BARCELONA appear to be ready to continue their spending spree in January after securing the signing of Ferran Torres from Manchester City.
The Nou Camp club are looking at a range of full backs with Chelsea’s Cesar Azpilicueta among the names on Xavi’s wishlist.
Newcastle are interested in a January swoop for Odion Ighalao, according to reports.
The ex-Manchester United striker, 32, currently plays for Saudi Arabian side Al Shabab and is the top scorer in the league this season with nine goals.
Elsewhere, Kalvin Phillips has confirmed he will stay at Leeds and will sign a new contract if the club offer it to him tomorrow.
Meanwhile, Chelsea are planning on raiding PSG for defender Presnel Kimpembe, according to reports.
Blues boss Thomas Tuchel managed the centre-back during his time as PSG coach.
And the German boss wants Kimpembe, 26, to replace Antonio Rudiger who is out of contract next summer and tipped to leave Stamford Bridge, according to L’Equipe.
When does the January transfer window open and close?
The transfer window opens on January 1 and closes on the 31st at 11pm.
Clubs will be able to sign and sell players during that time, with the Premier League’s winter break due to take place while the final week of the window is going on.
Get all the latest transfer news, gossip and updates here…
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Conte hints at Inter return
Antonio Conte has hinted that he could return to Inter Milan one day.
After Inter rocketed back to the top of Serie A, Conte was quizzed by Sky Sport Italia about their progress.
To which he replied: “I am happy with Inter’s consistency because they are continuing what we’ve done in the best way.
“I can only compliment them, I think they have the basis to stay up there for a long time.
“Perhaps, one day, I could return to overturn the predictions again.”
More Premier League fixtures
And here are the Premier League games up until New Year’s Day.
As yet none have been postponed between December 29 and January 1, although that is subject to change.
Wednesday, December 29
- Chelsea vs Brighton – 7.30pm – Amazon Prime
- Brentford vs Man City – 8.15pm – Amazon Prime
Thursday, December 30
- Everton vs Newcastle – 7.30pm – Amazon Prime
- Manchester United vs Burnley – 8.15pm – Amazon Prime
Saturday, January 1
- Arsenal vs Manchester City – 12.30pm – BT Sport
- Leicester vs Norwich – 3pm
- Watford vs Tottenham – 3pm
- Crystal Palace vs West Ham – 5.30pm – Sky Sports
Update on today and tomorrow’s games
Monday, December 27
- Newcastle vs Man Utd – 8pm – Sky Sports
Tuesday, December 28
- Leeds vs Aston Villa – postponed
- Arsenal vs Wolves – postponed
- Crystal Palace vs Norwich – 3pm – Amazon Prime
- Southampton vs Tottenham – 3pm – Amazon Prime
- Watford vs West Ham – 3pm – Amazon Prime
- Leicester vs Liverpool – 8pm – Amazon Prime
Bale to leave Real Madrid?
Gareth Bale and Isco are set to be offloaded by Real Madrid in January, according to reports.
Both players’ contracts expire in the summer and Los Blancos want to cash in while they still can.
The club have zero intention of offering either man a new deal, according to Marca.
And Carlo Ancelotti is also unimpressed by the players and has no desire to keep them.
As a result, the Spanish giants are looking for buyers willing to take them off their hands in the new year.
Both contracts expire on June 30.
Rangnick on January transfer window
Manchester United manager Ralf Rangnick has spoken about the possibility of doing business in the January transfer window.
He said: “Right now my full focus is on the current players and getting to know them.
“We’ve been together now for more than three weeks so I think I have a much better overview on all the players we have currently.
“For me it’s about developing those players but if a player wants to leave because he feels he will not get enough game-time here with us then we can speak about that, but it’s not only about what the player wants, it’s also about the situation of the club.
“Two things need to come together if a player wants to leave – one thing is if he wants to leave, but on the other hand the needs of the club need to be satisfied.”
Torres to complete Barca move
Ferran Torres is set to seal a return to Spain by joining Barcelona from Manchester City in the next 24 hours, writes Martin Blackburn.
A deal which could be worth upto £55 million to the Prem champions was agreed between the two clubs last week.
And former Valencia wide man Torres, 21, posted footage of himself training back in his homeland on Sunday evening.
He is expected to undergo a medical at the Nou Camp today (MON) with confirmation of the move due to follow soon afterwards – providing there are no hitches.
The Spanish international told Pep Guardiola earlier this month that he wants to return home after finding first team opportunities limited at the Etihad.
And the cash-strapped Catalan giants have agreed to pay around £46.7 million up front.
Pogba set to stay put?
Manchester United are NOT currently negotiating a January Paul Pogba sale, according to reports.
The midfielder’s future has been the subject of much speculation, with his contract set to expire in the summer.
Pogba, 28, is yet to make a decision on his future.
According to Italian transfer expert Fabrizio Romano, United are yet to receive a single proposal for Pogba ahead of next month’s transfer window.
The Red Devils offered their latest contract proposal in July and it remains on the table.
Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain are both believed to be interested in the 2018 World Cup winner.
No offer yet for Martial
Anthony Martial has told Ralf Rangnick he wants to leave the club.
But the German coach has revealed that no offer has yet come in for the French forward.
Rangnick said: “I told him listen, as long as there is no club showing interest in him, and it should not only be in the interest of the player it should also be in the interest of the club.
“So far, as far as I know, there has been no offer from any other club and as long as this is the case he will stay.”
Arteta keen on Coutinho transfer
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has reportedly given the green light to sign Barcelona outcast Philippe Coutinho.
According to Fichajes.net, Barca outcast Coutinho is someone Arsenal are interested in signing.
Arteta gave ‘a resounding yes when approving the arrival’ of the former Liverpool man.
The Gunners are hoping Coutinho can recapture the world class form he showed in his last spell in the Prem.
Arteta said on the Gunners’ January plans: “It would be useful to change something, even if it is never easy.
“We are working towards this, to understand what our needs are, and to find the right solutions.”
Possible Man Utd XI vs Newcastle
Manchester United have all-but-one of their players available for their trip to Newcastle after their recent Covid outbreak – with just Paul Pogba missing through injury.
But Ralf Rangnick will have to decide what to do with Anthony Martial who wants to leave.
The Reds kick-off at 8pm at St James’ Park looking to leapfrog West Ham and Tottenham into fifth.
And Rangnick has 25 players to pick from.
Liverpool after Napoli midfielder Ruiz
Liverpool could be about to raid Serie A for midfield reinforcements next summer.
The Reds are reportedly tracking Napoli star Fabian Ruiz as they look to strengthen in the middle of the park.
Spanish outlet Fichajes claims the Premier League giants are keen to bring in the Spain international at the end of the season.
But they face competition from LaLiga heavyweights Barcelona and Real Madrid for the 25-year-old’s signature.
Klopp is assessing his options ahead of a possible summer overhaul of his midfield.
Vieira demands AFCON shown respect
Patrick Vieira wants the Africa Cup of Nations to be shown more ‘respect’.
The tournament is set to take place next month, with a number of Premier League stars set to travel.
This has caused ire with some Prem bosses, with Jurgen Klopp in particular unhappy.
But Vieira has no issue with letting his players travel for the tournament.
The Senegal-born former Arsenal star said: “I respect and understand the passion and the importance to players to go and represent their country so I will never stop any player going to play the Africa Cup of Nations.
“I believe that that competition needs to be more respected – because this competition is as important as the European Championships.”
Evra recalls Sir Alex story
Patrice Evra has recounted a story about former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson.
Evra said: “We were tired after a game and did not sign autographs and got on the bus.
“We saw him [Sir Alex] signing autographs to the fans for 45 minutes.
“He yelled at us ‘Who do you think you are? These people pay your salary. Now go f*cking sign them’.”
Haidara key to Rangnick press?
A valuable addition to Man Utd’s team? Should they go and get the RB Leipzig midfielder in the January window?
Academy impact for Arteta’s Arsenal
Hale End academy products Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe are up there amongst the best in the Premier League.
Both have played a major role in firing Arsenal into fourth place, six points ahead of top-four rivals Tottenham and seven above West Ham.
Smith Rowe’s form has seen him score more goals from open play since the start of last season than Manchester United’s Bruno Fernandes. The 21-year-old has 13 goals to Fernandes’ 12.
And Saka is the second-youngest player to reach 10 Prem goals for Arsenal.
Only legend Nicolas Anelka managed to do it quicker, aged 19.
The pair got on the scoresheet once again on Boxing Day, with Saka bagging a brace and Smith Rowe sealing the win in added time.
Barca eye Chelsea captain Azpilicueta
Barcelona are reportedly searching for a replacement right-back as Sergino Dest’s future looks ominous under new boss Xavi.
According to Sport, the frontrunner for the Catalan giants is Ajax man Noussair Mazraoui.
However, Cesar Azpilicueta is also thought to be in the frame as he is out of contract at Stamford Bridge in the summer.
But a number of other European sides are interested in acquiring the Spaniard – including Barca’s LaLiga rivals Atletico Madrid.
Chelsea’s Jorginho equals penalty record
Following his two penalties against Aston Villa yesterday evening…
Cristiano Ronaldo becomes an uncle
Cristiano Ronaldo’s pregnant partner is celebrating a new addition to her family.
Georgina Rodriguez’s elder sister Ivana revealed on Sunday she has given birth to a little girl called Deva, prompting the influencer to congratulate her with an emotional message saying: “My precious baby, I love her.”
The name Ivana and her Portuguese sculptor partner Carlos Garcia have chosen is of Hindi origin and means Divinity.
Haz to be a joke
Real Madrid want to sign Chelsea star Reece James, according to reports.
And the Spanish giants would be willing to include Eden Hazard in a deal.
Madrid currently only have one recognised right-back in their squad, in the shape of Dani Carvajal.
According to El Nacional, the position is one of boss Carlo Ancelotti’s ‘biggest concerns’. And Madrid ‘dream’ of signing James to fill the gap.
But they know he will be difficult to sign. Ancelotti’s side are willing to spend more than £50million on the England star, while Hazard could also be used as a sweetener.
Tuchel calls for five subs
Tuchel also backed the reintroduction of five substitutes in the Prem.
“There’s not enough changes. Three is a big disadvantage. Five subs was invented because of coronavirus,” he added.
“Will it change? Zero chance. All other leagues have five changes. Then we have to compete against them in the Champions League.
“It’s a bit frustrating. Europe has a winter break but we play through it and put it on the players’ shoulders. They make us play all the time. We let Callum Hudson-Odoi play 90 minutes as we needed to change other players.
“It’s not fair, we’re just filling holes. Romelu Lukaku had a very good performance. But he’s not ready for that even if he wants it.
“We’ve all been in bed for ten days with flu. Lukaku was a game changer. I’m super impressed with the guys but also super concerned.”
Tuchel takes aim at Prem
Thomas Tuchel has accused the Premier League of wrecking Chelsea’s season, writes GRAHAM HILL.
He launched a scathing attack on the authorities for forcing clubs to play on during the Covid outbreak following his side’s 3-1 win at Aston Villa.
Chelsea’s triumph came at a cost after injuries to Thiago Silva (hamstring) and N’Golo Kante (knee).
That sparked Tuchel to blast: “They make us play even if we have Covid. We have new injuries and it won’t stop.
“Here, we played against a team with no international duty. At some stage it’ll catch up with us. People at the green table, in offices, make these decisions.
“We play two more cup games against teams with games postponed. This cannot be the right way.”
Man Utd’s five-man transfer shortlist
The January transfer window will soon be open. And by that time, Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick should have a better idea about his squad and the type of player he’d like to bring in.
The central defensive midfield position feels like it’s been a problem for United since Sir Alex Ferguson departed in 2013.
And it’s reportedly Rangnick’s main area of concern as he tries to lead United in the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup in the second half of the season.
So, if Rangnick is granted funds in January, who are some of the names in the frame to help boost his squad? United fan Tom McDermott took a look and came up with this shortlist.
- Amadou Haidara
- Jude Bellingham
- Frenkie de Jong
- Kieran Trippier
- Tyler Adams
Pickford’s wife re-posts anti-vax message
The wife of England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford has re-posted an apparent social media anti-vax message.
Megan Davison, 25, who has a children’s studies degree, shared a photo from last week’s Freedom Rally in London, where police faced violence.
It shows a protester with a placard reading: “Even if you’re not conspiracy minded, something in your soul has to say…something is wrong.”
Megan did not post a comment with the snap.
Madrid confident about Mbappe deal
Real Madrid are confident that they are on the verge of signing Kylian Mbappe, according to reports.
The Frenchman’s Paris Saint-Germain contract is set to expire in June.
PSG are desperate to keep the talismanic forward, and rejected several big-money bids from Madrid last summer.
But the Spaniards now have ‘total belief’ that they will get their man for free in the summer.
According to AS, however, they will wait until after the Champions League round of 16 to announce the transfer.