It's semi-final day in South Africa and British newspapers are showing more than a semi-interest in where a smattering of the remaining players involved in the World Cup finals could be heading when the tournament draws its final breath."Sneijder tops Utd list", says The Sun in a back page that blares with as much intensity as your average Vuvuzela. "Alex Ferguson wants Holland's Cup hero Wesley Sneijder to spearhead next season's bid for glory,"' says Sunsport's main selling point of the day.
The Sun add the trivial little caveat that it could cost United £35m to "prise the Dutchman away from Inter Milan," and perhaps more, one could speculate, if Sneijder catches fire against Uruguay in Cape Town this evening.
The Sun goes on to tell us that Sneijder would be the ideal man to occupy the fabled "hole" when Paul Scholes, the seasoned English midfielder, retires at the end of next season.
The Daily Mirror joins its tabloid rival in explaining how United are ready to "Go Wes" and bring Sneijder to Old Trafford, but put the cost of such a transfer at £25m.
They say United's owners, the Glazers, have made funds available to purchase Sneijder and are adamant that the club's chief executive is "on the case".
The Daily Express says that Atletico Madrid's Uruguay striker Diego Forlan has no intention of returning to the Premier League, despite a healthy return of 17 goals in 37 starts for Manchester United several years ago.While The Sun and The Mirror are beating the drum for Sneijder and United, the Daily Mail and later editions of the Express, may be slightly sedate in style, but are no less salivating.
They join forces to insist that Chelsea have made a £35m bid for Liverpool striker Fernando Torres, who will continue to chase his first goal of the finals when Spain confront Germany in the second semi-final tomorrow night.
"Chelsea have been tracking Torres, 26, for months, but only made their interest official yesterday," says the Express, while the Daily Mail claim a bid in the region of £40m has been lodged.
"New Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson has already admitted he can offer no guarantee that either Torres or skipper Steven Gerrard will be at Anfield next season. And given Liverpool's precarious financial situation, a concerted effort to sign Torres by Chelsea is likely to prove impossible to resist," says the Mail.
The Daily Telegraph goes one step further by claiming that Roman Abramovich, the Chelsea owner, has flown to South Africa to attempt to forge a deal that would see the Spain striker head to London in a British record transfer deal that would amount to £50m.The Telegraph claims that Manchester City will try to rival any Chelsea bid, but claim "the allure of Champions League football make them the favourites to secure Torres who wants to remain in England should he leave Liverpool".
The Daily Star attempts to give new meaning to an old story by insisting "Fab in secret Pep talk". The Star claim Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola made a "secret visit to Spain's World Cup base to try to land Cesc Fabregas".
The Star says that Guardiola apparently told the Arsenal midfielder that the Spanish club "will do everything in their power to land" the player this summer with a fee of £35m being touted.
The Times, the Guardian and The Independent all seem in nodding agreement this morning with quotes from Ferguson, the United manager, explaining how England striker Wayne Rooney crumbled under the weight of expectation in South Africa. Rooney failed to score at the tournament before England were bundled out 4-1 by Germany at the last-16 stage.
"I think there such expectation on him (Rooney), said Ferguson. "There was talk he was going to be the player of the tournament. Don't forget, that was the prelude to the whole thing - he was going to be the star, he was going to outshine them all - Messi, Ronaldo. So that level of expectation comes into it," says Ferguson in The Times.England's failure at the tournament remains vivid on the backpage of the Daily Mail with a picture of the Chelsea left-back puffing on a cigarette. "Ashley Cole: Professional Athlete," says The Mail.
"Is it any wonder our World Cup campaign went up in smoke?" with a reference to a page three story in which Cole is pictured in West Hollywood fraternising with a few ladies outside a nightclub. Nice to know the player has a shoulder to cry on after England's World Cup debacle.
Mick McCarthy, the Wolves and former Ireland manager, believes Germany can avenge their final loss to Spain in the 2008 European Championships when the pair clash in the World Cup semis.
McCarthy tells the Guardian that Germany's counter-attacking style could exploit Spain as they have displayed by sticking eight goals past England and Argentina in their previous two outings.
"I tipped Spain to win the World Cup but their style could be perfect for Germany to exploit," says McCarthy.
The Spanish daily AS believes the Holland v Uruguay semi-final will come down to a clash between Arjen Robben and Diego Forlan while they have a picture of the sparkling David Villa, who says that "Spain will have achieved nothing, if they fail to win the World Cup".
The Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf says that Dutch commuters are happy the kick-off is at 20.30 local time to avoid traffic jams home and say that fans will head to bars and squares around the country to revel in the action.
The paper says: "The greatest enemy of Orange seems to underestimate this opponent, without its star player Luis Suarez and the injured Nicolas Lodeiro."
- Fernando Torres
- South Africa
- Alex Ferguson