Football transfer rumours: Maxi Rodríguez to Spurs or Liverpool? | Barney Ronay

Today's gossip leaves the festive season far behind as the blurry reality of January sets in, freezing cold and dark – all the time

As a keen student of the failings of others, the Mill has a carefully-tended list of absolute tell-tales, the little things that can only ever act as the subtlest of warning signs. Things like wearing a mobile phone holster when you're not actually a coach driver or senior foreman on a major construction site. Owning a poncho or a set of nose pipes, or any kind of gap year third-world-ish regalia that you might be tempted to produce from a cupboard after a few drinks. Or liking Jeremy Clarkson even in an ironical way that might seem broad-minded and refreshing, but before you know it you're talking about "Jezza" and aping his irritatingly mannered way of speaking and pretending to be a free-thinking libertarian who just tells it like it is rather than a bullying dolt.

Not that the Mill is in any way a tiresome, pernickety and self-regarding curmudgeon. But sometimes you just get a feeling, and in rumour terms that feeling generally comes when people start talking, even vaguely, about the idea of signing Patrick Vieira, in particular on any kind of loan deal that may or may not actually happen because there's still some blah to gah blah dah blah.

So it is that Roberto Mancini's well-groomed stardust seems somehow tarnished by the news in today's Daily Mail that Patrick Vieira has now "99 per cent agreed" to join Manchester City on a six-month loan deal from the start of next week. On the other hand Vieira, who now resembles an unusually ponderous semi-extinct Brachiosaurus, might still have to stay at Inter for a bit because they've got some injuries. Spurs are after Maxi Rodriguez and will offer David Bentley in exchange. Rodríguez is also wanted by Liverpool, Villarreal and Argentinean prep school Boca Juniors.

Manchester United assistant manager Mike Phelan is in the frame to replace Owen Coyle at Burnley, along with Darren Ferguson and empty hotseat-chaser Peter Reid, who is a bit like one of those long lost uncles who keep turning up at funerals sweating and muttering and drinking too much and eventually asking if they can, you know, stay on the sofa for a night or two, and then just not going away for up to six months. Turkey's Ankaragucu have unveiled Geremi in front of "throngs of fans" despite Newcastle saying they still own him.

In The Sun Porto's Hulk isn't ready to sign for Manchester United yet. His agent Teodoro Fonseca said, who perhaps isn't destined to be a very successful agent and should think about doing something else instead said: "Inclusion in Brazil's World Cup squad is the most important thing." Child starlet Freddy Adu, 46, is "agonising" over a move to Hull from Benfica ... "I have some tough decisions to make," he writhed. Adu is also wanted by Aris, favourite team of Craggy Island's father Jack. Andrea Dossena has finally gone somewhere else, signing for Napoli for £4m. Next out of the door is Andry Voronin, available for £1m.

Fulham are close to signing 20-year-old Roma striker Stefano Okaka. Roy Hodgson also wants Sereno and Moreno of Vitoria Guimaraes. Wigan are about to bid £3m or Leicester goal machine Matty Fryatt, who deserves a go. And in a story apparently not culled from the pages of Viz, Geoff Boycott has written to Michael Owen offering to help him learn Feng Shui. "He hasn't replied yet. But if he does, I will put him in touch with some experts in Feng Shui and see where that takes him. "People who don't know anything about it say it is rubbish. But all I can say is it worked for me and that is the only thing that mattered. "He turned the pillows and beds around so they faced the right way and told me to run the taps every now and again so there is running water going through the house. I believe in it." So that's all sorted then.

In The Mirror Mark Hughes could soon resurface as the manager of Turkey, with Tugay as his assistant. The Turkish FA have described this as their "dream ticket". Bobby Zamora is "attracting interest". "Oh yeah, he is attracting interest," Roy Hodgson has said. West Ham and Bolton are leading the chase to sign doe-eyed, olive-skinned Benfica beauty Nuno Gomes, 33. Roberto Martinez is also after Celtic striker Scott McDonald and Stoke have "slapped a staggering £20m price tag on Ryan Shawcross" in order to make him appear less attractive to Manchester City Liverpool and Spurs. The Times have given up on Nemanja Vidic staying at Manchester United, after talking to Paolo Fabbri, "one of his representatives". Mancini will not be signing shirt-ripping, tiny jockey pant-parading goal lunatic Antonio Cassano from Sampdoria, but still fancies Cristian Chivu and Iván Córdoba, at least one of whom will get roughed and elbowed and head-butted up by Bobby Zamora or John Carew a couple of times before just sort of disappearing. Liverpool have entered the race to sign Marouane Chamakh. Celtic want Dave Kitson. And Lyon are interested in Younès Kaboul. Although, they might just be being polite, or simply have an interest in galloping, calamity-prone Frenchmen called "Younes" generally.


Barney Ronay

The GuardianTramp

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