With the transfer market in full flow, and pre season friendlies fast approaching, what would our summer be, and the press for that matter, without a good old ‘transfer saga’ to salivate over.
OK, so the football purists will scoff at all rumour nonsense that the press seem to dine out on, but if you’re someone like me who has ‘waking up and checking the gossip column’ ingrained in their morning routine, then sometimes, a little ‘willing suspension of disbelief’ can add some fantasy and magic to the 90% of nonsense that the press deliver!
So what do we know about aforementioned ‘transfer saga’. Well there are several points we all know makes a good summer saga.
– A big name player – wanting a move or being wanted by a..
– Big name club – Real Madrid love concerning themselves in a transfer saga (Beckham, Modric, Ronaldo, van Nistelrooy), as do every other club who have got the money cheat on Football Manager.
– Controversy – Either a highly outspoken player, or a club who are standing by their principles not to sell make a good saga.
– Time – The longer it rumbles on, the more things unfold. The more boring/exciting it gets and can leave players/clubs desperate. Enter Peter Odemwingie, he was that keen to force a move through, that he drove himself to QPR’s training complex to try and get a medical, even though QPR hadn’t agreed a fee with West Brom.
So with that in mind, what saga’s have we seen unfold over the past couple of years?
Cristiano Ronaldo’s long running, yet inevitable move was completed a couple of seasons ago. He was quoted, his mum was quoted and even the lord almighty, Florentin Perez was quoted saying it was the dream of Ronaldo to play in the white shirt of Madrid, and after two seasons of cryptic nonsense, he got his wish for the grand total of £80million – still a world record!
Cesc Fabregas has just as much desire to return to his boyhood club, and it was just as inevitable as Ronaldo switching to Spain. Despite Wenger’s best attempts to pour cold water on a move, another one of their best players was on his way. Samir Nasri’s switch to Man City also was a big talking point a couple of seasons ago – he left after the season had began, and after he publically stated he wanted a move to City.
Daniel Levy is the master of keeping us on our toes with a good old transfer saga – usually to the detriment and dismay of Spurs fans though. He has a fantastic ability to drag deals out to the last minute of the transfer window, leaving no time to find a replacement. He did this with both Dimi Berbatov and Michael Carrick with them both commanding extortionate fees from Man Utd, but learnt his lesson with Luka Modric, who was finally sold last summer, despite asking for a transfer to Chelsea the year before.
A biggie that has already been completed this summer is that of Brazilian sensation, Neymar! I was a little unconvinced by this lad, only seeing him in a few international friendlies, but since the Confederations Cup, I can appreciate why Chelsea attempted to sign him two years ago, and why Barca and Real went head to head for him this summer. Thankfully, this chapter closed not long after the season ended!
So, who are the main culprits this summer?
Gareth Bale (1/6 to stay at Spurs, 5/2 to Real Madrid or United)
Naturally, the best player in the UK is going to be linked to every big club, but when players like Zidane start harping on in the press about how it is your destiny to play for Real Madrid, you’re going to pop straight into Daniel Levy’s office and request a transfer right? Well, I think despite Spurs missing out on a place in the Champs League for a second season, which this could rumble on for a while yet. Although there is no denying the talent, and the brilliance Gareth Bale showed during 2012/2013, there seem to be a lot of factors that suggest he’s stopping at White Hart Lane for another season. I think the most defiant of Spurs fan would admit that he’d be off at the end of next season though – regardless of where Spurs finish.
Wayne Rooney (9/4 to go, 1/3 to stay)
Plenty of controversy surrounding Wazza due to his “transfer requests” over the past couple of years. We all remember how his agent engineered a substantial pay rise the first time he asked to leave United and now following a poor season, with being played out of position and the arrival of Robin van Persie being a factor – Wayne seems unhappy about not being the main man; United seem unhappy about not getting much in return for their £250,000 per week. Rumours persist about his general happiness at how Fergie handled the situation towards the end of the season, and Barcelona, PSG, Chelsea and Arsenal are credited with an interest in signing the player. New United manager David Moyes (with whom Rooney has somewhat of a chequered past with) has already been quite adamant about the fact that Wayne won’t be sold, but if they receive a large offer from PSG, I’m not convinced they would turn it down. You can rule him out going to Arsenal or Chelsea – this is something that United don’t do, and I can’t see them starting with one of their ‘best’ players. My guess, he’ll stay!
Luis Suarez (6/4 to Real Madrid, 10/3 to Arsenal)
Gifted player, but unfortunately his antics on the pitch have let him down time and time again. Liverpool fans will defend him until the cows come home, and all neutrals will hate him – unless he turns to be your club’s big money signing this summer! With all of the ‘unjustified bullying’ he has received from the press since he’s been in England, he’s now admitted its time to move on. Most recently he’s cited that he wants to play Champions League football as a reason, but he would be better off just leaving the country. He is an incredible footballer, and won games on his own (just as RVP, and Bale did) last season – just doesn’t seem to understand that biting a fellow human being is just not that cool and nor is throwing yourself about like you’ve just been shot at. Real Madrid are massive favourites to sign him, but Arsenal have also been credited with an interest after the move for Gonzalo Higuain has been put on hold. I’d imagine he’d go, with Spain or France the most likely destination, but you never know – he was humbled by Wenger’s comments!!
Christian Benteke (8/11 to Tottenham, 100/30 to Chelsea)
Since January, the £8million man from Genk was a revelation for Aston Villa, with his goals keeping them in the Premier League for another season. However, like most players young players who have one good season, they believe they belong in the higher echelons of the Premier League. For me, I don’t think he will make a massive impact at any of the top four. Arguably, the only club I can see him being useful for is Spurs! We see it time and time again with players who go from being the big fish in a small pond, to ending up on the bench at Chelsea surrounded by superstars. I still think he’s a good player, but no better or worse than Romelu Lukaku. Which brings me on to my next point; World Cup year, you want to be playing, and playing well in order to stake your claim for a place in the Belgium starting line up. Probably not the best idea to upset Paul Lambert, who gave him the opportunity to come to England as he’d be well within his rights to scupper that chance, if he doesn’t get the price he wants for him! Someone will stump up £20 – £25 mil for him though, and he’ll be playing for one of the top 6 clubs in England next year I reckon!
Cristiano Ronaldo (to stay 1/7, to end up at United 5/2)
Much has been made of Cristiano’s happiness at Real Madrid, but I very much doubt he’ll return to United in this transfer window, or the next one – he and his agent are playing the ‘Let’s try and manipulate Florentino Perez so I can be the highest paid player in the world’ game. PSG are probably the only club who would be willing to match what Madrid paid a few years back to land him, and in any case I just can’t see him leaving the club he so vehemently pushed United to sell him to, the club who it has been his childhood dream to play for.
Other players who may be interesting to watch this summer are Juan Mata. An outstanding season with Chelsea, but there is a degree of uncertainty surrounding how him and Mourinho will work out. Obviously he’ll want to stamp his own authority back on Chelsea, there have been rumours that he could be on his way back to Spain – or take your pick of any of the other big spenders! One player coming out of Spain could be Barcelona’s Thiago Alcantara. Although papers have been suggesting a deal is done with United for him for the past few weeks, it seems there is still a way to go on this one!
So with around six weeks for clubs to conclude their business, expect the press to drag up whatever story they can to glamourize a good old saga and until that window closes expect our tabloid papers to be littered with these rumours.