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Alan 12:38 Thu Feb 28
Thursday newspapers (includes West Ham)

Manchester United's Belgium forward Romelu Lukaku, 25, wants to join Juventus this summer if he is forced out of Old Trafford.(Sun)

Tottenham and England striker Harry Kane, 25, needs to move to a "big club" to prove himself and win trophies, according to former Sweden international Zlatan Ibrahimovic. (Metro)

Spain goalkeeper David de Gea, 28, wants to stay at Manchester United and is ready to sign a new deal worth a potential £375,000 a week. (Mail)

Leicester City boss Brendan Rodgers wants to bring in £40m-rated Bournemouth and England striker Callum Wilson, 27. (Sun)

Manchester City are monitoring on Benfica and Serbia striker Luka Jovic. The 21-year-old is currently on loan at Eintracht Frankfurt. (Mail)

Chelsea are among a number of Premier League clubs looking at Maritimo's 26-year-old Croatian midfielder Josip Vukovic. (Talksport)

Arsenal will recall 26-year-old Argentine goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez from his loan spell at Reading to become the club's number two as they cannot afford to sign a replacement for the retiring Petr Cech. (Sun)

Arsenal and Southampton tried to sign Miguel Almiron on loan before the Paraguay midfielder moved to Newcastle United on a permanent deal, according to the 25-year-old's agent. (ABC Cardinal, via Star)

QPR could move into a 45,000-capacity stadium as part of a £425m redevelopment project. (Mail)

Former Leeds United boss David Hockaday says he tried to sign current Liverpool and Netherlands defender Virgil van Dijk, 27, from Celtic during his short spell at Elland Road, but was turned down by owner Massimo Cellino. (Guardian)

Footballer-turned-film-star Vinnie Jones says an unnamed American investor opted out of buying Newcastle United because he "didn't like their nickname". (Talksport)

Chelsea asked their fans on Twitter who the club should sign in the close season, despite currently being banned from making transfers. (Reuters)

Manchester United striker James Wilson, 23, says he chose a loan move to Aberdeen this season to put himself "in the shop window". (ESPN)

Real Madrid have identified Ajax's Argentine left-back Nicolas Tagliafico, 26, as a replacement for 30-year-old Marcelo. (Tuttosport, via Mirror)

Brazil international Marcelo is set to join Juventus.(Tuttosport, via AS)

Juventus should consider a swap deal involving Argentina striker Paulo Dybala, 25, and Napoli's Senegal defender Kalidou Koulibaly, 27, says the club's former president. (Radio Kiss Kiss, via Goal)

Newcastle United boss Rafael Benitez says "it is not easy at the moment" for 27-year-old midfielder Jonjo Shelvey as he struggles to win back his place in the squad. (Mirror)

Tottenham striker Harry Kane was "lucky" not to be sent off against Chelsea on Wednesday after he "deliberately moved his head towards" Cesar Azpilicueta, says ex-referee Mark Clattenburg. (Mail)

Guardian Rumour Mill

Nick Ames

Brendan Rodgers believes his Leicester players have “special things on the horizon”. The thing is that it might not be these particular Leicester players, because Brendan has money burning a hole in his pocket and, my word, does he intend to spend it. He’ll apparently have £200m at his disposal to mould a team in his image and first in, if he gets his way, will be the quicksilver Bournemouth striker Callum Wilson. The Mill smells a Jamie Vardy replacement – although smelling salts may be required to cope with a fee north of £40m. West Ham and Chelsea might have their own ideas, too.

Could Brendan also take his relationship with Celtic’s fans to the next level by returning for a few of their favourites? Kieran Tierney, Callum McGregor and James Forrest are believed to be among those for whom treble winning might spark less of a thrill than the Battle For Seventh.

That’s the biggest wad of cash on the table; it’s as if there was the inconvenience of some actual football during this midweek. But Real Madrid never quite sleep, now even while they’re banging them in at the Nou Camp. They’re dreaming and scheming about signing a new left-back now that Marcelo, not entirely in favour these days, seems to have been lined up for a summer move to Juventus. They have their beady little eyes on Ajax’s Nicolás Tagliafico, who thought he had scored against them in the first leg of the Champions League round of 16 until VAR pen-pushery got in the way.

Ajax are already losing Frenkie de Jong to Barça and you’d suspect that is only the beginning. The Spanish champions might even be back for more — they like the look of André Onana, the Eredivisie club’s prodigious Cameroonian goalkeeper, but Tottenham, Arsenal and West Ham are ready to join them in the chase.

Somebody will sign a very good striker in RB Leipzig’s Bundesliga hotshot Timo Werner this summer. If only there were a club in that division that specialised in mopping up its rivals’ biggest stars … oh hi, Bayern Munich, who have reportedly beaten the likes of Liverpool, PSG, Barcelona and Real Madrid to ensure Werner spearheads a slightly labouring attack from next season onwards.

Another German-based striking sensation, Eintracht Frankfurt’s 21-year-old Luka Jović, is currently the top-flight’s leading scorer and will almost certainly move on come the season’s end. Barcelona and Chelsea have both been linked but Manchester City are the latest big hitters to show an interest in the Serbia international.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer might have another hot young prospect to deal with at Manchester United. They’ve taken Zito Luvumbo, a 17-year-old winger who impressed for Angola at the Cosafa youth tournaments last year, on trial. The New Manucho, as they aren’t yet calling him throughout the Stretford End, also has admirers in the dapper forms of Watford, Porto and Sporting Lisbon.


Sergio Agüero’s contentious penalty takes Manchester City past West Ham

Daniel Taylor at the Etihad Stadium

As a measure of what an unexpectedly difficult night this was for Manchester City, it was the first game all season they have failed to score two goals or more in the league at their own ground. No other side has managed that kind of record over a 15-game period in the top division since Tottenham in 1965 and, in the case of Pep Guardiola’s team, their previous assignment here was a 6-0 rampage against Chelsea.

At this stage of the season, however, they will not mind too much that their latest victory was a more prosaic affair featuring a penalty decision that must have hurt their opponents. On the balance of play, there could be no doubt City were the superior team, particularly when Bernardo Silva and Raheem Sterling added some much-needed impetus during the second half. All the same their former manager, Manuel Pellegrini, could conceivably have seen his current team emerge with a battling draw but for the contentious moment just before the hour mark when Silva went down under Felipe Anderson’s largely innocuous challenge and Sergio Agüero was handed the chance to continue his scoring run.

That was Agüero’s 25th goal of the season and, more importantly, it ensured City kept up the pressure on Liverpool at the top of the table. Yet it was a struggle at times for the reigning champions, epitomised by Guardiola replacing his leading scorer towards the end with a midfielder, Phil Foden, and the unusual sight of Kevin De Bruyne trying to waste a few seconds in stoppage time by running the ball towards the corner flag.

As Pellegrini said afterwards of the penalty: “To be generous, it was a little soft. But that would be too generous. In the other box [the West Ham substitute] Manuel Lanzini had the same play but did not throw himself to the floor. If we lost this game from another action, we could accept it but it was not a penalty.”

A single-goal victory, settled by a moment of controversy, was certainly not what many City fans might have anticipated when, to put it into context, Guardiola had won all six of his previous encounters against these opponents, with an aggregate score of 22-3. On that basis West Ham ought to be reasonably encouraged, particularly as Marko Arnautovic was absent with a virus and Ben Johnson was making his first Premier League start. As the cousin of Ledley King and nephew of Paul Parker, Johnson, a 19-year-old full-back, comes from a family that clearly places great importance on the art of defence, and that was probably just as well given the amount of time West Ham had to spend in retreat.

Not that City had it all their own way. Guardiola’s body language was telling at times, staring out anxiously from the dugout or moving to the edge of the pitch, arms folded or hands shoved into his pockets. He claimed afterwards he was “delighted” that his team had played “so good.” During the game, however, he looked dissatisfied and at times the crowd sounded it, too, particularly when Riyad Mahrez was straying offside or misplacing passes. This was Mahrez’s first start in a league match since 30 December and, though Sterling and Silva were entitled to a rest, it was not a good night for the club’s record signing, looking conspicuously low on confidence and substituted early in the second half.

The same could be said for Samir Nasri, who was barely involved for West Ham on the night he returned to face his former club. Pellegrini replaced him with Lanzini at the break and, five minutes after the restart, the substitute set up Andy Carroll for West Ham’s first chance of the night. It was a splendid chance, too – by far the clearest opportunity until that stage. Carroll was at full stretch when he connected with Lanzini’s cross but Ederson’s flying save spared City from going behind.

For West Ham it was a costly save. Silva, a 58th-minute replacement for Leroy Sané, had been on the pitch only a minute when he tried to get past Anderson in the penalty area. Declan Rice, who was being watched by the England manager, Gareth Southgate, was also tracking the City player and it was a questionable decision from the referee, Stuart Attwell.

Silva appeared to stumble rather than actually being fouled, and the sight of him punching the air at the award of the penalty will not have lessened West Ham’s feelings of injustice. Agüero put the penalty to the left of Lukasz Fabianski and, after that, West Ham were indebted to their goalkeeper, particularly for a one-handed save from Sterling that prevented it becoming the kind of scoreline to which City are accustomed at their own ground.


Sergio Aguero's penalty downs stubborn West Ham and keeps Man City a point behind Liverpool

James Ducker

After a gruelling 120 minutes in the Carabao Cup final against Chelsea at Wembley on Sunday, there was always a chance this would be a hard night’s work for Manchester City. It certainly turned out that way and, by the end, the champions had required a lenient referee and the verve and vigour of the brilliant Bernardo Silva and Raheem Sterling from the substitutes’ bench to help get them over the line.

Given how his final 12 months at City were overshadowed by constant talk of Pep Guardiola replacing him, Manuel Pellegrini would have loved nothing more than to get one over the man who took his job. That the West Ham United manager’s hopes of dealing a blow to his old club’s title hopes on his first return to the Etihad Stadium were ultimately dashed by a controversial penalty award left the Chilean brooding with an acute sense of indignation, one that will doubtless come to be shared by Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool.

Sergio Aguero converted the decisive penalty for his 25th goal of the season but Stuart Attwell is unlikely to be on Klopp’s Christmas card list after this. He certainly incurred Pellegrini’s wrath. Bernardo won the spot-kick only a minute after his introduction. But a nudge from Felipe Anderson on the City playmaker as he skipped into the penalty area was best filed under the category ‘minimal contact’ and you had to wonder if an incident seconds before, when Aguero’s furious appeals for a penalty after a challenge by Angelo Ogbonna were ignored, played on Attwell’s mind.

“To be generous, it was a little soft but that is too generous really,” Pellegrini said. “It was not a penalty. Bernardo threw himself down when he felt a touch. In the other box, Manuel Lanzini had exactly the same play and he didn’t throw to the floor so if we lose this game with another action maybe we can accept it but it wasn’t a penalty. I think he [Bernardo] had a touch with Felipe Anderson but not to throw [himself]. He felt the kick and he went to the floor.”

Guardiola had issued a rallying call on the eve of this game, challenging his players to show they had the hunger and desire to retain the title, but the message did not appear to quite register with Riyad Mahrez and Leroy Sane. It was only when that pair departed within two minutes of each other early in the second half, once Guardiola had finally lost patience, that City really came to life, the introductions of Sterling and Bernardo acting like an electrical surge. “We needed another pace, we needed a little bit more,” Guardiola said.

Bernardo forced the penalty and, soon after, it was the Portuguese, after a one-two with Aguero, who teed up Sterling for a shot that was pushed aside by the impressive Lukasz Fabianski before Ryan Fredericks cleared David Silva’s attempt on the rebound off the goalline. Fabianski also had to be at his best to beat aside a rasping drive from Sterling. West Ham were just hanging on in there by that point.

This was Mahrez’s first league start from Dec. 30 and it showed. A glut of injuries had forced Pellegrini to hand a debut to Ben Johnson and it quickly became apparent that City were going to target the 19-year-old, the nephew of former Manchester United and England defender Paul Parker and a cousin of Ledley King, the ex-Tottenham and England centre-half who, to make matters even harder, was deployed out of position at left back. Yet Mahrez was wholly unable to exploit Johnson’s inexperience, while Sane did not fare much better on the left. Mahrez’s performance was best summed up by the frequent daggers he was shot by Kevin De Bruyne, who made little attempt to hide his exasperation with City’s record £60 million signing, not least his tendency to keep straying offside from inviting positions.

“If people think we’re going to play the last 20 hypothetical games with only Bernardo and Raheem, that is not going to happen. We cannot sustain that with all the games every three days,” Guardiola said. “They [Mahrez and Sane] know what they have to do - train harder and keep playing harder. We need everybody. Many things are going to happen. There are 30 points to play for. I think we are going to drop points, I think Liverpool are going to drop points.”

City’s evening might have been more serene had David Silva found the net rather than a post from close range from De Bruyne’s superb cross early on when West Ham had to weather the storm. But the visitors grew in confidence the longer the game remained goalless and Issa Diop and Ogbonna were excellent at centre-half. West Ham’s one chance of note arrived in the 50th minute, Lanzini cutting inside Nicolas Otamendi and sweeping a pass to Andy Carroll, whom Oleksandr Zinchenko had momentarily lost and was thankful to Ederson for denying with a good save. Then came the penalty.


Hammers in new contract talks with Johnson

CandH Exclusive

West Ham’s debutante youngster Ben Johnson is currently negotiating a new deal at the Hammers aimed at keeping him at the club for another four years.

After seeing Declan Rice and Grady Diangana sign new long term deals the defender is one of an ‘elite ‘ groupf of academy youngsters whom the club are currently tying down to contracts.

Johnson was outstanding in the time he was on the pitch last night and with the likes of Nathan Holland and Conor Coventry is set to agree terms with the club.

Played out of position last night at left back, the right sided youngster came off early in the second half to be replaced by Pablo Zabaleta.

Claret and Hugh learned the reason for his withdrawal was because he was suffering from cramp rather than being hooked by the manager.

We were old exclusively by a senior source on the phone a few minutes ago: “Talks have started with Ben’s representatives over a long term deal as it has with other academy players’ agents.”

Marko Arnautovic pulled out of the West Ham starting lineup very late due to a mystery illness.

The Austrian was due to start against Manchester City and was named in the side but was replaced hours before kickoff with Andy Carroll. Club insiders have denied a strop or fall out with the manager insisting it was a genuine late sickness causing him to be removed from the match-day squad at late notice.

Aaron Cresswell was another absentee after suffering from a broken toe while Arthur Masuaku is also suffering from an unknown injury. With Pablo Zabaleta still recovering from a back injury and not able to play 90 minutes Pellegrini took the risk of giving young right back Ben Johnson his senior debut at left back at the Etihad.

Perhaps more telling is the continued absence of Lucas Perez from the matchday squad having recently trained with the under 23’s he appears to remain out of favor with Pellegrini.


How West Ham can slash £32.34 million from their wage bill this summer

by Jack Saville

West Ham United are a club moving in the right direction. David Gold and David Sullivan have showcased a willingness to back Manuel Pellegrini in the transfer market, but the club’s finances could be working more efficiently.

If the Hammers want to move up to the next level, they need to continue attracting players of Felipe Anderson’s and Issa Diop’s calibre. That’s an endeavour which, particularly given how the transfer market has developed in recent years, can be financially crippling.

There are no shortcuts to the top, but a handful of smart decisions could help Pellegrini in his bid to challenge the top-six next season.

Those decisions concern his current squad of players, which is littered with players who, for one reason or another, should leave the London Stadium this summer.

Based on figures provided by Spotrac, we’ve taken a look at a selection of players who Gold and Sullivan could offload to free up the wage bill in the summer transfer window.
Players who look destined to depart

Perhaps rather reluctantly, the Hammers faithful may be forced to wave goodbye to one of a dying breed: Pablo Zabaleta, a genuine warrior whose exemplary attitude has enabled him to perform beyond his means at the top level.

The Argentine is 34-years-old and out of contract in the summer. He is a fan-favourite and still a decent squad player, but the opportunity to slash £3.9m from the yearly wage bill could tempt Pellegrini to usher his fellow South American out of the exit door.

Paradoxically, Marko Arnautovic’s decision to sign a contract extension in January injected an extra layer of substance to the general feeling that he will leave in the summer. It seems clear that the saga has only just begun, and his potential departure would wipe £5.2m off the wage bill.

Andy Carroll’s exit, however, should be more straightforward. He is out of contract in June and his torrid record with injuries has sprayed the writing firmly on the wall. To compound the situation, his style of play is antithetical to Pellegrini’s philosophy. £4.68m saved.

One would assume that backup goalkeeper Adrian, earning £2.6m per year, will also be released when his contract expires in the summer, with a desire for first-team opportunities likely to force the Spaniard’s hand.
Players who aren’t earning their wage

If Gold and Sullivan can find a buyer for Javier Hernandez, they would be foolish not to send him packing. The Mexico international is the highest earner at the club on £140k per week, equivalent to £7.28m per year. West Ham would surely be able to sign a superior talent on a lower wage.

The decision to sign Lucas Perez was a low cost gamble which hasn’t paid off. It seems his style is incompatible with the Premier League, so the Hammers should trim his £4.16m salary if possible.

Pedro Obiang and Sam Byram earn £2.86m and £1.56m respectively, and both players have failed to build a compelling case to remain in east London beyond the summer.

Results of West Ham’s clear-out

Allowing all of the aforementioned players to leave the club would put Gold and Sullivan in a much healthier financial situation. A total of £32.24 million would be removed from the yearly wage budget, which equates to £620k per week – enough to pay Manuel Lanzini’s weekly wage of £70k nearly nine times over.

Replies - Newest Posts First (Show In Chronological Order)

Gazza_AZ 5:55 Fri Mar 1
Re: Thursday newspapers (includes West Ham)
Very well done to the young man. A future RB? He defended well and had good distribution when needed.
Bringing on Pablo - did not appear to be an upgrade. What more can be said.
Eleanor Rigby

Mex Martillo 7:38 Fri Mar 1
Re: Thursday newspapers (includes West Ham)
Thanks Alan

Texas Iron 6:22 Thu Feb 28
Re: Thursday newspapers (includes West Ham)
Ref stole our point...
So hard and well fought for...

The Libertine 1:41 Thu Feb 28
Re: Thursday newspapers (includes West Ham)
Thanks Alan.
Some wage bill we can get rid off in the summer. Will be good to see what Pelle can bring in when the dross is off loaded.

Thanks Alan 12:55 Thu Feb 28
Re: Thursday newspapers (includes West Ham)
Bill green 12:48 Thu Feb 28

bill green 12:48 Thu Feb 28
Re: Thursday newspapers (includes West Ham)
thanks Alan

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