The World Cup is over, and finally there’s time to delve into the European transfer market, checking the latest rumors about Torres, Balotelli, Dzeko, Joe Cole and yes, even Liverpool’s Lucas.
The injury sustained by Torres in the Final changed things a bit, but it’s not secret the Torres has been the target of Chelsea and Manchester City this summer. Torres had a horrible World Cup, playing seven matches, starting four, and the best he could do was take two shots on target. Very disappointing, but at least he was healthy, which has been a rarity for him in the past two seasons. He has played a total of 46 league matches for Liverpool in the last two campaigns, scoring a remarkable 32 goals. The problem is he missed 30 matches. Chelsea were still willing to bid something around 50 million pounds. Liverpool don’t want to sell, but with the clubs finances and ownership status in complete chaos, it seemed the gifted striker was soon gone. And then came that pulled hamstring, according to the medical staff, which won’t keep him out for two months as earlier thought, but could mean he’ll be staying with Liverpool for the time being.
Another player who isn’t a stranger to injuries is Joe Cole, who has played only 39 league games in the last two years, following a fantastic 2007-2008 with Avram Grant. Cole was released after his contract ended a couple of weeks ago, with Ancelotti and Abramovich doing some in-house clearing at the club, as Michael Ballack also got the boot. Cole didn’t get too many minutes in the World Cup, but is a very hot commodity for Premiership managers. It seemed that Arsenal were the quickest to pounce on the 28 year old Londoner, but since then both Manchester City, who seem to be interested in everyone, and Tottenham, managed by the man who pretty much discovered Cole, way back in the early 1990’s Harry Redknapp, have joined the bidding. Redknapp is using all his media savvy to try and put pressure on Cole to sign with him, and Spurs do look like the closest side of getting Cole. Cole has also expressed his interest to stay in London, so City will probably be forced to settle for someone else.
Dzeko has been with Wolfsburg for three years now, winning the league title in 2008-2009 and despite a bad season for the club in 2009-2010, Dzeko was stellar, scoring 22 league goals (48 in the last two seasons), finishing as the Bundesliga’s top scorer. Last summer it was AC Milan who were keen on signing the 24 year old Bosnian, but the race in the 2010 summer is between Manchester City (again) and Juventus, looking to recover from a horrible season. Gianluigi Buffon has stated his desire to see Dzeko choose Italy over England, but with the price that the Germans are asking for (34 million pounds, reportedly), it’s going to be very hard to compete with City.
There’s no doubt that Mario Balotelli is amazingly gifted and if put on the right course, can become a world class striker. There’s also no doubt that he and Mourinho cannot be on the same club as of now, so count Real Madrid out. Balotelli scored 9 goals for Inter last season, helping the team to its fifth consecutive Serie A title, but his relationship with the manager and later on the fans and players have made it almost impossible for Balotelli to stay – The AC Milan shirt incident, The incident with the fans after the Champions League match with Barcelona and also the incident after Totti clipped him violently in the Italian Cup Final, receiving no helping hand from the other players.
The 19 year old was present for the beginning of the pre-season training and there’s a chance that a new manager, Rafa Benitez might keep the talented youngster in Milan, but according to his agent, England is where he’ll be heading, if the price is right. Inter will be asking something around 40 million Euro, and Manchester United and City (again) are in the race. Chelsea’s Carlo Ancelotti has expressed his interest in the player as well, but mostly commented about how good the change will be for Balotelli if he comes to England.
Finally, some good news for Liverpool fans. Well, first – Steven Gerrard’s age will probably deter Real Madrid from going after him. Second – Lucas seems to be on his way out. The 23 year old midfielder who couldn’t fill the shoes of Xabi Alonso last season and hasn’t lived up to the potential after three years at Anfield. Roy Hodgson still hasn’t made up his mind about all the players at Anfield, but Palermo have already made a bid (3 million pounds, according to reports) and Liverpool, in dire need of funds, will probably complete the deal soon enough.