Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has backed Sir Alex Ferguson’s decision to replace experience with youth this summer, saying the arrivals of David De Gea, Ashley Young and Phil Jones are “just what the club needs”.
United veterans Edwin van der Sar, Paul Scholes, Wes Brown and John O’Shea have all left Old Trafford since Ferguson guided his side to a record 19th league title in May, leaving some people questioning whether the Scot should invest in some well-established replacements.
But the wily Scot, who has built several generations of United teams during his 25-year tenure at the club, has instead chosen to bring young players to the club thus far – a tactic that has certainly worked well for him before.
Ferguson spent around £50 million on capturing De Gea, Jones and Young, and 33-year-old Ferdinand believes the trio will prove to be outstanding acquisitions for United.
“It is just what the club needs,’’ Ferdinand said. “Three of our most experienced players have retired [Gary Neville also hung up his boots back in February], so the manager has reinforced certain positions on the field.
“This club is always evolving. That is what has happened since I have been here. I was part of it. It is about the club becoming better and more stable and continuing the success we have had over the years.’’
“It is great to see young players. We have some very young players coming through the youth team already, so when the manager adds players of quality like Phil Jones, Ashley Young and David De Gea, it can only improve the squad, increase our longevity and continue our success.’’
Ferdinand, now one of the elder statesmen of the United squad, will undoubtedly face pressure from the likes of Jones, Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans next season, as the young pretenders aim to usurp the England international as Nemanja Vidic’s centre-back partner.
United are currently on their pre-season tour of the USA and play their first game against the New England Revolution at the Gillette Stadium on Wednesday.
New signings Jones and De Gea are still missing, though, as they – along with Smalling and Tom Cleverley – are given an extended break to recover from June’s European Under-21 Championship.
De Gea will fly straight to New York for the final two matches of the trip, although they are the most significant, against an MLS All-Stars team containing David Beckham, Thierry Henry and Landon Donovan in New Jersey, and Barcelona, minus Lionel Messi, in Washington on July 30.
Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre feels it is “increasingly unlikely” that the club will be able to redevelop Anfield.
Liverpool are keen to expand their home ground’s capacity, currently 45,522, in order to compete with the matchday revenues of the likes of Manchester United and Arsenal.
The Reds would prefer to remain at the present home, which is steeped in history, but logistically Ayre has admitted they may have to start afresh at Stanley Park.
Ayre told the club’s official website: “In the nine months since the new ownership, an enormous amount of work has been undertaken … to explore the building of a new stadium as well as exploring a refurbishment solution that could deliver the necessary growth in capacity, whilst maintaining the heritage and atmosphere that make Anfield uniquely Liverpool FC.
“However, with land/property acquisition, environmental and statutory issues creating barriers to our ambition, it looks increasingly unlikely there is any way we can move forward on a refurbishment of Anfield unless there are significant changes in those areas.
“We are mindful that supporters have been promised a solution in the past and have been disappointed, and also that local residents would like to know what direction we are headed in.
“However, just like any other business, we can only proceed as and when we are clear on all elements and we will not be forced to make a decision that is not in the best long-term interests of our club and we will not make any promises to our fans that we cannot keep.”
Earlier this month, Ayre slammed previous owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett, saying that their failure to deliver on their promise of a new stadium had “set the club back several years”.
Inter Milan director Marco Branca has warned interested clubs off Wesley Sneijder, insisting that the Dutch star “is not for sale”.
The Nerazurri chief did, however, appear to leave the door slighly ajar for the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea – both reportedly interested in Sneijder – to make a move, suggesting that Inter would entertain a “mega-galactic” bid for the playmaker.
Sneijder, 27, has been an integral part of Inter’s success in recent seasons and was named 2010 UEFA Club Midfielder of the Year for his performances in helping the club to a treble trophy haul of Serie A, Coppa Italia and Champions League titles.
The former Ajax and Real Madrid man also starred at last summer’s World Cup as the Netherlands reached the final in South Africa and has regularly been linked with a big-money move away from the San Siro over the past 12 months, with United and Chelsea tipped to make a bid this summer.
However, Inter are determined to hold onto their prized asset and Branca said the club have yet to receive any offers for the midfielder and insisted they would not welcome approaches.
“There is nothing to update,” Branca said. “It’s not surprising Sneijder is wanted by other clubs, but we have received no formal offer, nor do we intend to wait for one.
“We know what we have to do and there are no meetings planned with his agent. Sneijder is not for sale.
“I signed his letter to be called up for pre-season training and our intention is not to sell any of our champions. However, if mega-galactic offers were to arrive, we would discuss them, but right now that is not the case.’’
Meanwhile, Branca confirmed that Inter are interested in Genoa’s Rodrigo Palacio and close to signing Santos full-back Jonathan, but denied any interest in Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Arturo Vidal.
“It’s true we’re thinking about Palacio…We have to finalise a few details this afternoon for Jonathan, so he could be here at the pre-season training camp either this evening or tomorrow.
“Arturo Vidal is not part of our strategy. We’re keeping an eye on various situations, but already have many midfielders considering the Coach will play with only two or three in the middle.”
The agent of Alberto Aquilani has brushed aside speculation linking the player with a move to Fiorentina this summer.
Reports in the Italian media claim La Viola are considering strengthening their squad by signing the Liverpool midfielder, but Aquilani’s agent, Franco Zavaglia dismissed the link as “just rumours”.
“His future for the time being is at Liverpool,” Zavaglia told Tuttomercatoweb.it. “The player will remain there.
“With Fiorentina there are no negotiations in place, I have not even been approached by them. They are just rumours.’’
Aquilani, who spent last season on loan at Juventus, wanted to remain in Italy but received no suitable offers despite making 33 league appearances for the Turin outfit.
The 26-year-old was a reported target of AC Milan and Napoli but announced earlier this month he will stay at Anfield next season. Liverpool signed the Italy international from Roma in 2009 and he is under contract with the Reds until June 2014.
Arsene Wenger has insisted in a press conference on Arsenal’s pre-season tour to Kuala Lumpur that Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri will both stay at the club this summer.
A report in The Times claimed on Sunday that Nasri was on the cusp of a £22.2 million switch to Manchester City after Arsenal had authorised the transfer of the France international.
Fabregas was also widely reported to be heading out of Emirates Stadium, with former club Barcelona the Spaniard’s destination. However, Wenger arrived in Kuala Lumpur with Nasri amongst his travelling party, and he declared that neither player would be leaving ahead the new season.
“I expect Samir Nasri to stay,” Wenger said. “There is always speculation, but he is committed to the club right now.’’
Pushed further, he added: ‘’Will he be at the club next season? I say yes. The second part (of the question) – will he sign a new contract? I hope yes, but I am not the only one to decide.’’
Asked about Fabregas, he said: “Cesc loves the club and hopefully we will manage. We know that the story for Barcelona goes on for years now and we have to close that and continue with the season. I never speak on matters that happen behind closed doors. I have given the media enough headlines and I don’t want to add any more.”
Speaking about Arsenal’s first tour to Asia in 12 years, the Frenchman admitted his players were tired from the journey across two continents, but pleased to be there.
He said: “We (Arsenal) know that we have a big fanbase in Asia, and we haven’t been here since 1999. Physically we are jet-lagged, but overall this will be a new experience for the team. At this stage of the season, we’ll look at getting as physically fit as quickly as possible. We will find the balance between not disturbing our physical preparations and our pre-season.’’
The French boss also announced that the club had completed the signing of Lille forward Gervinho.
“Gervinho has just joined up for training today at London Colney,’’ he added. “He signed last Thursday, and has just come back from his holidays.”
The Ivory Coast international notched 15 goals and 10 assists to help the French side to their first league title in 57 years last term,
Arsene Wenger has revealed that Nicklas Bendtner and Manuel Almunia are both in talks regarding moves away from Arsenal.
Bendtner and Almunia both failed to arrive with the Gunners squad for the pre-season tour of Malaysia. The duo will, instead, use the time to pursue new employers during the summer transfer window.
Wenger’s first piece of news on Monday surrounded the futures of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri, who have been strongly linked to Barcelona and Manchester City respectively. The Arsenal boss said he expects both to stay, and is even hopeful of tying Nasri to a new contract.
The prognosis was different for Bendtner and Almunia though, two players who became increasingly marginalised as the 2010-11 campaign progressed. Almunia saw his No. 1 spot go to both Lukasz Fabianski and youngster Wojciech Szczesny, while Bendtner did not start any of Arsenal’s last six league games.
“Both of them are possible departures,” Wenger confirmed. “They are talking to other clubs at the moment. I cannot tell you which ones.”
Bendtner is reportedly on the cusp of completing his switch out of north London, with Borussia Dortmund and Sporting both keen. The Lisbon side are currently believed to be favourites, although it remains to be seen if Wenger will receive the £12 million fee he is expecting.
Almunia is more likely to head to Spain with a view to proving he should be part of the international setup. The error-prone goalkeeper appeared to lose the faith of the Arsenal faithful, but his reputation in Spain remains strong after a positive spell at Albacete that led to his move to the Emirates.
Wenger also commented on his left-back situation, following the sale of Gael Clichy to Manchester City, revealing he is ready to put his faith in youngster Kieran Gibbs. “The plan for left-back is that we have Kieran Gibbs, Armand Traore, and Thomas Vermaelen can play there too. So we have what we need.”
Manchester United’s pursuit of Arsenal’s Samir Nasri looks to be at an end after Sir Alex Ferguson said he thought the Frenchman had “agreed to go elsewhere”.
Speaking in Boston as United begin their three-week tour of the United States, Ferguson was asked at a press conference about a player for whom his club are reported to have made an offer.
“Nasri, no. I don’t think he’s coming to United,” said Ferguson. “I think he’s agreed to go somewhere else. Maybe he has to stay at Arsenal too. That’s a possibility.”
Ferguson was guarded on a next signing to follow those of Ashley Young, David De Gea and Phil Jones, with midfield largely expected to be the next reinforced department following the retirement of Paul Scholes.
“How do you replace somebody like Paul Scholes? It’s very difficult,” said Ferguson of a player who is set to join his coaching staff after his testimonial.
“If you bracket four of the best midfield players in the world he’d be alongside Xavi and Iniesta and then you take your pick. In my mind he’s one of the top four players in the world. How will we overcome it? Maybe the next few weeks will help us overcome it. Maybe somebody will emerge out of the youth team or one of the young players ermerge, and then we carry on.”
Luka Modric, most likely headed for Chelsea, and Inter Milan’s Wesley Sneijder are the midfield names also linked with a move to Old Trafford. Owen Hargreaves has taken his leave of the club and Darren Fletcher has missed the current tour, as his recovery from a virus that wrecked his 2010-11 season is still by no means complete.
United face New England Revolution on Wednesday, in a game that Ferguson promised he would not be taking lightly.
Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas has vowed to make amends for his absence from the club’s pre-season tour of Asia.
Fabregas has been ruled out of the two-match tour because of what Arsene Wenger described as a “small muscular problem”, but there have been serious doubts as to whether he will represent the club again as reports of a move to Barcelona gather pace.
However, Wenger has dismissed the claims Arsenal have given up hope of retaining Fabregas and told the club’s official website: “We want to keep Cesc and I will fight as hard as I can to keep him.”
Fabregas now appears to have suggested he will represent the club again after promising to “make it up” to the Asian fans for his absence.
He wrote on Twitter: “Im sorry to all the fans in Asia that I wont be on the tour. After just returning from Indonesia I know how special u all r. Ill make it up.”
Meanwhile, Arsenal have confirmed their squad for the Asian tour and Samir Nasri will travel with the squad as expected.
Wenger said on the club’s official website: “The Premier League is very popular in Asia and Arsenal are a very popular team in Asia. Many of the players have never been there so we are very excited about it. It is a good experience for the team.
“You expect to see many Arsenal fans and, from our side, we expect to give fun, pleasure and enjoyment to the people who come and watch us play.”
Theo Walcott added: “It will be a totally different experience and the culture is so different out there. I’m really looking forward to the amount of support that’s out there. I’ve heard rumours that during our open training sessions there is going to be 50,000-plus there so that is just amazing.
“It is nice just to see these people that you might not ever meet again and if we can do something that will help the club as well as a brand it will make us grow and have a larger fanbase.”
Diego Maradona has suffered minor injuries in a car accident on the outskirts of Buenos Aires.
Maradona, 50, and his partner Veronica Ojeda were taken to hospital after the car he was driving reportedly hit a bus, hours before Argentina’s Copa America clash with Costa Rica.
Maradona was said to have hurt his knee and Ojeda her hip, but Oscar Sico, director at Hospital de Ezeiza, allayed fears over the severity of their injuries.
He told Radio 10: “They are in perfect condition.”
Sico added on television news channel C5N: “They went on their own [to hospital] but have no problems. They can both go home.’’
The cause of the accident is under investigation. Maradona captained his country to World Cup glory in 1986 and coached Argentina for two years until 2010.
Brazilian giants Corinthians have offered 40 million euros to re-sign Manchester City striker Carlos Tevez. ESPNsoccernet understands that the player would accept a return and that his advisers expect City to agree the deal.
City have set a price of £50 million for Tevez, and the first officially-tabled bid falls well short of that valuation. It might prove that Corinthians are a stalking horse to flush out bigger and better bids but Tevez’s advisers still expect City to OK the move back to South America.
Corinthians’ director of football, Duilio Monteiro Alves, confirmed that contact had been made with Tevez’s representatives and the club would utilise its vast resources to land the player. Alves told Lancenet: “I don’t want to get our fans’ hopes up. We’ll try. That’s all I can say.
“[Signing Tevez] isn’t impossible. It’s a dream we’re trying to realise. He is interested in returning, everybody knows that. He has said several times he would play for Corinthians or Boca Juniors again.
“With that interest on his part, we are interested in his coming. For that to come true, it is distant. But we are going after him and we have initiated talks.”
ESPNsoccernet’s source said the bid from Brazil might open up offers from other clubs, Juventus, Inter Milan and Real Madrid, and perhaps even Chelsea, all clubs who City would now consider rivals, now that they are in the Champions League.
“City might find it hard to turn down this offer,” said the source. “And they will know they won’t get a much bigger offer from anywhere in South America. Corinthians are serious about this.
“They mean business, they have the funds, they have a 55 million euro TV deal, a 26 million euros sponsorship deal, which is the fourth largest in the world, and they are building a new stadium which will open in 2013 holding 68,000, which will stage the opening ceremony for the World Cup.”
Tevez was club captain before he quit in 2006 to join West Ham United along with Javier Mascherano, and he became the first foreign player in Brazil to win footballer of the year since 1976.
The striker wants to leave City after two years at Eastlands and has cited family reasons, saying last week that he wants to be closer to his two children and their mother who live back in Argentina. A move to Corinthians fulfills that objective. However, City may want to hold out for their price having invested £47 million in transfer fees to bring him to Eastlands in the first place.
The offer from Sao Paulo club Corinthians may interest City because it would mean Tevez joining a team who are not their rivals in any competition, and he would be rejoining the club he played for from 2004 to 2006, having joined from Boca Juniors.
Until Corinthians made their interest known to City, Tevez looked headed for Spain or Italy, at potential Champions League rivals, and with a loan move looking most likely.
Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish believes Steven Gerrard and goalkeeper Pepe Reina will be fit for the start of the season despite both players’ absence the club’s pre-season tour to Asia.
Gerrard is continuing his rehabilitation from groin surgery which ended his campaign in mid-March while Reina had a double hernia operation last month.
But Dalglish is confident that both players will be ready to spearhead the Reds for the start of their Premier League camapaign, against Sunderland at Anfield on August 13.
“Steven is injured at the moment and that’s why he’s not here with us,’’ Dalglish said at a press conference after landing in Guangzhou, where the team will play their first friendly in China on Wednesday.
“He has made a fantastic recovery from his operation towards the end of last season. He just needs to get the final couple of niggles out of the way and then he will be fit for the start of the season against Sunderland.
“I know people are disappointed he isn’t here with us but the disappointment would be far greater if he couldn’t play the first (Premier League) game. That is why he has stayed at home, to rest and to have the best chance of being fit for the start of the season.
“The same situation applies to Pepe (Reina) – he had a double hernia operation in June. He isn’t fit and so had to stay at home. He should be ready for the start of the season.’’
Liverpool’s new signing Charlie Adam made the trip to the Far East, having sealed his move from Blackpool on Thursday, but Jordan Henderson, who moved from Sunderland last month, has been on extended leave after playing for England Under-21s at the European Championship in Denmark.
The Reds have been linked with a renewed bid for Aston Villa winger Stewart Downing while a number of fringe players are likely to be offloaded before the start of the new season.
“We are happy with the business we have done so far,’’ Dalglish added. “Hopefully we will do some more business before the window closes but I’m not going to give names because that’s disrespectful.
“We are looking to bring other players in and that could mean we expect some to leave. That’s football but we have a while to go yet and we’ll see what we can do.’’