Liverpool set to beat Arsenal in race to sign Sahin

By Greg Stobart

Liverpool are set to beat competition from Arsenal in the pursuit of Real Madrid midfielder Nuri Sahin.

The Turkey international will put the finishing touches to a one-year loan deal once the Spanish champions have concluded the signing of Luka Modric from Tottenham.

Sahin, 23, has found regular first team opportunities hard to come by since moving to the Bernabeu from Borussia Dortmund last summer and had been keen on a loan move to Arsenal.

Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho, however, is keen for the player to continue his development under the tutelage of his former Chelsea colleague Brendan Rodgers, who took over at Anfield this summer.

Moreover, Mourinho had been reluctant to loan Sahin to a potential Champions League rival, while his long-standing feud with Arsene Wenger also played a part in his reluctance to send the player to north London.

Arsenal had identified the playmaker as the ideal candidate to cover for the absence of Jack Wilshere, who recently suffered another setback in his rehabilitation from a long-term injury, and bolster a midfield which looks likely to lose Alex Song to Barcelona.

Sahin, who has been sweet-talked into a move to Merseyside by former Anfield favourite Xabi Alonso, now looks set to become Liverpool’s third major signing of the summer.

Rodgers has already spent £15million in order to reinforce  his side’s central midfield with the addition of Joe Allen from Swansea and brought in Fabio Borini from Roma for £10m.

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Spain's television rights deal unfair, says Sevilla's Trochowski

Sevilla’s Piotr Trochowski believes that Barcelona and Real Madrid are too heavily favoured by the Liga television rights, claiming that it is difficult for other clubs to keep up financially.

Spain’s broadcasting revenue has been a controversial subject as there is no system of collective bargaining, with teams allowed to negotiate their own individual rights.

Barca and Real take home about half of the estimated €640 million pot between them, thanks to their ability to draw the biggest television audiences, with third-placed Valencia earning just over €40m.

Sevilla president Jose Maria del Nido has campaigned for a more equitable distribution of the television rights in the past, and now the club’s German midfielder has also chimed in on the debate.

“What the clubs find especially annoying is the distribution of TV money,” Trochowski explained to Kicker.

“Half of the money goes to Barca and Real and the remainder is divided up among the rest. How will we keep up with that?”

When asked to pick a winner for the Primera Division this season, however, the 28-year-old could not see past Barcelona claiming their first title under new coach Tito Vilanova.

“I am against both, but for me, Barca is stronger. Little has changed in the team and the new coach Vilanova was the assistant of [Pep] Guardiola. He knows the structures.”

JD's Betting Blog: A 20/1 Premier League tricast plus weekend tips

It was a glorious and enjoyable summer with Euro 2012 living up to its lofty expectations. It was a successful tournament from a betting perspective and my advised selection on Spain to lift the trophy came to fruition despite a wave of negativity in some quarters.

I will be here each week to offer my view and betting advice and make season 2012-13 a profitable one.

The English Premier League and La Liga kick off this weekend and I have already got my teeth into some Ante-post bets. offer a wide and varied selection of markets and some attractive prices.   

Ante-post tips

In England, expect a repeat of the titanic battle between the two Manchester clubs that we witnessed last season. It was a battle that was decided only in the last seconds of the season when Sergio Aguero scored the vital goal to land Manchester City their first title since 1968.  

With that success, comes greater expectation and pressure for Man City. They will be a huge scalp for every team they play, even more so than last season.
I will back Sir Alex Ferguson to regain the title for Manchester United and at 9/4 (3.25), which is the current top price available, they represent a solid price.

You can also bet without the two Manchester clubs and the market heavily favours Chelsea at 8/11 (1.73) with . They have invested heavily in the summer in much needed creativity but I don’t think all of these acquisitions will flourish in their first season at the club.

Question marks also remain about how they will cope without Didier Drogba and they have looked anything but convincing in pre-season.

Arsenal look a better bet at 5/2 (3.50) to win the Premier League without the Manchester clubs. The players they have brought in including Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla are mature and established and I am confident they will cope well even with the departure of Robin van Persie.

offer a tricast market where you can predict the top 3 this season.  Manchester United/ Manchester City/Arsenal as the top 3 is a whopping 20/1 (21.0) and worthy of a small bet.  

In the relegation market, Norwich could be vulnerable after losing manager Paul Lambert to Aston Villa. He led them to two successive promotions and they could be in for a long season. At 5/4 (2.25), it is a selection that won’t make you rich but it is difficult to see them maintaining the standards of last season.

In Spain, once again the two giants Real Madrid and Barcelona will lock horns. The outright market here does not offer a good return and the betting without the big two is the way to go. Valencia have spent the most in the summer and they mean business.

They consistently finish as the best of the rest in La Liga and can be backed at 9/4 (3.25) to do the same again.

I prefer Real Madrid to retain their title because they seem to find more scoring solutions particularly away from home but Barcelona can reign supreme in the Champions League and are an attractive 10/3 (4.33) to be champions of the continent.

Weekend tips

Looking ahead to the weekend, stakes should be kept to a minimum until form lines and trends are established.

I expect Manchester United to get off to a strong start against Everton who have a habit of starting slowly. Sir Alex Ferguson’s can be backed at 10/11 (1.91) with and it is about fair. I also like Atletico Madrid at 13/10 (2.30) to start with a win at Levante.

Diego Simeone has improved the team hugely since he took over and they have developed a real winning mentality. Levante have sold star striker Arouna Kone and may struggle for goals this season.

Selection One
Selection Two

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Cartoon of the Day: Van Persie & Modric break free at last to land their dream moves

Two of the longest-running transfer sagas of the transfer window look to set to reach their conclusion before Saturday’s Premier League kick-off, with Arsenal and Tottenham both accepting bids for Robin van Persie and Luka Modric respectively.

The Spurs midfielder’s move to Real Madrid has been touted since last summer, and the Croatian is believed to be jetting out to the Spanish capital on Thursday to complete his switch to Santiago Bernanbeu.

Yet Gunners fans will no doubt find their captain’s departure harder to swallow, particularly with the Dutchman joining fierce rivals Manchester United…

Van Persie & Modric break free to land their dream moves

Who will be 2012-13's Adrian, Isco & Muniain? The possible breakout stars of the new Liga season

By Ben Hayward | Spanish Football Writer

The time has come. La Liga gets underway once again on Saturday and it’s a new chance for all of the teams and players involved – an opportunity to be seized.

Barcelona and Real Madrid look set to fight it out for the title again, but the other 18 clubs will want to prove they can mix it with Spain’s top two, too. And there will be many players eager to make the coming campaign their breakthrough season in the Primera Division.

Here, looks at the possible standout stars in La Liga for 2012-13, the players set to take their game to another level and wow the watching world over the next nine months. Take a look – and have your say in the comments section below.

PACO ALCACER | Valencia, Striker, 18

Alcacer was touched by tragedy as he made his Valencia debut a year ago. After scoring in his first major match at Mestalla last summer, the 17-year-old striker left the ground with his parents – only to see his father collapse and die from a heart attack just outside the stadium.

A year on, Alcacer has been linked with a move away from Mestalla on loan, but the Spain Under-19 European champion has said he wants to stay at the club and new coach Mauricio Pellegrini recently revealed the youngster is part of his plans for the coming campaign.

The club, meanwhile, have rejected a string of offers for their prodigious forward and big things will be expected in 2012-13.

BENAT | Betis, Midfielder, 25

Benat Etxeberria was a surprise inclusion in Spain’s provisional list for Euro 2012 and impressed in the friendly matches ahead of the continental competition.

The Basque was ultimately left out as the Barcelona midfielders came back in after the Copa del Rey final, but he did enough to show he can be part of the international set-up in future and he will be a key player for Betis in their second season in the top flight this term.

Benat has been linked with a move to Athletic Bilbao as a possible replacement for Javi Martinez, if the latter leaves this window, but could attract even bigger sides next summer as he approaches his peak.

JOSE CAMPANA | Sevilla, Midfielder, 19

Another talent set to shine in Seville is Jose Campana. The young midfielder captained Spain’s Under-19 side to European Championship success earlier this summer and will now look to make his mark in the Primera Division.

Campana made 15 appearances last season, but is still learning the trade and coach Michel has asked for more from his young talent, who can operate in defence or in midfield but is at his best when spraying balls around the park in a creative capacity.

If he can add maturity to his game, the youngster could take La Liga by storm this season and eventually force his way into the senior Spain side. He has the talent.

GERARD DEULOFEU | Barcelona, Forward, 18

Deulofeu is the first La Masia graduate born after Barcelona’s European Cup success in 1992 to make his debut in the Catalan club’s senior side.

The 18-year-old played a sole match late last year for former coach Pep Guardiola, who admitted the young forward was not ready to step up to the first team. He is now though.

Another key member of Spain’s Under-19 triumph in July, Deulofeu has looked bright in pre-season for Tito Vilanova’s side and scored in the new coach’s first match in charge – a 2-1 win over Hamburg. Now the stage is set and he looks to be Barcelona’s most exciting young talent for some time. Which is saying something.

ANTOINE GRIEZMANN | Real Sociedad, Forward, 21

Still only 21, Griezmann has made a name for himself in La Liga already. However, the French flier is set for a new role at Real Sociedad next term as he adopts the position of playmaker in chief at the San Sebastian side. And the result could be devastating.

Griezmann has attracted interest from all over Europe with his impressive displays in the north of Spain, but will remain part of what looks a very competitive Sociedad side in 2012-13 and his precocious talent looks set to flourish even more at Anoeta this term.

With the Frenchman firing, expect the Basques to be challenging nearer the top of the table than the bottom in the coming campaign.

RAPHAEL VARANE | Real Madrid, Defender, 19

Varane has been compared to former France defender Laurent Blanc and ex-Madrid man Fernando Hierro. Many observers, however, believe he will be better than both.

Manchester United were keen on signing Varane from Lens last summer, but Madrid sent Zinedine Zidane on a charm offensive to the Ligue 1 outfit and the awe-struck defender duly chose the Spanish side.

Expected to play only a minimal part in his debut season, Varane made a creditable 15 appearances for Jose Mourinho’s side and has now become the club’s third-choice centre-back, behind Pepe and Sergio Ramos. But it won’t be long before he’s an automatic starter and when he does get in, he will surely stay in the side for as long as he wants. Following a promising debut, this season looks set to be his breakthrough campaign at the Bernabeu.

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