Premier League – Transfer Talk: It’s back!

Eurosport

With the January transfer window now but a distant memory, focus turns to the upcoming off-season free-for-all with the first Transfer Talk of the summer.

FOOTBALL Leo Messi Samuel Eto'o Henry FC Barcelona - 0

Transfer Talk has enjoyed its three-and-a-half months off, although it has hardly been a speculation-free period with more moves than a double-feature episode of Fame mooted since the window was last slammed shut.

To bring you up to date with the main potential movers and shakers this summer:

English clubs have been put on the proverbial ‘red alert’ as a host of stars are set to follow Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard out of the Nou Camp.

Ronaldinho looks like he’ll be first out of the door, but the Brazilian is likely to take his distinctive party to Italy, and Milan. Also linked with a Catalan exit have been Thierry Henry (more of that later), Lionel Messi (because he’s good), Deco (because he’s not) and Samuel Eto’o (because he’s indifferent).

Deco looks most likely to arrive on these shores, with Chelsea reportedly keen to lure the Portuguese midfielder to west London after having failed when Jose Mourinho was in charge. Frank Lampard could be used as bait, should the England man (or more likely, his girlfriend) still fancy joining Barcelona. And Eto’o has been linked with Tottenham, as a potential replacement for the perennially off-to-Manchester United Dimitar Berbatov.

Meanwhile, Didier Drogba still can’t seem to make up his mind about whether he likes Chelsea or not. In English, the Ivorian hitman appears perfectly happy at the Bridge, but as soon as he slips into French, an entirely different picture is painted. Milan are lying in wait, although would the Drog really want to move to a club without Champions League football next season?

Unsurprisingly (or not, considering the success of their current crop of players) the name of Manchester United has already featured in some heavy-duty rumour-mongering. The only man Afonso Alves considers a peer in Holland Klaas Jan Huntelaar, Michael Owen and the aforementioned Berbatov have all been uttered in the same breath as the champions.

But worryingly for United fans, goal machine Cristiano Ronaldo refuses to rule out a move to Real Madrid – his mum supports Los Merengues, you see. And what better reason does the ‘best player in the world (behind Messi and possibly Kaka too)’ need to ditch United?

But there is some good news for the Red Devils – Louis Saha says he may have already played his last game in a United shirt. Don’t get your hopes up just yet though – the striker has yet to be linked with a specific club for fear all the excitement could harm the brittle-boned Frenchman.

Arsenal‘s failure to win anything this season looks set to hit them hard, with Alexander Hleb set to follow Mathieu Flamini out of the big city and to somewhere less hectic, like Seina. No, not really, the Belarusian’s most likely destination is Barcelona, a city famed for its peaceful, quiet life…

But Arsene Wenger is ready to cover any losses by lining up a number of swoops for some of Europe’s most promising youngsters. Lyon striker Karim Benzema, Marseille duo Hatem Ben Arfa and Samir Nasri and Roma midfielder Alberto Aquilani have all been linked with the Gunners. Any one of them would be a super buy.

Liverpool are beginning to resemble a pit bull terrier in their dogged pursuit of Aston Villa captain Gareth Barry – Villa boss Martin O’Neill is having none of it, but the lure of Champions League football, and a fistful of Hicks-Gillett dollars, may be too great for Barry. The same might be true for Middlesbrough‘s Stewart Downing.

As ever, the future of TT favourite Peter Crouch has come under intense scrutiny. The lanky goal ace has been linked with a move to his former club Portsmouth, but Harry Redknapp is unlikely to take him back considering Crouch’s dubious African origins.

Should Sven-Goran Eriksson leave Eastlands, Manchester City will struggle to attract the same quality of players they were able to this time last year, but that will not stop Thaksin Shinawatra from trying to buy up every big name on the planet.

Ronaldinho‘s name has already been mentioned and the latest is Giovanni Dos Santos, Barcelona’s bright young talent. Meanwhile, Micah Richards could be on his way across town to Old Trafford, while Richard Dunne has been linked with Tottenham and Newcastle.

So what about Thierry Henry? Is he coming back to the Premier League, with Villa or possibly Newcastle? Surely not. But the former Arsenal star has been offered a reported £5 million a year contract with the Seattle Sounders in David Beckham‘s MLS.

And finally, just for laughs, an early contender for best transfer rumour of the entire summer – World Cup winner Zinedine Zidane ‘s reported move to Queens Park Rangers, which never materialised. Iain Dowie’s not a bad second choice though, is he?

So who will become next season’s Jari Litmanen? Or the new Lassana Diarra? Alan Hutton or Robbie Savage? Stay with us throughout the summer to follow all the latest transfer rumours and gossip, every weekday during the off-season!

Mike Hytner / Eurosport

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