It is that time of the year again, when newspaper reporters get bored and start making up stories. Some of these stories have some truth in them and some not so much. Here I will look at some of the stories that might just happen this summer.
One of the longest running sagas of the summer is likely to be Petr Cech’s ‘will he won’t he join Arsenal’. The Czech Republic international looks set to leave Stamford Bridge this summer, but boss Jose Mourinho doesn’t want him to leave for rivals Arsenal.
Jose just can’t seem to let go of the veteran ‘keeper. The fact that he could strengthen a main title rival is probably the main reason for the former-Real Madrid bosses’ reluctant to let him leave for north London.
The noises coming out of both clubs and in the media seem to suggest that this deal will happen, but agreeing a fee may delay it while.
Somebody that Mourinho is reported to want at the Bridge next season is Cameron midfielder Alex Song. Recent reports suggest that the Blues are set to rival Manchester City for the £5million signing of the Barcelona midfielder.
The defensive midfielder spent last season on-loan at Premier League West Ham, where he impressed in the first half of the season, before in keeping with the rest of his team his form went down the pan.
Song would no doubt be a decent squad player for Chelsea and City and fits into the suddenly important ‘home-grown’ category, because of his spell at Arsenal in the early part of his career. West Ham are also interested in signing Song on a permanent basis, but would be entering a gun fight with a knife by competing with City and Chelsea.
Elsewhere, Liverpool are believed to be eying up Sevilla striker Carlos Bacca, after reportedly being put off by the £32.5million clause in Aston Villa striker Christian Benteke’s contract.
Bacca is currently away at the Copa America with Colombia, but is unlikely to feature again after having a fracas with Brazil and Barcelona star Neymar.
At club level he was pretty effective at finding the net for Sevilla last season, scoring 21 times as the Andalusians retained the Europa League trophy and finished fifth in La Liga. Bacca may prove pricey at £21.5million though, especially for a player who will be 29 in September.
The Spanish club have already insisted that they are not interested in selling Bacca and that any interested club would have to activate the clause in the striker’s contract.
Manchester United also look set to do their shopping on the continent this summer, as the Red Devils are being linked with a swoop for Bayern Munich and Germany midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger.
Sky Sports are claiming that the 30-year-old is on United boss Louis van Gaal’s summer wishlist. Schweinsteiger started just 15 games in the Bundesliga for the Bavarians in an injury-hit campaign. United are believed to be looking at bringing in a new central midfielder to add numbers and quality to their engine room.
Will Petr Cech join Arsenal in the near future?
SPL champions Celtic have been drawn against Icelandic counterparts FC Stjarnan in the second qualifying stage of the Champions League.
The first leg of the tie will take place on either 14th or 15th of July, with the second leg taking place on either 21st or 22nd. The Hoops will be at home in the first leg as they were picked out of the draw first.
Ironically Celtic faced Icelandic opposition at the same stage of the competition last season, hammering KR Reykjavik 5-0 on aggregate. The Hoops then suffered a humiliating 6-1 third qualifying round defeat against Legia Warsaw.
However, the SPL champions were re-instated after Legia were thrown out of the competition due to fielding an eligible player. Despite being given a Champions League lifeline the Hoops threw it away by losing to Slovenian champions Maribor.
Stjarnan also faced SPL opposition last season in the Europa League qualifying in Motherwell. The Icelandic side saw off the Steelmen, before beating Polish side Lech Poznan. The Icelandic’s European run came to a spectacular end in the final qualifying round, as they were trounced 9-0 on aggregate by Italian giants Internazionale.
The Icelandic club have never participated in the Champions League before. They gained entry to the competition in dramatic style by winning their domestic league title. They faced title rivals FH in the last game of the season and with the game perfectly posed scored a last minute penalty to claim a 2-1 win and the league title by a point in the process.
Celtic assistant boss John Collins has revealed that highly-rated Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk will be staying at Parkhead, at least until after the Champions League qualifiers anyway.
Collins told Sky Sports: "Virgil van Dijk is staying, certainly for the Champions League qualifiers.
"He has two years left on his contract. Everyone connected with Celtic loves Virgil. He's a great player and we want him to remain in a Celtic jersey this season.
Van Dijk had been linked with moves to the likes of Sunderland and Southampton this summer. However, it seems the 23-year-old will be sticking with the Hoops for the time being.
The Netherlands under-21 international has impressed immensely since moving to Glasgow from Groningen for a fee of £2.5million in 2013.
Speaking in the same interview, Collins ruled out moves for Sunderland striker Steven Fletcher and Watford winger Ikechi Anya, as their Premier League wages could prove a stumbling block any potential deal.
Both had been linked with a move to the Scottish champions in recent weeks. Fletcher has struggled to find form and fitness in the north east in recent seasons, but on his day is a very effective goalscorer, as he has proved in previous campaigns.
Anya was part of the Watford side that won promotion to the Premier League last season, but even his wages are believed to be too high for the Scottish champions.
The Hoops have already signed one player from the Premier League this summer in the shape of Dedryck Boyata from Manchester City, but it seems the Hoops will not be bringing in many more players from the Premier League in the near future.
Can Celtic make the group stages of the Champions League next season?
Manchester City launch second Sterling bid
Sky Sports are reporting that Manchester City have launched a £40million bid to sign Liverpool’s highly-rated winger Raheem Sterling. The Citizens had already had a bid of around £25million plus add-ons turned down last week, but have decided to up the ante with a renewed bid.
There is a big doubt over Sterling’s future at the Merseyside club, after the youngster decided not to enter discussions over a contract renewal with the Reds. The 20-year-old’s current contract expires in 2017 and the Merseysider’s decided to shelve contract talks in May.
Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has stated that he believes that Sterling will see out the rest of his contract at Anfield, but that would leave Liverpool with no Sterling, and no compensation for the loss of the highly-rated youngster.
Liverpool’s unwillingness to sell is due to Sterling’s supposed immense potential. The youngster is regarded as one of the best young players in Europe, although he endured a rather inconsistent campaign last season.
However, he has shown in the past few years flashes of what he can do when he is in full flow and that is why City are so eager to sign the Jamaica-born winger this summer.
Manchester City are believed to be looking to spend big this summer in an attempt to revive their squad for next season after finishing second in the Premier League last season. The squad is in need of an injection of energy, quality and vitality.
City also needs to add some home-grown players to their squad this summer to meet the Champions League regulations. Sterling seems to tick a lot of the boxes for the Citizens, even if he does seem rather pricey at £40million.
Along with Sterling, City are also believed to be interested in signing Belgian international Kevin De Bruyne and Paul Pogba this summer. However, Pogba is one of the most in-demand players in world football, with the likes of Barcelona and Chelsea also mooted as possible destinations for the Frenchman.
Some of tabloids have been reporting that the Citizens may be interested in signing England international Fabian Delph from Aston Villa this summer. He would fit the bill when it comes to being English, but whether he would play much first team football at City is a major doubt.
At the moment Manchester City looks like Sterling’s only possible destination if he does left Merseyside this summer. Chelsea have reportedly baulked at Liverpool’s asking price of £50million, so that leaves City as the only club willing to pay anywhere near the asking price.
Manchester City will no doubt spend big this summer and boss Manuel Pellegrini is expected to be busy in the transfer market. Raheem Sterling may well be heading for the Etihad Stadium next season.
However Liverpool does not look like they will part company with the highly-rated youngster easily and could hold out for £50million.
Should Manchester City continue to pursue Raheem Sterling?