Bidding war looms for Blackburn’s Jones

Blackburn Rovers defender Phil Jones is the subject of a four-way transfer tussle, according to the Daily Mail.

Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal have all been tipped as possible suitors for the 19-year-old, with speculation mounting that he will quit Ewood Park with a view to furthering his career at a higher level.

Set to feature for Stuart Pearce’s England under-21 side at the European Championships this summer the Rovers youth team graduate has been in impressive form this season and was rewarded with a five year contract extension by the club’s new owners in January.

Liverpool are thought to be leading the chase with Kenny Dalglish eager to infuse the spine of his starting XI with the country’s best young talents. The Reds bought Andy Carroll in January and are thought to be on the verge of a deal to sign Jordan Henderson from Sunderland. It is believed that the Anfield hierarchy see Jones as another piece in the jigsaw as they look to regain a place in the top four.

Valued in excess of £15 million by Blackburn, the Lancashire outfit will no doubt be hoping that all parties  follow up on initial scouting reports with the potential for Jones’ fee to push past the £17 million paid out by Chelsea and Manchester City respectively for Damien Duff and Roque Santa Cruz.

If Liverpool do bid big for Jones it is likely to heavily influence Arsene Wenger’s decision to push forward with a potential deal. Having refused to spend more than £17 million on a single player during his time in North London the Frenchman is unlikely to get involved in a bidding war for a player valued highly by his Premier League counterparts.

 

Barnet confirm end to Arsenal friendly fixture

League Two side Barnet have confirmed that they will not face Arsenal in the pair’s annual friendly match at Underhill.

Arsene Wenger’s side have regularly taken on their North London neighbours in a summertime showpiece friendly match as part of a deal which saw the Gunners afforded use of the minnow’s facilities for reserve and youth team matches.

Last season Arsenal’s reserve team increasingly played their matches at the club’s London Colney training ground and it appears that as a consequence the need to play a compensatory friendly match has been negated.

A statement on Barnet’s official website relayed the disappointing news about the cancelled fixture before revealing that Tony Adam’s Azerbaijani side Gabala have been lined up as an exotic replacement.

“The long running money-spinning pre-season friendly against Arsene Wenger’s talented Arsenal will not be staged this July, the club revealed today.

“The sell-out game against the Gunners was staged in recent years as a prelude to the season in return for the Premiership side playing all their reserve games at Underhill. The rules have now changed and they now only play appoximately four reserve games at the ground.

“The Bees have announced three Saturday afternoon games at Underhill in July:- 16th v new Championsdhip side Peterborough United; 23rd v a Tottenham Hotspur XI for the Lee Harrison testimonial fund; and 30th v League 1 Milton Keynes Dons.

“In addition, former Arsenal and England centre half Tony Adams will be at Underhill on Wednesday, July 20, as head coach with his Gabala team from the Azerbajan Premier League.”

Arsenal have so far announced matches against a Malaysia XI, Hangzhou Greentown and FC Cologne before the end of July Emirates Cup matches with Boca Juniors and New York Red Bulls.

Wilshere eager to rest after ‘crazy’ year

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Jack Wilshere believes it is essential he uses this summer to rest and recuperate after a ‘crazy’ twelve months which has seen him progress from a loan spell at Bolton Wanderers to England regular, via a man of the match performance for Arsenal against Barcelona.

The 19-year-old had been tipped to play for Stuart Pearce’s under-21 side at the European Championships in Denmark but was not selected following advice from Arsene Wenger who claimed his starlet could suffer burnout after showing a marked downturn in his fitness statistics in the final third of the season.

Granted a full four weeks holiday, it is now thought that Wilshere will re-join his Arsenal teammates in July for pre-season training before embarking on the club’s tour of Malaysia, the Emirates Cup and the Gunners’ Champions League qualifier in August.

“I have to get my feet up,” Wilshere told reporters in the aftermath of England’s 2-2 draw with Switzerland at the weeken.. “I’ve got four weeks off.

“It has been a crazy year. At the start of the year, there was talk of me going back on loan to Bolton.

“The manager at Arsenal said he wanted me to play 20-25 games and I’ve played 60 games this year.

“Hopefully I can get a bit more taste of international football next year and carry on performing for my club.”

Reflecting on his ability to cope with the expectation which has accompanied his rapid rise to prominence, Wilshere continued:

“I play at a big club. The expectation level is big. From when I was 16, the expectation has always been high.

“We are a top four club and we want to deliver trophies and win every game.”

Barcelona plan Nou Camp future for Alcantara

The father of Barcelona midfield starlet Thiago Alcantara has dismissed suggestions that his son could be about to move to Arsenal as part of a deal taking Cesc Fabregas back to the Nou Camp.

Reports in both the Spanish and British media at the weekend hinted that Arsenal had been approached by representatives from the newly crowned European champions with a view to thrashing out a £50 million package for Gunners captain Fabregas which would include Alcantara as a make-weight.

Another graduate of the Catalan side’s La Masia Academy, the 20-year-old has been tipped for a bright future at the top of the game with Pep Guardiola rewarding the youngster with a position on the substitute bench for the Champions League final victory against Manchester United.

Despite being groomed for a regular first team role with La Blaugrana it has been suggested that the Spanish under-21 international is frustrated with the competition he faces from the likes of Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta, Javier Mascherano and Sergio Busquets and could eye a move elsewhere to garner more first team experience.

Speaking about the reports which emanated in the Spanish press, Alcantara’s father, former Brazilian international Mazinho, told EFE:

“We have seen the news in the papers, but I believe that Thiago enters in the plans of Guardiola for next season.

“My son stays at Barcelona. They have a contract and we have decided it’s continuity.

“Thiago is developing and needs to evolve. This season was important, but next season could be better.”

Neuer and Löw question Lehmann deal

Manuel Neuer and Joachim Löw have both questioned Schalke’s proposed decision to offer Jens Lehmann a contract as speculation mounts in the German press that the 41-year-old veteran could be signed as cover at the Veltins Arena.

Neuer, who recently left Schalke for Bayern Munich, believes that his former club would be better served by keeping faith with 25-year-old back-up Mathias Schober rather than offering Lehmann a short term deal. The Champions League semi-finalists have already snapped up 22-year-old Ralf Fahrmann from Eintract Frankfurt with a view who has been pencilled in for the number one slot.

While admitting that he still held Lehmann in high regard, Neuer told homeland publication Bild:

“Lehmann was one of my favourite goalkeepers together with Edwin van der Sar.

“However, I have to be honest. I do not think that it would work out well if he joins Schalke.

“I would advise Schalke to have faith in Mathias Schober. He has been at Schalke for several years and has a lot of experience.

“He has always played an important role to keep me on top of my game. He could do the same for Fahrmann.”

German national team coach Joachim Löw also voiced his scepticism at the prospect of Lehmann returning to the Bundesliga a year after ending his career at Stuttgart. Speaking to Bild the coach insisted that knowing Lehmann he would not be satisfied just sitting on the bench,

“Basically, I would trust Jens, if he is fit. But I do not know if it makes sense for the team.

“Jens would not always be satisfied as the second choice, Jens always wants to play, that’s the ambition he has. They must consider whether they want the competition for places, and whether such competition is good.”

Parker coy on future move

England midfielder Scott Parker has admitted that he has yet to decide where he will be playing football next season as speculation mounts about the West Ham United star’s future.

Arsenal are among a host of clubs thought to be tracking last season’s Football Writers’ Player of the Year with Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool the other big name English clubs linked with his signature. Hammers’ owners David Gold and David Sullivan have already admitted that the 30-year-old is one of a number of players who will be sold this summer as the East End club tries to balance the books following relegation.

Speaking in the aftermath of England’s 2-2 draw with Switzerland, Parker told Skysports.com that his sole focus was on enjoying a holiday with his family after a long season at Upton Park.

“I’ve not really any idea where I might be playing next season.

“My main focus now is going away with my family on holiday and just relaxing.

“It’s been a tough season and my main focus is getting away,” continued the ex-Charlton and Chelsea man.

“I haven’t set myself a deadline. Whether you believe it or not, my main focus is just going away and relaxing and what’s to be is going to be.

“It’s out of my hands, out of my control, really, isn’t it? We will see what happens.”

While many Arsenal fans have warmed to the idea of Parker’s energetic presence in the centre of the park it remains to be seen whether Arsene Wenger will invest in a player who will likely face competition from Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri, Alex Song, Abou Diaby, Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey for a starting berth.

Djourou: The fans and manager deserve a trophy

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Arsenal defender Johan Djourou has revealed that he is content with the form he has showed over the last nine months, but stressed that the Gunners must improve if they are to win silverware.

The Swiss international featured only once in the 2009/10 season after a cruciate knee ligament injury sidelined him for nearly a year, but grew last term to be an integral part of Arsene Wenger’s defence in the absence of injured Thomas Vermaelen.

Forming a solid partnership with Frenchman Laurent Koscielny, Djourou helped the Gunners to a four pronged assault on domestic and European honours before the Gunners collapsed in the final months to prolong their trophy drought.

Speaking in the aftermath of Switzerland’s 2-2 draw with England at Wembley yesterday, Djourou reflected on a tough end to the season at the Emirates:

“For the team, it was difficult because we were playing for so many trophies at the same time and we were so close to getting one.

“Last season, I didn’t play a game and to play so many games and have a good season, I was happy.

“Obviously, now we want to do better as a team and as individuals to get something. I think that the fans deserve and the manager deserves something. We need to get better, get stronger, and really prepare well for next season.”

The Gunners have been strongly tipped to strengthen their squad in the close season with several big names thought to be on Arsene Wenger’s shopping list. Considering the potential impact of an influx of new faces in North London, the Swiss continued:

“I don’t know – that’s for the manager to answer,” he said, when asked about the summer plans.

“I think competition is always good. That pushes you in your position. When you want to make a team better, you have to have a good squad.

“I think that we had a good squad but if players with experience or different players can bring quality, they’re welcome.”

 

Lansbury: The goal is playing for Arsenal

Arsenal youngster Henri Lansbury is eager to follow Jack Wilshere’s lead by forcing his way into Arsene Wenger’s first team next season.

The 20-year-old, who scored for the Gunners in a Carling Cup appearance against Tottenham Hotspur in September, spent the second half of the season on loan with Norwich in The Championship and was integral to their promotion push.

An energetic and dynamic presence in the midfield, Lansbury now hopes that he has done enough to earn a regular first team berth at the Emirates alongside fellow Academy graduate Jack Wilshere.

Speaking about his future, on the eve of joining up with Stuart Pearce’s England under-21 side in Denmark, Lansbury is quoted by Sky Sports saying:

“I think Arsenal’s the goal now. I have to go back and give it a go from there. It’s a chance for me to show the boss that I’m capable of a first-team place and it’s up to me to do it.”

Reflecting on the rapid ascension of Wilshere to the full England team, Lansbury made clear that the progress made by his teammate following his loan with Bolton Wanderers was an inspiration for many young hopefuls.

“Jack’s taken his chance and he’s done well. He’s a great player and I think it’s a great bunch of lads here that can do the same thing.”

 

Nasri muddies the waters over new deal and United contact

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Samir Nasri has cast serious doubt over his Arsenal future by saying he ‘hasn’t really thought about’ extending his contract with the Gunners.

The midfielder has just 12 months left on his current deal and although Arsenal have been trying to tie him down to a new deal for some time, the French international still hasn’t put pen to paper. With the prospect of a Bosman next summer or a cut-price deal in the near future he appears to hold all the aces at this moment in time.

In an invterview with TF1 show ‘Telefoot’, Nasri was asked about a new deal at Arsenal and about rumours that Manchester United are interested in signing him:

Q: Will you extend at Arsenal?

I don’t know, I haven’t really thought  about it. Discussions are taking place. I still have important games with the national team

Q: Were you contacted by Manchester?

You have to ask my agents. I have to see if there is anything concrete/true about it.Then we’ll have to ask the right questions and talk about it with the club after the Poland game with France.

Nasri’s lack of clarity about his future at the Emirates will be a disappointment to many fans who have long supported him despite inconsistent form since he joined the club.

He had his most profilic goalscoring run between August and January, scoring 13 times, but he faded badly towards the end of the season, scoring only twice. Arsene Wenger will be anxious to keep Nasri, especially with the Fabregas situation ongoing, but there’s a strong belief that unless he signs a new deal before the end of June he’ll be transfer listed.

Arsenal are simply unwilling to let him go without recouping some of the £13.5m they paid for him in July 2008.

In what promises to be a very busy summer for the Arsenal manager this is one headache he could do without, and it remains to be seen if the history between Wenger and Nasri’s agent, Jean Pierre Bernés, will play a part in the outcome.

Thanks to Dylan for the info.

 

Xavi: “Cesc wants to come”

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Barcelona midfielder Xavi Hernandez has surprised nobody by speaking openly about the possible transfer of Cesc Fabregas to the Catalan club.

Arsenal fans will remember well the numerous pronouncements he made last summer when he decided he would speak for the Arsenal captain. In an interview with Sport.es (SpanishGoogle translation) he said, “The lad wants to come. He would be a great footballer for this team but the problem is money. He costs a lot because he is so good. 50 million euros.

“At the moment the club is not in in it’s best moment, economically speaking. The problem is money. He wants to come and we want him here.”

Arseblog News suggests this won’t be the only time we hear a Barcelona player talking openly about their desire for Cesc to join, but this morning we’re simply thankful that no mention of Cesc’s DNA has been made.

Barcelona DNA