Manchester City’s shocking defeat at Southampton over the weekend highlighted the obvious. The same players that won the Premier League title last season just have been good enough this time around. Roberto Mancini’s thoughts must already be turning to next season with only the FA Cup to fight for on the domestic front. The team that was flying high after Sergio Aguero’s last-gasp goal against QPR on the final day is now in the gutter and looking ‘Real Gone’. That should give you a bit of a clue about the artist helping us with this week’s Rumor Redux column. He is one of the USA’s most maverick performers, a singer-songwriter and actor who certainly knows about hitting rock bottom. Ten tracks by the legendary Tom Waits in this week’s mix.
RUMOR: Liverpool to Zenit St Petersburg LIKELIHOOD: He’s staying at Anfield for now The transfer window may have closed in January for some, but for others it remains open. Russian clubs have until February 24 to sign new players and one rumor doing the rounds is that Zenit St Petersburg want Reds defender Skrtel back at the Petrovsky Stadium. The Slovakian, who spent four seasons with the Russian club between 2004-8, is being kept out of Liverpool’s first team by Jamie Carragher to give Zenit hope of signing him this month. What are the chances of seeing the Slovak in the neighbourhood of St Petersburg any time soon? Despite Skrtel being relagted to the bench since the FA Cup defeat by Oldham, there is little chance Brendan Rodgers will want to part with an experienced defender at this stage of the season.
RUMOR: Benfica to Manchester United LIKELIHOOD: Watching brief Alex Ferguson has made finding a top-class center-half his main priority for the summer. Rio Ferdinand, 34, has been struggling with injury over the last couple of seasons and may not be offered a new deal at the end of the campaign, while Serbian defender Nemanja Vidic is also prone to spells on the sidelines. Can Garay step right up and fill the void that could be left by one of these United giants? Some papers suggested the Argentinian was on the brink of signing for United during the last transfer window, but current thinking suggests Garay will be watched by scouts for the rest of the season before a decision is made.
RUMOR: Manchester City to Borussia Dortmund LIKELIHOOD: Not so sure Dzeko was always regarded as fourth-choice striker at City until the exit of Mario Balotelli, but for the moment he seems to be guaranteed a place in the starting line-up, ahead of Carlos Tevez, alongside Sergio Aguero. However, the blue half of Manchester is now a town with no cheer following Saturday’s fiasco at Southampton and Roberto Mancini is thinking about wielding the axe for the FA Cup match against Leeds. In the long term the Italian must be thinking about new recruits if he gets the chance in the summer. Dzeko has been linked with Dortmund, whose star striker Robert Lewandowski is reportedly a target for Bayern Munich. We think Dzeko might be one of the players to stay next season.
RUMOR: Staying at Chelsea LIKELIHOOD: A one-year deal looks possible Many presume Lamps will be Goin’ out West to Los Angeles when the season ends, but hold your horses. Chelsea don’t discuss their business in public but their hardline stance about Lampard now seems to have softened after some impressive performances for club and country in recent months. The current line of thinking is that Chelsea have made the first moves in keeping the England midfielder at Stamford Bridge for another season and we think there’s some substance in this rumor. Galaxy may just have to wait.
RUMOR: Everton to Chelsea LIKELIHOOD: Hard to say Fellaini always seems to be on the wrong side of the road when it comes to stating his loyalty to the Everton cause. The Belgian has made no secret of his desire to play Champions League football which is clearly never going to happen if he stays at Everton. Last week, Fellaini urged Chelsea to make a bid if they were interested in signing him, but nothing materialized during the January transfer window although the situation may change in the summer. We shall see. With Frank Lampard possibly staying at Stamford Bridge for another season, Chelsea may defer making a bid.
RUMOR: Everton to Manchester United LIKELIHOOD: It just won’t go away This is one of those rumors that constantly did the rounds in the summer and Baines himself said at the time that he was confused by the lack of interest from United despite all the media speculation. Ferguson is looking for a permanent replacement for 31-year-old left-back Patrice Evra, who salaciously made the headlines for all the wrong reasons over the weekend. Ironically Evra is enjoying one of his best seasons in a United shirt but that still hasn’t stopped the gossip mongers from saying Baines is going straight to the top. We thought there was something in this one still in the summer and still do.
RUMOR: Santos to Manchester City LIKELIHOOD: Nope Three days ago the Manchester Evening News circulated a story emanating from Spain that City’s director of football Txiki Begiristain held talks in London with the father of Neymar last week. We don’t know the outcome of those talks or whether they happened at all, but we all know that the situation remains the same. The Brazilian remains happy at Santos and won’t be moving on until at aleast 2014 and even then City are towards the back of the, admittedly short, queue. How’s it gonna end? Only one way – tears for Man City.
RUMOR: Fiorentina to Arsenal LIKELIHOOD: Possible, but transfer fee could prove to be expensive The current line of thinking regarding Arsenal transfer targets is that the Gunners have given up on trying to sign Barcelona striker David Villa and have instead turned their attention to Fiorentina’s Jovetic, who is rated at more than £20million. How good is he? One of our favourite players of all time, Dejan Savicevic, claimed his fellow Montenegrin is “set for greatness” which to our ears tells us that he’s going to cost the Gunners a packet. Jovetic could be the one that got away.
RUMOR: Tottenham to Real Madrid LIKELIHOOD: Champions League football is the key Every time Bale produces an outstanding performance Villas-Boas has to deal with a barrage of questions about whether Tottenham will be able to keep the Wales international at White Hart Lane. There is a temptation to think that Bale will move to Real Madrid at the click of a finger, but we’re not so sure. Villas-Boas is realistic enough to think that playing at Europe’s top table is the bare minimum needed to keep Bale and that means a top-four finish. Will they do it? We think they’re good enough to keep Arsenal out of the frame.
RUMOR: Napoli to Manchester City LIKELIHOOD: Real Madrid in the box seat The future of the Uruguay international could be about to be made a whole lot clearer. Man City and Chelsea are said to be interested in the Napoli striker, but a report in Mundo Deportivo on Monday suggests Real Madrid have made a 50 million euro offer which is likely to be accepted – despite his release clause being 13 million euros higher. Cavani admitted last week that a move to either Real Madrid or Barcelona would “stimulate the imagination”, which kind of says it all. It seems that for City a good man is hard to find, but for Real Madrid it’s just that little bit easier.