B/R Gossip Roundup: Martinez Would Be Stunning Arsenal Transfer, Vorm a Red?
The Premier League season has reached its conclusion, but that has not stopped the speculation ahead of the next campaign.
According to the newspapers this week, any number of leading clubs will be heavily involved in the transfer market this summer.
But the rumour mill does not stop with players. One Premier League boss has been linked with a surprise move to another top-flight club, while the chase is on for the Manager of the Year award.
Here we take a look at some of the week's biggest rumours.
Loic Remy Could Be More Than a Face in the Crowd for Arsenal
Arsenal's 1-0 win over West Bromwich Albion might not have been the most entertaining 90 minutes of Premier League football this season, but it did provide one moment of interest off the pitch.
Rhys Turrell of the Daily Star was among those to notice that Queens Park Rangers striker Loic Remy was an interested spectator at the Emirates Stadium.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger laughed off the idea that Remy was in North London for the benefit of the Gunners and was quoted as saying: "I hope he paid for his ticket."
But we suspect this is a case of no smoke without fire.
The French forward will see his loan spell at Newcastle United expire after the weekend trip to Liverpool, and QPR manager Harry Redknapp has already hinted that Wenger could activate a buy-out clause, as Jack Wilson of the Daily Star reported earlier this month.
And the prospect of the 27-year-old lining up for Arsenal next season must be a enticing one for Wenger and the club.
Remy arrived at QPR for £8 million in January 2013, but the former Lyon and Marseille striker was unable to prevent the Loftus Road club slipping into the Championship.
With Newcastle, the forward has scored an impressive 14 goals in 26 Premier League appearances (via WhoScored.com) despite injuries hampering his campaign, and he would fit the bill for the Gunners.
It is no secret that Arsenal lacked a cutting edge in support of Olivier Giroud this season, with the team's early promise fading after the turn of the year.
Remy also offers pace, which is something that has been missing from the Gunners' front line, with Mesut Ozil and Santi Cazorla regularly looking for the smart through ball for a striker to run on to.
The transfer market rarely offers up a proven striker, and while some fans might not be overly excited at the capture of the QPR forward, Remy does have attributes Arsenal can build on.
Believability meter: High
Wenger may have joked about Remy buying a ticket, but if you don't buy one, you can't be in the raffle.
Arsenal need a proven striker, and few are readily available on the market. Remy will be.
Roberto Martinez to Tottenham Rumour Is Wildly Optmistic for Spurs
There is always one weekly rumour that sets the cornflakes spluttering as we digest the headlines through the week, and Adrian Kajumba of the Daily Star brought us such a tale Tuesday morning.
Kajumba claimed that Tottenham Hotspur are preparing to make a move for Everton manager Roberto Martinez in the summer.
That'll be the same Roberto Martinez who previously rejected Liverpool because he did want to work with a director of football and a technical director, as David Maddock of the Daily Mirror reported in November.
With Spurs employing Franco Baldini in such a role at White Hart Lane, this story is already on shaky ground.
Throw in Matt Barlow of the Daily Mail's December report that former Spurs head coach Andre Villas-Boas did not sanction a number of summer signings, and we really are struggling to find any kind of foundation here.
It is little surprise that Martinez will feature on the radar for a number of major clubs, but the Spaniard appears to revel in loyalty.
In 2011, Martinez rejected the overtures of Aston Villa, who were seeking a replacement for Gerard Houllier, to stay at Wigan Athletic, as BBC Sport reported.
Latics chairman Dave Whelan has never been slow to extol the virtues of Martinez's loyalty, and he was quoted as saying at the time:
Money is not what this is about [with Martinez]. Villa will be disappointed but I am over the moon.
I am sure every Wigan supporter will say that we are so pleased to have him. He is such a straight guy and so easy to deal with.
I don't think we were really close to losing him but he has to consider his future. He is going places and Aston Villa are a big club.
I am delighted he is staying with us. Supporters will look at this and think Roberto is showing that football is not about greed. There's a loyalty in it and he has been loyal.
Martinez has been at Everton for just one season but has already made his mark at the club. The Goodison Park team have secured fifth place in the table and will return to European competition next season.
The former Swansea and Wigan midfielder has exhibited class and loyalty throughout his career. There is precious little chance he would alter that mindset now.
Believability meter: Low
This just isn't going to happen, is it? Martinez's loyalty is already established, and the hierarchical system at Tottenham does not fit in with the Spaniard's style.
New Contract for Brendan Rodgers Is Just Reward for Improving Liverpool
No matter what happens Sunday, and regardless of the tears shed at Crystal Palace on Monday, Liverpool supporters will still have the utmost gratitude for one particular man this season.
What Anfield manager Brendan Rodgers has achieved with the Reds in the current Premier League campaign is little short of remarkable.
So news that the Liverpool boss is on the verge of signing a bumper new contract, as Phil Thomas of The Sun (subscription required) reported, was hardly a shock to our collective systems.
Rodgers has turned back the clock for the Merseyside giants, bringing a new self-belief to a team that had underachieved in domestic competition in the previous 20-plus years.
With the aid of a vibrant attack of Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling, the Reds have stirred again under the Northern Irishman.
Thomas claims the new deal will tie Rodgers to Anfield until 2018, although many Liverpool fans would have preferred a few more years to be on the safe side after the current season.
Rodgers has taken Liverpool to heights beyond the imagination of fans this season, particularly when you consider the Reds had scored just 47 league goals in the season prior to his appointment but now stand on 99.
Brendan has been a revelation. From week to week he is helping us improve and get better and he has been an absolute breath of fresh air to this football club. I am sure the rest of the players would echo what I am saying.
I am absolutely delighted he is here and I just hope that there is a lot of movement in Boston now because they have got to get him signed up as soon as possible.
When players are in this situation with a year to go and you want to keep hold of them so desperately, then the club reacts really quickly and gets it sorted.
For me, I think he deserves a very long contract here and I think he is perfect for this club.
Rodgers also dealt with the potential loss of Suarez in a professional manner, a fact not lost on the Liverpool hierarchy.
Suarez and Gerrard might receive the adulation, but Rodgers has been the catalyst for the reinvention of the Reds.
Believability meter: High
Liverpool would have been foolish in the extreme not to offer Rodgers a new deal. Not only has he kept his promise to restore the team to the Champions League, he has kept the team in the title race right up to the final day.
A new four-year contract is the least the club could do.
Combination of Tony Pulis and Fans Inspires Crystal Palace in Premier League
The noise around Selhurst Park was deafening from start to finish Monday night. But it wasn't the visiting Liverpool fans celebrating their three-goal lead which dominated our eardrums.
Crystal Palace fans have become renowned for their vociferous support of the Eagles through the current Premier League campaign.
We were at Goodison Park last month to witness the audible backing of Palace fans from across the pitch as the South London club dented Everton's Champions League hopes.
And the voices of the Selhurst Park fans did not go unnoticed Monday, with Rob Bleaney of The Guardian highlighting their role in the team's successful run under manager Tony Pulis.
The former Stoke City manager succeeded his friend Ian Holloway in November with the Eagles struggling after their promotion to the top flight via a Kevin Phillips penalty in the play-off final.
Palace were always deemed to be up against it among the big clubs of English football, and with four points picked up from their opening 11 matches, their history of never surviving beyond one season in Premier League looked unlikely to be broken.
However, Pulis arrived on the back of having never been relegated as a manager, and he was in no mood to lose that record at Selhurst Park.
Pulis has brought a sense of discipline to a Palace team that was floundering badly in the opening stages of the campaign.
The Eagles boss might be voting for Hull's Steve Bruce for manager of the year, as Neil McLeman of the Daily Mirror reported, but Palace's astonishing rise from the foot of the table has propelled Pulis high into the running.
A sequence of four successive wins in April, three of which were away from home, ensured Pulis would earn the Manager of the Month award.
However, both the Welshman and the Palace faithful recognise the roles the other has played in their first-ever Premier League survival.
Believability meter: High
If Pulis is named Manager of the Year, it will be well deserved. But the Crystal Palace manager will be the first to acknowledge that the effort of the fans was just as important to their survival.
Torres' Career Can Be Revived by Inter Milan Loan
The future does not look positive for Fernando Torres at Chelsea.
Jose Mourinho spent much of the latter part of the Premier League season making it pretty clear that he did not feel his strikers—Torres, Demba Ba and Samuel Eto’o—were up to the job.
That Chelsea fell short both domestically and in Europe went some way to backing up Mourinho’s assessment.
Eto’o’s contract is up in the summer, so he is likely to move on, while there have been persistent links with Atletico Madrid forward Diego Costa.
There could be further movements in and out of Stamford Bridge in the summer, with Geoff Sweet of The Sun (subscription) convinced Torres will be on his way.
Sweet suggests Serie A side Inter Milan have sounded out Chelsea with regard to taking the Spaniard on a season-long loan move, which could pave the way for a permanent transfer in 12 months’ time.
Loaning out a player who was brought to the club for £50 million in 2011 would be an astonishing turn of events, but that is unlikely to deter Mourinho if he feels the player in question is not the right fit.
Torres has said little about his own future, but he will have heard the words coming out of his manager’s mouth, and they would not have sounded positive to him with regard to his future at the club.
Sweet feels the deal is well down the road and that there do not appear to be many obstacles in place.
There seems to be little by way of alternative options for Torres, and it could offer him the chance to revive his career.
At the age of 30, Torres probably has one more big move in him. Inter have been in the wilderness in recent years, but their new owner Erick Thohir has designs on restoring past glories. He has made a statement of intent by swooping for Nemanja Vidic to strengthen his back line, while the capture of Torres would certainly add quality to his attack.
Believability meter: High
When Torres joined Chelsea for £50 million in January of 2011, not many would have predicted the path his career would take.
The time has probably come for both parties to cut their losses, and Inter offer a viable path for the striker to get his career back on track.
Summer Transfer Move for Javi Martinez Would Be Significant for Arsenal
There were several transfer rumours to mull over this week, with the most significant appearing Thursday morning.
Jeremy Wilson of the Daily Telegraph claimed that Arsenal were preparing a summer move for Bayern Munich midfielder Javi Martinez.
According to the article, the Gunners have approached the Bundesliga champions over the availability of the Spain international.
Not so long ago, the thought of the 25-year-old leaving the Allianz Arena would have been unimaginable, but things have changed under Pep Guardiola this season.
Martinez has found himself operating as a makeshift central defender during the campaign and, according to Wilson, seems a little underwhelmed at the role.
The Telegraph report quotes the player as saying:
I don’t have as much freedom on the field anymore. I don’t get forward as often and my game is a little more static. The coach believes that I can play in any of the central positions and I’ll play where I’m needed.
But it is arguable that Arsenal's need is greater than Guardiola's. The Gunners saw their early-season promise dissipate after the turn of the year, with their challenges for the Champions League and Premier League both found wanting.
While Mesut Ozil has started displaying the attributes we knew he had during the closing stages of the season, Arsenal have missed a commanding presence in midfield.
Arsene Wenger will recognise that a holding midfielder is desperately required for his team to advance on the upturn in fortunes this season. Martinez fits the bill.
Mikel Arteta has played the role this season, but at 32, time is against him, and his displays have lacked the consistency of previous campaigns.
At 25, Martinez represents a player approaching his peak, and Whoscored.com rank him as having "no significant weaknesses" and note his strength in aerial duels.
The choice seems obvious, but much will depend on the transfer fee.
Believability meter: Medium
The move for Martinez would be a major statement of intent by Arsenal and Wenger for next season.
The former Athletic Bilbao man is an ideal addition to the squad, but much will depend on Guardiola's plans, with the Bayern boss also facing a question mark over his future, as Ashley Clements of the Daily Mail reported earlier this month.
The transfer fee for a 25-year-old is unlikely to be in the bargain category, but it is arguable that breaking the club record set by Ozil's move a year ago would represent decent value for the Gunners.
Liverpool Would Be Boosted by Vorm Capture
Liverpool are planning for a multi-fronted battle next season, with a Champions League challenge added into the mix.
This season, the Reds have been able to make do with a squad lacking real depth due to a campaign without European football. They won’t have that next term, and Reds boss Brendan Rodgers will need to add to the team's ranks.
A host of players in various positions have been linked with moves to Anfield, and Dutch keeper Michel Vorm can now be added to the list.
Vorm is the man in the frame and, according to Kent, could be prised away from Swansea for £5 million.
There does appear to be some substance behind this report, as Brad Jones has never truly convinced as the Reds’ No. 2.
Mignolet has performed with distinction since his move from Sunderland last summer, but he is still prone to the odd error.
According to Squawka, Mignolet has made seven defensive errors this season—the highest of any Liverpool player.
That would be justification alone for Rodgers to bring in a new keeper. At 26, Mignolet has time on his side to develop—and bringing in an established keeper could well be the spur the Belgian needs.
At 30, Vorm is unlikely to make a move just to be a benchwarmer. But if Rodgers offers him equal status with Mignolet upon his arrival, the Dutchman may feel it is too good an opportunity to turn down.
Believability meter: Medium to High
A fee of £5 million is not huge in modern-day football, so getting hold of an established 'keeper such as Vorm for that fee would look like good business for the Reds.