Bougherra targeted by Championship outfit Leicester City, Celtic boosted by Reading’s failure to reach the English Premier League, Chris Maguire edging closer to a move to Derby County despite Aberdeen’s protestations over compensation and Jelavic talks up a move to Manchester United. More tabloid rumours or transfers in the making? You make the decision.
Bougherra targeted by Sven Goran Eriksson
Want-away Rangers defender Madjid Bougherra is being head hunted by Sven Goran Eriksson, as the man to help lead Leicester City into the English Premier League.
The former England manager has deemed Bougherra top of his transfer hit list, and is reportedly ready to lobby a bid of around £1 million for the Algerian, who has only year left on his contract with the SPL Champions.
Bougherra has knocked back a new contract with the Ibrox side, despite new owner Craig Whyte coming in and saying he wants to keep the central defender. Whyte could choose to cash in on the Algerian, rather than lose him for nothing at the end of the season.
City finished eight points out of the play-off places last season and backed by Chairman Vichai Raksriaksorn, the Foxes have been installed as one of the favourites to secure promotion to the EPL next season.
Former Hibs defender Sol Bamba was signed in January by Eriksson and has taken to Championship football like a duck to water, and the Swedish tactician wants Bougherra to partner Bamba at the heart of defence.
Eriksson said, “We need to be active because this league will be even more difficult next season when you see the clubs coming up and the clubs coming down from the Premier League. It will be more difficult.”
Bougherra has not hidden his desire to return to England, and to take on a new challenge and while a move to Leicester would be tempting, he would prefer a direct move into the English Premier League.
Birmingham in for Goodwillie
Birmingham manager Alex McLeish is targeting David Goodwillie, in the hope that the Dundee United striker can lead the St.Andrews side back to the EPL at the first time of asking.
The United striker has been a long-term target for Rangers, however McLeish is in need of a striker after releasing veteran Kevin Phillips, while loanees Obafemi Martins and Matt Derbyshire returned to their parent clubs.
Meanwhile there is a rumour that Bristol City are also interested in David Goodwillie, who Chairman Steven Thompson rates at £2 million.
Celtic boosted by Reading’s failure in Championship Final Play-off
Celtic were handed a boost yesterday in their hunt for Reading striker Shane Long, when Swansea beat Reading 4-2 in the Championship Final Play-off.
Lennon has watched Shane Long personally, in both of Reading’s two play off games, with an eye to signing the former Cork City striker.
However the Celtic manager faces competition for the 24 year old’s signature with Liverpool and Everton interested in the striker also. But with Reading resigned to another year in the Championship, the club are set to cash in on their prized asset, rather than let him leave for free at the end of the season.
Reading bought Long for £10,000 from Cork City in 2005, but are now looking at a fee of around £6 million for the striker. Despite Celtic’s interest in the striker, a fee of £6 million WILL be out of the Parkhead side’s price range, unless Lennon can offload a number of fringe players, including the likes of Joos Hooiveld, Georgios Samaras, Morten Rasmussen and Efrain Juarez.
International team-mate Darren O’Dea believes that Long would be a smash hit at Parkhead. O’Dea who had played alongside Long at Reading, said: “I don’t need to tell you about Shane’s calibre. You just have to watch games to see. He came away with Ireland when he was 16 and to say he has come on from that is an understatement. Shane had raw talent back then but he is developing every day and getting better and better. He’d be more than capable of doing a job for Celtic. He’s one of the top scorers in the Championship, is scoring at international level and any club would be lucky to have him.”
However Reading owner John Madejski has rated Long in the £20 million bracket, which would scare off many English Premier League suitors let alone Celtic.
Madejski said: “How confident am I that we can ward off Celtic’s interest for Shane? Not very confident actually.
“He’s world-class and we will just have to see what happens with him. He’s a lovely lad and if Celtic are to land him then they will be very very privileged because he’s a super player and a super individual. He’s hard-working and extremely cool in front of goal. What value would I would place on him? £20m. He’s got all the right credentials to go to the very top of the game.”
Maguire set for Derby County move
Meanwhile a player that looks destined to move to the Championship is Aberdeen striker Chris Maguire. The Scotland international is set to have a medical at Derby County in the next day or so, before completing a £400,000 move to Nigel Clough’s side.
Maguire is out of contract at the Pittodrie side, but Aberdeen chief Willie Miller has warned County that they will report them to FIFA if they do not pay £400,000 in compensation for Maguire’s services.
The Championship outfit have so far rejected any hint of paying the fee to Aberdeen for developing the 22 year old’s career, with Aberdeen relying on the cash to help manager Craig Brown’s rebuilding plans, and are ready to take it all the way to court to get the money they believe they are owed.
Pittodrie football director Miller said: “We will take our fight for compensation to the very highest level if we have to. Efforts are continuing in the hope of persuading Derby County to agree to pay the compensation fee due in accordance with the guidelines laid down by UEFA. But if we are forced to go to a tribunal we will make every effort possible to protect our interests and the interests of Scottish football.
“We will ask the SPL and the SFA to give us their full support to ensure that Derby are made to pay what they are due.
“If necessary we will take our fight to UEFA and FIFA as they are the ones who laid down the system to ensure clubs who invest in producing their own players are protected. If clubs in England are allowed to cherry-pick the best of our youngsters for next to nothing it could spell disaster for the game in Scotland.
“Some might be forced to review whether it would be worth making such huge investments if the best young players can then virtually walk away just as they are starting to blossom. All we ask for is fair play whether it be in negotiating with other clubs or stating our case to a tribunal.”
Manager Craig Brown stated that they had agreed to Maguire’s demands for a two-year contract instead of three originall offered by Aberdeen, but Derby stepped in at the 11th hour to tempt the player south. Brown said: “We did everything to persuade Chris to stay. But the compensation is non-negotiable. He can only sign for Derby if they agree to pay what Aberdeen are looking for.”
Meanwhile Derby could be set for a double swoop in the SPL, despite having an initial £300,000 bid for Craig Bryson rejected by Kilmarnock. However County are set to up their offer to take the midfielder south, however County face competition from a number of SPL sides.
Jelavic will only move to Manchester United
Rangers striker Nikica Jelavic has re-iterated his desire to stay at the Ibrox club, despite reports linking him with a move away from Glasgow.
Newcastle United manager Alan Parden, despite his criticism of the SPL, is reportedly interested in signing the former Rapid Vienna striker who scored 19 goals this season, but Jelavic has stated that he would reject a move to Newcastle to stay with Rangers.
“Moving to another club? No, that’s the last thing on my mind,” Jelavic told Croatian newspaper Jutarnji List. “I’m enjoying Scotland. My life is fantastic. I like being here as a footballer. The most important thing is I see that my family is happy too. So there’s really no reason for me to move.”
Despite his strong opinions of not moving away from Rangers, Jelavic admitted that one club could tempt him to leave Glasgow, and that would be Manchester United.
“Manchester United? Well, that would be of course very hard to reject,” he said. “But I only read about the Red Devils in newspapers. Of course I’m happy to be linked with such a great club, but I really don’t know anything about this. Me and Walter Smith, who knows Alex Ferguson very well, joked about this stuff. He was telling me, that Fergie is building team for me to fit in. But in reality I doubt that he would talk with Ferguson about his players… Of course, if Manchester United make an offer for me then I couldn’t stay in Scotland. Manchester United is a club you can’t say no to, but if Newcastle United call then I’d stay in Glasgow, no doubt.”
Source: Daily Record, Scottish Sun, STV Sport, BBC Football, Daily Mail.