Ah it’s silly season…when rumors of Wayne Rooney heading to Barcelona, Manchester City signing every player from Barcelona and AS Roma signing all the Americans run rampant.
First, stop what you’re doing. If you haven’t read our piece from last transfer season about how most US (and pretty much any nation’s) transfer rumors are really just a stupid spiral of creating clicks from your computer to some failing online newspaper, be sure to do that.
Here’s the equation again, if you don’t want to fall into our trap of clicking on one of our columns:
US (or any) Player + Newly promoted team with budget OR Team with history of employing players of same ilk as Player + Dodgy, Sensational Publication = Suspect Rumor
Keep that one in your back pocket as you hear the ridiculous rumors of Wesley Sneijder bound for City, Landon Donovan for Newcastle or RVP for Mars. (Not sure even Mars wants to deal with Van Persie’s ego….unless he’s healthy.)
Oh and by the way for all the bbbbbuzz about AS Roma picking up every American from Jermaine Jones to Jack McBean, the tally of Americans at Daniel De Rossi’s stomping grounds is precisely zilch.
So let’s kickoff our silly season coverage with the following:
• Here’s what’s gone down (over the past week)
• Here’s what’s rumored to be going down (some more incredible than others)
• Here’s some hypothetical trades….if there were, you know, trades between teams and leagues.
Here’s what’s gone down (over the past week)
» Stewart Downing rolls from Aston Villa down to Liverpool to join newcomers Charlie Adam and Jordan Henderson
The skinny: Along with the addition of Sunderland up-and-comer Jordan Henderson and Blackpool standout (though apparently locker room villian) Charlie Adam, Liverpool’s front six (with a healthy Andy Carroll presumed) is taking on a very lethal appearance….and perhaps more importantly doesn’t need to rely on the health or wistfulness of one Steven Gerrard (might Gerrard be Fed-Ex’d somewhere shortly?).
Just yesterday, Liverpool scooped up the Revivalist Known as Stewart Downing. Once the heir apparent to David Beckham on the Three Lions, Downing went down with Middlesborough in relegation a few years, was procured by Aston Villa, proclaimed his allegiance to the club and became a mainstay on the flank for them. He’ll get the same chance at Liverpool and add width to an attack that includes carbo-burner Dirk Kuyt as well. Scary…scary as well for Joe Cole who now may need to look for work in Germany…or Turkey? … or the Red Bulls….(now that would be good rumor starting right there….)
Seems like Liverpool’s Carroll splash has done the job, no?
» Gervinho to Arsenal
The skinny: The Eduardo that Arsene Wenger never had. TSG is predicting a fantasy explosion for the Lille forward winger. With Andrei Arshavin motivated by (night)club appearances and Samir Nasri playing “He loves me; he loves me not” with Wenger and the Emirates, a solid pick-up here for the London powerhouse.
» John Arne Risse’s left boot and that’s about it inbound to Fulham from Roma
The skinny: Unfortunately this isn’t the 2002 version of Risse. It’s real nice that Risse wants to link up with his brother Bjorn (also at Craven Cottage), but if you’re trying to appeal to the wandering eye of Clint Dempsey or Brede Hangeland, there’s got to be something better up the Cottagers sleeve this month or that Michael Jackson statue is going to get vandalized by frustrated fans.
» Ashley Young once a Villian, now plays a Red Devil
The skinny: Ashley Young to Manchester United–that’s going to be a nightmare for opponents. So now United possess two capable and true wide players in Antonio Valencia and Young, either of whom can be offset or rested for Nani.
As in Nani, the 1st half MVP for United last season.
Fergie has figured out that to give life to Wayne Rooney, it’s not follicles that are needed, but license to drop deep for ball reception and linking, with acreage provided ahead of him by the off-ball movement of Chicharito. Scary. United are going be a bundle for their foils next year with a formation that’s going to look more like a 4-2-4 with a diamond at the top.
» Brad Freidel to carries a Rednapp(sack) next season.
The skinny: Hmm, stay at Villa where the management is in flux and the club is hemmoraging attackers OR….or…head to Spurs and challenge Heurelho Gomes for a starting role and the right to watch Bale’s rumbles from an excellent vantage point?
Where do I sign?
» Gael Clichy, just your everyday Citizen.
The skinny: That sound you just heard? Either it was the thud of coin hitting Clichy’s bank account or it was Micah Richards hitting the treadmill realizing that the good ol’ days are over unless he restricts the waistline.
» Mourinho gets his man, Fabio Coentrao
The skinny: Ashley Cole’s number has just been deleted from Mourinho’s contacts. This is the year for Real Madrid if it ever will be under Ye Old Special One.
» Malaga. Okay, who wants to join Malaga?
The skinny: Malaga has been downright insane this offseason. They’re like Manchester City’s bastard child or something.
Here’s who they’ve already rolled the dice on: Jeremy Toulalan, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Joris Mathijsen, Isco, Martin Demichelis.
There like your buddy in your fantasy league who buys on reputation…from 2004 and he may get real lucky….or not.
Next up, Lucho Gonzalez or Damien Duff? How ’bout Michael Owen?
» US national David Yelldell with a doozy of an opportunity at Leverkusen
The skinny: Okay, you make the call. More amazing? Yelldell is a solid American goalkeeper and he has hair or incoming from Duisberg Yelldell finds himself in the thick of a battle for the starting spot at the #2 team in the Bundesliga because ace keeper Rene Adler is out with knee surgery.
Yelldell, perhaps the most interesting American abroad to watch as the 2011-2012 campaign gets underway.
» Fabio Quagliarella, Andres Pirlo to Juventus
The skinny: Wedding season at Juventus as they pick up something old in midfield maestro Pirlo from Milan and something new, “Q” who should set the league on fire freed from a Napoli team that often wasn’t enough about him.
Juventus also picked up Cagliari’s Alessandro Matri and Udinese’s Simone Pepe. Wow.
» Lazio picks up a pair to play up top.
The skinny: It’s Serie A’s new version of the Odd Couple: Djbril Cisse and Miroslav Klose inbound to the bottom rung Serie A side. Anyone else feel that Klose should only be allowed to play in Germany?
» The entire USMNT to join AS Roma.
The skinny: At one time or another this offseason the following USMNT names–in no order–have been apparently eyed by Roma who of course sport a new American owner: Clint Dempsey, Jermaine Jones, Landon Donovan, Omar Gonzalez, Timothy Chandler, Steve Cherundolo and probably a handful.
Sensing a trend here as not a single one of them has signed on.
Good. Me too. (Remember that fun little equation up top?) Let’s move on.
» Luka Modric to procure Abramovich’s giraffe in a move to Chelsea
The skinny: This one’s got a little bit of bite. Modric is clearly wanted by the Blues…and he’d be an absolutely perfect fit for them. The tableclother has also put in a transfer request apparently.
Me thinks that good ol’Arry is just waiting out for a transfer figure higher than $30M.
» The entire Camp Nou for one Cesc Fabregas
The skinny: Like a needle being jabbed under my fingernail.
» Gary Cahill bolt’on to Chelsea
The skinny: (Well first, you just skipped that fine print in the one before…right)
The Blues better pray this move doesn’t go down–though it does seem very unlikely. David Luiz just needs some seasoning and Gary Cahill partnering John Terry has Chicharito and Jermaine Defoe salivating….profusely.
» The Spurs and Real Madrid in hot pursuit of Emanuel Adebayor
The skinny: …because he brings it every game?
Okay, enough….here’s some hypothetical–and near-impossible–trades or transfers put together by the staff at TSG. As you can see this piece has went from far-fetched to Lindsay Lohan in a real hurry.
» (Patrick, La Liga experct) Since we aren’t constrained by reality lets set up a 3-way NBA-style swap-em and send Cesc right on over to AC Milan for Thiago Silva. Arsenal get Seydou Keita and recently-shamed young’un Jonathan Dos Santos + (e)37m for cCsc.
Why does Arsenal do this?
Boatloads of money, for one, and the elimination of a huge annual distraction. Keita will provide some steel and experience to an Arsenal midfield that could use a lot of both and Dos Santos gives Wenger a new possession toy for his midfield (and possibly a future Cesc to sell back to us, the cycle never ends!)
Why does Barcelona do this?
Pep loves players that are calm on the ball and capable of playing more than one position. Silva fits the bill perfectly, capable of pushing up into a central midfield role should it require more steel. Besides, in a team of midgets, Silva provides another big body match up with on set pieces both for and against the Catalan side. Center defense for the next half-decade? Fagetabout
Why does AC Milan do this?
With a midfield of potential MLS DP candidates, i rossoneri could use Cesc’s youthful velvet boot to complement the old iron foot of Gattuso. Besides, with Pato and Ibrahimovic on the receiving in of Cesc’s excellent service, we may find ourselves with another treble winning team from Milan.
Overall Quality of the Trade:
Everybody wins! Even the fans who no longer have to deal with Cesc-to-Barca articles. Well, maybe Arsenal doesn’t do as well as they could, but nothing new there….
(Did we just find a replacement for our Gonzalo Higuain Euro Dance Train video! I think we did! You know you want to click that link.)
Arsenal will likely be searching for a new creative midfielder as doubts of retaining both Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri linger. Their answer could be Bayer Leverkusen’s flourishing Chilean midfield maestro, Arturo Vidal. Vidal would slot perfectly in Arsenal’s central midfield next to Wilshire or Diaby, give them a creative spark in the absence of one, possibly two of their most creative players, as well as the work rate to not only to get up the pitch and reinforce the attack, but also drop and help the back four as he did so often in Leverkusen.
This move would certainly benefit Arsenal more than Leverkusen. After finishing second in the Bundesliga and qualifying for the champion’s league, Leverkusen will need a deep squad to get them through a season facing stronger European competition than their 2010/2011 Europa League campaign. Losing last season’s leading goal scorer and assists man – with 10 and 11 respectively in 33 appearances– won’t help their cause.
Leverkusen’s other central midfield options include the aging and injury prone Michael Ballack (34), captain Simon Rolfes (29), Hanno Balitisch (30), and the promising Lars Bender (22). While Rolfes has consistently proven his defensive ability in the holding midfield role, more attacking and creative responsibility would fall to Ballack and Bender; both somewhat unproven through an entire season recently in Leverkusen and often kept out of the side last season because of Vidal’s prominence. Unless Leverkusen invested in a replacement for Vidal with the funds gained from his transfer, they will have to hope for either a revival season from Ballack or a break out season from the young Bender twin. This also means more pressure would be put on their new attacking addition of Andre Schürrle and their outside midfielders Renato Augusto and Tranquillo Barnetta to make up for their newfound lack of central lethality.
Leverkusen’s Director of Football, Rudi Völler, is adamant about keeping his star midfielder, having already rejected bids from Bayern Munich, Napoli, and AC Milan. However, after Vidal revealed in April that he would love to play under his ex-coach Jupp Heynckes in Munich, there is no doubt the 23-year-old would welcome a move to a larger European Club.
Even in the case that Arsenal kept Nasri for the last year of his contract next season (Nasri joining AFC’s Asian preseason tour bolstering these hopes), Arsenal’s chances of holding off Barcelona’s attempts for Fabregas (not included in the Asian tour) look slimmer and slimmer as the transfer window progresses.
Despite Völler’s confidence of keeping Vidal, Arsenal receiving something in the area of 35 million pounds means they could easily reach the highest asking price from Leverkusen – believed to be around 15 million Euros. Added to the fact that Leverkusen has already stated they would only sell Vidal to a foreign club, Arsenal surely would be the perfect fit.
» (Ryan, Not A Barcelona Fan) Carlos Tevez (Man City) to Real Madrid in exchange for Kaka.
These two clubs need to exchange South Americans. Jose Mourinho seems like the one manager in football that might be able to quell Tevez (and his agent). Tevez work-rate up top might be just the thing to disrupt Barcelona. In the crowd of attacking midfield talent at Madrid, Kaka is the odd one out. He gets a fresh start at Man City, who will hope he’ll settle better than their last Brazilian.
» (Eric, Serie A expert) Real Madrid sends Álvaro Arbeloa, Lassana Diarra, and $10m to Arsenal for Cesc Fàbregas.
Think about that for a second.
Why From a Real Madrid Stand Point
We are aware that Cesc would like to leave North London for his home country of Spain. We are also all aware of Cesc’s undying love for Barcelona, the club he played for in his youth, and how he would like nothing more than to return to Catalonia to play with his famous footballing friends. For the past two years, the media has bombarded us with a “Will he? Won’t he?” storyline and, I think I speak for all soccer fans worldwide, frankly, it has gotten tiresome.
There are few things that delight Real Madrid as a club, and José Mourinho as a manger, more than sticking one over on their rivals. How perfect would it be Real Madrid to swoop in and not only get another quality player, but steal that player right out from Barcelona’s grasp. While Fàbregas doesn’t fill an immediate need, this is more about sticking it to their rivals a way that is suited for the Real Madrid – Barcelona rivalry and will add more ill will to an already contentious rivalry.
Why From an Arsenal Stand Point
Arsenal must be aware that they will lose Fàbregas at some point. It’s inevitable, but why not get quality players at positions that are so obviously lacking for the Gunners. With Gaël Clichy’s move to Manchester City, and Laurent Koscielny and Sébastien Squillaci not doing a whole lot last season to prove they are truly Arsenal material, a new, veteran defender would be a welcome addition to the squad. Arbeloa’s versatility along the back line, where he can play at any position, would give the club some flexibility in terms of their lineup. Arbeloa is also now a bit of a surplus at Madrid with the arrival of Fábio Coentrão from Benfica and a move to England would offer more playing time.
While this would be Diarra’s second go around at Arsenal after being with the club for five months from August 2007 – January 2008, this time he has more of an ability to make an impact. He finds himself down the Mourinho’s pecking order behind Sami Khedira and Xabi Alonso and could be keen on a move elsewhere. At Arsenal, he fits the role that Abou Diaby, Denilson, or Alex Song could never quite fill. Diarra brings the muscle and tackling ability that Arsenal has been lacking since the departure of Patrick Viera and Gilberto Silva.
Rate the Trade
In this imaginary trade, I give the edge to Arsenal but only slightly. They are able to get rid of a player that is only going to serve as a distraction, pick up two quality players that can step in immediately and start, and pocket some cash that the club will just sit on and not spend (zing!). Real Madrid picks up a borderline world-class player to add to their ranks and one I think could fit in nicely with the talent already in place. Obviously, the biggest reason to pull this trade for Madrid is the ability to stick it to their Catalan rivals and sell a few shirts while they are at it.
The big winner, however, is all of us soccer fans worldwide who would be free of the Barcelona – Arsenal tug-of-war permeating every nook and cranny of our soccer world.
Include your trade, transfer opine below. Or just throw in a three-way that’s better than a Sasha Grey photo shoot.