TIDYING UP ALL THE LOOSE STORIES IN FOOTBALL THIS WEEK
By Wayne Veysey and Greg Stobart
VIDIC WANTED NASTASIC AT MAN UTD
Matija Nastasic is likely to feature in Sunday’s Manchester derby, having established himself in the City side following his £12 million move from Fiorentina in August.
Yet the Serbian defender could well have been lining up for United had compatriot Nemanja Vidic successfully convinced Sir Alex Ferguson to sign the 19-year-old during the summer.
The Red Devils captain, who is still sidelined with a knee problem, is understood to have recommended Nastasic to United before he eventually joined City in a deal that saw Stefan Savic head to Serie A in exchange.
Nastasic has already emerged as Roberto Mancini’s first-choice partner for Vincent Kompany in the heart of the defence and has started seven Premier League fixtures.
His reading of the game and composed use of the ball has raised questions over the future of England centre-back Joleon Lescott, who has found his opportunities increasingly limited.
REINA STILL OPEN TO ARSENAL MOVE
Brendan Rodgers broke his no-speculation rule to try and flatten mounting rumours that Liverpool could offload goalkeeper Pepe Reina in the January window.
As revealed by Goal.com, Reina is top of Arsenal’s three-man shortlist to challenge current No.1 Wojciech Szczesny and the Londoners are ready to step up their interest in the Spaniard.
Although Rodgers praised Reina for proving his commitment to Liverpool’s cause by losing half a stone in weight and said “what is worth putting on record is that I’m not looking for another goalkeeper” and “any areas we will look to improve will be elsewhere”, that fails to take into account his keeper’s wishes.
Reina admitted in his recent autobiography that he asked three times for a move after becoming disillusioned under the ownership of Tom Hicks and George Gillett and claimed that he was only stopped from joining Arsenal in the summer of 2010 because Liverpool feared that it would send out the wrong signal to potential buyers.
“Arsenal had made their determination to sign me clear by offering £20m, a phenomenal amount for a goalkeeper,” the Spaniard wrote. “Part of me felt that I was well within my rights to consider my future even if I did so with a heavy heart.
“When Liverpool received the bid, they rejected it. This was not because I had been told that I was too good a keeper to leave. I was told that my continued presence was crucial to the sale of the club. I was simply a bargaining chip in the sales process.”
Liverpool are more settled under their second group of American owners but Reina, who has three years left on his contract, is believed to be open to a move to Arsenal in the forthcoming window.
With Arsene Wenger ready to sanction a bid, the question is whether Liverpool will stand in the Spaniard’s way once again, especially if they are confident that they have a replacement lined up.
PARDEW WOULD GET 12-MONTH PAY-OFF
A few eyebrows were raised when Newcastle announced in September that Alan Pardew and his coaching team had signed eight-year contracts.
In one regard, it was a sign of owner Mike Ashley’s commitment to the manager but The Sweeper understands that Newcastle will not be paying off all eight years of Pardew’s deal if he is sacked.
Far from it. It is believed that Pardew’s pay-off would amount to a year’s basic salary, although that sum would be diluted if Newcastle are not a Premier League club.
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