Football Station


Silly Season 2010

James Milner or Bruce Banner?

Even as the World Cup droned on, players were changing hands, contracts signed and bridges burned all over the world of football.  David Silva made the rare choice to switch clubs during the World Cup while being involved with it, Yossi Benayoun moved south and David Villa made what is probably going to be the biggest move of the summer to Barcelona.

Those are confirmed switches.  However, even before a deal is officially complete, everybody usually knows about it.  So what are the budding rumours?

Arsenal – The Gunners need a goalkeeper and a holding midfielder, that’s why it’s no surprise that two top notch keepers are linked in Schwarzer and Handanovic.  Initially, it was thought that the £4m asking price for the Fulham man was too high, seeing as how he is 37.  Handanovic is only 26 years old and would be a great signing for Arsenal.  It seems unlikely that Cole will sign as Wenger said that they don’t need any players in the wing areas, so it makes it more unlikely that Hazard will sign as he is the same sort of player and probably more expensive.  Fabregas looks set to stay for the season at least, but next year may find Barcelona too much to resist.  The biggest problem for Arsenal is that they are fully staffed in nearly every area of the pitch, but they are all around 21 years old and need time to mature.  There is a lot of promise to be had in Arsenal’s squad, but it may not reach its potential for a few years time.

Ins – Mark Schwarzer (Fulham), Samir Handanovič (Udinese), Eden Hazard (Lille), Joe Cole (Free)

Outs – Cesc Fabregas (Barcelona), Sol Campbell (Celtic, Sunderland, West Ham)

Aston Villa – Other than everything that is being clearly reported by the press, Aston Villa boss Martin O’Neill is being

The Former Spurs' captain could be set for just about anywhere.

characteristically tight lipped about his transfer plans.  Once again, he is attempted to hang on to one of his star players despite interest from another club (once again Manchester City).  McGeady gets a lot of mixed reactions from EPL fans and whether he makes or breaks in the Prem will be a mystery until he potentially signs and plays for the first time.  Robbie Keane would be a great signing.  He’s Prem proven and a well rounded forward who has more finesse than John Carew but is more physical than Gabby Agbonlahor.

Ins – Aiden McGeady (Celtic), Robbie Keane (Tottenham),

Outs – James Milner (Man City), Nick Shorey (Liverpool),

Chelsea – With Joe Cole, Michael Ballack and Deco all walking out the door of Stamford Bridge, it’s hard to imagine that Ancelotti won’t look to replace at least one or two of them.  He is a manager known for not liking complete overhauls, so it doesn’t seem like several major summer signings are in order.  Fernando Torres looks like staying this season after Hodgson came out and said they had good talks, but this is “Silly Season” and anything can happen.  If he does leave, it will be for a sizable sum (reportedly £50m).  Kaká has been linked in numerous locations, but it’s hard to imagine that Mourinho would dump the former FIFA World Player of the Year without much of a chance.  Don’t bet on him moving.  Sergio Aguero has been long linked with the Blues, and it wouldn’t shock me if he ended up making the change.  The young Argentine is worth about £30m and could be well worth it, but whether he’ll be a fit for the EPL is still up for debate.  Ashley Cole could well be bound for Real Madrid along with team mate Frank Lampard, as both will be keen to link up with former manager Jose Mourinho.

Ins – Sergio Aguero (At. Madrid), Fernando Torres (Liverpool), Kaká (Real Madrid)

Outs – Frank Lampard (Real Madrid), Ashley Cole (Real Madrid)

Everton – Shrewd, yet brilliant would characterize David Moyes’s transfer style.  He rarely breaks bank, but he manages to bring in outstanding talent for half as much as other players are moving for.  Steven Pienaar signed for £2m, as did Mikel Arteta.  Tim Cahill joined the Toffees for only £1.5m!  These players are worth more than triple those figures now, and everybody (myself included) are interested to see who Moyes brings in next.  So far, Moyes has brought in 3 strikers, which says something about what he sees as needing improvement.  Moyes, like I said, is very shrewd and not much transfer whisperings leave Goodison until it’s a done deal.  His biggest task of the summer will be convincing Steven Pienaar to stay around, with Tottenham & co. waiting in the wings.  A big boost for all of Moyes’s transfer dealings is that most of his players owe him quite a bit of loyalty, because, if it weren’t for him, they could still be rotting in Championship sides.

Ins – Joao Silva (Desportivo Das Aves), Jermaine Beckford (Leeds), Magaye Gueye (Strasbourg), Jan Mucha (Legia Warsaw)

Outs – Steven Pienaar (Tottenham), Mikel Arteta (Manchester City), Jack Rodwell (Manchester United)

Announcing his hour long TV special, "The Decision" in the next few days...

Liverpool – Until they kick their campaign off against Arsenal at Anfield, many questions will be asked of Hodgson’s side (and will probably be asked after that, as well).  Obvious transfer rumours include Fernando Torres, Steven Gerrard and Javier Mascherano’s futures.  If Hodgson can convince at least two of them to stay, the Anfield faithful can breathe easy again.  Mascherano looks already out the door as he has made no secret that he wishes to join up with Benitez again at Inter Milan and is reportedly dodging Roy Hodgson’s calls and texts.  Liverpool have made an approach for Joe Cole, and though Spurs look the likelier destination, he may not be out of the question for the Reds.  Rafael van der Vaart has been linked as well, but that would concede Steven Gerrard to a more central role in the pitch.  That or…he could be leaving.  For once, it seems, most of the transfer rumours (In’s at least) have yet to surface, as Hodgson gets a better look at his squad.  They have, however, declared their interest in speaking to some of Manchester City’s more disenchanted players.

Ins – Joe Cole (free), Stephen Ireland (Manchester City), Shaun Wright-Philips (Manchester City), Rafael van der Vaart (Real Madrid)

Outs – Steven Gerrard (Real Madrid), Fernando Torres (Chelsea, Barcelona), Javier Mascherano (Inter Milan), Emiliano Insua (Fiorentina)

Manchester City – This could well take up 2000 words, so I’ll do my best to keep it short.  Linked with just about any player who has featured for a national team in a major competition, Manchester City’s strategy mirrors that of Chelsea’s.  Money talks.  If it doesn’t, try more.  Seemingly a band of well paid mercenaries, the Blues at Eastlands don’t seem to find much of an emotional attachment to any of their players.  Boys move seamlessly in and out, but it’s hard to ignore the talent that now forms their Starting XI.  Mancini is known to be an admirer of Fernando Torres, James Milner, Mario Balotelli and Edin Dzeko.  All four of which are serious possibilites, however it is hard to see Torres moving to such a heavy rival to Liverpool.  But Milner and Dzeko look to be really itching to join ranks at Eastlands, where it looks like a matter of time for Balotelli.

Ins – Mario Balotelli (Inter Milan), Edin Dzeko (Wolfsburg), Fernando Torres (Liverpool), James Milner (Aston Villa)

Outs – Craig Bellamy (Tottenham), Joe Hart (Arsenal), Carlos Tevez (Real Madrid, Inter Milan)

Manchester United – The finances of The Red Devils are really a mystery.  Does Ferguson have the sales from CristianoRonaldo?  Do they have to sell to buy?  Regardless, like every summer window, United are linked with a host of top players.  Vidic looks set to move to Real Madrid, and then the question becomes: who will replace him?  Despite the fact that Ferguson came out and said they aren’t interested in Joe Cole, the gaffer is known as a master of mind games and may well be working a number in the transfer market.  Wesley Sneijder has been linked, but there looks little possibility that the Inter Milan man will leave.  He’s among the most talented players in the world at the moment and enjoying playing with the European champions and is coming off a trip to the World Cup Final.  Luis Suarez is another name that has popped up on the radar, but the striker would only be brought in should Berbatov be sold.

Ins – Luis Suarez (Ajax), Jack Rodwell (Everton), James Milner (Aston Villa), Steven Pienaar (Everton)

Outs – Nemanja Vidic (Real Madrid), Dimitar Berbatov (Bayern Munich, AC Milan), Patrice Evra (Real Madrid)

Tottenham – Top 4 new boys, Tottenham Hotspur will really be looking to show the Premier League that they are no slouches, and they won’t have to wait long as they open their campaign with Manchester City at White Hart Lane.  Then they enjoy an October by hosting Everton and Aston Villa and traveling to Old Trafford to finish up.  However, Harry Redknapp hasn’t made a lot of noise in the transfer window so far other than rumblings.  He’s set to sign 21 year old Internacional holding midfielder Sandro once their domestic campaign ends, but don’t put it past Redknapp to have more than a few lines in the water.  By the sounds of it, those include Joe Cole, Steven Pienaar, Craig Bellamy, and Luis Fabiano.  Clearly Redknapp sees improvement in the attacking aspect of his squad and looks to be doing his utmost to see talent brought in.  And with their newly attained Top 4 spot, not many of their players seem to be looking for the exit.

Ins – Joe Cole (free), Steven Pienaar (Everton), Craig Bellamy (Manchester City), Luis Fabiano (Sevilla)

Outs – Robbie Keane (Aston Villa, Celtic)

Allegedly one of Hodgson's "disenchanted" stars who could be on his way out of Anfield.

Summary – Joe Cole is one of the biggest English talents on the move this summer, and he looks set for either Tottenham, Liverpool or Arsenal, but his wages seem to be a sticking point for most of them.  Still, Spurs look likely.   Fernando Torres is a big name player who could be on the move, but looking at Hodgson’s comments today, he may be sticking around Merseyside for a season longer.  Somebody who doesn’t look to be is Javier Mascherano.  The Argentine captain seems to be ignoring the new manager’s calls and texts about his future.  If that is the case, then his professional attitude needs a serious adjusting.  James Milner to Manchester City could well be on the cards if Martin O’Neill doesn’t stand in his way…however the North Irishman has a nasty habit of doing just that.  Milner is about a 50/50 at this point to stay.

There is still much more than any regular fan can fathom at this point, and with the World Cup over, we can watch it all unfold.

Advertisements


A Clockwork Oranje

The Netherlands qualified for the knockout stages today with a 1-0 victory over a resilient Japanese side that were not without their own threats going forward.  Inter Milan’s Wesley Sneijder was the main man for the Dutch as he blasted a shot into the hands of keeper Eiji Kawashima who could only deflect it into his own net in the 53rd minute.

Sneijder nets his eventual winner from outside the area.

The Oranje weren’t as silky going forward as many people thought they would be.  Their 2-0 win over Denmark didn’t properly reflect the play on the pitch, and their win over Japan was hard fought and the Dutch showed signs of weakness.

Robin Van Persie and the front line were guilty of missing a handful of chances that could have been tucked away for a more convincing victory.  Ibrahim Afellay came on for the goal scorer in the 83rd minute and almost made his time count just a minute later in the 84th by forcing Kawashima into a fine low save and again in the 88th minute.

Shinji Okazaki fizzes a shot at Oranje keeper Martin Steklenberg.

For the Japanese Keisuke Honda, Yasuhito Endo, and Marcus Tulio Tanaka all had great chances at leveling the score.  Honda has been a spritely winger, jinxing his way past outside backs, but his delivery was lacking for some of the match.  It also doesn’t help that the Dutch had a superior height advantage, which could explain their lack of long balls and crosses.

The Netherlands also survived a late penalty scare when Yuto Nagatomo was knocked down by De Jong in the 89th minute, but the referee didn’t award a penalty and instead penalized Nagatomo for flopping.

At the end of the day, Group E still is an open book, at least the runner up spot.  Cameroon and Denmark will battle for 3 points as Japan still sits in second with three points.  Should Cameroon lose, they’ll be sent packing.



Champions League Draw in Full

The draw in full

Group A: Bayern Munich, Juventus, Bordeaux , Maccabi Haifa

Group B: Manchester United, CSKA Moscow, Besiktas, Wolfsburg

Group C: AC Milan, Real Madrid, Marseille, FC Zurich

Group D: Chelsea, Porto, Atletico Madrid, Apoel FC

Group E: Liverpool, Lyon, Fiorentina, Debreceni

Group F: Barcelona, Internazionale, Dynamo Kiev, FC Rubin Kazan

Group G: Sevilla, Rangers, VfB Stuttgart, Unirea Uriziceni

Group H: Arsenal, AZ Alkmaar, Olympiakos, Standard Liege

Analysis:

Group A:  Group A will be a very interesting group to watch unfold.  Juventus, Bayern and Bordeaux all have a great chance of reaching the knockout rounds, but it may all come down to how each of them play Maccabi Haifa – the Israeli champions.  In my eyes, whoever drops points to Haifa, doesn’t make it to the next round.

Prediction:

Bayern Munich and Juventus progress

Group B: Manchester United will be disappointed with all the traveling they will be doing, especially to Turkey where the hooligans go mad every time United come to town.  Wolfsburg is also going to be a bigger threat than they’re given credit for, watch for them to nick points in group play.  The Russians will be a stingy opposition and may steal points in the Motherland, but away from home may struggle to find their feet.  Wolfsburg are my dark horse of the tournament.  I don’t think for a second they deserved the fourth pot, but now find themselves with a tall order.  They can push for the knockout round, and their match against CSKA Moscow will make or break their run.

Prediction

Manchester United and Wolfsburg progress

Group C: Group C, along with F, is a “group of death”.  Somehow, Madrid dodged the British bullet (which makes for a more exciting knockout stage!), and they should find themselves in the knockout round before too long.  AC Milan have had a dodgy start to their campaign, and if they don’t start clicking could start dropping points in group play.  Marseille have been a tough nut to crack in years past, and with the addition of Morientes to their attacking play, will give Milan and Madrid a test.

Prediction:

Real Madrid and AC Milan to progress

Group D: The boys from London should have a spot in the knockout round if they keep their heads about them.  The only thing I would worry about is that they’ve been giving up goals early in the EPL and come from behind to win it, and may well do so against more formidable sides in this competition who won’t be so forgiving.  Atletico are always impressive to watch and I don’t see anyone but those two making it past this group.

Prediction:

Chelsea and Atletico Madrid to progress

Group E: Liverpool can’t have too many complaints here, they were grouped with great teams in Lyon and Fiorentina, but, to be honest, they should be able to cope.  The Merseysiders should claim the top spot, but the second one is completely up for grabs.  Fiorentina and Lyon are both squads that have firepower up top (Mutu and Govou) and can work to break down their opponents.  Fiorentina would love to have Melo back in their squad as I have no doubt he’d love to break up the Frenchmen in attack.

Prediction:

Liverpool and Lyon (by a hair!) to progress

Group F: This is it.  The group of death. We have the reigning Spanish and European champions as well as the Italian and Ukrainian league winners.  I’ve had to keep my mouth shut all day so as not to drool all over my desk.  Mourinho vs. Guardiola.  Eto’o vs. Pique.  Ibrahimovic vs. Cordoba.  Chocolate vs. Vanilla.  Coke vs. Pepsi.  Bert vs. Ernie.

Prediction:

It’s not going any other way.  Barcelona on top, Inter taking second.

Group G: My pick (and yours if you have sense) for the tamest group.  Not a lot to gawk at here.  Rangers and Sevilla will probably make the next stage, as I don’t think Stuttgart have enough bite to make any marks here.  Unirea Uriziceni will just be happy to be in the competition, and will love the fact that they have be thrown into this group.

Prediction:

Rangers and Sevilla to progress (in that order)

Group H: Arsenal may have the best of the English teams, and Wenger will be hard pressed to find something to complain about (if you can believe that!).  But remember the torrid time Standard Liege gave Liverpool last season in the qualifying rounds, as they could give group H some trouble.  Gunners aside, this group is fairly balanced.  Each team will fancy their chances at nabbing the last spot into the knockout stages.

Prediction:

Arsenal and Standard Liege to progress




Transfer News – July 30th

***********************

Transfer News – July 30th, 2009

***********************

THE SUN

  • Arsene Wenger wants Patrick Vieira to make a shock return to Arsenal.
  • Gianfranco Zola is stepping up his bid to sign a new striker after West Ham failed to muster a single shot in China.
  • Hull insist that it will take a ‘ridiculous’ bid to get Michael Turner.
  • Burnley boss Owen Coyle has been unable to sign winger Fernando Guerrero because his Ecuadorian club’s president is on holiday.
  • Kolo Toure was last night unveiled by Manchester City after sealing a £14million move.
  • Croatian forward Nikola Kalinic flew in to join troubled Portsmouth, but left without signing after a row over the £5.5million fee.
  • Portsmouth are close to sealing a shock move for ex-Southampton keeper Antti Niemi.
  • Manchester City’s injury-hit star Valeri Bojinov is poised to join Parma on loan.

    Cattermole, Liverpool and Tottenham target, is currently plying his trade at the JJB

    Cattermole, Liverpool and Tottenham target, is currently plying his trade at the JJB

  • Danny Murphy is set to sign a new one-year deal with Fulham.
  • Alvaro Arbeloa last night completed a £3.5million move from Liverpool to Real Madrid.
  • DAILY MIRROR
  • Real Madrid president Florentino Perez says signing Xabi Alonso from Liverpool is vital.
  • Ian Wright claims Patrick Vieira is going to rejoin Arsenal.
  • Aston Villa are set to make a £12million move for West Ham defender Matthew Upson.
  • Celtic boss Tony Mowbray is preparing to make a £2million bid for Sheffield United defender Matthew Kilgallon.
  • Middlesbrough defender Robert Huth could be set for a £2million move to Fulham.
  • Blackburn have pulled out of a £1.7million swoop for Celta Vigo striker Kamel Ghilas after the Algerian failed a medical.
  • DAILY STAR
  • Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has backed Dimitar Berbatov to finally live up to his £30.75million price tag.
  • Martin O’Neill admits that Aston Villa have to sign five players or risk stretching their threadbare squad to breaking point this season.
  • AWOL Middlesbrough star Mido is ready to take a £15,000 a-week pay cut to return to Egypt.
  • Laurent Blanc has warned Steve Bruce that he is out to scupper Sunderland’s £10million move for Marouane Chamakh.
  • DAILY MAIL
  • Aston Villa are monitoring Robbie Keane’s situation at Tottenham following Peter Crouch’s £9million arrival from Portsmouth.

    Robbie Keane is being monitored by Aston Villa.

    Robbie Keane is being monitored by Aston Villa.

  • Inter Milan are ready to revive their interest in Chelsea midfielder Deco if Alexander Hleb backs out of a loan move to the Italian champions.
  • Newcastle last night accepted a £9million bid for Obafemi Martins from German side Wolfsburg.
  • Manchester City made a £19million bid for Everton’s Joleon Lescott last night as they completed the signing of Kolo Toure from Arsenal.
  • Liverpool are on the verge of striking a compromise deal to sell Xabi Alonso to Real Madrid and will plough part of his transfer fee into bids for Wigan midfielder Lee Cattermole and Hull defender Michael Turner.
  • Former Manchester City goalkeeper Nicky Weaver is training with Sheffield United.
  • DAILY EXPRESS
  • Arsenal could bank an incredible £17million by selling Kolo Toure to Manchester City.
  • Alex McLeish is fuming with new signing Christian Benitez after he played without Birmingham’s permission.
  • Darren Bent has his heart set on a move to Sunderland, but so far the Black Cats and Tottenham cannot agree a fee.
  • DAILY RECORD
  • Furious Kilmarnock players have threatened to strike after popular first-team coach Gary Locke was shown the door by the Rugby Park outfit.


  • Ibrahimovic Completes Barca Switch
    July 27, 2009, 11:32 AM
    Filed under: la liga, serie a | Tags: , , , ,

    Zlatan Ibrahimovic has completed his move to Barcelona after the European champions confirmed he had signed a five-year deal.

    A statement on Barcelona’s website revealed they had paid Inter Milan 46million euros for the Swedish striker, with Samuel Eto’o and Alexander Hleb also joining the Italian champions in the ‘swap’ deal.

    The Swede is set to join forces with the likes of Messi, Henry and Xavi.

    The Swede is set to join forces with the likes of Messi, Henry and Xavi.

    Ibrahimovic completed his medical on Monday – and while it showed he had a fractured left hand, a deal was struck which included an astronomical buy-out clause of 250million euros for the player.

    Analysis:  Well well well.  It finally happened.  And such is that, when a high profile name like Ibrahimovic moves to any club, fuss will be made.  And without missing a beat, he’s come out and said he couldn’t stand Serie A or Inter Milan.  Maybe some of Mourinho’s arrogance rubbed off on him during his tenure.  It will be very interesting to see how he fits in, chemically, with the rest of the team.  His attitude could be a problem when it seems like there aren’t many tiffs in at the Nou Camp.



    Ibra Prepared for Camp Nou Switch
    July 24, 2009, 8:41 AM
    Filed under: la liga, serie a, Transfer | Tags: , , ,

    Zlatan Ibrahimovic has agreed personal terms with Barcelona as he edges ever closer to joining the European champions from Inter Milan.

    The two clubs have worked out a swap deal involving Ibrahimovic and Samuel Eto’o, with Alexander Hleb also reportedly being offered to the Italian club on top of a cash payment of 40million euros.

    Inter confirmed on Thursday they were on the verge of signing Eto’o and Barca have now stated that Ibrahimovic is close to coming to moving to the Nou Camp.

    This slovenly looking lad is looking to swap shirts for Barcelona.

    This slovenly looking lad is looking to swap shirts for Barcelona.

    “There are agreements in principle with the player and with Inter and the documents are being drawn up,” sporting director Txiki Begiristain told Barca TV.

    He added that only a few details remained to be worked out and Ibrahimovic could be presented as a Barcelona player as early as Monday.

    One potential problem could be Hleb’s desire to stay at Barca and fight for a place in Pep Guardiola’s side.

    “I have a contract with Barcelona and am currently preparing for the new season with the team,” the Belarus international told Sport Bild.

    “My aim is to make the breakthrough here and be successful with this club.”

    Hleb’s agent has also denied being contacted about a switch to Inter.

    “Nobody has spoken to me or Alex about a possible transfer to Inter Milan,” said Uli Ferber.

    “We are all a bit surprised about the recent press reports, which we cannot confirm.”

    Analysis:  With the Eto’o/Ibrahimovic looking to go through from all parties, it looks set to happen rather soon.  There really isn’t a loser in the deal which is said to be Eto’o + Hleb (on loan) for Ibrahimovic.  Personally, I’d rather have Eto’o that the lazy Swede, but I guess that’s why I’m relegated to writing about it from my laptop rather than managing Italian and Spanish Champions.



    Inter & Barca Ready to Swap Strikers
    July 17, 2009, 12:17 PM
    Filed under: la liga, serie a | Tags: , , ,

    -Soccernet

    Inter Milan have confirmed they are in talks with Spanish champions Barcelona over the potential transfer of Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

    Internazionale president Massimo Moratti has been locked in negotiations with Barca counterpart Joan Laporta over a cash plus player deal that could see Cameroon striker Samuel Eto’o heading to Italy.

    A swap might be in place between Inter & Barcelona for the two strikers.

    A swap might be in place between Inter & Barcelona for the two strikers.

    ” …they [Barcelona] were interested to know something about Ibrahimovic and to talk about Eto’o, two players at the same level,” Moratti said. “There is the possibility to do an operation with these two players.”

    “What are the odds of Ibrahimovic leaving Inter? I don’t like to frame things this way, I don’t know right now, we’ll have to wait and see what the player wants.

    “In any case, if the matter should be taken all the way to completion, then Eto’o would be in the deal.”

    Reports in both Spain and Italy suggest the clubs are very close to agreeing a deal which would see Inter receive €40m plus Eto’o and former Arsenal midfielder Alexander Hleb on loan for a year.

    Ibrahimovic, who finished as the top scorer in Serie A last season, has been at the centre of transfer speculation in recent months with Barca, Real Madrid and Manchester United all reportedly interested.

    The 27-year-old is under contract with the Nerazzurri until June 2013 but earlier this year expressed his desire to leave the club.

    “With regards to Ibrahimovic I think it’s an issue that has arisen because of the wishes of the player,” said Moratti.

    The Inter president would welcome the arrival of Cameroon international Eto’o, who has failed to agree a contract extension with Barca with his current deal ending next summer.

    Analysis:  Neither club could really go wrong here.  Both strikers are world class, with little separating the two.  Eto’o has blistering speed and a good finish, but Ibrahimovic has one of the best touches in the world.  It would only be interesting to see what Guardiola and Mourinho could do with Ibrahimovic and Eto’o, respectively.  The towering Swedish striker netted 25 times in Serie A and the Cameroonian hit the back of the net 30 times in La Liga.  There doesn’t seem to be a loser if these two swap, unless you hold a bias toward either one.

    Result:  The swap will happen.  With Eto’o seeming unsettled at Camp Nou and Ibrahimiovic saying he wanted to leave the club earlier this year, it definitely sounds like a possibility.