With time running out for clubs to bolster their respective squads, we look at ten storylines that need to be resolved before the January transfer window closes later this week.
Paris Saint-Germain’s midfield search
If you’re a midfielder who’s even attempted a tackle at some point in your career, you’ve likely been linked to Paris Saint-Germain this month. In an effort to balance out their attack-heavy squad, the free-scoring French giants have been searching desperately for a defensive midfielder, with the likes of Idrissa Gueye, Leandro Paredes, and Allan frequently being named.
A deal for Allan, a relentless pitbull in the middle of the park, would reportedly cost €100 million, with Napoli reluctant to sanction a move for the man who leads Serie A with 4.2 successful tackles per 90 minutes. Gueye, Everton’s own tackling machine, would offer a far more affordable option. Meanwhile, Paredes’ switch to the French capital is on the verge of completion, but don’t be surprised if PSG also spring for a more classic, tough-tackling option to pair with the slick Argentine. After missing out on Frenkie de Jong, they need to make a splash.
What’s in store for De Ligt?
One Dutch prodigy down, one to go. After Ajax teammate Frenkie de Jong struck a deal with Barcelona for next season, 19-year-old central defender Matthijs de Ligt now sits atop the wish list for a bevy of Europe’s top sides, all of which view the Ajax captain as the potential long-term anchor of their respective backlines.
In a move that would draw the ire, and envy, of world football’s heavyweights, Barca will reportedly attempt to woo De Ligt in an effort to reunite him with De Jong this summer. Whether they can actually afford to do so – De Ligt could cost somewhere in the realm of €100 million – is another story, but they’re damn well going to try.
Will Hudson-Odoi force his way to Bayern?
Callum Hudson-Odoi wants more playing time, and Bayern Munich are apparently prepared to oblige. The transfer window’s longest-running saga has seen Chelsea reportedly reject several offers from the Bavarian side as Maurizio Sarri and Co. try desperately to retain the highly touted 18-year-old winger. However, reports that the teenager submitted a formal transfer request over the weekend should make that very difficult for the Blues to accomplish.
Whether Hudson-Odoi’s long-term prospects at Bayern are actually more favorable than at Chelsea is debatable – yes, aging stalwarts Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery are at the end of their respective roads with the former, but Kingsley Coman, Serge Gnabry, Alphonso Davies, and even South Korean youngster Jeong Woo-yeong will offer stiff competition as fellow wide attackers. The Blues, meanwhile, need to replace both Willian and Pedro in the very near future.
Nonetheless, Hudson-Odoi looks hell-bent on following in Jadon Sancho’s footsteps.
Arsenal pushing for Perisic
Despite a host of key injuries to their backline, Arsenal have identified wantaway Inter winger Ivan Perisic as their marquee transfer target in the final days of the window. Inter CEO Beppe Marotta admitted over the weekend that the Croatian, 29, submitted a transfer request, but quickly added that a suitable offer has yet to be received.
The Gunners – their defensive crisis be damned – have reportedly submitted a bid that would see Perisic move to London on an initial loan with an option to make the deal permanent for €40 million, while the Serie A side is said to be looking for a definitive sale immediately. Can the two clubs close the gap and come to an agreement?
Barcelona to cut bait on Coutinho?
Just one year after announcing the signing of Philippe Coutinho for an eye-watering package that could ultimately reach £142 million, Barcelona – who seem to be at the forefront of everything happening this January – are reportedly considering deals to offload the diminutive creator.
The 26-year-old has endured a lackluster campaign thus far, recording just four goals and two assists while struggling to fit into his role on the left side of a three-man midfield, where he was expected to thrive in place of departed club icon Andres Iniesta. With midfield reinforcements on the horizon, the Blaugrana could look to recoup some of their historic outlay on the Brazilian.
Rabiot still in high demand
Everybody wants a piece of disgruntled PSG midfielder Adrien Rabiot. While banished from the squad after refusing to sign a new deal with the Ligue 1 champions, the silky midfielder’s been free to negotiate with other clubs as his contract in the French capital enters its final months.
Reports earlier in the window suggested Rabiot had inked hefty terms with Barcelona that would see him earn €10 million per season, but the Catalan side’s opulent move for Frenkie de Jong has apparently given the likes of Bayern Munich and Tottenham renewed optimism that they can persuade the 23-year-old Rabiot to spurn a switch to the Camp Nou.
Chelsea’s search for a Fabregas replacement
Chelsea have been busy revamping their attack this month; the club signed American wunderkind Christian Pulisic with an eye to the future and then granted Maurizio Sarri his wish by bringing Gonzalo Higuain aboard in the hopes of immediately rectifying their scoring problems.
However, the club’s yet to address the departure of Cesc Fabregas, with reports of interest in both Cagliari’s Nicolo Barella and Zenit’s Leandro Paredes going cold of late (the latter’s expected to join PSG imminently). With Fabregas at Monaco, Sarri’s squad lacks a midfield distributor who can come off the bench and slot in alongside Jorginho when the Blues need to either chase games late or slow down the tempo and see out matches.
Someone please rescue Batshuayi
Michy Batshuayi’s in limbo. Valencia are intent on getting rid of the 25-year-old – club director Mateu Alemany admitted earlier this month that the Belgian’s loan spell is likely to be ended abruptly – and Chelsea, his parent club, apparently want nothing to do with him. A win-win switch to Monaco was reportedly nearing completion, but Thierry Henry’s recent firing muddied those waters as well. Batshuayi and Henry worked together while the latter was an assistant with the Belgian national team, but with that potential link erased, it remains to be seen if a move to the principality side is still in play.
Batshuayi’s proven, albeit mostly in small sample sizes, that he can be prolific if given the opportunity. Will the sputtering striker ever get an extended chance to showcase his scoring skills, though?
The battle for Bergwijn
Step aside, Chucky. Hirving Lozano had been garnering all the attention of scouts who’d been following PSV after the Mexican’s stellar showing at the World Cup last summer, but he’s not the only one making waves at the Philips Stadium these days. Dutch winger Steven Bergwijn, 21, is reportedly receiving interest from the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool, Bayern Munich, and AC Milan; scoring nine goals and adding nine assists in 18 league matches will do that for a player.
The Netherlands’ conveyor belt of talent is fully operational once again.
Will anyone meet the Almiron asking price?
Miserly Newcastle owner Mike Ashley seems unwilling to devote transfer funds to the club, and that’s apparently scuppered any potential deal for Atlanta United superstar Miguel Almiron. The Magpies, mired in a relegation battle, are in desperate need of creative attacking talent – they’ve scored just 19 goals in 23 league matches this season – but the Paraguayan’s price tag, said to be around £30 million, seems far too rich for Ashley’s blood.
With the trail seemingly going cold in England, Almiron’s greatest chance of securing a record-breaking transfer out of Major League Soccer this winter likely lies elsewhere in Europe.