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Tottenham Hotspur have addressed their concern at striker - ish. Spurs have confirmed the signing of former Manchester United forward Louis Saha from Everton for an undisclosed (although presumably very low) fee. Saha, made completely redundant by the Toffees' purchase of Nikica Jelavic, is out of contract at the end of the season and there's no news on him signing a new deal, so the hope for his new team would be that he's not any worse than Roman Pavlyuchenko, who's expected to leave for Russia fairly shortly.
Whether Saha is still a Premier League player is an open question, but this looks like the acquisition of a warm body more than an impact buy. Emmanuel Adebayor is their number one guy, and if they have to play Saha as a centre forward for an extended period of time, Tottenham are only a little bit less screwed than they would have been if they'd gone on an extended run of Pavlyuchenko. I supposed there's the off chance that he miraculously improves at White Hart Lane, but don't count on it.
The semi-protracted Bobby Zamora transfer saga was finally concluded minutes before the end of Tuesday's transfer deadline, with the striker making the short move from Fulham to Queens Park Rangers, joining Mark Hughes's revolution at Loftus Road. Zamora, who had apparently been reluctant to sign with QPR without receiving a significant increase in his weekly wages, finally managed to work out a deal with his new club and has been introduced as a member of the Hoops.
With Fulham having signed striker Pavel Pogrebnyak from Stuttgart, they were willing to give up the England international, who had spent much of the season feuding with new manager Martin Jol. Zamora has had flashes of brilliance over recent years, but he's been something of a disappointment this season. Hughes will be hoping he and new striker partner Djibril Cisse can form a potent enough attack to see QPR clear of any threat of relegation.
Manchester City have completed the signing of Roma midfield David Pizarro on loan until the end of the season, adding the potential of deploying some creative flair to the centre of the pitch. With the Premier League leaders sometimes overly reliant on David Silva's trickery out wide and Yaya Toure's driving runs in the centre of the pitch, they could use someone like Pizarro, and they got him with minimal effort.
Bizarrely, City's own website seems to think the little Chilean is a holding midfielder rather than a deep creator:
Holding midfielder Pizzaro has made only seven appearances for Roma this season but clearly falls into the Patrick Vieira category for the Blues boss' title push.
Viera's only a foot taller than Pizarro, but they also spelled their own player's name wrong in that release, so I guess I shouldn't have been expecting too much. Anyway, it's a good pickup for City, who despite a loss to Everton today still look like favourites to lift the title this season.
Sunderland continue their talent raid - they've now acquired towering Greek defender Sotirios Kyrgiakos from Wolfsburg on loan until the end of the season. Kyrgiakos, who's had spells with Glasgow Rangers and Liverpool, hasn't featured much for the Bundesliga side this campaign, but with Sunderland in need of some defensive help Martin O'Neill was more than happy to bring him in for the rest of the year:
Sotirios offers a real physical presence, coupled with a wealth of experience, which will be an undoubted benefit to us in the next few months. I'm delighted to welcome him to the club and I'm sure he is looking forward to the challenge of returning to the Premier League.
This is something of a desperation move for the Black Cats, but when most of your defence is down injured for extended periods of time, it makes perfect sense to bring in the likes of Wayne Bridge and Kyrgiakos on loan. There's hardly any risk, and they'll do a reasonable job.
For more on Sunderland, check out Roker Report.
The London striker carousel is still in motion. Queens Park Rangers may have confirmed the Djibril Cisse signing, but they're still int he hunt for Bobby Zamora, and their quest to land the Fulham striker has just been made easier by the Cottagers' signing of Pavel Pogrebnyak from Bundesliga side Stuttgart. Pogrebnyak, who's passed a medical and have been granted a work permit, is set to be officially unveiled before the end of the window, and the acquisition of the Russia international frees up Fulham to ditch the out-of-favour Zamora, who's apparently keen to link up with former boss Mark Hughes.
At this point, the main barrier to the Zamora deal's completion is the former Tottenham Hotspur player's wages - his demands have been reported at between £60,000 and £90,000, each a significant raise over the £45,000 per week he's receiving at Fulham. However, considering the friction between him and Martin Jol, it'd be a surprise if he and QPR couldn't come to an arrangement.
For more on Fulham, check out Cottagers Confidential.
Freshly returned to the Premier League, Queens Park Rangers are determined to stay there. Currently sitting in 16th position, just two points above the relegation zone, QPR have stormed transfer deadline day, believing they can stay away from the Championship by securing what those in the know love to call "proven talent." First up? French international Djibril Cisse.
The striker lasted just half a season with Lazio, where he landed after a spell at Panathinaikos. Fellow summer signing Miroslav Klose far outshone Cisse, who scored just one goal in 18 appearances for the Italian side. Edy Reja prefers a single striker these days, leaving little room for Cisse, although he has said the forward will score "10-15 goals in England."
Not sure if Reja means in this half of the season, or in the entirety of Cisse's time in England. In 2008-2009, the striker did manage 10 goals for Sunderland, which must be what QPR are banking on. He has signed a two and a half year contract with the London club.
Bolton have a reputation for being wizards in the loan market, helping both themselves and their parent clubs with great deals, with England internationals Jack Wilshere and Daniel Sturridge both owing at least part of their current status to Owen Coyle's finishing school after hugely successful loans spells at the Reebok. However, loans are still hit and miss, no matter how good the club is at them, and with Bolton in real danger of being relegated there's a good chance that Miyaichi is passed over in favour of the club's veteran talents.
Tottenham Hotspur's Vedran Corluka has joined Bundesliga club Bayer Leverkusen on loan for the rest of the season, according to the team's official site. The fullback, 25, has seen his time with Spurs steadily diminish since he played in 41 games during the 2008/09 season, and he's made just seven appearances this year thanks to injuries and the emergence of young England international Kyle Walker at right back as a superior option, which is a bit of a damning indictment of Corluka's abilities.
With Corluka needing playing time and not finding any at Tottenham, it comes as no surprise that he's moving on. The Croatian will presumably be auditioning for a full-time move somewhere, if not necessarily with Leverkusen, and although it's unlikely that he'll be getting a starting spot with the German club, he'll still probably have more opportunity to impress there than he would have had he stayed at White Hart Lane.
For more on Tottenham, check out Cartilage Free Captain.
Liam Ridgewell's been pining for a return to the Premier League since last summer, and the Birmingham City defender appears to have finally received his wish with his club agreeing a fee with West Bromwich Albion that will send the defender to the Hawthorns. The Baggies had already seen one offer rejected by the Championship club and although things looked touch and go for a little while everything is now settled and Ridgewell is in the process of agreeing personal terms with his new side.
Ridgewell, 27, appeared in almost eighty league games with Aston Villa before famously switching allegiances in the contentious rivalry between Villa and Birmingham City. Now he's adding a third rival to the mix with the WBA swap - we can probably assume that a move to Wolves is somewhere in his future. Roy Hodgson will presumably use Ridgewell in his natural position as a central defender, but he might also be able to unseat Nicky Shorey at left back. The terms of the deal are unconfirmed.
Bridge hasn't played since a loan spell at West Ham United during the latter stages of the 2010/11 season, but he should add another option for Martin O'Neill at left back, and as long as City are playing the bulk of his wages won't be too expensive an addition. No, this move isn't going to set the world on fire, but it's a solid one nonetheless for the Black Cats.
Wantaway Fulham striker Bobby Zamora has been given an opportunity to leave the club but stay in the neighbourhood. With Zamora reportedly at odds with Fulham manager Martin Jol, Queens Park Rangers have scented blood, and are apparently very keen on luring the former Tottenham Hotspur man to Loftus Road. At this point, the major stumbling block appears to be the 31-year-old's wage demands - he's asking £90,000 per week to move to the Premier League stragglers.
Zamora would cap a huge rebuilding effort at QPR and become the fifth major new acquisition after Taye Taiwo, Nedum Onuoha, Samba Diakite and Djibril Cisse, although Cisse is yet to be confirmed, and that sort of talent should be enough to steer them away from what would otherwise be a very worrying relegation battle. It remains to be seen if the two sides can come together, although Fulham's interest in Stuttgart's Pavel Pogrebnyak indicates that the Cottagers are getting ready to move on.
For more on Fulham, check out Cottagers Confidential.
Tottenham Hotspur have reportedly sealed a deal to bring Louis Saha to White Hart Lane. Spurs have been looking for a striker for something like the last ten seasons, and despite the presence of Emmanuel Adebayor on loan from Manchester City it was clear that they needed reinforcements up front this window as well. Enter former Manchester United man Louis Saha, who's been with Everton since 2008.
Saha is indeed a striker - and once upon a time he was quite a good one, routinely ending up in double figures for goals scored. Unfortunately for Tottenham, he's also injury prone, 33 years old and on a terrible run of form, making this deal somewhat baffling from their perspective. Spurs should have been in the market for an elite attacker - while the crew of Jermain Defoe and Roman Pavlyuchenko may not have been good enough, it's difficult to see how Saha makes them any better. None of that's stopping Tottenham, who've already finalised a loan deal for an undisclosed sum. Right then.
Kevin de Bruyne has made his move from Racing Genk to Chelsea complete, signing a five and a half year contract that will keep him at Stamford Bridge through 2017. The 20-year-old completed the deal on Monday when he passed a medical in London, putting the wraps on a €8 million deal that could reach as much as €9.6 million if certain escalators are met. As part of the deal, de Bruyne will be loaned back to Genk for the remainder of the season and will join up with his new club in the summer.
With de Bruyne in tow, Chelsea now have him, Daniel Sturridge and Juan Mata as part of their young nucleus of attackers. They're still linked to Lucas Moura too as the club looks to turn their aging squad into a younger, more potent team.
As highly touted as de Bruyne may be, he wasn't in the crosshairs of Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas. de Bruyne was targeted before the manager even took the job and the club made it a priority to sign the Belgian international, but Villas-Boas admitted having no problem with it. The club has a sporting director and this is in line with the organization of the club. When that organization lands you de Bruyne, it's safe to say that all is well.
It looks as though Manchester City left back Wayne Bridge is on the verge of another loan spell. The England international, 31, is apparently join Sunderland for the rest of the season, and according to Sky Sports is about to undergo a medical at the Stadium of Light:
Sunderland were understood to have been in the market for help at fullback, midfield and centre forward, and Bridge solves the first issue pretty handily. Thanks to the enormous wages the City player is on, there's almost no chance of a club actually picking him up on a permanent deal, but he can be a competent enough mercenary, as West Ham found out last year, and the Black Cats have got themselves a nice deal - assuming his parent club is paying the bulk of Bridge's reported £95,000 a week wages.
Sunderland remain in the hunt for Bolton Wanderers striker Kevin Davies, despite having been rebuffed by the Trotters after opening the bidding with a £1M initial offer. With Nicklas Bendtner unavailable due to facial injury and Asamoah Gyan on loan at the UAE, Sunderland find themselves rather low on established Premier League forwards and would be willing to pick up the 34-year-old on a relatively short term deal.
Bolton, meanwhile, are battling against relegation and would be in even deeper trouble should they sell Davies, who despite a relatively poor showing in terms of goals scored this season remains one of Owen Coyle's more reliable performers. The two sides were described as being a ways apart by Black Cats boss Martin O'Neill, who wants Davies to act as a mentor to 18-year-old centre forward Connor Wickham, but he remains confident that there's a good chance that Davies ends up at the Stadium of Light before the transfer window closes.
After months of being linked to Chelsea, Kevin De Bruyne is finally going to make the move to Stamford Bridge. Reports out of Belgium have confirmed that Racing Genk have agreed to sell the 20-year-old to the Blues for €8 million with escalators that could push the fee to €9.6 million. De Bruyne has already passed his medical and will sign a contract that will keep him at Stamford Bridge through 2017, but first he will finish out the season with Genk after being loaned back to the club through the summer.
De Bruyne already has two caps for Belgium, but it was his play for Genk last season that most impressed observers. He scored five goals and added 16 assists en route to the Belgian Pro League champions, one of the stars in the league's most potent attack.
For Chelsea, this is about reinvigorating an aging squad, especially in the attack where more of their older players are expected to leave the club before long. They signed Juan Mata in the summer and have Daniel Sturridge, but De Bruyne gives them a trio of young attackers and they still have their eyes on Lucas Moura. Before long, Chelsea will look little like the Blues of old and they will be very much Andre Villas-Boas' squad. De Bruyne is just another step in that.
Reports are filtering in that Everton and Rangers have come to an agreement over the transfer of 26-year-old Croatian striker Nikica Jelavic to Goodison Park. Although personal terms between the Toffees and Jelavic are yet to be agreed, it looks as though the former Rapid Vienna man will be an Everton player before the close of the transfer window on Tuesday.
Jelavic has played very well in Glasgow, but it's unclear how well he'll fare in the far stronger Premier League. On paper, he's exactly the sort of striker Everton need - he's capable of scoring goals but also creating them, with good technique and the ability to use his physique to hold up the ball. David Moyes's side have been needing a link between midfield and attack, and Jelavic could well provide that. Of course, history's against him - players moving between Scotland and England haven't really fared so well lately.
Former Liverpool and Sunderland striker Djibril Cisse is apparently set to sign with Queens Park Rangers from Lazio before the close of the transfer window on Tuesday, according to several reports. The 30-year-old, who's started 20 games with the Serie A club after two years at Panithanikos, has already agreed personal terms with Rangers, who will pay Lazio £4M to take him to Loftus Road.
Cisse will join QPR's three other new signings - Milan fullback Taye Taiwo, Mali international midfielder Samba Diakite and Manchester City's Nedum Onuoha - at the forefront of Mark Hughes's attempt to guide last season's Championship winners away from the relegation zone and to the safety of mid-table. The injection of quality into the squad should be enough to see Rangers clear of any danger, but if it doesn't Hughes will have plenty of explaining to do. It's not like his new quartet came particularly cheap.
Queens Park Rangers have acquired Mali international Samba Diakite from Nancy.
According to this story in The Guardian, Liverpool contacted Manchester City to find out exactly what amount they were looking for in exchange for Carlos Tevez. When the offer of a swap of Carroll for Tevez was discussed, City's Football Administration Officer Brian Marwood immediately shot the deal down.
Carroll has only scored 6 goals in 35 appearances since making the move to Anfield last January. The £35 million transfer from Newcastle made Carroll the eight-most expensive footballer in the world. His lifestyle and training habits have been criticized since the move, most notably by England manager Fabio Capello.
Tevez has seen possible transfers to AC Milan and Paris Saint-Germain fall through in the last month. Since his massive falling out with manager Roberto Mancini, Tevez has been persona non grata at City.
Neither player is expected to play any serious amount of football in the next six months.
The Brazilian central defender is the latest high-profile addition to an increasingly impressive collection of talent at Parc des Princes.
Bolton Wanderers are in desperate need of reinforcements after a rough half-season has seen them look worryingly close to relegation. They've already replaced Chelsea-bound Gary Cahill with MLS defender Tim Ream, and were reportedly on the verge of acquiring the Philadelphia Union's Sebastian Le Toux only to turn him down following a trial. That doesn't mean they're not looking for attacking help, however - rumours are swirling that their sights are now set on Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha.
Zaha is one of England's more exciting young attacking talents, and he's been linked with a move away from the Championship for some time now. It's not entirely clear that Bolton would be a great fit for him, however - Zaha's game is still inconsistent and they're not going to be able to give the 19-year-old the time he needs to develop if results keep going badly. Still, this sounds like the first salvo of general Zaha-to-the-Premier-League rumours, so it's something to keep an eye on.
It looks like Willian is getting closer and closer to a Chelsea move. Shakhtar Donetsk's president already admitted earlier this week that Chelsea had put in a bid for him and now the player has come out and said that he would like to move to Stamford Bridge.
"Chelsea are known as one of the biggest and most successful clubs around," he told The Sun. "To play for them is a challenge I would accept and enjoy. If a deal doesn't go through, I'll understand. But I hope it happens. They have a culture of winning trophies and that excites me.
"I wouldn't have any fears about coming to England because I have played against English sides in the Champions League and studied the English game. To play in a league that is seen throughout the world would be good for my hopes of playing regularly for Brazil, especially with the World Cup at home in two years' time.
Shakhtar already rejected one bid for Willian, but the Blues seem intent on strengthening their squad with youth and the 23-year-old would certainly do that by giving them a skillful attacking midfielder. A young striker will have to join the Blues soon too, but Willian, along with Daniel Sturridge give the Blues a couple very good attacking players to build around for the future.
With Chelsea obviously interested and Willian clearly keen on a move, it appears as if the question now is just the price. Mainly, will Chelsea have to go all the way up to his £29 million release clause? Whatever the price, this one appears to be moving towards a resolution soon with Willian suiting up in blue this February.
Queens Park Rangers have completed the capture of Manchester City defender Nedum Onuoha as Mark Hughes continues his quest to upgrade his back line.
Jean Beausejour is on his way back to the Premier League and he'll be dropped into a familiar place, a relegation battle. The Chilean midfielder, who was relegated with Birmingham City, has been sold to Wigan Athletic and signed a two-and-a-half-year contract with the Latics that will keep him at the DW Stadium until 2014. The fee was not announced.
"Jean is a player we have been tracking for a long time since he made a huge impression on us with his role for Chile in the World Cup," Wigan manager Roberto Martinez told the club's website. "Now Jean has 18 months of experience in the British game and his dynamism, technical ability and tactical concepts will bring a different dimension into our squad. He is ready to bring his own experience and his energy into the fantastic challenge that as a football club we're facing in the next 16 games of the season.''
That fantastic challenge that Wigan are facing is a stretch that has seen them go eight matches without a win and a spot at the bottom of the Premier League table. They are on just 15 points, but are only four points away from safety. They've scored the fewest goals in the league too, but the addition of Beausejour could help with that and get them a spot in the top division for next year too.
Queens Park Rangers continue their attempt to restock the squad in order to avoid relegation. They've already added Taye Taiwo, have been connected with virtually every centre half around, and now they've apparently sealed a deal with Ligue 1 side Nancy to take midfielder Samba Diakite to Loftus Road.
Diakite, who's currently on Africa Cup of Nations duty with Mali, had previously been linked to a move to Lyon, but they wanted him immediately rather than having him go to Gabon. Diakite, who's a defensive midfielder, won't be available to Mark Hughes and company until the end of the month, but he should be able to step in and shore up a team that desperately needs help. The €4M transfer is supposedly going to be complete very soon.
With Diakate, Taiwo and possibly Nedum Onouha coming in, QPR are going to have a radical makeover at the back. Whether that's enough to stave off the threat of dropping back into the Championship is an open question.
Queens Park Rangers may have acquired AC Milan fullback Taye Taiwo on loan, but they're not done shoring up their defence quite yet. After failing to agree personal terms with Chelsea centre half Alex, they've turned their attention to Manchester City spare Nedum Onuoha, whom the Premier League leaders are more than happy to see leave, and according to ESPN Soccernet the two clubs have reached an agreement for around £3M.
There is, of course, a catch - Onuoha, like all Manchester City players, earns quite a lot of money. He's reportedly on 60,000 a week with the Qatari-powered giants, which is probably more than QPR can reasonably afford. In fact, that exactly the same wages as Alex was making at Chelsea, meaning that unless Onuoha's demands are less than Alex's, this deal could fall apart in exactly the same way the Brazilian's did. Whether or not that happens appears, at this point, to be entirely up to the player.
First, there were rumors that Chelsea had bid on Shakhtar Donetsk's Willian, but then the Telegraph shot that down, saying that the Blues had never bid on the Brazilian. It looks like the Telegraph was wrong though because according to Sky Sports News Shakhtar president Sergei Palkin has said that the Blues have indeed bid on Willian. Aren't the transfer windows fun?
"We have received a bid from Chelsea for Willian valued at €20 million," Palkin said. "But he is not for sale."
Considering it's a direct quote from the club president, odds are the Blues have put a bid in, but it does fall well short of the €29 million that Shakhtar value him at. Chelsea have already brought in Gary Cahill this January and while they don't have a chance at winning the Premier League, they do have a battle on their hands for a Champions League spot. There's also the Champions League knockout stages in the spring and the need to replace some aging players on the roster so the Blues have work to do.
With all that, the Willian bid would make sense for Chelsea. As Graham MacAree's of SB Nation's Chelsea blog We Ain't Got No History explains, this one adds up and it won't be much of a surprise if Willian ends up at Stamford Bridge before long.
Anyway, there's enough buzz running around this rumour to make it pretty obvious that there's a real interest in bringing Willian in, and the shape of the rumours and quotes to date means I'm inclined to believe that Willian is indeed for sale and that Chelsea and Shakhtar aren't that far off an agreement. We're probably not going to hit his buyout clause (which has been reported at 'more than £25M' by the Telegraph), but I wouldn't be surprised at this point if a second bid of around £20M is offered and accepted.
Diniyar Bilyaletdinov joined Everton two and a half years ago with great expectations, but the club's third most expensive signing now looks set to leave the club at just half the price he was brought in for. The 26-year-old appears on his way to Russia as Everton and Spartak Moscow finalize the details on a £5 million deal that will end a disappointing run for Bilyaletdinov at Goodison Park.
If a Spartak release is to be believed, "the contract will be signed after the medical examination," indicating the deal is all but done. It's not that Bilyaletdinov was a colossal bust for Everton. He played 77 times since joining the club and wasn't a bad player, but he failed to live up to the expectations heaped upon him when the Toffees bought him for £10 million in August of 2009.
It's not a surprise that David Moyes is cutting ties with Bilyaletdinov. The Toffees strengthened their midfield with Darron Gibson and need cash to add an attacking threat and cover for a defense ravaged by injuries. Bilyaletdinov was the best way to raise the funds to address those concerns, especially after a first half of the season in which the Russian wasn't even a regular first XI choice.
The waiting appears to be over: Tim Ream has reportedly received his United Kingdom work permit and will be able to join Bolton (via @landennisbbc). Assuming the reports are true, Ream would leave the New York Red Bulls on a transfer worth somewhere between $2.5-$3.5 million, which would be a record price for a MLS defender. The only MLS players to fetch a higher price were offensive standouts Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore.
Bolton apparently sees Ream as a direct replacement for Gary Cahill, who recently joined Chelsea. Ream will compete for minutes with the likes of David Wheater and Zat Knight, as Bolton is currently in fight to stave off relegation. Bolton currently sits 17th in the Premiership table, just one point clear of Nos. 18 and 19 Blackburn and Wolverhampton. Wigan, which is currently 20th, is just four points behind Bolton with each team having 16 matches left to play.
For the Red Bulls, this move does not come as a huge shock, but it does highlight a rather significant hole on their backline. If the season were to start today, the starter centerbacks would likely be Stephen Keel and Markus Holgersson. Keel has just 20 starts during his five-year MLS career and Holgersson will be making his MLS debut this year after a successful run in Sweden's top division. The good news is that Ream's transfer should give the Red Bulls enough money to find some more capable talent.
Oh, poor Catania. First their first-choice goalkeeper, Mariano Andujar, hightails back to Argentina due to a rift with the club's sporting director. And now this, the moment the supporters have been dreading: it seems that striker Maxi Lopez is off to the Premier League, joining Fulham on loan for the rest of the season, with the option to buy at the end of the loan.
Fans of the rossazzurri knew the Argentine was bound to move, but thought, perhaps, they'd manage to keep him until the end of the season. After all, he'd had tears in his eyes when applauding the fans after Catania's final game before the winter break. But then he reappeared, giving hope that he wasn't leaving.
Alas, it appears that Maxi Lopez thinks he's better than the Sicilian club, and Martin Jol believes having twelve forwards at Fulham just isn't enough. It's a match made in heaven, really.
Despite rumors that Didier Drogba would leave in January to join former teammate Nicolas Anelka at Chinese Super League side Shanghai Shenhua, it seems the forward is committed to staying with Chelsea -- until June, that is. Drogba's contract with the Blues is up in the summer, leaving him free to pursue whichever rich clubs wave the right amount of money in his face, which, oddly enough, no longer means Roman Abramovich. Remember the good ol' days, when Chelsea were the only ones throwing money around?
The news makes one wonder -- what was the reaction of Fernando Torres? With the Spaniard finally getting starts in the Premier League, he may have been pumped about Drogba leaving, thinking he may start racking up goals now. But, really, it's not Drogba that keeps Torres from getting the ball in the back of the net, but rather pure unluckiness. Hanging on to Drogs for the rest of the season won't hurt Torres, and it's certainly not going to hurt Chelsea.
The huge swap of crappy players kind of transfer rumor is the best kind of transfer rumor. A bunch of these come up during every single window and they never go down. This latest one is truly absurd, but on the off chance it's true (and because it's funny), we're going to talk about it. According to a report, Fulham are ready to offer £3 million plus Damien Duff and Chris Baird for West Bromwich Albion striker Peter Odemwingie.
There are lots of things wrong with this. First of all, Fulham continue to be linked to strikers and wingers, despite the presence of a number of quality strikers and wingers on their team. Second of all, West Brom are not completely out of a relegation race, so they have no incentive to sell one of their best players.
As a neutral when it comes to these teams, I want this to happen simply because Odemwingie on Fulham sounds like a lot of fun, but West Brom shouldn't sell him. Also, when will Fulham figure out that they need to spend their money on a central midfielder or three?
It seems QPR and AC Milan have worked out a deal for defender Taye Taiwo, but it's unclear whether the Italian club are selling or loaning.
Sebastien Le Toux appears to be heading to England after reports surface that the Philadelphia Union were preparing to sell him to a European club.
Blackburn Rovers captain Chris Samba has requested he be allowed to leave Ewood Park this January.
Aston Villa will have Robbie Keane for up to eight matches after bringing him in on a short loan from the LA Galaxy
If a report from ESPN Soccernet is to be believed, Newcastle are lining up a bid for Blackburn's Junior Hoilett. Rovers are open to the idea of selling the 21-year-old Hoilett despite him being one of the club's lone bright spots this season because his contract expires after the season. Tottenham, Stoke and Bolton have already been linked to the Canadian and now it looks like the Magpies might enter the mix.
"Newcastle might be the club who make a move for Hoilett," a source told Soccernet." That is the buzz around Blackburn at the moment."
Blackburn will have to determine whether Hoilett is the difference between their avoid relegation and staying in the Premier League because no sale of any player can make up for the revenue lost from relegation. Even so, Blackburn manager Steve Kean acknowledges that Hoilett leaving is a real possibility, even if they would like to keep him.
"He has probably taken the opportunity to look elsewhere. I don't know where he is on it. If we can get to a point where he wants to sign then great," the Rovers boss said. "If not, if there is a bid that comes in then we would obviously have to consider that, and the fact that he hadn't signed."
Newcastle could use some help as they try to stay in the race for a spot in Europe. Demba Ba is been rumored to be a target of several big clubs and may have a cheap release clause, which could result in a backbreaking move away from St. James' Park for Newcastle. Even if the Magpies can keep Ba, they saw their form take a major dip in December and know they need to get stronger if they want Europe to remain a realistic goal.
Tim Ream is reportedly set to join Bolton on a £2.5million transfer from the New York Red Bulls.
Queens Park Rangers bid on both Christopher Samba and Andy Johnson in hopes of strengthening their squad to avoid relegation, but Blackburn and Fulham rejected the bids. QPR are currently on 17 points, one point clear of the drop zone with the third-worst goal difference in the league. Club chairman Tony Fernandes has made statements that imply that manager Neil Warnock's job may be on the line, turning up the pressure to improve the squad.
According to the Guardian, Blackburn turned down a £5 million bid from QPR for Samba, which is half of what they are demanding for the central defender and making QPR either silly or the Guardian's report very wrong. Tottenham Hotspur have also shown interest in Samba, but Blackburn insist that he will not be sold unless their price is met as they can ill afford to lose their best defender as they battle relegation.
Johnson will not be as tough to pry away as Samba because he is out of contract at the end of the year, but QPR didn't come close to matching Fulham's valuation anyways. They bid just £2 million for Johnson, making it easy for Fulham to turn it down.
"What's the point for us – for Fulham, for my club – to sell a player for that sort of money?" Fulham manager Martin Jol said. "To get somebody will cost a lot more money so for me there is no problem. He is still under contract so we have to wait and see.
"If somebody wants him they have to pay a good transfer fee so we can buy another good player. It would not be best for us to sell him to whatever club for a lower fee. Of course he will stay here and if he is not signing he can leave at the end of the season."
Thierry Henry's return to Arsenal is at last official. The New York Red Bulls striker today signed a short-term deal with the Gunners that will have join Arsene Wenger's side until he returns to MLS in late February.
"Arsenal and me has always been a love story, with some bad days. Hopefully people agree with me that there were more good days than bad, but I just love the Club."
"They say love is blind, but it is difficult for me to say no to Arsenal."
The Gunners are in need of some depth in the attack with Marouane Chamakh set to leave for the African Nations Cup tournament. Henry is Arsenal's record goalscorer and left in 2007 for Barcelona, before joining the Red Bulls in 2010.
The news comes on the heels of Landon Donovan and Omar Gonzalez both going on short term loans in Europe during the off-season. The Red Bulls will now hold their breath for the next two months and hope that Henry's European adventure ends better than the Gonzalez's did.
Henry will join Arsenal immediately and could play this weekend in the Gunner's FA Cup draw against Leeds United. It seems like a great deal for Arsenal, but you have to wonder how good of a deal it is for the Red Bulls who seem to have everything to lose from the loan and nothing to gain.
For more on the Gunners, check out Arsenal blog The Short Fuse.
Catania have confirmed that Fulham have put in a bid for Argentinean striker Maxi Lopez. The 27-year-old has been linked to AC Milan in recent weeks as a fallback option if they cannot secure Carlos Tevez's services and the expectation has been that he will be sold to another Italian club, but now Fulham have jumped in with a bid to try and beat out their Italian competitors.
"On Maxi Lopez there are no developments as yet, but an offer has been received from Fulham and we are evaluating it,'' Catania sporting director Pietro Lo Monaco told Radio Mana Mana. "We are waiting to see what the Italian clubs will do.
There is no word on how much Fulham's bid was worth, but with some stiff competition for the striker, it is certainly to be a decent chunk of change. The Cottagers sure do need help in the goal scoring department too with just 22 goals in 20 Premier League matches this season, although there have been signs of Bryan Ruiz finding his legs in England and it wouldn't be difficult to argue that the club's goal struggles are more a midfield problem than striker problem.
With Bobby Zamora and Martin Jol not on the best of terms and Andy Johnson rumored to be on the way out, adding a striker with 24 goals in 66 Serie A matches like Lopez would be a nice boost for Fulham. Really, any striker would be a nice boost if Zamora and Johnson are both shown the door.
Arsene Wenger has made some people feel pretty silly (myself included) by signing Thierry Henry, the club’s record scorer, on a 2-month loan. Wenger himself said back in November that he was not going to sign Henry on loan, even saying that he wasn’t thinking about it one week ago, despite the fact that he said he was thinking about it over Christmas (Arsenal Transfer Rumour Hint: Whenever Arsene Wenger denies everything to do with signing a player, said player is on the radar. If that player isn’t, then he’ll say "I like the player, but he won’t be signing" or something like that).
So, how does Henry help Arsenal? It’s unlikely that he’ll play up front with Robin van Persie. More likely is that Henry will replace Gervinho on the left, taking his role of being an inside forward that scores and creates. Henry has lost some of the brilliant pace, but he still has intelligent movement and good technique, and, is still a very good finisher.
Arsenal still need another centre forward, as Marouane Chamakh has been poor for a year, and Park Ju-Young was last sighted sight-seeing in the Lake District while ‘adapting’ to Premier League life, but at least they have Henry if needs must. Even at 34, he’ll be better than Chamakh and Andrey Arshavin, and he’ll be better than a host of Premier League forwards that Arsenal will be lazily linked to in the coming weeks.
For more on Arsenal, visit our Arsenal blog, The Short Fuse
As often happens during the transfer season, a less than reputable source will throw out a tempting bone for the rest of the media to chew on. It really doesn't matter whether the rumor is grounded in truth or if it's the figment of a writer's imagination whose editors are desperate for page views, these things tend to spread like wildfire across a dry grassland. Such is the case this morning with a report from The Daily Mail claiming that Arsenal are about to offer New York Red Bulls striker Thierry Henry a two month loan deal to make a cameo-like return to the Emirates.
There are of course no reputable sources in the story, meaning it's flimsy conjecture at best built upon a foundation of reaching for conclusions based on the lone fact that Henry has been hanging around Arsenal for the past few weeks and that the club could use some help up front. Of course, that doesn't mean it couldn't happen considering fellow MLS start Landon Donovan is doing the same thing with Everton.
The real question for me is why would the Red Bulls agree to this? Henry is young at heart but his body is another story. They will desperately need their expensive star this coming season so allowing him to risk injury in the EPL for two months just doesn't seem like a logical move. Then again, could they really stop him if he wanted to make the deal?
Anyway, if you're bored, check out the Daily Mail's artfully done fluff piece filled with several YouTube videos and repeated proclamations of Henry's legendary status with the Gunners. It's sure to bring a tear to the eyes of all supporters of the North London club. As for a solid factual base, not so much...so of course Piers Morgan is talking about it.
For more on the Gunners, check out Arsenal blog The Short Fuse.
Dimitar Berbatov could be on the verge of a return to Bayer Leverkusen and this is not just an idle rumor. The Manchester United striker's representatives have told Bild that they have been in contact with the German club and Bayer have confirmed contact with Berbatov's representatives.
"Leverkusen have it on their minds to get Berbatov," Ivan Dobrinov, a member of the group which represents Berbatov, told Bild. "There is contact, but nothing concrete yet. It all depends on United's plans. We wait until 2 January."
"Until then, United have the option but if that does not happen then Berbatov would be a free transfer in the summer. The player has never forgotten Leverkusen, the club is still very dear to him. Furthermore, he has a good relationship with the leadership at Bayer."
Berbatov has been on the outs at United, starting just twice this season, but he did pick up a hat trick on Boxing Day to remind everyone of his incredible skill. His contract at Old Trafford expires in the summer too, meaning that unless United pick up a one-year option in his contract he can start discussing a a free transfer in January.
Leverkusen's chief Wolfgang Holzhauser confirmed contact with Berbatov's representatives, but acknowledged that he was under the impression that United wanted to extend Berbatov's deal. The striker spent five years with Leverkusen before joining Tottenham Hotspur, then Manchester United, scoring 69 goals for the German club and helping them to the 2001-2002 UEFA Champions League final.
At times during this season, Arsenal has seemed to lack a certain quality in midfield when Alex Song has been unavailable for selection. It seems like the Gunners have been looking for the new Vieira since Patrick Vieira moved on, and while Song might fill that void, there isn't much behind him other than Emmanuel Frimpong. It should be no surprise, then, that rumor websites and foreign papers have begun linking Arsenal to various midfielders. Today, it's Sao Paolo defensive midfielder Casemiro.
Sao Paolo didn't have an excellent tournament, while Casemiro was in and out of the squad. He had some fitness issues, but there have been rumors floating around that his injuries and fitness issues have more to do with just plain bad luck. In any event, he put in some brilliant performances and is probably on the verge of a move to Europe. The Sambafoot article linked above says that Arsenal have been quoted a price of £10 million, but they'll probably be looking to spend a bit less than that for a player who was not terribly consistent in the Brasileirao.
For more on the Gunners, check out Arsenal blog The Short Fuse.
Florent Malouda has struggled to find the field for Chelsea under new manager Andres Villas-Boas so it looks like the Frenchmen will try to move away from Stamford Bridge to get back to playing. The 31-year-old has been with Chelsea since the Blues bought him from Lyon in the summer of 2007 and now it looks like he is eying a move back to France or really anywhere he can get some playing time.
"I'm not getting enough playing time," said Malouda. "It's too limited for the ambitions I have. I can't be happy with that. If it is necessary, I will leave."
There are only 18 months left in Malouda's contract with the Blues and it appears as if Villas-Boas is prepared to part with him, but not until the summer unless someone makes an incredible offer for the Frenchman. Paris Saint-Germain and their Qatari money could be just the club to make that incredible offer. PSG have been rumored to be interested in Malouda's services and with Carlo Ancelotti set to take over at the club, who coached Malouda at Chelsea, a big money bid could be on the way.
Manchester City are being linked to a move for Lille's Eden Hazard, but the player would prefer a move to Real Madrid.
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