Tag Archives: prospects

Manchester City to sign Leeds Sam Byram

Mancini lines up 8m bid for Leeds starlet Byram to be long-term Zabaleta successor

By
Charlie Skillen

PUBLISHED:

10:39 GMT, 10 March 2013

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UPDATED:

10:39 GMT, 10 March 2013

Manchester City are set to spend 8 million on poaching Leeds' teenage sensation Sam Byram.

Energetic right-back Byram has been one of the first names on Neil Warnock's team-sheet this season despite only making his debut in August.

Mancini is revamping his squad in the summer after finding his side off the pace in the Premier League and crashing out of the Champions League at the group stage.

Tough tackler: Sam Byram, in action for Leeds yesterday, is a target for Premier League champions City

Tough tackler: Sam Byram, in action for Leeds yesterday, is a target for Premier League champions City

Looking to the future: Mancini, pictured yesterday, sees Byram as the long-term successor to Pablo Zabaleta

Looking to the future: Mancini, pictured yesterday, sees Byram as the long-term successor to Pablo Zabaleta

The Italian boss was impressed with Byram’s display in City’s 4-1 FA Cup victory over Leeds last month, and has been keeping tabs on the teenager since.

Byram is being lined-up as the long-term successor to Pablo Zabaleta, while Mancini sees former England defender Micah Richards’ future as being in the centre of defence.

Essex-born Byram has signed two new deals at Elland Road this season alone, despite interest from City and other Premier League clubs.

Young gun: Right-back Byram, 19 (right), has been ever-present for Neil Warnock's (left) Leeds side this season

Young gun: Right-back Byram, 19 (right), has been ever-present for Neil Warnock's (left) Leeds side this season

West Bromwich Albion, Stoke and Wigan are also interested in the 19-year-old, but should Leeds sell their prize asset the Premier League champions would be favourites for his signature.

Byram’s form this season has seen him touted as one of the hottest prospects outside the top flight and he can also play as a right wing-back.

In-debt Michael Chopra in self-imposed bans from bookies in a bid to arrest spiralling gambling addiction

Chopra begins self-imposed ban from bookies in bid to tackle gambling addictionStriker in so much debt he cannot afford 50,000 legal feesHe was charged by BHA for breaching rules

By
Sam Cunningham

PUBLISHED:

12:19 GMT, 9 January 2013

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UPDATED:

15:43 GMT, 9 January 2013

Michael Chopra has banned himself from betting shops in Ipswich in a bid to sort out his gambling addiction.

The Ipswich striker admitted today he is in such bad debt he cannot afford to pay the minimum 50,000 legal fees required to get someone to represent him in a trial. He has been charged by the British Horseracing Authority for breaching their rules.

If the BHA win their case against him they can only ban him from racecourses and their gambling establishments.

Tumbling: Chopra's gambling addiction has caused serious problems

Tumbling: Chopra's gambling addiction has caused serious problems

But Chopra said in a statement: ‘It is well publicised that I have a gambling addiction problem and I see any such sanctions as being a useful mechanism in helping me to address these problems. As of this year, I’ve voluntarily self-excluded myself from all betting institutions from where I live in Ipswich in order to help me fight this illness.’

Chopra and eight others were charged by the BHA in October for breaching their Rules of Racing and the two-week trial begins on January 14. He is accused of placing bets for horses to lose in a five-month period between November 2010 and March 2011 using information passed on either directly or indirectly by jockey Andrew Heffernan, who is also standing trial.

Chopra was advised that even if he was found innocent he would not be refunded his legal fees for being represented in the inquiry.

Heavy debt: Chopra cannot afford to pay his legal fees

Heavy debt: Chopra cannot afford to pay his legal fees

The 29-year-old added: ‘I have extensive debts and loans and simply cannot afford the amount of money necessary to clear my name, with no prospects of ever recovering my costs. I am not a member of the British Horseracing Authority and not subject to its rules. I have been advised that the British Horseracing Authority is only allowed under its rules to take disciplinary action against a person who is subject to those rules, which does not include me.’

BHA responded later on Wednesday, when media manager Robin Mounsey said: 'The charges being brought by the BHA against Michael Chopra are serious and relate to conspiring with other persons to commit a corrupt or fraudulent practice, and offering bribes to a licensed person.

'It is the BHA's role to protect the integrity of the sport from corrupt practices from both licensed and unlicensed individuals.

On trail: James Coppinger (left) and Mark Wilson (second right) are also involved

On trail: James Coppinger (left) and Mark Wilson (second right) are also involved

'As such, via a disciplinary panel, the BHA is able to impose sanctions upon individuals not bound by the Rules of racing, which include exclusion from entering any licensed premises or having dealings with any licensed person regarding horseracing.

'The BHA will not comment further on this investigation until the hearing has been completed and the disciplinary panel has published its findings.'

Two other footballers, Doncaster Rovers winger James Coppinger and former Manchester United midfielder Mark Wilson, are also standing trial.

Roberto Mancini chasing Daniele De Rossi

Mancini ramps up De Rossi pursuit as City boss wants Begiristain to sign midfielder in January

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UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 7 November 2012

Roberto Mancini will ask Manchester City director of football Txiki Begiristain to sign Roma midfielder Daniele De Rossi in January.

City pursued the Italy star all last summer but he stayed put.

However, De Rossi, 29, has told friends in Rome he wants to leave his hometown club and will ask for a transfer.

Open to offers: Roma could sell captain Daniele De Rossi come January

Open to offers: Roma could sell captain Daniele De Rossi come January

Open to offers: Roma could sell captain Daniele De Rossi come January

Roma would want in excess of 20million and the player would expect to be paid around 100,000- a-week.

This could be a problem for City as they look to keep within UEFA's financial fair play guidelines.

Therefore, it is interesting to see whether Begiristain will sanction the move.

City manager Mancini met the former
Barcelona man for the first time on Wednesday to reflect on Tuesday's
2-2 draw with Ajax and to talk about their future working together.

There has been recent speculation
about Mancini's job prospects at City, especially with Begiristain's
former Barca colleague Pep Guardiola looking to return to the game next
summer.

However, it is understood Mancini was told he has nothing to worry about and to concentrate on this month's games.

City were encouraged earlier this week to hear that club general Franco Baldini had suggested that any offers for the midfielder would be considered.

Baldini told Sky Italia: 'Should an offer arrive for him, we will consider it.

'In summer we heard an offer from Man City and because we listened to it, it means we took it in consideration. Then we decided to give up.

'Should another offer will arrive, we will listen again it, but we could also decide to give up on it again.'

Demands: Roberto Mancini wants to sign De Rossi and has been a long-standing admirer of the Italy midfielder

Demands: Roberto Mancini wants to sign De Rossi and has been a long-standing admirer of the Italy midfielder

Riechedly Bazoer wanted by Newcastle, Manchester City and Arsenal

Newcastle want Arsenal and Man City target Bazoer as PSV urge youngster to snub England

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UPDATED:

08:50 GMT, 24 October 2012

Newcastle have joined Manchester City and Arsenal in the race to sign Dutch starlet Riechedly Bazoer but PSV have urged the youngster to snub the riches of the Premier League.

Bazoer is one of the hottest prospects in Holland and was offered a three-year deal in Eindhoven after turning 16 last week.

The defender is considering the English rivals as well as offers from Spain and Italy but PSV sporting director Marcel Brands wants him to stay in Holland where he will be guaranteed regular football.

Potential: Newcastle are the latest club to show interest in Riechedly Bazoer

Potential: Newcastle are the latest club to show interest in Riechedly Bazoer

'We have offered him a professional contract now he has turned 16. I speak with the family, the boy and his agents. We hope we will get an answer soon,' Brands told Goal.com.

'What is his intention Is it to develop or go for bigger money in England You have to ask him and his agent which clubs are interested in him. I don't know and it doesn't matter.

'It is his choice and the agent will do their best for the player. The only thing we can do is offer him good possibilities in terms of coaching and prospects.'

Dutch rules prevent clubs offering players under 18 contracts longer than three years and FIFA have capped compensation for academy players at 296,000.

Brands concedes his side cannot compete with the big clubs in England, Spain and Italy.

'Nobody can,' he said. 'It's not a financial thing, anyway. It's important what is possible in a sporting way.

'It's difficult in England to reach the first team of the big clubs after joining out of the youth academy. A lot of young players from Holland went to England and have not yet played in the first team. Many of them ended up being loaned out to other clubs.

'The players who were successful in England came later, like [Edwin] van der Sar, [Jaap] Stam and [Dennis] Bergkamp.

'PSV are delivering a lot of young players for the European market in Spain, England and Italy. It is difficult to compete with those kinds of clubs.

Big hit: Dennis Bergkamp - arguably the Premier League's best Dutch import

Big hit: Dennis Bergkamp – arguably the Premier League's best Dutch import

'The only special thing we have is that a lot of young players play in the league in Holland.

Last year we had an 18-year-old for the national team (Jetro Williams) playing at left-back.'

Bazoer won the Under 17 European Championships with Holland in the summer after making his debut as a 17-year-old.

Is Rio Ferdinand and Sir Alex Ferguson"s relationship damaged for good?

Uneasy truce: Has row damaged Rio's relationship with Fergie for good

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UPDATED:

21:45 GMT, 21 October 2012

Sir Alex Ferguson may just have woken up on Sunday morning and wondered briefly whether he had lost the moral high ground in his rather too public disagreement with Rio Ferdinand.

In deciding not to wear a Kick It Out T-shirt before Saturday’s Barclays Premier League game against Stoke City, Ferdinand was merely exercising a right to individual choice that, in other areas of life, Ferguson might have quite admired.

This, however, may not be the way Ferguson will see this episode in the long term. The Manchester United manager has always believed that authority matters, particularly his own. It is a key part of the order of things at Old Trafford.

In the red: Rio Ferdinand did not wear the Kick It Out t-shirt before Manchester United played Stoke

In the red: Rio Ferdinand did not wear the Kick It Out t-shirt before Manchester United played Stoke

We're in: Anderson and Wayne Rooney (right) wore the anti-racism t-shirts during the warm-up

We're in: Anderson and Wayne Rooney (right) wore the anti-racism t-shirts during the warm-up

In his eyes, Ferdinand has disobeyed
him and, even worse, undermined him. It remains to be seen whether the
ramifications of that are harmful not only to United’s season but also
to the central defender’s future prospects at the club.

In short the issue is this: Ferguson
thinks he has been made to look stupid while Ferdinand feels he doesn’t
need to be told, at the age of almost 34, how he should express his
views on a subject that — as a product of a South London housing estate —
he feels he knows rather more about than most football managers.

As one source close to Ferdinand said
over the weekend: ‘Nobody will tell Rio what to do on things like this.
He will not compromise his beliefs. If that affects the way people in
football view him then so be it.’

There was a conversation between
Ferguson and Ferdinand on Sunday morning at United’s Carrington training
ground. The two men have had these meetings before, back in the day
when Ferguson had concerns over his player’s lifestyle and commitments
away from the field.

On this occasion, though, the
exchange was calmer. Ferguson said he objected to the fact that he had
been given no warning of Ferdinand’s intentions on Saturday afternoon.
Ferdinand is understood to have accepted this point. Both men will now
endeavour to move on and both will indeed hope they can.

Disappointed: Sir Alex Ferguson hit out at Ferdinand, saying he had embarrassed the club

Disappointed: Sir Alex Ferguson hit out at Ferdinand, saying he had embarrassed the club

Ferdinand wants to extend his time at
United by another year at least. Ferguson’s recurring defensive injury
list means the former England centre back’s value to his manager will
endure.

They have clashed before this year,
though. Ferdinand, for example, believes Ferguson’s suggestions last
spring that he was unable to play three games in a week made England
manager Roy Hodgson’s decision to leave him out of the Euro 2012 squad a
lot easier than it might otherwise have been.

Ferdinand was livid at the time and
he hasn’t completely forgotten. With Ferguson, too, the residue from
disagreements and fall-outs can linger. It is this that represents the
danger.

With less than a season left on his
United contract, Ferdinand began this campaign hoping to sign a one-year
extension, most probably in the new year. There have been no official
talks but United have privately indicated their willingness.

The player is aware of his options elsewhere, though, particularly in America, China and the Middle East.

If the issue that blew up in the wake
of Ferguson’s comments at his Friday morning press conference does lead
to a permanent fissure in the relationship then Ferdinand will not lose
too much sleep worrying about what the future holds.

Certainly there will be no
fundamental climbdown. Though United’s policy of wearing Kick It Out
T-shirts only for home games means they will avoid another potentially
explosive incident when they visit John Terry’s Chelsea next Sunday,
Ferdinand’s views remain unchanged.

Prior to Friday, Ferdinand and
brother Anton already felt uneasy about the Kick It Out group. In
particular they feel they have little in common with the chairman, Lord
Ouseley, a man who gave evidence in support of the FA in a case against
Rio.

Following suit: Rio's brother, the QPR defender, Anton Ferdinand also warmed up without the shirt

Following suit: Rio's brother, the QPR defender, Anton Ferdinand also warmed up without the shirt

Following suit: Rio's brother, the QPR defender, Anton Ferdinand also warmed up without the shirt

Having endorsed a Twitter user who
called Ashley Cole a ‘Choc-ice’, Ferdinand was found guilty of improper
conduct by the FA and fined 45,000 after Ouseley told the hearing the
phrase was, in his view, offensive.

Having spent most of Friday
considering their options, the Ferdinand brothers finally decided not to
wear the T-shirts when they were made aware of comments given to the
BBC by Ouseley late in the afternoon.

‘I have no intention of speaking for
black footballers who have lots of money and power,’ said Ouseley. ‘They
would have much more power if they organised themselves.’

It was this comment that the
Ferdinands took to be implied criticism and, as such, convinced them
that their association with Ouseley’s group was over.

Within the game, Rio Ferdinand is
liked and admired by the majority of black players. He is a role model
of sorts and it is understood he has received many text messages of
support from within the playing community since Saturday afternoon.

At Loftus Road on Sunday, seven of
the players who took part in Everton’s game at Queens Park Rangers did
not wear Kick it Out T-shirts. Over the course of a football weekend,
the number of abstainers has proved to be significant.

Against that background, it would appear unlikely that Ferguson will fine Ferdinand, as appeared likely on Saturday evening.

The United manager rarely backs down
over anything. On this occasion, though, it may be in everyone’s
interests — including his own — if he did.

Joe Dunne appointed new Colchester manager

It's a Dunne deal as Joe is appointed Colchester boss

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UPDATED:

08:32 GMT, 27 September 2012


Local hero: New Colchester United manager Joe Dunne during his playing days

Local hero: New Colchester United manager Joe Dunne during his playing days

Joe Dunne has been appointed manager of Colchester United on a permanent basis following the sacking of John Ward on Monday.

Dunne, 39, had taken temporary charge following Ward's exit but the club's board has wasted little time in giving him a long-term deal.

The Irishman is a legend at Colchester, having made 193 appearances in two spells at the club between 1996 and 2003.

Dunne, who also played for the Republic of Ireland at Under-21 level, had a four-match spell in temporary charge in 2009 after the resignation of Paul Lambert.

His first match in charge will be the home fixture with Hartlepool United on Saturday, as the U's bid for their first win of the season.

Chairman Robbie Cowling issued a statement on the club's website: 'I am sure you will all join me in wishing Joe all the best in his new job.

'It was not an easy decision to part company with John Ward because he had worked so hard to achieve so much for Colchester United Football Club.

'However, it was an easy choice when it came to selecting John's successor.

'Joe has been with Colchester United for sixteen years as a player, youth team manager, reserve manager, assistant manager, caretaker manager and now he is first team manager.

'Joe takes charge of Colchester United when the club's long term prospects are the best they have ever been but at a time when the short term future is one of its most challenging.

'In the short term, the club has to adjust to the new salary capping rules that have forced us to drastically reduce our playing budget and no manager can be expected to improve its first team squad with significantly less money to spend on players.

'However, the long-term future is much brighter.

'The investments we have made in our facilities and in the youth set up will pay dividends in the not to distant future and the land that the club owns in Tiptree could, if planning permission is granted, provide funds to put the club on a stable financial footing and allow it to continue those types of investments into the foreseeable future.

'Therefore, I ask each and every one of you to get behind Joe and the team and to give them your full support.'

Dunne first joined Colchester from Gillingham in 1996, having spent six years and made 115 league appearances at Priestfield.

His time at Colchester was punctuated by a brief stint at Dover and he won many plaudits at Layer Road for his uncompromising approach to defending.

When a knee injury brought his career to a premature end in 2003, Dunne fell back on the coaching qualifications gained during his playing career to become Colchester's Under-17 and youth team coach.

In 2007, he moved up to looking after the reserve team, as well as various first-team coaching duties under Lambert.

Most recently, Dunne was assistant to Ward during his two-year spell as manager.

John Terry retires – FA claim they did not force him to quit

We haven't forced Terry to quit England, claim FA as race hearing with Ferdinand starts at Wembley

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UPDATED:

09:10 GMT, 24 September 2012

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John Terry was not forced to quit England over his racism hearing, the FA have claimed as the case starts at Wembley.

FA general secretary Alex Horne has revealed they are mystified by Terry's decision to retire from international football. He insisted the disciplinary hearing over Terry's racism charge was entirely separate to his England prospects.

Terry announced he was quitting the international scene in a statement on Sunday night, claiming the FA's decision to pursue a case against him after he was cleared in court of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand made his position in the national team 'untenable'

Horne, on his way into Wembley, told Sky Sports News: 'It's a personal decision. I don't see how we've made it untenable, they're two very separate processes.

The last cap: John Terry lined up for England away in Moldova at the beginning of September where he won his 78th and final cap

The last cap: John Terry lined up for England away in Moldova at the beginning of September where he won his 78th and final cap

'It's something that happened in a
match – it shouldn't be taking a year to resolve but we feel we're
reaching a conclusion on that.

'That's a very different process from
our England procedures, they sit in different compartments and I could
separate the two in my mind, but it doesn't look like he could.'

Club England managing director Adrian
Bevington also spoke to Sky Sports News on his way into Wembley, saying
the Chelsea skipper had 'always given his all' and had been a 'great servant' for his country.

Terry could face a lengthy ban if
found guilty by the FA of using racist language during a match for
Chelsea against QPR on October 23 last year, but has taken any decision
over his England future out of its hands. Terry has categorically denied
racially abusing Ferdinand.

Terry's QC George Carter-Stephenson arrived at Wembley before 8am.

Weeks have already been spent in legal argument. The reason such time has elapsed since Terry’s charge is that his counsel have been challenging the make-up of the panel.

Only the chairman is the FA’s man. The rest are independents, including former Blackburn Rovers midfield player Stuart Ripley. He works as a solicitor for Brabners Chaffe Street, based in the north-west.

'Untenable': Terry criticised the FA in a statement

'Untenable': Terry criticised the FA in a statement

'Untenable': Terry criticised the FA in a statement

The
Chelsea captain dramatically called time on his 78-cap England
international career after becoming convinced that the FA are determined
to find him guilty of the offence.

The
31-year-old was cleared of the same charge in July at Westminster
Magistrates Court following an investigation into his Loftus Road row
with the QPR defender last October.

But
his acquittal prompted the FA to open their own hearing where the
charge includes 'reference to ethnic origin and/or colour and/or race of
Ferdinand'.

Sportsmail,
who exclusively revealed Terry was walking away from his England
career, understands the FA's failure to acknowledge their rule 6.8 –
which says the outcome and evidence of any civil or criminal court trial
should be regarded as the correct version of events – was the final
straw for the Blues' defender.

His relationship
with the governing body has deteriorated to such an extent he felt
unable to continue as an England player.

He has felt increasingly isolated by
the FA’s stance in recent weeks and there have been several days of
legal argument that have convinced him his position is untenable.

Terry admitted in a statement that it 'breaks his heart' to walk away from Roy Hodgson's set-up.

Flashpoint: The John Terry and Anton Ferdinand racism case is due to reach its conclusion this week

Flashpoint: The John Terry and Anton Ferdinand racism case is due to reach its conclusion this week

He
said: ‘I feel the FA, in pursuing charges against me where I have
already been cleared in a court of law, have made my position with the
national team untenable.

‘Representing
and captaining my country is what I dreamed of as a boy and it has been
a truly great honour. I have always given my all and it breaks my heart
to make this decision. I wish Roy and the team every success for the
future.'

Terry made his
final appearance for England earlier this month helping Hodgson's men
open their 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign with an emphatic 5-0
victory over Moldova.

Busy summer: Terry attends his court case (above) a month on from playing for England at Euro 2012 (below)

Busy summer: Terry attends his court case (above) a month on from playing for England at Euro 2012 (below)

Busy summer: Terry attends his court case (above) a month on from playing for England at Euro 2012 (below)

His England career lasted nine years, and he won the first of his 78 caps in a friendly against Hungary in June 2003.

Terry had two separate spells as
captain of the national side. He was first appointed David Beckham’s
successor in 2006 but in 2010 was replaced following the storm around
his alleged affair with team-mate Wayne Bridge’s then girlfriend.

Former England manager Fabio Capello
re-appointed him as skipper in March last year but the FA relieved him
of the duty this February after the Ferdinand incident, a decision which
led to the departure of Capello.

Snub: Ferdinand refuses to shake Terry's hand in the recent meeting between Chelsea and QPR

Snub: Ferdinand refuses to shake Terry's hand in the recent meeting between Chelsea and QPR

In his statement he added: ‘I now look
forward to playing for Chelsea, and I want to thank the fans and the
club for their continued support.

'I would like to thank the England
managers who have selected me for my 78 caps. I have had great pleasure
in sharing that honour with all the players that I’ve played with. I
would like to thank them, the fans and my family for their support.’

JOHN TERRY FACTFILE

John Terry

1980: December 7 – born in London.

1998: October 28 – Makes Chelsea debut against Aston Villa.

2001: September – One of four players fined two weeks' wages by Chelsea after their behaviour at a Heathrow hotel is criticised on the day after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

2002: Terry and Chelsea team-mate Jody Morris are cleared after being charged with assault and affray in connection with a nightclub incident. Terry, uncapped at the time, is ruled out of the World Cup after the Football Association decide he should not be considered for international duty with England until the legal case is completed.

2003: June 3 – Makes England debut as substitute against Serbia and Montenegro.

2006: August 10 – Chosen to replace David Beckham as England captain by head coach Steve McClaren.

2008: August 19 – Named as permanent captain of England by Fabio Capello.

2009: December 20 – Chelsea defend Terry after allegations he took secret cash payments to lay on a behind-the-scenes tour of the club's training ground.

2010: January 29: Named as the sportsman behind a gagging injunction involving his private life. A court order had previously been in place, covering an alleged relationship between married Terry and French model Vanessa Perroncel – a former partner of team-mate Wayne Bridge.

February 5 – Axed as England captain following a meeting with Capello.

2011: March 19 – Restored to the role of permanent England captain by Capello.

October 23 – Releases a statement denying he made a racist slur against Anton Ferdinand during Chelsea's defeat at QPR after videos had circulated on the internet.

December 21 – The Crown Prosecution Service announce Terry will be charged with racially abusing Ferdinand and is due to appear before West London Magistrates' Court on February 1, 2012.

2012: February 3 – Terry is stripped of the England captaincy for a second time. The decision was taken by members of the 14-strong FA board, without consulting Capello.

February 8 – Capello resigns as England manager two days after criticising the decision to strip Terry of the captaincy.

July 13 – Cleared at Westminster Magistrates' Court of making a racist insult to Anton Ferdinand during Chelsea's match against QPR in October last year.

July 27 – Charged by the FA with using abusive and/or insulting words and/or behaviour towards QPR defender Ferdinand. It is further alleged that this included a reference to the ethnic origin and/or colour and/or race of Ferdinand. Terry denies the charge and requests a personal hearing.

September 23 – Announces his retirement from international football, shortly before the start of his personal hearing to answer the FA charge.

Chelsea and Manchester City tracking 24m Nelson Oliveira

EXCLUSIVE: Chelsea and Manchester City tracking 24m hot shot Oliveira

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UPDATED:

22:34 GMT, 14 September 2012

Chelsea and Manchester City are
leading the chase for one of Europe's top prospects after making
repeated checks on Benfica striker Nelson Oliveira.

The 20-year-old has been on Chelsea's
radar since impressing 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.

Hit shot: Nelson Oliveira

Hit shot: Nelson Oliveira

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.

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.

Eye-catching: Oliveira impressed against Chelsea

Eye-catching: Oliveira impressed against Chelsea

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

Hugo Lloris dismisses concerns over Tottenham future

Lloris dismisses concerns over Spurs future as France No 1 prepares for qualifiers

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UPDATED:

09:06 GMT, 7 September 2012

France captain Hugo Lloris has pushed aside speculation about his prospects at his new club Tottenham as he prepares for Friday's World Cup qualifier against Finland.

Goalkeeper Lloris joined Spurs on a four-year contract last Friday for an initial 8million from Lyon, but he may struggle to claim a starting spot with manager Andre Villas-Boas vowing to keep faith with in-form veteran Brad Friedel.

Fully focused: Lloris and Deschamps talk to reporters in Helsinki on Friday

Fully focused: Lloris and Deschamps talk to reporters in Helsinki on Friday

Fully focused: Lloris and Deschamps talk to reporters in Helsinki on Friday

'I am a professional and I can put all this aside,' an unusually uncommunicative Lloris told reporters on Thursday.

'I'm only and entirely focused on France. I've played enough matches in the past to be able to manage this.

'I've heard a lot during the preparation (for France). I prepared myself for these qualifiers as well as I could with Olympique Lyon,' he added ahead of their Group I opener, which is followed by Tuesday's qualifier at home to Belarus.

High hopes: Lloris will captain France in their two upcoming World Cup qualifiers

High hopes: Lloris will captain France in their two upcoming World Cup qualifiers

High hopes: Lloris will captain France in their two upcoming World Cup qualifiers

High hopes: Lloris will captain France in their two upcoming World Cup qualifiers

Lloris played the first three games of the season with Ligue 1 club Lyon before signing for Spurs on transfer deadline day.

Villas-Boas, who took over as Tottenham manager in June, said Lloris would have to fight to dislodge Friedel, who was superb in the 1-1 draw with Norwich City last weekend.

'When you transfer it's not written in the contract that you have to play,' the Portuguese coach said.

Top performer: Lloris already has 38 caps for France

Top performer: Lloris already has 38 caps for France

'At the moment, Brad is doing extremely well. He deserves to be playing and he'll continue to do so.'

France coach Didier Deschamps said this week he did not have a problem with the situation since Lloris was not eligible to play for Spurs last weekend, but he hinted that should Lloris fail to dislodge Friedel he could lose his national team place.

'If he becomes a substitute, then we'll see,' said Deschamps.

Stewart Downing told Liverpool future may be as defender

Get back, Stewart! Winger Downing told his future at Liverpool may be as a defender

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UPDATED:

22:26 GMT, 28 August 2012

Brendan Rodgers has told Stewart Downing he may need to reinvent himself as a left back to maximise his chances of becoming a regular Liverpool starter.

Downing was surprisingly asked to fill that role when he came on during the first leg of Liverpool's Europa League qualifier against Hearts last week and it is a position with which he may have to become familiar under Rodgers.

When Liverpool paid 20million to sign Downing from Aston Villa, he became the fourth most expensive buy in the club's history and there was a huge expectation that the England winger would be part of an exciting new attack with Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll.

Case for the defence: Downing has been told he may need to reinvent himself

Case for the defence: Downing has been told he may need to reinvent himself

But Downing has shown only sporadic glimpses of his potential in his 13 months at Anfield and the fact he was dropped for Sunday's 2-2 draw with Manchester City, with Rodgers favouring the 17-year-old Raheem Sterling, hardly augurs well for his prospects.

Rodgers, though, does not believe that asking Downing, who has yet to create or score a Barclays Premier League goal for Liverpool, to switch roles reflects negatively on his qualities.

'It is a big possibility that Stewart can play there,' said Rodgers. 'You look at the modern day full backs, like Barcelona's Jordi Alba and Ashley Cole – Ashley Cole was a centre forward as a young player.

'When Middlesbrough reached the UEFA Cup final against Sevilla in 2006, Stewart played left back during that run. His job at the top end of the pitch is to create and score goals. But sometimes switching positions can release the pressure on players.'

Slow start: Downing disappointed in Liverpool's opening-day defeat at West Brom

Slow start: Downing disappointed in Liverpool's opening-day defeat at West Brom

It is significant that Rodgers refers to pressure. There came a point midway through last season when Downing admitted it had been 'a culture shock' adjusting to the demands and expectations with which Liverpool players have to deal.

Though he started this season encouragingly, scoring the winning goal in Rodgers' first game against FC Gomel in the Europa League, Downing, 27, disappointed in the opening Barclays Premier League fixture at West Bromwich.

'If you looked at Stewart in the half-hour against Hearts, he served the ball well, got forward and defended a couple of times,' Rodgers said.

New signing: Sahin revealed he joined Liverpool after advice from Alonso

New signing: Sahin revealed he joined Liverpool after considering advice from Alonso

'That is important. I think he is good enough to play as a left back – absolutely.

'Time will tell. I don't like to just give up on players. I always look to look at different ways you can play them. Stewart has a future as an attacking player but I have had a good chat with him on the role and he is excited about it. That is the biggest thing.

'There is no point putting a player into a position he doesn't want to play. But when you speak to someone and tell them what the future could be, along with the qualities that he has, there is no doubt that in the modern game, he could play that role.'

Meanwhile, Nuri Sahin, Liverpool's latest signing, has revealed that advice from Xabi Alonso convinced him to move to Anfield on a season-long loan from Real Madrid.

Alonso won the Champions League during five successful years on Merseyside and Sahin, 23, wants to help Liverpool return there.

'Xabi is still in love with Liverpool and he only ever said good things,' revealed Sahin, who was also wanted by Arsenal – the club against whom he will make his debut on Sunday.

'A club like Liverpool has to be in the Champions League. We will do everything we can to get into the top four,' he said.