Rumour Has It: Arsenal to target Barcelona's Ferran Torres in January

By Sports Desk September 12, 2022

After making a terrific start to the season, Arsenal are reportedly looking to bolster their squad further in the January transfer window as they weigh up a move for Barcelona winger Ferran Torres.

Torres, 22, was acquired by the Spanish giants this January after emerging at Manchester City as one of Spain's top young talents, costing €55million.

With his playing time inconsistent, and the numerous questions about Barcelona's finances and their need to sell players, it appears Torres is someone the club feels comfortable parting ways with less than 12 months after his arrival.

 

TOP STORY – ARSENAL WANT TO BRING TORRES BACK TO THE PREMIER LEAGUE

Torres has failed to establish himself as a regular starter, and with plenty of forward depth after the expensive additions of Robert Lewandowski and Raphinha – along with Ousmane Dembele and Ansu Fati already being on the books – Barcelona are said to be looking to recoup their spending.

Fichajes is reporting Barcelona will be setting their asking price at the full amount they paid City, but for a young player who already has 13 international goals in 28 caps for Spain, it is not an unreasonable figure.

Meanwhile, 90min claims Barcelona are still looking to cash in on Frenkie de Jong after a lengthy transfer saga with Manchester United ended with no deal, indicating they may need to sell at least one player to keep balancing their books.

 

ROUND-UP

– Calciomercato are reporting Chelsea remain interested in United's Marcus Rashford, along with Atletico Madrid, if he does not receive a contract extension.

– According to The Sun, Wolves and Liverpool will both attempt to sign Benfica midfielder Enzo Fernandez, just months after he arrived from River Plate on a bargain €8million deal.

Bayern Munich 's sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic has denied enquiring with Tottenham about the availability of Harry Kane, per Sport1.

– Corriere dello Sport is reporting Rafael Leao's contract demands with Milan have boosted his chances of leaving the club, with Chelsea named as the primary interested party. 

Newcastle United's hunt for a goalkeeper did not end with their signing of free agent Loris Karius, with Portuguese publication JN reporting they are considering activating the £51m release clause for 22-year-old Porto goalie Diogo Costa.

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    Premier League clubs have become "incentivised to sometimes push the rules to the limit, if not beyond" and Manchester City may not be the only team to face an investigation into their affairs, according to a leading football finance expert.

    The Premier League announced on Monday it had referred a number of alleged breaches of the competition's rules to an independent commission, with some of those dating back as far at the 2009-10 season.

    In response, City said they had "irrefutable evidence" that would be presented in their defence against the accusations.

    Kieran Maguire, author of the book The Price of Football, said isolating City could be seen as making a "scapegoat" of the Premier League champions, and he suspects investigators will also look closely at the finances of other clubs.

    Speaking to Stats Perform, Maguire said: "Certainly we have seen some clubs, in terms of the financial submissions that they've made, make fairly significant claims as to the impact, for example, that COVID had on their finances, and they've claimed that COVID cost them money in a myriad of ways, some of which have certainly raised eyebrows as far as observers are concerned.

    "So if Manchester City are charged, you would think that Manchester City would say to the Premier League, 'well, you've investigated us and charged us, then surely you have a responsibility to do this for other clubs as well'.

    "If the Premier League don't do that, it could be seen that they're trying to make a scapegoat of Manchester City, who are unpopular with certain other elements of the English football establishment because they represent new money, and old money doesn't like new money in all aspects of life, it doesn't have to be sport.

    "Therefore you can understand why there's likely to perhaps be enthusiasm for this to move on. And that's going to be bad news for football as a whole because then it becomes who's got the best lawyers, and the best accountants, as opposed to who's got the best strikers and centre-halves and midfield players."

    If the independent commission finds City to have breached financial guidelines, they could face a variety of punishments, ranging from fines to points penalties, or even expulsion from the league.

    City are controlled by the City Football Group, which is owned by Abu Dhabi's Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Since a 2008 takeover, the club have invested heavily in infrastructure and players to develop the dominant team in England.

    It remains to be seen how City come out of this saga, if found to have transgressed.

    "There's a lot of politics in English football," said Maguire. "I think that the preferred punishment would be a points deduction, because the argument would be that if it was just a financial punishment, given the wealth of the owners, given that it is effectively a sovereign wealth fund which is the benefactors of Manchester City, that a financial penalty would not actually particularly harm the club.

    "Therefore, you need to do something which would be seen within football itself as being a punishment, and also acting as a deterrent should any other clubs with equally benevolent owners decide to take or consider a similar action."

    Maguire said City face jealousy and "resentment" from rival clubs, and he believes there would not be such interest if a smaller Premier League club came under the microscope.

    "It's because it is Manchester City who have won the Premier League for four years out of the last five, who have reached the Champions League final, who have spent around about $1.3billion in building their squad, that we're having this conversation," Maguire said.

    "There is jealousy, there is resentment, there is envy. And there's not a lot of admiration, because football doesn't operate like that. Football is a very, very snarky business, where everybody's trying to put each put other clubs down.

    "Changing the culture of football into one of ethics, morality, sustainability, is very difficult because of the nature of the people that own the clubs. They tend to be very successful in their own right. And therefore, they are used to getting their own way.

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    Maguire said world governing body FIFA, having been tarnished by scandal itself in recent years, was "unlikely to be in a position to take a moral high ground".

    "And it then just simply becomes a game of whack-a-mole, as the authorities find one loophole, they bring a sticking plaster to solve it," Maguire said. "And then you're always in a room with a smarter accountant and a smarter lawyer who will come up with yet another scheme."

  • Ten Hag: Old Trafford fear factor key to restoring Man Utd to former glory Ten Hag: Old Trafford fear factor key to restoring Man Utd to former glory

    Erik ten Hag feels bringing back the fear factor for teams coming to Old Trafford is key to restoring Manchester United to their former glories.

    Ten Hag's men have rattled off 13 straight victories in home matches, helping United to third in the Premier League while also securing their place in the EFL Cup final and the fifth round of the FA Cup.

    United will look to make it 14 consecutive victories at Old Trafford when they host rivals Leeds United on Wednesday, looking to capitalise on Arsenal and Manchester City both losing over the weekend.

    Ten Hag was asked about the importance of getting teams to dread facing United in their own backyard, to which he replied: "It was one of our aims this season to get that back.

    "It's part of the process to restore Manchester United. It's great to have the connection with Old Trafford."

    Despite United's impressive home form, Ten Hag wants his team to play with the same confidence and freedom on the road, having won just five of their 11 league games away from Old Trafford this season.

    "I think home form is good," he added. "The next step is to have that same personality away as we do at home.

    "When we play away we have a lot of fans following us and we can do the same away. Pitches are the same size and it is still 11 against 11. 

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    The Red Devils will fancy their chances of picking up another three points against Leeds, who sacked head coach Jesse Marsch on Tuesday with the team winless in seven league games and only outside the relegation zone on goal difference.

    Ten Hag acknowledged how important the rivalry was for the two sets of supporters, while also expressing his sympathy for Marsch following the American's dismissal.

    "It's the match of the roses," Ten Hag said. "It's definitely a big game in this part of England and a big game for us.

    "We have City, we have Liverpool, but as well for our fans this game means so much. Our players are aware of that and will know what to do.

    "It's always sad if a manager gets sacked. In general, I don't believe it that you sack a manager and get better results.

    "Most of the time it doesn't work. But the pressure is high with decision-makers at football and they turn, but if you see the facts, most of the time it doesn't work out well."

    Ten Hag will be without a number of key players for Wednesday, with Scott McTominay, Antony and Anthony Martial all absent with injury while Casemiro will serve the first game of his three-match suspension for grabbing the throat of Will Hughes in the 2-1 win over Crystal Palace on Sunday.

    But Ten Hag is expecting victory and says he will not accept any excuses should they not achieve that, adding: "I always have to play with the players who are available and we have a squad.

    "We have many good players in our squad who are not playing in the starting XI. 

    "After a game, I can't say, 'Casemiro is not there, Anthony Martial is not there'. We have to win. United are capable and we have to win the games no matter who is on the pitch."

  • Zanetti: Inter tried to sign Messi after Barcelona departure Zanetti: Inter tried to sign Messi after Barcelona departure

    Lionel Messi held talks with Inter over a potential move to the Italian giants after leaving Barcelona, Javier Zanetti has revealed.

    Messi left Barca in 2021 after lifting 10 LaLiga titles and four Champions League trophies with the club, eventually opting to sign for Ligue 1 side Paris Saint-Germain.

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    "Realistically, we cannot compete with PSG or Premier League clubs, but due to our rapport, we spoke when there was a chance."

    Messi has since won a Ligue 1 title with PSG while also finally earning World Cup glory with Argentina, while Inter have struggled to replicate the form that saw them end a 10-year wait for another Serie A title in the 2020-21 campaign.

    After missing out on retaining the title by two points to rivals Milan last season, the Nerazzurri are running out of time to overhaul a 13-point gap to leaders Napoli this campaign with Luciano Spalletti's team showing no signs of slowing down the rampant pace that has seen them win 18 of their 21 top-flight games.

    The Partenopei's sole defeat came at the hands of Inter in January, and Zanetti has mixed feelings about his team's efforts this term, saying: "We could have done more in the league. We miss some points, but it's part of a path that this team is consistently carrying out.

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    Centre-back Milan Skriniar will join Messi at PSG next season after choosing to turn down a new contract with Inter and instead make the move to France at the end of his current deal.

    Zanetti hopes Skriniar will remain in the right headspace to help Inter to the best of his capabilities over the rest of the season, with Simone Inzaghi's side still fighting for silverware in the Champions League and Coppa Italia alongside their league duties, having already lifted the Supercoppa Italiana by thrashing Milan 3-0 in Saudi Arabia last month.

    "We offered him a contract within our financial reach, but he made a different choice," Zanetti added. "Now we need to put him in the best condition to give his best until the end of the season."

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