield duo of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri, however, are believed to remain very much in Wenger’s plans.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Manchester United set to hand Javier Hernandez a new and improved contract

Mexican forward is reportedly set to be rewarded with a new deal with improved terms, having scored 20 goals for the champions last season and establishing himself at Old Trafford

Manchester United are believed to be set to hand Javier Hernandez a new and improved contract, to reflect his current status at the club.

The 23-year-old joined the club last summer, and managed to make 45 appearances in all competitions and scoring 20 goals in the process. And during the course of the season, the Mexican forward also managed to replace Dimitar Berbatov in the starting line-up, despite the Bulgarian ruling the top scorers' charts at the time.

Now The Times reports that the Red Devils are set to hand the hitman a contract with improved terms to ensure that he remains fully committed to the cause at Old Trafford.

Hernandez was involved in a Premier League triumph last season, but also saw the other side of the coin as United lost the Champions League final to Barcelona.

All those idiots slamming Argentina's Lionel Messi are being unfair - Diego Maradona

The former head coach of the South American giants has taken the time to defend the Barcelona ace in the wake of their disappointing results in the Copa America so far

Argentina legend Diego Maradona has moved to defend star player Lionel Messi in the aftermath of the South American country's disappointing performances at the 2011 Copa America.

Sergio Batista's men currently sit third in the table in Group A with two points from two games after draws against Bolivia and Colombia with Messi unable to replicate his fine Barcelona form for the national side.

"In the saddest moment of my life, I want to defend Messi," Maradona told Ole as he referred to the deteriorating health of his mother.

"The national team didn’t attack at all [against Colombia] and we blame him; we are being very unfair to Messi when I hear all those idiots slamming him."

The 50-year-old then spoke about his own form ahead of the 1986 World Cup and how he received his fair share of criticism before leading his side to victory over West Germany in the final.

"I spoke to him during the week and I told him to remain calm. Before the 1986 World Cup I was a disaster and I was criticised by 80 per cent of the journalists [in Argentina]. Later, there wasn’t one who didn’t ask me for a story, so I can understand what’s going on."

Arsenal's Thomas Vermaelen determined to prove his worth this season

Belgian centre-back is hoping to make up for lost time after injury and is looking forward to club's pre-season tour of Asia as he looks forward to making his return

is determined to prove his worth to Arsenal after a long-term tendon injury, and is desperate to get back onto the field and make up for lost time.

The Belgian had a fantastic debut season at the heart of The Gunners' defence in 2009-10, making 45 appearances and scoring eight goals.

He was on track to continue his great form, but a tendon issue sidelined him for much of last season, making just five appearances and only two starts.

The 25-year-old is back in training at the London Colney base and told "I am really excited, especially after last year, I want to prove myself again and show the people what I'm able to do."

He continued: "Personally yes, of course I am more determined, I played a lot of games in my first year and I hoped to do well in my second year but unfortunately I had a big injury and I couldn't play a lot so I couldn't show the people a lot. I'm determined to go on the pitch this year and fight for it."

Vermaelen is on the squad list for the Emirates side's pre-season tour of Asia and is looking forward to the trip to the Far East. "I have been to China once, for the Olympic Games, and that was a nice experience," he said.

"It's a different culture and it's always nice to go somewhere and learn about their culture. I'm looking forward to it. I've heard the Premier League is very popular and Arsenal is popular too, and that's why we are going."

Real Madrid offer Karim Benzema or Gonzalo Higuain to Manchester City as they open talks over a €56 million swoop for Carlos Tevez

The Spanish giants have opened tentative discussions with City over a possible swap deal, which includes €28m cash and one of the two big-name strikers moving to Eastlands.

Madrid manager Jose Mourinho is a big admirer of Tevez and wants to reunite the Argentine with his former Manchester United team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo. understands that sealing a deal for Tevez, who released a statement earlier this week to announce he wants to leave City this summer, is a bigger priority for Mourinho than signing Atletico Madrid’s Sergio Aguero, a transfer which is complicated by the rivalry between the two capital city clubs.

The Portuguese is not completely convinced by Benzema despite his 26-goal haul last season and is also concerned about the injury record of Higuain, who scored 13 goals in 25 games but missed four months of the campaign with a back injury.

The Bernabeu outfit value both players around the €28m mark but City manager Roberto Mancini will have the final say on whether he believes they will fit into his squad.

City are adamant that they value Tevez at €56m and will not allow him to leave for a reduced sum. The Premier League club are believed to have paid more than €45m to sign the 27-year-old from his third-party owners Media Sports Investment in 2009.

The talks between Real and City are at an early stage and will also have a significant bearing on the futures of Aguero and Emmanuel Adebayor, who is wanted by Mourinho but will be independent of a transfer involving Tevez.

City have already opened negotiations with Atletico about signing Aguero, who has a €45m release clause in his contract.

The Premier League club have no plans to pair up Aguero and Tevez and view the 23-year-old as a natural replacement for his international colleague rather than a potential strike partner.

After it emerged that Juventus had offered Atletico €36.5m for Diego Maradona’s son-in-law, the Spanish club claimed City had already bid €41.5m.

With January signing Edin Dzeko and Mario Balotelli already at Eastlands, it remains to be seen whether Mancini will regard either Benzema or Higuain as the player he needs to reinforce his squad.

However, City are keen to offload Adebayor, Craig Bellamy and Roque Santa-Cruz as they attempt to free up space in their squad and reduce their wage bill in order to meet the new financial fair play requirements.

It is understood that the Manchester club will not name any of their trio in their 25-man Premier League squad.

City are believed to have told Madrid that if they pull out of the race for Aguero that Adebayor will be offered to the Spaniards at a ‘discount’ rate, of between €6-8m.

The former Togo international has indicated that he is willing to take a pay cut to force through a transfer to the Bernabeu. The former Arsenal man is believed to earn around €190,000-a-week at Eastlands.

Barcelona plan €50m bid for Tottenham's Gareth Bale

EXCLUSIVE: However, Catalans will firstly monitor Tottenham winger's displays next season, before attempting to smash the British transfer record in the summer of 2012

Barcelona are laying the groundwork for a sensational €50 million swoop for Gareth Bale – but are prepared to wait another 12 months to land their man.

The Tottenham midfielder has been identified as principal target by the European champions, who are prepared to shatter the transfer record for a British player.

Barcelona have already made the first steps to capture Bale by enquiring about his interest in a move to the continent and are confident they can fight off interest from Inter and Real Madrid in a player whose reputation across Europe was established following his explosive performances in last season’s Champions League.

Spurs had prepared themselves for sustained interest in Bale, who turns 22 next week, this summer but that has not really materialised after his season fizzled out following a series of injuries in the second half of the campaign. understands that Bale will now stay at White Hart Lane for another season but Spurs top brass recognise that it will be difficult to fight off interest in their prize asset next summer if he maintains his progress in the coming months.

The Welshman won the PFA player of the year award last season but struggled to recover from a back injury and then his campaign ended early after he ruptured ankle ligaments following a Charlie Adam tackle.

Bale has returned to training this week but it is believed that the world’s elite clubs are waiting to see how he recovers from the injury before taking the plunge on a player who made Europe sit up and take notice with some outstanding performances on the club game’s biggest stage.

Manchester City reach agreement with Arsenal over £22m deal for Samir Nasri - report

The French midfielder, who has been heavily linked with a move to Eastlands, could be set to leave the Gunners this summer, earning a contract worth over £100,000 a week

Manchester City have moved a step closer in their attempts to sign Samir Nasri after agreeing terms with Arsenal for the French midfielder, according to reports.

Sky Sport Italia claims Nasri is set to join Roberto Mancini's side for a fee of €25 million [£22.2m], with the player believed to have been offered a contract worth €6m [£5.3m] a year - over £100,000 a week.

The 2010-11 season was Nasri's most impressive since arriving in England in 2008 and he has been a wanted man ever since, with Manchester United and Chelsea also credited with an interest in the player.

The Frenchman has made 124 appearances in three seasons for Arsenal, scoring 27 times but it appears his stay at the Emirates Stadium is coming to an end.

City have identified Nasri as a summer target to add creativity to their midfield as they prepare for their debut season in the Champions League.

The Eastlands club have already secured the signing of defender Gael Clichy from the Gunners, while they added to that purchase with the acquisition of talented Montenegro international Stefan Savic this week.

City are yet to confirm or deny that a deal is in place to sign Nasri as the summer's biggest transfer saga takes a fresh turn.

Koln consider loan swoop for AC Milan's Rodney Strasser

The young midfielder could be farmed out to the Bundesliga side on a temporary basis as his current club want the 21-year-old to gain first-team experience

could be on his way out of AC Milan in the summer transfer window as Bundesliga side Koln are considering making a loan move for the young midfielder, Sportmediaset reports.

The German outfit are looking to add some more steel to their midfield ahead of the 2011-12 campaign and they reportedly see the 21-year-old as a valuable addition to their squad.

Strasser is a product of the Milan youth academy and made his official debut in December 2008. However, the Sierra Leone international has since been unable to secure regular first-team action at San Siro and has therefore set his sights on a temporary departure.

The midfielder, who has a contract with the Serie A champions until 2014, has also caught the attention of Novara and Lecce.

Real Madrid, Barcelona & Malaga are now the points of reference - Apono

The midfielder has voiced his opinion that the ambitious La Liga side are now among Spain's elite clubs following heavy investment in the squad so far this summer

By Stefan Coerts
Jul 10, 2011 3:13:00 PM

Malaga midfielder Apono believes that his side are up there with traditional powerhouses Barcelona and Real Madrid as a new point of reference in Spanish football.

The ambitious Primera Division outfit have signed players such as Ruud van Nistelrooy, Joris Mathijsen, Jeremy Toulalan and Joaquin and Malaga have set their sights on qualifying for Champions League football in 2011-12.

"We know that we are the team in the spotlight now. Who would have thought this? Malaga, Barcelona and Real Madrid are the new points of reference in Spanish football," Apono said to EFE.

"Winning La Liga is nearly impossible, but playing for the Champions League places is a realistic option. We have to take it one match at a time."

The club were boosted by coach Manuel Pellegrini's decision to sign a two-year contract extension at La Rosaleda earlier this week, in a deal that is set to keep the Chilean tactician at the club until 2015.

Malaga start the new season with a home game against Barcelona on August 19. They were beaten 3-1 by the Spanish champions on the last day of the 2010-11 campaign

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