The silly season is upon us.
There is something exhilarating and simultaneously exhausting about the summer transfer period, when every major club is linked to every world-class star with insane amounts of money being speculated in the deals by the daily papers.
Playing fact or fiction can be a frustrating endeavor, but here I'll look to determine whether the latest rumours from the Premier League make sense or would be a good fit for the club or player.
Let's break down this week's speculation.
While Arsenal continue to be heavily linked to Real Madrid's Gonzalo Higuain, they could look to bolster their attack out wide as well. According to Simon Jones of the Daily Mail, the team has interest in Lille winger Dimitri Payet:
Arsenal are showing interest in Lille and France winger Dimitri Payet.
The 26-year-old scored 12 times for the Ligue 1 club last season and could bolster Arsene Wenger's attacking options at the Emirates.
Seeing as inconsistent winger Gervinho could be sold this summer, adding Payet out wide would make sense. He was impressive for Lille last season, scoring 12 goals and adding 13 assists in 38 league games.
While Theo Walcott is firmly entrenched on the right, Payet could either push Lukas Podolski on the left wing or even be utilized centrally. He would certainly give Wenger options.
As the Luis Suarez turns...
The Liverpool striker continues to insist he wants to leave Liverpool this summer, and Real Madrid seem to be his club of choice. While Liverpool have seemingly been unwilling to sell before, David Maddock of the Mirror writes the club could change that stance if Alvaro Morata came to Anfield in the deal:
Luis Suarez will get his wish to join Real Madrid—but only if the Spanish giants sweeten the deal with one of their most promising youngsters.
Liverpool are now ready to listen to offers for their wantaway striker, but have made clear they will not budge a penny below the £40million clause built into the Uruguayan's contract that triggers a transfer.
Madrid have consistently maintained they will not go to that figure for a player who cost the Reds £24m a little over two seasons ago.
Ah, but here's the compromise, as Maddock writes: "[Liverpool] have identified the top scorer at this summer’s European Under-21 Championship Alvaro Morata as a possible makeweight in any deal to ensure they get the full value for the player."
Morata has apparently become fed up with a lack of playing time in Madrid, something that would hardly be an issue at Liverpool. The youngster currently leads the U-21 Championships with four goals and scored 11 goals in 12 games for Real Madrid's reserve team.
He would certainly make a lot of sense for the Reds.
While Luis Suarez keeps stealing all of the headlines, Liverpool have been chasing reinforcements this summer. One such player to watch is Shakhtar Donetsk's Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
Liverpool are pushing ahead with plans to make Armenian midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan their major summer signing.
The 24-year-old is understood to have a £20m release clause in his contract with Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk. Liverpool have indicated they are willing to meet that figure.
Anfield officials are aware there may be competition for Mkhitaryan, who scored 25 league goals for Shakhtar last season, but are optimistic he can be persuaded to move to Liverpool.
Juventus, Chelsea and Borussia Dortmund are also thought to be chasing the player.
If Luis Suarez does indeed depart the club this season, Mkhitaryan would certainly replace some of his goal-scoring touch, having scored 30 goals in all competitions for Shakhtar last season. But where would he be deployed?
His natural position is to reside in the hole behind a lone striker, though that is the role Philippe Coutinho impressed while playing last year. Would Coutinho slide further back in the midfield or out wide? Or would Mkhitaryan play in a false nine role?
Honestly, it would be a good problem for Brendan Rodgers to have. Mkhitaryan is a player.
Paris Saint-Germain are a greedy football club.
According to Neil McLeman of the Mirror, PSG are after Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas. And Gareth Bale. And Chelsea defender David Luiz.
PSG have offered to buy Gareth Bale in a bid to lure Andre Villas-Boas to the French capital.
The Tottenham manager turned down a first approach from the Qatari-owned club to move to Paris next season.
But PSG have now returned determined to land the 35-year-old Portuguese—and have discussed a world record £85m bid for Bale as part of the negotiations. Chelsea defender David Luiz is also on their shopping list.
Honestly, I think we can file this in the "unlikely" bin, if not the loony one. Luiz may end up being sold, but I wholly expect both Villas-Boas and Bale will return to Spurs next season.
If nothing else, Real Madrid now have another suitor to deal with in their chase of Bale. There could be a whole lot of money being thrown in the direction of North London this summer.
His agent certainly thinks so. While it seems unlikely the Gunners would want to sell their top defender from last season, Laurent Koscielny's agent has fueled talks that several big clubs in Europe are interested in his player.
Bayern Munich and Barcelona are hot on the trail of the Frenchman this summer. Koscielny has already opened the exit door by claiming he could walk away if Arsenal fail to show ambition in the transfer market.
And his agent Stephane Courbois has now fuelled fresh talk that Koscielny, who has four years left on his contract, is a target for the European giants.
He said: "There is interest. I know that Laurent is part of a shortlist of three or four players for both clubs."
Is Courbois laying the groundwork to negotiate a better contract for his player? It would seem odd to do that with four years left on the current one.
Is he trying to drum up interest in those clubs in the event Koscielny isn't pleased with Arsenal's transfer activities and wants to leave the club? That seems a more realistic possibility, though neither he nor his client are giving Arsenal the benefit of the doubt here, as the transfer window isn't even open yet.
One way or another, it would be a major, major shock if Koscielny were sold this summer.
It always seems odd to hear Manchester City linked to some of the biggest attackers on the market when the team already has world-class strikers on the roster including Carlos Tevez, Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko.
But perhaps Tevez could be on the way out, via Neil McLeman of the Mirror:
The sale of former Manchester City striker Robinho could be the key to the future of Carlos Tevez.
Italian giants AC Milan and Juventus both want to sign the Argentine front man this summer. Silvio Berlusconi's Milan plan to finance the deal by selling Robinho back to Santos, his former club in Brazil, for £5million this week.
Tevez, who is dubbed El Apache by the Italian media and a long-time target for Milan, could link up in attack with his former City team-mate Mario Balotelli.
Losing Tevez would be a major gaffe by City. He has a solid work rate at the position and seems to be at his best pairing with another striker atop the formation. His 17 goals in all competitions was below his standards, though he did add 10 assists.
City have clearly made improving the midfield and wide positions a major goal this summer, adding Fernandinho and Jesus Navas. If Edinson Cavani can't be brought aboard at forward, losing Tevez would be a major hit to this team's championship aspirations.
Without question, Tottenham's biggest priority this summer is keeping Gareth Bale in North London. But priority No. 2 for sure has to be upgrading at striker, and not surprisingly the club has been linked with a number of talented forwards.
Now you can add Erik Lamela to the long list of forwards Spurs are keeping tabs on.
Spurs' interest in 21-year-old Lamela predates [Franco] Baldini's expected appointment with Villas‑Boas, also an admirer of the forward who has so far earned only one senior cap for Argentina.
Lamela also fits the mould of the kind of versatile forward that Villas-Boas likes, given he can play on the wing or through the middle. He scored 15 times for Roma last season in 33 appearances. Lamela is known for his pace and dribbling ability and Villas-Boas regards him as a possible complement to Gareth Bale in a fluid forward line as the head coach eventually switches to a 4-3-3 formation.
It is unclear as to what level of fee Roma would demand for Lamela, if they agree to sell him, having paid €12 million (£10.2 million) to acquire him from Argentinian club River Plate.
Lamela doesn't seem to be the sort of sturdy pillar in the center of the pitch that Tottenham really need, but he would give the squad a versatile, young option in the attack that could play all three forward roles. And at just 21 years of age, he would be a buy for the future as well.
Spurs probably need to add a more pure central striker, but Lamela is the type of player that could be excellent for the club years down the line.
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