Friday, February 29, 2008

Football’s top 10 highest paid players in the world revealed

A survey came out today that publishes a list of the highest paid footballers in the world. Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool all represent the Premiership and dominate the list while AC Milan and Barcelona are the only non-English sides listed. It certainly appears the money is in England now.

The list in order:

1. Kaka (AC Milan) 6.6m pounds
2. Ronaldinho (Barcelona) 6.31m pounds
3. Frank Lampard (Chelsea) 6.04m pounds
4. John Terry (Chelsea) 6.04m pounds
5. Fernando Torres (Liverpool) 5.86m pounds
6. Andiry Shevchenko (Chelsea) 5.77m pounds
7. Michael Ballack (Chelsea) 5.77m pounds
8. Cristiano Ronaldo (Man Utd) 5.69m pounds
9. Theirry Henry (Barcelona) 5.69m pounds
10. Steven Gerrard (Liverpool) 5.69m pounds

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Pressure getting to Grant

Chelsea manager Avram Grant has hit out at the media for its post defeat coverage of their Carling Cup final to Tottenham.

Strangely, he hit out at the lack of respect for giving him no credit for achievements. What achievements Avram? I thought you lost, and as of yet, have won nothing. What have you achieved? I think the media has fairly given you credit for stabilizing the team, but more than that there is nothing to show that you are actually up to the job.

While Grant insists that he is in charge, there is no doubt that the hand of Abramovich has played a heavy hand in the running of the club.

While Chelsea have remained competitive, their defeats have come at the hands of Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham. The draw to Liverpool didn’t help, did it? Nor the draw with Olympiacos.

In comparison, Jose Mourinho suffered only 2 losses in 2+ years in charge to the biggest clubs in England.

I would suggest this is more evidence of the slow decline in Chelsea’s fortunes. As it continues to become clear they cannot deal with the largest clubs in England any longer, the comparisons to Claudio Ranieri will start.


Flashy ride to relegation

Robbie Savage has provoked an angry reaction from teammates at Derby County after showing up to training in a brand new 160,000 pound Mercedes Benz.

Savage is entitled to drive whatever he likes, but will almost certainly be dropped against Sunderland this weekend after failing to register any impact whatsoever at his new club –that is except to raise the sunglasses of the other players as theymake a double take at his new wheels.

Savage arrived from Blackburn Rovers for 1.5m pounds in the January transfer window and has been in poor form as Derby, with just nine points and a single win, are likely to go lower than the 15 points Sunderland scored back in 2003.

Savage will be showing his flash ride in the Championship next season, that you can take to the bank.


More money than you can shake a stick at

If you think Alex Ferguson was pissed the last time Real Madrid were making headlines trying to tempt winger Cristiano Ronaldo away from Manchester United, then he will go red when he hears about their latest tactics.

Real Madrid president Ramon Calderon is all over the Spanish media telling anyone that will listen that he still has a chance to sign his dream-boat. And this time we are not talking huge transfer fees, the latest attempt to lure Ronaldo will go right to his pocketbook in the way of making him the highest paid player in the world.

To fuel speculation, Jorge Mendes who is Ronaldo’s agent, has been meeting with Real Madrid sporting director Predrag Mijatovic. While he claims its for other matters, don’t believe it. Real have a history of destabilizing players thru the media and the love affair with Ronaldo has not lasted the better part of 3 years. Let's just say the meeting wasn't exactly private.

The proposed salary: over 8m pounds per year, and with income tax in Spain about half that of England it would roughly equal 200,000 pounds a week were he being paid within the Premier League.

Ronaldo has scored a whopping 29 goals this season for United and signed a new 120,000 pound a week deal for 5 years. It’s more than likely that Mendes is trying to renegotiate terms and squeeze a few more quid out of Old Trafford, and why not? A winger that can score 30 goals in a season should be the highest paid player in the world.

At the moment Brazilian international Kaka is the highest paid player in the world, where AC Milan shell out 130,000 pounds a week.

I doubt Ronaldo would like to leave, I would imagine Manchester making him top of the salary heap will quiet Madrid.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Ten Cate in row with Captain

Henk ten Cate has never been the calm type. In fact, he has often been criticized by former players for his temper, aggressiveness and often abuse coaching methods. It appears the former Ajax manager has not let anyone down at Chelsea after a furious row has been reported taking place the day before the Carling Cup final.

Ten Cate joined Chelsea to bolster Avram Grant's staff back in October after leaving Ajax. He confirmed a ‘difference of opinion’ regarding the intensity of a training session but eye witnesses see it much differently.

Terry and ten Cate squared each other up and apparently let loose with a tirade of swearing and yelling – all done in front of owner Roman Abramovich. It was also ten Cate who stepped to Terry after the captain complained. They were separated by other Chelsea players. While ten Cate thinks everything is fine, it may not be as after the session, Terry refused to accept an apology.

Apparently there was a lot of tension among the Chelsea players as players were left guessing at team selection for the final.


Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Pascal Chimbonda has probably played his last Cup final for Tottenham Hotspur as he was fined a week’s wages as punishment for his reaction to being substituted during the Carling Cup Final against Chelsea.

Chimbonda was replaced by midfielder Tom Huddlestone in the 61st minute after playing out of position on the left as a tactical change. With the match finely poised and Tottenham trailing, Chimbonda took his sweet time leaving the pitch and further reacted by going straight down the tunnel and into the dressing room.

Chimbonda apparently apologized to manager Juande Ramos at full-time and joined the team in celebrations but it appears his party will be cut short as the team will now look to offload the trouble making player.

The French international claimed to be annoyed at the choice and claims everything is fine. Well, maybe for a few more months as the player's poor attitude is not conducive to the large salary he enjoys. A move is almost guaranteed as Rangers right-back Alan Hutton was brought in during the transfer window and Tottenham have cover.


Remembering David Busst’s horrific injury

Eduardo da Silva’s horrendous leg break over the weekend when Arsenal faced Birmingham has rekindled interest in what was probably the worst injury in the history of the Premiership. David Busst suffered a severe leg break during a corner when Coventry played Manchester United back in 1996.

Busst lay in agony after a collision with Denis Irwin as he charged the back post after a flick on. The crowd was shocked into silence as Busst required his legs strapped together before being stretchered off.

Players from both teams were visibly shocked at the event. Most couldn’t bear to watch as the blood stained pitched required the grounds keepers to clean up scene.

He required a total of 20 operations, but the injury ended Busst’s career because of complications after the fact.

See the entire worst moments in football series

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Striker snubs United

Lyon striker Karim Benzema is as hot a property as world football has ever seen and Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson has been snubbed in his bid to sign the 20 year old revelation.

Benzema played a starring role for Lyon as they secured a surprise 1-1 draw in the Champions League against United in France. Benzema scored the opening goal with quick feet and deadly precision and was a constant menace to United’s defense. He has been a menace all season, leading all scorers in France.

But United won’t be seeing Benzema at Old Trafford as Lyon have slapped a whopping 70m pound price tag on the player and Benzema quoted as saying he will be in Lyon next year.

To compound the decision Benzema has claimed that the Premier League is not of interest to him and that Spain and Italy are.

Regardless, Alex Ferguson has officially notified Lyon of his interest.

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Monday, February 25, 2008

Tottenham win League Cup over Chelsea: tale of the missing manager

Tottenham Hotspur have ended their 9 years without a trophy with a 2-1 win over London rivals Chelsea yesterday in the Carling Cup final at Wembley.

Jonathan Woodgate proved the hero as the January transfer window signing proved in the right place and a touch lucky to pull Tottenham ahead just minutes into extra time.

It’s an unusually high number of mistakes from Chelsea keeper Petr Cech this season, a testament to the increased amount of pressure he has been under as clubs are attacking Chelsea more.

Chelsea were listless in the first half until Didier Drogba scored from a 40th minute free kick. Chelsea took control of the match for a while but Tottenham were resilient (2 words you don’t see next to each other very often) and battled back to earn a penalty 20 minutes from time. It should have ended at the 90 minutes but for Didier Zakora’s comic enterprise in front of goal: with only the keeper to beat he shot directly at Cech and then ballooned the ball over the bar on the rebound.

The win guarantees Tottenham UEFA Cup football next season, a competition that Tottenham manager Juande Ramos had won twice consecutively with Sevilla.

It was a tale of the missing manager

Jose Mourinho left Chelsea early in the season and was replaced by Avram Grant, a Russian billionaires puppet. Ever since, Chelsea have been lucky they have a very professional group of players because it could have gone much worse. That extra 2% Mourinho brought was missing from the side as they often looked void of ideas.

If you look at Cheslea’s fortunes this season under Grant you might suggest he deserves some credit, maybe a bit for stabilizing the side, but nothing else. Chelsea are no longer feared and tactically don’t really look any more attacking under the Grant regime than under Mourinho. The formation has not really changed and the team is not scoring any more often, but what they have been is much more vulnerable in defense and seem incapable of beating teams of similar means in the Premiership.

A listless draw against Olympiacos serves to suggest the club is in decline as their mortality surfaces again and again.

Here is the stat of stats: Mourinho ‘s record. Seven Cup Finals from FC Porto to Chelsea, played seven and won seven. Avram Grant is 0-1.

Avram Grant has inherited one of the best squad in the world but he can’t and won’t make it count. Anelka out wide? Come on.

In the end Tottenham deserved their victory. They out-fought their bigger rivals and held on. Chelsea were left surrounding the referee at the end of the game, when they should have surrounded their owner and manager for taking Mourinho away.

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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Did intent break Eduardo’s leg or was it money in the modern game?

No, there was no intent yesterday when Birmingham City defender Martin Taylor horrifically injured Arsenal striker Eduardo Da Silva, but there was a more subtle motivator behind the injury: money. Huh? Yes, money.

Relegation is a death sentence to a club in a top flight league. It was not that way 20 years ago. But today, the gulf in finances between the top leagues and the lower divisions is a chasm. The pressure is intense for clubs like Birmingham, just once place outside the relegation zone, and it causes players to risk the bodies of the opposition in a quest for that little bit extra to bring in a result.

You may say that is the way it should be, that it makes the intense competition that is modern football but I disagree. Over and over again I see so many close calls that it’s amazing these types of injuries don’t happen every week.

Players just aren’t careful enough and although its anti-win-win to suggest you show a bit more caution on the pitch it’s what needs to happen. Week in and week out team sheets are littered with injuries. This can’t continue because modern football now sees a top club stacked with top players who hardly play, why? Because managers need the depth because they know their players will go down injured and need a ready replacement in that event. It’s a shame, because if you want to see more competitive football then have these players playing for 2nd and 3rd tier clubs instead of filling reserve sides for the top 4. Today what we have is overmatched sides struggling for a win and willing to take unwarranted risks to achieve a result.

Sports and opposition are one thing but just like cops need robbers, Arsenal needs Birmingham. And the Premier League needs them both. While it might not be what you want players on your club to do, pulling out of a challenge is what is best for football as a whole.

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Argentinean Second Half Kicks off with surprises

The second part of the Argentinean soccer season started with some surprises. Boca Juniors, Rosario Central, Independiente, Racing and Olimpo, Velez Sarsfield and Colon all played with shockers.

It's difficult to explain, but February marks the start of the second half of the season with a completely separate championship from the first half's season. The two halves of the seasons are called the "opening" and "closing".

The shockers were the superpower and perennial favourite Boca Junior's tie and also Independiente's defeat by the "opening" champion, Lanús. The favourite was River Plate, that in their stadium defeated Gimnasia of Jujuy 2-0 with goals scored by Matías Abelairas and Paulo Ferrari.

In Rosario, Boca could not beat Rosario Central who finally draw the score only 6 minutes to finish the match. Rodrigo Palacio opened the score and then the ex Argentinean player in World Cup 2002 Christian "Kily" González tied the match with a 40 mts shot.

Independiente had a very difficult game verus Lanus but they played so bad that the 1-0 ended a good score line. The last champions of Argentina defeated them with an own goal scored by the ex-Lanús player, Leandro Gioda.

Racing and Olimpo played an uneventful match that resulted in a 1-1 tie. First Javier Paez scored for the Bahía Blanca team but Facundo Sava tied for the local. Although San Lorenzo has incorporated many stars like Andrés D´Alessandro from Zaragoza and Gonzalo Bergessio from Benfica, they couldn´t avoid that Newell's Old Boys from Rosario won 2-0 with goals scored by defender Nicolás Spolli and forward Santiago Salcedo.

Vélez Sarsfield and Colón of Santa Fe played the match of the weekend. In the José Amalfitani stadium of Buenos Aires the locals won 4-3 with two goals by Gustavo Balvorín (currently the top scorer of the tournament), Santiago Silva and defender Mariano Uglessich. For the visitors Pablo Aguilar, Darío Gandín and Alejandro Capurro scored.

The other scores are the following: Arsenal 2 (Luciano Leguizamón and José Luis Calderón) – Huracán 0, Tigre 2 (Martín Morel and Guillermo Suárez) – Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata 1 (Ignacio Piatti), San Martín de San Juan 2 (Martín Bravo and Mario Pacheco) – Argentinos Juniors 0 and Estudiantes de La Plata 2 (Ezequiel Maggiolo y Pablo Piatti) – Banfield 1 (Darío Cvitanich).

Soccer returns to Argentina with some surprises and after the first matches River Plate sounds like the most serious candidate to rise up to the cup at the end of the season. But for that we must wait 18 more weekends that will hopefully be as amazing as this last one.

Contributed by: Leandro Compton Hall


Tuesday, February 05, 2008

City get their way

Zimbabwe striker Benjani has made his transfer to Manchester City from Portsmouth official for the discounted price of 3.87m pounds. The transfer had been in doubt when the player arrived in Manchester only an hour before the window closed.

It’s a partial victory for City, who had demanded new terms on the deal, but they may still end up paying the entire fee if Benjani makes 75 senior starts, as well as a few other terms. The contract was also shortened from 3 ½ to 2 ½ years.

Benjani also passed a medical on Monday amid rumors that the player had a knee problem.

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Monday, February 04, 2008

No Bale this season

Gareth Bale will not play any more football for Tottenham this season. The foot injury he suffered against Birmingham City in December was worse than expected and the Premier League strugglers will have to do without one of their young stars.

The diagnosis was sprained ligaments in his foot, after having a cast removed today, the surgeon in charge has pushed the return date back. It’s a setback for Spurs as the squad has reached some good form recently, especially defensively. Getting Bale back would have bolstered this rise, but the form was achieved without him, so it will have to continue that way.

Bale, 18, joined Tottenham in the summer from Southampton and has only played 12 matches for the club. Juande Ramos used right back Pascal Chimbonda on the left in Tottenham's 1-1 draw with Manchester United on Saturday.


Benfia sign best prospect in years

Benfica have signed their finest striker prospect in many, many years. Ariza Makukula was playing for Maritimo on loan from Sevilla. Standing 6’ 2” and built like Yakubu, he’s a powerful striker who causes defenses tons of problems.

The contract was for 4 1/2 years and about 2m pounds… a steal for the recently capped Congolese-born Portugal international.

Makukula scored seven goals for Martimo and was a joint third in the scoring charts. He was selected for the Portuguese team last October when Nuno Gomes was out injured. He scored on his debut, and helped Portugal qualify for Euro 2008.

Luiz Felipe Scolari has again picked Makukula for the friendly internationals against Italy in 3 days time.

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The Benjani mess

It appears that Manchester City are looking to renege on a transfer deal made for striker Benjani from Portsmouth. It appears that Sven-Goran Eriksson wants the Zimbabwean international on loan.
Were the deal done a few hours earlier, there would have been no argument and Benjani would have probably started against Arsenal. A 7.5m fee was agreed but there has been an argument as to whether a deal was done before the transfer deadline.

Benjani appears to be the big loser in all of this, he’s frozen out of both sides and not appears to be ready to join a team that doesn’t really want to sign him. He arrived in Manchester just 50 minutes before the January transfer window closed to sign a deal which he signed, so I ask, what is City complaining about? “Feeling pressured” just doesn’t cut it. City were pressured because they moved 2 strikers and were left empty handed after a series of potential deals fell thru. With nothing to show for the transfer window, the only pressure came from the fact that they needed a player.

City claim that they didn’t have enough time to complete a medical, and they wanted transparency as to ownership rights for the player and the fact that he was named in Lord Steven’s report. But Walter Pandiani switched from Deportivo la Coruna to Birmingham after the deadline day because of insufficient time. I see no reason this couldn’t be settled the same way.

The rumor is that Manchester City were suffering from buyer’s remorse. I don’t see why, I think he’s a great, hard working player. The Premier League are expected to decide the outcome on Monday.

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