Thursday, 1 January 2009

Redknapp open to Defoe return

Redknapp last week believed Defoe to be subject of a "massive offer" from elsewhere, but on Wednesday he suggested a deal could still be struck with Pompey boss Tony Adams and chief executive Peter Storrie.

Defoe is one player on what Redknapp describes as a "very short list" of January transfer targets, with the Spurs boss prepared to miss out if prices are inflated.

Of the Defoe deal, Redknapp said: "If the price is right and if Tony and Peter Storrie want to sell him and it's what we consider at our valuation and theirs, then fine.

"There are other options as well, I have a little list and if we don't get one we can move to another. If we can't get them then we won't be getting anyone."

Redknapp has already had an offer for Craig Bellamy turned down by West Ham and has also been sceptical over whether Middlesbrough would want to sell England winger Stewart Downing.

A striker, a left-sided midfielder and a reserve goalkeeper to cover for Heurelho Gomes are Redknapp's priorities.

He said: "I don't think we'll be splashing vast amounts, the chairman asked who I'd want if we could get them. If we can end up with a couple then great.

"You get agents calling up offering players and it would only cost you your job if you took them.

Tottenham Hotspur boss Harry Redknapp admits a return to White Hart Lane for Jermain Defoe is a possibility if a fee can be agreed with Portsmouth.

"I know exactly what I want and it is a waste of time calling up for anyone else. I have a very short list of players that interest me and if we can get them then great."

Redknapp does not predict a huge amount of spending when the window opens next month, although he feels Manchester City's wealth will play a crucial role.

"Everyone thinks Man City are going to come in and pay way over the odds for everybody because of the money they've got, but I don't think they will," he said.

"Mark Hughes is a very clever manager, he might want the players but I don't think he'll sit back and let the owners pay vastly inflated fees for players he does not feel are worth that kind of money.

"I think that is the key, if a chairman hears Man City might be interested in one of their players they could say, 'Let's hang on and we could double our money'. I don't think that will happen, Mark is too shrewd for that."

No bids for Santa Cruz

Blackburn boss Sam Allardyce insists there have been no enquiries about striker Roque Santa Cruz as the Premier League's January transfer window opens.

Manchester City are thought to be keen to reunite manager Mark Hughes with the Paraguayan, who had an impressive season last term, but Allardyce is adamant no offers had yet been forthcoming.

"There have been no bids whatsoever for Roque Santa Cruz," Allardyce said. "At the moment I'm more focused on getting him fit because I haven't seen him play since I've been here.

"I'm looking to getting him fit and producing the form that he produced last year to get us out of trouble. I'm also more focused on getting players in rather than players out.

"Certainly my focus over the last two days has been speaking to the chairman about that. We're both going to go out and try and improve our squad as quickly as possible."

Santa Cruz has made his intentions clear after claiming he would love to move on if an offer came in, but Allardyce also hit out at the transfer window, branding it "destructive".

He added: "Everybody knows that January is not positive. It's a very difficult window to work in. Generally the inflation that comes with a window as small as this is in many cases bordering on diabolical.

"But, if you don't pay the money, you don't get the player and that's why lots and lots of money changes hands at this particular period.

"It's destructive, it causes so many problems for players and managers, you just want to get it out of the way most of the time and get on with your job. Lots of speculation flies around that you can't control that can actually disrupt your squad and your preparation.

"I've never been a lover of this system. It's never really worked correctly and it never will but I don't think we'll ever get it changed."

However, the former Bolton and Newcastle boss admits he would utilise it as Rovers look to pull away from the relegation zone.

Allardyce has enjoyed a three-match unbeaten run since taking over at Ewood Park from Paul Ince but Rovers are still deep in trouble, lying next to bottom going into the New Year, and he is anxious to strengthen his squad.

"From our point of view, finding that player or two that would improve the squad immediately is important because it would lift us all.

"There are fewer and fewer bargains now than ever before and, if there are bargains, there are more clubs chasing them than ever before.

"It becomes quite difficult and I think targeting a player is probably a little easier than clinching it now, certainly if he is considered to be a bargain.

"We will try and get players than can make an impact on the team, otherwise I would prefer to go with the squad that I've got now, not lose anybody and make sure that we get out of trouble."

Review of the Year 2008


Manchester United leapfrog Arsenal at the top of the Barclays Premier League after four straight victories that includes a 6-0 rout of Newcastle United.

Sam Allardyce leaves Newcastle by mutual consent after less than eight months in the job and is replaced by Toon legend Kevin Keegan.Chelsea equal a club record of nine successive victories in all competitions with victory over Reading on the last weekend of the month. It keeps them in touch with Arsenal and United at the top.

Afonso Alves is the biggest transfer deadline day signing after Middlesbrough capture the Brazilian striker for a club record £12.7m. Other notable moves include Jermain Defoe joining Portsmouth from Tottenham Hotspur (£7.5m) and Benjani leaving Pompey for Manchester City (£3.8m).

Chelsea seal a £15m signing of Nicolas Anelka from Bolton Wanderers and Liverpool snap up Slovakian defender Martin Skrtel from Zenit St Petersburg for £6.5m. Portsmouth sign France midfielder Lassana Diarra from Arsenal. Tottenham swoop for England defender Jonathan Woodgate from Middlesbrough for a fee in the region of £7m.


Arsenal are dealt a blow to their title challenge with the loss of key striker Eduardo who breaks his leg in the 2-2 draw at Birmingham City. Man Utd lose ground on the Gunners after gaining just four points from three matches and Chelsea still harbour ambitions but gain just two points from two matches.

Manchester City defeat Manchester United 2-1 after a minute's silence to remember the Munich air disaster was observed impeccably by all spectators at Old Trafford.

Benjani Mwaruwari completes his £3.87m switch from Portsmouth to Manchester City after the Premier League sanctions the transfer. Tottenham Hotspur come back from a goal down to beat Chelsea 2-1 after extra-time to claim the Carling Cup.


Arsenal end a disastrous month by plummeting from first to third as the Gunners collect just one win, three draws and defeat to rivals Chelsea in this month. United go clear at the top of the pile with five successes, while Chelsea keep up their pursuit for the title with a draw - an eight-goal thriller with Tottenham - and five wins that includes a 6-1 thrashing of Derby County.

Derby are relegated after their draw at home to Fulham and Birmingham City's win over Manchester City at St Andrews. The Rams become the first team in Premier League history to be relegated in March and ended the campaign with a record low points total of 11.


Chelsea go level on points with United at the top of the league after a draw and four wins which included a brilliant 2-1 triumph over United at Stamford Bridge. With United gleaning just four points from a possible 12, it means the race for the Barclays Premier League goes down to the wire. With Arsenal out of the running, they ensure third place with a 6-2 hammering of Derby County.

Two wins for Fulham in the month gives their survival hopes a lift which includes victory over relegation rivals Reading who could only muster a solitary point in April. Bolton pick up two wins and a draw and Birmingham remain in the relegation zone after claiming just two points.


On the final day of the 2007/08 season, holders Manchester United seal the Barclays Premier League title with a 2-0 win at Wigan Athletic and championship rivals Chelsea can only draw 1-1 with Bolton Wanderers. It was United's tenth Premier League crown.

Birmingham City beat Blackburn Rovers 4-1 and Reading triumph 4-0 against but were both relegated in the last match of the campaign. Fulham survive after a 1-0 victory over Portsmouth to stay up on a goal difference of -22, compared to Reading's -25. Middlesbrough beat Manchester City 8-1 on the same final day which is the biggest success of the season.

Cristiano Ronaldo ends 2007/08 as the league's top scorer with 31 goals. The Barclays Premier League returns to the top of UEFA's official ranking list for the first time since 1985 after its clubs' performances in Europe. England are handed an extra spot in next season's UEFA Cup after coming first in Europe's fair play rankings.

Chelsea clinch the signing of Portugal right-back Jose Bosingwa from Porto for £16.2m. Portsmouth lift the FA Cup with a 1-0 triumph over Championship club Cardiff City. Manchester United calim the Champions League 6-5 on penalties after the final against Chelsea in Moscow ended up 1-1 following extra-time.

Avram Grant is sacked as manager of Chelsea after the Blues narrowly miss out on the Barclays Premier League and Champions League to Manchester United.


Sven-Goran Eriksson leaves his post as Manchester City manager after just one season at the helm. Mark Hughes, who quit his job at Blackburn Rovers, replaces the former England manager at Eastlands. As part of the managerial merry-go-round Paul Ince is appointed as the new Rovers manager.

Seventeen-year-old midfielder Aaron Ramsey agrees to join Arsenal for around £5m from Cardiff City. Giovani dos Santos moves from Barcelona to Tottenham for an initial fee of £4.7m. Portugal head coach Luiz Felipe Scolari returns to club management as new manager of Chelsea determined to wrestle to Premier League title off Manchester United.

Paul Ince becomes the first black Briton to manage a top-flight side in England he is installed at Blackburn.

Bolton snap up Sweden striker Johan Elmander from Toulouse for around £10m. Chelsea strengthen their squad with the capture of Portugal international Deco for £8m from Barcelona.


In a busy month for transfers, Liverpool make a £20m swoop for Robbie Keane from Tottenham Hotspur, City make another big money purchase with the acquisition of Brazil ace Jo from CSKA Moscow for £18m. David Bentley arrives at Tottenham from Blackburn (£15m), Samir Nasi joins Arsene Wenger's Arsenal from French outfit Marseille (£11.8m) and Peter Crouch makes a switch from Liverpool to Portsmouth for £9m. Newly-promoted Hull City capture Brazilian midfielder Geovanni from Manchester City free transfer.


The new campaign kicks off with the first goal scored by Arsenal's Samir Nasri against newly-promoted West Bromwich Albion in the fourth minute of the lunchtime match. Fellow Premier League newboys Hull City are 2-1 victors at home to Fulham, but Stoke City lose 3-1 away to Bolton Wanderers.

The month ends with Chelsea and Liverpool leading the way at the top of the fledgeling table with two wins and a draw from their opening three fixtures, Arsenal grab two wins and a defeat that includes a shock reverse against Fulham, while United are just behind the pack after playing one less match.

Tottenham bring in striker Roman Pavlyuchenko from Spartak Moscow (£13.8m), Fabricio Coloccini signs for Newcastle from Deportivo (£10.3m), Shaun Wright-Phillips re-joins former club Man City for £9m, while Aston Villa complete the £7.8m signing of defender Carlos Cuellar from Rangers and James Milner from Newcastle for around £10m.


Chelsea keep up their unbeaten start to the season to end the month at the Barclays Premier League summit - which includes a 1-1 draw with Manchester United at Stamford Bridge. Liverpool are also unbeaten and inflict a 2-1 defeat at home to the Red Devils to put an early dent in United's aspirations.

Hull City shock Arsenal with a 2-1 win and Manchester City secured the biggest margin of victory so far this campaign with a 6-0 rout of Portsmouth at Eastlands.

As the transfer window closes, City secure the signing of Brazilian superstar Robinho for a British transfer record of £32.5m from Real Madrid. Manchester United seal their £30.75m signing of Dimitar Berbatov from Tottenham. Alan Curbishley becomes the first managerial casualty of the season after leaving West Ham. Gianfranco Zola, who was coaching with Italy's U21 side, takes his place in the hotseat.

Newcastle manager Kevin Keegan steps down and former Wimbledon manager Joe Kinnear comes in initially for an interim period while the Magpies search for a new man. Elsewhere, Tottenham Hotspur sack Juande Ramos after their worst start to a Premier League season.


A perfect month in the league for Liverpool, which includes victory over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, pushes the Reds into the league's pole position. Second-placed Chelsea record a 5-0 thrashing against Middlesbrough, with United and Arsenal slipping behind the leaders after a mixed month of results.

Tottenham winger Aaron Lennon notches an injury-time goal to earn his side a 4-4 draw at Arsenal in the North London derby. Spurs' star David Bentley scored a contender for goal of the season with an amazing 40-yard volley.

Hull continue their remarkable start to the campaign with three wins out of four to stay amongst the league's pace-setters.

Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp steps into the breach at White Hart Lane, while Tony Adams is named as the new Pompey manager after stepping up from his role as first team coach.


Chelsea remain top of the tree on the final weekend of the month ahead of Liverpool on goal difference despite suffering a 2-1 defeat to Arsenal. The Gunners taste victory against title rivals Man Utd which went some way to making up for a surprise defeat to Stoke City.

United manage to thrash Stoke 5-0 and come out on top in the Manchester derby against City to stay within striking distance of the leading two.


Roy Keane stands down as manager of Sunderland after two years in the role at the Stadium of Light. Chelsea's 2-0 win at Bolton makes it their 11th consecutive away victory in the top flight which is a new record. He is replaced by assistant Ricky Sbragia.

Paul Ince parts company with Blackburn Rovers after just six months in charge with Sam Allardyce replacing him at Ewood Park. Manchester United beat LDU Quito 1-0 to win the Club World Cup Final.

Portsmouth's Lassana Diarra agrees to join Real Madrid when the transfer window opens in January.

Liverpool's 5-1 win at Newcastle United means they finish 2008 on top of the Barclays Premier League, three points clear of Chelsea and seven ahead of Manchester United who have two matches in hand. Aston Villa are level on points with United, three in front of Arsenal in fifth.

West Bromwich Albion and Blackburn Rovers are tied on 18 points at the foot of the table but just five points separate them from Bolton Wanderers in 11th place.

It is so tight at both ends of the Barclays Premier League that it seems certain there will be a hugely exciting end to the season in 2009. Happy New Year to you all.

Senna plays down City Reports

Villarreal star Marcos Senna has rubbished reports which claimed he is eager to join Manchester City in the January transfer window.

The Spain midfielder is thought to be one of the names on City boss Mark Hughes' New Year shopping list as the Premier League side plot big-money signings with the backing of their new owners Abu Dhabi United Group.

Senna, who impressed as his country secured glory at Euro 2008, was recently quoted as saying he is 'interested in the challenge' of the English top flight.

However, the 32-year-old insists he is only focused on life at El Madrigal and knows nothing of any interest from City.

"I know nothing about everything that is being said and I have not spoken to anyone at Manchester City," Senna said in Marca.

"I have read the same things as everyone else and I do not know where it has come from. I only want to think about Villarreal and helping the team to do well.

"I have read about huge sums of money, but the only thing I want to focus on is playing for my team.

"It has all surprised me. I have never said anything to anyone about this and I am calm."

No Real Agreement for Ronaldo

Manchester United midfielder Cristiano Ronaldo insists continued speculation linking him with a move to Real Madrid is not true, after further reports that he has already signed for the Spanish champions.

Ronaldo dazzled for United last season, scoring 42 goals in all competitions as the Red Devils won the Premier League and the UEFA Champions League and Real director Pedro Trapote was quoted in December claiming that his club have a deal in place to sign the Ballon D'Or winner at the end of this season.

Ronaldo, though, has reiterated that the claim is false, telling United's official website: "There's always speculation, not just about me, but about the future of players all around the world.

"People were speaking about me this summer but that was normal because of what I did during the season.

"What people are saying now (the recent speculation about an agreement with Real Madrid) is not true.

"Who says that is a liar because I am happy at the club, I want to stay here. I feel at home here. I feel very happy here."

Meanwhile, Ronaldo admits he felt under pressure to impress after a summer of rumours, but was not worried that fans would turn against him.

"I think the people don't forget quickly what you do for the club," he added. "When I arrived at the stadium, to play (my first game of this season) against Villarreal, I felt a little bit of pressure.

"But the fans were very good and this is why I feel the Manchester United supporters are amazing.

"I love the fans because they have been brilliant with me, not just this season but every season. Like I said before, I feel at home in Manchester."

January Transfer Window Opened

The January transfer window has opened, which gives clubs their first opportunity to buy or sell players since the end of August.

Several deals have already been agreed, including Portsmouth midfielder Lassana Diarra's £20m move to Real Madrid, and can be rubber-stamped from 1 January.

This year's window has been extended until 1700 GMT on Monday 2 February because 31 January falls on a Saturday.

A record £150m was spent by Premier League clubs in January 2008.

But that figure could be eclipsed this season if, as expected, Manchester City boss Mark Hughes is given major funds to strengthen his squad by his club's billionaire Arab owners.

Any buys by City could kick-start activity from other Premier League sides but the Eastlands club are yet to delve into the market.

Blackburn striker Roque Santa Cruz is believed to be top of Hughes' wish-list but Rovers boss Sam Allardyce says he has not received any offers for the Paraguay star.

Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp has underlined his desire to sign new players, and has already had a bid of around £6m rejected for West Ham striker Craig Bellamy as well as confirming his interest in Pompey frontman Jermain Defoe and Middlesbrough winger Stewart Downing.

But teams such as Manchester United and Chelsea insist they will not be buying and others, like Portsmouth and the Hammers, may be forced to sell some of their stars to balance the books.

Wigan are keen to keep hold of England striker Emile Heskey, who is out of contract in the summer, while Newcastle striker Michael Owen and his Magpies team-mate goalkeeper Shay Given are also in demand.

Most Premier League managers have already had their say over how they see the next month going:

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger:
"Although we are not close to signing anyone at the moment, if we do buy I think what we need is maybe someone with a bit of experience. I need a creative midfielder and eventually another midfielder, because we are short.

"We already have many young players so, if we buy, it will be somebody who is ready to play straight away. A loan deal could also be a possibility.

"What we might need is someone who can create a little spark."

Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill: 
"We are definitely looking at trying to do something if it is at all possible.

"I do no know whether the credit crunch has affected the market but this is a chance for all clubs to add to their squads."

Blackburn manager Sam Allardyce:
"There have been no bids whatsoever for Roque Santa Cruz.

"At the moment I am more focused on getting him fit because I haven't seen him play since I've been here. I'm looking to getting him fit and producing the form he produced last year to get us out of trouble.

I'm also more focused on getting players in rather than players out. Certainly my focus over the last two days has been speaking to the chairman about that.

"We're both going to go out and try and improve our squad as quickly as possible."

Chelsea manager Luiz Filipe Scolari on his side's transfer policy:
"I knew that it's a different time for Chelsea but, if we suffer more injuries, the board understand that I'll need one or two players to replace some [injured] players.

"They understand this. If, on the other hand, the players are in good condition and there are no more injuries, I think it's maximum one player they'll replace because we need one more. Only one. A striker.

Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon says transfer activity will be kept to a minimum: 
"I don't think we will be doing any business in the January transfer window because the type of players we are looking for are not available.

"Another reason is that we have still got some long-term injuries coming back and in January or February, Chelsea will have more player availability."

Everton manager David Moyes:
"We are actively looking at what will make a difference, but I don't think I will be able to do much in January. I am more likely to be looking at loans.

"Anything the club have got they will give me. But that doesn't mean to say I am not out there looking for loans or Bosman signings or anything else that can help us.

"I don't think we will be selling because we don't have the numbers. We are short at this present time and that limits what I can do off the bench."

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez admits signings are unlikely:
"It will be difficult to bring anyone in January because we have a good squad.

"To bring in anyone better than what we've got isn't easy and could be expensive."

Manchester City manager Mark Hughes: 
"We're aware of this assumption about the level of finance that we'll throw at the project in January, but we still have realistic market values.

"There is also an assumption that we will stimulate the market, that the money sloshing around will be from the deals that we have started, but we have to make sure we protect the club as well.

"We're hoping to go into the market and acquire players that we think will help us, but it is still dependent on whether clubs are willing to deal with us or not.

"The deals that we do will have to be good ones, but we are quite happy at the moment. We know that there will be a premium that we will probably have to pay because it's January, and teams don't want to lose their better players.

"But it will not be to the extent where we are paying hugely over the market value."

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson:
"I do not think there will be any January transfers, I am happy with what I have got.

"We are probably going to bring back a couple of young players who have been on loan. That may just give us extra protection.

"We took 23 players to Japan (for the Club World Cup) and they are substantial players. I would be happy to play any one of them."

Newcastle boss Joe Kinnear insists goalkeeper Shay Given is not for sale: 
"Shay won't be leaving - he has no interest in that whatsoever. He loves the football club - he's part of the city and that suits us because he's a world-class goalkeeper.

Portsmouth manager Tony Adams: 
"The board are going to do exactly what they did for [former boss] Harry Redknapp to me, and I had money anyway [before Real's move for Diarra]. I have had new signings in mind since I have been in the job."

Stoke chairman Peter Coates: 
"We've got a few things on the go. I think Tony Pulis would like about three players, but I don't want to give too much away.

"I do know we'll have a stronger squad at the end of January than what we have now."

Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp on his January targets: 
"If could find a wide-left player I would like to get one. That and a frontman would be the priority."

"I think Portsmouth have had a massive offer from somebody for Jermain Defoe, so good luck to them - I paid about £9m when I signed him. He is a good player but we're not going to pay over the top for anyone.

"It's not finished but if they don't want to sell him [Defoe] it's up to them. I am not going to upset the applecart.

"If they say 'we'll have that', then we can do something. If they say 'we don't want to sell him' then it is end of story.

"I like Stewart Downing but I don't know whether Middlesbrough want to sell him."

West Ham chief executive Scott Duxbury: 
"We must not be afraid of interest in or bids for our leading players.

"Each approach will be considered in terms of fee, fitness, form and where the manager thinks the player is in his career.

"We have to consider the will of the player and whether he is committed to what we are trying to achieve.

"A bid may be evaluated by the manager as allowing him to significantly improve his team.

Toure To Leave Arsenal?

Arsenal defender Kolo Toure's will demand a move in the January transfer window after a furious bust-up with team-mate William Gallas, according to reports in the English media.

The Ivory Coast international has reportedly handed in a transfer request after falling out of favour at the club in recent games.

The defender got into a row with former captain Gallas following the 2-2 draw at Aston Villa on Boxing Day and has now told the Emirates club that he wants to quit in January, news which will alert Manchester City who are keen on bringing the £10million-rated defender to Eastlands.

A source told the Daily Star: "Kolo doesn't want to stay - he cannot stand Gallas and Gallas cannot stand him.

"Gallas is showing him complete disrespect and Kolo believes he's been mouthing off to Wenger about them not being able to play together and Wenger is listening to him."

Toure was dropped for the unconvincing 1-0 win over Portsmouth on Sunday after playing alongside Gallas in the heartbreaking draw at Villa Park.

Despite the 27-year-old's desire to quit north London, Wenger could still reject his transfer request - but could be forced to part with the versatile defender to boost funds.

Wenger hopes to bolster his midfield ranks, with Everton playmaker Mikel Arteta and Switzerland international Gokhan Inler on the Frenchman's radar.

And with Toure contracted to the club until August 2010, Wenger could be tempted into parting with the defender to release his £3.5m-per-year salary.