The last full week of the summer transfer window begins with the same old storylines dominating the agenda—specifically, Gareth Bale's move to Real Madrid and Wayne Rooney's continued flirtation with Chelsea.
But concrete movement in that first saga means that the market is beginning to hot up elsewhere. The near certainty of losing Bale has seen Tottenham go into overdrive in search of reinforcements. Spurs already missed out on Willian, who formally agreed to his move to the Blues over the weekend, as announced by the club's official website.
Yet that deal is also causing a domino effect in the market, with clubs suddenly looking at Chelsea's array of attacking options and wondering which of them are now available for transfer.
Liverpool, Arsenal and Atletico Madrid have seemingly already identified their favourites.
The papers have plenty of column inches devoted to that and other transfer talk, and we’ve got it all covered in this Bank Holiday Monday edition of the Summer Transfer Gossip roundup.
A new week sees us get ever closer to the conclusion of the Gareth Bale saga, with the consensus being that he will be officially unveiled at Real Madrid on Tuesday.
The specifics of the deal have yet to be formally disclosed, but Neil Ashton of the Daily Mail claims that the fee is £86 million—making it a new world record, but falling short of some of the figures bandied about in recent weeks.
Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy signed off the staggering move for the PFA Player of the Year following talks with directors in the boardroom at White Hart Lane. Bale’s transfer to Real beats the previous world record of £80m which Real paid to Manchester United for Cristiano Ronaldo in 2009.
Ashton adds that a payment plan has been drawn up that means Real can save 10 percent of the fee (so, £8.6 million) if they pay it faster than scheduled. That would end up making the deal slightly cheaper than the one for Ronaldo (which, famously, was planned as four installments of £20 million), but Real are not necessarily renowned for paying fees quicker than required.
In that spirit, Jason Burt of The Telegraph reports that Real will have to pay more if they are slow on their payments. Burt also claims that Spurs had wanted a player—Fabio Coentrao, Alvaro Morata or Angel Di Maria—in part-exchange for Bale, but they were put off by Real's demands for all three:
The club reasoned that a pile of money in the bank was no good to them if they were going to weaken their squad. However these talks broke down after Real’s valuation on their players – also including winger Angel di Maria – was deemed too high.
As has been the case throughout this transfer saga, Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas refused to confirm that Bale was off, even suggesting that he expected the Welshman back at training on Tuesday...if he hadn't completed a transfer elsewhere first (which seems a somewhat obvious assertion).
About Bale's absence from White Hart Lane for Sunday's win over Swansea, the Portuguese said:
There is interest from Real and I hope to have more news for you in the next couple of days.
We gave him two days off. We never force non-selected players to be present, they are not obliged to be there and regardless he is not training with the team.
Villas-Boas will now seemingly turn his attentions to bringing in a replacement (or more than one) before the transfer window closes.
Chelsea announced a formal agreement to sign Willian over the weekend, a deal that seems to have had the greatest impact on the rumour mill. Chelsea now appear to have too many attackers in their squad, while Spurs are desperately searching around for another target.
With Ajax's Christian Eriksen as an alternative, AS says an Atletico source had confirmed to them an approach had been made for Mata, who appears to have an uncertain future under Jose Mourinho and could move to guarantee first-team football in a World Cup year.
Mata's salary would appear to be a problem for Atletico, but after selling Radamel Falcao earlier this summer, AS reports the club "would be willing to...pay the wages in order to get the deal agreed."
Mata's future may remain closer to his current club, however. The Daily Mirror believes Arsenal are ready to lodge a bid for the former Valencia player, while The Metro notes that Blues boss Jose Mourinho refused to rule out offering Mata in exchange for Manchester United's Wayne Rooney.
When asked about that sort of deal on Friday, Mourinho said:
That’s hypothetical, because they didn’t ask.
The two answers we got from Man United is 'We don’t accept the bid,' and 'We’re not interested in selling the player.'
While somewhat hard to fathom why Mourinho would sell the playmaker—Mata has been arguably Chelsea's best player since arriving two seasons ago—it seems possible considering his fervent pursuit of Rooney.
The Portuguese has pressured United to allow Rooney to leave, adding spice to Monday evening's meeting between the two sides. Mourinho says his opposite number, David Moyes, is to blame for unsettling Rooney. As the Daily Mail reports, when asked if it was Moyes’ fault, Mourinho said: "Of course."
The Mirror, meanwhile, are among a number of newspapers in agreement that Samuel Eto'o will be the alternative if the Rooney deal cannot be agreed. That comes following reports on Sunday that Abramovich agreed to sign the Cameroon striker—and his astronomical wages—as part of persuading Anzhi to sell Willian to him and not Spurs.
The Times (subscription required) suggests that Eto'o will be at the game at Old Trafford on Monday, where he may meet up with Mourinho to further discuss a deal.
But Inter Milan, Eto'o's old club, could yet intervene, with owner Massimo Moratti saying somewhat cryptically on Sunday: “Let’s see what happens in the next few days.”
With £86 million due to flow into the Spurs coffers when Bale does finally leave, The Mirror says Andre-Villas Boas is closing in on a £30 million signing of Zenit St. Petersburg forward Hulk.
The Brazilian only joined the Russian side in September last year for a fee of at least €40 million, but he has failed to fully settle with the club, opening the door for Spurs.
When asked about the player on Sunday, Villas-Boas responded: "He is not our player, so I find it difficult to respond."
The long-expected deal for AS Roma's Erik Lamela is nearer to completion, however. The Daily Mail reports that the Argentine will fly to England on Monday to finalise a move after having been left on the bench for Roma's curtain-raiser against Livorno on Sunday evening.
Spurs will also hope to complete a deal for Steaua Bucharest defender Vlad Chiriches early this week, with the fee somewhere in the £8 million region.
The club have also been scouting Botev Plovdiv's 20-year-old winger Todor Nedelev, according to the Mail.
After seeing their interest in Willian gazumped by Spurs—who then suffered the same fate at the hands of Chelsea—it appears the failed deal could still result in some good news for Liverpool after they expressed interest in the Blues' Victor Moses.
Moses is widely expected to be allowed to leave in this transfer window after the signings of Andre Schuerrle and Willian (not to mention the return of Kevin De Bruyne) in his position, and Brendan Rodgers is very interested in securing a loan deal, according to Neil Ashton of the Daily Mail:
Rodgers hopes his long-standing relationship with Mourinho will help steer the deal in Liverpool’s direction this week.
Moses has been told that Chelsea are unlikely to agree to his sale, but they will let the winger leave for a season.
Rodgers has gone public in his desire for a left-sided attacker that would allow him to push Philippe Coutinho into a more central role, and Moses would fit that bill. The Nigeria international would also offer cover for Daniel Sturridge and the other spots along the forward line.
West Brom have previously been credited with an interest in Moses, although they recently signed Scott Sinclair from Manchester City in a similar deal.
Arsenal's hopes of signing Yohan Cabaye look good after the midfielder refused to play for Newcastle until his future is decided.
Cabaye was a late absentee from the Magpies' home draw with West Ham on Saturday, as he made clear his desire to be allowed to move to the Gunners.
The Daily Mirror reports that Newcastle have demanded £20 million for Cabaye—double Arsenal's first offer—if they are to complete a deal, with £15 million of that coming up front.
Director of football Joe Kinnear was quoted as saying: "We've told Arsenal our terms, the ball is in their court."
Putting on a full-court press, Alan Pardew added to The Times (subscription required):
If Arsenal want to sign the player, they’re going to need to sign him soon because at some point we’re just going to say no.
That’s a position we’ll get to in a couple of days unless something gets resolved.
After being snubbed by Karim Benzema over the weekend, Arsenal are still being strongly linked with two of Benzema's Real Madrid teammates, Angel di Maria and Mesut Oezil. Both could be available once Gareth Bale formally becomes a Madrid player.
On Saturday, Wenger said, via The Telegraph:
If we can gain one, two or even three more, we will do it. They (the players) want to win the league. They enjoy playing together and this is the first year when we have not been traumatised by losing players.
Nicklas Bendtner (left)
One Arsenal striker is not enough, it seems. The Times are reporting that Crystal Palace are closing in on a deal that would partner Nicklas Bendtner with Marouane Chamakh at Selhurst Park.
Strikers are the in-demand commodity on Monday, with the same paper reporting that West Brom are closing in on one-time France international Andre-Pierre Gignac.
Newcastle, meanwhile, have their eyes on Marseille's Andre Ayew—also according to The Times—using the £7 million they were unable to spend on Bafetimbi Gomis earlier in the month.
The Mirror claims Derby have told Liverpool they will have to pay £15 million if they want teenage sensation Will Hughes.
West Ham are closing on Silvestre Varela, according to The Express, after failing to reach terms with Juventus over Fabio Quagliarella.
Finally, The Times are also reporting that Everton have held initial talks with Juventus about Luca Marrone, with some taking that as a sign that they are lining up a replacement for Manchester United target Marouane Fellaini.