Bolton winger Petrov set to join Espanyol

Bolton manager Dougie Freedman has confirmed that Martin Petrov is set to leave the club after holding talks with Espanyol, but stated that he is looking to add younger players to his squad.


The Bulgarian winger is reportedly one of the club’s highest earners, and has had only a bit-part role to play this season, participating in 14 of a possible 26 matches with eight of those appearances coming off the bench.

“We’ve got to face the facts. Martin is in the latter years of his career and earns a lot of money at this club,” Freedman told BBC Radio Manchester.

“I feel the best thing for the club is to bring in some new, young blood.

“That’s where we are and I hope everybody understands this decision.”

Petrov joined the Trotters from Manchester City on a free transfer in the summer of 2010, going on to make 85 appearances and scoring 12 goals in the process.

Arsenal & Manchester United to hold Zaha talks with Crystal Palace this week

EXCLUSIVE
By Wayne Veysey | Chief Correspondent

Arsenal and Manchester United will hold talks with Crystal Palace his week as they battle it out for the €14.4 million signing of Wilfried Zaha, Goal.com can reveal.

United were the strong favourites to capture the highly coveted forward in January but Arsenal have dramatically re-entered the race.

The two Premier League big hitters are both due to meet Palace co-chairman Steve Parish later this week in what will be a straight fight for the 20-year-old’s signature.

Sources have told Goal.com that Zaha’s destination is “50-50” between United and Arsenal, with the final decision to rest with the player himself. He was a boyhood Gunners fan but that will not necessarily prove decisive.

Zaha appeared to end speculation about his future at the weekend, with a thinly-veiled hint on Twitter that he will be joining United. However, the Tweet – “Looks like i’m on my way to the top of the premier league” – is believed to have appeared on a fake account.

Parish and Palace manager Ian Holloway have both consistently said that Zaha will not be sold before the end of the season but it is understood that the newly-capped England international is set to leave Selhurst Park by the end of the window.

The fee required to secure the 20-year-old, who is contracted to Palace until 2017, is likely to be around the €14.4m mark.

Palace would prefer for Zaha to spearhead Palace’s promotion challenge and remain at the club until next summer but Arsene Wenger wants to integrate the youngster into the Arsenal set-up immediately.

Wenger would be opposed to a deal that would allow Zaha to join in the forthcoming window and then be loaned back to the Championship club for the rest of the season. United are believed to be open to the possibility of loan-back deal.

The attacker, who can play anywhere across the front three, has been a driving force in Palace’s surge to fourth in the Championship, scoring five goals in 26 league appearances this season. He made his England debut as a substitute in the 4-2 November friendly defeat to Sweden.

Wenger confirmed Arsenal’s interest in Zaha in loose terms at a media briefing in November, saying: “We are looking at every player who could strengthen our squad – but he is not more on the list than anyone else.”

This relatively innocuous comment was greeted with a furious reaction from Holloway, who accused Wenger of “bad etiquette” and declared he would be “picking the phone up to talk to him”.

Macheda willing to be patient over Manchester United future

Manchester United striker Federico Macheda has admitted that if he wants to have a future at the club he will have to be patient and bide his time for a chance.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s side currently sit at the top of the Premier League table with 55 points from 22 games so far this season, seven ahead of local rivals and reigning champions Manchester City.

The arrival of Robin van Persie from Arsenal in the summer has played a large part in that lead, with the Dutchman grabbing his 17th league goal of the campaign against Liverpool on Sunday.

Macheda accepts that competition for places in the starting XI is fierce, even if he feels he has time on his side still to make an impression.

“I have to push myself and train hard every day,” Macheda told the club’s official website.

“Of course, in front of me, I’ve got top, top players like Robin, Wayne [Rooney]; Chicha [Javier Hernandez] and Welbz [Danny Welbeck] as well.

“It’s hard for me to get in the first team but I have to  train hard for myself for the future. I’m still only young.”

Having been sent out on loan to Sampdoria in Italy and QPR over the past two seasons, shortly after his arrival at both clubs they changed their managers, resulting in less playing time for the 21-year-old, but Macheda believes the next short-term spell away from Old Trafford he has will be a success.

He added: “I had very bad luck with the loans but I think it helped me a lot. I think it helped me to gain experience in general.

“If I go out again on loan, I’m sure I will do well. I have been away two times already and, if it happens again,

“I’d look forward to getting playing time because maybe I made some mistakes but now I understand, I will take the chances I will have.”

Remy a dangerous addition to Newcastle's French revolution

PROFILE
By Robin Bairner

The ever-growing French contingent at St James’ Park is set to be added to imminently as Newcastle United are poised to sign Olympique de Marseille striker Loic Remy for a fee expected to be in the region of €10.2 million.

Manager Alan Pardew has found the Ligue 1 market a profitable hunting ground over the last 18 months, as he has been able to pick up international-class players at appealing prices, and in forward Remy he may just have made another great coup.

Comparisons have been made between the 26-year-old and the legendary Thierry Henry, but these are not necessarily fair. While it is true that Remy is an athletic forward player capable of operating in the wide areas, his game does not especially resemble that of the ex-Arsenal hero.

FRENCH CONNECTION

LOIC REMY FACTS
AGE
CAREER CLUB APPS
CAREER CLUB GOALS
JOINED MARSEILLE
FRANCE CAPS
FRANCE GOALS
26
203
71
August 2010
17
4

He is not quite as technically gifted and nor is he quite the killer marksman Henry was for the Gunners, yet the Rhone-born attacker can boast his aerial ability as a strength, which was never a strong suit for France’s all-time record scorer. What he lacks in grace, he makes up for in muscle.

In truth, Remy’s career has never quite taken off as it might. He was overshadowed as he broke into Olympique Lyonnais first team by the likes of Karim Benzema and Hatem Ben Arfa, who were emerging at the same time, and as a result, he would never score a league goal for Lyon.

A spell at Nice followed, where he would live up to his billing as the club’s record signing, and despite attempts from Lyon to regain his services, it was a move to Marseille that really pushed Remy into the limelight.

At Stade Velodrome he started to be used as a centre forward on a more regular basis, although this almost came by chance due to a lack of form on the part of his team-mates. Nevertheless, playing through the middle best suited Remy’s skillset – and it still does.

Last term he displayed devastating form by scoring 22 goals in all competitions, the vast majority of which came in the second half of the campaign. By some distance this was his most prolific season, yet it would have an unhappy ending as injury prevented him from taking his place in Laurent Blanc’s Euro 2012 squad, to which he would surely have added quality and another attacking dimension, having scored three times in his previous six outings for les Bleus.

But missing the summer’s European Championship was only the beginning of a troubling six-month period for the attacker. The niggles that prevented him from playing in Poland and Ukraine persisted into the early part of this campaign, and though he has theoretically been fit since mid-August, he has yet to find his best level in terms of his physical shape or his match sharpness.

As a result, he has been toiling. Remy has registered only three times all season for OM, with two goals coming in a one-sided Europa League fixture against AEL Limassol and the other arriving as a meagre consolation as les Phoceens were humbled 4-1 by Lyon at home.

While a change will undoubtedly help to refresh the striker, Newcastle fans should not expect to see the best of the 17-time capped France international until he has regained his sharpness and his confidence. As such, he may be something of a long-term investment to replace Demba Ba as the vanguard of their offence, which could be deemed a risky policy given the club’s recent struggles.

In addition, by making this signing, Newcastle could be inadvertently weakening their position to sign another Ligue 1 prospect in the form of Toulouse’s Moussa Sissoko. Marseille are also interested in the powerful midfielder, and L’Equipe suggested they will use the money earned from the Remy deal to help secure his services ahead of the Magpies and Monaco.

Pardew, however, has an excellent record in the French market, and he is likely to see this gamble as providing value. If he can extract the best from Remy, he will have himself a dangerous centrepiece to his attack, and a player worth at least twice as much in the English market as his reported purchase fee.

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Arsenal abandon pursuit of Barcelona star Villa

EXCLUSIVE
By Wayne Veysey | Chief Correspondent

Arsenal have abandoned their pursuit of Barcelona striker David Villa, Goal.com can reveal.

Arsene Wenger had made a formal approach for Spain’s all-time leading goalscorer but has reluctantly accepted that he will not be able to sign him this month.

Arsenal have made bolstering their strikeforce a top priority in the window and are now expected to centre their attention firmly on capturing Atletico Madrid’s Adrian Lopez, who they have targeted for a number of weeks.

Goal.com understands that a delegation from the London club had been set to fly out to Spain last week to hold talks with Barcelona over Villa.

However, the runaway Spanish league leaders made it clear in private discussions that the 31-year-old is not available either for a loan or permanent transfer this month even though the player had personally told Wenger he was keen to move to Emirates Stadium.

Villa has grown frustrated with his lack of opportunities at Camp Nou but the Blaugrana are playing hardball and are not willing to offload such a valuable asset ahead of a twin assault on the Champions League and La Liga titles.

Publicly, Barca have consistently dismissed suggestions that Villa could leave in the January window.

Head coach Tito Vilanova reiterated this stance following his team’s 3-1 win league win over Malaga on Sunday night.

“David is not going to leave,” Vilanova said. “We are very happy with him.”

Only Lionel Messi (37) has scored more goals than Villa (10) for Barcelona in all competitions this season, but the forward has started just 11 of the club’s 31 matches, including only six out of a possible 19 in La Liga.

Villa, who missed much of last season after breaking his leg, scored two goals in last week’s 5-0 Copa del Rey win over Cordoba but limped out of the match late on and then picked up a hamstring injury in training on Saturday which ruled him out of the trip to Malaga.

“We know how important he is to the team,” added Vilanova. “He scored twice the other day. He is still coming back from a long injury, and each time he gets more minutes. But he had some more problems. Last year we missed him a lot in the second half of the season.”

Wenger could make another move for Villa in the summer, when the player will have only a year remaining on his Barca contract.

Arsenal are expected to set their sights once again on Adrian after tabling an opening offer of around €12 million, which was revealed by Goal.com earlier this month.

Wenger wants to sign a mobile, orthodox centre-forward this month who can play anywhere across his forward line and dovetail with his current first-choice spearheads Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud.

It is understood that a fee of €14.4m could be enough to push through the Adrian deal, which is lower than the €17.7m release clause in the forward’s contract.

Goal.com understands that Arsenal initially opened negotiations with Atletico to sign the 24-year-old before Christmas. As revealed by Goal.com in October, Arsene Wenger has been closely pursuing Adrian, as he is known in his homeland, for months after failing to sign him last summer.