It’s early December and the redtops are getting restless. Time was when transfer rumours were all they would print given that players could move freely – and that was how the papers filled their space. Now, the transfer window has seriously affected their mojo. We get stories about who’s planning what for January and which clubs are poised to make a move.
The Daily Express reckons that Roy Hodgson will have a January budget of around £5m to spend. The paper thinks that the manager has targeted a covering centre half and a couple of wide midfielders. This report seems to indicate otherwise. Apparently, Cardiff’s Joe Ledley is a £4m target to bolster the squad – with Simon Davies and Zoltan Gera already having been tried out of position in the role. On-loan Julian Gray has yet to make a first-team appearance for the club.
Hodgson didn’t mention any about Ledley to the press:
“We’re not ruling out moves because the squad is small. And there are definite areas within the squad where we are short of players and cover players.
“What we’ve got is good enough – and if we can improve on that we’ll definitely do so.”
I remember how outraged I was when Fulham players were being talked about by fans of the supposedly ‘bigger’ clubs so I’ll tread carefully. Ledley’s an outstanding talent, who offers a bit more than the placeholding options on the left that we have at the moment. He’s been in fine form for Cardiff and would be keen to try his hand in the Premier League. He can play on the left or in a more advanced role and has already got plenty of international experience. One thing you can be sure of is that the Bluebirds won’t want to let go of him without a fight having lost Aaron Ramsey in the summer. Whilst this might have some plausability, if Ledley’s going anywhere in January – and it would take a big offer for Cardiff to part with their star player – I fancy he’ll move to a side who are above our station. Reports suggest that Arsenal are sniffing around.
Perhaps the centre back cover we’ve been searching for is the young Scot Christophe Berra. But if the Hearts manager is to be believed they are bigger fish circling the pond to bring Berra to the Premier League. Defending champions Manchester United and last year’s runners-up Chelsea are also supposed to be interested, according to Csaba Laszlo.
“Not only Fulham, but Chelsea and Manchester United have also shown an interest in Christophe Berra.
“But he’s very young and I would recommend him to stay here for one or two years as he could get into the Scottish national side with Hearts.
“If he was only a substitute with a bigger team then that may be a tougher task. He’s still not a complete footballer.”
We’ve also been named as one of the clubs who is tracking the progress of Croatian striker Ivica Olic. I’m not sure we need another striker (maybe a long-term replacement for David Healy) but Olic’s record is impressive. He’s scored 23 goals in 52 games since joining Hamburg last year from CSKA Moscow. Olic’s agent is quoted as saying:
“No decision has been made about Ivica’s future and that we will decide his future around Christmas time.
“Maybe Juventus are interested and perhaps they are discussing this among themselves but I have not heard anything.”
The fact that Juventus, Villareal, Spurs and Aston Villa are all interests suggests that if Olic is about to be on the market he’ll be a little out of her league. Fun to think about him paired with AJ, though.
Lee Cook is definitely on his way, though, having agreed a permanent return to QPR. Hodgson confirmed the transfer at his press conference earlier today. The fee has been reported to be in the region of £850,000.
Hodgson used the same press conference to blast the rumours linking Brede Hangeland with a move to Arsenal. While he admits that modern football means that every player has their price, there are some great quotes from one of the English game’s most likeable and intelligent managers. We’ve printed some below:
I sometimes wonder if these stories are educated guesses from people looking and seeing that William Gallas has had a fall-out with the other players, thinking Arsenal will want to get another centre-half, looking at what centre-halves are available and linking them with Arsenal Football Club.
I know he’s happy with us here and I know he’s happy with his football. And it’d be nice to think that we could keep him with us.
But, in the meantime, it’s not something that affects our thinking in any way and hopefully it hasn’t affected his either because I don’t know what he reads into that type of speculation.”
I don’t think we’ll see the kind of frenetic activity of the summer in January. Hodgson’s already made the major alterations to the squad and now he’ll just look for a couple of alterations. As he says the squad is good enough to do the job, I reckon he’ll be trying to bolster our options in central defence – where injuries to Hangeland or Hughes could leave us in big trouble – and in the wide midfield areas. The money available might be tight, but there’s no reason why the wily Hodgson shouldn’t delve into his contacts book and bring in some useful loan signings.