This week has been a particularly difficult week in terms of transfer rumours, largely due to the fact so many teams are away on tour. That said, stuff has still been happening and it is just a case of sifting through it as we edge towards a comprehensive picture of each side’s squad.
I have news and interesting odds on potential moves for Joey Barton (8/1 to Villa) and Wesley Sneijder (7/1 to Man City) and why Cardiff at 24/1 look better value odds for the Championship than either favourites Leicester and West Ham at 9/2.
Last week you could still get 6/5 on Sergio Aguero joining Manchester City and that is basically a done deal now, but the Carlos Tevez affair has hit yet another stumbling block. Corinthians have pulled out due to the impending closure of the Brazilian transfer window, and City have upped the price to £50million for teams in Europe. There are probably less than five clubs who can afford this, but, to make that deal happen in the current financial climate, there is the possibility of players being traded in a player-plus-cash deal, but more on that later.
Aston Villa boss Alex McLeish has been seeking midfield additions and has been left frustrated in his attempts to capture both Scott Parker and Charles N’Zogbia – both look highly unlikely to join Villa at present – but who does McLeish have in mind now those deals have hit a brick wall? Fortunately I’ve heard two very credible suggestions this week, and as far as I’m aware neither has been published anywhere else as yet.
One player who is being talked about is Fabrice Muamba, a player McLeish knows from Birmingham, no enquiry lodged as yet but he is a target. The Villa boss worked with the 23-year-old before at the Blues and he rated him highly enough not to want to lose him to Bolton. Muamba is a midfielder who fits the McLeish mould, or system, and Villa don’t have a player like that at present. This could well be a goer. Muamba is currently in the USA with the Wanderers and any deal is unlikely to happen until next week.
Another man on the move could be Joey Barton, who has hit a contract impasse with Newcastle. Basically, they no longer want to pay him as much as they currently are doing and they equally don’t want to offer him the five-year-deal he is after either. Despite that scenario it appears boss Alan Pardew doesn’t want to sell Barton either, clearly viewing the volatile scouser as a useful, if overpaid ‘bird in the hand’. Then again, if someone comes in with a bid of over £2million for Barton then I reckon owner Mike Ashley will go for it, and so do various media outlets as well. It all depends on whether or not Barton can be convinced to leave – and tear up his lucrative contract. Villa are 8/1 to sign Barton with Skybet and at the moment they seem the most likely of his suitors.
Another saga of sorts
The headlines have been dominated by Tevez, Luka Modric, Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas in England, while in Italy Wesley Sneijder’s possible move to Manchester United has attracted similar attention.
This is a bit of a confusing one as boss Sir Alex Ferguson has downplayed the chances of a move, while at the same time plenty of United players have called on the Dutchman to move to Old Trafford. The reigning champions clearly need some extra bite in midfield and Ferguson’s insistence that a deal for Sneijder is off the table is at odds with the majority of reports.
I’ve previously discussed the importance of local media, especially in reference to the Manchester Evening News and United. With that in mind, a very interesting story has cropped up in the MEN this week. They reckon the Reds are out of the running for Sneijder and Ferguson has instead turned his attentions to Valencia’s Juan Mata and Bayern Munich’s Bastian Schweinsteiger, a player who has been linked with a move to Old Trafford before – not least early in his career when he was marketed as a German David Beckham (a tag he nowadays dismisses). Mata will almost certainly jump at the chance to move to United, Schweinsteiger might take a bit more convincing but his head could be turned – but I’m still not sure the reports are 100% accurate in regards to Sneijder, a player who is such an obvious candidate to fill the role vacated by Scholes.
Sneijder isn’t actively seeking a move away from the Giuseppe Meazza and could well remain in Italy, but he has done a lot of press in the last year – and that is often a precursor to players moving on having raised their profile first. Both Blue Square and 888Sport are offering 2/5 that the Dutchman stays, but there has also been speculation he could still be heading to Manchester – with Eastlands the destination. That club though doesn’t seem as much of a natural fit for Sneijder for whom football rather than finances appears to have shaped his thinking thus far. But of course, times and priorities change for us all and perhaps City could yet make a compelling football case to the Dutch international.
Inter have also been credited with an interest in City’s Carlos Tevez on a number of occasions and there have been claims City have dangled the carrot of a deal involving Tevez in a bid to snap up Sneijder. There is a place for a player of Sneijder’s obvious quality in the City midfield so this could well be a possibility, unless Tevez is holding out for a move back to South America, and Inter can be backed at 10/1 with Skybet to secure the City striker, while City are 7/1 to sign Sneijder with Blue Square and 888Sport.
However, Nerazzurri president Massimo Moratti has quashed the speculation that City have made an approach thus far and he’s also claimed United are yet to make a concrete move either. Sources claiming to be close to Sneijder also say he has his heart set on Old Trafford and will not leave Inter for anyone else, but the key issue seems to be his wages – or more accurately, how they’d provide a marker of Sneijder’s status at Old Trafford.
Sneijder is on a whopping £250,000 a week at Inter, while United’s top earner is Wayne Rooney on £220,000 and Ferguson, probably wisely, doesn’t want to rock the boat by changing the wage structure at a club where he has consistently fostered a superb team spirit . This doesn’t mean a deal won’t be done and the most likely outcome, despite Ferguson’s words to the contrary, is a move to Manchester United rather than City – at 5/2 with Blue Square and 888Sport (and just 1/2 with Skybet). If Sneijder does move to Old Trafford, it doesn’t mean Mata and Schweinsteiger won’t rock up there too. There could be room for at least two of the three at United next season. In terms of where this leaves Tevez, if Sneijder was going to play any part at all, I would suggest only Real Madrid will be able to make a move this summer – they’re 4/1 with Skybet to snare the striker, but a move to Continians in January seems the most likely outcome based on the players preference for a return to South America.
A look at the Championship
Leicester City and West Ham have made the biggest moves so far, but Cardiff seem to be passing under the radar a bit. Speculation linking Craig Bellamy with a return has quietened down in recent weeks, that doesn’t mean it won’t happen later, but new boss Malky Mackay has made a move for former Rangers man Kenny Miller, now at Bursaspor. Ally McCoist wants him back at Ibrox, but Rangers cannot match the Turkish side’s valuation and the word in Glasgow is that any deal is dead. The Bluebirds now look poised to capture the well-travelled Scot – with just personal terms to be agreed. It also looks as if Peter Whittingham is staying at the Cardiff City Stadium, the midfielder was one of the best players in the league last season and had attracted Premier League interest. Whittingham’s commitment to the cause for another year is a massive boost to Cardiff’s promotion hopes.
Both Leicester and West Ham are a best priced 9/2 with Betfred, Totesport and Paddypower to seal the Championship title but Cardiff are a massive 24/1 with Unibet (newly promoted Brighton, who granted have some cash to spend, are 19/1 with the same firm). Considering how close the Welshmen have come in the last two seasons, and the arrival of Mackay, a manager who performed wonders on a shoestring budget at Watford last season, this is a great price to my mind.
A few bits and bobs…
Bolton need new faces and a spree, of sorts, is expected before the close of the window – due to the fact they have just 15 outfield players on the roster at present. Although the future of Gary Cahill remains in limbo and the potential sale of the defender will increase boss Owen Coyle’s coffers considerably. It looked as if Cahill was heading for Arsenal but the latest reports suggest they’ve turned their attentions to the slightly cheaper options of Scott Dann and Phil Jagielka. That aside Coyle is still expected to wrap up the £5million capture of forward Jeffren Suarez from Barcelona in the coming days, while Nigel Reo-Coker, a free agent after being released by Aston Villa, looks Reebok bound.
Newcastle are still hunting a striker and Paris St Germain forward Mevlut Erding’s name keeps cropping up – this deal could be done as soon as PSG finalise the capture of QPR’s Adel Taarabt, which looks almost a done deal.
Norwich boss Paul Lambert has said he’s happy with his current squad but despite this there could be a return for midfielder Henri Lansbury on the table. The youngster was going to be used as a makeweight in Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger’s move for Cahill, but it would seem as if the Wanderers are holding out for a cash only offer. Lambert is waiting in the wings should a loan move to Bolton fail, as is looking increasingly likely, and he wants to bring the midfielder back to Carrow Road for another season long loan stint – signalling perhaps that his chase for Leeds’ Robert Snodgrass has faltered on stony ground with Newcastle tracking the Scottish midfielder.
Blackburn have been linked with former Real Madrid striker Raul, now at Schalke in Germany, this has a whiff of the January Ronaldinho drama about it and I would be very surprised if the veteran, who has enjoyed a bountiful Indian Summer in The Bundesliga, made a switch to Ewood Park – especially so as his family have seemingly settled well in Germany.
The Rovers had seemed set to capture Mariano Pavone, a free agent after leaving Real Betis, but they’ve as yet been unable to agree a deal with the Argentine striker and Liverpool, as well as newly promoted Swansea, have emerged as potential suitors, leaving boss Steve Kean with yet another transfer headache.
Here is a brief table of completed deals, it may not be a 100% accurate at time of publishing but should prove a useful reference tool.
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IN: Gervinho (£11m, Lille)
OUT: Gael Clichy (£7m, Manchester City), Denilson (loan Sao Paulo)
IN: Alex McLeish (manager), Nathan Delfouneso (loan return, Burnley), Shay Given (£3.5m, Manchester City)
OUT: Gerard Houllier (manager), Brad Friedel (Free, Spurs), Ashley Young (£15m, Manchester United), John Carew (released), Nigel Reo-Coker (released), Robert Pires (released), Stewart Downing (£20, Liverpool)
IN: Myles Anderson (undisc, Aberdeen)
OUT: Phil Jones (£17.5m, Manchester United), Frank Fielding (undisc, Derby)
IN: Darren Pratley (free, Swansea)
OUT: Johan Elmander (free, Galatasaray), Rodrigo Moreno (loan return, Benfica), Daniel Sturridge (loan return, Chelsea), Tamir Cohen, Jlloyd Samuel, Joey O’Brien (all released), Ali Al Habsi (£4m, Wigan), Daniel Ward (£1m, Huddersfield).
IN: Andre Villas-Boas (manager)
OUT: Carlo Ancelotti (manager), Michael Mancienne (undisc, Hamburg), Jeffrey Bruma (loan, Hamburg), Jack Cork (undisc, Southampton)
OUT: James Vaughan (£2.5m, Norwich)
IN: Martin Jol (manager), John Arne Riise (Roma).
OUT: Mark Hughes (manager), Diomansy Kamara (free, Eskisehirspor), Kagisho Dikgacoi (undisc, Crystal Palace), Eddie Johnson , Matthew Saunders, Pascal Zuberbuhler , Zoltan Gera , John Pantsil (all released).
IN: Jordan Henderson (Sunderland, £20m), Charlie Adam (£9m, Blackpool), Stewart Downing (£20m, Aston Villa), Alexander Doni (free, Roma)
OUT: Nikola Saric (released)
IN: Stefan Savic (undisc, FK Partizan), Gael Clichy (£7m, Arsenal)
IN: Phil Jones (£17.5m, Blackburn), Ashley Young (£15m, Aston Villa), David de Gea (£20m, Atletico Madrid)
OUT: Owen Hargreaves (released), Paul Scholes, Edwin van der Sar (both retired), Ritchie de Laet (loan, Norwich), Wes Brown (Sunderland), John O’Shea (Sunderland(
IN: Sylvain Marveaux (free, Rennes), Demba Ba (free, West Ham), Yohan Cabaye (undisc, Lille)
OUT: Kevin Nolan (£4m, West Ham)
IN: Steve Morison (£2.5m, Millwall), Elliot Bennett (Brighton), James Vaughan (£2.5m, Everton) Bradley Johnson (free, Leeds), Ritchie de Laet (loan, Manchester United), Anthony Pilkington (£1.75m, Huddersfield)
OUT: Matthew Gill (free, Bristol Rovers),
IN: Jay Bothroyd (free, Cardiff), Kieron Dyer (free, West Ham)
OUT: Mikele Leigertwood (free, Reading)
IN: Jonathan Woodgate (free, Spurs)
OUT: Abdoulaye Faye (free, West Ham)
IN: Keiren Westwood (free, Coventry), Sebastian Larsson (free, Birmingham), Craig Gardner (£5m, Birmingham), Connor Wickham (£8.1m, Ipswich), Ji Dong-Won (Chunnam Dragons), Wes Brown (Manchester United), David Vaughan (free, Blackpool), John O’Shea (undisc, Manchester United)
OUT: Jordan Henderson (£20m, Liverpool), David Healy (free, Rangers)
IN: Danny Graham (£3.5m, Watford), Steven Caulker (loan, Spurs), Jose Moreira (undisc, Benfica)
OUT: Dorus de Vries (free, Wolves), Darren Pratley (free, Bolton)
IN: Brad Friedel (Free, Aston Villa)
OUT: Steven Caulker (loan, Swansea), Jonathan Woodgate (released), Jamie O’Hara (£5m, Wolves)
IN: Billy Jones (free, Preston), Gareth McAuley (free, Ipswich)
OUT: Abdoulate Meite (free, Dijon), Scott Carson (undisc, Bursaspor), Ryan Allsop (undisc, Millwall), Gianni Zuiverloon (undisc, Real Mallorca)
IN: Mauro Boselli (loan return), Ali Al Habsi (£4m, Bolton)
OUT: Tom Cleverley (loan return, Manchester United), Steven Caldwell (free, Birmingham)
IN: Dorus De Vries (Free, Swansea), Jamie O’Hara (£5m, Wolves), Roger Johnson (£7m, Birmingham)
OUT: Greg Halford (undisc, Portsmouth)