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Norwich season preview: If big money strikers fire, the top ten is in reach

Norwich’s ‘Super Seven’ summer signings can take them to the next level

Analysing the Transfer Gossip – 30th July: Modric, David Luiz, Suarez and more

Analysing the Transfer Gossip – 26th July Part Two: Suarez, Soldado, Lambert and more

Analysing the Transfer Gossip – 20th July Part Two: Fabregas, Higuain, Inler and more

Transfer Grades: Cavani, Giaccherini, Redmond, Poli and Ilicic

Transfer Grades: Thiago Alcantara, David Villa, Fer, Benatia and Schwarzer

Transfer Grades: Bony, Deulofeu, Olsson, Gayle and Toulalan

Analysing the Transfer Gossip 22/03

There’s always plenty of transfer talk throughout the season. So how much of it makes sense, and how much of it just rumour?

Italian league leaders Juventus could bid for Manchester United’s Mexico striker Javier Hernandez, 24, if they fail to sign Liverpool forward Luis Suarez, 26. Juventus are searching for a strike partner for Spaniard Fernando Llorente, 28, who is joining on a free transfer from Athletic Bilbao.


Full story: Daily Mail

What’s the story? Juventus, one of the surging teams on the European scene right now are looking in Man United’s bin? Hernandez doesn’t start for Man United because he has limitations in general play. He’s great at pinching goals in the box but Juventus are signing one of those, a superior one, in Llorente in the first place.
Does it make sense? They wouldn’t compliment each otherat all. They’re both out and out strikers which hardly anyone operates now, especially Juventus. So, no.
Is the price right? It’s hard to gauge Hernandez’s price. I’m not sure Ferguson would sell and therefore it would be too high for Juventus.
Will it happen? 0/10 – unless Juventus abandon the kind of rock solid, well thought out transfer policy that has seen them come back to prominence of course.

Brazil striker Hulk, 26, could finally join Chelsea this summer after growing tired of life in Russia playing for Zenit St Petersburg.


Full story: Metro

What’s the story? Hulk is struggling (has been exposed) in Russia. He’s done OK enough if he’d cost ten times less but we’re talking about a near £50m player who has got 3 league goals. He’s been racially abused and generally made unwelcome. Chelsea were linked when AVB turned up.
Does it make sense? No. Hulk was signed to show Zenit’s intent to impose themselves as a big European side. Why would they abandon that a year later? Hulk doesn’t compliment what Chelsea have now, let alone provide any upgrade.
Is the price right? He cost £50m in the summer. Why in the world would Chelsea pay anything like that?
Will it happen? 3/10 – I’ll never give a zero when it comes to Chelsea, you just can’t tell with them. See Messrs Shevchenko, Torres, Wright-Phillips, Crespo etc. etc.

Norwich City are close to agreeing an £8.5m deal to sign 24-year-old striker Ricky van Wolfswinkel from Sporting Lisbon.


Full Story: The Times

What’s the story? Norwich badly need some attacking threat and they tried to sign van Wolfswinkel in January. Sporting’s financial position has nosedived so they are looking to sell.
Does it make sense? I’m not convinced he’s the best way of spending £8.5m but he’d add the threat that the Canaries so desperately need.
Is the price right? I guess you have to pay what you have to pay but there must be better value around?
Will it happen? 10/10 – Sporting have released a statement pretty much saying it will

David De Gea says he will reject the interest of Real Madrid and Barcelona to stay at Manchester United.


Full story: the Sun

What’s the story? De Gea has only just won the United keeper jersey and is now apparently batting away Barcelona and Real?
Does it make sense? Well for one thing Barcelona have already picked their future keeper in Marc Ter-Stegen of Borussia Monchengladbach. Casillas still has a fair few years left in him yet.
Is the price right? United paid near enough £20m for De Gea to be their keeper for the next decade. So remind me why they’re selling him?
Will this happen? 0/10 – it’s just complete junk.

Chelsea are ready to offer £22m for Yaya Toure, 29, if the Manchester City midfielder decides to call time on his stay at the Etihad.


Full story: Metro

What’s the story?
Toure’s agent seems to be maneuvering for a pay rise and has threatened to leave if he doesn’t get it. Chelsea need midfield grit.
Does it make sense? Do I need to answer? City take below market value for a key player to a league rival? Really?
Is the price right? No, unless City fancy taking not only a loss but also less than it would cost to replace him
Will it happen? 2/10 – again, you can never tell with City and Chelsea so I can’t give it zero but come on…

Arsenal are considering a move for Sochaux’s 22-year-old right back Sebastien Corchia with Bacary Sagna expected to leave the Emirates Stadium in the summer.


Full Story: The Times

What’s the story? Sagna is going is he? OK, wouldn’t necessarily be the worst idea. Wenger loves his young French defenders.
Does it make sense? Sagna isn’t at the level he was two or three years ago so it makes sense to move on. Corchia is reasonably well regarded but is this taking them to the top 4?
Is the price right? I guess it depends how much they get for Sagna (where is he even moving to?) but Corchia wouldn’t be expensive.
Will it happen? 5/10 – Maybe.

Tottenham and Chelsea are set to fight it out over Southampton’s promising defender Luke Shaw, 17, who could cost as much as £16.5m.


Full story: Metro

What’s the story? Shaw is the latest wonder boy off the Southampton production line and his name is going to be in a lot of gossip columns this summer. Spurs and Chelsea could do with a long term plan at left back.
Does it make sense? This is an interesting one, something to have to think about! If Saints go down then it’s hard to see Shaw not going but if they stay up they seem to in a decent enough position financially that they really don’t need to be selling him off.
Is the price right? Again, an interesting figure quoted. Problem is, it’s more than Bale, Walcott or Oxlade-Chamberlain. But then, it does seem the right ball park for an English wonder boy. Intriguing.
Will it happen? 6/10 – fascinating if Southampton stay up. They’ve made the right noises about keeping him so far. If they go down he’s off.

By Law handball should be deliberate but in pratice it is stopping an opponent gaining advantage

According to the Official Laws of the Game, handball is only an offence if deliberate. FIFA give the example of when a player ‘deliberately handles the ball to prevent an opponent gaining an advantage‘. This and the player controlling the ball for his own advantage are the two most common occurrences of infringement.

The key word here is deliberate. The player has to deliberately handle to ball to prevent the opponent gaining advantage. Not accidentally. Even if he accidentally prevents the opponent from getting an advantage, it isn’t a foul according to the Laws. This is where the problem is being created. A lot of interpretations, both from referees and amongst commentators and pundits, ignore the word deliberate.


If you remove deliberate, handball becomes an offence ‘if the player handles the ball preventing an opponent from gaining an advantage’. This is how the law is being implemented by and large at the moment, and this is what is causing so much confusion. Some referees are sticking steadfast to the deliberate clause, and some aren’t. It’s likewise for pundits. The big problem with the ‘deliberate’ clause, is that judging it is an objective task for the referee.

A player could accidentally handle it with his arms in a dodgy position and they could equally deliberately sneak a handball in with their arms seemingly out of the way. We are often told to look for arms moving towards the ball as an indicator of a deliberate act but sometimes momentum can dictate that they do. This is a problem that regularly crops up and leads to referees also taking things like territorial considerations in to account. Sometimes, if a player handles the ball in and around the box, perhaps blocking a cross or through ball, it is presumed to be deliberate. A similar incident in a harmless area of the field often goes unpenalised.

The final consideration in this mix is that handball seems to be given almost exclusively against defending players. Surely it isn’t only defenders who are gaining an advantage from handling it?

This weekend’s games saw 3 accidental handballs punished in the Sunderland Norwich game and one flagrantly deliberate one unpunished at Wigan. Added to that, all 3 accidental ones were by players defending and the deliberate one by a player attacking. Even on top of that the 3 accidental handballs were all in or near the penalty area. Here is the crib sheet;

Mark Bunn – the Norwich keeper was racing out of his box with his arms by his side when Danny Graham poked the ball at him from about a yard away. Almost impossible to say it was deliberate but he did stop an opponent gaining an advantage. Red card.

Sebastien Bassong – a ball floated in to the box which the Norwich defender chested down, as it bounced up it brushed his arm which was out by his side to balance him as he stooped to chest the ball. He didn’t gain any advantage as he had already cut the ball out and could have no possible motivation to handle it. He didn’t even commit the sin of moving his hand towards the ball. Penalty.

Danny Rose – a cross is smashed at him from no more than 3 yards, Rose jumps straight up, facing the ball, with his arms clamped to his side. The ball brushed his hand. Not deliberate but in stopping the cross he gained advantage. Free kick despite ‘offence’ taking place in the box.

Maynor Figueroa – From a Wigan attacking corner Figueroa is the man at the near post. He jumps up with his arms extended above his head in an unnatural position. He punches the ball on which causes chaos in the Newcastle defence and Wigan score a winning goal, he clearly gained advantage from his action. No foul given.

Only the Figueora one wasn’t given, but it was the only one that should have been.

FIFA need to make a decision which path they want to go down. They either have to insist that handball is only ever given when demonstrably deliberate, which also then needs a rewording in the laws. Or, they drop the deliberate clause from the rule and just automatically give handball if it prevents the opponent from gaining advantage. Either way, it needs to be cleared up once and for all.

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