Moyes questions RVP form: The Daily Star's back page screams out an enticing headline today, claiming that Manchester United manager David Moyes is despairing over Robin van Persie's current malaise, both in terms of form and attitude. The paper "understands" that Moyes has told friends and colleagues in private that he is worried about the Dutch striker’s contribution to the squad and input around the camp. The paper adds that team-mates fear him to be unhappy at the club and rumours suggesting Van Persie wants to leave Old Trafford refuse to disappear. It is also "understood" that Moyes has serious doubts about whether the forward can still be part of his long term plans as he looks to rebuild his crumbling team. The Daily Mail has pretty much exactly the same story and adds little else.
Paper Round's view: Ever wondered why those rumours are refusing to disappear? Because reports like this will not allow it. Rumours are rumours. They are not based on fact but thrive off repetition. Don't repeat them and they die out. Simple. That, of course, is wishful thinking though, and Van Persie in a way only has himself to blame, given his ill-advised criticism of his team-mates after the Olympiacos debacle. Even if he hadn't meant it to be taken like that, he should have been smarter and realised how it would have been interpreted and how the papers would jump on it. Footballers these days need to be slightly more media savvy than that.
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Barca renew interest in Luiz: The impending exit of Carles Puyol has led to Barcelona renewing their interest in Chelsea's David Luiz, reports the Daily Telegraph. Puyol announced yesterday that he will leave the Catalan giants this suummer and a €30 million (£24.7 million) bid is now expected for the 26-year-old Luiz. Barca hope to conclude a deal before the World Cup and the report adds that while Luiz is not agitating for a move, it is understood that he would be keen to join the Spanish club. Barca had a formal bid for the Brazil international rejected last summer with Chelsea resolute in their view that Luiz is not for sale.
Paper Round's view: The report points to the fact that Chelsea have just recruited central defender Kurt Zouma and holding midfielder Nemanja Matic as a reason why Jose Mourinho may now consider selling Luiz, and that might be a fair point. Certainly Chelsea are already covered in Luiz's positions, but still, he is an asset that no manager would want to lose. And certainly not for a measly £25m - the Blues insisted last summer they would not sell him for less than £50m, and Barca would almost certainly have to bid more if they are to stand a chance of getting their man this time around.
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'Psycho' Bendtner's exit hopes hit: Nicklas Bendtner has claimed his reputation as a "psychopath" is harming his chances of leaving Arsenal, reports the Daily Mirror. The striker, who has a chance to put himself in the shop window when he plays for Denmark against England at Wembley tonight, is resigned to leaving Arsenal, but thinks that rumours surrounding his character are putting prospective clubs off. “People think I’m a psychopath,” he said. “The image people have about me is I’m all about partying, that I’m indifferent to football. It’s as far from reality as could possibly be."
Paper Round: Perhaps someone should tell Bendtner it might not solely be his reputation as a party animal that is putting other clubs off taking him on board - could it have something to do with his ability as a footballer? Whatever, he has the best chance possible to ram the criticism down his knockers' throats tonight and show the world how much he has matured and how good he actually is. The ball's in your court now, Nick.
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United to cave in to support demands: The Independent reports that Manchester United are considering bowing to fan pressure after nearly three-quarters of those surveyed by the club’s Supporters Trust declared they would consider not renewing their season tickets if they are charged Champions League prices for Europa League seats next season.
Paper Round's view: This was a PR disaster from United right from the off. The idea was disgustingly potty to begin with and to expect fans to suck it up was plain ludicrous. This survey has only confirmed that, leaving United to now ditch the plan entirely, unless they want a supporter mutiny on their hands - something they can ill afford at his time when they are asking those same fans for patience amid the team's disastrous season so far.
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Cole racially abused at youth fixture in Spain: Andy Cole's son was allegedly racially abused while playing for Manchester City against Atletico Madrid last week, the Daily Mirror reports on its back page. Devante Cole is now at the centre of a UEFA investigation after he was targeted by a player and fans while playing for City’s Elite Development Squad last Wednesday. The report claims that Cole was abused by an opponent and some Atletico supporters, prompting a UEFA official to appeal over the PA system at half-time for the treatment to stop. Cole continued to be targeted and was reportedly spat at as he left the pitch after the final whistle of the UEFA Youth League match.
Paper Round's view: This just beggars belief. It shouldn't matter if disgraceful incidents like this occur at first-team, reserve or youth team level, UEFA must hit Atleti hard, and where it hurts. We look forward to the findings of the UEFA Control and Disciplinary Body on March 20.
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