Over recent months it has been the London clubs (usually Arsenal and Tottenham) that have dominated Rumor Redux, but this week the table has been turned by Manchester City, who have somehow managed to throw away the Premier League title in spectacular style. The antics of Mario Balotelli and Carlos Tevez this season will go down as one of the more unsavory episodes of a club that feels destined to win the title in the next couple of years (it was supposed to be this season). Inevitably, when your hopes have been crushed, chatter starts to fly and creep in through the veins of a club that have been visibly drained by arch rival United. Sir Alex Ferguson has not been left out though. His inevitable march towards a 13th Premier League title cannot hide the gaps in a squad that has been stitched together by players approaching their 40s. Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes can't go on forever. Who's in line to replace them? Read on.
Gylfi Sigurdsson, M, Hoffenheim
Rumor: Hoffenheim to Arsenal. Likelihood: There's a chance. . The Icelander has been melting the hearts of Swansea fans since joining the club on loan from German club Hoffenheim. Six goals in 11 matches prompted Swansea manager Brendan Rodgers to compare the former Reading man to Frank Lampard. Furthermore, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has sounded out current Royals boss Brian McDermott about the player - and has been left in no doubt that he is capable of becoming one of the Gunners' leading lights. The only stumbling block could be that Hoffenheim want the player back now they've seen what a mistake it was to loan him out in the first place - they just need to find out what they were doing wrong. But given a choice, Sigurdsson would surely choose the glamor of Arsenal and (probable) Champions League football than a mid-table Bundesliga outfit. We expect some twists and turns before Sigurdsson makes a decision but it is more than likely he will be back in England next season.
Dimitar Berbatov, F, Manchester United
Rumor: Manchester United to Galatasaray. Likelihood: Not really. Berbatov's departure in the summer is inevitable but his destination remains shrouded in mystery. The Bulgarian still wants to play at the top level and in one of Europe's biggest leagues - Spain, Italy or Germany. In our view that pretty much rules out Galatasaray, who has been linked with Berbatov at the end of last year. Coach Fatih Terim has already admitted he would jump at the chance of signing the former Tottenham star, but there is a world of difference between what you want and what you get. Get real Fatih.
Dirk Kuyt, F, Liverpool
Rumor: Liverpool to Roma. Likelihood: Possibility. Kuyt is the player who has suffered the most under the Kenny Dalglish era. The Dutchman is a workaholic and scores goals but his big mistake was to have been bought by Rafael Benitez. It's pretty clear that 31-year-old Kuyt would prefer to stay at Anfield but he needs game time - something sadly denied him under the current regime. In the last few days, Kuyt has been linked with a plethora of clubs, including his former team Feyenoord. His contract apparently has a clause allowing to move to Europe for just £1million. That sort of price has inevitably led Roma, Fiorentina and Galatasaray look towards Merseyside. Roma could still make next season's Champions League, so they probably have the edge over the competition.
Nigel de Jong, M, Manchester City
Rumor: Manchester City to Juventus. Likelihood: Less than 50/50. De Jong seems to be starting every other game at the moment, but in a big squad like City's that's inevitable: especially when there is competition in the shape of Gareth Barry. Mancini is unlikely to want to lose the combative midfielder, but the prospect of more regular first-team football might tempt the Dutchman to cast his eyes towards. City may have failed to wrestle the Premier League title from its greedy neighbor United but we think there are still some good things at City, and de Jong is one of them. Can Juve match City's wages? We don't think so.
Per Mertesacker, D, Arsenal
Rumor: Arsenal to who knows where. Likelihood: It all depends. The Germany defender is rumored to be leaving Arsenal in the summer,and having been ruled out for the rest of the season with an injury it looks like he has played his last game for the Gunners. However, Arsene Wenger won't want to dispense with his services without having a replacement in mind. That leads to the inevitable link with Jan Vertonghen, the Ajax defender who manager Frank de Boer is resigned to losing in the summer. The equation is simply this: Vertonghen in, Mertesacker out. Whether Wenger can pull off the first and hardest part remains to be seen.
Adam Johnson, W, Manchester City
Rumor: Manchester City to Sunderland. Likelihood: Deserves a bigger club. Johnson has been unlucky not be given more chances by Roberto Mancini. The man is a game changer given the opportunity but his way has been blocked by a system which looks to accommodate David Silva and Samir Nasri. Without the need for wingers, Johnson was bought from Middlesbrough - not too far from Sunderland - and although the England international is certainly disaffected with life at City, his taste for the good life means he will look elsewhere.
Clint Dempsey, F, Fulham
Rumor: Fulham to Arsenal. Likelihood: He'll probably leave but who knows where. It's been a stellar season for the 29-year-old American, who has netted 21 goals for Fulham this season and is fifth in the Premier League scoring charts. He could have scored his third hat trick of the season against Bolton too. Gunners boss Arsene Wenger is reportedly planning a £10million raid for the attacker. Martin Jol might want more than that for a player about to finish his sixth and best season at Craven Cottage. Dempsey deserves to be seen on a bigger stage, so we think he could be on the move. His contract runs out at the end of next season. Expect Fulham to cash in during the summer.
Oscar de Marcos, M, Athletic Bilbao
Rumor: Athletic Bilbao to Manchester United. Likelihood: Wait and see. United have a history of signing up players that have torn them apart. Remember Cristiano Ronaldo? United players urged Ferguson to buy the Portuguese winger when he impressed against them in a friendly in the summer of 2003. De Marcos scored in both legs of Athletic Bilbao's comfortable Europa League triumph and the inevitable has now materialized. He has a release clause of £26million but we think Ferguson will let his scouts provide him with more details before making a commitment. Anyone remember Bebe?
Mario Balotelli, F, Manchester City
Rumor: Manchester City to Inter Milan. Likelihood: Hmm... The cat is finally out of the bag after Roberto Mancini said Balotelli has probably played his last game for Manchester City following his dismissal against Arsenal - the fourth time he has been sent off with City. Balotelli has been linked with a return to Inter Milan, but we all remember how things turned out there. His agent now says Balotelli is sorry for what he did at the Emirates and that he expects the Italian to stay in Manchester. Bizarre as it sounds we think this may happen, but only if Mancini is still in a job.
Carlos Tevez, F, Manchester City
Rumor: Manchester City to Juventus. Likelihood: Possible. It has long been thought that the destination of Tevez is a straight battle between the Milan clubs, but last week a new contender emerged. Good things are starting to happen at Serie A leader Juventus and manager Antonio Conte is looking to strengthen his squad for the Champions League campaign. Juve’s an attractive proposition for any self-respecting striker (respect is something Tevez knows nothing about), but we think AC Milan remains in pole position to land the troubled Argentine.