Warner personally paid millions by Qataris: Today's Daily Telegraph delivers a shocking exclusive on its front page, claiming that former senior FIFA official Jack Warner and his family were paid almost $2 million (£1.2m) from a Qatari firm linked to the country’s successful bid for the 2022 World Cup. The former vice-president of FIFA received the money shortly after the controversial decision to award Qatar the tournament. Payments totalling almost $750,000 (£450,000) were made to Mr Warner’s sons, show documents the paper has seen. A further $400,000 (£240,000) was paid to one of his employees. The FBI is reportedly investigating the claims.
Paper Round's view: Oh dear, this looks bad for Warner, FIFA, Qatar and football in general. The Telegraph would not have run this story if they were not 100 per cent sure of their findings and given the persistent allegations of corruption in the build-up to the decision - which led to the suspension of two officials - it's not difficult to imagine the legitimacy of these latest allegations. The report claims, with a degree of understatement: "The disclosures will add to concerns that some FIFA executive committee members were not impartial when they cast their votes in December 2010", but what will it mean for the 2020 World Cup? Will the possibility that the vote was rigged have any bearing on the host country for the tournament? Will the vote be re-cast? Is it too late? The whole process is increasingly being laid bare for what it really was: a total shambles. Sadly, though, there is little hope a fair process will be undertaken now.
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Gunners to get huge war chest: Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will be given a £100 million transfer budget in the summer, but it is now expected he will wait until the end of the season before signing a new deal at the Emirates. The Daily Telegraph reports that the club remain "extremely confident" the French tactician will pen new terms, but there is a growing acceptance that he will not interrupt his preparations for the final few months of the season to deal with contact negotiations. If and when he does put pen to paper, he will be able to afford a world-class striker in the £40 million price range this summer and still make one or two cheaper but substantial additions in other positions, the paper reports.
Paper Round's view: Either Wenger is indeed focusing on the remainder of the season, or perhaps he is waiting to see if his side can win the FA Cup, thereby ending a trophy drought of nine years - he has, after all, said before that results will determine whether he felt that it was right to sign a deal. It's most likely a bit of both, but nothing can hide the significance of the Cup for Arsenal now - they win it, Wenger stays and is able to spend pots of money, but if they fail, it might well be someone else splashing the cash.
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Giggs fumes over Moyes reports: A Manchester United spokesman has said Ryan Giggs is "absolutely fuming" about reports of a falling-out with manager David Moyes. Stories had emerged that United coach Giggs had vented his spleen at Moyes in the Old Trafford dressing room after Sunday's defeat to Liverpool, but the Daily Mail states that version of events was quickly denied and points out that Giggs was jogging on the pitch with other unused players when Moyes and his team began their dissection of the match.
Paper Round's view: "Even Giggs can’t argue down the length of a players’ tunnel and through a brick wall," the report claims, and even though Giggs has been capable of superhuman feats on the pitch from time to time, it's a valid point. It seems the stories currently circling about United and their players are roughly in the 'zero to 10 per cent true' bracket, but that's what crisis clubs have to deal with. It's not helpful for Moyes, his staff or the club, but there's nothing he can do about it for the time being. Actually, winning a few games might help, starting with Wednesday's Champions League clash with Olympiacos, but there's absolutely no guarantee of that at the moment.
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Liverpool in for Rodrigo: Liverpool are plotting a £25m summer swoop for Benfica striker Rodrigo, according to the Daily Mirror. Reds boss Brendan Rodgers has been monitoring Rodrigo closely this season and is ready to step up his interest in the summer to snare the Brazil-born Spain youth international. Liverpool may face competition from Zenit St Petersburg for Rodrigo, who is under contract until 2019, but the paper claims that the Anfield club have "good contacts" in Portugal and hope to beat the Russians to the 23-year-old's signature.
Paper Round's view: With Liverpool flying so high at the moment, it's difficult to see where Rodrigo would fit into the picture, other than as a back-up for Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge. But if a supporting role is not too onerous for the player, then he would certainly be a good addition to the Liverpool squad - as his 10 goals so far in this season's Portuguese League attest to.
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Spurs edging Konoplyanka race: Tottenham are set to beat Liverpool to the signing of Yehven Konoplyanka after Dnipro’s president claimed he is close to agreement with the Londoners. The Daily Mirror reports that Ihor Kolomoyskyi has poured scorn on the Reds’ transfer tactics and revealed he would rather sell to Spurs.
Paper Round's view: It seems that Kolomoyskyi is aggrieved about Liverpool's late bid to lure snare Konoplyanka on deadline day in January - "if I was interested in football players, I would have done it a week or two before" - and the Red's tardy tactics may well come back and bite them with the president saying "if Spurs want Konoplyanka, I’d happily sell". He does, however, sound like a bit of a loose cannon, with this nugget sure to wind up Merseysiders: "London life is better than Liverpool".
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