Premier League week 2: Arsenal, Aston Villa, Birmingham City and Blackburn Rovers
Arsene Wenger, the manager, looks set to strengthen his defence by signing his French compatriot Sebastien Squillaci from Sevilla. The Spanish club confirmed an offer had been received for the centre-half on their website yesterday. Squillaci, a 30-year-old France international, asked to be left out of Sevilla's Champions League play-off against Braga on Wednesday to avoid being cup-tied. Arsenal have been dealt a fresh injury blow with the news promising midfielder Emmanuel Frimpong, 18, will be out for the best part of the season after tearing knee ligaments.
After leaving Manchester City, Stephen Ireland strode into Villa Park this week, and announced that he wants to achieve "something massive" with his new club. It was the usual sort of fare a new signing comes out with, but Ireland, like the rest of his new teammates, is still in the dark over who will have their hand on the tiller at Villa. Martin Jol, the Ajax manager, ruled himself out of filling the vacancy left by Martin O'Neill's departure last week, while Kevin MacDonald, who presided over their 3-0 opening day win over West Ham United, continues in his role as caretaker.
St Andrews could have been the next destination for Ryan Babel, the Liverpool misfit, but Birmingham now appear to have lost out to the German side Wolfsburg in the race to sign him. The Dutch winger became an Anfield outcast towards the end of Rafael Benitez's reign, and Roy Hodgson, the new Liverpool manager, appears happy to let him leave. Alex McLeish was reportedly interested in taking the speedy Babel to the Midlands, but he now looks set to join the Bundesliga club, who are now managed by Steve McClaren, the former England coach.
Rovers fans have dared to dream of a return to the glory days of Sir Jack Walker's ownership this week, thanks to the excitement generated by news of Ahsan Ali Syed's imminent take-over. Should the deal come to pass, the Indian businessman, who is based in Bahrain, has promised Sam Allardyce, the manager, a substantial transfer war chest. Among his grand plans for the Lancashire club is the aim of raising their profile in the Middle East, which would easily follow should he deliver on his intention of bringing David Beckham to Ewood Park. Meanwhile, Ivelin Popov, Litex Lovech's Bulgarian striker, has agreed a move to Ewood Park.
Published: August 20, 2010 04:00 AM