Chelsea are, according to Antonio Conte, very tired and need some help. They did not show it at Huddersfield Town on Tuesday night but perhaps Conte just meant they required something to set tongues wagging on the long schlep home. In which case, the chatter at the back of the bus would have been thus: the champions-for-not-much-longer have entered the race for our old friend from the summer, Thomas Lemar. It appears Monaco will have to part with one of their few remaining stars of last season sooner rather than later; the question is whether they can fend off the longer-term interests of Arsenal and Liverpool, who will almost certainly be back in.
It being almost January, though, there are irons smouldering away in roaring fires. Chelsea’s pursuit of a wide man has also taken in the Bayer Leverkusen winger Leon Bailey, with an opening bid apparently being rejected. Liverpool, Manchester United and Barcelona are others keeping their eyes on the situation.
Another young buck from the German leagues is also turning heads. Nadiem Amiri is a 21-year-old midfielder from Hoffenheim who United, Liverpool and Tottenham all feel can add that special something. And hold on, there’s another – people might just be catching on to this Bundesliga lark. Spurs and Everton would both love to give the 17-year-old Hamburg striker Jann-Fiete Arp a go, which might depend on just how much he fancies next season’s Checkatrade Trophy.
It’s not all one-way traffic, though: Reece Oxford, who made the first start of his loan from West Ham United to Borussia Mönchengladbach in the defeat at Freiburg, has apparently done enough to nail down a £6m permanent move. The Gladbach sporting director, Max Eberl, would welcome that, calling Oxford a “top lad” and believing he has a glittering future.
Talking of the future, there is a succession plan at Arsenal! No, not that one – they have an idea about how to fill the right-back position if and when fashion icon Héctor Bellerín hot-foots it back to Barcelona. The plan? It’s to replace him seamlessly with Udinese’s Swiss star Silvan Widmer.
Down in the regions of the Premier League that demand Instant Results, Alan Pardew would enjoy working with Danny Ings at West Bromwich Albion if you twisted his arm. But there are doubts over the future of expensive loanee Grzegorz Krychowiak, who may yet be sent back to PSG in order to fund reinforcements closer to the new manager’s liking.
As Football League sides scurry to snap up bit-part players from higher up there is every chance that Scott McTominay, the Manchester United midfielder, will end up on loan at Leeds, Preston or Bolton. And in news from overseas, the out-of-favour Javier Mascherano could leave Barcelona for his first club, River Plate – although the chances of Hebei China Fortune offering a more appropriate sum see rather higher.