Tag Archives: earners

Kevin Kilbane column: time for Shay Given to get in the Villa team

12 goals in two games shows it's time for my old mate Shay to take back the gloves at Villa

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UPDATED:

21:05 GMT, 28 December 2012

Aston Villa conceded 12 goals in two games over Christmas.

It’s time for Paul Lambert to play Shay Given.

Shay Given should be Villa’s No 1, and he should come back to play for the Republic of Ireland and fight Keiren Westwood for the right to play for his country again.

It has been a difficult 2012 for my old Ireland team-mate who struggled with injuries, and by his own admission didn’t match his own high standards in the Euro 2012 finals, probably because he wasn’t fully fit.

Time for a change: Kevin Kilbane (left) thinks it's time for his old Republic of Ireland team-mate Shay Given (centre) to return to action for Aston Villa

Time for a change: Kevin Kilbane (left) thinks it's time for his old Republic of Ireland team-mate Shay Given (centre) to return to action for Aston Villa

He then gave up playing for Ireland, with the backing of new manager Paul Lambert, to concentrate on his Villa career, only to lose his place to Brad Guzan.

Shay is fully fit now, and still hungry to play.

Brad Guzan is not in his league as a keeper and it is time the Villa boss realised it and brought Shay’s brilliance, determination and experience back to his team.

He needs him.

Number two: Villa boss Paul Lambert (right) has preferred Brad Guzan this season, with Given only making two appearances in the Premier League, right at the start of the season

Number two: Villa boss Paul Lambert (right) has preferred Brad Guzan this season, with Given only making two appearances in the Premier League

Lambert did a good job at Norwich City and he deserved the chance to make a step up in his career and manage a bigger club with a history like Villa’s.

But it was always going to be difficult taking over a squad which has been constructed by three managers in a short space of time.

International return: Kilbane would also like to see Given make a return to the national side

Kilbane would also like to see Given make a return to the national side

He has turned to youth and Shay is not the only experienced player who is out of the team.

Darren Bent, Stephen Warnock and Alan Hutton are all out of favour and I can’t help thinking there must be an agenda.

They are all high earners and can presumably leave the club.

But the horrific 8-0 defeat at Chelsea, which could easily have been 11 or 12, exposed the lack of experience in the Villa team.

It is easy for younger players when things are going well and they are winning and playing with confidence.

Lambert, and his young players, need help from lads who have been there before and can take defeats and setbacks.

After a 4-0 defeat like the one suffered at home to Tottenham just days later, older players would normally go round and speak to the younger players on a personal level and try to help them cope.

Realistically no manager can talk to a player on a personal level in the dressing room straight after a game and he needs the old-heads to deal with any issues.

That’s hard when the team is so young. Who can they turn to That’s where a man like Shay Given comes into his own.

He performed brilliantly for Ireland for more than a decade and earned his 100 caps with world class performances.

We lost count of the number of crucial saves or moments of magic he pulled off to keep us in games, and win them like he did against Iran to get us to the World Cup.

Added to that he was an important character in the dressing room. He had 50 caps by his mid-20s and over time found his voice which comes with experience and respect for the things he did between the sticks.

New blood: Sunderland's Kieren Westwood is the current Republic of Ireland no. 1 but hasn't made a league appearance this season

New blood: Sunderland's Kieren Westwood is the current Republic of Ireland no. 1 but hasn't made a league appearance this season

Now I have heard Shay babbling some awful rubbish in dressing rooms and team meetings over the years, but you always listen to him.

And when he shouts during a game, he sort of screeches – it’s the most ear-splitting noise you will hear – but if you hear it, it doesn’t half make you alert.

It’s no coincidence that Aston Villa have had a good run in the Capital One Cup and reached the semi-finals.

Shay has played and it’s time Paul Lambert got his best keeper back in the side and used his experience in the Barclays Premier League.

He has been one of the best the world’s toughest league has seen, and he can reach those heights again.

Which is why he should also come back into the Ireland squad. He has actually played more games than Keiren Westwood who has been unfortunate to lose his place to Simon Mignolet at Sunderland but is realistically not going to oust the impressive Belgian unless he gets injured.

And a lack of experience behind him means Martin O’Neill is unlikely to let the new Ireland number go.

Experience: Kilbane (top row, third from left) and Given (bottom row, right) each earned more than 100 caps at international level

Experience: Kilbane (top row, third from left) and Given (bottom row, right) each earned more than 100 caps at international level

He has played more games for Ireland than Sunderland this season and that has to be a concern with the vital qualifiers against Austria and Sweden coming up in March.

Keiren might not like the idea, but competition from a keeper like Shay could only help him while he is not playing.

Even if Shay is not playing regularly by then, Giovanni Trapattoni should consider recalling him, just to have him around at an important time.

It comes down to experience again. And it’s time Shay’s was put to proper use for club and country.

The future looks grim…

If I was a Liverpool fan I would be very worried about the future of Luis Suarez.

Without him at Stoke City the other night, Liverpool had virtually nothing.

I don’t know if Daniel Sturridge is the answer, but I’ve always liked him and he can certainly help ease the burden on Suarez who worked himself into the ground at the Britannia Stadium.

Worry: Kilbane would be worried about losing Luis Suarez (front) if he was a Liverpool fan

Worry: Kilbane would be worried about losing Luis Suarez (front) if he was a Liverpool fan

But there were just signs that he was getting frustrated with the limitations of the individuals who are supposed to be helping him and creating chances, and perhaps with Liverpool’s standing in the Premier League at the moment.

He is a world class striker in a pretty average team and if a Champions League team from anywhere in Europe comes in with a silly bid, Liverpool might still have the power to turn it down, but you wonder if Suarez’s head would be turned by any interest.

Brendan Rodgers claimed before Christmas his team were still in Champions League contention but on Wednesday’s evidence they are a long way off.

Sadly Suarez looks like he is starting to realise his only chance of immediate Champions League action might be away from Anfield.

The Good and The Bad

Thumbs up

Jon Walters

I don’t think I have seen work-rate like Jon’s against Liverpool. He did everything at a sprint and mad life hell for the Liverpool defenders.

He got two great goals and his interaction with Kenwyne Jones was outstanding.

He’s the same with Peter Crouch and has a reading of their knockdowns and flick-ons which reminds me of Kevin Phillips and Niall Quinn at Sunderland.

All good news for Ireland.

Form: Jon Walters' form can only be a good thing for his country - the Stoke striker scored two against Liverpool on Boxing Day

Form: Jon Walters' form can only be a good thing for his country – the Stoke striker scored two against Liverpool on Boxing Day

Thumbs down

Stats

I said on BBC Radio 5 live at Stoke that I felt they dominated Liverpool and deserved their win.

Then I was reliably informed on Twitter that the stats showed Liverpool had something like 60 per cent possession compared to Stoke’s 40.

That’s all very well but unless you’re going to create any chances, stats are a waste of time.

Friedel to fight Lloris at Tottenham after signing new deal to 2014

Friedel chooses fight over flight after signing to stay at Tottenham until 2014

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UPDATED:

09:44 GMT, 26 December 2012

Brad Friedel has signed a new contract to extend his stay with Tottenham until 2014.

The United States goalkeeper had been linked with a return to Blackburn after being deposed as first-choice by summer signing Hugo Lloris but now appears set to fight for his place.

Friedel, the only player in Premier League history to have made over 300 consecutive league starts, arrived at Spurs from Aston Villa in 2011.

Commited: Despite interest from former club Blackburn, Friedel wants to stay at White Hart Lane

Commited: Despite interest from former club Blackburn, Friedel wants to stay at White Hart Lane

His commitment to the club leaves manager Andre Villas-Boas with four goalkeepers – the other two, Heurelho Gomes and Carlo Cudicini, are both big earners and could be set for exits

Lloris, meanwhile, says he cannot wait to have his first taste of Boxing Day tension, even though it has meant sacrificing his usual extravagant dining.

The France captain is preparing for their visit to Villa today but admits he usually “feasts” over Christmas and is not used to showing restraint from gorging on fine food.

Down but not out: Lloris' arrival has not convinced Friedel he needs to leave the club

Down but not out: Lloris' arrival has not convinced Friedel he needs to leave the club

Players in Ligue 1 are handed a two-week break from football over the festive period, before the campaign resumes on Friday, January 11.

‘Usually it was a period where I lay around, enjoying many feasts,’ he told L’Equipe.

‘I heard someone shout from the stands, “these aren’t holidays, so watch your line”.’

Safe hands: Lloris is looking forward to facing Aston Villa

Safe hands: Lloris is looking forward to facing Aston Villa

Taking it in good humour, the former Lyonnais stopper admits to having chuckled at this, but knows the importance of staying focused.

‘It is a family event and it shows all the passion of football in England. I can’t wait to see it for myself.’

El Hadji Diouf to sign new Leeds deal

Diouf to pen new deal at Leeds after impressive start to life at Elland Road

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UPDATED:

22:28 GMT, 26 November 2012

Leeds are ready to reward El Hadji Diouf with a new contract that will put him among the top earners at the club.

The 31-year-old, who has impressed at Elland Road but is out of contract in January, met the club’s new owners on Saturday.

His agent Willie McKay said: ‘We have spoken to the chief executive Shaun Harvey and we hope to have something sorted soon.’

Key man: El Hadji Diouf looks to have earned an extended stay at Leeds

Key man: El Hadji Diouf looks to have earned an extended stay at Leeds

Andrey Arshavin set to join Zenit St Petersburg for third time

Zenit ready to sign Arshavin for third time as Arsenal look to get Russian off wage bill

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UPDATED:

10:06 GMT, 24 November 2012

Andrey Arshavin is set for a third spell at Zenit St Petersburg with the Russian club poised to make a move in the January transfer window.

Arsenal are keen to do a deal with the Russian giants in the winter window to prevent the midfielder leaving for free in the summer when his contract expires.

The 31-year-old is believed to earn 90,000-a-week and is one of Arsenal's top earners but the club now want him off the wage bill as he has been reduced to a bit part player.

Returning to Russia: Zenit St Petersburg are keen to re-sign Andrey Arshavin

Returning to Russia: Zenit St Petersburg are keen to re-sign Andrey Arshavin

Arsenal’s willingness to sell has encouraged Zenit to try to re-sign a player they sold to the Gunners for 12million in 2009 and took back on a three-month loan earlier this year.

Manager Arsene Wenger will expect around 3million for Arshavin, and Zenit are prepared to offer the Leningrad-born attacker a two-and-a-half-year deal.

Ben Davies sees 400-a-week wage quadrupled in new Swansea deal

Davies quids in after Swansea quadruple his lowly 400-a-week wages

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UPDATED:

17:22 GMT, 23 November 2012

Swansea left-back Ben Davies has ditched the tag of being one of the Premier League’s lowest earners by signing a new three-and-a-half year contract.

The 19-year-old was previously earning in the region of 400-a-week, placing him well down the order in terms of wages for regular starters in the top flight.

Pay rise: Ben Davis has been given a significant increase on the 400-a-week he was on

Pay rise: Ben Davis has been given a significant increase on the 400-a-week he was on

But Sportsmail understands his new deal has quadrupled his pay packet and will keep him at the Liberty Stadium until June 2016.

'I'm delighted to have signed a new deal here,' he said. 'It shows the faith the club has in me and I’ve been rewarded for that.

'It is more security for me, and that will allow me to keep working as hard as possible to continue my development here.

'I have already learned a lot from not only playing, but by working hard in training with the manager, coaching staff and team-mates and taking as much advice as possible from them.

'It’s a great time to be at Swansea City – whether you are a player or supporter – and I’m delighted to be a part of it.'

Davies was expected to be a fringe player this season, but was thrown into the deep end when Neil Taylor broke his ankle in the home draw with Sunderland in September.

He has since made 11 Premier League appearances and won two caps for Wales.

Blow: Neil Taylor suffered a fractured ankle which has put him out until the end of the season

Blow: Neil Taylor suffered a fractured ankle which has put him out until the end of the season

Luis Suarez – Manchester City want to sign Liverpool striker to replace Mario Balotelli

Manchester City want 50m Suarez as Mancini prepares to offload Balotelli

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UPDATED:

07:21 GMT, 15 November 2012

Manchester City are considering a sensational January move for Luis Suarez.

Roberto Mancini has grown weary of errant forward Mario Balotelli and wants to offload the Italian to make room for the hottest striker in the Barclays Premier League.

Suarez has carried Liverpool this season, scoring 11 goals, but his form has not gone unnoticed and Mancini would like to recruit the Uruguay international

Shock: Manchester City are considering breaking the bank to sign Liverpool's Luis Suarez

Shock: Manchester City are considering breaking the bank to sign Liverpool's Luis Suarez

Prising Suarez away from Anfield, however, would come at a huge cost – 50million would be a realistic valuation – and negotiations would be complex.

Liverpool's stance about the 25-year-old has not changed from the summer when they saw off interest in him from Paris St Germain and Juventus.

Back then Liverpool gave Suarez a significant improvement on his contract, extending it to 2017 and giving him terms on a par with the club's top earners.

On his way Mario Balotelli may have to be sold to fun the move for Suarez

On his way Mario Balotelli may have to be sold to fun the move for Suarez

Frustrated: Roberto Mancini has tired of Balotelli, who was booked during Italy's international friendly against France

Frustrated: Roberto Mancini has tired of Balotelli, who was booked during Italy's international friendly against France

The former Ajax forward has pledged his allegiance to Liverpool, following the support he has received after his clash with Patrice Evra and subsequent race charge, and has not given any indication he wants to leave.

He has bought into Brendan Rodgers' vision but, inevitability, there will come a point when Suarez will want to see Liverpool's American owners show they are serious about challenging for the Champions League.

City, though, could offer Suarez the opportunity to compete for the biggest honours immediately. Mancini wants to re-shape his forward line and is also looking at Atletico Madrid's Radamel Falcao.

Suarez scored in the second half to seal a 3-1 win for Uruguay over Poland in a friendly in Gdansk on Wednesday.

Balotelli, meanwhile, started for Italy in their 2-1 defeat against France. The 22-year-old was unable to get on the scoresheet and was booked in the second-half.

Reshuffle: Mancini wants to strengthen his City squad in the January transfer window

Reshuffle: Mancini wants to strengthen his City squad in the January transfer window

Close one: Balotelli was kept out by Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris on Wednesday

Close one: Balotelli was kept out by Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris on Wednesday

Darren Bent to be left on Aston Villa"s bench again

Villa boss Lambert will drop 24m man Bent to the bench again for Norwich clash

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UPDATED:

22:23 GMT, 26 October 2012

Paul Lambert will take the biggest gamble of his Aston Villa career so far by once more relegating Darren Bent to the substitutes’ bench for Saturday's crunch clash with Norwich City.

The Scot is set to exclude Villa’s club record 24million signing, plumping instead for Christian Benteke and Gabriel Agbonlahor as his first-choice strike pairing as he sets about improving a return of just one victory in eight Premier League fixtures.

Lambert recalled Bent to his starting line-up for the game at Fulham last week but is ready to resume his cool stance towards a forward who has been the club’s most prolific scorer in the past two seasons.

Gamble: Bent in training on Friday, ahead of a game he isn't expected to start in

Gamble: Bent in training on Friday, ahead of a game he isn't expected to start in

The Scot first sprang a surprise when he left Bent out of the side to face West Brom in a West Midlands derby three weeks ago. Bent came off the bench to rescue a point for Villa with only his third touch of the ball but again found himself surplus for a trip to Tottenham one week later.

That game ended in defeat and although the England forward was included for Villa’s last outing at Craven Cottage, he again cut an anonymous figure.

Lambert has been at pains to quell any talk of a rift between the pair but it is clear that something is amiss. Villa’s boss has also scotched any talk that Bent’s alienation is part of a long-term plan to rid the club of its high earners.

Under pressure: Paul Lambert needs a result against Norwich

Under pressure: Paul Lambert needs a result against Norwich

The backdrop to Saturday's fixture — with existing contractual disputes to resolve between the two clubs following Lambert’s defection to Villa Park during the summer — only adds to the intrigue.

But with Villa already looking like they are in for a relegation fight, defeat against the Canaries will leave Villa’s boss with serious questions to answer.

Lambert has tried to play down any personal significance about the game but knows it is one they must win.

The 43-year-old has had a tough time at Villa Park since his acrimonious departure from Carrow Road at the end of last season.

‘The Norwich game only has spice because I left,’ he said. ‘But football moves on and it’s a massive game. We have to win.’

Wayne Rooney transfer target for Anzhi Makhachkala

Anzhi want Rooney! Megabucks Russians line up sensational swoop for United star

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UPDATED:

08:04 GMT, 26 October 2012

Wayne Rooney is a target for mega-rich Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala, team director and Brazilian legend Roberto Carlos has revealed.

The Dagestan club are bankrolled by billionaire Russian oligarch Suleyman Kerimov and Carlos had a warning for Manchester United fans hoping to see Rooney stay at Old Trafford, saying: 'If the owner of Anzhi has a wish to buy somebody, he will go and do it.'

Anzhi have already tempted several big name players to make the unfashionable move to the north Caucasus with huge wages. Samuel Eto'o earns a whopping 250,000-a-week at Anzhi and any offer to Rooney would be equally eyewatering.

Read all about it: Wayne Rooney launched his new book at the Trafford Centre in Manchester on Thursday

Read all about it: Wayne Rooney launched his new book at the Trafford Centre in Manchester on Thursday

Read all about it: Wayne Rooney launched his new book at the Trafford Centre in Manchester on Thursday

Nice work (if you can get it…)

Anzhi's big earners and their weekly wages:

Samuel Eto'o – 250,000
Christopher Samba – 100,000
Yury Zhirkov – 80,000
Lassana Diarra – 55,000
Guus Hiddink (manager) – 160,000
Roberto Carlos (team director) – 65,000

Carlos said: 'He’s one of the best players in the world and any team would be happy to have him in their squad. He’s still a very young player.

'Of course I could not say when, and if, it will happen. It’s not only Anzhi who can want to buy him.

'There are plenty of teams in Italy and Spain, all over the world, who are eager to have a player like Rooney.

Big spenders: Samuel Eto'o (left) was lured to Anzhi by eyewatering wages

Big spenders: Striker Samuel Eto'o (left) was lured from Barcelona to Anzhi by eyewatering wages

'If the owner of Anzhi has a wish to
buy somebody, he will go and do it. But we are trying to change the
image of the club. It’s not just about money.

'Of course we are going to buy good
players but not only international players. We want to sign good Russian
players that are not that expensive.'

Rooney, 27, is loved at Old Trafford and remains a key part of Sir Alex Ferguson's plans despite being dropped to the bench earlier this season.

But the England striker flirted with leaving United for rivals Manchester City two years ago, claiming the Red Devils did not match his ambition. Anzhi certainly do not lack in that department, having built themselves up to be a Russian superpower from meagre beginnings.

Anzhi manager Guus Hiddink, however, played down the prospect of Rooney moving to Russia following his side's limp Europa League defeat at Anfield on Thursday night.

He said: ‘It is nice to sometimes talk out of the blue without any reality.’

For all the hype that has surrounded Anzhi and their huge spending power, they were very disappointing in the 1-0 loss at Liverpool, with Brad Jones not troubled once in Liverpool’s goal.

Anzhi’s first shot did not arrive until stoppage time and even then Fedor Smolov’s effort was well wide, spelling out the need for a creative force such as Rooney.

There is little question, however, that Anzhi will soon become a force in Europe, given the astronomical wages they can pay.

Cristiano Ronaldo"s wage demands open door to Manchester City and Chelsea

Ronaldo's desire to become best paid footballer in world opens door to City and Chelsea

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 29 September 2012

Cristiano Ronaldo's ambition to become the world's best paid footballer is causing a growing rift with Real Madrid that has alerted Europe's big-spending clubs.

Russian-owned Chelsea, along with Arab-backed Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain, head the list of interested parties as the 27-year-old agitates for a huge pay rise to bring him into line with high earner Samuel Eto'o.

Show me the money: Cristiano Ronaldo (left) wants a better wage

Show me the money: Cristiano Ronaldo (left) wants a better wage

TOP 10 BEST PAID PLAYERS IN THE WORLD

1 S Eto’o (Anzhi) 15.91m
2 Z Ibrahimovic (PSG) 11.54m
3 W Rooney (Man Utd) 10.98m
4 Y Toure (Man City) 10.34m
5 S Aguero (Man City) 9.95m
6 D Drogba (Shanghai) 9.55m
7 F Torres (Chelsea) 8.6m
8 D Conca (Guangzhou) 8.4m
9 L Messi (Barcelona) 8.35m
10 C Ronaldo (R Madrid) 7.98m

Ronaldo's salary at Real sees him
10th in the high earners' list at 7.98million net, around half what
Eto'o earns at rich Russian club Anzhi.

His immediate target is a 50 per cent increase to around 11.8million net.

But the issue is complicated by Ronaldo's dissatisfaction at his image rights – 50 per cent of which are owned by the club – and Spain's revised tax laws.

Ronaldo earns 13.45million from off-pitch deals.

That means he is effectively paying his own wages at the Bernabeu.

'I'm sad because of a professional issue and the club know why,' Ronaldo said this month.

Ronaldo is governed by 'Beckham's Law', the regulation which stipulates Real must pay 24 per cent tax.

But with Spain's economy in turmoil, that figure has been increased to 52 per cent.

Bidding for Ronaldo would start at the 80million Real paid Manchester United for him in 2009.

Unhappy: Ronaldo said he was 'sad' about his situation at Real Madrid

Unhappy: Ronaldo said he was 'sad' about his situation at Real Madrid

Lewis Hamilton replaces Michael Schumacher at Mercedes

EXCLUSIVE: Hamilton signs for Mercedes as Schumacher's replacement

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UPDATED:

23:38 GMT, 27 September 2012

Lewis Hamilton will cut ties with his boyhood team McLaren and replace Michael Schumacher at Mercedes, Sportsmail can reveal.

Sources in Germany indicated that the car giants will announce Schumacher’s second retirement at their headquarters in Stuttgart on Friday morning, leaving the way clear for Hamilton to accept a deal worth up to 60million, including win bonuses, over three years.

It will bring to an end the Briton’s 14-year association with McLaren, the team who sponsored him from when he was a 13-year-old karting prodigy.

Decision to make: McLaren star Lewis Hamilton's future remains unclear

Decision to make: McLaren star Lewis Hamilton's future remains unclear

Hamilton’s critics will say he is leaving for money but it is understood the offers on the table were similar. His basic Mercedes salary of around 15m — the same figure he is on at McLaren — will maintain his status as one of the grid’s top earners alongside Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso and possibly Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel.

That said, Mercedes will offer greater freedom than McLaren in letting Hamilton’s management company, Simon Fuller’s XIX Entertainment, to strike personal endorsements for their man.

More important than money — and Hamilton is known to be cautious with his finances — is his desire to improve on a return of one title in five completed seasons, a disappointing statistic for a driver who envisaged himself as a serial champion on his much-heralded arrival in Formula One.

Rollercoaster: Hamilton has had an up-and-down season at McLaren

Rollercoaster: Hamilton has had an up-and-down season at McLaren

The will-he-won’t-he saga has captivated the sport for months but in the end the attraction of a fresh start, away from a team where he has always been treated with parental care, appears to have been too hard for the 27-year-old to resist.

The other governing factor was his desire for a championship-winning car. McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh always claimed that staying put represented the best chance of success, but the evidence for that assertion is patchy: though they are regular race winners, McLaren have won just a single drivers’ title since 1999.

The question is whether Mercedes, who have support at board level in Germany but are run from Brackley, Northamptonshire, are better equipped to deliver. They have only been back in the sport as manufacturers since 2010, though in their previous guise as Brawn won the title through Jenson Button.

Flashing the cash: Mercedes have tried to tempt Hamilton to their team

Flashing the cash: Mercedes have tried to tempt Hamilton to their team

Ross Brawn, the engineering svengali behind all seven of Schumacher’s titles, remains team principal and his presence is sure to have been a major lure for Hamilton with significant changes to the engine regulations due for the 2014 season.

Brawn exploited a previous revamping of the technical blueprint in 2009, allowing Hamilton’s McLaren team-mate Button to waltz to his championship success. With Mercedes as engine makers, Brawn is well placed to conjure another trick.

Conversely, McLaren, who get their engines free from Mercedes as part of a long-term association, will have to pay for their supply from next year. That will put a strain on their budget.

End of the road: Michael Schumacher will announce his retirement from F1 for the second time

End of the road: Michael Schumacher will announce his retirement from F1 for the second time

Mercedes have won one race this season to McLaren’s five but it is probable that Hamilton would extract more from even this existing car than the 43-year-old Schumacher and his team-mate Nico Rosberg.

Hamilton is close to Norbert Haug, Mercedes’ head of motor sport, who often acted as an avuncular supporter of the young Briton back when the German manufacturers were in full partnership with McLaren.

As for Schumacher, he has been a shadow of his formerly dominant self since coming out of his first retirement in 2010. He has managed just one podium, this year in Valencia.

McLaren are likely to turn their attention to Sauber’s Mexican Sergio Perez. Another conceivable contender is Scotland’s Paul di Resta, of Force India.