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The Impending Transfer Saga of the Summer: Glen Johnson?

The rumours have already begun in earnest. Once the World Cup Qualifiers are finished, expect Portsmouth’s right-back Glen Johnson to quickly become one of the transfer stories of the summer… 

Glen Johnson: Joining Defoe at Spurs, or giving Malouda hairstyle tips at Chelsea?

Glen Johnson: Joining Defoe at Spurs, or giving Malouda hairstyle tips at Chelsea?

With Gareth Barry having already made the leap up North to join Manchester City and Kaka apparently close to signing an agreement with Real Madrid, the newspapers are fast running out of high-profile transfers to write about. The never-ending Cristiano Ronaldo-Real Madrid saga is still alive, but it is looking increasingly likely that the Portuguese winger will stay at Old Trafford for another season, at least.

In summary then, there appears a shortage of column-fodder for the traditional media. A new target must be found, to keep readers interested for the majority of the summer.

That man could be Glen Johnson.

The Portsmouth right-back has long been coveted by the likes of Tottenham and Liverpool, and now Chelsea are believed to be in the race to sign a player they sold to the Fratton Park club in 2007 for £4m.

Adding a bit more longevity to the potential saga is Portsmouth’s recent change in ownership. Assuming he passes the FA’s fit and proper persons test, Dr Sulaiman Al-Fahim will be able to put the club on a far more stable footing than was the case under Peter Storrie and the previous regime.

Consequently, Portsmouth will be under no pressure to sell Johnson.

Indeed, selling arguably the club’s best player is not likely to be how Al-Fahim wants to announce his arrival at the club. Whoever wants to buy Johnson, will have to pay above and beyond market value for him.

During the January transfer window, Redknapp made it clear that the 24-year-old was a target of his, but that he wouldn’t be bidding as he feared emotions were still running high after he left the South Coast club in November.

“I could have gone back [to Portsmouth] and taken Glen Johnson, but I didn’t want to get involved. I didn’t want to cause any problems,” said Redknapp.

“They wanted to sell Jermain Defoe, but Johnson was different, they didn’t want to sell him. So I haven’t gone near Portsmouth for Glen Johnson, because they wanted to keep him. And he’s signed a new contract so it is great for the club.”

Now, however, the situation might well have changed. With Portsmouth’s survival, fans might be less annoyed by any overtures their former manager might make towards their players. But by contrast, the fact Redknapp’s old friends at the club (Storrie, in particular) are no longer making the decisions will make it far harder for an agreement to be reached.

That gives Liverpool and Chelsea an equal opportunity of their getting the England right-back. But in light of last week’s news that the Anfield clubs financial situation is not particularly healthy, the £10m or more that will be needed to sign Johnson might not be easy to come by — especially with more pressing needs in other areas of the pitch. Chelsea have the funds, but will Abramovich be prepared to open the wallet for Ancelotti where he wouldn’t always for Mourinho, Grant, and Scolari before him?

The fact Portsmouth still owe Chelsea instalments on the £4m that took Johnson away from Fratton Park might work in their favour .

Tottenham, however, probably have the resources to reach an agreement for Johnson. But will Johnson want to rejoin his former manager (whose paths also crossed briefly at West Ham) at a team without European football next season, when two Champions League clubs are believed to be fighting for his signature?

All in all, there is no clear favourite for Johnson’s signature.

The questions are many, and the answers unsure — which is exactly what makes it such an exciting transfer saga for the newspapers.

With the high profile that comes with being an England starter,  it is also not beyond comprehension that a European club — AC Milan, Inter Milan (if Maicon leaves), for example — might come in for him.

A continental angle will only juice up the story further.

The rumour mill will have to bide its time before it goes into overdrive, however. Johnson is currently away on England duty, a status that will not change until after England’s clash with Andorra on Wednesday night.

Once that is over then negotiations — and the headlines — might well begin in earnest.

After all, what else have they got to discuss?

June 6, 2009 - Posted by | Sport, World Football | , , , ,

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