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Premiership

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Chelsea will fight with Manchester City for the signing of Ross Barkley this summer with the fee potentially rising to as much as £50 million, according to many sources in this morning’s newspapers,

The 21-year-old is believed to be one of this country’s finest young talents after a series of seasons in which he has been by far Everton’s best player, and he has subsequently been linked with a move away from Goodison Park for the past few transfer windows.

There were rumours that Chelsea were hoping to line up Barkley as a long term replacement for Frank Lampard when it became apparent Chelsea’s record goalscorer was going to bring his Stamford Bridge career to and end, and he has been a target of Manchester City for some time as the Citizens’ wish to make him part of the spine that their money has yet to buy them.

Everton must be expecting to lose Barkley, who has been compared to Wayne Rooney for his direct style of attacking and ability to change a game in a short amount of time, and it will be interesting to see which club, Chelsea or City, will win his signature in the end, and how much one of England’s best young players goes for in this age of inflated prices.

Both clubs are apparently seeking major signings this summer, with City apparently hoping to have an overhaul of their team going into the hundreds of millions. Whether or not they will be able to depends on how much money they can get for their existing players so as to not break FFP laws. In that regard a move to west London appears more likely, but Barkley may be hesitant to move to a team that already has an abundant amount of world class talent in its midfield.

 

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Rafael Benitez was in charge for only six months at Chelsea as Interim Coach

Former Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez is looking for a return to England, according to the English press which quotes Pepe Reina.

The Napoli boss won the Europa League in his only season at Stamford Bridge during which he was often the subject of abuse by Chelsea fans, who did not let him forget the numerous clashes he had as coach of Liverpool. Benitez’ Chelsea tenure was sandwiched between the managerial spells of two Chelsea legends – Roberto di Matteo, who won the Champions League, and Jose Mourinho, the club’s greatest manager and current occupant of the job.

Reina, who Benitez managed at Liverpool and then took to Naples in 2013, is adamant the Spaniard wants to come back to England, with Manchester City and Newcastle apparently put on high alert by the claim made to talkSport.

“His idea is to be with his family and his family are in Liverpool right now and very happy so, if he gets the chance [to return to the Premier League], why not?

“He is happy at Napoli right now but family always comes first and it is a decision they have to make.

“As far as I know, he is happy in Napoli but is looking forward to coming back to England.”

 

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Fiorentina will extend Mohammed Salah’s loan for as long as possible before buying him outright, according to English newspaper, the Daily Star.

Salah was used as a makeweight in the transfer that saw Juan Cuadrado move from Florence to west London after he failed to hold down a starting place in the 12 months he spent at Stamford Bridge. The Egyptian signed from Swiss club Basel for £11.5 million in the January transfer window of 2014 after a few impressive performances against Chelsea in both the Europa League and the Champions League.

Salah’s form in the Serie A could not differ more to Cuadrado’s, who has largely watched on from the bench and thus far failed to score a goal. Salah has seen his reputation around European football grow significantly since joining Fiorentina, form that saw him score a brlliant hat-trick against Juventus recently and that led his manager to compare him to Lionel Messi.

“For now, we have benefited. We knew the superb characteristics of the player, but we did not expect him to have such an impact on Italian football,” Vicenzo Montella is quoted saying of his winger.

“Perhaps only Messi is faster than him with the ball at one’s feet. He’s doing well with La Viola, let’s hope that continues because it is just what we wanted when we wanted to send him to Florence.”

Fiorentina could keep Salah next season if they are willing to pay Chelsea £750,000. After that, they will have to pay the full £11.5 million that Chelsea originally spent on Salah if they wish to keep permanently.

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Chelsea are reportedly looking to replace Petr Cech with the Arsenal ‘keeper, Wojciech Szczesny , should the Czech, as is appears more likely every day, decide to leave Stamford Bridge.

Cech has been usurped as Chelsea’s No1 by Belgium international Thibaus Courtois after a decade of being one of the few guaranteed starters for the Blues. Cech has hinted recently that he may well leave Stamford Bridge in order to play first team football on a regular basis, something which only become less and less likely in the near future- Jose Mourinho appears to be building his latest Chelsea side with Courtois, who spent three successful years on loan at Atletico Madrid, the first choice goalkeeper, and with the current situation putting Chelsea on the verge of winning the Premier League title, it is difficult to see why it would change.

Szczesny, for his part, is unsatisfied with life at Arsenal and concerned over his position in the Polish national team after failing to play a game since the depths of winter away at Southampton, when he was fined £20,000 for smoking in the shower block after a defeat. Arsene Wenger is reported to be one of the many suitors for Petr Cech this summer, and Szczesny’s lack of first team football could lead to peculiar transfer exchange.

Petr Cech joined Chelsea in 2004 and has won numerous honours, the best of which being three Premier League titles and the Champions League in 2012.

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The Premier League has confirmed it will use at least one fifth of the money it will receive from BskyB and BT to the benefit of English grassroots football.

The Premier League sold the television rights for over £5 billion, the largest amount ever in the UK, and almost double the previous deal. This latest agreement is due to come into force at the beginning of the 2016/17 season and will last for three years. £1 billion of that will be spread out across the English football pyramid and be used for initiatives from improving the facilities at lower league clubs, improving fan participation in the running of clubs and paying clubs staff more in wages.

The decision has been welcomed by most but it has also been pointed out that it will ultimately do little to address the disparity in English football, as well as assist those who work for football clubs but paid very little due to loopholes in the law.

Rhys Moore, of the Living Wage Foundation, is quoted by the BBC as saying:

“It is definitely a move in the right direction. However, the vast majority of low-paid work in the Premier League is with sub-contractors.”

Mr Moore singles out Chelsea for praise in regard to paying non-playing staff.

“This commitment doesn’t address that, which is why we think living wage accreditation is so important. The commitment Chelsea made to become the only accredited living wage employer in the Premier League goes so much further than this.”

Richard Scudamore, chief executive of the Premier League, described the arrangement as “demonstrating unprecedented levels of redistribution in world sport.” 

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