Lambert heaps praise on Benteke

Neymar has revealed that Santos have offered him a new contract

in a bid to ward off interest in him from Europe.

The Brazilian star has been linked with Barcelona, Real Madrid,

Manchester City and Chelsea, among others, but his current club do

not think that his departure is definite.

“Santos have now offered us a deal for him to renew his

contract, but we will have to wait and talk to them,” Neymar’s

father and agent explained at the Laureus World Sports Awards in

Brazil.

While speculation continues unabated about a move to Europe,

Neymar intends to see out his current deal, at least, with

Santos.

His father, also called Neymar, said: “It is very difficult to

see him leaving before 2013 although we will have to think about

what is best for him.”

The former England goalkeeper made 19 appearances for the League

One club since arriving from Bristol City in September last

year.

The 42-year-old, who played his last game for the Cherries in a

3-1 defeat at Walsall in mid-January, has found it difficult to

force his way back into manager Eddie Howe’s first-team plans.

James started out at Watford in 1988 and during a career

spanning 25 years played for Liverpool, Aston Villa, West Ham,

Manchester City and Portsmouth.

He made his debut for England in a friendly against Mexico in

1997 and won a total of 53 caps for his country.

James, awarded an MBE in 2012, was recently linked with a move

to Iceland club IBV.

Ginczek is currently on-loan at St Pauli in the German Second

Division from German champions Dortmund.

The German Under-21 international striker has impressed with 12

goals in Bundesliga Zwei and his form has caught the attention of a

number of clubs – one of which is reportedly West Ham.

21-year-old Ginczek, who has also spent time on loan at Bochum,

is yet to play for Borussia’s first team and his agent Bjorn Etzel

confirmed that his future was not decided.

“Dortmund don’t know what they want to do yet,” he told Sky

Sports.

“We will wait until later in March or even April, and then

Dortmund will decide what will happen.”

On West Ham’s interest, Etzel said: “I only really know what I

have read and seen in the press about West Ham watching him – I was

at the last game too, but I did not speak to them or see them.”

As most of the debate around Sir Alex Ferguson’s team selection

for last week’s controversial Champions League defeat by Real

Madrid centred around Wayne Rooney’s omission, what a significant

day it was for Welbeck was overlooked.

United’s goalscorer in the first leg, and preferred ahead of

England’s talisman in the second, Welbeck has made giant strides

over the past month, proving that not all his best performances

have been reserved for the international stage.

Yet Robson accepts the 22-year-old still has work to do.

After all, that header in the Bernabeu remains one of only two

goals for Welbeck this season.

That is fewer than Rafael, Jonny Evans and Patrice Evra, let

alone top-scorer Robin van Persie, Javier Hernandez and Rooney, the

latter two heading for the 20-goal barrier their Dutch team-mate

has long since crashed through.

And that is the area Robson believes Welbeck must improve if

present progress is to continue.

Speaking at the launch of the ‘Legends are Back’ game between

Manchester United and Real Madrid, which will take place at Old

Trafford on June 2, Robson said: “A few of the younger lads have

progressed really well this season.

“But it was a measure of how well Danny has come on that the

boss put him in the team ahead of Wayne Rooney last week.

“That was such a big decision but Danny has all the attributes

you need, apart from being a natural finisher.

“The good thing about it is that is an area you can work on and

improve. And I know Danny will do that because he is a keen lad

with such a great mentality towards the game.”

As England’s top scorer in 2012 and one of five players

nominated for Three Lions’ player of the year, Welbeck, to an

extent, left Rooney in the shade last year.

Not in terms of personality, though.

As the foremost player of his generation, Rooney has been the

centre of attention, for good and bad, for over a decade now.

So Robson was not in the least bit surprised that there should

be so much talk about the 27-year-old being left out by Ferguson

last week, nor that the extension of that chatter should focus on

whether Rooney had a future at Old Trafford.

Yet Robson claimed Ferguson had previous form for the kind of

marking job the Scot asked Welbeck to do on Xabi Alonso last week,

for he got Brian McClair to carry out a very similar task on Ronald

Koeman in the 1991 Cup Winners’ Cup triumph over Barcelona in

Rotterdam.

“The boss had not spoken about it at all until the team talk

before the game, when he told Brian what he wanted,” said

Robson.

“He was our centre-forward, but he had to do it.

“We went on to win the game and the boss was proved correct.

“It was the same with Danny. It was a tactical decision, that is

all. At big clubs they happen all the time and players have to

abide by them.

“I realise the suggestion afterwards is that the boss has run

out of patience with Wayne but I don’t think that is the case at

all.

“Purely and simply, he was trying to find the best way of

getting into the next round and, but for one decision by the

referee, I am sure it would have worked.”

Prince Edward, the Queen’s cousin, was given a guided tour of

the Millers’ new home by honorary ambassador Howard Webb and

chairman Tony Stewart before he unveiled a commemorative

plaque.

Stewart, who funded much of the ?20million project himself,

revelled in the royal’s visit.

“Rotherham United Football Club were visited by the Duke of Kent

who looked and listened whilst being shown around the stadium by a

host of people connected with the events here.

“He showed a great interest as he was told about the activities

that take place here in the heart of Rotherham, and over the time

he was here, he got the message that this is more than a football

stadium.

“This is a venue to benefit all the areas of Rotherham, young

and old, this is a stadium for the people.”

The Millers moved into the 12,000-seater stadium in the summer

after spending four years at Sheffield’s doomed Don Valley Stadium

following their move from Millmoor.

Benteke, an ?8million summer signing from Genk, chalked up his

16th goal of the campaign during the weekend win at Reading to lift

Villa out of the Premier League bottom three.

The last Villa player to reach the 20-goal mark was Juan Pablo

Angel during the 2003-04 season and Benteke has nine games

remaining in which to reach that milestone.

Lambert said: “If he gets 20 goals, then he’s doing something

good for us.

“The big guy, over the course of the whole season, has been

excellent for someone just 22 years of age,

“I don’t need to say much to Christian. He is a young guy still

learning but his performances have been exceptional.

“He has been massive to us and also scores goals for a very

talented Belgium side.

“For his age, he has played so many big games already,

internationals, and it looks like Belgium will qualify for the

World Cup.

“The lad knows big-time football but whatever you can do to help

him, then you will speak to him.”

If successful, Benteke would become only the eighth Villa player

since their First Division title winning season in 1980-81 to reach

the 20-goal mark.

Peter Withe achieved it three times in four seasons between 1980

and 1984 and strike partner Gary Shaw managed the same feat twice

in the same period.

Simon Stainrod (1985-86) and Alan McInally (1988-89) were

followed by two players who twice struck 20 goals in former England

skipper David Platt (1989-90, 1990-91) and Dwight Yorke (1995-96,

1996-97).

Colombian international Angel clocked up 23 goals during

2003-04.

Another Villa striker in record-signing Darren Bent is stepping

up his attempts to return to fitness after an ankle problem.

Lambert said: “Darren is doing all right but is not quite ready.

He is doing a bit of running which is better than he has been for

the last few weeks.

“We will see how he is this week with his rehab.”