B/R Gossip Roundup: Costa the Man for Chelsea, RVP Arsenal Link Makes No Sense

BR-UK StaffFeatured Columnist IVFebruary 2, 2014

B/R Gossip Roundup: Costa the Man for Chelsea, RVP Arsenal Link Makes No Sense

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    Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

    So that's your lot for the rest of the season. Did you get who you wanted? Did you lose who you didn't want to part with?

    The transfer window has closed until the summer, but that won't stop the speculation in the coming months.

    We will continue to monitor all the gossip and rumours, and give our own view before the window reopens at the end of the current season.

    Here's our take on the stories of the last seven days.

Atletico Madrid Midfielder Saul Niguez Is a Signing for the Future for Liverpool

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    Andres Kudacki/Associated Press

    The loss of Lucas Leiva for up to two months came as a blow for Liverpool as they continued their pursuit of a Champions League spot by the end of the season.

    The Brazil international picked up a knee ligament injury during the 2-2 draw with Aston Villa at Anfield on Jan. 18, leaving a hole in the defensive-midfield role for Brendan Rodgers to fill.

    Needless to say during a transfer window, speculation has surrounded the potential figures who could come in to replace Lucas.

    On Sunday, Alan Nixon of the Daily Mirror prompted fans to look in the direction of Atletico Madrid youngster Saul Niguez, who is currently on loan at Rayo Vallecano.

    Nixon claims that Rodgers held a secret meeting with Saul's father over a proposed transfer to Merseyside as he attempted to offset the disappointment of missing out on Mohamed Salah to Chelsea.

    Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United have all been credited with an interest in the 19-year-old, as David McDonnell of the Daily Mirror reported earlier this month.

    However, there is a warning for all the Premier League clubs from Bleacher Report transfer correspondent Allan Jiang, who was unimpressed by Niguez as he compared him with Paul Pogba:

    Saul's passing is erratic: Some days he completes 92 percent of his passes, other days he is an ideal hoof-ball defender to play under Crystal Palace manager Tony Pulis.

    Rayo concede a staggering 2.7 goals per game due to players such as Saul exhibiting awful positional awareness, limited defensive nous and an inability to remain level-headed in the face of adversity.

    Liverpool might have been able to offer Saul more immediate first-team football, but this was a move which will have needed some clear thinking on Rodgers' part.

    Jiang also highlights a lack of discipline and emotional immaturity after the player attempted to deceive a referee over the number of cards he had received after being dismissed for Rayo during a game with Almeria earlier in the season.

    But what football manager would not relish the challenge of reforming such a character and turning him into an accomplished, world-class star?

    Saul is attracting plenty of attention, but Rodgers must consider his options carefully before progressing the move.

    Believability Meter: Medium

    If Rodgers has met with Saul's father as Nixon claims, this appears to be a strong link with Liverpool.

    But the Reds' boss will have to balance his needs for sustained success with the work required to turn Saul into a player who could help him immediately.

Chelsea Wise to Keep Thibaut Courtois in Their Pursuit of Diego Costa

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    Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

    These are interesting times at Chelsea.

    The return of Jose Mourinho has produced steady progress in results for the team so far this season, as Manchester City take the plaudits for their swashbuckling performances instead.

    A Mourinho team was never likely to take the form of a cavalier approach, but in his previous reign at Stamford Bridge, Mourinho was never short of money for transfers.

    And the January arrivals of Nemanja Matic and Mohamed Salah prove there is still capital to be used where necessary.

    However, any potential summer swap deal involving Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa and Thibaut Courtois, such as the one Charlie Skillen of the Daily Mail reported, would not be in Chelsea's best interests.

    Courtois is in his third season in the Spanish capital on loan from Chelsea and has previously stated he will only return as a No. 1 at the club, according to IB Times' Eduardo Fernandez-Abascal (via Yahoo! Sports). 

    However, Petr Cech, 31, has shown few signs that his form is on the wane, leaving Mourinho with a decision to make if the proposed swap deal is the way forward for Costa.

    The Atletico striker has become a shining light in La Liga this season, and his value to a Chelsea short on a regular goal-scorer could prove immeasurable.

    But at 21, Courtois represents a hugely promising talent for the future. And he is officially on Chelsea's books.

    The Belgian cannot remain at Atletico on loan indefinitely, but Cech also cannot go on forever.

    Blues owner Roman Abramovich will have one eye on the value involved, but the Russian is wise enough to recognise potential for the team, which plays into Mourinho's hands.

    Neither owner nor manager will be willing to allow a goalkeeper as good as Courtois to leave just yet.

    Believability Meter: Low

    The ideal solution for Chelsea will be buying Costa while keeping hold of Courtois.

    The experience of both Abramovich and Mourinho will realise that as the way forward in any dealings with Atletico.

Victor Moses Needs Far Greater Consistency to Secure Permanent Liverpool Deal

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    Victor Moses has divided opinion among Liverpool supporters since his summer arrival on loan from Chelsea.

    Some fans believe he has been awful, others think he's been rubbish.

    Either way, the Nigeria international did offer a reminder of his ability in the FA Cup fourth-round win at Bournemouth last weekend.

    Moses scored in an impressive start for the Reds, prompting manager Brendan Rodgers to claim the winger could earn a full-time move to Anfield if he continues to improve, as Sami Mokbel of the Daily Mail reported:

    If he does really well for us there is a possibility we will want to have him permanently, but ultimately it is Chelsea’s decision because he is their player.

    And if he has done really well here then they will want to keep him. So there’s every motivation. When you sample the life at big institutions like Liverpool then there’s not many that want to leave.

    I have seen improvements in his training. That is the big part of it for me. How he plays well on a daily basis.

    Rodgers has turned to Raheem Sterling more often than Moses this season, leaving a question mark over the 23-year-old.

    But Wigan Athletic fans will tell you Moses does have a genuine talent as he proved at the DW Stadium before moving to Stamford Bridge in August 2012.

    The fact that Chelsea made five attempts to sign the player underlined their desire to land him, but Moses was deemed surplus to requirements by Jose Mourinho at the start of the current campaign.

    Things started brightly for Moses at Anfield, but his performance levels dropped, and Rodgers opted to leave the winger kicking his heels on the sidelines as the team made their mark on the Premier League.

    Moses had started just six Premier League matches before the Cup tie against Bournemouth, but he returned to some form in the match at the Goldsands Stadium.

    But is a decent display against a mid-table Championship side really enough to persuade Liverpool to take Moses on a full-time deal?

    Believability Meter: Low

    It is par for the course for a manager to offer an incentive for an under-performing player, as Rodgers has done with Moses.

    But there has been nothing to suggest the Nigeria winger can turn around opinion on a regular basis as the Reds chase a Champions League place.

Controversial New Juventus Striker Dani Osvaldo Had No Place at Southampton

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    Christopher Lee/Getty Images

    Sometimes a transfer story simply drops into the laps of newspaper journalists through circumstances, and the recent tales of Dani Osvaldo have provided plenty of links this week before he joined Juventus on loan on deadline day.

    Tuesday's newspapers produced a particularly virulent strain of Osvaldo transfer fever, with Gary Jacob of The Times (subscription required) crediting Inter Milan and Valencia with an interest in the Italy international.

    And on the very same day, the 28-year-old was linked with a move to Ligue 1 and Monaco along with Manchester United striker Javier Hernandez, according to Ben Jefferson of the Daily Express.

    To place those links in context, Osvaldo was serving a two-week club suspension by Southampton after an altercation with team-mate Jose Fonte on the training ground, as Neil Ashton and Sami Mokbel of the Daily Mail reported.

    To compound the situation for the Argentina-born forward, Jack de Menezes of The Independent noted that Osvaldo could be fined £250,000 if he did not leave by the close of the transfer window.

    Osvaldo a Saint? Er, not quite, but surely the south coast club knew they were taking a risk when they landed the forward for £15 million from Roma earlier this season.

    Danny Griffiths of Metro compiled a list of some of Osvaldo's past misdemeanours earlier this week, but a cursory glance at the Internet would have shown up all of those erroneous moments.

    But Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino had experience of dealing with the forward after they worked together at Espanyol.

    However, there is a thin line between being the one to turn around a troubled player and actually doing it.

    Cue the training-ground bust-up with Fonte, and we are back on familiar territory.

    Osvaldo's behaviour has seen his team-mates turn on him, reported Sami Mokbel of the Daily Mail, and Tom Hopkinson of the Daily Mirror claimed the dressing-room view was that the player deliberately lashed out at Fonte to engineer a move away from Southampton.

    Fonte spoke of wanting to move on from the incident after scoring in Tuesday's 2-2 draw with Arsenal, as Sam Cunningham of the Daily Mail reported, while the same article also noted the contrite behaviour of Osvaldo.

    We will soon see if those are the actions of a genuinely sorry player, or an admission that any hopes of a move away are fading fast.

    But a return to Serie A with Juventus is likely to prove a good move for all parties.

    Believability Meter: High

    It would come as no surprise if we discovered the links between Osvaldo and numerous continental clubs had been placed in newspapers by Southampton players themselves from what has been written this week.

    Training-ground altercations are not uncommon, but when it involved the baggage-laden Osvaldo, it was time for the Saints to act.

    It is hard to see where Osvaldo will fit in with the current Juventus first team, but few people at the St Mary's Stadium will mourn his exit.

John Heitinga's Deadline-Day Move to Fulham Can Aid Club and Player

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    Sang Tan/Associated Press

    Fulham and Crystal Palace were the biggest wheelers and dealers on the final day of the transfer window, but it was one late deal which could prove to be the difference for the Craven Cottage side in their fight against relegation.

    The purchase of John Heitinga from Everton moments before the window closed put an end to a month of speculation surrounding the Holland international.

    The West London club only confirmed the arrival of the 30-year-old on their official website half an hour before the January window shut, but it is the most significant buy in their busy month.

    Heitinga signed off his Everton career with a goal in the FA Cup win at Stevenage last weekend, but Blues supporters also cheered the defender off the field in his last Goodison Park appearance against Norwich on Jan. 18 in appreciation of his time with the club.

    The former Atletico Madrid man had a mixed time with the Blues, being voted Player of the Year for the 2011-12 season but barely featuring this season under Roberto Martinez.

    Heitinga has, undoubtedly, been surplus to requirements for Martinez this season after featuring just five times. But his arrival at Fulham will act as a turning point in a crucial season for the player.

    Martinez acknowledged the fact that Heitinga was looking for first-team opportunities to bolster his chances of playing for Holland in the World Cup finals later this year, as David Anderson of the Daily Mirror reported.

    It's very important that, in this window, Johnny finds the right solution from now until the end of the season.

    If that solution is for him to stay at Everton, then he's someone that we never wanted to lose in the first place.

    Heitinga's last appearance in FIFA's elite tournament ended with a red card in the final defeat to Spain in South Africa.

    However, the new Craven Cottage man has not played for his country since the World Cup qualifying win over Andorra in October 2012, and he needs first-team opportunities to stake his claim in time for the finals in Brazil.

    Fulham have acquired a man on a two-pronged mission; to save his new club and to ensure his World Cup place.

    That will prove to be a very useful combination as Fulham head coach Rene Meulensteen attempts to steer his team away from the foot of the table.

    A 3-0 home defeat to Southampton on Saturday suggests Heitinga's arrival could not have been more timely.

    Believabilty Meter: High

    This is a great move for Fulham and Heitinga. After allowing Philippe Senderos to join Valencia, the Craven Cottage have added a player with proven Premier League experience.

    The Dutchman is also determined not to miss out on the World Cup finals, which is a further added incentive in the fight against relegation for Meulensteen.

    If there was one player you would want in such a battle, Heitinga would feature highly on your list.

Failure to Land Konoplyanka and Salah Leaves Questions for Liverpool Hierarchy

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    Fabrizio Giovannozzi/Associated Press

    The on-off transfer of Yevhen Konoplyanka from Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk to Liverpool was the talk of transfer deadline day.

    Anfield managing director Ian Ayre had been in Ukraine for 48 hours to conclude the deal for the 24-year-old, as James Pearce of the Liverpool Echo reported.

    According to the same article, Konoplyanka passed his medical and agreed to a long-term contract with the Merseyside club.

    But the £15 million deal for the player collapsed as Dnipro owner Ihor Kolomoyskyi decided he would not sell Konoplyanka, claims Pearce.

    The January transfer window has not been kind to Liverpool.

    The Reds enjoyed an excellent first month of 2014, winning five of their six matches in league and cup, including the 4-0 drubbing of neighbours and Champions League rivals Everton.

    However, Brendan Rodgers' transfer hopes failed to materialise as the Konoplyanka deal followed the proposed move for Basle winger Mohamed Salah into the "fail" category.

    Salah was swiped from under the noses of Liverpool by Chelsea during the window after the Reds took too long to finalise their move for the player, as David Woods of the Daily Star reported.

    The real concern for Reds fans here, though, is why aren't the club capitalising on the fact they are riding high in their best position for years?

    Liverpool manager Rodgers appeared on the club's official website on Saturday to absolve the Anfield hierarchy of blame for the lack of signings in January:

    The availability of the player, and of course the affordability, are always the two factors involved in getting a player in.

    It certainly hasn't been because of a lack of work by the football club. There are lots of people who have worked tirelessly to identify and find the right types of players.

    A lot of those players haven't been able to become available for us. Of course, as a manager, you would like to have strengthened, but I'm very optimistic with the group of players I still have available here.

    If we can keep those players fit, and maximise the availability for the rest of the season, we can have a great chance to have a really good finish.

    Liverpool are currently in the top four of the Premier League chasing a return to the Champions League and its subsequent riches for the first time since the 2009-10 season when they failed to qualify from their group.

    They possess one of the most feared forwards in world football in the shape of Luis Suarez, who signed a new deal with the club just before Christmas.

    Surely the Reds are in a commanding position for players looking to enhance their careers?

    The club owners are entitled to be careful with finances, particularly after the failure of the £35 million shelled out on Newcastle striker Andy Carroll in January 2011, but sometimes one has to speculate to accumulate as the old adage goes.

    And Tottenham have already been linked with a summer move for Konoplyanka, according to Simon Jones and Dominic King of the Daily Mail.

    Liverpool fans have every right to be concerned that a lack of newcomers may impact their top-four hopes.

    Believability Meter: High

    It is a very odd state of affairs that Liverpool were not able to strengthen their squad midway through a season which promises so much.

    Supporters are right to question why they missed out on players such as Salah and Konoplyanka, even if the Dnipro owner has been blamed for missing out on the latter.

    Wayne Rooney once famously questioned Manchester United's ambition as he handed in a transfer request in 2010. Who is to say Suarez won't be getting that same feeling?

Van Persie Arsenal Link Does Not Appeal

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    The January window may have closed, but it’s not stopped the transfer chatter. Rob Shepherd’s Football Grapevine piece in the Mail is always worthy of a read, and Sunday's iteration is up to standard.

    Shepherd’s piece opens up with the claim that Robin van Persie could be heading back to Arsenal in the summer.

    In his piece, Shepherd wrote:

    Robin van Persie could make a shock return to Arsenal in the summer. Manchester United manager David Moyes plans a mass makeover of the squad at the end of the season.

    Indeed, after unveiling Juan Mata at the start of the week, Moyes made hints about a substantial clearout followed by a spending spree to rejuvenate United in the close season.

    And the biggest shock sale could be Van Persie – especially if United succeed in persuading Wayne Rooney to stay rather than move to Chelsea or PSG. It is understood that while Moyes seems to have made Rooney feel more comfortable at the club, there is an uneasy relationship between the new United boss and Van Persie.

    It is also understood that Van Persie and his family have not settled as well amongst the ‘Cheshire set’ as opposed to where they had previously resided in the London area.

    If Rooney remains at Old Trafford, then Van Persie could be on his way and it is understood he would love to re-join the Gunners.

    So van Persie could be heading back to Arsenal? Really? We just can’t see it happening.

    He left Arsenal in acrimonious circumstances in the summer of 2012, with the club electing to sell when it became apparent the player would not commit to a new deal.

    It paid off for van Persie as his goals fired United to the title last term. The Dutchman looked a completely different player under the guidance of Sir Alex Ferguson, but things changed again when Ferguson announced his retirement.

    David Moyes was brought in as Ferguson’s successor, and there has been plenty of talk of relationship between player and manager being strained.

    If such talk is true, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that Moyes will sanction the sale of van Persie in the summer.

    A return to Arsenal would be a huge surprise. It would rank among the biggest transfer shocks of recent times.

    There is no doubt Arsenal are in need of a striker, Olivier Giroud has had to carry the attacking burden for most of the season, and it seems certain Arsene Wenger will remedy that in the summer.

    Wenger has a history of welcoming back Gunners greats to the clubThierry Henry has spent a couple of spells on loan in North Londonbut van Persie departed in different circumstances.

    On top of that, the Gunners look like they have moved on from the van Persie era. The Dutchman was the focal point of their attack for the eight years he spent at the club, but he will be 31 by the time next season comes around, and he has spent spells of this term out injured.

    Is he the player Arsenal can build their next team around? Highly unlikely.

    Believability Meter: Low

    Shepherd could well revive his column if van Persie does indeed make a move to Arsenal, but we cannot see it happening and is more likely to be consigned to the vault and forgotten about.