BARCELONA, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 04: Christian Tello of FC Barcelona celebrates after scoring a disallowed goal during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and Real Sociedad de Futbol at Camp Nou on February 4, 2012 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
The start of the Premier League season may only be a few days away, but with Liverpool's depth still dangerously thin across the board the transfer rumours are flying as thick as ever. This week, thankfully, most of them focus on players who could arrive at Liverpool rather than on the ones that might leave. The regular dose of crazy is still there, though. Because there's always a dose of crazy when it comes to transfer rumours...
Liverpool fans briefly exploded in joyous celebration on Monday when news leaked out of Madrid that Xabi Alonso was refusing to sign a contract extension and hoped to engineer a move away from the Spanish champions. What many managed to miss was that Alonso has two years remaining on his contract, thus giving Madrid absolutely no motivation to sell one of their most important players late in the window even if he did want to go. If the summer of 2013 were to roll around and Alonso still hadn't signed an extension Madrid might look to cash in on him, but the thought of them selling him this summer remains downright laughable.
Even next summer, with Alonso 31 and no matter his skill demanding a relatively low transfer fee, a club the stature of Madrid with aspirations of winning silverware in Spain and Europe every season and with little concern for balancing the books might reasonably choose to keep a player of his importance around until his contract ran down rather than seeking short term financial gain. For Madrid, after all, the money doesn't especially matter. The trophies—and, even if Jose Mourinho has been largely antithetical to it, playing an attractive brand of football—do.
Elsewhere, Inter Milan appear on the verge of signing rumoured Liverpool target Gaston Ramirez for around £15M, with widespread reports in Italy suggesting Bologna have given them permission to discuss personal terms with the player. Further, Ramirez' agent has said that though Liverpool inquired about him, they never formally entered a bid. With the young attacker's high fee—and reportedly high wage demands—it isn't a huge surprise that Liverpool's interest never progressed past those initial stages, though for many fans that had their hearts set on Ramirez as potentially the summer's marquee signing this reality may come as a harsh blow.
In any case, it appears certain at this point that Ramirez isn't going to end up at Liverpool. Despite his own high transfer fee—with Fulham continuing to demand close to £10M for his services—and, one would expect, similarly high wages, the much older Clint Dempsey remains a strong target for Liverpool to fill a role similar to that which Ramirez would.
Nuri Sahin, a versatile 23-year-old German-Turkish midfielder who has had trouble finding regular action with Real Madrid thanks to injury issues and that it's Real Madrid, remains on the radar as a potential loan target. However, Arsenal continue to be his most likely destination, with the only possible edge Liverpool might have being if Arsenal insist on a purchase option that Jose Mourinho and Madrid aren't willing to accept. Rodgers' connection to the Madrid manager and Xabi Alonso reportedly whispering in Sahin's ear might seem to give Liverpool a leg up in the competition for Sahin's services, but with the player rumoured to prefer Arsenal and Champions League football it could take an inability to agree on how the player's future beyond this season should be decided to put Liverpool back in pole position.
A more likely loanee would appear to be Barcelona's 21-year-old winger Cristian Tello, who similar to Sahin finds himself stuck down the depth chart at Barcelona. The La Masia graduate made four starts and came off the bench a further 18 times last season after making the step up from Barcelona B early in the year, scoring seven times for the senior side and for long stretches appearing to be tantilisingly close to breaking into the starting eleven on a regular basis. Barcelona, though, will never be short of world class talent, and so a loan for Tello in the hopes that a season spent in another side's starting eleven rather than on the fringes of Barcelona's will tell the Catalan club if he has it in him to shortly become world class—and maybe to see if he can learn to pass the ball every now and then in the final third.
Initially, a season-long move to Arsenal seemed on the cards, likely as part of Barcelona's efforts to bring Alex Song to La Liga. As with Sahin, though, the purchase option Arsenal desires—or at least the particular terms of it—has remained a stumbling block, and with the priority of both the player and his club playing time rather than Champions League football, Liverpool has joined the conversation late and as a strong contender for his services.