Despite having beaten Manchester City without Philippe Coutinho, Liverpool are still interested in signing another nifty attacker this January and are hoping Thomas Lemar will grab the little Brazilian’s old wand, perform some nifty tricks and generally sprinkle some magic around Anfield when Jürgen Klopp is banging his head against a wall during 0-0 draws with West Brom. But the Ligue 1 club have seen the cash-rich Reds coming. They’ve chalked £90m on a board outside the Stade Louis II Stadium. That’s the price they want this January otherwise they’ll wait until the summer when they’ll take the bobby-dazzler to auction and encourage needy clubs – The Mill’s looking at you Arsenal – to start a bidding war.
But Jürgen Klopp wants someone to swell his attacking ranks, so Anfield admin bods have warmed up the fax machine and are readying an offer of around £25m for Sporting Lisbon’s Gelson Martins, who possesses electric pace, a hefty shot, the penchant for a sneaky dummy and a buyout clause of £53m. It says here that Liverpool have already agreed to pay him £80,000 a week, which is five times his salary at Sporting. Now if only they can match that valuation.
Word is that Alexis Sánchez is finally going to do one out of the Emirates and it looks like he is on his way to Manchester United having had his head turned by the prospect of trousering £350,000 per week. Apparently Manchester City have told Sánchez where to go having been asked for the moon on a stick by his agent. Basically, they weren’t willing to be taken for a ride. That left the road clear for José Mourinho to work his way up to a steady gallop before hopping on board in the hope of snaffling the crafty creative juice in the Chilean’s energetic little legs. Mind you, this is football, so he’ll probably end up somewhere random, like the Glipton Grasshoppers. If he does go to Old Trafford, then Arsenal expect Henrikh Mkhitaryan to be bundled on to the first train to Euston as part of the deal.
Some loose chat by Nantes boss Claudio Ranieri has led to speculation that Lucas Moura is going to upgrade his cameo role at PSG for a slightly more involved part in José Mourinho’s moody northern drama at Manchester United. He’ll cost £35.5m.
It took a defeat for Pep Guardiola to realise that Fernandinho is 32 and won’t last forever. So Manchester City scouts are lining up a Brazilian clone in the shape of Shakhtar Donetsk’s Fred, a player with a name so northern-sounding it was always going to earn him a move to the streets of Beswick. He’ll cost City £45m, at least.
While we’re on Brazilian names, Arsenal want Bordeaux’s Malcom. The bad news for headline writers is that he doesn’t play in the middle. He’s generally a right-sided forward and he’ll cost the Gunners £40m, around £5m more than they were hoping to snaffle him for.
It turns out that when Mark Hughes said “Who else is going to manage Stoke?” he had a point. Hot on the heels of Gary Rowett saying no and Espanyol boss Quique Sánchez Flores performing one of the the biggest U-turns in football since Didi Hamann realised that Bolton wasn’t Manchester, Martin O’Neill has turned his nose up at the job. Sánches Flores had agreed a deal to manage the Potters but for one reason or another, changed his mind. But don’t get your hopes up Curbs, Slaven Bilic can expect a phone call.
Crystal Palace are hoping Fiorentina will happily take £15m off them for the 24-year-old Senegal striker Khouma Babacar. Oh, and we live in a world where Chelsea would happily borrow Andy Carroll off West Ham.