Falcao not thinking about Atletico exit

Radamel Falcao has dampened speculation about his potential move away from Atletico Madrid by promising that he will honour his contract at the Vicente Calderon.

The Colombian has now scored 10 goals in just eight Liga games this season, and speculation about a transfer is rife, with Real Madrid and Chelsea reportedly ready for a battle to secure his signature.

“I am happy and enjoying myself at my club,” he told Spanish television show Punta Pelota.

“I am not thinking about leaving at the moment. I never think about it. That idea is not in my head but we will see what happens in the future.”

Falcao has been named on the 23-man shortlist for this year’s B’allon d’Or, but refused to talk about his chances of winning the award.

“Others are responsible for choosing, I just really appreciate being on the list alongside [Lionel] Messi and [Cristiano] Ronaldo, who are both great players.”

Falcao not thinking about Altetico exit

Radamel Falcao has dampened speculation about his potential move away from Atletico Madrid by promising that he will honour his contract at the Vicente Calderon.

The Colombian has now scored 10 goals in just eight Liga games this season, and speculation about a transfer is rife, with Real Madrid and Chelsea reportedly ready for a battle to secure his signature.

“I am happy and enjoying myself at my club,” he told Spanish television show Punta Pelota.

“I am not thinking about leaving at the moment. I never think about it. That idea is not in my head but we will see what happens in the future.”

Falcao has been named on the 23-man shortlist for this year’s B’allon d’Or, but refused to talk about his chances of winning the award.

“Others are responsible for choosing, I just really appreciate being on the list alongside [Lionel] Messi and [Cristiano] Ronaldo, who are both great players.”

Arsenal must pay up & give Walcott industry benchmark deal to prove their ambition

COMMENT
By Wayne Veysey | Chief Correspondent

When Peter Hill-Wood tried to explain why Arsenal handed chief executive Ivan Gazidis a 35 per cent pay rise last season to inflate his salary package to £2.14 million-a-year, the chairman’s response was telling.

Gazids, Hill-Wood told shareholders at a feisty AGM, had overseen “an extremely good year” and his deal had been benchmarked against industry competitors.

Few could blame Theo Walcott and his advisers for quoting those words back at senior Arsenal figures when a final attempt is made next month to break the contract stand-off between the player and the club.

It is inconsistency on a grand scale to have one rule for one board member and another entirely for the playing staff.

How Hill-Wood and the remuneration committee concluded that Arsenal’s 2011-12 financial year was so impressive when revenues remained flat and the club continued to rely on Arsene Wenger’s transfer wheeler-dealing for its healthy profit surplus is unclear.

It is not too hard to imagine gin being spluttered around the boardroom when word reached the septuagenarian-dominated directorship that Manchester City had offered Robin van Persie a £300,000-a-week salary to stop him joining Manchester United.

Yet, is Walcott being so unreasonable in his request for a 40 per cent upgrade on his current £60,000-a-week contract?

If we are to use the Hill-Wood rule of thumb from which Gazidis benefited so handsomely, the answer is no.

THE WALCOTT CASE

2010-11
GAMES PLAYED (ALL COMPETITIONS)
GOALS
ASSISTS
38
13
9
2011-12
GAMES PLAYED (ALL COMPETITIONS)
GOALS
ASSISTS
46
11
10
2012-13
GAMES PLAYED (ALL COMPETITIONS)
GOALS
ASSISTS
10
4
1

Measured against his fellow England regulars, Walcott’s stance is perfectly valid. The forward need only glance around at second and third tier internationals like James Milner, Gareth Barry, Glen Johnson, Frank Lampard, Joleon Lescott, Gary Cahill and Andy Carroll (who all earn six-figure salaries per week or more) to gain an appreciation of his market value.

Like these colleagues, Walcott has not produced the goods consistently on the international scene for an extended period.

But he is not asking to be parachuted into the top tier of earners with English passports, such as Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard, Ashley Cole, John Terry and Joe Hart.

Instead, he wants what he feels he is worth. This comes after Walcott established himself as an undisputed first-team regular last season, starting 29 of Arsenal’s 32 first Premier League matches before succumbing to the kind of injury that has pockmarked his career.

He finished as the club’s second leading scorer behind Robin van Persie in a season which yielded a personal-best 11 goals in all competitions. Even this season, in which he has only started two matches for his club, Walcott has plundered four goals.

By running down his Arsenal contract to the last eight months without reaching a breakthrough in talks, Walcott has manoeuvred himself into a strong negotiating position.

Admirers at home and abroad are fluttering their eyelashes, most notably Serie A champions Juventus and striker-starved Liverpool.

They recognise that Walcott could be something of a bargain in January, when £100,000-a-week wages may not appear so outrageous if the transfer fee is less than £10m.

The 23-year-old will be committing his prime years to the employers whose headed paper will bear his next signature.

It may be a frustration that Arsenal’s three chief Champions League rivals – Chelsea and the two Manchester clubs – are not at the head of the queue to sign him.

In any case, Walcott was unsure about whether to go to Man City in the summer when the Premier League champions floated their interest in the last week of the window.

Liverpool, the club he supported as a boy, represents a more realistic avenue, despite Wenger’s reluctance to sell him to a Premier League big-hitter. Juventus represent nothing more than a useful back-up option at this stage, given that Walcott is settled in England and is not sure if the time is right to move overseas.

He is being genuine when he says he wants to come to an agreement with Arsenal and stay. Walcott is a popular member of the squad, respected and liked by the players as well as the staff.

Clouding the issue are the contrasting views of Wenger and Walcott on the forward’s role in the team. As one source close to both men said: “Theo sees himself as a creative player who can play anywhere across the front three. Wenger does not see it the same way. He sees him as an impact player out wide who can unsettle the opposition over 60 minutes or come off the bench for the last half-hour and change a game.”

By asking for the twin towers of a £100,000-a-week salary and a centre-forward role, some Arsenal observers may sniff that the club would be better off cutting their losses on Walcott and concentrate on sourcing a blue-chip replacement.  

Yet Arsenal already have cash swilling around the club coffers. An estimated £50m is available for transfers next year.

If Walcott was to follow Van Persie, Alex Song, Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri and Gael Clichy as another A-list departure over the last 18 months, the ambition of the board will once again be called loudly into question.

It should be noted that Arsenal’s wage bill was £143m in 2011-12. Surely, it would make sense to offer Walcott around three per cent of that annual sum and make the club’s salary structure a little less egalitarian.

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Holtby considering English ‘proposal’, says agent

The agent of the Schalke midfielder Lewis Holtby has suggested his client could be in line for a move to the Premier League, following a “very interesting proposal” from an English club.

Although Markus Noack did not name the club in question, the news follows a recent Goal.com exclusive, revealing Liverpool’s recent pursuit of the 22-year-old, whose contract expires at the end of the season.

“Lewis is very good at Schalke but above all there is an English club which has made a very interesting proposal,” Noack told Calciomercato.com.

“We are talking with Schalke about a possible extension for another three years. Talks are going well at the moment but the situation has definitely changed in the last period because several offers from Spain and England came in.”

A big decision awaits the German, who has begun the season in fine form having netted three goals in Schalke’s opening nine league games. His agent was, however, keen to dismiss rumours linking Holtby with Inter Milan, claiming that a move to Italy would be unlikely.

“My client will have to decide whether to continue to grow in Germany or to try a new experience at the end of this season.

“Inter Milan? We have not received any proposals from Italy and he would prefer [to play in] the Premier League and La Liga”

Messi: I will not leave Barcelona for Paris Saint-Germain

Lionel Messi has made it clear that he is not interested in joining Paris Saint-Germain and says he is happy with life at Barcelona.

The Argentina international stated on Monday that he dreams of staying at the Blaugrana until the end of his career, and not even a lucrative offer from the Ligue 1 giants would tempt him to move on.

“Paris Saint-Germain’s project tempting? No, no! I have the best team-mates in the world at Barcelona. We fight for trophies every season,” Messi was quoted as saying by France Football.

“Barcelona is a beautiful city and Barca are the club where I was raised. I can honestly not even imagine leaving Barcelona.”

PSG lured players such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Gregory van der Wiel to the French capital in the summer transfer window, but Messi is unsure whether they can compete with the big teams in Europe this term.

“I don’t know whether PSG already have the means to challenge the big teams in the Champions League this season,” he continued.

“I think that they can win the Ligue 1 title with all the players who can be decisive. But it takes time to build a team.

“Their situation reminds me a bit of Manchester City. It’s not easy to build a team when you have players coming from all corners of the world.”

Les Parisiens currently sit atop of the Ligue 1 table and second in their Champions League group.