LIVE Transfer Talk: Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur, Bayern Munich in battle for Benjamin Pavard
Europe's biggest clubs continue to work behind the scenes as the winter transfer window approaches. Transfer Talk has been scouring the world's media to see who could be heading to your club when Jan. 1 arrives.
TOP STORY: European giants battle for World Cup-winning defender
If Calciomercato are to be believed, Napoli have joined Bayern Munich, Liverpool and Tottenham in the battle to sign Benjamin Pavard. The VfB Stuttgart centre-back starred for France as a right-back during the World Cup and has been on the radars of a number of Europe's elite ever since.
Reports in the German media throughout the summer linked the 22-year-old with a move to Bayern, but despite a number of suggestions that an agreement was in place for a deal, nothing was made official.
Liverpool are long-term admirers of the versatile defender but may drop out of the race thanks to the form of Joe Gomez alongside Virgil van Dijk. Tottenham are in the market for a defender with Toby Alderweireld set to leave in the summer. The two share a number of traits, especially their ball-playing ability, making him an ideal replacement on paper.
Pavard is reported to have a release clause in his deal which would allow him to move for €35m.
23.30 GMT: That will wrap up our LIVE Transfer Blog for Wednesday. We hope you enjoyed it and remind you to check back in a few hours for fresh reports, rumours and rumblings from around the world of football. Take care!
23.06 GMT: Most eyes will be peeled on the Bernabeu this weekend as the Madrid stadium hosts the second leg of the previously postponed Copa Libertadores final. If a report from Don Balon is to be believed, some eyes will be peeled closer than others.
Arsenal, Tottenham and La Liga strugglers Valencia are all being linked with River Plate and Colombia playmaker Juan Quintero and will be keen to get a glimpse. The 25-year-old midfielder is on loan at River from Porto and will be looking to impress not just the Spanish side but other potential European suitors.
Quintero has made 21 appearances for the Colombian senior team and scored a goal and added two assists for Los Cafeteros at the World Cup this past summer in Russia.
22.00 GMT: Real Madrid to raid Man City for Spanish starlet?
The Mirror reports that Real Madrid have their hearts set on signing 19-year-old Brahim Diaz in January if he has not reached an agreement for a new City contract by then. Pep Guardiola does not want the player to leave the Etihad, though, and echoed that he is a young player that remains firmly in City's plans.
"The case with Brahim is simple. We want him. We want to extend his contract for four or five years," Guardiola said.
"We do absolutely everything for him to stay here. But it is in his hands. My advice, if he doesn't want to stay, he has to leave. It's simple."
Diaz's contract with the Premier League leaders is set to expire next summer but if City cannot convince him to stay, they will ask for €5-10 million (£4.5-8.9m) to sell early, or force him to stay before a free transfer in the summer, report AS.
Diaz, who was born in Malaga and represents Spain at Under-21 level, has to this point scored two goals for City, both of which came in the same EFL Cup match in November against Fulham.
20.34 GMT: Juventus youngster Moise Kean has been heavily linked with a loan move to Leeds United but Marcelo Bielsa and Co. face competition for the young Italian.
According to BuzzSport, the 18-year-old, who spent last season on loan at Hellas Verona, is also being tracked by Ligue 1 side Marseille, as well as Italian clubs Parma, Empoli and Bologna.
The 18-year-old scored four goals while on loan last season at Verona and recently made his international debut with Italy against the United States.
19.49 GMT: Potentially big news surrounding one of the hottest names expected to move in the winter transfer window. Atlanta United's star midfielder Miguel Almiron has been linked with Newcastle, Arsenal, Tottenham and West Ham and one journalist claims that a decision regarding his future has already been made.
Hearing from sources that Atlanta United midfielder Miguel Almiron to Newcastle United is a done deal. There are a few things left to be done but probably will join in the winter transfer window. Possibly a loan deal with an option to buy of around £15m at the end of the season.— Roberto Rojas (@RobertoRojas97) December 5, 2018
Newcastle have always looked like the frontrunners for Almiron, so if Rojas' report is true it would not come as a great surprise. The 24-year-old midfielder tallied 12 goals and 11 assists this season and will play Saturday night for Atlanta United against the Portland Timbers in MLS Cup.
19.00 GMT: Is Lyon star Nabil Fekir staying or going?
The answer to this question has changed numerous times over the last six months or so but we may finally be close to getting a resolution.
Le Progres suggests that Lyon chairman Jean-Michel Aulas is preparing to organise a sit-down with Fekir to discuss the France World Cup winner's long-term future with the club. Fekir has 18 months left on his current contract and after the player flirted with a move to Liverpool in the summer, the club want to either lock up Fekir on a new long-term deal or move him while his value is high.
Speaking at the club's AGM on Wednesday, Aulas claimed a decision would be made before "the holidays".
If Aulas' word is to be believed there should be an update on Fekir's future in just a few weeks. That said, we've said that a few times previously in this blog.
18.08 GMT: Shifting gears to North America and Major League soccer for a moment. The Philadelphia Union appear close to adding a South American striker to their ranks.
In an interview on Chilean radio station ADN, via AS, Brazilian striker Sergio Santos announced that he is soon departing current Chilean side Audax Italiano and that he has chosen Philadelphia over Liga MX side Necaxa as his next destination.
The Brazilian says he chose Philadelphia over Necaxa due to the fact the Union sent representatives to see him play in person, and would be a boost to a Philadelphia side that made the playoffs last season despite scoring the sixth-fewest goals in MLS.
The 24-year-old Santos scored nine goals in 15 games last season for Audax Italiano and also has stated his intentions to become a Chilean citizen and represent Chile at international level.
17.15 GMT: Leeds United may opt not to move for Burnley goalkeeper Tom Heaton -- and that could be good news for Aston Villa, who have also been linked with him, the Birmingham Mail reports.
16.45 GMT: Onda Madrid radio reports that there is an agreement in place between Real Madrid and Chelsea's Eden Hazard. Chelsea are demanding €170m, but Los Blancos are considering including a permanent move for on-loan Mateo Kovacic or offering Marco Asensio as part of the deal.
16.15 GMT: Tottenham are set to make an improved bid for Roma's Cengiz Under. Corriere dello Sport reports that Roma rejected an initial £31m for the 21-year-old winger and Spurs are now set to offer £46m, with other Chelsea and Arsenal also reported to be interested.
15.45 GMT: Manchester City are reportedly lining up a bid for Leeds winger Jack Clarke.
The Sun reports that City have been monitoring the Clarke for 13 months. The 18-year-old has impressed City scouts so much that they are considering bringing him to the club in January.
15.05 GMT: Chelsea have opened talks with Real Madrid over a permanent move for Mateo Kovacic.
Kovacic has made 12 appearances this season, playing alongside Jorginho and N'Golo Kante in midfield. According to the Evening Standard, he has impressed so much that Chelsea want to make the move full time.
14.25 GMT: Steven Gerrard is considering a move to bring Everton midfielder Kieran Dowell to Rangers.
The Daily Mail reports that Gerrard thinks Dowell could improve the creativity of his side.The 21-year-old played last season on loan at Nottingham Forest, scoring nine times in 38 league appearances.
13.43 GMT: AC Milan want to sign Tiemoue Bakayoko on a permanent deal.
Bakayoko is currently at Milan on loan from Chelsea and, though the midfielder struggled in his first few months, his recent performances have impressed manager Genaro Gattuso. Calciomercato reports that Gattuso and Paolo Maldini are taking steps to make the loan permanent.
13.00 GMT: Javier Hernandez wants an exit from West Ham in the January window.
Hernandez was bought last summer and scored eight times in his first season. However, this season he has been the Hamnmers' second choice striker behind Marko Arnoutovic and GOL Digital says he is dissatisfied with his current situation. Real Sociedad and Valencia are both showing interest.
12.15 GMT: Real Madrid are leading the chase to sign River Plate's Exequiel Palacios.
According to his agent, many European clubs have been in contact but Madrid have "gone the furthest". Wolfsburg, Inter Milan and Roma have also expressed interest, according to AS.
11.33 GMT: Despite struggling for playing time this season, Fabinho has said he is committed to staying at Liverpool.
Fabinho made a €50m move to Liverpool this summer from Monaco but has made only six starts. However, despite recent links with Paris Saint-German, he told UOL Esporte he doesn't want to leave Anfield.
10.50 GMT: Arsenal are eyeing Lille winger Nicolas Pepe as a potential summer signing.
Pepe has impressed this season bagging nine goals and five assists in 15 League 1 appearances. Mercato365 says Arsenal are prioritising a move for the 23-year-old, who would cost around €50m.
10.01 GMT: PSV Eindhoven and Groningen are interested in bringing winger Arjen Robben back to the Netherlands when he leaves Bayern Munich at the end of the season.
"It would be the ultimate dream if he were to join us and retire from football here," Groningen CEO Hans Nijland told Dagblad Noorden. "We should at least dream of it."
09.53 GMT: It shouldn't come as much of a shock to Arsenal fans, but the Times is reporting that Danny Welbeck won't get a new deal this summer and will be allowed to leave on a free. He's had a horrendous time with injuries, but the club are going to cut their losses and let him depart.
09.33 GMT: Watford's 29-year-old striker Stefano Okaka isn't on many wishlists for Christmas given his lack of playing time at Vicarage Road, but Thierry Henry sees something in the Italian and wants to bring him to Monaco to help turns things around, says the Daily Mirror.
09.00 GMT: Barcelona won't be able to keep Denis Suarez happy unless the midfielder starts to play a bit more, and Chelsea are hoping to capitalise by snapping him up in January, says the Daily Express.
PAPER TALK (by Sam McGuire, Football Whispers)
Barella to stay in Serie A ... for now
Nicolo Barella will not be leaving Cagliari in January, the club president has revealed. Speaking on Tuesday, Tomasso Giulini confirmed the Italian maestro will be staying with the Serie A side, with no players expected to leave during the winter window.
Inter Milan and Juventus have both been heavily linked with the 21-year-old. Barella, who has four caps for the Italian national side, has shone in the middle third this term, resulting in comparisons to legendary AC Milan midfielder Kaka. He even had the great Andrea Pirlo praising him, with the former Juventus midfielder calling him one of the best talents in Italy.
The €50 million-rated midfielder has, according to the Daily Mirror, been trailed by Liverpool and Tottenham for a number of months, with both Premier League sides eager to add him to their ranks.
No Milan return for Ibrahimovic
After conquering L.A., it appeared Zlatan Ibrahimovic was all set for a return to AC Milan, with suggestions that negotiations had reached advanced stages. But reports in Italy are now saying that talks between the club and the player have broken down, and that a move is no longer in the offing.
The 37-year-old enjoyed a successful two-year stint with the Serie A side between 2010-12. He scored 56 goals in 85 games and won the title during his debut season there before a €20m move to Paris Saint-Germain.
A move to MLS side LA Galaxy was supposed to see Ibrahimovic winding down what has been a remarkable career. But his performances, which has seen him net 22 goals in 27 appearances while winning the 2018 MLS newcomer award, have shown that he still can play at the highest level.
Football Whispers' transfer algorithm gives the likelihood of rumours happening a score out of 5.
Javier Hernandez to Real Sociedad: 2.7
The prolific Mexican could be returning to La Liga. Hernandez netted twice in the weekend win over Newcastle, but that was just his third start of the campaign. The 30-year-old is believed to have been eyeing up a return to Spain since the summer and it was only the appointment of Manuel Pellegrini that prevented the move then. Valencia are keen admirers of the former Manchester United striker, but it's Real Sociedad who lead the race to sign him.
Cesc Fabregas to Valencia: 2.5
Free to leave Chelsea in the summer when his contract expires, Fabregas could be another player returning to Spain. The ex-Barcelona star lost his place in the starting XI at Stamford Bridge to Jorginho. The adopted Italian has impressed since his big-money move from Napoli resulting in Fabregas appearing in just 48 minutes of Premier League action. AC Milan appeared to be favourites to land the World Cup winner, but Valencia are now putting together a package to tempt him to move back to his homeland.
Hannes Wolf to Arsenal: 2.3
One of the most in-demand talents in European football. Wolf is being courted by the likes of Arsenal, Tottenham, Everton and Southampton. The 19-year-old has impressed in the Europa League for Red Bull Salzburg; the Austrians sit top of Group B having won all five of their matches. Wolf, likened to Christian Eriksen, has two goals and one assist in Europe this term and the Mirror believe he could be one of the most sought-after players in January.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek to Schalke: 2.2
If reports are to be believed, the Chelsea midfielder could be the latest English youngster to try his luck in the Bundesliga. Loftus-Cheek has forced his way into Sarri's team over recent weeks, even finding the back of the net on five occasions in just 440 minutes of action. However, he's far from a guaranteed starter, with Mateo Kovacic and Ross Barkley ahead of him. Schalke are interested in adding him to their ranks, but the Bundesliga outfit are just one of a number of clubs interested in the England international.
Isco to Chelsea: 1.8
The Spanish playmaker has struggled to cement a place in Santiago Solari's Real Madrid side over recent weeks. Reports in Italy suggest there's tension between player and club, with the 26-year-old now prepared to move elsewhere. Juventus are keen on the fleet-footed creator but now have competition in Chelsea to land his signature. The sticking point might be the fact the reigning European champions are said to be holding out for the full £620m release clause.