B/R Gossip Roundup: Varane Is Fine Fit for Chelsea, Remy Can Be Arsenal Star
The Champions League final signalled the conclusion of league football for the majority of Europe, less than three weeks before the start of the World Cup in Brazil.
As a result, there has been plenty of gossip in the newspapers to keep us entertained. Some links have had us nodding our heads in agreement, while others have left us baffled.
Raphael Varane and Loic Remy both feature in our round-up of the week's gossip.
Let's have a closer look at some of the speculation making the back pages this week.
Raphael Varane Fits Chelsea Bill and Jose Mourinho Has Edge on Rivals
Being compared to Real Madrid legend Fernando Hierro is no mean achievement for any player, but to have the accolade bestowed upon you before the age of 21 is something else.
But when Hierro tells the world that Bernabeu defender Raphael Varane is the best defender in the world, as John Baines of Goal.com reported in October, any comparison takes on greater prescience.
The former Spain international was quoted as saying:
There is no central defender in the world like Varane.
For his age, his understanding of the game is amazing.
He has the maturity of somebody who has been playing for 20 years.
However, the France international has found his first-team appearances with Los Blancos limited this season.
Injury notwithstanding, Varane chalked up just 21 appearances in La Liga and the Champions League combined under Carlo Ancelotti last season.
The presence of Pepe has ensured that the young pretender has had to wait for his opportunities, so it is little wonder that his name has cropped up in the transfer gossip columns.
And when you consider that the rumour surfaced in the wake of Real's Champions League triumph last weekend, it is understandable that Varane's name is a hot one right now.
John Cross of the Daily Mirror reported in Tuesday morning's edition that Chelsea are planning an audacious move for Varane to replace PSG-bound David Luiz.
And that is certainly not beyond the realms of possibility.
Jose Mourinho was the manager who brought him to the Bernabeu in the summer of 2011, although Zinedine Zidane claimed the credit at the time, as Salvatore Landolina of Goal.com reported at the time.
As far as men in your corner are concerned, the Mourinho-Zidane pairing is hard to beat for any player, no matter what their age is.
Varane, though, is on a six-year deal at the Bernabeu and Real are unlikely to be looking to offload him any time soon.
At the age of 31, Pepe is not going to go on indefinitely for the Spanish giants and the prospect of a talented youngster such as Varane waiting in the wings is a soothing thought.
But if one man can convince the French youngster to join him, it's Mourinho, the man who gave him his chance at the Bernabeu.
Believability Meter: Medium to High
This has the makings of a solid move for Chelsea. At 21, Varane has the potential to be a star of the future.
Mourinho has the advantage of having worked with the player before during his time in charge at the Bernabeu.
Throw in the fact that the Chelsea manager bought him for Real from Lens in 2011, and all signs point to West London for the defender.
Arsenal Interest in Ruddy Makes Sense, but Norwich Goalkeeper Needs to Be No. 1
Any club that has been relegated from the Premier League is open to having their players poached from those who have remained in the top flight.
Cardiff City and Fulham will, doubtless, be discovering how damaging a return to the Championship can be in terms of personnel.
According to a report on Wednesday, Norwich City could be on the verge of losing a vital player ahead of their attempt to bounce back into the Premier League.
Sami Mokbel of the Daily Mail claimed this week that Arsenal are poised to make a £6 million transfer move for Carrow Road goalkeeper John Ruddy.
With Lukasz Fabianski now gone from the Gunners squad, there is a vacancy for someone to offer Wojciech Szczesny with competition for his place.
Mokbel also claims that Cardiff goalkeeper David Marshall is being considered by Arsenal along with Reading's Alex McCarthy.
However, the valuation of the Bluebirds' No. 1 and the lack of top-flight experience for the Royals man means Ruddy heads the list for the Gunners, writes Mokbel.
But could World Cup heartache ensure that the 27-year-old remains open to the charms of Arsenal?
Ruddy was left "devastated" at Roy Hodgson's decision to omit him from England's World Cup squad earlier this month, as Sky Sports reported.
Ruddy was quoted as saying:
I got the phone call last night from Roy and I was obviously very disappointed not to be in involved in the squad.
It's devastating. I had the same thing with the Euros where I broke my finger two days into training and had to miss out on that as well.
I fought back from that and I've been involved in every squad I've been available for over the last two years.
To be told at the final hurdle that I haven't made it is a bitter pill to swallow.
On the flip side, though, Ruddy will be in no rush to play second fiddle at any club.
The situation serves to underline the dilemma facing any number of players, especially goalkeepers, with the need to maintain standards mixed with the possibility of cooling your heels on the sidelines as an in-form team-mate takes your place.
Ruddy will be wise enough to assess the situation thoroughly, but he will need to ask several questions before accepting any potential Arsenal offer.
Believability Meter: Medium
This could be an interesting one for the summer. Ruddy has been overlooked by England for a major tournament and will be looking to ensure that situation does not occur again.
However, by moving to a Premier League big gun such as Arsenal, he risks his first-team position for any future England selection.
Mauricio Pochettino Needs Board Backing to Succeed at Tottenham Hotspur
The appointment of Mauricio Pochettino as Tottenham Hotspur head coach this week was hardly the most surprising piece of news to cross our path.
The former Southampton manager has signed a five-year deal at White Hart Lane, the club's official website confirmed.
In the press release, Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy applauds the way Pochettino had the Saints playing during his 18-month tenure.
In Mauricio, I believe we have a head coach who, with his high-energy, attacking football, will embrace the style of play we associate with our club.
He has a proven ability to develop each player as an individual, while building great team spirit and a winning mentality.
We have a talented squad that Mauricio is excited to be coaching next season.
Pochettino, himself, spoke of the history of the club. What he failed to mention, though, is the fact he is the team's 10th manager in 13 seasons.
The Argentine succeeds Tim Sherwood, who was axed at the end of the Premier League season after less than six months in charge following his own ascension to the lead role in the dugout after Andre Villas-Boas.
We can only assume that the manager's door at White Hart Lane is of the revolving variety and greased for good measure.
On Tuesday, John Cross of the Daily Mirror reported that Levy had demanded Champions League football from Pochettino, but the following day, Paul Jiggins of The Sun (subscription required) claimed Spurs are not looking for a top-four finish next season.
It is understandable that Tottenham should move to assure Pochettino and the waiting world that there were no demands on the South American.
But the names of George Graham, Glenn Hoddle, Jacques Santini, Martin Jol, Juande Ramos, Villas-Boas and Sherwood are testament to the demands on Tottenham bosses.
Pochettino earned plaudits for his 18-month spell at Southampton. After taking over from the popular Nigel Adkins, he soon convinced the fans of his worth.
There is no doubt that Tottenham represents a step up for Pochettino from the St Mary's Stadium club, but we hope that, on this occasion, Levy gives his new manager the time required to turn around the team.
Believability Meter: Medium
Pochettino needs time to make Tottenham a major force in the Premier League.
The persistent switching of managers in recent years has done little to enhance their hopes of success.
For the South American, this move is a risk, albeit a calculated one. But there needs to be balance on both sides of the equation.
Andros Townsend Can Revitalise Career with Queens Park Rangers Return
There will have been more than one football journalist secretly cheering Queens Park Rangers on in the Championship play-off final against Derby County last weekend.
The late goal from Bobby Zamora might not have been enough to keep the striker at Loftus Road, as the Daily Mail reported, but it did signify the return of Harry Redknapp to the Premier League.
The QPR manager is never short of a quote for reporters, and his casual leaning-out-of-the-car-window interview technique had become a regular feature of transfer deadline day coverage.
Redknapp might have dismissed the tag of "wheeler dealer" in an interview with Sky Sports back in 2010, as The Guardian noted, but the Loftus Road boss is still renowned for his work late on in a transfer window.
One such move this summer could be the purchase of Andros Townsend from Redkanpp's former club, Tottenham Hotspur.
On Thursday, Tony Banks of the Daily Express reported that the winger and his team-mate Michael Dawson could be high on QPR's list for reinforcements for the new season.
The story of Townsend has to be one of the sadder tales of last season. At the start of the campaign, he had the world at his feet and looked to be a certainty for Roy Hodgson's World Cup squad.
Townsend had dazzled on international duty, and few would argue that he was an integral factor in helping England secure their passage to Brazil in the final two qualifiers against Poland and Ukraine.
After being loaned out to nine different teams, including QPR, Townsend looked to have finally found his feet in the Spurs team as well.
However, an ankle injury ensured that Townsend would be ruled out of Hodgson's plans for the World Cup this summer, as The Guardian reported in April.
Now the winger must prove himself all over again with the arrival of another new head coach at White Hart Lane.
You have to question whether Townsend really wants to go through the process of making his name once more for a new boss at Spurs, so perhaps a move across the English capital represents an opportunity for a fresh start, and a chance to re-establish his international credentials.
Believability Meter: High
Redknapp might have been responsible for the majority of loan calls on Townsend during his time as Tottenham manager, but he will recognise just how more experienced the winger has become over the past 12 months.
For the player, a move to QPR could be the one he needs to revitalise his career after the disappointment of missing out on the World Cup.
Pochettino might also be willing to do business as he builds his own squad at White Hart Lane.
Loic Remy Has the Look of a Good Bet for Arsenal
Top-class strikers, those who can put the ball in the back of the net on a consistent basis, are a rare and valuable breed.
Arsenal came up short for a number of reasons last term, one being that when Olivier Giroud’s goals dried up they had no other striking options.
It appears Arsene Wegner is ready to remedy that in the summer, and the Daily Mail’s David Kent suggests the Gunners boss has Loic Remy in his sights.
Remy is due back at Queens Park Rangers this summer following his loan spell at Newcastle United.
The R’s are preparing for life back in the Premier League, but manager Harry Redknapp does not believe he will have Remy to call on next term.
Kent carried quotes from Redknapp, who said:
I don't see Remy wanting to come back and play. He’s talking about playing Champions League somewhere.
I wouldn't know what he'll do, but I think he's got a buy-out clause which is at a reasonable level.
The buy-out clause Redknapp referenced is believed to be in the region of £8 million, which would make Remy an extremely attractive prospect.
He has proved a consistent goalscorer during spells with Marseille, QPR and Newcastle. During his time at St James’ Park, Remy helped himself to 14 goals in 26 appearances.
A scoring ratio of better than one in two is impressive, but there is a suspicion that Remy would be even more productive in a better team.
Kent feels Wenger is attracted by the prospect of adding Remy to his ranks, but there may well be competition. The Mail scribe suggests Liverpool are also interested, while the Express’ Ben Jefferson claims Chelsea and Tottenham are also in the mix.
Chelsea’s priority is almost certainly to get a deal done to bring Diego Costa to the club, which would at a stroke cast doubt on Remy’s ability to hold down a regular starting berth at Stamford Bridge.
Arsenal would appear to be the better option for Remy at this stage, but Jefferson makes a salient point that Remy may well use the World Cup with France as a shop window to showcase his talents.
Believability Meter: Medium to High
There seems little doubt that Remy will be on his way from QPR in the summer, with £8 million looking a bargain. There is widespread interest, but Arsenal do look like the best fit for the forward at this stage.
Big-Money Mangala Move in Sight for Chelsea
Since the arrival of Roman Abramovich at Stamford Bridge in 2003, Chelsea have never been short of money.
The Financial Fair Play factor now means, in theory at least, that clubs with vast wealth they haven't generated themselves cannot throw money around with total abandon.
As such, Chelsea have all of a sudden been placed in a strong position by the £50 million sale of David Luiz to Paris Saint-Germain.
That huge figure is still difficult to comprehend, but PSG were happy to pay it—and Chelsea will no doubt be happy to spend.
Talk of a bid for Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa is well documented, while a left-back is certainly required following the release of Ashley Cole, but the Blues also need to find a replacement for Luiz at centre-back.
The Daily Star’s Chisanga Malata believes he has unearthed Jose Mourinho’s chosen candidate in the shape of Porto’s Eliaqum Mangala.
Malata claims Mourinho is ready to shell out £40 million to secure the services of Mangala, and the player has offered words of encouragement.
In his piece, Malata quotes Mangala as saying:
City or Chelsea? Chelsea because it is London.
It is true that I love the Premier League because it is a spectacular championship.
In January, there were discussions with City, but it fell through because the two clubs could not reach an agreement. Every player wants to play in the biggest clubs.
John Terry and Gary Cahill have forged an excellent understanding and will be the first-choice central-defensive options next term, but Mourinho is aware of the need to bring in a long-term replacement for the former, and at 23, Mangala has the credentials to be that player.
Believability Meter: Medium to High
£40 million is not the sort of money Porto can really afford to turn down. Should Chelsea table an offer in that region, it is highly likely that Mangala will be on his way to London.
Is Atletico Madrid Defender Miranda the Right Answer for Manchester United?
You have to feel a degree of sympathy for Atletico Madrid, as a season of success threatens to unravel with the dismantling of Diego Simeone's team.
No sooner had the final whistle on the Champions League final against Real Madrid last weekend been blown, than Diego Costa, Filipe Luis, Thibaut Courtois and Koke were among a number of names being linked with moves this summer.
But the interest of Manchester United in defender Miranda, as reported by John Drayton of the Daily Mail, is not one that should be taken too seriously.
Drayton claimed that the Old Trafford club had triggered a £24 million release clause for the Brazilian central defender.
United, though, were swift to counter the report. Ian Ladyman of the same newspaper also knocked down the report within hours.
According to Ladyman, the 29-year-old is the subject of interest from Barcelona, with Atletico looking to cash in on the defender.
It has not been the best of times for Miranda, after he missed out on a place in Luis Felipe Scolari's Brazil squad for the World Cup.
And it is unlikely that Miranda will be celebrating a transfer switch to Louis van Gaal's new-look United this summer.
As Bleacher Report world football lead writer Sam Tighe pointed out this week, Miranda's success this season has been largely due to the system Simeone has played this season. Their open invitation for opposition teams to rely on crossed balls has seen the Brazil international thrive.
At £24 million, Miranda represents little value in comparison to the likes of Bruno Martins Indi, with whom United have also been linked, as James Robson of the Manchester Evening News reported.
Tighe points out that the form of Miranda's Atletico defensive partner Diego Godin is a reason why Van Gaal should still look toward the Vicente Calderon for a replacement for Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand.
All of which leaves a question mark over Miranda.
Believability Meter: Low
The Miranda to Manchester United rumour built up earlier this week, but the speed of the Old Trafford response was enough to ensure it didn't continue growing.
Van Gaal clearly has his own ideas for the Old Trafford back line, but the Brazil international is not part of them.