Press Watch: O'Neill moves to the top of FA's wish list to replace Eriksson

Beckham spurns Chelsea by pledging future to Real Madrid

Martin O'Neill could become the next England manager rather than take over at Liverpool or Manchester United when he leaves Celtic.

Speculation surrounding the Ulsterman's next job had centred on one of England's top clubs, but the People says the FA are wary of choosing the wrong man if Sven Goran Eriksson quits after Euro 2004.

They fear their favoured overseas candidates, the German Ottmar Hitzfeld and the Italians Marcello Lippi and Fabio Capello, would need time to settle into the English game - time they cannot spare with World Cup qualifiers coming up in the autumn. Therefore, the paper claims, O'Neill has soared to the top of the FA's wanted list, ahead even of the Middlesbrough manager and sometime England assistant, Steve McClaren. Eriksson, meanwhile, continues to be linked with Chelsea and Real Madrid.

The News Of The World splashes with a denial from David Beckham that he is bound for Chelsea or any other English club, the England captain insisting he is happy with Real Madrid, on and off the field. The same paper carries another denial, from the Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein, that the Gunners would bow to pressure from Barcelona to sell Thierry Henry. Dein also says Arsenal have no interest in the Barcelona striker Patrick Kluivert, who is on offer for a cut-price £1.1m but would apparently demand a £5m-a-year salary.

While the News Of The World says Sir Alex Ferguson blames the former Manchester United chief executive Peter Kenyon for the failure to sign Ronaldinho last summer, the Mail On Sunday says Sir Bobby Robson is preparing a bid to persuade the Brazilian to leave Barcelona for Newcastle.

The Sunday Express endorses the News Of The World's Beckham story and says the former Manchester United star could be reunited with Rio Ferdinand after the defender's suspension is completed, suggesting that Real Madrid have joined Chelsea in the hunt for the England centre-back.

Manchester United have their eyes on the Barcelona centre-back Carlos Puyol, according to the Sunday Mirror, which also claims United have had a bid of £24m plus Diego Forlan for Fernando Torres rejected by Atletico Madrid, who are said to want a straight £30m for the striker. The Express says Chelsea pulled out of an £18m move for Torres while the Mail On Sunday reckons Damien Duff will be tempted to leave Chelsea for United this summer.

Middlesbrough could lose up to six members of their first-team squad in the summer, the News Of The World warns. It says Joseph-Desiré Job and Doriva, both out of contract in the summer, are being courted by Spanish clubs and Boudewijn Zenden also fancies a return to Spain.

The Mirror says Joe Cole is about to return to West Ham on loan, while the News Of The World says the Benfica defender Miguel will be Paul Sturrock's first signing at Southampton.

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