It is now under two weeks until the season begins, and there’s still plenty of business to be done.
As is often the case in a World Cup year, the transfer business seems to have slowed down – aside from a few notable exceptions – but given that most teams in the Premier League still require strengthening of some sort, the next two weeks are likely to be very busy indeed.
One thing that certainly hasn’t slowed down is the volume of transfer rumours floating around. Here are five the of the best currently doing the rounds:
Why always him? Balotelli to Anfield?
Everyone’s favourite crazy Italian striker Mario Balotelli is thought to be available for as little as £14 million, and the word on the street is that Brendan Rodgers is interested. Having left City for Milan, Balotellli has continued to be one of the most impressive young strikers in Europe, and given that Liverpool are still mourning the loss of their superstar striker, they’re certainly in the market for a player who has that X-factor.
With Milan reportedly ready to sell for under £15 million, this could be a great opportunity for Liverpool to show that last season wasn’t just a fluke. However, with a long list of off-the-field shenanigans on his rap sheet, Balotelli would not be the easiest of players to manage. Is Rodgers up to the challenge? Only time will tell.
Don’t look back in Agger
As anyone who watched the Premier League last season will know, Liverpool were flipping great going forward. At the back? Not so much.
It seems clear that Brendan Rodgers is keen to rectify that situation, and his purchase of Dejan Lovren for £20 million served to illustrate how serious he is about shoring up his defence.
However, the Croatian’s arrival is likely to put one man’s nose firmly out of joint: Daniel Agger. With existing rumours already circulating about Agger’s unhappiness at Anfield, it seems likely that Lovren’s arrival will probably signal Agger’s exit. And, unsurprisingly, the Dane has his fair share of suitors.
The two forerunners appear to be Barcelona and Brondby. Not exactly the most matched of suitors. One thing seems certain though, Agger’s time in Liverpool is coming to a close, and with whispers suggesting that the Dane could be available for £12 million, this deal could go through sooner rather than later.
Fellaini to escape his year long nightmare
No player more effectively encapsulated David Moyes’ nightmare ten-month tenure at Old Trafford that Marouane Fellaini.
Bought by his old manager on transfer deadline day for a ridiculously inflated fee, things weren’t easy from Fellaini from the start. He struggled to fit into the United team and was woefully unimpressive on the few occasions that he was gifted a start. In short, it was a disastrous move for all involved – except perhaps Everton.
It now appears that Louis van Gaal is ready to let the Belgian leave, and with Napoli very interested, there’s a good chance that Fellaini will be able to make his escape in the next week or so.
A major sticking point that may prevent any such deal going through is the fee. Because United paid such a ridiculous sum of money for the midfielder in the first place, they are seriously going to struggle to recoup the majority of that just twelve months later, and any deal going through is dependent upon United getting a price that they’ll be prepared to accept.
Hummels the subject of a tug of war
As we covered on this site a few days ago, United’s switch to a 3-5-2 means that the Red Devils simply have to invest in some more defenders, and this fact has ramped up the speculations surrounding Borussia Dortmund centre back Mats Hummels.
Hummels very much seems like a ‘van Gaal type’ player, and the German signing for United would indicate that despite their diabolical last season, they are still able to attract the crème de la crème of world talent. It would also represent the first signing identified by van Gaal, and be a glimpse at the new style that the Dutchman is trying to cultivate.
It seems unlikely that Dortmund will be prepared to accept anything under £30 million, but given that United vice-chairman Ed Woodward has been going around telling everyone that United are loaded, that shouldn’t be a problem for the most successful club in English history.
Saints to raid United
It’s fair to say that the Southampton squad has been well and truly torn apart this summer, and now it’s Ronald Koeman’s job to put it all back together. With an £85 million warchest, the Dutchman has been tasked with recruiting half a new first team and reports indicate that his shopping will begin at Old Trafford.
United striker Javier Hernandez is first on his list, with Rickie Lambert and Dani Osvaldo having left the club, but it remains to be seen whether the Mexican is prepared to join a club that he will almost certainly consider to be a step down.
Koeman is also after a winger from Old Trafford, and the indications suggest that he quite fancied Wilfried Zaha or Ashley Young. Apparently he’s not fussy about which one.
Given that – despite Woodward’s bravado – United will prefer to sell as well as buy this summer, these deals could hinge on the players accepting them, with both clubs seemingly more than happy to do business.
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