Monday’s Football Focus
Premier League champions Manchester United have been on the look-out for an attacking midfielder ever since Paul Scholes retired for the first time and now it seems they have their beady eye trained on the Nou Camp and two world class Barcelona playmakers – Cesc Fabregas and Alcantara Thiago.
Various newspaper reports insist that David Moyes is hell-bent on attracting Fabregas back to England, but the player himself says that he has no intention of leaving his dream club unless he is told he isn’t wanted. And anyway, the market suggests that if the former Arsenal star were to return, it would be back to the Emirates rather than to Old Traffoird.
Thiago, however, would appear to be a more realistic target. Nobody who has seen this silky-smooth operator in action for Spain Under-21s in Israel this past week can have failed to have been impressed with his quality and he has looked a class act when turning out for Barcelona.
Barca do have an embarrassment of riches in midfield, of course, with two of the best in the world, Xavi and Andres Iniesta, first choices when fit, so something might have to give and Man United seem to be in pole position to take full advantage.
Arsene Wenger, we can be sure, would be thrilled to have Fabregas back and he will one of the names on his shopping list after Arsenal’s recent pronouncement that there is now a big pot of money available.
Chief Executive Ivan Gazidis has spoken of a desire at the club to start moving forwards again rather than just settling for a top-four spot each season, but has also warned Gooners fans that Wenger won’t be rushing to spend for spending’s sake – as if they didn’t know.
Two who might well attract Wenger are Real Madrid striker Gonzalo Higuain and United’s unsettled winger Nani. There are strong vibes that Higuain will join Arsenal if he doesn’t go to Juventus and it is also rumoured that Nani could be on his way to north London if he decides not to leave England for Monaco or Galatasaray.
It looks increasingly likely that Luis Suarez will quit Anfield before the summer is out. Liverpool insist that he is not for sale, but the Uruguayan striker has again hit out at the British media and it seems he has made his mind up to go. He is coy about where he might be heading, but Real Madrid are the strong favourites.
The Wigan manager market has gone quiet while chairman Dave Whelan mulls over what one newspaper has reported to be 15 different options. Owen Coyle remains Coral’s favourite at 9/4 ahead of Rene Meulensteen (3/1) and Steve McClaren (7/2).