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Brian Jacks: The superstar of Superstars is now running a hotel in Thailand and doing magic tricks

Brian Jacks the entertainer: Four-time champion of Superstars and king of the dips is now running a hotel in Thailand and doing magic tricks



00:20 GMT, 29 December 2012

Brian Jacks has just made a glass disappear through a wooden table when he comes to hypnotise me. I am looking at a white mark above a door and swaying sideways, and backwards and forwards, my eyelids heavy, my knees weak and my arms loose before he grabs me. I briefly fall under his spell.

An Only Fools and Horses actor is with us but for now all eyes are turned on Jacks, the superstar of Superstars, as he goes through his repertoire of magic tricks. Cards, coins and notes all feature in the conjuring act.

Work those quads: Superstars legend Jacks has been in Thailand for 13 years

Work those quads: Superstars legend Jacks has been in Thailand for 13 years

We are about four miles out of Pattaya, a sun-kissed, crescent-shaped bay on the Gulf of Thailand. This humid resort, a former fishing town an hour-and-a-half's drive from Bangkok, is home to go-go bars, massage parlours and sauna joints in the neon-lit twilight world close to the shady trees of a promenade strewn with women – or indeed drag queens – of the night.

Away from the centre of Sin City in a quieter, residential area known as Darkside for no more intriguing a reason than that the street lighting barely extends here, one of the most famous sporting faces British television has produced wakes early each morning to live his dream.

Brian Albert Jacks, judo champion, master of the squat thrust and king of the dips, owns apartments here – exactly 69 of them – which he rents out to expats, many of them eking out sunny retirements on meagre pensions.

Patrick Murray, better known to us as Mickey Pearce, who wore a pork-pie hat in Only Fools and Horses, now 56, slim, greying, chain-smoking but thankfully off alcohol after more than a decade fighting addiction, is one of the patrons paying between 110 and 150 a month to stay in the premises that Jacks designed.

Horse power: Jacks riding 'Copy', Kerry Packers' former polo pony

Horse power: Jacks riding 'Copy', Kerry Packers' former polo pony

Famous faces: Jacks and his friend Patrick Murray (Mickey Pearce from Only Fools and Horses)

Famous faces: Jacks and his friend Patrick Murray (Mickey Pearce from Only Fools and Horses)

Snooker's Jimmy White is another
occasional caller. Three-quarters of Jacks's clientele are Britons, the
rest mostly Europeans, a couple of them American or Canadian.

An obliging chap called Odd -Jacks's trusty helper – has driven me here
from Beach Road and the Hilton hotel's balcony view of that
sun-drenched bay. Jacks comes out to greet me by extending a hand as
thick as a fillet steak. His features are slightly worn by sun and age,
as well they might be at 66. But he is otherwise a picture of enduring
athleticism. His weight, 81kg or 12st 7lb, is precisely the same as when
he was a 21-year-old Olympic judoka. When he rolls up his shirt
sleeves, his biceps still bulge.

Golf clubs lean on the office wall. Books fill up shelves. A picture
montage of his previous life in Britain shows him mingling with the
stars of sport and entertainment from the Sixties, Seventies and
Eighties: Freddie Starr, Hale and Pace, Kenny Sansom, Mary Rand, Frank
Bruno, Ian St John, Sir Bobby Charlton, David Lloyd, Sir John Mills,
Steve Davis, Frankie Vaughan, Vic Charles, Eric Bristow and Princess

So why, he wonders, have we flown all this way to visit him

I explain that a new Olympic edition of Superstars was filmed in Bath
last month. It is due to be aired this evening. Mo Farah, the Brownlee
brothers, Christine Ohuruogu and Jade Jones are among the BBC's cast
list. So what better moment to catch up with the orange-sucking legend
of the show

'I have been over here for 13 years,'
says Jacks. 'It's bliss. I wake up every day and it is a joy to be
alive. I can't wait for dawn to break.

Big dipper: Jacks breaking the World Arm-Dip record

Big dipper: Jacks breaking the World Arm-Dip record

All stars: Jacks with Sharon Davies, Bob Goody and Wayne Laryea

All stars: Jacks with Sharon Davies, Bob Goody and Wayne Laryea

'I love Britain. I got emotional when I won medals and heard the
National Anthem, but I was fed up with the country, too. I was fed up
with the way it had become.

'I was fed up with the ridiculous health and safety regulations. I was
fed up with the government taking more and more in taxes. And I was fed
up with the cold weather. I was fed up with immigration getting out of

'Take health and
safety. I ran a judo club in Orpington in Kent for 20-odd years. One day
a woman health and safety inspector from Bromley Council came into my
office and asked, ''What's this''

'I said it was a fridge.

'She said, ''What temperature is it''

'I replied, ''I don't know, it's pretty cold''.

'She told me I should put a jelly in there with a thermometer in it.
Can you believe it I only kept my milk in there to have a cup of tea.

'She then spoke to me about the wash
basin. She asked which the cold tap was and which the hot tap was. I
told her the hot one was the one with red on it and the cold one was the
one with blue on it.

said that was no good because blind people couldn't tell which was
which. I told her we didn't have any blind people playing judo.

'She said I should still put a sign up. I said if people were blind
they wouldn't see it. She said it must be in braille. Well, if they were
blind, how would they know where the sign was

Promise: Jacks the young Judo expert

Youthful: Jacks the young Judo expert

Feeling sleepy: Sportsmail's McEvoy (left) is hypnotised by Jacks

Feeling sleepy: Sportsmail's McEvoy (left) is hypnotised by Jacks

'I was getting pretty irritated by her asking all these stupid
questions and she ended up going off in a huff. So then the council sent
round people to test for Legionnaires' disease and then for asbestos. I
had been hiring this building from the council for 24 years and they
suddenly send three lots of people round in the space of a few days.
This is typical of things that are going on in Britain.

'I was a PE teacher and in the end you had to write to parents asking
their permission to put a badly behaved boy on detention. I was strict.
That is the way it should be. I said what was needed. And all these
stupid rules were getting me really annoyed.

'In Thailand I know where I stand. I report in every three months. If I don't, they deport me. End of story.'

Jacks does not want to dwell too long on the negatives. He thinks of
the tapioca, pineapple and mango he can pick in the fields that surround
his apartments and the nearby house he shares with his 46-year-old
wife, Lek.

'In Britain you
can play golf sensibly for five months of the year,' he adds. 'Here
you can play every day – and for a pittance. Within 45 minutes there are
27 golf courses. That is the major reason I am here.

'I am not as good a player as I'd like to be but I am a very
competitive person and it provides me with the competition I need. My
handicap fluctuates between eight and 12. It depends, shall we say, on
the rub of the green.'

Golf usually comes in the afternoon –
virtually every afternoon – but the days start early. He jumps on his
quad bike and charges via road and dirt track to a farm, owned by a
local police chief, to feed his horses.

The biggest and oldest of them is Replica. KP is stamped on the side,
signifying that this old polo horse belonged to the late Australian
magnate Kerry Packer. Replica is known as Copy because Thais cannot
manage his full name.

Video: Jacks the big dipper

is the second horse, but it is Max, young and white, who is mad. He was
broken in by Jacks himself with skills he learned riding with his
'inspirational' late father Albert, a London cabbie.

Jacks only rides occasionally now, his
fragile back too precious to his golfing enjoyment to be gambled with.
He has not been in a gym for years.

Back apart, his body is in good nick.
The warm weather helps his arthritis. His knees feel strong despite 11
cartilage operations. He drinks sparingly. Surprisingly, he rolls the
odd cigarette.

Over dinner
he recalls the old times. How, aged nine, watching his dad in a judo
competition sparked his interest in the sport. How he went to Japan to
improve his judo at the age of 15 years and two days. The Daily Mail
cutting of his trip to live with Mr Ichiro Hatta hangs on his house
wall. The article records how Jacks had recently broken his leg in a
rugby accident and suffered a second serious accident involving a
pane-glass window yet was still crowned national junior champion.

While in Japan, he bought a Harris Tweed coat, glasses and pipe from
the pawn shop on the American military base so that he looked old
enough to teach English as a foreign language.

'I hadn't got a clue what I was doing,' he recalls. 'I just did Old
MacDonald Had a Farm and stuff like that. There are probably still some
Japanese people over there speaking with a Cockney accent.'

He WON Britain's first judo world championship medal in Salt Lake in
1967 and another bronze at the 1972 Olympics in Munich, the global
highlights of a career in which he also won six European medals,
including two golds.

of course, there was Superstars. In that, Jacks won the British final
in 1979 and 1980 as well as the European and international titles the
same years. It is for his epic performances on the parallel bar dips (a
best of 100 in 60sec) and squat thrusts (118) that he will be longest

Video: Jacks and sliding squat thrusts

He recalls that Philips sponsored the show, giving contestants a colour TV if they set a world record. Jacks managed the feat so regularly he had nine of them. 'I told them, ''I'm sick of the bloody things, can't I have a fridge instead” I used to do 400 dips in the course of an hour, building up each day how many I could do in one go. Then I would do thrusts, 400 of them. I trained hard. I loved it.

'I went down with my training partners to Crystal Palace for 6am in my Granada estate with my canoes and bikes on it. I would spend one hour in the canoe towing a dustbin for the 125m sprint. The canoes would go back on the car.

'Then we would get the bikes off the back and ride them for an hour. Then breakfast. Then basketball dribbling and crossbow or longbow practice while the food went down before weightlifting – clean and jerk. Then I'd swim for 45 minutes.

'I was off then from 2 to 6.30pm and then I'd train in the judo club for three hours.

'I liked all the guys I competed against – John Conteh, Allan Wells, Gareth Edwards, Phil Bennett, David Hemery.

'Lynn Davies, the (1964 Olympic) long jump gold medallist, was a great athlete and a gentleman. He was the toughest rival, not because he was the most powerful but because he was the most wonderful competitor. He was good at so many disciplines.

'Malcolm Macdonald was a great sprinter – he did the 100m in 10.9sec – but wasn't so good at the other events. You could choose which two disciplines from the 10 to drop and I was not built for sprinting or cross-country running so didn't do them. We all got on so well. There was only one person I didn't like and that was Daley Thompson. Do you know what, I brought 60 kids along from the judo club and he wouldn't sign one autograph He was an arrogant, big-headed *******.

'I remember when he put his watch down in front of him before he was doing the squats. Do you think that would help him Ridiculous.

'So when it was my turn I put my orange down – as if that would help me – just to show what an idiot he was. I did 35 more than him. He tried to keep up with my training but he couldn't.

'But I have so many memories. There was
Kevin Keegan falling off his bike on the cinder track and burning
himself. They filmed three heats on that same day and I had got within
1.2sec of the actual cycling world record for one lap. There was Alan
Minter in his canoe going straight into the rhododendron bushes. Stan
Bowles put his 2.2 pistol down and it went off – blowing a hole in the

Video: Keegan takes a fall

'A few years ago when they last brought back Superstars they allowed the contestants to get off the bars and then get back up and start doing more dips. That's not how it was when I was doing it and it shouldn't be like that. It makes it too easy.'

You wonder whether the class of 2012 will have Jacks's manic determination for a TV show in this more professional age. For him it was about winning. Good job, because he received an entry fee of just 500 with 2,000 going to the winner.

'That's all we got, even though we got audiences of 16 million – the same or more than EastEnders gets now. Everybody was talking about it. I remember David Vine, the presenter, coming over before the canoeing to ask me whether I would win. I said I had not come here to lose. It was not that I was being arrogant. I was just competitive. That was me. That was the way I was. I was there to win.'

And the oranges that Jacks chomped 'I have never done stupid adverts on TV,' he says. 'I don't want to endorse something I don't believe in.

But I do believe in Jaffa oranges. You can't get such good oranges over here. The tangerines are OK, though.'

There were spin-offs. For a time Jacks was opening sports centres, appearing in pantos, delivering talks. He never refused an autograph, however late in the day or restless his travelling companions were to head home.

He claims never to have been rich, though he was well enough off, living in a five-bedroom house in Orpington with space for eight cars that included a Rolls-Royce. Does he have any regrets at casting himself away from those home comforts for a new life in Thailand

'Not even in the smallest way,' he says. 'Health is more important to me than money. Here I can eat well at little cost. It tastes great and it isn't fattening. I live off 1,000 a month. I don't do anything I don't want to.

'I promise you no amount of money on God's Earth would tempt me back.I am the happiest person in the world. And by the way, I can still do my own age in dips.'

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Nicolas Anelka wanted by West Ham United

Anelka the comeback kid as West Ham line up bid for unsettled Shanghai striker



08:57 GMT, 12 November 2012

Hammer time! Anelka could be heading back to England

Hammer time! Anelka could be heading back to England

West Ham are lining up an audacious bid to bring Nicolas Anelka back to the Barclays Premier League less than a year after he left to join Chinese side Shanghai Shenhua.

The Hammers have already entered talks with the striker who is unhappy after failing to settle in at his new club.

Anelka, 33, played under boss Sam Allardyce at Bolton Wanderers and is keen to end his spell in China, despite the lucrative 250,000-a-week deal he signed in January.

The former Arsenal, Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea star is also in a pay-wrangle with Shenhua, according to reports in the Daily Star.

Anelka will be aware of Allardyce's excellent track-record in extending the careers of other senior players.

Jay-Jay Okocha, Ivan Campo, Youri Djorkaeff and Fernando Hierro all enjoyed successful spells in the twilight years of their playing days under Allardyce.

Sign him up (again): Allardyce signed Anelka for Bolton in 2006

Sign him up (again): Allardyce signed Anelka for Bolton in 2006

Liverpool want Isco, Ander Herrera and Marcelo Brozovic

Isco heads Liverpool transfer targets as Rodgers ramps up spending plans



08:02 GMT, 21 September 2012

Liverpool are targeting a trio of midfielders as manager Brendan Rodgers steps up his rebuilding plans at Anfield.

The club's scouts have identified Dinamo Zagreb's Marcelo Brozovic and Spanish duo Isco and Ander Herrera as potential signings.

Rodgers, who is aware that Steven Gerrard is approaching the twilight of his career, has so far been thwarted in his efforts to add substantial quality to his squad.

In demand: Malaga's midfielder Isco is likely to be much sought after

In demand: Malaga's midfielder Isco is likely to be much sought after

Croatian under 21 starlet Brozovic was watched during his side's Champions League defeat to Porto this week, according to the Daily Mirror.

Genoa and Lazio are also interested with Dinamo prepared to sell him next summer.

Rodgers is also keeping tabs on Malaga's Isco and Athletic Bilbao's Herrera. The former could be available in a cut-price deal due to his club's perilous financial situation but is likely to be in demand across Europe.

Wanted: Marcelo Brozovic (right) has also caught Liverpool's eye

Wanted: Marcelo Brozovic (right) has also caught Liverpool's eye

Herrera meanwhile, impressed during Bibao's run to the Europa League final last season and is also on Manchester United's radar.

The 22-year-old is valued at 16million.

F1"s TV future is in safe hands with Sky Sports – Edge of the Box

Formula One's TV future is in safe hands with Sky Sports



23:59 GMT, 18 March 2012

I'm sorry. It isn't you, it's me. Yes I know, I should feel terrible about resorting to such clich, but I can't help but have a twinge of guilt here.

After all, it was only a few weeks ago I was singing the praises of the BBC's F1 coverage, and now here I am, completely ignoring them and their no doubt excellent highlights packages in favour of this season's flashier new model, Sky Sports F1 HD.

Indeed, it was also only really a couple of months back that F1 fans were speculating as to whether we were all set to return to the bad old days of ITV's (albeit innovative and pioneering) coverage, when the action was peppered with ad breaks.

Sky's the limit: Simon Lazenby, Martin Brundle and Damon Hill speak to Christian Horner

Sky's the limit: Simon Lazenby, Martin Brundle and Damon Hill speak to Christian Horner

Well a dedicated channel that arrives with a top-notch expert presenting team and a promise of commercial-free racing seems to have put pay to any worries there.

The question remains, though, now they've got it, how are they going to use it

Well, to start with, they're going to get us nicely ensconced into proceedings, for the first time, with a Friday magazine programme called The F1 Show. And I must say there was something rather alluring about Georgie Thompson welcoming us to a twilight world of F1, where dark had fallen on the tented village in Melbourne, but the pit lanes were still burning the midnight oil prepping cars.

On the Button: Sky kicked off their F1 coverage with a British winner

On the Button: Sky kicked off their F1 coverage with a British winner

For this first show, it was the turn of one of the sport's unsung broadcasting heroes Ted Kravitz – who has followed the fleet all the way through from its ITV days – to take centre stage, with Sebastian Vettel ribbing him in an interview on the beach ('(look) he doesn't have to hold his own mic any more'), then VIP guest Lenny Kravitz getting all unnecessary and claiming him as a long lost cousin.

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But Ted's main role is to prowl the pits, which he does with an abundance of knowledge and well-established team connections to call upon. Keep an eye on Ted, he'll see you alright.

All the practise sessions will be there in their entirety too, and on Saturday morning at final practice three – which another new Sky signing, Martin Brundle, described as being all about 'tanks and tyres' – the diehard fans will have recognised a couple of familiar voices from BBC 5Live's F1 coverage.

Along with pit-lane reporter Natalie Pinkham, David Croft and driver Anthony Davidson have been recruited from radio, and here they were back together again, and again as ever, both were cracking the wise and the nerdy in equally impassioned measures throughout these preliminary proceedings.

However, it would be Croft with Brundle (now in the pundit chair at Sky) who would take pole in the commentary box on race day itself, leading a presentation that as the chequered flag waved on a thrilling Jenson Button win answered any questions about how they would cover the action, perhaps in the most sensible way they could – namely, to slipstream the manner in which the BBC had brought us the races so successfully for seasons past.

In Simon Lazenby – setting up the show and the season with a very punchy 'many people are saying it's the greatest field ever assembled' – they have the ideal doppelganger for Jake Humphrey; the right mix of live anchoring skills and technical knowledge .

Meet the team: (From left to right) Davidson, Croft, Pinkham, Hill, Thompson, Brundle, Kravitz and Lazenby

Meet the team: (From left to right) Davidson, Croft, Pinkham, Hill, Thompson, Brundle, Kravitz and Lazenby

Talent: Brundle and Hill will steer the analytical ship with their expert knowledge

Talent: Brundle and Hill will steer the analytical ship with their expert knowledge

And with Brundle alongside the laconic figure of Damon Hill, they have two men with all the historical and on screen credentials required to help build up to the race for a full 90 minutes before the green light.

Brundle's 'infamous grid-walk', has been retained and this Melbourne one was a classic in its own right – ranging from Jenson Button joyfully confessing he 'definitely' fancied it today, to Leo Sayer saying 'welcome to my country' – while in a nod to their football coverage, Georgie was positioned at the big screen Sky Pad along with Anthony Davidson, who's use of replays to help set up the race were positively Gary Neville.

Perfect start: Button is drenched in champagne following his Aussie GP victory

Perfect start: Button is drenched in champagne following his Aussie GP victory

During the race itself, Croft and Brundle really hit the ground running – dovetailing into their roles immediately with the latter as astute and honest as ever, and Croft bursting with a real joy de vivre. Indeed, after the safety car went in at one point, and Crofty let rip with 'We. Have. A. Very. Fast. 17. Laps. Now!', it was like having a young Murray Walker back up in the box. He really can be that good.

So race one is done and the circus moves on with barely enough time to catch a breath, but in between gasps it would seem fair to say that F1's TV future is in safe hands.


Tuesday on Channel 4's coverage from Cheltenham, and in a fascinating little feature, Alice Plunkett was on dawn patrol at Paul Nicholl's stables with Kauto Star.

Wednesday on ITV and Didier Drogba's extravagant flop in The Champions League left him prostrate on the turf, but with one beedy eye on the proceedings. 'You're on camera!', spotted Clive Tyldsley.

Saturday on BBC 1,and 17 minutes from the Grand Slam, Wales' Dan Lydiate sealed his Man Of The Match nomination with a hit that resounded like a sonic boom on the referee's mic.

Australian Open 2012: Andy Murray looks to tame Ryan Harrison

Murray embarks on another Grand Slam quest with Lendl the legend in his corner and a challenge to tame the… WILD CHILD

He is his country’s great young hope, very talented and has a bit of a temper on him.

No wonder 19-year-old American Ryan Harrison can understand the comparisons between himself and a younger Andy Murray.

The two men face off in the first round of the Australian Open and it represents an intriguing test for Murray as he attempts to get his Grand Slam partnership with Ivan Lendl off to a winning start.

Dream team: Murray and Lendl prepare for the Scot's first-round match

Dream team: Murray and Lendl prepare for the Scot's first-round match

Before that a quintet of British singles players were intent on ensuring that, if he does so, it is not as the country’s sole representative left in the tournament.

While the 24-year-old Scot waits for day two, James Ward, Elena Baltacha, Anne Keothavong, Heather Watson and Laura Robson were all due to feature in the opening wave of matches.

Having had a full week of work with Lendl, all eyes at Melbourne Park will be on Murray to see if the eight-time Grand Slam winner has been able to effect any changes on the world No 4’s style.

Court time: Murray prepares for his first round clash

Court time: Murray prepares for his first round clash

The indications are that we may see Murray slightly more aggressive than usual against a potentially awkward opponent who is one of a group of younger players gradually emerging with the threat that they can one day upset the established world order. With Andy Roddick and the Williams sisters approaching the twilight zone,

Harrison carries the considerable burden of being America’s best prospect.
The son of the head coach at John Newcombe’s tennis ‘ranch’ in Texas, he has long been marked out for the role.

Harrison is about to start his second full year on the ATP Tour and his world ranking of 84 shows that he is not the finished article but, should Murray exhibit some early tournament nerves, then he is already good enough to cause problems.

On the front foot: Murray is looking to get off to a good start to 2012 by winning his first major

On the front foot: Murray is looking to get off to a good start to 2012 by winning his first major

At the US Open in September the teenager led world No 5 David Ferrer by two sets to one, but he has often struggled to keep his emotions in check and it has acted to his detriment.

Few players appear as regularly on the fines list for racket abuse and at Roland Garros last year he added a new dimension to the practice by hurling his implement into a nearby tree.

Nobody is as good at driving their opponents to distraction as Murray with his constant changes of spin, pace and angles, so it might be a lively encounter and the British No 1 feels that could be to his advantage. ‘I’ll try and make him lose his temper early on,’

Murray said. ‘It’s something that helps if your opponent gets down on himself, and if that happens then you’ve got to keep your foot on the gas.

‘It’s important I get off to a good start. He’s obviously a good player, got a good serve and forehand, but he can be a little erratic. He plays a similar style to Roddick.’

The rivals: Roger Federer

The rivals: Rafael Nadal

The rivals: Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal stand in the way of Murray winning his first Grand Slam

Harrison, impressively articulate, explained himself thus: ‘I’m a very energetic person, I’ve had moments in the past when it has got out of hand, so one of the big challenges for me this year is to learn how to channel it all as positively as possible. But I will never be a guy who just walks from side to side and doesn’t say anything.’

Murray is used to arriving at this tournament with much attention focused on him, but the interest has been taken to a new level by the arrival of Lendl in his team, and there is the possibility that there will be a distracting and pressure-adding element to it.

As he pointed out, it is him playing the tournament and it will be him winning or losing rather than the coach, but the extra scrutiny is inevitable.

At least he is not the overwhelming favourite, which the bookies have agreed is defending champion Novak Djokovic, despite the fact that he has played no tennis of serious note since the World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena in London at the end of November.

The challenger: Ryan Harrison will look to upset Murray in the opening round

The challenger: Ryan Harrison will look to upset Murray in the opening round

Djokovic also waits until day two before entering the fray and could face a nasty third-round clash against highly-rated and huge-serving Canadian Milos Raonic.

His chief rivals, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, like the five other Britons, were due in action on Monday. Amazingly — and it is a tribute to their dominance of rankings one and two — Federer and Nadal have not been in the same half of a Grand Slam draw since 2005.


Ryan Harrison used to receive 20 push-ups from his parents as punishment for his displays of anger. Now he receives regular fines for his conduct. Here are some of the American’s flashpoints from last year.

Repeatedly hurled his racket during his US Open first-round defeat by Marin Cilic. He also kicked a ball into the crowd, prompting boos, as he lost to the Croat in straight sets.A week before the Flushing Meadows event, he threw his racket three times in six games against Canadian Pierre Duclos in the Winston-Salem Open. After his serve was broken for a second time, he chucked his racket over a fence and into a car park.Raged at an umpire during his World Tennis Challenge match against Frenchman Michael Llodra in Adelaide. ‘Are you kidding me You are not even paying attention. The ball is three inches long.’

Fernando Torres rejected by Barcelona and Real Madrid

No thanks! Barca and Real turn down the chance to rescue misfit Torres

Barcelona and Real Madrid have ruled out a move to rescue Fernando Torres from English football.

The two biggest clubs in Spain have been sounded out about Torres” future but have shown no interest in the 50million striker.

Despite similar rumblings at Barcelona about the future of David Villa, coach Pep Guardiola insists he is not for sale and maintains there will not be an opening at the Nou Camp for Chelsea”s misfiring front man.

Kneesy does it: Torres is still yet to make his mark at Stamford Bridge

Kneesy does it: Torres is still yet to make his mark at Stamford Bridge

Real coach Jose Mourinho is not short of striking options and Torres” previous career at city rivals Atletico would be a major obstacle to a move to the Bernabeu.

Although Chelsea insist Torres is part of their plans, the latest in a string of denials simply protects the club in the event they cannot find a buyer in January.

The option of an emotional return to Atletico has also been ruled out because the club owe €200million and cannot afford either a transfer fee or meet their former captain”s salary expectations.

Atletico striker Falcao worked under Andre Villas-Boas when he was at Porto but swapping the two forwards is also prohibitively expensive. Falcao is owned by a third party and Chelsea would have to buy the Colombian outright to comply with Premier League rules.

Torres has failed to make an impact at Chelsea since his 50m move from Liverpool and refused to celebrate Frank Lampard”s emotionally charged winner against Manchester City on Monday.

Firing blanks: Torres failed to trouble the scoresheet again, whereas fellow sub Lampard bagged the winner

Firing blanks: Torres failed to trouble the scoresheet again, whereas fellow sub Lampard bagged the winner (below)

Firing blanks: Torres failed to trouble the scoresheet again, whereas fellow sub Lampard bagged the winner

Feeling blue: How Sportsmail broke the news

Feeling Blues: How Sportsmail revealed the news

Unloading Torres is not the only change Villas-Boas is contemplating at Chelsea as he seeks to revamp his squad.The recruitment of younger players is a key component of his plan as the core of the club”s squad are approaching the twilight of their distinguished careers.

John Terry, Lampard, Ashley Cole, Didier Drogba and Florent Malouda are all in their 30s and Villas-Boas has ordered the club”s scouts to compile a list of the best emerging talent.

Chelsea”s network of scouts have already embarked on a search to identify potential targets in time for the next two transfer windows.

A source said: “Chelsea really have gone into overdrive. Scouts seem to be everywhere at the moment looking at players. Chelsea have not been this active with regards to scouting for years.

“It”s safe to say there will be a fair amount of player recruitment at Chelsea in the coming months.”

One target already identified is Ajax centre back Jan Vertonghen. Chelsea scouts have watched the Belgium star several times this season, including in last week”s Champions League defeat by Real Madrid in Amsterdam.

Bolton defender Gary Cahill remains Villas-Boas”s first-choice central defender, given his Premier League experience. However, Chelsea representatives have been impressed with Vertonghen and the 24-year-old is viewed as an option if a move for Cahill fails.

Reinforcements: Azpilicueta (above left) and Cahill (below) are both on Chelsea

Reinforcements: Azpilicueta (above left) and Cahill (below) are on Chelsea”s radar

Reinforcements: Azpilicueta (above left) and Cahill (below) are both on Chelsea

Scouts were also at Barcelona”s victory over BATE Borisov in Spain last Wednesday knowing Guardiola would field a team of youngsters with a last 16 place already secured.

Villas-Boas has already benefited from keeping an eye on Barca”s next batch of stars, having signed the impressive Oriol Romeu from the Nou Camp in the summer, and the Portuguese manager remains keen on keeping abreast on the progress of the club”s starlets.

Chelsea scouts have also been impressed by Marseille right back Cesar Azpilicueta and Napoli”s dangerous Uruguayan striker Edinson Cavani.