Ashley Cole heading to Manchester City or Monaco: The Daily Mirror's back page exclusive is an extraordinary tale of how Ashley Cole will be offered the chance to join Premier League champions-elect Manchester City. "Cole would fit the bill for City as he would not only not command a transfer fee but would also boost their quota of Englishmen as they look to fall into line with UEFA rules for next season," the Mirror reports. "They are facing a chronic shortage of English players, with doubts over the futures of Joleon Lescott, Gareth Barry, Micah Richards and Jack Rodwell."
The Daily Express has a very different story, and claims that the Chelsea left-back will resurface in one of the world's most glamorous cities when he quits the Blues this summer: "Monaco are ready to rescue Ashley Cole's career this summer after offering the England defender a £12 million two-year deal," the paper claims. "Monaco, who have qualified for the Champions League next season after finishing runners-up in Ligue 1, want the experienced 33-year-old to bolster their squad for next season's campaign." New York Red Bulls, Real Madrid and Liverpool are also still keen, but only New York would probably offer Cole regular football.
Paper Round says: Cole will be delighted to keep on scooping his £120,000-a-week wages - anything less would be taking the p***, right? - and even more delighted to get away from the British media. With nothing much left to prove, our guess is that Cole would prefer a cushy number down in the Riviera sunshine than a year or two in Manchester.
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Inter Milan's plot to steal Torres from Atletico: Fernando Torres could be on his way to the Italian giants, who have reportedly tried to secure a season-long loan deal for him with a view to a £10m permanent move next summer. The Sun reports that Torres had been expected to go to Atletico, but that Inter's bid could derail that plan. Jose Mourinho will let the £50m flop leave, but there is one problem: "They could struggle to meet the Spaniard’s wage demands. They are prepared to pay him only £3m a year plus bonuses — as opposed to the £5.5m Torres currently picks up at Chelsea."
Paper Round says: Torres's return to Atletico always smacked of sentiment rather than footballing good sense, even if Diego Simeone has proven himself a master at getting the best out of players previously written off as perennial underperformers. A move to Serie A sounds like a good plan for the striker, though. Either way, Chelsea will be delighted to get him off the books.
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Liverpool plan £20m lightning swoop for Southampton star Lallana: Adam Lallana's form this season has prompted all sorts of speculation about his future, and now The Sun reports that Brendan Rodgers will make a move. The Reds manager is, according to the paper, "a long-term admirer of the England ace, who turns 26 tomorrow. And the Kop boss is determined to keep him out of the clutches of his Premier League rivals by sorting a deal before the World Cup."
Paper Round's view: Lallana has been one of the revelations of the season, but every year we see players rise to prominence in one glorious campaign before returning to earth the season after in far less magnificent form. Given his age, Lallana has all the hallmarks of a good pro having a great year, rather than a great player reaching a new level. Is that worth £20m? Almost certainly not.
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Allardyce to be fired within a week: The Daily Telegraph reports that Sam Allardyce's tenure at West Ham is odds-on to come to an end, despite the veteran boss keeping the Hammers in the top flight once again. "Allardyce should discover his West Ham United fate inside a week with his prospects of avoiding the sack becoming increasingly slim," the paper reports, adding that, "co-owners David Sullivan and David Gold are split on what to do, with Sullivan favouring a change of manager and Gold undecided." Only vice-chairman Karren Brady is apparently in Big Sam's corner; though the voices of hundreds of disgruntled fans might speak louder even than Alan Sugar's pal.
The Sun also reports on Allardyce, repeating the claim that he could be on his way out, but adding that even if he stays he will no longer be in charge of transfer policy, following the disappointing showings from £10m Matt Jarvis, £16m Andy Carroll… and the fact that he turned down Wilfried Bony for £8m last summer. Bony went to Swansea instead, for £12m, and has 24 goals this term.
Paper Round's view: Allardyce's pragmatic approach to the game - keep it tight at the back, milk set pieces for all their worth, and if all else fails bomb it up to a big man at the front - is undoubtedly effective. But he's done all he can for them, and if that's not enough then it's probably best all round if he moves on. West Ham fans, rightly or wrongly, have always expected and believed that their players should play the beautiful game - and Sullivan and Gold will almost certainly roll the dice on a new boss taking charge of what is a talented but underperforming squad.
- Sports & Recreation
- Ashley Cole
- Manchester City
- Premier League
- Fernando Torres
- Adam Lallana