In need of a quick rumor fix or two? How about five? Welcome to FOX Soccer’s Rumor Redux. With the winter transfer window fast approaching, we present you the best rumors that Wednesday has to offer. We start today’s edition by poking fun at the report that Man City striker Mario Balotelli was ‘poisoned’ by contaminated pizza that he and his girlfriend ate in a Naples restaurant before City’s UCL clash against Napoli Tuesday night. City manager Roberto Manager quickly dismissed the rumors, claiming that the Italian forward had a "small fever" instead. That’s all fine and dandy Roberto. But it begs to question: why did a healthy Sergio Aguero start on the bench if Balotelli was suffering for an apparent illness on the pitch? Yeah, it doesn’t make sense to us either. And with that, we move to the day’s top rumors, a list distilled from today’s Paper Chase.
Didier Drogba, F, Chelsea
Rumor: headed to Los Angeles Galaxy. Likelihood: low. The Major League Soccer champions are preparing for life after football star David Beckham, who according to reports (hint, Rumor Redux) seems primed for a move to Ligue 1 giants Paris St. Germain. LA wants another star to replace Becks and have their eyes set on the Ivorian international this winter. As mentioned in previous editions, Drogba’s in the final year of his contract at Stamford Bridge, and Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas is looking to add younger players to his struggling Premier League squad. Reports from England suggest that the MLS club will be a major player for Drogba’s services in January. With so many rumors circulating about the 33-year-old’s future, it’s too soon to tell whether or not Drogba will consider a move to Major League Soccer and leave Europe’s huge spotlight.
Mehdi Benatia, D, Udinese
Rumor: headed to Manchester United. Likelihood: low. After an outstanding run last season, many experts predicted that Udinese would see a dip in their league form, as players Alexis Sanchez (FC Barcelona), Gokhan Inler (Napoli), and Cristian Zapata (Villarreal) bolted from the northern Italy club this past summer. However, Udinese have proved critics wrong this season and currently sit fourth in the Serie A standings, largely due to stellar defending anchored by the Moroccan international. United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has taken notice of Benatia’s abilities and could offer a competitive bid for the 24-year-old as soon as the winter transfer window opens. The main stumbling block will be Udinese’s willingness to let Benatia leave Stadio Friuli during the middle of a successful campaign in Serie A. United will undoubtedly monitor the Italian club’s situation for the next couple of weeks. Until then, we expect Benatia to remain with the Zebrett’s till season's end.
Ashley Cole, D, Chelsea
Rumor: headed to Barcelona. Likelihood: low. While Eric Abidal’s contract negotiation continues to stagnate at the Camp Nou, Barca’s shortlisted alternatives for the French international. As reported in Diario Sport, the Catalan club have turned their attention back to the Chelsea defender for the 2012-2013 campaign. Because Gareth Bale’s transfer price (€45 million) might be too high to match, Cole is seen as a cheaper alternative to Tottenham’s franchise player. Barca officials have traveled to London in recent days to scout the English international, whose contract with the Blues expires in 2013. Needless to say, Cole has been linked with the Spanish league champions for years. His talent and extensive experience on the left flank should guarantee an interesting debate within the Barca camp, who still seem interested in Bale despite his heavy price tag. This all of course depends on Abidal's pending contract extension with the club. For now, we’re going to categorize this as ‘low.’
Alessandro Del Piero, M, Juventus
Rumor: headed to Los Angeles Galaxy. Likelihood: low. A few months ago, news that the legendary midfielder was leaving the Turin club rocked the Bianconeri faithful to its core. Fortunately for Juve’s supporters, a move never materialized for the mythical captain. But the reality is that the 37-year-old is entering the twilight of his career, and the Serie A giants will have to decide on what to do with their beloved figure. Recent reports from Gazzetta dello Sport suggest that Major League Soccer’s LA Galaxy are prepared to bid for the footballer should David Beckham leave to PSG in the winter transfer market. Whether or not Del Piero would consider a move to the North American continent is unknown. The former Italy international doesn’t seem to be concerned with his age or form, as he’s hinted recenlty that he would relish an opportunity with an EPL club. With dreams of remaning in Europe's 'big show' we doubt that Del Piero will move to LA at this stage of his career.
Riccardo Montolivo, M, Fiorentina
Rumor: headed to AC Milan in January. Likelihood: very high. We’ve talked about Montolivo’s situation at great length here at the Rumor Redux. The saga is close to an end, with recent reports from Italy suggesting that Milan have already come to terms with Fiorentina for the disgruntled midfielder. With Antonio Cassano’s recent health issues, Rossoneri officials were forced to look for attacking options in the open market. Massimiliano Allegri is a huge admirer of Montilivo and can plug in the 26-year-old to the central attacking midfielder position. Montolivo’s wish of playing for an ‘important club’ is almost here. It’s up to him to demonstrate that he’s ready for bigger and better things.