EPL Transfer Rumours: Arteta, Ba, Johnson, Kuszczak, Neymar
With Liverpool and Manchester United already busy in the summer transfer market, and the other top-six clubs surely finalising their budget and targets, the Premier League clubs with smaller budgets and no European football to offer will have to be clever about the business they do over the next few weeks.
And it appears managers are less willing to make a splash abroad for players who are untried and untested in the Premier League, and more inclined to pay the inflated transfer fees being quoted within the division.
And so, although Brazilian superstar Neymar is again making the headlines this morning, there is also mounting speculation that Newcastle United have finally found a replacement for Andy Carroll, the English forward they sold to Liverpool in January for $60 million, and that league newcomers Queens Park Rangers are preparing a $5 million bid for Fulham's forgotten striker Andy Johnson.
Elsewhere, I bring you news of a midfielder who could be returning to Spain, a young international goalkeeper who has made himself available for transfer and the latest on a popular Brazilian prodigy who may now delay any big-money move.
The Telegraph says that Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has stepped up the London club's efforts to sign Brazil's No. 11 Neymar from club Santos for a fee which would exceed $50 million.
The 19 year-old, alongside Tottenham Hotpsur's Luka Modric and Udinese's Alexis Sanchez, is thought to be one of the Russian oligarch's top three transfer targets as he hopes to provide Spanish forward Fernando Torres with enough ammunition to make his mark at Stamford Bridge.
However, reports from Brazil suggests Neymar wants to stay in his homeland for another year and continue to impress national coach Mano Menezes:
"I have a contract with Santos and intend to continue, I am very happy because I'm getting goals."
"I haven't spoken with Alex Ferguson. He has told me nothing. He never tells me anything. I don't know if I can stick it any more.''
With legendary Dutch goalkeeper Edwin Van der Sar announcing retirement at the age of 40, it would seem that Polish counterpart Thomas Kuszczak finally had a chance to secure the No. 1 jersey at Old Trafford.
But 20 year-old Spanish youth international David De Gea, currently of Atletico Madrid, has been strongly linked with a $30 million move to the champions and it seems this has pushed the angry Pole to criticise Sir Alex Ferguson's man management, as quoted above in The Sun.
Now the 29 year-old is rumoured to be considering a return to West Bromwich Albion, the club he quit in 2007 for $3.5 million, as the Baggies look to provide error-prone goalkeeper Scott Carson with some competition for his place in the team.
According to free daily newspaper Metro, Fulham's Andy Johnson may have earned a move to promoted team Queens Park Rangers.
Although 30 year-old Johnson scored for fun when at Crystal Palace, he has consistently failed to score sufficient goals at the highest level in five years with Everton and Fulham as injuries have robbed him of pace and a lack of playing time has unsettled his rhythm.
Now new Cottagers boss Martin Jol, who is looking to work once again with Republic of Ireland forward Robbie Keane, has sanctioned Johnson's departure.
QPR relied a lot last year on mercurial midfielders Alejandro Faurlin and Adel Taarabt to provide their spark, but will keen to get several experienced Premier League players on board who will provide different options. Johnson may be the first arrival at Loftus Road and would cost The Hoops upwards of $5 million.
Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew has had to be patient: for the past six months he has had $60 million burning a hole in his pocket after England striker Andy Carroll made a dramatic big-money move to Liverpool on the last day of the January transfer window, a development which left Pardew with no time to find a replacement.
In this context, 12th position was a respectable finish for the team in its first season back in the Premier League.
However, Pardew will be keen to add some firepower to his frontline given that it was midfielder Kevin Nolan, currently liked with a move away from St. James's Park, who topped the scoring charts at the club with 12 league goals - and not one of the forwards on the books.
There are suggestions on micro-blogging social website twitter.com that Ba has today agreed terms with Newcastle United for a minimal fee, after a trigger was released in his contract allowing him to leave relegated West Ham United.
Magpies fans will hope that the return from injury of promising French winger Hatem Ben Arfa and the continued good form of winger Wayne Routledge and full-back Jose Enrique will provide ammunition for Ba to help the team into the top-half of the table.
The Daily Star reports that Everton's popular Spanish midfielder Mikel Arteta is considering an offer from Valencia.
Although manager David Moyes is keen to keep the core together of a team which improved dramatically towards the end of last season, he may be inclined to grant Arteta's wish of a move to the Spanish giants so that he has some funding in place to move for a goalscorer and push on next year for Europa League qualification.
29 year-old Arteta, who signed for The Toffees in 2005 in a $3 million deal and has since scored 38 league goals in 140 appearances, was voted Fans' and Players' Player of the Season in his first year in English football and has formed an effective partnership with Aussie Tim Cahill.
But the prospect of joining a Spanish club which has a strong playing squad and an ambition to challenge Barcelona and Real Madrid for the La Liga title will entice the former international youth player in a deal which may cost Los Che $10 million.