Monday’s Transfer Rumor Roundup: David Luiz to Bayern, Gustavo to Chelsea

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Chelsea’s Brazilian defender David Luiz, 26, is Pep Guardiola’s No.1 defensive target this summer, according to reports. Chelsea’s flamboyant center back excelled last season in the Premier League, but with José Mourinho thought to prefer John Terry and Gary Cahill in central defense, Bayern could swoop in to seal a $60 million deal. A huge fans favorite at Stamford Bridge, Luiz would be a big loss to Chelsea with his stunning goals and eccentric risk taking. Used in central midfield during the second half of last season, Luiz displayed his versatility and his good form continued into the Confederations Cup. But with the World Cup in his home country coming up at the end of this season, he’ll want to be playing regularly to rubber stamp his spot in Brazil’s starting lineup.

While Chelsea could tie in a deal for Brazilian midfielder Luis Gustavo if Luiz does make a switch to the Bundesliga. Bayern’s holding midfielder is apparently available for $22 million and Mourinho could do further business with Guardiola before the summer is out. Gustavo could be left on the bench after Bayern signed Thiago Alcantara and the 26-year-old Brazilian could slot in to Chelsea’s midfield seamlessly. John Obi Mikel was questioned at times last year, and a true holding midfielder in Gustavo would be exactly what Mourinho needs to balance out the vast attacking talents at his disposal.

Barcelona’s Chilean forward Alexis Sanchez could be heading to Napoli, as the La Liga invasion continues at the Stadio Sao Paolo. Sanchez has scored 26 goals in 87 games since joining Barca from Udinese back in 2011, but he’s failed to live up to the hype he created after stirring displays at the 2010 World Cup. Sanchez would strengthen Napoli further, as Higuain and Marek Hamsik will have another partner in crime. With Neymar coming in at Barca, Sanchez could become a bit-part player at the Camp Nou. Time to move back to Italy?

Elsewhere, Lorenzo Melgarejo could join Liverpool on a season-long loan deal, as Benfica’s left back could provide cover and competition for incumbent Jose Enrique. The 22-year-old Paraguayan defender wants to move to the Premier League and after being ever present for the Portuguese side last term, he starred in the Europa League final defeat to Chelsea. The Reds do need some cover at left back, with Glen Johnson having to switch to the left when Enrique was injured last season. Brendan Rodgers is keen for cheap but hungry reinforcements, and Melgarejo could be a perfect fit for a back up role.

Queens Park Rangers are preparing for an immediate return to the Premier League and aim to bring in Peter Crouch from Stoke City. Crouch has worked with Redknapp at Southampton, Portsmouth and Tottenham and Redknapp will turn to the former England international after losing out on Gary Hooper who signed for Norwich instead. Crouch, 32, may not fit into Mark Hughes plans at the Britannia and a move back to QPR, where he scored 10 goals in 42 games in 2000-2001, will appeal to the lanky forward.

Mourinho “working like never before” to turn Chelsea around

Jose Mourinho, Chelsea FC
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Jose Mourinho got the dreaded much-needed vote of confidence from Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich last weekend, seemingly giving the Portuguese manager a temporary stay of execution despite the Blues’ worst start to a season in 37 years.

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Speaking this week, Mourinho has revealed that while he’s thankful to have been kept on at the club for which he regularly professes his love, he still thinks it was no-brainer for Abramovich. In other words, Mourinho’s not backing down from his incredible, seven-minute rant to one question following Saturday’s defeat to Southampton.

Mourinho, on what he’s doing to turn Chelsea around — quotes from the Guardian:

“It shows the confidence of Abramovich in the manager who has won three Premier League titles with this club. I thank him and I keep working.

“What’s going on? I do not know. The results with Chelsea at the moment have been really bad. I cannot hide that reality, and I don’t want to. And I struggle to find an explanation. But I assure you: I’m working like never before and we will come out of this. And there is also the Champions League that we will not neglect, for certain.”

What did you expect from Mourinho? Well, you know, I should probably be fired, but thanks to Mr. Abramovich for not realizing this and keeping me employed? It’s simultaneously interesting and the least surprising thing ever, though, that Mourinho claims to not know what’s wrong with Chelsea at the moment. Of course he has a theory (or five), and of course he’s “working like never before” to correct it.

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The most fascinating thing about Chelsea’s sluggish start to the season is to see, hear and read Mourinho speaking from a position of powerlessness. Always the clever one, the one dictating where the discussion goes, the one in charge of every press interaction, Saturday’s rant felt like watching a desperate Mourinho grasping for anything by which to pull himself back up.

Reports link Guardiola with Manchester City summer move

Bayern Muenchen v Borussia Moenchengladbach - Bundesliga
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There are claims out of Spain that Manchester City has a verbal agreement to bring Pep Guardiola to town when his Bayern Munich contract expires in June.

Don’t expect comment from Guardiola, who bristles when discussing his future. In the past he’s hinted he might not be the right man for the Bavarian side, but has lamented any questions about clubs other than Bayern.

Now Mundo Deportivo writer Francesc Aguilar says there’s a secret agreement between Guardiola and Manchester City director of football Txiki Begiristain to reunite at the Etihad Stadium this summer.

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Both Barcelona buffs and former Spanish internationals, Begiristain was Barca’s director of football when Guardiola took over for Frank Rjikaard in 2008.

Manuel Pellegrini signed a contract extension this summer and has led the club to a Premier League title, though the club has struggled in European competition. For what it’s worth, the Manchester Evening News got rumor reaction from Sergio Aguero:

On the latest Guardiola rumour, Kun said: “It has been talked about a lot. I don’t know him, but he’s a great manager and it’s wonderful to have the best managers train you.”

But he also added: “I’m very good with Manuel Pellegrini, we talk a lot. I’m happy in the team and with him, but the club will be the one who chooses who comes in.”

In other words, “I’m really good, and they pay me well enough that I’m prepared to play for any big name that arrives.”

It’s a story to keep up with, even as it intrudes on the seasons of two big, rich European clubs.