Rumor: Swansea to Tottenham. Likelihood: The right fit for Spurs. With Harry Redknapp almost certain to be leaving White Hart Lane this summer to serve his country, Spurs need a manager to take them on to the next level. Rodgers has done a stunning job at Swansea. The former Chelsea reserve team boss has not only guided the Welsh side back to the Premier League and kept them there, but he has done so while turning the Swans into one of the most attractive sides in Europe. Daniel Levy is sure to be attracted to Rodgers’ style, and the 39-year-old will find it difficult to turn down the opportunity to apply his principles in the Champions League.
Yann M’Vila, M, Rennes
Rumor: Rennes to Arsenal or Real Madrid. Likelihood: Arsenal? No. Real Madrid? Yes! The France midfielder is packing his bags this summer, but M’Vila’s destination remains unclear. The 21-year-old doesn’t appear too fussed, as Arsenal or Real would suit him just fine. This ultimately comes down to the club that throws the biggest transfer fee at Rennes. A bidding war between the notoriously stingy Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho? They may as well start preparing the presentation podium in Madrid now.
Adam Johnson, W, Manchester City
Rumor: City to Sunderland or Newcastle Likelihood: Can’t hurt to ask. Roberto Mancini still seems to be unimpressed by Johnson and while that remains the case, the England winger may as well look elsewhere. Strangely, though, Johnson is exactly the type of player City have missed in recent weeks. Only the fullbacks provide any width in Mancini’s system and because City doesn’t have a Dani Alves on their books, opponents are happy to let City have space on the flanks. Johnson’s pace and trickery would likely have served them well over recent weeks. But still, the 24-year-old has remained on the fringes. Johnson is a Sunderland boy with a Newcastle-supporting background, so he is unlikely to protest at a return to the North East with either club. Whether the Magpies and Black Cats would be willing to match his current wages is a different matter. The left-footer does not fit the profile of a Newcastle recruit within their current transfer policy, which means a return to his Sunderland roots is a more likely prospect.
Joe Cole, M/W, Lille
Rumor: Liverpool (via Lille) to Aston Villa. Likelihood: Thanks, but no thanks. Liverpool has made it clear that Cole has no future on Merseyside (is he really any worse than any of the other players who pass for midfielders at Anfield?). And after a positive season on loan at Lille, the 30-year-old looks likely to be released by the Liverpool hierarchy, just to get his huge wages off their books. PSG have been impressed with Cole’s form in Ligue 1 this season, but Aston Villa’s reported to be the first English club to show an interest. Whether the Villans’ interest will be reciprocated remains in doubt. Randy Lerner has become a lot more thrifty as his time at Villa Park has passed and it’s unlikely the American will sanction the size of contract Cole will be looking for.
Thibaut Courtois, GK, Atletico Madrid
Rumor: Chelsea (via Atletico) to Real Madrid. Likelihood: No chance. Courtois was signed last summer by Chelsea and immediately loaned to Atletico Madrid, where the Belgian has filled David de Gea’s gloves extremely well. The 19-year-old’s form has not gone unnoticed across town, and Jose Mourinho is reported to be eyeing up the former Genk stopper. Courtois admits he is more likely to be loaned out again next season, rather than return to Stamford Bridge to battle Petr Cech for the number one jersey. But the continued brilliance of Iker Casillas means Mourinho is not in a position to offer the goalkeeper any more playing time than Chelsea can give him in the short term. The Blues see Courtois as Cech’s eventual successor and are unlikely to allow the youngster to leave Stamford Bridge before he has caught a ball in a Chelsea jersey. He may be on the move this summer, but it won’t be a permanent move and it certainly won’t be to Real Madrid.
Rio Ferdinand, D, Manchester United
Rumor: Manchester United to China. Likelihood: A realistic prospect. Reports in the British media over recent days have suggested that the Manchester United defender is considering a lucrative move to China, where Nicolas Anelka currently collects $280,000 a week for plying his trade with Shanghai Shenhua. None of the reports, though, actually suggest which club would be willing to throw such money at the aging defender. Ferdinand has found some form of late and has been crucial in United’s title challenge. But with fitness concerns continuing to plague him, the 33-year-old is undoubtedly in the twilight of his career. The ex-England captain has one more contract in him after his current United deal expires next summer, and despite being linked with a move to the United States, MLS is unlikely to be willing to compete with the riches of the Far East.
Diego Forlan, F, Inter
Rumor: Inter Milan to Malaga Likelihood: Makes sense, right? Forlan has struggled badly for form and fitness since joining Inter from Atletico last summer. Big-spending Malaga are reportedly keen to bring the Uruguayan back to La Liga, where he had so much success with Villarreal and Los Rojiblancos, as a replacement for Ruud van Nistelrooy. A move would seem to suit all parties: Malaga get the scorer they crave, Inter rid themselves of an underperforming high-earner. Should this go down, Forlan gets to return to the league where he ran amok for seven years. Win, win, win.
Angel di Maria, W, Real Madrid
Rumor: Real Madrid to Chelsea. Likelihood: Not at that price. Chelsea’s set to be in the market for width this summer, but this link appears to be result of an agent looking to secure his client a pay rise. The Argentine winger has played his part in Real Madrid’s success this season but is reportedly in dispute over a new deal at the Bernabeu. Di Maria’s price tag (supposedly in the region of £35m) also appears to be the work of a money-thirsty agent and should be enough to make even Roman Abramovich run a mile.
Mario Balotelli, F, Manchester City
Rumor: The Manchester City exit door. Likelihood: This could be the end for Mario in Manchester. Mancini – the one man who supposedly knows how to handle Balotelli – admitted at the weekend that he can’t trust the maverick Italian. With his City teammates supposedly tired of the 21-year-old, a parting of the ways looks increasingly likely by the day. The question with Balotelli has always been: Is he worth the hassle? Despite two goals at the weekend, the answer seems to be a resound ‘no.’ A return to Italy seems the most likely option, with Inter Milan still in Balotelli’s heart; a fact proven by Mario’s bizarre appearance at last week’s presentation of Andrea Stramaccioni to the media. Inter’s desire to re-sign Balotelli remains unclear, but the Italian international is unlikely to be without suitors, especially if City are prepared to take a big hit on the $30million they paid two seasons ago.
Fernando Torres, F, Chelsea
Rumor: Chelsea to Anzhi Makhachkala. Likelihood: Don’t bet on it. Given the way Anzhi throw roubles around, it seems the Russian club may be the one buyer to give Chelsea something close to the £50million they forked out for the misfiring forward. But Torres appears to be gathering a bit of form and confidence, and all the signs suggest that Chelsea are not yet ready to write off the Spaniard. We are about to witness a summer of sweeping changes at Stamford Bridge, but with many aging Blues heading for the exit, it is unlikely that Roman Abramovich will be pushing Torres through the door with Drogba, Malouda, Essien and company.