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Unread 03-02-2010, 10:00 AM
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Default Football transfer rumours: Football transfer rumours: Manchester City to sign Javi Martínez for £26m

Today's rumours reckon it's the worst film to be shortlisted for best picture since Crash. Hence, it will win

The Mill has been closely following the Chilcot inquiry, with a heavy heart – after all, the war it is examining has cost the nation billions of pounds and many fine people their lives – but also a sense of relief. After all, if Clare Short thought that Lord Goldsmith was "misleading", Tony Blair told "lies" and was left with the overall impression that she "was conned", it's probably just as well she doesn't read the Mill. We've happily printed all sorts of nonsense here, and though to the best of our knowledge we are yet to provoke a major international conflict, it's not something we could totally rule out.

Perhaps if somebody was willing to pay us enormous sums for simple speaking engagements we might have given up spewing out falsehood-packed dossiers and moved on, like our erstwhile prime minister. But until that day comes it looks like we'll be here, cherrypicking the information that suits us from all the available sources to put together something that supports our gossip-promoting agenda.

So here we go again, with more governmental hijinks coincidentally featuring on today's back pages after it emerged that, while Parma's Kenya midfielder McDonald Mariga waited to hear news of his ultimately unsuccessful work permit application after agreeing a move to Manchester City, his country's prime minister Raila Odinga called Gordon Brown in an effort to secure the deal.

"I would like to assure soccer fans and all Kenyans that, together with the British High Commissioner to Kenya, I have done what I could to get Mariga into Manchester City FC," he said. "I spent a minimum of three hours on phone talking to Gordon Brown's office, the Africa Office, Office of Culture and Sports, the Home Office, and to Mariga himself."

It didn't work, though, and Mariga signed for Internazionale instead. Incidentally, David Pleat, David Platt and Dave Bassett were all on the work permit panel on Monday. Whether anyone not called David was involved remains unclear.

City are getting over the disappointment the only way they know how, by lining up a massive summer move for Athletic Bilbao's Spain Under-21 captain Javi Martínez, who has a £26m buy-out clause in his contract.

Arsenal and Spurs are engaged in a tugof love over Serbian centre-half Stefan Savic, available for £2.25m from BSK Borca, although Tottenham probably shouldn't get their hopes up. "There were offers from Tottenham and Birmingham City, but once a call came from Arsenal I had no more doubts," the 19-year-old said. "A pre-contract will be signed on Thursday." Serbian defenders are clearly flavour of the week, and Portsmouth want one too in the shape of Dusko Tosic, a 25-year-old free agent who left Werder Bremen last month.

Roman Pavlyuchenko might be on his way out of Spurs despite the closure of our transfer window, with Russian clubs apparently allowed to sign players until mid-March and Lokomotiv Moscow still with a £9.6m bid on the table. Another player possibly leaving the Tottenham squad is Jonathan Woodgate, who might hang up his boots with Tottenham's medical staff "baffled" by his latest inury and "running out of ideas".

Barcelona continue to talk up the prospect of signing Cesc Fábregas. "Sooner or later Cesc will end up coming back," said their vice-president, Alfons Godall. Coming here from Spain, possibly, is Sergio Canales, the Racing Santander wonderkid, who Manchester United want to steal from under Real Madrid's noses.

Footballers' interiors update: Carlos Tevez has a copy of the famous "Welcome to Manchester" poster on his living-room wall. "Somebody bought it for me," he explains. "I'd never buy anything with my name or image on. It's not my style."

And finally, Chelsea, it transpires, are sufficiently dismayed at John Terry's behaviour that they are ready to take strong and savage sanctions against him. "If he needs a holiday I will give him one," said Carlo Ancelotti. A holiday, that is. We assume.

Simon Burnton

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