Thursday 3 July ~
In the recent past Kevin Keegan has indicated, whether intentionally or not, that he has no control over Newcastle's transfer policy which now seems to be determined by a team of consultants who report to supreme commander Dennis Wise. So Keegan's declarations of excitement at his club's signing of Argentinian striker Jonas Gutierrez – “He will be a terrific addition!” – might be viewed with some scepticism. The transfer will be the subject of arbitration from FIFA as Mallorca are demanding compensation on top of the proposed fee, on the basis that the player still had two years of his contract left. Of more interest is the fact that Gutierrez puts on a Spiderman mask when he scores, while pretending to shoots webs from his fingers.
The mask gimmick – both cheaper and safer than turning into the Human Torch – has become increasingly popular with players in Latin America in recent years. There has also been a precedent in the Premier League, Gutierrez's compatriot Facundo Sava having run around in a black Zorro mask on the rare occasions that he managed to score in his two seasons at Fulham. It could be the most gormless thing ever, or it might be great – it's such a fine line. We may never have to decide, however, as Gutierrez only scored five goals in 96 games for Mallorca and didn't get any in 30 matches last season. Stranger still, he only ever scored one first-team goal in four seasons in his domestic league before moving to Spain. But he has recently been capped by Argentina so he must at least be good at holding the ball up.
Meanwhile Mark Hughes has made it clear that he welcomes Man City's purchase of Brazilian Jo for £19 million – which does seem rather a lot to play for a player with one international cap, even allowing for the funds being made available by owner Thaksin Shinawatra. At Blackburn, Hughes says: “There was a type certain of player it was not feasible for us to pursue, but that's not the case here at City.”
Jo was recently on holiday with the other Brazilian City are interested in, Ronaldinho, who is said to be holding out for £175,000 a week, while still hoping for a call from Chelsea. “He may feel this is a different challenge for him,” says Hughes, although Ronaldinho's current physical condition – he was photographed displaying a sizeable beergut last week – doesn't give the impression of someone who is looking to be challenged. If City are going to sign Ronaldinho he will have to get working with the medicine ball soon given that there is only a month to go before the start of the season – although they ought to be be able to manage without him for their July UEFA Cup tie, against EB/Streymur of the Faroe Islands.