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Thread: Latest Transfer Update at 21-04-2012

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    Latest Transfer Update at 21-04-2012

    Latest Transfer Update at 21-04-2012

    Didier Drogba: Praised by Di Matteo


    Roberto Di Matteo says Didier Drogba could play for Chelsea for another two years as he defended the striker's play-acting against Barcelona.
    Drogba's Jekyll-and-Hyde performance in the Blues' astonishing 1-0 Champions League semi-final first-leg win on Wednesday night saw him praised and castigated in almost equal measure.
    The veteran striker's matchwinning effort days after a man-of-the-match display in Sunday's FA Cup semi-final thrashing of Tottenham led his agent to claim Chelsea would now cave in to his demands for a new two-year contract.
    Yet, reports on Friday morning suggest the club would jettison the 34-year-old - who rejected a one-year extension to his current deal - at the end of the season, regardless of his heroics.
    Drogba insisted on Wednesday night he still had two or three years left at the highest level and Di Matteo agreed on Friday, saying: "Yeah, whether it's for Chelsea or somebody else."

    Drogba is far from the only thirtysomething whose Chelsea future was in doubt, with Frank Lampard, Florent Malouda and Paulo Ferreira also said to be on borrowed time.
    Di Matteo pointed out there were plenty of examples of players who had starred at top clubs into their late thirties, including Manchester United duo Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes, as well as Chelsea legend Gianfranco Zola.
    He added: "I'm happy with the team, with the squad that we have and with the way they are responding and performing - young, old, middle-aged, whatever you want to call it."
    Di Matteo, who currently has no input on comings and goings at Stamford Bridge, added of Drogba: "You've seen him many, many years now over the course of his career here and I'm sure you've made your own assessment of what kind of character he is.

    "He's been with the club a long time and he's part of the history of this club - like many players that we've had here - and he always will be.
    "The final decision (over his future) is going to be the club's decision."
    Di Matteo also saw no need to "have a word" with Drogba over his less well received antics against Barca.
    Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson confirmed he had done just that with Ashley Young amid accusations of diving against the winger but suggested what went on at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night was much worse.
    But Di Matteo insisted he had "fair players" and claimed Drogba took "a physical battering" against Barca, one which saw the Ivorian pick up a knee injury that left him in a race against time to be fit for the second leg.
    Drogba's theatrical reaction to challenges made on him allowed Chelsea to run down the clock on Wednesday.
    Di Matteo said: "Listen, you know how many times we were behind and other teams 'lost' time against us?
    "You know how many times? Many times.

    "Every team does that. Let me tell you, Barca do it as well."
    The 41-year-old insisted he was against diving, however.
    "Whether we can find way to eradicate it from our game, I'm not sure," he said.
    "I think it would be nice, it would be fairer for everybody if we could.
    "But it's been part of football for a long, long time."
    He added: "The majority of players don't dive.

    "It's a minority and we shouldn't generalise and put everybody in the same pot."
    Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has suggested foreign players introduced diving to England.
    But Di Matteo said: "It doesn't matter from what nationality you come."
    "Lately, there have been a few issues about it. But there have been issues before as well in the season and in previous seasons.
    "The issue's always been there. It's maybe a little bit more at hand now because of what's happened in the last couple of weeks but it's an issue that's always there."

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    Re: Latest Transfer Update at 21-04-2012

    Van Persie: Linked with a summer move


    Arsene Wenger hopes to tie up the long-term future of Arsenal captain Robin van Persie before the Dutchman heads off to Euro 2012.
    Holland striker Van Persie has remained free of injury to plunder 34 goals which have almost single-handedly fired the Gunners back into the top four of the Barclays Premier League, and is set to make his 50th appearance of the season for club and country against Chelsea on Saturday.
    The 28-year-old's current contract expires in the summer of 2013, and there has been speculation the likes of Manchester City, Barcelona, Real Madrid and both Milan clubs are all ready to launch a multi-million auction for his services, with wages on offer of around 200,000-per-week.
    Van Persie is happy to leave talks until the end of the season.
    However, Wenger has now revealed he wants a resolution before his captain went to join up with the Netherlands squad at a training camp in Switzerland on May 17 - just 72 hours after the final Premier League game at West Brom.

    Asked about Van Persie's contract situation, Wenger said: "That will be sorted at the end of the season."
    Pressed on whether the resolution would be before the European Championships, Wenger replied: "Yes."
    Van Persie was pictured at Barcelona's team hotel in London ahead of their midweek Champions League game against Chelsea.
    Wenger, though, maintained there was nothing untoward in that.
    "I am not concerned," the Arsenal manager said. "After the game you can go to have dinner. He has got friends there. [Ibrahim] Affelay, [Cesc] Fabregas. Why shouldn't he?"
    Van Persie is expected to be crowned PFA Player of the Year at a gala dinner on Sunday night, which could well be followed up by the prestigious Football Writers' Association accolade.
    Wenger is in no doubt about the impact of his captain on the Gunners campaign, which at one stage looked very much in crisis.
    While Van Persie has netted just once in his last six Arsenal appearances, Wenger rejected suggestions the Dutchman was burnt out.
    "When you play 50 games at that level you suffer a little bit," he said.
    "It is beyond expectation and for a striker it is massive.

    "Physically, Robin is good. He has a very healthy life very focused on football - he takes care of everything. That is why he manages to do that."
    Although Arsenal remain in the driving seat to secure third place and with it automatic qualification for the Champions League again next season, there remains the possibility the side which eventually comes fourth could miss out on the elite club competition.
    Should Chelsea, who are currently sixth, fail to finish in the top four, but go on to win the Champions League final in Munich, then they would take the place in next season's competition and one of their rivals drop down in the Europa League.
    The rule was introduced to avoid a repeat of when Liverpool won the competition in 2005, but had initially been unable to defend their title the following season before being allowed to enter the qualifying rounds.
    Asked his feelings on that scenario should Arsenal face it, Wenger said: "We would not be happy, but it is the rules and we have to accept it.
    "The Champions League winners should have the right to defend the trophy. That it takes the fourth place is unfortunate. Ideally, you would like to combine the two.
    "The team who finish fourth have fought the whole season and cannot get into the Champions League."
    Wenger masterminded a 2-1 home win over Barcelona in the Champions League last season, only to go out following a controversial defeat at the Nou Camp in the second leg.
    The Gunners boss believes Roberto di Matteo's men will face a stern test to get another positive result in Spain, but one they could yet come through.
    "On the day, Chelsea had a gameplan which worked a little bit, maybe they were lucky because Barcelona hit the post, but still I feel Chelsea played well the system they wanted to play," he said.

    "They had a great performance on the day. With what they wanted to do, and [Didier] Drogba did the rest."
    Wenger added: "[Can they do it again?] Why not? They will not have much choice to play differently.
    "Chelsea have a lot of experience in their side and they know how to be on the pitch."

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    Re: Latest Transfer Update at 21-04-2012

    Gareth Bale (l): Linked with Barcelona move


    QPR manager Mark Hughes has urged Tottenham winger Gareth Bale to remain at the north London club for a few more years before deciding on whether he wants to play football on the continent.
    Rumours have resurfaced that the 22-year-old is attracting the interest of European giants Barcelona but Hughes, whose side play Spurs on Saturday evening looking to stay out of the Barclays Premier League relegation zone, believes his compatriot should stay put for the time being.
    He said: "He is still a young man - I think he still has a lot to achieve in the Premier League and I'm sure he is enjoying his football and his life in the Premier League at the moment. He has a huge profile and has no reason to go so young.

    "He is playing at a good club that are challenging for honours. I think when he is asked the question he answers it honestly and says that in the future that is what he might like to do but I don't think he is anticipating moving any time soon."
    Hughes joined Barcelona from Manchester United in the summer of 1986 at the age of 22 and reckons he was too young to make an instant impact at the Nou Camp and he left the following summer before eventually returning to Old Trafford.
    "I went when I was young and it was probably a little bit too soon for me," he said.
    "Ideally if I had had the opportunity later I would have been more successful than I was. I think there is time for Gareth in the future if he thinks that is what he wants to do.

    "I went when I wasn't married and didn't have any children and my life wasn't as settled as it would have been at 26, 27, 28 and that always helps when you have that support."
    Although he never worked with Bale whilst in charge of Wales Hughes is still a big admirer of his abilities and knows his QPR players have a job on their hands keeping the precocious winger quiet.
    He said: "You have just got to stop him in possession and stop the ball getting to him in the first place. When he does get it you have hopefully got to force him down a blind alley and not let him have the affect that his ability can have on a game. It is difficult to do but we will endeavour to do that.

    "He is very difficult to contain if he is in a run of form where everything is flowing for him. We will have to work hard to restrict his opportunities because when he does get opportunities he invariably creates chances or takes them himself."
    Despite Bale's qualities he has been unable to arrest the slide in form for Spurs, culminating in last weekend's 5-1 FA Cup semi-final defeat to Chelsea.

    But Hughes is fully aware of the strength of Harry Redknapp's side and is not expecting an easy task this evening.
    "They haven't been as you would expect from the quality of players they have but make no bones about it on any day that they turn up at your ground they have the capacity and ability to win Premier League games and to win them well given the talent they have at their disposal.
    "We have to be mindful of that irrespective of the fact that they haven't won as many games in recent weeks as they would have liked.
    "They are still a very good team - so it is a tall order but we have gone up against some good teams in recent weeks and acquitted ourselves really well and we will have to do that again."

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    Re: Latest Transfer Update at 21-04-2012

    Agbonlahor: Has been linked with a move away


    Alex McLeish expects striker Gabriel Agbonlahor to stay at Aston Villa for the remainder of his career.
    Agbonlahor has been the subject of speculation linking him with a move to Saturday's opponents Sunderland who are managed by former Villa boss, Martin O'Neill.
    But McLeish believes Agbonlahor's love affair with Villa, where he graduated through the academy, means he will stay "for the next 10 years" which would take him up to the age of 35.
    The Villa manager said: "I would find it hard to believe that Gabby would leave. This is his club.
    "Of course, it's football and you can never rule anything out.
    "But I see Gabby being here for the next 10 years provided he is playing at the level he is capable of.
    "People here have known him longer than I have but I know how much he loves this club."
    McLeish believes Agbonlahor will be disappointed at Villa's form during the past two seasons and will be desperate to ensure they are not involved in a relegation scrap.

    He said: "Gabby knows that for the last two seasons we have been in the wrong half of the table by Aston Villa's standards.
    "He'll be desperate to make sure that we are okay in the next few weeks. He's a big, important factor."
    McLeish is challenging Agbonlahor to reproduce his outstanding form of the first half of the season.
    He said: "That first half the season was exceptional. The evidence is there for him to look back at that and say 'look what I've done and I can produce that again'
    "Gabby Agbonlahor is a match winner and he has been unlucky in recent weeks."
    McLeish has confirmed his interest in Dutch Under-21 striker Bas Dost but dismisses reports that a contact has been made with the player or his club Heerenveen.
    He said: "What is the story? That he turned us down? Well, we've never approached Heerenveen for Bas Dost but we know who he is.
    "We've watched a lot of the Dutch League this year but I don't know why his agent is linking us with him when we've never made any approaches or even sounded him out.

    "There's been no contact whatsoever with the agent or anyone. Nothing.
    "He's scored a number of goals in Holland this season but is among a number of players that we've recorded and logged.
    "But you never know, he might be here in July. I'm not saying it cannot happen but we've never made any contact. We're looking at a lot of players who we believe can help us improve."

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    Re: Latest Transfer Update at 21-04-2012

    Didier Drogba: Out of contract in the summer


    Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp would be interested in signing Didier Drogba on a free transfer this summer but admits the Chelsea striker's wage demands may scupper any potential deal.
    At 34 years old, many thought Drogba was past it, but he has provided his critics with a timely reminder of his talents over the past few days.
    The Ivory Coast frontman belted a stunning volley past Carlo Cudicini to help Chelsea cruise past Spurs into the FA Cup final last weekend and then hit the winner in the first leg of the Blues' Champions League semi-final against Barcelona three days later.
    Drogba could leave Stamford Bridge this summer after failing to agree a contract extension. And, although Redknapp is interested, he expects the former Marseille man to be tempted to China, where he is being courted by mega-rich Shanghai Shenhua, who are managed by Drogba's former Chelsea team-mate Nicolas Anelka.

    Redknapp said: "He is a free but I was just reading in the paper about him going to China.
    "It seems the money in China at the moment is incredible. Players can go there and make a fortune.
    "He would be a great player for Chelsea to keep or for somebody else to take. Anyone would be interested but you would have to be able to afford his wages. That is going to be the key. If he is on a free you are going to have to pay him a fortune.
    "But he is a powerhouse when he is on his game. He is strong and almost unplayable when he is really at it.
    "It was an amazing goal he scored against us. He smashed it from an angle.
    "His strength in holding (Spurs defender William) Gallas off and then hitting the ball from where he did, there aren't too many players who could have done that."

    Redknapp received public backing for the first time from an FA board member on Friday - Bolton chairman Phil Gartside, who claimed the Tottenham boss would do an "outstanding" job as national coach.
    The 65-year-old claimed he was unaware of Gartside's comments but what he does know is his team have only won one Barclays Premier League game since Fabio Capello resigned.
    Redknapp's side could drop to sixth by the time they face QPR on Saturday evening but the manager denies Capello's resignation has anything to do with his team's poor form.

    "Other people talk about (England) but I don't talk about it," Redknapp added.
    "I just concentrate on my job here and never look beyond Tottenham.
    "Recently it was only the Norwich game really (where Spurs played poorly).
    "Arsenal did not lose to Wigan and QPR because they were concentrating on Arsene Wenger going to manage France, were they?"

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    Re: Latest Transfer Update at 21-04-2012

    Paul Pogba: Future uncertain


    Sir Alex Ferguson has confirmed Manchester United are waiting on midfielder Paul Pogba to decide whether he wants to sign a new deal with the Old Trafford outfit.
    Terms have been agreed with the youngster's agent, now it just requires the 19-year-old to give the green light.
    "The boy has great potential and he is at the right club," Ferguson told MUTV.
    "He has to make that decision.

    "We have agreed a deal with his agent. Now it is just down to the boy."
    Pogba's future has been the subject of intense debate for a number of months now.
    Initially it was felt the player had agreed to join Italian giants Juventus and he was frozen out at United for a short while.
    However, Ferguson has brought Pogba back into the fold and he had made seven substitute appearances this term when the United boss confirmed the player would miss the remainder of this season after suffering ankle ligament damage during a reserve team game at Newcastle on Monday.
    Striker Will Keane, who made his senior debut at Blackburn earlier this season, scored four goals in that victory and Ferguson has also confirmed the England Under-19 star will go out on loan to gain valuable experience next season.

    "Will is progressing the right way," said Ferguson.
    "The lad is a good finisher and has good potential.
    "He needs a bit of toughening up and next year we will possibly put him out on loan. That would be good for him."

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    Re: Latest Transfer Update at 21-04-2012

    Tiote: Happy at Newcastle


    Newcastle's in-demand midfielder Cheick Tiote has insisted his future remains on Tyneside.
    The Ivory Coast international, who has enhanced his reputation in the Premier League since his 3.5million switch from FC Twente during the summer of 2010, has been linked with a big-money move to Chelsea with a series of other potential suitors also monitoring his situation.
    However, Tiote, who could return to the Magpies team against Stoke on Saturday after shaking off a hamstring injury, is happy where he is as he attempts to help the club realise their improbable Champions League dream.

    He told the Evening Chronicle: "I'm a Newcastle player - my future is at Newcastle.
    "I'm playing for Newcastle and I have to finish this season strongly and help the team get into Europe.
    "If we do that, it will be good for the club and the fans. We are in a great position now."
    Tiote has played a central role in Newcastle's return to prominence, and while both the African Nations Cup and injury have interrupted his campaign, his partnership with summer arrival Yohan Cabaye has been key.

    The 25-year-old was a revelation in his first season in English football after being signed by former boss Chris Hughton, and his spectacular late equaliser in a remarkable 4-4 draw with Arsenal, as well as his combative style, have won him a place in Geordie folklore.

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    Re: Latest Transfer Update at 21-04-2012

    Robin van Persie: Visited Barcelona hotel


    Robin van Persie has insisted his visit to Barcelona's team hotel this week was perfectly innocent.
    Arsenal captain Van Persie was pictured at the London hotel of Barca on Tuesday night, fuelling speculation he could be set to join them.
    The Dutchman is out of contract in the summer and refusing to make a decision about his future until the end of the season.
    Gunners boss Arsene Wenger has revealed he wanting a resolution before his captain joins up with the Holland squad at a training camp in Switzerland on May 17 - just 72 hours after the final Premier League game at West Brom.

    Van Persie wrote in the Gunners' official matchday programme for their clash with Chelsea: "The explanation is really very simple. My very good friend Ibrahim Afellay plays for Barcelona.
    "After a bad long-term injury, he was finally back with the team - and during his absence I had been in contact with him a lot, but I hadn't seen him.
    "This was an opportunity for me to go and visit a close friend, show him my support and catch up.
    "Unfortunately, this had to be at the hotel, because he was not permitted to leave it. I was wearing my Arsenal tracksuit and we sat down by the reception to have a chat and some food - everyone could see us and there was nothing to hide.
    "I can't imagine anyone conducting transfer negotiations in these circumstances!"

    The Holland star, who has just over a year left on his Arsenal contract, added: "The visit to the hotel was a social one and had nothing to do with the future of my career. I do have a social life next to football, even if my wife tells me that it sometimes doesn't seem that way!
    "Nothing has changed in the sense that my intention remains to discuss my future in the summer."
    Van Persie also hit back at Gary Caldwell's claim that he refused to shake the Wigan captain's hand after Arsenal's shock 2-1 defeat on Monday night.
    He said: "I was quite surprised by his reaction, and the fact that it made such news in the media.
    "If you look properly at what happened, I offered him my left hand but he refused it and acted like the innocent party - so all the reaction has been a little over the top.
    "There were no bad intentions on my side. In football, you can win and lose - that is part of the game, and of course I will always be disappointed with a defeat, but not to the point that I refuse to shake my opponent's hand. Not everything is always as it looks."

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