Thiago Alcantara, not Fabregas, on his way to Manchester United
David Moyes, who is probably sulking in private after being handed the Fixture list from hell, seems to have taken a shining on Barcelona’s midfield line-up. After Fabregas, it is Thiago Alcantara who is being linked with a move to Manchester United. While Fabregas has already come out denying any contact, Barca are allegedly going to (over-)compensate for the loss by signing a certain Juan Mata from Chelsea – Something to do with Mourinho not being convinced with Mata’s pedigree. To top off this transfer circus, Barcelona will be clearing out David Villa (Spurs are interested), Christian Tello (Liverpool were interested) and Alexis Sanchez. The Spanish champions will also try to sign Thiago Silva from PSG, who will try to capture his big-haired buddy David Luiz from Chelsea.
THT Verdict: Fabregas to United, and Mata to Barca seem to be figments of various writers’ imagination, but Thiago’s move to Manchester seems like it may carry some truth. Moyes is known to be a long term admirer of the player and with Neymar joining the Catalan team, playing time may be further limited for the young Spaniard. As for Barca, it’s unlikely that a wholesale clean out will happen at Camp Nou, though Villa is likely to be shipped out. If either Thiago Silva or Luiz move in this window, it will involve a big club throwing a lot of weight into the transfer, as both clubs will do anything to avoid their exits.
Arsenal look to sign Higuain and Illarramendi as Laurent Koscielny to stay
Laurent Koscielny has been the name on many a lips, yet the validity of the rumour remains to be close to zero. Barcelona, who will be linked with every half-decent centre-half in this window till the day they finally land one, have been rumoured to be chasing the Arsenal defender. Bayern Munich had also shown interest, but both clubs have had their wishes shattered by Koscielny stating that he would much rather stay with ‘the Professor’, Arsene Wenger. Meanwhile, Wenger’s attempts to buy Gonzalo Higuain through a £22 million bid hangs in the balance; the deal could see the 25-year-old earning a rumoured £150,000 a week, shattering Arsenal’s existing wage restrictions. Arsenal are also looking at Asier Illarramendi, a 23 year old defensive midfielder from Real Sociedad, who has given convincing performances for the Spanish Under-21 sides.
THT Verdict: Arsenal seem to be making all the right noises in this window. After too many years of only qualifying for Champions League, without ever looking like they might just fight for the top spot, Wenger seems to be doing a good job of hanging on to his best players (Cazorla and Koscielny don’t seem to be Manchester bound) and making moves for a top class talent like Higuain. The striker would bring in some much needed directness and goals to the Arsenal attack.
Antonio Cassano to Parma, with Ishak Belfodil headed the other way
Italy tourist Antonio Cassano (Inter is his 5th Italian club) looks to be set for a move to Parma on loan. The deal will see Cassano and defender Matais Silvestre being loaned, along with around £8 million cash, to bring Ishak Belfodil the other way. It is understood that Silvestre is not overjoyed with the prospect of playing for Parma, but may have to toe the line after not making much of an impact last season. Inter have also bought full ownership of Samir Handanovic; the Slovenian goalkeeper was partially owned by Udinese till date.
THT Verdict: Intelligent work by Inter; Cassano has not looked the same since leaving AC Milan for their bitter rivals, and Ishak Belfodil has shown plenty of promise in recent performances. Also, Handanovic has proven his worth, and full ownership was the right way to go.
Andy Carroll completes his move to West Ham United
The long drawn out saga starring the long-haired sky-scraper Andy Carroll, his English transfer record busting (former) employers Liverpool, and the club in red-and-white that has grudgingly agreed to sign him for a somewhat less than historic sum of £15 million (rumoured), West Ham.
Liverpool have been the most active English club in the transfer market, having already signed Kolo Toure and Iago Aspas (principal agreement with Celta Vigo), and are rumoured to be in advanced discussions to sign Shaktar Donetsk’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Sunderland’s Simon Mignolet, Sevilla’s Luis Alberto and FC Porto’s Ghanian winger Christian Atsu. They have also been rumoured to be interested in Dynamo Moscow winger Balazs Dzsudzsak and Real Madrid’s Alvaro Morata.
THT Verdict: All in all, it is the best possible solution for all parties involved. Carroll in Brendon Rodger’s Liverpool would always have been a square hole someone is trying to fit into a round hole. Conversely, he’s exactly the kind of player Big Sam loves to play (remember he once played Christopher Samba as a striker at Blackburn Rovers?).
- The theme of the day is rich boys’ tug-of-wars. Real Madrid have entered the fray involving Cavani (who has been chased by Manchester City and Chelsea), while Bayern join the hunt for Malaga’s Isco (who has been linked with Manchester City, Real Madrid and Arsenal).
- Borussia Dortmund have joined the race for Adil Rami, the Valencia centre-half who has already been linked with Arsenal and Manchester City.
- Aston Villa will ask for a minimum of £8m for Darren Bent; the English striker has been strongly linked with a move to Newcastle United.
- FC Schalke 04’s attempts to buy 18 year old VfL Bochum youngster Leon Goretzka, which looked to be on track recently, seem to have come under question.
- After being turned down by Andres-Villas Boas, PSG will look to appoint Fabio Capello as manager next year, as replacement for the Madrid bound Carlo Ancelotti.