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TRANSFER RUMOURS: Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham, West Ham

Another day, another batch of rumours from Sportingo’s Mark Apostolou.

Not long before the January transfer window opens and things are hotting up with a UEFA match-fixing probe under way, and West Ham about to have a New Year sale. Real Madrid and Besiktas are also in this news bulletin of rumour and gossip.

It has been reported, probably incorrectly, that Arsenal are now leading the chase for long-time Chelsea target Royston Drenthe (Daily Express) and, coincidentally, the Stamford Bridge outfit are about to sign Nicklas Bendtner from Arsene Wenger’s side.

Let’s deal with these two rumours in reverse. First, given the established practice of the West London side not allowing their cast-offs to join their main rivals, it would seem odd for Wenger to sanction a transfer of one of this young stars to Avram Grant’s squad. So I think that story is a non-starter.

As for Real Madrid’s Dutch left-sided youngster, he has been linked with a move to the Blues for some time and now that he’s been pushed out of Bernd Schuster’s plans by upcoming Brazilian Marcelo it seems a move to the Premier League in January is very likely. A fee of just £8m appears to be acceptable to Real. I don’t think Arsenal really need another young talent so it seems likely that Drenthe will be plying his trade at the Bridge any time soon.

It’s been some time but apparently the news is that much-needed Ledley King is close to a return to first team action (various). This is great news for Spurs fans who have been eagerly awaiting the return of the 27-year-old England defender to stop them leaking goals. For stats fans, and for the record, Spurs have conceded 38 goals in 22 games and have only two clean sheets in the Premier League so far, against the bottom two clubs.

There is a danger, of course, that King won’t solve this problem on his own, capable though he is. Juande Ramos will be keen to bring in reinforcements next month and Lilywhite fans will be hoping that Ledley can stay clear of injury for the foreseeable future.

It seems that Liverpool’s wonderful 8-0 win over Besiktas was a little TOO perfect and is one of the matches being investigated by UEFA as part of a huge match-fixing scam that has rocked European football (Daily Mail).

Apparently, in the lead-up to the game, there was ‘frenzied’ betting on a high score victory (Sueddeutsche Zeitung) and, lo and behold, the game became the biggest win in Champions League history. The match fixing allegations centre around an Asian betting ring that is now being investigated. It will be interesting to see how this progresses and the ramifications on this years event as a whole. After all, should Besiktas be found guilty and thrown out of the competition this could have an effect on Rafa’s sides own progress. For the record I bet on a 7-0 win (joke)!

West Ham boss Alan Curbishley is apparently planning a thinning out of his squad in preparation for new talent coming into Upton Park (The Independent). Calum Davenport, Nigel Quashie and John Pantsil are top of his list of unwanted players, but they are not likely to free up a great deal of cash in return.