World Football Quotes of the Week: Angel Di Maria Takes a Swipe at Spurs
There might not be much football going on at the moment, but there's certainly plenty of talking.
With the domestic season wrapped up, clubs are putting their affairs in order ahead of 2014/15. This week, there have been a series of managerial appointments, as well as the usual raft of transfer speculation.
The World Cup is also on the agenda, with Mario Balotelli joining the chorus of pundits writing off England's chances in Brazil.
Over the coming slides, we bring you the most pertinent quotes of the week in football, starting with Angel Di Maria's brutal swipe at Tottenham.
Angel Di Maria Swipes at Spurs
Angel Di Maria does not sound keen on the prospect of a move to Tottenham.
The Argentina winger reacted with disdain after being linked with a move to North London. Di Maria told Marca (h/t The Independent):
It hurts when you’re always doing your best for your club and then you hear that you might be going to Tottenham
I spoke with the manager last summer. I wanted to stay and he wanted me to stay as well. He told me that he counted on me and it was up to me from then on.
Perhaps something has been lost in translation—or perhaps the prospect of joining Spurs really does leave Di Maria in pain.
Joey Barton's Sexist Jibe
Joey Barton was a guest on the BBC's political panel show Question Time this weekend. He caused widespread offence after making a sexist comment during a discussion about election votes. The Guardian reported:
The QPR and former England midfielder said the options available to the electorate in last week's polls were like a choice "between four really ugly girls". He was seeking to clarify why he had earlier described Ukip as the "best of a bad bunch".
Barton's "ugly girls" comments were greeted by groans from the audience and were challenged by his fellow panellist, Ukip's newly elected MEP for North West England, Louise Bours. "What an offensive thing to say," she said, accusing Barton of being a typical footballer by thinking with his feet.
In an attempt to apologise, Barton later cited nerves, claiming his brains were in his feet. He certainly put his foot in his mouth this time.
Celtic Enter Talks with Roy Keane
We have got a number of, what we think are excellent candidates. Roy is one of them, and we'll see what happens in the next week or two.
Roy has played here, he's a Celtic supporter, he's a first-class guy and like the others are - like I say we've got between five and 10 - a lot of great candidates and we'll just wait and see.
Keane's return to football management would be sure to make headlines in England, Scotland, Ireland and beyond.
Arsene Wenger Looks Forward to New Era
Talking to Arsenal.com, Wenger insisted he was confident of leading the club in to a period of renewed success:
It's time for another great Arsenal team [to emerge]. It's the start of a new team and I believe [the FA Cup] victory was crucial in that belief. We have shown signs the whole season that we can be a great side and now it's [important] of course to have another successful season.
Arsenal fans will hope that retaining the manager and entering a new era are not mutually exclusive.
Mario Balotelli Dismisses England
No-one really fancies England to achieve much in the forthcoming World Cup—least of all Italy striker Mario Balotelli. Balotelli told The Daily Mail (h/t SkySports);
I don't look at England as a team that can win the World Cup. They have some good players, but they are no real rivals for Italy.
I am not saying that Italy are favourites, but we have the mentality and experienced players to surprise people. I don't think England have that.
With the two sides due to meet in Brazil, Roy Hodgson might choose to pin Balotelli's comments to the dressing room wall instead of giving his customary team talk.
Daniel Levy Backs Mauricio Pochettino
Tottenham Hotspur have a new manager.
We narrowed it down to five candidates, though it was a very hard decision.
But Mauricio came out on top. He came across incredibly well.
He was extremely dignified. Now the hard work starts. We have all got to work together and make the club a better club.
If Pochettino is to succeed at Spurs, Levy will need to show more patience than he has done with other managers.
Yaya Toure Flirts with PSG
The week after declaring his unhappiness at Manchester City after not receiving enough attention on his birthday, Yaya Toure has begun flirting with other clubs.
Interviewed by France Football (h/t SkySports), Toure said of French giants Paris Saint-Germain:
Considering the objectives in Paris, how could you not be attracted by such a club?
PSG has become one (of the) strongholds in Europe. It would be an honour to be part of such a club one day. If I could help...
It sounds as if Toure could be tempted to switch to Paris. Perhaps he's heard they serve fabulous birthday cakes.
Bacary Sagna Bids Farewell to Arsenal
Bacary Sagna has finally let the cat out of the bag: he is leaving Arsenal.
With his contract about to expire, Sagna has confirmed that discussions over a possible renewal have reached an impasse. He told L'Equipe (h/t The Guardian):
It’s not longer a secret, I will leave Arsenal for sure. They [Arsenal] tried to make an effort but the discussions have not gone as I wished.
There is no ideal end but it was a dream to finish like that, at Wembley, with the cup.
It was an honour to wear the shirt.
Arsenal fans were honoured to have him. However, a rumoured move to rivals Manchester City would be a black mark against Sagna's otherwise revered name.
Phil Jagielka Irritated by John Terry Talk
It's difficult. I can't say I particularly like to hear it.
I understand why I do [hear it]. Obviously Gaz [Gary Cahill] and JT play together at Chelsea, they play in the Champions League and were contenders to win the Premier League.
Jagielka feels the England defence has suffered undue scrutiny:
I was asked the other day, that while our attack looks good, would our defence be OK. I felt like laughing
Our defensive record in the qualifiers was pretty decent, but I can't stop what people are going to ask. I stop, smile and get on with it.
It's clear the Everton man is confident in his ability. The true litmus test will arrive later this month, when England travel to Brazil to compete on the grand stage.