Tuesday’s transfer news: Arsenal target John Stones as Man United hit Bruno Fernandes roadblock
After a tepid start to the January transfer window, it's beginning to heat up somewhat, with Manchester United edging towards a massive £60m move for Bruno Fernandes and Arsenal seemingly keen to acquire a new defender with Manchester City's John Stones said to be Mikel Arteta's ideal choice.
Liverpool have already signed Takumi Minamino, while Chelsea have added youngster Bryan Fiabema, but appear to have the potential to add more established names now that their transfer ban has been lifted. Manchester United and Arsenal could compete for Paris Saint-Germain’s Edinson Cavani, who will be available for free this summer, though Atletico Madrid remain primed to add the Uruguayan - possibly this month, to boost their Champions League campaign, where they take on Jurgen Klopp's side next. Chelsea have highlighted their defence as an area to upgrade, leading to rumours of moves for Issa Diop of West Ham and their former centre-back Nathan Ake at Bournemouth, with £40m the likely fee for both players.
Tottenham Hotspur could be ambitious with Jose Mourinho eager to overhaul his squad and now desperate to strengthen in the market due to Harry Kane's long-term injury. Barcelona centre-back Samuel Umtiti could be targeted, but with Ernesto Valverde's departure and the arrival of Quique Setien, Spurs may have to look elsewhere, while one of the stars of last season Matthijs de Ligt has failed to settle at Juventus and has been linked with a loan move back to Ajax, but the season-ending injury to Merih Demiral should end any possibility of that for now.
"I'm waiting for news, but when I say I am waiting the news could come or not," said Mourinho. "I'm more worried about Middlesbrough than the market. Of course, with the rules even if you get the player you cannot play him in a replay.
What kind of player is he? Would he suit you?
"I cannot answer because I don't know if we are getting him, he's a Benfica player," Mourinho said. "I don't think the Benfica coach and president, both my friends, will be happy if I speak about one of their players."
Denmark captain Simon Kjaer has joined AC Milan on loan from Sevilla for the rest of the season, the Serie A club said on Monday.
The 30-year-old central defender, whose 95 appearances for Denmark include matches at both the 2010 and 2018 World Cups and Euro 2012, spent the first half of the season on loan at Atalanta where he made six appearances in all competitions.
The well-travelled Kjaer has also played for FC Midtjylland, Palermo, VfL Wolfsburg, AS Roma, Lille and Fenerbahce.
Kjaer was signed one day after Milan, a modest tenth in Serie A, announced that they were loaning Mattia Caldara, another central defender, to Atalanta for the rest of the season.
Caldara joined Milan from Juventus in the 2018 close season but has been plagued by injury and made only two senior appearances, neither of them in Serie A.
Jose Mourinho wants two strikers this January to cover for the injury to Harry Kane. AC Milan's Krzysztof Piatek has been offered as one of the main options so far, amid a number of potential deals in what is likely to be a busy window.
Mourinho had already been looking for a back-up to Kane, for a role that has been something of an issue for Tottenham Hotspur, but the extent of the England captain's injury has caused a rethink.
The Portuguese is understood to have insisted on the necessity of bringing in two if Spurs are to have any chance of returning to the Champions League next season.
"What will happen in the summer, I will talk to the club and consider my options. Then let's see in which direction things will go."
''With such a thing (renewing with Bayern), all parties have to put their arguments in the pot.
"Let's see if you can make an agreement there.
"You just have to compare what all parties want."
Valverde, 55, took training on Monday morning amid intense speculation his time as coach was about to come to an end and his fate was sealed later in the evening.
The former Athletic Bilbao and Espanyol manager has guided Barca to La Liga titles in each of his two full seasons in charge, as well as winning the Copa del Rey and Spanish Super Cup in 2018.
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Chelsea and Tottenham both enquired this month about the possibility of an initial loan deal for the 24-year-old, who Diego Simeone admitted “hasn’t been able to live up to expectations” at Atletico Madrid, following his £52.7 million switch from Monaco in July 2018. Wolves are also in the mix for the World Cup winner as they seek another dimension to their attacking play, with Nuno Espirito Santo conceding the club have to reinforce their squad in the world.
Lemar has been here before, the subject of interest from England’s top-flight, although the circumstances are markedly different.
Quique Setien interview
Quique Setien speaks with the vigour of a true believer, as he declares a commonly-made argument “absolutely false”. It’s put to the former Real Betis manager that there is a regularly repeated view - particularly around the Premier League - that it’s an inherent risk to try and play expansive football with lesser-resourced clubs. That Pep Guardiola would struggle to impose his style on squads that didn’t have some of the most talented players on the planet.
“That’s not true,” Setien argues. “That is a falsity. Nobody can say you can’t play a particular way.”
Setien and his teams are the profoundly entertaining proof of that. Betis so thrillingly beat Barcelona 4-3 last weekend in a landmark away win that has only furthered the talk the 60-year-old will next be at Camp Nou as home manager, and only further proved something else that is now rather commonly said in Spain: that you “should always, always watch Betis”; that there’ll always be an exhibition; that they might just be the best team to watch in Europe right now. That they're unmissable.
Sheffield United are ready to spend £10m on Anderlecht defender Elias Cobbaut, 22, and Ipswich centre-back Luke Woolfenden, 21.
The Sun claim the Blades aim to spend in order to remain in contention for a European berth.
Chris Wilder has made competition for places at centre-back a priority this month.
Premier League transfers: The 30 strangest deals in football
The January transfer window threatened to take an unusual turn this weekend with the news that Wolverhampton Wanderers are now in ‘pole position’ to sign Thomas Lemar from Atlético Madrid.
Lemar cost Atlético £51m in the summer of 2018 – that’s over £20m more than Wolves paid for their record signing, Raúl Jiménez – but the France World Cup winner has failed to impress at the Wanda Metropolitano. The forward has scored just four goals in 64 appearances for the Spanish side, failing to hit the target this season. Yet that hasn’t put off the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur– all of whom have been linked to Lemar at various points over the last few months.
However, a report in The Sun this weekend claims that Wolves are now frontrunners to sign Lemar, owning to the close relationship his agent, Jorge Mendes, has with the Midlands club, having previously helped to take Jimenez, Jonny Otto and Diogo Jota to the Molineux...
Conte demands three recruits
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United and Chelsea have both been linked with Dinamo and Spain star Dani Olmo. There could also be some big moves across Europe. Real Madrid have been linked with a £68m move for Timo Werner, as well as Flamengo wonder kid Reinier, while Arsenal have turned their eyes to RB Leipzig’s Dayot Upamecano as a long-term target.