Ranking the Top 10 January Transfer Window Rumors Of The Week (Dec. 6-12)
A little over three weeks remain before the January 2010 international transfer window opens up, and with it, the real race for the 2010 Premier League championship.
Though they are three points off the pace set by league leaders Arsenal, Manchester City is looking to challenge the power four of the Gunners, Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool by courting Andres Iniesta.
Meanwhile, the Blues are facing the loss of trigger man Didier Drogba to Ligue 1 as the Spurs court Spain's Fernando Llorente.
Here are your top 10 January Transfer Window Rumors for the week of Dec. 6-12.
10. Liverpool Mull Move for AC Milan Striker Ronaldinho
Claudio Villa/Getty Images
Liverpool have made enquiries about signing AC Milan striker Ronaldinho, according to Italian sources.
Ronaldinho's contract expires at the end of the season, and he has been strongly linked with an exit from the San Siro, although he recently tried to kill off speculation by saying he was staying at AC Milan.
Los Angeles Galaxy are reported to have prepared a massive contract for the former World Player of the Year, but Liverpool are now apparently mulling over a move to bring him to Anfield.
The 30-year-old hasn't been a regular starter this season under AC Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri, but he has still managed a goal and two assists.
He is currently valued at €7.5M-€10M.
9. Bayern Munich to Battle Chelsea for Bayer Leverkusen Midfielder Arturo Vidal
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
Bayern Munich are set to battle Chelsea for Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Arturo Vidal.
Vidal is an excellent prospect. He is an extremely versatile player, capable of playing as a defensive midfielder, a defender and even as an attacking midfielder. He is a fast player with very good work rate, passing and tackling abilities.
Vidal is very creative for his position, and he has already scored eight goals for Leverkusen this season.
The 23-year-old has also won 29 caps for Chile, including all four of their World Cup matches in the summer. He has scored two goals and set up one for his country.
According to German reports, Bayern are keen on Vidal as a replacement for Mark Van Bommel, who looks set to leave the Bundesliga champions.
Vidal is valued at €10M-€15M.
8. Liverpool in Renewed £15m Bid for Aston Villa's Ashley Young
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Liverpool will reportedly make a decisive bid to land long-term target Ashley Young from Aston Villa.
Young has so far refused to sign a new contract at Villa Park and has insisted that he will talk about a new deal in the summer but is happy at the club for now.
The Daily Mirror claims that Liverpool's new owners are preparing to make a statement of intent by signing Young and are prepared to pay as much as £15million in order to make it happen.
Apparently, they hope that signing a player of Young's stature would help to ensure the Liverpool future of stars such as Fernando Torres .
Young has impressed at Aston Villa since arriving from Watford in 2006 and enjoyed another good season last campaign, scoring five goals and contributing eight assists. Young has already won 10 England caps but was not considered for Fabio Capello's World Cup squad.
7. Chelsea to Bid €14m for Sampdoria Skipper Angelo Palombo
Massimo Cebrelli/Getty Images
Chelsea have prepared a €14 million bid for Sampdoria Genoa captain Angelo Palombo, according to Italian sources.
The 29-year-old defensive midfielder is regarded as an inspirational character on the pitch, very much in the same way as Gennaro Gattuso.
Although he is not all that tall, he is very strong and well-built, fierce in the tackle and never gives up.
He also possesses pace, good technical ability and a powerful long-distance shot.
Palombo, who has won 20 caps for Italy, is contracted to Sampdoria until 2013.
6. Real Madrid Set to Beat Liverpool to French Youngster Yann Mvila
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
Spanish giants Real Madrid are preparing a €15 million bid for Liverpool target Yann Mvila, Rennes' promising young defensive midfielder.
Mvila burst onto the scene at Rennes last season, displacing former Liverpool player Bruno Cheyrou from the side. Mvila has excellent physical strength and is renowned as an effective ball winner who is then able to use the ball sensibly. His rapid rise has also been helped by a real maturity in his game.
Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson traveled to France to watch Mvila play last month. The 20-year-old starred for Laurent Blanc's France side, which recently beat England 2-0 at Wembley.
According to Spanish daily AS, Real Madrid have already entered talks with Mvila's agent Ahmed Ouidy with Jose Mourinho keen to make use of the midfielder's strength in the centre of the pitch.
Real Madrid apparently hope to pre-empt any approach from other clubs, primarily an attempt to take Mvila to Anfield, especially given the strong French connections of Damien Comolli, Liverpool's new director of football strategy.
5. Liverpool Right-Back Glen Johnson Edging Towards Juventus
Mark Thompson/Getty Images
Liverpool right-back Glen Johnson appears to be edging towards Juventus FC Torino, with the Reds close to signing Stade Rennes ' Rod Fanni as his replacement, according to Italian reports.
Tutto Mercato says Juventus were being asked to pay €15 million for the England man, who was demanding some €4 million a year.
But the Web site claims the two clubs are nearing an agreement.
Johnson arrived at Liverpool last summer and performed solidly last season, having been signed from Portsmouth for a reported £18 million. However, he has suffered this season from both injuries and a dip in form.
Fanni is one of the best right-backs in the French top division and has forced his way into the French national team over the past couple of years, making five appearances for them so far.
4. Manchester City and Arsenal Interested in Real Madrid Outcast Karim Benzema
Angel Martinez/Getty Images
Both Manchester City and Arsenal are reportedly interested in a cut-price deal for out-of-favour Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema .
Benzema moved from Lyon to the Bernabeu last summer. Last term, he scored nine goals in 32 appearances for Real Madrid, but his lack of first-team action led to his exclusion from Raymond Domenech’s French World Cup squad.
Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho has previously stated his desire to hold onto the player, but with Benzema having played 90 minutes for Real just once this season, and scored only one league goal, speculation persists that he will leave the Bernabeu.
Spanish daily Mundo Deportivo reports that the chances of Benzema moving have increased given that he was left on the bench during last weekend's game against Valencia, despite the absence of injured striker Gonzalo Higuain.
As a result, they claim that Manchester City, Arsenal and Juventus believe that they may be able to land Benzema for significantly less than the €35 million that saw him move to the Bernabeu.
Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini has been linked with several strikers as he looks to add another goalscoring option to Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli. The Emmanuel Adebayor are expected to leave Eastlands over the winter.
Meanwhile, there has been speculation over the future of Nicklas Bendtner at Arsenal. If there is any truth in the talk that he could leave the Emirates Stadium for lack of first-team football, there would be room for Arsene Wenger to add a striker to the Arsenal attack.
Benzema has scored 11 goals in 32 games for France, including a strike against England at Wembley last month.
3. Tottenham to Make €18m Winter Bid for Spanish Striker Fernando Llorente
Clive Rose/Getty Images
Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp will reportedly look to boost his attacking options with the addition of Athletic Bilbao striker Fernando Llorente .
25-year-old Llorente has carried on where he left off last season. Having netted 22 times last term, he has already scored nine goals in fourteen games this term.
Although 6-foot-3, Llorente is not only an effective target man, but has pace and good technique, somewhat resembling Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Manchester United, Real Madrid and Liverpool are among the clubs also linked with Llorente, who is contracted to Athletic Bilbao until the end of the 2012/13 season.
However, Spanish daily Sport reports that Tottenham are lining up a bid for Llorente and are prepared to spend €18 million to bring him to White Hart Lane, although his buy-out clause is €36 million.
Tottenham boss Redknapp was frustrated in his search for a striker over the summer. It appears likely that either Robbie Keane or Roman Pavlyuchenko will leave Spurs in January, paving the way for the arrival of a new striker, such as Llorente.
2. Marseille Aim to Bring Back Chelsea Striker Didier Drogba in the Summer
Michael Steele/Getty Images
Olympique Marseille will attempt to prise Didier Drogba away from Chelsea in the summer, according to French sources.
Chelsea bought Drogba for £24 million from Marseille in 2004 and he has since been an incredible success at Stamford Bridge.
There were rumours that Marseille bid for the Ivorian in the summer, but they were later denied by Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti.
The 32-year-old is contracted to the Blues until 2012, but back in September he hinted that he would be open to a move away from Stamford Bridge.
1. Manchester City Prepare €70m Bid for Barcelona Midfielder Andres Iniesta
David Ramos/Getty Images
Manchester City are preparing a €70 million bid for FC Barcelona midfield maestro Andres Iniesta, according to sources cited by the German 4-4-2 Web site.
Barcelona would be desperate to hold onto the player, who has just made the three-man shortlist for the 2010 FIFA World Player of the Year award.
But Manchester City presumably believe that with Barcelona's financial situation far from being healthy, they can persuade the Camp Nou club to part ways with the 26-year-old with a massive bid.
Iniesta is contracted to Barcelona until 2015.