10 Hottest Transfer Rumours in European Football Right Now

Laura Greene@@Greene_LFeatured ColumnistOctober 29, 2013

10 Hottest Transfer Rumours in European Football Right Now

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    Could the transfer rumour be up there with death and taxes as one of life's great certainties?

    These days, gossip is never far away. It doesn't matter how many months separate the present and the opening of the transfer window; speculation will always be on hand. 

    However, separating fantasy from reality, now there's the challenge.

    But, as the weather grows colder and the days get shorter, why deny yourself the indulgence of thinking that maybe, just maybe Zlatan Ibrahimovic will decide to sign for your team?

    Over the following slides, we look at 10 of the hottest transfer rumours around—no matter how far-fetched they may be.

    From Mario Balotelli's links with Chelsea to Stephan El Shaarawy's mooted move to Arsenal and more. Sit back, enjoy and imagine that these players could be making seismic transfers this January.

Stephan El Shaarawy to Arsenal

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    Since the departure of Marouane Chamakh to Crystal Palace and Gervinho to Roma, Arsenal have been lacking in the bad hair stakes. Arsene Wenger's side are also short on strikers.

    Stephan El Shaarawy—he of prodigious talent and questionable haircuts—has been rumoured to be on his way to the Emirates.

    The Gunners have been linked with the 21-year-old for some time, as seen in Ben Curtis' article on Mirror Football in June, with Liverpool, Chelsea and Spurs also reportedly interested.

    Recently, the rumours have popped up again, with the same clubs rumoured to be ready to "end El Shaarawy's AC Milan nightmare," according to the Daily Star's Jack Wilson.

    El Shaarawy has only made two appearances in Serie A this season after fracturing his toe. The striker scored 16 league goals for the Rossoneri in 2012/13.

Juan Mata to Paris Saint-Germain

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    Juan Mata has been tipped to be on his way to Paris Saint-Germain.

    It's been almost two months since the French side bought any new players, and they must be getting restless. 

    It's thought that the Chelsea playmaker could be a replacement for Javier Pastore, who is also rumoured to be on the move after making less of an impact than expected at the Parc des Princes, as The Independent's James Legge reported in September.

    After insisting that he was happy to fight for his place at Stamford Bridge, seen here via the Press Association (h/t The Guardian), it's perhaps unlikely that Mata will leave the London club this winter. 

    The 25-year-old Spaniard has also been linked with Tottenham, Arsenal, Manchester United, Valencia and Real Madrid, as reported by the Daily Mail Online's John Edwards


Christian Benteke to Tottenham Hotspur

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    It's a story that Aston Villa fans would love to go away, but rumours linking Christian Benteke with a January move refuse to disappear.

    In September, Mirror Football's Alan Nixon reported that Manchester United were interested in the Belgian striker. More recently, Simon Jones of the Daily Mail Online claims that Spurs are readying a £28 million bid.

    Benteke, who lodged a transfer request in the summer, shortly before penning a new five-year deal at Villa Park, may be going nowhere. 

    However, expect this story to run at full throttle until proven otherwise. 

    It's a story that Aston Villa fans would love to go away but rumours linking Christian Benteke with a January move refuse to disappear.

    Last month, the Mirror's Alan Nixon reported that Manchester United were interested in the Belgian striker. More recently Simon Jones, in the Daily Mail, claims that Spurs are readying a £28 million bid.

    Benteke, who lodged a transfer request in the summer, shortly before penning a new five-year deal at Villa Park, may be going nowhere. 

    However, expect this story to run at full throttle until proven otherwise. 


Julian Draxler on the Move?

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    Schalke's Julian Draxler is no stranger to transfer gossip. The 20-year-old has been linked with a move to the Premier League for some time, despite his side's assurances that he is staying put.

    Over the summer, the winger was said to be one of Arsenal's primary targets, according to Jeremy Wilson in The Telegraph

    Asked recently about his ideal move by Kolner Stadt-Anzeiger, via Skysports.com, Draxler said:

    The big two in Spain, Real and Barcelona, Bayern (Munich) and a few others from England, namely Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea.

    I owe Schalke a lot, I have always been at Schalke. I need to emphasise this. But I'm not so rooted here that I could not tear myself away.

    I can honestly say that it is my dream to play for one of the big clubs at some point.

    You don't have to be playing for the very top clubs in Europe to draw attention to yourself, but if you want to achieve the great goals that the world-class players have, then one of them is playing at the biggest clubs in the world.

    Draxler is yet to score in the Bundesliga this season but has scored twice in three Champions League appearances for Jens Keller's side. 

Mario Balotelli to Chelsea

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    This time last month, Mario Balotelli was being linked with a move to Liverpool.

    If the idea of the Italian striker being in the same team as Luis Suarez wasn't enough, he has now been rumoured to be on his way to Chelsea, as seen in Jamie Sanderson's article in Metro.

    That is, Chelsea that are managed by Jose Mourinho. That is, Jose Mourinho who warned Manchester City against buying Balotelli in 2010.

    Balotelli was asked about Mourinho on the BBC's "Football Focus" programme last year, and he said, via The Guardian's Jamie Jackson

    "Me, with Mourinho? He's a great manager but he didn't understand me so he said that nobody can understand me. But I think the only one that cannot understand me is him, so it's his problem."

    Oh Mario, the Premier League would welcome you back with open arms. 

Vincent Kompany to Monaco

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    According to Charles Perrin of The Express, Monaco have been linked with a move for Vincent Kompany.

    It's highly unlikely that Manchester City would consider letting their captain leave the Etihad because a) they don't need the money and b) despite their wealth, City lack strength in defence.

    It is an exciting rumour, no matter how unrealistic. Without Kompany, City have looked frail at the back. They have made poor judgements, and they have lost out to Cardiff and Chelsea on the road due to costly defensive errors.

    If Kompany were to leave, which he almost certainly won't this January, it would have a very interesting impact on Manuel Pellegrini's title aspirations. 

Wayne Rooney: Leaving Old Trafford?

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    Despite saying he has been given "a new lease of life" under new manager David Moyes on the BBC Sport website, speculation linking Wayne Rooney with a move away from Old Trafford is rife.

    In The Express, Jack Wilson reckons that Chelsea are lining up a £35 million January bid for the Manchester United striker.

    As seen on the BBC Sport website, the Blues made repeated attempts to bring Rooney to Stamford Bridge over the summer, to no avail.

    Arsenal are also said to be weighing up an offer to bring the 28-year-old to the Emirates, according to a report from Mirror Football's Simon Mullock in September.

    Rooney will have 18 months remaining on his United contract when the transfer window opens in January.

Robert Lewandowski: Dortmund to Sell in January?

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    Even if Robert Lewandowski tattooed "I am a Bayern Munich player" on his forehead, named his first-born child Pep and camped outside the Allianz Arena for the next two months, there would still be rumours linking him with a move to the Premier League.

    This is a rumour that refuses—point-blank—to go away.

    Over the summer, Lewandowski's expected transfer to Bayern Munich did not materialise, despite the striker seemingly having his heart set on the switch.

    In August, he committed himself to Borussia Dortmund until next summer, as seen via Reuters in The Guardian. Two months later, the Poland international had to play down rumours that he had already agreed to join Bayern and said that he had always wanted to play in the Premier League, seen here in The Independent via Jack De Menezes.

    Still with us?

    Currently, according to Jack Wilson in The Express, Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea have been told to pay a cut-rate £7 million in January, so that Dortmund can keep the 25-year-old out of Bayern's clutches.

    It makes for an exciting rumour, but my money is still on Lewandowski joining Pep Guardiola's side next summer.

Gareth Bale: Manchester United Are 'Ready to Swoop'

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    This particular rumour requires that you sit down before reading it.

    Jack Wilson (him again) of the Daily Star suggests that reports coming out of Spain say that Manchester United are lining up a "shock move" for Gareth Bale.

    You mean, the Gareth Bale, who just joined Real Madrid for £85 million?

    The report has its roots in stories that emerged in September, which suggested that United had been in the market for Bale over the summer, as seen in John Cross' Mirror Football article

    Now, after returning from an injury that kept him out of four La Liga games and an El Clasico appearance, in which Bale was described as Madrid's "worst performer," as reported by James Orr in The Independentthe Welshman obviously needs to be rescued.

    Yes, United would love to sign the 24-year-old. Will it happen...? No.

Diego Costa to Chelsea

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    Diego Costa is currently La Liga's top scorer with 11 goals. He is also one of Europe's most exciting, most in-form strikers. Of course Chelsea want to sign him.

    According to Mirror Football's John Cross, among others, Jose Mourinho is planning to sign the 25-year-old this winter.

    The problem is, why would Costa want to leave Atletico Madrid in January? 

    After admitting that he came close to joining Liverpool over the summer, Costa told Mundo Deportivo, via ESPNFC.com:

    I was close to leaving, Liverpool are a great team. But after fighting so hard and overcoming difficulties to get my place at Atletico, how could I leave? I thought that it was very important for me to continue growing in this club and to play here for many years.

    He scored 20 goals for the club last season and is well on his way to eclipsing that figure this term. It looks like the Brazilian-born player is going to opt to play for Spain at next year's World Cup, and he'll need regular first-team football, no matter which nation he chooses.

    The striker extended his current deal over the summer, tying him to the club until 2018. Perhaps Atletico will find it hard to resist big-money offers for their star man, who is said to have a £32 million release clause in his contract, via Jack Wilson of the Daily Star

    If it happened, it would be one of the hottest transfers of the year.