Premier League Transfer Talk

13With more reliable contacts in the sporting world than ever before Sport 4 Thought brings you the first in our new Transfer Talk updates by our very own TRANSFER GURU, giving an informed and in-depth look at the possible ins and outs surrounding football’s biggest clubs. Although the EPL season is far from over, today we bring you the latest on giants Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal’s transfer targets for the summer…

LIVERPOOL : Liverpool will look to compound on their excellent season by ensuring that their biggest advantage next year is stability. The fortress will not be rocked, and the club will not seek to make more than 2 or 3 signings this summer (with 5 excellent loanees to return and pad out the squad : Ilori, Wisdom, Suso, Borini & Ibe).

The first and highest priority will be a LEFT BACK. They face competition from several clubs, however, for Southampton’s LUKE SHAW : from Real Madrid, Chelsea, and a host of other clubs. Porto’s Alex Sandro, Roma’s Dodo, & Sevilla’s Alberto Moreno again all interest, but the list of suitors is long.

The other high profile area Liverpool will strength will be a WIDE FORWARD, following the collapse of the transfer of Dnipro winger, Yehven KONOPLYANKA. Roma’s ADEM LJAJIC has been watched, so too Verona loanee JUAN ITURBE. Iturbe however is well liked by Real Madrid and AS Roma (who are very close to securing his transfer). Liverpool also have long-standing interest in IKER MUNIAIN of Atletico Bilbao.

Brad Jones’ future is unclear, and Wigan’s scouse goalkeeper, Lee Nicholls, has been watched. A first option agreement with Derby County midfielder WILL HUGHES has been agreed since Christmas, but there is no news on when this move will be made permanent. Liverpool have spoken with Arsenal’s expiring Bacary Sagna, but aren’t yet willing to match the wages offered by Manchester City. Real Madrid have enquired about the availability of Philippe Coutinho, and been dismissed.

MANCHESTER CITY : The oil juggernaut will continue spending without any regard for FFP. Arsenal’s expiring Bacary Sagna has been made a contract offer, and it is difficult to see anyone else snaring him, now that Inter Milan have withdrawn from the race.

City had a £33.5m bid for Porto centre back Ezequiel Mangala rejected in January. £37.75m is the price tag, and City will return for the player. If this situation continues to frustrate them, Real Madrid’s Pepe and Liverpool’s Danny Agger have both been subject to bids from the Etihad this year, and are definitely on the shortlist.

Inter Milan have enquired about taking the unfancied Javi Garcia, as Man City also seek to compete with Manchester United for midfield general William Carvalho, of Sporting. Jack Rodwell is aware that he is also unfancied. A loan return to Everton in January was cancelled at the last minute, as FC Porto reneged on the sale of midfielder Fernando Reges.

CHELSEA : The £50m transfer of Atletico Madrid goal machine Diego Costa looks all but agreed in principle, as Chelsea look to freshen up their attacking options. As part of the deal, goalkeeping starlet Thibaut Courtois has extended his loan deal at Atletico by another year. Cech will continue in goal.

Fernando Torres has discussed a loan transfer to Inter Milan, who are as-yet unwilling to match his huge wages. Inter have also enquired about Jon Obi Mikel. Chelsea are also looking for more options in the final third : Southampton’s Adam Lallana & PSG’s Ezequiel Lavezzi are both at ‘reasonably advanced stages’.

Didier Drogba has been keeping his future options open : Jose Mourinho has discussed a staff role with him at Chelsea, but should he wish to extend his playing career, Juventus are also very interested in the Ivorian international.

ARSENAL : Wenger’s faith in Olivier Giroud & Yaya Sanogo seems questionable, as Arsenal will again seek to wrap up the transfer of Schalke wonderkid, Julian Draxler. Hopes of landing Real Madrid striker Alvaro Morata also seem to have faded, as Arsenal are extremely close to the signature of Standard striker Batshuyi. Bayern striker Mandzukic did discuss options with both Arsenal & Chelsea, but it would appear it is more of a power-play with the Bavarian club, as the player does not feel as appreciated as he should be.

MANCHESTER UNITED : Huge exodus at Old Trafford as a large core of the squad seek to exit (Giggs, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra). The summer could prove to be a difficult one for David Moyes, as he persists with approaching established and settled household names (Benatia, Pogba, Vidal, Kroos, Hamsik). More realistic is ex-Chelsea defender, Alex, whose contract at PSG is expiring. He has held talks with United on two occasions now, and it seems it is between them and AC Milan for his signature.


Sport 4 Thought


Five Famous Football Fightbacks

On Saturday, an 87th minute Javier Hernandez header sparked scenes of elation for Manchester United and their 3,000-strong travelling support at Villa Park, as the visitors clawed back a two-goal deficit to defeat Aston Villa 3-2.

The Mexican took his tally to seven goals in his last five appearances, clinically converting either side of a Ron Vlaar own goal, that Hernandez himself forced upon the Dutch centre-back. Andreas Weimann’s double sandwiching half-time, gave Villa a surprise, two-goal cushion, but with 40 minutes still remaining, United were far from dead and buried.

A twenty-minute attacking frenzy, in which Robin Van Persie, who failed to score for once, hit the woodwork twice, saw the visitors complete yet another soul-destroying comeback with seconds to spare. This result moved the Red Devils four points clear of second place Chelsea in the Barclays Premier League and to those less knowledgeable in footballing matters, this performance may have appeared extraordinary.

But, for those of us in the know, it was nothing of the sort. There was nothing extra to this display by the comeback kings that we haven’t seen on so many occasions previously.

This season alone, United have comeback from losing positions to defeat Premier League opposition five times, claiming 15 points from otherwise profitless scenarios. Manchester United have come from behind to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat so often during Sir Alex Ferguson’s illustrious managerial career, proving that his never-say-die attitude has transformed the very ethos of the club.

With so many wonderful examples to choose from and after some serious consideration, Sport 4 Thought brings you Manchester United’s Five Greatest Comebacks of all-time:

5. Tottenham Hotspur 3 – 5 Manchester United (Premier League 2001/02)

With first-half goals from Dean Richards, Les Ferdinand and Christian Ziege, the White Hart Lane faithful could barely believe their eyes as they trudged off at the break 3-0 up against United. Cue hairdryer. The visiting side that emerged for the second-half was totally rejuvenated. An early 46th minute header from Andy Cole was the start of the end for Spurs who then conceded a further four goals to four more scorers in Laurent Blanc, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Juan Veron and David Beckham. The Spurs fans looked equally stunned at the full-time whistle.

4. Manchester City 2 – 3 Manchester United (Premier League 1993/94)

Following two headed goals in the first half from the big Niall Quinn, Maine Road was a bubbling cauldron of joy, the blue half of Manchester ecstatic with their lead over their local neighbours. However, with Eric Cantona on the pitch, nothing was ever certain and two goals from the flamboyant Frenchman were capped off with an 86th minute, back-post finish from Roy Keane to propel United to a second successive Premier League title.

3. Manchester United 2 – 1 Sheffield Wednesday (Premier League 1992/93)

A 65th minute John Sheridan penalty shook the home team who were desperate for victory to keep their title bid alive. Staring down the barrels of defeat, unlikely hero Steve Bruce fired home not one, but two headers in the 86th and 90th minutes. These goals sparked the infamous Brian Kidd on-pitch, jumping jack celebration and more importantly, helped United to their first league title since 1967. This was the catalyst for success on a grand scale, that has seen the Premier League title return to Old Trafford 12 times from a possible 20.

2. Juventus 2 – 3 Manchester United (Champions League Semi-Final 2nd Leg 1999)

Following a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford in the first leg, United were in for an uphill struggle against a formidable Juventus side in Turin. With Ryan Giggs declared unfit to play, things went from bad to worse when the home side scored twice inside the opening ten minutes through a Filippo Inzaghi brace. But the visitors refused to take defeat lying down and captain Roy Keane headed home after 24 minutes, with Dwight Yorke equalising before the break. Andy Cole completed the historic comeback, scoring the winner in the 85th minute, sending United through to their first European Cup Final in 31 years.

1. Manchester United 2 – 1 Bayern Munich (Champions League Final 1999)

Missing key midfield duo Roy Keane and Paul Scholes through suspension, United’s hopes of success were dealt a huge blow when a Mario Basler free-kick found the back of Peter Schmeichel’s net after just 6 minutes. With the game all but over, a last gasp corner enabled Teddy Sheringham to convert in the 91st minute to bring the scores level in a dramatic climax. Then the unthinkable. In the 93rd minute Ole Gunnar Solskjaer found the net from close range to send the players and fans into raptures. The day of the final would have marked the 90th birthday of legend Sir Matt Busby, the only other manager to have won the European Cup with Manchester United, in 1968. The king of all comebacks, left Sir Alex Ferguson with only this to say…”Football, bloody hell!”

Written by Dom Wallace

Sport 4 Thought