The Transfer Insider: 5 Days That Could Change Your Season

In this period of transfer market cat and mouse is it too soon to press the button? That is the question facing punters this week as they survey an interesting looking relegation market with a couple of vulnerable big priced runners who may well be very active this week.

QPR have money burning a hole in their pocket but can they bring in enough quality players before the deadline passes? Joey Barton is just one player mulling this over, but who else is Warnock looking to sign? Blackburn also desperately need new faces after failing to convince the likes of Ronaldinho, Beckham and Raul to move to Lancashire, so is the 17/10 on them to go down a worthwhile punt?

At the top end of the table,  Man City’s bloated squad needs chopping down with the likes of Tevez, Boyata, Onuoha and Bellamy all on the move – but to where? Arsenal also desperately need to strengthen and transfer guru Ed, has all the latest on them plus all the key transfer moves – vital for your betting in the Premier League.

Anxious Times At Ewood Park

Blackburn Rovers boss Steve Kean certainly face a pretty anxious final few days of the window and he will likely miss out on Freiburg striker Papiss Demba Cisse (as you’ll see below) and Manchester City’s Dedryck Boyata, who is on the verge of a loan move to Bolton.

Is it time to panic at Ewood Park?  I think so, and they’re still a pretty tasty 17/10 to go down with Unibet, despite their sluggish start.  It might also be worth keeping an eye on the goings on at St James’ Park too. Newcastle have lost Jose Enrique and Kevin Nolan already and it looks as if Joey Barton could be the next out the exit door.  These three were arguably Newcastle’s best players last season (discounting Andy Carroll) and they may struggle if they don’t bring in adequate replacements by the month’s end (I do like what I’ve seen of Yohan Cabeye though).  I think Newcastle will probably manage to avoid the drop but you never know when there is a hint of discontent in the air and at 7/1 with both Coral and Betfair they could be an option for anyone seeking a live ‘outsider’ to fall through the relegation trap door.

As you’ll all be well aware we’re getting close to deadline day now and the speed of deals going through will increase tenfold in the remaining days.  Whatever your thoughts on the current transfer system (I’m not a massive fan personally) you can’t argue with the fact that the final few days of the summer window are pretty exciting.

A couple of clubs, such as Sunderland, Liverpool and Manchester City, have probably done the majority of their business already but for a sizeable majority this isn’t the case.  That doesn’t mean the aforementioned trio won’t buy again before the window slams shut, but for the likes of Blackburn, Bolton and Stoke they could end up rushing and scrambling for the same players as the deadline looms. And of course, the likes of Celtic, Rangers and a whole host of cash-strapped lesser lights will be looking to pinch bargains from elite clubs who are seeking to balance their books.

Two London Clubs Who Must Strengthen

The two clubs who are interesting me most at this point are Arsenal and QPR for different reasons.  The Gunners have had the heartbeat of their side ripped out with the exits of Cesc Fabregas and now Samir Nasri and everyone is calling on Arsene Wenger to use that £60million or so to bolster his own options.  I doubt he’ll go crazy and we could be talking about just one or two new faces, he almost certainly will not use the full £60m.  There have been calls from some quarters for Wenger to be axed and he is a best priced 16/1 with Victor Chandler and Paddy Power to be the first manager to leave his post this season.

The Frenchman is unlikely to bring in like-for-like replacements for Fabregas and Nasri, as defence and attack are the obvious places in need of improvement in the Gunners side, rather than midfield.  The game at Udinese on Wednesday demonstrated this to a degree, even with a relatively inexperienced side on display.  Indeed, now Fabregas and Nasri have moved on the stand-out player, for me, in the middle of the park is Jack Wilshere and he played no part in Italy.

So who will Wenger go for?  There have been reports he is after Kaka but any kind of deal could be some way off, the negotiations could go to the final day.  Kaka is on huge wages at Real Madrid (£153,000 a week) and would have to take a significant cut to fit into the Gunners’ wage structure (I don’t know this for sure, but Kaka does seem the sort who may possibly consider that).  Another stumbling block is the fact Arsenal wanted to secure a loan deal but Real want to sell, with a figure of £17million mooted.  For a 29-year-old who has struggled with injuries a lot over the course of the last two years this may be too big a risk for Wenger, despite Kaka’s pedigree.

A centre-half is also a priority and it looks as if Birmingham’s Scott Dann will be brought in, although there are still reports linking Wenger with Gary Cahill and a move could be resurrected.  I would argue Cahill is the better player and fits the Arsenal mould a little better as well, he does play it out of defence whenever possible, but Dann is a younger and cheaper option and Birmingham’s financial situation means they have to sell.  Nonetheless, I certainly think Dann could cut it in a top side – as soon as he got injured last season the Blues simply fell apart, aside from in the Carling Cup final.

After an opening day 4-0 hammering at home to Bolton I feared for QPR (their odds for relegation have shorted since opening day, they’re a best priced 13/10 with bet365 to go down having been around the 7/4 mark before the campaign) but they’ve since picked up an unlikely win at Everton and, more importantly in terms of transfers, they have been taken over by Malaysian tycoon Tony Fernandes.  Suddenly things are looking up but a striker will be a priority, but they could probably do with new faces in defence and midfield as well.  If they can get Joey Barton in that would be a huge capture, but apparently he isn’t sure whether he wants to go or not (he tweeted he needs “time and space”). Perhaps he needs to leave Twitter alone for a bit, but that’s another debate. Despite the fact QPR will match his current wages, which his other suitors aren’t prepared to do Barton will be surveying his options before committing to a transfer.  In all honesty I think he could well move to Loftus Road but he must surely be waiting for either a better offer from elsewhere or to wait and see who Neil Warnock can bring in before the window slams shut.

The Great Manchester Sale Continues

Another name who could be heading to west London is Manchester City’s Nedum Onuoha, who has been frozen out at Eastlands, like so many other players from the Mark Hughes era.  The defender had been linked with Bolton, Wigan and Sunderland but  none of those sides have firmed up their interest and it would seem as if QPR are the only club left in the running That is perhaps a surprise. I was very impressed with the City youngster at Sunderland last year.

Onuoha’s City team-mate Shaun Wright-Phillips has also been linked with a move to QPR, at first I was sceptical as he has been seen at Bolton’s training ground a couple of times but as a move to the Reebok is yet to materialise I’m not so sure anymore.  The occasional England international had seemed destined for the Wanderers but following QPR’s takeover he could be mulling over his options, and a move back to London.

Finally over at Eastlands, it’s all gone a bit quiet in regards to Carlos Tevez, I don’t think anyone can afford him in all honesty or are willing to take the risk (after his foot-stamping at City, even if he did continue to perform on the pitch).  Inter Milan look the only credible destination but at just 4/6 with Skybet I’d leave that one well alone.

Bolton have been linked with a loan swoop for Real Madrid misfit Pedro Leon. I can’t really understand why boss Owen Coyle would want both Wright-Phillips and Leon (with the likes of Chris Eagles and Martin Petrov already at his disposal), which leads me to think the Scot is lining up alternatives if he fails in his bid for the City misfit.  Other names in the frame include Peter Crouch and veteran Frenchman David Trezeguet, although as yet Coyle is yet to move for either.

Stoke have been pretty slow off the mark this year, with free agents Jonathan Woodgate and Matthew Upson boss Tony Pulis’ only additions to date.  However, this is a different kind of season for the Potters, they are now considered to be an established Premier League side and are very unlikely to be dragged into a relegation battle on account of the calibre of the newly promoted sides primarily.  Of course we’ve all heard the ‘too good to go down’ line, time and time again, but this isn’t a case of that – they simply won’t be involved in the battle and are more likely to be looking upwards, rather than over their shoulders.  Pulis has already missed out on Spurs pair Peter Crouch and Wilson Palacios, or at least he is waiting to see if the Londoners lower their valuation, and now seems set to miss out on Wright-Phillips. Pulis is a bit of a euro-sceptic when it comes to transfers, preferring players who have already proved themselves in England, but he may be forced to look at players from the continent as we get closer to deadline day.

Modric Just 1/5 to Move To Chelsea

I’m as bored of the Luka Modric story as anyone but as it is dominating the headlines I can’t really avoid mentioning it.  Spurs keep telling everyone he’s staying, Chelsea remain ‘coy’ whenever asked about a move, every man and his dog has had his say on it and, quite simply, no one really knows (the bookmakers seem to think he is going, Modric is just 1/5 to move to Chelsea before the deadline with Skybet).  My thinking is that he will go, but Spurs will leave it late to try and get the best deal and also disrupt Chelsea (it was a bit of a similar scenario a few years ago when Dimitar Berbatov joined Man United).  Harry Redknapp has given a massive indication he could be prepared to sell, although you never really know with Redknapp, just don’t call him a ‘wheeler-dealer’.

Here is what he had to say on Thursday: “None of us know how he is going to feel. That’s the risk you run. But he is here and he has to go on with it, for his own good. He has to come out and be the great player that we all know he is, he has to have a great season.”

Fulham and Blackburn both need some new faces before the transfer window closes, for very different reasons I might add.  Fulham have a European campaign to prepare for, while the Rovers look very weak and if they don’t strengthen it could be a long, hard season – with relegation a real possibility.  Both have been linked with free-scoring Freiburg frontman Papiss Demba Cisse, who averaged around a goal every 1.5 games last season, and Fulham look the more likely of the pair to win the race.  One major obstacle is Freiburg’s £13million price-tag, while there is also competition from elsewhere but the Cottagers involvement in Europe could be a deciding factor. Although in a football sense too, Cisse, a counter attacking force of nature, and Fulham could be a match made in heaven, whose signing would give Martin Jol a degree of tactical flexibility he currently lacks, especially in away games where Fulham are likely to suffer from scant possession.

That’s it, I’ve had a lot of fun over the summer transfer window writing for the SBC and I hope you’ve found my articles useful, or at least bearable.  I will return once the window has closed next week with a round up piece and a full table of completed transfers and hopefully continue further into the season, with injury news and a few insights on possible team-selections and, of course, any nibbles on the old transfer front.