Rabu, 1 Ogos 2012

Who Should The Top Eight Ship Out?

The unwanted and unneeded

Owing to City's bursting wage bill, Roberto Mancini has apparently been told he has to sell before he can buy this summer and there are a number of players the manager would love to see depart. Former footballer Wayne Bridge has already left for Brighton on a season-long loan and Roque Santa Cruz's future at the club is a few shades greyer than bleak, while Adam Johnson clings on for dear life. Sitting at the top of City's unwanted list, however, is Emmanuel Adebayor, who still has two years to run on his healthy five-year contract.

Indeed, City were forced to pay a good chunk of Adebayor's wages last season even though he spent the campaign racking up 17 goals and 11 assists for Spurs. It's abundantly clear that Mancini has no use for the striker and the Italian will have his fingers crossed that a permanent move to White Hart Lane reaches completion. The problem for City though, is that they could still end up paying Adebayor just to get him out the door. Whatever it takes, the champions have to shift their odds and ends before August 31 to bring in the extra centre-back they quite clearly lacked last season.

On one of many trips to the Imperial War Museum as a young boy, I remember seeing quite an ingenious trap crafted by Vietnamese forces during the war with the USA. Once the enemy had fallen into the wicker cage structure, the roof slammed shut with sharp barbs preventing the person captured from clawing their way out. It was truly an awful way to be held captive and Dimitar Berbatov's situation at Manchester United rather reminds me of the despair I imagined the prisoner must have felt. Albeit toned down a little.

The striker has reached the end of the line at Old Trafford and, to be honest, he has been treated pretty poorly by Sir Alex Ferguson. After selecting Michael Owen ahead of Berbatov on the substitutes' bench for the Champions League final in 2011, the United boss almost excluded the Bulgarian entirely last season. A fine way to value your £30million investment and top scorer in the previous campaign.

The final insult for Berbatov is the club's decision to renew his contract only to be in a position to command a fee for his services. If he wasn't so bloody decent, the striker would surely have a few strong words to say about the situation, but instead he's expressed his willingness to help out wherever possible, should a transfer fail to transpire.

Berbatov would have a much broader range of suitors were he available on a free, but as things currently stand, a move to Russia appears his only option. It's best for all parties that the striker's exit is finalised - it'd just be awkward to have him hanging around Old Trafford again this year.

Another memory I have from childhood is the time a pair of baby birds were trapped in the bathroom vent, clearly abandoned by their parents. My paternal instincts kicked in and I tried to care for the chicks, fashioning a nest out of toilet paper and attempting to feed them peanuts, which years later I realised they would never have been able to eat.

Anyway, as the chicks could nearly fly, my mother suggested I should put them out in the garden and let nature take its course - either they would learn pretty quickly or the neighbour's cat would see to them. "If you love something, let it go," were my mother's words, and I'm reminded of these when thinking about the Robin van Persie quandary at Arsenal. Perhaps it's time for club and player to part ways and both start afresh in their new lives.

In the end I decided against releasing the baby birds and they froze to death in the garden shed overnight. However, looking back I'm almost certain they would have been eaten by the cat had I followed mother's advice. So the moral of this tale is that the decisions we make are, in fact, all inconsequential.

Therefore, instead of becoming bogged down in Van Persie's eventual exit, Arsenal should focus on shifting the deadwood in the squad such as Nicklas Bendtner, Marouane Chamakh, Sebastian Squillaci, Park Chu-Young and, possibly, Andrei Arshavin. Get rid of them and there will be room for one or two more quality recruits to keep spirits up at the Emirates.

Luka Modric has to go, doesn't he? His glum face is harshing the buzz of the new season and after demanding a transfer for the second summer in a row he's becoming as boring as that long and ultimately pointless tale about dead baby birds. As I wrote here, Spurs should shift their moaner-in-chief quick smart in order to progress with their own rebuilding plans and if they delay the sale much longer they're going to make me really angry. These F365 Says pieces aren't written for nothing, you know. We really mean what we say.

If Modric finally completes his drawn-out exit, Spurs can seal a deal for Joao Moutinho and focus on the meagre striking department that currently has Jermain Defoe beaming from ear to ear in anticipation of the new season. Adebayor's wages are proving a sticking point, but it's imperative the club build on the initial excitement generated by Andre Villas-Boas' appointment.

Considering the relative size of Newcastle's squad, it doesn't seem to make much sense to allow anyone to leave this summer. However, if there's one player who threatens to disrupt the harmony the club have nurtured since Joey Barton's exit and Mike Ashley's acquisition of the excellent 'How To Run A Football Club' guide, it's Demba Ba.

The striker cut a frustrated figure after being pushed out to the left wing to accommodate Papiss Cisse last season and made his feelings known to Alan Pardew following his substitution against Swansea. Ba's release clause will only lead to more transfer speculation throughout the season and could prove to be an unwanted subplot to the Magpies challenge to maintain their position in the top six. For these reasons, perhaps selling the striker, who scored just one goal in Pardew's 4-3-3 formation following Cisse's arrival, wouldn't be a terrible loss to Newcastle.

It's a shame that a move for the talented Luuk de Jong fell through, but if Graham Carr can recommend another splendid bargain, the club could benefit from replacing a frontman who has previously held clubs to ransom with one who's more than happy to be a Newcastle player.

Given my deep dislike for Salomon Kalou, the forward would have been an obvious choice for Chelsea to bin this summer. But no, he had to continue being the bane of my existence and leave before I had the opportunity to write this piece.

Therefore, I'm advocating for Fernando Torres as the player whose sale could benefit Chelsea the most. With all the new midfielders acquired by the Blues this summer, it's evident that whatever formation Roberto Di Matteo opts for, the attacking point will consist of a '1'. And the Torres we've become accustomed to over the past two years is a poor replacement for Drogba as the club's leading striker.

Indeed, with the abundance of wingers in the Chelsea squad another strong, handsome target man would appear to be the order of the day to benefit from all the crosses that will undoubtedly zip across the opposition penalty area next season. The Blues have been linked with a big-money move for Hulk and he could fulfil their requirements.

Torres declared his frustration following the Champions League victory in May and it's unlikely the striker will be happy to spend another season as back-up. Daniel Sturridge is also likely to become unsettled as he slips down the pecking order and the forward should head through the exit door should Liverpool make an approach to fill the gap on their right wing.

Not many clubs need a £12million left-back and especially not a team who can barely afford an ice cream in the summer holidays. If Manchester United follow up their interest in Leighton Baines, Everton should accept an offer of around £9million upwards as the funds would allow David Moyes to find an adequate replacement (Martin Olsson has handed in a transfer request at Blackburn) and strengthen one or two other areas of the squad.

Tim Cahill's departure leaves the Toffees short on attacking numbers with the strikers behind Nikica Jelavic all much of a muchness. Victor Anichebe has been given plenty of opportunities, which he's failed to grasp, and Everton could find a buyer in the Championship to further freshen up the team.

It's rather a problematic summer for Moyes, with last season's exceptional seventh-place finish incredibly difficult to repeat - doubly so given the club's lack of transfer funds. While the manager will be loath to see one of his better performers leave, Baines' departure could be the key to the Toffees kicking on in the new campaign.

I wrote here that selling Andy Carroll could be a mistake and Brendan Rodgers seems to be warming to the idea of the striker remaining at Anfield, calling him a "terrific young player" on Wednesday. If Carroll stays there are plenty of other candidates to depart Liverpool, enabling the club to expand the new manager's current transfer kitty.

When writing this article on Joe Allen, it became clear that the Reds have a great deal of surplus in midfield and Joe Cole, Jonjo Shelvey and Jay Spearing could all be sold without regret. However, while shifting Cole's wages off the books would grant Rodgers some room for manoeuvre when negotiating new contracts - which might be needed given the club's failure to capture Gylfi Sigurdsson - selling Shelvey and Spearing wouldn't boost the coffers significantly.

Therefore, Charlie Adam is the prime candidate for an Anfield exit. The midfielder has struggled to settle at the club, becoming something of a groan figure for the fans, but would still command a healthy transfer fee. Whether there are any suitors - Fulham quickly denied their interest - is another question, but if Rodgers can shift the burly Scotland international it could allow him focus on bringing in a right winger or pay for a third of Allen.

It might seem that Liverpool enjoy spunking money up the wall, but the club can also drive a good deal in player sales and if Bolton were tricked into spending £4million on David N'Gog, the Reds can surely command a similar fee for Adam.

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