Monday, August 07, 2006

The ins and the outs

The post-Duff excitement has died down and we're all sat here wondering: "What next?" Time is ticking away, and Fat Fred needs to get his lardy arse into gear.

We continue to be linked to Dirk Kuyt - at the weekend Glenn Roeder went to watch him play for Feyenoord against the Smoggies (who - if today's papers are to be believed - have had a bid snubbed by the Dutch striker), but he wasn't that positive upon his return, claiming that given the hot conditions "it would be unfair and unwise to make any judgment on any player". In any case, I get the feeling Kuyt's angling for a Champions' League club, with Liverpool still a likely destination.

After a burst of speculation towards the back end of last week, fuelled mainly by the player's agent, Roeder publicly dismissed reports of a £7m move for Empoli striker Francesco Tavano. In claiming "we're not even aware of the player", Roeder spoke for most of us - though anyone who can score 19 goals in the Italian league for a struggling club for two successive seasons can't be too shoddy. Weighed up against that, though, is the fact that few Italians have opted to leave their home country for England, and even fewer have been successful.

So much for the forward line. We might be strongest in midfield, but it seems that area might well be bolstered before any other given our continued interest in Danish international Thomas Gravesen. Real Madrid's new boss Fabio Capello has opted to leave the ex-Everton man out of the club's pre-season tour of the USA - probably partly because of his training ground dust-up with teammate Robinho and partly because he's considered surplus to requirements, particularly now that Emerson has arrived from Capello's old club Juventus. Gravesen is a combative and influential presence and would add to the squad - but surely we should be looking to strengthen in other areas as a priority?

Areas like the defence, for instance. Most worrying of all, especially given Saturday's horrorshow (see below), is the fact that we don't seem to be being linked with any defenders...

As for outgoings, Roeder has at last delivered an unequivocal hands off statement about James Milner to the likes of West Ham and Villa (how on earth was Martin O'Neill persuaded to join them, BTW?!). Amady Faye could be a Charlton player very soon, with Skysports claiming he's had / having a medical today - good riddance, I say, and if we can get £1.5m then we'll have salvaged something from the deal. One player who's definitely gone not to return is Robbie Elliott, who following his release and a successful trial has been taken on by the Mackems. Who, incidentally, started their Championship campaign as they no doubt mean to go on, throwing away a lead at the Ricoh Arena to go down 2-1 to Coventry.

One final bit of transfer news that intrigued me. Apparently someone at Portsmouth contacted Nobby Solano to ask how highly he rated his Peruvian teammate Juan Vargas. Lucky to be spared a trumpet solo, Solano's caller was instead furnished with a glowing reference, and it seems as though the full back could soon be washing up on the south coast. Perhaps you could help your club find a defender or two, Nobby? Just a thought...


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