World Football

B/R Gossip Roundup: Breaking Down This Week's Biggest Rumours: Suarez Stays Red

BR UK NewsFeatured ColumnistMay 4, 2014

B/R Gossip Roundup: Breaking Down This Week's Biggest Rumours: Suarez Stays Red

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    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    The rumour mill has been turning again this week, fighting for attention alongside the Champions League semi-final second legs and the final run-ins for the season.

    While Real Madrid and Atletico were celebrating their places in UEFA's elite tournament in Lisbon later this month, there has also been talk of movers and shakers in the football world.

    Luis Suarez and Pep Guardiola are among those who feature in our roundup of speculation this week.

    Here's our take on some of the leading stories of the past seven days.

Real Madrid Eyeing Luis Suarez, but Why Would Striker Leave Liverpool Now?

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    Jon Super

    The link between Luis Suarez and Real Madrid has never really disappeared and has seemingly been on the agenda for years.

    The latest speculation to place both club and player in the same sentence came from Antony Kastrinakis of The Sun (subscription required).

    Tuesday's article claimed the Bernabeu club is weighing up a £70 million offer to Liverpool for the Uruguay international.

    The La Liga giants, who remain on course for a 10th European Cup after defeating Bayern Munich this week, believe that figure will trigger a get-out clause in Suarez's Anfield deal, claims Kastrinakis.

    But while the article makes for an intriguing read, we can't help but wonder why Real would want the striker and why he would leave the Reds.

    There is little doubt that Suarez has been a significant catalyst for the Reds this season, with his form propelling Brendan Rodgers' team into the thick of the Premier League title race.

    Admittedly, the South American did little to endear himself to Liverpool supporters last summer, when he appeared to flirt outrageously with a transfer out of the Merseyside club.

    However, the striker soon found himself back in favour following his return from a 10-match suspension and committed himself to a new Liverpool contract prior to Christmas.

    Of course, contracts mean little in the cynical world of football, but it is strange that the link should resurface this week.

    Real have become a major force in the European game this season, but no matter the outcome of the Premier League title race, Liverpool are also beginning to awaken from a long slumber.

    And Suarez has been the figurehead for that renaissance.

    The wounds of last summer have long since healed between the forward and the club and its fans.

    Suarez has found himself again under the stewardship of Rodgers, and the disaffected figure of last summer has been replaced.

    The Uruguayan has the world at his feet where he is and is facing a Champions League campaign with Liverpool. Why would he want to leave now?

     

    Believability Meter: Medium

    Real Madrid are becoming the team of the moment after events at the Allianz Arena, and they will continue to be linked with the best players in the world. That's the nature of success.

    Suarez figures highly in that list, but the striker has too much going for him at Anfield at the moment to jump ship.

Tottenham Risk Losing Frank De Boer's Interest over Conflicting Statements

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    David Ramos/Getty Images

    The most bizarre football gossip this week concerns the reported interest of Tottenham Hotspur in Ajax head coach Frank de Boer.

    On Tuesday, David Hytner of The Guardian claimed that De Boer had expressed an interest in speaking to Spurs over the possibility of replacing Tim Sherwood next season.

    The former Netherlands international was quoted as saying:

    When Tottenham are coming, I want to listen, after 3 May (Ajax's last game of the season), to what they have to say.

    It is clear that they have to have good plans. I would not leave Ajax for nothing. But Spurs are a club that I feel good about. They play good football.

    They have made their interest clear to Marc Overmars and, after the last match, I am going to think about this possibility.

    I am going to talk and listen and, after that, I will let my feelings speak.

    However, less than 24 hours after those comments were published, Tottenham released a statement to deny approaching Ajax, as The Daily Telegraph reported.

    The statement read:

    Reports that we have made approaches to other clubs regarding coaching staff are wholly inaccurate.

    We have not contacted any club regarding coaching appointments.

    We regret that a statement such as this is necessary, however, we feel it is important to clarify matters.

    To further muddy the waters, Darren Lewis of the Daily Mirror reported that Ajax director of football Marc Overmars claimed the White Hart Lane club had "informally enquired" about De Boer.

    It's all rather confusing, isn't it? But we aren't alone in finding the whole scenario baffling.

    Sherwood spoke with Sky Sports on Wednesday to offer his own view on the situation, saying:

    When clubs are coming out and saying Tottenham have actually spoken to them and managers are coming out and saying they've spoken to them too, it's disappointing.

    Somewhere along the line someone is telling porkies, I don't know for sure.

    Tottenham are not making any comment on that until the season finishes. So I'm just carrying on as I normally do, being as professional as I can and preparing the team.

    The whole business is beginning to look confusing and muddled, and the North London club risks losing the interest of one of Europe's leading coaches. 

     

    Believability Meter: High

    De Boer has voiced his interest in speaking to Tottenham. That should be good news for everyone at White Hart Lane, with the Ajax coach celebrating a fourth successive Dutch league title.

    Those are credentials which make the former player a highly sought-after manager.

    But the confusion surrounding the club's reported interest needs to be addressed to ensure an opportunity is not missed.

Marc Wilmots' Defence of Marouane Fellaini Is Heartfelt but Misses the Point

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    SCOTT HEPPELL/Associated Press

    The words of Belgium head coach Marc Wilmots in support of Marouane Fellaini will have been warmly welcomed by the Manchester United midfielder this week.

    Wilmots launched a staunch defence of the Belgian midfielder, as Charles Perrin of the Daily Star reported.

    The Belgian boss claimed the Old Trafford club had erred by playing Fellaini out of position during David Moyes' reign.

    Wilmots was quoted as saying:

    I don't understand why Manchester United bought him to play him in a system of two No. 6s.

    Marouane is a box-to-box player,

    I have no doubts about Marouane.

    The World Cup is a good chance for him to take.

    Those words might have been heartfelt, and to some degree, there is worth in what Wilmots says.

    However, Fellaini has been a shadow of the player he was under Moyes at Everton. This season has seen him fail to make any kind of impact on the first team following his £27.5 million move from Goodison Park.

    And interim manager Ryan Giggs omitted Fellaini entirely from his squad for the Premier League visit of Norwich City last weekend.

    Fellaini looked out of his depth in the bigger matches, somewhat confirming the view of Moyes during his ill-fated reign.

    However, while Moyes' chance at United has gone, his first signing at the club still has the opportunity to impress the new manager, whoever that might be.

    The forthcoming World Cup will also provide Fellaini with an opportunity to restore his previous standing in the game.

    With Belgium regarded as a potential dark horse in Brazil, and such a golden age of talent at their disposal, the United man will clearly be in good company in South America.

    Wilmots clearly believes in Fellaini, and maybe that is all he needs.

     

    Believability Meter: Medium

    With the faith of Wilmots behind him, Fellaini has a chance to restore his battered reputation at the World Cup.

    But the Belgian coach is wide of the mark to blame his positioning as a reason for his woeful season at Old Trafford.

Sam Allardyce's Days at West Ham Look Numbered, but Boss Deserves Respect

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    Michael Regan/Getty Images

    The future of Sam Allardyce as West Ham United manager appears to be under threat, as Mike Walters of the Daily Mirror reported on the back of a poll among Upton Park supporters.

    Some Hammers fans unfurled a banner reading "Fat Sam Out: Killing WHU" during the defeat at West Bromwich Albion last weekend.

    And Walters revealed that 77 percent of West Ham fans wanted Allardyce out of his role as manager of the first team.

    But does Allardyce really deserve the scorn being placed on him by West Ham supporters?

    Jason Burt of The Daily Telegraph noted that £40 million had been spent on a Hammers forward line that brought in just four Premier League goals before Saturday's match.

    Andy Carroll, of course, has the excuse of being injured for much of the campaign, but there is no such mitigation for Stewart Downing, Matt Jarvis and Modibo Maiga.

    Financially, West Ham have more reason than most to ensure their place in the top flight.

    The East London club will relocate from Upton Park to the Olympic Stadium in Stratford in 2016 where a capacity of 54,000 will be waiting and, more importantly, will need filling.

    It is arguable that if any other club in the lower reaches of the top flight were looking for the right manager to guide it away from danger, it would be Allardyce.

    The former Bolton Wanderers boss took the Reebok Stadium club out of the Championship and into Europe during his tenure, but it was the steady progress of the team in that span which caught the eye.

    After a disappointing spell at Newcastle United, Allardyce took Blackburn Rovers to a cup final and steered the club to 10th place before being axed when Venky's took the Ewood Park club.

    The fall of both Bolton and Blackburn since Allardyce left has been spectacular, and it seems that only this season have the downward spirals really been halted.

    Allardyce has not helped his own cause at West Ham with his actions toward the fans who jeered after the win over Hull City in March, as BBC Sport reported.

    That incident occurred just a month after the Hammers boss was named manager of the month for February after a run of four league wins from four.

    However, while those wins effectively spared West Ham from the drop, the team failed to build on them and has since lost seven of its last 10 league matches.

    That record is likely to see the West Ham board question the manager's role in the summer, but Allardyce still deserves the respect of the Upton Park fans for his achievement in taking the club back to the top flight after one season and steadying a team which was still reeling from Avram Grant's time in charge.

     

    Believability Meter: High

    A parting of the ways between Allardyce and West Ham looks to be in the cards if the Mirror report is to be believed.

    But there will be no shortage of clubs looking at the former Bolton and Blackburn boss in the future, considering his track record in the Premier League.

Manchester United Would Be Wise to Wait on Pep Guardiola's Future

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    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    The appointment of Louis van Gaal as the next Manchester United manager seems to be done and dusted if reports this week are to be believed.

    Matt Lawton and Dominic King of the Daily Mail have reported that the Netherlands head coach will be named as David Moyes' successor on Wednesday this week.

    Van Gaal is set to step down as Holland boss after the World Cup finals in Brazil, but wants his future sorted before the tournament to allow him to focus solely on his current role.

    But could the Old Trafford hierarchy be making a mistake by not waiting just a little while?

    Bayern Munich won the Bundesliga under Pep Guardiola this season in record time, but since then, the team has struggled to find consistency and crashed out of the Champions League after a 4-0 home defeat to Real Madrid.

    Criticism of Guardiola's tactics in recent weeks has increased speculation over the former Barcelona coach's future in Germany.

    And the Bayern boss has also called on the Allianz Arena club to make a decision regarding his future, as Ashley Clements of the Daily Mail reported.

    Guardiola is quoted as saying:

    The club must decide if the coach is the right one for the club.

    I have my ideas as a coach. I must convince the players and coach them that way.

    Next season, we will play 100 per cent with my ideas. I can’t coach this club or players without believing in my ideas.

    If you lose 4-0, something is wrong. I realised after 5/10 minutes we had a problem against Real Madrid.

    When you lose, I always look at myself to see what I did wrong and look to the future.

    According to the Daily Telegraph, Guardiola's words should alert Manchester United and delay the possible appointment of Van Gaal.

    And why shouldn't they?

    In the immediate aftermath of Moyes' dismissal, Bayern were swift to counter any link between their head coach and Old Trafford, as Sid Lowe of The Guardian reported.

    But questions have since been asked of Guardiola, with Bayern honorary president Franz Beckenbauer leading the interrogation, as David Kent of the Daily Mail reported.

    The Bundesliga club have questions to ask themselves, but so does Guardiola.

    United might be making an error by not waiting for the answers.

     

    Believability Meter: Low-Medium

    For a club the size of Manchester United, every possible solution to the managerial vacancy should be considered.

    Guardiola joked in March that his inability to decipher Sir Alex Ferguson's words might have cost him the Old Trafford role, as David McDonnell of the Daily Mirror reported.

    It would be remiss of Ferguson not to set up another lunch date, although this time, his dining companion might be asking the questions.

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