B/R Gossip Roundup: Vidal to Man Utd Stalls, Hummels Remains Tough to Land
With pre-season in full swing and the Community Shield just seven days away, European clubs are in the thick of the summer transfer business.
This means myriad links between players and clubs, with some appearing strong fits and others...well, not so much.
Morgan Schneiderlin and Arturo Vidal (again) are among the biggest names in the headlines this week. Let's take a closer look at some of the football stories from the past seven days.
The Morgan Schneiderlin roller coaster has been running for two straight years now, with big clubs consistently linked to the French midfielder as he turns in consistently excellent showings.
Arsenal have supposedly had their eye on him for some time, but Arsene Wenger denied moving for him on Saturday after the victory over Benfica, saying, "at the moment we are not after anybody especially," per Ben Jefferson of the Express.
That leaves Tottenham Hotspur, headed by former boss Mauricio Pochettino, whose interest has been registered as concrete.
After five Southampton players left the club this summer for an approximate total of £92 million, per BBC Sport, chairman Ralph Krueger seemingly blocked the sale of Schneiderlin—the would-be sixth—to North London.
The midfielder then tweeted a rather explosive message, suggesting his six-year stay had been ruined in one fell swoop, and that soon followed by a supposed transfer request to force a switch, per the Daily Mail's Simon Jones.
Manager Ronald Koeman has been defiant in recent days, denying the transfer request occurred and suggested Schneiderlin is training with his team-mates and will play a part in their next friendly.
Believability Meter: High
Spurs are definitely in for Schneiderlin despite having a full collection of proficient players to play his position. The Frenchman wants to link up with his old boss, and it does feel like there's a broken promise in here.
Remember when Robert Lewandowski received a massive final-year pay rise with Borussia Dortmund after they blocked his move to Bayern Munich? This feels similar.
Arturo Vidal is the man in the spotlight right now, with fresh news surrounding his possible exit from Juventus consuming the world's journalists each day.
The rumours began at the FIFA World Cup, with Chilean reporters suggesting to Sky Sports' Peter Hall in Brazil that a Louis van Gaal bid was imminent for their country's most prized asset.
Those stories have swamped the backpages ever since, with fees between £32-45 million being bandied about as a matter of course.
On Saturday, Vidal's agent admitted to Sky Sport Italia (h/t the Mirror's Ben Burrows) that he was convinced one of Vidal or Paul Pogba would leave the Old Lady this summer. He then went a step further, suggesting it was set to be the Chilean.
Juventus general manager Giuseppe Marotta remains defiant in the face of interest and has told reporters (h/t the Metro) that Vidal can only go if he expresses his wish to force through a move.
Believability Meter: Medium to High
At one stage, this deal felt inevitable, but while Chilean journalists continue to push the story of Vidal leaving Juve for Manchester United, it's important to note they have a (slight) personal agenda.
Chile is a small country, and there aren't many players to choose from; it's the reporter's dream to see what few stars they have reach the very highest level.
LVG would be mad not to be interested, but Juventus seem determined not to lose him.
After a surprise starring role at the FIFA World Cup 2014 for the Netherlands, Ron Vlaar has become a wanted man in world football.
Aston Villa fans weren't shocked to see him playing well initially, but his performances began reaching new levels, and after essentially nullifying Lionel Messi in the semi-final, everyone was rubbing his or her eyes in disbelief.
As a result, Vlaar is a hot transfer target for as many as four clubs in a better position than Villa; Alex Harris of the Express has suggested Southampton, Lazio, Manchester United and Juventus are all keen.
Ronald Koeman's Saints have been the most vocal targeters on show, with the Feyenoord connection between player and manager leading to an admission of admiration. Koeman told the Daily Mail's Simon Jones that Vlaar is "an option, but an expensive one," despite the centre-back having just 12 months left on his contract.
Per Sky Sports' Gerrit van Leeuwen, Vlaar is set to meet with his agent and the club following an extended holiday. He watched Villa's dismal 4-1 defeat to FC Groningen on Saturday from the stands and will link up with the squad on Monday.
Believability Meter: High
To Southampton, this transfer makes a lot of sense and could well come off. A modest valuation of Vlaar in the current market would be £5-7 million, but you get the feeling Koeman will end up shelling out £8 million-plus.
Manchester United should be aiming a lot higher; Lazio have Stefan de Vrij now, and Juventus would do well to remember they already have a roster teeming with central defenders.
Poor old Mats Hummels. He just can't catch a transfer speculation moment of rest, can he?
Back in mid-July, Jurgen Klopp told Manchester United to forget signing his star central defender after a stellar FIFA World Cup 2014 campaign, per the Manchester Evening News' David Lynch.
The German impressed wildly in Brazil, scoring against Portugal and France, fixing a defensive line that looked awful without him and playing a key role in keeping a clean sheet in the final.
Hummels has certainly impressed the Guardian's Jamie Jackson, who feels he would be a fine addition to the Manchester United squad.
"If he was to join, Van Gaal would be acquiring a top-class operator who could fill the void left by Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand," Jackson wrote.
He's always drawn admiring glances across the continent due to his cool, ball-playing style and aerial strength, but BVB have always slammed the door on any potential suitors in return.
After rumours of a €20 million bid being lodged by Louis van Gaal, Jurgen Klopp told Sky Sport News (Germany) that he'd "eat a broomstick" if any deal for that price could be agreed upon (h/t The Telegraph).
"I can assure everyone that there are no signs that those two players want to leave," the trainer continued. "Marco [Reus] and Mats [Hummels] will play for us next season."
Believability Meter: Low
This has all the markings of a nonsense rumour that simply won't go away.
The Mirror's Dave Kidd reports Arsene Wenger would like to be kept informed of any developments when it comes to Hummels, which will only enrage Klopp more. BVB director Michael Zorc told Goal.com's Stefan Doring that the centre-back will play for his club for a long time to come, but his message is consistently ignored too.
A World Cup-winning defender of such stature isn't moving for any less than Marquinhos (€31.4 million) did last summer. That's a minimum rate.
Angel Di Maria
"[There is] no news. He's still on holiday and will come back to training with Real Madrid on August 5, as is planned," Carlo Ancelotti told reporters in Michigan this weekend (h/t Goal.com).
The Angel Di Maria saga has been rolling on for too long, and we need a conclusion. That conclusion seemed nearer following Los Blancos' acquisitions of Toni Kroos and James Rodriguez, but the Argentine is still on the books at the Bernabeu with no end in sight as of yet.
According to beIN SPORTS (via World Soccer Talk's Peter Quinn), Paris Saint-Germain have struck an agreement to take the midfielder on loan next week.
It's a complicated potential deal, as they're already working around Financial Fair Play with Serge Aurier's peculiar move from Toulouse also a loan with a "promise" to buy—not an option.
A €10 million up-front fee would be paid, then a further €70 million would follow next summer to ensure the deal became permanent. With David Luiz already in for €50 million, there's no room to manoeuvre until next June.
Believability Meter: High
With Luka Modric, Sami Khedira, Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Toni Kroos, James Rodriguez, Xabi Alonso and Asier Illarramendi all rivalling Di Maria for a spot in Ancelotti's side, something has to give.
Unfortunately for the Argentine, it seems his number is up despite standing a top-three player across the 2013-14 season.
Paris Saint-Germain look a goer.