With the sun finally shining here in upstate New York (a rarity unless summer is here for sure), that means with only 2 matches remaining, it’s time to take a look once again at the major transfer rumors swirling around Craven Cottage. Obviously these aren’t predictions, as predictions for a summer transfer window are useless because you know something (or multiple things) completely unexpected will take place, with so many options dependent on a million factors. No, this is merely a roundup of some of the things Mark Hughes has been publicly looking into, or anything else the wildly inaccurate British media has decided to spew across the internet.
If Osvaldo ends up pointing to the stands at the Cottage in celebration, it could be a huge boost to the Fulham attack (courtesy fuerzaperica.com)
Pablo Daniel Osvaldo:
Lots of rumors have been created or developed about the Espanyol striker after Mark Hughes went to watch him play along with Harry Redknapp, Sir Alex, and a host of other managers a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, if Fulham are to enter any kind of a bidding war with any of the top flight teams, they are sure to lose, and with Osvaldo already valued at around £10 million, that number is only going to increase if anyone in the top 6 make a bid. This is somewhat of a longshot to me, but if he were to fall to Fulham, I would gladly accept the 25 year old Argentinian.
He has scored 11 goals in La Ligue, and that’s despite missing 2 months to a thigh injury. The kid is talented no question, but he could be snatched up by a Tottenham trying to replace anyone they may lose this summer, including possibly Gareth Bale to Real Madrid (although that may be less likely now that he is down for a long time with ankle ligament tears).
Mark Hughes admitted to being interested in Osvaldo a week or so ago and said the following:
“The boy Osvaldo’s been flagged up for a long time and I think everybody’s aware of him – he’s a good player”
However, he also has publicly stated he will not get into a bidding war, and if he’s outbid he won’t pursue farther. Probably in the club’s best interest.
The Freiburg striker has been linked with Blackburn and Arsenal as well as Fulham, and could end up being a tad more expensive even than Osvaldo, currently being valued at £13 million. However, because he’s not linked with as many high profile clubs (Arsenal’s and Liverpool’s interest is thought to be minimal) he may not command as much of a bidding war as Osvaldo and therefore could end up potentially being cheaper. Blackburn is going to be the biggest rival for the 25 year old Senegal national, and they’ve already made a bid, but it was turned down. Here’s what the Freiburg GM had to say about Cisse:
“Papiss Demba Cisse definitely has the idea of playing for a bigger club at some point in his career. Still no club has offered the certain amount of money required. Should this become true at a very late point in pre-season and shouldn’t we be able to sign a replacement then, Papiss will have to stay on.”
Cisse certainly has the talent to play in the Premier League, as he’s already netted 22 goals in the Bundesliga this season, and will be an impact player for whoever lands him. You can bet Hughes will be on top of this one no doubt, but it could end up pricing Fulham out.
This along with one other rumor have been less documented, but are certainly worth mentioning. However, I don’t see Fulham taking Corluka in the end. The 25 year old Croatian defender is being shopped by Spurs, and now that it seems Gareth Bale’s injury may derail their potential £70 million transfer with Real Madrid, Tottenham will look to get a slight influx of money in other ways. Corluka, however, is also being tailed by Liverpool and Juventus among others, so again the bidding war comes into play. If those 2 or other top flight clubs get heavily involved, don’t expect Mark Hughes to follow. The club is already well-set on defenders, and Sparky has made it very clear he’s after strikers this window. He’s probably not going to spend the £10.5 million or so it would take for a club to have a shot at Corluka on a defender, rather he would most likely spend it on a quality forward. I don’t see much to this rumor, however the next one in that same article I could see happening…
Salomon Kalou could be pushed out from Stamford Bridge and would be a young and experienced grab for Mark Hughes (courtesy fabmagazineonline.com)
Kalou is being squeezed out of Chelsea along with counterpart Didier Drogba, and as the less valuable/expensive of the duo, he could be in line for a transfer to a mid-tier club to revitalize his career. Being a constant super-sub for the Blues hasn’t sit well with the Ivory Coast international, and he asked for a transfer a few months ago that was denied, so while not a certainty to leave like Drogba is, he could go. It will mostly depend on the haul Chelsea gets for Drogba. If they get a killing for him, they may decide to hold on to Kalou, as he is only 25. However, if they have a hard time selling Didier (which they won’t), they may need the extra cash by selling Kalou for around £12.5 million, in which case I really could see Mark Hughes making a strike. To me, this is a real possibility, however don’t be surprised if it doesn’t happen until later in the transfer window.
Nothing new to see here, but I would be remiss in leaving it out. We are all too familiar with the Wright-Phillips rumors. Hughes tried to bring him in from Manchester City on loan in the winter but it never happened. Now, he wants to keep the ties intact to try and make a permenant swoop for the winger. The bid Hughes wants to grab him for is around £4 million, but I think it will take more like £6 or £7 million in the end. Stay tuned. I say this is by far the most likely scenario out of all the names mentioned.
When I tweeted about this possibility (my Twitter page if you don’t follow me), I got a lot of negative feedback about this deal. The Arsenal youngster is rumored out of the Emirates after falling out of favor with Arsene Wegner and being benched to make way for the likes of Jack Wilshire and Theo Walcott, and Mark Hughes is interested. Bendtner is only 23 but many think he has a hot head and tries to do too much on his own, and also wouldn’t really fit in at Craven Cottage both personality and strategy wise. Mark Hughes apparently considered a loan for Bendtner in the winter, but it didn’t happen mainly because Arsenal wasn’t ready to let him go. It seems now they are, and a few teams have come calling, including Everton and Blackburn in addition to Fulham.
Henri Bienvenu could potentially be an inexperienced but also inexpensive target for Mark Hughes. Risk/reward? (courtesy serverloft.de)
The 22 year old striker for Young Boys of Berne has caught Mark Hughes’ eye, and at a petty £2 million, he could be a cheap option to shore up the bench and maybe strike more gold on another Chris Smalling/Moussa Dembele type signing: cheap, foreign, and yet unnoticed. The Cameroon international has 12 goals in 23 starts, and though obviously unproven, he could be a low risk-high reward type signing.
The U21 and former Chelsea prospect has destroyed it in the Championship, and could be a possible cash cow for Swansea if they fail to get promoted to the Premier League. Apparently, Mark Hughes has been very impressed with his play. Obviously a lot would depend on whether Swansea actually gets promoted or not (if they do they most likely will want to keep him), but it’s certainly intriguing, as like Bienvenu, his value would only be for a few million.
I wrote about him back in February when news came out that Mark Hughes was interested. I would still think that he is. Lech Poznan’s 22 year old striker scored a hat trick in the Europa League against Juventus, and also caught the eye of Arsenal and Barcelona. He’s a very streaky player however, and could have his ups and downs in the Premier League for sure. He would cost about £5 million, which is well within the club’s range but not so cheap he’s clearly a risk. I think I would certainly welcome a move for the Latvian youngster, he sounds like he’s got a lot of promise.
So, notice anything similar about these players? Yea me too, they’re almost all strikers, and they’re all 25 and under. Well, I guess we know what Mark Hughes is after! And I certainly can’t blame him, in fact, I’m glad he’s looking to improve the attack while also getting younger. Best case scenario, we find someone who will partner with Bobby Zamora for a few years to come and help Fulham qualify for Europe once again.
Something else to keep your eye on:
Clint Dempsey to Paris Saint-Germain?
Probably won’t happen, because he’s said he wants to stay at the Cottage, but if the French club is indeed bought by a Qatari investors, then they may have the money to make a bid Mark Hughes absolutely can’t refuse. It would be incredibly unfortunate, because without Zamora for most of the season, Dempsey has been by far Fulham’s best player. But it would likely take at least £12 million in my view to justify giving away the 28 year old American. He’s too important to the team to give up for less than that. The only thing that scares me about these rumors is Dempsey could push for this to happen if PSG do indeed grab the final Champions League spot, as it may be one of the only shots at Champions League soccer.
If you know of any other rumors that have a lot of steam behind them, by all means, post them here, and we can make this somewhat of a hub for seeing what could happen this summer.