The transfer window opened a week ago Sunday, and we're still waiting for some big names to switch teams. Don't hold your breath. There will be more movement toward the end of January. For now, teams are window shopping.
These things take time and are often the result of sensitive negotiations. There are other cases like that of Lionel Messi. The agreement between FC Barcelona and his family to bring the then 13-year-old to Europe was originally made on a napkin (pictured). The rest is history. Let's get to the questions.
Hi Marcus, I know Liverpool doesn't reveal its transfer targets, but can you tell us some of the players that have been linked with Liverpool in recent months and weeks? Thank you.
— Andrew, Rochester, U.K.
Hello Andrew. Without editorializing or commenting on the likelihood of each, the ones I've heard about are as follows: Aston Villa striker Darren Bent, Rangers striker Nikica Jelavic, FC Twente striker Luuk De Jong, Porto midfielder Fernando Reges, Newcastle midfielder Cheick Tioté and Real Madrid midfielder Esteban Granero.
There's another group of players that has been linked to the club, but not widely (if at all) reported in mainstream news outlets. They are: FC Koln's Lukas Podolski, Tottenham's Niko Kranjcar, Birmingham's Nathan Redmond, Lyon's Bafetimbi Gomis, Wilfried Zaha from Crystal Palace, and Junior Hoilett from Blackburn.
Thanks for the question, Andrew. Make of those names what you will.
I read you your report that Kaka is leaving Real Madrid. Has he fallen so far that Jose Mourinho will sell him in January?
— Chris, Boston
Hi Chris, thanks for the local support. I don't see Kaka leaving Madrid in January. He's finally back to playing regular games, and I expect him to make an even greater contribution in the second half of the season.
Some have argued that he's a spent force, but I don't think that's entirely fair. He battled a knee injury in the second half of the 2009-10 season (his first in Spanish soccer), played through the pain at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, before finally shutting it down before the 2010-11 season. He returned to the field a year ago and, predictably, suffered a couple more strains and pulls.
I think Mourinho still values the Brazilian international, but won't give him an automatic place in the first 11. If Kaka can accept that, he'll stick around as a squad player on a team challenging for every trophy for which it is competing. If he rattles cages behind the scenes, he'll go. I think he's still got another year or two of greatness left in him. Thanks, Chris.
Dear Marcus, you previously discounted Spurs from finishing in the top 4. Are you prepared to eat your words yet? Also, Man City appear to be showing sign of where and tear. Do you consider them to be favorites?
— Issac, Gaborone, Botswana
Isaac, you've sent so many great questions to the mailbag this week, I'll let you carry it from here. I can't thank you enough for the support.
I'm not prepared to eat my words, but I'm preparing to prepare to eat them (if that makes sense). I have to give Spurs their deserved credit for performances in the first half of the season. They're in third place with some distance between Chelsea, Arsenal, LFC and Newcastle. But is it enough? I'm not so sure.
Everything has gone Tottenham's way in the first half of the season, but its squad depth will be put to the test going forward. Scott Parker, Aaron Lennon, William Gallas and Sandro have all suffered injuries recently. If anything (injury, suspension, arrest, etc.) happens to Gareth Bale, Tottenham's cooked.
As for City, I consider them title contenders, but I still refuse to call them favorites. I'm deferring to the law of averages as my reason for thinking they will suffer a blip. With the Toure brothers in Africa and Gareth Barry suspended, we'll see what the upstarts are really made of in the coming weeks.
Marcus, why are big teams signing mid-table players and expecting to become world-class teams? Is Gary Cahill's move to Chelsea the solution to their woes or more evidence the AVB is out of his depth?
— Issac, Gaborone, Botswana
Cahill is part of the ongoing transition at Chelsea. Manager Andre Villas-Boas was brought in to re-make Chelsea and nobody told him he has to be nice about it. A year from now, Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard, Flourent Malouda, Alex, will most likely leave Stamford Bridge. Petr Cech, Ashley Cole and even John Terry could follow them shortly therafter.
Adding Cahill is just one piece of the puzzle for Chelsea's future. If AVB surrounds him with world-class players, the Bolton defender could be quite useful at a big club. But he's 26 and has made only seven appearances for England. He's not going to improve much beyond his current level by moving to a "big" club.
My take is that he mirrors Chelsea. The Blues are a good team, but nowhere near an elite team. Unless Villas-Boas adds some champions into the squad, they will be what they are.
That's all for this week. Thanks for all the questions and support. Keep sending them both.