Javier Hernandez, Manchester United FC

Thursday’s transfer rumor roundup: Fredy Guarin for a Little Pea; Essien to Milan


It’s been a noteworthy day already, with Mohamed Saleh making a move to Stamford Bridge while Juan Mata seems moments away from departing London for the red side of Manchester.

What else is cooking? Eye the stove…

Michael Essien could leave Stamford Bridge on loan for AC Milan if his agent has his way. Essien has appeared in just five Premier League fixtures for Jose Mourinho, will three of those lasted seven minutes or less.

As mentioned above, Morinho has theoretically already turned “Mata money” into Mohamed Saleh and the Telegraph whispers that the sale could be part of a plan to trap Ross Barkley, though that wouldn’t be anything happening soon. The Everton youngster and the “Egyptian Messi” with the money from a Spanish midfielder barely used? Special, indeed. Antoine Greizmann of Real Sociedad is a more immediate target of Mourinho’s, according to The Sun.

Sky Sports says Norwich’s Wes Hoolahan has had a transfer request denied, but that a reunion with Paul Lambert at Aston Villa is still desired by the player and boss. And could it be two Chelsea players in a few days for the Villans, as Gael Kakuta could join Ryan Bertrand at Villa Park?

Tony Pulis continues to seek reinforcements for Crystal Palace’s relegation scrap. The baseball-cap enthusiast is now looking toward an enemy. Brighton winger Will Buckley is his latest target, according to the London Evening Standard. Sunderland tried to get Buckley for 1.5 million pounds but were rebuffed earlier this month.

On load from Chelsea, Eden Hazard’s little brother has been tearing up the pitch for Zulte Waregem. Thorgen Hazard’s performance was enough to draw interest from Belgian giants Anderlecht, where American mid Sacha Kljestan plies his trade, but Thorgen’s had enough of the rumor mill. He’s staying on loan at ZW.

Would a swap of Chicharito be enough to bring Fredy Guarin from Inter Milan to Old Trafford? Seems bizarre, but that’s a rumor going around several outlets.

Leicester’s banner year in the Championship could hit three snags, as goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel is wanted by AC Milan and Fulham are looking at Jeffrey Schlupp and Liam Moore.

“Overweight” Costa comes to Mourinho’s defense

Diego Costa, Chelsea FC
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Diego Costa says he and his Chelsea teammates are to blame for Chelsea’s horrid start to the 2015-16 Premier League season.

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Speaking Thursday, during a bit of downtime over the current international break (Costa was left out of Vicente del Bosque’s squad for Spain’s final two EURO 2016 qualifiers this week), Costa placed the majority of blame at the feet of the entire team, but went on to most harshly critique himself for coming into the season unfocused and “overweight.”

Costa, on his lack of fitness and form to begin the season — quotes from the Guardian:

“We know we’re not in the form we were supposed to be at the beginning of the season. We need to blame the players because we came back from holiday very confident, thinking we could go back into how it was last season, and then realized the team was already in a bad situation.

“I’m going to be very honest: maybe a few weeks ago, five or six weeks ago, I was not on top of my game. At least physically. We talk within the players and we know that, maybe at the beginning, we were not 100 percent as we were supposed to be when we got here. I got injured at the end of last season and then I went on holiday. Maybe I got out of my diet and, when I came back, I was not the way I was supposed to be. I was a little bit overweight. That affected my game. You can be selfish and blame it on the manager but I’m not going to do that. I’m responsible 100%, and so are the other guys.

Given that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said on Thursday he doesn’t quite know what’s wrong with the defending Premier League champions, hearing someone — anyone — speak up and explain the club’s worst start to a season in 37 years will surely be a welcome sound to any Blues supporter’s ears.

[ MORE: Liverpool appoint Klopp as manager | Allardyce to Sunderland? ]

Costa, who is eligible to return from suspension next weekend when Aston Villa visit Stamford Bridge, has scored just one goal in league play this season (six appearances) after scoring 20 in 26 games last season.

Sam Allardyce to open talks with Sunderland

Sam Allardyce, West Ham United FC
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Now that Liverpool have selected and named their new manager, it appears Sunderland are finally ready to move forward with their own managerial search. (That’s clearly a joke, because it implies Liverpool and Sunderland ever duke it out for the same managerial candidate.)

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Anyway, the Black Cats will have to hire someone to replace the recently-departed Dick Advocaat at some point. We all knew that, despite the fact he’s probably earned a shot at that level, Bob Bradley was never really going to be considered for the job. With that in mind, if you’re not going to endear yourself to the entire United States of America with this hire, you might as well go for the best unemployed manager who’ll actually consider your approach.

That’s what Sunderland chairman Ellis Short appears to have done, as it was reported Thursday that despite an initial reluctance from Sam Allardyce — let’s be honest, he actually was holding out hope for the Liverpool job — the 60-year-old most recently in charge of West Ham United was willing and ready to enter into negotiations with the northeastern club.

One of the major sticking points during Sunderland’s courting of Allardyce is expected to be his demand for autonomy in the transfer market as well as a sizable transfer budget to sign his own players during the January window.

[ MORE: Advocaat: Sunderland squad too thin, chairman to blame ]

Allardyce seems like the no. 1 guy you’d like to bring in to steady a capsized ship — cough Sunderland cough — in any situation. Not only does he have a successful track record in the Premier League, but he’s the kind of no-nonsense leader a club like Sunderland so desperately needs as they find themselves in yet another relegation battle just eight games into the new season.

Short hopes to have Allardyce signed, sealed and delivered when the Premier League returns to action next weekend. In that event, Allardyce’s first game in charge of Sunderland would be a trip to West Bromwich Albion. His first home fixture? Home to Tyne-Wear derby rivals Newcastle United, a club whose boisterous fanbase still holds a great deal of disdain for Big Sam. Sometimes the football gods really are looking out for us.