Transfer Deadline Day: 10 Big Premier League Storylines to Follow
The countdown to transfer deadline day has begun. Friday will see the summer window close for Europe's major leagues and the usual chaos unfold as clubs seek to conduct some desperate late business.
Some clubs will be working against the clock to secure deals they've been working on all summer. Others will be forced into action by their early form or an injury.
There will be agents and players all over the place. Football club offices will take on the feel of war rooms. And, as always, there will be the deals nobody saw coming at all.
All of which makes transfer deadline day one of the most intriguing and intense 24 hours in the football calendar, because in a matter of hours, your team can go from great pretenders to looking like the genuine article.
That said, your team can just as easily go from being a force to a team depleted of all their best players.
Here are 10 big storylines to follow as we head toward what I like to call transfergeddon.
1. Where's Clint Going?
Clint Dempsey's next chapter is about to be revealed. The U.S. international enjoyed the best form of his career at Fulham last season, scoring 17 Premier League goals and managing to thrive on a team that was at best average.
With a year left of his contract, it's no secret Dempsey wants to move to a bigger club. He's been left out of Fulham's squad for the first two games by Martin Jol, and it appears the London club are resigned to losing him.
For awhile, we thought Liverpool might be his destination, but that trail appears to have run cold.
Could it be that Brendan Rodgers has just been biding his time? Could we see Dempsey make a late dash to Anfield—to a club with a romantic heritage, global appeal and American owners who would surely welcome his arrival?
Or, as is being suggested by reports on Tuesday, could Dempsey be about to join Martin O'Neill's Sunderland revolution instead.
The Daily Mail say Sunderland are prepared to meet Fulham's asking price, and let's not forget they're owned by an American too in businessman Ellis Short.
Would Sunderland represent a move forward? That remains to be seen, but if they represent Dempsey's best option in the window, he could have little choice but to take the risk.
2. Who Will Spurs Spend Their Modric Money On?
After what seemed like a decade of tedious speculation, Real Madrid finally sealed a deal for Tottenham midfielder Luka Modric this week. The fee is reported to be around £30 million, which surely means Spurs are about to go on a wild spending spree.
At least that's what their fans are hoping.
The Guardian says the primary targets for Andre Villas-Boas are Fulham's powerhouse midfielder, Moussa Dembele, and Lyon goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.
It even went so far to say a fee has already been agreed for French international Lloris, who is rated among the best young goalkeepers in the world.
And then there's Yann M'Vila, the Rennes midfielder who's been ever-present in the gossip columns this summer. Could he be on his way to Spurs? According to this report, the bidding war is well under way.
Another name to throw in, courtesy of the Mirror, is that of Shakhtar Donetsk's Brazilian midfielder Willian.
The Daily Mail say Spurs have already had an initial bid rejected. They're also claiming a late move for CSKA Moscow midfielder, and Russian international Alan Dzagoev could be in the cards.
Whatever happens, Spurs are usually a good bet to provide some frenzied activity on deadline day. It's just a shame they'll be no Harry Redknapp to interview from his car this time around.
3. Will Roman Get His Credit Card Out?
Chelsea have already spent liberally this summer—bringing in the likes of Eden Hazard, Oscar, Marko Marin, Victor Moses and Cesar Azpilicueta at a combined cost of around £70 million.
The European champions might not be done. And if anybody has pockets deep enough to make a big splash on deadline day, it's Chelsea's billionaire owner, Roman Abramovich.
The Daily Mail have named Montpellier defender Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa as a possible target.
Then there are the consistent rumors we've seen linking the Blues to Porto striker Hulk and Napoli forward Edinson Cavani.
Don't be surprised if Chelsea make yet another statement in the market before Friday at midnight.
4. How Desperate Are QPR?
Queens Park Rangers have been among the busiest of the Premier League clubs this summer, as Mark Hughes seeks to shape a squad capable of sustaining themselves in England's top flight.
Last season, QPR were saved on the final day of the season when Bolton failed to beat Stoke and took their place in the bottom three.
Despite a raft of new signings at Loftus Road—including Jose Bosingwa, Andrew Johnson and Ryan Nelsen—this campaign began with a crushing 5-0 defeat to Swansea.
That result has prompted reports QPR are keen to add to their eight summer signings before the window shuts, with the likes of Inter Milan goalkeeper Julio Cesar among their rumored targets (Daily Mail).
With owner Tony Fernandes desperate to keep his team in the Premier League, QPR are a good bet to do some serious business before end of Friday.
Will they be deadline day's reckless spenders? Not according to Fernandes.
Here's what he had said about QPR's transfer policy this summer, as per the Mirror:
We are in discussions but QPR have got to run a sensible business. I think people out there think we are just throwing money and panic buying.
But I think we are very calm at what we want. We have done some sensible business over the summer and we are not going to throw it away. We are here for the long run and we’ll do things properly.
5. Will Mancini Get What He Wants at City?
Roberto Mancini is adamant Manchester City need to strengthen their squad to mount a serious defense of their Premier League title.
City have only added Everton's Jack Rodwell this summer. A deal for Swansea winger Scott Sinclair is yet to be finalised, but you get the feeling that wouldn't be enough to satisfy Mancini's insatiable thirst for signings.
Said the City manager on Sunday, as per the Guardian:
We need to bring players in and we have five days in which to do it. We have to work very hard in these four or five days. It will be a long week for us.
... We have our targets and we will go for them in the next five days. How many? Ten, 15?
Here are a few of the many rumored City targets, along with the source linking them to the Etihad.
- Benfica midfielder Javi Garcia (Mirror)
- Chelsea defender David Luiz (Daily Mail)
- Fiorentina defender Matija Nastasic (Daily Mail)
- Athletic Bilbao's Javi Martinez (Mirror)
6. Can Arsenal Seal a Late Coup?
For Arsenal fans, this transfer window will be remembered most as the one that saw their best player, Robin van Persie, leave for Manchester United.
That doesn't mean Arsenal haven't done some good business, though.
Arsene Wenger has brought in Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski to strengthen his attacking options, while the early signs suggest Spanish winger Santi Cazorla will be one of most exciting talents to watch in the Premier League this season.
Could Wenger yet have a late coup up his sleeve?
Reports suggesting Newcastle's Yohan Cabaye is a target will surely have Arsenal fans' hopes raised.
Wenger has ruled out a move for Cabaye's teammate, Cheick Tiote (Teamtalk), but with Alex Song gone to Barcelona, there is also the possibility he will be looking for a defensive midfielder.
If ever there was a time for Arsenal and Wenger to make a statement of intent in the transfer market, this is it.
7. Are United About to Sell One of Their Stars?
Why was Wayne Rooney benched for Manchester United's game against Fulham on Saturday? Why was Nani omitted from the squad altogether?
The most likely reason is that Sir Alex Ferguson was irked by their poor performances against Everton and decided to leave metaphorical horses' heads in their beds as a warning.
But what if there's something bigger at work?
"If I feel a player has fallen out of love with us, I'll help him out the door," wrote Sir Alex Ferguson in his program notes.
Just a few words. But enough to get The Sun speculating Rooney could be on his way out at Old Trafford.
Or maybe Ferguson was talking about Nani? The Portuguese winger is after a new deal at United, and according to the Manchester Evening News, could be a target for Tottenham.
Expect both to stay, but don't rule out the possibility of Ferguson making a bold decision if he feels either has crossed the line in some way or another.
8. Can Anybody Save Aston Villa?
Aston Villa have had a dreadful start to the new season—losing to West Ham and Everton and putting in a couple of dire performances to boot.
Some are already suggesting they're nailed on for relegation.
New manager Paul Lambert needs time to get things right, but even a man of Lambert's experience may struggle to keep Villa up with their current squad.
Lambert desperately needs some reinforcements. The Sun say Wolves striker Kevin Doyle is a target. They're also linking Villa with a move for Genk striker Christian Benteke.
Lambert says Villa won't be going for Jermain Defoe or Kenwyne Jones (BBC), but maintains the club remain on the lookout for signings before the window shuts.
Any business they do now could make the difference between survival and relegation.
9. Recruits for the Rodgers Revolution?
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has already signed up Joe Allen, Fabio Borini, Oussama Assaidi and Nuri Sahin for his Anfield revolution this summer.
Could he still have some business to do before end of play on Friday?
"I am not sure. I would hope we could get some more players in," said Rodgers, as per Liverpool's official website.
There's still the lingering possibility something could happen with Clint Dempsey. There are also reports Liverpool could be keen on Chelsea striker Daniel Sturridge (Daily Mail). And Barcelona's Ibrahim Afellay could be available on a loan deal (Metro).
Might Liverpool consider offloading one or more of Charlie Adam, Stewart Downing or Andy Carroll to make way?
We'll find out on Friday.
10. Striker Gambles
Free agent Michael Owen remains confident he'll land at a Premier League club before the window shuts. (Daily Mail)
Stoke and Everton are both said to be interested (Metro), with the 32-year-old still believing he has what it takes to score goals regularly at the highest level.
Owen was released by Manchester United at the end of last season, which brings us neatly to Dimitar Berbatov's future.
The Bulgarian has become a peripheral figure at Old Trafford and said in June it would be "better for everyone" if he left. (BBC)
Italian club Fiorentina are said to be interested (Metro), but the injury suffered by Wayne Rooney against Fulham could yet mean United decide to keep Berbatov as backup.
He's a proven goalscorer in the Premier League, so don't rule out other clubs coming in for Berbatov before the window closes.
A third striker to consider is Tottenham's Jermain Defoe. The Guardian say QPR are keen on a loan for the England international, with the suggestion that Defoe may be tempted by the offer of regular first-team football at Loftus Road.
Defoe, like Berbatov, is another who could prick the ears of several Premier League clubs should he become available before the window shuts.