Tag Archives: dispute

PSG could move for Cristiano Ronaldo if we wanted, says Leonardo

We can if we want! PSG fire clear signal in Ronaldo pursuit but rule out moves for Evra and Cole

By
Lee Bryan

PUBLISHED:

11:28 GMT, 9 January 2013

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UPDATED:

11:28 GMT, 9 January 2013

Paris St Germain chief Leonardo has given the clearest indication yet the club will move for Cristiano Ronaldo in the coming months.

The former Brazil international is in charge of player recruitment at the Ligue 1 leaders, who are bankrolled by the Qatari royal family.

Real deal: Cristiano Ronaldo's future in Madrid is far from certain after a contract dispute

Real deal: Cristiano Ronaldo's future in Madrid is far from certain after a contract dispute

Real deal: Cristiano Ronaldo's future in Madrid is far from certain after a contract dispute

Big bucks: Leonardo, posing with Lucas Moura, is in charge of player recruitment at PSG

Big bucks: Leonardo, posing with Lucas Moura, is in charge of player recruitment at PSG

Ronaldo sparked pandemonium around the
Europe last year when he openly criticised Real Madrid's dealings with
him as he sought to extend his current deal, which has less two years to
run.

Few clubs in world football are capable of stumping up the cash for the world's most expensive player, who has been at the Spanish club since his 80million move from Manchester United in 2009.

And speaking to L'Equipe, Leonardo suggested that, as part of the select group, PSG would be keen on striking a deal.

He said: 'Cristiano Ronaldo Paris St Germain have become a club where anything is possible. However, he still has an ongoing contract with Real Madrid and we have to realise that he will not leave Madrid for just any club.

'When we are discussing a possible transfer for a player like Cristiano Ronaldo, there are only four or five clubs that can be taken into consideration. PSG are one of those.'

PSG are on the verge of signing a sponsorship deal with the Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) that will earn the club more than 200m a year until 2016, a move which will help them fall in line with UEFA's Financial Fair Play rules.

Addressing other transfer targets, namely Premier League defenders Ashley Cole and Patrice Evra as well as Lionel Messi, Leonardo was more definitive.

'Cole or Evra No. With Christophe Jalley, Maxwell, Gregory van der Wiel and Sylvain Armand, I think we have what it takes. In the future we will talk abvout it, but not now.'

No thanks: PSG won't be moving for Premier League pair Patrice Evra and Ashley Cole

No thanks: PSG won't be moving for Premier League pair Patrice Evra and Ashley Cole

No thanks: PSG won't be moving for Premier League pair Patrice Evra and Ashley Cole

Wesley Sneijder plays down Liverpool move

Sneijder plays down 9.5m move to Liverpool as Inter Milan midfielder eyes January exit

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UPDATED:

14:31 GMT, 31 December 2012

Unsettled Inter Milan midfielder Wesley Sneijder has moved to dampen speculation linking him with a January move to Liverpool.

Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport reported on Sunday that the Reds had made a 9.5million offer for the Dutchman.

Sneijder has been left feeling isolated at the San Siro after snubbing a suggested annual pay cut of 1.6million and then being dropped from the first-team.

On the move: Inter Milan's Dutch midfielder Wesley Sneijder is heading for the exit in the January transfer window

On the move: Inter Milan's Dutch midfielder Wesley Sneijder is heading for the exit in the January transfer window

But he denied there was any foundation in the story linking him to an Anfield switch when asked about it on Monday, telling a press conference: ‘Again, no truth’.

The 28-year old – who has also attracted interest from Manchester United and Tottenham – reacted furiously to Inter’s proposed salary cut and demanded a move, putting the pressure on the Serie A outfit to sell him for close to the same 15million euro fee they paid Real Madrid in 2009.

Red alert: How Sneijder would look in Liverpool coloursRed alert: How Sneijder would look in Liverpool colours

Red alert: How Sneijder would look in Liverpool colours

‘Clearly it’s best for everyone concerned that in January I am transferred,’ he said defiantly. ‘If that doesn’t happen then I will stay. I have a contract with Inter until 2015.’

Manager Andrea Stramaccioni has since dropped Sneijder from the squad over the bitter dispute.

His wage bill is currently 200,000 per week and Inter will be relieved to offload the financial burden. Liverpool’s coffers, however, are unlikely to be able to stretch to such levels.

Talk of a move to Spurs for the Holland international cooled when his agent told Dutch paper Algemeen Dagblad:

‘There is nothing, absolutely nothing true about that.’

United are also thought to be weighing up a January bid for the former Ajax man.

Theo Walcott to sign new Arsenal deal as Jack Wilshere, Kieran Gibbs, Aaron Ramsey and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain follow

It's good to talk: Walcott makes peace as Arsenal agree deals with Wilshere, Gibbs, Ramsey, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jenkinson

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UPDATED:

23:06 GMT, 18 December 2012

Theo Walcott has held peace talks with Arsene Wenger as Arsenal close in on securing the futures of their British core.

It is the first time since August 28, when the England forward turned down a five-year contract worth 75,000 a week, that formal discussions between player and club have taken place.

And in further good news Sportsmail understands Arsenal are set to agree deals with five of their other young British stars by Friday.

Crisp finisher: Theo Walcott hit the fifth as Arsenal demolished Reading, and the 23-year-old looks set to end uncertainty about his future by extending his Arsenal deal

Crisp finisher: Theo Walcott hit the fifth as Arsenal demolished Reading, and the 23-year-old looks set to end uncertainty about his future by extending his Arsenal deal

Made up: Arsene Wenger and Walcott

Sources close to Walcott insist the 23-year-old wants to stay at Arsenal. However, he is said to have made it clear he is still currently unwilling to pen fresh terms.

As well as wanting a deal closer to 100,000 a week, Walcott also wants assurances over his role at the club.

The former Southampton man felt he was being treated unfairly by Wenger during the early weeks of the season and spent the majority of Arsenal’s opening games sat on the bench. This decision is understood to have been motivated by the contract dispute rather than footballing reasons.

In addition, Walcott also wants assurances that he will be given more opportunities to play as a central striker — where he played against Reading on Monday and scored in the 5-2 win.

The main man: Walcott wants to be utilised as a No 9

The main man: Walcott wants to be utilised as a No 9

And while it seems there will be no quick resolution to the contract saga, the latest discussions are viewed as a significant step towards persuading Walcott to stay.

It is believed that a compromise solution of an 85,000-a-week contract may be enough to persuade him to sign.

Walcott may be some way from signing but Arsenal are convinced they have agreed new deals with Jack Wilshere, Kieran Gibbs, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Aaron Ramsey and Carl Jenkinson and it is thought they will sign by the end of the week.

Sportsmail exclusively revealed on November 28 that England midfielder Wilshere was set to sign fresh terms — and he will put pen to paper on a new five-year contract worth 80,000 a week.

Staying power: Jack Wilshere will sign a new deal at the Emirates

Staying power: Jack Wilshere will sign a new deal at the Emirates

Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey, Gibbs and Jenkinson have agreed five-year deals worth between 40,000 and 60,000 a week.

Arsenal’s push to keep their best British talent indicates a deliberate shift in Wenger’s thinking.

After basing his sides around foreign players for years, the manager seems to have had a change of heart after the likes of Robin van Persie, Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri and Gael Clichy all left the Emirates Stadium.

Speaking after the thumping win at Reading, Wenger said: ‘We have a core of good young English players and I hope we will be able to build a team around them and that they can achieve something together.’

Bright young things Oxlade-Chamberlain

Bright young things: Kieran Gibbs

Bright young things: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (left) and Kieran Gibbs have also signed new deals

Arsene Wenger frustrated with Theo Walcott over Arsenal negotiations

Make your mind up! Wenger blasts Walcott as Arsenal boss admits frustrations with contract rebel

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UPDATED:

13:21 GMT, 7 December 2012

Arsene Wenger has hit out at contract rebel Theo Walcott over the forward's failure to agree terms with the club.

The England international is in the final six months of current deal at Emirates Stadium, and will be able to speak with potential new suitors from January.

Arsenal believe they have offered Walcott – who is refusing to sign a new five-year deal worth 75,000-per-week as he looks for a salary closer to 100,000 – an enticing package to keep him in north London, but the 23-year-old continues to stand firm over his demands.

Eyes on the future: Arsene Wenger is frustrated by the on-going negotiations with his star man

Eyes on the future: Arsene Wenger is frustrated by the on-going negotiations with his star man

Not all bad: Jack Wilshere continues to improve his fitness as form after such a long time out

Not all bad: Jack Wilshere continues to improve his fitness as form after such a long time out

The manager has remained steadfast in his belief the player he signed as a 16-year-old will stay, but his mask slipped at Friday's press conference when he admitted his frustrations at the on-going wrangle.

The Frenchman said: 'I have no news. I am frustrated. He knows what I want and he has to make up his mind.'

Walcott, who misses the weekend match with West Brom through injury, has been one Arsenal's most effective offensive players this season despite spending large chunks of the campaign on the bench.

Meanwhile, Wenger remains another of those involved in a contract dispute, Bacary Sagna, will commit his future to the club.

Sportsmail revealed yesterday the France international is unhappy with the club's offer of a 12 month extension without a pay increase from his existing 60,000-per-week salary.

Sagna will not sign the current deal and the Gunners will look to offload the defender in the summer as he enters the final year of his contract.

But despite the stand-off, Wenger remains confident the issue can be resolved, he said: 'He has 18 months left of his contract to go, and we are in negotiations with him to extend the contract which I think is very positive. I expect him to stay.'

Arsenal are in the midst of their worst start to a season in 18 years and go into the clash with the Baggies having won just two of their last eight Premier League games.

Should I stay or go now: Theo Walcott is at loggerheads with Arsenal over his new deal

Should I stay or go now: Theo Walcott is at loggerheads with Arsenal over his new deal

Missing man: Walcott has been missed and Arsenal look one-paced without him

Missing man: Walcott has been missed and Arsenal look one-paced without him

Wenger believes the run of form has
not been down to any lack of desire on the players' part, and has backed
them to reverse the worrying trend.

He added: 'We have 24 games left, we are in all the competitions, it's up to us to make the season right.

'I am mad about the fact we did not win our last game but I do not question the desire of this team.

Confident: Wenger believes Bacary Sagna will commit his future to the club

Confident: Wenger believes Bacary Sagna will commit his future to the club

Tighten it up: Thomas Vermaelen and Per Mertesacker will continue to play in the heart of defence

Tighten it up: Thomas Vermaelen and Per Mertesacker will continue to play in the heart of defence

'I am here to make the fans happy, if I don't do it I am not happy. I ask them to support the team and get through this.

'We know December is a very important period for us. That's why our focus is on the games, not the transfer market.

'Every transfer period is an important period and we will add what we need.

Arsenal are dedicating tomorrow's clash
against West Bromwich to the Arsenal Foundation – the club's charity
aimed at transforming young people's lives. Arsene Wenger and members of
the first-team squad will donate a day's wages to the charity.

Nemanja Vidic set for Manchester United return as Nani faces five weeks out

Vidic set for injury comeback against Cluj as Nani faces five weeks on sidelines

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UPDATED:

10:23 GMT, 30 November 2012

Sir Alex Ferguson has confirmed that Manchester United captain Nemanja Vidic is on course for an early return from injury – but revealed that Nani could be out for up to five weeks.

The Portugal winger has not played since the Champions League tie in Braga at the start of the month and could now be missing until the New Year.

It is a further setback for Nani whose future at Old Trafford has been thrown into doubt by an ongoing contract dispute with the club.

Out: Nani faces five weeks on the sidelines

Out: Nani faces five weeks on the sidelines

Antonio Valencia is also racing to be
fit for next weekend's Manchester derby as he recovers from a hip
injury, but there was better news for United with Vidic back in training
following knee surgery.

'It's amazing that we've been beset
with defensive injuries for quite a long period and now we've got our
defenders back we've got two wide players injured,' said Ferguson, who
has seen Chris Smalling and Phil Jones return to action in recent weeks.

'Nani could be out for a long spell,
maybe four or five weeks. With hamstrings you just need time with it.
'Antonio should be fit for next week with painful hip injury that's
getting better now.'

Comeback: Vidic (centre) has returned to training after undergoing knee surgery in September

Comeback: Vidic (centre) has returned to training after undergoing knee surgery in September

Vidic could even feature in Wednesday's final Champions League group game against CFR Cluj at Old Trafford.

'He started training during the
week,' added Ferguson. He's not been involved in the real competitive
part but at least he's back training with the first team which is good
news.

'It would be nice to play him in the
European game. I wouldn't be afraid of playing him. He's done all his
work, he's just short of match practice. I wouldn't be averse to playing
him.'

Ferguson confirmed that Ryan Giggs
(hamstring) and Nick Powell (virus) are fit for tomorrow's trip to
Reading, while Paul Scholes is available again after suspension.

'It's quite late for Scholesy to get a suspension in November,' said the United boss. 'It's usually around October!'

Newcastle owner Mike Ashley plans to rename Ibrox: CHARLES SALE

Sports Direct Arena Mk II! Ashley in bid to rename Rangers' iconic Ibrox stadium

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UPDATED:

22:46 GMT, 28 November 2012

Newcastle owner Mike Ashley is understood to be in negotiations with Rangers for naming rights to the Glasgow club’s iconic Ibrox Stadium.

The proposed deal would lead to one of football’s most famous stadiums, which opened in 1899, being renamed the Sports Direct Arena to promote Ashley’s sports retail empire.

Rangers have been exploring image rights deals since the Charles Green-led consortium took over the troubled club last June, shortly before they were demoted to the Third Division.

What's in a name: Mike Ashley is in talks over the naming rights of Ibrox

What's in a name: Mike Ashley is in talks over the naming rights of Ibrox

What's in a name: Mike Ashley is in talks over the naming rights of Ibrox

However, any move to rename the stadium is certain to anger many Rangers fans, even given the club’s financial plight.

Indeed, many would never acknowledge Ibrox being called anything else.

Ashley caused fury on Tyneside a year ago by renaming Newcastle’s own historic St James’ Park as the Sports Direct Arena, to showcase the branding opportunities to potential naming rights partners.

But Newcastle reverted back to St James’ Park last month in a bid to appease growing supporter concern about another re-naming —to the Wonga Arena — after a new 32million shirt sponsorship deal was signed with the controversial short-term loan company who charge huge interest.

Now, despite that setback, the opportunity to have his company name on an even more world-renowned football venue greatly appeals to Ashley, who is expanding his Sports Direct business in Scotland.

Something to tell us

Former Brazil captain Zico announced
his resignation as coach of Iraq following a contract dispute, just
after he shared a conference panel with England manager Roy Hodgson at
the Soccerex conference in Rio, which discussed international football.

Exit: Zico has quit as manager of Iraq following a contract dispute

Exit: Zico has quit as manager of Iraq following a contract dispute

Trash room talking

The peace talks between Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck and the 16 elite referees following the false Mark Clattenburg racism allegations took place in a meeting room in the budget Hampton by Hilton hotel wing of St George’s Park.

However, the officials each have luxury rooms in the alternative upmarket Hilton accommodation at SGP during their regular training camps. These have moved from Warwick University, where the referees had to double up in basic student rooms.

Rad deal

Ronnie Radford’s iconic 1972 winning goal for Hereford against Newcastle is such an FA Cup staple that Conference sponsors Blue Square Bet are pledging to give the non-League club 500 for every fan who finds the top corner of the net in a recreation of the Radford strike taking place at Edgar Street tomorrow.

Stadium solution close

The future of the Olympic Stadium will become clearer on Wednesday when West Ham are expected to be finally named as preferred bidders following a legacy process branded a ‘farce’ by UK Athletics chairman Ed Warner.

There is optimism a solution can at last be reached in the financial wrangling over who pays what for transforming a 500million track-and-field arena into a multi-sports stadium that could cost a further 200m.

Up for grabs: West Ham set to be named preferred Olympic Stadium bidders

Up for grabs: West Ham set to be named preferred Olympic Stadium bidders

Negotiations now surround only the final 20m to 30m of the spend with the Government hopeful the London Legacy Development Corporation, plus West Ham and Newham Council, will contribute more — along with Whitehall — to make the numbers stack up.

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Woman's touch

Heather Rabbatts, the first woman and mixed-race member of the FA board, has emerged as a contender to succeed David Bernstein as FA chairman next May.

And Rabbatts’ chances are improved by the other FA independent director Roger Devlin ruling himself out by being on the nominations panel.

Football League chairman Greg Clarke is another being linked with the FA job as well as the Premier League chairmanship, although London 2012 vice-chairman Sir Keith Mills could have his pick of both positions.

Miami mover

Ricardo Teixeira, the disgraced former FIFA executive committee member for Brazil exposed for taking bribes from the body’s now defunct former marketing partners ISL, has retired to Miami.

FIFA insiders do not expect him to return to Brazil because he would face questioning on a variety of corruption issues involving millions of pounds. Teixeira’s successor on the FIFA ExCo, Marco Polo del Nero, has had his home raided by Brazilian Police investigating alleged links with a criminal organisation.

Manchester United set to bid for Wilfried Zaha in January

United set to blow rivals out of the water with mega bid for Palace star Zaha

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UPDATED:

10:33 GMT, 18 November 2012

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is ready to launch a bid to sign Crystal Palace sensation Wilfried Zaha with an offer that will blow away any other interested clubs.

Ferguson decided to enter the race to England’s newest star when he received the recommendation from his son Darren, after Zaha ripped his Peterborough side apart a few weeks ago.

And now United are set to offer ‘what it takes’ to see off Tottenham and Arsenal in the January window which includes handing the 20-year-old better terms to come to Old Trafford.

Star performer: Wilfried Zaha helped Crystal Palace stay top of The Championship with a 3-0 win over Derby

Star performer: Wilfried Zaha helped Crystal Palace stay top of The Championship with a 3-0 win over Derby

England calling: Zaha made his international debut against Sweden

England calling: Zaha made his international debut against Sweden

According to The Sunday People, Ferguson has kept an eye on Zaha since he dazzled against them in Palace’s shock League Cup triumph last season.

A United source told The People: ‘Sir Alex now thinks Zaha has the skill and bottle to play for United – and he wants him badly.’

Palace are hoping to get 20million for
Zaha but will realistically settle for half of that – a figure United
will gladly pay, having paid similar sums for emerging talents Phil
Jones from Blackburn and Chris Smalling from Fulham.

Keeping tabs: Sir Alex Ferguson is believed to be a fan of Zaha

Keeping tabs: Sir Alex Ferguson is believed to be a fan of Zaha

Ferguson sees Zaha as a Cristiano Ronaldo-style attacker, capable of playing down either wing and scoring goals through pace and trickery.

Zaha is seen as the ideal replacement for Nani who is in a contract dispute and may be on his way out, creating a gap in the United squad. Spurs and Arsenal are also keen but will struggle against United.

The Ivory Coast-born kid has lived in London since he was four, but he would head north if the clubs can sort out a fee.

While Palace would like to keep him for their promotion push, the auction could reach a level where they cannot refuse.

Palace boss Ian Holloway, meanwhile, fears the youngster's progress could suffer as result of his elevation to the England senior squad.

'It’s a difficult time for him as everything has happened at once.

'This could damage a young man who is as pure a footballer as he is.

'He has to learn to handle it, put the emotion away and do his job.'

India v England: Alastair Cook"s best hope is to bat first and dig in for victory

England's best hope is to bat first and dig in for victory but Indian spin onslaught looms

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UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 13 November 2012

It is not just history but also all cricketing logic that tells you England’s attempt to earn their first series win in India for almost 30 years will end badly.

Not only are England attempting to go where very few have gone successfully before but they are doing so at the end of a year in which all their hard-earned progress has threatened to collapse around their ears.

This is arguably the toughest assignment in world cricket, tougher than home and away Ashes successes and tougher still than running into a South African brick wall last summer that saw England’s world No 1 status crumble.

The eyes have it: England captain Alastair Cook is ready to lead his team in the first Test in Ahmedabad

The eyes have it: England captain Alastair Cook is ready to lead his team in the first Test in Ahmedabad

Who could have foreseen, when England were thrashing India 4-0 less than 18 months ago, the chain of events that sees them as firm underdogs with plenty to prove under a new captain in this much-anticipated return series

The talk after that glorious Indian summer was of world domination but it has been followed by the return of old failings against Pakistani and Sri Lankan spin, that defeat by South Africa and the departure of captain Andrew Strauss at the start of a bitter dispute that saw Kevin Pietersen cast into the wilderness.

Pietersen is back now and his ‘reintegration’ has appeared to have gone well in the early weeks of this tour, but the real test of whether the team spirit Andy Flower holds so dear has survived will come here in the first Test.

That is when we will see whether Pietersen really does hold England in greater affection than the Delhi Daredevils these days and whether his fellow batsmen really have learned their lessons in playing high-quality slow bowling in conditions that remain alien to them.

Bristling with intent: Tim Bresnan (left) lays on the suncream in the nets to mock Jonny Bairstow's moustache for Movember

Bristling with intent: Tim Bresnan (left) lays on the suncream in the nets to mock Jonny Bairstow's moustache for Movember

Bristling with intent: Tim Bresnan (left) lays on the suncream in the nets to mock Jonny Bairstow's moustache for Movember

It is the batting that has let England down since their giddy rise to the top of world cricket and it is how the batsmen cope now against the spin threat of Ravi Ashwin, Pragyan Ojha and possibly Harbhajan Singh that will go a long way towards deciding this series.

On the surface all looks well after the extensive practice provided by a Dubai training camp and three first-class warm-up matches. Five of England’s batsmen have scored centuries on tour already while Nick Compton, with three half-centuries full of nuggety application, has earned his chance to step into Strauss’s opening shoes alongside new leader Alastair Cook.

Yet all those runs have come against attacks lacking quality spin of any kind — even so, part-timer Yuvraj Singh was able to take five wickets against England in Mumbai — with India coach Duncan Fletcher’s fingertips all over a deliberate and canny policy to starve the visiting batsmen of the practice they need most.

It's catching: England wicketkeeper Matt Prior (left) dives during a fielding drill on Tuesday

It's catching: England wicketkeeper Matt Prior (left) dives during a fielding drill on Tuesday

There is little mystery about Ashwin
and Ojha — on paper they look weaker than the Pakistan pair of Saeed
Ajmal and Abdur Rehman, who caused so much consternation — but they have
proved far too potent for West Indies and New Zealand in India and
England’s spin demons are etched deep into their psyche.

It is a surprise to see that what little success England have had in India in modern times has invariably come when they have bowled first because surely their best chance in this four-Test series is to win the toss, bat and dig in for totals as near to 500 as possible.

Dangerman: India's new superstar Virat Kohli

Dangerman: India's new superstar Virat Kohli

A top three of Cook, Compton and
Jonathan Trott will earn few marks for artistic impression but they
could prove a mighty effective combination here where concentration and
discipline will be key. Only if these hardy competitors provide a
decent platform can Pietersen and Ian Bell, who just could take any
match away from India, be expected to dominate.

Samit Patel has been known more for his battle against the bulge than what he has done in the middle in his international career so far but this might be the series where he shows that there is more to him than meets the eye.

Patel is an accomplished player of spin and an under-rated spinner himself and he will take the No 6 position now confident that his time as a Test player has come. I just have a hunch that he will have a productive all-round series.

The bowling has stood up well in the face of England’s annus horribilis but their hopes now have not been helped by question marks over three members of the first-choice attack.

Stuart Broad looked fully fit in the nets on Tuesday but Steven Finn was not able to bowl and seems certain to miss out on the first Test with Tim Bresnan set to step in for him. Graeme Swann, meanwhile, will be short of overs even though he has now returned here after spending some time at home with his unwell baby daughter.

Getting loose: India batsman Yuvraj Singh receives a massage at The Sardar Patel Stadium

Getting loose: India batsman Yuvraj Singh receives a massage at The Sardar Patel Stadium

India were a shambles in England last year but are a totally different proposition at home and will be desperate to make up for the embarrassment inflicted upon them when they lost the status of top Test dogs themselves.

Yet they have their own issues to contemplate. Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman have gone while Sachin Tendulkar cannot go on for ever and both Virender Sehwag and Zaheer Khan have been showing signs of their age.

If Ashwin and Ojha hold the bowling key, then much could depend with the bat on India’s new superstar Virat Kohli, who has enjoyed the bulk of his success so far in limited-overs cricket and has only played in 10 Tests.

Cook has been surpassing expectations ever since he was plucked from an A tour in the Caribbean to score a hundred on debut in Nagpur six years ago and at least he knows that few will expect England to still be in the series when he returns to the scene of that initial triumph for the final Test next month.

If they are, then much of the misery of the last year, including the turmoil of the Pietersen saga, will have been forgotten and England will be back on track. But it will be a mighty difficult task. I expect India to win by two clear Tests.

Craig Levein in legal dispute with SFA

Sacked Scotland manager Levein in legal dispute with his former employers

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UPDATED:

23:54 GMT, 13 November 2012

The Scottish Football Association have confirmed they are involved in a legal wrangle with Craig Levein's representatives over his removal as Scotland manager.

Levein last week announced he was seeking legal advice after being 'relieved of his duties' by the SFA, who said they would continue to honour his contract, which has 20 months to run.

SFA chief executive Stewart Regan said: 'Craig is entitled to his opinion. We made it very clear that Craig's contract had not been terminated, that his terms and conditions would be honoured up to the end of the contract in June 2014.

Departed: Levein is seeking legal advice over his removal as Scotland boss

Departed: Levein is seeking legal advice over his removal as Scotland boss

'It's a legally binding contract and that was our position that we set out very clearly last Monday night.

'Craig has taken legal advice which he is entitled to do and the matter is now being dealt with between Craig's lawyers and the Scottish FA's lawyers.'

In a statement issued last Wednesday night, Levein said: 'I note the position as stated by the Scottish Football Association but do not concur and I am currently taking legal advice as to my options.'

Arsene Wenger can deal with sick chants

I can deal with the sick chants – I just block them out, insists Arsenal boss Wenger

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UPDATED:

00:01 GMT, 6 November 2012

Unfazed: Wenger

Unfazed: Wenger

Arsene Wenger insists he is strong enough to handle the sick taunts directed at him.

For years the Arsenal manager has been the subject of disgusting chants from opposition fans around the country. But on Monday night Wenger said: ‘I know who I am and I’m the only person who matters.’

The songs often make reference to Wenger as a ‘paedophile’. And the abuse hit a new low recently with West Ham and Manchester United fans inventing chants comparing Wenger to Jimmy Savile.

Wenger has often spoken about his disdain for the chants that follow him around the grounds, but the Frenchman on Monday insisted that these fans are wasting their breath.

‘Honestly, I do not even worry about that any more, I don’t even hear it,’ said Wenger. ‘When I see my face in the mirror, I can look at it.

‘You want respect but I can’t master people’s abuse.’

Insistent: Wenger says Walcott's situation is not linked to his contract dispute

Insistent: Wenger says Walcott's situation is not linked to his contract dispute

Meanwhile, Wenger insisted Theo Walcott’s lack of action was not linked with his contract dispute.

He added: ‘It’s nothing linked with his contract at all. It’s because I’ve played other players, it’s as simple as that.’