Tag Archives: favour

Montenegro stick boot into England over long balls and weak defence

England are SCARED of us! You complain about the pitch when you play long ball. You should forget about our fans and worry about your 'weak' defence instead, blast Montenegro

qualifier against England in Podgorica in 2011″ class=”blkBorder” />

Passion: Montenegro fans react after the Euro 2012 qualifier against England in Podgorica in 2011

Passion: Montenegro fans react after the Euro 2012 qualifier against England in Podgorica in 2011

Meanwhile, the president of Montenegro’s football association has begged his own supporters to behave during England’s crunch World Cup qualifier tomorrow night.

Dejan Savicevic awarded Mirko Vucinic with the Montenegro Player of the Year award at Podgorica but took the opportunity to appeal for good behaviour from his own fans.

The Montenegro FA were fined 30,000 for a pitch invasion the last time England visited Montenegro.

He said: ‘I would like our journalists in Montenegro to appeal to our fans to cheer on the team in a sporting manner.

‘During
the last year and a half, our association has to pay penalties for up
to 90,000 Euros we had to bear for the behaviour of our supporters on
this ground.’

Vucinic
himself said he did not believe there would be any crowd trouble
tomorrow night, saying: ‘I expect a beautiful, wonderful atmosphere.

'Our
audience is great and they lift us and carry us on their wings like a
12th player. I am only sorry the stadium is not larger.’

Asked
whether Montenegro will try to play on Rooney’s temperament and wind
him up to get him sent off, Vucinic said: ‘It will not be our tactics to
make him lose his temper.

‘It
will be in our favour if he is given a red card but we will not be
doing anything to provoke him or make him lose his temper.’

Doubts: Joleon Lescott is expected to marshal the England defence alongside Chris Smalling

Doubts: Joleon Lescott (above) is expected to marshal the England defence alongside Chris Smalling (below)

Doubts: Joleon Lescott is expected to marshal the England defence alongside Chris Smalling

Doubts: Joleon Lescott is expected to marshal the England defence alongside Chris Smalling

Vucinic added: ‘We feel well considering we played a difficult game in Moldova which we won with 10 men. This victory inspires us with self-confidence and hope against strong opponents like England who we are not scared of at all.

‘From the moment I run onto the field I think of victory. That is my way of thinking when I play in Italy and this is the way I think now. What I can say about tomorrow evening is that we keep fingers crossed for Montenegro to win but what we can say is that it will not be as big a thing as it will be if England fail.

'If England fail, it will cost them more. If I’m not wrong, they will be five points behind if they lose tomorrow.’

Tottenham v Inter Milan: Ref sent blind man"s stick by angry fans

Tottenham's ref is getting some stick! Angry Croatian fans send match official a white cane after he admits high-profile mistake… and he's in charge for Spurs match at Inter

By
John Drayton

PUBLISHED:

15:15 GMT, 13 March 2013

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UPDATED:

17:53 GMT, 13 March 2013

The referee of Thursday's Europa League match between Tottenham and Inter Milan has been sent a blind man's white stick by fans of Croatian side Hajduk Split after they were enraged by a contentious decision.

Ivan Bebek's call in a recent game between Split and Dinamo Zagreb frustrated supporters so much they sent a package to the Croatian Football Federation for the ref which included the white stick, a jersey and a Dinamo scarf.

The fans' club issued a statement saying: 'We apologise to blind people, we do not want to offend anyone, but just want to help the referee Ivan Bebek ahead of the game.'

Provocative: But the fan club insisted they did not wish to offend anyone

Provocative: But the fan club insisted they did not wish to offend anyone

Bebek admitted after the game on his Facebook profile that in hindsight he failed to call a clear penalty in favour of Hajduk Split.

The frustrated Split fans have now also forwarded on pictures of the package to Tottenham as a warning to them about the ref ahead of their crunch Europa League game.

Trusted: Ivan Bebek will overlook Spurs v Inter

Trusted: Ivan Bebek will overlook Spurs v Inter

Comfortable lead: Tottenham are 3-0 up to the third leg, in which Jan Vertonghen headed their third goal

Comfortable lead: Tottenham are 3-0 up to the third leg, in which Jan Vertonghen headed their third goal

Controversial Given the difficulty that can be involved in refereeing Gareth Bale, Ivan Bebek may be relieved he is suspended

Controversial Given the difficulty that can be involved in refereeing Gareth Bale, Ivan Bebek may be relieved he is suspended

From the spot: Steven Gerrard's penalty gave Liverpool victory over Tottenham on Sunday

From the spot: Steven Gerrard's penalty gave Liverpool victory over Tottenham on Sunday

Jonjo Shelvey could be available for 7m with Stoke City ready to move in summer

Shelvey could be available for 7m with Stoke lining up a summer move

By
Aidan Mccartney

PUBLISHED:

11:47 GMT, 3 March 2013

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UPDATED:

12:27 GMT, 3 March 2013

Stoke City are considering a move for out-of-favour Liverpool midfielder Jonjo Shelvey during the summer.

The former Charlton prospect has
recently fallen out of Brendan Rodgers first-team plans and the Sunday
People suggest that he could be available in a cut-price transfer in the summer.

Stoke are
understood to be observing the 21-year-old’s progress with Tony Pulis having sent a two-man party to watch the England international
in a reserve match last week.

Outcast: Shelvey (right) could be available in the summer after disappointing recent form

Bleak future: Shelvey (right) could be allowed to leave Anfield after disappointing recent form

Shelvey impressed earlier in the
season for the Reds in his 14 appearances, earning a first England senior cap against San Marino in October.

However, the youngster has been
criticised for his latest displays and he was hauled off by Rodgers after
60 minutes in his last start, an uninspiring performance during their 2-0 defeat against
West Brom in February.

Stoke look set to lose unsettled
former Liverpool man Charlie Adam in the summer and Pulis has now eyed up Shelvey in a 7million swoop as the ideal replacement for the
Scottish international.

Grieving: Adam lost his father just before Christmas which could see him depart Stoke

Grieving: Adam (left) lost his father just before Christmas which could see him depart Stoke

Michel Platini says 2022 World Cup in Qatar must be staged in winter

Qatar World Cup must be staged in the winter to protect players and fans, says Platini

By
Mike Dawes

PUBLISHED:

11:49 GMT, 2 March 2013

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UPDATED:

11:49 GMT, 2 March 2013

Michel Platini says the 2022 World Cup in Qatar must be held during the winter to protect the players and fans from the searing desert heat.

Temperatures can exceed 40 degrees in the summer in the middle-eastern country, compared to a more comfortable 17 degrees in the winter.

The finals were controversially awarded to Qatar two years ago with Platini, the UEFA president, one of those who voted in their favour.

Winter World Cup: UEFA President Michel Platini says the 2022 tournament in Qatar must be staged in the winter months to protect players and fans from 40C temperatures

Winter World Cup: UEFA President Michel Platini says the 2022 tournament in Qatar must be staged in the winter months to protect players and fans from 40C temperatures

'I am in favour of Qatar under two conditions,' the former French star told Bild newspaper. 'Because of the heat the World Cup will need to be held in the winter.

'With over 40 degrees, playing football is impossible and for fans it would also be unbearable.

'Also, the neighbouring emirates must be included so that the World Cup is staged throughout the entire region.'

Grand designs: The proposed Al-Rayyan football stadium in Doha, to be built for the 2022 World Cup

Grand designs: The proposed Al-Rayyan football stadium in Doha, to be built for the 2022 World Cup

Spectacular: The Qatar University Stadium in Doha, another one of the proposed venues

Spectacular: The Qatar University Stadium in Doha, another one of the proposed venues

Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait are among the neighbouring countries that could be considered.

Platini's proposals will cause chaos to the regular football calendar, with six or seven weeks of disruption to domestic leagues.

Rangers extend Scott Gallacher"s contract as Ally McCoist hopes to strengthen his keeper options

Rangers extend Gallacher contract as McCoist hopes to strengthen keeper options

By
Graeme Yorke

PUBLISHED:

20:58 GMT, 18 February 2013

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UPDATED:

20:58 GMT, 18 February 2013

Rangers have signed second-choice goalkeeper Scott Gallacher on a two-year contract extension.

The 23-year-old has not made a first-team appearance but has played for Cowdenbeath and Forfar on loan.

Gallacher told the club's official website: 'It's really good to sign another contract. This is a great club to be at and I grew up supporting Rangers so I'm delighted to be staying on once again.

Bidding: Rangers' manager Ally McCoist is hoping to sign several keeper soon

Bidding: Rangers' manager Ally McCoist is hoping to sign several keeper soon

'I've been here for seven years now and I'm still waiting for my chance but hopefully it can come soon.

'”We're not far from winning the league so hopefully we can do that and then I can get to play in one of the remaining games after that.

'It's down to the gaffer and (goalkeeping coach) Jim Stewart to decide whether that happens or not but I would love an opportunity to show what I can do.'

Rangers manager Ally McCoist is hoping to sign Kilmarnock goalkeeper Cammy Bell on a pre-contract agreement and also trying to extend Neil Alexander's contract, stating he would send Gallacher on loan if both deals come off.

Gallacher added: 'I'm glad the management have the trust in me to offer me an extended stay and I'm looking to repay them for that.

'There has been a bit of speculation about goalkeepers lately and Rangers are a massive club so you're always going to have that.

'That's something you get used to and accept. You take it as it comes but all I can do is do my best and hope things work in my favour.'

Darren Bent Stoke City transfer target

Get Bent! Stoke favourites to sign 10m Villa striker after Lambert hauls him off at half-time

By
John Drayton

PUBLISHED:

10:38 GMT, 30 January 2013

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UPDATED:

11:10 GMT, 30 January 2013

Stoke are leading the chase to sign Darren Bent after the striker was substituted at half-time during Aston Villa's 2-1 loss at home to Newcastle last night.

The England international has started just seven Premier League games this season with Villa boss Paul Lambert preferring to use Christian Benteke as a lone striker.

He was given a chance last night but Lambert was clearly not impressed.

Benched: Bent was ineffectual against Newcastle on Tuesday night

Benched: Bent was ineffectual against Newcastle on Tuesday night

Up to eight Premier League clubs are known to be monitoring Bent's situation but Villa, who fell into the bottom three after last night's defeat, do not want to sell to clubs near the foot of the table.

Stoke do not fall into that category and if they are prepared to meet Villa's 10million asking price then Bent could be theirs.

The 28-year-old's 75,000-a-week wage
demands could prove a stumbling block but with both Villa and Bent keen
to part ways a deal could be forced through before the transfer window
shuts tomorrow night.

Out of favour: Lambert has preferred Benteke to Bent up front this season

Out of favour: Lambert has preferred Benteke to Bent up front this season

Out of favour: Lambert has preferred Benteke to Bent up front this season

Bent, who has 16 caps for England, cost
Villa 18m rising to 24m only two years ago but they are prepared to
cut their losses and let the former Sunderland and Tottenham man leave.

Stoke's pursuit of Bent has been stepped up as QPR attempt to lure Potters striker Peter Crouch back to Loftus Road.

Stoke boss Tony Pulis confirmed he received an inquiry from his QPR counterpart Harry Redknapp about Crouch.

'Harry has rung me up and asked me about the possibility,' Pulis said.

Wanted man: QPR are hoping to bring Crouch back to Loftus Road

Wanted man: QPR are hoping to bring Crouch back to Loftus Road

'I have spoken to Peter about it and
then it is up to Peter whether he wants to go. Peter is very happy here
and he has made that clear.

'The important thing for me is that if he does want to go, it has to be right for us and also we have to make sure we have someone who will come in and do the same job.

'To do all that over two days is going to be ever so difficult.'

Tom Daley"s mum Debbie hits back at David Sparkes after Splash! criticism – EXCLUSIVE

EXCLUSIVE: Tom's Olympic medal probably kept you in your job. He turned down his friends and holidays to keep diving after the Games. Isn't it time you left my son alone

PUBLISHED:

22:00 GMT, 9 January 2013

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UPDATED:

11:12 GMT, 10 January 2013

British Swimming chief executive David Sparkes this week criticised Olympic bronze medallist Tom Daley's decision to appear on ITV's Saturday night diving show Splash!, saying the 18-year-old should have waited until the end of his competitive career.

Last February, Sparkes hit out at Daley's non-diving commitments, agreeing with British Diving's performance director that Daley was in danger of failing to fulfil his talent.

Here, Daley's mother Debbie responds…

Belly-flop: Tom Daley has been criticised by the chief of British Swimming for his part in TV show Splash!

Belly-flop: Tom Daley has been criticised by the chief of British Swimming for his part in TV show Splash!

Slated: David Sparkes

Slated: Tom Daley's TV show has been widely criticised

Slated: British Swimming chief David Sparkes (left) said he was concerned Daley was not paying enough attention to his diving career by appearing on television

Dear Mr Sparkes,

We last spoke at Loughborough in June
2011 after you asked for Tom to do a favour for you and open a sports
park at Loughborough. I don't believe that you spoke much to Tom
directly in 2012, other than to briefly congratulate him on his medal. Since the media is your preferred method of communication, I thought that I should do the same.

As Tom's mum, I take a lot of pride
in the way he handles himself. I am sure that he will make mistakes
along the way, but to date he is doing a lot right. I find it incredible
that you want to criticise him so publicly, when he does so much for
your organisation and for sport in the UK – and worse, you do it by
giving your opinion without any thought. You did not speak to Tom – or
his agent – first. Is this a good way for a CEO to operate

Statement: Debbie Daley has written an open letter to the man who has accused her son of putting fame ahead of diving

Statement: Debbie Daley has written an open letter to the man who has accused her son of putting fame ahead of diving

As far as I'm aware, Tom was one of
the few major success stories for British Swimming this summer… and
possibly one of the athletes that helped you retain your job. Others say
that your performance was the worst of any CEO in British sport. Surely
you should be thanking Tom and showing your support and gratitude

His target was to achieve a medal and
he delivered, becoming the first British individual diver in 52 years
to get an Olympic medal. Not only this, but immediately after the
Games, when most athletes were enjoying themselves, Tom went back to
intense training for five weeks to prepare for the Junior World
Championships. Since you didn't speak with Tom during this period, let
me shed some light on how he coped.

Mentor: Daley sat beside the pool applauding his students as they dived in

Mentor: Daley sat beside the pool applauding his students as they dived in

Making a Splash! Vernon Kay and Gabby Logan co-host the television programme

Making a Splash! Vernon Kay and Gabby Logan co-host the television programme

All smiles: Daley (right) has been accused of 'putting the cart before the horse' in his media appearances

All smiles: Daley (right) was accused of 'putting the cart before the horse' in his media appearances

For an individual who is normally so
motivated, going back to intense training after the climax of the Games
was a real struggle: I'm sure he won't mind me saying he lacked drive
and motivation. Andy Banks, his coach, expressed concern that this was
being reflected in his training.

Everyone else was taking long
holidays, partying, celebrating exams, while Tom had to get straight
back to diving. You must remember what you did the summer you were 18
years old We even discussed with Andy the option of him backing out of
the competition. I was concerned Tom would crumble as the impact of the
previous 24 months finally came on top of him.

Success: Daley claimed bronze at the London Games

Success: Daley claimed bronze at the London Games

Perhaps you need to be reminded that
not only was Tom taking on the pressures of the biggest sporting event
in his life, not to mention a home Games, but during this period he also
lost his biggest supporter, his dad.

My bond with my son has always been
strong but Rob was Tom's rock, friend and role model; he would be
spitting mad if he had read your media attacks on him over the past 12
months and would have given you a franker view than mine.

However, Tom didn't want to back out.
While the competition had no real incentive for him, Tom had made the
commitment to his performance director Alexei Evangulov and to British
Diving and – despite me trying to convince him otherwise – he got his
head down and ploughed on. He said he'd take a break after, so what was
five more weeks of training

Any mum will know that for an
18-year-old to make this decision requires a lot of self-discipline. Tom
was being offered opportunities left, right and centre to appear at
exciting award ceremonies, red-carpet events, five-star holidays, not to
mention the fact he hadn't 'hung out' with his friends for the past
four months.

So off to Australia he went alone
(none of his direct coaching team went, which highlights the importance
of this competition) and he came away with not just one, but two gold
medals – one in an event he doesn't normally compete in. I was so proud
of him. A great way to end the year. Now it was about time for my son
to have some fun and let his hair down. He had done his job. He had
also played a key role in funding your organisation. So can you not see
why I'm so angry with your lack of support

Your comments in February 2012 were a
big enough blow: Tom was five months away from the biggest competition
in his life where he should have as much support as possible and you
spoke out to him via the media after Alexei had let emotion take over at
a press conference and after Tom's team had met your team to discuss
the real issues.

Pressure: Daley was under intense scrutiny during and in the build up to last summer's Games

Pressure: Daley was under intense scrutiny during and in the build up to last summer's Games

As it turned out, one of the issues
then was that there was a lack of funding for a masseur for Tom, which
Alexei wanted… so Tom – not British Swimming – funded this. From memory it cost Tom 3,000. We said nothing at the time.

The other issue was a trip to Sydney
Zoo organised by British Swimming where he was swamped by fans. Alexei
hated this. However, British Swimming – not Tom – organised the visit.
So to now see your remarks three-and-a-half years before the next
Olympics makes me so angry.

A leader should motivate his team,
not make them think: 'Why do I bother'

Tom has always worked his hardest
when it comes to his training. Diving has always taken priority. We
have all worked closely with Tom's coaching team (Andy and Alexei) plus
Tom's agents to create a plan that ensures he has the best path for
success.

Do you communicate with anyone,
David Perhaps you should try to talk to Tom Of course the headlines
make you look important and help protect you should Tom not deliver any
medals. Wouldn't it be better to work with one of your most important
athletes rather than against him

Had you been kept up to date you
would know that we all agreed to keep Tom's commercial days to a minimum
and ensured no training was missed in the two years prior to the Games
unless approved by everybody.

The irony is that while all Tom's
sponsors respected this and used no days in the months leading up to the
Games, the only request that was not originally approved came from
British Swimming. Funny how things change when it suits British
Swimming!

It's also baffling that you openly
criticise Tom when you yourself have called in special favours for Tom
to make appearances (such as that eight-hour trip to Loughborough in
2011 when I last saw you).

Tom trained in December, also
attending an intensive training camp the week before Christmas, and
continues to train this month. Splash! is now one weekend day of his
time. His coach and mentor is also part of the show. If you were
worried, why did you not speak to Andy If you had actually watched
Splash! you would have seen him as a judge.

The Chinese comparisons really annoy
me – and I know that they annoy Tom. He was not born in Beijing. He was
born in Plymouth. I saw a documentary a few years ago which showed the
Chinese boot-camp style of training in sport. This is not Tom. He would
not function if his life was just diving.

He is very bright, works incredibly
hard and over the last 10 years has given up so much to focus on his
2012 Olympic goal. I know that he will do the same for 2016. However,
Tom is never going to lead a lifestyle similar to a Chinese diver.

I am sure that he will always be the
best he can be in his sport. Splash! is an appropriate show for Tom.
Yes, it can improve following the first show. However, a lot of
grandparents, mums, teenagers and kids loved it.

As you did not watch the show, I can
tell you that it is a diving show and it promotes a key sport that is
under your leadership.

Cautious: Sugababe Jade Ewen prepares to take her first dive on the Saturday night TV show

Proud: Omid Djalili also appears on the show

Cringe-making: Sugababe Jade Ewen (left) and Omid Djalili take the plunge on the show

Oh dear: The likes of Helen Lederer are taught to dive by Daley in the ITV show

Oh dear: The likes of Helen Lederer are taught to dive by Daley in the ITV show

Oh dear: The likes of Helen Lederer are taught to dive by Daley in the ITV show

You told Tom's agent on Monday that it would do
nothing to help the sport in the UK. How ironic to see that your marketing
department has today promoted watching Splash! on Twitter to British
Swimming's followers. So you are worried about Tom's performances
Well, I am worried about yours.

A leader should motivate his team,
not make them think: 'Why do I bother' Did you speak out to protect
your UK Sport funding and be seen to do the right thing for them Well,
if UK Sport want to demotivate the key person in a sport, carry on
David. Good work.

While you may want Tom to do more
training, I would like you to do leadership, media and motivation
courses. Tom may benefit from some UK Sport funding but he has to fund
his own life from sponsorship and media work. When the Splash!
opportunity came to us, it was a completely appropriate one for him and
we also believed that it would help our sport long term – there is not a
lot of diving or swimming for that matter on television, David. That is
meant to be your job.

Tom, though, is just giving some
advice and encouragement – and having some fun. I am glad that he is
doing Splash! even though I don't like to read negative reviews of the
show. Those opinions, though, I can handle. Yours I would like you to
manage given your role within the sport and the impact that it is having
on my son.

Yours sincerely,

Debbie Daley

Sunderland expect Danny Graham to sign once Swansea agree deal for Kenwyne Jones

Graham set to join Sunderland for 4m once Swansea agree deal for Stoke striker Jones

By
John Edwards

PUBLISHED:

16:51 GMT, 9 January 2013

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UPDATED:

17:24 GMT, 9 January 2013

Sunderland are confident of seeing off a late challenge from QPR for Danny Graham and believe they would have signed him by now but for a snag over Kenwyne Jones’ proposed move to Swansea.

Sportsmail exclusively revealed last Friday that Sunderland manager Martin O’Neill had launched a bid to take the 27-year-old Swansea striker back to his native North East.

QPR have now joined Norwich, Reading and Aston Villa as the other challengers for his signature, but Sunderland still firmly believe they will win the race.

Out of favour: Graham could be set to leave Swansea

Out of favour: Graham could be set to leave Swansea

O’Neill is convinced Graham would have been preparing for his debut by now but for Swansea and Stoke failing to reach an agreement over Jones.

Stoke rejected a Swansea request to take Jones on loan with a view to a permanent deal. They are now waiting for Liberty Stadium bosses to come back with an offer that meets their valuation.

Once Swansea have secured a replacement for Graham – and they remain hopeful it will be Jones – the former Watford star will be allowed to leave for around 4million, with the Stadium of Light his likely destination.

Heading to Swansea: Jones (left) is set to swap Stoke for the Liberty Stadium

Heading to Swansea: Jones (left) is set to swap Stoke for the Liberty Stadium

Joey Barton is hoping to stay in Marseille for longer and terminate his contract at QPR

Barton and QPR ready to terminate contract and make French holiday permanent

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UPDATED:

11:19 GMT, 27 December 2012

Joey Barton could stay at Marseille for longer than his 12-month loan as it is understood QPR chiefs have encouraged him to terminate his contract by mutual consent.

He has won over the Olympique Marseille club and fans since going on loan at the end of August and, as he is still in receipt of almost 300,000 a month from his parent club.

QPR are keen to do both themselves and the Ligue 1 title challengers a favour and make him a free agent.

Barton has quickly become popular amongst Marseille supporters in his seven matches

Fans' favourite: Barton has quickly become popular amongst Marseille supporters in his seven matches

He has made seven appearances for Elie Baup’s side, and despite being banned from making his debut until late November, has certainly settled in.

According to Le Phoceen, QPR bosses have already spoken with Barton to raise the issue, and the player has gone on record to say he will not be returning to Loftus Road.

The controversial midfielder has lost nothing of his aggressive side since his move to France

No holding back: The controversial midfielder has lost nothing of his aggressive side since his move to France

The 30-year old may, however, choose to return to England or move elsewhere in Europe.

Valencia have previous reported interest and he has also been touted as a potential replacement for Marouane Fellaini at Everton.

David Villa is Chelsea loan target

EXCLUSIVE: Chelsea fight to bring in Barca striker Villa on loan in bid to help Torres

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UPDATED:

08:24 GMT, 26 December 2012

Chelsea are preparing to join the dash for Spain and Barcelona striker David Villa as Rafa Benitez seeks firepower to complement Fernando Torres.

Having restored the goal instinct of Torres within a month of taking over from Roberto Di Matteo, Benitez is keen to provide more support and cover for his only established centre forward.

Target: Chelsea want Fernando Torres's compatriot David Villa to move from Barcelona on loan

Target: Chelsea want Fernando Torres's compatriot David Villa to move from Barcelona on loan

Bayer Leverkusen’s versatile young
striker Andre Schurrle remains a serious target but Villa is available,
possibly on a loan deal until the end of the season, which means he
would not interfere with Chelsea’s long-term pursuit of Radamel Falcao.

Benitez accepts it will be difficult
and expensive to prise the Colombia striker Falcao from Atletico Madrid
next month but this swoop — or even a move for Newcastle United’s Demba
Ba — may be more achievable in the summer.

Villa provides an attractive short-term solution for Chelsea. At 31, Spain’s record goalscorer does not
fit their ideal profile for young players with their best years ahead of
them but he is fading from favour at the Nou Camp and knows how to
dovetail with Torres after their years together at international level.

Villa is understood to earn 110,000 a week, which is near the top of the Stamford Bridge pay structure but not out of reach.

He can operate at centre forward if
Torres is unavailable or play from wide either side, giving Benitez a
valuable option in his quest to rotate his support strikers and keep
them fresh.

Arsenal are among other clubs
interested in Villa, who has not started a La Liga game for Barcelona
since mid-November, but the Champions League will not provide any
incentive for the striker because he is already cup-tied in that
competition. However, he would be free to play for Chelsea in the Europa
League.

Support: Villa could play with Torres or replace him up front if he needs a rest

Support: Villa could play with Torres or replace him up front if he needs a rest

Daniel Sturridge’s proposed move to Liverpool means that Chelsea must recruit in January.

The back-up option is to recall
Romelu Lukaku from West Bromwich Albion, although it is widely agreed
that the best thing for the teenager’s continued development is to spend
the rest of the season at the Hawthorns.

Radar: Demba Ba and Bayer Leverkusen's Andre Schurrle are both other options for Rafa Benitez

Radar: Demba Ba and Bayer Leverkusen's Andre Schurrle are both other options for Rafa Benitez

Radar: Demba Ba and Bayer Leverkusen's Andre Schurrle are both other options for Rafa Benitez

Winger Victor Moses played as a
centre forward for the last 23 minutes of the 8-0 romp against Aston
Villa on Sunday but he has been named in the Nigeria squad for the
Africa Cup of Nations. Nigeria have also selected John Mikel Obi and
have asked players to report to a training camp in Portugal on Thursday.

Eden Hazard featured at centre forward
in a disastrous experiment away to Juventus in the Champions League.
Chelsea lost 3-0, a defeat which virtually sealed their fate in the
competition, and Di Matteo was sacked a few hours later.

Didn't work out: Eden Hazard played up front for Chelsea against Juventus

Didn't work out: Eden Hazard played up front for Chelsea against Juventus