The summer transfer season has yet to really heat up. Ok, there were two mammoth deals involving two of the three best players in the world and the transfer-record was broken twice in a week. But that’s really it. Pretty dull for most of us.
Man City have been most active thus far and it is their pursuit of Samuel Eto’o that could soon catalyze the market into some action (as if the £136 spent by Madrid on Kaka and Ronaldo wasn’t enough).
According to Joan Laporta, Barcelona President, City have presented the Cameroonian striker a “stratospheric” offer which would make him the highest-paid player in the world (before Cristiano Ronaldo’s 1st annual wage increase). Laporta conceded that it would be hard for Eto’o to refuse such a “monster” deal, especially as his contract with Barcelona is set to expire in 2010 and the African Cup of Nations will cause him to miss 6 weeks of next season.
If this move goes through (but let’s face it, in this day and age, nobody has any idea of what is really going to happen until pen is put to paper: see the Cristiano Ronaldo saga of 2008), it could jumpstart the transfer market and provide some much-needed excitement for an otherwise dreary summer (England’s qualifying matches against Andorra and Kazakhstan didn’t quite satisfy the hunger, although the USA’s run to the Confederation’s Cup final was a pleasant surprise).
The deal will also ignite the talks of City breaking into the lionized ‘Top Four’, but that is for a different article.
Click on to see how the Eto’o deal would provide a boost to the transfer market.
Well, first things first. If Eto’o leaves, Barca will have to replace him. Juan Laporta has explicitly come out and said that. Their much-hyped attack trio would be rendered insufficient with only Thierry Henry and Leo Messi left behind. How could anyone get through a season with just Henry and Messi? Impossible. That being said, Henry isn’t getting any younger and Bojan is still a kid. Former Chelsea striker, Eidur Gudjohnsen, has primarily played in the midfield since his move to Barca and has recently attracted attention from London club, West Ham. Pep Guardiola would probably like to employ the same strategy as last season, seeing as Barca won the treble and all. Therefore, Barca will have to look into acquiring the services of another striker, as Juan Laporta confirmed earlier today. They have yet to be concretely linked with a replacement, but keep your eyes peeled if the deal goes through.
However, a name that has been thrown around is Javier Mascherano. The sale of Eto’o would reportedly translate into a tidy £25 million, which would go a long way into enticing Liverpool to let go of the combative Argentine, who arrived for a fee of £18 in February of 2008. If Benitez is able to fend off Barca’s approach for Mascherano, he will then have to turn his attention to Real Madrid’s interest in Xabi Alonso. Rafa didn’t exactly do himself any favors with his public attempts to pry Gareth Barry from Aston Villa last summer – alienating Alonso in the process. The Spanish midfielder has not ruled out a move back to Spain, but has also said he would be happy to stay in England. Either way, Liverpool face battles to keep two of their three best midfielders. Last summer, Benitez went after Barry, with both Mascherano and Alonso set to stay. If they lose one of the two this summer, they are sure to find a replacement. Again, watch this space.
Down the road, Manchester United are also set to begin their spending spree. With Ronaldo long gone, and Tevez’s departure confirmed, the Red Devils will undoubtedly need to find new recruits (under 26, apparently). Although Rooney will likely be deployed in the center after years of accommodating Ronaldo, this will not be enough. Wigan and Ecuador winger, Luis Antonio Valencia, will be the first player through the doors of Old Trafford as a £16 million move is imminent. United have also been heavily linked to Brazilian youngster, Douglas Costa. Although their approach to have the newest ‘new Ronaldinho/Ronaldo/Enter Brazilian Legend’ on trial was rejected, interest is still high. The price-tag for the 18-year old is also high, as Gremio are unlikely to let go for anything less than £21 million. United have also continuously been linked with Silva, Ribery , et al. but I think they are too overpriced (and overage) for these rumors to come to fruition. However, a long shot and media/fan favorite would be Lyon’s Karim Benzema. Again, Lyon’s stalling tactics have driven his price to an absurd £35.2 million, and attracted the attention of splurgers, Madrid. With an attack-force of Rooney and Berbatov, would it be wise for Ferguson to spend another £30 million-plus and inherit the exact same problem he had last season?
On the other end of the spectrum, Carlos Tevez’s departure has attracted the attention of anyone in England who can match the £25.5 million price that Kia Joorabchian probably just picked out of a hat (see the Tevez Departure in greater detail). That would be Chelsea and Manchester City. City are (again) the frontrunners and it is becoming increasingly clear that Tevez will join their ranks in the near future.
And now back to City. Their big-name acquisitions so far have been Gareth Barry, and Roque Santa Cruz. If they get Eto’o and Carlos Tevez, as it is reported they will, the Blue side of Manchester would have quite the strike-force: Robinho, Tevez, Eto’o, Santa Cruz, Jo and Benjani. Something tells me that two of those players will be leaving.
And thus concludes the transfer market merry-go-round. Notable omissions from this article have been Chelsea and Arsenal, and they will be addressed later this week (maybe even tomorrow).
It has also just come to my attention that Sky Sports are reporting Eto’o is likely to reject City’s offer – for now at least. How quickly things can change. If only I hadn’t taken frequent breaks to watch the tennis.