We knew it was too good to be true. The Alexis Sánchez saga had looked like a trip to the old school, where transfer impasses were settled with an arm-wrestle and contract talks could be completed between last orders and closing time. Manchester United were all set for an old-fashioned swoop – but then Henrikh Mkhitaryan, or more specifically his Mr 15%, Mino Raiola, got the hump. Now we play the waiting game, with both players’ values, salaries and self-esteem to be delicately balanced.
Speaking of agents – because we just don’t hear enough of them these days – Jorge Mendes is hoping to sell his Wolves project to Milan’s André Silva, but Swansea City, one place above them in the league ladder, have stolen a march in the race for a striker Milan splashed £33m on just seven months ago. The two sides meet in an FA Cup replay on Wednesday night, so maybe they can settle it the old-fashioned way.
That news tells us we’re heading into the transfer window twilight zone, when frankly, all bets are off. How else to explain Chelsea hoping to solve their lack of dynamism up front with a £20m move for Andy Carroll? West Ham are understandably keen, and will also listen to “sensible offers” – i.e. not like that one – for misfiring forwards Javier Hernández, André Ayew and Diafra Sakho.
Carroll’s arrival would surely signal the end of Michy Batshuayi’s Chelsea career as the latest of several subtle hints from Antonio Conte comes clanging down in his direction. The Belgian wants to get playing in a World Cup year, as does Liverpool’s perma-wantaway striker Danny Sturridge. Sevilla manager Vincenzo Montella has a keen eye on both.
Real Madrid may only be three points ahead of Sevilla, but they continue to operate in a different league when it comes to spending. Zinedine Zidane thinks Mauro Icardi is the answer to all his problems, and is willing to meet Inter’s €110m buyout clause. Inter, for their part, are closing in on Barcelona midfielder Rafinha, delivering what may not be the final disappointment of this window for Arsenal.
Speaking of which, Bordeaux president Stephane Martin, has said speculation about Malcom moving to the Emirates is “wind”. “They will have a hard time taking him from us,” he said, throwing a blanket over the diminutive winger. Also playing hardball are Norwich City, who want a whopping £20m for playmaker James Maddison. Tottenham have joined Manchester City, Liverpool and Leicester in wanting a piece of that action.
Manolo Gabbiadini’s dwindling Southampton career could be over soon – the striker is wanted by Bologna, with Simone Verdi about to join Gabbiadini’s former club Napoli. Staying in Serie A, Roma’s Brazilian goalkeeper Alisson is the subject of admiring glances from PSG and Liverpool. Heading out of Anfield is Marko Grujic, who has the choice of Middlesbrough’s Tony Pulis and Cardiff’s Neil Warnock as his new mentor in the Championship.
With takeover talks stalling, Newcastle need new signings and may cash in on Dwight Gayle, with Fulham prepared to cough up £15m. Rafa Benítez’s first move may be to bring in Crystal Palace full-back Pape Souaré. Finally, some good news for Sunderland – Jack Rodwell and his colossal wage packet are set to depart in January, with Celtic the likely destination.