Liverpool eye Eto'o swoop: Samuel Eto'o has emerged as the shock name on Liverpool's summer wish list, most papers report today. The Cameroon international, a free agent after having left Chelsea, and his representatives "are understood" to have held talks with Liverpool, according to the Daily Mirror. Brendan Rodgers looks to solve his striker shortage and the Mirror claims that Eto'o is keen on staying in the Premier League. Eto'o has also been a target for Ajax, West Ham and QPR.
Paper Round's view: Eto'o's wage demands were the problem for West Ham, but that shouldn't be an issue for Liverpool, who are in desperate need of a proven striker. Eto'o may only be a stop-gap solution, given his age, but Liverpool are running out of time before transfer window shuts and Eto'o could well provide the answer in the short-term.
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Chelsea close on Benatia: Mehdi Benatia is close to sealing a £30m move from Roma to Chelsea, according to the Daily Star. Blues boss Jose Mourinho is keen on the highly-rated Morocco defender and is ready to seal a deal ahead of the club's first game of the season against Burnley on Monday night. Chelsea are still looking to replace David Luiz, who left for Paris Saint Germain earlier this summer, after their subsequent interest in Raphael Varane and Joao Miranda came to nothing.
Paper Round's view: Signing Benatia would represent a major coup for Chelsea - not only because of their obvious need to sign a quality defender to replace Luiz, but also because it would prolong Manchester United's search for a central defender. A bit like a six-pointer, a double boost for the price of one. The Premier League's quota rules may potentially throw a spanner in the works (Chelsea would go over their allowed number of foreign players with the signing of Benatia), and Petr Cech may have to be sacrificed to make room (John Obi Mikel is proving rather difficult to offload; Cech at least is wanted elsewhere, namely by Real Madrid). But if that hurdle can be negotiated, Chelsea stand to become big winners.
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Newcastle backroom staff lose free tickets: Newcastle owner Mike Ashley has withdrawn the club's coaching staff's complimentary ticket allocation. The Daily Mail claims the likes of Alan Pardew’s number two John Carver, former England international Steve Stone and goalkeeping coach Andy Woodman have been left "angered" by the decision that will now see them have to pay for match tickets for friends and family. Long-serving kit men and administrative staff have also seen their two-ticket privilege taken away, the report adds. Managing director Lee Charnley was the man who relayed Ashley’s instruction and the paper "understands it did not go down well".
Paper Round's view: Ashley clearly doesn't care what supporters of his club think of him, so why should he care how his actions impact on his own staff? The man has never been one to shy away from making unpopular decisions and this appears to be another prime example of that. His agenda in this instance is to save money, not to please people. He is a businessman first and foremost, and if he deems penny pinching of this nature necessary for the success of his business then he's entitled to his opinion. However, his apparent disregard for the club's history, fans and employees is nonetheless lamentable.
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Blind open to United move: Daley Blind has said he would think about a move to Manchester United if an offer were accepted by his club Ajax. The Independent reports that United's interest in the Netherlands international has increased given their failure to bring in several defensive targets - chiefly Thomas Vermaelen and Mats Hummels - so far this summer.
Paper Round's view: "I am happy here in Amsterdam. But if there comes another club I will have to think about it and then we will see. I will think about my options. For now I will focus on Ajax and we will see what happens next week." The words of the player himself smack of classic wantaway speak, complete with the caveat of 'happily' staying put should nothing materialise. As such, it would come as no surprise at all to see Blind leave Ajax in the next few weeks.
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New Wembley facing worst attendance: England are facing the ignominy of attracting the lowest crowd at the new Wembley when they face Norway on September 3. The Daily Mail reports that just 10,000 tickets have been sold so far for the friendly clash against the "unglamorous Scandinavian opposition". The smallest attendance since the ground was redeveloped in 2007 was 57,897 for a World Cup qualifier against Andorra in June 2009 - during a Tube strike.
Paper Round's view: No surprises here. England did little to spark the imagination and get fans' juices flowing with their performances at the World Cup in Brazil, so it should be expected that supporters are slightly reluctant to shell out hard earned cash to go and see them. Especially against Norway - with the greatest of respect to the Nordic nation, they're hardly a big draw card at the best of times. As the article points out, Roy Hodgson has a job on his hands in promoting this one.
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