Neville reveals England's masterplan: Gary Neville has unwittingly revealed England’s masterplan to beat Italy, reports the Daily Mirror. The assistant boss left notes on display, "revealing tactics Roy Hodgson intends to use to win their World Cup 2014 group-stage opener", the report claims.
Paper Round's view: Perhaps the story isn't as much "Gary Neville reveals England plans" as "Daily Mirror reveals England plans to rest of world". This wouldn't be a story had the paper not picked up on a photo, enlarged it and printed it for all to see. Fortunately, as Neville later tweeted, the scribblings were just "routine, innocuous training notes" and nothing too much should be read into the 'leak'.
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England pitch a disaster: Several papers report on the state of the pitch at the Arena da Amazonia ahead of England's World Cup opener against Italy in Manaus. The Daily Mail claims the field would shame a local council pitch while the pitch is labelled a "cow field" by the Sun. Visible dry, white stripes mark the turf and even the head groundsman for the company responsible for World Cup venues admitted Manaus "is in bad shape". An emergency plan has been put into motion in a bid to rectify the problems but still doubts persist over its suitability to stage Saturday's match.
Paper Round's view: This does not come as any surprise given the steady flow of reports to come out of Brazil highlighting the lack of readiness of the country's infrastructure. And it really does look a poor pitch, judging by the photos provided by the papers. Still, it's going to be the same for both sides and at least that will ensure it is a level playing surface (of sorts) when the Three Lions meet Italy.
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United to bid for Schweinsteiger: Manchester United are weighing up a £23m move for Bayern Munich's Bastian Schweinsteiger, according to the Daily Express. The paper reports that doubts have been cast over Schweinsteiger's future in Bavaria after Thomas Mueller - another United target - pledged his future to the club. United have been tracking Schweinsteiger since last summer, with new boss Louis van Gaal a known admirer.
Paper Round's view: Another day, another Bayern player linked to United. Van Gaal's relationship with the German club means, almost by default, every player of any note will be linked with United this summer. Toni Kroos, Arjen Robben, Mario Goetze, Mueller and now Schweinsteiger have all been offered up as Van Gaal's first United signing, but significantly, none appear keen on making the switch as yet. Have United lost their pulling power? Without Champions League football it is, so far this summer, beginning to look that way.
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Chelsea confident of Fabregas deal: Jose Mourinho believes that Cesc Fabregas' proposed move to Chelsea is a done deal, reports the Daily Mirror. The Blues even hope to announce the Barcelona midfielder's move to Stamford Bridge before the end of the week, the report claims. Arsenal had a first option on their former star, but refused to take it, and with Manchester United also pulling out of the running, Chelsea have been left in pole position to secure the Spain international's signature. Fabregas will nearly double his current money - around £100,000 a week - at Chelsea and is expected to sign on for five years, the paper reports.
Paper Round's view: A good signing for Chelsea, even if every other club chose to pass up on Fabregas. At £27m, he may be a little on the pricey side, but let's not forget that he is 27 and with a good number of years left in him. Also, the idea that he can dovetail with Diego Costa, who is also set to join Chelsea, is an exciting one.
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Mikel and Ramires set to leave Chelsea: Chelsea are in talks with Valencia about John Obi Mikel, while making enquiries to Real Madrid about the availability of Luka Modric in a possible swap deal for Ramires, reports the Times. Mikel's days at Stamford Bridge are numbered following the arrival of Nemanja Matic in January and Marco van Ginkel’s recovery from a knee injury while Real have asked about signing Ramires. The European champions are unlikely to allow Modric to leave the Bernabeu though, the report claims.
Paper Round's view: Chelsea tried to offload Mikel to Galatasaray last summer, but the Nigerian refused to move, and it remains to be seen whether he has come round to the idea. If he wants to play, however, he should be open to a move, given his chances at Stamford Bridge will be extremely limited this season. As for the Ramires-for-Modric story, it's difficult to understand why Chelsea would be so keen to land the Croat if, as reported elsewhere, a deal is effectively done for Fabregas.
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- Sports & Recreation
- Gary Neville
- Cesc Fabregas
- John Obi Mikel