One week ago, we hear whispers of an agreement between Real Madrid and Santos. Neymar's price was set, though yesterday came news that the Brazilian wonder-kid had reupped with his club and would stay home through the club's centenary in 2012 on through to the World Cup. While the news seemingly debunked the rumor of a $83 million agreement, it shocked few familiar with the circumstances surrounding the player, club, and sale. There is, however, a question begged by Neymar staying in Brazil: What does Real Madrid do now? Where do they shift the pile of money that they'd set aside for a Neymar purchase? Today's Rumor Redux answers that question (as much as rumors can answer anything). Here is today's top five, a list distilled from the morning's Paper Chase.
Andrei Arshavin, F, Arsenal
Rumor: Will leave Arsenal in January. Likelihood: Low. Amid rumors the Arsenal forward has had a run-in with manager Arsene Wenger comes word that he will quit his club in January, leaving two questions: Where, and why? Let's take them in reverse order. 'Why' could center around this row, which presumably focused on usage despite Arshavin having appeared in 10 of Arsenal's 11 league matches. The Russian attacker's said he wants to play 90 minutes (he's come off the bench five times), but he's also said it would be a motivate a change of club only if it was a long term issue. As to the where: One day ago, Arshavin said he was happy at Arsenal, would only move back to Russia to play for Zenit, still loved Barcelona but has not had contact with anybody. In other words, same ol', same ol'.
Yohan Cabaye, M, Newcastle
Rumor: To Manchester United. Likelihood: Low. The French international has reportedly impressed Alex Ferguson. In fairness, he's impressed everybody (for quit some time, for that matter). Does that mean Ferguson is interested in bringing Cabaye to Old Trafford? Apparently. Ferguson speaks highly of a lot of players, yet very few find their way to Old Trafford. Given Cabaye's newly arrived in England, it would seem a stretch to suggest he's about to jump south to Manchester, no matter how much United needs a central midfielder. The Red Devils didn't bite a few months ago when Cabaye crossed the channel. Have they really seen enough the last three months to change course, steering away from other targets (Sneijder)?
Eden Hazard, W/M, Lille
Rumor: To Real Madrid Likelihood: Somewhat Here's how inane the Hazard rumors have become: After months of Fleet Street weaving a narrative about the Belgian attacker moving to the Emirates, they've finally caught onto the fact that Real Madrid has been his likely destination all along. Now the tabloids are having to construct this subtle backtrack and make it seem like Arsenal's going to miss out ... on a player they never had a realistic chance of landing. By that model, you could construct a story about Manchester United missing out on Neymar, though they've never had a realistic chance at landing him. It illustrated an issue with most English-language soccer rumors: English tabloids have a huge effect on perception, particularly around the London-based clubs they cover so closely. A Hazard-to-Arsenal note helps sell papers and keep Gooners coming back for more, but that doesn't mean it's ever made sense.
Nemanja Vidic, D, Manchester United
Nemanja Vidic, D, Real Madrid Rumor: To Real Madrid in June. Likelihood: Low. Straight out of 2009, we have a Vidic-to-Madrid rumor, the last iteration of which featured his wife asking for a move out of Manchester. Mrs. Vidic doesn't have a part in this rumor's revitalization. This time, it's Alex Ferguson's newfound willingness to part with ... his captain? During the time between this rumor's last airing and now, Manchester United's passed their armband from Gary Neville to Nemanja Vidic. While the captaincy at Old Trafford doesn't preclude somebody from being sold, it would hint that Ferguson's somewhat fond of his Serbian center back. With Rio Ferdinand going through a slump, it's difficult to imagine Ferguson planning for his captain's exit.
David Villa, F, Barcelona
David Villa, F, Barcelona Rumor: To Liverpool. Likelihood: Extremely low. David Villa doesn't like Lionel Messi much, right now. That's the word, though it's less of a personal dispute and more of Villa's discontent with Messi being the club's focal point. As Messi's shadow grows, Villa sees less light. Even if that picture of Villa's feelings is accurate, it's a big leep from ill-will to leaving Barcelona. It's an even bigger leap from leaving Barcelona to landing in (of all places) Liverpool. The more likely resolution to this story: Villa starts playing better and stops worrying about the attention Messi gets. After all, did we hear much from Villa last year, when his goal rate was up?