The rumors are starting to fly ahead of the European Championship – no more so than at Chelsea, which is keen to capitalize on its incredible Champions League success and strengthen a squad many feel is too old to compete for the Premier League title. Blues owner Roman Abramovich is refusing to rest on his laurels now that he has finally landed the trophy that has evaded him since he took over at Stamford Bridge. Many view him as a voracious monster, thirsting for more success and eager to devour trophy after trophy to satisfy his craving. Incredible as it seems, the Russian is determined to sign a player who bears more than a passing resemblance to Lou Ferrigno. Read on.
Jen Vertonghen, D, Ajax
Rumor: Ajax to Tottenham Likelihood: Spurs still favorite This deal is dragging its heels a bit and the Ajax defender has warned Spurs they need to get a move on otherwise he may end up signing for hated north London rival Arsenal. No one at White Hart Lane wants that. The deal has probably been complicated by the fact Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy failed to qualify for the Champions League, meaning they want to pay slightly less than they were initially prepared to, while Ajax obviously want to sell to the highest bidder. Despite the seeming lack of progress in the transfer we think there are only a few bits and pieces that need to be ironed out before Vertonghen signs for his “first choice”. Get a move on Levy!
Olivier Giroud, F, Montpellier
Rumor: Montpellier to Arsenal Likelihood: This one could run and run We’ve already discussed what Wenger needs to do to keep Van Persie at the Emirates, and his chief scout Gilles Grimandi has been busy compiling a ‘dossier’ on Montpellier’s star striker. Wenger is thought to have already made his first move for Giroud - £6million plus invisible striker Marouane Chamakh. Considering that Montpellier owner Louis Nicollin rates Giroud at £50million that figure seems a bit on the low side. However, we understand Giroud’s release clause is around £13million (it rose slightly following his side’s Ligue 1 title success) so there’s no point in paying over the odds. We think that any decision about Giroud’s future will be made after the European Championship where a decent tournament could raise his profile – and salary – considerably.
Dimitar Berbatov, F, Manchester United
Rumor: Manchester United to PSG Likelihood: Hmmm Now that Berba has made it clear he’s leaving Manchester United it’s up to him to find a team that will have him. Normally in these situations any player that is worth his salt is courted from far and wide, but such has been Berbatov’s lack of playing time at Manchester United that it’s up to him and his agent to generate interest from other clubs. No one had been talking about a move to the French capital until his representative Emil Danchev opened his mouth. One of the reasons why PSG should sign him? They have never had a Bulgarian in their squad! Seriously? Gentlemen, you’ll have to come up with a better reason than that for PSG to come calling.
Robin van Persie, F, Arsenal
Rumor: Arsenal to Manchester City Likelihood: Touch and go We all know what it will take to persuade Van Persie to stay at the Emirates – silverware. Money simply doesn’t come into the equation apparently. That’s not to say that RVP will be offering his services to City, Barcelona etc... for free. He just wants to be able to polish his medals when the sun finally sets on a glorious career and think to himself that it was all worthwhile. Arsenal have made a decent start with the signing of Lukas Podolski and they are still in the chase for Ajax defender Jan Vertonghen - a tempting Dutch connection – but more will be needed to keep Van Persie in north London. Arsenal officials have guaranteed themselves a busy summer. No holidays for them, it’s signings, signings, signings that are needed to ensure they keep captain Van Persie at the club.
Hulk, F, Porto
Rumor: Porto to Chelsea Likelihood: Good chance Many pundits thought the prospect of Hulk joining Chelsea disappeared once Andre Villas-Boas sailed into the sunset. Not so apparently. Porto and the Blues have been negotiating a fee for the Brazil striker, who scored two goals in a friendly against Denmark at the weekend. His release clause was initially £80million but the Portuguese have finally started to think more realistically. Estimates are that Porto wants £35million, while the Blues want to pay £5m less. It will certainly be interesting to see how Hulk fits into a team which has guaranteed Fernando Torres the main striker’s role next season, but Didier Drogba needs to be replaced and it seems Hulk is that man. Will Chelsea like him when he’s angry? They won’t care so long as he scores goals.
Pep Guardiola, manager, unemployed
Rumor: Barcelona to Chelsea Likelihood: Up in the air Why has Roberto di Matteo reportedly only been offered a one-year contract at Chelsea despite winning the FA Cup and the Holy Grail for Roman Abramovich – the Champions League? The answer may lie in the plans of Senor Guardiola, who left Barcelona in order to take a one-year sabbatical. Guardiola has already said that he is prepared to be “seduced” into performing a U-turn and return to management next season which has had the suits at Stamford Bridge falling over themselves in a bid to bag their target. Can Abramovich woo Pep with sweet nothings in his ear and bring him to west London? He is certainly persistent, but his offer needs to be a marriage made in heaven.
Gregory van der Wiel, D, Ajax
Rumor: Ajax to Chelsea Likelihood: Possible This move seemed nailed on at the weekend but doubts have begun to surface because of Real Madrid’s interest in Branislav Ivanovic. Why so I hear you ask? The Serbian right-back has said that Jose Mourinho is interested in bringing him to the Bernabeu, but if that move fails to come off the Spanish champion is said to be ready to make a bid for its second choice, van der Wiel. We shall wait and see whether Van der Wiel’s Stamford Bridge transfer materializes. Would Abramovich want the Dutch defender even if Ivanovic decided to stay? Possibly. Ivanovic can play at centerback and John Terry can’t be expected to go through next season unscathed. Your move Jose.
Didier Drogba, F, Chelsea
Rumor: Chelsea to Juventus Likelihood: We don’t think so Italian champion Juve has supposedly offered Chelsea’s 34-year-old striker a two-year £80,000-a-week deal to play in Serie A. The question has to be asked about why the Champions League hero would swap the rigors of playing in Italy when he can earn four times as much taking it easy in the Chinese Super League turning out for Shanghai Shenhua. Whether or not the team will be in the top flight next season remains up in the air as the club is on the brink of being relegated. Additionally, Drogba’s move has been cast into doubt because of Nicolas Anelka’s recent criticism of the club. The former Blues striker is currently player-coach following Jean Tigana’s dismissal, but is unhappy about rumors that Sergio Batista is about to take over the reins. ‘Le Sulk’ missed training last Monday because his brother (who is not five years old by the way but the elder brother of Nicolas) was unwell and did not take training the following day. He could be fined for his outburst. This turmoil casts doubt on Drogba’s arrival but we think everyone will kiss and make up soon enough, paving the way for the Ivorian’s lucrative switch.
Giovani dos Santos, F, Tottenham
Rumor: Leaving Tottenham Likelihood: Unlikely Giovani dos Santos has threatened to leave the club unless he gets more game time next season. Spurs fans probably couldn’t care less if they saw the back of Dos Santos, who has simply failed to live up to expectations at White Hart Lane. Rumor has it that the Tottenham hierarchy would have willingly accepted any offer for the Mexico midfielder, who simply blocked all attempts to move him on because he would have been forced to take a drop in wages. The likelihood is that he will see out the remaining year on his contract and then move on next summer when he’ll be able to keep up his standard of living.
Stephane Sessegnon, M, Sunderland
Rumor: Sunderland to Manchester City Likelihood: Less than 50/50 Those of us who live in the refined atmosphere of Rumor Redux towers have long been singing the praises of the Benin international for some time. So what are the chances of having Sess in the City? Well, Sunderland boss Martin O’Neill clearly wants to keep his star man, who also wants to stay at the Stadium of Light, so what can City offer in return? The answer of course is cash, and lots of it, plus winger Adam Johnson if reports are to be believed. The Black Cats spent £6million on Sessegnon in January 2011, so it would probably take double that amount plus Johnson to prise him away. Our money is on Sessegnon staying for another season.