Top 10 Most Outrageously Exciting Transfer Rumors in World Football
That noise you hear is the unmistakable sound of the rumour mill creaking back into life.
In little under three months, the January transfer window will be open, providing one last chance for clubs to bring in new players for the 2013/14 season.
Several big names are likely to move between Europe's top clubs and there will also be lots of "imaginative speculation" doing the rounds.
From Marco Reus' links with Arsenal, to Andrea Pirlo's connection with Manchester United and Mario Balotelli's mooted move to Liverpool (no, really), there are lots of outrageously exciting transfer rumours that may or may not happen.
We take a look at 10 of the best bits of gossip over the following slides.
10. Mario Balotelli to Liverpool
And chances are, it's not.
There have been reports in Italy that Balotelli — aka Mad Mario from his Manchester City’s days — has already had his share of bust-ups in his spell at AC Milan.
There is also the constant rumbling issue of racism from the stands in Italian football.
It has been suggested that he could be sold for a 'knock down' £12million. At that sort of money the talented but tempestuous striker is surely worth the risk.
If the Reds manage to hang on to Luis Suarez in January, can you imagine Balotelli and Suarez in the same team? When they're good, they're unstoppable but when they are bad… fireworks happen. Quite literally in Mario's case.
9. Lars Bender to Arsenal
Yes, if this report by David Kent in the Daily Mail is to be believed. Apparently, the Gunners are preparing a second bid of £20 million for the 24-year-old after earlier advances were made over the summer.
Wenger signed Mathieu Flamini on a free transfer in August and the Frenchman's arrival looks to have taken care of his side's needs in defensive midfield for the moment, at least.
However, Arsenal may want to look towards the future and a potential replacement for Mikel Arteta. The side also need cover at right-back, where Bender has played for Germany.
Lukas Podolski, Per Mertesacker, Mesut Ozil and Serge Gnabry. There seems to be a German revolution going on at the Emirates and maybe Bender will be next.
8. Christian Benteke to Manchester United
The Mirror's Alan Nixon reports that Manchester United are interested in the Belgian striker. Elsewhere, in Metro, there are claims that Spurs and Arsenal may also try to sign the 22-year-old in the New Year.
If Rooney grants Zlatan his wish and makes a move to France, Benteke could take his place at Old Trafford where the striker would be, perhaps crucially, eligible to play Champions League football.
It'll be a sad day for Villa fans if Benteke leaves the club, but for the Premier League title race, it could make things very exciting indeed.
7. A Shinji—Subotic Swap?
Shinji Kagawa has had the "Juan Mata treatment" at Manchester United this season.
The former Borussia Dortmund man's omission from David Moyes' starting line-up has left many a Red Devils fan perplexed.
According to Portuguese newspaper A Bola, via Ben Jefferson in the Express, Kagawa may return to Dortmund, with defender Neven Subotic coming the other way:
An unlikely swap deal could be on the cards with David Moyes considering defensive reinforcements more of a priority than persevering with a player who does not fit his requirements in Kagawa.
It would be a shame to see Kagawa depart Old Trafford, yet this move may be exciting for no-one more than the player himself, who would be guaranteed games under Jurgen Klopp. The BVB manager told the Guardian's Donald McRae last season:
Shinji Kagawa is one of the best players in the world and he now plays 20 minutes at Manchester United – on the left wing! My heart breaks. Really, I have tears in my eyes.
Central midfield is Shinji's best role. He's an offensive midfielder with one of the best noses for goal I ever saw. But for most Japanese people it means more to play for Man United than Dortmund. We cried for 20 minutes, in each others' arms, when he left.
6. Romelu Lukaku to Juventus
Most managers would be falling over themselves to sign Romelu Lukaku. But then Jose Mourinho is not "most managers."
The Belgian has already scored three goals in two games for the Toffees, he bagged 17 for West Brom last season and he currently looks like one of the most exciting strikers in the Premier League.
Mourinho's decision to let him go on loan for a second time has been met with much disbelief.
It has also been met with rumours of a move to Juventus, as the Mirror's John Cross reports. Cross claims it's the players switch to "super-agent" Mino Raiola that may prove decisive in getting Lukaku a move.
Elsewhere, as reported by Hannah Duncan in Metro, Martinez says the rumours are news to him:
That's the first time I've heard that [the Juventus link].
It doesn't surprise me. What matters is that he is enjoying his football.
It is only the start and he is still only a young man and we are looking forward to seeing him go from strength to strength.
It would make for a story of scandalous proportions if Chelsea lost a player of Lukaku's calibre. Their loss, undoubtedly, would be Juve's gain.
5. Juan Mata to Valencia
Every team has at least one player who is universally loved—even fans of opposing teams can't help but admire him.
For Chelsea, that player is Juan Mata.
Prodigiously talented, unassuming and seemingly an all-around nice guy, the 25-year-old has not even complained at being left out of Jose Mourinho's starting XI this season.
He told Chelsea's official website:
I just keep going, train well and prepare for every game. I just have to do my best in training and in games. It's important to play with the ball and without the ball, but I'm very happy and looking forward to playing a lot of games throughout the season.
I try to improve every season, my first and second seasons were fantastic but I want this one to be even better so I will try to improve, score goals, assist and do what I have to do.
But it's the Spaniard omission from all but 165 minutes of Premier League football this season that has sparked gossip about a January exit.
De Menezes says that the La Liga side "are believed to have already started the process of raising the £25m they feel will be enough to see Mata return to the Mestalla, with sponsors and local businesses set to fund the bid."
Just months ago it would have seemed unthinkable that the Blues would ever consider letting Mata go. It's going to be interesting to see how this one plays out. Stay tuned.
4. Marco Reus to Leave Dortmund?
It seem like Borussia Dortmund are up against a constant stream of media speculation, linking all their best players with a move away from Signal Iduna Park.
First Mario Gotze, who was snapped up by Bayern Munich in the summer. Then Robert Lewandowski who looks like he will join Gotze before long and now Marco Reus—who is rumoured to be leaving the Bundesliga club.
Reus has scored 26 goals and has registered 23 assists for Dortmund since joining the side in 2012. He's also a German international who has scored five goals during the 2014 World Cup qualification process and, oh yes, he can do this.
He would make a fantastic asset to any side in Europe, but as with most rumours in the Daily Star, take this one with a pinch of salt.
3. Andrea Pirlo to the Premier League
If you don't love Andrea Pirlo, you don't love football. It's as simple as that.
The Italian World Cup winner has enjoyed a spectacular career in Serie A, most notably in his decade at AC Milan, where he won honours including two Scudettos, two Champions League titles and two UEFA Super Cups.
After moving to Juventus in 2011, he added a further two Serie A titles to his name, plus two Italian Super Cups.
For club and country, the man's a genius.
His current contract expires at the end of the season and, at 34, he perhaps still has one last big move to make.
Even if there's not a shred of truth to the story, it's still a wildly exciting prospect.
2. Luis Suarez to Arsenal/Real Madrid
Luis Suarez—as controversial as a Miley Cyrus music video but a fantastic player nonetheless.
The Uruguayan has been repeatedly linked with Arsenal, who tried their best to lure him to the Emirates Stadium over the summer.
As reported by the BBC, the Gunners' offer of £40,000,001 was not enough to convince Liverpool to part ways with one of their best players, no matter the number of headaches he's caused during his time at Anfield.
Now, according to Metro, Arsenal have a "huge swoop" planned for Suarez in January, with the 26-year-old said to be at the top of Arsene Wenger's winter shopping list.
Arsenal have already spent big on one world-class name in Mesut Ozil—imagine the dynamic football on offer if they had Suarez spearheading the attack.
Sorry Liverpool fans, but this would be an sensational move for the Premier League.
Real Madrid are also rumoured to be readying themselves to make a £45 million offer for Suarez, says Paul Collins in the Daily Mail.
Carlo Ancelotti's side need a new striker and Suarez's arrival could pave the way for Karim Benzema's departure.
1. Wayne Rooney to PSG
When there was talk of Wayne Rooney joining us in Paris it was a prospect that excited me.
I don't just want to play with just great players I want to play with technically great players - and that is what he is.
You either have it or you don't - and Rooney does.
If he still wants to move next summer or even in January I would urge him to come and play with me in Paris.
The only direction this club is going is up, but if he did join he would have to get used to the fact that Zlatan scores even better goals than he does.
According to Simon Mullock in the Mirror, Arsenal are also planning to move for the 27-year-old in January.
However unlikely it may be, this rumour happens to be outrageous AND exciting. Rooney, you get our vote as No. 1.