Latest transfer speculation doing the rounds…
Liverpool have been linked with a January swoop for Bayer Leverkusen striker Dimitar Berbatov.
The Bulgarian international has been mooted as a possible solution to The Reds’ shortage of proven goalscorers.
With Djibril Cisse out for the rest of the season, Milan Baros is the only senior striker at manager Rafa Benitez’s disposal although he is a week away from returning from a hamstring injury.
That has left Neil Mellor leading the line and, despite his stunning winner against Arsenal on Sunday, he is not proven at Premiership level.
Benitez has hinted he will strengthen his squad when the transfer window reopens in the New Year, with reports suggesting Berbatov is a target.
The 23-year-old’s future is due to be discussed next week after Bayer’s clash in the UEFA Champions League against Dynamo Kiev.
The European game is crucial to any prospect of Liverpool signing Berbatov, as Bayer will not sanction the forward’s departure if they reach the knockout phase of the competition.
But a group stage exit will increase the likelihood of Berbatov’s exit, despite the German club’s desire to extend his contract until 2009.
Berbatov’s agent Emil Dantchev is aware of Liverpool’s interest in his client and insists the Premiership giants are not new suitors for the hit-man.
“The Liverpool interest is not from yesterday,” commented Dantchev.
“Anyway, I have not been informed by Bayer of any offer for my client.
Meanwhile, El Hadj Diouf has been told he is no longer wanted by Liverpool.
Anfield chief Rafael Benitez has told Diouf, on loan at Bolton Wanderers until the end of the season, that he is not part of his ambitious rebuilding plans for the Reds.
The Senegal striker was fined two weeks wages and handed a three-match ban by the FA after spitting at Portsmouth defender Arjen de Zeeuw in Bolton’s 1-0 defeat on Saturday.
But Allardyce has been impressed by Diouf’s reaction in training and believes the player wants to start with a clean slate at The Reebok.
Liverpool appear ready to cut their losses on their £10m flop – and that is likely to prompt Allardyce to make a cheeky £500,000 bid for Diouf, who still has two years remaining on his £40,000-a-week Reds deal.
At Liverpool’s neighbors Everton Leon Osman’s agent Dave Lockwood says he is looking to extend the midfielder’s contract.
Reports have suggested the 23-year-old, out of contract at the end of the season, will reject a new deal.
But Lockwood said: “I was surprised to read details of contract negotiations in the papers because the matter is private and confidential. We have been discussing extending Leon’s contract and that process is on-going.
“There is a desire from both parties to try and reach an agreement and I am looking forward to meeting with Everton again in the near future to continue talks.”
Osman has scored three league goals in 14 starts for the premiership club this season.
Norwich boss Nigel Worthington has confirmed he is not interested in selling Thomas Helveg.
The Denmark captain arrived at Carrow Road in July but has since made only six Premiership starts.
Denmark coach Morten Olsen has urged the midfielder to leave but Worthington said: “He’s not available for transfer.
“Thomas is a big name in Denmark and there is bound to be a lot of discussion about him but there is nothing in it. Thomas is staying here.”
Helveg, who joined Norwich from Inter Milan, has been linked with a move to OB Odense – where he started his career.
Worthington added: “Thomas has 18 months left to run on his contract and is very much part of our plans.
“He probably hasn’t started as many games as he would have liked but he is an important member of the squad.
“He proved that on Saturday when he came on as a second-half substitute at Birmingham and did an excellent job for the side.”
England striker Jermain Defoe insists he will not quit Tottenham for Chelsea.
The 22-year-old, who moved to Spurs from West Ham in a five-year, £7m deal in January, has been linked with a £15m transfer to Stamford Bridge.
Defoe said: “I’m happy here and I’ve said that to my family, close friends and the players.”
Spurs are set to offer him a new contract and he said: “I want to let them all know that I don’t want to go anywhere.”
He has continued to shine for Spurs in the current campaign, scoring 10 goals in all competitions and one for England.
He added: “I think we will push on as a club and I’m thoroughly enjoying my football, scoring goals and that’s all I need to worry about.”
A Spurs spokeswoman confirmed talks would be held about a new contract, confirming: “Jermain has done well for us and for England and we’ll look to renegotiate his contract before the season ends.”
Arsenal’s Jermaine Pennant has insisted that his main priority is to win a new contract with the Premiership champions.
The 21-year-old spent an impressive season on loan at Leeds United last term and he has now returned to Highbury.
Although not a regular, he has never been out of contention with Arsene Wenger’s first team and has played seven times.
Pennant has been linked with moves to Premiership clubs Aston Villa, Everton, Blackburn and Middlesbrough but is looking to earn a prolonged stay at Arsenal.
He said: “I am fully focused on trying to win a new contract at Arsenal.
“The way I look at it is that I’ve got until the end of this season to convince the manager to offer me a new deal.
“There will always be speculation but I am determined to be a part of things here.
“All I hope is that I am given a chance to show that I have the character to be a part of this great team.
“Arsenal is a fantastic club, where in the world would you find a team with players like the ones we have here? As a young player you can’t help but learn.”
Pennant will get another chance to impress tonight when he should start for Arsenal against Manchester United in the Carling Cup.
In Scotland, Fernando Ricksen has said he is determined to stay at Rangers “for a long time” – despite his contract negotiations stalling.
The 28-year-old has been an integral part of the club’s return to the top of the SPL.
But the midfielder has failed to agree terms with the club, with his current deal set to expire in the summer.
The Dutch international was speaking as he prepared to face his former club AZ Alkmaar in the UEFA Cup.
“My contract is expiring but the club have indicated they are very, very keen to keep me,” Ricksen said.
“Do I see myself coming back to AZ? I’ll never say never but, for the time being, I can’t see myself leaving Rangers.
“Rangers and I will definitely work something out which will make me stay here for a long time.
“Even though AZ are now a big club in Holland, they are not like Rangers.
“Rangers and I must work this out and we will work it out.”
Ibrox manager Alex McLeish believes football, not money, will tempt Ricksen to stay in Glasgow.
However, he is aware that Ricksen may fancy a new challenge elsewhere.
But, with Rangers top of the SPL table for the first time in almost 14 months and on the brink of UEFA Cup football beyond Christmas, McLeish is hoping the promise of better times to come will appeal to the player.
He said: “We don’t want to rush things. We have seen something in the papers from his agent saying things will be resolved in January.
“We respect what Fernando has done for us. He is loving his football and I know he really loves Rangers.
“We will certainly make and offer and it will be up to him to look at it.
“But I think it will come down to a football decision.”
Wolves chief executive Jez Moxey has slammed comments from Henri Camara in which the Senegal international claimed he could seek a move to a “better club” than Celtic and has no intention of returning to Molineux.
The Glasgow giants paid £1.5m to take the striker on loan for the season after Wolves were relegated from the Premiership. The 27-year-old had angered the Black Country club by refusing to play in the Coca-Cola Championship and demanding a move.
Camara, who says he remains determined to become Africa’s player of the year, has since scored eight goals for the Hoops, who will have to find a further £5.8m if they are to make the move permanent.
“Going back to Wolves is simply not a question for me. Don’t even speak to me about them. I am not going to bury myself in the English Second Division.”
Moxey responded by saying: “I think the tone and content of these comments are disrespectful and do nothing to enhance Camara’s professional reputation.
“I’m planning to go to Celtic soon to have a chat to them about their intentions.
“They have until the end of the season to make a decision as to whether they want to make the deal permanent.
“If they don’t want to take up that option then Camara will remain our player and we will make a decision about his future that is in the best interests of Wolves.”
Rosenborg have signed Norwegian international Alexander Odegaard Sogndal for £1.5m deal from Brann.
The most sought after player in Norway this autumn has joined on a 3-year contract and will reputedly earn £187,000 a year.
The 24-year-old striker, who made his debut for the national team this year, scored 15 goals this season as a right-winger, but he can also play as a striker.
The Champions League team have also brought in Finish international central defender Mika Koppinen from Tromso on a 3-year deal. Koppinen joins the Trondheim team as a free agent.
Charlton Athletic are on the verge of making a bid to land current Argentinean league top scorer Lisandro Lopez, according to the player’s agent.
Lisandro Lopez has scored 11 goals in 17 games for mid-table Racing this season and has attracted the interest of a number of clubs who would be ready to fork out around £3.5m to land the Argentinean striker’s services.
Speaking of Charlton’s interest, Hidalgo said: “They are closely following his performances because they want to sign him by the end of the year. They haven’t made an official offer yet but that should arrive in the next few hours.”
According to Hidalgo, Champions League outfit Shakhtar Donetsk and Brazilian side Corinthians are also be scouting the talented forward.
Charlton manager Alan Curbishley would undoubtedly welcome the arrival of a top striker such as Lopez. In this season’s Premiership the Addicks have scored only 17 goals in 15 games.
Bolton manager Sam Allardyce has confirmed his interest in Russian striker Dmitri Bulykin.
The Dinamo Moscow target man is available and he is tempting a number of Premiership clubs.
Bolton have now seemingly moved to the front of the queue after opening talks over a possible January move.
The 25-year-old admitted meeting Bolton earlier this month, with a view to sealing a move next month when the transfer window opens.
“Bulykin is a possibility and we will want to have another look at him,” said Allardyce.
“I don’t want people thinking our season is over in January and I’ve got to deal with it.
“It looks like the addition of a couple of new players to the squad will help us to progress again.”
The likes of Chelsea, Middlesbrough, Portsmouth and Everton have all looked at the player in the past and The Toffees almost struck a deal for Bulykin earlier this year.
Croatian international Tomislav Butina has admitted he could not reject a move to Middlesbrough.
The Club Brugge shot-stopper is Croatia’s number two behind Stipe Pletikosa but played all three games during Euro 2004 due to Pletikosa being injured.
A new deal at Club Brugge is an option for the 30-year-old but he could be set for a move.
“Some days ago my friend and agent asked me if I would move to England if the offer would be right,” revealed Butina.
“I told him that I enjoy it in Belgium and that the club will probably offer me new deal soon. But of course I wouldn’t reject a move to The Premiership.
“Football is my job and it would be stupid from me if I wouldn’t accept a good financial offer.
“If Boro or any other club can offer me deal which I couldn’t reject, than I’m ready to talk.”
His agent, Marko Naletilic, admits there is interest for Butina.
“There is nothing concrete,” he said. “But Tomislav is playing very good and clubs are looking at him.”
Naletilic also admitted that a move to Boro could happen.
“No doubt that Middlesbrough can pay much more than Club Brugge, so I think that a transfer could go ahead at the end of the season.”
Boro are looking for a new goalkeeper as Mark Schwarzer’s future looks increasingly uncertain.
The Australian is out of contract in the summer and talks over a new deal have not been promising.
Boro have also been linked to the likes of Robert Green, Jussi Jaaskelainen and Carlo Cudicini.