B/R Gossip Roundup: No Arsenal Return for Cole, Cavani Fits Manchester Utd Bill
The transfer window has closed, but that isn't going to stop the gossip spreading, is it?
The newspapers thrive on the fall-out from the window as much as we enjoy reading it.
But which stories are the real deal and which ones leave much to be desired?
Here, we've taken a selection of rumours from the past week's back-page headlines and offered our own view.
Is Jack Rodwell on the Wrong Side of Manchester?
Even the coldest of hearts cannot fail to sympathise with the plight of Manchester City midfielder Jack Rodwell.
The 22-year-old offered so much promise with club and country during his time with Everton before he moved to the Etihad Stadium in a £12 million deal in August 2012.
Rodwell had already been tipped for big things at Goodison Park earlier in his career, but his expected breakthrough season in 2010-11 was halted by an ankle injury which sidelined him for almost three months, as reported by The Guardian.
On his return to full fitness, then Everton manager David Moyes put his faith in the youngster and he became a first-team regular.
Rodwell pulled on an England shirt for the first time in Nov. 2011 in the 1-0 friendly win over Spain, and things looked good in the player's world.
However, a hamstring injury in Mar. 2012 curtailed Rodwell's season and ended his hopes of appearing at Euro 2012 and for the Great Britain team at the London Olympics, as reported by The Guardian.
That same injury saw his first season with City under Roberto Mancini interrupted for large portions of the year, although a substitute appearance for England in a friendly in Brazil in June offered the player hope that all was not lost.
The departure of Mancini to be replaced by Manuel Pellegrini saw the arrival of a number of new players just as Rodwell picked up another hamstring problem to force him out for three months.
So it was with some interest that we read Liam Prenderville's claim in the Daily Mirror that Everton narrowly missed out on taking Rodwell back to Goodison on loan.
It was an understandable move by Roberto Martinez as he attempted to bolster his squad for the second half of the campaign.
However, a more pertinent viewpoint would have suggested that another club closer to City than Everton, and with the additional presence of a former Goodison Park boss in the dug-out, might have been a solid move all-round.
Believability meter: Seriously high
Yes, this one looks to have had legs. Indeed, as Prenderville reports, it was only City's failure to land Fernando from Porto which scuppered the move.
Missing out on Fernando also saw Gareth Barry's proposed permanent transfer to Goodison Park left on the back-burner until the summer. That will be another for Everton fans to celebrate.
But it would be unwise to rule out Rodwell's former manager Moyes making a move one day, providing the player's injury concerns are at an end.
No Way Back to Arsenal for Chelsea Defender Ashley Cole
Few things shock us in football these days. From the wages being paid to top players through to the misbehaviour of some, we thought there was little that could surprise us.
However, Neil Ashton of the Daily Mail did precisely that on Wednesday morning.
According to the scribe, we should not rule out the possibility of Ashley Cole returning to Arsenal from Chelsea.
Deep breath, Gunners fans.
Undoubtedly, Cole, 33, is approaching the end of his time at Stamford Bridge with Jose Mourinho again omitting him from the Premier League win at Manchester City on Monday.
The Chelsea boss selected the right-sided Cesar Azpilicueta once more to fill the left-back role at the Etihad Stadium.
The England international will see his contract with the Blues come to an end at the close of the current season.
From there, who knows which club will be seeking his services. One thing we can rule out, though; it won't be Arsenal.
Cole can rightly claim to have his place in Chelsea folklore after helping the club to several pieces of silverware, including the 2012 Champions League trophy, since his move across London in 2006.
But it is the manner of that move which will ensure Cole does not return to the Gunners.
In the first instance, he was caught talking with Mourinho while still contracted to Arsenal, and Chelsea, Cole and the Stamford Bridge boss were fined for breaching Premier League rules over "tapping-up", via BBC Sport.
Not content with that unsavoury incident, Cole placed his thoughts about Arsenal's salary offer into his autobiography, as Jason Cowley of the London Evening Standard noted in a 2010 feature on the player.
Arsenal fans have never forgotten the nature of Cole's departure from the club. It is arguable that only the exit of Robin van Persie for Manchester United has caused more distaste to them.
But Gunners supporters breathing into a paper bag to quell their anger at the prospect of a Cole return can breathe easily when they consider the fact that Kieran Gibbs and Nacho Monreal are already ensconced in Arsene Wenger's squad.
Even if either has a poor run of form, they will not be Ashley Cole.
Believability meter: Very low
Ashton has made great capital out of Wenger's simple retort to a question about whether he would consider re-signing Cole in December 2013.
After the 0-0 draw between Arsenal and Chelsea, the Gunners boss said in response: "If I needed a left-back, yes."
We would bet a week's worth of Ashley Cole's wages that he wouldn't.
Time Is Right for Defender Nemanja Vidic to Exit Manchester United
Amid the inevitable transfer speculation that was bound to follow Manchester United's defeat at Stoke City last weekend, one story has stood out for David Moyes and his team.
Questions over the future of United captain Nemanja Vidic have abounded for several months now, but Neil Custis upped the ante on Thursday when he reported in The Sun (subscription required) that the defender was angry at the lack of a new offer from the club.
By the end of the day, the Serbia international had confirmed his departure from the club at the end of the season when his current deal expires.
Vidic has been a stalwart for United since joining the club in 2006 from Spartak Moscow.
His partnership with Rio Ferdinand in central defence was a bedrock for Sir Alex Ferguson's most-recent successes before his retirement.
Few Manchester United supporters will argue that Vidic has been an exceptional player for the club since moving from Russia.
But recent times have not been kind to the Serb, and a cruciate ligament injury in December 2011 sidelined him for eight months before a knee problem at the start of the 2012-13 campaign saw him forced out of action again.
At 32, the time is right for the defender to move on and Inter Milan have been touted as a potential destination, per Mark Ogden of the Daily Telegraph.
Moyes says both he and Vidic agreed that the time had come for the defender to move on, per The Guardian, but the loss of such an experienced campaigner along with the potential departure of Ferdinand at the end of the current campaign are significant.
The United boss is clearing the decks in readiness to build his own team after a disappointing season since succeeding Ferguson.
Vidic's exit also opens up the question of the club captaincy for next season, with Wayne Rooney having already been touted for the armband by Moyes himself on the club's official website in November.
These, though, are all issues Moyes must attend to, and preparations must be under way for next season if Vidic is being allowed to leave.
For the Serbia international, he will not be short of suitors and his experience will prove invaluable for any club.
Believability meter: Done deal
Jim White of the Daily Telegraph says the departure of Vidic proves the United empire is crumbling, but that is a knee-jerk reaction to a poor campaign for the club.
The Serb represents a golden era of Champions League victory in 2008 and several seasons of solidity alongside Ferdinand, but the old truism of time waiting for no man translates harshly where football is concerned.
The time is right for a parting of the ways between Vidic and Manchester United.
Cavani Fits the Bill for United
Strikers can so often be the difference in the chase for honours. Manchester United had Robin van Persie fighting fit last term and his 26 goals fired the Red Devils to the Premier League title.
Roll forward to this season and Van Persie has spent a large portion of the campaign in the treatment room, and it’s no surprise that United have struggled.
The solution for United is to either get Van Persie fit, or bring in some new blood. According to Simon Jones and Chris Wheeler of the Daily Mail, the latter option is under consideration.
Jones and Wheeler claim United boss David Moyes is ready to battle with Chelsea for the signature of Paris Saint-Germain forward Edinson Cavani.
The Mail scribes claim Cavani is not happy in the French capital, as he is being forced to play out of position on the flank—with the brilliant Zlatan Ibrahimovic deployed in the central striker role.
If Cavani is frustrated with his lot at PSG, there is every possibility he could be prised away from the club. But he will not come cheap. Strikers of the Uruguayan’s standing in the game never do.
Jones and Wheeler suggest it would take £54 million to get Cavani out of Paris. That is not an insignificant sum, but Moyes is likely to be handed significant transfer funds to strengthen his squad in the summer.
Chelsea are also in need of a new attacking flagbearer and the Blues could well rival United for Cavani.
However, Chelsea have been strongly linked with Atletico Madrid's Diego Costa, per Sami Mokbel of the Daily Mail, and he is the sort of powerful centre forward favoured by Jose Mourinho.
Cavani would be a decent fall-back option for Chelsea, but Costa could well be their preferred option and that may hand United the edge.
Believability Meter: Medium to High
The summer is some way off and there is also a World Cup on the horizon, but United have a pressing need for a striker and Cavani certainly fits the bill.
Abdulrahman the Latest Winger Linked with Liverpool
Liverpool missed out on the capture of Yevhen Konoplyanka in the January window, but it appears Reds boss Brendan Rodgers still has a winger in his sights.
Per a report from the Star’s David Woods, Rodgers has turned his attentions to Omar Abdulrahman—a UAE international who is on the books of Al-Ain.
Woods claims Rodgers has received a positive report on the winger from his chief scout Barry Hunter.
So what do we know about Abdulrahman?
He is extremely highly rated in his native land, and the club have made it clear he can leave if the right offer is tabled.
He was a target of Arsenal last summer, but Al-Ain chairman Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammed pushed back on the idea of the winger heading to London for a trial.
Speaking to The National back in August, Sheikh Abdullah said:
Omar Abdulrahman is a national treasure, which is why the club is keen to study with great attention only serious offers that are beneficial to the player.
Omar is above having to go on trial to prove his skills, as he has played high-quality league and international matches, which are the real test.
It is fairly apparent that Abdulrahman will be on the move at some stage, with his club ready to deal at the right price.
There is the feeling that Liverpool have more pressing needs than a winger, with defenders Glen Johnson and Daniel Agger having been repeatedly in the treatment room in recent seasons, but Rodgers has his eyes on a title tilt in the not too distant future.
To do that, he will need to add depth to his squad, and dynamic attacking players are clearly an area he is targeting.
Believability Meter: Medium to High
There is plenty of time until the summer and a lot can change, Konoplyanka could still be a target, but it would come as no surprise if Abdulrahman made a move to Anfield for next season.
Arsenal Must Quickly Recover from Liverpool Rout to Tempt Star Names
It is funny the difference 48 hours can make in the football world, isn't it?
On Thursday, Arsenal were sitting proudly at the top of the Premier League with confidence high as they approached a difficult February.
Forthcoming matches against Bayern Munich in the Champions League and the visit of Liverpool in the FA Cup fifth round were viewed with optimism.
The long wait for silverware at the club was heading towards an end and everything looked rosy.
And few people baulked when Sami Mokbel of the Daily Mail linked talent such as Diego Costa, Edin Dzeko and Lukasz Piszczek with the Gunners.
Porto striker Jackson Martinez and Mario Mandzukic of Bayern Munich were also linked with the north London club in the same article.
Cue one devastating 20-minute spell at the hands of Liverpool at Anfield, and the previously held faith in the current season has dissipated.
The form of the Merseyside team on Saturday was simply devastating, but it also served to underline that the current Arsenal squad is still far from the finished article.
Olivier Giroud's limitations were exposed in sharp comparison to Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling, while the Arsenal defence struggled to keep the three in check. Even Mesut Ozil was posted missing in the Anfield rout.
The Gunners could do with some stellar names tomorrow, rather than in the summer.
Every single one of the names mentioned in Mokbel's article would be an ideal addition for the Gunners in the summer, but the here and now may define what kind of player will arrive.
Wenger now needs to rejuvenate his team for the midweek visit of Manchester United and beyond to ensure the high-profile figures linked with the club become reality.
On paper, the Gunners currently have players on the books who can help persuade the likes of Mandzukic and Costa that they will be joining a club on the rise.
But the task will be made much more convincing by an Arsenal team that can challenge for silverware on all fronts and actually possess some by the end of the campaign.
As our Arsenal correspondent James McNicholas has noted, Gunners fans are accustomed to their season falling apart at this time of the year.
For the sake of summer recruitment hopes, there needs to be an immediate change in that.
Believability meter: Medium
There is no doubt that the big names included in Mokbel's report would all be a welcome boost to the Arsenal squad but tempting such figures to the club will need proof that the team is on the up.
It would be wrong to judge Wenger and his team on the basis of the 5-1 defeat at Liverpool as the Reds were simply unplayable on the day.
But Costa, Mandzukic et al are unlikely to be persuaded easily if the Gunners cannot recover their feet quickly and mount a full assault on silverware this season.