Barcelona eye Jose Gaya, Alfonso Pedraza to replace Junior Firpo

Sunil Kumar


The transfer window opened in early January, and speculation is heating up about potential deals. Check out the latest gossip below, and see all official deals here.

TOP STORY: Barcelona eye Gaya or Pedraza to replace Firpo

Barcelona are on the lookout for another left-back after Junior Firpo was deemed surplus to requirements, reports Marca.

The La Liga giants have reportedly already identified two leading candidates to fill Firpo’s role — Valencia‘s Jose Gaya and Villarreal‘s Alfonso Pedraza.

Marca claims Gaya is Barcelona’s preferred choice, but add that Valencia may be reluctant to depart with 25-year-old because of his importance in the club’s first-team. Consequently, Pedraza appears the more financially viable option for Ronald Koeman’s side at this moment in time.

Manchester City‘s Angelino, currently on loan at RB Leipzig, is also said to be attracting interest from the Catalan club.

– Hunter: Barca’s most crucial month in living memory
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15.26 GMT: Moussa Dembele has spoken for the first time since his arrival at Atletico Madrid on loan from Lyon.

“It’s a big challenge, a big club, known everywhere in the world,” Dembele said. “It’s a good step for me and I’m over the moon to be here. I can’t wait to start. Growing up my favourite striker was [former Atletico captain] Fernando Torres. I’m happy to be here and hopefully we can have a good journey together. It’s always hard at the beginning, but I will do my best to learn Spanish as fast as I can.”

On working under Atletico coach Diego Simeone, Dembele said: “He is the best or one of the best coaches in the world. It’s a good thing for me to be here and start working with him. I hope we can do something together. He’s a great manager and you can only say good things about him because he shows it every year on the pitch.”

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Julien Laurens reacts to Moussa Dembele signing for Atletico Madrid and how will improve Diego Simeone’s attack.

14.45 GMT: Chelsea defender Fikayo Tomori may be allowed to leave the club on loan, but manager Frank Lampard says the 23-year-old has a future at the club.

“He absolutely has a long-term future at this club,” Lampard told a news conference. “We’ll see if and when he goes on loan but from the moment I got close to Fikayo, when I took him to Derby and he was Player of the Year and one of the best players in the Championship that year in my opinion. He came back and played 20 plus games for us at a very young age last year and got in the England squad.

“There’s an absolute long plan for Fikayo in my head about his career here and if it is to go and play games [elsewhere], it’ll be to enhance his personal development, hopefully help whatever team he goes to, because that comes hand in hand and he’ll come back to us a better player.”

14.36 GMT: PSV midfielder Marco van Ginkel returned to the pitch on Wednesday against AZ Alkmaar, after 983 days without a match. The Chelsea loanee came on as a sub in the 87th minute, having suffered a long spell out with a knee injury.

“Personally, this is a highlight for me. I worked hard for it and it took a long time,” he told ESPN Netherlands after the game. “My return on the pitch tonight is the reward. I am proud of it.

“I only focused on my recovery and just hoped to ever be able to play again. There was a time when I felt my chances were diminishing. I have been through a lot, it took two and a half years years for a reason. It has been emotional, I went through a lot of surgery, so yes, to say ‘congratulations’ would be fitting.”

14.22 GMT: RB Leipzig won’t let centre-back Dayot Upamecano go in January, according to The Guardian.

Upamecano, 22, reportedly has a €42m release clause in his contract which comes into effect next summer. The Frenchman has been tracked by Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United, as well as Bayern and PSG, but Leipzig will hold on to him for the rest of the season.

The report says: “Leipzig are resigned to the 22-year-old leaving in the summer and have a shortlist of potential replacements, with Strasbourg’s Mohamed Simakan among the top targets.”

14.00 GMT: Serbia striker Luka Jovic left Eintracht Frankfurt for a €60m move to Real Madrid last year, now he’s back on loan.

13.42 GMT: Telefoot reports that PSG want to sign midfielder Dele Alli from Tottenham.

Alli, 24, has slipped down the pecking order under Jose Mourinho at Spurs and is reportedly keen to reunite with former manager Mauricio Pochettino, who has just landed the PSG job.

“There is a priority in Paris, and it’s Dele Alli,” journalist Simone Rivera Rivera said on Wednesday night. “The information we can give you tonight is that Dele Alli wants to go to Paris. He would be very happy to find his manager again.

“He is lacking game time at Tottenham. His relationship with Jose Mourinho isn’t great. The opportunity could arrive during this transfer window, but it needs to be a good one for Paris who, if they bring a player in, need to let one go, which can complicate the operation.”

13.15 GMT: Arsenal have appointed Richard Garlick as their new Director of Football.

Garlick holds a similar post at the Premier League but will leave the organisation later this year. His start date at the Emirates stadium is yet to be finalised.

The move continues a reshuffle of the Arsenal hierarchy with Garlick essentially replacing Huss Fahmy, who left the club in November, and working under technical director Edu.

13.05 GMT: Odion Ighalo told ESPN’s Alexis Nunes he would like to stay at Manchester United beyond the end of the month and revealed he would also be interested in a move to Major League Soccer.

Ighalo’s loan from Chinese side Shanghai Shenhua is set to end on Jan. 31 after a year at Old Trafford. The Nigerian is waiting before making a decision on his next move but has said he would “love” the opportunity to play in the U.S.

“Today, I’m in Manchester but at the end of the month I don’t know where I’m going to be,” Ighalo told ESPN. “If it’s possible I’d like to stay here but if not I have to go.

“I have options. I wait for my agent. He is doing his job and I’m doing mine. At the end of the month, we have to decide what is best and we’ll take it. If it’s possible I’d like to play in MLS but I have to wait to see if it’s possible.

“The league is doing well and if the opportunity arises then I’d grab it with two hands.”

12.28 GMT: Manchester City are struggling in front of goal at the moment. Do they need something else?

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1:37

Despite recording another clean sheet, Craig Burley wonders if their attack could hinder them if they don’t produce more goals.

12.15 GMT: Tottenham winger Jack Clarke has joined Stoke on loan for the rest of the season.

Clarke, 20, signed for Tottenham in July 2019 from Leeds United for around £10m but was loaned back to the club immediately. However, he only made a handful of appearances before being recalled by Spurs.

The winger made his Spurs debut in October 2020 having returned from another loan spell with Queens Park Rangers where he played seven times.

12.12 GMT: Brighton right-back Tariq Lamptey has been linked with moves to Bayern Munich, Man United, Liverpool and Arsenal. But the 20-year-old former Chelsea youth player is reportedly set to sign a new long-term contract, via TalkSPORT.

Brighton would do well to secure the signature of such a talented young player, but they’ll be well aware of the interest from Europe’s top clubs.

11.50 GMT: Chelsea striker Lucas Piazon has been at the club for almost 10 years but has made just one league appearance in that time and has now joined Braga on a four-year contract.

11.43 GMT: Lille’s defensive midfielder Boubakary Soumare has attracted plenty of attention, but the The Athletic claims that Manchester United will not be one of the clubs in for him in January.

United and Chelsea both showed interest last January, while Newcastle failed with reported £35m bid according to the BBC.

However, the Athletic report says: “While United scouts have written reports on the 21-year-old, he is not a player the club will be moving for this month.”

11.20 GMT: Genoa are on the verge of signing defender Jerome Onguene from FC Salzburg.

The Cameroon international will reportedly arrive for his medical on Thursday, according to RMC, and will sign for €4.5m.

11.01 GMT: Sky Sport Italia, Sportitalia and Tuttomercatoweb all report that AC Milan are talking to former Juventus striker Mario Mandzukic about a free transfer.

Mandzukic, 34, spent six months at Al-Duhail in Qatar but terminated his contract in July.

The Croatian has plenty of experience in Italy, having spent five years at Juve from 2015, but Milan already have the 39-year-old Zlatan Ibrahimovic in their squad, so could be set to add even more years up front.

10.32 GMT: What’s up with Gareth Bale‘s form now he’s back at Tottenham?

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Jurgen Klinsmann dives into Gareth Bale’s underwhelming return to Tottenham, calling it “tough to comprehend.”

09.50 GMT: The Athletic reports that Mesut Ozil is willing to forego his salary in order to move away from Arsenal this month.

The report reads: “Ozil is scheduled to earn around £7m between now and the end of his contract in June, but negotiations are taking place between the club and the player’s camp about an early termination. If a compromise is not found, the 32-year-old former Germany international will stay at Arsenal for the final five months of his deal and continue training with the first team as he has done hitherto.”

Ozil’s agent Dr Erkut Sogut has told ESPN that the player’s future is expected to be finalised in the next few days with the midfielder undecided over his next move.

The 32-year-old is free to talk directly to overseas clubs after entering the final six months of his £350,000-a-week contract with Arsenal and has attracted interest from the United States, Turkey, Asia and Qatar.

09.15 GMT: Liverpool will move for Brighton defender Ben White in the summer, reports the Liverpool Echo.

White, 23, has impressed in the Premier League this season and is valued at around £50m.

The report says: “Liverpool scouted the centre-back extensively last season during his loan spell with Leeds, with talent spotters regularly dispatched to Elland Road to watch him in action in the Championship. Despite positive reports, there was always an acceptance that White would need more seasoning at the top level…

“The ECHO understands that all work in the recruitment department at present is focusing on the summer transfer window when the club will likely have a better idea of their financial footing.”

08.38 GMT: Atletico Madrid completed the signing of forward Moussa Dembele from Lyon on loan for the remainder of the season on Wednesday, with the French side bringing in Islam Slimani from Leicester City.

Dembele joins an Atletico side that is leading La Liga with three games in hand, the club are also set to take on Chelsea in the round of 16 in the Champions League next month. Atletico needed to bolster their attacking line after the departure of veteran forward Diego Costa last month.

Dembele, who began his career in Fulham’s academy before a successful spell at Celtic, was a key player for Lyon, scoring 47 in all competitions in his first two years at the club. The France international found the back of the net once in 16 league appearances for Lyon this season.

The 24-year-old will not be immediately available to Atletico coach Diego Simeone as he is still recovering from a broken arm suffered last month.

Lyon also announced that Slimani, 32, joins on loan. The Algeria international joined Leicester in 2016 on a then-club record £28 million deal, but had loan stints at Newcastle United, Fenerbahce, and AS Monaco. He won the Africa Cup of Nations in 2019 with Les Verts.

08.00 GMT: Bayer Leverkusen have signed versatile Netherlands defender Timothy Fosu-Mensah from Manchester United on a three-year contract, the Bundesliga club said on Wednesday.

United did not disclose the transfer fee, but British media reported that the German club paid around £1.5m for the Netherlands international.

Fosu-Mensah, 23, played 30 games in all competitions for United after making his debut in 2016.

Leverkusen are third in the Bundesliga with 29 points after 15 games. They travel to Union Berlin on Friday (stream LIVE on ESPN+ in the U.S. at 2:30 p.m. ET).

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Gab Marcotti recaps all the Coppa Italia action ahead of Inter Milan vs. Juventus in Serie A this Sunday.

PAPER TALK (by Shaun Reynolds)

Napoli set high price for clubs to sign Koulibaly

Napoli owner Aurelio De Laurentiis has laughed off claims that the club will sanction the exit of centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly in January, reports TalkSPORT.

Premier League giants Manchester City, Liverpool and Manchester United have all expressed their interested in securing the 29-year-old’s services, but De Laurentiis stated he would only genuinely consider letting the defender go if an offer of £100 million is submitted.

It means Koulibaly is highly unlikely to leave Napoli without becoming the world’s most expensive defender. Liverpool are understandably still interested in Koulibaly amid a defensive injury crises which sees Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez sidelined, however it is unclear if they would be willing to meet Napoli’s demands.

Gunners target Villa keeper Heaton

Arsenal are reportedly exploring their goalkeeping options by considering Aston Villa‘s Tom Heaton as a replacement for the Alex Runarsson.

According to the Daily Mail, Gunners’ chief Mikel Arteta would like Runarsson to go out on loan after he struggled in the 4-1 Carabao Cup defeat to Manchester City.

Arteta sees Heaton, 34, as an ideal replacement for Iceland international Runarsson, who only joined the club in the summer. Though Heaton would possibly not be happy to play backup to Bernd Leno as he’s already been relegated to No. 2 spot by Emiliano Martinez this season.

Tap-ins

– Despite playing only 180 minutes of competitive football this season, Aston Villa defender Frederic Guilbert has rejected a move to Istanbul Basaksehir. That’s according to Football Insider, who say the right-back has been granted clearance by manager Dean Smith to leave Villa Park this transfer window.

– Arsenal midfielder Lucas Torreira could have his loan spell at Atletico Madrid cut short amid reports that as many as four clubs are monitoring his talents. AS claims that Serie A giants Torino, Fiorentina and Lazio are interested in signing the 24-year-old, plus Valencia who have made signing Torreira their priority before the winter window closes.





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