Christmas is fast approaching but more important to the great and the good on the Rumor Redux committee is the forthcoming January transfer window. Although the winter sales are never as thrilling as their summer relation, we are still expecting plenty of business to be conducted – no more so than at Liverpool, whose manager Brendan Rodgers has made no secret of his desire to strengthen his squad. Funds are sparse at Anfield but that hasn’t put off the rumormongers from linking players with the Reds every day. However, this week’s column is not just Mersey beat – instead we have a nice mix of English, European and MLS rumors, and there’s just one man who has that sort of cosmopolitan pedigree to help pepper the gossip. His first two albums are pure class and although his work has started to dip we can’t help but pay tribute to ridiculously talented New York-born troubadour Rufus Wainwright. Ten of his songs are in the mix.
Mauro Zarate, F, Lazio
RUMOR: Lazio to Liverpool LIKELIHOOD: Reads like agent talk Zarate has not played for Lazio since the 2-0 defeat by Fiorentina towards the end of October. With the Argentine lurking in the shadows speculation has naturally arisen that he could be set for a move from the Serie A club. There seems to be plenty of suitors, including Stoke, Malaga and Zenit St Petersburg for a man that once scored a double for Birmingham City playing against Manchester City (admittedly in the pre-Mancini era). But one club that is also thought to be interested is Liverpool at a price the Reds can afford (£7million). We’ll pass on this one though, as there are too many factors to consider.
Pep Guardiloa, manager, unemployed
RUMOR: Unemployed to AC Milan LIKELIHOOD: We don’t think so It really is becoming an impossible task getting to the truth of where the former Barcelona boss will be in the summer. One week it’s Chelsea, the next day it’s Manchester City and now we are confronted with AC Milan, whose manager Massimiliano Allegri is under increasing scrutiny. His future may be a little more secure on two fronts. Firstly, he masterminded a deserved 1-0 win against Serie A leader and defending champion Juventus on Sunday. Secondly, despite AC owner Silvio Berlusconi being a big fan of Pep, he is happy with Allegri, so it looks like Guardiola isn’t bound for the San Siro. In fact Berlusconi reckons City is in pole position to land Guardiola. We shall see.
Mesut Ozil, M, Real Madrid
RUMOR: Real Madrid to Manchester City LIKELIHOOD: Interesting German newspaper Bild published an interesting piece last week, claiming that a consultant working for City approached the Real Madrid midfielder before the 1-1 Champions League draw between the clubs. We don’t know whether this story is true, but Ozil must be getting frustrated with the amount of time he spends on the bench, and some sources say he is open to a move. Jose Mourinho is not usually a man to release the stars in his squad, but he could be persuaded if City comes up with around £25million as a transfer fee. City is looking to find a temporary solution to the loss of Yaya Toure during January’s African Cup of Nations but is Ozil that man? He certainly deserves to be in most starting XI’s in the world and Roberto Mancini would probably love to have him in his squad, although in our minds he’s a bit too similar to David Silva.
David Beckham, M, LA Galaxy
RUMOR: Galaxy to QPR LIKELIHOOD: Idle talk It didn’t take long for those with loose tongues to start spreading the gossip that Harry Redknapp wanted Becks to leave California for west London once he was named as Mark Hughes’s successor at QPR. Although Redknapp admitted receiving a “lovely text” from Beckham wishing him well in his new role (awww!), the former Tottenham boss says he hasn’t discussed any players with the club’s board. It’s unlikely QPR has the financial clout to lure Beckham to Loftus Road, so let’s just leave it at that.
Thierry Henry, F, New York Red Bulls
RUMOR: New York Red Bulls to Arsenal LIKELIHOOD: We’re leaning towards the ’yes’ camp Will Henry get one more chance to don the Arsenal jersey for a third time? The elders of Rumor Redux think this one is in the balance. Although he’s training with the Gunners and spent a loan spell at Emirate Stadium last season, NY thinks its star player needs rest. Of course the Red Bulls may change their minds, but as things stands the chances of a return are not certain. Andy Roxburgh says NY “isn’t too positive” about the idea, but we’ll think they could budge with the right offer.
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, F, Schalke
RUMOR: Schalke to Arsenal LIKELIHOOD: It’s a possibility Huntelaar is a man that seems to be permanently on the radar of the Gunners, who haven’t quite found what they were looking for with the signing of Olivier Giroud. Sure, he’ll improve, but Holland striker Huntelaar is more of the finished article. Wenger has hinted he could make a move for legend forward Thierry Henry, but landing Huntelaar would represent a massive coup. On Sunday, former Liverpool striker Erik Meijer, who shares the same agent as Huntelaar, reportedly told the Sunday Mirror: “According to the information I have, Huntelaar will be gone in the winter. Arsenal are the favourites.” However, Schalke has rejected any chance of their star striker joining the north London club, especially now that they have qualified for the knockout phase of the Champions League. It’s going to be a dogfight but Arsenal aren’t out of the game.
Stewart Downing, D/M, Liverpool
RUMOR: Liverpool to Arsenal LIKELIHOOD: There’s a chance Oh what a world we live in when a player that can’t get a start for Liverpool is linked with a club that consistently finishes above the Reds in the Premier League. Downing was thinking about a loan move to Middlesbrough last week, but Arsene Wenger is thought to be prepared to give the winger a fresh start at Emirates Stadium. The Gunners could get him for half the £20million Liverpool paid for him last year and there’s no doubt his time seems to be up under Brendan Rodgers, who could do with the cash to buy the sort of player he needs in January. We think there’s something in this one.
Leighton Baines, D, Everton
RUMOR: Everton to Manchester United LIKELIHOOD: There’s a chance I don’t know what it is about the transfer window, but once they start to come around one name to appear consistently on the rumor list is Leighton Baines. We were pretty confident that United would make a successful bid for the Everton left-back in the summer but nothing materialized. We thought he could even play on the left side of midfield rather than be a replacement for Patrice Evra. Today’s tittle-tattle suggests Baines, 28, could end up at United for £11million or £8million-plus-Evra. Everton are a renowned selling club so we think there’s mischief afoot, but maybe not until next summer.
Luis Suarez, F, Liverpool
RUMOR: Liverpool to Atletico Madrid LIKELIHOOD: It’s the same word in English and Spanish. It’s the second appearance in a row for the man everyone loves to hate. Last week it was Manchester City and this time it’s Atletico Madrid who apparently hasn’t given up on landing the controversial Uruguayan for £40million. Of course, we all know that this sort of deal can only happen if Falcao is shipped out to somewhere like Chelsea. We also know that patience is a virtue and that Atletico will be waiting a long time for a player who is really starting to deliver the goods at Anfield, and with reinforcements in January things can only get better. The Reds don’t want to sell, Suarez doesn’t want to leave – end of story.
Wesley Sneijder, M, Inter Milan
RUMOR: Inter Milan to Manchester United LIKELIHOOD: Will need to take a pay cut One of the best stories of the weekend, which kind of slipped under the radar, was the news that Sneijder will be on the bench at Inter Milan until he makes a decision about his future. Inter wants the Dutchman to sign a new deal which would involve a pay cut so Sneijder is taking time out to think about it. Sir Alex Ferguson has, in some eyes, a foolish love of the Holland midfielder’s talent, but the Man United boss will be presented with the same problem that stopped him from bringing him to Old Trafford last year. Cash. Ferguson still needs a Paul Scholes-type player with legs, but United is unlikely to pay Sneijder what he wants.