Pitchside

  • Euro Papers: PSG ready ‘£89 million Cristiano Ronaldo bid’

    Paris Saint-Germain have made a ‘permanent €125 million offer’ for Ronaldo, while Real Madrid face some turmoil over their managerial situation.

    Paris Saint-Germain have made a ‘permanent €125 million offer’ for Ronaldo, while Real Madrid face some turmoil over their managerial situation.

    Euro PapersEuro Papers
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  • Newcastle deserve to go down after awful run under John Carver, but they probably won't

    WhoScored's Ben McAleer says Newcastle will be extremely lucky to avoid relegation, but it looks as though Hull will be the unlucky ones on Sunday.

    Newcastle manager John Carver looks dejectedNewcastle manager John Carver looks dejected

    Sunderland’s 0-0 draw at Arsenal on Wednesday night meant the battle to stave off relegation became a two-horse race. Hull currently occupy 18th place in the Premier League and are the favourites to go down given the task at hand. Steve Bruce has never beaten Manchester United in 21 attempts as a manager, losing 17 times to his former side, so Sunday would be the perfect time to end his dire run against the Red Devils.

    “Maybe Manchester United owe me something after wrecking my knee, my hip and my ankle,” Bruce said after Hull’s 2-0 defeat at Spurs at the weekend left them on the brink of

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  • David De Gea owes Manchester United nothing

    Squawka’s Greg Johnson charts the progress of David De Gea at Manchester United, from flimsy youngster to Old Trafford’s leading man. His conclusion? The Spaniard owes his club nothing.

    Manchester United's David de Gea celebrates (Reuters)Manchester United's David de Gea celebrates (Reuters)

    Judging by the noises - and social media statuses - that have been emanating out from within the more reactionary recesses of Manchester United’s online fan base, it seems that David De Gea may just be about to commit a most grievous act of betrayal, grand in scale and devoid of gratitude.

    After all, this was the club that plucked him out of obscurity as a nobody, and gave him the platform to prove himself to the world, right? Not exactly. De Gea arrived at Old Trafford in 2011 for £17.8 million, as per The Telegraph, as a 20-year-old Europa League and Under-21 Euro Championship-winner with

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  • Back to square one: Why Jack Wilshere has to prove it all again at Arsenal

    Tom Adams reports from Emirates Stadium, where Jack Wilshere made his first start for six months in an Arsenal team which has moved on in his absence.

    Sunderland's Sebastian Larsson in action with Arsenal's Jack WilshereSunderland's Sebastian Larsson in action with Arsenal's Jack Wilshere

    In the six months since Jack Wilshere last started a game for Arsenal, civilisations have not crumbled and dynasties have not collapsed. It has been, by most measures, a relatively short period of time.

    But in those six months Arsenal's complexion has nevertheless changed and Wilshere's place is now uncertain. His future seems likely to be one of the most persistent themes of the long summer ahead.

    The game when he injured his ankle again, a 2-1 home defeat to Manchester United in November, seemed to confirm everything we knew about Arsenal. But since then perceptions of this team have subtly

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  • Xavi to leave Barcelona: Stats show just how much the king of passing will be missed

    Opta break down Xavi's passing record at Camp Nou as he prepares to say goodbye to Barcelona ahead of a move to Al Sadd.

    FC Barcelona's captain Xavi Hernandez attends a news conference held after a training session near Barcelona, August 22, 2014FC Barcelona's captain Xavi Hernandez attends a news conference held after a training session near Barcelona, August 22, 2014

    On Saturday in Barcelona, an era will come to an end when Camp Nou rises to acclaim Xavi for the final time in La Liga.

    At the end of the season Spain’s greatest ever midfielder will be departing his boyhood club to join Al Sadd and Qatar, leaving a gaping hole in Barcelona’s squad.

    And just a week after Steven Gerrard waved goodbye to Anfield, Xavi will be the subject of tributes from another cathedral of football, which has cheered him on to three Champions Leagues and eight La Liga titles.

    While Barcelona will play at Camp Nou in the Copa del Rey final next weekend, chasing the second part

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  • History will be kind to Steven Gerrard, despite the sneers

    Scott Murray says Steven Gerrard doesn't need a Premier League winners' medal when he is loved and adored.

    Steven Gerrard waves goodbye to his adoring fans at AnfieldSteven Gerrard waves goodbye to his adoring fans at Anfield

    The English call it French leave, while the Americans know it as an Irish goodbye. But perhaps the most apt term here is ‘filer à l'anglaise’: to leave English style. It's the art of leaving a party without saying your farewells. And there's much to recommend it: no awkward small chat, no emotional longueurs, no embarrassing, gauche, clumsy exits.

    Steven Gerrard, planning the leaving of Liverpool after 16 years as the heartbeat of the club, did not opt for the filer à l'anglaise. If the former England captain had his time again, he'd surely consider it. The announcement of a six-month-long

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  • Chelsea have bagged a real bargain in the south of France, while further north in Paris the French papers are getting excited by Michel Platini's FFP comments.

  • Wisdom of Trainspotting tells you everything you need to know about Falcao: Once it's gone, it's gone

    Alex Hess laments the horrifying fall from glory of the once-awesome Radamel Falcao.

    How Trainspotting reveals what you need to know about Radamel FalcaoHow Trainspotting reveals what you need to know about Radamel Falcao

    “It’s a phenomenon in all walks of life … At one time, you've got it, and then you lose it – and it's gone forever.” – Sick Boy (Trainspotting, 1996)

     

    ***

    It is instructive that, while schadenfreude makes up a large part of the modern fan’s emotional repertoire – and doubly so when it comes to the major clubs – no one has really been laughing at Radamel Falcao recently.

    Certainly not in the manner they laughed at Fernando Torres, who experienced a similar tumble from greatness after defecting from Liverpool to Chelsea. Or in the way they laughed at Andy Carroll, Torres’s doomed replacement

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  • Final day's true drama rests on the trauma of relegation, not the joy of glory

    All the big European league titles have now been decided - but there is plenty left to play for at the other end of the tables across the continent. Ben Lyttleton takes a look at the relegation battles ahead.

    The horror of relegation hits home, leaving fans crying in the standsThe horror of relegation hits home, leaving fans crying in the stands

    Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain were confirmed as champions this weekend and with one round of matches to go across Europe’s top five league, all the title races have been decided.

    Attention, therefore, focuses on Champions League/Europa League qualification and, of course, the basement battles to stay in the top-flight. Some might say they are more interesting anyway.

    Aston Villa may have lost 6-1 at Southampton this weekend but there was a moment for manager Tim Sherwood to savour when, after Spurs beat Hull 2-0, their Premier League safety was confirmed for another season. That leaves

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  • Louis van Gaal premature to pat himself on the back: the jury is still out on Manchester United's manager

    Paul Hassall was at Old Trafford to witness Manchester United's final home game of the season against Arsenal and reflect on Louis van Gaal's first campaign in charge.

    Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal applauds fansManchester United manager Louis van Gaal applauds fans

    As the dust settled on Manchester United's final home match of the season Louis van Gaal will feel it's a case of mission accomplished. 

    The former Oranje coach was charged with restoring the Red Devils to Europe's premier competition and before a ball had even been kicked on Sunday afternoon, a top-four finish was already in the bag thanks to Liverpool's defeat against Crystal Palace on Saturday.

    On his arrival at Old Trafford last summer the Dutchman spoke of three steps in 'the process': Champions League qualification, followed by title success, and then on to European glory. In that sense

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