Friday, 23 November 2012

Didier to Return Home

Didier Drogba could be in for a shock return to Chelsea after the striker revealed that he is seeking a loan move to prepare for the Africa Cup of Nations, which starts in January.

Drogba, whose last act in a Blues shirt was to score the winning penalty in the Champions League final against Bayern Munich back in May, is under contract at Shanghai Shenhua.

However, now the Chinese season is over, he wants a loan move to maintain his fitness.

With the Cup of Nations in South Africa on the horizon, these next two months are crucial for Drogba if Ivory Coast are to mount a serious challenge on the title. He needs games and, if FIFA give him clearance to move outside the transfer window, Drogba could soon be on the plane to London.

Indeed, the chances of a return to Stamford Bridge must be high with the news that Rafael Benitez has taken charge of the European champions.

Benitez has few attacking options with Fernando Torres out of form and Daniel Sturridge injured, and so Drogba would be the perfect signing to stop the gap until January.

And, although many pundits offering Premier league betting tips will see Drogba’s arrival as a challenge to Torres’ development – much like last season – most Blues fans would welcome their legend back with open arms.

Now out of the Champions League and slightly off pace of the Premier League leaders, Chelsea need a boost and Drogba’s arrival would do far more good than any tactical tinkering Benitez can enact before January.

A loan move back to Chelsea would be best for both camps, as Benitez has nothing to lose in re-signing a striker of such pedigree while Drogba can gain his fitness from the fastest league on the planet ahead of a gruelling Cup of Nations campaign later this winter.

Friday, 16 November 2012

World Cup 2018 already Faces Budgetary Issues

The Russian Football Union (RFU) is potentially facing strong international criticism after it was revealed that one of the stadiums planned to host the 2018 World Cup has run massively over budget, as the nation prepares its infrastructure for the welcoming of the world.

The New Zenit Stadium in St Petersburg is a state-of-the-art arena that was a central pillar to Russia’s bid to host the World Cup, and is currently under construction. However, its proposed 2013 opening date is under threat, after it was revealed the stadium’s budget has spiralled to over 500 per cent the original estimate.

Zenit St Petersburg, the club side who will soon call the stadium home, will play in an arena costing a reported $1.4bn – much more expensive than the initial estimate $210 million estimate.

To make matters worse, the 65,000 capacity stadium will be the most expensive per seat in the world and could seriously discourage FIFA from investing money into Russian infrastructure ahead of their World Cup.

Indeed, there is serious concern from pundits giving football betting tips that the Russian tournament’s cost could spiral out of control, with South Africa’s 2010 World Cup a clear example of mismanagement of funds.

Although the South African tournament was a fantastic fans’ experience, the £3bn cost was way above budget and FIFA faced huge criticism for the crisis.

The 2018 World Cup is already a major public relations disaster for FIFA after the vast majority of the media looked sceptically on its bidding process that also saw Qatar win the rights to host in 2022; further criticism will arise as more of these financial mismanagement stories spill out from within the RFU.

If Russia is to maintain any credibility with this tournament, the RFU must keep track of its budget and not overspend as they have in St Petersburg. If so, the fan experience will be diminished as ticket prices rise to cover the cost.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Wenger Urges Gunners Board to Settle Walcott Situation

Arsenal boss, Arsene Wenger, has urged the Gunners’ board to give into Theo Walcott’s contract demands before he is free to talk to other clubs.

The winger’s current deal at the Emirates Stadium expires at the end of the season, meaning that he will be allowed to sign a pre-contract agreement with anyone he wants and may leave North London for free.

Websites offering Premier League predictions will tell you that the Gunners were in a similar situation earlier this year with skipper, Robin van Persie, and they eventually allowed the Dutchman to join rivals, Manchester United, to ensure they made a profit on the player.

It previously appeared as if Walcott was set to extend his stay at the club, but he is still to reach an agreement with the board and chief executive, Ivan Gazidis, who has recently criticised the 23-year-old’s wage demands.

Another request that the England international has made is that he gets to play in his preferred position as a main striker, and he impressed in a rare outing in that role during his side’s Capital One Cup win at Reading on Tuesday.

Wenger has since hinted to the betting news that he could have his wish granted in the coming months and has urged the board to settle the player’s future.

"There is urgency. I want it resolved by Christmas. At the moment, I think we will still manage to make a deal with him,” the Frenchman said. 

"I always said it is important that he plays in the right position, and that certainly would be through the middle in the future; he showed that again on Tuesday night.

"He loves to score goals, Theo. He has good pace, makes excellent, intelligent runs, and what has changed with Theo is that he's become a very good finisher."