Hoeness: Hats off to Athletic Bilbao for standing firm in Javi Martinez talks

Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness has complimented Athletic Bilbao for their firmness in talks over the proposed transfer of Javi Martinez.

The Basque side stated earlier this summer that the versatile midfielder would only be available if a club matched his buy-out clause, and they have stood firm over their €40 million valuation of the Spain international ever since.
Athletic’s hefty asking price prompted Barcelona to turn their interest to Arsenal’s Alex Song instead, but Bayern remained unfazed and are ready to splash the cash on Javi Martinez.

“Hats off to Athletic. They told us from the start that we would have to pay €40 million or the deal was off,” Heynckes stated to reporters.

“They did not change their position during the negotiations and stood firm.”

Bayern are yet to agree personal terms with Javi Martinez, but they are expected to wrap up the deal in the upcoming days.

The Bavarians have already added the likes of Xherdan Shaqiri, Dante, Mario Mandzukic and Claudio Pizarro to their squad this summer.

Wenger chasing Sahin but Song could be on his way out of Arsenal

Arsene Wenger has revealed that Alex Song could be on his way out of Arsenal, with Real Madrid midfielder Nuri Sahin a preferred transfer target.

Cameroon international Song has been linked with a move to Barcelona, but Wenger revealed no formal offer had yet been received for the 24-year-old.

Meanwhile, Real Madrid midfielder Sahin has been touted as a potential replacement in midfield as the Gunners look to improve on last season’s third place in the Premier League.

At a press conference on Friday morning Wenger was quizzed over the likelihood of Song’s departure and whether he had signings lined up.

The Gunners boss said: “Both can happen. We have 6 or 7 players in midfield, it is an area where we have much more freedom to make decisions.

“If you look at the number of players we have a massive squad. We have what is needed to be ambitious.”

When asked about 23-year-old Sahin, Wenger remained tight-lipped but hinted at several potential names, adding: “He is one of the players that we follow.”

Southampton open talks over move for Liverpool target Gaston Ramirez

By Greg Stobart

Southampton have opened talks over a sensational move for Bologna playmaker Gaston Ramirez.

The newly promoted Saints are looking to make their mark in the transfer market by signing the highly rated Uruguayan on a four-year deal before the transfer window closes at the end of the month.

Discussions have begun with both Bologna and Ramirez’s representatives as Southampton manager Nigel Adkins looks to tie up a deal that would smash the south coast club’s transfer record and be worth around £11.8 million (€15m).

Bologna had valued Ramirez as high as £15m, a price that has deterred Premier League giants Liverpool and Manchester City from pressing ahead with a move for the 21-year-old despite admiring his talents.

Ramirez’s agent, Oscar Betancourt, had also claimed that Tottenham have made a bid of £12.6m for his client, but Goal.com understands no such offer has been tabled.

It would be a major coup if Southampton could clinch a deal for a player admired by some of Europe’s leading clubs, especially given their record fee currently stands at a modest £6m paid to Burnley for Jay Rodriguez earlier this summer.

Ramirez, who played for Uruguay during the Olympics, had ambitions to play for a Champions League calibre club but has been tempted by the chance to play regularly with the Saints in the Premier League.

“In Southampton I can play a lot of matches and I am in need of this,” the player said to reporters in Italy.

“Bologna and Southampton have an agreement.”

He is under contract with Bologna until 2016 and Betancourt had previously suggested earlier this week that the versatile attacking midfielder is now likely to stay in Serie A for at least one more season.

“The only solid offer is the one from Tottenham, who offered €16m [£12.6m],” Betancourt claimed this week.

“But the deal didn’t go through because Spurs offered too low a wage to the player and if the wage difference is minimal he would stay at Bologna.??

“Tottenham could raise their offer if they sell Modric and in that case the deal could be done, otherwise Ramirez will stay another year at Bologna. We also talked with Liverpool but nothing more.??

“Inter? They are interested in the player, but can’t afford a cash offer similar to the English clubs.

“The Nerazzurri would wish to include some players in the deal, but Bologna only want cash, also because of the arrangement with Penarol [Ramirez’s former club] who receive a percentage if the player is sold.”

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From Cazorla to Oscar via Kagawa: The top 10 Premier League newcomers to look out for this season

By Chris Myson

The new Premier League season is finally here and there is nothing fans love more than seeing their new signings take to the pitch in the opening weeks of the campaign.

We have seen some exciting domestic transfers take place, none more intriguing than Robin van Persie’s move from Arsenal to rivals Manchester United.

However, there will also be an unknown factor for some Premier League fans, with a number of big names ready to make their bow in English football, having been snapped up from around the globe.

With the opening day now just one day away, Goal.com profiles and ranks the top 10 Premier League newcomers to look out for this season. Do you agree with our choices?

10. Steven Naismith – Everton

While some of the new Premier League recruits for this season have come from around the globe, there is one newcomer to England’s top-flight who is from much closer to home.

David Moyes has snapped up the under-rated Steven Naismith from troubled Rangers this summer and the versatile Scotland international could be a big hit.

Capable of playing on either flank, in the hole or as a striker, the 25-year-old will be invaluable to a squad like Everton’s which is tight on numbers.

He also has significant quality and is one of the few Scotland regulars with an excellent technique. Moyes got it right in signing Nikica Jelavic from north of the border and he could have found a gem again in Naismith.

9. Modibo Maiga – West Ham

After his move to Newcastle fell through in January due to a failed medical, Modibo Maiga has finally got his dream Premier League move and he will be one to watch over the next season.

The summer signing from Sochaux is almost certain to lead the line for West Ham, meaning he will get plenty of chances to prove he packs a punch in attack.

The 24-year-old has scored 24 goals in Ligue 1 over the last two years, so certainly knows where the goal is and has the power to hold the ball up and bring others into the game, which should work well with the likes of Kevin Nolan surging forward behind him.

Also capable of playing in a wide role, there is plenty for Maiga to offer the Hammers and he will be keen to show Alan Pardew what he narrowly missed out on.

8. Jonathan de Guzman – Swansea City

Could be one of the surprises of the season. While he was part of a poor Villarreal side last year, Jonathan de Guzman should be judged primarily on his spell under Michael Laudrup at Mallorca, where he was outstanding and played in a similar system to the one he will be integrated in at Swansea.

Time and time again he bossed the midfield, but not in one specific aspect as he is equally as comfortable at putting his foot in and making tackles, as he is surging forward and creating chances.

His main assets are his acceleration and overall power, but he also possesses very good ball control and should prove a very good replacement for Joe Allen.

While many are focusing on the players who have headed out of the Liberty Stadium this summer, observers need to also look at the quality they have brought into the club.

7. Olivier Giroud – Arsenal

The sale of Robin van Persie piles the pressure on powerful striker Olivier Giroud to deliver in his first year at the Emirates, particularly with Arsene Wenger saying the Dutchman’s replacements have already been signed by the club.

A late developer, Giroud only made his France debut in 2011 after making his way through the lower leagues in his homeland.

He announced himself on to the scene in emphatic style last year as he netted 25 times as Montpellier secured a stunning Ligue 1 title triumph against all the odds, which earned him the move to England.

A strong, traditional No.9, it would appear he has the attributes to succeed in the Premier League, but whether he has the capability to spearhead an Arsenal title challenge and replace the goals of Van Persie is far from certain.

6. Lukas Podolski – Arsenal

Arsenal fans were thrilled when Lukas Podolski was signed from Koln earlier this year and the forward was a top player for his hometown club and has been a stalwart for Germany over many years.

He struggled at Euro 2012 though, and at a previous spell at Bayern Munich so he has critics who claim he cannot deliver at the highest level.

Capable of playing on the left wing or as a central striker, Podolski should be a useful first-team player for Arsenal and a good contributor to the Gunners over the course of his deal. Whether he’ll be any better than good, is what we will find out when the season gets going.

5. Jan Vertonghen – Tottenham

It is often hard for defenders to get recognition for awards or recognition, when star strikers and creative stars capture the attention of fans and the media.

However, in Jan Vertonghen Tottenham have signed a classy defender at a potentially bargain price from Ajax.

Capable of passing the ball out of defence and playing in a number of positions, Vertonghen should prove to be a vital component of Andre Villas-Boas’ plans both for this season and beyond.

His international team-mate Thomas Vermaelen made amazing progress at Arsenal after a move from the Eredivisie and Spurs fans will be hopeful of a similar impact from their own new addition.

After Chelsea splashed out on Eden Hazard and with the likes of Juan Mata and Marko Marin already in their ranks, it was a surprise when they spent big on another attacking midfielder.

Oscar arrives at the club from Brazilian football and is being pencilled in to be the No.10 for the Samba stars at the 2014 home World Cup, so he clearly has plenty about him.

All the signs are that he is going to undoubtedly be a star of the future, the only doubts come over how quickly he will be able to settle in the English game and whether he will immediately be a lynchpin of Chelsea’s attacking formation, considering the competition for places that he faces at Stamford Bridge.

Whatever happens, Oscar is a talented player and definitely one to watch in the Premier League during his debut season.

After a lengthy transfer saga where he flirted with Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea, Eden Hazard eventually announced he would be joining the European champions in a deal worth an eye-watering £32 million.

The 21-year-old is certainly highly-rated for a reason, he had a sensational 2011-12 season for Lille, scoring 22 times and grabbing 16 assists as he inspired the club to third place in Ligue 1.

In almost 200 appearances in his young career, he had helped them to the league title the previous year and is one of the emerging players in Europe, with his creativity and classy technique undoubted.

However, he is yet to hit the heights at international level nor has he played in the latter stages of the Champions League, meaning the question on how quickly he will settle is up for debate.

2. Shinji Kagawa – Manchester United

Fans at Old Trafford are currently ecstatic about the arrival of a certain Dutchman, but they have also been very enthusiastic about the arrival of Shinji Kagawa since early in the summer.

A vital part of the Borussia Dortmund team which won the last two Bundesliga titles, it is hoped the Japanese star can finally bring some creativity to the Red Devils’ midfield.

Kagawa’s pre-season form has certainly been impressive, scoring his first goal against Shanghai Shenhua before netting the winner in a thrilling 4-3 win over Hannover.

The signing of Van Persie may hinder his influence on the team early on and deny him space in central areas, but Kagawa has the quality to shine wherever he is deployed on the pitch.

1. Santi Cazorla – Arsenal

Arguably the signing of the summer, Arsenal fans will be desperate for Santi Cazorla to ease their hurt after the departure of Robin van Persie to Manchester United.

The versatile attacker was the best player in La Liga outside of Real Madrid and Barcelona last season as he helped Malaga to a Champions League place and it is a rare change of policy for Arsene Wenger to spend big (£18m) on a more established star.

Cazorla can play on both wings, behind the strikers or even in a deeper role pulling the strings from further back. An impressive dead-ball specialist and an impressive passer with good vision, Cazorla is also a willing worker who should be able to adapt to life in the Premier League.

Having spent most of his career at Villarreal, the 27-year-old Spain international finally has the chance to compete for one of Europe’s heavyweights, but faces a challenge to end the Gunners’ trophy drought.

Have your say

Do you agree with the order of our top 10? Which newcomer to the English game are you most looking forward to watching this season? Have we missed anyone out? Get involved in the debate, vote in our poll and give us your own top 10 by leaving a comment below!

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'Van Persie is one of the greatest strikers in the world' – De Gea

Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea has hailed the imminent arrival of striker Robin van Persie from Arsenal.

The Red Devils have agreed a fee with the north London club and are expected to announce the Dutchman’s signing after agreeing personal terms.

And De Gea, who joined United last summer from Atletico Madrid, believes the 29-year-old can bring the form which saw him named PFA Player of the Year last season to Old Trafford.

“He’s one of the greatest strikers in the world and it would be a really great signing for us,” De Gea told the club’s official website.

“He made a great difference last year with the number of goals he scored. Our players will give him a lot of support and opportunities to score goals – so he’ll soon find his rhythm and strengths here.

“It’s better to have him in our team and helping us. He’s a player who scores a lot of goals and he’s very cool up front. He has a lot of quality to his game.”

Van Persie completed his medical with the Manchester club on Thursday evening and is expected to be named in the squad to face Everton at Goodison Park on Monday night.

As Goal.com exclusively revealed, the former Feyenoord striker has been lured to the club by a contract which will see him earn up to £235,000 per week.