B/R Gossip Roundup: Breaking Down This Week's Biggest Rumours
With the transfer window open, plenty of players having completed moves to new clubs and lots of major sides now well into their pre-season programme, the rumour mill continues to churn out all number of potential deals for the coming weeks.
Here we take a look at some of the biggest names around at present and try to assess whether they make sense for all parties involved.
We'll give each deal a rating, too, on how likely it appears that the deal may proceed as planned. Feel free to leave your views on each one below.
Fredy Guarin in Exchange Deal for Manchester United's Javier Hernandez
Alex Harris of the Daily Star reports that Inter Milan want to bring in Manchester United striker Javier Hernandez, with the Serie A side prepared to offer Colombian midfielder Fredy Guarin in exchange for the Mexican.
With Inter keen to land a forward and United after a combative midfielder, the report indicates that United might see Guarin as a viable alternative to Arturo Vidal, who has opted not to join the Old Trafford club from Juventus.
Former United captain Nemanja Vidic is also now at Milan and seemed to endorse the potential move.
"Obviously, Chicharito will be a good signing for every club and we’d be glad to have him," Vidic said, per Harris.
BBC Sport reported on how new United boss Louis van Gaal claims his squad is "not balanced," though he made no immediate reference to adding central midfielders.
Believability meter: Medium
One side of the deal seems more probable than the other. Chicharito isn't going to get any closer to the regular first XI of United's than he is right now, so he could certainly be off this summer.
Guarin, though, won't add a particularly high level of creativity, consistency or dominant performances to United's midfield and would be a considerable step down from the initially hoped-for Vidal.
Real Madrid Put Romelu Lukaku on Top of Their Wish List
Real Madrid might have added the most expensive player of the summer to their ranks and spent around €100 million on Toni Kroos and James Rodriguez, but the spending isn't done there.
Colin Mafham of the Express reports that they have targeted Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku as the man to take the place of Alvaro Morata, who has moved to Italy with Juventus. Real, in fact, want both Lukaku and Radamel Falcao to give Carlo Ancelotti more attacking options for the new season.
As per Xinhua (via china.org), Ancelotti doesn't particularly believe his side is in need of more strikers, however:
We have various options to play with the squad: first of all we have Benzema, who is very reliable, Isco can play as a false striker... so it is not important to have a centre-forward who can score a lot of goals. We needed a player who could put crosses in for Bale or Cristiano, but we are not going to look for another striker, because we don't need one.
Everton, however, are ready to offer £20 million for the forward they had on loan last season.
Believability meter: Low-Medium
On the face of things, Lukaku to Real wouldn't be an awful move at all; he's young enough to improve further, he will be with far better players than he has been in his loan spells, and he's an upgrade on Morata.
However, it seems improbable Real will bring in more than one striker this summer, and if anything, they could focus their attention more on a big-name forward. For a young, fast, exciting forward, they already have Jese Rodriguez.
Antoine Griezmann the Big Summer Move for La Liga Winners Atleti
Atletico Madrid have seen several members of their title-winning team from last season depart, but key arrivals look impressive—and Antoine Griezmann would top the bill.
The Real Sociedad attacker is set to sign for Atleti for €30 million, his buyout fee, according to AS.
With the likes of Adrian Lopez and Diego having left as attacking options, centrally and out wide, Griezmann not only replaces them in the squad but also improves dramatically the first XI.
There is no downside to signing the player who has proven able to beat the best defences in the country and will only keep getting better.
Believability meter: High
Griezmann is a perfect signing for Atletico, due to his good work rate, acceleration and technical ability. Tactically he fills a variety of roles, and if he can stay consistent throughout the season, he'll be one of La Liga's stand-out players in 2014-15.
Strootman Still a Possibility for Van Gaal
Manchester United in the news again now, with talks resuming about the possibility of Louis van Gaal bringing in his countryman, Kevin Strootman.
Sky Sports reports that the Dutch manager refuses to deny his interest in the AS Roma midfielder, though acknowledging he will need to be reassessed after a return from a cruciate knee injury.
I never say anything about individual players—it's my vision that we have to be about the team and not individual players. Other players, not at Manchester United, I can't judge—I am not there.
Strootman I can judge, but he has been injured for more than six months. We have to wait and see how he comes back. It's not so easy to come back out of an injury, so we'll wait and see.
Strootman has been one of the most frequently linked names with United since it emerged that Van Gaal would be taking charge, with the midfielder key to the Netherlands national team used before the 2014 World Cup—which had to be changed around due to Strootman's injury, of course.
Believability meter: Medium-High
Strootman is a quality player and certainly seems to have the backing of the manager to play a key role on a team. It seems unlikely that he could move this transfer window, but certainly as a longer-term transfer prospect—perhaps even in January—this continues to look like a rumour which could turn out to be far more substantial.
Second Loan Season a Possibility for Injured Fabio Borini
Liverpool forward Fabio Borini spent last season on loan at Sunderland and has been the subject of a bid from the Black Cats for a permanent deal.
However, having not yet accepted that move, Borini might now be looking at a second loan deal with the side, reports Clive Hetherington of the Express. The report indicates that a shoulder injury for the Italian forward, sustained during a preseason game against AS Roma last week, has made the scenario more difficult to complete in a reasonable time frame, making a loan a potential outcome.
We are desperate to do something. I think we need to be honest. The more time that goes past, it looks to me like we have less chance. Some people think the opposite—the more players Liverpool sign, then there is more chance. Let's see who is right and wrong. ...
I think there will be at least one in by Friday and I hope at the weekend we can have three in. But the word I'm saying is 'hope'. It's a matter of time, but as the days go past, that becomes difficult.
Borini scored several valuable goals for Sunderland last season, including one in the League Cup final which they lost against Manchester City.
Believability meter: Low-Medium
It's certainly plausible that Borini could end up at the Stadium of Light again, should he be convinced by Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers that there simply isn't a space for him in the Reds' squad.
However, having agreed a £14 million deal for the forward, it's unthinkable that Liverpool would then allow Sunderland to back out of that and negotiate a loan deal—with the possible exception of having a mandatory buy fee after a trigger number of games played.
Morgan Schneiderlin: A £27 Million Player?
Southampton rate midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin is a better, more important player for the side than left-back Luke Shaw was—or at least that's the message they intend to portray to willing suitors of the Frenchman.
David Hytner of The Guardian reports that Saints—who have raked in around £90 million this summer by selling Shaw, Dejan Lovren, Adam Lallana, Calum Chambers (almost a done deal, per David Ornstein and Nabil Hassan of BBC Sport) and Rickie Lambert—will tell Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal and anyone else who will listen that Schneiderlin would be a more costly recruit than Shaw.
The Premier League side believe they have good reason to, as Hytner puts it:
Southampton accept that they got over the odds for Shaw...but they believe that Schneiderlin is more valuable, given the position he plays; his status as a France World Cup player at an age when he is primed to fulfill his potential and the fact that the statistics marked him as one of the Premier League’s top holding midfielders last season.
Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino was of course Schneiderlin's manager last season but has himself stopped short of saying he is or isn't interested in the midfielder, as per Goal.com:
"We're trying to improve the squad but I never speak about players from other clubs. I have respect. I'm just focused on my team."
Believability meter: Medium
Southampton certainly don't have a need to sell, so any further outgoings will be for top prices again.
However, they have been so completely decimated by sales that it will be tough for them to reach even eighth or ninth this season, unless Ronald Koeman instantly forges a great team ethic with a whole bunch of new signings. Schneiderlin could be off, and Spurs could be his destination.
Mario Balotelli Still Facing Arsenal Links, Milan's Low Profile Continues
Mario Balotelli to Arsenal is a story which has done the rounds for a few weeks this summer, and the latest version of this particular rumour involves a part-exchange deal.
AC Milan are willing to let Arsenal take their Italian striker to the Emirates, reports Metro, for just under £8 million as well as young Costa Rican forward Joel Campbell.
Only a few days ago, Arsene Wenger was quoted by The Independent as saying forwards were not on his wish list for the summer.
"Up front we don’t need any more, maybe I will still bring in one centre-back. I will bring in a goalkeeper for sure and we are still out there to strengthen our squad."
With Alexis Sanchez brought into the side, Arsenal have plenty of wide forwards and second forwards, though they still only Olivier Giroud as a senior starting striker.
While Campbell won't likely play a big part in Arsenal's season, even if he does stay, Milan being interested in the World Cup starlet—who was on loan with Olympiacos last season—is another indication of how far the standards have fallen with the Serie A side, who have no European football this season.
Believability meter: Low
Sure, Wenger could be playing the game to lower expectations (or price tags), but in this instance it really seems as though he's being truthful: Arsenal won't sign another striker. And if Sanchez and Theo Walcott stay fit all season, maybe that's OK this time.