Chris Sutton says Chelsea should consider a move for Celtic defender Virgil van Dijk if they fail in their pursuit of Everton’s John Stones.The Dutch international has been heavily linked with a move to the Premier League this summer, with Southampton and Everton both keen on the 24-year-old.But Sutton, who spent six years at Celtic after a one-year spell at Stamford Bridge, thinks Van Dijk should also be on Chelsea’s radar.Jose Mourinho wants a new centre-back and has set his sights on £40million-rated Stones, but Sutton insists Van Dijk is on a par with the Everton youngster.Speaking to the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast Show, Sutton said: “I think he’ll be taking the Premier League by storm in the next month or two.“This boy Van Dijk for me is every bit as good as Stones. They’re talking about £10m for him which is absolute rubbish.“I can understand that because he plays in the Scottish league and that might go against him but it doesn’t matter what league they’re playing in, it’s all about the quality of the individual.”
Alex Song West Ham co-owner David Sullivan says a deal has been agreed to sign Alex Song from Barcelona, if the midfielder can pass a medical.The 27-year-old Cameroon international spent last season on loan with the Hammers and impressed sufficiently to earn a permanent move and a three-year contract, as long as the former Arsenal midfielder can prove his fitness.Speaking to the KUMB (Knees Up Mother Brown) Podcast, Sullivan said: “We have a deal in place with Alex Song subject to a medical. If the medical is okay, we’ll take him.“He’s a player we all admire and we just hope that the medical shows he’s in a sufficient state for us to gamble.“He couldn’t physically pass a medical tomorrow, but if the medics say it’s just a technical thing and he’s only a couple of weeks away you’d take that gamble and hope they’re right.“He’s still got two years left on his Barcelona contract and you’re signing a player on a three-year contract, so it’s a huge commitment. He’s a big earner, Alex.“He’s injured at the moment, which is something you’ve got to weight up. But we’ve got until September 1st to make a decision.”Song starred for West Ham in the first part of last season but his form faded like the team’s.Sullivan added: “On his pre-Christmas form he was possibly the best player we’ve ever signed. But after Christmas he was just another player.“Maybe there’s reasons for that and maybe we’ll see the true Alex Song and maybe he’ll make a huge contribution this year.“We’d like another senior pro in that position.” 1
Wayne Rooney England captain Wayne Rooney insists he will never retire from international football.Rooney has another chance to rewrite the history books on Tuesday when Wembley hosts England’s latest Euro 2016 qualifier against Switzerland.The England skipper equalled Sir Bobby Charlton’s scoring record with his 49th goal against San Marino on Saturday and given that he has scored nine in his last 11 games for England, there is a good chance he will bring up his 50 against the Swiss.Eleven years after he opened his England scoring account with a strike against Macedonia, Rooney still has just as much enthusiasm about playing for his country.And for that reason, he does not have any plans when it comes to ending his England career – he will leave that to someone else.“I won’t be one to say I’m not available for selection,” the Manchester United forward said.“I’m sure it’ll probably be the manager’s choice more than mine. It’s a huge honour to play for England.”With England now qualified for Euro 2016, Rooney will feature for the Three Lions at his sixth major tournament next summer although there is no reason to believe he will carry on playing beyond the World Cup that follows in Russia two years later.He said: “I feel I’m capable of going to Russia. After that, it may be a realistic time to see how I feel and if I feel it’s not right for England or myself, I’ll have a decision to make.“Or the manager would have a decision to make. If I feel I can carry on, I’ll try. But if the manager says he doesn’t feel I’m in his plans for the next tournament, it’s probably better I don’t play in the qualifying games because I won’t be going to the tournament.”Rooney’s wife Coleen travelled to Serravalle to watch her husband play 58 minutes of the 6-0 win and the couple’s five-year-old son Kai was there too.The latter will not be there on Tuesday – and neither will Charlton – but the tape of the former Everton striker breaking the record will be watched again and again over the coming years in the Rooney household regardless of where it happens.“My eldest lad Kai is starting to get into football a lot and he is wanting to go to a lot of games. Unfortunately he can’t go (tonight) because of school,” Rooney said.“It would mean a lot to them, to my wife and my parents and for my children when they have grown up to see my achievements.”A point will be enough for England to win the group with two matches to spare.Michael Carrick pulled out of the squad on Monday with a calf problem.England manager Roy Hodgson said: ”We don’t believe it’s that serious. It’s quite strange. It came out of nowhere, almost.”It was at the start of a warm-up in San Marino. He felt something very, very small, very, very slight.”He had a preliminary type of scan with our doctors and they decided there’s something there.” 1
Brendan Rodgers and Steven Gerrard Steven Gerrard believes Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers would be the ideal successor to Roy Hodgson as England boss.The former Reds captain says Rodgers’ style of play and man-management skills would be suited to international football and thinks Rodgers could replace Hogdson when his current deal runs out after Euro 2016. “Obviously when Roy’s had his time… Brendan Rodgers,” Gerrard told the Daily Mail.“The way he plays would suit England. He would improve the possession football you need at international level. His man management is brilliant. At tournaments, in the heat, it is absolute torture and we need to keep the ball better.“If you want someone who would get the team playing and the players would enjoy working with, it would be Brendan.“Look, I can’t find any mistakes with Roy. He’s always been very good to me and is the right man to be the England manager now. I hope he has a very good European Championship and stays as long as possible but will be judged on what happens in the finals — he knows that himself.“If it doesn’t go well I’m sure there will be changes, maybe then or whenever Roy’s time’s over Brendan can be in the mix — but who am I?” 1
Mark Saggers was joined in the studio by the Racing Post’s Mark Langdon and the Telegraph’s Jim White to preview the return of the Premier League.Among things discussed were Tim Sherwood’s situation at Aston Villa and Jurgen Klopp’s first game as Liverpool manager.
Defenders Vincent Kompany and Aleksandar Kolarov are both fit for Manchester City’s Champions League clash with Sevilla at the Etihad Stadium.Captain Kompany has overcome a calf injury – and could have featured against Bournemouth last weekend, manager Manuel Pellegrini has confirmed – while left-back Kolarov has recovered from a hamstring problem.Playmaker Samir Nasri is unlikely to be available because of a hamstring injury, joining the likes of Sergio Aguero, David Silva, Gael Clichy and Fabian Delph on the sidelines.Provisional squad: Hart, Caballero, Zabaleta, Sagna, Kompany, Mangala, Demichelis, Otamendi, Maffeo, Kolarov, Toure, Fernando, Fernandinho, De Bruyne, Navas, Sterling, Barker, Evans, Glendon, Bony, Ambrose. 1 Vincent Kompany and Aleksandar Kolarov
1 Man United v Man City is live on talkSPORT at 2pm on Sunday 25 October.Chris Smalling has had a good season so far.The man fans have christened ‘Mike’ after a slip of the tongue from manager Louis van Gaal has gone from a figure of fun to a mainstay in the United defence.And Van Gaal thinks 25-year-old Smalling has the potential to lead the team when current captain Wayne Rooney and vice skipper Michael Carrick are gone.Here, talkSPORT looks at what fans think about the idea of ‘captain Mike’. Chris Smalling to captain Man United in the future?
Thibaut Courtois is back in the Chelsea starting XI for Saturday’s Premier League visit of Bournemouth.The Belgian goalkeeper has been sidelined since the start of September with a knee injury picked up on international duty.But, having returned to training earlier this month, he has now been brought back into the team, with Asmir Begovic dropping to the bench.Diego Costa is on the bench for Chelsea for the second successive game.Costa was dropped for last weekend’s goalless draw with Tottenham and made his frustrations clear, throwing a bib at boss Jose Mourinho during the game.Mourinho denied any problems existed with the striker ahead of the clash with Bournemouth but has decided to leave him out again, with Eden Hazard operating as a striker.Bournemouth, meanwhile, have recalled Artur Boruc to their starting line-up.The goalkeeper comes in for Adam Federici, who suffered an injury during last weekend’s draw with Everton.Sylvain Distin misses out for the Cherries through illness, but Harry Arter is fit enough to start after overcoming a hamstring injury.Chelsea team:Courtois; Ivanovic (c), Zouma, Cahill, Baba; Fabregas, Matic; Willian, Oscar, Pedro; Hazard. Subs: Begovic, Azpilicueta, Mikel, Loftus-Cheek, Traore, Remy, Costa.Bournemouth team: Boruc, Daniels, Cook, Francis, Smith, Arter, Gosling, Surman, Ritchie, Stanislas, King. Subs: Allsop, Cargill, Butcher, O’Kane, Kermorgant, Murray, Rantie 1 Thibaut Courtois
1 Crystal Palace are interested in Fiorentina striker Khouma Babacar, claim reports in Italy.The Eagles were in the running to sign Simone Zaza from Juventus, but are now well down the pecking order in the race to land the in-demand striker.And, according to Sky Italia, Palace have instead made initial contact with Fiorentina over Babacar’s availability this month.Alan Pardew has made a striker his top priority during this transfer window and the south London club are prepared to shell out around £9m for the 22-year-old.The Senegal international has scored six goals in 14 appearances this season for the Italian club but reports are suggesting he has become unsettled in Florence and would be open to a move to the Premier League. Khouma Babacar
1 Everton manager Roberto Martinez has come to the defence of John Stones after the England youngster faced a fan backlash for his performance against Swansea on Sunday.The Three Lions defender has impressed with his natural ball playing ability in recent seasons, but was criticised after his sloppy backpass led to the Swans’ opening goal in a 2-1 victory at Goodison Park.It was the latest in a string of bad results for the Toffees, as they drop into the bottom half of the table after a run of just one win from their last ten Premier League games.Martinez has often excused his side’s performances on the basis his young team still have plenty to learn, and he has no doubts Stones, in particular, will prove his critics wrong in the long run.“John is 21 and has played 68 games in the Premier League. I would never judge a player until he plays 100 starts in any league,” he added.“John is the first one to know when he plays well and plays badly. You have to learn from those situations.“Some of his performances this season have been magnificent. Is he the finished article? Clearly not because he is 21 and has played only 68 games.“Whatever the judgement and criticism from outside we accept it but I think John Stones is in the perfect environment to fulfil his potential and become one of the greatest players England has ever seen.”Martinez was speaking ahead of Wednesday’s League Cup semi-final second leg against Manchester City, with Everton taking a slender 2-1 advantage to the Etihad Stadium .A Merseyside derby final with Liverpool – if the Reds beat Stoke on Tuesday night – could be on the cards with a victory, and Martinez is confident his young side have what it take to secure their place at Wembley, despite their recent struggles in the league.“You want every player to show the mentality of being ready and that the team can rely on that individual and every player has to have that mentality,” the manager added.“Disappointments are painful at the moment because results have not been fair in reflecting the efforts and football we have played.“Psychologically you have to go through experiences in order to create that resilience to create that winning mentality.“When things are going well they [younger players] will get a lot of attention, but in the same way when results are not going well they have to get used to that scrutiny.“I never manage in a blame culture, I manage in an aspirational manner.“There are situations you need that [psychological] support but at the moment I wouldn’t say that is needed in this team.“Getting a big achievement and reach something quite special could help to that positive outlook in our games.“It will be an enormous landmark for the club if we can reach the final of the League Cup.“I don’t think we have anything to lose. Everyone expects Man City to win and to get into the final.” Everton defender John Stones