Man City respond to United's Felipe Anderson bid with Isco offer
The winter window is oh-so-close to opening, and the transfer rumour mill is starting to pick up steam. As always, Transfer Talk has the latest and greatest. See all the summer deals here.
TOP STORY: City plot Isco move
The Sun reports that Manchester City are aware of the plans of rivals United to spend big this January, and are preparing a £32-million bid for Isco -- who is reportedly keen to leave Real Madrid -- to provide balance to what has been an entertaining yet frustrating campaign for Manuel Pellegrini's side so far.
The 23-year-old midfielder is said to be "unhappy with his bit-part role at the Bernabeu," while "City chief executive Ferran Soriano is reported to have met Isco's agent Jose Angel Sanchez in the last few days to talk numbers."
Not to be outdone, neighbours United are "close" to agreeing a £35-million deal for Lazio star Felipe Anderson, according to The Sun. Tuesday's Transfer Talk led with reports that the Red Devils had renewed interest in the midfielder, but Old Trafford officials are now reportedly in Rome with negotiations "well down the road" with Ed Woodward "given the nod to splash out" on the speedy Brazilian.
According to the paper, Anderson "has a fixed fee in his contract with the Serie A club and United are trying to agree a deal that would see them go close to that figure" -- but even a huge new arrival may not be enough to save Louis van Gaal's job.
Juventus boss brushing up
Pep Guardiola's impending departure from Bayern Munich next summer has thrown the Premier League into a state of frenzy, with no managers safe as the top flight's elite clubs all vie for the Catalan coach's affections.
Regardless of where Pep ends up, there could still be a few top jobs up for grabs at the end of the season, with Chelsea to decide whether to hand Guus Hiddink a full-time contract after jettisoning Jose Mourinho, and Manchester United likely to seriously consider Louis van Gaal's future.
Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri could be a surprise contender for either the Stamford Bridge or Old Trafford hotseat, with the Mirror reporting that the Italian is taking English lessons ahead of a potential switch from the Bianconeri.
Allegri's stock has fallen a tad after Juve's slow start to the season having almost won the Treble last term, but the Serie A champions are back on course in the title fight.
The Mirror suggests that with Roman Abramovich "fearing Guardiola has already made up his mind to move to Manchester City," Allegri is on a shortlist which also includes Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone and Italy national coach Antonio Conte.
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Chelsea striker woes continue
One day you're cock of the walk: the next, a feather duster. Modern football moves too quickly for some to keep up, regardless of talent -- and Radamel Falcao's fall from grace has been a steep one. Hiddink has refused to rule out the possibility of the Colombia international leaving in January, but also confirmed the 29-year-old has suffered another setback with his thigh injury.
With just one goal for the Premier League champions this term, it's clear that Falcao's troubled Manchester United loan spell last season was not just a one-off.
Should the interim Chelsea boss be interested in Leicester City star Jamie Vardy, he could be disappointed -- the Telegraph reports the Foxes are ready to "kill off" the interest of both the champions and Man City by offering the England international an improved contract.
Meanwhile, Hiddink has also criticised Remi Garde after the Aston Villa manager expressed an interest in Loic Remy, saying: "You have to respect that when players are there, and if you are interested, you go to the people where they are contracted -- in the clubs."
Chelsea may be a few months away from any genuine relegation worries despite their horrific title defence, but The Times reports that club executives are "concerned" given that they have not added relegation clauses into any star players' contracts -- that could be a serious problem in terms of Roman Abramovich's finances.
Elneny nearly a Gunner
Arsene Wenger confirmed on Wednesday he would be "busy" in the January transfer window, though Arsenal fans will have come to learn that their definition of the phrase may be a tad different to their French coach.
Being "busy" this January could of course also refer to departures from the Premier League-leading side, and the Daily Mail reports that Mathieu Debuchy has told the manager he wants to leave the Emirates Stadium this winter to ensure he remains part of France's Euro 2016 squad plans, with Roma and Lyon thought to be interested.
Wenger said on Wednesday of the right-back, who has lost his starting spot to Hector Bellerin: "It's not impossible [that he leaves]. I'm happy if he stays but we'll see."
Lavezzi future in the balance
Given that Paris Saint-Germain are 19 points ahead at the top of Ligue 1 after 19 games, the French champions could probably afford to sell half their squad this January and still romp home to another title.
Manager Laurent Blanc said "not a lot will happen" at his club during the January transfer window, but added that "there are [PSG] players who will maybe change club mid-season," with both Argentine winger Ezequiel Lavezzi and goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu having been linked with moves.
A January switch could be off the cards for Lavezzi though, with the Express quoting the Argentine forward's agent Alejandro Mazzoni as telling Radio CRC: "At the moment I see no real possibility, the player will not leave in January.
"PSG are doing very well in the Champions League and they want to go as far as possible; that could therefore hinder a Lavezzi departure in January. Next June, Lavezzi will quietly choose his team for next season."
Barca starlets come and go
Players are increasingly honest about their career trajectories these days, with new Benfica left-back Alejandro Grimaldo not shy in saying that the Portuguese club are a "great shop window" after completing his €1.5m move from Barcelona.
Meanwhile, 19-year-old Ajax midfielder Riechedly Bazoer has confirmed Barca have expressed an interest in signing him, telling Voetbal International: "I'm not going to be mysterious about that. Two months ago they told my brother, who's my agent, about the interest."
All this Barca talk concerns the younger generation, so let's add in a Camp Nou icon for good measure -- Brazil legend Ronaldinho is in advanced talks to play a Jan. 30 friendly match for Ecuador side Barcelona Sporting Club, and could also be making a return to former club Fluminense.
- Everton manager Roberto Martinez expects the future of striker Steven Naismith to be resolved in the next couple of weeks amid interest from Norwich City.
- Leicester City are serious about their title challenge, and sources have told ESPN FC that Claudio Ranieri is lining up an ambitious move for highly-rated Dynamo Kiev defender Aleksandar Dragovic.
- Watford join Leicester as one of the surprise packages in the Premier League this season, though Troy Deeney says strike partner Odion Ighalo -- who outscored every other forward on England's top four divisions for 2015 -- will not be sold this January.
Forgoing bland hope, Deeney's refreshing take to the Evening Standard reads as follows: "The value of selling Odion for, what would he be worth? £20m, £25m? Or staying up and getting £200m? Simple business maths, [Watford owner Gino Pozzo] is not going to sell him."
Meanwhile, the Mirror reports that the Hornets will hand the fearsome strike duo "bumper pay-rises" to ward off unwanted attention this winter.
- Steven Caulker's loan spell at Southampton is almost over according to the Mirror, with the paper reporting that the Saints are set to send the 24-year-old centre-back back to QPR just halfway through his season-long deal at St Mary's.
- Sam Allardyce is closing in on his first January signing after French club Lorient accepted Sunderland's bid for defender Lamine Kone.