Aymeric Laporte is Manchester City-bound, according to the Sun, with the defender deciding that his decision to stay at Athletic Bilbao rather than head to England back in the summer of 2016 was, on reflection, a poor one. A bid of £57m will trigger the defender’s release clause and ping him on his way. Bilbao are so certain he’ll depart that they have already drawn up a shortlist of potential defensive replacements, with Arsenal’s free-scoring Nacho Monreal among them.
City’s move for Laporte comes after they apparently gave up on the overly-expensive Jonny Evans, which is inconvenient because West Bromwich Albion have just identified his replacement in the shape of the 29-year-old Zamalek and Egypt centre-back Ali Gabr, whom they can loan for an impressively precise fee of £438,000 and then buy in the summer for an additional £1.1m. Still, they could convince Arsenal to buy Evans instead, which could give them enough money to not only buy Gabr but also a shiny new striker, with Watford’s Troy Deeney and Newcastle’s Aleksandar Mitrovic the names in the frame. Their need for attacking reinforcements could become desperate should Salomón Rondón also head for the Hawthorns exit, with Liverpool and Everton both considering a bid for the £15m-rated Venezuelan.
On the subject of release clauses and potential Manchester City purchases, as we were not all that long ago, Jean Michaël Seri of Nice has one set at £35m and it could be triggered any minute now, though Manchester United are also keen to bring the midfielder to England. Should United, winners of the Mancunian rivals’ last transfer tussle, come second in this chase they might move instead for Real Madrid’s Mateo Kovacic.
Monaco will have to pay £2.6m – double their original offer – for the pleasure of Islam Slimani’s company for the remainder of the season, according to the Mail. The striker would apparently prefer to remain in England, but no team here is prepared to meet his £20m asking price. Newcastle could be tempted, but at the moment they’re a bit busy buying Feyenoord’s Nicolai Jørgensen, for “in the region of £16m”, instead.
The next stop on Lazar Markovic’s footballing odyssey could be in Russia, with Lokomotiv Moskow having decided that they and the Liverpool winger should share more than just initials: a loan deal for the 23-year-old is apparently on the cards. Daniel Sturridge is still expected to head to Italy, with Internazionale coming for him just as soon as they complete a deal for Paris St-Germain’s Javier Pastore (Pastore, for language fans out there, is Italian for shepherd). Chelsea’s Baba Rahman will meanwhile spend the rest of the campaign at Schalke, having turned down Inter and Everton in favour of a return to Germany.
Middlesbrough want to sign the Bradford striker Charlie Wyke, author of 12 goals in 24 league starts this season, who is valued at £5m – a frustratingly large sum for Boro given that Wyke was born in Middlesbrough, joined their academy at the age of seven, was their player for 15 years and was released for nothing three years ago. And Brighton’s £6m bid for Aden Flint has been rejected by Bristol City.
Finally, the Sun has done a hard-hitting expose of the cars driven by the players of Yeovil, Manchester United’s FA Cup opponents, revealing that the entire team’s motors – which include a VW Polo worth £4,450, a creaky Alfa Romeo worth £2,000 and a £5,900 Seat Ibiza – have a combined value of less than Alexis Sánchez’s £150,000 Bentley Continental.