Football transfer rumours: Juan Mata out, Willian in at Manchester United?

Barry Glendenning on 5 April 2018

Juan Mata may be one of the nicest men in football but his fabled geniality and generosity will not be enough to secure his future at Manchester United. A Sun “exclusive” suggests the Spaniard could be moved on to make way for the Chelsea midfielder Willian this summer, with José Mourinho apparently to eager to sign his former charge after an attempt to do so last year came to naught. Contracted to Chelsea until 2020, Willian would cost United at least £30m; the same price Chelsea paid to Shakhtar Donetsk when they signed him five years ago.

With Antonio Conte expected to leave Stamford Bridge sooner rather than later, Roman Abramovich’s “people” are busy sounding out potential replacements. Already being touted as a potential successor to Arsène Wenger at Arsenal, Monaco’s Portuguese boss Leonardo Jardim is now being linked with Chelsea, who would have to pay a £6.5m release clause to prise him from his current employers. “I have never stayed long in my previous roles because I have always pushed myself to go higher,” said Jardim last year. “This idea has not changed, I would only leave here for a club of greater dimensions. I have received offers but few clubs have the right profile; barely a dozen in Europe.”

Fabinho is another man who could be headed for the Monaco door marked “Do One” and the 24-year-old midfielder is rumoured to be a target of both Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain. With FC Köln on the verge of being relegated from the Bundesliga, Monaco are also monitoring the German side’s winger Leonardo Bittencourt but could face stiff competition from Tottenham Hotspur in the scramble to secure his services.

Southampton also look destined for the drop but should the goal-shy Saints secure their Premier League survival under Mark Hughes, they’ll celebrate by signing the Barcelona striker Paco Alcácer. Having failed to make much of an impression at the Camp Nou since signing from Valencia for £30m two years ago, the 24-year-old is ready to call it quits and move on to pastures new.

Having just been shortlisted for the Championship Player of the Season award, it’s no surprise that Fulham midfielder Tom Cairney is a player in big demand. One of several who has excelled in Fulham’s push for promotion, the Scottish international is turning heads at both Leicester City and Newcastle United.

Besiktas playmaker Oguzhan Ozyakup will be a free agent in June and is expected to move to Everton, who are having to fend off interest from West Ham as they talk turkey with the Turkish international’s agent. Elsewhere on Merseyside, Liverpool are mulling over a move for the Gent winger Moses Simon. The 22-year-old is also a target of Brighton and Newcastle.

Having had reassurances from Mo Salah that the groin injury that forced him off the Anfield sward during Liverpool’s demolition of Manchester City on Wednesday night is nowt but a niggle, Jürgen Klopp will be equally pleased to hear speculation that Real Madrid have cooled their interest in Liverpool’s Egyptian maestro. Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski is apparently Los Blancos’ goal-getter of choice.

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