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CITY MAKE TORRES NO.1 TARGET

Manchester City are willing to pay any price to sign Liverpool striker, Fernando Torres.

Torres’s future at Anfield remains shrouded in uncertainty with Christian Purslow, the club’s managing director, holding extensive talks with the 26-year-old striker and the manager, Roy Hodgson, but conceding he can do no more to convince the striker to stay.

Chelsea and Barcelona have been linked with the former Atlético Madrid captain but may struggle to meet Liverpool’s £70m valuation.

City’s hopes of signing Torres were believed to have ended when they failed to qualify for the Champions League last season but Mancini, who is also interested in Mario Balotelli of Internazionale and Wolfsburg’s Edin Dzeko, insists the prospect of Torres making a sensational switch from Anfield to Eastlands is not over and is willing to better the £32.5m record fee City spent to sign Robinho from Real Madrid.

The City manager, who has taken his summer spending to £78m with the £18.9m arrival of Aleksandar Kolarov from Lazio, said: “Torres is one of the best strikers in Europe and is already playing in the Premier League for three years and knows it very well. But it depends on his situation – his price and whether he wants to come.

“There are two or three strikers that we could go for, but it is the same situation as it is with James Milner. First there is the price and then it depends if the players want to change team. Until today, Liverpool haven’t bought many players.”

City officials have indicated the club has more chance of signing Balotelli and Dzeko than Torres, with the lack of Champions League football on offer still a determining factor despite their ability to fund a deal and to offer players £200,000-a-week.

The Spanish striker has stressed that money will not be the over-riding motivation as he considers his future at Liverpool this summer but, nevertheless, confirmation of City’s interest will further unsettle Anfield officials as they attempt to persuade their prized asset to stay.

Torres is settled in Liverpool but disillusioned with the club’s failure to secure new investment having been told a takeover was imminent when he signed a new four-year contract worth £110,000-a-week last August. His insistence that Liverpool require “four or five” top-class signings to compete for honours next season is unlikely to materialise and Purslow has spent several days attempting to pacify the striker.

Hodgson confirmed at the weekend: “I made it clear from my point of view that I’m really looking forward to working with him and I believe he’s a key, key figure at the club. I obviously want him to be a part of the team we’re trying to build here and I can only hope he’ll buy into what the club is offering him. I don’t think there are any worries with him in terms of me personally or what we’re doing. I think the concerns go back once again to the time before I came to the club.”

CLUBS NAME 25 MAN SQUAD

English Premier League clubs have named their 25-man squads for the new season. Manchester United have included injury-plagued midfielder Owen Hargreaves, while striker Roque Santa Cruz makes Manchester City’s roster.

Stoke have omitted forward Mamady Sidibe, who snapped an Achilles tendon.

Arsenal have not listed any Englishmen but Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere are among the English under-21 contingent.

Michael Kightly has also been left out of Wolves’ squad for the first half of the season because of knee problems. Santa Cruz figures in City manager Roberto Mancini’s 25-man Premier League squad, despite much speculation that the Paraguayan striker would not.

Santa Cruz joins up with Mario Balotelli, Carlos Tevez, Emmanuel Adebayor and Jo in a fearsome array of firepower which will be at Mancini’s disposal.

The new Premier League rule required clubs to name a squad of 25 senior players by 1700 BST, 1 September, with only players under the age of 21 allowed to supplement that line-up until January.

The Premier League says the new rules are designed to increase the number of young “home-grown” players in the Premier League, with a long-term aim of giving more options to the England manager.

HIDDINK COMMITTED TO TURKEY

Guus Hiddink has said that he will not be joining Chelsea and will be staying loyal to Turkey. Hiddink is contracted to Turkey until the end of Euro 2012 but could leave this autumn if they fail to qualify.

“He is focusing on his job and he likes what he is doing,” said Cees van Nieuwenhuizen.

“Once [Turkey’s European Championships campaign] is finished, he will start thinking about his future.”

On Sunday, Chelsea sacked Carlo Ancelotti after he ended his second season at the club without a trophy.

They finished as runners-up in the Premier League after Manchester United clinched their 19th title, lost to United in the Champions League quarter-finals, and also missed out in the FA Cup and League Cup.

BOLTON AND BLACKPOOL DRAW

Bolton managed to to come from two goals behind to draw with Blackpool. Defender Ian Evatt headed the visitors ahead in the first half from a precise Elliot Grandin corner.

Luke Varney headed another Grandin corner into the Bolton net to make it 2-0 just before the hour.

But Martin Petrov pulled one back with a delightful volley and Mark Davies rescued the home side with a calm side-foot finish a minute from time.

Before the match, Blackpool manager Ian Holloway had spoken of his admiration for Owen Coyle, who has turned Bolton into attack-minded entertainers this season.

Indeed, with 26 goals from 14 matches, Wanderers came into the game unbeaten in November and with a goal tally bettered by only four Premier League sides.

HOULLIER RELIEF AT WIN

Gerard Houllier has said that he is relieved to win the match against West Brom in the Barclays Premier league. Villa’s sorry 3-0 defeat at Houllier’s former club Liverpool had raised questions, but the French boss felt his players responded well to adversity.

“I was pleased with the attitude. When you go through a bad patch, you need to keep cool and more focused,” he said.

“The feeling is one of relief. I was proud of the response of the players.”

Goals in each half from Stewart Downing and the fit-again Emile Heskey, both from Marc Albrighton crosses, ensured that former Wigan star Paul Scharner’s late header counted for nothing as the impressive visitors pushed the hosts hard at Villa Park.

WENGER WORKING WITH A BUDGET

Arsene Wenger says that he respects Arsenal’s budget constraints in the English Premier league. Arsenal’s manager, Arsene Wenger has stated that he would have to remain inside the budget allotted to him, for the winter transfer window.

Although, Wenger is not known to be a big spender in any Football transfer window and for him to say that he would respect the budget, would mean, no signings this winter.

Wenger is the manager known for signing young players, who show some sort of talent, in leagues all around the world. However, Arsenal has not won a single trophy for the past five years and the manager’s transfer policy has been criticized owing to that.

WELLINGTON JOINS LEVANTE

Arsenal striker Wellington has joined Spanish side Levante on loan. Wellington, 18, joined Arsenal from Brazilian side Fluminense earlier this month in a deal worth around £3.5m.

But the striker’s application for a work permit was turned down leaving Arsenal little option but to loan him. Napoli had the same problems.

“Levante have reached agreement on principle with Arsenal for the loan of their player Wellington Alves da Silva,” Levante said on their website.

Diego Cavalieri is also tipped to join Levante.

MUNTARI JOINS SUNDERLAND

Inter Milan’s Sulley Muntari has signed for Sunderland on loan till the end of the season. Muntari, 26, played for Portsmouth in the Premier League during the 2007-08 season before moving to Inter.

The Ghana international won the treble of the Italian Serie A, Coppa Italia and Champions League under ex-Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho last season.

But he has struggled to secure first-team football at the San Siro since then and handed in a transfer request.

JONES SIGNS EXTENSION

Blackburn Rovers player Phil Jones has signed an extension to his existing contract. Currently injured, the 18-year-old England Under-21 international agreed a one-year extension on Tuesday.

“This is great news, especially on the back of so many other key players committing themselves to the club,” said Rovers manager Steve Kean.

“Phil has made incredible progress and his form, prior to his unfortunate injury, attracted a lot of attention.”

CLUBS HIT 700 MARK

Seven clubs have hit the 700 mark having now played their 700th Premier League matches. Arsenal, Aston Villa, Chelsea, Everton, Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur have featured in all 19 Premier League campaigns since its inception in the 1992/93 season.

Everton and Manchester United became the first clubs to hit the 700 mark when they met in Saturday’s early kick-off at Goodison Park. They marked the milestone in style with a pulsating 3-3 draw which encapsulated all that is good about the Barclays Premier League. To mark the occasion 7 Everton fans were given season-long Everton Hospitality packages.

They were quickly followed to the landmark by Arsenal who beat Bolton Wanderers 4-1, Chelsea who won 3-1 at West Ham United and Spurs who drew 1-1 at West Bromwich Albion. The following day Liverpool drew 0-0 at Birmingham City and Villa made it to 700 at Stoke City losing 2-1 on Monday night.