B/R Gossip Roundup: Man Utd Move for Hummels, Tottenham Should Stick by Townsend
It has been another week of rumour and counter-rumour as the domestic football season winds down ahead of the World Cup.
Major clubs are now turning their attentions to the next campaign, with numerous transfer tales hitting the headlines.
Mats Hummels, David Luiz and Loic Remy are among the players linked with moves this summer, while Samir Nasri has been dealt a blow with his World Cup omission.
Let's take a closer inspection at some of the week's biggest headlines.
Could Gareth Barry Have His Head Turned by Arsenal?
Gareth Barry is a player who divides opinion. His fans champion his determined style and cool head, while his detractors question his ability to influence games at the top level.
Whether you are a fan or detractor, what cannot be argued is Barry’s record. The midfielder has 53 England caps to his name and FA Cup and Premier League winners’ medals in his trophy cabinet.
His career looked on the wane last summer, as he was deemed surplus to requirements by Manchester City and made available for loan.
Everton boss Roberto Martinez felt there was mileage left in Barry, and his judgment proved well founded, as the 33-year-old was one of the Toffees’ standout performers during a successful campaign that ended in European qualification.
Former Everton midfielder Lee Carsley is certainly a fan of Barry, as he wrote in his column in the Liverpool Echo.
Gareth Barry has been absolutely outstanding this season and in my view was certainly up there for Everton’s Player of the Season.
Both he and James McCarthy have stepped it up for the Blues this year, but Barry in particular has been excellent—an unsung hero if you like.
As a midfielder I can appreciate the qualities he brings to the Blues. Assured, consistent and a real pro on top of that.
Barry’s contract with City expires in the summer, and his form with Everton makes him an attractive free transfer.
Everton want to keep him, which has been confirmed by Toffees boss Roberto Martinez, but there could be competition for his signature.
Paul Hetherington of the Daily Star feels Barry may have the option of Champions League football to consider, suggesting that Arsenal are considering a move.
Arsenal have a raft of exciting midfielders such as Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, but a calming presence certainly helps complement attacking verve.
Gunners boss Arsene Wenger has Mikel Arteta to call on, but added quality in that type of role would certainly be welcome, which adds weight to the possibility of a move for Barry.
Wenger is likely to spend big in the summer, with talk of a huge transfer kitty available to him, but he is never slow to snap up a bargain when he sees one.
Barry is not the easy-on-the-eye game changer that fans swoon over, but he is the sort of player that can break up play and distribute to those already at Wenger’s disposal.
Believability Meter: Medium
Everton may be in pole position to land Barry following his fine season at Goodison Park, but Wenger could lure him to Arsenal with the prospect of a Champions League and title challenge.
Chelsea Defender David Luiz Fits the Barcelona Template
It feels like the David Luiz-Barcelona link has been around longer than Stonehenge, but, sure enough, the rumour resurfaced again this week.
Gary Jacob of The Times (subscription required) claimed on Tuesday that the Brazil international is on the verge of confirming his move to Camp Nou from Stamford Bridge.
According to the article, the £30 million deal has been agreed and will go through when the 27-year-old has finished his participation in the World Cup finals in his native country this summer.
With Luiz Felipe Scolari's side among the favourites to lift the trophy on July 13, Barcelona could be waiting some time before welcoming Luiz.
Luiz has divided opinion since arriving in the Premier League from Benfica in January 2011. Chelsea shelled out a reported £21.3 million for the defender, as The Metro reported at the time.
In October 2012, former Liverpool defender and Match of the Day analyst Alan Hansen described Luiz's defending as "farcical" in his column for the Daily Telegraph.
Former Manchester United defender Gary Neville apologised after he compared Luiz's defending to a "10-year-old playing with a PlayStation," as Richard Arrowsmith of the Daily Mirror reported.
So why would a club like Barcelona be interested in a player who has received such harsh words during his time in the English top flight?
Luiz loves to work with the ball from the back and move forward, a trait which does not necessarily fit well with Jose Mourinho, but is considered a Barcelona style.
Of course, there is the possibility of being susceptible to a swift counter-attack, but Luiz's style fits the Barca template, while his ability to switch between defence and midfield will not have gone unnoticed by the Catalan giants.
This could be a match made in heaven, no matter who is in charge at Barcelona next season.
Believability Meter: Very High
This move seems done and dusted and works out across the board; Mourinho appears to be unconvinced by Luiz and the Brazilian seems to fit the Barcelona template.
For Luiz, his natural style will be better accommodated at Camp Nou. He can't lose, can he?
Transfer Move for Mats Hummels Is a 'No-Brainer' for Manchester United
Sometimes the best way forward is the most obvious, and Manchester United appear to be on the right track if Richard Tanner of the Daily Express is proved to be correct.
Tanner claims that Louis van Gaal wants to bring Borussia Dortmund defender Mats Hummels to the club once his expected appointment as Manchester United manager is confirmed.
The Germany international possesses a fine blend of youth and experience: twice winning the Bundesliga and appearing in a Champions League final before the age of 25.
Throw into the mix his international career, which saw him feature at Euro 2012 and will extend into a World Cup finals this year, and the picture is relatively complete.
With Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand heading out of the United dressing room, there are spaces to be filled in the Old Trafford back line.
Hummels has been at the Westfalenstadion since joining the club on loan from Bayern Munich in January 2008, and his partnership with Neven Subotic earned praise before he made his move permanent 13 months later.
It is arguable, though, that Hummels has now achieved all he can with Dortmund, regardless of his loyalty to the club and manager Jurgen Klopp.
And, at 25, the central defender is approaching a crossroads in his career where he must stick or twist.
The potential move for Hummels will not come cheap for United, but the club have prepared a £200 million transfer war chest for the new manager, according to David McDonnell of the Daily Mirror last month.
The Dortmund star represents a more natural replacement for Ferdinand than Vidic for United, with his ability to move the ball from the back making him a good starting point for forward attacks, while he can also act in a sweeper role for his club.
Hummels has long been considered a coveted player across the major clubs of Europe, with Barcelona also reportedly interested in him, as Alex Richards of the Daily Mirror reported in October.
But if David Luiz is poised for a move to Camp Nou, the way should be paved for United to sign Hummels.
It all fits together neatly.
Believability Meter: High
This sounds like a great move for United, and if Barcelona are on the verge of signing Luiz from Chelsea, it also appears to be an open goal.
Manchester United should move mountains to sign Hummels, and if Van Gaal is appointed you can be aassured that will be demanded of them.
New Chelsea Deal for Romelu Lukaku Points to Summer-Long Speculation
Few people would have predicted that Romelu Lukaku had any kind of future at Chelsea following comments made by Jose Mourinho earlier in the season.
The Belgium international was on loan at Everton during the 2013-14 Premier League campaign after a season with West Bromwich Albion before that.
Stamford Bridge manager Jose Mourinho was persistently quizzed about the decision to send Lukaku to Everton as his forward line failed to ignite in his first season back at Stamford Bridge.
The Daily Telegraph reported that Lukaku wanted to prove Mourinho was wrong to let him go on loan by scoring more goals than the Chelsea strikers.
In November, though, Tom Cary of the Daily Telegraph reported Mourinho as saying in response:
Romelu likes to speak. He’s a young boy who likes to speak.
But the only thing he didn’t say is why he went to Everton on loan. That’s the only thing he never says.
And my last contact with him was to tell him exactly that. ‘Why do you never say why you are not here?'
Then, surprisingly, Chris McKenna of the Daily Star claimed in Thursday's paper that the 20-year-old was going to be offered a new contract at Chelsea.
The article claims that the Blues will sit down with the young striker after the World Cup to sort out a fresh contract at Stamford Bridge, with the possibility of him going on loan again an option.
But with Mourinho reportedly on the verge of bringing Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa to West London, as Matt Law of the Daily Telegraph claimed, where would Lukaku fit?
The Belgian is a similar forward to Costa, and Lukaku is unlikely to want to return to Chelsea as a back-up forward after his impressive goalscoring feats at Goodison Park and The Hawthorns over the past two seasons.
It remains open to debate, though, whether Lukaku has truly proved himself when necessary for his parent club, a factor that makes reports of new deal surprising.
Intriguingly, Sami Mokbel of the Daily Mail reported that Lukaku wants to speak with Mourinho before committing himself to the club.
We suspect this might be another long-running saga through the summer transfer window.
Believability Meter: Medium
It is understandable that Chelsea want to protect their interests by ensuring Lukaku pens a new contract with the club, but the striker has reached a point in his development where he does not want to be a reserve for another forward.
This particular transfer rumour may have some race left to run this summer. Watch this space.
Tottenham Would Be Wise to Stick with Andros Townsend
The highs and lows of football are summed up by the fluctuations in Andros Townsend’s fortunes. He’s gone from being England’s great hope to being linked with a move to Newcastle United in a matter of months.
The winger’s career appeared to be going nowhere a few years ago, as he struggled to nail down a regular start at Tottenham and was farmed out on loan to the likes of Leyton Orient, MK Dons and Millwall.
He returned to Tottenham last summer following a loan stint at Queens Park Rangers and impressed then manager Andre Villas-Boas during pre-season.
Townsend became a key component in Tottenham’s attacking armoury, and he responded with a series of sizzling displays.
England coach Roy Hodgson certainly took note, drafting Townsend into the squad for the World Cup qualifiers with Montenegro and Poland in October. The player took his chance and netted a superb goal against Montenegro, with only the width of a post denying him against Poland.
BBC Sport’s Phil McNulty summed up Townsend’s performance against Montenegro: "Andros Townsend was Roy Hodgson's surprise selection but he created the first goal, scored a superb third and was a real threat throughout."
High praise indeed. Though given where Bale was when he left Spurs for Real Madrid and looking at how Townsend is viewed since those stellar days in October, those claims seem a tad premature.
His form dipped markedly in the second half of the season, and he made just two Premier League starts in 2014.
An ankle injury picked up in the win at Stoke on April 26 dashed his World Cup dreams, but was it also his final Spurs outing?
The Mirror’s Darren Lewis claims Everton and Newcastle are both weighing up making a move for Townsend.
It would be a remarkable turnaround to go from England hero to being bombed out by Spurs in less than a year.
There may well be truth in Everton and Newcastle wanting Townsend, but it would come as a surprise if Spurs let him go.
Everton and Newcastle are highly unlikely to come up with a massive fee, which would lessen the desire for Tottenham to cash in.
Townsend did go off to boil in the second half of the season, but he has desirable traits of being fast and direct, and Spurs would be wise to give him a chance to bounce back.
Believability Meter: Low
Townsend would be a decent punt for an Everton or Newcastle. He has shown sizzling brilliance at times, but those memories are still prominent in the memory banks and Tottenham will surely resist the temptation to sell.
QPR Set to Be Biggest Winners in Transfer Bidding War for Loic Remy
One of the ongoing stories of the summer transfer window revolves around the future of Queens Park Rangers striker Loic Remy.
Earlier this month, the France international was pictured attending Arsenal's final home game of the season against West Bromwich Albion.
Gunners manager Arsene Wenger played down speculation linking the 27-year-old by joking that he hoped the forward had paid for his ticket.
But this week a new name entered the fray for Remy.
According to Gary Jacob of The Times (subscription required), Everton have made their interest in the Frenchman known.
Jacob claims the Toffees' interest in the striker is an indication that Romelu Lukaku will not be making a permanent return to Goodison Park after his successful loan spell.
The Chelsea and Belgium forward found a place in the Everton fans' hearts with his ability in front of goal throughout the Premier League campaign, as he helped the club finish fifth in the table.
At 21, though, Lukaku represents a potentially big transfer for the Stamford Bridge club and a successful World Cup with Belgium could see the Merseyside club priced right out of the market.
All of which brings us back to Remy. Jacob claims that Remy has an £8 million buy-out clause inserted into his contract at Loftus Road.
That figure in itself will be music to the ears of Everton chairman Bill Kenwright, who will be looking to help manager Roberto Martinez build on the success of last season.
But, like any good businessman, the Goodison Park chief will recognise that any further successes will have to come within financial reason.
Arsenal, though, have the carrot of Champions League football to dangle before Remy, while Newcastle will not be looking to count themselves out of a permanent move just yet.
Even if QPR regain their top-flight status by beating Derby County in the play-off final, West London is unlikely to be Remy's destination next season.
But the Loftus Road club will not be harmed if speculation of bidding a war continues for the striker.
Believability Meter: Medium
Everton's interest in Remy would be totally understandable, and his reported buy-out trigger is well within their grasp.
But the prospect of playing in the Champions League must be a serious attraction for the France forward, who will represent his country at the World Cup this summer.
The idea of Remy making a name for himself in Brazil and a potential bidding war means QPR are likely to be the biggest winners in any potential transfer.
Didier Deschamps Right to Leave Samir Nasri out of France World Cup Squad
The subject of Samir Nasri's World Cup omission has produced some comical and strange moments so far this week.
The Manchester City midfielder has been no stranger to controversy while serving on international duty, as outlined by Ian Holyman of ESPN last year.
But when France head coach Didier Deschamps left the 26-year-old out of his squad for the World Cup finals in Brazil, Nasri simply shrugged his shoulders, as Yahoo.com reported.
While that was perhaps unexpected, it was Nasri's girlfriend Anara Atanes who stole the show with her expletive-laden tweet regarding Deschamps and her man's omission from his squad, as Ben Burrows of the Daily Mirror reported.
The model later apologised for her actions, but not directly to the France head coach, as David Lynch of the Manchester Evening News noted, but the story took a bizarre twist when it was reported that Deschamps was set to sue Atanes, as Jack Gaughan of the Daily Mail highlighted.
The whole scenario has taken on a farcical appearance, but tales of legal action and swearing outbursts disguise the issue at the heart of the story.
Is Deschamps right to omit Nasri?
There is no doubting the former Arsenal man's ability; Nasri has been an integral part of City's success this season, and he has displayed an improved level of maturity under Manuel Pellegrini than he did under Roberto Mancini during the 2012-13 campaign.
However, his time on international duty has been riddled with a number of controversial incidents and after the ignominious "mutiny" of the France squad on duty at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, as David Hytner of The Guardian reported, the national team can ill afford a repeat.
The campaign in South Africa was an ugly stain on the history of the national team, who had won plaudits for their World Cup victory just 12 years earlier.
Deschamps and the French Football Federation might have been somewhat petty in their escalation of the Atanes affair, but the bottom line is that the French public will be eagerly waiting for Les Bleus to make amends for the dreadful events of four years ago.
Former France captain Deschamps recognises that leaving Nasri behind will ensure one potential issue in his squad is eliminated before the squad travels to South America.
Believability Meter: High
Not so long ago, France were the kings of world football, holding the World Cup and the European Championship trophies simultaneously.
France cannot afford any controversies this time around. By leaving Nasri at home, Deschamps is taking the right step to avoid at least one possible problem.