B/R Gossip Roundup: Arsenal Hold Morata Edge, Meyer a Good Move for Liverpool

BR UK NewsFeatured ColumnistJune 15, 2014

B/R Gossip Roundup: Arsenal Hold Morata Edge, Meyer a Good Move for Liverpool

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    Paul White/Associated Press

    We are now in the midst of World Cup action, but that hasn't prevented the newspapers providing us with plenty of rumours and gossip this week.

    The transfer rumour mill is still working overtime, with Alvaro Morata, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Max Meyer all having been linked with transfers this week.

    One Premier League manager is celebrating a new deal after an impressive first season in charge, while a player once compared to David Beckham has announced his decision to retire after "falling out of love" with football.

    Let's take a closer look at the headlines from this past week.

Arsenal Could Have Trump Card in Morata Chase

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    Andres Kudacki/Associated Press

    Arsenal have been linked with a host of strikers in recent weeks and, on Tuesday, the Mirror’s Ben Curtis resurrected the chatter surrounding Real Madrid’s Alvaro Morata.

    The Gunners have held a long-standing interest in Morata, and failed to land the forward on loan in January despite strong links.

    Morata is held in high regard at Real Madrid, but the forward has been feeding on scraps behind more established stars at the Santiago Bernabeu.

    That situation is not likely to change any time soon, with Los Blancos boss Carlo Ancelotti acknowledged as much when opening the door for a loan move away from the club.

    According to Curtis, Ancelotti said:

    The player wants to play more minutes and the club agrees.

    If he could find the chance of playing it would be good that he had the chance for a year.

    In his piece, Curtis inferred that it was Real opening the door for Gunners boss Arsenal to step in for the forward.

    The move from Real to make Morata available for transfer is likely to trigger plenty of interest.

    Arsenal may face stiff competition for his services, but a move to the Emirates may prove the most appealing to the striker.

    Believability Meter: Medium to High

    Unless Wenger makes a raft of other attacking signings this summer, Morata is likely to get what he craves in north London: regular playing time at the highest level. That could well sway him in favour of Arsenal.

De Vrij Would Be a Real Boon for Van Gaal's United Revolution

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    Louis van Gaal is yet to get his feet under the desk at Manchester United, what with his focus on the World Cup, but he could well already be working his way into the fans’ good books.

    Like David Moyes before him, Van Gaal will be judged on results. He will be well aware of that, and as such his work in the summer transfer market will have a bearing on his success or failure.

    United have been linked with a host of names since Van Gaal was appointed last month, and a new one cropped up in the Star on Tuesday in the shape of Stefan de Vrij.

    In his piece, the Star’s Gary Jones wrote:

    The Netherlands boss has taken the £20m Feyenoord star to Brazil and is now looking at bringing him to Old Trafford to help fill the holes left by Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand.

    He was given his Holland debut by Van Gaal and has since made nine international appearances, while also impressing domestically in the Eredivisie, helping the Rotterdam club to second in the league this season.

    The deal may or may not come off, but if it does it will be a shot in the arm for United fans. Why? De Vrij has been strongly linked with the Red Devils’ bitter rivals Liverpool.

    De Vrij has indicated he will move on from Feyenoord in the summer, and beating Liverpool to the punch will be a feather in the cap of Van Gaal in the eyes of the fans.

    United are in need of reinforcement in defence and De Vrij, who was handed his international debut by Van Gaal, has the potential to make the step up.

    Believability Meter: Medium to High

    If Van Gaal does want to sign De Vrij, he certainly has the edge over his Liverpool counterpart, Brendan Rodgers, as he is working with the youngster at the World Cup.

New 5-Year Deal for Roberto Martinez Is Significant Everton Statement

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    Everton might not have found themselves at the centre of too much transfer speculation so far this summer, but the club's one move this week is highly significant.

    The Goodison Park club announced late on Thursday night that manager Roberto Martinez had penned a new five-year deal at the club, as Chris Bascombe of the Daily Telegraph reported.

    Martinez said:

    I loved my first season at the club.

    I could not be more proud of the way Everton performed throughout the entire season and the memories we were able to make together.

    I am really excited about next season. I knew from the moment I arrived at Everton that this was a special place and I’d like to thank everyone associated with the club, the board, all the staff, the players and our brilliant supporters for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to build on the traditions and success of this great club.

    Platitudes come easily at times like this in football, but Martinez has developed a bond with Everton supporters, arguably already above and beyond that managed by his predecessor David Moyes during his 11 years at the club.

    Martinez might have missed out on a Champions League place, but running Arsenal so close for fourth place in the closing weeks of the Premier League season was some achievement.

    What Moyes did for the Toffees after a fallow period in which the team had regularly flirted with relegation cannot be underestimated.

    But Martinez has taken the baton with style and Everton supporters can look ahead to next season with optimism.

    The new five-year contract for the former Wigan Athletic manager is just reward for his successful first season at the Goodison helm, and the fact that it has taken just one season for it to be offered underlines the belief of both the club and the Spaniard in the team.

    Everton chairman Bill Kenwright added in the Telegraph article:

    In many commentators’ eyes, Roberto Martínez is the best young manager in Europe. We agree.

    He took on an unfamiliar challenge for most managers, to take something really good and make it even better. He has succeeded.

    In his debut season he broke our Premier League record points haul, got us back into Europe and developed some of the most exciting young footballers in the game.

    He conducts himself off the pitch in the same way. He undertakes his business with great style, confidence, positivity and class. He is an Everton man.

    There is no magical ingredient to what we do at Everton. We’re a football club and we recognise the fundamental importance of our manager.

    And, when we find our man, we empower him. We support and provide him with everything at our disposal.

    We commit to our managers, and we’re immensely pleased that Roberto has committed to us. We want the best because only the best will do.

    That commitment can only bode well for Everton and the fans, who have watched their team blossom under Martinez.

    A five-year deal is a significant statement on behalf of both the club and the manager.

    Believability Meter: High

    In an age where football managers are given far shorter deals, the five-year contract awarded to Martinez is huge statement of intent and belief by Everton.

    There is belief at Goodison Park that Martinez is stirring a sleeping giant.

Liverpool Wise to Make Schalke Starlet Max Meyer a Transfer Priority

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    Liverpool have already been busy in the transfer market with the capture of striker Rickie Lambert from Southampton, but the latest rumour surrounding the Reds is one that should have the fans salivating.

    According to The Metro, Brendan Rodgers is weighing up an £8 million move for Schalke playmaker Max Meyer.

    The reports claims that Liverpool are poised to make their move for the 18-year-old after monitoring him in recent months.

    The Metro claims that Meyer rejected previous interest from Chelsea, where the player felt he would have lacked first-team action.

    If Liverpool can convince the teenager that his time at Anfield will not be wasted, he would be an excellent addition to the squad for another tilt at the Premier League title.

    With Philippe Coutinho occasionally drifting in and out of matches toward the end of the season, Meyer offers the ideal alternative to the former Inter Milan man.

    Meyer is not a prolific goalscorer, but his slight build is deceptive and the teenager bagged six goals in 30 Bundesliga appearances for Schalke last season, particularly helpful in the absence of Klaas-Jan Huntelaar through injury during the campaign.

    But it is the valuation of £8 million that makes this potential transfer so enticing for Liverpool. That kind of money might seem excessive for a teenager, but his proven ability in the German top flight makes the move a simple choice for the Reds.

    Of course, that figure might also include clauses on behalf of Schalke for the future, but the player represents an exceptional talent who could thrive at Anfield.

    Believability meter: Medium

    There is not an awful lot of meat on the bones of this rumour, but it makes so much sense for Liverpool that it is hard not to take seriously.

    Meyer is a proven player at the highest level after last season, and will want to seize his chance to further his career in both the Premier League and Champions League with the Reds.

Manchester United Must Consider Bayern Munich Star Bastian Schweinsteiger

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    Manchester United being linked with a Bayern Munich star has become a steadfast part of the transfer rumour mill since the Premier League season ended.

    With Old Trafford set to welcome a new face in the dugout when Louis van Gaal takes charge upon completion of his duties with Netherlands at the end of the World Cup, it is only natural to assume there will be an influx of new faces at the club.

    Thomas Mueller had been mentioned as a possible target for Van Gaal until he signed a new deal with Bayern, as Jamie Jackson of The Guardian reported.

    But the Daily Express reported this week that Allianz Arena star Bastian Schweinsteiger was the subject of a potential £23 million move by United.

    It may, of course, just be a bluff by the newspapers once more, as they attempt to second-guess Van Gaal's transfer movement ahead of the rest.

    But the prospect of Schweinsteiger joining United must be an enticing one for the Old Trafford supporters.

    At 29, the Germany international is in the autumn of his career, and the figure of £23 million quoted by the Express appears expensive.

    However, the Bayern man possesses extensive experience of the game and works out of a deeper midfield role, a position which, arguably, United have been crying out for.

    With the recent departures of Ryan Giggs to become assistant manager to Van Gaal and Paul Scholes, United are lacking a steady hand in the centre of the pitch.

    Schweinsteiger offers that and more. His CV consists of seven Bundesliga titles and a Champions League, while numerous domestic trophies are also scattered among the big wins.

    He clearly has a winning mentality and the further losses of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic, both of whom had the same attribute coupled with experience, underlines the importance of adding experience to the team.

    Schweinsteiger to Manchester United might just be another red herring, but it is a move worth checking out by Van Gaal.

    Believability Meter: Low to Medium

    Schweinsteiger would be a tremendous addition to the Manchester United squad, fitting the profile of what is needed at the club perfectly.

    But there seems little to back up the transfer speculation on this one. Perhaps when Germany's World Cup ends something further may occur.

Carlos Vela No Arsenal Substitute for Rejecting Fabregas and Loss of Sagna

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    We doubt many Arsenal supporters will have enjoyed the past week.

    Watching former favourite Cesc Fabregas join Chelsea after the Gunners resisted a buy-back option from Barcelona was a harsh blow for some fans on Thursday.

    But to see defender Bacary Sagna waltz out of the Emirates Stadium in the direction of Manchester City less than 24 hours later was an even greater body blow.

    These past few days have seen the optimism generated by the FA Cup triumph over Hull City last month simply evaporate.

    For Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, ending the nine-year wait for silverware and his new contract count for little now, unless he can achieve something remarkable in the summer transfer market.

    Sadly, the reported return of striker Carlos Vela is not it.

    Neil Rowlands of the Daily Mirror reported on Wednesday that the Real Sociedad striker was on his way back to the Emirates Stadium, after the Gunners agreed to exercise their right to buy the player back.

    The Spanish club's president Jokin Aperribay is quoted as saying: "Arsenal have informed us that Vela will be with them next season."

    Admittedly, this story emerged before news of Fabregas signing for Chelsea and Sagna's exit were confirmed, but it is an underwhelming move if it is correct.

    During his last stint with Arsenal, Vela managed just three Premier League goals, although he only started the same number of matches.

    However, the 25-year-old appears to have improved immeasurably since leaving the Emirates, and his return of 17 goals in 43 La Liga and Champions League games for Sociedad (via WhoScored.com) highlights this.

    But if Arsenal and Wenger believe the return of Vela will offset the events of this week, they may have to reconsider.

    The Gunners are going to need a striker of the calibre of Mario Mandzukic, as reported by Matt Law of the Daily Telegraph, before Fabregas and Sagna can begin to be forgotten.

    Believability Meter: Medium

    Under normal circumstances, the possible return of Vela would be greeted with intrigue, even if it might not seem a glamorous move by Arsenal.

    On the back of turning down Fabregas to allow Chelsea to sign the midfielder and the exit of Sagna to Manchester City, however, it looks woefully inadequate.

Bentley Retires at 29 to Underline Lost Career of Gareth Bale's Former Team-Mate

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    One year ago, Tottenham Hotspur released a forgotten player called David Bentley while also preparing a world-record deal that saw Gareth Bale leave for Real Madrid.

    This week, the former Blackburn Rovers midfielder Bentley announced his decision to quit the game after falling out of love with football, as David Kent of the Daily Mail reported.

    There is always sadness when a once-lauded player leaves the sport, but Bentley is just 29 years of age.

    And there was genuine emotion in the tone of his words as he spoke of his decision to quit to Sky Sports News on Friday.

    Bentley said:

    I've given up football. It's over a year since I played my last game and I've taken the decision to take my life in a different direction. I felt like it was time to call it a day.

    I've just had little baby twins, three months old, and I've got a little four-year-old and I want to focus on that. My love for the game went a little bit and I didn't want to carry on just for the fact of paying me money.

    I've just fallen out of love with the game. I had a bit of a difficult time at Tottenham and it's just one of them things. It's probably a little bit early but it's where I am at now. 

    It's a positive decision in my life and I am only viewing it as positive. I'm happy.

    I have no regrets. I loved every minute of playing but the game has changed. When I first started it was the enjoyment, going in to work every day was brilliant.

    Now it's a little bit robotic, the social media side of it, the money that has come into the game. I hate to say it, but it's made it boring and predictablecalculatedand to go and sign another three or four years into that wasn't really an option for me.

    Bentley was spoken of as a natural successor to David Beckham just six years ago, and Spurs shelled out £15 million for his services.

    The midfielder repaid part of that fee with a stunning goal against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium—the strike looked like it would send him into the stratosphere of only a few footballers.

    But Bentley, who won seven caps for England, was the wrong man in the wrong place at White Hart Lane, where Aaron Lennon was emerging as a genuine talent.

    The departure of Juande Ramos in October 2008 did not help either, with his replacement, current QPR boss Harry Redknapp, appearing to favour Lennon.

    It was a slippery slope which would eventually lead to this week's announcement of Bentley's retirement.

    The midfielder seemed to have earned a reprieve with Spurs when an injury to Lennon allowed Bentley to stake a claim for a first-team berth under Redknapp.

    However, after playing his part in helping Spurs qualify for the Champions League in 2010, Bentley seemed to be the instigator as some players poured a bucket of water over Redknapp during a television interview.

    Bentley barely featured again while, in contrast, his team-mate Bale, a less lively figure in the dressing room, saw his own star begin to rise, notably on the European stage in the following season.

    While the Wales international is now the proud owner of a Champions League winner's medal and the world's most expensive footballer, Bentley is leaving football.

    Two paths have never been more different.

    Believability Meter: High

    Whatever the truth is behind Bentley's retirement, he remains a poignant reminder to all up-and-coming footballers.

    Positioned alongside Gareth Bale in 2010, the world could have been at the feet of both. Instead, only one reached the promised land.