Bob Dylan immortalized the 1960s with his timeless classic "The Times They Are a-Changin'"and how right he was. One of the lines - ‘For the loser now will be later to win’ – encapsulates the way Liverpool’s owners are looking at the appointment of Brendan Rodgers. The team was mediocre at best under Kenny Dalglish but the new man at the helm is expected to bring a broom to the cobwebs at Anfield and usher in a new, glorious regime which is expected to be Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door. With that in mind, new players are needed – and fast. Rodgers has already started to make noises about his targets, but are they willing to play ball?
Gylfi Sigurdsson, M, Swansea City
Rumor: Swansea to Liverpool. Likelihood: Better than 50/50. When Rodgers was appointed Liverpool boss last week, Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins made sure to insert a clause into the contract preventing the Reds from raiding the Welsh club for their best players. One of the interesting players is Sigurdsson. Why? Because he isn’t a Swansea player. The former Reading midfielder set the Premier League alight with some breathtaking performances and goals during his loan spell from Hoffenheim last season. Although the Swans have agreed a club record £6.8million fee with the German club, Rodgers has made it clear that he would like to sign him but does not want to upset his former club. Instead he is “leaving it up to Gylfi.” If ever there was a come-and-join-us message this is it. We think it could get nasty.
Gaston Ramirez, M, Bologna
Rumor: Bologna to Manchester City. Likelihood: City have enough class in midfield. How many playmakers do City need? Not content with David Silva and Samir Nasri, it now appears Mancini is on the trail of Bologna midfielder Ramirez - not that he’s the only one. Kenny Dalglish was interested until he got the boot by Liverpool’s impatient owners, while Juventus are also in the mix. The only club to have made an offer (15-18m euros) is Wolfsburg but it’s safe to assume the German club is unlikely to get its man. If the competition gets too hot City can simply walk away as the 21-year-old Uruguay international is still a work in progress.
Edin Dzeko, F, Manchester City
Rumor: Manchester City to Bayern Munich. Likelihood: If RvP becomes a possibility Dzeko will go. There’s no doubt Bayern need something to wrest the title back from Borussia Dortmund. Is that something Bosnia-Herzegovina forward Dzeko? Certainly, Mario Gomez can’t do it all on his own but is Dzeko the answer? Possibly. Dzeko may be a hero for scoring the equalizer against QPR which set up the grandstand finish by Sergio Aguero on the final day of the season but there is no room for sentiment in football. If City thought they could get Robin van Persie they would sell Dzeko in an instant - and let’s not forget the former Wolfsburg man is fourth choice at the Etihad. It’s all "ifs" and "buts" at the moment until we know more about RvP’s whereabouts next season.
Demba Ba, F, Newcastle United
Rumor: Newcastle to Tottenham. Likelihood: No idea. Ba was the business until the arrival of Papiss Cisse on Tyneside. Ba was simply unstoppable until he went to the African Cup of Nations. When he came back, the goals dried up (he only scored one goal in 15 appearances) but he found another outlet for his talent – setting up goals for fellow striker Cisse. Now it seems that Tottenham, always on the look-out for a striker, are prepared to activate a £7million release clause in Ba’s contract and bring him to White Hart Lane. Ba destroyed Manchester United last season and £7m looks like a snip if he can rediscover that sort of form. Be prepared for an avalanche of clubs looking to sign him for a steal though.
Didier Drogba, F, Chelsea
Rumor: Chelsea to Shanghai Shenhua. Likelihood: It’s still on. We only question whether this deal is going to happen because of the uncertainty surrounding Nicolas Anelka. We’re not suggesting for one moment that Anelka’s move to the Far East depended on ‘Le Sulk’ being in the team, but it must have been a factor. Didier Drogba has finally done it all at club level and new Shanghai Shenhua boss Sergio Batista is determined to land his man despite the overtures of Real Madrid and former Blues boss Jose Mourinho. Nothing suggests the deal is off so we’re going to stick with Drogba moving to China.
Nani, M/W, Manchester United
Rumor: Leaving Manchester United. Likelihood: He’ll stay. Nani says he is keeping his options open at Manchester United, opening up the possibility he could leave Old Trafford. Why so? Because the Portuguese maestro is in the middle of contract negotiations at the moment, which inevitably prompts games of bluff and double bluff. The key phrase from Nani is that he is “really happy” so expect him to put pen to paper on a lucrative deal although not quite in Rooney’s league.
Fabricio Coloccini, D, Newcastle United
Rumor: Newcastle to Manchester City. Likelihood: Don’t think so. City have been linked with quite a few defenders lately. Daniel Agger and David Luiz have been mentioned, while versatile Athletic Bilbao player Javier Martinez is also on Roberto Mancini’s radar apparently, but top of the shop is Newcastle's Coloccini. This is a strange one for us because Mancini has made it obvious that his preferred central defensive partnership is Vincent Kompany and Joleon Lescott. Would Coloccini be first choice at the Etihad? He’s probably ahead of Kolo Toure and Stefan Savic but we think he’d rather be playing every week in the north east.
Clint Dempsey, M, Fulham
Rumor: Fulham to Liverpool. Likelihood: Can he afford to wait? It’s impossible for a week to go by without us mentioning 'Deuce Dempsey.' The USA attacker has been keeping his cards pretty close to his chest about his future plans despite several clubs interested in his services. The latest is Liverpool, which has recently installed former Swansea boss Brendan Rodgers as its new coach. Rodgers likes to play football the right way (i.e. not the Stoke way) and Dempsey fits the bill. But would Dempsey be interested? His last words on his future made it clear that he would like to play in the Champions League. Is Liverpool in the Champions League? Far from it. Unless an English club actually playing in the UCL next season (Man City, United, Arsenal and Chelsea) comes forward, then he could take a chance on Anfield in the hope of a top-four finish next season – or move abroad of course. We’ll see.
Nicolas Anelka, F, Shanghai Shenhua
Rumor: Shanghai Shenhua to London. Likelihood: A Shanghai surprise. Anelka stays! What a strange man Nicolas Anelka is. He signs an astonishing contract in China and then takes over as coach when Jean Tigana is sacked. He complains when he doesn’t get paid any extra for his coaching duties (Bless him) and then hits out when Shanghai takes steps to alleviate him of the stress of management. ‘Le Sulk’ moaned that the club hadn’t informed him about the potential appointment of Sergio Batista – worse still, he doesn’t know him! The facts are Shanghai did badly under Tigana and about the same under Anelka, who has scored just two goals this season. Quite why Tottenham, QPR and West Ham would be looking at him is a mystery, but we have a suspicion all will be smoothed over. Don’t expect to see Anelka at his 217th club in the summer.
Hulk, M/F, FC Porto
Rumor: Porto to Chelsea. Likelihood: Even better than last week. Last week we said there was a good chance the Brazilian would be heading to Stamford Bridge in the summer and nothing has happened to make us change our minds. The transfer fee appears to be going up all the time although it is no longer in the £80million bracket – anywhere between £30-38m seems to be the price. But how are things progressing? These are the words from the man himself. “I have enjoyed a great time here. I'm sure that they will understand the motives behind my decision if I leave." Expect him to be playing in blue next season in what is shaping up to be a pretty exciting Chelsea side.