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Barcelona eye Matthijs de Ligt, Aymeric Laporte or Andreas Christensen in rebuild


The January transfer window is almost upon us and, naturally, all the gossip on who’s moving where is heating up. Transfer Talk brings you all the latest buzz as we count down to the 2022 winter window.

TOP STORY: Barcelona eye De Ligt, Laporte or Christensen in rebuild

Barcelona have been linked with a number of defenders as the club continues its rebuild under new boss Xavi Hernandez.

The Blaugrana recently signed forward Ferran Torres for €55 million from Manchester City as their second signing under the Spaniard, joining veteran right-back Dani Alves who came on a free transfer in November. Next port of call appears to be a defensive change, with three high profile defenders linked to Camp Nou.

The Sun reports that Barcelona are hoping to land Manchester City centre-back Aymeric Laporte next summer following a cash injection that would help their ongoing financial troubles amid debts of €1.4 billion.

Spanish outlet Sport claims that another Premier League centre-back could make the switch to LaLiga in the form of Andreas Christensen. The Denmark international is out of contract at Chelsea in the summer and is reportedly “not interested” in staying at Stamford Bridge, instead eyeing a move to Barcelona.

Finally, Gazzetta dello Sport says that Xavi is hoping to make a move for Juventus defender Matthijs de Ligt. The 22-year-old has been heavily linked with a move away from the Old Lady in recent weeks, with agent Mino Raiola publicly discussing a transfer. Despite his €125m release clause, Barca are said to not be deterred from the Netherlands international and a potential move in the summer.

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12.16 GMT: Real Madrid want to sign two of the best young players in the world, but how can they do it?

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Gab Marcotti explains how Real Madrid have the finances for two huge transfers in the summer.

11.22 GMT: Liverpool are eyeing some midfield reinforcements and could move for AC Milan’s Franck Kessie, says Ansa.

Kessie, 25, has a contract which expires this summer and every top club in Europe is keeping an eye on him.

The Ivory Coast international looks likely to leave Milan and Liverpool are making sure they are at the front of the queue as they seek to replace Georginio Wijnaldum.

10.45 GMT: Lille defender Sven Botman is on the radar of Newcastle this January, says The Daily Mail.

Botman, 21, is one of the best young centre-backs in Europe and helped Lille win Ligue 1 last season. The Netherlands international is valued at around €35m, with Newcastle’s new Saudi-backed owners looking to make a statement in order to keep the club from relegation.

10.24 GMT: Thomas Tuchel fears Romelu Lukaku‘s controversial interview could destabilise Chelsea’s season after admitting his surprise over the striker’s claim he is unhappy at the club.

In a conversation with Sky Sport Italia recorded three weeks ago but released on Thursday, Lukaku suggested he was “not happy” because “the coach has chosen to play with another system.”

The 28-year-old joined the Blues from Inter Milan in a €115m deal last summer and went on to suggest he wanted to return to the Serie A side, “not at the end of my career, but at a still good level to hopefully win more.”

Although Lukaku has scored three goals in his last four games to represent an upturn in his personal form, the Belgium international’s comments represent another difficult situation for Tuchel as a patchy run of form has left them eight points behind leaders Manchester City before facing Liverpool at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

Speaking on Friday at a news conference ahead of that game, Tuchel said of Lukaku’s comments: “We don’t like it, of course because it brings noise that we don’t need and it is not helpful. But on the other side we don’t want to make more of it than it actually is. You know very well how it is. It is very easy to take lines out of context. It is very easy to shorten lines, make headlines and then later realise that it’s maybe not so bad and not what he meant.

“Let’s be honest, I don’t like it because it is noise that we don’t need. We need a calm environment and focus and this does not help. If it is an interview from a person of that kind of interest, that important player. I totally understand the process.

“That’s why it is a lot of noise, not a little bit, a lot of extra noise. But still, we are not here to just read the headlines and maybe we can take the time to try to understand what’s going on because it does not reflect the daily work, it does not reflect the daily attitude, it does not reflect the daily behaviour that Romelu shows here at Cobham. You need to ask him, not me, I cannot help you further with this because I was surprised.”

10.07 GMT: Barcelona have made Alvaro Morata their top target for January following the signing of Ferran Torres for €55m, sources have confirmed to ESPN’s Sam Marsden and Moises Llorens.

Morata, 29, is on loan at Juventus from Atletico Madrid, but sources said he is ready to cut his stay in Italy short with Barcelona head coach Xavi Hernandez pushing for his signing.

Barca have held initial discussions with all parties involved over a loan deal with an option to make the move permanent in the summer. However, the Catalan club’s financial situation is complicating any potential deal as they are restricted by LaLiga’s €97m spending limit. Until they are within that limit — which will not happen this season — they are only permitted to spend 25% of what they recoup in transfer fees or save on wage reductions.

After completing the signing of Torres from Manchester City earlier this week, Barca still need to lighten their squad before being able to register him and any other new signings.

The loans of Yusuf Demir and Luuk de Jong are set to be cut short, while the club remain open to offers for Philippe Coutinho and Samuel Umtiti. Sources have told ESPN Barcelona will also listen to interest for United States international Sergino Dest.

09.35 GMT: Lille have confirmed that forward Jonathan Ikone will join Serie A side Fiorentina in January.

Ikone, 23, scored seven goals in 48 games last season for the Ligue 1 champions and moves for a fee of €14m plus €1m add-ons.

09.27 GMT: Mikel Arteta has a shortlist of strikers to replace Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang at Arsenal with Alexander Isak, Dusan Vlahovic, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Ollie Watkins among his targets, sources told ESPN’s James Olley.

Aubameyang’s future at Arsenal has been thrown into considerable doubt over disciplinary issues and Arteta is willing to listen to offers for him in January.

Arteta and Arsenal’s recruitment team are planning for life without Aubameyang and have a range of options that they are considering. Among them is Watkins, who joined Villa for £27.7m from Brentford last summer and has scored 18 league goals in 51 appearances for the club.

Sources said Arteta is a fan of Watkins’ playing style and his ability to play in a number of different roles in attack. There has been no direct contact between Arsenal and Aston Villa over Watkins and sources said a switch in January would be highly unlikely, but the 25-year-old will be monitored ahead of a summer move.

Real Sociedad’s Isak, Fiorentina’s Vlahovic and Everton’s Calvert-Lewin are also options in the event Aubameyang moves on although sources said Arsenal are aware of how expensive a replacement may turn out to be and that other options are being considered.

09.00 GMT: Real Madrid are attempting to sign Erling Haaland as well as Kylian Mbappe next summer in an attempt to take advantage of the financial problems at Barcelona by landing the two most sought-after players in world football, sources told ESPN’s Mark Ogden.

Real failed with a €200m move for Paris Saint-Germain forward Mbappe during the summer transfer window, but the France international is expected to move to the Bernabeu as a free agent when his PSG contract expires at the end of this season.

And although they face competition from Manchester City, Manchester United and PSG for Borussia Dortmund forward Haaland, Real believe they can structure a deal to take the 21-year-old Norwegian to Madrid.

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Gabriele Marcotti breaks down why Romelu Lukaku isn’t fond of the system being played at Chelsea and how he’s going about finding a new club moving forward.

PAPER GOSSIP (By Luke Thrower)

– Chelsea are eyeing three potential central defenders for the future, reports Calciomercato. The Blues could see Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen, Cesar Azpilicueta and Thiago Silva all leave at the end of the season unless they all sign new contracts. As a result, Thomas Tuchel is said to be eyeing potential replacements, with VfL Wolfsburg‘s Maxence Lacroix, Sevilla‘s Jules Kounde and Fenerbahçe‘s Attila Szalai all linked.

Internazionale and Bayern Munich are interested in a move for Borussia Monchengladbach defender Matthias Ginter, says Fabrizio Romano. The 27-year-old’s deal at Gladbach expires at the end of the season and he has already announced he will leave the club when it runs out. The Nerazzurri are said to be pushing hard for a deal with talks ongoing, while Bayern are interested but see it as a lower priority move.

West Ham United are set to hold talks with Fulham over a move for defender Tosin Adarabioyo, according to journalist Ekrem Konur. The Hammers have been linked with a number of defenders, having lost Kurt Zouma and Angelo Ogbonna for the rest of the season. Adarabioyo, 24, is a regular starter for Fulham and has had Premier League experience at the club.

Julian Alvarez is hoping to make the switch to Manchester United, reports journalist Ekrem Konur. The 21-year-old River Plate man has impressed with 18 goals and seven assists in 21 league appearances. The reporter claims that the player’s agent is currently visiting England to hold talks with the club over a potential move.





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