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Fact or Trash! Jan 2008 – Round 1

Before I get started, a quick correction on yesterday’s post – QPR’s deals for Connolly and Ephraim are permanent moves and not just loan deals. I also neglected to mention a couple of “future star” signings that were made by Chelsea, Everton, Liverpool and Manchester United as well as deals done by Tottenham and Bolton.

Manchester United have signed 24-year-old Angolan international Manucho Goncalves after he successfully come through a three-week trial. Goncalves has signed a three-year deal with United, although he needs to secure a work permit before being free to pursue his new career in England. Its likely he’ll end up on loan at Belgian club Royal Antwerp for a couple of seasons until he either earns EU citizenship or receives enough national team callups to qualify for a UK work permit. The same thing was done with Chinese striker Dong Fangzhuo.

Chelsea have agreed on a deal worth £3.4m for Argentine prospect Franco Di Santo. Chilean club Audax Italiano will also receive a fee should Di Santo be transferred again in the future. Chelsea are understood to have held off competition from nine rival Premier League clubs – including Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal – who all expressed an interest. Di Santo started his career in the youth side of Godoy Cruz de Mendoza but then opted to switch to Chile and he has since flourished with Audax. In 35 starts he has bagged 13 goals in less than two seasons while also starting for Argentina’s youth sides.

Tottenham have signed Cardiff and Wales full-back Chris Gunter for a fee thought to be worth £3m, made up of an up-front sum with add-ons for appearances and a sell-on clause. The 18-year-old broke into the Bluebirds first team last season and has won three full Wales caps in 2007. Gunter generally plays at right-back for the Bluebirds, but is also comfortable on the left. Spurs are short of options on the left with long-term injuries to Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Gareth Bale.

Liverpool have signed Ross County’s highly-rated teenager Alex Cooper in a £100,000 deal. The 16-year-old winger, who has won caps for Scotland at junior level and was a target for Chelsea, is the son of former Aberdeen star Neale Cooper.

Everton have agreed a deal to sign Plymouth Argyle prospect Dan Gosling. The 17-year-old, who can play either in defence or midfield, is a product of the Plymouth youth academy. Gosling has made 24 first team appearances for Plymouth after making his debut at the age of 16. Everton expect to complete the deal later this week for around £1.5m.

Sheffield United signed Bolton’s Gary Speed on loan with a view to securing a permanent move to Bramall Lane. The Blades looked to bag Speed on loan in November only to be rejected, however, manager Gary Megson has now allowed the 38-year-old to depart. Speed joined United on January 1st and made his debut in the 0-0 draw against Wolves.

Now onto the rumours!

1) Dimitar Berbatov will be moving to Manchester United or Chelsea. Verdict: Trash
Despite the fact that he’d make an excellent addition to either squad, neither team are likely to be willing to pay the kind of cash that Spurs are reportedly looking for. I’d be really shocked if either of them went for Berbatov unless it was at a “bargain” price. The latest figure being circulated is £35m. Sir Alex Ferguson has been quite adamant that he was not going to be dipping into the transfer market in January to any great extent. Chelsea are likely to purchase a striker but seem to be leaning more toward Nicolas Anelka at the moment. Avram Grant confirmed on New Year’s Day he is a big admirer of Anelka and refused to rule out a move for him. Bolton chief Gary Megson has admitted that he faces a fight to keep hold of his star striker and Anelka has said that he hopes a deal can be struck to allow him to move to West London.

2) Inter Milan will make a name-your-price bid for Man City’s Elano.
Verdict: Trash
Internazionale president Massimo Moratti has come out and said that he is unfamiliar with the player and that “from an economical point of view, it doesn’t seem like a simple deal”. It’s likely that they could wait and move for him in the summer and with the way he has played so far for City, Elano looks like he could fit in anywhere.

3) Middlesbrough will sign Sheffield United’s Rob Hulse for around £2m
Verdict: Fact
Boro need some depth and experience at the striker position with Mido still injured and Sheffield United could be tempted to let Hulse for the right fee once James Beattie recovers from his injury.