Barcelona: 5 Ridiculous January Rumors with No Chance of Happening
Just before the annual madness of the January transfer window began, Leo Messi was offered an escape route from his Barcelona nightmare by Anzhi Makhachkala.
Apparently, the Russian billionaires offered the Argentinean €30 million a year and Barcelona €250 million for the No. 10's signature.
Of course, it later transpired this was complete garbage. Anzhi has got a few rubles knocking about, as its deal to make Samuel Eto'o the world's highest-paid player proves. But it was never likely to lure Messi from the Catalan capital.
There have been a few other frankly nonsense stories about ins and outs at Camp Nou this January. Here are five that for one reason or another have no chance of happening.
5. Adel Taarabt
There's a saying in Spain that roughly translated goes "you don't need a grandmother, do you?"
It's deployed when somebody is so full of themselves that they need little in the way of compliments from a gnarled relative.
Adel Taarabt does not need a grandmother. Neither does he need an agent as he is quite the master at hawking his talents to clubs the world over.
After the Italian minnow declined the great man's offer to temporarily grace their team, Taarabt said he would ignore interest from Barcelona to stay at QPR. Harry Redknapp said he would happily let the Catalan club have Taarabt, if they wouldn't mind sending Messi the other way.
Left out of Morocco's Cup of Nations squad, perhaps Taarabt should lower his sights a little.
4. Sergio Busquets
Real Madrid and Barcelona are not the best of friends. Tension between the two camps spilled over into the national fold during the testy Clasico series between the sides in 2011.
Although now the combatants have largely swapped cheating, hair-pulling and finger-pointing for football, Sergio Busquets remains a pantomime villain in the eyes of the Bernabeu faithful.
He's probably not on Jose Mourinho's Christmas card list either after his antics against Inter in the Champions League.
So reports in Barcelona-biased daily Sport linking Real with a move for the midfielder are as likely as Busquets winning a fair play award.
3. Samuel Umtiti
Mundo Deportivo is under the impression that Barcelona is keeping an eye on Lyon left back Samuel Umtiti (Spanish link).
It's not surprising that the biggest European clubs should be monitoring the France youth international. Umtiti is another gem from the academy at Lyon, which has also produced the likes of Real Madrid's Karim Benzema and Newcastle's Hatem Ben Arfa.
But with Eric Abidal returning to full training, Jordi Alba in fine form and Adriano a capable deputy on that flank, another left back is hardly a priority for Barcelona
2. Thibaut Courtois
Conflicting reports on the contract negotiations between Victor Valdes and the club abound.
Barcelona sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta said talks were going well, while Valdes on Friday claimed nothing had been discussed at all.
The Barcelona keeper last week did not rule out the possibility of a move to foreign climes.
All of which leaves Barcelona in a bit of a pickle. Behind Valdes there is only Jose Manuel Pinto, who at 37 is knocking on a bit, and Barcelona B stopper Oier Olazábal.
An injury to either of the backups would have Zubizarreta reaching for his gloves again.
So it is little surprise that Barcelona has been mentioned in the same breath as Atletico's on-loan keeper Thibaut Courtois.
Whether or not Chelsea are willing to sell is another matter entirely. And Atletico would probably have first refusal in that case.
However, Barcelona does have a potential carrot to wave in front of Roman Abramovich's nose...
1. David Villa
Villa has found himself somewhat surplus to requirements since returning from injury. Although he still has the backing of the club, Spain's all-time leading scorer's Camp Nou days seem to be numbered, despite scoring a brace against Cordoba in the King's Cup on Thursday.
Personally, I would have loved to see the Swansea rumor come true; two of my favorite Spanish players, Pablo Hernandez and Michu, are already in South Wales.
Arsenal and Liverpool would have been more likely destinations, although Arsene Wenger's reluctance to sign anyone over the age of 30 made a move to the Emirates equally fanciful, even more so in the case of loan offers.
Sandro Rosell has said that Villa will not be going anywhere in January, but there are sure to be a couple of teams that will test that resolve with an offer of hard currency in the next couple of weeks.