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Arsenal are looking at a major-rejuggling of the team, and there are few better options for them in this transfer window than Valencia winger Juan Mata. Arsene Wenger knows that, of course, and has apparently submitted a bid believed to be in the region of £20M for the 23-year-old. With Mata believed to be on his way to London this weekend, all seems good for Arsenal, right?
Not so fast:
El Tottenham pone 25 millones encima de la mesa por Mata. Llega la primera oferta por el Campeón del Mundo del Valencia.less than a minute ago via Twitter for BlackBerry® Favorite Retweet ReplyPablo García-Cuervo
Yep, that's Tottenham Hotspur apparently jumping in with a 25M bid for the Arsenal target despite... well, having Gareth Bale to play left wing already and Rafael van der Vaart in the middle. With Spurs not really needing help in either position Mata favours, could they be deliberately trying to sabotage their rivals' deal?
Mirko Vucinic is "very close" to joining Manchester United's stable of strikers according to the forward's agent. Vucinic recently requested a transfer away from Roma and most assumed that Juventus would be his destination, but now it looks like he has options outside of Italy and big options too with the Red Devils involved.
"We are very close to Manchester United," agent Alessandro Lucci told LaSignoraInGiallorosso. "The meeting was yesterday and there were no formal offers, but the English club made it clear they very much appreciate Mirko. We will know more in the next few days."
During United's preseason tour of the U.S. Sir Alex Ferguson said that he wouldn't look to add any more players and that he was happy with his squad. Chief executive David Gill thinks otherwise though.
"We are looking at one more player to bring in," Gill told MUTV. "Nothing is happening and nothing is imminent but we will see what happens when we get home. There will still be 31 days of the transfer window to see if anything develops."
Vucinic could be that one last player to bring in. He scored 11 goals last year for Roma, but was asked to play out wide and his lower output was largely due to position. The previous two seasons he combined for 36 goals in the Italian capital.
Arsenal are expected to lose a player within the next few days, but it won't be Cesc Fabregas or Samir Nasri. Instead, it's Ivorian Emmanuel Eboue who'll be getting the boot from the Emirates - hardly a surprise after a miserable series of performances last year found the versatile defender in Arsene Wenger's doghouse. Eboue hasn't travelled on any of Arsenal's preseason expeditions, and word has it that that's because he'll be joining Turkish outfit Galatasaray for £4M.
It's not a huge loss for the Gunners, of course - they've been doing without Eboue for some time now, with the 28-year-old only featuring in 13 league goals last season. As for Galatasary, they're getting a decent enough player for the Turkish SuperLig, at a decent enough price as they attempt to push to regain relevance in a country that's been stung by corruption and scandal.
For more on Arsenal, visit The Short Fuse.
It appears as if Arsene Wenger will address the Arsenal's issues at the back with the Gunners' manager saying that he will bring a defender into the club before the transfer window closes. Arsenal had problems at the back a year ago and while they've signed Gervinho, they haven't addressed the back line yet. Add in the sale of Gael Clichy and bringing in a defender becomes all the more important for Wenger's side.
"Certainly, we will have to find one more defender," Wenger told Arsenal's official website. "We [are] working on it. I don't want to comment individually because I do not want to destabilize clubs. I do not want to do to other clubs what some clubs do to us so I wouldn't like to comment individually on any player."
The most recent rumors have Phil Jagielka linked to a North London move and while Arsenal have bid £12 million before for the central defender, Everton are supposedly demanding £20 million. Bolton's Gary Cahill and Blackburn's Chris Samba have also been linked to an Emirates move, but it does not appear is if the Gunners are close to finalizing a deal for anyone.
Despite speculation that Queens Park Rangers would sell Adel Taarabt, it appears as if the newly promoted club's star will stay at Loftus Road and help them do battle in the Premier League. The Moroccan initially drew interest from clubs in La Liga, but recently it looked as if newly rich Paris Saint-Germain would snatch him away when they entered into advanced talks to sign the player. Those talks have broken down though and Taarabt will stay with the Hoops.
Taarabt scored 19 goals for QPR in their Championship winning year last season and made him a top target for several other clubs. The former Tottenham player is not leaving Loftus Road though according to the club's majority shareholders Flavio Briatore and Bernie Ecclestone.
In a statement on the club website, Briatore and Ecclestone said: "We are pleased to confirm that Adel Taarabt will be staying at QPR this summer. Despite receiving a substantial bid for our Moroccan international, we rebuffed all approaches and indeed, we are keen to build for the future in the Premier League, and not sell one of our prized assets.
"Should we have decided to sell Taarabt this summer, we made it clear to Neil Warnock that we would reinvest funds into the squad. Taarabt is fully committed to the club and is looking forward to proving his undoubted star quality for QPR in the Premier League. Our decision not to sell him only serves to reiterate the ambition and commitment we have both shown to QPR since we arrived here."
With Taarabt staying, QPR has a realistic chance of staying up this season. There are still questions about whether or not the club has the funds to become a top division mainstay, but keeping Taarabt is a major step to avoiding relegation for at least one year.
Aston Villa may have lost Ashley Young, Brad Friedel and Stewart Downing, but they're by no means down and out yet. The £20M that Liverpool sent Birmingham's way for Downing will, apparently, soon be put to good use - Alex McLeish plans on snapping up Downing's replacement and a new goalkeeper with the funds. Specifically, he's chasing Manchester City number two Shay Given and Wigan's left-sided winger Charles N'Zogbia. According to Sky Sports, they've already put in a 10M bid for the latter, and they've been linked to Given for such a long time that we've seen several empires rise and fall during that particular pursuit.
Ultimately, if Villa can manage to get those two for not much more money than they've received for Downing, the team isn't much worse (if at all) than where they left it at the start of summer. Considering that they still have the funds raised by Ashley Young's sale to play with to reinforce the squad, that's not such bad going.
For more on Aston Villa, see 7500 to Holte.
When Birmingham City's were relegated from the Premier League at the end of last season, a few things were certain. One of those was that their centre half pairing of Roger Johnson and Scott Dann would not be following their club down to the nPower Championship - there were very few good things about that Birmingham team (implausible League Cup win aside), and the defending was one of them.
It comes as no surprise, then, that a top-flight club has confirmed interest in Johnson, with Wolverhampton Wanderers apparently offering £7M for the stalwart defender. According to the Guardian, Birmingham have accepted the Wolves bid and Johnson will now travel to Wolverhampton in order to hammer out personal terms. One imagines that Mick McCarthy will be hoping that the addition of Johnson will bring more luck to his club in terms of avoiding the drop than it did for their midlands rivals.
Arsenal seem to be facing a losing battle over captain Cesc Fabregas and influential winger Samir Nasri, and despite efforts from Arsene Wenger to prevent the departure of either player look set to lose both within the summer transfer window. Sky Sports Italia have reported that Arsenal and Manchester City have agreed a £24M fee for Nasri, who has one year remaining on the contract he signed with the Gunners after moving from Marseille in 2008, and while Sky may have jumped the gun a little on the specifics of the deal, it would come as no surprise if something was pushed through very soon.
Meanwhile, Fabregas looks set to move back to boyhood club Barcelona after what seems like it's been the longest pursuit of all time. I think this has gotten to the point where everyone - except Wenger, apparently - just wants to see him go, and it'd be a major surprise if he isn't elsewhere come next season. But still, Arsenal's manager is fighting to extract every last pound from his stars' suitors:
Our position is the same, we want to keep Cesc and I will fight as hard as I can to keep him. Samir Nasri is exactly the same.
I imagine they wanted to keep Gael Clichy too. Wenger's not foolwing anyone, and may be finally paying the price for six seasons without a trophy.
For more on Nasri, Fabregas and all things Arsenal, visit the Short Fuse.
We wrote a few days ago that Fulham were being linked with Roma fullback John Arne Riise - brother of Cottagers midfielder Bjørn Helge - and it looks as though that was more than just idle speculation. Sky Sports Italia are reporting that the 30-year-old, who had just one year remaining on his contract at the Stadio Olympico, has indeed been sold to the Londoners for a fee believed to be around £2M. Obviously, nothing is confirmed just yet.
On the face of things, this move would solve a number of problems for Martin Jol's side, who've been missing a competent left back for a good amount of time (many would contest that they've never actually had one, given Paul Konchesky's performance after moving on from Craven Cottage). However, Riise is hardly a long term solution, and even should they sign the Norwegian they'll have to look hard for replacements within the next few years. Fortunately, he's versatile enough to play at more than just left back, so if Jol does indeed find the left back of the future, Riise could still easily find a place in the squad.
For more on Fulham FC, check out Cottagers Confidential.
With one year left on John Arne Riise's contract, AS Roma are reportedly looking to sell their left back this summer, rather than re-signing him to a new contract or letting him walk away on a free transfer next summer. While Roma and Riise had a bit of an up and down season, he's still been a very solid player for them, and teams are well aware of his athleticism and his unbelievable left foot. The most recent team to be linked to Riise's services is Fulham, as Martin Jol looks to add to his side.
After losing Paul Konchesky to Liverpool and never really replacing him, Riise is a player that Fulham could seriously use. Their only true left back is Carlos Salcido, and he is both not left footed and regularly linked to moves back to the Mexican Primera. An athletic left back with a mean left foot could be a good addition for the Cottagers, especially if the price is right.
For more on Fulham FC, check out Cottagers Confidential.
With Ashley Young having already departed for Manchester United and Stewart Downing linked to Liverpool, Aston Villa could seriously use some reinforcements who can provide some quality out wide. Downing could still be a Villa player next year while youngster Mark Albrighton should contribute quite a bit next season, but those two facts apparently aren't stopping Villa from pursuing Wigan Athletic left winger Charles N'Zogbia, who has been linked to just about every half-decent team in the world who are in need of a wide player.
N'Zogbia is in the final year of his contract at Wigan and he was arguably the most important outfield player to the Latics in the last couple of seasons. Wigan chairman Dave Whelan has said in the past that they will let N'Zogbia go if they receive a suitable offer, but who really knows what constitutes a suitable offer. In any event, after selling Young, Villa are probably in a position to make one.
For more on Aston Villa, visit 7500 to Holte.
Sunderland have already signed 18-year-old Connor Wickham and 20-year-old Ji Dong-Won to be the future of the club and support star striker Asamoah Gyan in the present, but there are rumors indicating that Steve Bruce isn't quite done adding to his team up top. With those three one would think Bruce might be content with his striking options, but reports are currently linking Sunderland to a move for VFB Stuttgart striker Pavel Pogrebnyak.
Pogrebnyak, 27 years old, had a fantastic scoring record in his time with Zenit St. Petersburg in the Russian Premier League. However, since moving to the Bundesliga, Pogrebnyak has struggled to replicate that form. If Stuttgart, a big club who barely stayed in the Bundesliga last season, have lost their patience with Pogrebnyak, they might be willing to sell him for a cut-rate price just to get him out of the locker room and his wages off the books. Pogrebnyak got off to a hot start last season, but completely fell off in the second half of the season.
For more on AFC Sunderland, check out Roker Report.
It's all getting a little bit depressing for Arsenal fans, I'm afraid. Left back Gael Clichy is all but gone, they look as though they're losing captain and talisman Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona, and now winger Samir Nasri is on the verge of leaving the club for around £20M to either Manchester City or Manchester United, depending on who you believe. What seems certain, however, is that he's departing the Emirates for pastures new (and, from the sounds of things, plenty more money).
We could be very well looking at the disintegration of Arsenal's core here, although that might not be a bad thing considering their performance compared to their obvious talent over the last few years. For Arsene Wenger and the Gunners, a mass exodus might be just what the doctor ordered. Should they lose the three mentioned above they'll see a huge influx of money, perhaps enough to kick-start the development of the next great (maybe) Arsenal team.
For more on Samir Nasri and Arsenal, visit the Short Fuse.
Sunderland have reportedly agreed a £13M deal with Championship side Ipswich Town for highly-rated striker Connor Wickham, who's drawn interest from across England after a season in which he scored nine goals in 37 league appearances as an 18-year-old. Wickham has seen some time with the England under-21 side this year, but his most successful international spell was as an under-17 player, where he scored nine times in thirteen matches.
Wickham has shown flashes of brilliance in his young career, and Sunderland will be expecting him to develop further into a top-tier home-grown talent. Steve Bruce and company aren't the only side after him, however, with several clubs expected to join the chase now that Ipswich have accepted the bid. Blues manager Paul Jewel has indicated that he's not in any particular rush to sell, meaning that he may be hoping a bidding war begins for Wickham's services:
There is no point in getting uptight about it. We don't want to sell Connor Wickham but if he wants to leave and the right offer comes in we will have to consider it. Connor has never given me any indication that he wants to leave. Our backs are not against the wall and we are in control of the situation.
Sunderland, who were pretty clearly missing Darren Bent towards the end of the 2010/11 campaign, where they collapsed to a mid-table finish after at one point being strong candidates for a European place. A striker is just what they need to make things interesting again, and if Wickham develops like many think he might, £13M will look like a bargain in a few years.
For more on Connor Wickham and Sunderland, visit Roker Report.
I think everyone got bored of this particular rumour almost a year ago. Cesc Fabregas is still at Arsenal despite Barcelona's efforts (and his own, really) to pry him away from the Emirates Stadium, and the latest attempt was really rather feeble - a £27M offer that was quite sensibly rejected out of hand by Arsene Wenger and company.
The European champions are insisting that Fabregas is now worth less than the £40M they were willing to pay for him last summer, when the Arsenal captain's time with the Spanish national team in South Africa culminated in him donning a Barcelona jersey during the celebrations post-World-Cup-win. And no matter how much Arsenal fans might complain about it, it's true - a year's come off the contract and a year's been added to Fabregas' legs in a season that hardly increased his value.
By now, it's pretty obvious that Arsenal aren't selling for anything like Barcelona are offering, which means that we're getting another summer of this nonsense. At least. What fun, eh?
For more on Cesc Fabregas and Arsenal, why not head over to The Short Fuse?
According to Correio da Manha, FC Porto striker Radamel Falcao has agreed on principle to move to Chelsea. The striker, who was one of the key players in the Porto side managed by new Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas, has reportedly accepted a deal worth around £5m per year.
News of his decision will frustrate the other clubs rumoured to be courting him, including Real Madrid. There is no mention of the fee involved between the clubs, although the Colombian has a release clause of £26.5m in his contract.
Then again, since the agent overseeing things is none other than your friend and mine, Jorge Mendes, it may not be over until it's over...
Alex Ferguson has an appalling track record of signing midfielders. Bringing in Luka Modric would change all that, wouldn't it?
Following yesterday's little bombshell that Luka Modric is interested in leaving Tottenham Hotspur for Chelsea FC, a whole flurry of speculation and analysis popped up from Chelsea fans, Spurs fans and neutrals alike, many of which was very, very good.
Graham MacAree at SB Nation's Chelsea FC blog We Ain't Got No History has some thoughts on whether or not Modric would fit into the Chelsea team and the short answer is yes, he would. Whether or not he can permanently displace Frank Lampard or, in a change of strategy, Michael Essien remains to be seen, but Chelsea probably have some place for Modric.
My guess is that he'd fit best into a 4-2-3-1 system as a playmaker alongside Ramires in a double pivot, but that might all be moot if Chelsea make more signings as expected this summer. The places of Michael Essien, Frank Lampard and John Obi Mikel are all under threat if this move goes through, for various reasons. Modric is clearly a first-choice player in this Chelsea midfield, though.
A double pivot of Modric and Ramires behind an advanced playmaker sure is an ambitious setup that lacks the defensive midfielder that has become such a staple of modern football, but at least that team wouldn't be giving the ball away of they were ever able to obtain it in the first place. Modric would certainly be a positive addition to Chelsea, but the question still remains: Will he leave Spurs?
Daniel Levy has said that he's unwilling to consider any offers for Luka Modric and that he now considers this matter closed, but does anyone believe that for a second? Every player has a price as the sales of Fernando Torres and Cristiano Ronaldo show, and the price on Modric at which Levy can't say no has to be £50m - the price paid for Torres - or lower.
Luka Modric's announcement that he wants to leave Tottenham Hotspur came as a surprise to many and seem a little out of character for the shy midfielder, but he wouldn't exactly be alone in being a top-class player who wants Champions League football and is willing to look around to get it. It's not really an uncommon sentiment amongst footballers, and there's little doubt that many in Modric's place would look to be moving on.
At Cartilage Free Captain, SB Nation's Tottenham Hotspur blog, Kevin McCauley agrees - even saying that he'd be doing the same thing if he were in Modric's situation. Kevin doesn't see much hope Tottenham can compete, which means they can't offer Modric the kind of success (or wages), he might get at Stamford Bridge:
Luka Modric is too good for Tottenham Hotspur. Those words might sting some and seriously piss off others, but it's true. We're not finishing in the top four in the next couple of years unless Stan Kroenke is a melter, City's owners pull out, or the Glazer family defaults on their loans. Modric wants to leave because he wants more money and he wants Champions League football. Who are we to stand in his way if an acceptable offer is received?
This sucks a lot. Losing your best player is always hard for a team. However, we have to accept the reality of our situation, get the most money possible for Modric, then use that money to help build a team that will be able to take advantage if one of the three above mentioned catastrophes takes place. Modric is probably about to be made very rich, then win a few trophies.
Although a move now seems inevitable, we'll have to see what happens. Chelsea and Spurs aren't anywhere close to agreeing a fee for Modric and the player will have to agree personal terms as well. But an idea that seemed far-fetched even a week ago is rapidly starting to come into fruition. Summer is crazy, eh?
Shocking news has come from Luka Modric today as the Mail has quoted the Tottenham Hotspur midfield as wanting to leave the club for cross-town rivals Chelsea FC. Modric, who had been the subject of a bid (by Chelsea) described as derisory by the Spurs board, apparently thinks that it's time to drop the curtain on his Tottenham career and move to a bigger club - and one in London. Chelsea, obviously, fit that bill.
I want to leave Tottenham as friends. I have enjoyed my time there, but now it is right for me to look at another club. I have an arrangement with the chairman. When I signed my new contract, he said that, if another club came to sign me, they would consider the offer.
Chelsea are a big club with an ambitious owner. They have great players and they have ambitions to fight for the title and win the Champions League. I want to stay in London. I am very happy here and so are my family. I like the city.
If true - and the Mail would be in deep trouble if it isn't - this is obviously huge news. Modric was one of the league's best midfielders last season in an area where Chelsea struggled, and acquiring him from Tottenham would seemingly represent a major coup for the still-managerless Blues. It's unclear whether Chelsea will increase their bid for Modric, but the die has been cast. one way or another, it sounds as though the Croatian is on his way our of White Hart Lane.
French sport daily L'Equipe is reporting that Manchester United have made a bid of €10.5m for young RC Lens defender, Raphael Varane. The deal will also allegedly involve the player remaining at his club for the coming season.
With United making a swoop for Blackburn Rovers' Phil Jones earlier, it was believed that the mooted deal for Varane, 18, would be cast into doubt. However, Sir Alex Ferguson's interest in the young centre-back, who can also operate in midfield, has not been assuaged. Despite his determination to land the player, with Jones, Smalling, and Evans all needing games and ready to fill in for the successful Ferdinand-Vidic partnership, Ferguson seems to have decided that the younger Varane would be better suited gaining experience in his homeland.
Varane is also taking a Baccalaureate at present, and sits his philosophy exam today. With that, and Phil Jones' grammatically-correct tweeting, the IQ of United's backline could be about to take a sharp increase - particularly if Ferdinand is injured.
Manchester City are favourites to sign Chilean winger Alexis Sanchez, according to Udinese president Gianpaolo Pozzo, with Barcelona and Inter Milan no longer in pole position. In fact, there's a very good chance that Sanchez doesn't leave Udinese at all, with Pozzo saying it's 50/50 whether or not his prize asset leaves. If he does go, however, City are the prime candidates to land him:
Inter, Juve, Barca and Manchester City are all interested in him... I think there is a 50% chance that he will stay in Udine. However, if he was to leave, I would say City have the highest probability of success.
Concrete offers regarding the real value of the player have not arrived yet. We did speak to Inter but we have not spoken to them since to reach an agreement. Things are nevertheless done at the last minute.
Sanchez is regarded (and rightly so) as one of the top wide attackers in the game today, and at 22 years old any team acquiring him now will have him through the prime of his career. He'll cost an arm and a leg, but there's a very real chance that he's the best player to move clubs all summer. This transfer saga is going to be extremely interesting.
For more on Manchester City, visit Bitter and Blue.
Birmingham City's Scott Dann is generally regarded as a quality Premier League central defender, so it should come as no surprise that he's looking for a move away from now-Championship side Birmingham City. The rumors have some of the big boys coming in for his services, and the Blues could be in for a nice payday as a result. Liverpool have been linked to Dann for a while, but the rumors now have Arsenal entering the chase for his services.
Dann is big, strong, intelligent and only 24 years old, so it's obvious why he would be a target for bigger clubs. The above-linked article doesn't specify a transfer fee, but it would be hard to believe that either Liverpool or Arsenal was willing to pay eight figures for the defender. Or, at least I hope no one is about to pay £10 million or more for Scott Dann. That's not going to happen...right?
Manchester United have already made a splash by signing young Blackburn Rovers defender Phil Jones for 16M, but they could take things even further if they can nab their latest transfer target: Aston Villa winger-cum-striker Ashley Young. According to Sky Sports reporter Greame Bailey, that's exactly what they've done, with United agreeing a fee with Villa and personal terms with Young.
Ashley Young has agreed terms with Man United, deal to be completed next week - is what we are hearing from Old Trafford. #mufc #avfcless than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet ReplyGraeme Bailey
Unlike Jones, Young is an established Premier League star and a fully-fledged (and immensely impressive) England international. He's only got a year left on his contract and with the interest from top teams has been reluctant to sign a new deal with the midlands club, meaning that he shouldn't be too expensive. Young should fit in neatly on one of the wings at his new club, and his ability to cut inside or play in the middle should prove very useful for Sir Alex Ferguson.
As for Villa, they lose yet another of their stars, which is a shame, but they should be able to put the money to good use and have a ready-made replacement for Young in under-21 England international Marc Albrighton. If they've stuck to their guns and got the high-teens transfer fee they were after, it's probably a good deal for everyone concerned. We'll have more next week when the transfer is officially announced.
In what would be a highly controversial move, the French midfielder is allegedly open to the idea of a move to Manchester, and could force the issue with only a year remaining on his contract. And now United are allegedly determined to land their man.
With United in need of midfield creativity and also in the market for an additional wide player, Nasri would represent a good fit for the United squad. Although wages are one of the reasons that his contract negotiations with Arsenal have stalled, United shouldn't find his salary a problem with so many players expected to leave the club this summer.
It would not be the first time Sir Alex Ferguson has frustrated his old foe Arsene Wenger in the transfer market in recent times. After beating the Frenchman to the signing of Blackburn Rovers' Phil Jones, Ferguson now plans to make a devastating swoop for one of his rivals' star players, in a move that could have significant ramifications for the rest of the Arsenal squad.
Of course, interest does not imply that a deal will be concluded - Wenger has recently insisted that the midfielder will under no circumstances be sold to United - but there does appear to be substance behind the story, rather than just a contract negotiation ploy.
Santos FC and Chelsea have been in discussion over a possible move for much-hyped wonderkid Neymar, say reports on ESPN Soccernet.
The talented youngster has been watched by virtually all of Europe's top clubs and is widely regarded to be one of the brightest young prospects in the world. Chelsea have been one name that has repeatedly cropped up when mentioning a European move for the youngster, and have allegedly been quoted an eye-watering £41m for the striker.
It remains to be seen whether it will be a good move or not for either party concerned. Chelsea, though in desperate need of a new spark of creativity, and an injection of youth, are reasonably well-stocked on forward players, particularly strikers, with Fernando Torres, Didier Drogba, Nicolas Anelka, and Daniel Sturridge all vying for one of the forward spots, along with Florent Malouda and Salomon Kalou if Chelsea stick to the 4-3-3 formation they have used for the past few years.
With the London club in more pressing need of a right-back and midfield creativity, a move for Neymar would signify a renewed desire to spend by billionaire owner Roman Abramovich, and would surely be the first of several big-name signings to move to Stamford Bridge. But with Chelsea still some way short of complying with UEFA's impending Financial Fair Play rules, whether they will be prepared to meet Santos' considerable demands for the teenager is questionable.
ESPN Soccernet is claiming that Sunderland manager Steve Bruce is ready to cash in on the Jordan Henderson windfall by targeting a trio of Manchester United players, revealing (somewhat pompously, it must be said) that Bruce has 'confirmed exclusively of ESPNSoccernet' that Wes Brown, John O'Shea and Darron Gibson are the subject of a combined £12M bid.
Apparently, Bruce is on holiday in Portugal nd thus not going to make any 'official comments' until this is wrapped up, making his remarks appearing Soccernet unofficial non-comments (i.e. there aren't any quotes). But considering all the buzz that's been going around regarding Sunderland trying to add depth to the squad after what happened towards the end of last season as well as Bruce's good working relationship with Sir Alex Ferguson, this doesn't really seem so far-fetched. O'Shea and Brown in particular can provide some versatility in defence and Gibson can act as midfield depth and perhaps even start at the Stadium of Light.
Even with the acquisition of David Ngog from Liverpool as a makeweight in the Henderson transfer, it still seems as though Bruce must be on the lookout for another striker. Fortunately for Sunderland, he's still got most of the funds from the sale of Darren Bent to Aston Villa in January to play with. Unfortunately for Sunderland, they might rather just have Bent.
Blackburn defender Phil Jones is on the way to Old Trafford, according to reports from the Guardian. The 19-year-old, who appeared in 27 games with Blackburn in the 2010/11 as a now fully-established member of their first team, has been pursued by the biggest names in English football as they attempt to secure the services of talented home-grown players. With Jordan Henderson already set to move to Anfield, in order to join Kenny Dalglish's Liverpool revolution, it was time for Manchester United to act, and they have, apparently paying Blackburn £16M for the right to sign Jones (the value of his release clause).
Jones is expected to sign a five-year contract with United after undergoing medicals in Manchester, and is a key part of the England under-21 squad at this summer's European championships in Denmark. It's a good pickup for Sir Alex Ferguson and company - Jones could well be versatile enough to step into a midfield destroyer role that the team has been missing for some time, and he's a perfectly capable centre half to boot.
Sounds like the Jordan Henderson to Liverpool rumour had legs after all. The Times are reporting that a deal is nearly done to being the England under-21 international to Anfield, with David Ngog heading the other direction:
Henderson deal complete, subject to medical, personal terms. N'gog coming in other direction. As of earlier #Safc asking £13m + player.less than a minute ago via HootSuite Favorite Retweet ReplyGeorge Caulkin
You'd think, honestly, that Steve Bruce and Sunderland would be able to do better than £13M plus David Ngog for Henderson, who is one of their top midfielders and - you'd think - rather difficult to replace. Would it not be better to take the cash and find a real striker and a midfielder rather be left with David Ngog and far less money?
Some strange words from Arsenal's Samir Nasri have caused a bit of a stir. The 23-year-old French winger was one of the Premier League's top performers int he first half of the season and with just a year left on his current contract Arsenal have been looking to sign him up to a contract extension. Not so fast says Sami:
I don't know if I will sign a new contract. Anyway, the discussions are ongoing. For the moment, I don't think about this. We will speak about it after the match with Poland. Do I want to go to Man United? First, we should see if it's real and if it is concrete.
If Nasri doesn't sign a long-term deal (and fairly soon), Arsenal will probably be forced to sell him now or risk seeing him leave on a Bosman free transfer come the end of the 2011/12 season. Nasri is presumably holding out for a better offer, but considering the stark dip in form towards the end of last year, it's not entirely clear that Arsenal should give him one. It's an interesting dilemma for Arsene Wenger et. al though.
For more on Nasri and Arsenal, visit The Short Fuse.
Carlos Tevez doesn't sound like a man particularly keen on staying with Manchester City. Although City have insisted that Tevez wants to stay and that they won't be losing their club captain, well, quotes from the Tevez camp suggest otherwise:
Sheikh Mansour has made a lot of sacrifices to keep me and if I stay at City, it will be for him. He signed me, he wants to keep me but, at the same time he has told me to do whatever I need to do to be happy.
He has told me: 'If you want to leave, then you can go.' There is no deadline – it's down to me. They offered me a new contract in December but I didn't want to extend it. At the end of the season they offered me another new deal but at the moment I don't know whether I will accept it.
Tevez has also slammed the Manchester City board for failure to keep promises and has said the only person he'll deal with is the owner. With the striker increasingly demanding a move abroad to a place where he can be with his family, it doesn't look as though his protests are to do with a raise. Bad news for Manchester City indeed.
Liverpool are interested in the services of Sunderland midfielder and England U-21 international Jordan Henderson, according to a report from the Guardian. Henderson, 20, is valued at upwards of £20M thanks to his status as a home grown player and rising star in the England setup, but rumour has it that Sunderland have already had to fend away a substantial bid from Kenny Dalglish and Liverpool and may well have to weather further offers.
Fortunately for Sunderland, they're in a strong position with Henderson having signed a five-year contract last winter, and Liverpool look fairly congested in central midfield already with the likes of Lucas, Steven Gerrard and Raul Meireles all knocking about - a situtation that will only become more difficult if they manage to acquire Blackpool skipper Charlie Adam as well. It's something to keep an eye on, for sure, but by no means an inevitability.
Arsene Wenger has finally cracked. After years of insisting that a band of hobbits would be enough to penetrate the fastness of Mordor and cast the One Ring into the fiery pits of Mount Doom, he's now admitted that there's no way that could ever work and is going to acquire helpers of larger stature in his quest to free the world from the dominion of the evil Lord Sauron. Or something like that. I don't pay him that much attention:
It's something that's easy to correct. We need to improve the size of our squad. We need a bigger variety in the height of our players. We need to be more capable of fighting against some characteristics than we have been this season.
We get it 95% right, but we must gain that 5% because it's so frustrating to flirt with success like we have done. The fans are unhappy that we didn't win the league, but we are close. In 2003 we were also the best away team, but didn't win. We kept going and in 2004 we were very strong.
I'm going to go ahead and assume that this doesn't mean that Arsenal are about to acquire Peter Crouch, but we may seem them attempting to buy a taller midfielder and possibly make another round of upgrades at central defence (the return of Thomas Vermaelen will help, of course). It's entirely possible, however, that Arsenal's issues from set pieces stem from something tactical rather than physical, and putting a couple of inches on a couple of players won't be particularly helpful.
For more on Arsene Wenger and Arsenal, see The Short Fuse.
Romelu Lukaku is one of the hottest properties in European football, and the young Belgian international striker is said to have most of the world's biggest clubs hot on his tail. The leader in the clubhouse for his services now appears to be Chelsea FC, with rumors coming out that a deal could be finalized as early as next week. According to Lukaku, there are multiple English clubs who have shown interest, and the English Premier League would be his preferred destination.
If Lukaku signs with Chelsea, it would probably spell the end for at least one of, if not both of Nicolas Anelka and Didier Drogba. Fernando Torres is clearly at the top of the pecking order right now, despite his average performances, while Lukaku has proven himself as a legitimate forward despite still being a teenager. As he states in the above-linked Guardian article, he would not be a starter right away, but his potential and price tag alone would mean that at least one of Chelsea's strikers would have to be shown the door.
For more on Chelsea FC, including news and transfer rumors, check out SB Nation's Chelsea FC blog We Ain't Got No History.
Tottenham Hotspur are in desperate need of a striker to complement the rest of the squad, especially with Jermain Defoe's shocking decline and Peter Crouch and Roman Pavlyuchenko's collective shocking staying-exactly-the-same-as-they've-always-been. They apparently showed interest in both Atletico Madrid's Diego Forlan and Villarreal's Guiseppe Rossi during the Janaury transfer window, and they've continued at least the Rossi chase into the summer, according to Jamie Redknapp, Harry's son:
Dad has just had a £27million pound big rejected for G.Rossi. All I can say. Undecided for another bid. #thfc #spursless than a minute ago via UberSocial Favorite Retweet ReplyJamie Redknapp
Considering Villarreal rejected a supposedly higher bid from Spurs in the January window, it's not much of a surprise that they haven't sad yes to this one either. Redknapp must be fairly desperate to add to his forward line for next season, but at this point he's probably better off looking elsewhere for cheaper talent. With Tottenham's limited funds, Rossi for upwards of £30M could be a crippling purchase if he doesn't work out, unless big money can be generated via sales of other players.
For more on Tottenham Hotspur news and rumours, please see Cartilage Free Captain.
Fulham will need some reinforcing if they want to take their Europa League campaign seriously and are looking to Portugal to find it. The Cottagers are apparently in the frame for 23-year-old Felipe Menezes, who is currently drifting in and out of the first team at Benfica and could fit in nicely with a club that doesn't always have a playmaking option in the centre of the pitch. His agent, Luiz Carlini, has apparently already had preliminary contact with the team, and he'll meet with them after the UEFA Champions League final between Manchester United and FC Barcelona.
Fulham want Felipe and there's a possibility the move could happen. Felipe wants regular football and the Premier League is a big option.
Fulham are an interested club which I've learned already. Let's see. We have already been contacted by several clubs, but England would be an interesting option.
I'll be honest and admit that I don't know Felipe very well. The Brazilian midfielder has made just 11 appearances with Benfica, scoring zero goals in the process, after moving from hometown team Goiania in 2009. If Fulham do pursue his signature, they'll probably do a loan-to-buy deal to get an extended trial out of the relative unknown first.
For more on the Cottagers, check out SB Nation's Fulham blog, Cottagers Confidential.
Stewart Downing has shocked Aston Villa by refusing to sign a contract extension at the club, leaving several other Premier League sides scenting blood in the water. Metaphorical blood, not actual blood. Downing, who has had a superb time at Aston Villa after recovering from a foot injury midway through the 2009/10 season, has two years left on his deal.
I know the club are keen for me to extend my contract as I only have two years left on my deal and that my agent [Struan Marshall] had a recent meeting with our chief executive [Paul Faulkner]. However, I am 26 and at a major crossroads in my career so I won't be committing to a new deal at the moment.
As he's refusing to sign, the England winger may be available for bidders, although he won't come cheap by any means. He cost Villa £ 12M when he joined from Middlesbrough in 2009, so the team will probably be seeking at least that much, and they're also facing serious interest in another of their stars in Ashley Young.
Liverpool, apparently, are interested in both Young and Downing, and Manchester United are also believed to be int he bidding for Young. It may be a rough summer for the Villa faithful, especially as this news comes just weeks after Downing expressed his happiness and desire to stay with the club. Whoops.
For more on Aston Villa, check out SB Nation's Villa blog 7500 to Holte.
According to the Guardian, Lille forward Gervinho is a transfer target for both Liverpool and Arsenal this summer, with Arsene Wenger a noted fan of the Ivorian. Gervinho, 24, helped Lille to their first Ligue Un title in more than fifty years this season and has said he'd like to play in the Champions League in 2011/12, which seems to rule out Liverpool, who aren't going to have the opportunity to play European football at all after finishing sixth in the league. Arsenal, on the other hand, might have a shot at convincing him to sign.
With Gervinho expected to cost a significant sum of money, Arsenal may have to sell in order to acquire him, and one would have to imagine they'd rather end up with Lille teammate Eden Hazard instead (although Hazard would cost significantly more). We'll see where all the Gervinho talk goes after he comes back from the Cote d'Ivoire's Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in early June, but I can't imagine there's much to the rumour - he can play in the Champions League with Lille and they can probably do better to sell Hazard for significantly more money. But who knows?
Manchester City goalkeeper Shay Given, who has been relegated to backup duty behind Joe Hart, has made it clear that he would like to move somewhere that he can play. The top team on his wish list appears to be Celtic, the club that the Irishman grew up supporting.
"Celtic is a fantastic club but it's too soon to say what's going to happen or if that's going to happen," Given told The Sun. "But you never say never when Celtic come calling. It's no secret I'm a big Celtic supporter and have been all my life. I don't know what their goalkeeping situation is.
"Ideally, I would like to be playing but it's out of my hands. If Manchester City want me, I've got another two years left on my contract. I don't really know what's going to happen."
Given spent 12 seasons at Newcastle United before moving to Manchester City in 2009. He spent one season as the team's top keeper, helping the team finish fifth in the English Premier League. He was passed up by Hart prior to this season though and spent the season on the bench.
Celtic finished second in the Scottish Premier League this season, behind rivals Rangers. Fraser Forster was their first-choice goalkeeper, but he was on loan from Newcastle and there appears to be an opening for Given to join the club.
To nobody's surprise, Charlie Adam wants a move away from relegated Blackpool to a club in the English Premier League. Adam was the star of a Blackpool team that captured the hearts of many neutrals for their willingness to play attacking football even when the points didn't turn up. The Tangerines have activated a clause in Adam's contract that would keep him with the club for one more season, but he is keen to move elsewhere.
"It's not for me to decide what happens next in my career but everyone knows that I want to play in the Premier League," Adam said. "It's one of the best leagues in the world."
It looked as if Adam might leave the club in January when bigger clubs came calling. Liverpool chased Adam all month and are expected to try to sign him again this summer. Tottenham Hotspur also put in a late bid for Adam, but the midfielder stayed with Blackpool.
Adam has been the face of the club since moving to Bloomfield Road from Rangers. He was the key player in the team a year ago when the club were promoted to the English Premier League for the first time.
The 25-year-old is expected to be a key member of Scotland's Nations Cup team, but he remains disappointed that Blackpool were relegated on the season's final day. The Tangerines were up 2-1 at Manchester United, but went on to lose and missed staying up by a point.
"I was bitterly disappointed to get relegated with Blackpool," Adam said. "But I just keep playing the way that I can and hopefully that keeps me in the Scotland squad. Personally I've had a fantastic season and no one can take that away from me. I won't try and hide that. But the important thing is the team and we were relegated.
"Fair play to the teams above us who got out of it. On Sunday, we were 2-1 up at Old Trafford and we were also 2-0 up against them at our place. It just shows that at times we've played well, but we didn't do quite enough to make it.
"There will be changes, but the lads have to try and go again next season. The team come before any individual and the club will come back. But I still say it's been a fantastic two years for Blackpool. Some guys will leave but whoever does should be remembered for the way the team have played in the last two years."
According to Falcao's agent, both Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur are interested in Porto's start striker Radamel Falcao and are willing to meet the £26 million release clause in his contract. The North London rivals are both looking to bolster their squads this summer after falling short of their goals this season and appear to have targeted arguably Europe's hottest striker.
Falcao helped Porto win the Europa League this season with 17 goals in the competition, breaking Jurgen Klinsmann's record of 15 goals in any UEFA competition. He scored another 16 times for Porto in the league, helping them take that title as well.
"England are crazy about Falcao," Claudio Mossi, Falcao's agent, said. "Among the leading candidates are Arsenal and Tottenham. They are willing to hit the €30 million clause. The figure is not an extraordinary value for them."
Porto have admitted that the release clause in Falcao's contract is too low and they are negotiating a new contract with the Colombian. He is being chased by some of the world's biggest clubs and both Arsenal and Spurs have a need at striker. It's becoming increasingly difficult for Arsenal to be dependent on the oft-injured Robin van Persie, while Spurs' lack of a quality striker may have cost them a spot in the Champions League.
It is not as if Falcao is looking for any excuse to leave Porto though. He has stated that he would be happy to stay with the club and with the club qualified for the Champions League next season he will not be out of the spotlight. Mossi made that point as well, adding that his client has not ruled out staying at Porto.
"He is very happy at Porto," Mossi said. "There he can play the Champions next year. The problem is that every day he is linked with other clubs. It is important that he is left alone for a time with his family now to decide."
In a surprising turn of events, Newcastle United have declined to offer midfielder Joey Barton an extension to his contract, due to expire at the end of next season. As a result, the 28-year-old, widely regarded as one of the club's top performers in their first season back in the Premier League, will play out the 2011/12 season and then leave on a free transfer - at least, according to agent Willie McKay, who was speaking to Sky Sports:
I had a meeting with Newcastle managing director Derek Llambias and club secretary Lee Charnley and they have indicated Joey will not be offered a new contract. Joey will continue to be a Newcastle player next season and then he will leave on a free transfer at the end of his contract.
Joey would have loved to have extended his stay at Newcastle, but unfortunately it is not to be. Joey has loved his time at Newcastle and nothing will change his commitment for the club next season. Obviously we will be monitoring the situation next January to try and find a new club for Joey as he can speak to clubs from abroad in January.
I can't really figure out why Barton's not being extended. He played well enough to have some value in the transfer market despite his past and even if he'd done something awful that nobody outside the club knew about, they could still extend his deal and sell him, assuming the news wasn't on the verge of breaking. This makes no sense for Newcastle, which seems to imply that any disagreement has to have come from the Barton camp, despite the spin McKay is putting on the talks.
Either way, it is quite an odd piece of news. Will we see Barton abroad come 2012/13? He may have run out of chances in England.
I suppose that this is more of an anti-transfer rumour than a transfer rumour per se, but Mario Balotelli has announced that he will not be leaving Manchester City to move back to Italy - for now. Well, I say 'announced', but it seems more like a reaction to a press corps insisting on asking whether or not he'd entertain the idea of a move to Serie A champions AC Milan. His response?
For the time being, I am happy in England. I compliment Milan for winning the Scudetto, but with regards to me, I am happy in England.
Thrilling stuff, eh? Balotelli had an interesting start to his career with City following a summer move from Milan's arch-rivals Inter Milan, but he's clearly got enough talent to be worth working with and he's previously described how much he enjoys life under Roberto Mancini. Nobody saw him going anywhere before this, and nobody's expecting him to go anywhere now. Yay transfer rumours!
Arsene Wenger has claimed that Arsenal will be 'very active' in the transfer market this summer, a marked departure from their previous policies which I understand involved attempting to acquire new players with two balls of lint and a seven-year old tootsie pop (the tootsie pop turned into Sebastian Squillaci). As Wenger says, the club has a lot of work to do and the resources to do it:
The market will be hyperactive because everyone believes [that the implementation of UEFA's Financial Fair Play rules] will happen soon. So we are quickly doing the last buying before the stores will be closed. And for the first time for a while, I will be very active, too.
The club is in a healthy financial situation and we have got the basis of the team but we know we want to be stronger next year. The fans need to trust us because the club is in a strong position. I share their disappointment because a few weeks ago we were in a position to win the league and in the end we play for qualifying in the Champions League.
It'd be interesting to see Arsenal flexing their financial muscle - the sale of flats at their old ground at Highbury let the club with a significant profit in 2010, and they have plenty of hole in the team to patch up. That could become even more pronounced with the departures of Nicklas Bendtner and Denilson, and there seems to be questions about the Arsenal futures of Andrei Arshavin, Samir Nasri and captain Cesc Fabregas?
Who're Arsenal's major targets this season? For many, the list starts and ends with Lille's Eden Hazard, but even with Wenger assuring fans that the Gunners will spend big he may be out of their price range with the likes of Chelsea involved.
Argentinian forward Sergio 'Kun' Aguero is linked to Premier League clubs all the time anyway, but the transfer rumours have gone into overdrive following Aguero's Monday announcement that he would be leaving Atletico Madrid immediately. Any team that makes a fair offer, apparently is a possibility. To the English media, this means Liverpool, Manchester City, and Chelsea, whereas to most everyone else it means Real Madrid.
Although it's unlikely that Aguero does make his way over to England, he'd represent an intruiging possibility for a number of teams, although out of the top sides it appears that Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur would be the most obvious options - and it's unlikely that Spurs could pony up the gargantuan transfer fee that Aguero's likely to command, even with the announcement that he'll be leaving Atletico.
Chelsea have spent an absurd amount of money on Fernando Torres, Manchester United are already fielding Wayne Rooney, Javier Hernandez and Dimitar Berbatov, and it strikes me as unlikely that Arsenal and Arsene Wenger would pay an exorbitant amount for a forward. If Carlos Tevez goes elsewhere in the summer, City could be an absolutely perfect fit - and they certainly have the funds to pull that off.
With rumours that Aston Villa's first choice goalkeeper and American international Brad Friedel may be on his way out of the club for a backup role behind Pepe Reina at Anfield, Villa fans are left trying to make sense of what seems like on the face of things a bizarre situation. Why would Friedel reject a contract with the Midlands club just to sit on the bench with Kenny Dalglish?
Kirsten Schlewitz of SB Nation's superb Aston Villa blog 7500 to Holte thinks she may have an answer - it could be to do with the well-publicised financial issues that Friedel has found himself in recently. Playing time is all well and good, but if Liverpool are offering more money then he just might move on simply due to financial security. Or he could hate Vila's goalkeeping kits:
Apparently [the rationale behind the putative Liverpool move is] to have the security of a two year contract rather than wonder what will happen when you reach the age of 41 and no one wants you around. Friedel's had a couple financial scares, so perhaps he's thinking about the future. Or maybe he just really wanted to head to Liverpool, to get a taste of Champions League...oh wait, no, Europa League...no, not that either. Maybe he just wanted out of those hideous Nike goalkeeper kits.
The question of why Friedel would want to move to Anfield might be an interesting one, but it's perhaps less of a mystery than why Liverpool would want him in the first place. What's going on up there that makes them want to overpay for a backup goalkeeper?
In a move that will surely horrify Arsenal fans, 23-year-old Danish forward Nicklas Bendtner has requested a summer move away from the Emirates Stadium and will be given the opportunity to leave the club should any team make a sufficiently high bid. Bendtner's father and agent has suggested that the striker is frustrated by the current situation at Arsenal, where he made only three starts in the league last season:
Nicklas has made his decision and told Arsenal: he wants to leave the club. There has not been any change in his situation and so we have told Arsenal that we will search the market for a new club. I can say that there is serious interest from English and German clubs and it is not going to be a problem to find him a good club.
Although Bendtner is widely seen as a figure of fun (his confidence was measured at ten out of a possible nine by Arsenal's club psychologist despite being generally woeful in front of goal), he's also been constrained by the fact he rarely gets to play at his favoured position, often being dumped out wide on the left flank to play winger. At this point, a move will probably be a good thing for both player and club, and with a price tag of £9M one would expect more than a few teams will be interested in acquiring him.
There was a strong rumour floating around earlier that Liverpool had leapt into the hunt for Aston Villa goalkeeper Brad Friedel, who's available on a free transfer, and apparently that was for good reason. According to Birmingham Mail reporter Matt Kendrick, the American international is set to reject a contract offer from Villa to make his way back to Anfield (where he played between 1997 and 2000) next season:
Brad Friedel set to reject #avfc 1 year deal to rejoin #lfc for 2. So Villa might be in the market for TWO new keepersless than a minute ago via Mobile Web Favorite Retweet ReplyMat Kendrick
If true, this will a) really intensify any rumours about the possible departure of current Liverpool number one Pepe Reina and b) leave Aston Villa with a major goalkeeping problem in that they'd have zero Premier League calibre stoppers. It's not entirely clear why Liverpool would want Friedel at this point unless Reina's going away. This'll make for an interesting little story.
Arsenal midfielder Denilson is set to leave the club in the summer - and he's taken the liberty of lobbing some parting blows at the team via The Sun. If you're a Gunners fan, you might want to avert your eyes. Denilson's not pulling any punches here:
This has been the worst season of my life, and I am so upset. I am a winner and I came here to win trophies but I've been here for five years and won nothing. Until Arsenal stop throwing away silly points in stupid games nothing will change.
I've simply been to see Arsène Wenger and told him how I felt and he's agreed to let me go. A footballer's career is over very quickly so it is time for me to move on. I made up my mind eight months ago. I was fed up of coming home and feeling down.
I need a fresh challenge. It's great to play beautiful football but sometimes you have to play ugly if you want to succeed. I can't see myself returning in a Chelsea shirt, or Liverpool or Manchester City – and definitely not Tottenham. I think my future will be in Italy or Spain.
The weirdest thing about all of this? Denilson's not actually good enough to play for this wacky Arsenal side. Perhaps his desire to win might have been realised if he had played well enough to unseat a 19-year-old child in the Arsenal midfield. That's possibly harsh, yes, but if the reason he never really shone with the club is because his style doesn't work in the Premier League, he really ought to have said that rather than blaming it on the rest of the squad.
Reports are flying out of Spain that Real Madrid have received two offers for the services of Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester City, the first one in the form of €100M cash and the second with said cash plus Carlos Tevez and Emmanuel Adebayor. All indications are that they're taking this pretty seriously.
City, of course, are denying it - it wouldn't really fit into their 'add depth at a couple of positions' stance from yesterday anyway, and there's no real reason to believe it's true, either. Why would City think Real are prepared to give up their best player, and why would Ronaldo want to go back to Manchester to play for a team there that isn't Manchester United? He did, after all, spend his entire United career pining for a move to Madrid, and now he's there, making excellent money, and being relatively successful.
I'm just not buying this one until we get actual, real quotes from the clubs (that aren't 'no this is not true'). Would be pretty exciting, though.
Bolton Wanderers striker Johan Elmander is expected to move to Turkish giants Galatasaray in the summer transfer window, according to manager Owen Coyle. Elmander, who turns 30 in a week, has had something of a hit and miss season, flourishing in the early going before seeing his contribution rather die down during the mid-late stages, whereupon his goalscoring form was replaced by the arrival of Daniel Sturridge on loan from Chelsea.
At the end of the day, Elmander never really scored enough goals with Bolton to justify his £8.2M record price tag, although he he's always been underrated for his ability to link up play effectively. However, he did score eleven goals this season, and with Sturridge also expected to return to his parent club in the summer Bolton may be hard pressed to replace their production with the current crop of strikers. That doesn't mean shipping Elmander out doesn't make sense - he's getting up there in age and he the club might as well cash in on him while he still has value - but this almost certainly puts them in the market to buy a forward this summer.
Turns out that no, Carlos Tevez is not happy with the current state of affairs that sees him captaining Manchester City. Although he made a lot of noise about a possible move over the winter and subsequently retracted his transfer request after much cajoling from the club, the current captain has made his unhappiness abundantly clear with comments made on-air to an Argentinian radio station:
I want to leave Manchester City. Football has changed a lot for me and I don't know if I will even make it to the next World Cup. And that has nothing to do with whether I'm selected or not. I've been treated very well here and I'm grateful. I also gave my everything for the club to receive the results it has had. But I need a change of scene.
Less than a week ago, Roberto Mancini had claimed that Tevez wanted to stay with the team and never had any problem over the winter after all. Someone's telling porkies!
Realistically, if Tevez does leave, City are in a fair bit of trouble. They''re nowhere near as effective at scoring goals with their talisman absent, and with their stated desire to only draft in a few players this summer rather than continue Project Big Money Overhaul they won't be able to adequately replace his production unless Edin Dzeko magically comes good.
Anyone expecting Manchester City to spend ridiculous amounts of money this summer is mistaken, according to chairman Khaldoon al-Mubarak. City have splashed out vast quantities of cash over the past few summers, and with a major windfall arriving in the form of Champions league qualification there were fears that the owners would take the team's spending to even higher pinnacles. Not so, says al-Mubarak:
It won't be like last summer, or the summer before. What you will see this year is strengthening the squad in areas that we feel require more depth. We don't need quantity, as today we have quality. We just need a couple of players.
It's unclear just where Manchester City would be looking to upgrade, but their stance of incremental improvements may have to change should captain Carlos Tevez choose to depart the Eastlands. Although City boast one of the Premier League's most solid defences, they've had some trouble scoring goals without Tevez involved, and the Argentinian striker has been making some noise about moving away from England soon.
No matter what, though, this statement will give the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea some relief - both clubs are going to be chasing big names over the summer and the last thing that they'd want is to get involved in a bidding war with City.
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