Hope Springs Eternal: The Annual Summer Transfer Window Rumor Mill

The rumor mill that comes around every summer is an exciting time fraught with peril. The moves a team makes during this transfer window can doom a team to mediocrity or carry them to the top of the table. Unlike the January transfer window, there is a lot more room for interoperability between the clubs in the summer. In January clubs are still making a push to salvage their season so there is a lot less openness to selling one of their best players while he can still help the team win trophies/avoid relegation. However, in the summer teams are looking to rebuild their squads. In order to do this, they sometimes must sell some of their best players in order to finance deals for a better player or sell one great player for a few good players to fill out their squad. It is during this window that a lot of players force their employers hand by stating their unhappiness at a club and a desire to move. Once this is done it is up to the club to decide whether to deal with an unhappy player till he leaves on a free transfer or sell him for a substantial amount of money and buy players who actually want to be there; they almost always choose the latter. The most notable exceptions in the past few years are when Borussia Dortmund refused to sell Robert Lewandowski and let him leave on a free transfer this year or when Liverpool refused to sell Luis Suarez, made him sign a new contract with a higher buyout in the release clause, and then sold him to Barcelona during this summer transfer window. The strategy worked for Liverpool, but Borussia Dortmund did not win any important trophies with Robert Lewandowski in the 2013/2014 so they probably are regretting letting Lewandowski walk for free (It could be argued that without him they wouldn’t have qualified for Champions League).

With so many players looking to leave clubs, and so many clubs looking to add talented players, it is no wonder that there are so many rumors floating around to entice fans into believing that their team is the destination for one of soccer’s superstars. The problem with these rumors is the fact that most of them are fabrications. A lot of the rumor fires are stoked by players agents looking to drive up the price of the player they represent. For example, if Antoinne Griezmann wants Paris Saint Germain to pay up for him then it helps the player if PSG believes that Liverpool, Chelsea, and Juventus are looking into him as well. This will pressure PSG into not only over-paying for the player but also accelerating the buying process so Chelsea does not get an opening to purchase the player. That’s why there are so many top players connected with so many top clubs without reputable sources to back up the claims. Most of the rumors fans hear are false. Mario Balotelli¬†is not going to Liverpool, along with a whole host of equally preposterous rumors. There are some rumors that are real but there are so many fake ones that it is hard to tell from the agent-generated ones and the ones generated by journalists with a very extensive network of inside sources.

At the end of the day, fans probably do not care about the fake rumors. Of course it is disappointing to find out that a top player was never even considering your club, but deep down most fans probably knew the rumor was false. The summer transfer window is the one time of the year where all teams and their fans are on equal footing. Every fan can pretend this is their year that the club turns things around or continues their streak of excellence. Most teams will never get a Gareth Bale or James Rodriguez. A lot of the players a team acquires will fall flat on their face and become a waste of money. There is always the risk the a summer transfer window actually hurts a team rather than propels them to victory. During the summer transfer window acquiring subpar players remains a constant risk but it is pushed beneath the surface in exchange for hope. Hope that the players a team buys/sells will bring the team to the next level. That is why the summer transfer window is so much fun. The rumors may not even be remotely accurate but for a small window of time your club is a contender for not only the best players in the world but also future trophies. Ignorance is bliss.

El Guaje in New York?

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According to Spanish radio Cadena Cope, famed Atl√©tico Madrid striker David “El Guaje” Villa will be the first signing of NYC FC. Apparently they are close to a deal that would transfer the potent front man to New York for the next three seasons.

As soccer fan in the US, I’m ecstatic, because If this is true we will have a chance to watch another amazing talent grace the MLS with his presence and further strengthen our league. This move also can potentially spark a nice rivalry between the NY RedBulls and NYC FC, further contributing the rich history of New York City’s subway series in their other professional sports.

I’m still skeptical on this decision as David Villa commands wages of ‚ā¨750,000 ($1,021,050 USD according to the current conversion rate of ‚ā¨1 = $1.36 at 2:05 pm on 5/29/14) and even though he is 32, he still is as dangerous as ever in front of goal netting 13 times in 36 games this year. He also was a part of an Atl√©tico Madrid squad that made it to the champions league final and won La Liga for the first time since 1996, so why would Villa want to leave?

As a Yankees fan, I know, let me rephrase, EVERYONE knows that when it comes to money, they have the polar opposite of very little, therefore I’m sure they can afford many David Villas. My concern is not with the Bronx bombers, but with Mancity. Will their financial fair play issues affect their dealings with the MLS, or can the Yankees cover their wage and debt restrictions? Will they use this team as a feeder for their English squad? If this is true, how will the contracts be designed? Again, if this is true, would more American players trickle into the Premiership faster and at a younger age? These are all questions that hopefully will be answered in the upcoming summer months. Until then I leave you with this.

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Gervinho Began the Summer’s Domino Effect

Transfer deadline day has come and gone and unless you are an Real Madrid, Tottenham, or Arsenal fan, there’s not too much to really comment on. ¬†Liverpool made a couple small splashes by bringing in Victor Moses on loan and grabbing Sakho from PSG. ¬†Felliani became Manchester United’s sloppy seconds when first choice midfielder, Herrera, ended up falling through as well as a last minute bid for Khedira. ¬†Everton were able to reinvest some of the Felliani money and buy James McCarthy while taking Lukaku and Gareth Barry on loan. ¬†A few lower level deals and a few more loan moves rounded out the Premier League action aside from two players – Gareth Bale and Mesut Ozil.

Tottenham

The transfer of Bale to Madrid had been known for some time now since Tottenham were spending cash like Pacman Jones in a strip club (sorry for the American Football reference). ¬†It was well documented that prior to the North London Derby on Sunday, Arsenal had spent a total of ¬£0.00 and Tottenham had spent ¬£100m. ¬†Even with the ridiculous cash outlay, Tottenham was unable to withstand Arsenal’s determination and seemed to lack the cohesiveness (and rightfully so) of a team who had not played many games together.

Now that the Bale saga is over for Spurs, they can finally focus on what they have brought in and not what they were sending out (similar to the Arsenal/Van Persie situation last year).  Arsenal had brought in Giroud and Podolski and seemed to lack the understanding of each other until the second half of the season.  Will it take that long for the likes of Lamela, Soldado, and Paulinho to gel?  Spurs fans are hoping not, but it is a troubling sign thus far that their only two goals have come by the way of penalties and have yet to score in open play over the first three matches, despite winning two of them.  They seemed to lack the offensive spark that Bale had provided for them the last few seasons.  Once again, very similar to Arsenal last season following the departure of Van Persie.  So all is not lost as the season is still young for the new-look Spurs squad.

Real Madrid

Real Madrid broke their own transfer record by combining the previous record holder, Ronaldo, with the current record holder, Bale. ¬†All I have to say is I pity the fullbacks of the opposition. ¬†Good luck trying to keep up with Ronaldo AND Bale attacking from both sides. ¬†Was Bale’s 21 Premier League goals from a season ago worth ¬£85m? ¬†What we do know is that his talent and potential is very real. ¬†Bale should find it easier in La Liga to breakdown defenses like he did so well with in the Premier League.

However, with spending so much money on one player (as well as several other players brought in), it was necessary for Madrid to 1. make room for Bale and 2. recoup some of the transfer fee that they so willingly threw at Spurs. ¬†With an already crowded midfield, Madrid had a tough choice to make as to which midfielder to send out. ¬†They had to choose between Khedira, Xabi Alonso, Modric, Ozil, Di Maria and of course, Ronaldo. ¬†They offloaded Kaka’s high wages to AC Milan and it seemed like at least one more player had to leave the obviously congested midfield upon Bale’s arrival – enter Arsenal.

Arsenal

Welcome aboard: New Arsenal team-mates Lukas Podolski (left) and Mesut Ozil (right) pose with a club shirt

Arsene Wenger had been feeling the heat. ¬†By the end of the transfer window, he started lashing back at the media with his little quips. ¬†Aside from what most Arsenal fans though, he actually did have a plan, even if it did take until the last hour of the transfer window to announce it. ¬†Early in the window, Arsene brought in a young, albeit unproven, striker in Yaya Sanogo and then recently brought back Flamini, neither costing a penny in transfer fees. ¬†Arsenal fans had seen it before and figured that was the last of Arsene’s signings. ¬†However, once the Bale deal went through, Arsene pounced at the opportunity to buy one of Madrid’s world class midfielders, which now seemed like his plan all along. ¬†Was Arsene really talking to Madrid about Higuain early in the window, or trying to sure up a deal for Ozil as early as July?

Despite the obvious excitement for Ozil, Arsene still left some holes in the squad. ¬†With Oxlade-Chamberlain and Podolski out for months, the attacking options come down to Giroud and an unproven Sanogo. ¬†Obviously, Arsene shows tremendous confidence in Giroud and he has produced a goal in 4 of Arsenal’s 5 match so far this season, but it is still a risky proposition to only have one viable striking option. ¬†Theo Walcott has played there in a pinch before, but is much better with his speed out wide. ¬†Could Bendtner actually be an option for Arsene? ¬†The defense is also thin with Vermaelen out for some time. ¬†Gibbs and Sagna have missed significant time the last couple of seasons. ¬†That leaves Nacho, Mertesacker, and Koscielny, hardly a deep group. ¬†Arsene is taking a gamble that his current squad, with the addition of Ozil, will hold up until depth and possibly a top striker could come in January to get a push for some actual trophies – not just finishing top 4.

Gervinho

So how does Gervinho fit into all of this?  Let me spell it out:

1) Roma buys Gervinho from Arsenal making Lamela expendable

2) Tottenham buys Lamela to send out Bale

3) Madrid buys Bale making Ozil expendable

4) Arsenal buys Ozil

In Summary, Arsenal swapped Gervinho + ¬£35m for Ozil – superb business. ¬†In addition, Spurs not only lost their best player and playmaker, they allowed Arsenal the ability to purchase one of the world’s most creative players.

Probably not what Tottenham had in mind when they decided to cash in on Bale.

Spending Summary for Premier League and Champions League Clubs

Below are two tables that show a great financial snapshot of each Premier League club as well as the 32 Champions League clubs for this summer’s transfer window. ¬†This only takes into account official completed transfers as of 8/30/2013. ¬†For example, Gareth Bale is not included yet as his transfer has not been finalized. ¬†Here is how the Premier League spending table looks:

As you can see, Tottenham would actually turn a slight profit if the rumored 86m pound transfer for Bale goes through.¬† They have been spending money as if they are planning on his departure, that’s for sure.¬† Arsenal, Liverpool, and Newcastle are currently operating at profits for the summer so far.¬† Only Arsenal and West Brom have not spent any money to bring in players (both of Arsenal’s transfers in thus far have been of the free variety).¬† It’s interesting to note how much Cardiff City and Southampton have spent this summer without even sending anyone out.¬† And as usual the oil rich Chelsea and Manchester City lead the way in net spending (if Bale is sold Tottenham will jump towards the top).

With regards to the 32 Champions League clubs, here is how they stack up with another another based on cash inlays and outlays so far:

Atletico Madrid, Porto, and Sociedad have turned huge profits so far and have cash to spend the next few days should they choose.  Real Madrid would most certainly lead the spending pack should they purchase Bale, but they are also rumored to sell a couple players to finance that purchase as well.

So, with 3 days left before deadline day on September 2nd, you can see what kind of business your favorite club has done thus far compared to the rest of the Premier League and Champions League clubs.¬† It’ll be very interesting to see how these tables will look on Tuesday when the dust settles.

Gareth Bale > Christiano Ronaldo

According to the latest reports, Real Madrid and Tottenham have agreed “in principle” to a record transfer fee for Gareth Bale. ¬†Ronaldo joined Real Madrid from Manchester United for a record-setting $124m (80m pounds) back in 2009. ¬†Real Madrid look to top their own transfer record by submitting a $134m (86m pounds) bid for Tottenham’s Bale. ¬†Granted, the transfer market nowadays compared to 2009 is much more inflated, but on the overall record books, Bale would be the most expensive player ever. ¬†This could explain Tottenham’s seemingly over ambitious spending spree this summer bringing in quality players Paulinho, Chadli, Soldado, and Capoue. ¬†Can any or a combination of them replace Bale’s undeniable impact? ¬†That is yet to be seen, but I do know there are a lot of Premier League defenders breathing a sigh of relief to see the talented winger head off to La Liga.

Bale’s transfer has the ability to cause a ripple effect at Madrid. ¬†With Ronaldo and Bale on the wing, players like Angel Di Maria, Mesut Ozil and Luka Modric will be forced to take a seat on the bench. ¬†The latest rumors are heating up with reports of both Ozil and Di Maria being linked to Arsenal as well as Ozil being linked to a move to United, which would be a great replacement should Rooney move on to another club. ¬†As of now, Madrid are about breaking even this summer as they bought some decent players and sold Higuain. ¬†A Bale transfer would tip the scale to a huge summer deficit at Madrid so it is only right that speculation seems to be mounting regarding newly expendable players.

All it takes is one huge transfer and the dominoes will start to fall. ¬†I think we’re in for an eventful week and deadline day is sure to cause a stir across Europe and Bale may just be the beginning.

Transfer Confirmations and Rumors Galore

Since my last transfer rumors post back in June, we’ve seen some players take the plunge and actually join new clubs and others have rumors swirling with different clubs:

  • Cavani is confirmed to be off to PSG instead of the rumored Chelsea
  • Fabio Contrao is now being linked with Tottenham
  • Gonzalo Higuain has been transferred to Arsenal then Napoli, yet nothing is confirmed to this point despite the latest reports saying a 37m bid from Napoli has been accepted
  • Fellaini¬†remains at Everton and it seems talk of his “release clause” being activated was complete BS
  • Manchester United have made a 3rd bid for Cesc Fabregas after we reported they were interested in the beginning of June

So, with those 5 rumors, only one has officially come to fruition.

Recently, I posted about Arsenal possibly splashing some big cash this transfer window. ¬†So far, none of those have happened for Arsene Wenger, much to the dismay of the Gunner’s fans.

  • Higuain (mentioned above)
  • Rooney now looks like Chelsea will be his most likely destination should he leave Old Trafford (IMO, I think he stays)
  • Felliani (mentioned above)
  • Lars Bender¬†looks like he will be staying at Leverkusen, at least for this year
  • Stevan Jovetic is a confirmed Chelsea signing and a good potential Tevez replacement, who is confirmed to be off to Juventus
  • Micah Richards is still at Man City and his transfer rumors have cooled down some
  • Fernando Torres looks to be staying with Chelsea at least for the time being
  • Julio Cesar is still available
  • David Villa¬†has been confirmed to stay in Spain and move to Atletico Madrid

The latest confirmed transfers and rumors involve some players not previously mentioned:

  • The 20 year old Brazilian Bernard¬†has been the talk of the Brazilian media recently with a reported 21m move to Arsenal set to be confirmed after the copa libertores final on Thursday. ¬†He has also been linked with Tottenham and Liverpool. ¬†(Not many outside of Brazil know much about him but he does have some impressive highlights)
  • Soldado¬†is being linked with a 25m move to Tottenham from his current club Valencia, although the latest reports suggest talks have broken down
  • Benfica winger¬†Eduardo Salvio is linked with a 30m move to Chelsea
  • The puzzling rumors regarding¬†Juan Mata continue as a potential Arsenal target (I would put this at about a -3% chance of actually happening)
  • Liverpool have reportedly made an 18m offer for Ajax midfielder¬†Christian Eriksen
  • Aston Villa forward¬†Chistian Benteke¬†received a wage boost to remain at Villa next season
  • Tiago Alcantara is off to Bayern Munich as they add yet another midfielder that is already world class
  • Fellow American¬†Jozy Altidore has officially signed with Sunderland
  • Isco¬†turned down the chance to join Manchester City and went with Real Madrid instead
  • The latest reports on Gareth Bale see a 6 year deal reached with a move to Real Madrid
  • Luis Suarez’s¬†suitors are still reported to be either Arsenal or Real Madrid should Liverpool decide to sell

Next week I will be posting Part 2 (of 3) of my Barclay’s Premier League Predictions. ¬†They will be based on the above confirmed transfers and rumors. ¬†As some squads have had some notable changes, expect the predictions to change from Part 1¬†posted 6 weeks ago.

Exclusive: Higuain to Join Arsenal Following Medical

Before someone misinterprets this headline as fact, I have no idea where Higuain and Arsenal are in their negotiations or even if there are any negotiations in the first place. ¬†Is this headline any different than this headline from the Guardian¬†posted 2 weeks ago? ¬†It states Higuain is flying to London for a medical and will join Arsenal. ¬†The article even goes on to further detail by specifying a transfer amount and Higuain’s wage package. ¬†Now 2 weeks later, everyone knows this story was obviously a fabrication of a “hot tip” a certain insider was given.

Someone from the Guardian must have hacked into Higuain’s computer, pulled up his internet browsing history which showed a visit to Tripadvisor then concluded, “He must be off to London for a medical”. ¬†That sounds ridiculous but it seems like that’s the kind of “exclusive” information that the media takes and runs with and tries to pass off as fact.

With the speed at which information travels nowadays, gullible internet users are as rampant as fabricated news. ¬†It’s like that telephone game you most likely played as a child. ¬†Someone starts the chain with a word or phrase and by the time it ends up back to the person who started, it is something completely different. ¬†In the media, someone’s source starts with a piece of information that is taken either out of context or just blown out of proportion and then reported as fact. ¬†As each media outlet picks up the story, more and more information is being skewed until we have a “Higuain is flying to London for a Medical” story.

A simple Google search will yield hundreds of Higuain to Arsenal stories that claim to break exclusive news – not one has any idea what the hell is actually going on behind the scenes. ¬†There are maybe a handful of people who truly KNOW what will happen or what they want to actually happen. ¬†Higuain, Wenger, Ancelotti, owner’s of Arsenal and Real Madrid and all parties’ respective agents are the ONLY inside sources that should be used by the media to report stories as facts. ¬†Even Higuain’s father should not be trusted as he only has his son’s best intentions in mind and will only supply the media with information that helps his son’s situation.

My point is, no one in the world of transfer news can be trusted. ¬†Every single story should be taken with the tiniest grain of salt. ¬†Everyone has their own agenda to push. ¬†The agent wants to start a bidding war and drive up the price of his client, so what better way to do that than talk to the media about receiving multiple offers from multiple clubs. ¬†Nobody knows if that is true but since the agent said it, the media doesn’t care if it’s true or not, as long as they get their quote from an “inside source”. ¬†Managers use the media to try to talk players into staying or try to get certain players to leave their current clubs. ¬†In the case of Arsenal, executives talk up a big story about certain transfer ideas and money available to appease the fans and then nothing ever happens. ¬†Players use the media to try to get bigger wage deals or create a stir if they want to leave their club for greener pastures.

I don’t think one person or group of people are really at fault here. ¬†The off-season is slow and oftentimes there can be weeks with nothing of importance to really report. ¬†Viewers are looking for that little piece of information that can link their club to the world’s best players. ¬†It is simply the perfect storm for media reporting. ¬†What better way to drum up some easy views and clicks than to report every single bit of transfer information, true or not, that they come across? ¬†It is how any sport stays relevant during their off-seasons.

I have almost gotten to the point of removing myself completely from European soccer news over the summer simply because I cannot take all of the speculation. ¬†Here is the media’s template when it comes to about half of all transfer rumors:

  • One day a player is linked with club A
  • Two days later they are linked with clubs B and C
  • A week later they received an offer from club B
  • Then comes club X out of nowhere to swoop in and actually reaches a deal with the player
  • Ultimately the player ends up signing an extension and stays at their current club for years to come. ¬†(see: Rooney, Ronaldo, Bale, Fabregas (at Barca), and even Nikolas Bendtner)

This is top secret information the media does not want you to know. ¬†All kidding aside, if you do have dreams of making it big in the media, follow the template above and fill in the blanks with your own squads/players – you’re welcome.