It’s that time of the week again folks when tongues start to wag but with more vigor than usual. The European seasons have come to an end which inevitably leads to thoughts of the ones to follow. This week’s version contains numerous rumors, including Real Madrid and Manchester City, plus a real collector’s item - the Rumor Redux gang being force fed a large slice of humble pie over Kenny Dalglish’s sacking. We are human. Now read on.
Andre Villas-Boas, manager, unemployed
Rumor: Nowhere to Liverpool. Likelihood: Too early to tell. Anyone who remembers us crowing about Lukas Podolski’s ‘told-you-so’ move to Arsenal, which prompted the lighting up of cigars and a few pats on the back, will be feeling pretty pleased with developments at Anfield. The Rumor Redux executive boldly pronounced that no-one sacks Dalglish – two days later he was gone. The cigars have now gone out momentarily and we can’t find a lighter. We said that Roberto Martinez would stay at Wigan, and even though he has held talks with the Liverpool board it’s certainly not guaranteed that he will become the latest man to join the Reds’ managerial conveyor belt. The competition seems to be this: Pep Guardiola and Andre Villas-Boas. The good thing for the Reds is that they are both available, but Guardiola stated he needs a break from football and it would look bad if he reneged on that assertion by moving to England. Villas-Boas has either been brilliant or a disaster so it probably hinges on how he performs in interview before Liverpool. AVB says he is still “choosing the right project,” whatever that means. Ultimately, the jury is still out.
Giorgio Chiellini, D, Juventus
Rumor: Juventus to Manchester City. Likelihood: Not at that price. Chiellini helped Juventus win their first Scudetto in nine years (they were stripped of the 2005 and 2006 titles in the wake of the Calciopoli match-fixing scandal) and it hasn’t gone unnoticed at Etihad Towers, which has stepped in with a £16million offer for the Italian international. Juve went through the whole Serie A season unbeaten and were denied a domestic double by Napoli in the Coppa Italia final. Chiellini is a rock at the back, a classic tough-nut Italian defender who doesn’t take any prisoners and the thought of a double act with Vincent Kompany would have City fans licking their lips in anticipation. However, Chiellini looks set to be handed the captaincy now that Alessandro Del Piero is ending his glorious spell in Turin. We expect him to resist the lure of the Premier League and Juventus to laugh at such a paltry sum.
Ramires, M, Chelsea
Rumor: Chelsea to Real Madrid. Likelihood: More of a chance than Aguero but unlikely. AS has been running the rumor that Jose Mourinho wants Luka Modric and Ramires at Real Madrid. While we have a firm belief that he might be granted his first wish the second looks more problematic. The Brazilian is really starting to work through the gears at Stamford Bridge after a sluggish start and no-one can forget it was his ‘engine’ which virtually fired the Blues into the Champions League final with a brilliant surging run against Barcelona. Ramires is emerging as a firm favorite with the Chelsea faithful and if speculation is to be believed, he would only be at the Bernabeu to provide competition for Xabi Alonso. Although Ramires was suspended for the Bayern Munich match, the fact that he has a Champions League winners’ medal must count for something. He’ll be at the Bridge next season. You can take this to the bank.
Sergio Aguero, F, Manchester City
Rumor: Manchester City to Real Madrid. Likelihood: Don’t think so. Last month, Argentine legend Diego Maradona said that his son-in-law had made a mistake by joining Manchester City – something denied by the former Atletico Madrid striker, who claimed he was happy at the Etihad. Fast forward a month and the TV cannot get enough of replaying one of the most iconic goals in top flight history – Aguero’s stoppage-time goal which brought City the title for the first time in 44 years. How happy must he be now?
Dimitar Berbatov, F, Manchester United
Rumor: Manchester United to Bayern Munich or Borussia Dortmund. Likelihood: 50/50. Berbatov has admitted his time at Old Trafford is well and truly up. This begs the question: where to next for the Bulgarian striker?’ We still can’t forget the image of Berbatov on a plane to Germany amid rumors he was heading back to Bayer Leverkusen. We accept that players sometimes innocently get on planes to visit foreign countries but we think Berbatov is heading back to Germany for good – but not to Bayer. We think the Bundesliga’s big guns Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund will fight it out for his signature. With Bayern finishing runner-up to Dortmund in the league and then somehow losing the Champions League final to Chelsea, there will be more pressure on the club to deliver something special next season. We think that kind of determination will give Bayern the edge to snap him up.
Robin van Persie, F, Arsenal
Rumor: Arsenal to Anzhi Makhachkala. Likelihood: No chance. Mega-rich Anzhi (it’s impossible to describe this club without using THAT prefix) are reportedly lining up a £ 45 million move for van Persie, who will be offered £300,000 a week for the privilege. It’s cold and Anzhi barely scraped into the Europa League. Samuel Eto’o may have been lured by the rubles but that didn’t tempt Inter Milan midfielder Wesley Sneijder and it will not work for the Arsenal skipper.
Eden Hazard, W/F, Lille
Rumor: Lille to Chelsea. Likelihood: A new possibility. Hazard is heading to the Premier League but the Lille playmaker is keeping his cards very close to his chest about his destination. Most commentators thought it was a straight battle between the Manchester duopoly, but Roman Abramovich has other reasons to thank Didier Drogba for securing the club’s first European Cup. When Hazard was asked about his future he revealed his agent had met with both Manchester clubs and Chelsea. The fact the Blues won the Champions League and will be playing in the tournament next season is important to the Belgium international. We still think Chelsea are a couple of paces behind their northern rivals but they’re certainly in the race.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, F, AC Milan
Rumor: AC Milan to Manchester City. Likelihood: No. Last week a story started to circulate that City had made a £25million bid for the Swedish striker, who scored 35 goals in 44 appearances for AC Milan this season. That, of course, was news to Rossoneri vice-president Adriano Galliani. According to Galliani, no such offer has been received and in any case the former Juventus forward is going to lead AC Milan into the Champions League final, so says Milan’s executive leader. We don’t think Ibrahimovic is heading for City, in fact we think he’ll see out the rest of his career in Italy.
Kaka, M, Real Madrid
Rumor: Real Madrid to Paris Saint-Germain. Likelihood: Decent chance. PSG are turning into one of those glamorous clubs that eventually everyone will love to hate (think Chelsea, Galaxy and next in line Manchester City). Carlo Ancelotti is looking to go one better next season and win Ligue 1 after being denied by unfancied Montpellier on the final game of the season. The French club have already offered a cash sum of € 25million for the Brazilian midfielder, which looks like a good bit of business for a player who isn’t guaranteed a start at the Santiago Bernabeu. Should Real accept the offer, we think Mourinho will launch his bid for Tottenham midfielder Luka Modric, a player with the same sort of talent as Kaka – just four years younger.
Luka Modric, M, Tottenham
Rumor: Tottenham to Real Madrid. Likelihood: Likely. Last summer proved to be an endless battle between Spurs chairman Daniel Levy and Luka Modric over a proposed move to Chelsea. Levy wanted the Croatian midfielder to stay at White Hart Lane. Modric wanted to go, but Levy dug his heels in and won. Times have changed though. Saturday saw Chelsea deliver the ultimate knockout blow to Spurs by winning the Champions League to ensure they took the final spot for next season’s premier club competition, leaving Harry and the gang out in the cold. Modric says he will decide his future after Euro 2012 and the signs are that it will be out of Tottenham – but it probably won’t be Chelsea either. Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho has now emerged as a big admirer of Modric, although he may have to offload one of his big names to fund it (more on that later). Levy has proved himself a stubborn negotiator, and needs to use those same skills to get as much as possible from Madrid for one of the club’s star players. Let the trench warfare begin.