Tag Archives: mendes

Goal-line technology tested at Club World Cup match Sanfrecce Hiroshima v Auckland City

Goal-line technology tested in a match for the first time at Club World Cup (shame that absolutely nothing exciting happened then!)

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UPDATED:

14:23 GMT, 6 December 2012

The opening match of the Club World Cup between Sanfrecce Hiroshima and Auckland City may not have set the pulses racing, but it marked the first time FIFA has employed goal-line technology during a match.

The magnetic-field-based system GoalRef was used in Yokohama, while the matches at Toyota Stadium will be equipped with the camera-based Hawk-Eye system.

I spy: Goal-line technology was used for the first time during the FIFA Club World Cup in Yokohama on Thursday

I spy: Goal-line technology was used for the first time during the FIFA Club World Cup in Yokohama on Thursday

GoalRef sensors are set up in the goal

GoalRef uses a microchip in the ball and low magnetic waves around the goal

The ninth Club World Cup features the champions from FIFA's six confederations, plus a team from the host nation. Champions League winners Chelsea and Copa Libertadoes champions Corinthians have a bye into the semi-finals.

Toshihiro Aoyama scored a second-half
goal on Thursday to help J-League champions Hiroshima beat
Auckland 1-0 in the opening match.

Aoyama scored in the 66th minute with
a hard shot from 20 yards. Ryota Moriwaki nearly doubled Sanfrecce's
advantage in the 85th with a shot that hit the crossbar.

Matchwinner: Sanfrecce Hiroshima's Toshihiro Aoyama (second left) celebrates scoring the only goal

Matchwinner: Sanfrecce Hiroshima's Toshihiro Aoyama (second left) celebrates scoring the only goal

Back of the net: Auckland City goalkeeper Tamati Williams (right) reacts after Hiroshima's goal

Back of the net: Auckland City goalkeeper Tamati Williams (right) reacts after Hiroshima's goal

Shame it's come too late for these blatant gaffes…

Over the line: Frank Lampard's shot against Germany crossed the line but it was not given at the 2010 World Cup finals

Over the line: Frank Lampard's shot against Germany crossed the line but it was not given at the 2010 World Cup finals

Embarrassing: Manchester United keeper Roy Carroll dropped Pedro Mendes' 45-yard punt over the line but the ref didn't spot it

Embarrassing: Manchester United keeper Roy Carroll dropped Pedro Mendes' 45-yard punt over the line but the ref didn't spot it

Chelsea set to beat Manchester City to signing of Rademel Falcao

City pull out of race to sign Falcao leaving Chelsea favorites to land Colombian striker

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UPDATED:

09:50 GMT, 18 November 2012

Chelsea look set to win the race to sign Atletico Madrid striker Rademel Falcao after rivals Manchester City turned down the chance to bid for the Colombian hitman.

Cash-strapped Atletico were hoping that a bidding war between City and Chelsea would force up the price of a player who has a 28million release clause in his contract.

Atletico Madrid General Manager Migel Angel Gil Marin and Falcao’s agent Jorge Mendes met with City’s new sporting director Txiki Begiristan after the Premier League champions’ 2-1 win over Spurs last Sunday.

Heading to the Bridge: Radamel Falcao is wanted by Chelsea

Heading to the Bridge: Radamel Falcao is wanted by Chelsea

But according to The Sunday Mirror, both men arrived at the Etihad without receiving an invitation from City and were told that Roberto Mancini’s interest in Falcao would not be firmed up with an offer.

City’s stance may change if they can offload Mario Balotelli in the upcoming transfer window, with PSG and both Milan clubs understood to be keen on the Italian international.

Falcao, 26, scored 36 goals last season after being recruited to replace Sergio Aguero in a 35m deal.

Looking to strengthen: Roberto Di Matteo could turn to Falcao as Fernando Torres continues to struggle

Looking to strengthen: Roberto Di Matteo could turn to Falcao as Fernando Torres continues to struggle

Mancini feels his team lacks firepower despite the presence of Aguero, Balotelli, Carlos Tevez and Edin Dzeko in his squad.

But Chelsea have an even greater need for a striker, with Fernando Torres still struggling.

Manchester City ready to listen to offers for Mario Balotelli as Roberto Mancini prepares 46m Falcao bid

Mancini ready to listen to offers for Balotelli as Man City boss prepares 46m Falcao bid

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UPDATED:

06:49 GMT, 13 November 2012

Manchester City will explore the possibility of selling Mario
Balotelli in January if he does not heed the latest wake-up call from
manager Roberto Mancini.

Balotelli watched Sunday's win over Tottenham from the stands after
he was left out of the squad altogether for what Mancini described as a
'technical' reason, and then flew back to Italy for Wednesday's
international against France amid fresh speculation over his future in
England.

Trim: Mario Balotelli shows off his new haircut during training with the Italy squad on Monday

Trim: Mario Balotelli shows off his new haircut during training with the Italy squad on Monday

National service: Balotelli will hope to put his recent misery with Manchester City behind him

National service: Balotelli will hope to put his recent misery with Manchester City behind him

It is understood that Mancini wants to see a dramatic improvement from the 22-year-old 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. 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 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.

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.

Just warming up: Italy's squad jog in training ahead of their friendly against France on Wednesday

Just warming up: Italy's squad jog in training ahead of their friendly against France on Wednesday

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.

Out in the cold: Balotelli was dropped from Manchester City's team that beat Tottenham on Sunday

Out in the cold: Balotelli was dropped from Manchester City's team that beat Tottenham on Sunday

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 Edin Dzeko.

In an interview withTime 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.

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.'

Falcao targeted by Chelsea in 46m deal

EXCLUSIVE: Bring me Falcao! Chelsea owner will bankroll 46m striker deal

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UPDATED:

21:45 GMT, 12 October 2012

Roman Abramovich has told Chelsea to press ahead with a 46million swoop for Radamel Falcao in January.

The Chelsea owner has identified the Colombia striker as the next world superstar he wants at Stamford Bridge and instructed Chelsea’s hierarchy to put together a bid for the next transfer window.

The prolific Atletico Madrid striker interested Chelsea during the Andre Villas-Boas regime and he has been extensively scouted by the club despite the Portuguese manager’s sacking.

Prolific: Falcao nets against Malaga last weekend

Prolific: Falcao nets against Malaga last weekend

Chelsea officials are understood to be confident a deal can be reached with Madrid, with the player open to moving to London and the Spanish club willing to sell. The only obstacle will be the price.

Falcao’s release clause is 46m and Atletico are determined not to lose their prized asset for anything less.

Chelsea will try to negotiate a lower fee but Abramovich’s desire to see Falcao in a blue shirt is such that the west London side will do what it takes to sign the 26-year-old.

Falcao’s 35m move from Porto to the Spanish capital last year was partly funded by a third-party consortium which included the South American’s agent, Jorge Mendes, and Chelsea will use Mendes and supporting agents to ensure the deal runs smoothly.

The Barclays Premier League leaders splashed around 60m in the summer on the likes of Eden Hazard, Oscar and Victor Moses but are ready to spend again.

All smiles: The Colombian striker shares a joke with his international team-mates this week

All smiles: The Colombian striker shares a joke with his international team-mates this week

Chelsea chiefs are confident a successful swoop for Falcao would still see them fall within the financial fair play criteria, particularly after their money-spinning run to the Champions League title last season.

Despite the summer spree, Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo was frustrated by his failure to sign a centre forward.

Stamford Bridge chiefs decided a move for Napoli’s Edinson Cavani was not value for money, and the same stance was taken with Hulk, who left Porto for Anzhi Makhachkala.

Chelsea also explored a move for Bayer Leverkusen forward Andre Schurrle but a bid never materialised, leaving Di Matteo short of striker options after the departure of Didier Drogba to Shanghai Shenhua.

Fernando Torres has started the season as Chelsea’s first-choice striker, making a promising opening with six goals in 12 games.

Demolition: Falcao netted a hat-trick as Atletico beat Chelsea in this year's Super Cup

Demolition: Falcao netted a hat-trick as Atletico beat Chelsea in this year's Super Cup

But a striker remains Di Matteo’s priority and the Italian will be buoyed by Abramovich’s support for a bid for Falcao, who would again raise question marks over Torres’s long-term future at Stamford Bridge.

Falcao tore Chelsea apart with a hat-trick in Atletico’s 4-1 demolition of the Champions League holders in the European Super Cup in August.

Having scored an incredible 24 league goals during his first season in Spain, the Colombian has picked up where he left off with eight La Liga goals this term – the same as Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

However, Chelsea could face competition from Manchester City after manager Roberto Mancini watched Falcao last weekend.

The European champions also retain an interest in Arsenal contract rebel Theo Walcott, who is entering the final six months of his deal after rejecting a 75,000-per-week extension in August.

The England winger wants to stay at the Emirates but feels he deserves a better package. Talks between the parties are continuing.

Long-term admirers Chelsea are being kept updated with Walcott’s situation. Walcott, who can sign a pre-contract agreement with a foreign club in January, is also interesting Liverpool and Manchester City.

Andre Villas-Boas faces a challenge at Tottenham – Alex Ferguson

Villas-Boas has his work cut out at Tottenham, claims Ferguson

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UPDATED:

12:50 GMT, 28 September 2012

Sir Alex Ferguson believes Andre Villas-Boas has a big challenge on his hands at Tottenham.

After his ill-fated spell at Chelsea last season, Villas-Boas has now been given a job at another of England's top clubs, with the same question marks hanging over him that existed at Stamford Bridge.

As Villas-Boas must deal with the expectation created by Harry Redknapp's successful stint at White Hart Lane, it did not take long for the first criticisms to surface.

Up against it: Andre Villas-Boas hopes to take Tottenham to the top

Up against it: Andre Villas-Boas hopes to take Tottenham to the top

There were more grumbles following last week's win over QPR that catapulted Tottenham into the top half of the table, and now they head to Manchester United on Saturday looking for their first win at Old Trafford since 1989.

'He has a challenge,' said Ferguson.

'He wasn't at Chelsea very long, but he came to our ground early last season and his team tried to play football.

'That's his philosophy and I think he's carrying that out at Tottenham as well.

'He suits Spurs. They've always had a history of playing good football. I think he'll carry on that way.

'I hope they do well because it's a difficult industry these days, particularly for a young manager.

'It must be very daunting and challenging to go to a big club. It's full of risk because it's a results industry.'

Going to Old Trafford has been a daunting experience for Tottenham ever since Gary Lineker scored the only goal 23 years ago.

In the intervening period, the best they have managed are four draws, including the infamous Pedro Mendes 'goal that never was' in January 2005.

'Our record against Spurs is very good,' said Ferguson.

'Sometimes you have these situations where you get a team that you always get good results against.

Raring to go: Tottenham travel to Old Trafford on Saturday

Raring to go: Tottenham travel to Old Trafford on Saturday

'It was the same when I was at Aberdeen.

'It didn't matter what team I played against Dundee at Dens Park I would win. At one point I played them before a midweek European game and I played seven reserves and won 5-1.'

After recovering from the opening weekend defeat at Everton by reeling off four successive wins, United will hope their record against Tottenham holds this weekend as they look to put more pressure on early-season pace-setters Chelsea.

Not that everything is running entirely smoothly for Ferguson.

The loss of Nemanja Vidic for two months following knee surgery early this week means United have only Rio Ferdinand and Jonny Evans as fit senior centre-halves.

Scott Wootton did impress on his debut against Newcastle on Wednesday though. And it appears the Birkenhead-born 21-year-old has an important role to play over the next few days.

'Scott reads the game and passes the ball well,' said Ferguson.

'He was up against very experienced players on Wednesday, so his performance was a little bonus for us.'

Wootton will be in Ferguson's squad on Saturday, and will remain there until Chris Smalling has recovered from a broken metatarsal, which United hope will be after the next international break.

Return: Darren Fletcher made a successful comeback in midweek

Return: Darren Fletcher made a successful comeback in midweek

As he does have options, the potential loss of Antonio Valencia to an ankle injury is not too much of a worry for Ferguson.

And the United boss can definitely allow Darren Fletcher to ease his way back as he continues his rehabilitation from a chronic bowel complaint.

The Scotland skipper started his first game in 10 months in midweek.
Ferguson has selected Fletcher in Saturday's squad. However, Fletcher's next meaningful involvement is likely to come in Tuesday's Champions League encounter with CFR Cluj in Romania.

'Having played on Wednesday night and contributed so well I wouldn't think he'll start tomorrow,' said Ferguson.

'But he may get a place on the bench and he could possibly go to Romania and play against Cluj.

'That may be an ideal opportunity for him.” And when he is able to call on his fellow countryman on a regular basis, Ferguson knows he will have a very useful addition to his squad.

'The great thing about Fletcher the other night was that his enthusiasm was fantastic,' said Ferguson.

'He played a great part in the victory and in a role different from how we've used him in the past.

'Darren was always the type to get about the midfield players but on Wednesday he sat in front of the two young centre-backs and did a really good job.'

Manchester United join 24m race for Nelson Oliveira

Manchester United join 24m race for Benfica hot shot Oliveira

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UPDATED:

05:30 GMT, 18 September 2012

Manchester United are the latest club to declare an interest in Benfica striker Nelson Oliveira.

Chelsea and Manchester City have made
repeated checks on the 21-year-old, who has scored two goals in four La Liga games since joining Deportivo la
Coruna on a season-long loan.

Hot shot: Nelson Oliveira

Hot shot: Nelson Oliveira

And now Oliveira is on the radar of United boss Sir Alex Ferguson, according to reports in Spain.

Chelsea have been tracking Oliveira since he impressed as a substitute for Oscar Cardozo at Stamford
Bridge in the Champions' League last April, while City have begun
monitoring his form after a clear signal Benfica may have to cash in on
him at the end of the season.

Barcelona are also keen admirers, while Real Madrid are aware of a likely scramble to sign him next summer, with Jose Mourinho's agent Jorge Mendes representing him.

Eye-catching: Oliveira impressed against Chelsea

Eye-catching: Oliveira impressed against Chelsea

At 6ft 1in, Oliveira has been likened in
Portugal to a taller version of City striker Sergio Aguero, for his
mobility and link-up play as well as clinical finishing.

A surprise selection for this summer’s European Championships, after being voted second-best player at the under-20 World Cup 12 months earlier, he made four substitute appearances and followed up with his first senior international goal, in a 2-0 win over Panama.

Oliveira is currently on a season-long loan at Spanish side Deportivo La Coruna. His Benfica deal runs until 2017 and contains a 24million buy-out clause.

Prospect: Oliveira played for Portugal at Euro 2012

Prospect: Oliveira played for Portugal at Euro 2012

Manchester United 1 Fulham 0: Penalty debate

Red tops: Rooney strikes as United handed penalty let-off in narrow Fulham triumph

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UPDATED:

23:54 GMT, 26 March 2012

Wayne Rooney fired Manchester United three points clear at the top of the Barclays Premier League with his 28th goal of the season — and eighth in the last six League games — as Fulham were narrowly beaten at Old Trafford.

United survived a late penalty shout when Michael Carrick brought down substitute Danny Murphy in the 90th minute.

Controversial: Fulham's Danny Murphy is brought down by Man United's Michael Carrick in the last minute

Controversial: Fulham's Danny Murphy is brought down by Man United's Michael Carrick in the last minute

Replays showed the United
midfielder’s left foot clipped Murphy and Sir Alex Ferguson admitted
referee Michael Oliver might well have given it.

Sky pundit and Old Trafford favourite Gary Neville also said United had ‘got away with one’, while Fulham boss Martin Jol appeared to tell Oliver at the final whistle that Carrick had owned up to the foul.

‘This is not the first time, especially not for me,’ said Jol, who was in charge of Tottenham in January 2005 when Mark Clattenburg and his officials failed to spot United keeper Roy Carroll spill a late Pedro Mendes effort well over his goal-line. Coincidentally, Carrick played for Spurs that night.

Winner: Wayne Rooney scores the only goal of the game (above) before celebrating (below)

Winner: Wayne Rooney scores the only goal of the game (above) before celebrating (below)

Winner: Wayne Rooney scores the only goal of the game (above) before celebrating (below)

Jol said: 'No-one in the stadium could say Danny Murphy dived and everyone in the stadium expected a penalty.

‘I thought it was a difficult decision but always with a penalty then you should send off Carrick, and I think everyone in the stadium expected a penalty.

‘You have to be brave to give a penalty at Manchester United. That is the only disappointment we have got.’

Flashpoint: Carrick appears to send Murphy crashing to the ground in the penalty box

Flashpoint: Carrick appears to send Murphy crashing to the ground in the penalty box

Come on ref! Martin Jol has a word with Michael Oliver about the penalty claim

Come on ref! Martin Jol has a word with Michael Oliver about the penalty claim

Ferguson said the let-off was
connected to Oliver’s refusal to give United a penalty in the first half
when Patrice Evra’s cross hit the hand of Fulham defender Stephen
Kelly.

‘Patrice thought it was a stonewall penalty,’ said Ferguson. ‘Maybe the referee was thinking about that when Michael Carrick caught Danny Murphy’s heel. They had a claim, there’s no doubt about it.
‘We dominated the game until the last 15 minutes but we never finished them off.

‘That is what it is going to be like for the rest of the season. Teams are going to fight.’

Crisitano Ronaldo to Manchester United makes sense – Martin Samuel

Get Real! Ronaldo's worth every penny

Cristiano Ronaldo came to London just before Christmas.

He was a guest at a tennis tournament, the ATP World Tour final between Roger Federer and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at the O2 Arena. It was a major event and football was well represented.

Gareth Bale, Robert Pires, Chris Smalling and Andrey Arshavin were all in attendance. Federer won, but by the time Ronaldo left town the place was buzzing with a big sports story of a different kind.

Watching on: Cristiano Ronaldo (centre) at the ATP World Tour finals

Watching on: Cristiano Ronaldo (centre) at the ATP World Tour finals

Earlier that morning, it was claimed, Ronaldo was seen at Les Ambassadeurs, a private club and casino near Hyde Park. He was with his agent, Jorge Mendes, and most intriguingly David Gill, the chief executive of Manchester United. At no stage has this meeting been confirmed by any of the parties, but the talk will not subside, either. Of course, there are some fevered imaginations in football; in the press box, too.

Equally, Ronaldo, Mendes and Gill might have come together entirely by chance. Les Ambassadeurs is a common haunt for football people. All three men are acquainted and are known there. If Gill found Mendes and Ronaldo having coffee, why wouldn't he join them Newspapers often get tips about supposed clandestine discussions that turn out to be nothing more sinister than old friends bumping into each other on familiar territory.

The widely reported talks between Rio Ferdinand and Peter Kenyon, then chief executive of Chelsea, in 2005 are a case in point. Coincidence, said those around the table. Aha, caught you, chided the rest of the world. Yet, almost seven years on, has Ferdinand ever come close to being a Chelsea player

Indeed, if Gill was conducting top-secret business, he would hardly choose a venue crawling with football people and the odd newspaper man. He would have more chance of keeping this appointment quiet had Ronaldo waited for him with a red carnation under the giant clock at Waterloo during rush hour.

Back in the day: Ronaldo has been missed since he left Manchester United

Back in the day: Ronaldo has been missed since he left Manchester United

So, having now ridiculed Ronaldo's rendezvous with a senior Old Trafford executive as at worst fictitious and quite possibly accidental, only one question remains. Suppose there is something in it Oh go on, dream.

Suppose Manchester United genuinely have a chance of enticing him back Would that not be the greatest coup Wouldn't that throw this idea of Manchester City dominating the fading force that is United for a loop

Speculation that Ronaldo is worth pursuing will increase if he disappoints again in Wednesday's Copa del Rey quarter-final first leg with Barcelona. His habit of underwhelming in El Clasico encounters is behind much discontent at the Bernabeu. Indeed, Ronaldo is still suffering a hangover from a 3-1 home defeat by the Catalan club on December 10.

In Madrid's first game back after the winter break, at home to Granada, contemptuous of the scorn he had received from his own fans throughout the game, Ronaldo did not celebrate after scoring Madrid's fifth. This went down about as well as a Catalan flag with the locals. Even club legend and honorary president Alfredo di Stefano condemned him.

On Wednesday, if Lionel Messi reigns supreme and Ronaldo is anonymous again, the derision will grow even louder. The return leg is seven days later, by which time the hint of an opportunity for Manchester United might be apparent.

One up: Barcelona's Lionel Messi (right) tends to get the better of Ronaldo

One up: Barcelona's Lionel Messi (right) tends to get the better of Ronaldo

Not right now, obviously. Five points clear of Barcelona in La Liga and still involved in the Champions League, there is no chance of Real Madrid releasing Ronaldo in the short term. At the end of the season, however, who knows No club president relying on the grass roots supporters for re-election, as Florentino Perez does, will go too aggressively against the will of the many.

Were Ronaldo's open shows of defiance to continue as the crowd take against him, the crisis could quickly escalate. Inevitably, Ronaldo would become disillusioned – this is his dream move, after all, so any rejection will be doubly hurtful – and will Jose Mourinho, or his successor, have the patience to tease the talent out of him in such circumstances

A coach might even begin to share the reservations about Ronaldo's inferiority complex, head-to-head with Barcelona and Messi; he might feel a star who cannot take the fight directly to Madrid's most challenging opponent isn't much of an asset at all. If Barcelona ended up catching Madrid from a distance this season, it would surely aid United's cause.

Of course, it would be a mistake for Madrid to lose Ronaldo, but the club have erred before. Not until Claude Makelele was sold to Chelsea did Perez appreciate he was the glue holding the team together. Maybe, like some of Manchester United's more deluded followers at the time of Ronaldo's departure, Madrid's powerbrokers will underestimate the sheer weight of his goal contribution (he has 26 this season to go with 53 last year and 33 in his first campaign).

Don't know what you've got till it's gone: Claude Makelele at Madrid (centre)

Don't know what you've got till it's gone: Claude Makelele at Madrid (centre)

He is La Liga's top scorer with the most shots on goal and is in the top five for goal assists. United must surely hope Madrid are blind to this magnificent contribution. Only a fool still believes Ronaldo has not been missed at Old Trafford.

Reduced to lauding the return of Paul Scholes, the result of a much discussed midfield crisis, United stalwarts must now appreciate the way Ronaldo's individual excellence masked cracks. Wayne Rooney never looked unhappy when Ronaldo was on the pitch because he made United formidable. Without Ronaldo, United have become increasingly reliant on Rooney, and the strain is beginning to show. So what if Ronaldo was open to a return What would he be worth to United

How about offering a fair exchange, no robbery deal, and give Madrid back the 80million that they paid Sounds excessive Well, Fernando Torres cost Chelsea 50m and Ronaldo is certainly worth more than that. Then factor in multiple league title wins – every chance with Rooney and Ronaldo together again – and the stealing of City's thunder. Consider also that 80m is only what United received for Ronaldo, and would not represent additional outlay as he has never been supplanted with an equivalent marquee name.

Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia are good players, but neither can be considered Ronaldo's replacements. Messi aside, who could make that claim So here's hoping. Here's hoping that Gill, Mendes and Ronaldo did team up in Les Ambassadeurs that day, and it wasn't just coincidence, and there was something in it and, when the last coffee cup was drained, both sides agreed they really must do this again, perhaps somewhere more private next time. Because we miss him. English football misses him, and United certainly miss him.

You're good, but you're no Ronaldo: Ashley Young signed for United

You're good, but you're no Ronaldo: Ashley Young signed for United

More from Martin Samuel…

Martin Samuel: There's no mystery about it, you just blew it
17/01/12

Martin Samuel: Lay off the supporters, Thierry… unlike them, you quit!
16/01/12

Martin Samuel: Don't let the empty seats fool you, I'll tell you why this matters
15/01/12

Martin Samuel talks to Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore
12/01/12

For the sake of the 31bn deficit, civil servants need to stop horsing around with our money
12/01/12

Martin Samuel: The good, the daft and the crazy… but who's the odd one out
10/01/12

Martin Samuel: Reason to be cheerful: Stunning fightback shows that City will not be losers for long
08/01/12

Martin Samuel: His name might be Ruslan, but there's nothing plastic about this Brit
08/01/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

If the 80,000 at the Bernabeu do not get the beauty of this player, we do, and he should know that. He's worth it, he really is. He's worth the 80m, plus the chief executive's 1,000 membership of Les Ambassadeurs. Indeed, that could be the best cheque the Glazers ever wrote.

The appealing escape clause in Demba Ba's contract should be weighed against the fact that 2012 and 2013 are back-to-back years for the Africa Cup of Nations, so he will miss a significant chunk of next season, too. This could also explain Chelsea's seemingly bizarre decision to play hardball with Didier Drogba over his contract.

Witner in Qatar's no joke, Hugh

There was a look of sheer horror on the face of Hugh Morris, managing director of England cricket, when the ramifications of switching the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to winter were explained to him. Richard Scudamore, chief executive of the Premier League, predicts six years of disruption to football's calendar if this happens, with the game needing to stagger the timing of the season for three years before, and three years after.

Each alteration would in some way invade cricket's territory, with the football season either ending later, in June, or starting in July. Scudamore's prediction is that the Qatar shift could never happen, because traditional summer sports around the world would lobby governments to intervene.

How Morris reacted suggests this hunch is right. He instantly said cricket would have to do all it could to protect its place in the calendar. One added complication is that Test fixtures are planned eight years in advance so, unless football made its intentions clear before 2014, Test slots would already be allocated.

Then there is the Cricket World Cup, due to be held in England in 2019, the first summer Scudamore predicts will be affected. Michel Platini is an advocate of making Qatar a winter tournament – having first voted to play it in 115 degree heat – and is likely to be the next FIFA president. This is the issue that could ruin him, however, if he contrives to make enemies of football clubs, governments and the rest of the sporting world.

Murray is beyond criticism

Day one at the Australian Open, five British entrants, five British exits, not a single set won. How anybody says a negative word against Andy Murray, I really do not know. Beyond him lies wilderness

And while we're at it

Ravel Morrison is clearly a huge talent, but a club such as Newcastle United, who have already had a 1million bid for him rejected, should be very careful about buying trouble, however attractively packaged.

Trouble Newcastle would hardly be the best place for Ravel Morrison (centre)

Trouble Newcastle would hardly be the best place for Ravel Morrison (centre)

Sir Alex Ferguson is exasperated by Morrison's behaviour, and it is said he skips training frequently. Full marks for optimism, but what makes Newcastle manager Alan Pardew believe he can make any greater impression on the work ethic of a young man The last thing he needs is a player who thinks he is doing Newcastle a favour by turning up – and, if he acts that way at Manchester United, it would hardly be surprising behaviour repeated on Tyneside.

Pardew has assembled a team built on unity, collective strength, skill and graft: Morrison, 18, would appear to tick just one of those boxes. He has talent, but if the potential for distraction exists in Manchester, what price Newcastle's goldfish bowl with its raucous nightlife It has claimed more stable men than Morrison, who has as yet proved nothing beyond the capacity to exasperate.

Everyone wants a trophy

'Do they like Arsenal, or do they just like Arsenal with trophies' Dennis Bergkamp once asked of the famously critical fans. Thierry Henry will claim that as his point, too. Yet Bergkamp was 11 years at the club, arrived in 1995 and never left. Henry fled to Barcelona at the age of 29, two years after Arsene Wenger's team won their last competition, the 2005 FA Cup. It turned out he didn't like Arsenal without trophies, either. Who does

Pay the price, Chris

Christopher Samba was a reserve at Hertha Berlin, thrown on late and out of position as an emergency striker to chase a game, often suffering racial abuse from his own fans. Blackburn Rovers rescued him from that little circle of hell. Mark Hughes and Mark Bowen looked at him on trial, liked what they saw, and paid a cut-price 400,000. Samba has every reason to be thankful.

Heading for the exit Christopher Samba wants to leave Blackburn Rovers

Heading for the exit Christopher Samba wants to leave Blackburn Rovers

He may feel he has repaid Blackburn with his performances over four years and has now asked for a transfer, with interest from Queens Park Rangers and Tottenham well known. Steve Kean, the Blackburn manager, has taken a generous view of Samba's failure to play against Fulham on Saturday, citing illness. Maybe he would have felt differently had they lost.

Clean slate or not , Blackburn's asking price for Samba should be 30million. That is what it would cost if they ended up in the Championship next season, which they almost certainly will if Kean is not allowed to keep his best players.

O'Neill's a fast starter

Many have asked how Martin O'Neill makes such a dramatic impact at his new clubs. What is his secret Well, here is one. From his discussions with West Ham United last season it became very plain that O'Neill is quite particular about when he starts.

Instant hit: Martin O'Neill (right) has made an excellent start at Sunderland

Instant hit: Martin O'Neill (right) has made an excellent start at Sunderland

O'Neill watched his first Sunderland game, which was lost away at Wolverhampton Wanderers, but was in place the following weekend todefeat Blackburn Rovers – who had won a single away game in a year – and his momentum built from there.

Compare that with Mark Hughes, travelling to Newcastle for his opening game as Queens Park Rangers manager, which ended in defeat. Rangers' next game is at home to Wigan Athletic. Maybe Hughes now wishes he had O'Neill's uncanny sense of timing.

Read all about it… and then watch it again

One of the small pleasures of going away from home at this time of year is becoming blissfully oblivious to the Sky Sports News transfer window frenzy. On-the-hour updates, complete with a flash computer screen to tell you, in the main, what was in the sports pages that morning. On the day I left for Dubai, Darron Gibson was about to depart Manchester United for Everton according to 'Sky sources'; or as we used to call him, the paper boy.

Mancini had a point

How strange that such a fuss should again be made over Roberto Mancini's brandishing of an imaginary card on the touchline on Monday night, when we would be better off wondering how Maynor Figueroa, of Wigan Athletic, stayed on the field having so plainly denied Manchester City a goalscoring opportunity.

Come on ref! Roberto Mancini (right) waved a red card on Monday night

Come on ref! Roberto Mancini (right) waved a red card on Monday night

There are too many caveats placed in the way of decision-making these days. We should return to simple judgment calls, right and wrong. Anyone who knows football understands that Sergio Aguero, although 45 yards from goal, would have had a clear run at goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi and a reasonable scoring opportunity.

That should have been enough to merit a red card. Figueroa knew what was at stake; he merely made a calculated guess that football's small print would find a way of preventing justice being done, and he was right.

Jorge Mendes involved Nicolas Gaitan Manchester United transfer

United transfer “fixer” Mendes behind Gaitan”s move to Old Trafford

Trusted mediator Jorge Mendes is the man behind Nicolas Gaitan”s informal agreement to join Manchester United next summer.

Mendes has worked closely with United on a number of high-profile appointments at the club.

He was involved in the deals to bring Cristiano Ronaldo, Nani, Anderson, David de Gea and Bebe to Old Trafford in the past.

Mediator: Mendes (left) was also involved in Nani

Mediator: Mendes (left) was also involved in Nani”s transfer to Old Trafford

And now it has emerged Benfica and the Barclays Premier League champions have agreed an initial 29.3million deal to bring the Argentiian midfielder to Manchester.

The major stumbling block over the price arose after Gaitan had a 38m release clause written into his contract in October.

The Portuguese club are obliged to pay the 23-year-old”s former club Boca Juniors 20 per cent of any sell-on fee and there is also a requirement to pay 15 per cent into the Benfica Star Fund.

Gaitan is effectively part-owned by his current club and this is a mandatory fee paid to raise money for the club.

Mendes has charted a course through these problems and looks set to have secured another high-profile signing for United boss Sir Alex Ferguson.

Wanted man: United are thought to be closing in on a deal for Gaitan

Wanted man: United are thought to be closing in on a deal for Gaitan