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Sky Sports counts down 10 players who are attracting persistent transfer speculation this summer
The transfer window would not be complete without a host of player sagas as speculation rumbles on over where the hottest targets will end up.
This summer has, unsurprisingly, revived a number of links between players and clubs that had been put on the backburner after the January window slammed shut, while also throwing up plenty of new speculation.
Here, Sky Sports counts down 10 players who have found themselves in the middle of persistent transfer talk this summer and looks at where their futures could lie.
Last summer, there was fierce speculation over the future of Tottenham midfielder Luka Modric as Chelsea attempted to prise him away from White Hart Lane. Then-Blues manager Andre Villas-Boas was unsuccessful as Spurs chief Daniel Levy stood firm and Modric spent another season in North London. A year on and the saga has stepped up a notch, while Villas-Boas is the one fielding seemingly endless questions over his star man's future after taking over the Spurs hotseat. Real Madrid are the club with their sights set on the Croatian this time around and as the summer goes on it seems less and less likely he will be at the Lane when the new campaign gets underway. Modric may be contracted at Tottenham until 2016 but the playmaker appears ready to close the door on his time with the Londoners, having failed to report to pre-season training last month and choosing to sit out the club's tour of the United States. Modric is now keeping up his fitness back in training at Spurs Lodge and the club are thought to be holding out for a £40million offer for the wantaway star, who is also believed to have caught the eye of Spurs' Premier League rivals Manchester United and big-spending French giants Paris St Germain.
A couple of weeks ago it appeared sought-after teenager Lucas Moura was Old Trafford-bound after reports emerged from Brazil that Manchester United had agreed a deal with Sao Paulo for the midfielder's signature. Sir Alex Ferguson fanned the flames when he confirmed the club's interest in the 19-year-old, who has made a big impact in Brazil to turn the heads of several European heavyweights. However, big-money transfers very rarely run smoothly and the player's agent poured cold water on the speculation when he claimed the deal was off because the Red Devils would not stump up Sao Paulo's asking price for the starlet. The Brazilian club are thought to want £30million for Moura, while United are only willing to part with £25.6m, with negotiations between the two sides thought to be ongoing. The Premier League giants could be looking over their shoulder, though, with reports suggesting Serie A side Inter Milan are ready to hijack their move for the teenage star, who has said he won't decide on his future until after the Olympics.
One of the most drawn-out transfer sagas of recent off-seasons centres around FC Porto's star man Hulk and a proposed move to Chelsea that is yet to get out of the traps. The Blues are thought to have been targeting the Brazilian ace for years and the speculation resurfaces with every transfer window that comes around, but they are yet to swoop for the highly-rated forward. Prolific scorer Hulk netted 16 goals and made 10 assists last term, but really caught the eye the campaign before as the club secured a domestic and Europa League Treble. Chelsea are getting a good look at the Brazil international as he represents his country in the Olympics, with the Selecao favourites for the gold medal. The sticking point over the forward seems, inevitably, to be his price, with the staggering €100million (£85m) release clause reportedly in the Brazilian's contract having kept clubs at bay up until now. With PSG also believed to have the 26-year-old on their radar, it remains to be seen whether any of his suitors will dig deep enough to tempt him away from the Estadio Do Dragao.
Arsenal have been persistently linked with a move for Rennes midfielder Yann M'Vila over recently transfer windows but nothing has ever materialised. The 22-year-old has impressed in Ligue 1 as a hard-working midfield anchor and the will-he won't-he speculation in regards to the Gunners looks like it could rumble on all summer. Manager Arsene Wenger has cooled the rumours by denying his interest in the youngster, but hinted his plans could change if injured duo Jack Wilshere or Abou Diaby suffered pre-season setbacks. M'Vila should not be too down-hearted by Wenger's snub, however, with the Gunners' North London rivals Tottenham and European heavyweights Real Madrid and Inter Milan also believed to be monitoring the highly-rated youngster, while big-spending Russians Zenit St Petersburg are the latest side to be linked.
Robin van Persie
Arsenal captain Robin van Persie broke Gunners fans' hearts last month when he released a statement making it clear he won't be extending his contract at Emirates Stadium. The news sent speculation linking the Dutchman with Manchester United and Premier League champions Manchester City into overdrive, with his admission thought to have paved the way for his move north. The influential skipper is entering the final year of his deal in North London and the Gunners could be forced to part ways with him rather than lose him for nothing when his contract expires next summer. Manager Arsene Wenger remains dogged over retaining his star striker but could struggle to keep him at the Emirates, with Serie A giants Juventus also waiting in the wings. Arsenal are believed to be demanding around £30million for the captain, who missed the club's pre-season tour of Asia, but his suitors are yet to meet the asking price, with United, City and Juve all thought to have seen offers turned down.
After losing out on a permanent move for last season's loan star Gylfi Sigurdsson to Tottenham, Swansea could be regretfully waving goodbye to another of their midfield whizzes if Allen completes a move to Liverpool. While the Welsh youngster is busy representing Great Britain at the Olympics, the Reds are reportedly plotting a £15million swoop, which would trigger a release clause in his contract. The Swans are less than happy with the interest, claiming Liverpool agreed not to make approaches for their players until next year following the departure of former boss Brendan Rodgers to Anfield. The Welsh club have also revealed the Merseysiders are not the only club with their eye on Allen, with the 22-year-old thought to be yet another player Spurs are watching. The midfielder played a key role last year as Swansea impressed on their maiden Premier League campaign and the Welsh side will be keen to keep hold of their star man.
Talk is rife on where Liverpool's £35million man Carroll will be plying his trade this season after doubts surfaced over whether the physical centre-forward would fit into new manager Brendan Rodgers' style of play, with the boss hinting he might not feature in his plans. Carroll has struggled to make a consistent impact on Merseyside since his big-money move and speculation has linked him with a loan switch away from the club. The saga took an unexpected turn when it emerged Newcastle, the club that parted ways with Carroll 18 months ago, were sensationally trying to bring the England international back to St James' Park, and with reports suggesting the striker is ready to 'return home' to Tyneside, an emotional homecoming does not seem that much of a far-fetched scenario. However, Premier League newcomers West Ham have emerged as contenders for his signature and are thought to be lining up the frontman on an initial £2m loan deal with the option to buy for £17m.
An impressive performance for Portugal at Euro 2012 apparently made several Premier League clubs sit up and take notice of Joao Moutinho and now Tottenham and Manchester United are believed to be chasing the playmaker's signature. Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas is no stranger to the 25-year-old having worked with him during his stint in charge at Porto and is thought to be keen on a reunion with his compatriot. The manager reportedly tried to lure him to Chelsea while manager at Stamford Bridge and is now thought to be lining him up as a potential replacement for Luka Modric, should the wantaway midfielder make his expected exit from White Hart Lane. Porto are unlikely to let the Portugal international go cheap, however, with Moutinho contracted at the Estadio Do Dragao until 2015, and reports suggest £30million is the amount they're demanding for the midfielder.
Robin van Persie is not the only Arsenal player being swamped in transfer speculation this summer. Young winger Theo Walcott is entering the final year of his Gunners contract after six years in North London and is another player who could leave for nothing next year if he doesn't agree a new deal, or make a move this summer. Players with expiring deals usually find themselves surrounded by rumours and Walcott has been no exception, with the England international believed to be wanted by several Premier League sides including Chelsea and Liverpool, as well as his former employers Southampton following their recent return to the top-flight. However, Walcott has cooled the talk surrounding his future by revealing contract talks with the Gunners are ongoing.
Prolific frontman Demba Ba was considered one of the signings of last season after making a huge impact on his debut campaign at Newcastle following his arrival on a free transfer from West Ham. The Senegal international's goalscoring antics tailed off towards the end of the campaign but he remains a fans' favourite on Tyneside and speculation of a move away will not have been welcomed by the St James' Park faithful. Ba has continued to assure fans via his Twitter account, dismissing the rumours as "rubbish", but uncertainty over his future continues, with the latest reports linking him with Russian outfit Rubin Kazan. However, it looks like the striker could stay in Newcastle after the deadline to activate a release clause in his contract passed.
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