Where now for football’s want away starts? No moves yet for Cesc Fabgreas, Luka Modric, Samir Nasri or Carlos Tevez.
I had expected Tevez to join Real Madrid, which is priced at 9/2 with Blue Square and 888Sport, if he was going to go anywhere in Europe but Inter Milan are now the favourites with the bookies and the Italian side are just 2/5 with Skybet to capture the frontman, or 2/1 with both Blue Square and 888Sport.
Any move to Inter could hinge on whether or not Wesley Sneijder moves on (more on that later) but City will be less reluctant to sell now they’ve snapped up Sergio Aguero.
I like Aguero, he’s pure class, one thing puzzles me though – he has branded himself the “Che Guevara of football” – what does this even mean? It sounds clearly like the kind of insanity that could only have been instilled by his maverick father-in-law Maradona . The ever-controversial football icon has the freedom fighter’s face tattooed on his arm and describes Guevara as ‘the second greatest Argentinian’. Presumably Maradona considers himself in pole position in that contest with Eva Peron a distant third. Regardless of that, Maradona’s acolyte Aguero, should still take the Premier League by storm and he doesn’t seem short on confidence, we could be saying “Tevez who?” in a few weeks’ time?
Modric is still wanted by Chelsea and he still wants to go to Stamford Bridge but this week Paul Scholes appeared to talk him up when asked to recommend his effective successor at Old Trafford. It is a tactic Sir Alex has used before to woo potential but whether a deal can be struck remains to be seen – for either Chelsea or Man Utd. The only scenario where I can envisage Spurs giving in to Chelsea is if the Blues throw Daniel Sturridge into the deal as a sweetener. Harry Redknapp is seeking a striker, Sturridge is proven in the top flight and he would skyrocket in value if he impresses at White Hart Lane. However, Andre Villas-Boas seems to rate the England youth international and I reckon he’ll want to keep hold of his asset for now. Of course, Chelsea could launch a bid that is just too damn good to refuse, but there have been no signs of that as yet and the latest talk, set against the context of the UEFA Financial Fair Play legislation, is of a final ‘take it or leave it’ £30m offer for Modric . Spurs will leave it.
Cesc Fabregas meanwhile is almost certainly leaving the Emirates this summer and heading to Barcelona, probably in a player-plus-cash deal involving Thiago Alcantara. Arsene Wenger may claim he is staying but the decision could well be taken out of his hands this time around and it looks as if we’ve seen the last of the Spaniard in the Premier League – for the time being at least. Samir Nasri is now resigned to staying in north London for another season, even moneybags City won’t go over £20million for a player with just 12 months remaining on his deal and Wenger is quietly confident he can convince the Frenchman to sign a new deal at some point next season.
Birmingham are in real trouble financially following their relegation and Carson Yeung’s takeover hasn’t brought the success, and more importantly the riches, it initially seemed to promise. Keeper Ben Foster is joining West Brom and the two clubs have already had plenty of dialogue over the former Man United man. Others who will almost certainly leave are Scott Dann, Nikola Zigic, Cameron Jerome and Liam Ridgewell. I’d rule them out of the battle for the Championship title in all honesty, no matter how good a manager Chris Hughton may be he simply won’t have the players or the funds required to secure top spot. However, despite their financial constraints the Blues are amongst the favourites to win the league and if you disagree with me they’re a best priced 16/1 with bet365 to secure the top spot, personally I’d leave well alone, even at that price.
Dann will probably join Arsenal, who have seemingly been priced out of moves for Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka, although Liverpool are also interested and Stoke may make another bid after boss Tony Pulis admitted he still wants to sign another centre-half. However, the bookmakers seem to think differently and Stoke are evens, Liverpool are 6/4 and Arsenal are 6/1 to sign the defender – all with Skybet. There could be an angle there.
Zigic will head back into Europe, with a few Serie A sides already sniffing around from what I can gather, while Jerome remains a target for Stoke. Ridgewell is set to head to the Hawthorns with Foster, possibly in a double deal as Roy Hodgson continues his remodelling of the Baggies.
Bolton are keen on Liverpool’s David N’Gog according to widespread reports after giving up on Barcelona’s Jeffren Suarez. There is a good chance this will happen, but only if the Reds accept a bid somewhere in the region of £3m-£5m as the Wanderers won’t go any higher. It looks a goer though as Liverpool at least need to play lip service to financial prudence, in this newly austere age, and what better way than with a fire sale involving a clutch of their also-rans?
El-Hadji Diouf is leaving Blackburn and two clubs immediately spring to mind – Rangers and West Ham. Rangers are after another striker after missing out on former hitman Kenny Miller, but they probably don’t have neither the financial clout nor the inclination to capture the former Bolton and Liverpool forward. Diouf hardly endeared himself to anyone in Glasgow with neither his performances nor persona sitting well with the city’s blue half following altercations with Celtic’s Scott Brown and Strathclyde Police’s finest during two powder-keg Old Firm games . West Ham boss Sam Allardyce has already snapped up two players who were under his charge at the Reebok in Kevin Nolan and Abdoulaye Faye and he will have the cash to secure Diouf – a player who clearly lacks viable options as meal tickets.
Blackburn have struggled in their own hunt for signings and I’ve been making a point of watching boss Steve Kean’s interviews this week. He seems confident he can keep Chris Samba but I can’t recall ever seeing a manager looking so nervous in pre-season, I don’t fancy Blackburn’s chances under his guidance if I’m being honest and if you’re inclined to agree with me then you can back them to suffer the drop at 4/1 with Coral. Steve Kean is the favourite to be the first manager to leave his post with most bookmakers – at a best price 12/5 with Victor Chandler. He joins another rookie boss in the firing line this week with Super Ally McCoist’s stock heading rapidly south thanks to a lack of signing activity and howler of a result – a defeat at home to ‘lowly’ Malmo – in midweek. The Rangers icon cum cheeky TV personality has seen his odds of getting the sack plummet from 16/1 to 6/1 in the space of a week according to the Daily Express. The paper, quite unhelpfully failed to quote the obliging bookmaker with that quote and I am damned if I can find any reference to this market online. But that is to digress temporarily, and there will be more of McCoist and Rangers later.
Sunderland boss Steve Bruce has rejected reports that Michael Turner will be sold in the summer, with Bolton credited with an interest. However, the defender was a notable absentee in the Wearsiders’ friendly at Kilmarnock on Wednesday – although Bruce claims this was due to injury. The Black Cats boss did confirm he wants rid of Nyron Nosworthy, Matt Kilgallon and George McCartney though and all three were equally notable by their absence at Ruby Park where Sunderland fielded a strong side and ran out comfortable winners. Nosworthy and McCartney will be lucky to find top flight sides and both will probably be heading to the Championship but Kilgallon might get another Premier League side. The midfielder was an Everton target whilst at Sheffield United and David Moyes’ limited budget could well persuade him to move, as Kilgallon won’t command a huge fee. However, Kilgallon could be in the sights of Neil Warnock, his former boss at the Blades, who is now in charge of newly-promoted QPR and also presumably, the Yorkshireman’s first club Leeds, who nurtured ‘Killa’as he gained recognition at England U21 level and appeared 80 times for the whites’ first team. The player was loaned to both Doncaster and Middlesbrough last season so perhaps another loan move on favourable terms could see Kilgallon back at Elland Road.
Last week I mentioned that Joey Barton and Fabrice Muamba were targets for Aston Villa. Barton is not leaving Newcastle this summer, officially he wants to either see out his contract or get a new one at St James’ Park however The Sunday Times have been linking the allegedly reformed Scouser, for whom politics and philosophy have replaced boozing and badness in his repertoire, with a shock move to Old Trafford. Fergie is a known admirer of Barton’s talents and, never one to shirk a challenge, it would appeal to the Scot to take a second former poster boy of bitter rivals and rehabilitate him to grand effect . Joey Barton as the new Eric Cantona anyone?
Villa boss Alex McLeish has stated he isn’t after anyone else now he has all but secured Charles N’Zogbia from Wigan – but I just don’t buy it, he surely is. McLeish is a wheeler dealer by instinct rather than a coach inclined to mould and improve the inherited raw material at his disposal. My hunch is that the likeable Scot will try again for West Ham’s Scott Parker later in the transfer window if he hasn’t already gone somewhere, while Muamba remains in his sights.
Chelsea have made a bid in the region of 45m euros for Palermo’s Javier Pastore and the Italian side will decide whether to accept or not in the coming days. Paris Saint Germain have also launched a bid but you would imagine the Premier League will be a more attractive option than Ligue 1 for the Argentine international. The midfielder will probably be a Chelsea player by the end of next week at the latest.
Contrary to reports Everton will not sign, and were never even after, Arsenal misfit Nicklas Bendtner. The Danish striker is set for a move to Portugal, with Sporting Lisbon confident they can complete a £9million transfer in the coming days. Everton boss David Moyes has limited funds unless he sells so will have to rely largely on loan deals and free agents, but he will still be getting quality. James McFadden is on his way to Goodison Park after leaving Birmingham as a free agent, while Adam Johnson is a target for a season-long loan after struggling to cement a regular starting spot at Manchester City.
A look at the SPL
Dundee United striker David Goodwillie has been a long-term target for Rangers but the reigning champions look set to miss out. The Ibrox side will not match the Terrors’ £2million price-tag and Tannadice boss Peter Houston claims up to 10 clubs have registered an interest, he has also indicated the young forward fancies a move to England. Not surprising really as the impressionable striker from the same Stirling estate as Duncan Ferguson has been counselled by those closest to him to give the goldfish bowl of The Old Firm (Celtic are also keeping an eye on the striker) a wide berth. Two clubs who are after a striker spring to mind – Everton and Newcastle but Wigan appear to be the latest name in the frame for Goodwillie and Nottingham Forest are also apparently in the race for the bad boy hitman.
The Toon are still after PSG’s Mevlut Erdinc and if they fail to land the Turk they could turn their attentions to Goodwillie, who looks good value at £2m considering his age and goalscoring exploits in the SPL last season.
That leaves Rangers boss Ally McCoist still seeking another striker, or indeed anyone to soothe the savage breasts of the Ibrox faithful. One name definitely in the frame is Motherwell’s fleet-footed Scotland U21 frontman Jamie Murphy who is showing signs of casting off the inconsistency that has thus far prevented him realising his potential to date. Unfortunately for Rangers, Celtic look likelier candidates to win the signature of the striker at this stage but they mave have their own troubles to seek fending off a clutch of Premiership suitors who are also circling. Blackburn’s Scottish scout has been keeping tabs on Murphy for at least two seasons and like Goodwillie, Murphy’s recent improvement appears tied to his reaching physical maturity – a factor that has counted against him in the rough and tumble SPL previously.
Still it is an ill wind that blows no good and, in this case, It is not all bad news for McCoist. The Rangers boss has managed to bolster his ranks with the arrival of Romanian international defender Dorin Goian – although he won’t be available for the do or die second leg tie in Sweden next week with Malmo.
Back to the Premier League
Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson said they’d done all their business earlier in this summer, no one believed the wily old Scot then and as expected, they’re clearly not finished yet with a replacement for Scholes and the mysteriously under the weather Darren Fletcher, fuelling most people’s speculation. Clearly, one of the targets in mind is Wesley Sneijder and Inter Milan have indicated they’re willing to sell, the Old Trafford outfit are yet to bid but surely it is only a matter of time before he joins the current champions. Last week a couple of bookmakers were still offering 5/2 that he’d join United – those odds are now gone and he is just 1/2 with Skybet to link up with Fergie’s men. Unibet say he is a 2/5 chance to remain with Inter and 9/4 to go to Old Trafford. Personally I’d dearly love to see some price from Ladbrokes on this market – they always appear to have a nice line into Sir Alex’s thinking and the bookie’s Mike Dillon is a noted friend of Fergie’s. Incidentally – the best price at present for United winning the league is 9/5 with Paddypower and they’ll take some beating if the Dutchman or Modric does make the switch.
Stoke boss Tony Pulis should embark on a bit of a spree now we’re heading into August, he wants at least four players so that works out at about one a week if my arithmetic is correct. Targets include Birmingham pair Cameron Jerome and Scott Dann, Spurs duo Wilson Palacios and Peter Crouch and West Ham’s Carlton Cole. A double bid for the Spurs pair is the most likely, Pulis is a big fan of Crouch, who appears to have snubbed QPR, and Palacios is a battling defensive midfielder of the type the Potters’ chief seems to go for, and the Londoners are open to offers for both players as well.
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. I’ve not included all the youngsters and fringe men who have been released and who hardly featured last season either, that just seems unnecessary information but I will stick all that in when the window comes to a close and it is time to update clubs’ rosters finally.
IN: Gervinho (£11m, Lille), Carl Jenkinson (undisc, Charlton)
OUT: Gael Clichy (£7m, Manchester City), Denilson (loan Sao Paulo), Jay Emmanuel-Thomas (£1m, Ipswich)
IN: Alex McLeish (manager), Nathan Delfouneso (loan return, Burnley), Shay Given (£3.5m, Manchester City), Charles N’Zogbia (£9.5m, Wigan – to be completed next week)
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), Benjani (released)
IN: Darren Pratley (free, Swansea), Nigel Reo-Coker (free, Aston Villa)
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), Matt Taylor (£2.2m, West Ham)
IN: Andre Villas-Boas (manager), Thibaut Courtois (undisc – Genk, now loaned out to Atletico Madrid)
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), Pajtim Kasami (undisc, Palmero), Marcel Gecov (£700,000, Slovan Liberec)
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), Jonathan Greening (£600,000, Nottingham Forest)
IN: Jordan Henderson (Sunderland, £20m), Charlie Adam (£9m, Blackpool), Stewart Downing (£20m, Aston Villa), Alexander Doni (free, Roma)
OUT: Nikola Saric (released), Paul Konchesky (undisc, Leicester City)
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), Kyle Naughton (loan, Spurs)
OUT: Matthew Gill (free, Bristol Rovers),
IN: Jay Bothroyd (free, Cardiff), Kieron Dyer (free, West Ham), Danny Gabbidon (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), Kyle Naughton (loan, Norwich), Bongani Khumalo (loan, Reading)
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), Charles N’Zogbia (£9.5m, Aston Villa – to be completed next week)
IN: Dorus De Vries (Free, Swansea), Jamie O’Hara (£5m, Wolves), Roger Johnson (£7m, Birmingham)
OUT: Greg Halford (undisc, Portsmouth)