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Arsene Wenger hails Gervinho after Arsenal beat Reading

Wenger hails Gervinho as Arsenal stay in the hunt for Champions League place

By
Jim Van Wijk, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

20:44 GMT, 30 March 2013

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UPDATED:

20:44 GMT, 30 March 2013

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger hailed the confident display of Gervinho after the Ivory Coast forward set the Gunners on the way to a 4-1 win over relegation-battlers Reading which kept them in the hunt for Champions League qualification.

Gervinho has often cut a controversial figure among supporters following a string of frustrating displays following an 11million move from Lille in July 2011.

However, the 25-year-old was on the money this afternoon, opening the scoring on 11 minutes and having a hand in everything positive as Arsenal eventually broke the Royals stubborn resistance again at the start of the second half when Santi Cazorla sweeping home. Olivier Giroud added a third following a quick break by Gervinho.

Key role: Gervinho was praised by Arsene Wenger following his performance against Reading

Key role: Gervinho was praised by Arsene Wenger following his performance against Reading

Hal Robson-Kanu headed in a consolation for Nigel Adkins' men, but there was to be no recovery to mark their new manager's first match in charge as Mikel Arteta's penalty made sure Arsenal closed up on Chelsea in the race for fourth-spot and also remained within striking distance of Tottenham, on whom they hold a match in hand.

'Gervinho's performance was very strong. He was always dangerous, always looked like he could score, gave assists and scored himself,' Wenger said.

'I believe that sometimes Gervinho has lost confidence because he played in a very negative atmosphere during a period. Strikers need confidence, and [with] his game, even more.

Winning feeling: Gervinho celebrates with team mate Bacary Sagna after the 4-1 victory

Winning feeling: Gervinho celebrates with team mate Bacary Sagna after the 4-1 victory

'He was always taking the ball and going forward, and provoking. When you lose confidence, that is a very dangerous game then.

'When he has found the confidence back, he's a very dangerous player.

'At the African Nations Cup, for me he was the best striker there. He is the type of player who is difficult to find, because they always go at people.'

Wenger was pleased with the final result for his side, who have now won six of their last eight league games and also won 2-0 away over Bayern Munich in the Champions League, although still bowing out of Europe.

'I enjoyed our technical side, our creative side, our spirit and how disciplined and focused we were,' said Wenger.

Mind the gap: Arsene Wenger fighting for Champions League qualification

Mind the gap: Arsene Wenger fighting for Champions League qualification

'The regret you have is that there were more goals in this game than the number of goals we scored.

'Overall, it's a good basis to finish the season well. Let's just keep that spirit, that attitude and play the football we want to play.'

Wenger called for his side to keep their performances high over the run-in, with little margin for error if they are to gatecrash the top four once again.

'What we do is we look at the table and we are still behind Chelsea and Tottenham. We are not in a calculation mode,' he said.

'We can just win our next game and continue to do what we do at the moment.

'We are on a run so let's take care of the quality of our game and that run. After, we'll see where we stand.

On target: Gervinho was on the scoresheet

On target: Gervinho was on the scoresheet

'It (Champions League qualification) will be less predictable than it was predicted. We have a word to say in that and we want to give our best to do it.'

For Reading, meanwhile, the outlook is not so positive as the defeat sent them bottom of the table on goal difference, some seven points adrift of safety.

However, with a home clash against former club Southampton, Adkins is not about to throw in the towel just yet.

He said: 'We have had a bit of a fragmented week with the change, and players away on international duty, trying to get to grips with where we want to go and what to do is going to be challenging.

'We wanted to get something here, but didn't. Arsenal kept the ball very well.

'We will analyse it now, debrief back with the players, take the lessons from it and work very hard on the training ground for the next one.

'You can't change everything straight away, but we will all work hard together to give us a chance in the next game.'

Adkins added: 'The spirit is there in the group, and all we can do is take it one match at a time – there here and now is putting this one to bed, working hard over the course of the week for the next one.'

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

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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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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

Rory McIlroy signs Nike deal in Abu Dhabi to set him on way to billion dollar prize

Billion dollar Rory! Nike deal sets McIlroy on his way to UK record haul… but Ryder Cup storm clouds threaten his Abu Dhabi party

By
Derek Lawrenson

PUBLISHED:

22:48 GMT, 14 January 2013

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UPDATED:

23:09 GMT, 14 January 2013

Dude, is that your real hair

Watch the first Nike advert featuring both new signing Rory McIlroy and original superstar Tiger Woods.

Rory McIlroy took a major step to becoming the United Kingdom's first billion-dollar sportsman after he was officially unveiled as a Nike athlete.

At a press conference in Abu Dhabi filled with glitz and glamour, the Northern Irishman, 23, signed a $25million-a-year (about 15.5m) contract that, alongside tournament earnings and appearance fees of similar magnitude, could see him break the 10-figure earnings barrier before he finishes his glittering career.

Jack Nicklaus was 46 when he won his last major and the legendary Arnold Palmer is still raking in $20m (about 12.4m) a year in sponsorship despite now being in his eighties.

Just done it: Rory McIlroy has signed a sponsorship deal with Nike that will see him net 155m

Just done it: Rory McIlroy has signed a sponsorship deal with Nike that will see him net 155m

Just done it: Rory McIlroy has signed a sponsorship deal with Nike that will see him net 155m

If McIlroy can avoid the scandals that have affected other Nike athletes such as Tiger Woods and Lance Armstrong and keep his form, that gargantuan billion-dollar figure is clearly within range.

McIlroy was welcomed into the fold by fellow Nike superstars Wayne Rooney, Roger Federer and Woods himself. Messages of support from the trio were played on a big screen behind where McIlroy and Cindy Davis, president of Nike Golf, were sitting.

Spectacular: McIlroy's image was projected onto water at a glitzy ceremony in Abu Dhabi on Monday

Spectacular: McIlroy's image was projected onto water at a glitzy ceremony in Abu Dhabi on Monday

Spectacular: McIlroy's image was projected onto water at a glitzy ceremony in Abu Dhabi on Monday

No details of the Nike deal have been revealed but the initial contract is believed to be worth up to $25m a year and could run for a decade. That equates to around $68,000 (over 42,000) a day but McIlroy vowed not to let the staggering sums of money distract him from his game.

Rory the cleaner's son mops up

Read Derek Lawrenson's verdict on the sponsorship deal that everyone is talking about…

'I don't play golf for money, I am well past that,' he said. 'I am a major champion and world No 1, which I have always dreamed of being, and I want to keep on living the dream. If I haven't won another major by the end of this year I am going to be very disappointed.'

McIIroy's megabucks deal heralded what promises to be a momentous week in Abu Dhabi, with Europe's Ryder Cup captain due to be announced on Tuesday.

The Holywood star reiterated his backing for Paul McGinley but there are plenty of whispers that the 15-man Tournament Players' Committee, who have the vote, might go for Scot Colin Montgomerie on home soil at Gleneagles next year.

If that happens, McIlroy might find himself leading a revolt among the men who were at Medinah.

Welcome to the big time: McIlroy joins Tiger Woods in earning a huge sum as the face of Nike's golf division

Welcome to the big time: McIlroy joins Tiger Woods in earning a huge sum as the face of Nike's golf division

Sunderland to consider loan move out Ji-Dong Won, the first hero of 2012

Whatever happened to Sunderland's first hero of 2012, Ji the City slayer

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UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 25 December 2012

Ji Dong-won may have been forgiven for believing that his dramatic late winner against Manchester City would kick-start his Sunderland career.

But while Martin O’Neill leapt high into the air when the South Korea striker bundled the ball round Joe Hart on the first day of 2012, the Sunderland manager has barely played him since.

Good old days: Ji Dong-Won's Sunderland career has failed to take off since his memorable goal against Manchester City on the first day of 2012

Good old days: Ji Dong-Won's Sunderland career has failed to take off since his memorable goal against Manchester City on the first day of 2012

The 21-year-old, who was signed by
Steve Bruce from Chunnam Dragons 18 months ago, played only six games
after New Year’s Day and has yet to feature at all this season.

Hundreds of Korean visitors still go
to the Stadium of Light hoping to see the South Korea Olympic squad
member, only to find him forlornly sitting in the stands in his club
suit and tie.

Ji, who is also a cult figure with
Sunderland supporters, has been linked with a move back to Chunnam
Dragons and O’Neill admitted the striker may have to go out on loan to
revive his Sunderland career.

O’Neill said: ‘It has been tough for
him. He has had a difficult time trying to learn his trade and I have
to look at that, realise how young he is and how far away from home he
is but he has the makings of a player.

‘He has found it difficult to cope with the physical aspect but he has natural talent and it is really up to him.

‘There have been a number of inquiries about our players and all I can say is that it has been a frustrating time for him.

‘He played in the Olympics, didn’t always start the games but he perhaps thought after that goal it would be lift-off time.

‘If there was a possibility of a loan
spell I would give it some consideration, although I can’t at the minute
while we consider in-coming players.’

Everton captain Phil Neville set for 500th Premier League game, the seventh ever

500 club! Everton captain Neville set to become seventh man in illustrious group

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UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 25 December 2012

Phil Neville will add his name to an illustrious group on Boxing Day when he becomes only the seventh man to make 500 appearances in the Barclays Premier League.

During a career that spans 19 years, Everton’s captain has won almost every honour in the game and represented England on 59 occasions but his ambition and determination to make the most of every day means he is reaching the landmark figure quicker than expected.

Fergie's fledgling: Phil Neville was at United from 1995

Fergie's fledgling: Phil Neville was at United from 1995

End/start: Neville left Manchester United in 2005

End/start: Neville left Manchester United in 2005

Skipper: He has led Everton with distinction since 2007

Skipper: He has led Everton with distinction since 2007

NEVILLE IN NUMBERS

19: Seasons in the Premier League… 11 at United and eight at Everton

3: Red cards 82: Yellow cards 9: Goals scored
263: Matches for United 444: starts

MILESTONES

First game: United v Manchester City (February 11, 1995)

100th: United v Middlesbrough (May 9, 1999)

200th: United v Southampton (November 2, 2002)

300th: Everton v Tottenham (August 26, 2006)

400th: Everton v Aston Villa (April 12, 2009)

TOP 10 IN THE PREMIER LEAGUE

Ryan Giggs 607
David James 572
Gary Speed 535
Frank Lampard 531
Emile Heskey 516
Sol Campbell 503
PHIL NEVILLE 499
Paul Scholes 495
Jamie Carragher 491
Mark Schwarzer 486
*Brother Gary played 400

Neville, after all, only had surgery to correct a knee problem in November that should have meant he was laid up for eight weeks.

However, when he returned to Everton’s starting line-up at West Ham on Saturday, it was only 36 days after his operation.

Though he will be 36 in January, Neville’s enthusiasm remains undiminished and it has prompted Everton manager David Moyes — whose side will be aiming to consolidate their grip on a place in the top five with victory against Wigan — to label him as the model professional.

‘People would be amazed by the amount of work and conditioning Phil has put in to get himself right,’ said Moyes.

'He continually works hard. He is in every morning at 8.30am, he doesn’t leave until late. The rehabilitation work he puts himself through — never at any stage does he complain.

'He just continually pushed himself to try and get back. The biggest impact that it should have on everyone is the manner of what he has done.

'They might not say it but I think they would all have to have admiration for how he continually prepares himself and the way he goes about playing.

'It has helped him recover from this injury. We will have to look after him. He has had a bit of cartilage taken away, so we will have to be careful that it is not bone on bone in his knee. I might need to try to calm him down a bit!'

Cheers, bro: Neville remains close with his brother Gary, with whom he broke through at United

Cheers, bro: Neville remains close with his brother Gary, with whom he broke through at United

Better together: His relationship with David Moyes has helped Everton thrive

Better together: His relationship with David Moyes has helped Everton thrive

Very few players have left Old
Trafford during Sir Alex Ferguson’s reign and gone on to enjoy
successful careers elsewhere but Neville has been an integral part of
Everton’s development under Moyes, who hugely appreciates his captain’s
achievement in reaching 500 appearances.

'It
says a lot about what he’s done,’ said Moyes, who has certainly got
value for money from Neville since signing him for 3.5million in August
2005.

'But it doesn’t
surprise me because his mentality and his attitude to the game have been
great since he came from Manchester United.'

Pedigree: The midfielder has played for England 59 times, though not since 2007

Pedigree: The midfielder has played for England 59 times, though not since 2007

Neville has six months remaining on his current contract and Moyes added: 'He’s been a great signing. The best person to talk about (the future) is Phil because I’ve already spoken to him and he just wants to see how his body is.

'He's just back from a knee operation and he would be the first one to say that we should just see how his knee is. I don’t think he sees any great panic in it at this moment in time.'

SPORTSMAIL'S FIVE FAVOURITE NEVILLE MOMENTS
Phil Neville's Manchester United debut v Manchester City (February 11, 1995)

Manchester United debut v Manchester City (February 11, 1995)

Neville played at right back (right) in the fabled defence that included Bruce, Pallister and Schmeichel, as Paul Ince, Andrei Kanchelskis and Andy Cole secured a 3-0 win.

Setting up Eric Cantona at St James’ Park (March 4, 1996)

His surge down the left flank and cross for Cantona led to United beating Newcastle 1-0 and the victory gave Ferguson’s side the impetus to go on to win the Premier League title. It was the first of Neville’s six gongs.

Winning goal at Chelsea (February 28, 1998)

Neville has only scored nine goals in his 499 appearances to date but this, in a 1-0 victory, was the pick of the bunch, a bending right-foot effort that gave Dmitri Kharine no chance.

Everton debut v Manchester United (August 13, 2005)

If there were any doubts Neville would
struggle to adjust to life after Old Trafford, they were banished in
his first Everton game. Everton may have lost 2-0 but he was
outstanding.

Season-changing tackle on Cristiano Ronaldo (October 25, 2008)

Everton were in the doldrums when they
faced his old side, and losing 1-0, but a thundering challenge on
Ronaldo (below) altered the course of the game – Everton drew 1-1 – and sparked a
run that carried them to fifth.

Phil Neville's season-changing tackle on Cristiano Ronaldo (October 25, 2008)

Tom Watson named United States Ryder Cup captain

Watson named Ryder Cup captain as United States ask legend to lead them into battle at Gleneagles

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UPDATED:

17:45 GMT, 13 December 2012

Tom Watson has been named United States Ryder Cup captain for the battle with the Europeans at Gleneagles in 2014.

The greatest Open champion of the past 100 years, the man of principle who rigidly refused to use the crutch of the belly putter even while crippled with a form of the yips, picks up the captaincy in at an age when most people are content to pick up their bus pass.

Three weeks after his 65th birthday, Watson won’t be a father figure to most of the team he will lead at Gleneagles but a grandfatherly one. Not only is he the oldest American captain of all time, he is a good decade older than any captain of either side for more than 40 years.

Leader: Tom Watson will captain the United States Ryder Cup team at Gleneagles in 2014

Leader: Tom Watson will captain the United States Ryder Cup team at Gleneagles in 2014

Leader: Tom Watson (right) will captain the United States Ryder Cup team at Gleneagles in 2014
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING

DARREN CLARKE (Europe’s likely captain in 2014): ‘Obviously if Tom does get it, he is one of the legends of the game. I am sure he would be a fantastic captain, not just to the team but for the whole aspect of the Ryder Cup. The man is a huge name in the world of golf and rightly so.’

BERNARD GALLACHER (European captain opposite Watson in 1993): 'It is a surprise. The USPGA obviously decided they needed a bit of experience in Scotland and Tom is probably the most respected figure in the game today.

'He's done the job before, he's been there as a player, he knows how to win in Europe and in Scotland as well.'

WEBB SIMPSON (2012 US Ryder Cup player): ‘I think he would be amazing. Such a remarkable player and person and he demands respect just by the kind of player he has been. He’s like a quiet lion. It would be an honour to play for him.’

BRANDT SNEDEKER (2012 US Ryder Cup player): ‘I am surprised but excited. Tom is a good friend of mine, one of the best players to ever play the game who is instantly going to gain a lot of respect and sway the homefield advantage for us in Scotland because of his success over there.’

PAUL AZINGER (2008 US Ryder Cup captain): ‘Truthfully, I am really surprised but I think it’s OK. There’s a philosophy of picking contemporary players under the age of 50 that hasn’t really worked. That would have been a great philosophy had we been winning, but we haven’t, which makes Watson a good choice at this time.’

LANNY WADKINS (played under Watson in 1993): ‘Tom is just one of those guys who always believes. He doesn’t go out there to have fun. He goes out there to kick butt and get the job done. That’s really what the PGA of America, in my opinion, are thinking what needs to happen.’

On Thursday Watson appeared on NBC television before a teleconference at the Empire State Building in New York.

He said: 'I was waiting 20 years to get the call again,' he said. 'It's a great honour to do it again and this time it is going to be 14 and a half points.

'I loved it the first time. I've been a great fan of the Ryder Cup – I get the same gut feeling just watching it at home on TV.'

Inevitably, there will be eyebrows
raised as to how a man who will not be rubbing shoulders with his
players week-in, week-out can somehow mould them into a team.

It is a
reasonable question, one that Sir Nick Faldo failed to answer in 2008,
and he had been only a few years removed from the scene, not 13 long
seasons like Watson.

But there are other more persuasive
reasons that suggest this could turn out to be an inspired move by the
PGA of America rather than an illogical one.

Firstly, in four Ryder Cups as a
player and one as a captain, Watson has never been on a losing side.
Given that losing has become a habit for the US, with seven defeats in
the past nine matches, that winning mentality he has always possessed
can only be for the good.

But here’s the main reason I think
he has been selected. Since Watson captained America to victory at The
Belfry in 1993 — their last triumph on foreign soil — we have seen four
American skippers in Tom Kite, Curtis Strange, Tom Lehman and Corey
Pavin dwarfed by the personalities of their European counterparts — Seve
Ballesteros, Sam Torrance, Ian Woosnam and Colin Montgomerie.

Think back to the last match at
Celtic Manor, where Montgomerie was lording it gloriously and his
opposite number appeared even smaller than his diminutive self after
being labelled ‘Crazy Pavin’.

Momentum is everything in a Ryder Cup and Europe began each of those
matches with it all in their favour because four larger-than-life
captains had set the tone against four US skippers with no profile
outside their own country.

Now look at the two men put forward
to lead in 2014: the immensely popular Darren Clarke and the relatively
unknown David Toms. Is it any wonder the PGA of America looked at that
prospective scenario and wearily thought to themselves: ‘We’ve seen this
movie before’.

Tartan Army: Scottish golf fans love Watson - he won four Opens north of the border

Tartan Army: Scottish golf fans love Watson – he won four Opens north of the border

Now, in going for a true legend who could not be held in higher esteem in Europe, they have changed the dynamic completely.

Watson, lest we forget, won four of
his five Open titles in Scotland, where he might even be more popular
than Andy Murray. In the press room, Clarke’s blarney would have been
infinitely more quotable than the genuine but quiet Toms, while among
the paying spectators filling the grandstands there would have been no
contest.

But Watson, with all his wit,
charisma and integrity, is a different matter. For the first time in 19
years at an away match, America will not mentally feel a couple of
points down at the start.

Squaring up: Darren Clarke (right) is set to captain Europe - following on from Jose Maria Olazabal (centre)

Squaring up: Darren Clarke (right) is set to captain Europe – following on from Jose Maria Olazabal (centre)

As for the team room, Watson might
not know much about the music tastes and personalities of his players
but it is hard to imagine there will be a member of the US side who will
not look up to him and respect his decisions. Well, maybe there is one.
In 2010, at the height of the Tiger Woods scandal, Watson was scathing
in his criticism.

‘I feel Tiger has not carried the
same stature as the other great players that have come along like Jack
(Nicklaus), /12/12/article-2246805-05C54D86000005DC-660_634x408.jpg” width=”634″ height=”408″ alt=”Fairytale: Watson was so close to winning The Open at Turnberry in 2009 before Stewart Cink pipped him” class=”blkBorder” />

Fairytale: Watson was so close to winning The Open at Turnberry in 2009 before Stewart Cink pipped him

Watson’s four Open wins in Scotland
came at Carnoustie in 1975, Turnberry in 1977, Muirfield in 1980 and
Royal Troon in 1982. He came close to winning again and writing one of
the great sports stories of all time at the age of 59 at Turnberry in
2009, but he missed a short putt at the 72nd hole then lost out in a
play-off to Stewart Cink.

The man who will feel most
disappointed is the personable Toms but expect him to be chosen for
Hazeltine in 2016. Unless America win, of course. Then it will probably
be Arnold Palmer.

It's elementary: Why Watson's a real Ryder Cup hero

He has appeared in four Ryder Cups as a player (1977, ’81, ’83, ’89) and one as captain (1993) and never been on a losing side.

In 15 matches he won 10 and lost just four. He teamed up with Jack Nicklaus on four occasions and won every time.

Only one American who has played two Ryder Cups or more has a better winning percentage against Europe — Larry Nelson.

At 65 he will be the oldest American Ryder Cup captain. The previous oldest was Sam Snead, who was 57 when captain in 1969.

Watson’s message before sending his team out in the singles in 1993: ‘Remember, everything they invented, we perfected.’

He is the seventh US captain to be granted a second term of office but the first since Jack Nicklaus at Muirfield Village in 1987.

Ryder Cup pedigree: Watson and the USA's triumphant team of 1993 celebrate victory at The Belfry

Darren Bent: which Premier League clubs will move for Aston Villa misfit in January

Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool all need Darren Bent… but which Premier League clubs will make a move for Villa's 24m misfit

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UPDATED:

12:30 GMT, 29 November 2012

So what's the problem with Bent

Bent conundrum: Villa must cough up seven-figure sum if he plays three more games… so is that why he's been frozen out

Revealed: The full transcript of how Paul Lambert explains his treatment of Bent

The end of Darren Bent's Aston Villa career appears nigh after the striker spent his Tuesday evening watching his club's victory over Reading in an executive box.

Paul Lambert's decision to choose Christian Benteke over Bent up front was vindicated by a winning goal from the Belgian in a 1-0 victory. But, despite the England striker having scored over 100 goals in the Premier League, summer buy Jordan Bowery was given the nod ahead of the club's 24m record signing on the bench.

Lambert will not disclose just what his problem is with Bent, with theories ranging from a falling out between the pair or Villa's reluctance to pay another installment on his huge transfer fee, which would be due should he play three more matches for the club.

But if Bent leaves Villa in January, we reckon there are 15 Premier League clubs who could do with his goals. Here’s our list. Let us know what you think.

Darren Bent scores against West Brom

Darren Bent scores against West Brom

Hotshot: Darren Bent is an England striker with over 100 Premier League goals to his name, including this strike against West Brom on September 30

Club
Do they need him
Will they try and get him
Arsenal
Yes

No. Not Wenger’s type of player.Aston Villa
Yes They will try to get rid of him. For around 8m. Chelsea Yes He would help lift the load from Fernando Torres… but does Roman buy
many English strikers Everton
Yes
More firepower, but won’t pay fee or wages. So no.Fulham

Yes

Can’t afford him and they have Berbatov as their No1 player and ego.Liverpool Yes Yes, if the price is right.Manchester City
No
No… Tevez, Balotelli, Aguero, Dzeko.Manchester United
No
No… Rooney, RVP, Hernandez, Welbeck.Newcastle
Yes
No chance. Ex Sunderland.Norwich Yes Would he fit in the same dressing room as Grant HoltQPR
Yes If Harry gets the money, expect him to be first in the queueReading

Yes
He would surely keep them up, but can they afford himSouthampton
No
No, they’ve spent their money.
Stoke
No They have enough decent strikers, but if they sold Crouch to QPR…Sunderland
Yes
No, been there – and done that.Swansea
Yes He could be a good foil for Michu. Would he go to WalesTottenham Yes
Unlikely. They already have their fox in the box with Defoe.West BromNo No need to upset the applecart. Already have the ego of Odemwinge.West Ham
Yes They can’t afford him. Maybe a loan, if Carroll doesn’t stay.Wigan Yes More goals, more firepower but not enough money or glamour.

DO YOU WANT DARREN BENT AT YOUR CLUB

LET US KNOW IN THE COMMENTS SECTION BELOW…

Cristiano Ronaldo: I miss Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

I miss Sir Alex, says Ronaldo as Real Madrid star reveals fears over United manager's health

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UPDATED:

12:12 GMT, 16 November 2012

Cristiano Ronaldo has admitted that he misses Sir Alex Ferguson but worries that his former Manchester United manager's toughness is bad for his heart.

The Real Madrid star quit Old Trafford for the Bernabeu in the summer of 2009 after making almost 200 appearances for Ferguson's side.

Ronaldo won three Barclays Premier League titles, two FA Cups and a Champions League medal during his six-year spell at the Manchester club.

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Moving on: Ronaldo left Manchester United in 2009

Moving on: Ronaldo left Manchester United in 2009

'I really miss him because I have a great relationship with him,' Ronaldo said.

'He's a fantastic person, a human person. He taught me many things. Like I said before, he's like a father in football.'

But Ronaldo admitted the strain of managing one of the biggest clubs in world football could take its toll on the Scotsman.

Fatherly figure: Former Man United star Ronaldo admits he misses Ferguson

Fatherly figure: Former Man United star Ronaldo admits he misses Ferguson

Asked by CNN World Sport how tough Ferguson can be on his players, Ronaldo replied: 'Very tough. I think sometimes he cannot be like that because, how old is he 70 It's not good for his heart.

'He's still tough, strong, I remember him the first time I saw him he was with the same power. '

Ronaldo, who has already scored 19 times for Real Madrid, also spoke of fatherhood in the exclusive interview with CNN which is to be screened in its entirety this weekend.

'‘I think it’s the best thing in life to have a kid. ‘To wake up in the morning and to see him and say “daddy daddy” it’s like a feeling like if you really have a kid, who will know what I'm talking about. It's great. I love it.’

However, the Portugal captain also revealed he prefers giving his two-year-old son a shower than change his nappy.

‘It's not my real challenge to change diapers and I really do not like a lot, but I change a few ones.

'It's normal I'm not crazy to do that. I prefer doing other things like giving him a shower, it’s much easier. To put shampoo and conditioner it’s much easier and more fun.’

You can see the full interview on CNN International on 17 November at 2pm & 9.30pm and on 18 November at 11.30am.

Marouane Fellaini reveals Everton quit plans as Chelsea bid looms

Chelsea plot 30m Fellaini raid as Everton star hints that he wants out

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UPDATED:

09:36 GMT, 13 November 2012

Marouane Fellaini has dropped the biggest hint yet that he will be quitting Goodison Park.

The Belgian international has told press in his own country that he will be seeking a fresh challenge in the New Year.

Everton boss David Moyes has insisted he will be looking for a 'big price' should the moment come when a bid is received at the Merseyside club.

End of the road: Belgium midfielder Marouane Fellaini is ready to quit Everton for pastures new

End of the road: Belgium midfielder Marouane Fellaini is ready to quit Everton for pastures new

Sportsmail understands that Chelsea will lead the way with a 30m offer for the 24-year-old when the transfer window opens.

Fellaini is reported to have told journalists in his own country: 'I've seen everything with Everton and in January or at the end of the season, I will turn to a new club or a new league.'

As the six-foot four-inch tall attacking midfielder is eligible for the Champions League, he is an attractive target for some of European football's richest.

Hair we go: Fellaini has been in tremendous form so far this season, alerting a host of top suitors to his services

Hair we go: Fellaini has been in tremendous form so far this season, alerting a host of top suitors to his services

However, the player who has become a cult figure on Merseyside with his eye-catching head of hair, only signed an improved five-year deal little more than 12 months ago.

But the cash on offer, allied to the club's financial position, may force Moyes's hand – although the Scot is hoping that the player, who grabbed his sixth goal of the season in the Toffees' 2-1 victory over Sunderland will stay to help the club's push towards Champions League qualification themselves.

Mario Balotelli Time Magazine interview says racists will never change

Stupid racists will never change, says Balotelli in Time Magazine interview

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UPDATED:

16:46 GMT, 2 November 2012

Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli believes that nothing can be done to change the ways of racist people because they are inherently stupid.

In an interview with America's iconic Time Magazine the Italian international born to Ghanaian parents spoke frankly about the racist abuse he has suffered during his football career.

The 22-year-old was on the receiving end of racist chants while playing for Inter Milan in Italy and he believes the problem is far worse in his homeland than in England.

Cover star: Balotelli spoke to Time Magazine about racism among other things

Cover star: Balotelli spoke to Time Magazine about racism among other things

'Racist people are few and you can do nothing against [to change] them,' said Balotelli.

'You can talk, you can do what you want, but you can't do anything because they are just stupid people.

'When I wasn't famous, I had a lot of friends, almost all of them Italian,' he says. 'The racism only started when I started to play football.

Training day: City face West Ham at Upton Park on Saturday evening

Training day: City face West Ham at Upton Park on Saturday evening

'But me, personally, I hope I can help Italy to be a modern country like England or America.'

Balotelli also discussed his admiration of US President Barack Obama, revealing: 'I was really happy to see a black man be the chief [commander-in-chief]. I would like to meet him.'

Fang-tastic: Balotelli with Man City captain Vincent Kompany on Friday

Fang-tastic: Balotelli with Man City captain Vincent Kompany on Friday

Balotelli has endured a rocky relationship with City manager Roberto Mancini at times, but he told Time that he sees his countryman as a father figure.

'My relationship with Mancini is really important,' added Balotelli. 'He's known me since I was young and he's like a father to me. 'I used to play with the young children at Inter Milan, so I know him very well and I can tell him anything.'