Transfer Talk Tracker June 1-7

Transfer Talk Tracker June 1-7
June 7, 2013 Chris Rowland

By Chris Rowland.

Another week trawling the murky waters of the world of transfer rumours – a true bottom-feeder’s existence if ever there was one.

Anyway, the first news this week was Eriksen – it’s still on!

Ajax coach Frank de Boer has added weight to Christian Eriksen‘s much-publicised transfer speculation, insisting the attacking midfielder is ready to become a “class player” with the right decisions. Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool have been locking horns over the 21-year-old Denmark international, who has impressed in the Eredivisie this season.

Eriksen had earlier claimed Dortmund were “definitely” an option, and the lure of Champions League football should be the clinching argument.  And De Boer added further encouragement, if any were needed, for the player’s suitors, by hailing the Dane’s potential. “If [Eriksen] remains as keen as he is, he can become a class player. I think he can adapt very quickly everywhere.” June 1

Eriksen reveals some interesting preferences in this Sky Sports piece on June 3, not least that he wouldn’t mind the Spanish League, that the German League has caught up with the PL, that he wants to be wanted, that the weather won’t decide his future between England and Germany as they’re equally shite (I paraphrase) and most tellingly, he couldn’t play in a long ball side. Though as neither us nor Dortmund are, that doesn’t really help clarify matters much either:

Ajax midfielder Christian Eriksen is considering his future away from the Dutch champions, with a number of European clubs believed to be chasing him.

The 21-year old has attracted interest from a number of European sides in recent months, having been a stand-out figure at the Amsterdam Arena since his first-team breakthrough in 2010. Eriksen could be set to depart this summer and he says that the manager of any potential new club is a key factor to where he will go. Borussia Dortmund are understood to be heading the queue for his services, and he admits coach Jurgen Klopp is a big draw. The Danish international had previously stated his desire to play in La Liga, but he says a move to Spain is no longer his first choice. “That has changed,” he said. “I wouldn’t mind playing in Spain if there was something interesting there for me but I might try a different league first.” Eriksen has been linked with moves to Premier League and Bundesliga clubs, but he says he now has no preference over the two. “They are two very different leagues but they are also very alike. The German league is on its way up where the English league is now. So I won’t prefer one before the other. And it also rains equally much in Germany as it does in England,” said Eriksen, who is said to be high on Liverpool’s wanted list. “The most important thing is to do what I feel is right. My next club has to express that they really want me. “I have to feel that it is the right place and then their style of play has to fit me. I can’t play in a club that prefers to play with long balls.”

Sounds a bit needy, that lad!

More Barca links – David Villa is definitely coming to the Premier League this summer, and Arsenal, Tottenham and Liverpool are all in for the striker, according to the Daily Mirror on June 1.

Spain international Villa has told his advisers he wants a move to England and has now been given the green light by ­Barca to negotiate a deal. The 31-year-old wants regular first-team football in what will be World Cup year and can leave the Nou Camp for £12million. Arsenal, who were keen on Villa in January, are the only ones of the three Prem heavyweights who can offer him Champions League football next season, but he is no longer top of the Gunners’ striker shopping-list. Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas knows Villa personally and has been in touch. The White Hart Lane club are also offering the best financial package, but their failure to get into the ­Champions League may cost them.

And the Barca links just keep coming – are we trying to dismantle them and reassemble them piece by piece in Liverpool 4? Good plan!:

Manchester City and Liverpool target Gerard Deulofeu has admitted his time at Barcelona could be coming to an end. The 19-year-old forward has been in scintillating form for the Catalan club’s reserve side in the second tier of Spanish football, scoring 18 goals in 33 appearances. Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers keeps a keen eye on any Barca youngsters on the market while City’s player recruitment policy is now headed by former Barcelona bosses Txiki Begiristain and Ferran Soriano. Talksport June 3

Next,a  mentioned-in-passing link to what I understand to be a very promising – well; starlet: “Newcastle want to sign Derby starlet Will Hughes and are ready to meet the £10 million valuation”, said on June 1. “The 18-year-old midfielder has caught the eye of a host of top clubs including Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City.”

Whilst on the subject of starlets, Crewe apparently have one too, an 18-year-old striker called Max Clayton:

Crewe Alexandra manager Steve Davis has admitted that “the signs do not look good” for the club keeping hold of starlet Max Clayton, with the striker now having turned down several attempts to persuade him to sign a new contract. The talented product of Crewe’s esteemed youth academy has been linked with Arsenal and Liverpool in the past, and there is little doubt that his potential availability will alert numerous suitors. InsideFutbol June 2.

Man Utd are also sniffing in a predatory manner however, according to International Business Times on June 3, and they must be favourites because they signed Nick Powell from Crewe last year!

The rest of this article is for Subscribers only.


Another battle with Arsenal:

Arsenal and Liverpool target Clement Grenier has admitted that he has picked where he will be playing next season, but has refused to comment on where that will be. The Lyon midfielder has made his decision and will reveal his choice at a later date, but it is widely believed that he will join Arsenal. There are still reports that Liverpool have placed a bid in the region of £15million for the 22-year-old, but this has not been confirmed by either side. Grenier was in great form for Lyon last season, helping them claim third place in Ligue 1 and a Champions League place next season, and he scored seven goals and created a further six in a decent season.”Have I made a decision? Yes. More or less. I keep it for myself as I care for my discussions I have had with the president and the coach,” Grenier explained, according to, adding, “I just want to say that I’ve never had demands. Moreover, either with the club or with my advisors, figures were never mentioned. My choice is a sporting one.” Arsenal will remain favourites to land the talented youngster, despite the reported bid from Liverpool, because the Gunners have Champions League football next season. June 1

Liverpool’s hopes of signing long-term target Christian Atsu have been boosted after he turned down the offer of a new deal with Porto.

Reds boss Brendan Rodgers has been linked with the highly-rated 21-year-old winger since last summer after being impressed with his performances while on loan at Rio Ave in 2011-12. It seems the Ghana international is ready to move on and test his abilities in a different country, with England his preferred choice. Atsu said: “My dream is to play in England and it is very nice to see my name linked with big clubs in the Premier League. For now, I’m focused on my football, but I see my future in England.” It is being reported that Rodgers could now launch a £7million bid to try and entice Atsu to Anfield ahead of Premier League rivals Tottenham. June 2

Liverpool have been told they will have to pay £8million to have a chance of signing Seville midfielder Luis Alberto. ClubCall on June 2 said “Barcelona are reported to have first option on the 20-year-old but it is claimed they are setting their sights higher this summer and that could open the door for Liverpool to swoop. However, the transfer fee could be the problem as Liverpool are said to value the midfielder at £5million, while Seville are holding out for closer to £8million. Rodgers is keen to wrap up all of his transfer business as soon as possible and will try and reach a compromise with the La Liga outfit in the coming weeks.”

Portuguese newspaper O Jogo understood that Liverpool have made an official bid for Sporting Lisbon defender Tiago Ilori – a story echoed by the Echo on June 6:

Liverpool FC are closing in on the £7.7million signing of Celta Vigo forward Iago Aspas with Sporting Lisbon’s Tiago Ilori set to join him at Anfield. The ECHO revealed last week that a fee had been agreed for Aspas with the Spanish outfit and discussions over personal terms have now reached a successful conclusion. There are only a few minor details surrounding the transfer to be ironed out before the 25-year-old is given the go-ahead to fly to Merseyside to undergo a medical. The Reds don’t anticipate any issues and Aspas should be confirmed as Brendan Rodgers’ second summer signing in the next 48 hours. Aspas, who is a product of Celta Vigo’s Academy, is a versatile frontman who can lead the line, play as a second striker or operate in a wide role.

Liverpool are also in negotiations with Sporting as they look to secure the services of young centre-back Ilori. The ECHO understands the Reds have tabled a bid of around £3million for the 20-year-old defender, who is currently on international duty with Portugal at the Toulon Tournament in France. The Reds are increasingly confident they will complete the deal with cash-strapped Sporting willing to do business and Ilori having indicated his desire to join the club. London-born Ilori joined Sporting’s Academy in 2006 and established himself in their first team during the second half of last season. That rise in the 6ft 3ins defender’s profile has increased his price tag but Liverpool still believe it represents a sound investment. Ilori is viewed as one for the future rather than a direct replacement for retiring vice-captain Jamie Carragher.


Tiago Ilori, Sporting Lisbon

As for Aspas, according to the gospel that is Metro, “Liverpool have fended off late interest from Tottenham to agree terms with Celta Vigo forward Iago Aspas.” Tell you what Spurs, get your own bloody scouting department and stop piggybacking ours, eh? Aspas is now expected on Merseyside early next week to have his picture taken in his underpants with Dr Zaq and to complete the transfer. That wasn’t Metro, that was me.

Back with our frankly spooky encyclopaedic knowledge of the Portuguese press, and this time it’s newspaper A Bola, who claim that ‘Liverpool are back in for Sporting Lisbon winger Jeffren.

There were heavy rumours during the January transfer window that Liverpool were close to signing Jeffren, formerly of Barcelona, who has failed to impress at Sporting Lisbon. The 25-year-old Spanish attacker played just 13 times, mostly substitute appearances for Sporting during a troubled season for the club. According to A Bola, Liverpool are well aware of Sporting Lisbon’s current financial problems and see Jeffren as a useful player to provide service for the likes of Daniel Sturridge and Iago Aspas next season. Sporting would be keen to sell Jeffren, which may well explain this A Bola article, and could move the former Barcelona starlet on for as little as 3.75 million euros. If Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers is keen on Jeffren, he must be confident of being able to bring out the best from a winger who has struggled in recent years. 101 Great Goals June 2

The Guardian (June 3) insist we want Sunderland’s Belgian goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, 25, to replace Pepe Reina, should the Spaniard depart this summer. And ESPN understands that:

Sunderland keeper Simon Mignolet has emerged as a leading candidate for a move to Liverpool. Liverpool are still considering a number of goalkeeping options with Belgium international Mignolet, 25, understood to be high on their list, ahead of other candidates, including Stoke’s Asmir Begovic and Reading’s Alex McCarthy. At this stage, though, Liverpool have not made an approach for Mignolet, whose impressive form in 2012-13 saw him named Sunderland’s player of the season. Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers remains keen to freshen up his squad over the summer, although speculation linking the club with a move for Reading defender Alex Pearce is wide of the mark  [not ‘according to sources’ later on it’s not!].

The Mail on the same day though reckoned Arsenal’s name is more closely linked with ‘the Belgian stopper’ (transfer jargon alert).

Another link with a Belgian:

Liverpool will consider bidding for Aston Villa striker Christian Benteke. Benteke, 22, is set for further talks over his future once he returns from international duty with Belgium. Atletico, Tottenham, Arsenal, Manchester City and Borussia Dortmund are also interested but Villa want him to sign a new deal. Daily Mail/ClubCall June 3

The Daily Mirror on June 4 said “The Reds’ boss has been guaranteed at least £35m to spend in this summer’s transfer window. Rodgers has already agreed in principle a £7million deal for Celta Vigo forward Iago Aspas and Christian Benteke, whose 19 league goals in his first season with Aston Villa included two against Liverpool at Anfield in December, IS on his list of targets.”

And staying in the Belgian zone, Talksport on June 7 thought “Another Belgian could be coming to the Premier League as Tottenham and Liverpool both chase FC Twente winger Nacer Chadli, 23, who is valued at around £8.5m and wants to play in England. ”

An old rumour from March and April resurfaced with some vigour; it’s our old friend Henry Mac:

Brendan Rodgers is ready to bolster Liverpool’s forward options with a move for Shakhtar Donetsk’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan. The 24-year-old Armenia international is among several players Rodgers has monitored in recent months as he looks to further progress his Anfield evolution. And now the Liverpool manager is prepared to launch a concerted bid during the summer transfer window to sign Mkhitaryan, who Shakhtar rate in the region of £20m. Mkhitaryan was top scorer in Ukraine’s Premier League this season, his 25 goals in 29 games a record for the competition and helping Shakhtar to win the title by 13 points from runners-up Metalist Kharkiv. Ostensibly a central midfield, he has previously played for Pyunik Yerevan in his homeland and Metalurh Donetsk in Ukraine, and helped Shakhtar reach the knockout stages of last season’s Champions League. Mkhitaryan has 10 goals in 36 appearances for his country. Daily Post June 4

The Guardian, Daily Mail, ClubCall and ESPN all joined in. However the Liverpool Echo says it’s far from certain we’ll be signing Henry:

Liverpool FC are interested in Shakhtar Donetsk’s attacking midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan but any potential deal remains a long way off. The Reds would have to offer in excess of £20million if they want to snap up the Armenia international, who scored 25 goals in the Ukrainian Premier League last season.Liverpool have yet to make an approach for Mkhitaryan.


Henry Mac in CL action for Shakhtar Donetsk against Arsenal

Next, it’s the rumour that refuses to die – actually that’s all of them, come to think of it –  this from ClubCall on June 5, under the very transfer gossip-esque headline ‘Royals ace linked’:

Newcastle have entered the running to sign Reading defender Alex Pearce. The centre-back is set to leave the Madejski Stadium on a free transfer after refusing to sign a new deal with the Royals and a move to Anfield looked to be a formality. However Newcastle are also keen as doubts continue to surround the future of Fabricio Coloccini, and Alan Pardew hopes to lure the Republic of Ireland international to St James’ Park. Pearce was not a regular in the Reading first-team as they were relegated from the Premier League last season but he is still highly rated and a scrap for his signature looks to be on the cards. Liverpool remain favourites but Newcastle’s interest could give the player food for thought as he weighs up his next move.

Now that Tevez business – “Liverpool are considering an audacious swoop for Manchester City star Carlos Tevez, who could be available to the Reds this summer for as little as £8million, as a replacement for Luis Suarez’, say The Daily Mirror. “The Argentinian ‘is understood to favour waiting until new City boss Manuel Pellegrini takes charge before deciding on his future, so he can find out whether he remains in the club’s plans”, the paper says. Talksport thinks it’s ‘unlikely’ though, and if we’re honest so do we.

Udinese frontman Luis Muriel is a prime target of the Reds, said Goal June 6, but “Liverpool have long admired Tevez, have made two approaches to sign him on loan in recent seasons and are now ready to reignite their interest in the Argentine, who could be available for as little as £7 million. Reports in Italy have suggested that Juventus are in pole position to land the former West Ham forward having already agreed personal terms, while the player has opened the door for a lucrative move to big-spending Ligue 1 sides Paris Saint-Germain or Monaco.”

Another old one resurfaced on Sky Sports on June 6:

Lyon defender Dejan Lovren insists he is not looking to leave the Ligue 1 side in the wake of reported interest from Liverpool. The 23-year old refused to rule out the possibility of a Premier League switch further down the line, but says he has no plans to move on just yet. “Each player wants to join a big club. I am under contract until 2016, but anything can happen. Anyway, I am in no rush to leave Lyon,” he told

Now a link with a player from the land that gave us Igor Biscan:

Sevilla midfielder Ivan Rakitic has become a target for Liverpool, with Brendan Rodgers according to sources in Spain believed to be lining up a £12.7m bid for the Croatian. Having already sold Jesus Navas to Manchester City for £24m earlier this week, Sevilla are thought to be in financial trouble and may need to balance their books. Despite admitting he is happy, Rakitic said he could leave the La Liga outfit if they don’t spend money on new players in the transfer window. “I have a two year contract and I’m very satisfied and happy at the club although it’s true that situation in general is not attractive,” he told Croatian paper Sportske Novosti. “The club have asked me to say on, they said they wanted to build a new team around me. I told them that I want to see what they have done in terms of signings. “We must build a team which will be better than this season. We will see what happens in the summer.” Daily Express/Talksport June 6

Meanwhile, Wales Online on June 7 reckon newly-promoted Cardiff City have their eyes on Thomas Ince. Along with ourselves, Inter Milan and of course Spurs.


Keepers (3): Mignolet McCarthy Begovic

Central defenders (3) – Ilori Pearce Lovren

Midfield (6) – Eriksen Hughes Grenier Luis Alberto Mkhitaryan Rakitic

Wingers (3) – Atsu Jeffren Robben (Part-ex with Suarez – see below!)

Strikers (7) – Villa Clayton Benteke Delofeu Tevez Luis Muriel Aspas

Just the 22 this week – just over three a day!


Luis Suarez to Bayern Munich

Bayern Munich want Liverpool striker Luis Suarez, 26, and are prepared to offer winger Arjen Robben, 29, as part of a swap deal. (BBC June 5)

Andy Carroll to West Ham

Andy Carroll, 24, wants a pay rise to take his wages to £100,000-a-week to complete his £15.5m move from Liverpool for West Ham. (Daily Mirror June 5)

Dan Agger to Monaco

Liverpool hope to keep Denmark defender Daniel Agger, 28, at Anfield despite interest from big-spending Monaco. (Guardian June 5)

Jonjo Shelvey to Norwich City

Norwich have made an enquiry for Liverpool midfielder Jonjo Shelvey but the Reds may want up to £8m for the England Under-21 international. Daily Mail June 7.


Comments (18)

  1. Author
    Chris Rowland 10 years ago

    Here’s this week’s dollop of fiction with the odd morsel of truth part-buried within! Seems one or two deals are imminent though …

    • toshack 10 years ago

      Very quiet on the Suarez front Chris.

      Is it just because Suarez is on the other side of the big pool or is there any “insider” news?

  2. El Indio 10 years ago

    Suarez to Bayern with Robben as part of the deal?

    I would rather let Suarez go for free. 

    Robben is a good footballer, but he’s one baldy who pisses me off.

    • toshack 10 years ago

      I still have the T-shirt “Ambulance for Robben” since he managed to get Reina sent off during his Chelsea days.

      No Robben, please!

      • DuncanM23 10 years ago

        Wasn’t that what the Chelsea fans were thinking about Rafa when he joined them?

      • El Indio 10 years ago

        @Toshack: haha! That should be framed, should he return to England! 

    • El Indio 10 years ago

      @Duncan23: I’m not sure what you mean by that.

      However, these guys are a bunch of thankless basterds. 

      He got them another silverware and they behave like f*cking upstarts. I hope Loud’Mou’th implodes them.

  3. gudwa11 10 years ago

    Arjen Robben is an incredible footballer and would be a great signing for any team.

    Personally I really like Robben he is one of the most naturally gifted player I have ever seen, unfortunately injuries have resulted us not seeing Robben reach his potential to become the best player in the world. 

    The guy did act like a idiot when he was at Chelsea but I think Mourinho brings out the worst in players, after leaving Chelsea I dont remember him diving as much as he used to or act like a idiot.

    I have always felt bad for him, how he has lost so many finals abit like Ballack, thats why I think it was one of the nicest thing I have seen, when I saw Robben crying after winning the CL. He finally did it, he missed a couple of 1 on 1s in the World Cup, missed the penalty in the CL against Chelsea at Extra time, but now finally he got it right, scored the winning goal at the end of the game and won one of the finals that is the pinnacle of football.

    This is a footballer who is seen as a world class player for the past 6-8 years, a footballer who has been on the treatment table countless times, but still one of the best players of his generation, if it wasnt for injuries I think he would be on the same level as Messi and Ronaldo, he has similar pace, control, dribbling as those two, if it wasnt for injuries he would have been capable of improving his finishing like Messi and Ronaldo aswell.

    For comparison, Van Persie has had similar injury record as Robben, but Robben is known as a world class player for 8 years, Van Persie has been for two years. It is so impressive that Robben performs at a good level for somone who is so injury prone. 

    I think he deserves to be shown abit more respect than he gets on this website, something he did so long ago shouldnt be held againt the guy, he is the kind of footballer that makes you fall in love with the game, again I have no right to tell people on who they should like or hate, I am sorry if I offend someone, but I just think he should be cut some slack. 

    I remember two seasons ago he missed a penalty and Subotic just came right to his face and started shouting at him, Robbens reaction was so cool and mature, didnt even look up, completely ignored this scary Serbian shouting at him. 

    If we could get a player of Robbens calibre that shouldnt be dismissed because what we percieve him to be after a couple of incidents more than 5 years ago.

    • toshack 10 years ago

      I still don’t like the way he behaves on the pitch gudwa11, but agree that everyone should have a second chance.

    • El Indio 10 years ago

      I agree gudwa11. He is a good footballer and a consistent one.

      But I would pick Dirk Kuyt any day over him. Less skillful but scored important goals.

      Robben can go missing in some games, like Kuyt but you can’t deny the work rate.

      It’s his age, wage and his fitba that doesn’t look the right fit.

      There’s one baldy I wouldn’t want in the team. 

    • Paul McCormack 10 years ago

      Bayern fans think Robben is a premadonna too.  Except when ne scores great goals!  Arse or genius, both of course.

  4. Saleh_ThanxKenny 10 years ago

    Thanks for that Chris. Crazy times ahead, to say the least.

  5. Aidan 10 years ago

    Demba Ba no longer wanted at Chelsea. A sneaky 12m bid? How would he fit in with Sturridge? 

  6. mohdfarid 10 years ago

    Benteke – yes, it might work.

    Robben – no, selfish play always.

    Suarez – good if he stays, but if he’s going, make sure good money earned.

    Agger – again, if he’s going, make sure good maoney earned.

  7. Bob 10 years ago

    This is a fascinating multi-perspective view on transfer rumours which helps explain the distance from eality of so many reports.

    The truth behind the transfer window rumour mill


    Once mere space-filler, the tabloid transfer story is now huge for players, fans and clubs alike. But who dances to whose tune? FourFourTwo asks the protagonists…

    Rupert Murdoch had a problem. The year was 1969 and, having acquired a failing newspaper in The Sun and resolved to turn it tabloid, the Australian got the bad news: a limited number of suitable printing presses meant the first editions of each paper would have to be finished and en route to newsagents across the UK long before the final whistle of evening football matches had blown.

    This was potentially disastrous news for a title targeting football fans as its core audience. Yet not only did Murdoch and his first editor, Larry Lamb, overcome it to create what would soon become Britain’s most popular paper, they inadvertently created something bigger.

    Their solution was to fill the first edition, on pages which would be replaced by match reports later, with transfer gossip stories. “Eventually Murdoch got another printing press in the north so they could get the football in first time,” says a Fleet Street veteran. “Then people complained that they missed the transfer stories! So they got back in and have been getting in ever since.” A monster was born.

    Told by key participants who prefer to remain anonymous for reasons which will become clear, here is the story of how the transfer rumour mill grinds up its heady swirl of information and disinformation – and how players, agents and clubs use it for their own ends…

    The Agent I think part of the fascination with the transfer rumour mill is this: in football, you have so few chances to actually win anything. So seeing your club pursue and eventually complete a massive transfer is as near as some supporters will come to actually winning something.

    The Tabloid Journalist The demand now is insatiable. When you look at the numbers of readers online, transfer stories come out on top for sport stories. Even a tenuous transfer story involving one of the big clubs can top the charts.

    The Premier League Player How do they start? Let’s say I wanted a move…well, if you’re Premier League quality you can get one, but it isn’t as simple as going into the manager’s office and putting 
a letter on his desk.

    The Chief Exec A written request is the worst thing for a player or an agent. Every contract has an annual loyalty bonus built in and even if a player is sold in the most acrimonious circumstances, as long as he didn’t hand in a transfer request the club has to pay that for the remainder of his contract. Players and agents don’t want to lose that so you end up doing this dance.

    The Tabloid Journalist Half of what I do with transfer stories is stay on top of things. Who is coming to the end of his contract at a big club, or what positions does that club need to strengthen? Then you target those players’ agents and their clubs and make the calls. A recent example is Tottenham. The minute they weren’t in the Champions League, some of us would be hitting the phones to see what that meant for Luka Modric and Gareth Bale. Those kind of stories are 50 per cent of the rumour mill; the rest will be tips that come from agents, players, clubs…

    The Premier League Player I had a couple of moves where I just wanted to leave and a couple of other moves where I heard another club were interested but were getting no encouragement. It makes sense to get the ball rolling. The most direct way would be to talk to your agent and say, “Put it out there for me.” Or you can talk to your mates, and they might talk to their agents. Sometimes you’d talk to people inside your club; the scouts or someone you trust and who you know has got a relationship with a journalist. But you never know in football. One time, when I wasn’t getting picked, I mentioned to someone I trusted that I knew a team were interested in me. I thought he’d tell one of his contacts. The next morning I was straight in the boss’s office and he told me: “Look, you can forget all about going to them.”

    The Chief Exec The transfer market is a nefarious world where things are not always what they seem. Players, agents and clubs do things to further their own ends.

    The Premier League Player On one occasion, a team-mate of mine wanted a move. He picked a day when we had a day off, then tipped off a local journalist that he’d been made to train away from the first-team squad, with the kids. They made sure there was a photographer there in the bushes. He wasn’t even supposed to be in training at all but he came in specially, just for the photos! That story alerted a couple of people and a few days later he was beaming in the changing room, saying, “It worked: [top Premier League side] have been in for me.”

    The Sunday Journalist Sometimes it’s blatant. One of my contacts is mates with a player who’s an international and a regular Premier League goalscorer. A few weeks ago, my contact tells me his mate has told him Manchester City are after him. Now, he’s good, but he’s not that good. So you wonder why he’s saying this – to get City to talk to his agent, to get someone else to get in touch? A lot of it is wish fulfilment. But if you can successfully plant the seed that City might be interested, and it gets in the paper somehow, then I suppose it only takes one person to read it…

    The Tabloid Journalist It’s almost unheard of that a player will call with a tip about himself, and very rare that an agent will ring up out of the blue and say, “Liverpool want my player.” There is a small group of agents I talk to all the time. The best tips are from them when one of their players isn’t involved and they’re repeating something they have heard. They have no agenda in the story and it’s come purely because people in football like to gossip as much as the rest of us do.

    The Sunday Journalist 
Football is a village. I have a list of 15-20 managers I can call, and in most cases they’re just as aware of what is going on elsewhere as they are with events at their own club. If you do a favour for a manager, he will give you something in exchange. A manager phoned me this morning and said: “I want this goalkeeper but I hear he’s going elsewhere. Can you find out?” I was able to help, and he gave me a tip about another big story, which is definitely happening, at a neighbouring club.

    The Tabloid Journalist There are so many people involved in any transfer – the manager, the chairman, the director of football, the player’s representative, the player himself – and each of them are likely to speak to another four or five people about it. It’s like six degrees of separation; only in football it’s more like two degrees of separation.

    The Chief Exec Of course it works both ways. It’s an agent’s modus operandi to use contacts in the press, so clubs will do it too if they want a player out or in. During the process of a big transfer saga, a club can brief journalists on what’s going on if it suits them.

    The Tabloid Journalist With Samir Nasri, all three clubs [Arsenal, Man City and Man United] were briefing. One of the top four clubs is notorious for secrecy but they have briefed continually about what they said were done deals, weeks before the player actually signed. But in some cases the briefings, for whatever reason, aren’t correct. One of last January’s biggest signings, I was categorically told by the club, was absolutely dead on the morning that it happened. One funny one was Tottenham’s loan deal for David Beckham. Spurs put out an unequivocal denial, then two days later Harry [Redknapp] said, “Yes, I’d love to sign him and we’ve had talks”. I don’t blame the press officer: they were telling the truth as they knew it.

    The Agent Some clubs leak news of who their targets will be in March or April because tickets for next season might not be doing so well. There is one high-profile chairman who is notorious for this.

    The Chief Exec In some cases, when they can’t get the fee they want, a chief exec or a manager or a chairman might phone one of their opposite numbers at another club and say, “Look, I want £10 million for this bloke, but they are only offering £8m. Can you phone your mate at the paper and say you’re bidding £9m?” If they know them really well and that happens, you’re likely to end up getting the price you wanted from the only club that was really interested in the first place.

    The Tabloid Journalist When a big story is going on, it becomes harder. In the big cases – Ronaldo to Madrid, Modric to Chelsea, Fabregas to Barça – the club goes into lockdown. The club, the player and the agent will agree not to talk to the press. What you rely on then is that people in football love to gossip. So you might not have been in the meeting or spoken directly to one of the three people who were, but at least you can talk to another agent who’s spoken to the agent in question – or a team-mate of the player, or a mate of the chief exec. Saying that, one of the biggest moves of the last few years involved a player going into the manager’s office and telling him that he wanted a transfer. And even before that player had said goodbye, I had been briefed by the agent about what one side of the conversation would have been.

    The Agent An agent is going to use whatever means are at his disposal to get the best deal for his player. Say you have an instance where a player is happy but you can use another club’s interest to get him a pay rise. In that case you might give the local paper access to the player, who will say something like, “It’s flattering that X are interested but Y are the club I love and it’s breaking my heart that they don’t seem to want to keep me.” Then you’ve got the local fanbase on the back of the club and you’ve put the ball in their court.

    The Sunday Journalist The Wayne Rooney thing from a couple of seasons ago has been portrayed as a case of a player using the threat of a transfer to get a pay rise, but it wasn’t like that at all. Fergie forced his hand beautifully but that statement, when it came out, wasn’t a transfer request – it was a cry for help. He wanted to stay but he wanted them to spend. And eventually the Glazers promised to spend and they have.

    The Agent Of course, there are instances when you’ll do the same interview with the local paper when you have no intention of your player re-signing for that club.

    The Sunday Journalist The hardest part is filtering the truth. There are very few agents I would listen to for a transfer story – they have too many agendas. There is a culture of lying. I probably
disregard 70 per cent of what I’m told.

    The Chief Exec Agents love an auction for a player but they don’t happen as often as the papers would have you think. There are what I call ‘rule of three’ stories, where there are three clubs claimed to be involved. Those stories have almost always come from agents and of the clubs mentioned, one will be really interested, one would be the club the agent and player want to be interested and the other one would be, in most cases, pure fantasy.

    The Sunday Journalist It’s not always the case that the player is party to any of the intrigue. A few years ago I heard Jermain Defoe was wanted by Sunderland and by coincidence I was interviewing Defoe the next day for some sponsor. So at the end I turned the tape off and asked, “Is there any truth in this Sunderland stuff?” He said, “We’re the last to know. Sometimes people I’ve played with get a call that just says: ‘Congratulations – you’re going here’.”

    The Chief Exec There are instances 
I know of where a story appears linking a player to a club, which he eventually signs for, when I know another club is offering him more wages. That bit didn’t get into the papers. The suspicion has to be that the agent was getting a bigger fee from the first club and didn’t let the player know about the second. The game is littered with instances where agents didn’t represent the best interest of their player; they represented the best interest of themselves.

    The Tabloid Journalist The biggest pressure is to have a consistently good strike rate. There are these websites which measure how many of your stories come true or not, but that’s completely unfair. There are countless deals which break down for reasons that are nothing to do with us. Chelsea and Modric: the interest was there and the truth was there until it went away. But did Chelsea want him? Absolutely. Did he want to go there? Absolutely. And Andy Carroll and Carlos Tevez: there was a potential swap there. Kenny Dalglish denied it, and I’m not saying he knew about it, but it was being talked about between the clubs and I believe the players knew about it. It’s depressing to be briefed on someone like Van Persie by an agent or club or contacts you have made over years as a journalist, and do the story, to be told on Twitter: “You’ve made it up.”

    The Sunday Journalist I get angry when people on Twitter have a go when one of your stories doesn’t land, and say that means it was never true in the first place.

    The Agent For every deal that happens there are five that don’t. There are so many obstacles in the way, so many wheels turning at the same time, and it only takes one thing to go wrong.

    The Sunday Journalist It’s not an exact science, of course – you wouldn’t believe the elements involved. There are 20 different things that need to happen in any transfer to get it all the way through. I’ve been doing a story about [Player X], who is going to a Premier League club from Africa. The player is away at a World Cup qualifier, so they fly in his agent and everything looks good. Then they get a call from another agent with documentation proving that the first guy is not the player’s real agent. They begin the process again with the other guy and everything looks good. Then it turns out the player has let his passport expire so he’ll need a new visa, and hang on, there’s another club in his own country who want him now… There are so many layers. There’s a manager who’s intercepted a player in an airport arrivals lounge when he was going to a neighbouring club! I’d done the story that he was going to the other club, so I was wrong even when I was right.

    The Agent Do fans feel let down when a transfer doesn’t happen? Probably, but only if it’s their team involved. Most are satisfied with a bit of hidden knowledge because everyone loves speculation; everyone loves knowing something you’re not supposed to know.

    The Tabloid Journalist The interest is bigger than ever. You’ve got a Football Manager generation now aware of all these obscure players and prodigies across the world, and if they’re aware of them, then agents and clubs are aware of them too.

    The Chief Exec The Americans have fantasy baseball and we have the transfer window. It’s our obsession.

    This feature was originally published in the August 2012 edition of FourFourTwo magazine

  8. Dirk Vader 10 years ago

    No one there to set the pulses racing, is there?

  9. Friday19 10 years ago

    FSG loves FFP.  

    Moneyball plus.Any future LFC transfer has to be looked at in that light. My hunch is that we will see more of these Aspas, Alberto, Couninho signings . (And Assaidis too.  Brought on the cheap as contract about to expire , low wage, ready to sell at a profit to a lesser European League or Premiership new boy a year later.)Not just cheap with sell on potential but low wages too. Carragher gone, Carrol going,Gerrard one year left of his mega contract and the same with Reina (maybe less).  One by one the big earners are going. Yes there is always room for one or two Class A players and associated wages ( still Suarez hopefully)  , although not City,PSG or Monaco gold bullion,but I think FSG are gambling on a levelish financial playing field and are positioning themselves accordingly to get shead of the game in not putting their eggs in the silly season wages and players. I don’t think the reality of FFP has sunk in with the sheikhs and Oligarchs yet. That’s what happens when you get everything you want and surround yourself with sycophants. I also believe this latest stadium development has substance and speaks reassuringly of a master plan, which is more than can be said for most. Think QPR! It all comes down to w much faith youhave in ourbnew scouting team.Sorry if this isn’tisn’t romantic or nostalgic but to be frank i’d mud wrestle my gran if I  thought it would get us back into the top four, never mind a title! 

  10. Friday19 10 years ago

    Congratulations to Bob too on a brilliant piece of work!

Leave a reply