Rumor: Arsenal to Barcelona. Likelihood: Possible. It all sounded a bit seedy at first but what was RVP (the PFA Players' Player of the Year no less) doing hanging around Barcelona’s team hotel in London last week? It was all innocent of course as he strolled into the foyer wearing his Arsenal tracksuit to meet his good friend and Holland teammate Ibrahim Affelay, who is back in action after an injury lay-off. Nothing has changed for RVP- he will discuss his future in the summer, but that isn’t soon enough for Arsene Wenger, who wants everything resolved before Euro 2012 gets under way on June 8. Bearing in mind that RVP has to report for international duty with Holland on May 17 that means we only have four weeks before matters are resolved. There’s no doubting Van Persie has the class to play for Barca, who still have David Villa out injured and don’t really have a natural center forward (even Villa hangs out on the wing for a lot of the time, although RVP likes to roam). This story has legs but we’re not making any promises.
Jordi Alba, M, Valencia
Rumor: Valencia to Manchester United or Manchester City. Likelihood: Unlikely. The weekend papers were full of stories linking the Valencia left-back with a move to both Manchester clubs. Why so? Alex Ferguson has already stated that young Brazilian Fabio will go out on loan next season leaving United with little cover for captain and regular starter Patrice Evra. On Manchester’s east side Aleksandar Kolarov has been linked with a move and judging by Gael Clichy’s performance against Wolves he will face a battle to play again this season. Alba is a versatile player and is just as comfortable in left midfield. Last month a story emerged that Alba had signed an agreement to join Barcelona either next season or the following one – and with his contract up for renewal in 2013 Valencia will not to lose out on making some serious cash. We think Alba wil stay in Spain, so Fergie and Mancini will have to look elsewhere.
Gylfi Sigurdsson, M, Swansea City (loan)
Rumor: Hoffenheim to Liverpool, Man Utd or Everton. Likelihood: Maybe. Capable of playing for a bigger team than Swansea, anyone who has seen Sigurdsson play for Swansea this season must wonder what Hoffenheim were thinking when they let him out on loan. His 10 goals in the 2010/11 campaign led to him being voted player of the season by the club’s fans despite starting just 13 games. For some reason the former Reading midfielder slipped down the pecking order and returned to the Premier League almost on the same day as Hoffenheim’s manager, Ralf Rangnick, was sacked. Coincidence? Possibly not, but there is no doubting the Icelander is hot property at the moment. His strike against Tottenham was a joy to behold and a return of eight goals from 16 games makes him an attacking midfielder well worth the £10million reportedly mooted. He probably won’t end up at one of the top six but let’s make one thing clear – he’s better than Charlie Adam, Jordan Henderson, Michael Carrick and a whole host of other big names. We’ll see.
Micah Richards, RB, Manchester City
Rumor: Manchester City to Real Madrid. Likelihood: We need to get our heads round this one first. It sounds preposterous. A tough defender from Leeds earning a crust for a glamorous club like Real Madrid, a club on the brink of another European Cup final appearance, just seems ridiculous. Richards may be just 23 but he’s been at City for 11 years and is starting to produce the promise City spotted when he was a young boy. Is he Madrid material though? Certainly he’s the sort of player Mourinho likes. Boundless energy, hard as nails and with an eye for goal. However, it’s hard to remember a recent high-profile player from England making it in La Liga so we’re going to treat this one with a good deal of caution.
Pepe, D/M, Real Madrid
Rumor: headed to Manchester United. Likelihood: Don’t hold your breath. An interesting little report from Portuguese newspaper Record has the 29-year-old moving to Old Trafford in the summer, as a possible defensive alternative to the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic and Phil Jones. The former Porto defender has enjoyed a stellar campaign at the Santiago Bernabeu, and has undoubtedly helped the Merengues reach an incredible level of success this season. With all this being said, it’s tough to imagine Pepe willing to leave to a new league at this stage of his career. Plus, the versatile footballer means too much for Real Madrid, especially to his manager and fellow compatriot Jose Mourinho. Can you picture the ‘Special One’ giving his old rival Sir Alex Ferguson a leg-up in competition given that he’s also rumored to leave to the Premier League next season? Yeah, we didn’t think so either.
Esteban Cambiasso, D/M, Internazionale
Rumor: headed to Liverpool. Likelihood: low. There’s no denying that ‘Cuchu’ Cambiasso is an important player for inter Milan. The Argentine footballer is well-respected in the locker room, loved among fans, and is one of Massimo Moratti’s most trusted Nerazzurri warriors. After recently stating his desire to represent Argentina during the 2014 World Cup and given his lack of playing time, Camabiasso might want to start looking for options outside the San Siro. Enter Kenny Dalglish’s Anfield side. Liverpool were in discussions with Inter in the past, but were reluctant to accept a €10 million offer. Now with Andrea Stramaccioni at the helm, Cambiasso has been a regular contributor for the Nerazzurri. Given Inter’s refusal to let Cambiasso leave this past winter, Dalglish must surely get the hint, right? Time to move on, Kenny!
Clint Dempsey, M/F, Fulham
Rumor: Fulham to Everton. Likelihood: No and no! When you’re at the peak of your career and have proved to be a faithful servant for five seasons there comes a time when you feel that you’ve earned a crack at the big time. Dempsey has undoubtedly had the season of his life at Fulham. Who would have thought at the start of the campaign that he would be the joint fourth top scorer in the Premier League behind only Rooney, van Persie and Aguero? So when the first club you’re linked with is Everton you have to think someone is playing a practical joke. No doubt Everton are performing miracles in the latter half of the season once again as their 4-4 draw with Manchester United testified but are they really that big a step-up from the Cottagers? Cash flow has always been a problem at Goodison and even splashing out £7million for a class act like Nikica Jelavic seemed profligate. No, we think bigger clubs will come calling for the American and he won’t be able to resist.
Alexandre Pato, F, AC Milan
Rumor: headed to Manchester City. Likelihood: temperature’s rising. This rumor seems to be growing by the minute. With Mario Balotelli’s status in limbo at Etihad Stadium, Milan’s prepared to offload the Brazilian forward in exchange for the troubled Italian striker. Considering that wage salaries must almost seemingly match, a player-for-player swap is a true rarity in football. Yet given the circumstances with their clubs, a change of scenery for both players wouldn’t seem that bad of an idea. Pato’s skills and traits seem to translate well in the Premier League, while Balotelli will certainly adapt to Serie A once again. We’re getting a little ahead of ourselves with this one. Still, one can dream, right? We’re going to leave this juicy tale marinate on our redux grill . We’ll let you know when it’s ready!
Gareth Bale, M, Tottenham
Rumor: headed to Barcelona. Likelihood: fat chance. A dream move to Camp Nou for the Welsh footballer seems completely out of the question, as recent reports out of England state that Barcelona are set to bow out of Tottenham’s high transfer demands. The number, estimated at a whopping £40 million, seems to be the main sticking point for Barcelona’s executive board; a board unwilling to exceed its economic capacity during a rough financial patch. Considering Barcelona’s willingness to allow players from La Masia to gain first team regularity, Sandro Rossell and Josep Guardiola have continued to spend regularly in the transfer market. As much as we like to see Bale help Baca’s situation at left wing and terrorize helpless defenders in La Liga, the fact that Barca’s initial offer of £20 million will fall really, really short.
Eden Hazard, MF, Lille
Rumor: Lille to Manchester United. Likelihood: Better than 50/50. Eden, Eden, Eden. What would Rumor Redux do without you? The Lille playmaker has been linked heavily with Tottenham over the last few months, but the United bombshell dropped last week when coach Rene Meulensteen revealed that Sir Alex Ferguson himself actually paid a trip to France to watch the Belgium midfielder in action. As Meulensteen tellingly revealed: “That's a sign he thinks it's an interesting player. We talked a lot about him. For a club it’s important that you keep refreshing your squad.” Hazard is having a decent season in Ligue 1 and when it comes to a straight battle between Manchester United and Tottenham there is generally only one winner (think Berbatov). An interesting summer awaits.