Liverpool want Balotelli assurances: Mario Balotelli is set for Liverpool, but only if he agrees to conduct clauses in his contract, reports the Daily Mirror. A £16m fee has been agreed with AC Milan for the controversial striker, but sources close to Reds boss Brendan Rodgers have told the paper that there are still some “significant hurdles” to overcome in talks. The paper understands that Rodgers will only meet the player if his representatives agree to stringent clauses relating to Balotelli’s behaviour. Even then, the Italy striker will have to convince Rodgers in a face-to-face meeting that he can accept the culture of professional commitment at the club.
Paper Round's view: There's one word for this: prudent. We all know what Balotelli's capable of and so do Liverpool. Rodgers absolutely must get reassurances from the player that he will behave if he goes to Anfield - and ensure some kind of get-out clause is inserted into his contract to cover the club's back. The trouble is though, as Balotelli will try to tell you, he doesn't make the headlines, it's the public's insatiable appetite for stories about him that does. Even if he does 'behave', he'll still make the back pages, and sometimes the front. Rodgers, if he is adamant he wants to sign Balotelli, must learn to deal with this.
- - -
Mackay faces fresh racism claims: One of Malky Mackay's former players has accused him of making racist remarks during his time in charge at Cardiff City. Ibrahim Farah's fresh allegations come just 24 hours after Mackay's managerial career was left in jeopardy by the revelations of his text messaging with former assistant Iain Moody while at the Welsh club. Farah said: “Malky Mackay is a racist wish the people at Cardiff City seen it sooner (sic). To treat certain players how he did at Cardiff was disgusting.”
Paper Round's view: It's a thorny issue and Mackay has yet to offer his defence as the FA investigate his conduct at Cardiff. Let's see what comes out of that.
Daily Mirror back page
- - -
Arsenal back in for Khedira: Arsene Wenger could go back for Sami Khedira after his club Real Madrid put the Germany international up for sale. The Daily Mirror reports that the Spanish club have made Khedira available for £12m because he only has a year to go on his contract at the Bernabeu and he is refusing to sign a new deal. That could, the paper claims, interest Arsenal, if the 27-year-old will lower his wage demands - currently £200,000-a-week.
Paper Round's view: This is encouraging for any club that wants to snare Khedira - Real will not want to lose him for nothing in 12 months time, and a deal may now happen. However, the stumbling block has always been his wages, which Arsenal could not afford the last time they were linked with a move for him and presumably they still cannot afford to pay £200,000-a-week. If Khedira wants to move to the Emirates, he will most certainly have to reassess his expectations.
- - -
Porto keen on Anderson: The Daily Mail reports that Porto are interested in taking Anderson back to the Estadio do Dragao from Manchester United. The midfielder has been made available by Louis van Gaal as the new manager seeks to slim down his squad. He made just eight appearances for United last season before spending the second half of the campaign on loan at Fiorentina, where he also failed to impress.
Paper Round's view: Just a reminder: Anderson cost United £20m in 2007. Twenty million pounds. When United wanted to buy him from Porto seven years ago, he was initially refused a work permit because he had not won enough international caps but he was eventually granted one after United argued that he was an exceptional talent. An exceptional talent. Sadly, Anderson has failed to live up to that billing and if he does leave Old Trafford, he will hardly be missed. Good luck to him.
- - -
PSG and Monaco ready for Cech bid: French giants Paris Saint-Germain and Monaco are prepared to take Petr Cech on a year-long loan, reports the Daily Mail. The Czech goalkeeper is facing the prospect of spending this season on the bench after Jose Mourinho opted to put Thibaut Courtois in his starting XI for the opening game of the season at Burnley. A loan deal, in which Chelsea would retain the right to recall Cech, would appeal to the Blues, who would want to keep their options open should Courtois fail to adapt to the English game or third-string keeper Mark Schwarzer, 41, not be able to handle an extended run in the team.
Paper Round's view: Chelsea must be resigned to letting Cech go, but at least this type of deal gives them some flexibility. Injuries can never be predicted and should Courtois face a period out of action, a lot would rest on Schwarzer's shoulders. If Mourinho has his doubts over the Australian's ability to cope on his own on four fronts, a recall option for Cech is a sensible way forward.
- - -
- Sports & Recreation
- Brendan Rodgers
- Malky Mackay
- Sami Khedira
- Cardiff City