And lo, it came to pass that before the last lazy layabout had cleared away the snapped crackers and swept up the torn party hats the Mill had been given the greatest Crimble gift imaginable – never again, or at least not for a long while, would we be forced to write the words Virgil van Di … no, we’re not doing it. You can’t make us.
The funny thing about the whole business is that, according to the Liverpool Echo, Liverpool were so worried about Manchester City beating them to a deal for the Dutchman that they “flew a medical team to Bournemouth Airport so they were ready to complete the formalities as soon as a fee had been thrashed out”, only for it to turn out that City didn’t want him at all. That’s what Pep Guardiola said, when asked later that evening if he ever had any interest in signing the player: “Nope. No, no no.”
Which is the opposite of what Atlético Madrid will say to anyone who wants to buy Yannick Carrasco in January, according to AS. “Despite Carrasco’s ability to bring a level of flair to the attack that is offered by few others, Simeone is said to be ready to admit defeat in his attempts to tame the 24-year-old,” they write, making Bayern Munich or “a number of potential Premier League suitors” his most likely destination. Luciano Vietto and Nicolás Gaitán are also up for grabs.
Barcelona meanwhile still want to add creative options to their squad, and with Philippe Coutinho likely to be stuck at Liverpool at least until the summer have drawn up a shortlist of alternatives: according to Marca these are Nabil Fekir, Max Meyer, Leon Goretzka, Aleksandr Golovin and Arsenal’s very own (for now) Mesut Özil. There will also be outgoings, with Internazionale hoping to sign Gerard Deulofeu and Aleix Vidal on loan next month.
Tuttosport say that Juventus are ready to sell Alex Sandro in one of the next two transfer windows, thus placing a number of Premier League clubs, probably the same ones who also might buy Carrasco, on high alert. Stefan Lichtsteiner, who turns 34 next month, and Kwadwo Asamoah, who turned 29 this month, are also available, and Juve are preparing to replenish their stock of full-backs after their departures, with Napoli’s Faouzi Ghoulam, Valencia’s José Gayá and Manchester United’s Matteo Darmian on the shortlist.
Everton’s, um, Tosun one is the 26-year-old Besiktas striker Cenk Tosun, who has rattled in eight league goals in 16 games so far this season to get their scouting hearts aflutter. They also want a left-back and Steven Nzonzi. Meanwhile Aleksandar Mitrovic wants out of Newcastle, his dreams of Premier League goal-getting having turned to a reality of getting a place on the bench if he’s really lucky. “I loved Newcastle but it’s time for me to look after myself, to find the best solution for my career,” he said. “I do not have a special desire, nor can I stay in the Premier League. The chances are I leave the island. But there is no concrete offer.”
Watford will not sell their coveted midfielder Abdoulaye Doucouré at any price in January, and instead will offer him the bumperest five-year contract in the entire history of all Watford, “worth up to £70,000 a week”, according to the Mirror.
De Graafschap want Leicester’s 19-year-old prodigy Layton Ndukwu on loan for the remainder of the season. According to the Mail the winger “is viewed as one of the brightest prospects in the country”, so much so that at an age by which Michael Owen had already wowed the world at France 98, Wayne Rooney and Marcus Rashford had been key players at a European Championship and Theo Walcott had been mystifyingly selected for a World Cup squad he has “played four games in the Checkatrade Trophy”.