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Brewin: Sanchez punishes Sunderland

Arsenal about an hour ago
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Aug 7, 2009

Messi valued at €300m, Fergie baits Benitez

This was the week in which Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson began his Benitez-baiting campaign, Lionel Messi was put on the market for €300m and former Newcastle manager Joe Kinnear claimed the club were only united in their dislike of Londoners.

Football mourns loss of Sir Bobby Robson - Friday, July 31

Sadly, there was only one story dominating the headlines on Friday and that was the tragic passing of former England manager Sir Bobby Robson at the age of 76, having lost a long battle against cancer.

Robson, who distinguished himself at a number of clubs, took on the England job and led the national team to the semi-finals of the World Cup in 1990.

Sir Bobby was knighted in 2002, was inducted as a member of the English Football Hall of Fame in 2003 and awarded with the Sports Personality of the Year life time achievement award in 2007.

He was a gentleman of the game.

Le Havre lash out as United poach Pogba - Saturday, August 1

Manchester United completed the signing of French starlet Paul Pogba this week but on Saturday the player's former club Le Havre hit out at the Red Devils for the way they enticed the youngster and his parents.

The furious French club issued a statement that referenced a football 'slave trade' and claimed that United offered 'big money' to the 16-year-old's family to get the deal done.

"Paul Pogba, his parents and Le Havre were bound to a contract called a 'non-solicitation agreement' from autumn 2006," the statement read. "However, the player and his parents have refused to fulfil the agreement because Manchester United have offered big money to the parents to get their son to England.

"While a lot of voices have started to be heard coming out of the EU, governments, FIFA and UEFA against 'minor slave trade', Manchester United have not hesitated to uproot a 16-year-old kid."

Powerful stuff from the Ligue 2 club.

Wilshere to overshadow Walcott - Sunday, August 2

Arsene Wenger's conveyer belt of teenage talent spat out another product on Sunday as 17-year-old Jack Wilshere struck twice as Arsenal beat Scottish champions Rangers 3-0 to win the Emirates Cup.

Gunners playmaker Paul Merson quickly claimed the attacking midfielder was already "a better footballer" than Arsenal team-mate Theo Walcott, 20, who scored a hat-trick for England against Croatia last year and was tipped for great things when he joined the London club.

And Wenger added to the hype when he suggested that the Stevenage-born starlet, who was twice named man-of-the-match during the Emirates Cup, could play for England. "I bring English players slowly through," Wenger told Arsenal TV. "He is another one who will soon play for you [England]."

However, England Under-21 boss Stuart Pearce delivered a dose of reality when he omitted Wilshire from his Young Lions squad to face Holland on Tuesday.

Messi on the market for €300m - Monday, August 3

Okay, that headline might be slightly misleading but it is effectively true if reports in Spanish newspaper El Mundo Deportivo are to be believed.

Barcelona are eager to offer a new contract to their pint-sized superstar that will increase his current buyout clause from €150m to €300m.

In Spain it is normal practice to include a ridiculously high buyout clause in a contract but with all the money splashing around in the transfer market at the moment €150m no longer looks so idiotic.

It is also suggested that Messi's original contract had a clause that guarantees he will always be the highest paid player at the Camp Nou and following the arrival of Zlatan Ibrahimovic from Inter Milan that was no longer the case.

Messi will be apparently be offered €9.5m-per-season.

Ronaldo's legs worth £90m - Tuesday, August 4

Real Madrid moved quickly this week to insure the legs of the world's most expensive player, Cristiano Ronaldo, for £90m after he took a worrying knock to his knee in a pre-season friendly.

Real's £80m summer purchase was given the all clear by club doctors but, according to The Sun, the Spanish club want to protect their money if he picks up a long-term injury.

The 24-year-old, who was amongst the most-fouled players in the Premier League, but was also branded a diver, has already been fouled 34 times in three pre-season games for Real Madrid.

As the current FIFA World Player of the Year the opposition need to stop him somehow.

Fergie begins Benitez-baiting - Wednesday, August 5

The Premier League season has not yet started but Sir Alex Ferguson's battle with Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez resumed on Wednesday when the Manchester United manager insisted his arch-rival had no chance of wrestling the title from his champions.

"Liverpool had probably their best season for 20 years and still finished four points adrift," Ferguson said. "It will be hard for them to match last season, let alone improve on it. Other teams will know more about them."

Ferguson went on to tip Carlo Ancelotti's Chelsea side as his major challengers for the upcoming campaign and even managed to rubbish Rafa's proudest achievement - winning the Champions League in 2005 - at the same time.

"Ancelotti will play the Milan way," said Ferguson. "It brought him two European Cups - it should have been three because they should never have lost to Liverpool..."

Kinnear: Toon united in hatred of Londoners - Thursday, August 6

It's tough to get through the week without a reference to the soap opera that is Newcastle United and former manager Joe Kinnear, who required a triple-heart bypass after taking the post last year, provided this week's instalment.

Not only did the convalescing coach make the startling claim that blundering Toon owner Mike Ashley had offered him two-year contract last month, but also claimed the crisis club were only united in their hatred of Londoners.

Kinnear who, to the relief of the Toon Army, rejected the contract offer on medical grounds, said: "I think Mike Ashley got a lot of unfair criticism last year, I think anybody from London does, that's the way life is up there."

Kinnear's comments were countered by a spokesman for the regional development agency One North East who pointed out that the Lonely Planet guide described the north east as 'the most exciting, beautiful and friendly region in the whole of England'.

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