Calling Fact or Fiction on the Biggest Premier League Transfer Rumours
It may be more than two months away, but spectators far and wide are already salivating at the very idea of more transfer action coming to the Premier League in January.
In truth, the winter period tends to rust the joints of the English top flight, making transfers that much less fluid and frequent. However, the New Year phase can tend to throw up a surprise or two, and 2013 promises to be no different.
Already, we can see plenty of plausible transfers taking shape, making it possible to forecast who may end up where. That said, there’s just as many rumours around that just don’t appear destined to bear fruit.
In the community of English top-flight football, a surprise can spring out of just about anywhere, but one can still attempt to sort the truth from the lies, the fact from the fiction.
Nemanja Vidic: Fiction
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From: Manchester United
To: Anzhi Makhachkala
After suffering a season-ending knee twist in the 2011-12 campaign, Nemanja Vidic’s health is already being put to the test in these early exchanges of the new season.
The Serbian international is currently sidelined with another knee injury and is expected to return in late November. However, that doesn’t appear to have affected the interest of Anzhi Makhachkala, who want to bring the defender back to the Russian Premier League (via the Daily Mail).
Vidic is unquestionably one of the Premier League’s top centre-backs when enjoying peak fitness. The trouble is that Manchester United are finding it more and more difficult to find him on such terms.
The Red Devils are going through a troubling period when it comes to the defence, and players such as Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Rio Ferdinand have all been injured at one time or another so far this season.
With that in mind, it seems unlikely that Sir Alex Ferguson would let go of one of his brightest talents during such a transitional period.
Vidic is still a leader amongst a youthful Manchester side, and while Anzhi can throw all the money they want at the player (the Daily Mail suggest the Russian club are offering £250,000 a week), United just aren’t likely to sell.
Daniel Sturridge: Fiction
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Following the major influx of attacking playmakers that Chelsea saw over the summer, Daniel Sturridge has found it incredibly difficult to find playing time this season.
Yet to make a start in the 2012-13 campaign, Sturridge continues to be linked with a move to Merseyside. Although it may seem like a step down from being a Champions League winner, the Daily Mail peg Liverpool as possible suitors for the forward, and a move to Anfield would open up the chances for more starting spots.
Sturridge has made no secret of the fact that he is looking to play in a more centrally attacking position, but he has continuously been shifted to the wings in favour of Fernando Torres up front.
While the Reds may offer more positional preference than the Blues, it’s Sturridge’s current employers that are in the seat of power for this particular deal.
Under Roman Abramovich’s bankroll, Chelsea aren’t in any massive need of funds like other clubs are and would undoubtedly rather keep Sturridge’s talents around, even if it means losing him for free when his contract runs out next summer.
Fernando Llorente: Fact
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From: Athletic Bilbao
With his current contract set to expire in the summer of 2013, Athletic Bilbao forward Fernando Llorente has already announced his intentions not to sign an extension on the deal (via The Independent).
The Spanish international has been Athletic’s shining light for the past few seasons, but he appears to be seeking a new challenge outside of his current surroundings.
According to the Daily Mail, Arsene Wenger will have £35 million to spend in the January transfer window, and Llorente could well be available on a cut-price deal with just six months left on his contract.
That puts the striker well within the Gunners’ financial grasp (via the Daily Mail), although Wenger has proven to be incredibly economically aware in recent years and may not chase another attacker.
Meanwhile, Metro report Llorente of speaking of some "interesting" deals of late, one of which is said to be coming from Stamford Bridge. The Blues may be looking to partner the giant with international compatriot Fernando Torres, a duo that could be devastating in attack.
Financially, the transfer looks viable for all clubs involved, and rather than lose the player for free in the summer, Athletic may be open to the idea of cashing in on the star’s signature now.
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
From: Manchester United
To: Juventus/AC Milan
Notorious for being one of Manchester United’s more inconsistent stars, Nani actually came close to leaving Old Trafford in the summer, with a move to Zenit St. Petersburg falling through at the last minute (via the Daily Mail).
This has led to the Portuguese international once again being linked with a departure from the England giants, although it’s unlikely to go through.
Long story short, Sir Alex Ferguson has proven that January isn’t his favourite time to do business in previous years, and that isn’t just in reference to buying players.
The Scotsman’s squad is in a time of uncertainty, and rather than let anybody leave halfway through the campaign, sales are likely to take place during the summer.
However, that hasn’t stopped the likes of Juventus and AC Milan being linked with the wing maestro, both of whom are interested in taking his services to the Italian top flight.
Goal.com allege that the winger is destined for a 2013 exit from Manchester United, but that Ferguson would only listen to offers in the region of £20 million.
With only Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia as the club’s other natural wingers, it’s highly unlikely that the Red Devils will sell their on-and-off star in the New Year.
Darren Bent: Fact
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From: Aston Villa
As a direct result of the player’s diminishing relationship with manager Paul Lambert, the Daily Mail report that Aston Villa could be ready to cash in on the signature of Darren Bent this January, with Liverpool assumingly ready to pounce.
The Reds were being linked with the English international back when he originally made his move to Birmingham in 2011.
Although it may have taken a roundabout way of reaching its destination, it seems that Bent’s journey may finally take him to Anfield this winter in a deal that would benefit all parties involved.
Tensions first rose at Villa Park when Bent was stripped of the club’s captaincy in favour of Ron Vlaar, before being relegated to the bench on a frequent basis so that the likes of Christian Benteke and Gabriel Agbonlahor could start.
It’s no secret that Brendan Rodgers was unhappy that Liverpool failed to sign a replacement for Andy Carroll before the Geordie went on loan to West Ham, and with Fabio Borini now injured, Liverpool are significantly handicapped in attack.
Fenway Sports Group have proven themselves to be keen financial investors in recent seasons, and although Bent was sold by Sunderland for £18 million two years ago, the 28-year-old will be cheaper in January.
Liverpool need all the offensive reinforcement they can get their hands on right now, and Bent would appear to be a good option for Rodgers’ side.
To: Manchester City
With Santi Cazorla being sold to Arsenal over the summer, many in the Málaga community were worried that the financially stricken club were set for a rocky road ahead.
However, with a healthier credit rating in check, certain players have stepped up to the plate exactly when needed to, with Isco being one of them.
Despite the fact that he may be just 20 years old, the attacking midfielder has taken over the role once occupied by Cazorla with surprising confidence, pulling the strings of the Málaga attack.
Manchester City’s recent history has seen them being linked with countless prodigies emerging from La Liga, signing only a miniscule percentage of the speculated rumours.
Sadly for the Premier League giants, this will be another of those to slip through their grasp.
Isco is one of Spain’s top prospects and is being tipped for a big future on both the club and international stage, meaning his club will fight tooth and nail to keep him around (via Goal.com).
It’s a given that most Spanish club’s just aren’t as able to offer the same wages as their English equivalents right now, but the Citizens' already-powerful midfield means they won’t go to the massive lengths necessary to lure Isco to the Etihad.
Ashley Cole: Fiction
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To: Paris Saint-Germain
One of the most controversial figures in the English top flight, one would think that a club challenging for the Premier League title would be glad to get rid of a player like Ashley Cole.
However, coming off the back of a Champions League victory, it’s important that Chelsea keep around their biggest talents for the time being, of which Cole is regrettably one.
The defender is still one of the division’s best full-backs, and no matter what he may get up to off the field, he’s still a considerable talent on it.
Currently on wages of over £120,000 a week, the left-back is set to see his current deal expire next summer, leading PSG to become interested in his signature (via Goal.com).
Similarly to Daniel Sturridge, the club are bound to keep Cole around until the end of the season—seeing as they aren’t exactly strapped for money—at which time Ryan Bertrand may then have a bigger say in the first team.
The option is still there for Roman Abramovich’s side to offer Cole a new deal, and should such a contract be signed, you can bet any idea of a transfer quickly dissolves.
Even if Cole weren’t to sign a new deal, it’s likely the West Londoners would rather keep the controversial 31-year-old around for the last six months of his contract, maintaining their charge on the Premier and Champions League titles.
Radamel Falcao: Fact
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From: Atletico Madrid
One of those god-like superstars to be linked with just about every side under the sun, it would seem as if Chelsea are the most likely suitors to sign Radamel Falcao this winter.
For the Blues, it would seem to fit their prerogative to sign another striker. The attacking line is currently being led by Fernando Torres, who looks inundated at times.
Although the Spaniard looks to be improving at Stamford Bridge, an attacking partner probably wouldn’t go astray and could help Torres rediscover his forgotten greatness.
With deals such as these, the issue of price supersedes all, but if any club were able to finance the deal, it would be the Roman Abramovich-funded Chelsea.
Atletico Madrid play in a nation that is currently stricken by perhaps the biggest financial obstacles in all of European football, so the idea of cashing in on their £50 million-rated forward may be found appealing.
The Daily Mail suppose that Abramovich has told his delegates to go ahead with a £46 million offer for the Columbian sensation, encouraging speculation around the deal.
Theo Walcott: Fact
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To: Liverpool/Juventus/Manchester City
Currently the most hotly discussed topic at the Emirates Stadium is the matter of whether or not Theo Walcott will put pen to paper over an extended contract with Arsenal.
The winger’s deal is set to expire next summer, and it would seem there are plenty of clauses and issues to iron out before an agreement is finalised.
According to BBC Sport, the deal rests on Arsenal allowing Walcott to return to his former position of striker, as he would appear to be fed up of his duties on the wing.
The North London outfit have heaps of wide talent, making it hard for Walcott to earn a starting spot at the Emirates so far this season.
Of course, another turning point in any contract is money, and the Gunners just don’t seem likely to give the 23-year-old the salary he desires.
As things stand, Arsene Wenger’s side have offered their player £80,000 a week to pen an extension, an offer which hasn’t been enough so far.
Arsenal are renowned for their stern approach when it comes to wage policy and don’t look like they’re going to budge, as they’ve failed to do so many times in the past.
The likes of Liverpool, Manchester City and Juventus have all arisen as wanting to take Walcott out of his Emirates agony (via the Daily Mail). They can all offer particular bonuses, whether it be a guaranteed starting place, positional preferences or just copious amounts of cash.
Given the interest in his signature and the prospect of losing him for free next summer, Arsenal could well choose to get a fee for Walcott in January while they still can, especially with the cover they boast in the wing areas.
Demba Ba: Fact
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From: Newcastle United
Although we were led to believe that the clause only ran up until July, Alan Pardew recently revealed that the clause in Demba Ba’s contract allowing the player to leave for just £7 million still exists (via The Guardian).
With six goals in six starts this season, the Senegalese international is one of the Premier League’s most prolific talents, and one that the Magpies undoubtedly want to keep hold of.
However, the Northeast outfit have insisted on playing the forward in a wide role so that Papiss Demba Cissé can play centrally, much to Ba’s despair.
Ba’s agent, Alex Gontran, was recently reported by BBC Sport as claiming that his client and he would "consider other solutions" unless Ba were to receive the kind of position and playing time that he desired.
Liverpool are in a striking predicament at the moment and are being linked with numerous attacking assets, although Ba’s acquisition arguably makes the most sense.
With the clause still in his contract allowing him to leave for just £7 million, Ba would be incredibly good value for money and could form a fruitful partnership with Luis Suarez.
Liverpool’s owners would likely be able to offer the kind of wages that Ba so desires, which is believed to be a factor in him penning a new deal at the Wonga Arena.
A deal of which we’re probable to hear lots more of in the coming months, Demba Ba’s departure for Merseyside is a particularly viable deal in the winter transfer window, and a rumour that holds great weight at this moment in time.