B/R Gossip Roundup: Luis Suarez to Arsenal a No-Go, De Gea Set for Man Utd Exit
The January transfer window is in its final throes and will be slammed shut this week.
All of which means the newspapers have been full of gossip linking clubs with players across the globe.
Some of the rumours have been, at best, unlikely, while some have made us think.
Luis Suarez, David de Gea and Mats Hummels have been among those to receive a mention in the papers this week.
But which rumours have some value and which don't? Let's take a closer look at the week's gossip.
Manchester United Unlikely to Be Only Suitors for Nathaniel Clyne
Monday's newspapers included a story about Nathaniel Clyne, linking the Southampton full-back with a move to Manchester United in the summer.
The deal is possible—according to the papers, at least—because Clyne's contract expires in 2016, meaning he is theoretically available at a cut-price fee.
Matters are complicated by the fact Clyne will be 25 by the time his contract expires, meaning Southampton could lose the player for nothing without recourse for a tribunal fee, which is in play for individuals under the age of 24.
Per the Daily Mail:
Nathaniel Clyne appears in no rush to sign the contract extension offered to him by Southampton.
Since arriving from Crystal Palace in 2012, the 23-year-old has improved markedly and subsequently broken into the England set-up.
Such performances have led to understandable interest from a number of clubs, with Manchester United strongly reported to be one of the vultures circling over St Mary's.
Ronald Koeman is relaxed about Clyne's future, although suggested last week that he would like to know by April whether he will be signing the contract extension on the table—a schedule the right-back is happy to stick to.
'My contract, we're still negotiating,' said Clyne, whose current deal expires in summer 2016.
'I'm negotiating with my agent and also with the club so, yeah, we'll wait until April.'
Clyne has been one of the most consistent and impressive performers in the Premier League this season, a key component in Southampton's rise into Champions League contention. Manchester United would be another step up, however, although it would probably signal the end of Rafael da Silva's Old Trafford career.
Believability Meter: High
Clyne has proved himself to be one of the best right-backs in the Premier League over the past 18 months and may even cement his status as England's No. 1 option in the position before the season is completed.
With his contract expiring and Southampton risking losing him for nothing if they do not sell before that point, it makes sense that a great number of clubs will express an interest in the summer.
Even if he does sign an extension, he is still likely to be in demand—after all, quality is worth paying for.
If Southampton qualify for the Champions League, however, everything may be delayed for at least another year.
Tottenham Unlikely Helpers in Arsenal Chase for Karim Benzema
No matter how well he plays for Real Madrid, transfer rumours surrounding Karim Benzema refuse to go away.
The France international's name appeared in the gossip columns once more this week, with David Wright of the Daily Express outlining an unexpected link involving Tottenham Hotspur.
According to the article, Benzema will be sold to Arsenal or Manchester United to fund a move for Liverpool's Raheem Sterling and Tottenham striker Harry Kane.
The link between the Anfield forward, who has yet to agree a new deal with Liverpool, and the Bernabeu club has been a long-standing one.
But the prospect of Arsenal strengthening their own squad while undermining the depth at Spurs must have Gunners supporters smiling.
However, that particular bubble will not last long before bursting, as there is no way this deal will be going ahead—certainly not this month.
Kane has proved a superb player for Spurs head coach Mauricio Pochettino this season, with 18 goals to his name this season prior to the midweek Capital One Cup tie at Sheffield United.
It is little wonder that his name is being mentioned across the continent, but the England under-21 international will need to prove his ability beyond this season before dreaming of a switch to mirror Gareth Bale's in 2013.
There also seems to be little sense in Carlo Ancelotti allowing Benzema to leave his club mid-season.
Real Madrid are chasing the Liga title and a successful defence of the Champions League. Losing such a key component of their squad in mid-season would make little sense.
Believability Meter: Low
Both Kane and Benzema are surely too invaluable to their current clubs to be allowed to leave. This one is a non-starter at this point in time.
Louis van Gaal Must Decide How He Wants to Use Adnan Januzaj
On Tuesday, reports emerged that Paris Saint Germain had made an approach to Manchester United over attacker Adnan Januzaj, an enquiry that was swiftly rebuffed by the club.
Per the Daily Mirror:
Manchester United have apparently issued a hands-off warning to Paris Saint-Germain over their pursuit of Adnan Januzaj.
The Ligue 1 champions approached United about the possibility of taking 19-year-old Januzaj on loan to the Parc des Princes this month.
Januzaj has been a peripheral figure under Red Devils boss Louis van Gaal this season, starting just five games in all competitions.
But it now seems that the Dutchman does value him, after the youngster's agent Dirk de Vriese confirmed that it was Van Gaal himself that blocked a possible exit.
De Vriese told French football website Foot Mercato: 'Yes, PSG have shown themselves to be interested this winter.
'They directly contacted Manchester United for information.
'Louis van Gaal announced that Adnan cannot leave this winter, either permanently or on loan.
'The coach considers him as an important player for squad. He is counting on everyone. It seems like a final decision, I don’t think that it will change.'
Believability Meter: Medium
It's perhaps no surprise that PSG would be interested in a player like Adnan Januzaj, even though their own record with developing youth is spotty (Kingsley Coman leaving, Adrien Rabiot always the subject of speculation).
Clearly, there are always going to be big clubs sniffing around Januzaj while Van Gaal uses him so erratically—dropping him entirely for some games, then suddenly restoring him to the starting lineup for others. Perhaps the Dutchman is being careful, but to continue his development, it is clear the Belgian needs more playing time than he is currently getting.
While it is understandable that a permanent deal would not appeal to United, it remains less obvious why Van Gaal would be so opposed to a loan. PSG might not be the best option for a temporary deal—his playing time is surely going to be similarly limited as it is in Manchester—there are surely plenty of clubs in the Premier League and around Europe that could offer the winger guaranteed starts in the second half of the season.
United would seemingly be foolish not to embrace that opportunity to allow Januzaj to continue his development—unless, of course, Van Gaal plans to use him much more regularly from February onward.
Not Even an Additional Pound Will Take Luis Suarez from Barcelona to Arsenal
Do you remember the summer of 2013 and the biggest rumour of that window? Yes, when Arsenal attempted to sign Luis Suarez by tabling a bid of £40 million and one pound.
Ian McCourt of the Guardian noted at the time that even Liverpool owner John W Henry derided the bid on Twitter.
Suarez, of course, had been the subject of much speculation at the time, as his stay at the Reds looked set to end (BBC Sport), but he remained at Anfield and almost helped the team to a first league title since 1990.
The Uruguay international did eventually leave Liverpool in a £75 million move to Barcelona last summer, as James Orr of The Independent reported.
Things have not been quite so perfect for Suarez at Camp Nou, though, and he was left on the bench as Lionel Messi and Neymar routed Elche in Barca's last league outing. The fact it was the Uruguayan's 28th birthday merely rubbed salt in the wound.
Consequently, that Suarez-to-Arsenal link has resurfaced, courtesy of Dan King at The Sun.
The story was also picked up by Nick Lustig of the Daily Star, who claims that the recent sacking of Barcelona sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta left Suarez facing an "uncertain future" in Catalonia.
This transfer link might have its basis in past truths, with Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger a known admirer of the former Ajax man, but its chances of coming to fruition are, at best, minimal.
Suarez had long held the dream of playing for Barcelona, where his wife hails from, and with Barcelona facing a transfer ban, they will not be allowing any player to leave just yet.
Add into that reasoning Suarez's undoubted love for Liverpool, evidenced by his reaction after the 3-3 draw at Crystal Palace last May that effectively ended the Reds' hopes of the title (via Daily Express), and there seems to be little chance he will return to any other Premier League club if he were to come back to England.
Wenger will have to look elsewhere to bolster his forward line, even if it costs one pound extra.
Believability Meter: Very Low
Luis Suarez to join Arsenal ahead of Liverpool? No, we just can't see it. Can we see him leaving Barcelona once the transfer ban ends? Possibly, but writing off the South American at Camp Nou would not be a wise move.
Mounting Reports Suggest David de Gea to Real Madrid Inevitable
It isn't going to go down well with Manchester United supporters, but the prospect of David de Gea leaving for Real Madrid appears to be growing with every passing day.
Rumours of the goalkeeper leaving Old Trafford for the Bernabeu have been circulating for some time, but a gathering pace in the stories this week suggest there is more to this link than initially met the eye,
And when Mark Ogden of the Daily Telegraph reported on Thursday that the European champions were so relaxed about getting the 24-year-old at the end of next season they were willing to wait, the antenna of United fans should have been up.
With no separate rumours emanating from other European power houses, this already appears to be a one-horse race.
Ogden notes that De Gea has still not committed himself to a long-term contract with United, which would be a worry in itself for fans, but when a team such as Real are ready to be patient in their wait for a player, the inference is it's a done deal.
Real Madrid legend Iker Casillas has found form once more at the Bernabeu, while Costa Rica international Keylor Navas has not disappointed when deputising.
Therefore, Carlo Ancelotti and the Liga giants are happy to go with the pair for next season before bringing in De Gea in 2016, says Ogden.
The question for United now, then, is when would be the right time to allow De Gea to move on?
Do they sell soon to bring in a sizeable fee, which could be used by Louis van Gaal for further reinforcements, or do they keep hold of De Gea to ensure a capable base to build on while the Dutchman eyes the market for a new No. 1?
There is no chance anything will happen here before the January window closes, but the following months will require a period of great thought by United.
Believability Meter: High
The De Gea rumours have persistently refused to go away, and it seems they now merit serious consideration on all sides.
De Gea will insist that he is happy, but the prospect of a return to Madrid, where he previously played with Atletico, must be tempting.
Expect a summer move for the United goalkeeper.
Aston Villa Provide Scott Sinclair with Last Chance to Resurrect Career
It might sound harsh to say, but the only headlines Scott Sinclair created in Manchester were those including his girlfriend Helen Flanagan, who formerly played the part of Rosie Webster in long-running British soap opera Coronation Street.
But the Manchester City winger was back in the news this week when Aston Villa granted him a shot at first-team football after a disappointing spell at the Etihad Stadium.
Ask anyone if they have seen Sinclair in a City shirt, and their answer is unlikely to come back positive, with the former Swansea man having made just two Premier League starts during his two-and-a-half years at the club (via WhoScored.com).
That cannot be a good situation for any player, let alone one who appeared to be on the brink of a glittering career after representing Great Britain at the London Olympics in 2012.
With a transfer fee of £6.2 million to justify, Sinclair instead became one of the most expensive benchwarmers in English top flight history.
Sinclair spent last season on loan at West Bromwich Albion, but his return of just eight appearances was sparse reward for the Hawthorns club.
Indeed, the Birmingham Mail this week reprinted a comment piece from former Albion reporter Steve Wollaston, in which Sinclair was described as the "worst" loan player the club have had.
However, that has not stopped Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert offering the former England under-21 international another shot, as Gregg Evans of the Birmingham Mail reported.
Sinclair's partner has failed to find the same fame she enjoyed on the cobbled streets of Weatherfield—the 25-year-old winger must now make the most of what must be a final chance to ensure he follows a different route.
Believability Meter: Done Deal
Footballers are rarely handed a second chance such as the one being handed to Sinclair by Villa manager Paul Lambert.
It is up to the player to make the most of the opportunity and keep his distance from a City bench, which seemed destined to have his name carved into it.
Timing Might Not Make Sense for Mats Hummels to Man United
Manchester United reportedly remain interested in Borussia Dortmund centre-back Mats Hummels, with Jamie Sanderson at Metro citing a Bild report that claims United will offer €50 million for the World Cup winner.
United's interest in Hummels is not secret. The Premier League giants have been linked with the German since last summer.
Believability Meter: Medium
United need a centre-back. Hummels is a classy international who could slot straight into the first team. The deal makes plenty of sense from United's perspective.
It makes less sense for Dortmund, who are locked in a relegation fight and need all their top players in order to avoid the drop. As B/R's Jerrad Peters notes:
Following a disastrous first half of the Bundesliga season, the 2013 Champions League finalists are tied at the bottom of the division and face a battle for their very existence in the top flight over the next few months.
They need Hummels to help ensure safety, and even the £37 million the Daily Mail's Simon Jones is claiming United have offered for him would pale in comparison with the financial hit the club would take if it were relegated.
United may well get their man, but the deal is more likely to happen in the summer.