It may be 32 degrees in Los Angeles at the moment but please feel a scrap of pity for those brave souls plying their trade in little ol’ England where temperatures are starting to plummet towards freezing. Those nippy weather fronts get minds turning to warmer climates and there is surely only one band suitable for those thoughts. Ten songs by California’s finest The Beach Boys have been sprinkled, like sand, amongst the best of this week’s gossip. Read on...
Fernando Amorebieta, D, Athletic Bilbao
RUMOR: Athletic Bilbao to Liverpool LIKELIHOOD: Unlikely Amorebieta has been a rock at the heart of Bilbao’s defense for the last seven years, and was linked with a summer move to Liverpool, who were quite rightly put off by the £26million asking price in his release clause. Time is Passing By though and with his contract now due to run out in 2014 he could be available for what we call in the trade a “cut-price fee”. Sounds good for Liverpool, but then of course it sounds good for everybody. Roma and free-spending Zenit St Petersburg are both interested in acquiring his services. If it comes to a bidding war there is no competition – the Reds lose. And do they really need him? Agger, Skrtel and Coates sound pretty good to us.
Wilfried Zaha, F, Crystal Palace
RUMOR: Crystal Palace to Arsenal LIKELIHOOD: Why not? Is it any coincidence that Zaha has been strongly linked with a move to the Emirates just as Arsenal are desperately trying to sort out Theo Walcott’s contract situation? Of course, this exceptional youngster has been linked with the cream of the Premier League, but the RR gang fancy Wenger’s chances of getting him to north London judging by his previous love of signing raw talent like Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Walcott himself. Keep An Eye On Summer activity, Zaha may just be a Gunner.
Ali Al Habsi, GK, Wigan Athletic
RUMOR: Wigan to Liverpool LIKELIHOOD: Could be something in this one With Pepe Reina out injured, Reds boss Brendan Rodgers has had the chance to cast his eye over his understudy in the last five games – namely Brad Jones, who is Here Today but could be gone tomorrow judging by his average performances between the posts. And we think something is going on with Pepe Reina, who wasn’t even on the bench for Sunday’s 1-1 draw against Newcastle despite being fit. Has there been a falling-out? All this adds up to speculation about whether Rodgers is looking for someone to replace the Spaniard. The papers have mentioned two names:Wigan’s Ali Al Habsi and Wolves keeper Dorus de Vries, who isn’t even in the first team at the moment. If Rodgers wants to replace Reina then Al Habsi could be a goer but we’ll wait and see.
Emmanuel Adebayor, F, Tottenham
RUMOR: Tottenham to Atletico Madrid LIKELIHOOD: Er…no Things just haven’t gone right for Adebayor under Villas-Boas, who insists the Togo international hasn’t been getting game time because of injury problems. He’s only been there for 10 weeks and was expecting a Good Time at White Hart Lane after a tempestuous spell at Manchester City, where he fell out of favour with Roberto Mancini. Adebayor hasn’t started a game under the new regime at Spurs, which has prompted speculation that he could be on his way to Atletico Madrid, who are expected to sell Falcao. However, we think Atletico have set their sights on selling Falcao to Chelsea so that they can bring Fernando Torres back to the club where he made his name. Adebayor will have to find another destination.
Joe Cole, M, Liverpool
RUMOR: Liverpool to Galatasaray LIKELIHOOD: Probably heading back to France It looks like Cole blew his chance of breaking into Liverpool’s first team when he turned in a listless performance against Swansea in the League Cup. Rodgers was so unimpressed that he hauled the diminutive midfielder off at half-time and was scathing about Cole’s 45 minutes on the pitch in the post-match press conference. Liverpool can no longer afford to pay him a reported £100,000 a week, so where will he go? Galatasaray are keen, but we reckon he’s Goin’ South for a possible return to Lille, where he is adored.
Jermaine Jones, M, Schalke
RUMOR: Schalke to England LIKELIHOOD: Possible but unlikely Jones enjoyed a loan spell with Blackburn last year and with his contract at Schalke due to run out at the end of next season there has been speculation the United States midfielder could return to England. Don’t Talk too soon though. Jones turned 31 this weekend and will be nearly 33 if he ends up seeing out his contract in the Bundesliga. His performance against Arsenal suggests there’s plenty left in the tank, but we wonder whether he’ll be able to cut it in the Premier League at that age. Maybe a Championship club? However, that’s all ifs and buts. Jones wants to end his career with Schalke, and he may be offered a new contract.
Theo Walcott, M/F, Arsenal
RUMOR: Arsenal to Liverpool LIKELIHOOD: In the balance, but plenty of clubs would like to sign him Brendan Rodgers has vowed to give Luis Suarez the help he needs in January to prevent Liverpool from becoming a one-man team which, let’s face it, they virtually are. That means a signing, but who could it be? Theories abound that the Reds board is prepared to offer Walcott £100,000 a week and give him the central role he craves so much. Liverpool reckon they can get Walcott for £8million but if that’s the case there could be some competition for his signature. Wenger wants Walcott’s contract situation sorted out before Christmas, but if it isn’t by then it’s going to be a Fun, Fun, Fun January transfer window.
Stephan El Shaarawy, F, AC Milan
RUMOR: AC Milan to Manchester City LIKELIHOOD: Don’t think so He’s only been at the San Siro for five minutes (OK, this is his second season) but The Pharaoh, as he is affectionately known by Milan fans, is already attracting admiring glances from the Premier League. Wouldn’t It Be Nice to read about a player who hasn’t been linked with Manchester City just for a change? Eight goals from 11 appearances tells us that the 20-year-old Italy forward certainly has talent – but it looks like he will be staying in Milan judging by comments from Adriano Galliani: “El Shaarawy to Manchester City? Enough with the speculation! He has a contract for five more years until 2017, and will soon sign an extension until 2018.” Got that Roberto?
Neymar, F, Santos
RUMOR: Santos to Manchester City LIKELIHOOD: When the time comes it won’t be City God Only Knows when Neymar will start to show us his capabilities in Europe, because the fact remains he is still happy in Brazil. However, reports surfaced this week that Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini is waiting for the green light to make a mega bid for the Santos star, who scored a hat-trick against Cruzeiro over the weekend and even had the opposing fans chanting his name! We think Barcelona still has the edge over the likes of City, Chelsea and even Real Madrid, so Mancini might be better off concentrating his energies elsewhere.
Pep Guardiola, manager, unemployed
RUMOR: Unemployed to Chelsea LIKELIHOOD: As good a chance as any So, Guardiola supposedly finally broke his silence about where he wants to be in the summer. The former Barcelona coach has been getting Good Vibrations from watching the new-look Chelsea and thinks Stamford Bridge will be an ideal destination for his new project. Tellingly, a source close to Guardiola revealed last week that he wanted to manage a club in London, so the options were already narrow (Rumor Redux has ruled out Fulham, Brentford and yes, even Leyton Orient). We all know (or think we do) that Roman Abramovich is a big fan of the Pep so we think this one is a runner.