Wilson yet to attract offers amid Chelsea links & talk of £75m asking price

Bournemouth have not received any offers for England international Callum Wilson, says manager Eddie Howe.

Wilson has been linked with a move to Chelsea, with Blues assistant Gianfranco Zola having confirmed the club’s interest in the striker, while West Ham and Tottenham have also been suggested as potential suitors.

But Wilson, who has hit nine Premier League goals so far this season, is going nowhere according to Howe.

“We’ve had no interest in any of our players,” Howe told reporters ahead of Saturday’s Premier League game against West Ham.

“Everything has just been speculation, which you [the media] understand as this is the month for it.

“From my perspective and the team we have above me, we are always working together to try and find solutions to make the squad stronger and continue to move the team forward.

“They’re the main things. We’ll do that again, like we have done through the process that we’ve been together, for the benefit of Bournemouth.

“No interest or no actual enquiries? No, nothing.”

Callum Wilson Bournemouth Premier League

Chelsea are close to concluding the signing of Gonzalo Higuain, as revelaed by Goal, with the Argentine frontman having previously played for Blues boss Maurizio Sarri at Napoli.

That deal would likely end any interest in Wilson, who is reportedly valued by Bournemouth as high as £75 million ($97m).

“I don’t want to place any more pressure on Callum or any of my players by talking about things that aren’t important,” Howe added.

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“What’s important is Callum working hard for the team and producing his best performances on a consistent basis.

“For him to be thinking about transfer fees, values and other clubs, I would recommend he focuses on Bournemouth.”

Bournemouth have added to their squad this month with the arrivals of Dominic Solanke and Nathaniel Clyne from Liverpool.

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Niasse joins Cardiff on loan from Everton

Cardiff City have sealed the loan signing of Oumar Niasse from Everton until the end of the season.

The striker has made just five substitute appearances in the Premier League for the Toffees this term and last scored for them in May 2018.

Niasse arrives to boost Cardiff’s battle against relegation, with Neil Warnock’s side a point and a place above the bottom three.

“I’m really pleased to be at Cardiff City,” the Senegal striker told the club’s website after joining.

“Having heard about the manager from other players and met him earlier today, I knew this was the right move for me.

“Other clubs were interested, but I was convinced that this was where I wanted to come.”

Cardiff are also being linked with a club-record move for Nantes striker Emiliano Sala.

Reports have indicated Cardiff are set to pay around £15 million ($23m) for the 28-year-old, who has scored 12 Ligue 1 goals this term.

Speaking about a potential deal for Sala, Warnock said: “We’re optimistic about that. It’s around £15m, but that’s what strikers cost.

“I like him, he’s a hard worker, he’s not going to knock the walls down but we need strikers. So if I could get both [him and Niasse] I would.”

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Cardiff have scored only 19 Premier League goals in 22 games this year, and only Newcastle United (18) and Huddersfield Town (11) have netted fewer.

These attempts to add to their strike force are a aimed at solving those problems going forward, with forward Callum Paterson their current top scorer with four strikes. 

He is then followed by Victor Camarasa and Josh Murphy on three goals, while centre-back Sol Bamba heads up a list of three players to have scored twice. 

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Higuain signing will finally put an end to Hazard as False 9

For the second January in a row, Chelsea find themselves at the centre of a striker merry-go-round. They want Gonzalo Higuain. He’s at AC Milan, on loan from Juventus, where he was pushed out to make room for Cristiano Ronaldo.

Higuain’s having a bad season at San Siro and has scored only once in Serie A since October, with that goal coming against SPAL on December 29.

But there remains the tantalising potential of a link-up with Maurizio Sarri at Chelsea, the coach with whom Higuain arguably made his reputation during a record-breaking season with Napoli in 2015-16.

The Blues have reached an agreement with the player, Juventus and AC Milan – no mean feat – but there are further complications.

Indeed, Chelsea have got to clear space in their squad as well as their wage bill. To that effect, they are in the process of punting Alvaro Morata to Atletico Madrid for the rest of the season on loan .

Atleti don’t want to pay for a permanent deal right now and a fee could be settled instead for summer. Neither will Atleti be paying all of the Spain international’s wages if they can help it.

Michy Batshuayi, meanwhile, has been recalled from a difficult loan spell at Valencia. Sarri has not brought the Belgian back to play up front but in the hope of drumming up some cash in the form of a permanent sale.

It’s hoped he will go and join Michael Emenalo and Cesc Fabregas at Monaco but the fee that Chelsea are looking for is proving to be prohibitive.

In short, it’s a mess.

Morata has had numerous opportunities to prove himself at Stamford Bridge and blown most of them. He is not up to leading the line for a Sarri team and is suffering a crisis of confidence in front of goal.

He did not have the full trust of Antonio Conte either, who dipped into the market last year to sign Olivier Giroud.

Alvaro Morata Olivier Giroud Chelsea

While Giroud has been relatively popular with the Chelsea fans, and brought good football from Eden Hazard when they’ve played together, he has not wholly convinced Sarri of his merits.

Last year, Diego Costa was shipped out to Atletico, while Batshuayi was booted to Borussia Dortmund. It’s been a revolving door in the Chelsea striker department and despite the money spent and the deals done, none has been up to scratch.

That’s why Sarri has taken the unusual step of playing Hazard up front this season. The Belgium captain famously didn’t like playing there under Conte and would hardly have been thrilled to go there under the new coach either.

It has worked for the team, however, and Sarri, in public at least, believes that Chelsea have a better defensive shape when Hazard plays from the front.

Sarri has form of playing a little man up top, having successfully converted Hazard’s Belgium team-mate Dries Mertens into a ‘false nine’ at Napoli following the departure of Higuain for Juventus.

Arkadiusz Milik was brought in as an expensive replacement. A cruciate knee ligament injury put paid to the Pole’s season early on, however, and so Sarri had to go look for solutions within the squad.

Mertens worked. He is one of the most intelligent strikers in world football according to those who know him well.

However, while Mertens and Hazard might be similar heights and share the same nationality, they are very different players.

Eden Hazard Chelsea PS

Mertens is content to wait for his moment to pounce and many of his goals owe a lot to his movement, his anticipation and feature only one or two touches.

Hazard is a natural playmaker. He wants the ball all of the time. Whether he’s dribbling, playing one-twos or looking for a through-ball, Hazard demands involvement. And his teams generally benefit from his ability to run a game.

While he might well do a job for the team up front, it takes a lot away from the side as a whole to isolate him up there. It removes his one-on-one ability and, with that, goes Chelsea’s chances of tilting the numbers game in their favour.

It removes what is described in Spanish as “ la pausa ”. That is the intelligence to slow the game down until the moment is exactly right to play the pass.

Few players master this trick and if they do, they are world class. Hazard has it but it’s rendered useless if he is not running the game from behind the front man.

Higuain AC Milan PS

But Chelsea’s mess in the market has led them to this point. It is frustrating for Sarri that his best playmaker is also his best striker. And currently he feels he can compensate better for his absence in midfield than up front.

Higuain’s transfer can’t come soon enough. He is a better bet than either Morata or Giroud. He is not as unselfish as Giroud but is more clinical than Morata.

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He has thrived before in the presence of creative, quick attackers such as Jose Callejon and Paulo Dybala. Chelsea have those kind of players.

What his signing will do is deliver the twin benefit of an upgrade in the No.9 position and relief for Hazard because he won’t have to play centrally any longer and can revert to his best position.

For a Chelsea side short of goals, relatively speaking at least, it should be enough for them to establish themselves as at least the third best team in the Premier League.

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Albrighton commits future to Leicester by signing until 2022

Premier League winner Marc Albrighton has signed a new contract with Leicester City.

The winger, who helped the Foxes to their incredible title triumph in 2015-16, will stay with the club until 2022, Leicester confirmed on Friday.

Albrighton, 29, said he had no doubts about renewing his commitment to Leicester, for whom he scored the club’s first Champions League goal.

“It was totally straightforward,” he told the club’s website. “Leicester offered me a deal and I was always going to sign it. I’ve had some good times here and hopefully I can continue to do so.

“When I first signed, I looked at the squad that was in the dressing room and the club itself in terms of its fanbase and what sort of club it was.

“It was a family club back then and it’s a family club now. It’s something that suits me down to the ground. It really fits in well with me as a person and it’s the perfect fit for me.”

Albrighton, who joined on a free transfer from Aston Villa in 2014, has made 21 Premier League appearances so far this term, scoring two goals.

Leicester have also confirmed defender Yohan Benalouane has joined Nottingham Forest on a permanent deal, signing an 18-month contract.

Benalouane made 29 appearances for the club in all competitions, including 16 in the Premier League, after joining from Atalanta in August 2015.

The Tunisia international becomes the first signing for former Foxes boss Martin O’Neill after his appointment at the City Ground this week.

Pressure has been mounting on Leicester boss Claude Puel, after City were knocked out of the FA Cup by lower league Newport County in the third round, and then lost their latest home game to Southampton. 

However, the Foxes are still eighth in the table, and will aim to get back to winning ways when they take on Wolves on Saturday. 

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Oumar Niasse seals Cardiff City loan move from Everton

Oumar Niasse has completed a loan move to Cardiff City from Everton, with the deal set to run out at the end of the season.

The deal, still subject to international clearance and Premier League approval, comes as a huge relief for the 28-year-old who only made eight of Everton’s 22 league matchday squads so far, coming off the bench on five of those occasions with no start.

“I’m really pleased to be at Cardiff City,” Niasse told Cardiff City TV.

“Having heard about the manager from other players and met him earlier today, I knew this was the right move for me. Other clubs were interested, but I was convinced that this was where I wanted to come.”

Niasse arrived in England from Russian outfit Lokomotiv Moscow in January 2016 and has had a mixed experience so far, culminating in getting loaned to Hull City in January 2017 and stints with Everton U23 side.

However, last season was his most enjoyable in the English top-flight where he scored eight goals in 22 top-flight appearances for the Toffees.

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But this season, new manager Marco Silva prefers Richarlison, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Cenk Tosun to the Senegal striker in attack.

He will wear the no. 29 jersey for his new side and hope to make his derbut when they visit Newcastle United on Saturday.

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