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Chelsea season preview: Mata, Hazard and Mourinho is as good as it gets

Top Five: Clubs where Demba Ba can go to rescue his career

Analysing the Transfer Gossip – 11th July Part Two: Fabregas, Jovetic, Torres and more

Analysing the Transfer Gossip – 30th June Part One: Torres, Benteke, Cabaye and more

Rafael Benitez should make a move for Torres not Suarez

Torres can bring out the best in Messi and Neymar at Barcelona

Analysing the Transfer Gossip – 13th June: Barcelona, Man United, Real Madrid, Liverpool and more

As we move in to the off-season an unprecedented amount of managerial movement around Europe will surely see an already frantic transfer market go in to overdrive. This will give plenty of opportunities for transfer rumour and gossip. So how much of it is realistic?

Barcelona are reportedly interested in signing Chelsea striker Fernando Torres, 29.


Full story: London Evening Standard

What’s the story? Haha. Barcelona moving for Fernando Torres?! Perhaps they want someone to put some pressure on Leo Messi and the newly signed Neymar? And Alexis, Pedro, Tello etc etc.
Does it make sense? No. Reports are that Barcelona want Torres to be an impact sub but it never ever makes sense to buy players for squad depth rather than for the first team. Also, if he moves to sit on the bench he’s giving up on his remote chance of traveling to the World Cup next summer.
Is the price right? Chelsea paid £50m so are going to take a massive loss whatever way and there’s no possible way that Barcelona can justify paying over £10m for bench fodder.
Will it happen? 0/10 – Torres to Barcelona we’re talking about here.

Manchester United are hoping that Real Madrid can land Bale to help them re-sign Portuguese attacker Cristiano Ronaldo, 28, this summer.


Full story: The Sun

What’s the story? As I’ll be looking at later, a lot depends on Gareth Bale this summer. If Real do sign him then they may consider selling Ronaldo.
Does it make sense? Yes, as such. But, this implies that Real are happy to sell Ronaldo which I’m not convinced by even if they do sign Bale. They must surely want to sign Bale to pair him with Ronaldo rather than as a replacement.
Is the price right? Seems like it’s going to be in the £80-85m region.
Will it happen? 4/10 – Hard to be committed to this either way.

David Moyes is closing in on Benfica defender Ezequiel Garay with an agreement in principle between the United and the Portuguese side for the 26-year-old.


Full story: Daily Mirror

What’s the story? United need a young footballing defender to take over from Rio Ferdinand and that is exactly what Garay is. He was exceptional for Benfica this season.
Does this make sense? Yes. Ferdinand and Vidic are getting old and injury prone respectively, Evans has had trouble with injury and with Jones still to have a position found for him there could be a big hole at the back.
Is the price right? £17m is reasonable.
Will it happen? 10/10 – Even the share price has dipped because of the cash release.

Manchester City are hoping the arrival of new manager Manuel Pellegrini will help them land 21-year-old Malaga winger Isco.


Full story: The Sun

What’s the story? Isco has been showing off his variety of talent which makes him an elite prospect for Spain. City need someone who can offer something different in attack and Isco has pace and trickery in abundance.
Does it make sense? Yes. Isco has improved rapidly under Pellegrini and would give City exactly what they need.
Is the price right? Malaga aren’t in great financial shape so he could be prised away for somewhere in the £20m region.
Will it happen? 8/10 – It’s looking to be on the verge on happening.

Real Madrid will compete with Chelsea and Manchester City for Napoli forward Edinson Cavani after the Spanish club held preliminary talks with the 26-year-old Uruguayan’s representatives with a view to securing his services before the new season.


Full story: Guardian

What’s the story? Real Madrid clearly aren’t happy with Benzema and Higuain so seem to be looking at either Cavani or Suarez. Seems like Cavani is the back up if Liverpool dig their heels in over Suarez.
Does it make sense? Yes. Suarez would be more useful for Real in all likelihood but Cavani wouldn’t exactly be a bad back up option.
Is the price right? £52m for Cavani, £40-50m for Suarez. Take your pick.
Will it happen? 3/10 – If they don’t get Suarez it very well could.

Liverpool hope to sign Sunderland goalkeeper Simon Mignolet for £8m in the next week. The Merseyside club have bid £7m for the 25-year-old but the Wearsiders are holding out for nearer £10m, with the clubs likely to reach a compromise.


Full story: Daily Mail

What’s the story? The only reason for Liverpool to be pushing so hard for a goalkeeper is if they are selling Reina considering that they have so many other holes around the squad. If they are, Mignolet is an excellent replacement.
Does it make sense? Yes, if they are indeed selling Reina but only then. It shouldn’t be a priority to make a change in goal but it seems to be. For Sunderland, getting really good money for a goalkeeper makes sense but he was their best player last season.
Is the price right? Let’s say £8.5m, somewhere in between the two.
Will it happen? 9/10 – almost certainly now.

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Analysing the Transfer Gossip – 15th June Part Two: Premier League special

Analysing the Transfer Gossip – 15th June: Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea and more

Analysing the Transfer Gossip – 14th June: Man United want Bale and Ronaldo? Chelsea, Spurs and more

Can Barcelona find room for Lewandowski alongside Messi and Neymar?

Suarez or Cavani? Who should Real Madrid choose to sign?

Top Five: Manchester United central midfield transfer targets

Analysing the Transfer Gossip – 23rd May: Ronaldo, Rooney, Chelsea and more

As we move in the off-season an unprecedented amount of managerial movement around Europe will surely see an already frantic transfer market go in to overdrive. This will give plenty of opportunities for transfer rumour and gossip. So how much of it is realistic?

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney, 27, is reportedly being lined up for a £40m move to Paris St-Germain.


Full story: Daily Mirror

What’s the story? Rooney has asked to leave Manchester Untied and there are very few legitimate landing spots for him, PSG are one however. If they are to keep growing their reputation by signing stars they could do worse than Rooney.
Does it make sense? It’s a big statement for David Moyes to immediately sell Rooney but what better way to show that he is his own man. PSG don’t need Rooney per se but I’m sure they can have fun working out how to get the best out of him along side Ibrahimovic and Thiago Moura.
Is the price right? Man United would be delirious if PSG offered £40m, it’d be £10m more than they could have dreamed of getting.
Will it happen? 5/10 – It’s early in the process to give any definite answers but if he does go, if, then PSG will be near the front of the queue.

Former Real Madrid president Ramon Calderon claims forward Cristiano Ronaldo, 28, could be heading to Chelsea.

mourinho and ronaldo

Full story: talkSPORT

What’s the story? Well, this is something I highlighted a while ago. Under Mourinho Ronaldo has found his career best form. Chelsea seem to have the will to secure a big time striker who can score the goals to win them the league.
Does it make sense? Football wise it certainly does. With Mata, Hazard and Oscar supplying him and he them Chelsea could be rampant. However, the big hurdle is the affection that he holds Man United in. Now that Ferguson has left though, it’s possible that he may be open to sticking with Mourinho.
Is the price right? Real paid £80m for him and he hasn’t exactly lost value. If Abramovich wants to make a statement to back Mourinho though, he’s not exactly short of cash.
Will it happen? 5/10 – Hard to commit to, as with most of the really big deals, until the smoke clears a little more but with Ferguson out at United and some potential turnover at Real Madrid he might fancy something new.

Liverpool are believed to be refusing to loan 28-year-old winger Stewart Downing to Fulham but are prepared to sell him to the London club.


Full story: Daily Mirror

What’s the story? Fulham are moving with lightning speed to strengthen for next season having already made two signings. Downing was tolerated but by no means desired by Brendan Brent this season. He’s getting rid of Carroll, next up Downing. Fulham need someone to lay on chances for Berbatov who was largely a one man attacking unit this season.
Does it make sense? Yes, I like this move. He’s tarnished by his showing at Liverpool but there is a reason that they paid almost £20m to get him. I know I know, that’s still a fee that’s going to make Liverpool fans sick and Villa fans laugh but he’s been a solid player and still could be at a middling team such as Fulham. Presumably he will be a replacement for Damien Duff who is losing his pace.
Is the price right? It’s hard to see Liverpool turning down £4-5m. It’s hard to justify paying more for Fulham.
Will it happen? 7/10 – This is the kind of move that it’s easier to feel is more likely. Liverpool don’t want him, Fulham could do with him, he needs a new start. That could make for a good recipe.

Napoli are believed to want Chelsea’s interim manager Rafael Benitez and striker Fernando Torres.


Full story: Daily Mirror

What’s the story? Napoli have just lost their manager and are about to lose their star striker Edinson Cavani, possibly to Chelsea, and will be on the look out for replacements. We said yesterday that City offering Dzeko in part exchange for Cavani could tempt Napoli and the same goes for Torres from Chelsea if they are interested in the big Uruguayan. Benitez has after all, lifted yet another European trophy, one that is actually held in esteem on the continent.
Does it make sense? It does on paper but I’m not so sure. Benitez seems to want to stay in England and I’m not convinced Chelsea will give up on Torres so easily. However, Benitez might fancy managing a club with big potential in Napoli and Torres might not have a choice if, as expected, Mourinho doesn’t want to utilise him.
Is the price right? Torres would presumably ideally be in part exchange, if not, it’s quite hard to guess at his value. We’re still talking about a 22 goal striker this season who cost £50m 3 years ago. But even then, would you want to pay more than £10m for him?
Will it happen? 2/10 – I don’t see it unless Rafa gets no offers here.

Hull City look set to launch bids to sign Wigan free agent Maynor Figueroa, Burnley’s Charlie Austin and West Brom’s Peter Odemwingie.


Full story: Daily Mail

What’s the story?
Hull have a lot of holes considering they won promotion. They have a real problem scoring goals. This would lead them to Charlie Austin. The Burnley striker grabbed 28 goals this season and only has a year left on his contract. Odemwingie is as good as gone at West Brom and could maybe offer some goal threat. Figueroa is a decent Premier League operator but I’m not sure he’s better than what they have.
Does it make sense? Austin and Odemwingie certainly do. Both should be acquirable for different reasons. Not sure about Figueroa although he’ll be free.
Is the price right? Figueroa will be free, Odemwingie won’t be much more. However, both of them may well demand high salaries which will be a stumbling block. Austin would cost about £4-5m which given his contract situation and lack of Premier League pedigree is about right. Hull will need to make some moves offensively if they are to have any hope of staying up.
Will it happen? 7/10 – Austin: Hull can afford to take the plunge on Austin although other Premier League teams might be tempted. 5/10 – Odemwingie & Figueroa. It will depend entirely on wages.

Tottenham are ready to launch a £36m double bid to sign 27-year-old Valencia striker Roberto Soldado and forward Leandro Damiao, 23, from Brazilian club Internacional.


Full story: Daily Express

What’s the story? So Spurs who play firmly with one striker are about to blow £36m on two at one? Uh huh.
Does it make sense? They are both high class performers so signing either of them would be a good step but do they really need both? Surely investing elsewhere in the team after getting one of these would make more sense.
Is the price right? £36m seems a lot really. Damiao is valued at about £18m and Soldado more like £15m. Either way, whichever one they buy they will be well placed.
Will it happen? 9/10 – one of them needs to be delivered. They need to show SuperBale that they won’t sit tight in 5th.

Chelsea don’t need a new striker, Romelu Lukaku is the best young one in the world

Who would be most valuable in an IPL style auction of Premier League players? Part One: Top 40

Cricket’s Premier club competition, the Indian Premier League used a player auction to assign the available players to each team. Each side has the same budget so the true test of player recruitment is how to prioritise what you spend most of your money on. Do you go for a few stars and some decent others or look to balance it all out?

With this in mind, I thought it would be interesting to imagine a scenario where the Premier League assigned players in an auction to see who would be most valuable. I am working on the basis that each player is then contracted to their club for a significant time period. It isn’t as simple as a list of the Top 40 players in the league however.

When compiling this list I considered what would make for the best investments. This took in to account the player’s quality primarily, added to age, injury history, and position importance. An injury prone 32 year old Left back is not as valuable as a 21 year old striker for example. There is intrinsically less value in older players as you may only have them for a couple of years where you could have a young player for a decade. For this reason, the likes of Lampard, Ferdinand and Terry have missed the cut. I’ve taken all players registered to Premier League clubs.

Starting from the 40th ranked player I will work up to the number one over three parts and explain why each player is ranked where he is.

40 – Ashley Cole Still the best left back in the league but at 32 he would be a short term, albeit high quality, investment.
39 – Andy Carroll It might be a surprise to see Carroll ranked in the top 40 but at just 24 and with plenty of physical gifts he would be a desirable asset in this format.
38 – Steven Gerrard Gerrard just about gets on because he is 33. However, his all around game is still of the highest quality and would give a couple of good years.


37 – Daniel Sturridge Sturridge is a frustrating player but he has a knack of making things happen and getting amongst the goals. Attacking threat is hard to find and he would be sought after.
36 – Ashley Young Young showed at Watford and Villa that he can be relied upon to be a consistent and threatening presence in a wide forward position. He still has potential to unlock at 27.
35 – Cesar Azpilicueta The young right back has seized the right back spot at Chelsea and looks bound for plenty of future improvement. Pace, energy and enthusiasm mark him out as a valuable option.
34 – Oscar Oscar has shown that he can operate anywhere in midfield for Chelsea this season. A young player of immense technical talent, if he can add consistency and goals to his flair he could become world class.
33 – Joe Hart Hart is one of the top goalies in the league and is still only 25. He is one of 4 goalkeepers in the top 40 as keepers are in much shorter supply than outfield players and getting a good one is critical.


32 – David de Gea De Gea has started to mature at United this year and has flashed his elite reflexes and shot stopping. He is ranked marginally above Hart as he is 4 years younger with more potential to be tapped.
31 – Sandro This might look high for Sandro but it’s with good reason. Look at what has happened to Spurs since his injury. They’ve lost the resilience that was key in the early season. He’s still only 24 and improving rapidly as a deep lying playmaker and destroyer.
30 – Phillipe Coutinho You are paying for potential and all around attacking threat with Coutinho who has flown in to action at Liverpool. He possesses fabulous technical skill with plenty of room for improvement.
29 – Yaya Toure If this seems low for Yaya there is good reason. He is closing in on 30 now and for a player who bases his game on his athleticism that is a potentially turning point age. Still, he’s an elite player who would give several years of good service.
28 – Michu Michu offers the tactical flexibility to play as a number 9 or number 10 and has shown himself to be a lethal and devastating finisher. He’s only 27 so can get plenty better.
27 – Shinji Kagawa Kagawa has had a slow start at Old Trafford due to injury but is one of the most creative players in the league. If this list was next year I would bet he would be near the top 10.


26 – Rafael Rafael has improved in leaps and bounds this season with regular first team football. Full back wouldn’t be a high price position by and large but Rafael offers genuine attacking threat, capable of scoring 5 goals or so a year from right back. He’s also only 22.
25 – Hugo Lloris Lloris has started to show the talents that once made him the best keeper prosepct in the world. He’s only 26 so is about to hit the peak years for a goalkeeper. In this format he would be a no brainer investment.
24 – Marouane Fellaini Fellaini is a physical force of nature, capable of dominating any defence. The only reason he isn’t further up is that his best use hasn’t yet been defined.


23 – Fernando Torres I know what you’re thinking. But even despite his struggles he’s still closing in on 20 goals this season and has the potential to be his old self. Maybe. Worth a flyer in this format.
22 – Carlos Tevez In terms of talent Tevez should be higher but this would be a risky investment and that is reflected in his ranking outside the top 20. He can score and make goals and works as hard as anyone.
21 – Pablo Zabaleta Zabaleta is the best right back in the world and in this format his leadership would be a highly valuable commodity. At 28 he is enjoyed the best form of his career and would a true plug and play option in this auction.

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Who would be most valuable in an IPL style auction of Premier League players? Part Three: The Top 10

Who would be most valuable in an IPL style auction of Premier League players? Part Two: Top 20

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