Football transfer rumours: Inter's Mauro Icardi to Real Madrid?

Simon Burnton on 8 February 2018

Mircea Lucescu, currently in charge of Turkey’s national team but who spent 12 years at Shakhtar Donetsk between 2004 and 2016, has revealed the next career move of the Ukrainian side’s highly-coveted midfielder Fred. Apparently the Brazilian, who replaced Fernandinho in the Shakhtar side when his compatriot moved to Manchester City in 2013, will shortly replace him again, this time in the Manchester City side. “Shakhtar Donetsk’s best player is Fred in the centre of midfield,” Lucescu said. “He will go to City like Fernandinho before him.” Fernandinho, uncannily, is an anagram of “Fred in? Ha, non!”

Meanwhile in France, Monaco’s Fabinho has said that “my time here is coming to an end” and might end up among Fred’s neighbours, with Manchester United having already opened talks over a £45m deal – though PSG will compete for his signature.

One player who won’t be moving to Manchester, however, is Riyad Mahrez – who might want to disappear again after reading today’s newspapers, several of which reveal that Pep Guardiola has, in the words of the Star, “been shocked by the awol star’s behaviour after failing to seal a deadline-day move” to Manchester City and is thus, writes the Sun, “set to turn his back on him for good”.

Gianfranco Zola’s agent, Fulvio Marrucco, says he knows who Roman Abramovich wants to replace the inevitably-departing Antonio Conte: “Chelsea are among the clubs that would be in for [Napoli’s Maurizio] Sarri, he would be Abramovich’s dream,” he said. Should this dream come true, it might involve the arrival of “Zola as a sporting director”. However on their back page the Mail trumpet the likely arrival of Luis Enrique – though not until the summer, because he’s busy being on holiday at the moment – with the former Chelsea full-back Juliano Belletti as director of football.

Mauro Icardi is ready to move on after tearing up Serie A in an Internazionale shirt this season, with his agent, Federico Pastorello, declaring that “Icardi will be the summer’s big transfer”. Precisely where he’ll end up went undeclared, but there have been persistent rumours that Real Madrid will target him as they look to shake up their ageing frontline. According to AS Real are also ready to let Isco leave in the summer, with the Mirror suggesting that he could end up at Liverpool – where he could be joined by Thomas Lemar, the Monaco winger who according to today’s Independent “is understood to favour a move to Anfield”.

Watford’s Abdoulaye Doucouré is wanted by Tottenham, having been watched by Mauricio Pochettino himself as the Hornets thrashed Chelsea 4-1 at Vicarage Road on Monday night. Spurs could, however, “face competition from Arsenal and Liverpool for the highly-rated Frenchman”, reports the Mail, and would also have to spend in excess of £20m if they’re to convince Watford to part with the 25-year-old. In other midfield news, Harry Arter will leave Bournemouth if he doesn’t play more often over the next few months than he has over the last few. “If I don’t play between now and the end of the season and am a continued spectator then, naturally, there would be a discussion,” he raged.

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