Sunderland Confirm Wickham Signing

Sunderland have confirmed the signing of teenage striker Connor Wickham from Ipswich Town for a sum of 12 million. Liverpool were also in the running for the player but refused to match the asking price set by the club.

THT Verdict: Regarded by many as a hot prospect, it was only a matter of time before Connor Wickham would make the move to the Premier League. At this point in time, Premier League would matter more than where he gains that experience. Although Liverpool would have served a better platform, Sunderland will nevertheless present itself as a good stage for the player to showcase his talent.

Barcelona Agree Sanchez Deal

Barcelona and Udinese seem to have reached an agreement on the transfer of attacker Alexis Sanchez. Barcelona will pay 26 million Euros, plus 11 million as variables.

THT Verdict: An expensive deal but, thankfully, not an insane one. Alexis Sanchez is only 22 years old and can be a key asset in years to come. Despite the abundance of attacking options currently at the club, Sanchez will give the Spanish and European Champions an option to rotate the squad and establish themselves as the best, yet again, next season. The Catalan club is likely to play more matches than any other team in Europe next season and a mercurial player like Sanchez will definitely get his opportunity to prove his worth.

Juventus Close to Signing Aguero and Honda

According to Corriere Dello Sport, Juventus are all set to sign Sergio Aguero for a price of 35 million Euros. CdS also reports that Juventus are looking at CSKA midfielder Keisuke Honda to be the first Japanese to play for Juve. Honda’s high salaries (6 million Euros/year) are a major deterrent at this point.

THT Verdict: Aguero has been strongly linked to Juve for last few weeks and there is a good chance that Juve might end up signing him. Honda, on the other hand is less likely. He is a non-EU player and Juve is less likely to use up their non-EU quota so soon in transfer market.

Di Matteo Returns to the Bridge

Chelsea FC have confirmed that Roberto Di Matteo will be Andre Villa-Boas’ right hand man going forward. The ex-Chelsea player returns to the club after a long hiatus and together with Villa-Boas, will take over the reins at Stamford Bridge.

THT Verdict: Just about 10 days back, we at TheHardTackle reviewed a possible list of candidates who would fit the bill as assistant manager at Chelsea. Matteo emerged as one of the strongest contenders and we are glad to have our views right where the limelight was focused. Di Matteo will no doubt be welcomed with open arms at Chelsea and with the knowledge of the club and the tradition that he possesses, he will surely form a lethal partnership with Andre Villa-Boas to take the club forward.

Bergkamp Appointed As Assistant Manager at Ajax

Confirmed reports from Netherlands have announced that former Arsenal player Dennis Bergkamp has been appointed as the assistant manager of AFC Ajax.

THT Verdict – Former Arsenal and Ajax legend, Dennis Bergkamp is slowly moving towards his ultimate goal of managing Arsenal Football Club. In 2008, the Dutchman had completed his KNVB license, required for Professional Coaching in The Netherlands. A job of an assistant coach at Ajax, where he spent 12 years of his grass-root level football learning, is indeed a fantastic starting point towards his goal of replacing Arsene Wenger in the future. Meanwhile, Dennis can do a great job with his former club and country colleague De Boer at The Amsterdam Arena.

Sammy Lee Departs Liverpool. Possibly Heading to West Ham

After 3 eventful years, Liverpool’s assistant manager Sammy Lee has parted ways with Liverpool FC on mutual consent. It is rumoured that he is heading towards West Ham to work under Big Sam (Allardyce).

THT Verdict: Sammy has been a fantastic servant for Liverpool; a club where he grew in  stature as a player in the Dalglish era. Lee surely carries a lot of Premier League experience in his pocket and will have a lot to offer wherever he chooses to continue his career, be it West Ham or any other top club.

Villa In for Canales

New Aston Villa manager Alex McLeish has a tough job of bringing in someone to fill in the void left by Ashley Young’s departure and the Scott has now identified Real Madrid player Sergio Canales as a potential replacement.

THT Verdict: Likely bid. Canales is a player with a lot of promise but somehow has failed to break into the first team under Jose. A move away from home could benefit his career and probably put it back on track. Aston Villa that way would serve as the ideal destination for the youngster. A club where he can make a mark and grow into a vital team player.

Barcelona Line Up Nani as Back-up

Reports from Spain are suggesting that Barcelona are likely to make a move for Manchester United winger Nani if they fail to land Udinese winger Alexis Sanchez.

THT Verdict: Unlikely. More than Barcelona or any other club wanting to sign Nani, Sir Alex Ferguson is never going to wake up to the thought of selling him. Having just clinched their 19th Premier League title, United will now set their sights on the Champions League trophy and Nani is surely going to prove instrumental in their campaign. The player enjoyed a good season at Old Trafford last season and there is simply no reason for him to leave.

Chelsea Monitoring Aguero Situation

The Dailymail has published latest reports claiming that Chelsea are keeping tabs on Sergio Aguero’s situation at Atletico Madrid and could make a move for the player provided his release clause is dropped from 42 to 32 million pounds.

THT Verdict: Kun and Chelsea have flirted in the past as well, but somehow the deal failed to materialise, mainly due to his wage demands and the price tag on his head. With Madrid and Juventus also in the hunt for the Argentine, and Chelsea also apparently looking at Falcao, Neymar, and Sanchez, a move for Kun presently looks unlikely. However, in case Neymar choses Madrid, Sanchez is picked up by Barcelona, and Falcao story had no truth in it, Chelsea may spoil Juventus’ party.

Marseille and Galatasaray Loom Over Ivorian

Chelsea striker Didier Drogba could soon find himself in a tug of war between former club Marseille and Turkish giants Galatasaray. The Blues intend to open talks with the striker sooner than later with the hope of keeping him at the club.

THT Verdict: Everything depends on the strategy of the management. If another striker is signed, which looks likely, then Drogba may be allowed to leave. Else, a 1-year contract extention is a decent alternative. If the coach feels that Drogba’s experience in the Premiership can help in case Torres struggles and the new striker takes time to find his feet, the Ivorian would be retained. Also, it certainly depends on Drogba. If he feels his position is all the more threatened by the addition of another striker, he may himself demand a move.