Ben Fisher on 22 November 2017
After a busman’s holiday to Gelsenkirchen proved so fruitful in landing Sead Kolasinac in the summer, Arsène Wenger has tasked Arsenal’s new recruitment head honcho, Sven Mislintat, with wooing his former team-mate Leon Goretzka to north London. The 22-year-old Schalke midfielder is out of contract at the end of the season, meaning the Bundesliga club could cash in on their prized asset come January. Failing that, the goalscoring playmaker may be available on a free transfer a few months later. Wenger, though, will face stiff competition from Bayern Munich and Juventus for Goretzka’s signature. And the excitement stirred by a new signing would likely be short-lived, with any arrival all but guaranteeing Mesut Özil’s protracted exit from the Emirates Stadium.
Also in search of stardust are Manchester United, who fancy another go at tempting Gareth Bale to Old Trafford. The thing is, this time, Real Madrid are pretty relaxed about the whole thing, and the Welshman could be one of eight of Zinedine Zidane’s squad facing the chop, according to reports in Spain. Real are said to have the hump about Bale’s recent injury record, having missed 40 of their past 60 La Liga matches. Others with black marks against their name include Lucas Vázquez and Luka Modric. Along the M62, Liverpool fancy Javier Pastore but the Paris Saint-Germain midfielder has his heart set on a £17.5m move to Sevilla.
Elsewhere, Leicester City have the eyes for the England Under-21 and New York City FC midfielder Jack Harrison, once a schoolboy at Manchester United. Equally left-field and underwhelming is talk that Hoffenheim hope to secure the signing of Taras Stepanenko, the Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder, from under the noses of West Ham United. And down in the doldrums of League One, Charlton Athletic could wrap up a deal for the former Newcastle United striker Leon Best (still only 31) by the end of the week.
Louis van Gaal, meanwhile, has ruled himself out of the Everton vacancy. In other managerial news, a handful of uninspiring candidates are queuing outside The Hawthorns, CVs in hand, intent on landing the West Bromwich Albion gig. First, there’s Alan Pardew – who’s friends with the director of football, Nicky Hammond – then there’s Óscar García, Nigel Pearson and Sam Allardyce. Behind that lot, anxiously waiting with his hands in his pockets – would you believe it – it’s only Slaven Bilic.