In need of a quick rumor fix or two? How about five? Welcome to FOX Soccer’s Rumor Redux. Finally, club action resumes with pivotal matches scattered all across the globe. Thankfully for you, all the weekend’s festivities and excitement will be tracked here, at FOX Soccer.com. We start Saturday’s edition by quickly dismissing the rumor of a possible reunion of Thierry Henry and former club Arsenal come January. The club legend is currently training at London Colney to maintain his fitness level following the New York Red Bulls’ elimination for the MLS playoffs earlier this month. Gunners’ boss Arsene Wenger, denied that his club was interested in bringing Henry back to the ranks for a short-term loan and claimed that, “Thierry’s future is in the [United] States.” What a bummer. Call us selfish, but wouldn’t you want to see Henry in an Arsenal for one last time? We know that we would, just for once. And with that, we move to the day’s top five football rumors, a list distilled from this morning’s Paper Chase.
Bruno Alves, D, FC Zenit St. Petersburg
Rumor: headed to Liverpool. Likelihood: low. After the €22 million transfer to the Russian club in 2010, the Portuguese defender has slowly made his way out of Luciano Spalletti’s starting eleven at Zenit this season. Chatter from circles in Russia and England suggest the Alves might be a transfer target for the Anfield side in January. Though supporters have demanded offensive reinforcements for Kenny Dalglish’s Liverpool squad, the Reds might be best inclined to look for defensive alternatives in the immediate future, as 34-year-old mainstay Jamie Carragher is entering the twilight of his career. Alves could potentially make the same move that ex-Zenit defender Martin Skrtel made back in 2008. However, the main sticking point in this rumor will come down to the Russian club’s asking price, with the Russian Premier League champions looking to receive a minimum €14 million offer from Liverpool. Will Dalglish be able to secure a deal for Alves? We’ll just have to wait and see.
Lassana Diarra, M, Real Madrid
Rumor: headed to AC Milan. Likelihood: low. After admitting his interest in the French international this past summer, AC Milan CEO Adriano Galliani is reportedly willing to reengage his efforts on the Real Madrid midfielder one more time in January. Though Diarra has recently entered in Jose Mourinho’s plans at the Santiago Bernabeu, rumors have run non-stop about the 26-year-old’s future with the La Liga club this season. Diarra understands that minutes might be hard to come by in 2012, with the likes of Sami Khedira and Nuri Sahin also in the mix. A full-time switch to Italian football seems like a reasonable alternative for the Euro 2012 hopeful, as midfielders Clarence Seedorf (35-years-old) and Marc van Bommel (34-years-old) are almost running on ‘E,’ and injured players Gennaro Gattuso and Mathieu Flamini have unknown return dates. But the main question here is: will Diarra agree to a move should a deal be reached by both clubs? The Les Blues player should say yes, but his heart will probably say no.
Mats Hummels, D, Borussia Dortmund
Rumor: headed to Juventus. Likelihood: low. Juventus boss Antonio Conte seems eager to add a defender to the Turin club in the winter transfer window and has set his eyes clearly on the 22-year-old star from Borussia Dortmund. Conte’s idea is to add a new partner for Andre Barzagli in the defensive line in January so that the club could contend with the likes of Udinese, Lazio, and Milan for the second half of the season. To spice things up for Dortmund, Conte and Juventus officials are willing throw in €15 million and ex-Hamburg player Eljero Elia to the transfer package. Yet, we highly doubt that Hummels will leave the Bundesliga champions in the middle of a league championship run. Besides, with the German international also gaining interest from clubs like Chelsea, Arsenal, and Barcelona, a move to Italy for €15 million doesn’t sound like a good business move; which is why Dortmund should keep Hummels around at least until the end of the Euro 2012 championships next summer.
Gonzalo Higuain, F, Real Madrid
Rumor: headed to Chelsea. Likelihood: low. With contract negotiations for Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka at a standstill, reports from London suggest that Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is prepared to bankroll a €47 million bid for the Argentine striker in January. This isn’t the first time Higuain has been linked to a move to the Premier League, as EPL champs Manchester United have also monitored ‘El Pipita’s’ work this past summer. Yet, Chelsea’s interests in the 23-year-old seems sincere, as Blues boss Andre Villas-Boas could be left with thin attacking options in 2012 if Drogba, Anelka, and Salomon Kalou decide to bolt from Stamford Bridge. As interesting as it would be to see a Higuain and Fernando Torres partnership in attack, we expect ‘Los Merengues’ to decline offers for the former River Plate talisman. Madrid boss Jose Mourinho has counted heavily on Higuain this season, while club president Florentino Perez has made it known that the forward will remain with the club for many more years to come.
Hulk, W/F, FC Porto
Rumor: headed to PSG. Likelihood: medium. Former Serie A coach and current PSG sporting director, Leonardo, continues to make waves in the Rumor Redux family by sprinkling dots of love and admiration to footballers across the world. This time, the Brazilian has focused his attention to fellow countryman Hulk from Porto, so much so that the player’s agent recently spoke about the potential move to French football with lee10sports.com. Hulk’s representative, Teodoro Fonseca, admitted that his client could have signed with Leonardo’s clubs Inter and Milan in the past and that Hulk would “love to play for PSG” should the opportunity present itself the immediate future. Though he dismissed that an agreement was already in place, Fonseca confessed that discussions were under way between both clubs for a possible move in January. Unfortunately for Porto, Hulk’s days at the club seem to be numbered, as clubs like Real Madrid and Inter look to make it difficult for the Brazilian to stay in the Primeira League for another season. With this in mind, Porto might be best inclined to negotiate with PSG’s Qatari Investment Authority group and hope to elevate Hulk’s asking price (€30 million) for the sake of business and competitive survival.