Concern with Manchester United’s performances are starting to reach panic levels, and it is no surprise that David Moyes has been linked with a couple of players in this week’s edition of the Rumor Mill. The former Everton boss has already admitted that his squad is not good enough to challenge for the Champions League, but if they produce more displays like they did against West Brom on Saturday the chances are that they won’t even be playing in the competition next season. What’s needed is a fresh approach at Old Trafford and a sprinkling of new players to bring the roar back to the Red Devils faithful. And who do we have to help us with this week’s gossip? She’s rarely out of the gossip columns herself and is also considering taking a new path after the release of new album, Prism. Katy Hudson, or Katy Perry to you and me, is thinking about knocking out a folk album as she approaches her 30s. Way to go, Katy! -- Warren Barner
RUMOR: STOKE TO NAPOLI LIKELIHOOD: Atletico more likely, but Stoke want him to stay Make no mistake, Begovic is one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League, and rumors about his future are persistently doing the rounds. The two latest clubs to be linked with the Bosnia and Herzegovina international are Napoli and Atletico Madrid. Both sides currently have loan signings as their first-choice goalkeepers. Liverpool shot-stopper Pepe Reina is between the sticks in Italy, and Chelsea custodian Thibaut Courtois holds the gloves at Atletico. The futures of both men are up in the air, although Reina does not expect to return to Liverpool. Courtois is a dark horse to be given his chance at Stamford Bridge under Mourinho. Reina could make his move to Napoli a permanent move, but Courtois’ future looks to be very much at Chelsea. Don’t forget Jack Butland is a Stoke player and will want to get his opportunity in the next couple of years, but we think the Potters will want to hang on to Begovic for a while yet.
RUMOR: BENFICA TO MANCHESTER UNITED LIKELIHOOD: United need him Anyone who has watched Rio Ferdinand this season will know exactly why David Moyes wants to bring in a quality center-back in January. Ferdinand was woeful against West Brom and it is becoming increasingly obvious that time is catching up with the 34-year-old defender, who looks a ghost of the player he once was. Nemanja Vidic is also struggling with injuries, but he still has a few more years in him yet and he needs a reliable partner to shore up a defense which is starting to look patchy. United has been looking at the 26-year-old Argentine for some time, but could finally land their man for between £15-20 million ($24-32 million) in January. Do Benfica want to play ball?
RUMOR: BARCELONA TO MONACO LIKELIHOOD: Why not? Valdes has made no secret of the fact that he wants to leave Barcelona even though he is first choice at Camp Nou under Gerardo Martino. Manchester City have been linked with a move for Valdes, but now big-spending Monaco has entered the running and is thought to be close to signing Valdes on a pre-contract agreement in January for a summer move. Monaco tops the table on goal difference from PSG, but coach Claudio Ranieri supposedly wants to beef up his last line of defense in a bid to keep their title hopes on track. Could be a case of “If you can afford me then sign me.” This one has legs.
RUMOR: MANCHESTER UNITED TO CITY LIKELIHOOD: In the balance Januzaj has quickly established himself as a fan favorite at United, who are desperate to prevent the Belgian youngster from joining archrivals City. United are holding contract talks with the 18-year-old winger, but it is thought that City are prepared to offer a five-year deal and £45,000 ($72,000) a week to make the move to the Etihad Stadium. At this moment Januzaj is a United player, but supporters fear another Paul Pogba slipping through their fingers. The Frenchman joined Juventus on a free transfer last summer because he was not offered the deal by United he thought he deserved. Pogba has been a revelation since his move and there is no doubt he would walk into United’s starting XI if he had stayed. The ball is in United’s court regarding Januzaj.
Martin Skrtel/Lucas Leiva
RUMOR: LIVERPOOL TO NAPOLI LIKELIHOOD: We think they’ll stay Liverpool and Napoli are walking on air in their respective leagues, with both clubs standing in second place and two points off the leaders, but that hasn’t stopped Rafa Benitez from plotting a raid on his former club in a bid to strengthen his squad. Martin Skrtel has recently been linked with a move to the Stadio San Paolo and he has now been joined as a target by his Reds teammate Lucas, who was signed by Benitez from Gremio six years ago when Benitez was in charge at Anfield. Sure, Lucas may feel a debt of gratitude to Benitez, but both men are first choice at the moment and enjoying life on Merseyside.
RUMOR: CHELSEA TO VALENCIA LIKELIHOOD: Mourinho starting to warm to the Spaniard This could be the last time Mata appears in this column for a while, judging by the comments of Jose Mourinho following Chelsea’s 1-1 draw against Tottenham. The Spaniard returned to the Blues’ starting XI against Swindon in the League Cup and then made a telling contribution as a sub at White Hart Lane. Mourinho said of Mata afterwards: “The way he changed the team in the second half here makes me a very happy manager who can say 72 hours in advance that he will start against Steaua Bucharest.” Valencia had hoped to re-sign the Spain midfielder, but Mata looks like he will be the one that got away.
RUMOR: PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN TO LIVERPOOL LIKELIHOOD: Will be plenty of interested parties Brendan Rodgers missed out on several targets during the summer transfer window, namely Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Christian Eriksen and Willian, who joined Dortmund, Tottenham and Chelsea, respectively, but that won’t stop him from trying to strengthen his squad in the New Year. Javier Pastore has been hot and cold at PSG this season, finishing just two of the five games he has started, and is thought to be growing disillusioned with life in the French capital. Arsenal were initially interested in the Argentine playmaker but their interest has cooled since the capture of Mesut Ozil. Would be a great signing for the Reds with Coutinho in tandem.
RUMOR: BAYER LEVERKUSEN TO ARSENAL LIKELIHOOD: Unlikely Arsene Wenger is determined to make the Bayer Leverkusen midfielder an Arsenal player in January, having already had an £18.5 million ($30 million) rejected by the German club torn apart by Manchester United in the Champions League. Leverkusen have made a brilliant start to life in the Bundesliga, having won six of their first seven games, and have no need to sell following the transfers of Andre Schurrle and Dani Carvajal to Chelsea and Real Madrid, respectively. Wenger’s hopes of making Bender one of the boys looks set to fail unless the Gunners make an offer the Germans simply cannot refuse.
RUMOR: REAL MADRID TO AC MILAN LIKELIHOOD: Certainly possible It was assumed that once Mourinho had left the Bernabeu that Casillas would immediately and unconditionally re-establish himself as Real Madrid’s number one. However, under the new reign of Carlo Ancelotti, the situation remains the same – Diego Lopez is the main man. So what next? AC Milan have supposedly sounded out the Spain goalkeeper’s representatives as they look to replace 36-year-old Christian Abbiati. Casillas has also been linked with Manchester City, whose manager Manuel Pellegrini was at Real Madrid in the 2009-10 season. No one can doubt that Joe Hart needs competition. However, in our view, AC Milan is the likelier of the two destinations, although it would kill Casillas to leave the Bernabeu.
RUMOR: ASTON VILLA TO MANCHESTER UNITED LIKELIHOOD: Expect a fight in summer Poor David Moyes. The Manchester United boss is looking lost at the helm of one of the world’s biggest clubs, and things didn’t get much better on Saturday against West Brom, who secured an incredible 2-1 victory. Moyes made just one signing in the summer, Marouane Fellaini, who started on the bench at the weekend, and the former Everton boss has since admitted that United don’t have a prayer of winning the Champions League. So how can they improve? One story which we expect to become big, if not in January then certainly in summer, is the pursuit of Aston Villa striker Christian Benteke. The Belgian is a goal machine and will give United fans what they wished they’d got in the summer – a big-name player. Watch this space.