What have Barcelona, Valencia, Real Sociedad and Celta Vigo got in common? Anyone? Yes, of course they all play in La Liga. Think harder. OK, they’ve all scored more league goals than Real Madrid. It’s the kind of statistic that just won’t do at the home of the Spanish and European champions. You see, with Cristiano Ronaldo creaking in his old age and Gareth Bale seeing more of the physio’s room than the Bernabéu turf, Real’s goals are drying up.
To solve this problem, Real’s supreme leader, Florentino Pérez, is going to do what he always does in a time of crisis – throw a load of cash at another club in the hope they give them one of their best players. In this instance, the figure is £63m, the club is Manchester City and the player is Sergio Agüero. Pérez believes City will be more than happy to accept their offer for the 29-year-old if Pep Guardiola successfully snaffles Alexis Sánchez from Arsenal for a cut-price fee in January. It could even make City look like they’re taking FFP seriously. Real will also throw a £90m offer in for Atlético Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann, because they can, though he’s hardly in peak form having gone seven games without a goal.
Gareth Bale could head out of the Bernabéu as one or both of those are parachuted in, with Manchester United ready to part with £136m for both Griezmann (if Real don’t get him) and Bale because they haven’t spent a load of cash for at least four months and it really won’t do. They won’t stop there, either. With José Mourinho on the verge of signing a bumper new contract extension until 2020, the club will attempt to shower their manager with gifts in the form of good squad players. Chelsea’s Willian is one and Tottenham’s Danny Rose – who may finally get his wish of playing football near his mum’s house up north again – is the other. Meanwhile, Galatasaray want to take Marouane Fellaini to the Turk Telekom Stadium, perhaps so they can fire him out of a canon at Fenerbahce’s back-line in the next Istanbul derby.
Patrick van Aanholt may have to make the difficult choice between digging in for a relegation dogfight with Roy Hodgson at Crystal Palace or joining Pep Guardiola’s conga towards the Premier League title at Manchester City. Yup, it’s a tough one all right. The Spanish manager is not yet sure if he’s collected enough full-backs and, with Benjamin Mendy’s injury, he probably won’t be able to help himself. The 27-year-old would set City back a trifling £12m. And despite Liverpool having spent the entire Age of Pisces wooing Virgil van Dijk, Guardiola plans to ruin the most protracted courtship ever by joining the bidding for the Dutch Southampton defender in January.
City also have Riyad Mahrez in their sights after Lionel Messi said he didn’t want the Algerian to join Barcelona. He doesn’t seem against the idea of Mesut Özil coming to the Camp Nou, though. The club like the look of Özil’s assists and will offer André Gomes in exchange in their attempts to sign the Germany international, who seems to be good again this week.
It says here that Everton believe Watford boss Marco Silva is so talented he could lure players such as Edinson Cavani from PSG to Goodison Park. Presumably, they also think Silva can juggle water. So when the call comes Marco, no pressure.
Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge is currently writing “Come and get me” on a Post-it note and will stick it on his head in January. He wants to go to the World Cup and being overlooked at Anfield is not helping his cause.
Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal are tracking the tricky Shakhtar Donetsk winger Bernard, because he is out of contract in the summer and who doesn’t want a player called Bernard? Chelsea have also sent spies to Atalanta to report back on the performances of centre-back Milan Skriniar and midfielder Antonio Candreva. Sticking with Serie A, Newcastle have the hots for Juventus midfielder Stefano Sturaro but his agent says the feeling isn’t mutual.
Thierry Henry might want to come up with a tenuous link for why he loves Wales (he could say he’s a fan of Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci) after being included on the Welsh FA’s shortlist to replace Chris Coleman as manager. It’s a left-field one, for sure. But the likelihood is that Ryan Giggs will finally get a job if he sees off competition for the Wales managerial position from Craig Bellamy.
And Bayern Munich want to take Sandro Wagner from Hoffenheim in January so that when they come back for the Bundesliga club’s tyro manager Julian Nagelsmann in the summer he will have a friendly face in his new squad.