B/R World Football Gossip Roundup: Breaking Down This Week's Biggest Rumours
With all of the speculation that flows in the papers through the course of each week, it can leave the head a little fuzzy.
We have thumbed through the gossip over the past seven days and picked out the highlights.
Some are believable, others less so, and in the following slides we'll put our own spin on things by giving them a rating.
Theo Walcott-Monaco Link Just Doesn't Convince
Waking up on Friday morning, one headline above all others caught our eye: "Monaco consider £34 million January swoop for Arsenal ace Walcott."
This piece, penned by David Kent of the Mail, certainly pricked our attention. In his article Kent wrote: “French giants Monaco are considering a €40 million January swoop for Arsenal winger Theo Walcott.”
That, though, pretty much sums up the piece.
Money is certainly no object to Monaco given their backing by Russian Dmitry Rybolovlev. Per Forbes’ billionaires’ rich list from 2013, Rybolovlev is listed at 119, with a net worth of $9.1 billion. With that in mind, £34 million is a drop in the ocean, and that sort of money could well be enticing for the England international.
However, as Kent points out in his piece, “manager Arsene Wenger is unlikely to let the 24-year-old leave the club while Walcott is believed to be happy to stay at Arsenal.”
Both points are likely to be telling here. Arsenal are short on attacking options, with Olivier Giroud leading the line with distinction, having failed to sign the likes of Wayne Rooney or Luis Suarez in the summer.
Wenger is sure to want to strengthen his attack in the January transfer window, not weaken it by selling a potent threat. Also, Walcott has shown no desire to leave Arsenal. He signed a new deal in January and is a key figure in Wenger’s thinking when fully fit.
Walcott will have an eye on the World Cup next summer. If he remains at Arsenal and stays free from injury, he is virtually guaranteed a seat on the plane. A move is a step into the unknown, which could weaken his England chances.
Believability Meter: Low
Even before clicking in the piece, doubts were cast on the likelihood of it happening. That did not change after running our eye over it.
Vincent Kompany Is Beyond Monaco's Reach
The big spenders that are Monaco are featuring regularly in the British papers, and on Monday it was a piece from Charles Perrin of the Express that came to our attention.
Per Perrin’s piece, Manchester City defender Vincent Kompany has come on Monaco’s radar, and they are plotting a January raid on the Etihad Stadium.
In his piece, Perrin writes:
Kompany missed the Chelsea game with a calf injury that he has been struggling to shake off.
But Monaco are undeterred and will go on the offensive to prise Kompany away from the Etihad.
Reports on the continent indicate that Monaco boss Claudio Ranieri is looking to shore up his defence.
It’s a story that has stirred up a bit of fuss within the Manchester City community. And the consensus is that they do not want their captain to move on.
Monaco are interested in Man City defender Vincent Kompany n could make a move for the 27-yr-old in Jan. don't let it happen @Carla_Kompany— Joel Hoyle (@Joel_135) October 29, 2013
As you well know, money is no object for Monaco, so if they wanted to make a play for Kompany, they could match any demands made by City. But if money is no object to Monaco, it is the exact same scenario for City.
Owned by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Forbes estimates his net worth at $4.9 billion, so he’s unlikely to need a few extra quid from the sale of a defender. With money no option for either team, it realistically comes down to whether City would want to sell.
With Kompany contracted to City until 2018, there is no fear from within the club that the Belgium defender could wind down his deal and leave on a free. The only concern City have over their captain is that he has been hit by injuries this term. As reported by ESPN this week, Kompany has suffered a setback that could sideline him for a further couple of weeks.
Injuries notwithstanding, Kompany is one of the elite defenders in the Premier League. With City battling for honours on various fronts, it would make no sense to let one of their star players head out of the club midway through the season.
Believability Meter: Low
Monaco may want to get their hands on Kompany, but that won't happen in January.
Luis Suarez-Real Madrid Swap Talk Does Not Add Up
You know the transfer window is coming round again, as Luis Suarez has begun featuring in the gossip pages.
We emerged from our slumber on Wednesday morning to be greeted by a piece from Adrian Kajumba of the Star which claimed Real Madrid were plotting a swap deal involving Karim Benzema.
In his piece, Kajumba wrote:
Madrid value Benzema at £20m, making the overall package worth around £40m.
The French striker has been told he can leave Madrid after falling down the pecking order at the Bernabeu.
Madrid have offered him to a number of clubs, though, and convincing Benzema to join Liverpool could be a potential stumbling block.
Real are already making contingency plans in case Benzema says ‘no’ and they are forced to come up with a cash-only bid.
Sources close to the deal claim splashing out on another big fee will be impossible for the Spaniards unless they sell first.
Looking at this, there’s plenty in it that raise an eyebrow or two.
Firstly, it is very rare in the modern age, with the sheer amount of people involved, that swap deals play out when they involve high-profile players. Time and again you read stories, such as this here, where Club X wants to swap Player A with Club Y’s Player B. But it is not often that these deals play out.
Secondly, the figures don’t really add up. Per Kajumba’s piece, Real rate Suarez in the region of £40 million. As has been documented, including in a piece by the Guardian’s Andy Hunter, Arsenal attempted to prise Suarez away from Liverpool with an offer of £40m plus £1.
Liverpool rejected it out of hand, with owner John W. Henry famously tweeting:
What do you think they're smoking over there at Emirates?— John W. Henry (@John_W_Henry) July 24, 2013
During the summer, the Reds were unequivocal in their stance that Suarez would not be sold. That was at a time when the Uruguayan’s stock was low on account of him serving a ban for biting Branislav Ivanovic.
Suarez has since returned to the Liverpool side and forged a brilliant understanding with Daniel Sturridge, which has arguably sent his value soaring.
Believability Meter: Low
Once again, it is likely that Real Madrid would like to sign Suarez, but there are too many things that count against this deal ever taking place.
PSG Likely to Fall Short in Chase of Chelsea's Juan Mata
What a difference a couple of months make. Prior to leaves turning from green to brown, Juan Mata was feeling somewhat blue as he was out of the picture at Chelsea and told by manager Jose Mourinho that his style of play did not fit his blueprint.
This was a pretty clear message: Either fall into line or ship out.
That was an alarming fall from grace for a player who was named Chelsea’s Player of the Year for the past couple of seasons. It’s highly likely that any other manager would have incurred the wrath of the fans for the treatment of their star man, but Mourinho is pretty much untouchable in the eyes of the Stamford Bridge faithful.
The onus was on Mata. Would he down tools and wait for the January window to open, or would he dig in and fight? Big-spending Paris Saint-Germain were certainly hoping it was the latter, as they were credited with an interest in a player they had been linked with earlier in the year.
Mata has the persona of a man who has great pride, and he proved it by showing Mourinho that he wanted to fight for the cause.
Against Tottenham on Sept. 28, he went a long way to winning back the trust of his manager. Chelsea were down to 10 men and had their backs to the wall. But Mata climbed off the bench and produced a superb display to ensure the Blues claimed a point.
After the match, per ESPNFC, Mourinho said:
This is the way players have to tell me they want to be in my team. I sometimes make a mistake as a manager, but I make my decisions on what I see in training and on the pitch.
I liked what Mata did against Swindon in the Capital One Cup and I put him on the bench today.
Now I like what I see when he plays for 45 minutes. I’m a very happy manager when I see Juan Mata playing like this. I want my players to tell me they want to play. Juan told me that.
Oscar is still the preferred option for Mourinho in the No. 10 role, but the Portuguese is aware of the need to have options. And with Chelsea battling on four fronts at the present time, it makes sense for Mourinho to have a number of different strings on his bow.
That is certainly the opinion of the Express’ Tony Banks, who says Mourinho will resist any attempt from PSG to sign Mata in January.
Believability Meter: Medium to High
PSG might want Mata, but given how well he has responded to Mourinho’s challenge, it seems unlikely he will be sold in January.
Shinji Kagawa-Manchester United Exit Talk Has Substance
Shinji Kagawa’s Manchester United career is yet to take off. But it could be about to end, as the People’s Dean Jones says the Japanese wants to move on from Old Trafford.
In his piece, Jones writes:
The Japanese midfielder has struggled for games since David Moyes took over and has now told team-mates that he needs to leave Old Trafford in the transfer window.
Kagawa, 24, fears he will continue to be frozen out of the United side in the build-up to the World Cup, and does not want to risk a lack of fitness and form as he heads to Brazil.
Kagawa was tipped to make a huge impact at United when making the move from Borussia Dortmund in the summer of 2012. However, he made little impression in his first season at the club as he was played in a variety of positions by former United boss Sir Alex Ferguson.
The decision by Ferguson to deploy Kagawa on the flank instead of down the middle drew criticism from Dortmund boss Jurgen Klopp. In an interview with the Guardian's Donald McRae in May, Klopp said:
Shinji Kagawa is one of the best players in the world and he now plays 20 minutes at Manchester United, on the left wing! My heart breaks. Really, I have tears in my eyes.
Central midfield is Shinji's best role. He's an offensive midfielder with one of the best noses for goal I ever saw.
The arrival of Moyes as Ferguson’s successor raised hope of a fresh start for Kagawa, but he remains a fringe player, and Jones says he wants out.
The World Cup is sure to be prominent in Kagawa’s thinking, given his importance to the Japan national side. Modern training methods can keep players at peak physical fitness, but nothing compares to playing games to ensure full sharpness.
Kagawa does not look like making the breakthrough at Old Trafford. He has arguably been pushed further down the pecking order by the emergence of Adnan Januzaj, and the prospect of a fresh start elsewhere could well appeal.
Jones states that Wolfsburg and Dortmund are both keen on landing Kagawa in January, and there is merit in that thought. Wolfsburg have already expressed interest in signing Kagawa, per the Star’s Gary Jones, while it is conceivable that Dortmund could also make a bid, given the regard in which Klopp holds the midfielder.
Believability Meter: Medium to High
It’s not difficult to argue that Kagawa has struggled in Manchester. And with a World Cup on the horizon, he could fancy a fresh start. It may be that United could send him out on loan for the remainder of the season in the hope it sparks a revival in the Japanese star.
Joe Kinnear's Newcastle Transfer Blunder
Joe Kinnear has done little to endear himself to Newcastle fans during his two spells at the club.
There was the expletive-filled rant at a press conference in 2008, while he did little to placate the supporters on his return to the club in the summer with a bizarre interview in which he repeatedly got the names of players wrong.
Upon his return in the summer, Kinnear made it clear he was in charge of player recruitment. That bold assertion came back to haunt him when the club failed to bring in any permanent signings in the summer window.
In the past couple of months, there have been fan protests against Kinnear and owner Mike Ashley, with the former still a hate figure for Magpies supporters.
If the fans required further ammunition to fire at Kinnear, they were provided it on Sunday morning by a piece from the People’s Alan Oliver. In his piece, Oliver wrote that Kinnear attempted to sign a player who was already owned by the club.
Taking up the story, Oliver wrote:
Joe Kinnear thought he had spotted a special talent on a scouting trip to Birmingham—only to be told he was already a NEWCASTLE player.
Toon director of football Kinnear raved to City chiefs about midfielder Shane Ferguson during the club’s Capital One Cup tie against Swansea in September. But when he asked about signing him, Brum bosses thought he was winding them up—because Ferguson is on loan at St Andrews from Newcastle until the end of the season.
The 22-year-old, who can play in midfield or at full-back, signed a five-year contract with Newcastle in 2011 but spent three months on loan at Birmingham last season.
Given Kinnear’s standing with Newcastle fans, there is highly likely to be a mixture of mirth, disbelief and anger among those flicking through a copy of the People on Sunday.
Believability Meter: High
Oliver is an established North East journalist who spent many years working for the Chronicle prior to joining the People. As such, given his connections, the story is likely to have some substance.