Tag Archives: improvement

Demba Ba agrees Chelsea move from Newcastle

Ba set to join Chelsea as striker agrees three-and-a-half year deal at the Bridge

By
Neil Ashton and Sami Mokbel

PUBLISHED:

00:57 GMT, 3 January 2013

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UPDATED:

12:02 GMT, 3 January 2013

Demba Ba is on the verge of joining Chelsea from Newcastle after agreeing a three-and-a-half year contract.

The Senegal striker, left out of the Newcastle squad for the game against Everton ahead of his proposed 7million switch, underwent a medical on Wednesday.

Ba could be handed an instant role in the weekend FA Cup clash against Southampton.

Away: Demba Ba looks set to join Chelsea after being given permission to speak to the Stamford Bridge club

Away: Demba Ba looks set to join Chelsea after being given permission to speak to the Stamford Bridge club

Chelsea interim manager Rafael
Benitez said after the club's shock 1-0 defeat at home to QPR: ‘Fernando
Torres is one of the players we need to rest, he has been playing too
many games. I don’t have any official information about the situation.

'Officially he (Ba) is not our player. The club are working on it and we
can talk about him when it’s official.

‘If we can do the business then, hopefully, he can be available for the weekend.’

Newcastle confirmed Chelsea had triggered the striker’s 7m release
clause and that he had been left out of Wednesday night's 2-1 defeat to
hold talks with Chelsea officials.

The Stamford Bridge club saw off late interest from Arsenal in Ba, who,
it is understood, will earn around 70,000 a week at his new club — a
significant improvement on his terms in the North East.

Newcastle manager Alan Pardew told Sky Sports: ‘It’s done, he’ll go to Chelsea with our blessing.

Main man: Ba has been in fine form for Newcastle, scoring 13 goals in a struggling side this season

Main man: Ba has been in fine form for Newcastle, scoring 13 goals in a struggling side this season

‘For us, it’s not a bad thing because all the uncertainty over whether
he was going to stay, it’s now done. We are bigger than any player so in
some respects I’m pleased.’

Chelsea’s bid looked in the balance on Sunday after talks between Ba’s
representatives and club officials broke down over his wage demands.

Sportsmail understands Ba’s advisors initially rejected Chelsea’s
attempts to hold further talks on Monday, saying they wanted to speak
with other interested parties.

But, after a significant breakthrough, Chelsea moved quickly on Wednesday.

Get shirty: An image quickly circulated on Twitter of a Chelsea shirt being printed with 'Ba'

Get shirty: An image quickly circulated on Twitter of a Chelsea shirt being printed with 'Ba'

The Senegal striker, 27, joined Newcastle in 2011 from West Ham and has
scored 29 goals in 54 league games for them. But he has been
consistently linked with a move away from the club because of the
release clause in his contract.

Newcastle have tried several times to persuade the striker to sign a
new, improved deal in a bid to get rid of the clause but Ba has always
refused.

Benitez had put a new striker at the top of his January shopping list
after Liverpool’s 12m capture of Daniel Sturridge, which was confirmed
on Wednesday, left Torres as his only recognised striker.

Owner Roman Abramovich remains interested in Atletico Madrid’s Radamel
Falcao but it is looking increasingly likely the Russian will have to
wait until the summer to land him.

Wave goodbye: Ba looks set to bid farewell to Tyneside and move south to London

Wave goodbye: Ba looks set to bid farewell to Tyneside and move south to London

Newcastle will step up their pursuit of Marseille striker Loic Remy after Ba’s departure.

The 26-year-old France striker, who has scored 82 goals in six years in
the French league, was identified as Newcastle’s top target even before
Ba left.

Newcastle are hoping to see off late interest from QPR and West Ham to land Remy. They have also shown an interest in Ajax’s Holland youth forward Jody Lukoki.

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Everton boss David Moyes: I want to manage in Germany

Everton manager Moyes reveals desire to manage in Germany

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UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 20 December 2012

David Moyes has revealed his ambition to coach in a European league one day – and named Germany as the most appealing option.

The Everton manager is a huge admirer of German football and has been studying the framework of the Bundesliga to try to improve himself as a coach, as well as his team's performance.

Ambitious Moyes, who is set for discussions with Everton chairman Bill Kenwright next month to extend his contract, said in an interview with France Football: 'I always had the hope of being a coach abroad. If I had the choice, I would probably go to Germany, in part because of the mentality, which is similar to mine. I'm also fascinated by what happens in German football.

Part of the furniture: Moyes has been at Everton for over ten years

Part of the furniture: Moyes has been at Everton for over ten years

'They seem to have found a way of producing young players. Look at Borussia Dortmund. I saw them against Manchester City this season. They were fantastic. They put this incredible intensity on their opponents to break the tempo. It adds a new tactical level.

'If I was not working as a coach, I think I would decide to go to South America: to Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, to see how they train young people out there. That would be my project: to understand football better.'

In his 11th year in charge of Everton, Moyes has overseen a decade of massive improvement and this season they are contenders to finish in the top four.

Kenwright continues to look for investors who could make a difference and Moyes does not think a massive amount of money is required to propel Everton forward.

Flying high: Everton have been transformed under Moyes

Flying high: Everton have been transformed under Moyes

'Everton have shown stability and are going in the right direction,' said Moyes. 'We do not need a billionaire… even if we have nothing against the issue of finding one. We are a club. We are a community. Everton are for the people, for the people of Liverpool.

'From the first day I wanted to change the perception of Everton. I do not know if I could one day take Everton as far as winning titles or playing in European Cup finals but I wanted people to say, “Things are getting better. Everton are a good club, a stable club”. I wanted to make an impact.'

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Harry Redknapp tells QPR players to show they care

Four points is shameful! Redknapp tells QPR players to show they care about club

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UPDATED:

00:29 GMT, 27 November 2012

This time last year, Harry Redknapp was managing a team on a run to the top four of the Barclays Premier League.

Tottenham’s football was breathtaking, unbeaten in 10 games as Gareth Bale and Rafael van der Vaart tore into the likes of Liverpool and Arsenal.

A year on, a top-four manager who hoped to succeed Fabio Capello as England boss has taken over a team with just four points.

Prove you care: Harry Redknapp is demanding his men improve their performances

Prove you care: Harry Redknapp is demanding his men improve their performances

Rapid improvement: QPR must get more points on the board if they are to avoid the drop

Rapid improvement: QPR must get more points on the board if they are to avoid the drop

‘When Daniel Levy sacked me that night (June 13) I didn’t leave and think I’d jump off the edge of Bournemouth cliffs,’ Redknapp said on Monday.

‘The next day I was up playing golf. I don’t hold grudges and I spoke to Daniel over the weekend. He wished me all the best. It’s all a bit bizarre the way things finished for me at Tottenham, but that’s life.

‘When I heard Roy Hodgson had got the England job I wasn’t going to lock myself in a room — it’s only a game. I can get het up because I want to do well but in the cold light of day what does it all mean’

Yesterday it meant everything again as he talked at QPR’s decrepit training base in Harlington, west London, where paint peels off the walls and the big industrial bins in the car park are overloaded with rubbish. It may be a case of taking out the trash in January, just as soon as Redknapp works out who is ready for a relegation scrap.

‘Four points is embarrassing,’ he admitted as he prepares the players for this evening’s Premier League clash at Sunderland. ‘How can you have four points from 13 games

‘Players who aren’t playing will blame those who are playing. Those who are playing will blame somebody else. It’s up to me to make my own decisions over what’s wrong with them and what needs doing.’

Redknapp will run this team with the same enthusiasm that filled the air when he walked into Tottenham’s old training ground. His love of the game is infectious and reassuring; he has promised the grandchildren he would stop at the club shop later to buy them QPR kits before his new team travelled to the Stadium of Light.

‘The family are QPR fans now,’ he said. It could easily have been the colours of Ukraine, after Redknapp was offered the job by the president of the country’s football federation, Anatoliy Konkov, in London last week.

‘It was a great job, a four-year contract, and it wasn’t as if I had to live in Ukraine,’ explained Redknapp. ‘Capello is manager of Russia and he lives in Italy. I could have gone over at weekends, watched some games and then spent a few days at home. I spoke to Andriy Shevchenko about it. The Under 21s are good and I was excited.

That's the way to goal: Harry Redknapp gives his players instructions ahead of their first game

That's the way to goal: Harry Redknapp gives his players instructions ahead of their first game

What am I doing here Redknapp has fallen some way from his Spurs days

What am I doing here Redknapp has fallen some way from his Spurs days

Need a cuppa: Redknapp supps on a hot beverage during the press conference

Need a cuppa: Redknapp supps on a hot beverage during the press conference

Sunderland v QPR

‘It wouldn’t have been easy for me to face England in the World Cup qualifiers, but I couldn’t say “Oh it doesn’t matter if we don’t win today” — they would have thrown me down the salt mines.’

But there is no regular contact with players in a national job and there was a twinkle in Redknapp’s eye yesterday as he prepared to take an 11am training session in the wind and rain.

Redknapp has missed the morning commute from his home in Sandbanks, picking up assistant Kevin Bond along the way.

‘I probably needed a break and maybe it didn’t do me any harm,’ he added. ‘I went through a tough year with the court case and maybe leaving Tottenham wasn’t the worst thing. Until last Saturday I hadn’t watched a Premier League game live since I finished at Tottenham. I thought if I turned up people would say, “What’s he doing here, they’ve lost a few games, he’s after my job”. I don’t need that.

‘I used to watch Bournemouth play on
Saturday afternoons and I loved it. But now I’m looking forward to
getting back into the Premier League.’

It starts on Tuesday at Sunderland, his first official game in charge after Mark Hughes was sacked on Friday.

Axed: Mark Hughes was booted out of Loftus Road

Axed: Mark Hughes was booted out of Loftus Road

QPR are without an away win since November 19, 2011, when two Heidar Helguson goals and a Luke Young strike secured a 3-2 win at Stoke under Neil Warnock.

‘We keep saying we have a good team, but you don’t have four points from 13 games if you are playing well,’ Redknapp said.

‘Apart from going back to Portsmouth, when it looked like we were doomed, this is my biggest challenge yet as a manager. If I’d failed there I probably wouldn’t have been allowed to get out alive. At QPR the challenge is to bring the group together.

‘I want to see players chasing and getting the hump if they see other players standing around.’

Instead, he expects to get them up and running.

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Harry Redknapp switches on Bouremouth Christmas lights

Redknapp takes time out of busy schedule to switch on Bournemouth Christmas lights

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UPDATED:

21:19 GMT, 25 November 2012

Harry Redknapp took time out from plotting Queens Park Rangers' great escape tonight to switch on Bournemouth's Christmas lights.

The 65-year-old watched from the stands as his new side were beaten by Manchester United yesterday and he had them in for training this afternoon.

But Redknapp returned home to join Hi-de-Hi! actress Su Pollard to light up the town ahead of the festive season.

Taking a break: New QPR boss Harry Redknapp (right) helps turn on the Christmas lights in Bournemouth

Taking a break: New QPR boss Harry Redknapp (right) helps turn on the Christmas lights in Bournemouth

New QPR boss Harry Redknapp (right) helps turn on the Christmas lights in Bournemouth

Redknapp agreed a two-and-a-half year contract to replace the sacked Mark Hughes and considers the challenge far tougher than the job he took at Spurs in 2008, when they were bottom with two points from eight games.

He did not take charge of yesterday’s game, sitting instead next to chief executive Philip Beard, but warned the club’s highly paid stars he expects a massive improvement, starting at Sunderland on Tuesday night.

Hi-de-Hi! Redknapp (right) was joined by actress Su Pollard (centre) in BournemouthHi-de-Hi! Redknapp (right) was joined by actress Su Pollard (centre) in Bournemouth

Hi-de-Hi! Redknapp (right) was joined by actress Su Pollard (centre) in Bournemouth

‘The players have to be at it,' he said. 'The
buck stops with them. I know Mark lost his job, but it’s down to the
players,’ said 65-year-old Redknapp, who will reportedly earn a
1million bonus on top of his 3m salary.

‘He could only do what he could do. There are some good players here and they really need to step up and start performing.

‘They are man enough to know they’re to blame for the position we are in.'

Got my eye on you: Redknapp takes his first training session as QPR boss on Sunday

Got my eye on you: Redknapp takes his first training session as QPR boss on Sunday

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QPR players have to "be at it" against Sunderland, warns Harry Redknapp

QPR players have to 'be at it' against Sunderland, warns new boss Redknapp

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UPDATED:

23:49 GMT, 24 November 2012

Harry Redknapp watched his new club
QPR slump to defeat at Manchester United just hours after
accepting the biggest challenge of his career.

Redknapp agreed a two-and-a-half year
contract to replace the sacked Mark Hughes and then travelled north to
sit glum-faced in the rain as defeat left Rangers five points from
Premier League safety and without a win this season.

Watching brief: Harry Redknapp (right) in the stands at Old Trafford

Watching brief: Harry Redknapp (right) in the stands at Old Trafford

Redknapp considers the challenge far tougher than the job he took at Spurs in 2008, when they were bottom with two points from eight games.

He did not take charge of yesterday’s game, sitting instead next to chief executive Philip Beard, but warned the club’s highly paid stars he expects a massive improvement, starting at Sunderland on Tuesday night.

‘The players have to be at it. The buck stops with them. I know Mark lost his job, but it’s down to the players,’ said 65-year-old Redknapp, who will reportedly earn a 1million bonus on top of his 3m salary.

‘He could only do what he could do. There are some good players here and they really need to step up and start performing.

‘They are man enough to know they’re to blame for the position we are in.’

Hopeful moment: Jamie Mackie celebrates his goal for QPR

Hopeful moment: Jamie Mackie celebrates his goal for QPR

‘We can’t get any lower. We are rock
bottom. We have to try to get up that table. I remember when I was at
Portsmouth and we stayed up with a game to go at Wigan — it was the most
fantastic feeling.’

Chairman Tony Fernandes claimed the club had no option but to appoint
Redknapp after Hughes’s more remote style seemed to leave the QPR
players cold.

‘Harry’s man-management skills are second to none and we are confident
he is the right man to lead us away from the bottom of the table,’ he
said.

Redknapp claimed he was ready to take up a job managing England’s World
Cup qualifying opponents Ukraine before getting the offer from Rangers.

Yesterday was the first Premier League match he had attended since being
sacked by Spurs in the summer and being beaten to the England job by
Roy Hodgson.

Good to be back: Darren Fletcher scored on his return for Manchester United

Good to be back: Darren Fletcher scored on his return for Manchester United

‘I hadn’t wanted to go to Premier League games in case people wondered what I was doing there,’ he said.

Redknapp’s mere presence seemed to lift Rangers when they took a shock
lead through Jamie Mackie but United hit back with three goals in eight
minutes through Jonny Evans, Darren Fletcher and Javier Hernandez.

No team have ever made a worse start to a Premier League season than
QPR’s four points in 13 games and he will make signing Spurs centre-half
Michael Dawson his top priority in January.

Redknapp will hold talks with Hughes’s assistants Mark Bowen and Eddie Niedzwiecki this week.

They picked the team yesterday but Bowen said: ‘I don’t know what Harry’s plans are.’

Both are expected to leave the club.

In tandem: Manchester United's Javier Hernandez (right) and Anderson celebrate the third goal

In tandem: Manchester United's Javier Hernandez (right) and Anderson celebrate the third goal

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

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

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UPDATED:

07:21 GMT, 15 November 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Roberto Mancini considers bid to bring Luis Suarez to Manchester City

Mancini mulls offloading Balotelli to fund shock 50m swoop for Suarez in January

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UPDATED:

00:47 GMT, 15 November 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Mario Balotelli wants to stay at Manchester City

Mario's going nowhere! Balotelli wants to stay at City despite Mancini lining up 46m bid for Falcao

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UPDATED:

09:02 GMT, 13 November 2012

Mario Balotelli's agent has claimed the controversial striker wants to see out his contract at Manchester City, despite recent troubles that has seen manager Roberto Mancini leave him out of the matchday squad.

Mino Raiola, agent and close adviser to the 22-year-old Italy striker, said that Balotelli is determined to stay at the club until his contract expires in June 2015 and re-establish himself in the first team.

City manager Mancini rejected a 40million bid from Paris Saint-German this summer but has become increasingly frustrated by his performances and work ethic in training and AC Milan are reported to be ready to offer Balotelli a return to Italy in January.

Staying power: Mario Balotelli wants to see out the remainder of his contract at Manchester City, according to his agent

Staying power: Mario Balotelli wants to see out the remainder of his contract at Manchester City, according to his agent

But his agent said: 'There’s no Italy and no plans to go there. He’ll work until the end of his contract. He doesn’t want to leave.'

Mancini dropped Balotelli from the matchday squad altogether before City’s last-minute 2-1 victory over Tottenham and Raiola added: 'There’s no player happy with not playing in a game but he accepts it.

'It’s all part of the game. It doesn’t mean he wants to leave Manchester.'

The emergence of Edin Dzeko as a super sub at the Etihad has pushed Balotelli down the pecking order at the club.

The Italian is yet to score in the Premier League for City in this campaign, and his only goal in open play came in a defeat by Aston Villa in the Capital One Cup.

But it is understood that Mancini wants to see a dramatic improvement from the striker whose impact on the pitch – just two goals in 13 appearances this season – no longer justifies the distraction he causes.

Balotelli was spotted partying by City fans the night before the Spurs game, reports The Sun.

He was seen entering the Panacea Restaurant and Bar in Alderley Edge at 1am — with City kicking off at 1.30pm against Spurs that afternoon.

Balotelli had already been axed from the City squad the previous day and told he was not required at the team hotel that night.

Although Balotelli had not officially broken any rules by being out as he was not in the squad, the latest indiscretion has not gone down well.

New trim: Balotelli showed off his new haircut during Italy's training session on Monday

New trim: Balotelli showed off his new haircut during Italy's training session on Monday

Not needed: The Italian striker didn't even make Roberto Mancini's bench for City's 2-1 win over Tottenham

Not needed: The Italian striker didn't even make Roberto Mancini's bench for City's 2-1 win over Tottenham

City's new director of football Txiki Begiristain is believed to be open to selling Balotelli, and has told Mancini that he must offload players before adding to his squad in January.

Mancini wants to sign Atletico Madrid striker Radamel Falcao and has reportedly already met the player's representative, Jorge Mendes, to discuss a 46m bid.

The problem could be finding any takers for a player who would cost in the region of 20million and earns nearly 100,000-a-week.

Both Milan clubs are interested in taking Balotelli back to Italy, and the player is keen to be nearer his hometown of Brescia with girlfriend Raffaella Fico expected to give birth to their first child over Christmas.

However, it is unlikely that AC Milan could afford him and they are not interested in any swap deal involving their rising star Stephan El Shaarawy.

Inter, who sold Balotelli to City for 24m in the summer of 2010, are a more realistic option but would be unlikely to take him in January.

They already have a problem player in Antonio Cassano and are concerned about the effect signing Balotelli in mid-season would have on their dressing-room.

Wanted man: Roberto Mancini has been told he will have to raise the 46million to buy Radamel Falcao

Wanted man: Roberto Mancini has been told he will have to raise the 46million to buy Radamel Falcao

No joy: Balotelli (left) appeared as a substitute for City in their 2-2 draw against Ajax and had a penalty claim turned down

No joy: Balotelli (left) appeared as a substitute for City in their 2-2 draw against Ajax and had a penalty claim turned down

Paris Saint-Germain, who had a bid rejected in the summer, may revive their interest but the player is known to prefer Italy.

He still hopes to salvage his City career despite a demotion to fourth-choice striker behind Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tevez and Dzeko.

In an interview with Time Magazine earlier this month, Balotelli once again spoke of his special relationship with Mancini who brought him through the ranks at Inter.

'My relationship with Mancini is really important,' he said. '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.' City won in Balotelli's absence on Sunday with Dzeko's late strike clinching a 2-1 comeback victory over Spurs.

Frustrated: Mancini dropped Balotelli after the striker was reportedly out late on Saturday evening

Frustrated: Mancini dropped Balotelli after the striker was reportedly out late on Saturday evening

Goalkeeper Joe Hart believes it was the perfect riposte to critics who claim that City are divided and lack the togetherness to retain their Premier League title.

'The spirit has never been in question,' said Hart. 'We have that and we have quality. Those two combined makes us the team we are.

'It's not a quality we've developed. It's just instilled in the people. It's a group of winners.

Twenty players who play to win – we're lucky with that. We don't turn up to tick boxes or make people happy, we turn up to win.

'We showed why we are champions and hopefully we will be again.'

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Reading v Tottenham: Alex Pearce wears black boots

Madjeski Stadium match zone: Traditionalist Pearce stands out

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UPDATED:

21:24 GMT, 16 September 2012

Alex Pearce has played every minute of league football for Reading over the past 13 months. But he stood out on Sunday as the only starting outfield player to wear predominantly black boots.

Lone furrow: Alex Pearce (left) was the only player with black boots

Lone furrow: Alex Pearce (left) was the only player with black boots

Freedom for Dembele

Andre Villas-Boas persisted with having two holding midfielders although, as against Norwich and West Brom, it seemed excessive. Mousa Dembele looked much more comfortable when pushed further forward and allowed to make those surging runs.

Switching sides

Chris Gunter and Gareth Bale used to be Spurs team-mates and both played in Wales’ 6-1 defeat by Serbia last week, but were direct opponents on Tottenham’s left at the Madejski.

Switch: Gareth Bale and Chris Gunter played together for Wales

Switch: Gareth Bale and Chris Gunter played together for Wales

All change

Spurs looked most unlike Spurs as their grey and black third strip made its debut. A slight improvement on the lilac kit from last season though, perhaps

Silenced

The Madejski Stadium celebrated a record attendance of 24,160 but the home fans were taunted with shouts of ‘Shall we sing a song for you’ by the 2,149 Spurs supporters. The Royals, however, maintained a regal silence.

Sam Hutchinson joins Nottingham Forest on loan

Highly-rated Hutchinson follows in Terry's footsteps in loan move to Nottingham Forest

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UPDATED:

16:15 GMT, 16 August 2012

Fantasy football 2012

Nottingham Forest have signed Chelsea defender Sam Hutchinson on a six-month loan deal, following in the footsteps of John Terry.

Blues captain Terry spent a loan stint at the City Ground earlier in his Stamford Bridge career in 2000.

And Hutchinson, who can play at either right-back or in the centre of defence, becomes the eighth player to be signed by manager Sean O'Driscoll ahead of the start of the 2012/13 npower Championship campaign.

Red alert: Chelsea youngster Sam Hutchinson has joined Nottingham Forest on a six-month loan deal

Red alert: Chelsea youngster Sam Hutchinson has joined Nottingham Forest on a six-month loan deal

Reds chairman Omar Al Hasawi told the club's official website: 'Sam is held in the highest regard by Chelsea and we're grateful to them for allowing him to join us on loan.

'He is an exciting young player who has already shown a lot of grit and determination in his career, characteristics that we are sure will endear him to our supporters.'

Hutchinson came through the Chelsea youth system and made his debut for the west London club in a Barclays Premier League clash with Everton in May 2007.

Rolling back the years: Terry spent a loan spell at Forest in 2000

Rolling back the years: Terry spent a loan spell at Forest in 2000

Football League blog

He made three more first-team appearances but his progress was dogged by a knee injury that forced him to retire in 2010.

However, in December of last year the 23-year-old signed a new contract at Chelsea following a dramatic improvement in the condition of his knee, and he rounded off last season by making his first Premier League start for Roberto Di Matteo's men against Blackburn on the final day of the campaign.