Occasionally scampering Arsenal staple Theo Walcott has no shortage of admirers and Everton have joined Inter, a milkman, Roma, a vicar, Southampton and three over-worked nurses in the politically incorrect Benny Hill-style chase to capture his signature. With Francis Coquelin off to Valencia and several other dressing-room pegs likely to be freed up at Arsenal’s London Colney training ground in the next couple of weeks, the Mirror say Arsène Wenger hopes to sign Bordeaux’s 20-year-old Brazilian Malcom in a bid to take the bare look off the place.
Having already agreed a £50m fee to take Naby Keïta from RB Leipzig in the summer, Liverpool will be allowed to bring the move forward by several months for an additional payment of £13m. In less good news for Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur, Fulham have announced they have no intention of selling 17-year-old tyro Ryan Sessegnon this month.
Having caught the eye playing for Norwich City against Chelsea in the FA Cup last Friday, midfielder Alex Pritchard is Huddersfield-bound. Having been snapping at the heels of the 24-year-old playmaker for some time, the Terriers have agreed an £11m fee and Pritchard is just a couple of coughs for the doctor away from finalising the deal.
Bournemouth midfielder Harry Arter is wanted by West Ham, who will have to shell out £12m to bring him to the London Stadium. Stoke’s £15m-rated Joe Allen is also wanted by the Hammers, but could be tempted north by the lure of Celtic. Meanwhile in Italy, Serie A leaders Napoli are hoping to bring former Everton winger Gerard Deulofeu on board from Barcelona to bolster their league title tilt.
One man who is unlikely to leave Barcelona is Manchester United target Samuel Umtiti, who is not for sale according to team-mate, Gerard Piqué. “Umtiti is a great player and we expect him to stay at Barca for many more years and for him to enjoy his football with us,” said Piqué. “We’re very happy with him and I’m sure he’s going to stay here for a very long time.” The same might not be said for midfielder Rafinha, who faces stiff competition for a place in Barcelona’s starting line-up now Philippe Coutinho is on the scene. Arsenal, Celta Vigo and Inter have all been linked with the 24-year-old.
Bean-counters from Manchester City and West Brom are continuing to shout numbers at each other as they negotiate the future of central defender Jonny Evans, with a fee of around £21m being mooted for the Northern Ireland international. Arsenal’s interest in Evans is also well-documented, but he doesn’t want to live in that there Big London and would quite like another Premier League winners’ medal to add to the three he won previously with Manchester United.
And finally, reports from the Emerald Isle suggest Martin O’Neill has held talks with Stoke City, where he is likely to be joined by his glamorous assistant Roy Keane. The FAI says it has not been formally approached by Stoke, who don’t need permission to ask for O’Neill’s hand in managership as the new two-year deal he agreed with his employers some months ago remains resolutely unsigned. Proof, if proof were needed that a verbal contract isn’t worth the paper it’s not written on.