With James Milner having finally departed to Man City for £16m plus Stephen Ireland, who went in the opposite direction, it would seem that the most obvious transfer of the summer has finally taken place, so while attempting to stay in the same vein, here are the 5 most obvious transfers yet to happen that spring to mind and their chances of going through before the end of the transfer window rated and assessed.
1. Javier Mascherano – to Inter Milan/Barcelona – It’s been well documented that the fiery Argentine is on the lookout for a move elsewhere for family reasons, after his wife reportedly refused to settle on our fair shores, but the Liverpool board’s prerogative, as well it might be, has been not to baulk in the face of interest valuing the player at significantly less than themselves. Hodgson has repeatedly stated that unless the club’s £25m valuation is met with, then he won’t depart and for a player who’s undoubtedly the best at performing his role in the world, it seems a fair price.
With former Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez now at Italian champions Inter Milan, and the Liverpool player already effusive in his praise of Benitez before conceding that he’s already started learning Italian in preparation ahead of the proposed move, the fee remains a stumbling block and Inter seem unwilling to part with their hard earned for anything more than £20m.
Barcelona have chased around all summer like a desperately scorned ex-lover, for the signature of Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas, but to no avail, and with the club stating, despite their debt problems, that they have at least £40m burning a hole in their pockets, it would seem that with the departure of Yaya Toure on a ludicrously hefty deal to moneybags Man City this summer, that a move is all but assured, especially considering their strong interest in Mascherano last summer.
Reports that Mascherano had been left out of the club’s Europa League tie at home to Turkish outfit Trabzonspor, because a deal is imminent appear to be extremely wide of the mark, as the player in question picked up a calf injury in the home game against Arsenal on Sunday, but a deal, if the valuation is met, which by Barca it might well be, still looks close, despite Liverpool’s admirable stance.
Chances of move to Inter 5/10, Chances of move to Barcelona 7/10
2. Shay Given to Arsenal/Fulham – All summer it looked as if Shay Given would remain as Man City’s number one and that despite rapid progress in returning from his shoulder operation, that Joe Hart was merely keeping the gloves warm ahead of his inevitable usurping. But an excellent performance in the opening game draw against Spurs at White Hart Lane from Hart appears to have put a spanner in the works.
‘Sources’ close to the player have released a comment in the Manchester Evening News stating that: “Shay is confused and torn over what to do. He only joined City 18 months ago and wanted to win things after 10 years at Newcastle. But he just wants to play and he doesn’t see Roberto Mancini leaving Hart out now, even if he makes a mistake. He’ll want to stand by his man. Shay is watching the situation with the goalkeepers at Arsenal at Fulham. A loan move might be something he’d consider but he’s finding it really difficult to know what to do. The last thing he wants to do is risk his place in the Ireland team.”
While this has to be taken, not with just a pinch of salt, but rather a whole dollop, both moves do make an awful lot of sense. Everyone can see that Arsenal need a strong number one, and they have done for as long as Alumnia has been between the sticks, particularly in light of his poor efforts at being beaten at his near post by a powerful David N’Gog effort to gift 10-man Liverpool the lead at the weekend.
But Wenger seems a stubborn old goat and his one word protestation in the post-match interview after the Liverpool draw of ‘no’ when asked the question of whether he’s likely so sign a new goalkeeper before the end of the transfer window, looks likely to have put paid to any hope that the Arsenal faithful may have harboured. Like I said, it makes sense, we can all see that, but Wenger seems to have either a blind spot everyone else can see, some sort of bizarre unwavering faith in Alumnia or he has some rather uncompromising photos of Arsene, for there really can be no other reason for his continued loyalty to a clearly inept keeper’. But Wenger seems like a man of his word, and I can’t see it happening to Arsenal.
Given to Fulham has a nicer ring to it, but the knock on effect of Wenger not moving for any goalkeeper, means that Mark Schwarzer’s transfer request to get a move going again was all for nothing, and without any other side sniffing around him, he looks likely to stay, and the need for Shay Given at Craven Cottage comes to an end. It’s all a transfer roundabout, if Wenger makes a move, then I can see Schwarzer going to Arsenal and Given to Fulham, but without it, expect everyone to stay put, for now at least.
Chances of Given to Arsenal and Fulham 3/10
3. Robbie Keane to Villa/West Ham/Everton – I thought Keane looked nailed on to go to Villa until O’Neill’s departure, and with things up in the air over there at the moment with concerns to who is in charge, with Kevin McDonald the favourite, it looks harder to foresee what transfer deals Lerner will sanction, the Stephen Ireland deal aside.
Keane has had either a fantastic pre-season or looked slow and off the pace depending on which Spurs fan you talk to, but it’s safe to say that Keane has failed to settle back in at White Hart Lane since his return quite how he would have hoped. Redknapp doesn’t appear to be a massive fan, despite signing him back, and whether it is a loan move or a sale, Keane could leave if Redknapp isn’t continually frustrated in his search for a new striker.
Keane had a decent game when brought on against Young Boys Bern on Tuesday night, and his introduction alongside Tom Huddlestone would suggest he’s still got a role to play in Europe, but without guaranteed football at the Lane, Keane may want another loan move, this time in the full eye of the entire Premiership, as opposed to the nether regions of Scotland, to display his talents.
West Ham are the latest club to have reportedly shown an interest and there are murmurings of a move to Everton around, with Moyes known to be a fan, despite his Liverpool connections. West Ham would probably be able to offer him a regular role but Spurs would be reluctant to let him leave to a rival club. Whereas Moyes, known to be in the market for another front man, with attacking midfielder Marat Izmailov on the radar at £4m, would perhaps fancy a cheaper Premiership proven man in Keane, but Villa still remain the favourites.
I can see Keane moving on loan to Villa until the end of the season as Redknapp once again delays making any real decision on the player’s long-term future.
Chances of Keane to Villa 8/10, West Ham 5/10, Everton 4/10
4. Roque Santa Cruz to Stoke/Liverpool/Fulham /West Ham or anyone else for that matter – The media has gone into a frenzy of sorts since the new Premiership rules were announced and after it become abundantly clear that there were going to have to be several big name departures down at Eastlands as Mancini desperately tries to trim his squad. Well step right up Roque Santa Cruz, a player on the fringe of the fringes at Man City, and a baffling signing in the first place from former manager Mark Hughes for a whopping £17.5m considering the other options available in his squad.
The move was always doomed to failure, as City simply have far too much money at their disposal for Santa Cruz to ever be a regular starter, he’s simply not big enough a name for them, and with the arrival of Roberto Mancini and his favourite Mario Balotelli from former club Inter, with the new striker already off the mark, there looks to be no return.
Prior to his move to City, Cruz struggled with injuries all season in 2008/9 as he failed to build on a successful debut season in England’s top flight, and he’s been blighted by them in his time at City too. The proposed exodus at City has taken place, but instead of the high profile transfer deals, sensibly by my reckoning, the majority of players have been allowed to leave on loan and that’s exactly the sort of move that’ll benefit Santa Cruz.
The teams in for his signature are supposedly Fulham, Liverpool, West Ham and Stoke. I personally can’t see the West Ham move coming off, but the links with Liverpool and Stoke have been strong all summer, and perhaps they’ve just been waiting to cash in on City’s desperation all summer with a significant lowering of the loan fee.
Stoke boss Tony Pulis has hinted at a move for a player of Cruz’s pedigree by stating that he “wants to shake things up” at the Britannia Stadium, whereas Liverpool desperately need another striker added to their squad. Fulham have come into contention solely down to Mark Hughes’ arrival as Fulham manager and I’m afraid you’re going to see a lot of this 2+2=4 sort of journalism from the tabloids over the next week or so until deadline day, but Hughes has signed the player twice before and there is a dearth of forward talent at Fulham, so it does again make sense.
Cruz looks certain to depart, like he was always destined to, injuries have of course played their part, but they were dogging him before his move to City and quite frankly, he was never going to settle in at City and become a key player. He’ll move on loan before the end of the deadline as needs must, but the team that he’ll find himself at remains hazy at best, although I’d put Stoke as the favourites fractionally ahead of their rivals just down to manager Tony Pulis’ insistence that transfer deals need to be done and done quickly. City look to be operating on a first come first served basis and Stoke seem to want him the most, so for Stoke fans he could well be this summer’s Tuncay.
Chances of Roque Santa Cruz moving to Stoke 8/10, Liverpool 6/10, Fulham 7/10 and West Ham 4/10
5. Liverpool Football Club to Kenny Huang and the Chinese consortium, Syrian’s and Yahya Kirdi, or anyone else that’ll take them – Okay, so technically this could be considered cheating because it’s a club, and it can hardly be considered a straightforward transfer like the others listed above, but it’s been an ongoing issue for a couple of years now, and it finally looks as if something might actually happen for once, so it deserves it’s place and that’s final.
Liverpool fans could be forgiven for hardly believing their luck the last few weeks, after the surprise arrival of Joe Cole, promising sounds from new manager Roy Hodgson, the futures of messrs Gerrard and Torres sorted out for the time being, and finally some movement on the sale of the club.
Christian Purslow the managing director of the club has since stated that any potential takeover won’t be rushed, which does seem to contradict Kenny Huang’s consortium’s wishes to get in charge before the end of the transfer window, but it seems a wise route to take.
Rumours that Huang is ready to walk away after the deal has somewhat stalled could be nothing more than a rushing tactic to get things moving again, and he remains the frontrunner. Whoever buys the club, because of the due diligence needed for a takeover of this magnitude, it seems unlikely that Hodgson will be handed any sort of transfer war chest that the newspapers like to prattle on about day after day until at least January.
The significant RBS interest payments that will shortly need to be paid by the club do mean that Hicks and Gillett will be keen to sell before August 31st, as it makes the club a more sellable asset and attractive proposition to clients, but Liverpool fans will have to ask themselves, if Huang is getting this impatient about buying the club and delivering transfer money to manager Hodgson, while enthusiastically pleasing as it may be, if he follows his promise to walk away if a deal is not reached before the end of the transfer deadline, is Huang the real deal or simply another false prophet with grandiose dreams?
There are numerous other interested parties and a sale looks likely to happen this time around, but I remain unconvinced that it’ll take place before the 31st and a timetable of around another two months would look a lot more reasonable. I think the club will be sold to Huang, but not for a while yet.
Chances of Liverpool FC sale before the end of the transfer window – 4/10
So what does everyone else think – will Keane hang around White Hart Lane? Are there any more obvious ones that you think that I’ve missed? You know the drill, post them below.
Written By James McManus