TIDYING UP ALL THE LOOSE STORIES IN FOOTBALL THIS WEEK
Sir Alex Ferguson has told senior Manchester United officials that he has no plans to strengthen his squad in the January transfer market, The Sweeper can disclose.
The United manager’s long-term priority is to sign a central midfield playmaker but he does not intend to make a formal move until next summer.
The Premier League champions held talks with Wesley Sneijder last summer and also made contact with Tottenham early in the window to offer Dimitar Berbatov in part exchange for Luka Modric.
It is understood that Sneijder and Modric remain under consideration by United but Ferguson prefers to do his main business in the summer when the bigger clubs are more likely to sell their leading players.
An Old Trafford source told The Sweeper that Ferguson will not sign anyone in January, emergency situations permitting, but he is still in the market for a top-class midfielder.
The United boss has high hopes for 18-year-old midfielder Paul Pogba and plans to introduce the Frenchman into the first-team set-up next season, much as he has done with Tom Cleverley in the current campaign.
Talk of Pogba leaving Old Trafford is believed to be wide of the mark and there is every expectation within the club that he will be integrated into the squad next season.
Ferguson has taken a personal interest in Dinamo Zagreb sensation Mateo Kovacic, just 17, and United are in pole position to sign the midfielder but the Scot believes there remains an opening for an experienced midfield schemer.
Ferguson has concentrated his spending on the summer break in recent years and did not buy any players in the 2010 and 2011 winter windows, although Anders Lindegaard did move to Old Trafford last January after the deal had been completed two months previously.
The United boss did sign two players in the January window the year before but Serbian winger Zoran Tosic joined CSKA Moscow 18 months later after five first-team appearances, while Belgian defender Richie de Laet has failed to break through at Old Trafford and is currently in his fourth loan spell at Norwich City.
WALCOTT NEXT IN LINE FOR ARSENAL CONTRACT TALKS
One down, four to go. With Thomas Vermaelen’s contract situation resolved earlier this week, Arsenal will now turn their attention to sorting out the futures of Robin van Persie, Theo Walcott and Alex Song, whose deals all expire in 2013.
Andrey Arshavin is in the same boat but his age – he turns 31 next May - and mixed form over the last 12 months make him far less of a priority.
The Sweeper understands that Van Persie has told the club he will not sit down for contract negotiations until the end of the season, which leaves Walcott and Song as next on the to-do list of Arsenal’s contract negotiator Richard Law.
Walcott’s camp has yet to be invited for talks by the club but those close to the forward are confident that he is “next in line” and that his situation will soon be addressed.
If it is not, the England international will not be short of suitors at home and on the continent for his services.
Manchester City and Liverpool are monitoring his contract situation, and there has also been tentative interest from Serie A and the Bundesliga.
HOME, SWEET HOME FOR TEVEZ
Carlos Tevez did not get his wish to switch clubs last summer but he did make one major lifestyle change – he moved house. Or, to be precise, houses.
The striker brought his wife and two young children over from Argentina at the start of the season to live with him in what one property source described to The Sweeper as a “nouveau farmhouse” located between the affluent Cheshire village of Alderley Edge and the more remote Mottram St Andrew.
Not that the nomadic Argentine is putting down roots at the two-house plot, which was built two years ago by a developer who also happens to live in the adjacent property to the player. Tevez rents, rather than owns, the house for which he pays an eye-watering £29,000-a-month.
TORRES ALL SET ON KEEPING MUM
Whether he is scoring goals or missing them, many would be keen to hear the thoughts of Fernando Torres.
But the Spaniard has been so upset by the media coverage he has received following his move to Chelsea that he is unlikely to be sharing them any time soon.
Torres has spoken only to the club’s official website, and briefly to Spanish broadcasters, since his slump began earlier in the year and, even though he appears to have emerged from the doldrums, his self-imposed ban continues.
The striker swerved through the media mixed zone after the 5-0 rout of Genk on Wednesday with all the finesse he had showed in scoring two goals shortly beforehand.
SANDRO SPEAKING SAME LANGUAGE AS DAMIAO
Injury has restricted the involvement of Sandro at Tottenham this season after he made such a fine impression in the final months of his debut campaign.
But the Brazilian is in it for the long haul at White Hart Lane and is keen to avoid falling into the cultural trap that affects many South American players in England.
The Sweeper understands that Sandro is having five English lessons a week and fully embracing life in England after being taken under the wing of his compatriot and best friend Heurelho Gomes following his arrival last summer.
Now Sandro is hoping to do for Spurs’ No.1 January target Leandro Damiao what Gomes has done for him.
The midfielder has been a major voice in encouraging Damiao that he should join Tottenham, who have had two bids rejected for the highly coveted striker, rather than follow the more traditional path of Brazilian footballers to Italy or Spain.