The same goes for Mings, who has been central to Aston Villa’s improvement this season, as well as the towering 21-year-old Carmo at Braga.
Manchester United have added Raphael Varane, Tyrone Mings and David Carmo to the shortlist of centre back options they are monitoring ahead of the summer transfer window.
Pau Torres, Dayot Upamecano, Jules Kounde are among their other existing targets for the position.
United are keen on landing a new centre back this year to act as a long-term partner for club captain Harry Maguire. Victor Lindelof has struggled to prove himself of the quality necessary to be a regular starter and Eric Bailly is once more battling fitness problems.
90min first revealed back in November that United see a central defender as one of their priorities in 2021.
The Old Trafford club had admired Torres at Villarreal since last summer and he is at the top of the list.
There is also a feeling his time there could be coming to an end after becoming a regular international for Spain and a release clause just under £60m hasn’t put suitors off.
Upamecano was also near the top of the list at one stage, although it was rumoured that United were starting to cool their interest when Bayern Munich began pursuing the player. Bayern have since entered positive early talks with the Frenchman’s representatives.
NoRM has also previously reported that United have been closely watching Kounde at Sevilla for many months, as well as Brighton’s Ben White and Leicester’s Caglar Soyuncu, as they thoroughly weigh up and assess plenty of possible options to make the best decision.
Even as a shorter term solution, United would be interested in Sergio Ramos should the 34-year-old leave Real Madrid this summer.
However, getting burnt in pursuit of the Spaniard in the past means they would only make a serious approach if that interest was genuinely reciprocated.
The rest of the Premier League ‘Big Six’ have taken a similar view on Ramos, who is most likely to join PSG.
Varane has been heavily linked with United for years, but fresh doubts over the Frenchman’s future at Real Madrid has led ESPN to report that he also now one of the players Old Trafford officials are considering.
The same goes for Mings, who has been central to Aston Villa’s improvement this season, as well as the towering 21-year-old Carmo at Braga.
Varane has less than 18 months left on his current contract at Real Madrid and a sale in 2021 is the only way Los Blancos could command a reasonable transfer fee for the World Cup winner, who could potentially leave the Bernabeu as a free agent in 2022 if he refuses to sign a new deal.
The 27-year-old will have spent ten full seasons at Real by the end of the current campaign, having joined from Lens as a teenager in 2011, and it has been reported in Spain there is a belief at the club he wants to move on and test himself elsewhere.
Players can talk and can say what they want. They do so from feelings, just as Real Madrid and Barcelona players do. ..
Mauricio Pochettino has insisted PSG have shown no lack of respect by talking about their desire to sign Lionel Messi from Barcelona on a free transfer in the summer.
Messi handed in a transfer request in the summer of 2020 following Barcelona’s chaotic season on and off the pitch. His lofty release clause meant he was unable to force an exit, but the Argentinian’s contract expires in June 2021, enabling him to leave the club for nothing.
PSG are considered one of the few clubs in world football who possess the financial muscle to land the six-time Ballon d’Or winner, and both players and members of the club’s hierarchy have discussed the possibility of signing Messi in recent weeks. This has been criticised by Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman and presidential candidate Joan Laporta.
Pochettino himself has always remained diplomatic regarding the rumours, and insists no harm was meant by his colleague’s comments.
“When a player speaks, he is talking out of affection, excitement and friendship,” the PSG boss said. “There’s no controversial issue that has been generated by the club. At no time has there been a lack of respect or gone against a situation that is not the correct one.
“Players can talk and can say what they want. They do so from feelings, just as Real Madrid and Barcelona players do. They can talk about teammates that are at other clubs.”
PSG sporting director Leonardo began stoking the flames in January when he stated that players like Messi ‘will always be on PSG’s list’. Laporta – who has had the future of Messi front and centre of his presidential campaign – hit back with a dig at PSG’s financial fair play record.
Messi’s international teammate Angel Di Maria admitted that he ‘hopes’ the diminutive forward signs for PSG – comments that Koeman criticised for having a ‘lack of respect’.
Liverpool recently sold Rhian Brewster to Sheffield United for somewhere close to the £20m mark..
Fulham are expected to demand £10m from Liverpool for young winger Harvey Elliott when the two clubs head to a tribunal on Tuesday.
Liverpool signed the 17-year-old in the summer of 2019 before he had signed a professional contract with Fulham, but the Cottagers are entitled to some compensation after being responsible for his development.
Liverpool offered to pay close to £750,000 to sign the then 16-year-old, but as noted by The Athletic, Fulham want closer to £10m for a player who is: their youngest ever player, Liverpool’s youngest ever starter and the youngest player in Premier League history.
Elliott is currently shining in the Championship with Blackburn Rovers, notching four goals and eight assists in 22 appearances, and he has been tipped to be a major part of the Liverpool setup upon his return to Anfield.
Fulham still feel as though a £10m would be daylight robbery. They felt that Elliott had the potential to blossom into a future superstar at Craven Cottage, and young England internationals have been known to sell for more than that figure.
For comparison, Liverpool recently sold Rhian Brewster to Sheffield United for somewhere close to the £20m mark, despite the fact that the striker had not made a single appearance in the Premier League at that point.
Whether Fulham will actually get that £10m is unknown, but given the record amount of compensation set by a tribunal stands at the £6.5m Liverpool were ordered to pay Burnley for Danny Ings, it’s not looking good.
Liverpool will definitely hope to avoid paying that kind of money. Jurgen Klopp was open about the Reds’ lack of transfer funds in January, which is why centre-back Ozan Kabak was only signed on an initial loan, and shelling out £10m might not sit well with club chiefs.
It’s a big case for both Liverpool and Fulham, but also for academies as a whole. There’s a perception that smaller teams are often short-changed in these situations, with most pointing to the mere £850,000 Exeter City were awarded from Chelsea’s purchase of Ethan Ampadu, who earned his first cap for Wales just months after joining the Blues.
Fulham have invested a considerable amount of money in their academy to obtain Category 1 status in 2012, but there are fears that those efforts could be undermined if a player like Elliott is only worth pocket change to a tribunal.
Juventus are rumoured to want to get rid of Cristiano Ronaldo because his contract is too much of a financial strain as it is..
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has said that the club has an ‘open dialogue’ with star midfielder Paul Pogba about his contract situation and future at Old Trafford.
Agent Mino Raiola openly claimed in December that Pogba had become unhappy at United and wanted to leave.
He also effectively threatened the club by pointing out that his client can leave as a free agent when his current contract expires in 2022 if they refuse to sell.
Raiola was widely criticised for the timing and bluntness of his message in the same week as a crunch Champions League game against RB Leipzig that United went on to lose.
Pogba was not directly involved but was at least thought to be complicit because he never took any action to deny what his agent had said if it was untrue.
However, things appear to have changed since then. Pogba was in and out of the United lineup at that time and has now re-taken a regular starting place in a team that has improved enough to have forced its way into the Premier League title race for the first time since 2013.
The Frenchman appears happier on the pitch and it is reflected in more consistent performances.
Previously, he cut a frustrated figure head and shoulders above teammates below his level.
Now, others are much closer to him and complementing his game and vice versa.
It is still not certain either way will happen at the end of the season – whether he signs a contract or pursues a transfer away, but Solskjaer’s comments suggest there is a healthy relationship between the player and club and the situation will continue to be monitored.
“We’ve got a good open dialogue with Paul, so what we talk about and how we see that situation remains between us of course,” the United is quoted as saying by NoRM‘s known Media.
“I’m just happy he’s focused, he’s playing really well and he’s happy in himself and that’s important. You can see Paul now enjoying playing football with a red shirt on.”
If United cannot convince Pogba to sign a new contract, a sale this coming is a must to recoup a transfer fee before he is able to leave as a free agent in 2022.
Equally, the player, soon to turn 28, will be aware that inking a fresh deal will see him commit the remainder of his best years to the club.
It could end up that staying put and signing a new contract is Pogba’s only realistic option.
The coronavirus pandemic has wiped out any possible market for him, with the likes of Real Madrid, Juventus and Barcelona all interested but strapped for cash. Were he to run down his contract and try his luck in free agency, he may find that any offers can’t match his expectation.
Real are prioritising a move for Kylian Mbappe this year but are expected to have to sell a number of players and potentially finance some of the transfer with a loan to afford it.
Juventus are rumoured to want to get rid of Cristiano Ronaldo because his contract is too much of a financial strain as it is, while Barcelona are in full-on financial crisis with debts estimated to have spiralled to €1bn.
Barca presidential candidate Joan Laporta, and the agent believes that Camp Nou could be an ideal landing spot for Alaba.
Bayern Munich centre-back David Alaba is understood to no longer be certain to join Real Madrid in the summer, with a Premier League move back on the cards.
Reports coming out of Spain in January suggested that Real had already agreed a deal with Alaba, who will be out of contract at Bayern at the end of the season, although there has been some questions asked about that story ever since.
The biggest quash of the rumour comes from Sport Bild (via AS), who state that talks with Real are nowhere near as advanced as has been suggested in Spain and Alaba is waiting for offers from the Premier League before making his final decision.
As revealed exclusively by 90min in November 2020, Alaba is now open to the idea of moving to England, having previously rejected the chance to test himself in the Premier League.
Alaba’s agent, Pini Zahavi, is said to be waiting for offers from English sides, which he believes will be far more lucrative than the terms on offer at the Santiago Bernabeu, and it’s Chelsea who are named as the main contenders for his signature.
Zahavi is known to have close ties with Chelsea, who were previously said to be ‘confident’ that they could force their way to the front of the queue for Alaba’s signature with a blockbuster offer. It was Frank Lampard leading the charge, but interest in Alaba has remained under new boss Thomas Tuchel.
Alaba has also attracted interest from Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool, although there have been several reports suggesting none of that trio will actually make a move for the 28-year-old.
One side who could try and spoil the party is Barcelona, who are keen to reinforce defensively in the summer.
Just like with Chelsea, Zahavi is close with Barca presidential candidate Joan Laporta, and the agent believes that Camp Nou could be an ideal landing spot for Alaba.
However, if Real might not have the financial muscle to land Alaba, it’s hard to see how Barcelona have any chance.
Ronald Koeman’s side are facing debts of close to €1bn and would likely struggle to find a way to offer out a new £200,000-a-week contract.
Bechler says the player is ‘very close’ to signing and it could even be announced this week.
Neymar is closing in on a new long-term contract with Paris Saint-Germain, having confirmed earlier this week he is happy at Parc des Princes and wants to stay at the club.
Neymar joined PSG from Barcelona in a controversial world record transfer worth €222m in the summer of 2017, but just two years later he was determined to go back to Camp Nou amid claims that he wanted to reunite with Lionel Messi and regretted ever leaving.
No deal ever materialised at that time, with Barça lacking the financial resources to tempt PSG into selling, nor convincing their own players to move in the opposite direction in a cash-less deal.
Even though it was later rumoured that Barcelona were only going through the motions to appease the various parties, knowing full well a deal wasn’t really possible, Neymar was said to have been so distraught when he learned he wouldn’t be heading back that he cried.
Now, however, things have changed considerably. PSG reached the Champions League final last season, while Barcelona’s spiralling debt and Messi’s uncertain future makes any potential reunion between the pair vastly more likely to be in Paris.
News on an agreement over a new contract comes from Brazilian journalist Marcelo Bechler, who was a major source of information when Neymar agreed to join PSG in the first place back in 2017.
Bechler says the player is ‘very close’ to signing and it could even be announced this week.
The new contract would be for another four years, taking Neymar, who celebrates his 29th birthday on Friday, well into his 30s by the time it is due to expire. His existing deal ends in 2022.
Earlier this week, Neymar told French broadcaster TF1: “I am happy today. I am truly happy. Things have changed a lot. I can’t exactly explain why. But today, I am feeling good. I have adapted. I am more calm and I am more happy.
“I want to stay at PSG. I also want Kylian [Mbappe] to stay. We want PSG to be a great team. I want to continue to play football and be happy, that is the most important thing.”
20-year-old Kabak, who had been linked earlier in the season before Liverpool’s interest faded, was one of them, and he has now officially signed
Liverpool have completed the deadline day loan signing of Ozan Kabak from Schalke, after the Premier League champions moved to strengthen their defensive options at the final hour.
Injuries have ravaged the Reds’ back line this term with Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez out for the majority of the season, but until recently the line from the club had been not to expect any new additions, with Jurgen Klopp prepared to persevere with youngsters Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams.
Things changed after injuries to Fabinho and Joel Matip forced captain Jordan Henderson to fill in at centre-back against West Ham, however, and a slate of reports on deadline day linked the Reds with various last-gasp deals.
20-year-old Kabak, who had been linked earlier in the season before Liverpool’s interest faded, was one of them, and he has now officially signed on the dotted line, where we’ll wear the number 19 shirt.
Speaking on his official Twitter page, Kabak said: “As of today, I am no longer part of the wonderful Schalke 04 family, a place I had the privilege to call ‘home’ for one and a half years.
“I would like to thank all my teammates and coaches with whom we have fought together during my here. I have no doubt that Schalke 04 will soon reach the level of success this club deserves. Lastly, all my best wishes and respect go to Schalke 04 fans, whose never-ending love and support have always been a huge motivating presence for me.
“Thank you for everything.”
Kabak joins Ben Davies through the Anfield arrivals door after he completed a surprise deadline day switch from Preston North End. He had previously been expected to join Celtic on a pre-contract agreement in the summer, but Liverpool moved swiftly to bring him – likely because they’d found out that Joel Matip will miss the rest of the season through injury.
The move has also enabled Southampton to send Shane Long out on loan to Championship promotion hopefuls Bournemouth.
Liverpool’s Takumi Minamino has completed a sensational loan move to Southampton in the dying embers of January’s transfer deadline day.
The Japan international has agreed to spend the remainder of the season on the south coast as he goes in search of more game time, having struggled to break into Jürgen Klopp’s plans this season.
The transfer window seemed to be drawing to a quiet close, before news broke of the Saints’ pursuit of the 26-year-old with fewer than two hours remaining to seal the deal.
Having passed a last-minute medical, the 11th-hour loan move has been confirmed in a statement on Southampton’s website.
Boss Ralph Hasenhuttl said: “I am very pleased to welcome Takumi to our squad for the rest of this season.
“He will help provide another good attacking option, and is importantly the right profile of player for us. This will give us some additional depth in our squad at an important time, and I am looking forward to beginning work with him on the training pitch.”
Minamino – who only joined Liverpool from RB Salzburg a year ago – has featured 17 times in all competitions this season, but has struggled for starts behind the established front three of Sadio Mané, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino.
However, he has still managed four goals and two assists, and his versatility means he will give the Saints an option out wide and in attacking midfield.
A lack of quality depth would have been a real concern for Hasenhuttl as his side attempt to mount a European challenge in the second half of the season.
The Irishman has never been a regular scorer at St Mary’s, but his hard work and willingness to run the channels had seen him in stay in favour over the past few seasons.
Minamino is Southampton’s only arrival of the January window, while young defender Yan Valery was the second player to leave the club on deadline day.
He’s joined Birmingham City on loan, having been shut out of the first team picture by Kyle Walker-Peters.
The 26-year-old has found minutes difficult to come by since arriving on Merseyside, but has managed to score four times in his limited appearances this season.
They have left it late, but Southampton are closing in on a deal that would bring Liverpool forward Takumi Minamino to St Mary’s on loan until the end of the season.
The Saints also made an attempt to sign Neco Williams on a temporary basis earlier on in the day, only to be told no on the Wales international.
Minamino has jostled for minutes with the likes of Divock Origi and Xherdan Shaqiri behind the Reds’ established front three this season, but looks to have been squeezed out of the picture for the time being.
With Diogo Jota nearing a return, Minamino’s situation isn’t anticipated to improve, and while Liverpool weren’t actively looking to loan him out, they have not discouraged offers.
The Athletic’s David Ornstein reports that Southampton have expressed an interest in the former RB Salzburg forward in the final hours of the window and are hopeful of getting the paperwork over the line in time to register him for the second half of the season.
Ornstein says the clubs are in ‘advanced talks’ and while the deal isn’t done yet, there is believed to be a growing excitement at Southampton about adding him to their attacking ranks.
The versatile Minamino has the ability to accompany Danny Ings up front while he can also feature in a wide midfield position, making him a potentially invaluable asset to Ralph Hasenhuttl, who wants to strengthen his forward options.
The 26-year-old has found minutes difficult to come by since arriving on Merseyside, but has managed to score four times in his limited appearances this season.
He netted a brace against Lincoln City in the FA Cup, as well as goals against Arsenal and Crystal Palace, but those have been his only strikes in his 31 appearances since arriving from Salzburg.
A successful loan could see him return to Anfield a rejuvenated player, ready to either challenge for starts or move on for a substantial profit on the £7.5m they paid to sign him a year ago.
Mustafi leaving would mark another exit this month for Arsenal.
Arsenal defender Shkodran Mustafi is closing in on a move to Schalke which would likely see Ozan Kabak depart to join Liverpool.
Mustafi has struggled for game time this season, dropping down the pecking order under manager Mikel Arteta, and has been given the perfect pathway to leave the Emirates thanks to Liverpool’s interest in 20-year-old Kabak.
The Germany international, who hasn’t played for Arsenal since Boxing Day, is expected to make the move to the Bundesliga, ending a four and a half year stay in north London, though sources vary on any potential fee.
Football London say his contract will be terminated before the move is sealed, while ESPN’s James Olley claims Arsenal want a sum this window.
Mustafi leaving would mark another exit this month for Arsenal.
Former outcasts Mesut Ozil and Sokratis Papastathopoulos have left permanently in recent weeks, while Sead Kolasinac and William Saliba were sent out on loan.
Joe Willock, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Reiss Nelson are among the youngsters who could still leave on loan before the deadline.
Mustafi joined Arsenal in 2016 for a fee around the £35m mark but never convinced the club’s fanbase that he was a long term solution to their issues in central defence, mainly due to his penchant for making disastrous mistakes.
He made 31 league appearances in 2018/19 but his numbers have dwindled in the following two campaigns.
Regarding Liverpool, NoRM reported on Monday that the club had started negotiations over a loan deal for Turkish defender Kabak.
Negotiations are now in a more advanced stage, as per the Athletic. Reporting differs on whether it will have an obligatory or optional buy clause, with the Athletic going for the former and the Times’ Paul Joyce citing the latter. The loan fee would be around the £2m.
Liverpool have had Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip struck down by injury this season, leaving Jordan Henderson, Fabinho, Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams to fill in at the back.
A deal for Preston centre back Ben Davies is also expected to be announced on deadline day after the Anfield club agreed a deal worth in the region of £2m for the 25-year-old.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles is also being name-dropped as a potential target for the Magpies.
Newcastle have failed in their pursuit to sign Idrissa Gueye on loan from Paris Saint-Germain, despite holding initial talks.
Gueye has fallen out of favour in Paris in recent months and is free to leave the club as a result.
Newcastle are in search of a midfielder, but are yet to use the January transfer window to strengthen their squad and are running out of time.
L’Equipe initially reported that Newcastle had made contact over a loan move for the 31-year-old, but the Daily Mail have since confirmed that Gueye has turned down the chance to return to the Premier League with Steve Bruce’s side.
The midfielder was signed by then-PSG manager Thomas Tuchel for a reported £29m fee in summer 2019 and has made 16 appearances this season but has featured in limited capacity, having completed just one full game since October.
Gueye is now struggling to find a regular place in the side under the new management of Mauricio Pochettino, with a change of system taking him out of the side.
Pochettino has been in pursuit of Dele Alli since taking the PSG job, with the England midfielder out of favour at Tottenham.
PSG’s pursuit of Alli has since broken down, however, and is now expected to remain in north London beyond the deadline, which could affect any move for Gueye.
Newcastle have also been linked with a loan move for Leicester’s Hamza Choudhury, but any deal could be dependant on whether the Foxes get an attacking midfielder in before the deadline themselves.
The versatile midfielder is expected to leave on loan before the transfer window slams shut and Newcastle have been in contact over a loan move, as have Leicester and Southampton.
Kabak has been one of the shining lights in what has been an otherwise disappointing season for Schalke.
Liverpool are pushing to sign Schalke defender Ozan Kabak, but face a race against time to get the deal over the line before the transfer window closes.
The Reds have sparked into life in the transfer window and are looking to conclude deals for two centre-backs. Preston’s Ben Davies is expected to be one, while Marseille’s Duje Caleta-Car was identified as an option late on Sunday.
However, talks with the French side quickly hit an impasse, with Mohamed Bouhafsi revealing that a deal was now off the table, and sources have confirmed to NoRM‘s known Media that negotiations are now underway over a loan deal for Kabak.
A target during the summer, Liverpool have long admired the 20-year-old, who has also played his way onto the radar of Manchester United.
A report from Sky Sports News adds that Liverpool have already made preparations for Kabak to undergo a medical in Germany, but it could all come down to whether Schalke can find a replacement before the Bundesliga window closes at 17:00 (GMT).
Schalke have identified their preferred target, but there is no guarantee that they will be able to get a deal over the line in time, particularly as they will not be pocketing much money from Liverpool if they do loan out Kabak.
The Reds are keen to pay a loan fee of around £2.5m and pick up the option to sign Kabak permanently in the summer, but Schalke are yet to accept the bid as they are focused on finding an alternative.
They currently sit bottom of the Bundesliga table, having picked up just eight points from 19 games, but their young defender has definitely stood out.
Arteta is yet to be convinced that dropping him into a relegation scrap with a team who play a drastically different style of football will provide that.
West Brom are in talks with Arsenal over a loan deal for Ainsley Maitland-Niles, though the Gunners are yet to decide whether a spell at The Hawthorns would be beneficial for him.
Maitland-Niles has been on the fringes of Mikel Arteta’s squad this season and has racked up a reasonable 21 appearances in all competitions. Just six of those have come from the start though, leading to reports of frustration at his role in the squad.
The 23-year-old is targeting a place in Gareth Southgate’s England squad for this summer’s European Championship and that is not something he is likely to attain unless he is starting regularly.
A source has told NoRM’s known Media that West Brom have made a move to sign him on loan, but they are not the only club looking at him as Southampton and Newcastle are both keen. Sam Allardyce’s men believe, however, they are favourites to land Maitland-Niles because they would be willing to play him in his preferred central midfield role.
The Athletic’s David Ornstein also says that the Baggies are ‘pushing hard’ to bring him in, but Arsenal still believe he could have a role to play in their season and only want to send him out if it will benefit his development.
Ornstein’s report notes that there is interest from an unnamed ‘current top four’ Premier League team, potentially Leicester or West Ham, who were sat in fourth at the time the piece was written.
Arsenal would prefer to send him to one of those sides, but the Hammers can no longer be in the running after securing the services of Manchester United’s Jesse Lingard on loan until the end of the season – a deal that West Brom were also hoping to conclude.
With just days left of the transfer window, then, we may be in for an interesting stand-off – do the Gunners ship him off to the lower reaches of the table, or wait for their preferred option at the risk of no move coming off?
The loan signing of Martin Odegaard from Real Madrid pushed him further down the midfield pecking order, while Hector Bellerin, Cedric Soares and Kieran Tierney are each preferred to fill the full-back positions where Maitland-Niles has proven a capable deputy.
He did start as recently as two weeks ago, however, and it isn’t believed Arteta would be against keeping him around as cover for the second half of the season.
What Arsenal decide may come down to how hard the player pushes for a move. As things stand, he is keen to go out on loan but hasn’t forced the issue – something that may change ahead of Monday’s deadline.
The former FA Cup final winning goalscorer posted a picture of his bags packed late on Thursday, accompanied by a caption confirming his impending arrival in the capital.
Jesse Lingard has completed his loan move from Manchester United to West Ham until the end of the season.
The 28-year-old has been a peripheral figure at Old Trafford throughout 2020/21, and is yet to feature in the Premier League. He’s been restricted to just 179 minutes of action in cup competitions, and last played for United in their FA Cup third round win over Watford at the beginning of the month.
Talk of a loan move away surfaced at the beginning of January, and after weeks of speculation it’s West Ham who have managed to snare Lingard on a temporary deal until the end of the season.
Confirming his arrival on their official website, Lingard told West Ham TV: “I’m excited. It’s another new chapter in my life. Nothing is guaranteed but I’ve come here to work hard and help the team and bring my experience. That’s the main aim. I just want to enjoy my football and get back playing again and get my feet back on the pitch.
“There were lots of clubs involved but, for me personally, I felt this was the right move. I’ve obviously had a previous relationship with the manager as he was at Man U and I’ve played under him before, so he knows my qualities and what I can bring to the team. I know a couple of the players as well – I know Dec [Rice] very well from the England side – and I feel I can really settle in here quickly.”
“It’s important that a player and manager have a good relationship. He’s got really good morals, he gets his team working hard and I’ve had a chat with him already and there are no guarantees – it’s down to me to put the work in and put the graft in, to get into the team and play well week-in, week-out.”
“I can’t wait to show [the West Ham fans] what I’ve got in store. I’m excited and I want to help the team push up the table as far as they can.”
West Ham manager David Moyes, who worked with Lingard during his time at Old Trafford, added: “I’ve seen him play as a young boy, when he was still a wide player on the right, and I’ve seen him play off the left. He’s played for England as a No10, he’s played for England as a No8, and I actually think if we needed him as a False 9, he could do that as well.
“We’re bringing in that versatility, I’ve wanted to try to get an energetic team at the moment and Jesse has been known for his work-rate and effort, so I think he’ll fit in nicely with what we’ve got.
“I hope he brings us a little bit of quality too, and a winning mentality from Manchester United.”
Earlier on Friday, United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hinted that he expects Lingard to return to the club ahead of next season, when he will heading into the final year of his contract.
That is despite West Ham’s best efforts to insert an option or obligation to buy clause into his loan deal.
“‘We want Jesse to come back here revitalised and having shown at West Ham how good a player he is,” Solskjaer told his pre-match press conference ahead of Sunday’s game with Arsenal (via MailOnline Sport). “He’s just been unfortunate with a couple of issues, some periods he had to stay away from us with COVID, isolation and close contact.
‘[The] rest of the team has done well, little to no injuries, not forced his way into the team – [he can] come back and show he’s a Manchester United player through and through.”
Lingard’s move to the London Stadium is an opportunity to get his stalling career back on track, and seems to be an one that he’s relishing if his recent social media posts are anything to go by.
Unfortunately for Font, Laporta soon hit back and insisted that his mind is made up about the situation.
Barcelona presidential candidate Victor Font has claimed that the team should pursue a move for Manchester City centre-back Eric Garcia this month as the defender has supposedly promised to play without a salary until the end of the season.
Garcia’s contract with City will expire at the end of the current campaign and he has made it clear that he will not be signing a new one. He intends to move to Barcelona, but City have always been reluctant to sell, regardless of the financial risk.
The decision on whether to sign Garcia this month was left to the three presidential candidates – Joan Laporta, Toni Freixa and Victor Font – but the trio could not agree on a move and now Garcia seems set to join on a free transfer in the summer.
Font was strongly in favour of landing Garcia, and he recently held a press conference to urge his fellow candidates to reconsider their stances.
“Eric García is ready to make an effort [to leave City this month] and not be paid this season,” Font said (via The Times).
“The movements we have made lead us to understand that the signing of Eric García is possible now, the club can manage it financially. Ronald Koeman and our sporting structure consider his signing fundamental to aspire to win titles this season. So we ask the managing committee to sign Eric this week.
“Why not sign him? If he’s ready to not be paid this season… City will accept €3m plus variables. The impact on the accounts this season would be €230,000 in amortisation. How do we motivate Koeman if the only request he’s made is denied?”
“After seeing the economic situation of the club, I remain in my position. Candidates do not have the power to tell the Management Board things that it cannot do.
“If a player wants to come here, he has to prove it. If he comes for free in June, I don’t know why we have to give money to a club that is our competitor. Now we are talking about amounts that are now different, but ultimately it would be to pay money for a player that in June would be free. We will wait until June and then we will talk.”
Laporta’s determination to avoid paying for Garcia culminated in a strongly worded letter to acting president Carles Tusquets, warning him not make any decisions which could negatively impact the winner of March’s elections, but Catalunya Radio note that Tusquets has hit back.
In his own letter, Tusquets accused Laporta of threatening him no less than five times, and he urged the presidential hopeful to keep his mouth shut until the elections on March 7. Yikes.
Gunners coach Mikel Arteta was also delighted with the transfer, stating that Odegaard will offer ‘quality offensive options’ to his current crop of players.
Arsenal have confirmed the signing of Real Madrid star Martin Odegaard on loan until the end of the season.
The Norwegian midfielder travelled to North London to put the finishing touches on the deal on Sunday, and with the details in place, all that was missing was the official confirmation from the clubs.
Now, the Gunners announced Odegaard’s arrival in video form on their Twitter account, offering pictures of the 22-year-old in their famous red strip for the very first time. The midfielder has taken the number 11 shirt, leaving the number 10, previously worn by Mesut Ozil, open to one of his new teammates.
Odegaard’s signature has softened the blow of the German’s Emirates exit, with fans disappointed in how the former talisman’s career ended in North London. They can now look forward to witnessing Madrid’s playmaker in action, after he struggled to make his mark in their first team under Zinedine Zidane.
The youngster enjoyed a breakout season at Real Sociedad last year, and Los Blancos decided not to allow him to rejoin their rivals on loan for another campaign. Odegaard was expected to become an integral part in the champions’ midfield, but he ended up making only seven La Liga appearances in 2020/21.
That absence from their plans allowed the Gunners to jump in and land themselves an excellent piece of business. Arsenal technical director Edu was full of praise for the club’s new signing, thanking Madrid for their collaboration in allowing the move to come to fruition.
“We are delighted to welcome Martin to the club until the end of the season. I would like to thank everyone at Real Madrid and Martin’s representatives for their collaboration in making this loan move happen.
“Martin is an exceptional talent and we are strengthening our squad by introducing an exciting offensive player to the club for the remaining months of this season.”
“It’s great that we’ve secured Martin to come to us until the end of the season. Martin is of course a player that we all know very well and although still young, he has been playing at the top level for a while.
“Martin will provide us with quality offensive options and we’re all excited to be integrating him into our plans between now and May.”
• Emile Smith Rowe’s career on the line •
For Arsenal, Emile Smith Rowe has undoubtedly been the saviour of the season.
Since his arrival to the Gunners’ Premier League starting lineup, Arsenal have been fantastic domestically.
He has led them to four wins and a draw in the last five games, offering up three assists and transforming their season.
The 20-year-old has given Arsenal the sort of creativity they were hoping to find by spending big in the January transfer market, and he’s turned the Gunners back into a genuine threat.
It’s now understood that he’s due to be rewarded with a bumper new contract, but on top of that, Arsenal are now looking to reward Smith Rowe with an enormous threat to his young club career.
Real Madrid playmaker Martin Odegaard has now sealed a six-month loan switch to the Emirates Stadium, with Arsenal stressing the need to bring someone in to rotate with Smith Rowe and steer them through to the end of the season.
On one hand, that’s absolutely right. Relying so heavily on a 20-year-old with seven Premier League appearances to his name is a recipe for disaster. Arsenal need someone to help shoulder the burden, 100%.
However, that replacement probably shouldn’t be someone who is coming to the Emirates to take most of Smith Rowe’s minutes.
Smith Rowe needs regular game time if he is ever going to blossom into the kind of player Arsenal feel like they can rely on. He doesn’t need to play 38 games and 90 minutes every week, but he needs to be playing more often than not.
Unfortunately, you have to say that same thing about Odegaard as well.
The 22-year-old former wonderkid has found his career at somewhat of a crossroads. Despite an impressive loan spell with Real Sociedad last season, he’s not yet at the level he needs to be to star for Real.
Zinedine Zidane handed Odegaard a grand total of 367 minutes this season – five starts and four substitute appearances – forcing the Norwegian to head out on loan to try and find more minutes.
He’s chosen Arsenal, with manager Mikel Arteta understood to have personally convinced Odegaard to pick the Emirates as the perfect spot for his development. That probably means Arteta has promised him minutes.
Odegaard will rock up to Arsenal expecting to be a regular starter, but the problem is that Smith Rowe currently demands – and deserves – the same. There’s only one No. 10 spot, just ask Mesut Ozil.
For Arteta, there needs to be a delicate balancing of the situation, but there’s a real possibility of nobody winning. If Smith Rowe plays too much, Odegaard doesn’t play enough. If they play 50:50, both will be lacking.
To have two wonderkids fighting for one spot can be a recipe for disaster. We’ve seen plenty of players choose to walk away from their clubs because of a lack of confidence in their development path – Tariq Lamptey leaving Chelsea for Brighton is a recent example.
Chelsea have confirmed the departure of centre-back Fikayo Tomori to AC Milan on loan until the end of the season.
Milan wanted a new centre-back this summer and had initially identified Strasbourg’s Mohamed Simakan as their preferred target, but eventually set their sights on Tomori, who was eager to make the move.
The two clubs began talks midway through January and things progressed fairly quickly, and now Chelsea have confirmed on their official website that they have sent Tomori over to San Siro for the remainder of the season.
As part of the agreement, Milan are understood to have the option to sign the 23-year-old permanently next summer for a fee of around £25m.
Tomori is now expected to compete for minutes with Alessio Romagnoli and Simon Kjaer, who have formed a dominant duo since the latter’s arrival from Sevilla in the summer.
Stefano Pioli’s side currently sit top of the Serie A standings, three points clear of rivals Inter, and the hope is that Tomori will help strengthen their defence and keep them on track for their first league title since 2011.
Tomori will be eager to play football again. He managed just four appearances in all competitions for Chelsea this season, finding himself firmly stuck behind Thiago Silva, Kurt Zouma, Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger in the pecking order at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea boss Frank Lampard recently insisted that he still had a ‘long-term plan’ for the centre-back, but Tomori has seemingly been won over by Milan, where director Paolo Maldini admitted they were waiting to welcome him with open arms.
On top of Haaland, whose value may well approach the £100m mark, Chelsea are also keen on West Ham United’s Declan Rice, who has been valued at £80m in the past.
Chelsea are ready to push to sign Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland this summer and are prepared to break their club transfer record to get the deal done.
Since joining Dortmund back in January 2020, Haaland has continued his rise towards the top of the football mountain. His tally of 35 goals in as many games for the club has seen the 20-year-old attract interest from nearly every top side on the planet.
Manchester United and Manchester City are keen, while Real Madrid are thought to be leading the race for Haaland’s signature, but The Athletic’s Simon Johnson has revealed that Chelsea are hopeful of swooping in and getting a deal done this summer.
Sources confirmed to NoRM in December that Chelsea had registered their interest with Haaland’s representatives, but the Blues had fears that City were putting together a proposal which would take the Norway international to the Etihad instead.
However, Chelsea believe that most of their competition are prepared to hold off on their bids until 2022, when Haaland will have a release clause of around £66m, so they are ready to swoop in this year and pay extra to sign him.
There is an awareness that Dortmund will demand a substantial figure for Haaland, but Chelsea have already decided that they are ready to exceed the £80m they have agreed to pay Bayer Leverkusen for Kai Havertz to get a deal done.
Bringing in a world-class striker is thought to be high on the club’s agenda. Olivier Giroud is expected to leave in the summer and Frank Lampard wants someone else to compete with Tammy Abraham and Timo Werner.
On Werner, this pursuit of Haaland is no reflection of the German’s struggles in front of goal. Chelsea don’t see Haaland as a replacement for him, but rather a player who can compliment his skill set and bring out the best in him.
It is understood that the Blues are already planning for yet another eye-watering summer spending spree.
Club owner Roman Abramovich will have to dig deep into his pockets if he wants to make these deals happen, but Chelsea will definitely have to offload some of their fringe players for these plans to become reality.
While building up another £200m war chest is unlikely, Chelsea can raise a significant amount of money if they can find buyers for the likes of Marcos Alonso, Emerson, Kepa Arrizabalaga, Antonio Rudiger and Jorginho, all of whom are facing uncertain futures at the club.
Only Font was supportive of Tusquets’ proposal to sign Garcia for a total of £7m, with both Laporta and Freixa turning their noses up at the idea.
Barcelona will not move for Manchester City centre-back Eric Garcia in January after the club’s three presidential candidates failed to agree on pursuing the deal.
Garcia is one of Barça’s top targets and the club are prepared to wait until the summer to sign him on a free transfer once his contract expires, but club officials would like to bring him in a little sooner to help out immediately.
The problem for Barcelona is that all transfer business will be left to the new president, who was initially expected to be decided in elections on January 24. These elections have now been delayed, meaning there will be no permanent president before the closure of the winter transfer window.
According to Marca, acting chief Carles Tusquets met with the three candidates, Victor Font, Joan Laporta and Toni Freixa, to see whether all three would be happy for him to pull the trigger on Garcia now, but the responses did not match up.
It’s not clear whether they would prefer to wait and sign him for free or whether they are simply against the idea of landing Garcia altogether.
Because the trio could not agree, Tusquets will not be pursuing the defender, and Barcelona are now not expected to make any signings before the delayed elections can be held on March 7.
Manager Ronald Koeman has previously confessed his desire to see the club sign a new striker this month, but said on Saturday: “If it’s not possible to sign players, it’s not possible. We’ll carry on with what we have.”
It’s thought that Barcelona don’t have enough money in the bank to make any real splashes this month, so club officials will instead wait until the summer to pursue their primary targets.
Alongside Garcia, decisions will have to be made about Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum and Lyon forward Memphis Depay, both of whom will also be available on free transfers unless they can agree new deals at their current clubs.
Koeman is keen to bring in all three players and would ideally like them as soon as possible, but he’s going to have to stay patient.
The highest-paid player in club history has not turned out for Mikel Arteta’s side since March 2020, with the club’s official line always being that the German is dealing with a back injury.
Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil has confirmed that he is soon set to travel to Turkey to seal a move to Fenerbahce.
The Gunners have reached an agreement to terminate Ozil’s contract six months earlier than scheduled, with Mikel Arteta keen to offload the exiled midfielder and his enormous wage packet.
A move to Fenerbahce has long been seen as the most likely route away from the Emirates Stadium for Ozil, who has been flirting with the Turkish side on Twitter ever since news of his imminent move away from Arsenal came to light, and he has now confirmed the move on Turkish TV.
“I am so happy,” he told NTV. “I’m a Fenerbahce fan. God wanted me to play football in Fenerbahce. I’m proud.
“I am coming tonight with my family to Istanbul, thank God who gave me the opportunity to represent this club. I will wear the shirt with pride.”
Ozil is due in Istanbul shortly after midnight on Monday morning, when he will travel to Fenerbahce for a medical and put pen to paper on a contract which has already been agreed in principle with the German’s represenatives.
Earlier on Sunday, Ozil took to Twitter to post the number ’67’, which is believed to be a reference to the shirt number he has chosen. According to Fanatik, he has gone with 67 because that is the beginning of the postcode of his hometown of Zonguldak.
It now seems like just a matter of time before Ozil’s turbulent spell with Arsenal comes to a close.
Ozil is now set to leave the Emirates with a total of 254 appearances for Arsenal under his belt, in which he bagged 44 goals and 77 assists to earn himself a reputation as one of the Premier League’s most mesmeric creators.
Concerns about Ozil’s work rate have dominated headlines for months and have only been amplified by his high wages, but Arsenal now appear set to confirm his departure and bring an end to all the off-field drama.
Despite this small blot on his record, Locatelli’s passing has come on leaps and bounds this season and a few years of Guardiola’s tutelage should be enough to get him up to scratch.
After nearly a decade of effortless success, Fernandinho’s Manchester City career is finally drawing to a close.
His contract is set to expire at the end of the campaign and even if he does pen fresh terms, one more season is likely all that City can ask of the 35-year-old.
Despite his declining involvement, he remains an important member of Pep Guardiola’s squad. His absence in midfield last season was harshly felt and it was telling that he recently started in the Manchester derby.
Replacing Fernandinho is not going to be an easy task. City have already tried it once, bringing in Rodri for over £60m two summers ago, but with the Spaniard looking increasingly like a different sort of player, they may be tempted to dip into the market once again.
Recent reports suggest that they are interested in Sassuolo’s Manuel Locatelli. Aged just 23, he has already been capped multiple times for Italy – but is he really what the Citizens are looking for? NoRM analysed all the relevant stats to find out.
At his peak during the 2017/2018 season, Fernandinho was unquestionably the best defensive midfielder in the world.
Operating as City’s deepest midfielder in their famous 4-3-3, he balanced the roles of playmaker, destructive ball winner and anchor man to devastating effect.
If City want to return to their peak, discovering a player capable of doing all of this is necessary. Therefore, we are looking for a midfielder who can not only excel defensively but also possesses significant playmaking ability and positional discipline.
Does Locatelli fit the bill? Let’s take a look…
Following in a rich tradition of Italian deep lying playmakers before him, Locatelli’s is a terrific passer of the ball.
Capable of breaking the lines with short and long passes, his playmaking ability has particularly stood out this season. During the 2019/2020 campaign, he averaged a progressive passing distance of 296.7 yards per 90 minutes, ranking him 155th in Serie A.
This term, his numbers have spiked dramatically. After 17 league games this season, he was averaging over 400 yards per 90, a figure eerily close to what Fernandinho posted during City’s Centurions campaign.
Locatelli makes 50+ yards switches to Sassuolo’s wide men look ludicrously easy and his ability to drill hard, low passes through the opponent’s midfield is also worth a mention. While he prefers to pluck away in deep positions, he is often involved in the final stages of the attack as well, racking up well over two shot creating actions per 90 after 17 league matches this season.
Of course, while Guardiola has somewhat surrendered his obsession for possession this season, playing in midfield for one of he teams will not always consist of Hollywood passes. In order to move the opposition out of shape, the Citizens’ deepest midfielder is often used as a bounce board for recycling possession.
This is an area that Locatelli may require some refinement in. Last season, he successfully received 95.5% of his passes. An impressive stat – until you realise Fernandinho has averaged closer to 98% when playing in midfield during his recent career. It may seem like a marginal difference but being sloppy in possession can have significant knock-on effects for a team like City.
Few players are capable of making defending look as sexy as Locatelli. His sliding tackles, in which he contorts his legs at near impossible angles, are a highlight, though his reading of the game is equally impressive.
After his first 16 Serie A games this season, he was leading the way for tackles + interceptions, registering 71 in total.
Even more impressive, especially for a centre-midfielder, is that he tackled 50% of the dribblers that unwisely choose to take him on during this period. Locatelli also featured in the top ten for blocks at the end of gameweek 17.
Like with his progressive passing stats, his defending has dramatically improved this season, providing further evidence of his exciting potential.
If he comes close to matching the same level of performance for the rest of the campaign, Locatelli will not only match Fernadinho’s 2017/2018 numbers, he will easily surpass them.
The only area in which there might be a few question marks is his defensive discipline. At times Locatelli plays like, well, a 23-year-old out to prove himself, storming into advanced positions to try and inspire his team to victory.
The fact that he is far better than the majority of his teammates partly explains this, however, to fill Fernandinho’s shoes he will need to be develop increased defensive discipline.
What else can Locatelli bring Manchester City? Manuel Locatelli.
While it may not suit him well to an anchor man role, one of Locatelli’s other strengths is driving forward using his pace and strength.
Not only is he strong physically, he also possesses a wide array of flicks and feints, as well as lightning fast feet, which allows him to evade opposition midfielders in close quarters. This box of tricks makes him a real handful for the opposition and it little surprise that only three out-and-out midfielders had carried the ball for more yards progressive yards than him after 17 Serie A games.
He has also displayed an appetite for an eye-catching goal during his career so far, most notably when he fired an unstoppable effort past Gianluigi Buffon aged just 18.
These two traits suggest that, as well as being well primed to step into the void left by Fernandinho, Locatelli may also excel in a more advanced role at the Etihad Stadium. This makes snapping him for a reported £30m a complete no brainer for Guardiola’s side.
The player himself has signed a three-year deal in Germany until 2024.
Manchester United defender Timothy Fosu-Mensah has completed his transfer to Bayer Leverkusen after passing a routine medical with the Bundesliga side.
The move brings Fosu-Mensah’s time as a United player to an end after nearly seven years, having first joined the club’s academy from Ajax at the age of 16. He played 30 times for the first-team and had loan spells at Crystal Palace and Fulham, the latter of which was wrecked by injury.
Fosu-Mensah recently rejected a new contract at Old Trafford, ensuring he would have become a free agent and been released in the summer.
Instead, United have opted to sell him this month and will pocket a £1.5m fee that has been agreed with Leverkusen.
In a club statement, Manchester United said: “Manchester United defender Tim Fosu-Mensah has completed a permanent move to Bayer Leverkusen for an undisclosed fee.
“The 23-year-old will embark on a fresh chapter of his career in the Bundesliga after agreeing terms and passing his medical with the team currently sitting in third place in the German top flight.
“In total, the versatile defender made 30 appearances for United, and everybody at the club would like to wish him the very best of luck with his future career.”
After recovering from the knee injury he suffered on loan at Fulham, Fosu-Mensah made his first United appearance in more than three years when he started against previous loan club Palace in the Premier League during ‘Project Restart’.
He played in each of the final three league games of the season, was utilised in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley and twice during the delayed conclusion to the Europa League campaign.
Fosu-Mensah even started United’s Premier League opener this season in place of Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who was unavailable following a summer trip to Dubai, but his only further appearances since then have been as a substitute in two Champions League defeats.
United are generally keen to continue stripping deadwood from the squad. Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer confirmed last week that the club expects Sergio Romero and Marcos Rojo to each find a new team, while Phil Jones and Jesse Lingard also remain linked with moves away.