Rumor: Borussia Dortmund to Manchester United Likelihood: It’s possible We know a couple of things about the Japan international, who played a key role in helping Borussia Dortmund retains its Bundesliga crown. His contract runs out at the end of next season and he refuses to extend it. That can mean only one thing – cash in now, quick! Dortmund director of sport Michael Zorc has admitted that Kagawa wants to play in England so we already know the country where he will be playing next season. So who are the suitors? Alex Ferguson is thought to be a big admirer (as well as the supremely talented Gylfi Sigurdsson by all accounts) but our best source of the Manchester United manager’s likes, United coach Rene Meulensteen, has been surprisingly quiet. But some of the cynical members of the RR group are thinking United would love to tap into the Japanese market…
Lukas Podolski, F, Cologne
Rumor: Cologne to Arsenal Likelihood: Done deal Sometimes at Rumor Redux towers we like to sit back, smoke a fat cigar and give ourselves a mutual pat on the back for a job well done. A case in point is Lukas Podolski, who has finally agreed to join Arsenal next season. There were plenty of other clubs being linked with the Germany striker once it became obvious he would be leaving Cologne, but we stuck by our guns (or should that be Gunners?) and said Podolski was heading for Emirates Stadium. To quote RR in March: “It’s gonna happen”. Yeah, baby. Oh, and don’t bother looking for examples where we got it wrong – we just ain’t listenin’.
Gonzalo Higuain, F, Real Madrid
Rumor: Real Madrid to Chelsea Likelihood: Hard to say For a man as gifted as Higuain to have started just 16 games is nothing short of a scandal and it’s reasonable that his agent should have demanded talks about his future at Real Madrid as he did last week. In the past Higuain has claimed to be happy at the Bernabeu but times change. The Argentina striker was on the bench for the win against Barcelona and both legs of the Champions League matches against Bayern Munich. It’s looking increasingly likely that Didier Drogba will be joining Nicolas Anelka in China so Chelsea will need someone to accompany Fernando Torres in attack. Of course there will be competition and there’s no guarantee Higuain will leave the Spanish capital. Manchester City have also been linked with Higuain but we prefer to play a waiting game until we get a few more clues.
Yann M'Villa, MF, Rennes
Rumor: Rennes to Arsenal Likelihood: The signs are good Arsene Wenger made a £10 million move for the Rennes midfielder in August but failed. Unfortunately his performances this season mean his price has supposedly doubled. Wenger, though, believes he can trim £5 million off his price tag AND beat off interest from Manchester United and Real Madrid. That’s confidence for you but who are to argue? Signing Podolski shows ambition and it’s that sort of transfer which can persuade the likes of Robin van Persie to stay. We think that talks are already at an advanced stage so Alex Song could get the support he desperately needs in the middle of the park.
Rasmus Elm, MF, AZ Alkmaar (right)
Rumor: Rasmus Elm Likelihood: Looking very likely He’s playing in a Dutch league and his surname is Elm. Where could a headline writer go with that sort of combination? Unfortunately he’s Swedish so Dutch Elm just isn’t going to work. One of Monday’s papers said Dalglish has been watching the AZ Alkmaar midfielder and went over to watch him in action against Feyenoord – except of course he wasn’t there because his wife had gone into labor. Another tabloid went so far as to say that an £8 million fee had already been agreed between the two clubs. Personal terms had already been agreed despite Dalglish’s futile trip so it’s only a matter of time before this one hits the headlines as a done deal.
Gareth Bale, W, Tottenham
Rumor: Gareth Bale to Barcelona. Likelihood: We still can’t see it. Bale has finally come clean and admitted that he will consider his future if Tottenham do not qualify for next season’s Champions League. That possibility may have diminished over the weekend with Spurs beating Blackburn, while Newcastle were being bullied at Wigan, but don’t forget only the top three will be playing in Europe’s premier club competition if Chelsea beats Bayern Munich. With Spurs four points behind the Gunners but with a game in hand it’s definitely in the balance. Bale has been heavily linked with Barca over the last few months but with Guardiola sailing into the sunset we expect that rumor to disappear for a while. Or will it? He has incredible pace and goes on marathon-like runs, a far cry from the Tiki Taka advocated by the soon-to-be-deposed champion. If Barca decided to ditch its style of football maybe the Bale rumor will resurface but Bale just doesn’t fit in the Barca mold.
Oliver Giroud, F, Montepellier
Rumor: Montepellier to Liverpool Likelihood: Unlikely There are a couple of Liverpool rumors to talk about so let’s deal with this one first. Liverpool needs decent players – fact. The only first-team player to get excited about at Anfield is Luis Suarez – fact. Andy Carroll isn’t good enough for the Reds – fact. Sure, there are a few players bubbling under but they aren’t getting a look-in under the stewardship of Kenny Dalglish. So what can be done about the malaise on Merseyside? Check out the talent on the Continent of course. Step forward Giroud, whose talent has propelled Montpellier to the top of Ligue 1. Dalglish and assistant Steve Clarke have personally running the rule over the France international, who is known for his physical presence, heading and the ability to score goals. Sound familiar? It’s Andy Carroll without the third part. The problem is that Arsenal (and Tottenham apparently) is also interested and when it comes to French players there will only be one winner.
Javi Martinez, F, Athletic Bilbao
Rumor: Athletic Bilbao to Arsenal Likelihood: Unlikely Who hasn’t been linked with the Athletic Bilbao holding midfielder? Manchester United and Barcelona are two clubs that spring to mind. It’s another tricky one as Martinez strikes me as a player that is enjoying his time at Bilbao so we think he is more likely to stay and create something special under Bielsa. And let’s not forget that Wenger is already thought to be in advanced talks with Rennes midfielder Yann M’Vila which would make signing Martinez a dead duck sitting in the water. We’re going to pass on this one.
Clint Dempsey, F, Fulham
Rumor: Fulham to Everton Likelihood: Still no chance Don't worry, you’re not reading the same story from last week when we first mooted the idea that David Moyes wanted to bring Clint Dempsey to Everton. The Scot is now determined to have another go and put another goodie into the Toffees bag. Of course there is an American connection at Goodison Park in the shape of Tim Howard, but we still don’t think that’s good enough to persuade a man at the top of his game to join a club only slightly bigger than the one he’s currently at. Sure, he’d be a big fish in a small pond – just like at Craven Cottage. The song remains the same. Dempsey will join a bigger club.
Wayne Rooney, F, Manchester United
Rumor: Manchester United to Manchester City. Likelihood: The same chance as Toronto winning the MLS Cup. Once bitten, twice shy. Eighteen months ago Wayne Rooney wanted to leave United and was considering joining City. It was unthinkable, but then two days later he performed the ultimate U-turn, signed a new five-year contract and apologized to everyone in the world for his behavior. Over the weekend one of the Sunday papers said that Rooney was Roberto Mancini’s top target of the summer. Unless Alex Ferguson does something unspeakable this rumor is going to one place and one place only – the trash can.