B/R Gossip Roundup: Balotelli Not Right for Arsenal, Suarez Rumours Remain

BR UK NewsFeatured ColumnistJune 22, 2014

B/R Gossip Roundup: Balotelli Not Right for Arsenal, Suarez Rumours Remain

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    Michael Regan/Getty Images

    We have completed the first full week of World Cup action, but that hasn't stopped the transfer rumours and gossip from continuing.

    If anything, the rumour mill has been sent into overdrive on the back of performances in Brazil over the past seven days.

    Mario Balotelli, Luis Suarez and Marouane Fellaini have all made goal-scoring impacts for their countries, and all three are among those to feature in our weekly gossip roundup.

    Read on to find out who else has been making the headlines this week.

Balotelli an Expensive Option for Arsenal

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    Claudio Villa/Getty Images

    Mario Balotelli threw down an early marker in the World Cup with a goal in Italy’s win over England.

    It was a goal that seemingly caught the eye of Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger. According to the Daily Mail’s Sami Mokbel:

    Arsenal have intensified their interest in AC Milan striker Mario Balotelli.

    The Italy international features highly on Arsene Wenger's shopping list as the manager looks to sign a new central striker.

    And Gunners chiefs have now made initial overtures with regards to a move for the former Manchester City striker.

    Mokbel claims Arsenal have been invited to make an offer by an AC Milan side who are looking to “ease their wage bill this summer.”

    It’s fairly clear Arsenal need to add an attacker to their ranks, given how Olivier Giroud was left to lead the line for long spells on his own last season.

    There is no doubt that Balotelli would add some quality to the Arsenal ranks. He is one of the world’s premier attacking talents, which he has proved during spells with Inter Milan (20 goals in 58 games), Manchester City (20 goals in 54 games) and now AC Milan (26 goals in 43 games).

    It is virtually certain, though, that Balotelli will not come cheap. Milan may or may not be looking to trim their wage bill, but either way, the Serie A side will not be forced to sell him on the cheap.

    Whether Wenger is ready to make a huge play for Balotelli is far from certain, especially given there are options available, such as Samuel Eto’o, who will not cost a penny in transfer fees.


    Believability Meter: Low to Medium

    Wenger will make signings this summer, but the feeling is he will have more pressing targets in mind than Balotelli.

Real Madrid Will Be Wasting Their Time Courting Adnan Januzaj

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    Geert Vanden Wijngaert/Associated Press

    Real Madrid are always a club to be feared in the transfer market, given their seemingly relentless pursuit of top-class talent.

    The Galactico era may be over, but Los Blancos are never shy in splashing the cash—as they proved 12 months ago with their successful pursuit of Gareth Bale.

    Real are sure to want to build on their Champions League success, and Simon Jones of the Daily Mail claims they have added Manchester United youngster Adnan Januzaj to their shopping list.

    Januzaj has huge potential, which he demonstrated on occasions during what was a tough campaign for United as a whole last term.

    It is quite possible this potential, which propelled him into the Belgium squad for the World Cup, is what has put him on Madrid’s radar.

    It will be a summer of change at Old Trafford, with Louis van Gaal sure to stamp his mark on the club. The Netherlands boss is certain to bring in new faces, which could pile pressure on current members of the squad.

    But at 19, Januzaj has his best years ahead of him, and Van Gaal is astute enough to realise the need to let him flourish as a Red Devil.


    Believability Meter: Low

    Real Madrid have the two most expensive players in the world on their books, which demonstrates their clout in the transfer market, and they may like the look of Januzaj.

    But United are no shrinking violets, and with the teenager tied to a long-term contract, he will not be heading out of Old Trafford any time soon.

Manchester City Right to Maintain Hold on Stevan Jovetic

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    Rui Vieira/Associated Press

    It has not been the easiest of seasons for Stevan Jovetic at Manchester City.

    The Montenegro international arrived at the Etihad Stadium from Fiorentina last summer on the back of a reported £25 million deal, as the Daily Mail claimed.

    However, Jovetic saw his hopes of making an immediate impact on the first team thwarted by injuries throughout the 2013-14 Premier League season.

    And according to Simon Jones of the Daily Mail, Inter Milan are now looking to take the 24-year-old to the San Siro Stadium on loan next season.

    Jovetic is a respected player in Serie A after his five-year stint with Fiorentina, and after making just five Premier League starts for City last season, a return to Italy might seem appealing.

    According to Jones, City might be tempted to "cut their losses" on the Montenegrin, but that would be an unwise move for all concerned.

    Jovetic might have ended up on the periphery of City's success last seasonthe league title and the Capital One Cup will both be defended next season—but a quick look at Manuel Pellegrini's forward line last term underlines why he should not be leaving.

    Sergio Aguero remains the main man in the Etihad strike force, but even his campaign was disrupted by injuries, while Alvaro Negredo's form flagged as the season progressed.

    Without the distraction of the World Cup this summer, Jovetic will hopefully be working on his fitness to ensure he is ready for the new season with City.

    His performance in the FA Cup against Chelsea alone last season, where he opened the scoring in a 2-0 win, will ensure his services will not be dispensed with easily ahead of next season.

    But Jovetic represents a genuine talent, and City will be aware that there is a gem in their hands.


    Believability meter: Low

    There is no doubt that Jovetic will still be attracting admiring glances from Serie A despite his injury problems last season.

    But Manchester City and their fans will have seen enough last season to recognise how good a player he is—and how vital he could be next season.

Luis Suarez Transfer Rumours Refuse to Go Away

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    Michael Sohn/Associated Press

    Luis Suarez found himself in the headlines again this week, although even Liverpool supporters might not have been overly impressed.

    In his role at the World Cup, the Anfield star struck twice to defeat England in their Group D match, despite having only just recovered from knee surgery.

    It was a devastating blow for the Three Lions, but it ensured Suarez's place in the affection of his native country.

    However, while Reds fans were digesting the dilemma of not cheering on a Suarez double, there was worse to follow as the Spanish media cranked up the transfer rumours linking the former Ajax man with a move to La Liga.

    This time, though, it was Barcelona who were deemed to be the interested party, with Fernando Polo and Xavi Munos of Mundo Deportivo reporting that a €65 million (£52 million, according to Rhys Turrell of the Daily Star) buyout clause exists if either the Camp Nou club or Real Madrid come calling.

    Suarez, of course, signed a bumper new deal at Liverpool in December to assuage any thoughts of him leaving, while the player himself has voiced his contentment at the Merseyside club.

    Suarez has previously been linked with Real Madrid, and Bernabeu head coach Carlo Ancelotti aired his admiration of the player earlier this month, as Rik Sharma of the Daily Mail reported.

    The Real Madrid head coach is quoted as saying:

    It is difficult to improve what we have.

    Luis Suarez is a fantastic player, but it is disrespectful to talk about a transfer now.

    We're in no rush and we don't need to bring in a lot of players. We have until August 31.

    In the wake of the two-goal salvo against England, it would be easy to argue the Suarez link the following morning was simply a ploy to ensure hits on a newspaper website and boost sales.

    But despite Suarez's proclamations that he is happy to stay at Liverpool, these rumours refuse to disappear.

    And the potential appearance of Barcelona on the horizon offers up an intriguing possibility of Suarez's football and personal lives intertwining.

    Simon Mullock of the Sunday Mirror reported in December how Suarez focused on football in a bid to ensure a move to Europe to be near his girlfriend, now wife, Sofia, who had left Uruguay with her parents to return to Spain.

    Add in the fact that Mrs. Suarez's family lives near Barcelona, and there could be more to this than meets the cynical eye.


    Believability meter: Medium

    This rumour really isn't going to go away, and Liverpool fans are facing an anxious summer no matter what is said or reported.

    Suarez is a man with strong family ties, and if he can follow his girl across the Atlantic Ocean, a comparatively shorter trip between Liverpool and Barcelona will be no problem at all to keep his family happy.

Manchester United Should Not Give Up Hope on Marouane Fellaini Yet

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    Jon Super/Associated Press

    If one player summed up the David Moyes era at Manchester United, it was Marouane Fellaini.

    The midfielder arrived at Old Trafford on the final day of the summer transfer window last year in a £27.5 million deal from Everton.

    But the move swiftly turned sour, with the Belgium international unable to replicate the form for he had enjoyed at Goodison Park for United.

    Not only was Fellaini a target at set pieces, he was now the centre of jokes across other Premier League clubs as his abilities were questioned on a seemingly weekly basis.

    However, after scoring Belgium's opening goal in the 2014 World Cup against Algeria this week, Fellaini voiced his desire to stay at Old Trafford to prove himself under Louis van Gaal, as Chris McKenna of the Daily Star reported.

    The midfielder was quoted as saying:

    I don't play here (at the World Cup) for a transfer.

    We'll see with the new coach, but I still feel good at United.

    Things had conspired against Fellaini even before he joined United when it was revealed that the Old Trafford club could have signed him for £4 million less than they paid if they had made their move before July 31 last year, as BBC Sport noted.

    It just appeared to sum up a botched transfer window in Moyes and United chief executive Ed Woodward's first joint venture into the transfer market.

    On the field, though, Fellaini just could not find the form which had earned him plaudits at Everton.

    Displays such as the one which tormented Sir Alex Ferguson's team on the opening weekend of the 2012-13 campaign just dissipated as he failed to find his feet at the club.

    However, Van Gaal could be the man to unleash the Fellaini of old with a more defensive-minded role at Old Trafford.

    With Michael Carrick in the autumn of his career, only Darren Fletcher would have a claim to such a position, but his recent health concerns have led to lengthy absences from action.

    The Dutchman is scouring the transfer market for his own buys, but he will not be afraid to give the Belgian midfielder a second chance.

    Fellaini must ensure he takes it.


    Believability meter: Medium

    It remains to be seen what Van Gaal makes of the Fellaini conundrum. He will be aware of the confidence that drained from the player last season.

    However, that clearly hasn't dented his belief with Belgium in Brazil. And you can guarantee the Dutchman will be watching closely.

World Cup Form of Raheem Sterling Is Double-Edged Sword for Liverpool

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    Matt Dunham/Associated Press

    Ultimately, there were few significant highlights for England during a disappointing World Cup campaign in Brazil.

    Defeats to Italy and Uruguay ensured Roy Hodgson's team will be leaving the tournament at the group stage for the first time since 1958.

    But one chink of light for the Three Lions came with the form shown by Raheem Sterling, particularly in the opening period of the game in Manaus against the Azzurri.

    Playing a central role, the Liverpool forward appeared to offer a persistent menace to the Italian rearguard.

    However, with such success on the world's biggest stage comes the inevitable interest from the giants of European football.

    And sure enough, Ben Burrows of the Daily Mirror reported on Saturday that Real Madrid were tracking Sterling as a potential replacement for Angel di Maria.

    Liverpool fans will doubtless have taken some pride from the performance of 19-year-old Sterling in South America, but they will also recognise the downside which follows such displays.

    In 1998, Anfield starlet Michael Owen made a similar impact with his goal against Argentina in the second round and eventually found the bright lights of the Bernabeu too tempting to resist.

    The reported interest of Real Madrid may or may not turn out to be concrete, but Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers will be a key figure for Sterling's development in the coming years.

    The England winger's star is definitely on the rise now, and he will need a strong leader to keep his feet on the ground and ensure he remains with the Reds.

    Liverpool are back in the Champions League after a four-year absence, and the teenager is unlikely to play in every match next season as Rodgers rotates his squad for assaults on domestic and European titles.

    But the Anfield manager will need to play things carefully where Sterling is concerned. His talent is there for all to see, and the vultures will not be slow to swoop if the winger also makes his mark in the Champions League.


    Believability meter: Low

    It is unlikely that Real Madrid will make a move for Sterling this summer, but the mere mention of being linked with such a team can turn a player's head.

    Sterling is in a strong position now, and Rodgers will need to monitor his development over the coming campaign carefully.

'Former' International Joleon Lescott Can Resurrect England Career at West Brom

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    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    Former Manchester City defender Joleon Lescott has completed his move to West Bromwich Albion, as BBC Sport reported on Friday.

    The 31-year-old will link up with new Albion head coach Alan Irvine at The Hawthorns for the new Premier League campaign.

    The pair worked together previously at Goodison Park where Irvine was assistant manager to David Moyes between 2002 and 2007.

    However, the most poignant aspect of the transfer this week came with the description of Lescott as a "former England international" by The Guardian.

    Lescott found himself on the sidelines at the Etihad Stadium last season as Manuel Pellegrini appeared to favour Vincent Kompany and Martin Demichelis in central defence after injury to Matija Nastasic.

    The writing was on the wall for the former Everton and Wolves defender, and a move this summer was already on the cards with his City deal winding down.

    Lescott might be entering the autumn of his football career, but his experience would still be a vital component of many Premier League teams.

    At international level, he might have lost his way after being left on the sidelines at City, but the prospect of playing regular first-team football in the West Midlands will ensure his name is not long forgotten by Roy Hodgson.

    Lescott might have missed his chance of a World Cup finals this year, but his presence as a reliable alternative to Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka during the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign will not go unnoticed by former Albion boss Hodgson.

    While it is right that Lescott should find a new club, City supporters will be sorry to see him leave after he played such an integral role in their return to regular silverware after the arrival of Roberto Mancini in 2009.


    Believability meter: Medium

    At 31, Lescott is no spring chicken in footballing terms, but his experience with City and Everton will put him at an advantage for his time with West Brom.

    Hodgson has already proved he is not afraid to seek talent beneath the major Premier League sides, with Southampton a notable inclusion on his list.

    Expect an international recall for the defender in the near future.