The Transfer Insider – June 10th.
Welcome to this our latest column from the team at the Smart Betting Club, focusing on all the football transfer window news with a betting perspective. Expect to read Ed’s thoughts every Friday throughout the summer!
Before I start, I’ll introduce myself a bit. My name is Ed Darnell and I work as a full time sports journalist for various publications. As such I get the chance to read transfer rumours – basically all day, every day – throughout the summer. I’ve linked up with the Smart Betting Club to share the rumours I’ve picked up on a weekly basis, in order to help aid your betting decisions – without offering straight tips.
As we’re at the very start of the summer transfer season, I’ve stuck to just three of the biggest teams in the Premier League first off. As the transfer window progresses I’ll probably change the format to include every Premier League clubs’ comings and goings but as we’re in the early stages I’ve decided to keep it simple.
I read countless pieces of speculation, comments and downright lies throughout the summer (in fact, most of the year). From this I like to think I’ve gained a relatively good idea of how to gauge a story and weigh up sources, I think. But I will say this – until the ink is dry, the pictures are taken and it actually happens, don’t count on it!
According to the Manchester Evening News at least, the Glazer family are prepared to back Sir Alex this summer to a pretty hefty degree. As a note – local media tend to be quite good when it comes to transfer speculation, I’d trust something I read more in say, the MEN, Marca or the Liverpool Echo than in a national paper/website in regard to most, but not all, rumours. Manchester’s evening paper have a notoriously cosy relationship with Sir Alex, a manager who looks after his favoured few.
The MEN claim the Americans will hand him a £100million war-chest, whether or not that comes to fruition remains to be seen but I can see at least one or two big transfers. Atletico Madrid goalkeeper David de Gea is close to a deal according to widespread reports, as is Aston Villa’s Ashley Young who has turned down the offer of a new deal at Villa Park and seems certain to move on in the summer.
Spurs midfielder Luka Modric and Arsenal’s Samir Nasri are also being linked, with Nasri the more likely at the time of writing – the Frenchman is just 8/11 to have made the switch to Old Trafford by the close of the window. Neither will be cheap, or easy, to get and you can expect these stories to run for a couple of weeks at least.
United are also closing in on Blackburn defender Phil Jones, for around £17million, but Jones is likely to be‘one for the future’. From what I’ve seen he looks a decent player, and versatile, but I’m not sure what impact he can have in 2011/2012.
However, this means some will be on their way – with keeper Tomas Kuszczak, Gabriel Obertan, Ritchie de Laet and Mame Biram Diouf almost certain to be shown the door. There are a few possible surprises as well, Dimitar Berbatov and Wes Brown have also been deemed surplus to requirements as long as acceptable offers come in.
It could be very much a ‘new look’ United side next season and they’ve lost Edwin van der Sar and Paul Scholes to retirement already. Ryan Giggs must only have another season in him, if he even manages that now – but I’ll leave that well alone. One way or another, the Welshman will probably see less action in 2011/2012.
Not sure where to start with Arsenal, there are too many ifs and buts with the Gunners at the moment. Boss Arsene Wenger has stubbornly stuck to his transfer policy, whatever that actually is, for the last couple of seasons but speculation suggests he will change tack and launch a few big moves this time around, just as it did last summer…
The Gunners have got some new investment from American businessman Stan Kroenke, who has upped his stake, so I can see why the media seem to think Wenger will ‘splash out’. The talk is of a new keeper, although no names at the moment are apparent. The Man United target De Gea was one in the frame, another was Manuel Neuer of Schalke, who is on the verge of Bayern Munich deal. Wenger appears to have gone cold on the Rangers keeper Allan McGregor after trusted scout Alex Stafford watched him twice in a week at the turn of the year. The only other name in the frame is Man City’s Shay Given but would City sell to a potential rival?
Other Arsenal targets include Karim Benzema, who Wenger has actually discussed, Bolton’s Gary Cahill, who he hasn’t, and Blackburn’s Chris Samba. All three of these seem a bit tenuous, although he must be after a centre-half after last season. If you’re thinking of having a bet on Arsenal winning the league prior to the season and transfers are of any importance to your decision, I’d wait until they start doing some business first, just to see who comes in.
The Gunners are 8.80 with Betfair to win the league next season, which is the best price I’ve found so far but I’d still hold off for the time being – that price could drift depending on who their rivals bring in and whether or not they can keep the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri, with both attracting attention.
Chelsea have no manager at the time of writing but it looks almost certain to be Guus Hiddink, now I’ve written that it will almost certainly be someone else. But to be brutally honest I’m not sure how much say the manager has over transfers at Stamford Bridge so that could well prove to be a moot point. Hiddink did come in as far as 1/12 with William Hill to take over at Chelsea, his price has drifted somewhat and he is 1/7 with the same bookmaker or a slightly more attractive 1/3 with Skybet. Incidentally, I won’t be touching that market. What if Hiddink comes in as a director of football and a younger manager, such as Mark Hughes or Andre Villas-Boas, takes charge of first team affairs? It is a potential mess from a betting viewpoint.
Chelsea need an injection of youth in their ranks to give a bit of energy to an aging team and they’re after Neymar according to reports in Brazil, and in England. Those reports started in Brazil – which probably means it is true. Whether or not they’ll get him, I’m not so sure as Sao Paolo are holding out for more than the £24million Chelsea have been reported as offering and some of Europe’s other big guns, like Real Madrid and AC Milan, are also being linked. I also wouldn’t believe reports linking Daniel Sturridge with another loan move or an exit, until it happens, at least.
Didier Drogba is linked with a move into one of the European leagues on a fairly regular basis, I’d take these with a pinch of salt, but I wouldn’t rule out a couple of exits – Alex and Salomon Kalou could be the biggest names shown the door.
Dutch international Wesley Sneijder is a paltry 8/13 to join the Blues with Skybet by the close of the summer transfer window, I’ve heard reports of player swaps involving Michael Essien or Ramires moving in the opposite direction – but this could be just hearsay. However, Chelsea are scheduled to discuss Sneijder with Inter Milan so this seems a very likely transfer.
Other bits and bobs….
Clubs have to deal with the new UEFA rules this summer, including limits on what they can spend, based on what the respective clubs earn, and of course the 25 man Premiership squad limits. This could lead to fringe players at the top clubs moving on before they do their own big business, or the bigger deals later in the summer.
This may not be the case with Manchester United and Chelsea, who are both seemingly fairly close to sealing some big deals, but the likes of Manchester City and Spurs, who both need to offload some misfits, could be a different matter.
Finally, a few rumblings…
Aston Villa are in talks with Wigan boss Roberto Martinez, but the Latics are confident he’ll turn them down, Bolton boss Owen Coyle has also been suggested as a potential replacement for the departed Gerard Houllier. However, will either of these managers leave positions they know are fairly safe for the uncertainty and (arguably) unrealistic expectations of Villa Park? Possibly, but it may be worth considering some outsiders – such as USA boss Bob Bradley or former Rangers boss Walter Smith, whose agent is apparently actively sourcing a Premiership vacancy. Of more interest perhaps is Jurgen Klinsmann, a popular boss with American links who is also being mentioned in the ‘right circles’ currently.
Sunderland have bid for Manchester United’s Wes Brown, John O’Shea and Darron Gibson, while Jordan Henderson is heading to Liverpool.
Bolton’s transfer plans could hinge on whether or not they sell Gary Cahill. Some sources are claiming he only has a year left on his deal. This is poorly researched as Cahill signed a new long-term contract last season. They’re after at least one striker and a centre-half, while Swansea midfielder Darren Pratley is set to join as a free agent.
Manchester City pair Shay Given and Craig Bellamy are targets for Celtic, but the Glasgow side will probably miss out on the pair.
Celtic are also keen on Robbie Keane, this is more likely than the City duo but still a bit unrealistic, while James McFadden is also being tipped to leave Birmingham for the Bhoys after selling his house in Birmingham.
With a potentially disastrous HMRC tax case hanging over Rangers, is at best unclear as to whether or not the Scottish Champions will have a bit of money to spend in the summer following the takeover by Scottish businessman Craig Whyte. Nonetheless, manager Ally McCoist has taken in all the top sides in a week spent in Argentina checking out potential targets.
Everton boss David Moyes has a small budget but he will be able to add to that if he opts to sell one of his established stars. The initial talk in the build up to the window suggested Marouane Fellaini could be sacrificed for the good of the team but now the speculation is that Leighton Baines and Jack Rodwell could be the men on the move. Possibly as a consequence of Moyes’ limited funding Everton are currently being linked with every free agent going with Jay Bothroyd, Joey Barton (ok he isn’t a free agent, but he has a year on his deal and won’t cost big money), Sebastian Larsson and even Miroslav Klose all linked with moves to Goodison.