Transfer Talk: Manchester City eye move for Real Madrid's unhappy Isco
The transfer window for Europe's biggest clubs might be closed, but they are still working tirelessly behind the scenes to line up the arrival of their next star. Transfer Talk has been scouring the world's media to see who could be heading to your club when Jan. 1 arrives.
TOP STORY: Guardiola eyes ostracised Isco
Manchester City are ready to test Real Madrid's resolve with a lucrative offer for Isco, according to AS. The Malaga-born midfielder has been out-of-favour since Santiago Solari took charge of Los Blancos and has even been subjected to boos from the Bernabeu faithful for the first time.
City boss Pep Guardiola is an admirer of Isco and it is believed that the ex-Barcelona manager would be a significant draw for the player, who has a contract until 2022 and a mouth-watering minimum release clause of £630 million.
However, given the Spain international's unique situation, Madrid president Florentino Perez may be willing to negotiate. However, it is likely that the Etihad club would need to better the £100m that Juventus paid for Cristiano Ronaldo last summer.
23.14 GMT: That's going to bring Tuesday's live edition of Transfer Talk to a close. Thanks very much for joining us, and be sure to check back in a few short hours when we return with all the latest gossip pulled from Wednesday's back pages.
22.28 GMT: Crystal Palace are in need of added firepower, and they're hoping that the development of Ruben Loftus-Cheek during his loan stint at Selhurst Park last season will convince Liverpool striker -- and fellow former Chelsea academy grad -- Dominic Solanke to swap Merseyside for South London on a six-month loan, according to the Evening Standard.
21.12 GMT: Tottenham Hotspur have confirmed that they have extended defender Jan Vertonghen's contract until 2020. Read the full story.
19.56 GMT: Could Cesc Fabregas' new four-year endorsement deal with Puma mean he's inching closer to joining AC Milan? Calciomercato suggests that could be the case, with the Rossoneri's new kit supplier offering the Chelsea midfielder an improved personal deal should he swap the Nike kit of Chelsea for a Puma ensemble in Milan.
18.40 GMT: Zlatan Ibrahimovic has signed a contract that gives him Designated Player status ahead of the 2019 season, the LA Galaxy announced on Tuesday. Read the full story.
17.24 GMT: On Monday reports emerged that Adrien Rabiot had informed Paris Saint-Germain that he would not sign a new contract and was prepared to leave the club on a free transfer this summer, and now Le Parisien is reporting that the 23-year-old midfielder has already agreed personal terms with Barcelona ahead of joining the Catalan club.
16.08 GMT: Jan Vertonghen's contract with Tottenham has been extended until 2020, the Premier League club have announced.
The Club can confirm that we have activated the option to extend @JanVertonghen's contract until 2020.— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) December 18, 2018
15.45 GMT: Sources have told ESPN that former Manchester United striker Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be named as interim manager following the sacking of Jose Mourinho, if the club can negotiate his release from Norwegian side Molde.
15.39 GMT: Matt Miazga's loan spell at FC Nantes from Chelsea has turned sour after the sacking of head coach Miguel Cardoso and hiring of Vahid Halilhodzic.
And Chelsea loanee liaison Christophe Lollichon has appeared to confirm to 20minutes that the U.S. international might be heading back to London in January.
15.00 GMT: Julien Laurens explains the situation with Adrien Rabiot and PSG. It was all meant to be very different...
14.37 GMT: Barcelona vs. Lyon isn't the biggest Champions League knockout tie but it's important for three reasons: Houssem Aouar, Tanguy Ndombele and Nabil Fekir.
Sport say Barcelona are scouting the three Lyon midfielders, which could spell bad news for Phillipe Coutinho who has struggled a little of late at Camp Nou.
13.59 GMT: Slightly odd to report that a member of staff at a football club has actually CONFIRMED interest in a player. That staff member is Chelsea's assistant manager Gianfranco Zola and that player is Bournemouth striker Callum Wilson.
"I'm sure that there are a lot of players that are linked with us," Zola said. "Certainly Callum Wilson is doing very well for his club and he is of interest, not just for us, but for many."
13.23 GMT: Real Madrid defender Jesus Vallejo will not leave the Bernabeu in January despite limited playing time so far in 2018-19, the Spain U-21 international's agent Jeronimo Suarez has told ESPN FC.
Vallejo, 21, has played just twice so far this season in all competitions, having been troubled by muscle injury problems and seen ex-Castilla youngster Javi Sanchez favoured by coach Santi Solari. However Suarez says that Vallejo has not grown frustrated at the situation and knows he must be patient and wait to take his chance when it comes.
"Real Madrid have never told us of any intention to loan him out or sell him -- they always say they are very happy with him and that he fits perfectly with the squad," Suarez said. "And Jesus is delighted at Real Madrid. His relationship with Solari is excellent, he is a very good pro, super disciplined in what he does and a very responsible guy. He has no intention of leaving and knows he must have patience, that there is a lot of competition for places and he must wait for his moment to come."
12.34 GMT: Update on Inter Milan's Mauro Icardi from his wife and agent Wanda Nara. Evidently there is no contract offer and, despite a release clause in his contract set at €110 million, no suitors yet either.
"Renewal close? Inter's offer doesn't exist," Wanda said on Italian TV show Tiki Taka. "I have to sit down and talk and I still haven't done so. Inter wanted to send him to Juventus. But Mauro always said no and wanted to stay at Inter."
11.58 GMT: Kicker reports that there is interest from China for Bayern Munich's 33-year-old full-back Rafinha. His contract expires in the summer.
11.00 GMT: Sources have told ESPN FC that Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino is the preferred choice as permanent boss, although there is an acceptance that Spurs chairman Daniel Levy will fight to keep a coach who has guided the club to three consecutive top-three finishes.
10.26 GMT: Cristiano Ronaldo's agent Jorge Mendes, who won the Best European Player's Agent award from Tuttosport last night, has told Sky Italia about the forward's move to Juventus.
"[Ronaldo] told me in January that he wanted to join Juventus, although it seemed impossible to start with, but in the end nothing is impossible," he said. "The first meeting with Juve management was in Madrid prior to Real-Juve in the Champions League, then there were other telephone calls and slowly but surely, we managed it. Credit for bringing him to Turin, though, has to go to their president and directors. He's very happy in Turin. He still has the same motivation as he did the day he started."
10.00 GMT: Errr... Manchester United are looking for a new manager then.
JOSE MOURINHO HAS BEEN SACKED!
09.35 GMT: Ajax goalkeeper Andres Onana has revealed that teammates Matthijs de Ligt and Frenkie de Jong have expressed an interest about living in Spain. "De Jong and De Ligt have asked me about life in Spain," the former Barcelona youth product told Onda Cero radio. Barcelona or Real Madrid then?
09.09 GMT: Manchester United defender Marcos Rojo doesn't have much of a future at the club and ESPN sources have confirmed that he is on Boca Juniors' transfer shortlist alongside Gremio's Walker Kanemman.
Rojo won't cost that much but this is a great quote from Kanemman, who says that it's "easier signing [Kylian] Mbappe than him" because release clauses are too high in Brazil.
08.30 GMT: River Plate sporting director Enzo Francescoli says his club will not enter into negotiations with Real Madrid to sell their midfielder Exequiel Palacios or any other player until the end of the FIFA Club World Cup.
Real Madrid are favourites to land Palacios, who is also a reported target of Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City. Los Blancos are reportedly prepared to pay €20m for the River Plate man but, asked if reports linking Palacios to Real Madrid and River's Juan Fer Quintero with a departure from the club in the winter transfer window could affect River at the Club World Cup, Francescoli told Diario AS Argentina: "Nothing. They are lads that know how the club operates, they are very calm and besides, until the tournament doesn't end, we will not listen or speak to anyone."
PAPER TALK (by Charlie Brooke, Football Whispers)
Ndombele favours Lyon stay, at least for now
Highly sought-after Lyon star Tanguy NDombele is unlikely to move in January and instead would rather stay in France to help the Les Gones in their Champions League adventure, according to Sky Sports.
There is an endless queue of suitors after the 21-year-old's signature -- led by Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham -- but the Frenchman supposedly wishes to bide his time and see out the season with Lyon.
If he continues his fine form, Ndombele is likely to have the pick of the bunch next summer.
Vermaelen injury accelerates Barcelona's search for a centre-back
Barcelona's need for a new central defender has become even more urgent now that Thomas Vermaelen has suffered another injury setback, according to Mundo Deportivo.
The La Liga leaders are already short at the back as Samuel Umtiti's knee problems continue and Los Cules are now rumoured to be ready to act decisively in January.
Ernesto Valverde's side have been linked with a move for Chelsea's Andreas Christensen, but reports suggest they could also be tempted by Real Sociedad's Diego Llorente, who has been part of the Spanish national team set up under former Barca coach Luis Enrique.
United identify Koulibaly as their defensive medicine
Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho has made no secret of his desire to sign a centre-back in January (and long before) and is believed to be interested in Napoli's Kalidou Koulibaly, according to The Sun.
The Red Devils supposedly sent scouts to watch the highly-rated Senegalese defender during Napoli's Champions League defeat to Liverpool at Anfield last week, where he impressed.
United are rumoured to be willing to pay around £90m for the 27-year-old in January, as they attempt to cure their defensive woes, which has seen Mourinho's men already concede more goals this season than the entire previous campaign.
The point of no return for Rabiot
Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Adrien Rabiot seemingly has one foot out the Parc des Princes door and will not sign a new contract.
Club chief Antero Henrique confirmed in a remarkable interview that the Frenchman will not feature in any matchday squads until he commits his future to the Ligue 1 champions, a decision which is supported by manager Thomas Tuchel.
It is believed that PSG may be ready to cash in and sell the 23-year-old in the January window with long-term admirers Barcelona and Liverpool both on standby.
Football Whispers' top five emerging whispers
Football Whispers' transfer algorithm gives the likelihood of rumours happening a score out of five.
Tonny Vilhena to Spurs - 3.9
Spurs are reportedly ready to rival Roma for the signature of Dutch star Tonny Vilhena. The Feyenoord ace bagged 11 goals and four assists in the Eredivisie last season, but may not command a huge fee, given that his contract runs out at the end of the 2019/20 season.
Gary Cahill to Fulham - 3.5
In a bid to sort out their leaky defence, Fulham are eyeing up a move for Chelsea veteran Gary Cahill, according to reports. New boss Claudio Ranieri hopes that the former England international will add the much-needed experience to shore up the Cottagers' rearguard. The 32-year-old's contract runs out at the end of this season and would therefore be available on a free transfer.
Victor Moses to Fulham - 3.4
Ranieri is also rumoured to be interested in signing Victor Moses from neighbours Chelsea. The Nigeria international has gone from being an ever-present to a never-present and would be available for around £12m, a fee which Fulham deem good value.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek to West Ham - 3.8
Despite not enjoying the regularity that he would have liked under Chelsea coach Maurizio Sarri, Ruben Loftus-Cheek has impressed when given an opportunity at Stamford Bridge and is reportedly attracting interest from West Ham. Hammers boss Manuel Pellegrini is supposedly eager to secure the England international on an initial loan deal and can offer him the playing time he so desperately craves.
Cesc Fabregas to AC Milan - 4.0
Cesc Fabregas continues to be heavily linked with a move to AC Milan after not featuring in Chelsea's 2-1 win over Brighton at the weekend. The Rossoneri are believed to be looking to strengthen in January and could take advantage of the Spaniard's contract situation, given his deal is set to expire at the end of the season.