We have covered what Manchester United need in January in terms of additions, but how about potential sales? A bloated and unbalanced squad needs than a little cosmetic surgery.
Any upheaval is likely to centre around a defence that Jose Mourinho deemed unsatisfactory before his demise. One of their decent/average/shoddy centre-halves will make way sooner rather than later.
But Eric Bailly will not be that man. Sevilla have emerged as suitors for the Ivory Coast international, with United expected to reject any January bids for the former Villarreal man.
‘United believe Bailly is a capable centre-back in the making, even though there is a recognition that the 24-year-old remains rash and raw at times and in need of cultivating,’ says the Daily Telegraph’s James Ducker.
‘It is thought the club would be more open to selling Rojo if a suitable offer came in.’ They certainly wouldn’t get as much money, but Rojo is the older player with the lower ceiling in terms of potential. Good call.
The Daily Mirror refer to Mario Balotelli as ‘madcap’, ‘moody’ and ‘colourful’ within the first five paragraphs of their latest story on his future. If he doesn’t return to the Premier League, don’t wonder why.
They cite ‘reports out of Italy’ who suggest that Newcastle are interested in ending his Nice stay. The forward has not even been part of their matchday squad for the last three games despite being fully fit; Patrick Vieira seems to have taken exception to his stalling over contract negotiations.
Balotelli’s deal expires at the end of the season, and Newcastle reckon he would provide ‘more firepower’ and ‘lift spirits’.
“I have given Mario a few extra days off to think about his future and what he wants to do,” Vieira said recently. “When it comes to Mario, I want to answer back, or just slam him up against the wall or leave him hanging by his collar on the coat rack, but I can’t, as I’m no longer a player,” he would add. Rafael Benitez might take a slightly different approach.
We finish with a load of Chelsea updates, because there is a lot of Chelsea updates.
First, Alvaro Morata is reportedly wanted by Sevilla, whose sporting director says “are working on many names”. But the striker himself would prefer a move back to Madrid if he is to leave Stamford Bridge. Mad how he thinks he has earned a choice.
The Sun add, rather unsurprisingly, that Chelsea will only let him go if they manage to find a replacement. And Goal say ‘the complexities’ of any deal for Gonzalo Higuain mean he won’t be joining in January.
Elsewhere, Callum Hudson Odoi has a decision to make between accepting an improved Chelsea deal or moving to Bayern for £30m, Cesc Fabregas will only move to Monaco when someone else comes in, a £36m move for Hirving Lozano is being considered and Gary Cahill is being shipped off to Fulham.
AND THE REST
Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey, 28, has signed a pre-contract agreement with Juventus and could join the Italian club this month… Real Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas, 32, linked with Arsenal in recent weeks, has renewed his contract with the Spanish club for an extra year, to June 2021… Mesut Ozil’s future with Arsenal will not be decided until the end of the season after both the 30-year-old midfielder and the club played down the possibility of a transfer this month… Crystal Palace have made a £6.5m bid for Everton and Senegal striker Oumar Niasse, 28, after a loan deal for Liverpool forward Dominic Solanke fell through… Paris St-Germain have made an offer that Barcelona will not be able to match to sign midfielder Frenkie de Jong, 21, and centre-back Matthijs de Ligt, 19, from Ajax… Leicester have received an approach from Spanish side Villarreal for midfielder Vicente Iborra, but the two clubs are still to finalise a deal for the 30-year-old Spaniard… ardiff and Bournemouth are both keen to sign Liverpool defender Nathaniel Clyne. The Cherries want to bring the 27-year-old to the south coast on loan for the rest of the season.