Tag Archives: falcao

Fernando Torres is staying at Chelsea despite interest from Fiorentina

Torres: I’m STAYING at Chelsea and will fight for my place with Falcao, despite interest from Fiorentina

By
Neil Ashton

PUBLISHED:

16:28 GMT, 24 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

01:19 GMT, 25 April 2013

With Radamel Falcao at the top of Chelsea’s list of summer transfer targets, Fernando Torres insists he will not be the fall-guy for another big-name centre forward.

Atletico Madrid are selling Falcao, who has scored 25 goals in La Liga this season, for 50million.

Chelsea are front of the queue of clubs for the Colombian, with reports on Wednesday night claiming that he could be Jose Mourinho’s marquee signing if, as expected, the Portuguese returns to Stamford Bridge this summer.

However, Torres is determined to see out the three years left on his contract.

Staying put: Torres talks to the media on Wednesday ahead of the Europa League semi-final

Staying put: Torres talks to the media on Wednesday ahead of the Europa League semi-final

Staying put: Torres talks to the media on Wednesday ahead of the Europa League semi-final

Torres said: ‘When you play for Chelsea you’re always hoping big names come, and the big names are always related with Chelsea.

‘You cannot stop that, especially when the summer comes, and every top player is welcome at Chelsea. Since I came we have only signed top players, so it would not be a surprise if we signed Falcao.’

Torres scored seven goals in Europe this season and will lead the line in this evening’s Europa League semi-final first leg in Basle. Demba Ba is cup-tied.

On the way: Falcao is expected to arrive from Atletico Madrid in the summer

On the way: Falcao is expected to arrive from Atletico Madrid in the summer

Man in the mask: Torres trains with his team-mates in Basle on Wednesday

Man in the mask: Torres trains with his team-mates in Basle on Wednesday

The Spaniard’s last Barclays Premier League goal was in the 8-0 victory over Aston Villa on December 23, but despite his indifferent form for Chelsea since a 50m move from Liverpool in 2011, Torres claims his long-term future is in London.

The 29-year-old added: ‘I’m happy at the moment, but I’d be happier if we won the Europa League. I’ve always felt part of this club. Things change, but you can see this season I have been the main striker.

‘This season has been better for me, but it’s not been at the level I want to be. I really think this club has told me the truth. They have hopes for me and they trust me — they don’t say the opposite.

‘I know I want to stay. If they change their minds it’s a different question, but the relationship between me and the club is very straight. It’s not a problem at all.’

Torres scored against Rubin Kazan in the quarter-final second leg in Moscow and is keen to add the Europa League trophy to last season’s Champions League.

Torres added: ‘I hope there’s more to come as I’m still young. We can win the Europa League this season, but we can still win much more. The squad and players are young — we can do great things. I would like to be involved for the next few years because we can become one of the best teams in Europe, not just England.’

Forward thinking: Torres is optimistic about the future at Chelsea

Forward thinking: Torres is optimistic about the future at Chelsea

Fiorentina, however, have expressed interest in signing Torres.

The
29-year-old has grown increasingly frustrated over his form and playing
time at Stamford Bridge and is expected to be pushed further down the
pecking order this summer as Chelsea look to add another two strikers.

Highly rated: Stevan Jovetic could be heading to the Premier League

Highly rated: Stevan Jovetic could be heading to the Premier League

Fiorentina want someone to replace Stevan Jovetic who they anticipate joining either Arsenal or Manchester City.

Their chief scout Eduardo Macia played a role in taking Torres to Liverpool in 2007.

Alex Ferguson sends Manchester United scouts to watch Radamel Falcao

Fergie steps up move for 47m Falcao as United send chief scout to watch Atletico striker score a double

By
Graeme Yorke

PUBLISHED:

10:50 GMT, 15 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

11:17 GMT, 15 April 2013

Manchester United watched Radamel Falcao score twice for Atletico Madrid on Sunday night as Sir Alex Ferguson ponders a summer deal.

Sportsmail revealed last week that Ferguson is considering a 47million deal – that could involve Javier Hernandez as part of a swap – to land the Colombia striker.

As United won 2-0 at Stoke, Ferguson sent his chief scout Jim Lawlor to watch Falcao strike a brace in their 5-0 thumping at home to Granada.

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Wanted: Radamel Falcao (left) in action during Atletico Madrid's victory over Granada

Wanted: Radamel Falcao (left) in action during Atletico Madrid's victory over Granada

Wanted: Radamel Falcao (left) in action during Atletico Madrid's victory over Granada

Wanted: Radamel Falcao (left) in action during Atletico Madrid's victory over Granada

Star man: Falcao struck a brace in the triumph for Atletico at the Vicente Calderon

Lawlor is likely to return with
glowing reports of a striker who is also interesting Chelsea and
Manchester City, along with Europe's big guns.

Manchester City and Chelsea have both
been strongly linked with Falcao, who has established himself as one of
the world's most prolific marksmen by scoring 56 goals for Atletico
since arriving in Spain from Porto in 2011.

But it is United have
now joined the bidding for the 27-year-old Colombia star and are prepared to
let striker Hernandez move to Madrid as part of the deal.

On his way Javier Hernandez in action against Stoke on Sunday - but he could be off

On his way Javier Hernandez in action against Stoke on Sunday – but he could be off

Give us a hug! Sir Alex Ferguson celebrates with Robin van Persie during the win at Stoke

Give us a hug! Sir Alex Ferguson celebrates with Robin van Persie during the win at Stoke

The Premier League leaders are ready
to meet the 47m buyout clause in Falcao's contract by offering Atletico
27m cash plus Hernandez, who they value at 20m.

If they were to land Falcao it
would be a bitter blow to Chelsea, who thought they were winning the
race to sign him, and City boss Roberto Mancini who believes Robin van
Persie's decision to choose Old Trafford over the Etihad Stadium last
summer has been a key factor in this season's title battle.

However,
any club wanting to sign Falcao will have to resolve an issue of
third-party ownership due to the fact that a company run by former
United and Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon and agent Jorge Mendes
has owned a stake in the player since helping to finance his 34m move
from Porto.

VIDEO: Watch Falcao do what he does best – goalscoring

Atletico Madrid open door for Fernando Torres return from Chelsea

Atletico open door for Torres return while Chelsea given encouragement over Falcao

By
Rik Sharma

PUBLISHED:

12:45 GMT, 23 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

13:00 GMT, 23 March 2013

Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone has opened the door for Fernando Torres to return to his former side.

The Chelsea striker made his name in Spain before moving to Liverpool in 2007.

Simeone says he knows how important Torres can be for his side and that because of his roots he knows about what it means to play for Los Rojiblancos.

Struggle: Fernando Torres has not been able to find his feet at Chelsea

Struggle: Fernando Torres has not been able to find his feet at Chelsea

He told Spanish radio station Onda
Cero: 'Fernando Torres is currently playing for another team. We have to
wait for the season to finish and decide which of the available players
could come here and do a good job.

'Fernando knows about the club's history, what it means to play here and I don't need to speak about his ability.

'We were teammates. I know how important he can be.'

Chelsea want Atletico's Colombian striker Radamel Falcao as a replacement. He has scored 25 goals in 28 games for his club this season, including a hat-trick against the Blues in the Super Cup final.

He can be procured for 48million but the Blues would be interested in a part-exchange deal involving Torres.

When asked about Falcao's future, Simeone did not insist the player would be staying at the club.
Instead he reasoned that everybody makes their own decisions and Falcao deserves respect.

Simeone said: 'I'm not Falcao and I'm not his agent. I'm the manager and have the utmost respect for him, because he gave me so much at River Plate and has done the same here.

'He always gives his all and I really respect players who do that. But everyone makes their own decisions in life.

'Every person is different, and we have to respect each other. Those who stay are always going to be the best.'

Can't stop: Radamel Falcao is in absolutely lethal form for club and country

Can't stop: Radamel Falcao is in absolutely lethal form for club and country

Frank: Diego Simeone said that Torres knows the club and he would be an important player

Frank: Diego Simeone said that Torres knows the club and he would be an important player

Thibaut Courtois is transfer target for Atletico Madrid

EXCLUSIVE: Chelsea rising star Courtois set to be offered long-term deal by Atletico

By
John Edwards

PUBLISHED:

00:12 GMT, 5 February 2013

|

UPDATED:

10:07 GMT, 5 February 2013

Chelsea are facing a battle to hang on to Thibaut Courtois after Atletico Madrid made it clear they want him for at least another season and are ready to offer him a permanent move to the Vicente Calderon in the summer.

After snapping him up from Genk as a little- known teenager 18 months ago, Chelsea have been presented with a dilemma by on-loan Courtois’ rapid development into a cult figure at Atletico, where fans have done tribute videos on the internet and started a new craze – Thibauting – imitating the keeper's diving saves.

Sportsmail can reveal that anxious Stamford Bridge bosses despatched goalkeeping coach Christophe Lollichon to Madrid over the weekend to monitor his form against Real Betis and talk over his future plans.

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Enlarge

Impressive: Thibaut Courtois has turned a few heads at Atletico

Impressive: Thibaut Courtois has turned a few heads at Atletico

Though reluctant to return to London in an understudy capacity, it is understood the 20-year-old has
been assured Chelsea see him as long-term successor to Petr Cech.
Despite being linked recently with Jack Butland and Asmir Begovic, they
have outlined an intention to instal him, eventually, as first-choice
and bring in a new No 2.

Atletico have dismissed suggestions
they are prepared to include Chelsea target Radamel Falcao in a
part-exchange deal for Courtois but have stressed they want him on loan
for another year and may well bid for him at the end of the season.

As they weigh up their next move, the English club may consider opening talks over a new improved contract.
Courtois signed a five-year deal in July, 2011 on relatively modest
terms and feels they should now be amended to reflect his progress in
Spain.

Full length: Courtois's acrobatics have inspired a new craze in Madrid - Thibaulting - where fans imitate his diving saves

Full length: Courtois's acrobatics have inspired a new craze in Madrid – Thibaulting – where fans imitate his diving saves

It is a delicate balancing act for
Stamford Bridge chiefs, as confirmed by Courtois’ father Thierry, who
said: ‘It is very rare to see any team with two top international
keepers on their books but that is the case with Chelsea.

‘They have two world-class keepers,
and it is probably fair to say Thibaut has developed into a No 1
more quickly than anyone could have expected. He is a great keeper for
Spanish football, because he has adapted to the style of play over there
and has the height to command his area.’

Lollichon returned from Madrid with a
positive evaluation of Courtois’ form and fitness but was left in little
doubt that, after 18 months as Atletico’s first choice, the Belgium No 1 is in no mood to sit on the bench at Stamford Bridge.

VIDEO: Atletico fans' tribute to Courtois

Who voted for Rooney in the Ballon d"Or?

Messi can't bring himself to vote for Ronaldo in tactical Ballon d'Or picks while Rooney is popular only in Georgia and North Korea

-bycountry.pdf” rel=”nofollow” target=”_blank”>Click here to see how the international captains, coaches and media voted

With an astonishing and record-breaking 91 goals in the calendar year, it was perhaps a foregone conclusion that Lionel Messi would collect a fourth consecutive FIFA Ballon d'Or last night.

But that didn't stop international captains and coaches employing some political voting tactics to try and get their friends, compatriots or teammates further up the leaderboard – or at least block their rivals from winning.

With national team captains, coaches and a selected journalist from each FIFA nation eligible to vote, the annual award seems to have become football's answer to the Eurovision Song Contest in terms of tactical voting.

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Top of the world: Lionel Messi scooped a fourth consecutive Ballon d'Or trophy last night, receiving 41.6 per cent of the votes from international coaches, captain and journalists

Top of the world: Lionel Messi scooped a fourth consecutive Ballon d'Or trophy last night, receiving 41.6 per cent of the votes from international coaches, captain and journalists

Messi had a vote as captain of Argentina and picked Andres Iniesta as his first choice, Xavi as his second and Radamel Falcao as his third pick.

This could be interpreted as returning the favour to his two Barcelona teammates after setting up so many goals for him this year, but it's interesting that his closest rival, Cristiano Ronaldo, is left out.

Ronaldo is Portugal captain but chose to hand over responsibilities to Bruno Alves, perhaps as a way of getting round the rule that voters can't pick themselves.

Ronaldo is on record as saying that he would vote for himself if he could. 'I am what I am,' he said in the run-up to the award announcement.

But he could rely on Zenit St Petersburg defender Alves to exclude Messi from his voting and put the Real Madrid star, naturally, at the top.

Not his night: Cristiano Ronaldo looked the part, but was a distant second behind Messi, despite delegating his voting rights to Portugal teammate Bruno Alves

Not his night: Cristiano Ronaldo looked the part, but was a distant second behind Messi, despite delegating his voting rights to Portugal teammate Bruno Alves

Argentina manager Alejandro Sabella
had no room for Ronaldo though and went for Messi and his international
teammate Sergio Aguero, with Falcao, the third choice for quite a large
number of voters, completing his selection.

Paulo Bento, the Portugal manager, was a little more sporting, giving Messi his third pick.

The international coaches are proud and parochial, with many selecting players from their own squad despite them having little chance of scooping the main prize.

Germany's Joachim Low was pretty left-field with his picks, choosing Mesut Ozil first, Manuel Neuer second and Xavi third, while Italy's Cesare Prandelli opted for Andrea Pirlo, who was admired by a number of coaches around the world.

Keeping it in the country: Germany Head Coach Joachim Low picked Mesut Ozil as his first choice

Real Madrid midfielder Mesut Ozil

Keeping it in the country: Germany Head Coach Joachim Low (left) picked Mesut Ozil as his first choice

Spain's Vicente del Bosque can be excused for picking Iker Casillas, Xavi and Iniesta but it's a damning indictment of the state of the English team that Roy Hodgson just went for Messi, Ronaldo and Falcao.

Wayne Rooney's only two votes came from Georgia and North Korea, suggesting he has quite a following in those countries, while Mario Balotelli wouldn't have been too happy to learn his only vote came from Palestine.

Voting pact: Wayne Rooney's (right) only votes came from Georgia and North Korea, but plenty gave Robin van Persie (left) a pick

Voting pact: Wayne Rooney's (right) only votes came from Georgia and North Korea, but plenty gave Robin van Persie (left) a pick

And Zlatan Ibrahimovic may have scored one of the goals of the year, with his audacious propeller kick for Sweden against England, but just two voters – the captain of Djibouti and the Niger coach – thought him worthy of the top prize.

There are also plenty of examples of players going for teammates, former teammates or even those who play in the same position.

Hugo Lloris, of France and Tottenham, selected Casillas as his first choice and, randomly, had Didier Drogba third.

Goalkeeper's Union: Hugo Lloris (left) gave his winning vote to fellow custodian Iker Casillas

Real Madrid and Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas

Goalkeeper's Union: Hugo Lloris (left) gave his winning vote to fellow custodian Iker Casillas (right)

Dutchman Wesley Sneijder opted for free-scoring Robin van Persie for his first pick, while Gianluigi Buffon and Casillas also went for national unity with Pirlo and Sergio Ramos respectively their first choices.

Scotland skipper Darren Fletcher chose former Manchester United man Ronaldo ahead of Messi and also included Van Persie third.

Lionel Messi
Marco van Basten
Michel Platini
Johan Cruyff
Ballon d'Or
4
3
3
3
League titles
5
7
3
10
Domestic cups
7
7
2
7
European Cups
3
3
1
3
World Cups
0
0
0
0
Career Games
430
431
504
568
Career Goals
319
300
265
326
Strike rate
0.74
0.70
0.53
0.57

VIDEO: Messi's boot supplier, adidas, team up with illustrator Richard Swarbrick to celebrate the Argentina ace's latest Ballon d'Or success

Lionel Messi didn"t vote for Cristiano Ronaldo in Ballon d"Or 2013 – full voting analysis

Messi can't bring himself to vote for Ronaldo in tactical Ballon d'Or picks while Rooney is popular only in Georgia and North Korea

-bycountry.pdf” rel=”nofollow” target=”_blank”>Click here to see how the international captains, coaches and media voted

With an astonishing and record-breaking 91 goals in the calendar year, it was perhaps a foregone conclusion that Lionel Messi would collect a fourth consecutive FIFA Ballon d'Or last night.

But that didn't stop international captains and coaches employing some political voting tactics to try and get their friends, compatriots or teammates further up the leaderboard – or at least block their rivals from winning.

With national team captains, coaches and a selected journalist from each FIFA nation eligible to vote, the annual award seems to have become football's answer to the Eurovision Song Contest in terms of tactical voting.

Scroll down for video

Top of the world: Lionel Messi scooped a fourth consecutive Ballon d'Or trophy last night, receiving 41.6 per cent of the votes from international coaches, captain and journalists

Top of the world: Lionel Messi scooped a fourth consecutive Ballon d'Or trophy last night, receiving 41.6 per cent of the votes from international coaches, captain and journalists

Messi had a vote as captain of Argentina and picked Andres Iniesta as his first choice, Xavi as his second and Radamel Falcao as his third pick.

This could be interpreted as returning the favour to his two Barcelona teammates after setting up so many goals for him this year, but it's interesting that his closest rival, Cristiano Ronaldo, is left out.

Ronaldo is Portugal captain but chose to hand over responsibilities to Bruno Alves, perhaps as a way of getting round the rule that voters can't pick themselves.

Ronaldo is on record as saying that he would vote for himself if he could. 'I am what I am,' he said in the run-up to the award announcement.

But he could rely on Zenit St Petersburg defender Alves to exclude Messi from his voting and put the Real Madrid star, naturally, at the top.

Not his night: Cristiano Ronaldo looked the part, but was a distant second behind Messi, despite delegating his voting rights to Portugal teammate Bruno Alves

Not his night: Cristiano Ronaldo looked the part, but was a distant second behind Messi, despite delegating his voting rights to Portugal teammate Bruno Alves

Argentina manager Alejandro Sabella
had no room for Ronaldo though and went for Messi and his international
teammate Sergio Aguero, with Falcao, the third choice for quite a large
number of voters, completing his selection.

Paulo Bento, the Portugal manager, was a little more sporting, giving Messi his third pick.

The international coaches are proud and parochial, with many selecting players from their own squad despite them having little chance of scooping the main prize.

Germany's Joachim Low was pretty left-field with his picks, choosing Mesut Ozil first, Manuel Neuer second and Xavi third, while Italy's Cesare Prandelli opted for Andrea Pirlo, who was admired by a number of coaches around the world.

Keeping it in the country: Germany Head Coach Joachim Low picked Mesut Ozil as his first choice

Real Madrid midfielder Mesut Ozil

Keeping it in the country: Germany Head Coach Joachim Low (left) picked Mesut Ozil as his first choice

Spain's Vicente del Bosque can be excused for picking Iker Casillas, Xavi and Iniesta but it's a damning indictment of the state of the English team that Roy Hodgson just went for Messi, Ronaldo and Falcao.

Wayne Rooney's only two votes came from Georgia and North Korea, suggesting he has quite a following in those countries, while Mario Balotelli wouldn't have been too happy to learn his only vote came from Palestine.

Voting pact: Wayne Rooney's (right) only votes came from Georgia and North Korea, but plenty gave Robin van Persie (left) a pick

Voting pact: Wayne Rooney's (right) only votes came from Georgia and North Korea, but plenty gave Robin van Persie (left) a pick

And Zlatan Ibrahimovic may have scored one of the goals of the year, with his audacious propeller kick for Sweden against England, but just two voters – the captain of Djibouti and the Niger coach – thought him worthy of the top prize.

There are also plenty of examples of players going for teammates, former teammates or even those who play in the same position.

Hugo Lloris, of France and Tottenham, selected Casillas as his first choice and, randomly, had Didier Drogba third.

Goalkeeper's Union: Hugo Lloris (left) gave his winning vote to fellow custodian Iker Casillas

Real Madrid and Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas

Goalkeeper's Union: Hugo Lloris (left) gave his winning vote to fellow custodian Iker Casillas (right)

Dutchman Wesley Sneijder opted for free-scoring Robin van Persie for his first pick, while Gianluigi Buffon and Casillas also went for national unity with Pirlo and Sergio Ramos respectively their first choices.

Scotland skipper Darren Fletcher chose former Manchester United man Ronaldo ahead of Messi and also included Van Persie third.

VIDEO: Messi's boot supplier, adidas, team up with illustrator Richard Swarbrick to celebrate the Argentina ace's latest Ballon d'Or success

Miroslav Stoch wins goal of the year

What a screamer! Stoch beats Neymar and Falcao to goal of the year

FIFA Puskas award for his stunning volley for Fenerbahce against Genclerbirligi.

The Slovak beat Neymar's goal for Santos and Radamel Falcao's strike for Atletico Madrid to win the award on Monday at FIFA's Ballon D'Or, where Lionel Messi was crowned player of the year.

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Winner: Stoch collects the FIFA Puskas award

Winner: Stoch collects the FIFA Puskas award

But although the Slovakian Stoch, who plays for
Turkish side Fenerbahce, is not as highly-rated as the
other two, his goal certainly deserves the praise.

Stoch kept his cool and his balance to superbly volley into the top corner from the edge of the box against Genclerbirligi in a Turkish Super Lig match.

VIDEO: Watch Stoch's wonder strike

Here is who Stoch beat to the award

Radamel Falcao

Zlatan Ibrahimovic's ridiculous overhead kick against England missed the cut-off date but that sort of athleticism is on display in Falcao's effort against America de Cali.

Again reacting first to a corner, Atletico Madrid's Colombian hitman Falcao flung his body into the air and sent a vicious strike past the bewildered goalkeeper.

Neymar

Neymar's goal is a different type to the other two, its brilliance coming in the form of a hip twisting, dizzying dribble.

Showing poise, grace and fearlessness the Santos star weaved his way in and out of Internacional players before tucking the ball neatly home.

The skill involved in his solo effort is no surprise – the Brazilian won the 2011 Puskas award for a wonderful goal against Flamengo.

And the rest of the FIFA Puskas award nominees

Roberto Mancini says Robin van Persie has been the difference in Premier League title race

A striking difference: United's signing of Van Persie has changed title race, says Mancini

|

UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 31 December 2012

A meticulous forward planner, Roberto Mancini is already looking ahead to the summer.

Once this season is over, therefore, we can expect some serious interest from Manchester City in centre forwards Radamel Falcao and Edinson Cavani.

On Monday morning at City's windswept training ground, however, Mancini was looking backwards, as well as forwards.

The difference: Roberto Mancini rues missing out on the signing of Robin van Persie last summer

The difference: Roberto Mancini rues missing out on the signing of Robin van Persie last summer

As he anticipated another close encounter with neighbours Manchester United over the remaining 19 games of the Barclays Premier League season, the City manager returned to the subject of his club's failed attempt to sign Robin van Persie from Arsenal last summer.

As news of their manager's words filtered across to the executive offices at the Etihad Stadium, eyebrows will have been raised.

There is a desire at boardroom level at City for Mancini to stop discussing the what-ifs of last summer's rather disappointing efforts in the transfer market.

Bailed out: Van Persie scored the winner against Manchester City in a thrilling derby encounter

Bailed out: Van Persie scored the winner against Manchester City in a thrilling derby encounter

Improvement: Sergio Aguero has scored half the amount of league goals Van Persie has this season

Improvement: Sergio Aguero has scored half the amount of league goals Van Persie has this season

NASRI TO SERVE THREE-MATCH BAN

Manchester City will be without forward Samir Nasri for today's clash with Stoke at the Etihad Stadium after deciding not to appeal against his three-match ban for being sent off at Norwich on Saturday.

City boss Roberto Mancini disagreed with referee Mike Jones' decision to dismiss Nasri for an apparent butt on Sebastien Bassong in the 4-3 win, but the champions do not want to risk an FA extension to his ban.

Nevertheless, it is also hard to
disagree with Mancini's assertion that Van Persie has so far been a
significant difference between the clubs as United have opened up a
sevenpoint gap over the reigning champions.

City,
it must be said, are short of goals. Van Persie has scored 14 times in
the league so far this season while the champions' quartet of strikers
have managed only 23 between them.

'Robin
van Persie is an important player for them,' said Mancini. 'It's clear
that the difference is this. He has changed the situation.

'We wanted him in the summer because we knew he would be an important player. He is totally different from our other strikers.'

The Van Persie subject came up again after Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport ran an interview with Mancini in which he expressed his regret at not clinching the signing of the Holland forward.

At the heart of the City manager's frustration is that he feels he had a head start on United when he first made contact with the player back in March.

Van Persie has gone on record as saying that he only ever wanted to move to Old Trafford. Mancini's memory of events has always been very different.

Confident: Mancini (left) believes the title race will be close, despite United leading by seven points

Confident: Mancini (left) believes the title race will be close, despite United leading by seven points

He refused to elaborate on what he felt went wrong, showing some diplomacy in saying: 'I know, but I won't say'.

What is known, though, is that City and Van Persie were in constant contact throughout the European Championship and indeed right up until they made him an improved financial offer in the days before he finally plumped for United in August.

'Three or four months earlier, we were there,' said Mancini. 'But there is nothing we can do now.'

In his interview that appeared in his home country yesterday, Mancini suggested that United deserved their current lead in the table.

'Maybe it should be two points instead of seven, though,' he added. Certainly the gap between the two clubs could well narrow over the coming weeks and neither are expected to figure prominently in the transfer window.

Colossus: Yaya Toure will leave City to travel to the Africa Cup of Nations in January

Colossus: Yaya Toure will leave City to travel to the Africa Cup of Nations in January

Stepping up: James Milner is likely to get more game time in Toure's absence

Stepping up: James Milner is likely to get more game time in Toure's absence

Chipping in: Edin Dzeko has fired in eight goals this campaign, including a brace against Norwich

Chipping in: Edin Dzeko has fired in eight goals this campaign, including a brace against Norwich

Mancini is an admirer of Demba Ba but would need somebody to make an offer for Mario Balotelli in order to interfere with Chelsea's interest in the Newcastle striker.

As stated, meanwhile, he will only harden his efforts to prise either Falcao from Atletico Madrid or Cavani from Napoli once he knows what is happening with Balotelli and Edin Dzeko in the summer.

For now, Mancini must hope his current squad manages to find a little extra as they look to rein in Sir Alex Ferguson's team. One of the reasons City's failure to sign Van Persie remains such a disappointment is that the majority of the players they did buy in the summer have made such modest contributions.

Now, with their midfield colossus Yaya Toure about to disappear to the Africa Cup of Nations for a month or so, City need improved performances from the likes of Javi Garcia, James Milner and Sergio Aguero – among others – if they are to produce what they need.

Back in the goals: Mancini had criticised his strikers for being 'soft'

Back in the goals: Mancini had criticised his strikers for being 'soft'

Class act: Van Persie fired in a sumptuous finish at Old Trafford against West Brom

Class act: Van Persie fired in a sumptuous finish at Old Trafford against West Brom

Mancini's mood has calmed a little since a home defeat by United – Van Persie scoring the winner – and a loss at Sunderland.

On Monday he joked about the fact the FA wish to talk to him about comments he made about the referee at Sunderland and even poked gentle fun at his rival from Old Trafford.

'I haven't had the letter from the FA yet,' he said. 'The post in this country is terrible.

'Maybe next time I should run on the pitch at half-time with my hands in the air and shout at the referee.

'This is a joke. This has been a fantastic year for us. I hope that this coming year will be the same.'

Premier League Christmas fixtures – the crucial games

Christmas crackers: Sportsmail's guide to the crucial games over the festive season which will make or break the country's elite

PUBLISHED:

00:20 GMT, 19 December 2012

|

UPDATED:

00:20 GMT, 19 December 2012

The Christmas schedules are busy as ever and Sportsmail has taken a look at what each top flight side can expect as they move into 2013. Which teams will make precious ground on their rivals and who will fall behind as the winter kicks in

Arsenal, Villa

Prime target: Schalke's Klaas-Jan Huntelaar is on Arsene Wenger's wishlist

Prime target: Schalke's Klaas-Jan Huntelaar is on Arsene Wenger's wishlist

Chelsea, Everton

Hitman: Chelsea will need a new striker and Atletico Madrid's Radamel Falcao has been strongly linked

Hitman: Chelsea will need a new striker and Atletico Madrid's Radamel Falcao has been strongly linked

Fulham, Liverpool

Anfield bound: Thomas Ince and Daniel Sturrdge are on their way to join Brendan Rodgers' Liverpool

Anfield bound: Thomas Ince and Daniel Sturrdge are on their way to join Brendan Rodgers' Liverpool

City, United

Step up: Javi Garcia needs to improve for Man City and quickly

Step up: Javi Garcia needs to improve for Man City and quickly

Newcastle, Norwich

Big miss: Hatem Ben Arfa will not be in the Newcastle team over Christmas thanks to injury

Big miss: Hatem Ben Arfa will not be in the Newcastle team over Christmas thanks to injury

QPR, Reading

Loan strike: Robbie Keane is a Queens Park Rangers target as Harry Redknapp looks to boost his firepower

Loan strike: Robbie Keane is a Queens Park Rangers target as Harry Redknapp looks to boost his firepower

Saints, Stoke

Reinforcements: Southampton are in need of several players and are not afraid to splash the cash

Reinforcements: Southampton are in need of several players and are not afraid to splash the cash

Sunderland, Swansea

Back me up: Michu is Swansea's main source of goals and that needs to be rectified

Back me up: Michu is Swansea's main source of goals and that needs to be rectified

Spurs, West Ham

Back again: Joao Moutinho was an AVB target in the summer and he continues to pursue the Porto man

Back again: Joao Moutinho was an AVB target in the summer and he continues to pursue the Porto man

West Brom, Wigan

Hold on tight: West Brom need to keep hold of midfielder Youssouf Mulumbu

Hold on tight: West Brom need to keep hold of midfielder Youssouf Mulumbu

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson rules out buying Theo Walcott or anybody else in January

Fergie rules out buying Walcott or anybody else in January

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UPDATED:

22:48 GMT, 15 December 2012

Sir Alex Ferguson will not be buying Theo Walcott – or anybody else in January.

The Manchester United manager, who
saw his team maintain their six-point lead over neighbours Manchester
City with a 3-1 win over Sunderland on Saturday, is adamant he will not be
doing any business in the transfer window unless it is to allow several
of his reserve-team players to go out on loan.

Out of the running: Manchester United will not join the bidding if Arsenal decide to cash in on Theo Walcott

Out of the running: Manchester United will not join the bidding if Arsenal decide to cash in on Theo Walcott

Ferguson, who rarely takes advantage of the mid-season opportunity to augment his first-team squad, believes he has enough resources to cope with challenging for the Premier League title and the European and FA Cups.

'I will not be bringing anybody in, in January – definitely not,' he confirmed.

It means that while title rivals City are targeting Atletic Bilbao's Fernano Llorente; Chelsea are ready to splash on Atletico Madrid's Radamel Falcao and Walcott and Liverpool want Chelsea's Daniel Sturridge and Tom Ince from Blackpool, the United boss will stick with what he has as the club chase a 20th league title.

Boost: Vidic returned against Sunderland

Boost: Vidic returned against Sunderland

Walcott's future at Arsenal is in doubt with the club refusing to agree to his contract demands. But if the Gunners decide to cash in on the winger in January, he is now more likely to end up at Stamford Bridge than Old Trafford.

Ferguson's confidence comes from now having a fully fit squad at his disposal after skipper Nemanja Vidic returned to the team as a second-half substitute against Sunderland.

'It will take him a bit of time but that is a start,' Ferguson said. 'He is a warrior and he is our captain. He always battles for you and sticks his head on that ball in the penalty area. That is what he is great at.'

Goals from Robin van Persie, Tom Cleverley and Wayne Rooney were enough to claim all three points and Ferguson added: 'People keep saying we are weak in midfield but these guys are very good players.'