Rumours and Gossip
Liverpool have made a £21 million bid for Atletico Madrid’s Brazilian striker Diego Costa, which will trigger a release clause in the player’s contract with the Spanish club allowing him to discuss terms with the reds. Costa, 24, has two caps for the Brazil national team, having made his debut as a substitute against Italy in March this year. He grew up playing street football in Brazil before moving to Europe at the age of seventeen where he joined Sporting Clube de Braga in Portugal and was swiftly sent out on loan to gain experience at second division Penafiel. He impressed there and was snapped up by Atletico Madrid, who immediately loaned him back to Braga and then to Celta Vigo and Albacete in subsequent seasons, where he started to build a reputation in Spain‘s second level. His career continued in an upward trajectory when he was sold to Valladolid at the start of the 2009-10 season and enjoyed first team football in the Primera Division, doing enough to convince Atletico to exercise their buy-back option on him at the end of the season. Since then he has gone on to play eighty three times for Atletico in all competitions, scoring twenty eight goals, either side of a loan spell at Rayo Vallecano, for whom he scored nine goals in sixteen appearances. The highlight of his club career to date was scoring in Atletico Madrid’s historic Copa del Rey final win over rivals Real Madrid at the end of last season.
It is thought that Liverpool are interested in signing Costa to bolster their attacking options, rather than to replace Luis Suarez, who is contemplating a move away from the club. A couple of high profile signings like Costa might convince Suarez of the club’s ambition and convince him to pledge his immediate future to Liverpool, and signing more top strikers will relieve Suarez from some of the burden of pressure to provide goals that fell so heavily on his shoulders last season. Meanwhile, Suarez has been receiving conflicting advice from all quarters about whether or not to stay with the club. Yesterday, former Liverpool Chief Executive Rick Parry was reported as saying that he should be allowed to leave as it’s counter productive to keep a player who wants to leave at a club, but today former Arsenal striker Ian Wright has said that he thinks Suarez should stay at Anfield. Arsenal are the only club to have made an offer for Suarez, but Wright told the BBC “if I was Suarez, when you look at everything, it does seem strange he would want to go to Arsenal. I would give Liverpool another season … if you look at Arsenal, not won anything in eight years, just challenging for fourth place, not really any players there who will make him say ‘I’m going to play with him and him’.
Tottenham Hotspur have announced that they have agreed terms with Valencia of the Spanish Primera Liga for the signing of striker Roberto Soldado. In doing so, they will smash their transfer record for the second time this summer as Soldado’s agreed price tag of £26 million follows their £17 million capture of Paulinho from Corinthians of Brazil. The twenty-eight year old forward is expected to put pen to paper tomorrow if everything goes well with his medical examination by the north London club. The transfer fee is expected to be paid in instalments with an initial payment of around £10.4 million followed by three further annual payments of about £5,2 million.
The signing takes Spurs’ summer transfer spending commitments to over £50 million, which could be an indication that they are counting on receiving a large income from the sale of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid. If they can get around £80 million plus a top player from the Madrid club then they will have made a net transfer profit this summer and replaced one outstanding player with several top class players such as Soldado, Paulinho, whoever they can prise from Real and the promising Nacer Chadli. Spurs have also just received a sizeable fee from Cardiff City, who have broken their own club transfer record in paying over £8 million for defender Steven Caulker.
Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has been speaking about the ongoing situation surrounding Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez’s future at the Anfield club. Gerrard, speaking to the Liverpool Echo ahead of his testimonial match against Olympiakos this weekend, spoke of how he’s been trying to persuade Suarez that his future lies at Liverpool, and explained that the Uruguayan’s decision is key to Liverpool’s chances this season.
Gerrard described Suarez as “the third best player in the world” and went on to say “you’ve got Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo who are on a different planet then you’ve got Suarez and Gareth Bale.” He expressed his concerns that if a player of that quality should leave the club and go to one of their direct rivals in the English Premier League then it would complicate things for Liverpool, saying “if he goes to Arsenal, it obviously makes our season that bit more difficult, it strengthens them an awful lot and they are our rivals for a top four position. From the club’s point of view it doesn’t make sense at all, no matter how much money is put on the table. Luis wants Champions League but so do I. If he was to stay around for twelve months and we achieved a top four finish, there is no better place in the world to play Champions League football than in front of an Anfield crowd.”
If Suarez is to eventually leave then Gerrard would like to see him go to one of the big two in Spain and would understand if that’s where he sees his future as with the majority of world class Spanish speaking players. However, he hopes to convince his team mate that it’s worth staying with Liverpool for at least another season to spearhead their Champions League qualification efforts and get back into Europe’s top club competition with his current employers. He feels that the squad isn’t far off the level needed to get back into the top four and said “if we get the couple of marquee signings we need and keep Luis that will give me confidence that we can compete. Keeping Luis could be our best signing of the summer”, so he remains hopeful of further top class arrivals at Anfield before the transfer window closes and thinks that those additions to the squad could help swing Suarez’s decision towards staying put. Suarez is expected to feature in the team for Gerrard’s testimonial.
Real Madrid’s protracted chase of Tottenham’s Welsh international Gareth Bale could gradually be moving towards the end game as new Real boss Carlo Ancelotti, 54, has said that the two clubs are now discussing terms. The Spanish giants, who are currently on tour in Los Angeles, California, and play LA Galaxy in a friendly match tomorrow, have reportedly offered £86 million for the winger, a sum that would smash the current world transfer record fee of £80 million that they paid Manchester United for Cristiano Ronaldo in 2011. However, Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy is playing hardball and is preparing to hold out for a player to be thrown into the deal in addition to the cash.
Ancelotti ruled out a return to Spurs for Croatian international midfielder Luka Modric, saying that he’s an important player for Real Madrid and will be staying with the club, but Real are believed to have mooted Argentinian winger Angel Di Maria and Portuguese left-back Fabio Coentrao as potential makeweights in the package for Bale. So far, Spurs haven’t shown much interest in either of that pair, but are believed to pursuing Real’s twenty year old Spanish striker Alvaro Morata, as well as Valencia’s Roberto Soldado. Morata is one of Spain’s most promising young centre-forwards but is highly valued in Madrid and his departure would leave them short in numbers up front with only Karim Benzema and Ronaldo left on the books as genuine forwards, so the two clubs’ positions remain a long way apart on the make-up of any player plus cash deal.
Newly promoted French Ligue 1 club AS Monaco have targeted Manchester United’s Portuguese winger Nani as the next item on their multi million Euro summer shopping list. The club from the principality tax haven near France’s border with Italy have been spending Russian billionaire owner Dmitry Rybolovlev’s money like it’s going out of fashion as they attempt to compete with fellow money-bags PSG for the French title in their first season back in the top flight.
Nani was restricted to only eleven league appearances at the Old Trafford club last season, partly through injury and partly through the choice of former manager Sir Alex Ferguson, and he only managed one Premier League goal, plus another couple of goals in his ten cup appearances. He was selected for the first team for the crucial Champions League second leg clash against Real Madrid where he received a harsh red card that turned the tie on its head early in the second half. With a World Cup coming up at the end of this season, he will be hoping for a more regular place in a team to play himself into form and into the Portuguese team.
Nani, who was born in Cape Verde, has sixty six caps for Portugal and would be part of a growing Portuguese camp in Monaco as the club have already recruited his international team mates Ricardo Carvalho and Joao Moutinho this summer. They were in addition to the signings of Radamel Falcao, James Rodriguez, Nicolas Isimat-Mirin and Anthony Martial, taking their summer spending so far to in excess of €139 million, not to mention the capture of big names such as Eric Abidal and Jeremy Toulalan on free transfers.
Nani, 26, who has also been linked with Inter Milan in Italy as well as Anzhi Makhachkala in Russia, where his former assistant manager at Manchester United, Rene Meulensteen, has just taken charge, is reportedly discussing terms with the directors of Monaco and it’s thought that United would be willing to release him in exchange for an offer of €10 million or upwards although his wage demands might be a potential stumbling block. Nani was missing from United’s summer tour party to Asia due to a broken nose and may find himself down the pecking order for the start of the season if he stays at United as the signing of Wilfred Zaha means they now have an abundance of wide attacking options also including Antonio Valencia, Ashley Young and the evergreen Ryan Giggs.
Spurs could be on the verge of finally ending their protracted pursuit of a top class centre forward that has seen them linked with endless lists of strikers over the past few transfer windows. Tottenham’s Director of Football, Franco Baldini is reportedly in Spain at the moment for discussions with Valencia, Roberto Soldado and his agent over a €30 million move for the Spain international.
Soldado, 28, has scored an average of around 27 goals a season for Valencia in all competitions over the last three seasons since his move there from Getafe, where he first rose to prominence following his early years in Real Madrid reserves. He has eleven international caps for Spain with six goals to his name and was recently picked ahead of Fernando Torres and David Villa as first choice for Spain’s opening Confederations Cup game in Brazil, where he scored against Uruguay.
Tottenham have been repeatedly linked with Roberto Soldado over the past twelve months as well as with other strikers such as David Villa of Barcelona, Christian Benteke of Aston Villa and Leandro Damiao of Internacional in Brazil as manager Andre Villas-Boas searched for someone to share the responsibility for scoring goals with Emmanuel Adebayor and Jermain Defoe. The club has now recognised that they need to spend a significant sum of money to acquire the sort of talent that will take them on to the next level and they have identified Soldado as their number one target for that position, having already strengthened the squad in central and wide midfield this summer.
The signing of Soldado, alongside those of Paulinho and Chadli should convince Gareth Bale to stay for at least one more season and could well make the difference in Tottenham’s annual push for Champions League qualification. €30 million for an accomplished striker like Soldado represents good value in today’s market and if Spurs can secure his signature by the end of the week, they will have completed the bulk of their recruitment in the early stages of pre-season, giving them plenty of time to bed in their new signings ahead of the big kick off, so it looks set to be promising campaign for Tottenham fans.
French newspaper L’Equipe is reporting that Brazilian starlet Bernard is heading for the Emirates Stadium to sign for Arsenal in what is practically a done deal. The twenty year old is a left-sided attacking midfielder currently on the books at Atletico Mineiro and he has five caps for Brazil, having appeared in their successful Confederations Cup winning campaign this summer. Bernard, or to give him his full name, Bernard Anício Caldeira Duarte, is a diminutive figure with a venomous shot and neat and tidy passing skills that will fit in well with Arsene Wenger’s style of play. Arsenal are rumoured to be paying about £21 million for the player, who they hope to secure on a five year contract worth about £2.8 million per year after tax. According to L’Equipe, he will arrive in London on Friday for a medical, which is expected to be a formality, and will then sign for the Gunners, who have beaten off interest from Shakhtar Donetsk, FC Porto and Spurs for the player’s services.
Before he can travel to Europe, Bernard must play one final match for Atletico Mineiro on Wednesday night as they attempt to overturn a 2-0 deficit in the second leg of the Copa Libertadores final against Olimpia of Paraguay. His send off will be at home in the Estádio Governador Magalhães Pinto in Belo Horizonte and the local fans will hope that his presence on the team sheet can inspire a come-back. He missed the first leg through suspension after picking up a yellow card in the semi final second leg and his team struggled to create chances without him, but playing at home alongside Ronaldinho and Jo, he will be expected to take the game to the Paraguayans. The Arsenal squad is currently on tour in Japan but they get back to London at the end of the month in time for the Emirates Cup on the first weekend in August when their new signing could be unveiled.
Manchester United manager David Moyes has confirmed that the club has made a renewed offer for Barcelona’s former Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas. United had an offer of around £25 million rejected by the Spanish champions last week, but they have decided to continue with their interest in the player and return with an improved bid, thought to be worth around £30 million.
The situation at the Catalan club has been evolving in the mean time, with manager Tito Vilanova stepping down from his post at the end of last week. Vilanova, 44, has been battling throat cancer since 2011 and was sidelined for much of last season as he underwent treatment in New York and has now taken the decision to leave the club and focus on his fight against the disease. Barcelona have yet to appoint a permanent replacement but they hope to do so in the near future, with Celta Vigo manager Luis Enrique amongst the favourites.
It remains to be seen whether Barcelona will issue an immediate response to this latest offer, or will wait until a new manager is in place to decide whether or not he wants to keep Fabregas. The player himself was reported as saying that he’s happy at Barcelona and isn’t keen on an imminent move back to England and Barcelona’s midfield would start to look a little light on numbers if they were to sell Fabregas, having only recently let Thiago Alcantara move to Bayern Munich. Fabregas was seen as a long-term replacement for Xavi who, at 33, is going to need resting more and more regularly, so Fabregas is likely to get increasing amounts of first team action if he stays at the Nou Camp. However, it’s a World Cup season and he may feel that the offer of a near guaranteed first team spot at United would be good for his chances on nailing down a spot in Spain’s staring eleven for Brazil.
Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez has joined up with his Liverpool team mates on their pre-season tour in Australia ahead of their friendly match against Melbourne Victory on Wednesday. The want-away striker is expected to feature in the match at the MCG, which will take place in front of a sold-out 95,000 crowd. Suarez missed Liverpool’s 2-0 win over an Indonesia XI in Jakarta at the weekend as he was given leave following Uruguay’s summer Confederations Cup campaign, but he’s now ready to join in with the club’s preparations for the upcoming season.
Suarez has made it public that he wants to move away to a Champions League club and he will be discussing his future with manager Brendan Rodgers this week. There have been plenty of rumours of interest in the striker from clubs such as Real Madrid in Spain and Arsenal and Chelsea in London, but it would take a huge offer to prise the player away from Anfield. Arsenal reportedly offered around £30 million for his earlier this month, but Liverpool will hold out until they receive an offer that matches their valuation upwards of £40 million. New Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti has yet to declare any concrete interest in the player, but he has said that Argentine striker Gonzalo Higuain will be staying at the Bernabeu, thus ending Arsenal’s chase for his services and perhaps prompting the London club to ramp up their interest in Suarez. However, it’s thought that Suarez would prefer a move abroad if he is to leave Liverpool as he’s unhappy with his treatment from the British press. Ancelotti has already splashed out €30 million on Isco this summer, so the Spanish giants might be reluctant to stump up an even higher fee for another attacking player when they already have Ronaldo, Higuain and Benzema on the books.
The list of clubs that could potentially afford Luis Suarez is probably completed by Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and Monaco, but those three are already well advanced in their summer recruitment with all three having spent significantly on their front lines. City completed the purchase of Alvaro Negredo and Stevan Jovetic last week, PSG have already spent €64 million on Suarez’s international team mate Edinson Cavani and Monaco spent a similar amount on Radamel Falcao. If Suarez and his agent find that their options are too limited then Brendan Rodgers stands a good chance of being able to persuade the Uruguayan to stay on for another season and pay back some of the club’s support in standing by him throughout his turbulent past couple of years.
The transfer of striker Andy Carroll, 24, from Liverpool to West Ham United has finally been completed, with the player moving to Upton Park for an undisclosed fee, reportedly around £15 million. Carroll spent last season on-loan with the hammers scoring seven goals in twenty three league appearances and earned many plaudits for his accomplished performances leading the line at the east London club. Negotiations to make his move permanent have been ongoing since the end of last season and today Carroll finally put pen to paper on a six year contract. The transfer fee is a new club record for West Ham, but represents a £20 million loss for Liverpool on the £35 million that Kenny Dalglish paid Newcastle United for Carroll’s services in January 2011.
Now that the Anfield club can bank the income from Andy Carroll’s transfer they can move forward on some of their own summer targets and they look likely to start by signing FC Porto winger Christian Atsu for around £3 million. The twenty one year old Ghanaian has sixteen caps for his country with three goals and was part of the Ghana squad that got to the semi finals of this year’s Africa Cup of Nations. This was his first season as a regular in the FC Porto first team squad, having signed for the club as a seventeen year old. He made his mark on loan at Rio Ave the previous season, scoring six goals in the Portuguese top flight, before returning to his parent club and making seventeen appearances in this campaign, contributing one goal as Porto won the championship. Transfer negotiations are said to be at an advanced stage.
Liverpool’s recruitment plans seem to be focusing on the Iberian peninsula this summer as reports in Spain say that the club has made a substantial offer for Sevilla youngster Luis Alberto Romero, although the clubs have yet to agree on a price. The twenty year old attacking midfielder spent the season on loan at Barcelona B, scoring eleven goals in thirty eight games but is now back in Andalucia at his parent club, for whom he has only made a handful of first team appearances. He has represented Spain at under 18, 19 and 21 level. Staying in Spain, there have been no further developments in Liverpool’s attempts to sign Celta Vigo striker Iago Aspas. A transfer fee has been agreed between the two clubs but the player has yet to commit to a move.
Other Liverpool targets are Shakhtar Donetsk’s Armenian international midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Sunderland goalkeeper Simon Mignolet. The future of striker Luis Suarez, who is away with Uruguay at the Confederations Cup, has still to be clarified, with the player being linked to a potential move to Real Madrid, where he could yet link up with his international strike partner Edinson Cavani, who is also coveted by the Spanish club. One confirmed Liverpool signing is defender Kolo Toure, who arrives on a free transfer from Manchester City at the end of his contract.