Barcelona monitoring Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford


The summer transfer window was unlike any other. See all the major deals and check out how we graded the biggest signings. And just because the window is shut until January, that doesn’t mean the rumours won’t keep coming. Here’s the latest gossip and speculation.

TOP STORY: Barca monitoring Man United’s Rashford

Mundo Deportivo is reporting that Barcelona are considering a move for Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford.

Rashford previously stated in an interview with the Guardian that Barcelona are one of two clubs, alongside Real Madrid, that he would consider leaving Manchester United for, and it would appear as though the Catalan side are monitoring the England star’s movements with a view to making an approach in 2022 or January 2023.

Financial problems means that Barca aren’t in a position to make a move in January, or perhaps even at the end of the current season, but they’re aware that the 24-year-old’s contract ends in 2023 and that he’s moving into the final 18 months.

With that in mind, Xavi Hernandez’s club is confident they can tempt the striker to Camp Nou rather than him take up the option of an extra year at Old Trafford.

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12.41 GMT: Borussia Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke has claimed Real Madrid are “very interested” in signing Erling Haaland.

Haaland, 21, has a contract at Dortmund until 2024, but the striker’s advisor Mino Raiola has said there’s a “big chance” he moves next summer — naming Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern and Manchester City as potential destinations — when a reported €75m release clause kicks in.

“The only thing I know that’s guaranteed is that Real Madrid are very interested in him,” Watzke told Bild. “I could name another 25 teams as well, I know that for sure.”

Haaland’s father and agent Alfe-Inge visited Barcelona and Madrid earlier this year for talks over a possible transfer.

“He could go, or he could stay,” Watzke added. “I had a good conversation with Mino Raiola, the conversations are always quite friendly. We’ll have another meeting in the next few weeks.”

Haaland has scored 13 goals in 11 Bundesliga appearances in an injury-disrupted season so far, but failed to find the net as Dortmund lost 3-2 at Hertha Berlin on Saturday.

11.48 GMT: AC Milan left-back Theo Hernandez has been identified by Chelsea coach Thomas Tuchel as a player the European champions could target in January, according to El Nacional.

Chelsea’s first-choice left-back Ben Chilwell has missed the last five games since suffering a knee injury, but Tuchel said earlier this week that he is optimistic the England international will not be out for two long.

However, El Nacional reports that France international Hernandez is a player that Chelsea could target if Chilwell’s recovery does not progress as quickly as it is hoped.

10.52 GMT: Tottenham Hotspur coach Antonio Conte admits that he finds striker Harry Kane‘s continued lack of form “very strange.”

Kane has scored just one Premier League goal since his unsuccessful push for a transfer to Manchester City in the summer. While he has 14 goals from 25 appearances in all competitions for club and country this season, his league performances for Spurs have been largely anonymous, especially when just last season he was the Premier League’s top scorer and registered more assists than any other player too.

“Harry is a world-class striker. Every day that I train him I understand very well that he’s a world-class striker,” Conte said. “He’s one of the best I’ve had the pleasure to train. He’s amazing. I like to have him in my team.

“For sure Jurgen [Klopp, Liverpool boss] likes to have [Mohamed] Salah. But I like to have Harry in my team. He’s an important player for us and my expectation was very high and to play an important game against Liverpool.”

Conte then added: “It’s very strange, no? It’s very strange. If you compare what he did in the past, this is very strange. But also in the past, in my experience, before as a player and then as a coach, it happens. I played with important strikers who, for a long period, didn’t score.

“But my judgement about them didn’t change. I wanted to have them in my team also if they don’t score. Because if you have Harry Kane in your team, you feel stronger, for sure.”

09.58 GMT: Alexis Sanchez‘s return is not a priority for Barcelona, multiple sources told ESPN’s Adriana Garcia and Moises Llorens, after the club were offered the chance to sign the Inter Milan forward.

Barca are looking to reinforce their attack in the January transfer window following Sergio Aguero’s premature retirement but club sources insist other candidates are ahead of Sanchez, with Manchester City’s Ferran Torres and Manchester United’s Edinson Cavani their main targets.

“Many things would have to happen for Alexis to return to Barcelona,” a club source told ESPN amid reports there was a preliminary agreement for the Chile international to return to Barca in a swap deal that would see Luuk de Jong join Inter.

Sanchez scored 37 goals in 141 appearances in his three seasons at the Camp Nou before joining Arsenal in 2014. Barca are not considering re-signing him as yet because Torres and Cavani represent better options, sources said, although the LaLiga side are aware their financial constraints mean a move for Torres in January is highly unlikely. Cavani’s signing would be a less costly alternative as his contract at United expires in the summer, but sources said the Premier League side are reluctant to sanction a departure next month.

Barca, meanwhile, are still working on lowering their wage bill. President Laporta has said that salaries and amortisation payments still account for around 80% of their predicted revenue of €765m for the season. LaLiga’s economic controls demand that figure is around 70%, although Barca’s is even lower this season as they must make amends for recent losses. Gross debt, meanwhile, stands at around €1.4 billion.

– Notebook: Chelsea back for Kounde; Martial is in limbo

09.00 GMT: Jurgen Klopp has said that Liverpool will be wary of signing unvaccinated players in the future as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact on the Premier League.

There has been a rise in positive cases among Premier League clubs fuelled by the Omicron variant in the United Kingdom with six games postponed this weekend, after Aston Villa’s clash against Burnley was called off on Saturday.

The English Football League (EFL) recently announced that 25% of its players from its 72 clubs do not intend to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

When asked at a news conference if a player’s vaccination status would influence the club’s decision to sign him, Klopp replied: “Yes, it will be influential.

“Let’s take our situation, if a player is not vaccinated at all, he’s a constant threat for all of us. Of course, he doesn’t want to be a threat and it’s not like he thinks: ‘I don’t care about the others,’ but he is.

“So, we have to find different scenarios. He’ll have to change in a different dressing room, eat in a different dining room, sit in a different bus or a different car. From an organisation’s point of view, it’s a real mess.

“If you really want to follow the protocols, it’s incredibly difficult to do. If one gets COVID and he was around him in the last four days, he will be in isolation. If we have to travel to a country where we play international football and we come back, he has to self-isolate so of course, it will be influential.

“So, we’ll have to do extra building for unvaccinated players and it will not happen, hopefully not. Hopefully that won’t be necessary in the future.”

The Premier League’s most recent data on vaccination levels of players in mid-October found that 81% of players had received at least one vaccination dose with 68% double vaccinated.

Premier League’s COVID crisis: Explaining protocols, postponements

PAPER GOSSIP (by Nick Judd)

Leeds United have been besieged by injury problems and are facing a relegation scrap in 2022, which is why Marcelo Bielsa is targeting Juventus midfielder Weston McKennie to help steer them clear of trouble. The Sun believes the United States star could be available for around £20 million, but that the 23-year-old might prefer to stay in Turin and fight for his place. The American’s form has been up and down since joining Juve from Schalke and Leeds believe he has the perfect attributes to help them pick up points in the Premier League. Not only that, but he’s also in their price range. However, Bielsa will need to work his magic to persuade him that a relegation battle is more appealing than the top end of Serie A.

Southampton are the surprise leaders in the race for France wonder-kid Mohamed Ali Cho, according to The Sun. Seventeen-year-old Cho has been one of the breakout stars in Ligue 1 this season, his performances for Angers catapulting him into the consciousness of some of Europe’s top clubs, including Chelsea. However, Southampton believe they can jump the queue by offering him immediate first-team football. Cho is quick, skillful and has previously featured in the academies at both Everton and Paris Saint-Germain.

– Barcelona are confident they can persuade Gavi to extend his contract, and they’re keen to prevent would-be suitors from making any future bids, according to Fabrizio Romano. Gavi was born in the same year Lionel Messi made his Barcelona debut in Catalonia, and the 17-year-old has been a bright spark in what has been a brutal season for Barca. His latest wonder-goal, in a 3-2 win against Elche, has made the club even more determined to keep hold of him and lead their next generation under Xavi, and they will be hoping to agree a new five-year deal with him in the coming months.

Liverpool are looking for striker reinforcements in January and Marca believes FC Porto forward Luis Diaz is at the top of their list. Reds boss Jurgen Klopp is set to lose the services of Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah to the Africa Cup of Nations in 2022, and Diaz has impressed the German boss both domestically, where he has scored 11 times in 14 games, and in the Champions League this season. L’Equipe recently suggested Liverpool could be in for Lille striker Jonathan David too, while the Daily Star believes Klopp could make a move for both if he can trim his squad first.

– The fun is about to begin at Newcastle United, with The Sun stating that Anthony Martial is set to be the first in a number of January signings. The Magpies could pay a £6m loan fee to secure the wantaway Frenchman from Manchester United until the end of the season, and they could follow that up with a move for Edin Dzeko too. Martial is keen to move to get more first-team football and though Juventus have expressed an interest, Newcastle hope their £1m-a-month offer will blow the Italians out of the water.

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