David McGeady

David McGeady

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Barcelona’s January transfer plans revealed: Mina in, Mascherano out & Coutinho chase back on

With 2017 drawing to an end, Barcelona are already looking to the New Year. Ernesto Valverde’s side are unbeaten since the Spanish Supercopa and lead La Liga after a remarkable run on the pitch. But now they hope the right transfers in January can make them even stronger for the second half of the season.

The winter window opens on January 1 and Barca mean business, especially given that their activity in the summer was not entirely satisfactory.

Ousmane Dembele was brought in back then after Neymar’s shock exit, but the France winger has missed most of the season so far after picking up an injury. Nevertheless, Barca have coped thanks to Valverde’s astute coaching and the fine form of several stars – notably Lionel Messi, Samuel Umtiti and Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Umtiti is currently out injured, however, and over a long season, Barcelona will need more strength in depth. And with Javier Mascherano keen to leave in January in order to see out his career as a starter and not on the Barca bench, a centre-back is priority in January.

Barcelona targets graphic

Valverde had hoped to bring in a player with experience in Europe, but it looks like that will now be difficult and it will be Palmeiras’ Colombian centre-back Yerry Mina (23) who signs for the Blaugrana in January for a fee in the region of €12m.

If that deal is completed, Mascherano will be allowed to leave Barca and the Catalan club will look to bring in another centre-back in the summer, with 18-year-old Ajax defender Matthijs de Ligt their top target to provide back-up to Gerard Pique and Umtiti.

Lazio’s Stefan de Vrij, who is 25 and also Dutch, is another possibility as Barca seek to strengthen their back line. But January deals are notoriously difficult to complete and Valverde is therefore set to make do with Pique, Umtiti, Mina and the revitalised Thomas Vermaelen until the end of the season.

Meanwhile, the Catalans will be back in for Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho, their top target along with Dembele last summer. If Barca offer €200 million for the Brazil midfielder, as they claimed they did in the summer, a deal could be struck. However, it seems unlikely that the Blaugrana will have that kind of cash available in January and they can only offer €80m plus €30m in variables at this stage.

Yerry Mina Palmeiras

That is unlikely to tempt Liverpool into a sale and the Reds will be loath to losing their player for the second part of the season as they look to compete at the top end of the Premier League and also in the Champions League.

From a Barca point of view, meanwhile, paying huge money for Coutinho in the winter also makes little sense because he would be cup-tied for the Champions League. So the Blaugrana are likely to return with more money in the summer when a deal would better suit all parties.

Gremio midfielder Arthur (who is currently injured and played no part in the Club World Cup out in Abu Dhabi) met recently with Barca officials in Brazil and was photographed in a shirt gifted to him by club directors, although he was later forced to clarify that a move was not imminent after the picture was leaked.

This week, a director at the Brazilian club then told Goal that Real Madrid are also in for the talented 21-year-old , who has a €50m release clause but could be available for a slightly lower fee than that.

Leon Goretzka, Schalke, 17/18

Finally, Barca have looked at Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil, who is out of contract in the summer but would still be an expensive signing in January, and Schalke’s Leon Goretzka, who is also a free agent in June and could be available for around €10-15m in the winter window.

At just 22, however, Goretzka will be keen on a move to further his career and may see his path to first-team football blocked at Barcelona. Several other of Europe’s elite clubs are also keeping tabs on the Germany midfielder.

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Along with Mascherano, meanwhile, Arda Turan is set to depart after failing to play a single minute for the Catalan club so far in 2017-18, with a return to Turkey and Galatasaray the most likely option for the 30-year-old former Atletico midfielder.

Andre Gomes is another who could move on, although the Portugal midfielder would only leave if the Blaugrana can bring in another player in that position and even then he could stay until the summer.

Whatever happens, 2018 looks set to bring with it a new Barcelona – and January could be a very big month for the Catalan club.

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Fekir admits interest in Arsenal or Manchester City transfer

Lyon star Nabil Fekir has admitted that he could be interested in moving to the Premier League with Arsenal and Manchester City – but he also says he would be happy with a transfer to Spain.

The 24-year-old has played a starring role in Lyon’s strong start to the season, bagging 11 goals and three assists in 14 Ligue 1 matches. 

Such form has attracted the interest of numerous suitors, with the Lyon-born attacker linked with a move to Barcelona of late. Arsenal have also been credited with an interest, with Fekir lined up as a potential replacement for Mesut Ozil, who is out of contract at the end of the season.

Both deals could attract the France international.

“There’s nothing concrete with Barcelona,” he told TF1’s ‘Telefoot’. “Spain makes me dream: Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid. Those are great clubs.

“But there is also England, with Manchester City and Arsenal.

Nabil Fekir Saint-Etienne Lyon Ligue 1 05112017

“Is this my last season at Lyon? I don’t know what the future holds for me. I’ve still got two years left on my contract. So, I’m still Lyonnais.”

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Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas has previously said that Fekir will not be sold in January.

“Obviously there’s interest, but we’ll do everything to keep Nabil. And I think he wants to stay,” he said in November.

Barca have also been linked with a move for Houssem Aouar, the player earmarked as Fekir’s long-term replacement at OL. 

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January transfer news & rumours: Alexis Sanchez rejects lucrative China move


ALEXIS REJECTS £21M SALARY IN CHINA


Wantaway Arsenal attacker Alexis Sanchez has rejected a £21 million salary in China as he holds out for a January bid from Manchester City, The Sun has claimed.

The forward was denied a deadline day transfer from Arsenal to Man City this summer when his current club failed to find a replacement.

Hebei China Fortune had hoped a £400,000 per week pay packet could lure Alexis away from the Premier League but failed in their pursuit of the Chilean.


BARCA MEET GRIEZMANN’S FAMILY


Antoine Griezmann Atletico Madrid

Barcelona are making major advances to sign Antoine Griezmann and met the Atletico Madrid forward’s family for dinner, according to Mundo Deportivo.

There were strong rumours linking Griezmann with an Old Trafford switch in the summer but a move fell through due to Atletico’s transfer plan that prevented them being able to replace the Frenchman.

However, a transfer will be back on the table in 2018 and Barcelona are desperate to lead the pack in the race for his signature after such stinging failures to sign their targets during the summer, such as Philippe Coutinho.


MAN UTD TARGET EVANS RETURN


Jonny Evans West Brom

Manchester United are ready to submit an offer that would bring West Brom defender Jonny Evans back to Old Trafford, the Mirror reports.

Jose Mourinho believes Louis van Gaal made a mistake by selling the centre-back for £6 million in 2015, with the Red Devils reportedly fending off interest from Manchester City and Arsenal for the 29-year-old.

West Brom are believed to be open to selling Evans for around £30m during the January window.


STURRIDGE TOLD HE CAN LEAVE LIVERPOOL


Daniel Sturridge

Daniel Sturridge has been told he is free to leave Liverpool in the January transfer window, according to The Sun.

The Reds forward, 28, is hoping to play frequently enough to merit a place in England’s squad at World Cup 2018, but he’s been consistently overlooked for the starting XI at Anfield this season.

A loan move abroad is the most likely outcome for the former Chelsea and Manchester City attacker as Liverpool look to shift his £125,000-per-week wages.


BENTEKE A TOP EVERTON TARGET


Christian Benteke Crystal Palace 2017

Everton manager Sam Allardyce has made Crystal Palace striker Christian Benteke a top January transfer target, claims The Mirror.

The striker scored for the first time in the league this season in Saturday’s 3-0 win at Leicester City, which propelled Palace away from the relegation zone.

Allardyce worked with Benteke at Selhurst Park last season and also hopes to beat Arsenal to the signing of Sevilla midfielder Steven N’Zonzi next month.


CONTE IN LINE TO REPLACE ZIDANE


Antonio Conte Chelsea

Antonio Conte is in contention to succeed Zinedine Zidane as Real Madrid head coach, according to The Sun.

Zinedine Zidane guided the Blancos to two successive Champions League titles and a La Liga win last season but is under pressure to recover the deficit to Barcelona this campaign.

Conte still has 18 months left on his Chelsea contract and has previously dismissed suggestions that he was set to leave Stamford Bridge.


BUNDESLIGA STAR SCOUTED BY MAN CITY


Philipp Max, Augsburg, 18/18

Augsburg star Philipp Max is being scouted by Manchester City amid rave reviews of his performance in the Bundesliga this season, says the Daily Mail.

The left-back has already racked up 10 assists in 17 games for the club in the German top flight this season, a new club record.

Pep Guardiola is desperate to bolster City’s defensive options in January and is known to be eyeing up a move for Southampton centre-back Virgil van Dijk.


JUVENTUS TO MAKE £4.5M EMRE CAN DEAL


Emre Can Juventus

Juventus are willing to offer Liverpool utility man Emre Can a £4.5 million salary to sign for them next summer, according to the Daily Mail.

Contract talks between Can – whose contract runs out at the end of the season – and Liverpool have stalled in recent weeks.

The Germany international, who can play in defence or midfield, has been in and out of Jurgen Klopp’s first team plans in 2017-18.


GUARDIOLA TELLS MAN CITY TRANSFER PLANS


Pep Guardiola, Man City

Pep Guardiola has laid out his transfer plans to Manchester City’s chiefs and requested significant spend to bolster his squad for the second half of the season, reports the Manchester Evening News.

Despite being 14 points clear in the Premier League following their 4-1 thumping of Tottenham on Saturday, Guardiola is keen to avoid complacency and believes defensive signings are needed to achieve their goals in 2017-18.

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LIVERPOOL TO MISS OUT ON DE VRIJ


Stefan De Vrij Lazio

Liverpool are set to miss out on Lazio defender Stefan de Vrij, according to the Mirror .

The Reds reportedly have monitored the Dutch centre-back as an alternative to Southampton’s Virgil van Dijk, but they’re poised to miss out as Inter Milan prepare a £25 million bid that would keep De Vrij in Serie A.

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Pellegrino admits Van Dijk situation isn’t under his control

Southampton manager Mauricio Pellegrino accepts he cannot control the future of star defender Virgil van Dijk.

Van Dijk, 26, has made 12 Premier League appearances for Southampton this campaign after a transfer saga in the off-season.

The Netherlands international is again being linked with a move in January, with Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea reportedly interested.

Pellegrino, whose team were beaten 1-0 by Chelsea on Saturday, admitted Van Dijk could be set for an exit.

“I can’t control the market,” he said.

“I’m not the owner of the player. I can have my opinion and this I have given to the technical director, to the chairman.

“After, the board can decide all together which is the best for the team.

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“But I repeat that I can’t control the market right now. I will recommend to try to keep our best player here at the club. The club was clear about it in the beginning and I have the same opinion.”

Winless in five games, Southampton are 12th in the Premier League.

The club also faces a tough road before the window opens again, with matches against Huddersfield, Tottenham and Manchester United all on tap before the end of December. 

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‘Time to enjoy what we have’ – Perez suggests Madrid unlikely to make January moves

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez hinted it was unlikely the La Liga giants would add to their squad in January.

A 1-0 win over Gremio on Saturday saw Madrid claim the Club World Cup – their fifth trophy in 2017.

But Zinedine Zidane’s men are yet to hit top form this season, finishing second in Group H of the Champions League and falling eight points behind Barcelona in La Liga.

However, Perez suggested additions were unlikely for Madrid in January.

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“Everything can be improved but when things are working well, sometimes it’s best not to interfere,” he said.

“We have great players and a raft of young talent coming through. It’s now time to enjoy what we have.”

Madrid’s next outing is the El Clasico on December 23 as Barca visit the Santiago Bernabeu, the last match of 2017 for the club. 

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