It’s not about the money, money, money

Robin Van Persie has confirmed that he will not be signing a new contract with Arsenal.

The announcement ends months of none-too-fevered speculation about the Dutch striker’s future plans, and opens up the possibility of him becoming the fifth player in recent years to make the move from Arsenal to Manchester City. Let’s be honest, not many other clubs can afford him.

For all Van Persie’s oft-professed love of Arsenal and London, the bottom line is that it’s difficult to expect a player to turn down a move to a club that will pay him significantly more than he currently earns and which also offers him a greater chance of success.

“I love the club and the fans, no matter what happens,” said the Dutch striker in what amounted to a farewell statement. “I have grown up and became a man during my time with Arsenal. Everybody at the club and the fans have always supported me over the years and I have always given my all (and more) on and off the pitch.

“I’ve thought long and hard about it, but I have decided not to extend my contract. You guys, the fans, have of course the right to disagree with my view and decision and I will always respect your opinions.”

Will Arsenal fans begrudge him his move? Probably. Should they? Possibly not. Van Persie pretty much single-handedly ensured the club will play Champions League football next season and that alone is worth more than the fee they can expect to receive for him. This, lest we forget, is football 2012, where the 4th richest club in the world can’t compete with the petrochemical dollars showered upon Manchester City.

Going Dutch

One man who would have no time for the likes of Van Persie is his fellow Dutchman, Johan Cruyff, who has backed Ajax’s financial policy, saying players who only want money should leave the club.

Cue the exodus, one would have thought.

The Eredivisie champions will not overspend this summer as they try to keep their finances under control.

“It is very good that Ajax have drawn clear financial boundaries,” Cruyff told Voetbal International.

“The feeling of honour and the policy of Ajax’s officials are now the club’s principals.

“The new players who come to Ajax must be aware of that. If they want to play just to make money, they should go to another club.

“I have been told that coach Frank de Boer carries out these ideas perfectly.”

Ajax have always been a well run club, relying on discovering and producing world class players, who will then be sold on at a significant profit. The money is reinvested and the world keeps on turning. Arsenal fans, take note.

Holiday cancellation

It never rains but it pours… Rangers have been left without any pre-season matches after the organisers of their tour of Germany cancelled the trip.

The “newco” Rangers suffered further the blow just hours after being denied entry to the Scottish Premier League. A statement on the club’s website read: “The Rangers Football Club has been informed by the organisers of our pre-season trip to Germany that they can no longer offer us a place on the tour.

“The team was due to play three games in Germany between 18-25 July, but the trip will now not take place at their request.”

Let’s hope they were ABTA registered.

It’s at time likes this that you find out who your friends are and it would appear that Rangers are not exactly inundated with friendship requests at the moment. In addition to the tour of Germany being cancelled, Southampton and Le Havre had previously withdrawn invitations to Ally McCoist’s team to play pre-season fixtures.

The news leaves McCoist’s plans in turmoil with only 13 senior players confirmed as being part of his squad, although the manager said last night he was hopeful Andrew Little and Salim Kerkar would sign new contracts.

Quoted on the club website, McCoist told a meeting of Rangers fans last night: “Hopefully we’ll get them over the line, although I wouldn’t like to put a timescale on either of them. Andy actually phoned me tonight and I’ve missed his call so I’ll get back in touch with him tomorrow and we’ll see where we can go from there with him and Salim.”

More pressingly, though, and regardless of personnel, Rangers still have no idea which division they will be playing in next season.

The SFL board meet on Thursday to finalise a meeting date but clubs have already been told to convene next Thursday.

Goal of the day

Not so much a classic goal but certainly a memorable one for fans of Brazilian outfit, Corinthians, who won their first ever Libertadores Cup with a 2-o victory over Boca Juniors. That was enough for a 3-1 aggregate win. Both goals were scored by Emerson, with this, the second of the night, the decisive strike.

French fancy

While Didier Deschamps mulls over the possibility of becoming the next coach of the France national team, his former team-mate, Zinedine Zidane, has emerged as a strong contender for the vacancy.

Despite having no coaching experience, the 40-year-old is being seriously considered for the post by French FA chief Noel le Graet, according to L’Equipe.

Zidane admitted at the weekend that he was ready to go into coaching, having served as a presidential adviser and now first-team director at Real Madrid.

Le Graet reacted warmly, saying: “I find it very charming that he has expressed a desire to be close to France’s team.

“He dreams of coaching France within a decade. It is very gratifying.”

A poll on the L’Equipe shows that the idea of Zidane coaching the national team is not universally popular among fans, with three quarters against his appointment.

Le Graet hopes to hold further talks with Deschamps, who quit as Marseille boss this week. The World Cup winning captain is thought to be unhappy with the way previous incumbent, Laurent Blanc, was unceremoniously dumped in the wake of France’s Euro 2012 exit.

The idea of working with Samir Nasri is not exactly an inviting prospect either.

Breno sent down for arson

Former Bayern Munich defender Breno has been found guilty of arson and jailed for three years and nine months.

The 22-year-old was found guilty of starting the fire that burned down his Munich home in September. Apparently, he’d been drinking and was unable to say whether or not he’d deliberately started the fire.

“I would like to apologise for that night,” he is reported to have told the courtroom “I have not been a good role model. I am just a person who believes in God and thanks him for protecting my family.”

Although, surely God’s job would have been made a lot easier had Breno not decided to burn down the family home.

The defender was eventually released by Bayern at the end of last season.

His former employers said in a statement: “Our hope was that Breno would have been able to continue his career as a footballer and, consequently, his life together with his family.

“FC Bayern will continue to support Breno.”

Reopening old wounds

Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta has hit out at Jose Mourinho following the Real Madrid’s coach’s criticism of Spain’s playing style at Euro 2012.

It would appear that the clasico is not just a series of ill-tempered matches running from September to May, but now extends to the close- season during which parties from both sides can bicker about the other.

Mourinho described the Barcelona-inspired Spanish style as sterile following their 1-1 draw against Italy in their opening group match, and claimed that there was something impotent about their striker-less formation.

Three weeks later, and with another European title to show off, Iniesta felt emboldened to respond to Mourinho.

“Those were opportunistic comments because of the draw against Italy,” Iniesta told Barca TV. “Commenting on such remarks is a waste of time.

“We won the tournament with that system and these players, and that is something we should not forget.”

In keeping with his modest demeanour, Iniesta deflected calls for him to be nominated for this year’s Ballon d’Or, claiming that Lionel Messi would be a more worthy winner.

The camera lies

A television image appearing to show a Germany supporter crying after Mario Balotelli gave Italy a 2-0 semi-final lead, was not quite what it seemed.

The woman in question has come forward to claim that the footage was taken before the game, as she became emotional listening to the German national anthem.

The footage was then inserted by UEFA TV after the 36th minute goal.

Andrea, from Düsseldorf, said: “I am amazed and angry. I was overwhelmed at the presentation before the kick-off; not when Balotelli scored.”

UEFA said it “never manipulated any images of Euro 2012” but accepted the crying footage was a “human error”.

All bodes well for the integrity of goal-line technology.


Speaking of which, today’s the day we can expect an announcement from FIFA on the introduction of goal-line technology.

Informed speculation suggests that the International FA Board (IFAB) are set to approve both the Hawk-Eye and the GoalRef systems.

The IFAB, who are meeting in Zurich, will also insist that the technology is used only as an aid to referees to make a decision, rather than being the deciding factor in whether the ball has crossed the line.

It means referees can still decide not to award a goal based on what they see even if the systems are indicating the ball has crossed the line. Which strikes me as a recipe for confusion. But still an improvement on the current system.

The IFAB will also consider whether the UEFA experiment with extra officials has been a success and should be continued but UEFA chief Michel Platini, a strong opponent of the use of goal-line technology, will not be going to Zurich to argue the case in person.

After the fiasco of Ukraine’s goal-that-wasn’t-but-should-have-been at Euro 2012, that is probably wise.

Good, but not that good

Pelé has praised the current Spain side but insisted that the World and European champions are not as good as Brazil’s 1970 World Cup winning team.

Spain have been touted as the best international side of all time after becoming the first team to have won three consecutive major tournaments on the back of their Euro 2012 triumph.

However, Pelé insists that Brazil’s World Cup winners of 1970 ago were a better side.

”If I were playing, we would win, no doubt,” he told Reuters. ”The 1970 side set the standard by which others are measured.

”These comparisons will always be there, but you cannot compare them individually. But the 1970 team had better players than Spain, who have only two or three great players.

”But without doubt, this Spain team plays the football that I have enjoyed watching the most over the past two generations.”