Manchester City push for deadline-day Fernando deal

Manuel Pellegrini was spotted in Malaga on Thursday but his club are hard at work trying to secure the services of the 26-year-old and his team-mate Eliquiam Mangala

By Duncan Castles
    
Manchester City are attempting to conclude the deadline-day signing of Porto midfielder Fernando amid frantic efforts by the Portuguese champions to retain the player’s services.

Though the 26-year-old will be a free agent in the summer, he is understood to have been offered a contract extension that would establish him as Portuguese football’s best-paid player.
    
Porto have proposed a revised salary package worth €200,000 a month, including an agreement that the Brazil-born holding midfielder can leave in six months’ time for a set fee of €15m (£12.3m).

Three points adrift of leaders Benfica in the title race, the Portuguese champions have been placed in a difficult position by their decision to allow Fernando’s midfield partner Lucho Gonzalez to join Qatari club Al Rayyan this week.
    
Fernando, who obtained Portuguese citizenship last month and plans to represent the national team, is pushing Porto to be allowed to join City immediately.

According to sources at the club, he has asked coach Paulo Fonseca not to select him for Saturday’s visit to Maritimo should the transfer fall through.
    
City also want to sign highly regarded defender Eliquiam Mangala, but have so far failed to negotiate down Porto’s lofty asking price for the France international.

While the Premier League club have offered Javi Garcia on a half-season loan as part of the Fernando deal, Porto baulked at the former Benfica midfielder’s salary. The Spaniard may now be moved to Atletico Madrid instead.

The picture has been complicated by a late Manchester United move for defender Nicolas Otamendi.
    
Fernando has won the Europa League, four league titles, and two Tacas de Portugal since joining Porto in 2007. Also the subject of approaches from Manchester United and Everton, he is recognised as a key component of the club’s sustained domestic success.

Manchester United launch €15m bid for Porto defender Otamendi

The Portuguese club have yet to make a decision on whether to sell the 25-year-old, while the move has been complicated by Manchester City’s pursuit of Eliquiam Mangala

EXCLUSIVE
By Duncan Castles

Manchester United have lodged a €15 million bid for Porto’s central defender Nicolas Otamendi.

While the Portuguese club consider the Argentina international as a more expendable asset than his defensive partner Eliquiam Mangala, they have yet to take a decision on whether to sell.
    
An aggressive though not especially quick defender, Otamendi has been at Porto since 2010, playing a part in Andre Villas-Boas’ famous treble-winning team in his first season at the club.

The 25-year-old has made 16 full international appearances for his country, but has fallen out of favour since Alejandro Sabella’s arrival as Argentina coach.
    
Otamendi’s potential recruitment forms part of David Moyes’ plan to add five individuals at their peak of their playing careers to the club-record capture of Juan Mata.

United’s new boss has sought to attribute blame for the club’s debilitating season to the Premier League-winning squad he inherited from Sir Alex Ferguson and has been granted unprecedented financial backing to overhaul it.
    
However, United’s bid for Otamendi has been complicated by Manchester City’s attempt to recruit Mangala.

Convinced they can achieve the full €50m buyout in the France international’s contract, Porto have so far refused to negotiate a fee for Mangala, who they intend to retain for the season.

If City were to trigger that release clause, however, his sale would seriously damage Paulo Fonseca’s attempt to retain the Portuguese title.

Chelsea closing in on €14.5m Zouma deal

The 19-year-old revealed earlier this month he had been contacted over the phone by Jose Mourinho, and it is believed that the Portuguese persuaded the youngster to join the Blues

By Paul Clennam

Chelsea are closing in on the €14.5 million signing of Saint-Etienne defender Kurt Zouma on a five-year deal.

The 19-year-old revealed earlier this month that he had received a phone call from Jose Mourinho, and it is believed that conversation persuaded the youngster to pick the Blues over rival suitors Manchester City.

Saint-Etienne vice-president Dominique Rocheteau later insisted the club would not part with Zouma in January and it is understood that Chelsea will allow him to remain in France until the summer.

Zouma is regarded as one of the best young centre-halves in Europe, though he is currently serving a 10-match suspension for breaking Sochaux midfielder Thomas Guerbert’s leg in November.

Since making his professional debut for Saint-Etienne at the age of 16 Zouma has played over 50 games for the Ligue 1 club, while also representing France at youth level.

The deal represents another important step in Mourinho’s attempts to remodel the Chelsea squad, following the January signings of Nemanja Matic and Mohamed Salah and sales of Juan Mata and Kevin De Bruyne.

Official: Henrique joins Napoli

The former Barcelona and Bayer Leverkusen defender has penned a deal with the Partenopei that will run until 2017

Napoli secured the signing of Henrique from Palmeiras on a three-and-a-half year deal for an undisclosed fee on Thursday.

The Brazilian centre-back has previously played in Europe for Bayer Leverkusen and Racing Santander – for whom he featured on loan from Barcelona.

Henrique spent four years under contract at Camp Nou, although he was farmed out to other clubs for the duration of that time before rejoining Palmeiras permanently in 2012.

However, now the 27-year-old has now returned to Europe with the Partenopei.

“Napoli can announce the official signing of Henrique from Palmeiras, who has signed a contract until June 30, 2017,” the Italian club stated on their official Twitter account.

Partenopei president Aurelio De Laurentiis also praised the defensive recruit, tweeting: “Welcome Henrique! Your experience and your quality will integrate perfectly with our great team.”

Napoli are also reportedly hoping to sign Saint-Etienne left-back Faouzi Ghoulam before the close of the January transfer window.

Grenier turns down Newcastle to stay at Lyon, says agent

The 23-year-old will remain in Ligue 1, with the midfielder’s agent suggesting his prospects of making the France squad could be harmed if he left for St James’ Park

Clement Grenier’s agent has confirmed the Lyon midfielder will not be moving to Newcastle this month.

The 23-year-old has been targeted by the Magpies following Yohan Cabaye’s departure to Paris Saint-Germain, while Toon boss Alan Pardew revealed on Thursday that negotiations were “ongoing”.

But Grenier’s agent, Frederic Guerra, claims the midfielder could potentially harm his chances of making France’s World Cup squad by moving to the Premier League during the January transfer window.

“It is not easy to say no to a big club like Newcastle, but Clement has decided to stay at Lyon,” Frederic Guerra told Le 10 Sport.

“With the new tactical system that Remi Garde is deploying, Clement is trying to make his game even richer and he is showing that in his matches.

“With six months until the World Cup would a departure from his current club be a good idea? I do not think so at all.

“Also, Lyon are on their way back up and Clement does not want to leave when things are getting better. He does not want to abandon them mid-season.”

Guerra also insists Newcastle’s valuation of Grenier – around half of what the club received for Cabaye – is not an accurate representation of the Lyon midfielder’s true worth.

“Finally, the conditions of his departure would not have allowed Clement to flourish. He would have arrived at Newcastle – not as Clement Grenier – but as Yohan Cabaye’s replacement,” Guerra continued.

“I have the utmost respect for the quality of Cabaye, who deserves everything that has happened to him. However, as the agent of Clement Grenier, I also have to ask: Is Clement really worth half of Yohan Cabaye?

“All these reasons led us to decline the offer of Newcastle, the conditions of the deal did not seem fair to me vis-a-vis Clement.”