Speculation on player transfers and football managers being appointed by the most unlikely clubs is always at its most intriguing at this time of year.
The most surprising is that Bayern Munich boss Pep Guardiola has agreed to manage Manchester City from next summer.
The ex-Barcelona boss was heavily criticized at Bayern Munich last season, having failed to capitalize on Jupp Heynckes’s treble-winning exploits of 2012-13.
Bayern coasted to the Bundesliga title under Guardiola but only got as far as the Champions League semifinals when they were expected to retain it or at least reach the final. Bayern were comprehensively beaten 5-0 in the semis by Real Madrid, the eventual winners.
Bayern appear to have backed Guardiola so far by buying Douglas Costa, a Brazilian midfielder, from Shakhtar Donetsk, and Arturo Vidal, another midfielder, from Juventus. But reports are Guardiola will replace Manuel Pellegrini at the Etihad next summer when his contract at Bayern expires.
The continuing saga involving who Manchester United are going to sell Argentinian misfit Angel Di Maria to looks like it’s ending with French champions Paris St-Germain buying him. The 27-year-old midfielder will move for a fee of around $60 million.
PSG manager Laurent Blanc has said there is a “good possibility” Di Maria will move to Paris, but a deal is far from confirmed. PSG won all four domestic trophies last season.
Meanwhile, Manchester United have rejected approaches from Newcastle and Inter Milan for Michael Carrick even though he seems surplus to requirements now. The 33-year-old England midfielder has been contacted by Newcastle manager Steve McClaren, as well as Inter Milan’s Roberto Mancini, over ending his nine-year stay at Old Trafford.
Tottenham need some firepower up front and are closing in on a deal to sign West Brom’s England Under-21 striker Saido Berahino for $20 million.
Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew wants his former Newcastle captain Fabricio Coloccini, 33, at Selhurst Park.
Newcastle are prepared to part with Coloccini, but he has been troubled by an Achilles problem recently and even if he stays is unlikely to be fit enough to play in the Aug. 9 season-opener against Southampton.
After protracted talks, England forward Theo Walcott has agreed a new four-year deal at Arsenal. It will make Walcott, 26, one of the club’s highest-paid players and put his salary in the $140,000-a-week bracket.
Manchester City are having a clear-out and preparing to sell strikers Edin Dzeko, 29, and Stevan Jovetic, 25.
Napoli’s 27-year-old striker Gonzalo Higuain is one target to replace them and partner with new signing Raheem Sterling up front. City also want Kevin De Bruyne, who was voted by journalists the Bundesliga’s Player of the Year in Germany, beating Bayern Munich winger Arjen Robben and Manuel Neuer, the Bayern and Germany keeper, to the accolade.
De Bruyne, 24, an attacking midfielder, was brilliant for Wolfsburg, who had an excellent season, finishing runners-up to champions Bayern Munich.
Rickie Lambert, 33, failed to impress at Liverpool, but plenty of clubs want the England striker’s services, including Leicester City.
West Brom and Norwich are also keen on Lambert, who arrived at Anfield from Southampton last summer for $7 million but made no impact at all, scoring only three times in 36 games for the Reds last season.