The latest transfer speculation doing the rounds …

By Nigel Brown

Former Middlesbrough playmaker Juninho has his heart set on a move away from Parkhead.

The Brazilian seems frustrated at the lack of first team opportunities and also the style of play in the Scottish Premier League. Since aking over the number ten jersey from Henrik Larssson, the Celtic fans expected great things, but Juninho never shone. Palmeiras are the favourites for his signature.

Juninho said: “I want to go back to Brazil and play football.

“I adapted to English football and I thought the style would be the same in Scotland.

“I waited and tried to adapt but the coaches and players have a different way of thinking here.

“The coach asked me to act outside my natural instincts.

“Here it is not in the mentality to pass the ball in midfield. It goes directly to the attack and it makes it difficult for midfield players.”

He added: “I wanted to play another one or two years in Europe but people have to search for happiness.”

The well travelled midfielder Eyal Berkovic has signed a one year deal with Maccabi Tel Aviv ending his nine year association with European football. Berkovich was probably most famous for receiving a kick to the head in training from then West Ham team mate John Hartson. He has also appeared 75 times for his country Israel. Berkovic spent successful spells at West Ham, Southampton, Celtic and most recently Portsmouth.

The 32-year-old said: “I have joined a big club with a massive fan base and I am anxious to play again.’’

“I returned here after nine amazing years in the UK and even though I signed for one year I would like to stay at the club much longer.”

Transfer speculation has already begun in Germany in the last couple of weeks. Aston Villa midfielder ‘Der Hammer,’ Tomas Hitzilsperger has shown interest in moving to Stuttgart due to lack of regular first team football at Villa Park. The player who made his international debut in October of last year is out of contract in the summer and many German based clubs are interested in the tough central midfielder. The player also feels that in order to play in the 2006 World Cup in Germany he may have to move to the Bundesliga. Other clubs who have emerged as candidates for his signature are Werder Bremen and Hamburg.

“VfB (Stuttgart) is a very well managed club which plays on an international stage and a transfer there would be a clear improvement for me,” Hitzlsperger said.

“I’m not playing often enough,” he added.

“With the short appearances that I’m getting, I find it hard to believe that the coach needs me.”

Elsewhere in Germany Borussia Dortmund have admitted receiving an approach from Tottenham for creative midfielder Tomas Rosicky but they are reluctant to let him go. The club have mounting debts of over €60 million, but despite their debts, they refuse to let there best players leave.

Dortmund business manager Hans-Joachim Watzke said: “We don’t have to sell Rosicky. When Rosicky is in top international form, then he’s an attraction at the Westfalen Stadium.

“It’s not going to reach the point where clubs can come to us expecting to find bargains.”

Bayer Leverkusen left winger Ze Roberto looks set for a move away from Germany in the summer. Spain is the likely destination for the Brazillian with Athletico Madrid as his first choice. Ze Roberto likes Madrid after spending the 1997-1998 season ther with Real Madrid. The player is out of contract and has been offered a contract with a significant pay cut, which is not to his liking.

“Obviously, I’d love to go there and if there is the chance of a return, then I would use it,” he told Spanish newspaper Marca.

“It is a big club and it keeps on improving.”

On loan Arsenal midfielder Jermain Pennant is close to agreeing a £3m switch to Birmingham City. Both the Manager and the Club have been very supportive of the midfielder during his drink driving charge and subsequent imprisonement. Steve Bruce rates the player as a special talent.

Bruce told the Press Association: “Our managing director Karren Brady has virtually done a deal for Jermaine and the next step is to agree terms with the player.

“We’ve said from the minute he came here that we would like to make the deal permanent and we’ve seen how good a player Jermaine is in the few games he has played for us. I think he appreciates that there is someone who is willing to try and help him rather than just wash their hands of him. Sometimes people need help and education rather than just being battered.

“Before the sentence we got Jermaine a flat up here, we got him away from the distractions of London and we had someone with him for the best part of every day. His girlfriend was playing a big part in that too.”

“Then we will see the best of him. He is a very good player and he can be a major asset to Birmingham.”

Speculation about the latest transfer tragets for Real Madrid has been circulating this week.

Jose Antonio Reyes has already expressed his desire to play for the Spanish giants, while Spanish winger Joaquin has emerged as a target for coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo. The Brazillian wants to make radical changes to the squad in terms of personnel but also size of the squad. It seems he is looking to buy more versatile players, such as Reyes.

“We need to balance the squad a little for next season,” Luxemburgo told radio station Onda Cero.

“You don’t win the league whenever you want, but with a big squad next season’s team photo will have some players who are reserves and others who you were not counting on.

“I like to have versatile players, who you can use to make changes during the game. I also like using a diamond formation because you can have three forwards or play a normal 4-4-2.

“Joaquin (Sanchez) and (Jose Antonio) Reyes are good players,” he added.

Milan have expressed interest in signing Newcastle winger Hugo Viana. It is also rumoured that Andrea Pirlo has secured an extension to his current contract.

Milan are willing to pay the £5m price tag that Newcastle will want for the Portugese midfielder. The player originally found it difficult settling settling in the North East, and this coupled with also a run of poor form under former boss Sir Bobby Robson triggered his loan move to Sporting Lisbon.

According to several British tabloid papers, Barcelona are planning a £50m double swoop for Arsenal’s Thierry Henry and Tottenham’s Paul Robinson.

Both North London Clubs would be reluctant to sell their prized assets. Meanwhile it seems that Arsene Wenger may have another player planning a move away from Highbury, injury prone forward Jeremie Aliadierre. He wants showdown talks with Wenger in the summer after frustrating injury problems,he wants to guarantee he will be challenging for a first team place. The Frenchman has admitted to relishing a move to Holland, with Ajax or PSV Eindhoven.

Before talking about my destination, I want to be back to fitness,” Aliadiere told, But!

“Then I will talk with Arsene Wenger to know what he wants to do with me.

“I hope he will put me in the group soon. I feel fine physically.

“The coach was keen to loan me to West Ham but only for one month. But I preferred to stay in the reserve team at Arsenal.

“I had just come back from injury and I still lacked pace. West Ham’s people would perhaps have not been happy with my current level.

“Now, I am waiting to see how the end of the season will be. If Arsene Wenger plays me, I can stay.

“However if he doesn’t make me participate, I would tell him that I want to leave to play.

“Perhaps he won’t appreciate it because he has always trusted me for the last six years.

“But I think I can make a name for myself at Arsenal. Besides Thierry Henry there is a place to take.”

Chelsea number two goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini has began to show his frustration at a lack of first team football at Stamford Bridge.

There would be a number of clubs around Europe interested in his services. Manchester United and Arsenal are in desperate need of a consistent number one keeper. There is also the possibility that Cudicini may fancy a return to his homeland, with Roma as possible favourites for his signature in Italy. Interestingly enough the Italian stopper is actually now eligible to play for both Italy and England, seeing as he is a resident of the United Kingdom and also never been capped at international level by Italy.

Life isn’t the same as before,” Cudicini told Corriere dello Sport.

“I don’t want to say it’s bad, because whoever does this job hasn’t the right to complain, but the certainty is that any player can’t feel realised in himself if he is not playing with continuity.

“Cech is doing good things. As for myself, I can’t do a lot.

“I have a contract until 2008. My future is in Chelsea’s, Mourinho’s and Mr Abramovich’s hands.

“I know nothing [about the speculation] and I repeat, my destiny will be decided by Chelsea.

“Roma? It’s an idea I like the same as all the other ones that will allow me to come back to playing.

“But I repeat, personally I haven’t had contacts with other clubs.

“For my future I exclude nothing, maybe I could go to Spain.”

Valencia look set to raid England in the summer for two of the Premierships leading stars. The first is an old target, the Brazillian midfielder Edu of Arsenal. The Brazilian is unhappy with the terms offered to him by Arsenal on his new contract and Valencia are ready to pounce to steal him on the Bosman Ruling.

“Edu is an excellent player and necessary for a Valencia side, who need big stars like him,” said Macia. (Valencia Sporting Director)

“The definitive closing of the contract will take place in the next few weeks and everything is already solved by his agent. We have spoken with him and Edu, who is happy to come to the Spanish league.”

The other player of interest to Valencia is Liverpool striker Milan Baros. After a cracking Euro 2004, he has failed to find the back of the net on a regular basis thiss season. Many clubs including Barcelona and Real Madrid were interested last summer, but it now seems Valencia lead the chase this summer.

Baros’ agent Pavel Paska insisted he had received no formal approach from Valencia, but revealed that a number of clubs were following his client.

“I know nothing of interest from Valencia,” he stated.

“There are many teams that have asked for Baros, but I can assure you 100 percent that of Valencia I know nothing.

“I am not saying that they are or are not interested, but they have not transmitted it to me.”