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.

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Can Cavani and Ibrahimovic and Co. Coexist?

Cavani’s transfer to PSG has raised a lot of eyebrows. The surprise is not from the fact that he garnered the largest transfer fee in French history or that PSG was the team to give it to him but because of the team he went to. PSG played last year in a 4-3-3 with Zlatan Ibrahimovic as the lead striker and main focal point of their attack. The strategy worked well with Zlatan scoring thirty goals and led the Ligue 1 in scoring. However, Zlatan is notorious for being three things, two of which earn him a lot of vitriol from football fans, he is a great striker, incredibly selfish, and has gained a reputation as a mercenary. If he feels his position as center of the PSG universe is being threatened he could try and force his way out or force Cavani to play out of position. Neither of which are desirable outcomes if PSG is looking to bolster its attacking prowess.

On Napoli, Cavani played more of a central striking position while on Uruguay that position is occupied by Luis Suarez, and a lot of blame for his poor performances on the national team has been blamed on this very fact. Although to be fair, there have been many great players who have not performed at the level they are expected to on their national team because they have so little time to mesh with their teammates on their national team when compared to the time they have to mesh with their club teammates. Despite this caveat it is interesting to note how Cavani has consistently under-performed when put out wide. Zlatan never plays wide due to his style of play and body-type. If you look at PSG’s success last year it is hard to argue that Zlatan was the reason for their failure in the Champions League. Therefore, can PSG really make the case to play Zlatan out of position or change the formation that he thrived in without angering the fans and, more importantly, Zlatan himself?

Zlatan moving position seems unlikely but PSG would be foolish to not try everything to make sure their record-signing as effective as possible during his PSG career. Therefore, this is where the questions arise. Obviously, every effort must be made by a team like PSG to get one of the best strikers in the world but by signing Cavani they put two world-class strikers on the same team who have a proven track record of being unable to thrive out of position. So the real question is, can Laurent Blanc devise a formation that utilizes both strikers in a way that will get the most of their potential? Or will this signing hasten Zlatan Ibrahimvic’s exit from PSG?

There are a lot of possible formations that could be utilized. One of which is a 4-4-2 with Zlatan playing behind Cavani and a little bit to the left or right. In this scenario Cavani¬†would be the point man and could lay off balls to Ibrahimovic who can run at defenders with some space. This is assuming Ibrahimovic will play as effectively without the service provided by two wingers. There’s also¬†Ezequiel Lavezzi to worry about, assuming Cavani’s arrival doesn’t lead to him seeking a transfer to elsewhere, because his talent lies on the wing and having to consistently track back will hurt his effectiveness on the offense, same with Lucas Moura. Not to mention this leaves Javier Pastore as the odd man out as both wide midfield positions would be occupied by Lavezzi and Moura. PSG now has a wealth of offensive talent but a lot of offensive talent can be a bigger problem than it looks on paper because each talented player wants to play. However,too many offensive minded players can lead to weaker defense. This is because offensive players are notoriously bad at tracking back and playing defense which can overwhelm the PSG defense forcing PSG to have to outscore their opponents in way too many games to counteract their defense being constantly under fire.

Each and every formation will have its ups and downs, especially with this over-abundance of talent and a dearth of offensive positions within most formations. At the end of the day it is whether these two highly played players, and the rest of their talented offensive cast, can adapt their playing styles in order to compromise for the good of the team. Although, as the past has shown highly-paid players are usually not the ones most willing to compromise. If PSG wants to challenge in the Champions League then Laurent Blanc and company better make sure they do. However, it is entirely possible, and likely, that one of these players will have to leave in order to make room for Cavani and if Cavani does not mesh with Ibrahimovic then he could be worth a lot less tactically then the record transfer fee PSG paid for him. The only positive is that Cavani and Lavezzi have shown that they play well together after their time playing together on Napoli. Thus at the end of the day PSG’s success relies on whether Ibrahimovic and Cavani, two fantastic world-class strikers, can play at their best when sharing the spotlight.

Transfer Rumors Heating Up

Even though some of the top transfer targets already found new homes, that’s not to say transfer rumors are lacking thus far. ¬†Let’s take a look at some recent targets being linked with new clubs.

Edinson Cavani –¬†ESPN is reporting increased interest by Chelsea as expressed by Napoli president¬†Aurelio De Laurentiis. ¬†The potential¬†‚ā¨63 million move (Cavani’s release clause) would be a Barclay’s Premier League record. ¬†Demba Ba is a quality Premier League striker, but does not have the quality of the top strikers of the world. ¬†Cavani is a special talent who would instantly propel Chelsea back to being Premier League favorites.

Fabio Contrao – Not exactly a ‘high profile’ transfer target, but it is noteworthy who he is being linked with. ¬†Once again, Monaco is looking to splash even more cash and, most recently, has been linked with the Real Madrid/Portuguese defender. ¬†After already booking the talents of Falcao, James Rodriguez, Joao Moutinho, and Ricardo Carvalho, Monaco looks to add top quality to become relevant again and with these signings, they may be more than just relevant in the near future.

Gonzalo Higuain – Arsenal reportedly has a substantial cash reserve and with another year in Champions League action, they should be able to attract some top talent and not be providers of top talent to the rest of Europe as was the case the past few years. ¬†Out of favor striker Higuain is the latest, and most probable, world class player to be linked with a move to the Emirates. ¬†Arsenal have reportedly submitted a¬†¬£19 million offer to Real Madrid. ¬†Let’s see how this one plays out but of all the Arsenal transfer rumors, this one seems the most likely.

Marouane Fellaini – It’s been reported that Arsenal have triggered Fellaini’s¬†¬£24 million release clause. ¬†Fellaini would be a big boost to the Arsenal defensive midfield that has been lacking since the departure of Alex Song prior to last season. ¬†However, would Everton be willing to part with their star player? ¬†He certainly would add a different dimension to Gunner’s squad.

Cesc Fabregas – After departing Arsenal for his dream club, he may not be as happy as he thought he would be playing at Camp Nou. ¬†Which is why speculation is growing with a move back to England. ¬†His family happens to still live in England. ¬†He has always loved Arsenal and Arsene Wenger. ¬†Arsenal is not the only club being linked to the Spanish International, Manchester United are also rumored to be interested. ¬† However, Arsenal have the advantage with the transfer clauses they implemented with Barcelona as stipulations for the move. ¬†Arsenal’s release clause for Cesc is set at only ¬£25 million. ¬†They also have a built in fee clause that gives Arsenal half of the transfer fee should Barcelona sell Cesc to another squad. ¬†Meaning, United would have to offer Barcelona¬†¬£50 million to match an Arsenal offer of¬†¬£25 million since the ¬£50 million would be split by Barcelona and Arsenal. ¬†Should Cesc leave Camp Nou this summer, which is still unlikely at this point, it would most likely be back to Arsenal and not United.

Huge Transfer Deals Already Making Waves

With the Champions League finished and the European leagues coming to a close, transfer news and rumors heat up. ¬†A few of the hottest commodities in the world are already confirmed to be on the move. ¬†This could mean that when the actual transfer window opens for the English Premier League in July, pickings may be slim on superstars for the top clubs looking to add top quality. ¬†Lets take a look at some of the “confirmed” transfers already in place.

1) Neymar from Santos to Barcelona – Confirmed

New Barcelona teammates Messi and Neymar

Arguably the best young talent to hit the transfer market was Brazilian International Neymar.  Reportedly, he had a choice between Real Madrid and Barcelona and chose to join forces with Messi rather than Ronaldo.  With Alexis Sanchez and Pedro losing form and the likely departure of David Villa, Barcelona were in need of a winger upgrade and what better way than to add a 21 year old prodigy to partner with the best player in the world.

Santos will receive a reported¬†‚ā¨30 million euros and Barcelona likely have to pay a substantial fee in addition to that to Neymar’s third party investors. ¬†(Explanation of third party investors here.) ¬†Neymar’s talent level is unquestioned, it is whether he can translate that to the rigors of “big boy” soccer in Europe after beating up on the lowly Brazilian League in his teenage years. ¬†Either way, you can’t blame Barcelona for taking a gamble on him. ¬†After all, take a look at some of his highlights:

2) Radamel Falcao from Atletico Madrid to Monaco – Pending Physical

Falcao celebrating after scoring for Atletico Madrid

Speculation has been surrounding Falcao since last transfer window as Atletico look to cash in on his incredible form in becoming one of the top central strikers in the world over the past few seasons. ¬†The 27 year old looks to be snubbing the Premier League and will look to join France squad Monaco in their attempts to rebuild. ¬†Monaco have already purchased the talented Porto duo Joao Moutinho and James Rodriguez for a combined¬†‚ā¨70 million and will have to splash out another¬†‚ā¨60 million for Falcao. ¬†Quite the spending spree for the Ligue 2 champions. ¬†The deal is expected to be confirmed sometime following Atletico Madrid’s final match of the season.

3) Robert Lewandowski from Borussia Dortmund to Bayern Munich – Agent Confirms

As if Bayern hadn’t given enough blows to Dortmund by announcing the signing of Mario Gotze and then beating them in the Champions League final, Bayern are set to steal their top goal scorer as well. ¬†This deal is far from official yet and no transfer fee amount is being reported, but Robert’s agent recently stated to the media that Bayern have agreed on a transfer fee and that his client is set to join following his brilliant season. ¬†I’m willing to bet he had the attention of Bayern even before he put 4 goals past Real Madrid in the Champions League semi’s. ¬†If the signing of Lewandowski comes to fruition for Bayern, they have to be the favorite to defend their Champions League title next season.

With 2 of the worlds top strikers supposedly off the market, it looks like squads will be forced to overpay for the next tier talents.  Cavani, Rooney, David Villa, and Dzeko (among many others) would be included in this group as possible and likely departures.  It should be a very interesting summer as the transfer season heats up so stay tuned.

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