The 2022 January transfer window is closed, but there’s still plenty of gossip swirling about who’s moving where. Transfer Talk brings you all the latest buzz on rumours, comings and goings and, of course, done deals!
TOP STORY: Barcelona want Dembele to stay at Camp Nou
Barcelona are considering a U-turn over the future of Ousmane Dembele, amid an uptick in form from the winger since the winter break.
Dembele, 24, was at the centre of prolonged transfer saga in January and was frozen out of the first-team after refusing to sign a new contract before Xavi took over as coach. His current deal ends in the summer and there has been no agreement over new terms, despite multiple attempts, as his agents have stuck to their demands of €20m net in salary and a signing bonus.
Despite president Joan Laporta’s assertion that he should have left in January, Foot Mercato are reporting that the Catalan club are now keen on keeping the France international as he has nine assists from 12 LaLiga games since being brought back into the team.
If Dembele does opt to leave the Blaugrana, the Frenchman certainly won’t be short of options when it comes to his next destination, with the report stating he has a verbal agreement with Paris Saint-Germain. However, if a move to PSG does not materialise, there is also plenty of interest from the Premier League — with Newcastle United, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur all looking at him.
There is still a chance that Dembele stays at Barcelona as he has never openly declared a desire to leave, but that would require both parties to agree terms on a new contract before the summer.
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22.00 GMT: Sky Sports reports that Juventus have firmed up their interest in Chelsea centre-back Antonio Rudiger, whose contract runs out this summer. Two unnamed Premier League clubs are also interested in the Germany international, and Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain are said to be in discussions with the defender’s representatives.
21.27 GMT: West Ham United are demanding a British-record transfer fee of £150m in order to sanction the departure of midfielder Declan Rice, reports the Mail. The Hammers have so far been unable to persuade the England international to extend his contract past 2024 and have privately accepted that they will need to let him leave in the summer with Chelsea and Manchester United having been linked.
20.54 GMT: Speaking at Palermo Football Conference, Jorginho‘s agent Joao Santos hinted that the Chelsea midfielder could make a return to Italy in the future, though he added that this will not be possible at the moment due to the west London club’s situation. As quoted by Gazzetta dello Sport, Santos said: “Can he return to Italy? For him, playing in Serie A is a dream. His heart is here. Today he can play in four or five teams: AC Milan, Internazionale, Juventus, AS Roma or Napoli.”
20.21 GMT: Leeds United are hoping to sign Anderlecht left-back Sergio Gomez, but could face competition from the likes of Real Madrid, Chelsea, Lyon, Atalanta and Ajax Amsterdam, reports TEAMtalk. Junior Firpo has struggled since joining Leeds from Barcelona in the summer, while Gomez has recorded an impressive five goals and 11 assists in the Jupiler Pro League this term.
19.48 GMT: Manchester City, Chelsea, Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur are all watching Tyrick Mitchell, according to the Sun, with the Crystal Palace left-back having received his first England call-up.
19.15 GMT: Tottenham Hotspur and Napoli are interested in a move for Rubin Kazan winger Khvicha Kvaratskhelia that would include a transfer fee of around €15m, reports Calciomercato, which adds that the Georgia international prefers a move to Serie A.
18.42 GMT: Newcastle United are willing to take a loss on former Atlanta United FC talisman Miguel Almiron, reports Football Insider, who suggest that £15m could be enough to sign the Paraguayan. This comes with the Magpies aiming to free up funds and wages for future signings after showing their spending power in the January window.
18.09 GMT: Nicolo Schira reports that Napoli and Sassuolo are both monitoring Feyenoord winger Luis Sinisterra. The Colombian has impressed this term, providing 18 goals and 11 assists in 38 matches across all competitions. That tally includes eight goals across the Europa Conference League and its qualifiers, a figure only exceeded by Arthur Cabral.
17.36 GMT: West Ham United, Tottenham Hotspur and FC Porto have sent scouts to watch Santos centre-back Leonardo Zabala, reports Ekrem Konur. The 18-year-old Bolivian is yet to play for Santos’ first team but has already represented his nation at senior level, coming off the bench in a World Cup qualifying loss against Brazil.
17.03 GMT: Twenty-nine-year-old midfielder Marcelo Brozovic has signed a new contract to stay at Inter Milan until 2026, the club have announced. The Croatia international initially joined Inter from Dinamo Zagreb in 2016 and his contract was due to end in the summer.
16.30 GMT: Is Erik ten Hag the right manager for Man United?
Mark Ogden reacts to Manchester United’s decision to interview Ajax manager Erik ten Hag.
15.25 GMT: Bayern Munich defender Dayot Upamecano is back on the radar of Real Madrid, according to Le10 Sport.
Upamecano, 23, left RB Leipzig to join Bayern for €42.5m last summer but has been inconsistent for his new club.
The France international had interest from every top club in Europe before he moved, with Real Madrid one of those keen. And now Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti wants more options at the back.
However, Bild reports that Bayern aren’t considering letting him leave just yet.
14.44 GMT: Cesar Azpilicueta has said “it’s not the time or the place to talk about my future” amid reports linking the Chelsea captain with a summer move to Barcelona.
Azpilicueta is out of contract at Stamford Bridge this summer — after a successful decade spent at the Premier League club — and ESPN has reported that Barca are keen to sign the 32-year-old at the request of coach Xavi.
Chelsea have a contractual option to unilaterally extend the defender’s deal, but the situation has been muddied by the sanctions imposed on the club’s current owner Roman Abramovich by the U.K. Government.
“It isn’t the time or the place to talk about my future. If there’s one thing we’ve learnt in recent months, it’s that you have to live day to day and enjoy the moment,” Azpilicueta said in a news conference with Spain on Wednesday. “We’re in a moment of uncertainty at Chelsea. As players we can train and prepare our best for games. Since the sale of the club was announced we’ve shown that we can get good results. It’s out of our hands.”
14.21 GMT: Former Real Madrid manager Bernd Schuster has told ESPN that PSG forward Lionel Messi shouldn’t return to Barcelona as he could struggle to replicate his best form at Camp Nou now that he is 34-years-old.
“I don’t think as a footballer [Messi should go back to Barca] because he was so great there and everyone is going to remember him like that forever,” Schuster, who played for both Barcelona and Real Madrid during his career in the 1980s, said. “What hurts me, and I also experienced this, is when we get older and can no longer provide that show that we provided for so many years, people forget to quickly.
“It hurts when you then see Messi whistled or called things. That hurts me a lot. I would like to avoid those conflicts with a fanbase that has experienced so much glory [with Messi]. I don’t think so, I wouldn’t do it. I would look for motivation in other places. He still has a couple of good years. I don’t like Paris for him. I don’t like the team there for Leo.”
13.35 GMT: Juventus are looking at Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah as a perfect replacement for Paulo Dybala, claims Gazzetta dello Sport.
Salah, 29, is out of contract in 2023 and has yet to agree new terms. Meanwhile, Juve have revealed that Dybala won’t be putting pen to paper on a new deal and will depart for free in the summer.
However, as one of the best players in the world, the Egypt international would still command a fee upwards of the €70m that Juve paid Fiorentina to sign striker Dusan Vlahovic in January.
13.16 GMT: Arsenal defender William Saliba was asked about his future by RMC at the France training camp.
Saliba, 20, has impressed on loan at Marseille, enough to land a first call-up to the senior national team. But after signing for the Gunners for €30m from Saint-Etienne in 2019, he has never played for the club and spent time out on loan with Saint-Etienne and Nice before moving to Marseille last summer.
“I’ve never hidden that I feel good here [at Marseille],” he said. “I don’t know my future, there’s two months left, the most important is to qualify for the Champions League and to go as far as possible in the Conference League.
“I think there will be talks afterwards, end of May, beginning of June, with Arsenal and Marseille. We’ll decide at that point, but what’s certain is that continuing here wouldn’t be a bad idea. Quite the contrary. I know the city, my teammates, my manager, but that doesn’t only depend on me.”
12.58 GMT: Benfica striker Darwin Nunez is on the radar of Arsenal, according to The Express.
Nunez, 22, has 26 goals in 33 games this season and is rated as one of the top young strikers in Europe.
The Uruguay international has seen interest from Newcastle, West Ham and Man United, but Benfica value his services at around €80m which may prevent the Gunners from making a move.
12.00 GMT: Here are the Chelsea ownership front-runners and how they run their American sports teams.
The deadline has passed, and the bids are in. Following an extraordinary month in the history of Chelsea football club, the next owner of Chelsea, succeeding Roman Abramovich, is attached to an offer sitting in the Raine Group’s midtown Manhattan offices. (The Raine Group, the New York merchant bank hired by Abramovich to find a buyer, might be holding those offers at the financial advisory firm’s London location in Mayfair instead.)
Raine received more than 300 expressions of interest to buy Chelsea. By the time Friday’s cut-off for offers passed, sources have suggested that somewhere between 20 and 30 parties formalized that interest by tabling a bid, with several of the most credible offers proposed by U.S. sports owners or consortiums.
Everyone involved with this process has a vested interest in seeing it completed as soon as possible given the circumstances of the sale: Abramovich has been sanctioned by the U.K government and although Chelsea have a licence to continuing paying wages and fulfilling fixtures until the club is sold, their day-to-day operations have been severely affected.
Sources have indicated that Raine Group are expected to identify two or three preferred bids to be put forward to the next stage. Those shortlisted will then be examined by senior figures at Chelsea — excluding Abramovich — to select a winner, with the government’s Departure of Culture, Media and Sport retaining final sign-off on confirming the club’s new owner.
Nothing is certain in a transaction of this size — the sale will still be the biggest in Premier League history even though Abramovich is unlikely to achieve his £3 billion asking price — but there are four consortiums generating the most buzz, headed by these names: Todd Boehly, the Ricketts family, Woody Johnson (he’s acting alone and has not publicly confirmed his bid) and Sir Martin Broughton.
Apart from being exceedingly wealthy, there is one thing each of these ownership groups has in common: experience owning American teams. So, in an effort to illustrate what Chelsea fans could potentially expect, we’ve spoken to our sources across America to detail how all of these investors run their teams, from Hollywood to the Big Apple.
11.22 GMT: Leeds winger Raphinha has rejected a new contract extension to double his salary, amid interest from Barcelona, according to UOL.
Raphinha, 25, has a release clause of €70m in his current deal, which expires in 2024. But the Brazil international reportedly wants the clause removed if he is to pen new terms.
Barcelona have been linked with a move for the winger as speculation over Ousmane Dembele‘s future continues. Though they would still have to pay a hefty transfer fee to land Raphinha this summer and are more focused on Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland.
10.45 GMT: Are Barcelona better off without Lionel Messi in the side?
Alejandro Moreno explains why Messi leaving Barcelona has been the springboard for young talent to grow at Camp Nou.
10.10 GMT: There’s an “open door” at Real Madrid for Gareth Bale and Eden Hazard to leave the club, Diario AS reports, after both big-name forwards played extremely limited roles this season.
Neither player was involved for a single minute of Madrid’s 4-0 Clasico defeat to Barcelona at the weekend, or their 3-1 comeback against Paris Saint-Germain earlier this month.
Bale, 32, is out of contract in June along with Marcelo, 33, and Isco, 29. All three will be leaving the Bernabeu, with Madrid set to save around €60m a year in salaries.
Hazard, 31, has a contract until 2024 and may prove harder to move on — while defender Jesus Vallejo, midfielder Dani Ceballos and forwards Luka Jovic and Mariano Diaz are also set to depart, in what AS describes as “an appointment with a cosmetic surgeon” for the squad’s “biggest facelift in years.”
09.46 GMT: Atletico Madrid are keeping an eye on Levante midfielder Jose Campana, according to Diario AS, with a clause in the player’s contract set to allow him to leave on loan this summer if his current club are relegated.
Levante are bottom of the LaLiga table with 19 points from 29 games played, eight points from safety.
Atletico were keen on Campana, 28, in the summer of 2020 as a replacement for Arsenal-bound Thomas Partey, but Levante’s demands for a €30m fee scuppered any chance of a deal.
Atletico boss Diego Simeone remains a fan, and Campana could now move for free on an initial loan, with his Levante contract up in 2023.
09.30 GMT: Manchester United plan to speak to “multiple candidates” for the role of manager at Old Trafford, sources have told ESPN’s Mark Ogden, after interviewing Ajax head coach Erik ten Hag earlier this week.
Paris Saint-Germain’s Mauricio Pochettino, Spain coach Luis Enrique and Sevilla’s Julen Lopetegui are also on the club’s shortlist to replace Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who was fired in November.
Exploratory, informal talks have already taken place with a number of potential candidates to assess their interest in the post, with sources saying that associates of Pochettino have been in contact with United.
ESPN reported on March 18 that United would use this international break to accelerate their process of identifying a new manager, with club owners the Glazer family and chief executive Richard Arnold keen to finalise an appointment before the end of the season.
Ten Hag, who was interviewed by Tottenham as a possible replacement for Jose Mourinho last summer, is believed to be the first to have been formally interviewed by the United hierarchy.
09.17 GMT: AC Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic says he feels a sense of “panic” at the prospect of retiring from football.
Ibrahimovic, 40, is in talks to remain at San Siro for a further year and has eight goals in 18 Serie A games this season. He is currently on international duty with Sweden, but is suspended for the World Cup playoff semifinal against the Czech Republic on Thursday, and was asked about hanging up his boots.
“I do feel a slight sense of panic at the prospect of retirement,” he told Ansa. “I will certainly keep playing for as long as possible, as long as I can get results and I’m not suffering. I want to end my career without regrets, so I have to maximise my time.”
Asked what he plans to do once he retires, he said: “I don’t know, we’ll see when the day comes. I could start straight from when I retire, or take a break, or disappear completely.
“I know the adrenaline I feel now will never be the same. We are programmed to wake up, go to training, return home and rest. This goes on for 20-25 years, but one day I will wake up and have nothing planned, and that will be a strange feeling.”
Asked if he will be sad to end his career, he said: “I think the greatest sadness will be yours, as you won’t get to watch me play anymore. You should enjoy it now, because you’ll never see the likes of me again.”
08.43 GMT: LaLiga strugglers Mallorca are expected to appoint Javier Aguirre as their new coach after sacking Luis Garcia Plaza following a poor run of results.
Under Garcia, Mallorca lost 10 of their last 12 games and are in the relegation zone, one point adrift from safety.
Aguirre, 63, has been out of a job since being dismissed by Mexican club Rayados de Monterrey on Feb. 26. He will sign a contract with the Balearic Island club until the remainder of the season, with an option to extend it for a further season, and is set to arrive in Mallorca on Thursday.
The veteran Mexican boss has experience of coaching in LaLiga, having been in charge of Atletico Madrid, Real Zaragoza, Espanyol and Leganes.
08.00 GMT: Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba says he doesn’t know his role at the club, in comparison to how he fits in with his national side.
Pogba, 28, is out of contract in the summer and looks set to leave for a new challenge, with Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus and PSG keen on signing him. Ahead of France’s friendly with Ivory Coast on Friday, Pogba was asked whether he plays better for Les Bleus than his club side in an interview with Le Figaro and didn’t sugarcoat his answer.
“First, I agree with this statement. It’s the truth. Here [with France], I have a lot more playing time, the system is different than with my club,” he said. “In fact, it is simple, with Les Bleus, I play, and, on top of that, in my position. I know my role, I feel the confidence of the coach, the players. It is normal, to feel this difference with Manchester, because it is difficult to be consistent when you change position often, also the playing style or who you are playing with.”
France coach Didier Deschamps has given him more freedom and Pogba added that he is much happier knowing how he is expected to play.
“It is not just that,” he said. “I get on very well with the manager [Deschamps], he’s given me a role that I know, but, at Manchester United, do I really have a role? I ask myself this question and I do not have an answer.”
Gab and Juls discuss reports linking AC Milan’s Franck Kessie to Barcelona.
PAPER GOSSIP (by Danny Lewis)
– Fabrizio Romano is reporting that AC Milan’s Franck Kessie has signed a pre-contract agreement to join Barcelona until June 2026. The midfielder’s current deal ends in the summer, when he will move to Camp Nou for free and earn a net €6.5m-per-season plus add-ons.
– Should AC Milan lose Kessie, Calciomercato has outlined some possible incomings the San Siro side can get excited about. Lille centre-back Sven Botman would reportedly prefer to join AC Milan than Newcastle United in a possible transfer worth €30m plus add-ons. Meanwhile, Botman’s teammate Renato Sanches is seen as Kessie’s replacement, even if the Portuguese midfielder is still keeping his options open. Liverpool striker Divock Origi is another player on AC Milan’s wishlist.
– Foot Mercato have stated that Paulo Dybala has enquired about a move to Paris Saint-Germain, as he looks set to leave Juventus on a free transfer in the summer. The Argentina striker has already taken steps to start negotiations with Les Parisiens, though Leonardo’s precarious position as PSG sporting director may cause issues.
– AS Roma are interested in signing Anderson Talisca for around €12m, though the Brazilian may have to reduce his salary of €6.5m-per-season if a move is to materialise, reports Calciomercato. The attacking midfielder has played for Chinese side Guangzhou Evergrande and now Saudi Arabian outfit Al-Nassr but is hoping to return to Europe, where he has formerly represented Benfica and Besiktas.
– Leeds United have offered Kalvin Phillips a contract extension and are confident that the academy graduate will stay, reports The Times. The England international has attracted interest from the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool, West Ham United and Aston Villa, but Leeds will be desperate for the midfielder to stay at Elland Road. His current contract runs until 2024.