Wenger fears red mist: Most papers report comments from Arsene Wenger, who has demanded his Arsenal side be given a fair crack of the whip by the Norwegian referee in tonight's Champions League encounter against Bayern Munich. Prompting a host of red-themed headlines is Wenger's suggestion that referees from smaller football nations are less likely to detect the potentially decisive “tricks” of leading players: "I think the closer they are to a tough league, the more chances they have to detect the tricks that can decide a game," he said. "What I mean is sometimes when you come from a league that is less pacy league... I hope tomorrow we will get a fair chance to play with 11 versus 11 until the end."
Paper Round's view: Having a go at the match officials the day before the match even kicks off? Might as well get your grumbling in early, we suppose, but it seems incredible that a manager feels justified in casting aspersions on a referee's ability and experience before a match. Wenger backed up his comments by citing three instances when he believed his side has played with 10 men "under always very special circumstances" - in the Champions League final in 2006, at Barcelona in 2011 and against Bayern last month. While Jens Lehmann was dismissed by a Norwegian and Robin van Persie was sent off by a Swiss official, it was an Italian referee who gave Wojciech Szczesny his marching orders, which doesn't quite back up his argument. Still, at least he can be sure the referee will have his claims in his mind if there is a big decision to make tonight. Trouble is, these kind of mind games can go either way; Wenger is no doubt hoping that the referee will err on the side of Arsenal in an attempt to prove that he is a fair judge, but there's every chance that the referee who has been insulted pre-match might just relish reaching for a red instead of a yellow in the case of any 50-50 decisions.
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United open Carvalho talks: Manchester United have opened talks with Sporting Lisbon over William Carvalho, reports the Daily Mail. The holding midfielder is valued at €35 million (£29m) by the Portuguese club, but United feel he is worth about £4m less. However, the paper claims that, with United wanting to conduct most of their transfer business before this summer's World Cup, they may have to offer more than their valuation.
Paper Round's view: United must be desperate not to endure a repeat of last summer's transfer window debacle, hence the desire to get things wrapped up before the focus of the footballing world turns to Brazil. Which is a great idea on paper, but it could also mean that they pay over the odds, with selling clubs aware they want deals wrapped up quickly. Any potential deal for Carvalho is in danger of getting expensive, although given United's current plight, they might have to kiss goodbye to any penny-pinching this summer.
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Everton to offer Rodwell chance to return: Roberto Martinez intends to offer Jack Rodwell a way out of his Manchester City career with a summer move back to Everton, reports The Guardian. Rodwell has struggled since swapping Goodison Park for the Etihad 19 months ago but Toffees boss Martinez is keen on bringing the midfielder back in the summer. Everton tried to tempt City to loan Rodwell to them on the final day of January's transfer window, but they were thwarted by the Manchester club's failure to land Brazilian midfielder Fernando. Rodwell has not featured for City since then.
Paper Round's view: The plight of Rodwell is a crying shame, considering his rich potential when he arrived at the Etihad. The £12m, rising to £15m, price tag was testament to that, but he has never lived up to expectations. While that has partly been down to injuries, you can't help but feel that Rodwell would be better nurtured at Everton. This is a move that absolutely could happen, although it remains to be seen whether it is still dependent on City capturing Fernando from Porto.
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Reina to leave Liverpool in the summer: Pepe Reina will activate a release clause in his contract to end his time as a Liverpool player this summer, reports the Daily Mirror. The goalkeeper, currently on loan with Napoli, has been told he has no future at Anfield and will use the £4.5m clause to spark a move elsewhere. The Italian club are pursuing a permanent deal with him, while Atletico Madrid are also keen, according to the report.
Paper Round's view: A permanent move to Napoli seems like the most likely option at the moment, with the Spaniard seemingly settled in Serie A and having said Rafa Benitez is the best boss he has ever worked with. Reds boss Brendan Rodgers is clearly no fan of how Reina went about his initial move to Napoli, and it would be a verging on a miracle to see the pair work together now.
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Pochettino in talks over new Saints deal: Mauricio Pochettino is in advanced talks over a lucrative new contract at Southampton, according to the Daily Telegraph. The Argentine manager, who was believed to be intent on leaving St Mary's at the end of the season, is to be offered improved terms to his current deal in an attempt to ward off any interest from rival clubs, including Tottenham, this summer. The reports claims that Pochettino has also received assurances that the core of his squad will remain together for next season, although Luke Shaw and Adam Lallana are likely to leave.
Paper Round's view: Time heals, clearly. It wasn't so long ago that Pochettino was saying things like "I would not understand a Southampton without Nicola [Cortese] being here", prompting real concerns he too would leave following the Italian chief executive's resignation due to a row with club owner Katharina Liebherr. Time, and maybe a bit of cash too. If Pochettino can pocket significantly more than the £1m he currently earns over the course of 12 months, perhaps there is life after Cortese.
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- Sports & Recreation
- Arsene Wenger
- Bayern Munich
- Jack Rodwell
- Mauricio Pochettino
- Paper Round