All the Latest transfer speculation doing the rounds.
By Alex Brodie
In Europe, the name on everyone’s wishlist is Lyon’s Ghanaian midfielder Michael Essien. The 22-year-old French Player of the Year has impressed many big clubs in Europe this season following Lyon’s fourth French league title on the trot and their quarter final finish in the Champions League.
Arsenal, Juventus, Real Madrid and Manchester United are said to be interested in the player but it is Chelsea who are rumoured to be favourites, possibly offering record signing Didier Drogba as a bargaining tool with the French champions.
But new Lyon manager Gerard Houllier has been quoted as saying it would take a “tremendous bid” to lure Essien away even though the player has already spoken of his admiration for the English game.
In Spain, the big news concerns Spanish golden boy Joaquin and Atletico striker Fernando Torres. Betis are said to be looking to cash in on Joaquin who is currently in a 10-year contract with the club. The usual suspects are interested, (Chelsea, Barca and Real) but it is expected that Joaquin would prefer to stay in Spain. However with Betis wanting the highest fee possible Chelsea could be the ones to come out on top with a suspected £30m bid.
Chelsea are also at the forefront of speculation surrounding Fernando Torres with their attempts at luring Brazilian striker Adriano from Inter looking remote. The English champions lack of an out-and-out striker has resulted in them offering £30m for the Spanish forward.
In Italy, there has been the usual round of transfer speculation among Serie A clubs with the young Parma forward Alberto Gilardino, hailed as the next Christian Vieri, the hottest property on the market.
After being controversially left out of Trappatoni’s EURO 2004 squad, Gilardino was expected to make a move to Roma last season before opting to stay at Parma for one more year. Milan, Juventus and Real Madrid are the leading contenders to land the £20m-rated forward who has impressed playing for the Italian U-21s.
In other Serie A news, Roma forward Antonio Cassano is said to be on his way out of the capital when his contract is up at the end of this season with Inter striker Adriano stating that he would love to play alongside the Italian international.
Meanwhile Reggina’s 26-year-old Japanese midfield star, Shunsuke Nakamura, has been the subject of offers from Spain’s Atletico Madrid and Deportivo La Coruna. Nakamura would be the first Japanese player to move from Italy to Spain but Reggina president, Lillo Fotti, has no concerns about the player saying “he can be a star in La Liga.”
Elsewhhere, Milan midfielder Gattuso has been quoted as saying it would be his dream to play in the Premiership, picking Manchester United over Chelsea due to their history and prestige. However Milan have dismissed these rumours as an attempt by new United owner Malcolm Glazer to win over disgruntled fans with a big name signing.
In other European news Deportivo’s Albert Luque is said to be interested in a move to Liverpool to join his friend Luis Garcia and expected new signing Villarreal keeper Jose Reina.
Feynoord’s Dutch league top scorer, Dirk Kuyt, is said be on the move to either Newcastle or Liverpool for an estimated £8m while PSV’s South Korean star, Park Ji-Sung should be moving to Man United after impressing for the Champions League semi-finalists and for his country in the 2002 World Cup Finals.
And after being released by Newcastle following a disappointing season, Patrick Kluivertis supposed to be heading for Spain to sign for Valencia. Injury problems have so far held up the move but the 28-year-old Dutch striker is confident of a move back to Spain.
In South America, Santos’ young Brazilian striker Robinho is still the player most coveted by the majority of top European clubs. However only the biggest need apply as the forward has spoken of his admiration for Real Madrid. Whilst he has pledged his allegiance to his current club for the time being it is clear that a move to Spain cannot be far off, especially following the Galacticos’ second successive trophy-less season.
The other big name in South America is CSKA Moscow striker Vagner Love. After picking up the UEFA and Russian Cups, the tempestuous striker has been flirting with former club Palmeiras as well as his current Russian club and Brazilian giants Corinthians. When he first left Brazil he was seen as overpriced and so returning home just a year later he feels he has proved himself and is possibly looking for a permanent return to his native country.
With Villarreal’s keeper Jose Reina expected to move to Liverpool, the Spanish side have acquired the services of 20-year-old Argentine keeper Mariano Barbosa from Banfield on a 3-year deal as a replacement. The club have also signed El National’s midfielder Antonio Valencia.
Meanwhile Germany’s Bayer Leverkusen have signed former Juventus winger Athirson from Brazilian side Cruzerio whilst Sao Paulo’s Uruguayan defender Diego Lugano has been linked with a move to Real Madrid. The Spanish club have denied interest in the 24-year-old who has also drawn interest from Inter and Juve.
Finally former Barcelona striker Giovanni has decided to return home to Brazil following five successful championship-winning seasons with Olympiakos in Greece, it is not clear who he intends to sing for.