Novak scare

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Buy, buy or bye bye

TRANSFER DEADLINE DAY

Lyon's Alexandre Lacazette

With the transfer window about to close, the big boys have less than 24 hours to conclude their business.

The stakes have never been higher. Three games, three wins, Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United are making this season's title race impossible to predict.

Even if they do not go shopping, their rivals must to stay alive in the fight.

Our writer looks at what could happen among the leading contenders on Deadline Day.

ARSENAL

What a difference a week makes. Before the weekend, Gunners fans were calling for both a spending spree and Arsene Wenger's head.

The win at Watford bought time but today should also confirm the signings of Deportivo striker Lucas Perez and centre back Shkodran Mustafi from Valencia.

The moves should calm those baying for blood, but may not fully settle nerves.

One of the strangest deals of the day could still involve the Gunners.

Jack Wilshere's stalled career has undoubtedly suffered from too many injuries, but when he's fully fit and available - a rarity, admittedly - he joins a small category of highly influential English midfielders.

And yet, he is set to head out on loan today.

Granit Xhaka was signed earlier in the summer, but if Wilshere joins Mikel Arteta, Tomas Rosicky and Mathieu Flamini in leaving the club, then Arsenal are suddenly light in the one area where they previously enjoyed an array of midfield choices.

If Calum Chambers joins Middlesbrough on loan, as expected, then questions will again be asked of Wenger. The promising centre back joined from Southampton only two years ago and, in that time, Arsenal failed to harness his potential.

Moreover, Perez's tendency to drift left could force an over-reliance on Olivier Giroud, unless Wenger makes a late grab for a second striker.

Lyon's Alexandre Lacazette has popped up on the radar, but the French forward has also been linked with West Ham for a huge fee.

CHELSEA

Antonio Conte knows he's rather fortunate to still be on a winning streak.

Chelsea's first two games required late winners and Diego Costa was lucky to stay on the pitch.

Eden Hazard's dramatic redemption has obscured the Blues' reliance on both the Belgian and Costa for goals.

Michy Batshuayi is already on board, but the 22-year-old is still settling.

Conte favours a front two and may be tempted to have a dramatic crack at Juventus' Mario Mandzukic, the kind of conventional, reliable hitman that the Italian covets.

But the Blues' overriding deficiencies are defensive.

Italy's unlikely run at Euro 2016 was built on a meticulously drilled defence, which Chelsea clearly lack.

Age goes against John Terry. Consistency occasionally goes against Gary Cahill.

Conte loves Italian defenders and speculation surrounds AC Milan's Alessio Romagnoli, but the 21-year-old comes with a colossal price tag.

As a guaranteed quick-fix, Juventus' Giorgio Chiellini (above), the Mafioso of man-marking, would fit hand in glove with his former club and country mentor.

LEICESTER CITY

The Foxes, waving their golden ticket in the air like a giddy, young Charlie on his way to the chocolate factory, can do no wrong.

Just yesterday, fans were heard on British radio station TalkSport saying they'd be content with a top-10 finish.

The ins and outs of the transfer window do not appear to faze them either way, which is such a shame as Claudio Ranieri has conducted decent business.

Five signings bolstered the ranks, but Nampalys Mendy and Ahmed Musa in particular look astute additions.

Keeping everyone in the camp - bar the departed N'Golo Kante of course - will be Ranieri's greatest achievement today.

And yet, the Italian is still hoping to throw down his final hand and reveal a pair from Sporting Lisbon.

Adrien Silva, a peripheral member of Portugal's Euro 2016-winning squad, could strengthen central midfield after Kante's departure.

Islam Slimani (above), an experienced Algerian striker, should join Musa in alleviating Jamie Vardy's burden.

Last season, Vardy had noble attacking support, but it was very much Cliff Richard and the Shadows rather than The Beatles.

If Slimani jumps on the title-winning bandwagon, Leonardo Ulloa might be shuffled along to make room.

LIVERPOOL

For half an hour against Arsenal, Juergen Klopp was no longer a manager, but a tactical god, the man with the plan, the coach who could do no wrong.

Two weeks and two worrying performances against Burnley and Tottenham later and Liverpool supporters are close to pulling back the curtain and discovering not a wizard, but a man frantically trying to pull Daniel Sturridge's levers.

Sadio Mane and Georginio Wijnaldum are early pluses and Joel Matip is settling alongside Dejan Lovren, but Liverpool still conceded six goals in three games.

Klopp inherited Brendan Rodgers' brittle back four and must be tempted to buy a Band-Aid before the transfer window closes.

James Milner is going way beyond the call of duty as an emergency left back and deserves a reprieve.

PSV Eindhoven's Jetro Willems (above), a promising 22-year-old who made his international debut with Holland at 18, could do the job.

MANCHESTER UNITED

To all intents and purposes, Jose Mourinho's work is done. He likes to conclude his shopping stints early.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Eric Bailly, Henrik Mkhitaryan and Paul Pogba represent four outstanding, clinical signings, square pegs for square holes, the Mourinho way.

Chris Smalling's gradual return from injury brings stability, which may dissuade Mourinho from going poaching for Southampton's Jose Fonte (above).

But if the United manager considers Daley Blind an unreliable back-up option, particularly when he knows his owners are currently spending cash faster the Kardashians, then there may be a temptation to grab Fonte.

MANCHESTER CITY

Ironically, the biggest deal of the day could have conceivably the least impact on the English Premier League.

Torino's bizarre attempt to sign Joe Hart on loan seems ridiculous as the Italians could barely cover a third of the goalkeeper's wages.

But Hart (above) faces an immediate dilemma - insane salary or regular selection?

He can't have both.

Pep Guardiola considers the Englishman his third-choice goalkeeper and Three Lions manager Sam Allardyce insists that his players must be performing regularly for their clubs.

So far, only Torino and Sunderland have declared an interest in Hart's services.

Clubs are hardly clamouring for his signature. By the end of today, England's No. 1 goalkeeper really could end up at a Serie A club that finished 12th last season.

TOTTENHAM

With the usual, repetitive hullabaloo at Arsenal, their North London neighbours went about their shopping quietly and sensibly.

Victor Wanyama's (above) dependable, physical presence alongside Eric Dier already makes him a reliable midfield asset, while Vincent Janssen offers timely support as Harry Kane's post-Euro 2016 hangover continues.

A lack of width in their first three games, however, makes Georges-Kevin Nkoudou an obvious target.

The French winger is expected to sign on the dotted line today.

Unlike their rivals, Spurs have no obvious weaknesses, but the squad have a "jack of all trades" feel and not enough masters.

A lacklustre start to the season may tempt Mauricio Pochettino back into the market, but masters are hard to come by on deadline day.

PHOTOS: AFP, REUTERS

Messi's comeback delayed

Argentina's star man's return from retirement scuppered by injury

RECORD-BREAKER? Lionel Messi's (above) international retirement reversal means he could aim to overhaul Javier Zanetti (143 appearances) as Argentina's most-capped player. Messi is on 113 caps.
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Grandeslam winner

US singer Ariana Grande reminded us why she's at the top of her game at Sunday's MTV Video Music Awards

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Love to follow Azinger's lead

US Ryder Cup captain to take a leaf out of 2008 skipper in his wildcard picks

We need to give these guys a feeling of security. If Patrick Reed says, 'I want you to pick this guy, I want to play with him, we won't lose a match', then we're going to take that into account. — United States Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III (above) on relying on the input of the automatic qualifiers for his wildcard selections
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Hamilton: Alonso could quit

A big loss for motor racing if Spaniard retires next year

You can't let someone as gifted as he is to stop driving because he's so far back and because he won't get another chance to win. It wouldn't be right. — Hamilton (left) on Alonso (right)
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Man on trial for kidnapping Sheng Siong boss' mum

VICTIM: Madam Ng Lye Poh.

Sales executive Lee Sze Yong, 44, who allegedly hatched the plan to kidnap the mother of Sheng Siong supermarket boss Lim Hock Chee in 2014, went on trial yesterday in the High Court.

His accomplice, Heng Chen Boon, 51, was sentenced to three years' jail last year after pleading guilty to a reduced charge of helping Lee abduct Madam Ng Lye Poh.

He was released from prison earlier this year and is lined up to testify as a prosecution witness.

Lee still faces the kidnapping charge. If convicted, he faces the death penalty or life imprisonment with caning.


ON TRIAL: Lee Sze Yong faces a kidnapping charge. PHOTO: LIANHE WANBAO FILE

He allegedly abducted Madam Ng at Hougang Avenue 2 on Jan 8, 2014, with the intent to hold her for a ransom of $20 million.

Madam Ng's son testified in court that he did not initially think that the call from Lee informing him his mother had been kidnapped was genuine.

"I thought it was not real, because there were many telephone scams at the time," Mr Lim said.

The Sheng Siong boss managed to negotiate the $20m demanded down to $2 million.


Sheng Siong supermarket boss Lim Hock Chee. PHOTO: THE STRAITS TIMES

He said Lee did not want to wait until the next day for him to raise $20 million, as the diabetic Madam Ng was due for an insulin jab.

"I knew she needed (an injection) and wanted her to go home," Lee said in a statement to the police after his arrest.

Lee claimed he was $200,000 in debt and was "very stressed" when he hatched the scheme.

He had approached Madam Ng and lied that her son had suffered a fall in the office and that he would take her to see him.

She got into Lee's car and was blindfolded.

The then 79-year-old was freed unhurt after her son dropped off the $2 million ransom at Sembawang Park.

It was Singapore's first kidnap-for-ransom case in over a decade.

Madam Ng, now 81, is also expected to testify.

- The Straits Times

Silat champion Sheik Farhan wins BH achiever award

SHINING EXAMPLES: Mr Sheik Farhan Sheik Alau’ddin was presented with the Berita Harian Young Achiever Award for his achievements in silat, while Senior Assistant Commissioner Zuraidah Abdullah received the Berita Harian Achiever of the Year award.

At just 17 years old, he followed his father's footsteps by becoming silat world champion in his weight class last year.

After winning the gold medal in the Class J (90-95kg) category at the 2015 World Pencak Silat Championship, Sheik Farhan Sheik Alau'ddin felt on top of the world.

He was, however, brought down to earth later in the year when he had to settle for just a bronze medal at the 2015 Southeast Asia Games (SEA Games).

Sheik Farhan said: "At that moment, I felt like what I had trained for had gone to waste."

But he bounced back by clinching gold medals in three other competitions - the Three Nations Championship last October, the 2016 National Pencak Silat Championship and the Asian Pencak Silat Championship this year.

For his achievements, Sheik Farhan won the Berita Harian Young Achiever Award yesterday, which is given to inspiring young Malay/Muslim Singaporeans aged 30 and below. .

Berita Harian editor Mohd Saat Abdul Rahman said: "This award is aimed at motivating young Malay/Muslims who have shown the potential to achieve greater heights.

"We hope this award will spur Sheik Farhan to continue to work hard and pursue his dreams and, while doing so, inspire other young Malay/Muslims to achieve their goals."

Despite being the son of pencak silat legend Sheik Alau'ddin Yacoob Marican, who won two world titles in the early 90s, Sheik Farhan said he has felt little pressure.

"When I compete, I don't think of what others expect of me, but rather what I expect of myself, which is nothing less than a first (place)," he told The New Paper.

His family members - his siblings are also silat exponents - were supportive after his SEA Games semi-final loss.

"After my loss, we started looking for silver linings," he said.

"They told me that I had won against a very strong opponent in the quarter-finals, and that I was not competing in my weight class (Class J, 90-95kg)."

He was initially not selected for the SEA Games because there was no Class J category, but was later drafted in to replace the injured Shakir Juanda in Class H (80-85kg).

Sheik Alau'ddin, 49, told TNP that he was overjoyed by his son's world title.

"Like all fathers, I felt great and overwhelmed by his win," he said.

"Because I was a world champion, an elite coach, and one who leads pencak silat in Singapore, people expect my kids to follow in my footsteps and win all the time.

NEXT GOAL

"I would want them to do better than me. I pulled my kids to pencak silat so it's my responsibility that they do well in the sport," he said.

Sheik Farhan had set his sights on his next goals - victories at the Asian Beach Games and this year's World Pencak Silat Championship.

Meanwhile, the Berita Harian Achiever of the Year award was presented to Senior Assistant Commissioner (SAC) Zuraidah Abdullah, 54, for her leadership in serving the nation, and her dedication in helping the underprivileged Muslim community.

SAC Zuraidah said: "I hope these achievements will inspire the younger generation. If they work hard, if they put their mind to it, anything is possible. Don't be bogged down by gender or race. Instead, focus on what exactly you want to achieve, and work hard for it."


We hope this award will spur Sheik Farhan to continue to work hard and pursue his dreams.

- Berita Harian editor Mohd Saat Abdul Rahman

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