As the Mill sits alone this fine Monday morning, without a soul in sight at Guardian Towers, and having quickly Googled famous quotes about solitude and decided that it doesn’t really like any of them, it simply decides it is quite pleasant.
The Mill also gets the feeling it can empathise with Southampton and their new manager Ronald Koeman. Reports that the big green Liver Bird is about free itself from its shackles, swoop down to the south coast and swallow up the Saints in one fell gulp are wide of the mark, but Brendan Rodgers is poised to reach into his pockets again and stump up some cold hard cash for Jay Rodriguez, just minutes after completing the £20m signing of Dejan Lovren. According to Psalm 149:1, the collective noun for a group of Saints is a congregation, and that is certainly what is congregating at Anfield, with Rodriguez only adding to it, leaving nothing but a big ball of tumbleweed staring Koeman straight in the face. Rodriguez, lest we forget, is injured which is why he was not riding the pine for England at the World Cup, but that is not going to put Rodgers off. Economies of scale dictate that he will also have Southampton’s kit man, two turnstiles and a set of corner flags.
But wait, Southampton fans can drag their weary faces out of their cornflakes, Koeman has reportedly had £50m stuffed into his sock and been told to spend and spend big. Colombia’s Teófilo Gutiérrez is first on the list but they will have to fend off competition from Sevilla for his services. Koeman will also head north of the border in a bid to prize goalkeeper Fraser Forster away from Celtic for £9m.
Speaking of buying injured players, Manchester United have been quoted an eye-watering £79m for Kevin Strootman, despite the Dutch midfielder’s bad case of knee knack but Louis van Gaal is not a man to be messed with. That one may have to wait until January but before that, he seems intent on pursuing Ángel di María and Arturo Vidal. As transfer sagas go, these two have been rumbling along nicely but while the Mill does not expect Vidal’s £40m move to happen any time soon, the Argentinian’s switch appears more of a goer. He is particularly lithe but not even he can squeeze into the current Real Madrid midfield and with PSG frustrating Di María by pursuing a loan deal, Old Trafford appears his best bet.
Van Gaal’s attempts to reinforce his three-man defence have been dealt a blow however, Mats Hummels does not want to play ball in Manchester and Lazio appear to have beaten United to the punch for Stefan de Vrij, who will move to Rome for 8.5m euros. Note to Van Gaal, Ron Vlaar has not been snapped up just yet but do move fast.
Arsenal are another side who do not want Vlaar but one player they are after is Sami Khedira who is reportedly ready to drop his wage demands to sign on the dotted line. Failing that, Arsène Wenger is heading east and is eyeing up Douglas Costa from Shakhtar Donetsk for £15.8m. This one has legs because the Mill cannot think of any Premier League players called Douglas, and Wenger has always been somewhat of a pioneer. The Hoffenheim midfielder Roberto Firmino is also on Wenger’s radar but Liverpool are also interested in a £20m move.
Speaking of the Reds again, they are ready to tie up a £10m deal for the Belgium forward Divock Origi, despite Atlético Madrid’s late hijack attempt. Atlético can console themselves with the £24m signing of Antoine Greizmann from Real Sociedad which is bad news for Tottenham and new manager, Mauricio Pochettino and his plans to play 11 wingers in the coming season. In better news for Spurs, Jan Vertonghen is ready to shun Barcelona’s interest and stay put despite his form towards the end of last season very much suggesting otherwise but PSG are trying to tempt Hugo Lloris back to France.
Elsewhere, Harry Redknapp has told Tony Fernandes that he wants “top player” Troy Deeney at QPR and is also making a shock £7m move for the diminutive France forward Mathieu Valbuena. Stoke’s move for Liverpool’s Oussama Assaidi has hit the buffers while West Ham’s contract offer to Samuel Eto’o has been treated with disdain.