The Calm before the Storm

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Since the advent of the transfer window in 2002 there has been an element of predictability about the comings and goings in the Premiership and elsewhere in Europe. January traditionally sees a rush of panic buys for teams under threat of relegation, while the best run clubs either sign promising youngsters, should the opportunity present itself, or stand still altogether. The summer window, meanwhile, is quite different. As soon as clubs know where they stand for the coming season, having sealed promotion, avoided relegation or secured Champions League qualification, transfer targets are identified and dead wood is cast aside. Teams such as recently relegated Queens Park Rangers know they must sell in order to balance the books, and consequently their best players are snapped up by teams who view them as the ever elusive missing piece. This does pose the question; if these players are so good, why did their team get relegated in the first place? QPR’s back four sprung more leaks than the titanic last season, yet Christopher Samba was brought back by Anzi Makhachkala for £12 million, and their goalkeeper, Brazil number one Julio Cesar, is allegedly wanted by Arsenal, AC Milan and Roma.

Of course QPR, Cesar and Samba are just small fish in a big, big transfer pond this summer. Wayne Rooney is reportedly unhappy at Manchester United, primarily for being supplanted as the clubs main striker by Robin Van Persie. Rooney himself complained in 2010 that United weren’t matching his ambition and needed to sign more world class players. Lo and behold, they do exactly that and he slaps in a transfer request. It’s a strange old world, and as I sit here writing this article Rooney’s future location remains a mystery. Will Chelsea come in for him? Jose Mourinho says he is an admirer. But is he more interested in signing Rooney or rocking the Old Trafford boat, so calmly steered for 25 years by Sir Alex Ferguson before he handed the reigns to David Moyes? United themselves have had two bids for ex-Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas rejected by his current team, Barcelona. Moyes could well go back with a third offer. Or he may not, and choose instead to return to his former club Everton for Marouane Fellaini. Fellaini is an almost completely different player to Fabregas, so I’m not really sure where Moyes is heading with his interest in these two central midfielders.

Over to Spain for a second now, and Real Madrid are rumoured in the Spanish press to have agreed a deal for Gareth Bale with Tottenham. £80 million is the quoted figure, plus a further £51 million in salary over six years. Spurs have denied that a deal has been agreed, and nothing official has come from Madrid themselves. Madrids new manager, former Chelsea supremo Carlo Ancelotti, has stated that Madrid’s own star player Cristiano Ronaldo is not for sale. Ronaldo has been linked with a return to former club Manchester United, who have also themselves been linked with Bale. Confusing, I know. But what about Madrid’s hated rivals, Barcelona? While the Fabregas saga is ongoing they’ve had to appoint a new manager due to the poor health of Tito Vilanova. Gerardo Martino is the new man in charge, and if reports are to be believed it’s mainly due to his good relationship with Lionel Messi. Martino made his name managing in Argentina, and he’ll be tasked with carving out a role in the side for wonder-kid Neymar, who fulfilled some of his much hyped promise in the recent Confederations Cup. Another star of that Brazilian side, Paulinho, has also made a big money move, this time to Tottenham. The Londoners stumped up a reported £20 million to land the midfielder.

Back to England now, where as of last night Luis Suarez was allowed to talk to Arsenal regarding a potential transfer from Liverpool. A bid of £40 million (and a quid) triggered a clause that doesn’t force Liverpool into selling but allows the Uruguayan to talk to the interested team. Suarez did say he wanted to leave England because of the media scrutiny a while back, but that would no longer appear to be the case should he migrate down south. Of course it’s not all about the ‘big’ teams, and one side who have made an early splash in the transfer window is Norwich. Striker Ricky Van Wolfswinkel agreed a deal early doors to sign for the Canaries, and fellow front man Gary Hooper looks on the verge of joining him for a quoted figure of £5.5 million from Celtic. Leroy Fer has also joined the Norfolk club, making the switch from FC Twente last week, while former top scorer Grant Holt has left for pastures new. It’s exciting times at Carrow Road, and with all the managerial changes and transfer uncertainty at the top of the table Chris Hughton will be confident of a successful campaign this coming season.

So lets try to round this mess up. It’s less than a week before the calendar turns to August and the transfer deadline countdown begins, yet many of the top sides (sorry, Delia) still have plenty of ins and outs to finalise. Will Bale leave Spurs? Is Rooney Stamford Bridge bound? Can Liverpool hold on to Suarez? Will Carlton Cole pass his Crystal Palace medical? These are all big questions that are yet to be answered, and while speculation continues to riddle the back pages of the press nothing substantial has yet to materialise. Perhaps one transfer will act as the catalyst and set the wheels in motion for the other deals to be completed. I can see it now: Bale to Madrid! Ronaldo to United! Rooney to Chelsea! Kalou to West Ham! And Arsenal, poor old Arsenal, stuck with Bendtner leading the line..

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