Tag Archives: stars

Spurs are competing with Fiorentina to sign Dutchman Jordy Clasie

Spurs eye Dutch talent Clasie but Fiorentina first to table offer

By
David Kent

PUBLISHED:

11:00 GMT, 30 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

11:00 GMT, 30 March 2013

Tottenham will have to make their move soon if they want to sign Feyenoord playmaker Jordy Clasie before Serie A outfit Fiorentina.

The 21-year-old, who has been called the Dutch Xavi by some, has been attracting interest from Europe's top clubs, but the Viola appear to have been the first to table on offer, according to the Metro.

Clasie has already played a handful of games in the national side, and could be a perfect fit next to Sandro in the heart of Spurs' midfield.

Wonderkid: Feyenoord playmaker Jordy Clasie is one of Europe's rising stars

Wonderkid: Feyenoord playmaker Jordy Clasie is one of Europe's rising stars

Wanted: Feyenoord are realistic in their attempts to keep him in Holland

Wanted: Feyenoord are realistic in their attempts to keep him in Holland

If a move to White Hart Lane was successful, it could mean the end of Scott Parker's career in North London, with a switch to Fulham, or even QPR if they stay up, on the cards.

Feyenoord's technical directior Martin Van Geel said: 'We do not need to sell him, nor do we
particularly want to, but we have to think of the player’s ambitions and
evaluate the offers from other clubs.

‘There is an offer from Fiorentina, but
we’ll only discuss it at the end of the season. Right now the players
must focus only on Feyenoord.’

Getting on: Scott Parker could be on his way out if Clasie signs for Tottenham

Getting on: Scott Parker could be on his way out if Clasie signs for Tottenham

Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Jose Mourinho and Mario Balotelli targeted by fans with laser pens

Old rivals lock horns in El Clasico and Milan derby, but fans target stars with laser pens

By
Lee Bryan

PUBLISHED:

13:23 GMT, 3 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

13:23 GMT, 3 March 2013

El Clasico and the Milan derby are two of the most eagerly-awaited matches in world football.

The world watched as Real Madrid and Barcelona locked horns twice in a week while Internazionale hosted their arch-rivals AC Milan last Sunday in a Serie A clash.

Sadly, both matches saw fans target opposing players with laser pens.

Mario Balotelli

Heated: Balotelli was allegedly targeted by racists in the crowd

Enemy: Mario Balotelli was targeted by laser pens and he allegedly suffered racist abuse in the Milan derby

Heated: Balotelli was allegedly targeted by racists in the crowd

Heated: Balotelli was allegedly targeted by racists in the crowd

In the Milan derby, Mario Balotelli was also subjected to racial abuse by the Inter fans in a fiery 1-1 draw.

That was followed on Tuesday night by Barcelona fans targeting Real Madrid duo Cristiano Ronaldo and Jose Mourinho with lasers during their Copa del Rey semi-final.

Scorer: Cristiano Ronaldo

Scorer: Cristiano Ronaldo

Boss: Real manager Jose Mourinho

Boss: Real manager Jose Mourinho

Target: Ronaldo had just scored the first goal in a 3-1 win at the Nou Camp

Target: Ronaldo had just scored the first goal in a 3-1 win at the Nou Camp

Ronaldo was targeted while celebrating the first goal at the Nou Camp as Real ran out 3-1 winners to book their place in the final against city rivals Atletico Madrid.

Real Madrid’s fans got their ‘revenge’ on Saturday, though, as they shined their lasers at Lionel Messi at the Bernabeu.

Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi

Illuminated: Lionel Messi has a laser shined in his eyes at the Bernabeu

Neil Lennon"s son Gallacher joins Celtic in training

He's one of the Bhoys! Lennon's son joins Celtic stars in training session

PUBLISHED:

15:38 GMT, 18 February 2013

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UPDATED:

15:38 GMT, 18 February 2013

Meet the latest addition to Celtic's Scottish Premier League-chasing squad: Neil Lennon's seven-year-old son Gallacher!

The Hoops' lead at the top of the SPL is a mammoth 18 points, so maybe the Glasgow giants' boss wanted to show his players that the game remains child's play

He's one of the Bhoys! Gallacher joins the Celtic team during a training session on Monday morning

He's one of the Bhoys! Gallacher joins the Celtic team during a training session on Monday morning

He's one of the Bhoys! Gallacher joins the Celtic team during a training session on Monday morning

Gallacher joined the elite stars at the club's Lennoxtown training base for a kick-around during the preparations for Tuesday night's league clash with St Johnstone.

Coach Garry Parker and a number of other stars were on hand to share a few passes with the boss's son as the Parkhead club close in on a 45th league title.

Best foot forward: Gallacher is already following in his dad's footballing footsteps

Best foot forward: Gallacher is already following in his dad's footballing footsteps

Best foot forward: Gallacher is already following in his dad's footballing footsteps

Neil Lennon’s men closed in on
back-to-back crowns by moving 18 points clear at the top of the table
with Saturday’s 6-2 rout of Dundee United.

The
Parkhead boss has stated he could be willing to let some key men start
their holidays early if they get the job done with enough games to
spare.

Calling the shots: Lennon oversees the session with his players... and son

Calling the shots: Lennon oversees the session with his players… and son

The Footballers" Football Column – Kevin Betsy: Watching Brazil was like buying a ticket to see Beyonce and ending up with Susan Boyle

KEVIN BETSY: Watching Brazil was like buying a ticket to see Beyonce and ending up with SuBo… England may have won, but the Thomas Ince tale reveals everything that's wrong with our game

PUBLISHED:

11:01 GMT, 13 February 2013

|

UPDATED:

12:02 GMT, 13 February 2013

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Kevin Betsy returns for his second Footballers' Football Column fresh from scoring for Woking in the 3-0 win at Alfreton at the weekend. The Fulham Academy coach was at Wembley to watch England beat Brazil last week – but left disappointed with the team in yellow. Betsy is also quick to praise Ashley Cole but has some damning thoughts on the future of the game.

When the final whistle blew at Wembley last week, my love for the game had increased and I wished I could have my career over again. However, as I walked away from the stadium my mind was clouded with questions.

This England team has been much criticised in the past, yet against Brazil they played a superb tactical game accompanied with an excellence in technical ability. Something that you associate with the team that have five stars embroidered above their badge, not the team with just one.

The much hyped arrival of the Brazilian team to Wembley was one of the biggest let downs I have experienced as a football fan. Brazil are a team that lots of people
support as their
second nation. As a young boy in the park or on the
street it was a Brazilian, not an Englishman, I pretended to be.

Winning feeling: Wayne Rooney helped England secure their first victory over Brazil for 23 years

Winning feeling: Wayne Rooney helped England secure their first victory over Brazil for 23 years

Extravagance, flair and the Samba band are all associated with the yellow, green and blue, but even the band were as flat as their team.

It felt like booking tickets to see Beyonce and then finding out she had been replaced by SuBo. Sure she can sing, but that’s not what I signed up for.

Luiz Felipe Scolari picked a squad which left me a little perplexed, especially his decision to pick 29-year-olds Dante and Fred and Luis Fabiano, 32, ahead of their pool of younger stars.

Brazil’s endless supply of talent will never run out as the country has a system that is tried and tested and produces with distinction. Thiago Silva, Leandro Damiao, Marcelo, Romulo,
Hulk and Willian are just a few names of younger Brazilian players that
did not even make the pitch or were not in the squad, showing their strength in
depth.

Ronaldinho

Neymar

Big let down: Brazil's box office stars such as Ronaldinho and Neymar failed to live up to their billing

Jack Wilshere

Theo Walcott

The star performers: Arsenal duo Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott shone on the big stage

Enjoying the game: Kevin Betsy at Wembley

Enjoying the game: Kevin Betsy at Wembley

Neymar and
Ronaldinho, two box office players and favourites of mine, certainly put
bums on seats at an almost full 90,000 stadium, but it was two English
players Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott that stole the show and
allowed us to celebrate the English player.

In all honesty, I feel England did play well but it could be a case of Brazil not picking their best team that helped them to win for the first time in 23 years.

Brazil will always have the upper hand over England in the long term, as their youth have opportunity to develop and play from a young age in their clubs first teams.

The Brazilian Campeonato league is full of homegrown players, with only six per cent of players coming into the league from other countries.

If a young player shows any potential they are sold off to Europe. This has always been the economic model and a main source of export.

The players know this as they need to elevate their own career earnings. Third-party ownership is normal in South America, as clubs do not have the financial capabilities of their European counterparts and to keep their best players for longer. Clubs need aid to maintain a player’s salary instead of sponsoring the club, sponsor the player and receive a return their investment.

A large portion of Brazilians have moved to play in leagues to showcase their talents, obtain work permits and boost their transfer values, Ronaldo and Romario at PSV, Juninho Pernambucano, and Michel Bastos at Lyon and David Luiz and Ramires at Benfica.

The Dutch, French and Portuguese Leagues do not have the financial backing that the Premier League clubs enjoy and regulations are flexible on foreign players.

The French and Dutch leagues differ from Portugal at the moment, their main aim is also to develop their own players. They do this well and the road for a young player at the latter stages of development is far easier than in an English club, as they have fewer foreign players to compete with.

Clubs in countries such as these need to boost their revenue and elevate themselves to be able to afford one or two top foreign players to make their club more competitive to achieve Champions League status.

Beyonce Knowles

Susan Boyle

Not what I wanted: Betsy says watching Brazil was like paying to see Beyonce and ending up with Susan Boyle

Without mass spectator volume, TV deals in their league the need to sell young players becomes a way of survival.

In the case of Portugal, they have overloaded their sides with foreign players but have sold on for vast sums, Radamel Falcao moved for 41m, Axel Witsel for 35m, Angel di Maria for 25m.

On a business level this works very well, but in football terms their national team is ageing and if something is not done soon they will also struggle, as their young players have no way of developing.

The Premier League brand shaped by Richard Scudamore must be applauded for all of its work to make the Premier League global and attract the best players that continue to bring revenue to our shores.

But perhaps, with a few tweaks here and there, the national team will increase its quality and pool of players to choose from.

The Premier League has the highest percentage of foreign players with 65 per cent. Countries lower than us include Germany 49 per cent, Spain 37 per cent and Italy 47 per cent. They have all adopted further strategies to the benefit of their sides and we need to take note.

Outnumbered: The Premier League has a very high percentage of overseas players

Outnumbered: The Premier League has a very high percentage of overseas players

More from The Footballers' Column…

ASHLEY WILLIAMS: The ball-boy row, my spat with Suarez and 'almost killing' Van Persie – you learn to live with it… playing for 80 and working as a waiter – THAT was hard
11/02/13

LEON OSMAN: What makes an Everton player Desire, heart, quality and character… But Pienaar reckons it takes a bit of the Bee Gees, too
07/02/13

ADAM ECKERSLEY: I played with Beckham and Ronaldo – but Becks was better… and on one of the few occasions Fergie spoke to me, he warned me of dangers of gambling
05/02/13

The Footballers' Football Column – Edgar Davids: If Platini can't stop racism, he should step aside and get someone in who can… Blatter and Cruyff should be leading by example
01/02/13

MARTIN ALLEN: There are so many good, young English managers like Parkinson and Tisdale… But they are being overlooked for foreigners who have done nothing
01/02/13

The Footballers' Football Column – Karl Henry: Only a handful of Premier League players can do everything – work hard, tackle, score goals… Gerrard, obviously, but Wilshere is the best
29/01/13

The Footballers' Football Column – Graham Westley: It was cancerous when I arrived at Preston. Did anyone turn up drunk for training Probably… but I made 24 signings to clear out and start again
28/01/13

The Footballers' Football Column – Stephen Constantine: In England we coach the life out of players by the time they're 21… In Spain the emphasis is 'the ball is your friend', at home it’s 'get rid of it!'
25/01/13

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

We have tried to implement and address with the likes of the ’homegrown rule’ but there are severe loopholes in this system.

Arsenal is a great example of this, with Cesc Fabregas, Nicolas Bendtner, Wojciech Szczesny all qualified as they have the required three years development in England, but they will never pull on a Three Lions shirt.

Despite the fantastic work that goes on at youth level and the improvements being made in Academies and Centres of Excellence up and down the country criticism is always upon us.

Yes, the standard of coaching needs improving and there are processes in place to improve this but the best coaching in the world will leave any individual stagnated and unchallenged and struggle to reach full potential if the environment doesn’t test them.

My work at a Premier League Academy sees our players come up against the best our country and our foreign counterparts. Our level in comparison is extremely high.

Regular sharing of ideas and discussions take place with coaches, home and abroad. There is no magic wand or hidden secrets. It is all quite transparent as a major factor in many European clubs is they leave room in their squads for predominately their own players.

Perhaps the problem may be just one thing: ‘opportunity’. If there is no sunlight for a flower to blossom it will die. Is there enough sunlight for our young English players That is the question.

Developed to a certain level placed in the professional game but sitting in squads with no real avenue to learn the trade and gain confidence.

The newly revamped Under 21 league introduced this season is aimed at bridging the gap that young players in England have faced. They offer competitive games with consequences and a challenge.

Holding games at first-team grounds aims to increase the number of spectators and give them experience of playing in those grounds. This is good but still not enough.

It’s still reserve football, no matter how much you dress it up. There is quite a difference in tempo, tactical learning, and spectator environment to a first-team game.

Hence many clubs prefer to send their youngsters on loan.

Barcelona’s B team play in Spain’s second division and this makes my point, the players are still developing but are under challenging pressure.

People say if you are good enough you will come through but there are only a few Wayne Rooneys in a generation. The rest have to work hard and be
lucky, under managers that are brave, have a vision and will
let them play and learn from any mistakes.

Sir
Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger and recently Brendan Rodgers have shown
the way. I am not saying we need to change the Premier League as a
product but adjust the ingredients a little.

Maintain foreign players in the country, of course, but just adjust the quantity.

Special talent: Players like Wayne Rooney are the exception rather than the rule

Special talent: Players like Wayne Rooney are the exception rather than the rule

Some people say the ‘six-plus-five’ rule that FIFA suggested contravenes European law and I hear this idea has been abandoned.

But it does have benefits and something similar to this would enable more players to play in the top league on a regular basis and learn from the best players.

One thing is clear, it is not the manager’s fault that they recruit foreign players.

Michael Laudrup

Michu

Knowing the market: Swansea boss Michael Laudrup bought Michu for 2m having seen him play in Spain

Their survival is based on results, they don’t make the rules and why should they not favour players where they have in-depth knowledge of ability and value. You get more for your money abroad as some imports have shown already this season and English players are overpriced.

Showing shrewdness in the transfer market with loans, smaller buys is part and parcel of being a top manager. Swansea Manager, Michael Laudrup’s Spanish purchases, including Michu at 2m, are a prime example.

I’m sure If you asked any Premier League manager he would say, 'I would love a team of five or six English players'.

Both sides of the coin: Tom Ince is an example of how clubs can make good and bad decisions

Both sides of the coin: Tom Ince is an example of how clubs can make good and bad decisions

Bosses must favour the market they know but if you have a restriction on number it may be beneficial to the national game long term and this is the governing bodies' problem to safeguard our talents development not football club's managers.

Thomas Ince is just another player who shows all things wrong with English football and all things right.

This bit is right – Developed from a young age at a fantastic academy at Liverpool.

..but this is wrong – Sold to Blackpool for 250,000, then a reported 5m offer to buy him back almost a year later. Patience may have prevailed, the giving of opportunity.

Someone else who has reaped some recent rewards with his 100-cap milestone is Ashley Cole. After coming head-to-head with Ashley on a number of occasions I must say he is without doubt the best left backs in the world.

Big achievement: Ashley Cole won his 100th England cap against Brazil

Big achievement: Ashley Cole won his 100th England cap against Brazil

Tough opponent: Betsy comes up against Cole during his Wycombe days

Tough opponent: Betsy comes up against Cole during his Wycombe days

He has to be coming up against me. Ashley comes second to Roberto Carlos in all-time status. Carlos’s devastating shot and a World Cup winner’s medal tipped the balance for me.

Whatever people’s perceptions are of Ashley off the pitch, in reality you have to be extremely professional to have achieved all he has in football. No matter how talented you are.

In my experience he’s a humble guy. Another example of what a young Englishman getting games from an early age can achieve dispels the ‘we don’t produce players ‘ myth.

Watching Peter Odemwingie on TV the other day, turning up at Loftus Road was as cringeworthy as a guy getting a sea of red lights on Take Me Out [Paddy McGuinness's ITV show – Ed] . All jokes aside, this was not a laughing matter. How could a professional footballer of Odemwingie's standing be left to drive himself to London and also drive the deal to QPR Where was his agent

A deal as complex as this one needed driving by external sources. West Bromwich Albion didn’t want to sell
and QPR had not agreed the fee. Therefore as a player you may argue your
case to the chairman, chief executive or manager but until you get the
green light you have to sit tight.

Embarrassing: Peter Odemwingie drove to Loftus Road on transfer deadline day to try and force a move to QPR

Embarrassing: Peter Odemwingie drove to Loftus Road on transfer deadline day to try and force a move to QPR

Until you get a call to say the fee has been agreed and you are free to discuss terms.

I presume the agent's fee in this deal would have been quiet substantial; the least they could have done was drive him there.

But now it is done and I hope Peter recovers well from this and gets on with what he does best, playing football.

Neymar: England only have one match-winner, Wayne Rooney, and they won"t win World Cup

EXCLUSIVE: England are a one-man team – and they haven't got a chance of winning the World Cup, taunts Brazil superstar Neymar

By
David Kent

PUBLISHED:

15:09 GMT, 5 February 2013

|

UPDATED:

15:45 GMT, 5 February 2013

Brazil star Neymar claims England are not good enough to win the World Cup and says they rely too heavily on Manchester United star Wayne Rooney.

Neymar, who celebrated his 21st birthday today, will line-up against the Three Lions on Wednesday night in a friendly to mark the Football Association's 150th anniversary.

Happy returns: Neymar tweeted this picture of him with birthday cake at Brazil's team hotel today

Happy returns: Neymar tweeted this picture of him with birthday cake at Brazil's team hotel today

Samba stars: Ronaldinho and Neymar (left)

Samba stars: Ronaldinho and Neymar (left)

'England are a good team with very good players – but I don't look at them as one of our main rivals for the World Cup,' Neymar who was speaking exclusively to Sportsmail, said.

'They have the players to do well – but do I think they have the same quality as Spain and Argentina No.

'I think maybe they rely on Wayne Rooney.

'At Brazil we have many players who can win the game. The same with Argentina if Messi is not having a great game they still have Aguero and Tevez with Spain if Iniestia is having a bad game they have Xavi and Villa. Once you look past Rooney you don't see an obvious player who can win them
a game.'

Neymar said Brazil have high hopes of winning the World Cup in their own country next year.

He said: 'The players love having Scolari as coach. We all respect him – but it works two ways. He is the sort of man that if you show him respect he will show you respect. We are all so happy to be playing under him. Already he is coming up with new ideas about how we can improve. He is very clear that only winning the World Cup will do next year.

Key man: Neymar says England rely too heavily on Wayne Rooney

Key man: Neymar says England rely too heavily on Wayne Rooney

Safe hands: Brazil's coach Luiz Felipe Scolari

Safe hands: Brazil's coach Luiz Felipe Scolari

'I think he made exactly the right decision to being Ronaldinho back. He is not just one of the best players of recent years but one of the best players to ever play the game. For three years he was the best player in the world. He has won everything with Brazil and also during his time at Barcelona – he brings a lot to the team.

Neymar has repeatedly been linked with a move to Europe with Real Madrid, Barcelona and Chelsea tracking the Santos forward.

He added: 'It is nice when I hear top players say I will be the best player in the world. It is important to stay humble – but I have to believe that I can be the best in the world. I know I have the talent to be – I just need to carry on working hard and learning off the players and coaches around me.

'Things are written about my future but they are not true. They can't be true – because no decision has been made. I am happy at Santos now and I am not even thinking about leaving. When the time comes I will consider all offers from big clubs in Europe – but any talk that I have already committed to a club is not true.'

Manchester City stars Joleon Lescott and James Milner ready for Super Bowl

Ready for the big game on Sunday, boys And we're not talking about Liverpool's visit to Manchester…

By
Nick Metcalfe

PUBLISHED:

18:04 GMT, 1 February 2013

|

UPDATED:

18:41 GMT, 1 February 2013

It's the biggest sporting event in the world, they tell us, and some of our biggest football stars can't wait for Sunday's Super Bowl.

Manchester City trio Joleon Lescott, James Milner and Micah Richards look quite the part here as they prepare for this weekend's showdown between the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers.

Ready to rumble: Joleon Lescott (left) and James Milner (right) prepare to do battle, with Micah Richards on refereeing duties

Ready to rumble: Joleon Lescott (left) and James Milner (right) prepare to do battle, with Micah Richards on refereeing duties

Lescott, a Ravens fan, and 49ers supporter Milner took part in a special quarterback 'crossbar challenge' at the club’s Carrington training ground.

And in case you were worrying about events taking a controversial turn, Richards was also on hand to undertake refereeing duties.

Milner eventually emerged as the victor, but only after a rule change. After both were successful with two events at hitting the crossbar, the winner was decided by who threw closest to the bar. Milner now hopes this is a lucky omen for events in New Orleans.

He said: 'It's pretty late but I'll try watching as much as I can. I think the 49ers will win it but it's going to be close.

Doing battle: Lescott and Milner are both big American football fans

Doing battle: Lescott and Milner are both big American football fans

'They're the favourites going in but with it being Ray Lewis' last game I don't think the Ravens want to let him down. I've seen clips of Lewis on the field and off the field.

'As a leader he seems unbelievable. He gets everyone going and it'll be a great if he signs off with the big one.'

Give us a smile, James: Lescott, Richards and Milner ahead of this weekend's big game

Give us a smile, James: Lescott, Richards and Milner ahead of this weekend's big game

Milner

Lescott

Who's going to be celebrating 49ers fan Milner (left) and Ravens supporter Lescott (right)

Lescott
said: 'I am a massive NFL fan and will be shouting for the Ravens this
Sunday. I tend to stay up as it's an entertainment event with the half
time show.

'We were lucky enough to visit the Baltimore Ravens when we toured the USA and I got to meet Ray Lewis.

'It would be a fitting end to an
outstanding career if the Ravens won the Vince Lombardi trophy in New
Orleans for him on Sunday.'

Richards, who is a relatively new
convert to the NFL, said: 'To be honest, I'm more of an NBA fan but it's
a big weekend for the NFL and I'll be watching.'

The day job: Milner training with City on Friday ahead of their clash with Liverpool on Sunday

The day job: Milner training with City on Friday ahead of their clash with Liverpool on Sunday

Up for the cup: Lescott (right) in action for City in their FA Cup clash with Stoke last weekend

Up for the cup: Lescott (right) in action for City in their FA Cup clash with Stoke last weekend

The three players will have more pressing matters on Sunday before the Super Bowl, and that's a Premier League clash with Liverpool.

A 0-0 draw at QPR in midweek saw City lose further ground in the title race, with local rivals United beating Southampton and moving seven points clear.

Roberto Mancini's men will be desperate for victory over the Merseysiders, before some of the City players settle down, along with millions of others, for a ball game of a very different kind.

Watch the City stars take part in their special American football challenge…

Robbie Keane training with Tottenham

Robbie returns to Tottenham… but he's only there to train

with Galaxy and Ireland.

'It's been a long season, with the Euros and what have you. I've a few little niggles that need to be sorted out so I don't think at this moment in time it would be right for me to go anywhere,' he told Sky Sports.

Galaxy of stars: Keane in action with David Beckham for the American side

Galaxy of stars: Keane in action with David Beckham for the American side

Arsene Wenger will decide if Theo Walcott stays at Arsenal

What are you waiting for Arsene weighing up Theo contract decision

By
Rob Draper

PUBLISHED:

22:33 GMT, 5 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

22:33 GMT, 5 January 2013

Arsene Wenger has confirmed that he will decide if Theo Walcott wants to stay at Arsenal.

The manager is weighing up whether to recommend an 85,000-a-week deal to his board that would break the impasse in contract talks and see the England attacker sign for another four years.

Wenger, whose team take on Swansea in the FA Cup on Sunday, has almost unprecedented power as a manager at a club.

I'm in charge: Arsene Wenger (pictured) has said he will make the final decision over Theo Walcott's future at Arsenal

I'm in charge: Arsene Wenger (pictured) has said he will make the final decision over Theo Walcott's future at Arsenal

And he admits the current wage structure at Arsenal, which many fans feel undervalues their top stars even though the 143million the salary bill is the fourth highest in the Premier League, is directed by him.

Though Arsenal executive Dick Law would conduct negotiations with Walcott’s representatives, he acts on Wenger’s recommendations on salaries.

The manager is given a wages budget by the board, but then it is up to him how high or low the salaries are for individual players.

Wenger added: ‘I don’t know how it works at other clubs. But it’s not only me: it’s in cooperation with the board.

On fire: Theo Walcott (left) has scored 10 goals in his last 11 games

On fire: Theo Walcott (left) has scored 10 goals in his last 11 games

'When I want to go far [in setting a higher salary for a player], I ask the authorisation of the board.’

No substantial talks on Walcott’s contract were held last week other than the usual courtesy conversation between Law and Walcott’s representatives, so the issue is no closer to resolution.

But both parties hope this coming week will be more productive with detailed discussions.

Not losing Walcott is Wenger’s priority now, since the player has scored 14 goals after starting the season isolated and on the bench, when Arsenal attempted to pressure him into signing a 75,000-a-week contract.

Walcott held firm and might have paid for it by starting the season outside the starting XI.

But he has proved his worth since then and the club now realise it would be a public relations disaster to lose him in the wake of the recent departures of Robin van Persie, Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri, Gael Clichy and Alex Song.

Stand-off: Walcott (right) started the season on the bench but has become a key play for Arsenal in recent weeks

Stand-off: Walcott (right) started the season on the bench but has become a key play for Arsenal in recent weeks

Twitter in 2013: Who to look out for

Who should you be following in 2013 Ten rising sports stars to track on Twitter

. Who are the rising stars of 2013

Sportsmail takes a look at whose Twitter feed will be worth following this year.

Chris Froome – @chrisfroome

No-one is quite sure yet who the cycling top dog will be in 2013, but Chris Froome is determined to be Britain’s main man in the Tour de France. As last year’s runner-up, and having held back on a break for the yellow jersey himself at the behest of Sky’s management, Froome is itching to get his chance to shine.

He has already confirmed that, if asked to, he will repeat the task this year. But he has also made it clear that he believes his time is now, and he is organising his schedule around the assumption that he will be leading the team.

Should he miss out on that chance, this Twitter account may be one that features a few expletives in 2013.

Uncertain: Bradley Wiggins (left) and Chris Froome will bid to lead Team Sky in the Tour de France

Uncertain: Bradley Wiggins (left) and Chris Froome will bid to lead Team Sky in the Tour de France

Michelle Cound – @michellecound

Not technically an athlete, but if anyone wants an insight into tensions in the Sky Team camp as the Tour de France approaches, this woman’s Twitter account is the one to watch. The loyal girlfriend of Chris Froome garnered considerable attention in 2012 when a spat erupted between herself and Catherine Wiggins.

The pair traded digs relating to Wiggins’ domination of the race and the demands from Team Sky that Froome take the back-seat supporting role. 'Team work is also about giving the people around you, that support you, a chance to shine in their own right,' the sports photographer tweeted after Stage 11, in which Froome was asked to hold back to allow Wiggins to retain the yellow jersey.

On the move Wilfried Zaha is bound for the top

On the move Wilfried Zaha is bound for the top

Wilfried Zaha – @wilfriedzaha

The humble 20-year-old said this week that his friends in the Premier League have been asking why it’s taking him so long to get there.

This January, Zaha will be a stranger to the top flight no more, and the Crystal Palace striker is looking forward to the challenge.

Manchester United and Arsenal are ready to start the bidding at around 10million.

It’s not likely to be a completely smooth transition. Zaha admitted that training with the England team was a shock to the system and showed him the intensity that is required at the top level.

This year will definitely be the biggest of his career.

Laura Robson – @laurarobson5

It was back in 2008 that a fresh-faced Laura Robson held the junior Wimbledon trophy aloft. At the tender age of 14, the youngster had the expectations of a nation craving Grand Slam glory on her shoulders.

She took some time to make her mark on the seniors tour, but now Robson is starting to come into her own.

She rode the wave of Olympic euphoria to win a silver medal in the mixed doubles last summer, alongside Andy Murray. During 2012 she rose from No 113 to No 53 in the world rankings, and she now sits only four places down from Heather Watson, Britain’s No.1.

She also took Hsieh Su-wei to three sets in her first WTA final at the Guangzhou Open. Most of her tweets involve pictures of cute animals, so there’s another reason to keep an eye on this rising star’s Twitter in 2013.

Moving up: Laura Robson enjoyed a remarkable year in 2012 and will be hoping for more of the same

Moving up: Laura Robson enjoyed a remarkable year in 2012 and will be hoping for more of the same

Max Chilton – @maxchilton

Chilton’s time will come in 2013 as the 21-year-old joins Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button and Paul di Resta as the fourth Briton on the Formula One grid.

He was appointed as a reserve for the Marussia team last September, but has been called in to fill the gap left by Charles Pic, who recently joined Caterham.

So far Chilton doesn’t seem to have been intimidated by the prospect of joining the elite circuit. After receiving the news he tweeted: ‘It's hard to put into words how I am feeling but I know I am full of energy and ready give it my all next year in my first F1 season! #f1.’ Keep an eye on this young racer in the coming year.

Inspired: Manu Tuilagi will be crucial for England

Inspired: Manu Tuilagi will be crucial for England

Manu Tuilagi – @Manutuilagi

2011
was a year of disappointment for Manu Tuilagi, as an ill-fated dive in
the Auckland dock brought even more criticism from those back home who
had just witnessed England crash out of the World Cup.

But last year
brought a little more cheer for the Samoan, especially after his
starring turn against the All Blacks in the Autumn internationals.

His
magnificent interception and flight up the left wing sealed victory for
the England squad against the supposed insurmountable New Zealanders,
salvaging a considerable amount of dignity for the home side.

This year’s Lions tour is likely to see the spotlight settle on him once
more.

Yohan Blake – @YohanBlake

Usain Bolt is such a presence in athletics that it is sometimes easy to forget those running alongside him. But Yohan Blake is becoming a big enough personality alongside his fellow countryman that he is making himself hard to ignore.

He was the third runner in Jamaica’s team when they won the 100m relay last summer in a world record-breaking time.

In the 200m final he had to make do with coming second to Bolt, just as he did in the 100m. But he gave his compatriot much more of a challenge than any other athlete so far.

He has beaten his training partner on the smaller stages – at the Jamaican Olympic trials in June. Could this be the year that Blake overcomes his greatest rival while the world watches

We’ll have to wait for the World Championships in August to find out.

Fierce competition: Yohan Blake looks set to push Usain Bolt all the way in both the 100m and 200m

Fierce competition: Yohan Blake looks set to push Usain Bolt all the way in both the 100m and 200m

Dan Greaves – @DiscusDan

The British discus thrower actually trained for able-bodied competitions, and competed in them, before realising that his Talipes feet qualified him for the Paralympics. He has taken home a medal in every Games he has competed in – gold in 2000 and 2004, bronze in 2008 and silver in last year’s Summer Games.

He also broke the world record with his second gold in Athens, and then went on to break it three times in 2011, as well as winning his third World Championship gold medal. You can bet that when the IPC Athletics World Championships in Lyon roll around, ‘Discus Dan’ will be seeking gold once more.

Looking forward: Dan Greaves will be looking for his fourth World Championship gold medal in 2013

Looking forward: Dan Greaves will be looking for his fourth World Championship gold medal in 2013

One to watch: England's Joe Root has a bright future

One to watch: England's Joe Root has a bright future

Joe Root – @joeroot05

The
youthful-looking 22-year-old has been hailed by Michael Vaughn as the
successor to the England captaincy. Now the opening batsman for
Yorkshire, Root made his Test debut against India last month and came
away with an innings of 73, after batting for close to five hours with a
permanent air of calm.

We
may see him included in the squad for England’s next Test against
Dunedin in March, and with back-to-back series against both New Zealand
and Australia in 2013, there’s likely to be a lot of exposure coming the
way of this Yorkshire lad.

Katarina Johnson-Thompson – @JohnsonThompson

Jessica Ennis might have been our golden girl at the Olympics, but look to the future and you’ll see someone ready to take her crown in years to come. Johnson-Thompson has already beaten Ennis’ British junior record by 338 points and her 1.89m in the Olympic high jump was a personal best.

She’s a consistent gold medallist at junior level, but looks set to take her place on the world stage in 2013 after being inspired by the Ennis' success this summer.

Bright star: Katarina Johnson-Thompson has been hailed as the 'next Jessica Ennis'

Bright star: Katarina Johnson-Thompson has been hailed as the 'next Jessica Ennis'

Fran Halsall vows to bounce back in Rio – Laura Williamson

I'll make waves in Rio, vows Halsall after flopping at home Olympics

|

UPDATED:

22:09 GMT, 30 December 2012

Fran Halsall has made an important New Year’s resolution. The British swimmer never again wants to feel the way she did in the summer of 2012 after finishing the Olympic Games without a medal.

She has written it all down, just in case she ever needs a reminder, because Halsall is determined she will never feel like that again; so low she did not attend the post-Games parade because she ‘didn’t think she should enjoy it’.

While 2012 was an unforgettable year of sport for so many, there are those for whom 2013 and beyond promises far better things.

Gutted: Fran Halsall struggled to perform at the London Olympics

Gutted: Fran Halsall struggled to perform at the London Olympics

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A silver medal in the 50-metre freestyle at the World Short Course Championships in Istanbul earlier this month ‘was never going to make up for the Olympics’, but it has helped Halsall get her spark back. She has a new coach — James Gibson, who guided France’s Florent Manaudou to Olympic gold in the men’s 50m freestyle in London. But, most importantly of all, her confidence has returned.

‘Knowing I’m still a fast swimmer feels really good,’ she says. ‘I gave myself a little pat on the back, if you like. I’m really happy.

‘It took me a couple of months to get over the Olympics. There was a lot of upset and blame; of thinking I’m not good enough. I couldn’t deal with the fact I wasn’t good enough and it wasn’t a very nice feeling.

‘But I took ownership of it and I swam fast again. That was all me. It’s not an Olympic medal but I had to differentiate between Fran the swimmer and the person. You can’t live your life like that.’

Halsall was tipped to star in the pool at London 2012 but did not win a medal in any of her five events. She was not the only one to disappoint, of course: Britain’s swimming team came away with only a silver and two bronze medals at their home Games and have lost 4million of funding as a result.

British Swimming conducted a review into what went wrong in London, which largely blamed the leadership of coaches and the timing of the national trials, which were held 13 weeks before the Games in March.

Bouncing back: Halsall has vowed to return to form for Rio in four years

Bouncing back: Halsall has vowed to return to form for Rio in four years

Head coach Dennis Pursley and performance director Michael Scott also quit, prompting Rebecca Adlington to call the situation ‘an absolute mess’.

Halsall, though, has conducted her ‘own review’ and has a much simpler explanation: she over-trained. Working under Ben Titley, who has since moved to Canada, at Loughborough University, she says she was an ‘Olympic keeno’.

Halsall picked up a shoulder injury in mid-May, which kept her out of the pool for ‘a few weeks’.

‘Trials weren’t the problem,’ adds Halsall. ‘I have always swum faster in the summer: this was the first year I didn’t. You have to swim fast for the trials, wherever you put them.

Back on track: Halsall in Turkey

Back on track: Halsall in Turkey

‘The issue for me was I did too much. I was an Olympic keeno. I probably overdid it and ended up picking up an injury. I tried to do more than I had ever done before.

‘I didn’t want to talk about my shoulder problem (before the Games). It’s an excuse and I didn’t want that. My focus was on swimming as fast as I could and I didn’t want to have that distraction. I still fought for every 10th of a second in every race.’

Halsall, though, is already a veteran of two Olympic Games, despite being only 22 years old.

She is determined not to make the same mistakes third time around.

‘I’m not too old just yet,’ she says. ‘I’m looking forward to Rio in four years’ time.’

Fran Halsall uses Multipower Sportsfood: www.multipower.co.uk

What they said

It's little wonder David Weir described the New Year Honours list as ‘a bit strange’ after Sarah Storey became a Dame but Weir, who also won four Paralympic gold medals in London, was given a CBE.

‘Sometimes it seems that Paralympians have to win lots and lots of medals to get a damehood or a knighthood,’ Weir told the Daily Telegraph.

Here's what I've been doing this week

Chugged around the country for the feast of festive football. Clubs might whinge about fixture congestion, but I love the tradition of it all. It works in other sports, too: just look at the record 82,000 people at Twickenham for Saracens’ win against Harlequins on Saturday.

Watched Superstars and revelled in the sheer naffness and rain-sodden Britishness of it all. I can cope with only having shooter Peter Wilson on my television screen every four years, but I enjoyed Mo Farah’s attempts at kayaking, the Brownlee brothers’ rivalry and being proved wrong by Helen Glover’s prowess on the track. And there was I thinking rowers are not always the most co-ordinated of athletes on dry land.

Back on our screens: Olympians took part in the BBC show Superstars

Back on our screens: Olympians took part in the BBC show Superstars

According to Fulham’s programme for their 1-1 draw with Southampton, I ‘swooned’ when I wrote about Dimitar Berbatov’s ‘style and swagger’ in his side’s 2-1 victory against Newcastle this month. That made me laugh, but not as much as the striker’s handwritten ‘Keep Calm and Pass Me the Ball’ T-shirt, which suggested Berbatov is not averse to ‘swooning’ about himself, either.

Performance of the week

Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert continues to predict that ‘Aston Villa will be fine’ despite his side suffering a 15-0 deficit over the festive period. That’s some crystal ball he got for Christmas.