with Arsenal and Liverpool eyeing move for Italy striker
- Former Manchester City star Balotelli wants transfer back to England
- QPR boss Harry Redknapp wants Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole, Gareth Barry and Joe Cole after promotion to the Premier League
- Tottenham are also interested in Ashley Cole
- Manchester City won’t be bullied into £300,000-a-week Yaya Toure deal
- Celtic want David Moyes to succeed Neil Lennon as manager
Mario Balotelli is set to return to the Barclays Premier League next season with Arsenal and Liverpool likely destinations.
The AC Milan striker is sick of the racism he suffers in Italy and it is understood the former Manchester City star realises life in England was not so bad.
Arsenal are in talks with Real Madrid to sign Karim Benzema but will talk to Balotelli’s ‘people’.
Liverpool will move in for Balotelli if Luis Suarez is lured away to Real Madrid or Barcelona after the World Cup.
Sensational return? Mario Balotelli could be back in the Premier League with Liverpool or Arsenal
Redknapp wants Ferdinand, Lampard, Barry and Cole (x2)
Harry Redknapp was straight back into action on Saturday night after he lead QPR into the Premier League.
I understand Redknapp wants to lure out-of-contract veterans such as Rio Ferdinand, Joe Cole, Gareth Barry, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole to Loftus Road next season.
In what is set to be Redknapp’s final year as a top-flight manager he feels bringing in older star players – with no fees but big wages – is the best way to stabilise a club which has debts of £117million and keep them in the Premier League.
Back in the big time: Harry Redknapp celebrates QPR’s promotion to the Premier League
Targets: Veterans Frank Lampard (left) and Ashley Cole are wanted by Redknapp at QPR
It’s a big ask but Redknapp has powers of persuasion.
Redknapp hopes to make sure that Loic Remy, on loan at Newcastle in the past season, remains at the club.
But Spurs also have their eye on Ashley
DIEGO TO COSTA CHELSEA £32m
Chelsea are confident they will complete the signing of Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa next week in a £32million deal.
Ashley Cole is wanted by Tottenham. As reported here in January, he has been released by Chelsea.
Liverpool are also keen but Cole has told friends he is reluctant to move one of Chelsea’s rivals.
That could see the former England left back take a one-year deal at Inter Milan, where he could help Thomas Ince bed down.
Ince, out of contract, is in talks with the Italian club for whom his father Paul played from 1995 to 1997.
City won’t be bullied into £300,000-a-week Toure deal
Yaya Toure wants a new £300,000-a-week deal to stay at Manchester City.
Toure’s ‘people’ believe he should be on at least the same wages Wayne Rooney at Manchester united, if not more.
That is why, they launched a PR campaign last week.
City want to retain Toure but my source tells me they won’t be bullied into offering the 31-year-old a new mega deal.
Celtic look to United flop Moyes to succeed Lennon
Romelu Lukaku, unloved by Jose Mourinho, is 33-1 to be top scorer at World Cup.
Celtic are considering offering David Moyes the job as Neil Lennon’s successor.
Malky Makay is also on Celtic’s radar after they were turned down by former striker and club legend Henrik Larsson on Saturday night.
I am hearing
West Ham are set to make a new offer for Southampton’s Rickie Lambert.
I am also hearing
The Hammers will try and get Jermain Defoe back from Canadian club Toronto for the first few months of the new season.
Mon: Louis van Gaal formally appointed as new Manchester United manager. It’s then said Ryan Giggs will take over in three years. I say why not now?
Tues: Stories emerge that Paul Gascoigne is about to open a chain of pubs. I say I’m gutted there are still people living off Gazza’s fragility.
Weds: Yaya Toure doesn’t want a new contract, he just wants a birthday cake. And to be loved. If not he is ready to take a pay cut and move to Barcelona. And the issue has nothing to do with money.
Thurs: Barcelona are not interested in Toure
Friday: Toure wants a new contract with Man City. But the situation for a £220,000-a-week player has NOTHING to do with money.
It was shocking to see how Mario Balotelli was racially abused by local ‘fans’ at Italy’s pre World Cup training camp in Florence.
Sadly it was hardly a surprise.
Only a few years ago a prominent Italian sports writer who originated from Bologna explained to me that many Northern Italians still regard anyone south of Rome as an African and, like it or not, Benito Mussolini remains a romantic figure in the eyes of many.
Football has become a forum for many ‘Ultras’ in Italy to express their views.
Even if, as the recent European and local elections have exposed, there is an upsurge is xenophobia in this country, football has moved along way from the darks days when racism was rife on the terraces and the game has been at the vanguard of breaking down race barriers in this country over the past quarter of a century.
Yes, in recent seasons there have been some unsavoury and awkward high-profile incidents but in general the English game is more cosmopolitan and inclusive than in most countries.
Yet if White Van Man can return to the political highway then there is no room for complacency, because as John Barnes once told me it’s not necessarily what people say, it’s what they think when it comes to down to racism.
Shocking: Balotelli was racially abused by Italy fans at a pre-World Cup training camp in Florence
And lest we forget that Barnes once had to back heel a banana back into the Goodison Park stands and as recently as the 1990 World Cup finals was, like Balotelli, the target of racist taunts from England followers.
Paul Parker, who would emerge as a key player at Italia 90, recalls in his book Tackles like a Ferret a training session in Sardinia.
Manager Bobby Robson had opened the doors to let some of the fans who had arrived on the island early but it became an open invitation for a hardcore group of National Front followers to hurl abuse at Barnes and Parker and chant ‘No Surrender’ songs.
A year earlier it beggared belief that a group of 20 who did not disguise their allegiance to the NF (now BNP) had travelled all the way to Iceland for an England B match seemingly with the sole purpose of targeting Parker.
As he remembers: ‘It was so cold in Reykjavik that two players, Paul Stewart and Tony Dorigo, needed cold showers to WARM up from the effects of hypothermia but it was the abuse I received from the National Front which made my blood freeze.
Proud: Paul Parker (left) represented England with distinction despite at times being abused by his own fans
‘Why these people had come all the way to Iceland I would never understand. They gave Gazza some stick for being too fat but that was genial enough.
‘In my case it was non-stop anti-black abuse and as I was the only non-white player in the team it was as if they had travelled for the specific purpose of abusing me, such was its intensity and persistence.
‘I just had to get on with the business of playing, pretending it had nothing to do with me.’
In many ways Italia 90 the following year proved a turning point, not only in terms of reviving the English game but ousting the racist bigots.
The way things were: John Barnes famously backheels a banana thrown at him at Goodison Park in 1988
By the time England had reached the semi-finals, the majority of decent fans had drowned out the NF hardcore who were eventually driven out when the authorities took their actions more seriously.
The fact that players such as Barnes and Parker took such pride in wearing the white shirt and Three Lions crest was also a major factor. Lest we forget.
Wayne Rooney has, at the age of 28, said this World Cup is his last shot at the international big time.
Did he say that when he wangled a new £300,000-a-week four-year deal from Manchester United in January?
I once argued that Rooney could be England’s Lionel Messi. But I know why that hasn’t happened.
He hasn’t kicked on: Wayne Rooney could have been England’s Lionel Messi but isn’t playing in the right position
Rooney can be England’s best asset in Brazil but he has to be deployed in the right position.
Where is that? Starting from the wing.
Next week I will explain why – thanks to the great man Dave Sexton (RIP).
Why do West Ham seem to think that appointing a ‘striker coach’ will solve their problems.
How can a ‘striker coach’ alter the attacking ethos of the manager still wants to play Route One ?
The only solution I can think of is an old pal of mine called Mick Harford.
Forward thinking: Mick Harford (centre, in the 1988 League Cup final) would be ideal as West Ham’s ‘striker coach’
So Arsene Wenger set to stay at Arsenal and the word is he has £100m to spend on new players.
But last year he had a £120m warchest and didn’t really use it .
Arsene, time to stop putting the foot on the ball and kick one hard… so push out the boat and buy back Robin van Persie and Cesc Fabregas.
Bring them back: Arsene Wenger should try to re-sign Robin van Persie (left) and Cesc Fabregas for Arsenal
Most in the media seemed beside themselves last week that a ‘head doctor’, sorry sports psychologist, is a key member of England’s World Cup squad.
It is now written that Dr Steve Peters can give England the edge. Really?
His last two clients, Liverpool FC and Ronnie O’Sullivan, both flopped when it came to the crunch.
Source : Daily Mail