LIVE Transfer Talk: Real Madrid, Barcelona to beat Man United to Koulibaly?

Barcelona, Blog - Transfer Talk, Blog Post, Clubs, Kalidou Koulibaly, Manchester United, Napoli, Real Madrid, Transfers
ESPN FC’s Shaka Hislop sifts through all the latest transfer rumours surrounding N’Golo Kante, Callum Wilson and many more in Transfer Rater.

The transfer window for Europe’s biggest clubs is open again. Transfer Talk has been scouring the world’s media and setting our correspondents loose to see who could be heading to/out of your club this month.

TOP STORY: Real Madrid, Barcelona to beat Man United to Koulibaly?

Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly recently said ‘see you soon, bro’ to Paul Pogba, sparking wild transfer speculation that he was about to sign for Manchester United. But could the pair be set to meet up at a different club?

Naples-based paper Il Mattino reports that Barcelona and Real Madrid are now interested in Koulibaly (to add to their previous interest in Pogba) and have jumped ahead of United in the pecking order.

United had a bid of €103m rejected last summer according to Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis, while reports now suggest that Barcelona have increased the offer to €120m for the defender — though it was still rejected.

Napoli are keen to tie the Senegal international down to a new contract but if the bidding keeps going up, they’ll find it hard to say no.


14.49 GMT: Barcelona’s defence continues to speak more French with another Bleus star signed, according to Sport, who are reporting that a deal for Jean Clair Todibo to join in the summer has been sealed. The Catalans already have Samuel Umtiti and Clement Lenglet.

14.25 GMT: Liverpool’s out-of-favour forward Dominic Solanke is on his way to Bournemouth after his loan move to Crystal Palace collapsed, according to The Sun.

Would this open up the possibility of Callum Wilson leaving the Vitality Stadium for Chelsea?

13.56 GMT: Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson has confirmed Jason Puncheon is off to Huddersfield on loan.

“I believe we are still waiting confirmation that the paperwork has all been completed and that the deal has gone through,” he told a news conference. “But I don’t expect anything to happen to prevent that [move] from going ahead. Jason has been a fantastic club servant. A very well-liked and very well-respected member of our team and squad for so many years but he hasn’t too many chances in recent times. And now when he had got the opportunity to get a first-team place and play on a regular basis, it would be wrong in my opinion to prevent him or stop him from doing that, knowing I haven’t been able to offer him that position here.”

13.44 GMT: Genoa defender Cristian Romero has attracted the interest of Juventus, who are keen to sign him from under the noses of Inter Milan according to Corriere dello Sport.

13.05 GMT: Valencia coach Marcelino has told a news conference that he prefers the four forwards he already has over a chance to sign Mexico international and West Ham striker Javier Hernandez, who has been linked to the club.

“It is impossible that we sign him [Hernandez] although he has had a great career, but we like the forwards we have better,” Marcelino said, in quotes reported by EFE “Right now, no one will be coming to the club unless one of our injured players ends up taking longer to heal than anticipated. I do not foresee us having five forwards, that would be to overload the spot and would bring us more problems than benefits. What we need to do is improve with the ones we have.”

12.57 GMT: West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini has ruled out exits for Andy Carroll (linked with Newcastle) and Marko Arnautovic (Chelsea and Man United). Via our man on the scene Sean Nevin:

On Arnautovic: “I am sure he will stay with us, he is happy here.”

On Carroll: “I don’t think so [him leaving]. He is an important player for our team. He will return to be the player that all of us know he can be.”

12.39 GMT: Gianfranco Zola says Callum Hudson-Odoi will play in the FA Cup this weekend and also revealed that Chelsea want to keep him despite interest from Bayern Munich.

12.35 GMT: Bournemouth have agreed a deal to sign Liverpool right-back Nathaniel Clyne on loan for the rest of the season, sources have told ESPN FC.

Clyne has been on the fringes for Liverpool this season, making just two starts in the all competitions after returning from a long-term injury in November. The 27-year-old is now set to spend the rest of campaign on the south coast playing for Eddie Howe, who has lost defenders Adam Smith and Simon Francis to season-ending injuries.

12.24 GMT: Calciomercato are claiming that Chelsea are set to make a £36m bid to try and land Mexico winger Hirving ‘Chucky’ Lozano in January. Well, it worked for Christian Pulisic.

12.14 GMT: Serie A strugglers Bologna have completed the double signing of Nicola Sansone and Roberto Soriano from Villarreal, both initially on loan deals until the end of the season. Bologna have options to sign both in the summer, with an obligation to do so in the case of Sansone should certain conditions be met. 

12.03 GMT: Fulham may be sitting second from bottom of the Premier League but midfielder Stefan Johansen is still of interest to AC Milan, according to Sky Italy. The Norway captain has only made four Premier League starts this season having slipped down the pecking order.

11.52 GMT: We wonder if he’ll have a say on players leaving United too? La Nazione say Fiorentina want Andreas Pereira.

11.49 GMT: Man United boss OIe Gunnar Solskjaer insists he will have his say if the club decide to act in the transfer window.

“I’m sure they’ve got their targets,” Solskjaer said. “I’m here to voice my opinion on that and I’m sure we’ll sit down — me and Ed [Woodward] — if we’ve got anything in the pipeline. I’m here to work with the ones I’ve got. They’ve all performed and as long as they perform they should get a chance but that’s my job, to improve players and individuals.”

11.31 GMT: AS report that Atletico Madrid, Valencia and Sevilla are now in the race to sign FC Koln’s Spanish defender Jorge Mere. Mere, who joined Koln from Sporting Gijon in an €8m transfer in the summer of 2017, has impressed while playing for the Bundesliga.2 side. The 21-year-old has a release clause of €10m included in his contract which will increase to €30m if Koln gain promotion to the Bundesliga this season.

11.12 GMT: Jordon Mutch has left Crystal Palace by mutual consent. And that’s about as long as the statement is.

10.51 GMT: Adam Lallana would be mad to leave Liverpool this winter, wouldn’t he? With Reds putting in an actual title challenge, Lallana is still finding his feet after a long absence with various injuries and hasn’t been playing much, so Fotomac report that Fenerbahce have offered him a loan deal until the end of the season. But that doesn’t have the possibility of ending with a Premier League winners’ medal does it?

10.39 GMT: Munir El Haddadi has turned down the chance to renew his contract with Barcelona and is set to leave for free in the summer, sources have told ESPN FC.

Barca had hoped to extend the striker’s terms beyond the end of the season to avoid losing him for free but they were unable to grant assurances over playing time. Munir considered Barca’s proposal but, in the end, the 23-year-old decided that his future would be better served elsewhere.

The Catalan side are open to selling in January, but sources said Munir is likely to wait until the summer, with interest from Spanish, English and Italian clubs. Spanish radio station COPE, meanwhile, claim that Munir has already struck a deal to join Sevilla at the end of the season.

10.25 GMT: Baba Rahman still plays for Chelsea apparently and Bild says that the defender’s loan deal at Schalke will be cut short for him to return to London. Presumably to be sold to Lille, Girona or Villarreal

Staying with Schalke for a minute, the paper also claims that Yevhen Konoplyanka, 29, and Amine Harit, 21, could leave the club this winter. 

10.07 GMT: Barcelona are in pole position to agree a pre-contract agreement with Toulouse defender Jean Clair Todibo, 19, who is out of contract in summer, say Mundo Deportivo. The implications on potential deals for Jeison Murillo (who they signed on loan from Valencia until the summer) and Matthijs de Ligt (their top target for the next transfer window) isn’t clear but Barca are clearly looking to the future.

09.54 GMT: SUPER MARIO! Marseille could reignite their interest in Mario Balotelli, say L’Equipe, after trying to sign the former Manchester City and Liverpool forward last summer. Balotelli, who has been given a few extra days off by Nice coach Patrick Vieira to “think over his future,” could strike a deal to cancel his contract with his current club, and then sign an 18-month deal with OM. Newcastle are also reportedly keen to bring him back to England.

09.45 GMT: AC Milan have to sell players before they can buy anyone new, due to FFP, and midfielder Frank Kessie is first on the list according to Gazzetta dello Sport. Beijing Guoan have been tracking him for months but Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham are also interested.

09.38 GMT: Haven’t heard from Jose Mourinho for a while … Record report that Benfica are considering hiring him after the dismissal of coach Rui Vitoria on Thursday.

Benfica (the club where Mourinho began his coaching career in 2000) fired Vitoria after a series of poor results for the team he led to back-to-back Portuguese titles in 2016 and 2017, with Bruno Lage named as interim coach. But according to Record, any deal for Mourinho may struggle to get beyond initial discussions as his wages at Old Trafford were a reported €15m net per season. 

09.00 GMT: Tottenham are increasingly resigned to losing Toby Alderweireld after taking up their option to extend his contract by a year until 2020, thereby activating a release clause making him available for £25 million, sources have told ESPN FC.

While the release clause now puts a firm price on Alderweireld’s head, Spurs were facing the prospect of losing the Belgium centre-back for free this summer so have acted to protect his value.

But Alderweireld is reluctant to discuss a new deal and with the player turning 30 in March, sources said the club feel £25m would be a good fee for a player who cost them just £11.5m in July 2015. Indeed, sources said Tottenham might have accepted an offer in that region last summer — with Manchester United and Barcelona linked with a move — but that no approaches were made.

08.30 GMT: Liverpool striker Dominic Solanke has seen a loan move to Crystal Palace collapse, but now Stuttgart are keen on signing him, Bild reports. The Bundesliga strugglers are hopeful that they can persuade the 21-year-old to join the club as they desperately look for goals in the second half of the season. 

PAPER TALK (by Danny Lee, Football Whispers)

Chelsea to sell Morata, with Sevilla interested

Chelsea are shopping struggling striker Alvaro Morata around as they look to bring a new centre-forward in during the January transfer window.

And the Daily Mirror believes that Sevilla are interested in the Spaniard, and that they could make a bid. Their director of football, Joaquin Caparros, sees him as a replacement for Luis Muriel, who departed for Serie A side Fiorentina.

Morata has been ineffective in front of goal this season, not just with his lack of goals compared to the Premier League’s other top strikers, but with the way he fits, or doesn’t fit, into manager Maurizio Sarri’s system.

The Italian has even played Eden Hazard as a striker out of desperation, so it seems the former Real Madrid and Juventus man will need to move to revive his career.

Liverpool’s Clyne heading south to Bournemouth

Liverpool right back Nathaniel Clyne is a loan target for Bournemouth, so says the Daily Mail. The south coast club will be looking to add some depth to their defence, and Clyne could be useful in either full-back position.

Jurgen Klopp has given him a few minutes at left-back this season, and with Simon Francis set to be on the treatment table for some time for Bournemouth, it’s no surprise they are looking for reinforcements in this area.

Clyne has been backup for Trent Alexander-Arnold for Liverpool. However, with Joe Gomez reverting to centre-back this season, Liverpool might want to keep hold of Clyne as the games come thick and fast in the second half of the season.

Arsenal take a peep at Pepe

Unai Emery’s side are eyeing a £45 million move for Lille’s Nicolas Pepe. Tuttomercato reports that the Ivorian is seen as an alternative to Cengiz Under, whom Arsenal have reportedly pulled out of the race to sign after Roma sporting director Monchi refused to sell.

Pepe already has 19 goals in Ligue 1 this season, and this is even more impressive when you consider he plays from the right wing.

Arsenal already have Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang up for African Player of the Year, and if they sign the 23-year-old they could have the perfect player to accompany him — one who might be up for similar individual honours in the future.

At the very least, Pepe would give the North Londoners extra options in wide areas alongside the likes of Alex Iwobi.

Barcelona open talks with Rabiot

La Liga champions Barcelona will look to add new ideas to their midfield by signing PSG man Adrien Rabiot on a free transfer.

That’s according to Mundo Deportivo, which adds further details to a report in L’Equipe.

The Frenchman will be available on a free transfer in the summer, and Barcelona have already opened talks about a contract, but the demands of a £10m salary plus a further £10m signing-on bonus have been a stumbling block.

However, the report states that the Catalan club are not deterred and will continue negotiations, looking to beat Juventus and Liverpool to his signature.

Ernesto Valverde will hope that the midfielder can offer something the club have missed since the departures of club legends Xavi and Andres Iniesta in recent years. And at just 23, the player could be a good long-term solution.

Football Whispers’ transfer algorithm gives the likelihood of rumours happening a score out of 5.

Jermaine Defoe to Rangers – 4.7

Bournemouth are willing to let the former Tottenham and Toronto FC striker leave on loan to get some first-team action. The deal would see him stay with Steven Gerrard’s side for 18 months, taking in the latter half of this season and the whole of next.

Aaron Ramsey to Juventus – 4.3

The next of our close-to-dead-certains involves the Wales midfielder’s move to Juventus. The perennial Serie A champions will offer the Arsenal midfielder a contract which will see him join on a free transfer in the summer, according to Sky Sports.

Brahim Diaz to Real Madrid – 4.3

Another whisper getting louder is that involving Manchester City’s Spanish youth player Diaz. He will leave for the Champions League winners in hope of a better chance of first-team football, and has even chosen his new shirt number at Real, according to Marca.

Nicolo Barella to Arsenal – 2.8

Italian outlet Corriere dello Sport is reporting that a number of clubs are interested in the Cagliari midfielder, with Arsenal and Manchester United favourites. The 21-year-old is valued at £45m, and there are also Serie A sides chasing his signature.

Frenkie de Jong to Paris Saint-Germain – 2.8

Dutch duo De Jong and Matthijs de Ligt are the most sought-after young players in Europe at the moment, and the Ligue 1 champions have made Ajax an offer they might find hard to refuse — and that no other club can match — according to Marca. The rumoured fee for De Jong alone is £63m.

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