Transfer deadline day

While many fans will spend the day pressing F5 in the hope of discovering that their club has made an unexpected signing, the frenetic nature of the day’s trading does make one wonder if there might be a more efficient way for multimillion pound organisations to conduct their business. Like playing the lottery perhaps?

Meanwhile, a YouGov for a survey commissioned by solicitors Mishcon de Reya, The Kick Off Review, has confirmed that the practice of tapping up players is rife. Senior football executives interviewed claimed that agents and other clubs regularly approach players illegally.

“Most people in football would recognise that it is wrong but it is very difficult to eradicate, so you have to learn to live with it,” said one anonymous Premier League director.

Surprisingly, it’s rare for clubs to notify the authorities when their players are approached illegally, though that could be due to the fact that most of them are indulging in the practice.

Surprise move

Among the rumours and counter-rumours, perhaps the most surprising transfer story of the past 24 hours involves Owen Hargreaves. The midfielder, who walked – presumably with the aid of crutches and several helpers – away from Manchester United after an injury-plagued four years at the club, has resurfaced across town at Manchester City.

In a comeback to rival that of Lazarus, Hargreaves was undergoing a medical on Tuesday and if – and obviously it’s a huge if – he passes that he will join City on a pay-as-you-play deal.

Wayne Rooney, a former United team mate, expressed doubts that Hargreaves would ever return to full fitness.

“He’s been out for a couple of years. I think it will be difficult for him to get back to his best. I hope he can do so. From an England point of view he was a type of midfield player that we hadn’t really had before.”

He was not a glory-seeking narcissist? He played for the team? He wasn’t feted by the press as being part of a Golden Generation? He performed at the same level for England as he did for his club? He accepted responsibility for his performances?

Goal of the day

Samba Diakite’s equaliser for Nancy in their 2-1 defeat to Auxerre in Tuesday’s League Cup game, was a brilliant run from deep culminating in an emphatic finish.

All the goals form the game can be found here:

Loose canon

In news that will surprise no one, Swindon manager, Paolo di Canio, has become involved in an unseemly bust-up with one of his own players.

Di Canio appointment for League Two club Swindon this summer came as something of a shock and was not without controversy. The GMB union ended their financial backing of the club due to Di Canio’s fascist views. In contrast, just a year ago, his former club West Ham, announced the opening of the ‘Paolo Di Canio Lounge’, at Upton Park. Stay classy Hammers.

The Italian came to blows with his striker Leon Clarke following the Carling Cup defeat to Southampton. Swindon chairman Jeremy Wray said he had launched an investigation into the incident, although a quick look at Di Canio’s CV should give him all the information he needs.

“Leon and the fitness coach were having words after the game…Paolo was concerned these discussions should be held behind closed doors and went to him to get him into the dressing room but Leon didn’t want to go down.”

The upshot was this:

Busy day at the office

One manager expected to be busy over the next few hours is Arsene Wenger, who despite having three months to make up his mind about possible transfer targets, decided that the stability of the club was best served by rushing through a few deals on deadline day.

With defenders Per Mertesacker and Andre Santos close to joining Arsenal from Werder Bremen and Fenerbahce respectively, Wenger is also reported to be eager to fill the huge midfield chasm created by the departures of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri.

Among those linked with a last minute move include Lille’s Eden Hazard, Everton’s Mikel Arteta and CSKA Moscow’s Keisuke Honda. The Honda speculation has intensified following his withdrawal from Japan’s 2014 World Cup qualifiers against North Korea and Uzebikistan.

Other than hordes of screaming schoolgirls aetending every home game and healthy replica shirt sales in Japan, here’s what Arsenal would be getting for their money

Spanner in the works?

Joe Cole could have an unexpected bearing on Arsenal’s plans for the day. The Liverpool playmaker has agreed a loan move to Lille, thus enabling the French champions to sell Eden Hazard to Arsenal.

On Cole’s arrival at Anfield last year, he was described by team mate Steven Gerrard as being ‘better than Lionel Messi’. Words fail.

Lille, too, seem to be labouring under the delusion that they’ve signed a world beater.

“With the arrival of England international Joe Cole, LOSC has clearly added to its squad both in quantity and quality,” said a statement on Lille’s officla website. Well, they’re half right.

Stepping down

Robert Nouzaret has resigned as coach of DR Congo just days before their Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Senegal, citing interference from the country’s football association.

“After our friendly last weekend with Angola the federation ordered me to pick a squad of home-based players for our match against Senegal,” he said.

“I don’t know why the football federation blame me, after our friendly with Gambia they withdrew all my assistants,” the Frenchman told a local radio station.

“I sensed that it was going to finish badly between me and them. I felt that I wasn’t working under the best conditions, especially on a philosophical level.”

Spare Ribery?

Chelsea appear to have given up on their attempt to sign Tottenham midfielder Luka Modric, and turned their attention to Bayern Munich forward Franck Ribery.

Ribery, who is one of the few French players Arsene Wenger has not tried to sign in his time at Arsenal, has also been linked with a move to the Emirates. However, money usually talks, in which case, Stamford Bridge looks the likeliest destination for the gifted, but temperamental playmaker.

The oldest profession

Hot on the heels of Villarreal president Fernando Roig accusing Barcelona and Real Madrid of killing Spanish football, his counterpart at Sevilla, José María del Nido has gone even further by branding La Liga as “prostituted”.

Del Nido claimed that the Spanish league is “not the biggest mess in Europe, but in the world,” and wondered “how many fans there were tuned in after 30 minutes in the second half of Zaragoza against Real Madrid?

“Is there a fan out there who doesn’t say that the league is prostituted, altered and corrupted?” he added.


Wayne Rooney admits he is in two minds over whether he wishes Manchester United team-mate Dimitar Berbatov was playing for Bulgaria in Friday’s Euro 2012 qualifier against England.

The striker retired from international football after Bulgaria failed to reach the 2010 World Cup.

“From a Manchester United point of view, it would have been better if he played,” said Rooney. “From England’s it’s better if he doesn’t. He hasn’t had much game time at the start of the season.

“But he is a massive player for us. I am sure he’ll feature and be a big part of our season. He’s won Bulgaria Man of the Year about seven times, so he is a big character over there.”

Berbatov has, in fact, won the Bulgarian Footballer of the Year award seven times. He did, however, win the Bulgarian Man of the Year award in 2009, although the competition was not exactly that fierce with Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov the runner-up that year.

The Bulgarian is also the founder of the Dimitar Berbatov Foundation, which helps young people to develop their talents. And then squander them.