January is almost upon us. There is at least one player per Premier League club counting down the hours until the window opens. And here’s an XI of European stars who could be on the move too…
Eric Garcia Jerome Boateng
Jesse Lingard Christian Eriksen Isco Dele Alli
Memphis Depay Diego Costa
While Dean Henderson remains stranded on the Manchester United bench behind a keeper with the second-worst save percentage in the Premier League, Donnarumma is sitting pretty at AC Milan. The 21-year-old Italy stopper holds all the cards – not easy while wearing his Sondicos – as he approaches free agency that will entice offers from Europe’s biggest clubs. Juventus are said to be especially keen on Donnarumma, while Real Madrid and PSG are also in touch with Mino Raiola. So too are Milan, and there is said to be optimism at the San Siro over the possibility of a contract extension, but the Rossoneri need to get a wriggle on. If Raiola and Donnarumma cannot be satisfied, then their final opportunity to sell will pass in the coming weeks.
Like Donnarumma, Garcia is also half a season away from having his pick of clubs. That seems most likely to be Barcelona. The only issue is whether Barca can copper up enough euros to bring Garcia back to the Nou Camp next month, or whether they sit tight and wait until the summer. The problem with waiting is that the need for both Barca and Garcia is rather more urgent than City’s need to sell. Ronald Koeman is running low on centre-backs because of injuries, while Garcia needs game time to cement his spot in Spain’s squad for the European Championships. The Catalans tried to bring in Garcia last summer, when they offered around £9million up front with another £5million in reasonable add-ons and £3million in rather more optimistic bonuses. That wasn’t enough for City, who seem quite content to keep Garcia around just in case, even if he walks away for nothing in the summer.
The Bayern Munich star has already said he fancies ‘something new’ in 2021, when his contract in Bavaria runs out. But Martinez could get his wish before the summer, with a return to Athletic Bilbao said to be in the works. His former club wanted to re-sign Martinez last summer but a £9million deal collapsed in the later stages of the window. Reigniting the deal next month could be complicated by a thigh injury that the 32-year-old is currently nursing.
There is expected to be something of an exodus of defenders from the Allianz Arena next year, with Martinez, Boateng and David Alaba all approaching free agency. Alaba is set to see out his contract to get the best possible terms from any of the big hitters eyeing him in the summer. Boateng too could decide to sit it out, but clubs in Italy are hovering around the Germany centre-back. Word is that Juventus, Inter and AC Milan are all keen to take Boateng, but Bayern too haven’t given up on the idea of an extension for the 32-year-old.
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It is hard to think of a player whose stock has fallen quite so rapidly as Lingard. Eighteen months ago, the Manchester United star was a regular for club and country, and although his fragrance was hardly flying off the shelves, life was pretty sweet for the winger. Now, though, Lingard is yet to see any action in the Premier League or Champions League, with his 99 minutes this season coming exclusively in the Carabao Cup. The 28-year-old is out of contract in the summer but United have the option to extend the deal for another year, which seems to be their preferred course of action. So Lingard will likely leave on loan this winter to fatten him up for a summer sale. Sheffield United are said to be favourites to land the fallen star, which perhaps isn’t where he saw his future when he briefly hired Mino Raiola.
Speaking of things not working out how you might expect, Eriksen is up for grabs after a year of stinking out the San Siro, as Giuseppe Marotta spelled out. “He’s not functional to our plans and he has had difficulty here at Inter. I think it’s right that Christian goes away to find more space.” Apparently, Eriksen would love to return to Spurs, and there was talk that his former club might stump up around £30million to make it happen. Which is obviously bullsh*t. Arsenal too are interested, but Eriksen seems to have good options elsewhere with Real Madrid and PSG both linked. Wherever he goes, the deal needs to work for Inter too and a swap seems the most likely arrangement, with an exchange mooted with PSG involving Leandro Paredes.
The Spain midfielder seems to have been leaving Real Madrid for the last few years but 2021 might finally be the year when it happens. Zinedine Zidane is said to have lost all faith in the player, who has made only three starts in La Liga all season. Isco has also come off the bench seven times but in 11 appearances overall, he has mustered just one assist. Arsenal, so desperate for some creativity, have been linked with the 28-year-old, but Sevilla are said to be the frontrunners for his signature, with a fee of around £18million being reported.
Alli and Lingard both had the world at their feet after the 2018 World Cup but neither looks likely to be in Gareth Southgate’s squad for the European Championships. Alli may be eyeing a late run for the plane if he can get a decent move next month, with his Spurs career going nowhere fast under Jose Mourinho. PSG have long been mentioned as a potential destination and those links are only likely to intensify should Mauricio Pochettino take over at the Parc des Princes. Indeed, there is talk of Poch getting the old band back together by signing both Alli and Eriksen.
Arsenal need to do something about Ozil. While he sits on the sidelines, tweeting away, he’s going to be a problem for Arteta, especially if there is a core of senior players still unable to fathom why the former Germany star is being exiled. Shifting his huge contract off the books is proving to be problematic but the Gunners are hardly gaining anything by making him sit for his money. If they can find a club willing to pay a portion of Ozil’s salary until his contract is up in summer, then Arsenal really should accept it. A move to Turkey seems most likely, especially since Juventus turned their nose up at the prospect.
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The Lyon winger blew his big chance at Manchester United – hilariously, in some respects – but his form in France looks set to earn him another crack with one of the big boys. Barcelona were said to be most keen on the Holland forward, who could be available for as little as £4million as his contract winds down. But Barca have reportedly cooled their jets because of the form of Martin Braithwaite, which presents an opportunity for Depay’s other suitors. PSG are reported to be one. And, of course, United need a right winger…
The former Chelsea striker is up for grabs now Atletico Madrid have terminated his contract a few months before it was due to expire next summer. Talk of Costa being given Christmas off to find a new club was said to have alerted Arsenal, and now he is a free agent, the Gunners need not worry about their lack of courteousness when they took Thomas Partey from Atletico last summer. Regardless, we insist that Arsenal do whatever it takes to get Costa back into the Premier League. We’ve missed the glorious sh*thouse and Lord knows Arsenal could do with upping their quota of b*stards.