Man United eyeing targets to please Mourinho; Balotelli wanted in China
The winter window might have shut, but the rumour mill rolls on. As always, Transfer Talk has its finger on the pulse when it comes to the latest rumours and gossip. See the latest deals here.
TOP STORY: LVG out; Mourinho, Laporte and Icardi in?
You might have thought things could hardly get more uncomfortable for Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal after the Europa League embarrassment against Midtjylland -- but the Guardian reports that they have indeed.
The paper says defeat in Denmark was the final straw for what it calls an "influential faction" of senior players who have lost faith in the manager and want Jose Mourinho to take over.
It claims those players have been "unsure for a while" about Van Gaal being able to turn things around and are "uneasy about his tactics and training methods."
The paper says they see Mourinho as the man to bring success back to Old Trafford -- but it reports that the former Chelsea manager "feels he cannot wait around too long and is exploring other options."
That, according to the Mirror, is alarming United chiefs so much that they have "made a desperate SOS call" to him.
It reports that executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward is believed to have contacted Mourinho's agent Jorge Mendes "to see whether he would be willing to take over from Van Gaal before the end of the season."
And Spanish publication Sport reports that United will press ahead with attempts to set up a summer move for Athletic Bilbao defender Aymeric Laporte -- first mooted earlier this month -- because "the English club want to please Mourinho."
Meanwhile, on the attacking front, Gazzetta dello Sport says the former Chelsea manager will run the rule over Inter Milan striker Mauro Icardi with a view to bringing him to Old Trafford.
Balotelli 'an obvious star name' for China
It's all over for Mario Balotelli at Liverpool, says the Mirror, which reports that the Italy striker could soon become the latest player to move to China.
Balotelli, who scored only one Premier League goal for the Anfield club, is on loan at AC Milan, but the paper says his underwhelming stint there has put an end to thoughts of a permanent move.
But it adds that Liverpool executives "are confident the player will find a lucrative new home in China after failing to attract any interest from either the Premier League or Serie A" and says he would be "an obvious star name for the expanding league."
Anfield commercial officer Billy Hogan is in the Far East looking at sponsorship opportunities, and the Mirror reports that he has encountered "plenty of interest from the Chinese league in rescuing Balotelli's stuttering career."
Meanwhile, ex-Anfield favourite Javier Mascherano has said he could leave Barcelona to return to the Premier League one day, but not necessarily with Liverpool.
The Argentina international tells the Guardian that, although he has "a lot of affection for them and always will have," that doesn't mean he is "tied to them."
"If in the future a Premier League team gave me a chance, you can't say 'No, I'd only play for one team,'" he adds. "This is our living. Whatever happens, my feelings for Liverpool won't change."
Chelsea in reckoning for 'new Rijkaard'
We might not know who the next permanent manager of Chelsea might be, but it seems we already know about some of the things they hope to do in the summer.
One of those is to sign Ajax midfielder Riechedly Bazoer, rated at £24 million and described by some observers as similar to Frank Rijkaard, according to the Mirror.
He is also of interest to Barcelona and Manchester City, the paper reports -- but Chelsea hope to steal a march on both and have already held discussions with his agent and brother Irchandley.
MLS clubs in Van der Vaart battle
Rafael Van der Vaart could be the latest European name to make his way to MLS, Spanish outlet Marca reports, rekindling a possibility that first surfaced when the Dutchman was at Hamburg.
Van der Vaart, who is now at Real Betis and counts Tottenham and Real Madrid among his old clubs, is reported to be a target for MLS outfits including Sporting Kansas City, New York Red Bulls and Columbus Crew SC.
Marca suggests the midfielder won't be hanging about when it comes to sorting out what he wants to do, predicting that a decision will come "within the next week."
Sporting Kansas City had been interested in signing him from Hamburg last year, only for the prospective deal to founder.
Could all that be about to change?
- Slaven Bilic has hailed Marseille's Michy Batshuayi as "one of the top strikers in Europe" in his column for the Evening Standard.
Bilic reveals that he has followed Batshuayi's career closely and said he is the sort of player who would attract plenty of interest. He adds: "We tried to sign him when I was at Besiktas but it was mission impossible, partly because of the transfer fee but also because he wanted to stay closer to England, Germany or Spain."
- Meanwhile, former Tottenham favourite David Ginola says the Hammers' Dimitri Payet could have ended up at White Hart Lane earlier in his career.
Ginola tells TalkSport he recommended Payet, a huge hit at Upton Park since his summer arrival from Marseille, during the midfielder's days at Lille -- but nothing came of it. "His very best is yet to come. He could have been a Spurs player," he says wistfully.
- Fulham boss Slavisa Jokanovic is pretty pleased that the Championship club have re-signed defender Chris Baird, who comes back to Craven Cottage on loan from Derby until the end of the season.
"We tried to bring him here in the January transfer window," Jokanovic told the club's official website. "Fortunately, now he's with us. He's very happy because he's with us, and we're happy because he's with us too." Isn't it nice to see everyone happy?