Some whopping great transfer news to start us off here: Manchester United want James Rodriguez.
According to The Sun, Rodriguez ‘could be coming to the end of his time in the Spanish capital’ after signing only 18 months ago. He has made just seven league starts in a ‘disappointing campaign’, and United are therefore considering breaking the British transfer record for him. The Old Trafford club set that themselves by signing Angel di Maria for £59.7million from the same club in the same window Rodriguez joined.
The story is by the esteemed ‘Staff Reporter’, who must be Neil Custis’s replacement while he’s busy flogging a horse that died as soon as it was born on Tuesday. If the author doesn’t tell you enough, the fact that such a huge transfer rumour didn’t make the actual newspaper should reveal the rest.
Basically, someone at The Sun has noticed Rodriguez has only played 10 league games so far this season, which is fine. Except he missed 11 in all competitions through injury at the start of the season. Of Real’s 25 La Liga and Champions League games so far, the Colombian has failed to feature in only two for which he was not fit. Rodriguez picked up an injury on September 10, playing both of Real’s first two games beforehand, then returned on October 31. Real played Paris Saint-Germain in Europe just three days later, a game which came understandably too soon for Rodriguez to play. Since then, he did not play against Shakhtar Donetsk in September, and was ‘dropped’ against Valencia at the start of this month.
Oh, and Real’s transfer ban. Whether it’s pushed back a window or not, it’s doubtful the club will sell one of their main assets – Rodriguez is still just 24 – even to fund a £250m/£330m spending spree.
Aside from all that, it’s spot on.
Goalscoring has been a problem for Liverpool so far this season. Unless they come up against one of the best sides – and defences – in the Premier League, they struggle. Which is delightful. Well, Jurgen Klopp may have found the answer.
According to the Irish Daily Star, Klopp will press forward with a move for Southampton striker Shane Long. The 28-year-old has eights goals in 19 Saints appearances this season, with Graziano Pelle favoured more regularly in the central forward role.
The fee for the Irishman would come to around £8million. Southampton signed Long for £12million in summer 2014, and Hull signed him for £7million in January of that year. If he wasn’t good enough for either of those clubs, he probably won’t quite make the cut at Liverpool.
The story seems to be based on the fact that Christian Benteke is Liverpool’s only fit striking option. It is an argument, but considering Roberto Firmino has emerged as a potent threat as a false inverted winger No 9/10, it’s doubtful Klopp will panic and move for a striker with only 38 goals in 191 Premier League appearances. Divock Origi will also return soon, while Daniel Sturridge will surely come back. One day. Surely? If not, there’s always Steven Caulker.
NEVER GO BACK
Chelsea have had 26 permanent managers in their 110-year history. Interim manager Guus Hiddink may be, but he represents the 11th boss of the 13-year Roman Abramovich era. Uncertainty surrounds the decision over who will replace the Dutchman when he leaves at the end of the season, but reports in Italy claim a former face will be considered.
Sorry, Chelsea fans, it ain’t Avram Grant. Or Luis Felipe Scolari. No, it’s Rafael Benitez.
Not really. According to the ever reliable Tuttosport, Abramovich has shortlisted Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri for the role for next season. The owner is reportedly looking to restore ‘serenity’ to the Chelsea dressing room, with Ranieri, who apparently still has an ‘excellent relationship’ with the Russian despite his 2004 sacking, ranking highly in that respect.
We can’t find the first actual reference of ‘Ranieri to Chelsea’ anywhere on Tuttosport, but most outlets on these shores are reporting it. It won’t happen, of course.
Some actual good news for Chelsea fans, now: Rafael Benitez is returning as manager.
Not really. No, this comes from the only player who can emerge from such a troubled season with his reputation enhanced. Willian wants to sign a new deal, bless him.
The Brazilian told The Sun: “The club knows exactly how I feel. I am very happy here. it was always my dream to come here when I was playing in Ukraine the realisation of a dream. I want to stay. But at the same time my head is calm I am just going to see how things go. I’m happy. I tend to not get involved in that side of things too much. I leave it up to my agent to deal with it but the club knows exactly how I feel.”
Sign him the heck up.
AND THE REST
Chelsea will not sign a striker this month despite on-loan Radamel Falcao being too unfit to play for his parent club, Monaco…Alexandre Lacazette has warned the Premier League’s top clubs he will not move to England to warm their bench…Everton ‘keeper Tim Howard is wanted by MLS side Colorado Rapids, who could offer him up to £2m per season…Watford hope to tie up a £6.5m deal for Malaga winger Nordin Amrabat…Southampton risk star striker Graziano Pelle returning to Italy after delaying talks over a new contract. Pelle – wanted by both Juventus and Fiorentina – is into the final 18 months of his current deal…Leeds United, Sheffield Wednesday and Blackburn Rovers are interested in signing Aiden McGeady on loan from Everton…Norwich have agreed an £8.5 million fee for Swiss international defender Timm Klose…Celtic have opened talks with Manchester City over taking their best young talent on loan, with Patrick Roberts and Bersant Celina talked about…Everton are facing a fight to land Sam Byram after Newcastle and West Ham launched attempts to hijack the deal.