Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Biggest Gamble of All; Rumours Run Rife as Stars Prepare to Trade Places

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Biggest Gamble of All; Rumours Run Rife as Stars Prepare to Trade Places

Article excerpt


LIKE extreme mountaineering or diving in shallow water, buying players after a World Cup is a dangerous practice.

Memories of sparkling performances in the summer spotlight can soon fade to nothing as glamorous imports struggle to adapt to the demands of an English winter.

Look at Ilie Dumitrescu. The Romanian midfielder arrived at Tottenham as one of the best players in the world after guiding his country to the quarterfinals at USA '94, but it soon became clear he wasn't even one of the best at White Hart Lane.

A total of only 16 Premiership appearances in two seasons tells its own story.

Dumitrescu is by no means alone.

Daniel Amokachi's impact at Everton did not reflect his form for Nigeria in the same tournament, while World Cup winner Stephane Guivarc'h played only twice for Newcastle after his [pound]3.5 million signing in 1998.

Shopaholics will not be restrained by even the most dud purchases, though, and three weeks into this tournament the transfer rumour mill is in full whirl.

Jay Jay Okacha at Bolton could be the latest World Cup signing to disappoint but Trotters manager Sam Allardyce will not be the only manager to get his fingers burnt.

Although Claudio Ranieri admitted yesterday that Chelsea had run out of money, there will be plenty of other clubs prepared to flash the cash.

Transfer rumours operate in a universe of inverted logic (the more implausible the better) and the last few weeks have produced some absolute belters.

Gary Breen to Barcelona would have been an early nomination for rumour of the Millennium, if the Republic of Ireland defender had not also been linked with a move to Roma. Coventry to the Nou Camp would be some promotion.

What Breen has done to warrant such whispers is unclear, and his main asset is his availability.

The club-less centre-back will go somewhere in the summer, though his destination is more likely to be Blackburn than Barca, while several of his Irish team-mates could also have some hefty signingon fees to squander come August.

Matt Holland's performances in the World Cup should have been enough to rescue him from the First Division and the Ipswich midfielder has attracted a number of suitors. …

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