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: Ronaldo may replace Mbappe at PSG
A domino effect is looming in the distance with reports that Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo has been offered to Paris Saint-Germain as a replacement for Kylian Mbappe.
Despite talks of the 36-year-old finishing his career at Old Trafford, El Nacional writes that agent Jorge Mendes has offered his client to the Ligue 1 club with the hopes of seeing him join up with Lionel Messi.
And as the clock continues to run down on Mbappe’s contract, which expires at the end of the season, the 22-year-old edges closer to a dream move at Real Madrid.
There is no sign of a renewal on the horizon, which means PSG may need to consider Ronaldo, who eclipsed the 800-goal mark in a win over Arsenal on Thursday, as a viable option if they fail to land Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland next summer.
– FC 100: Where do Ronaldo and Mbappe rank among forwards?
– ESPN+ guide: LaLiga, Bundesliga, MLS, FA Cup, more (U.S.)
– Stream ESPN FC Daily on ESPN+ (U.S. only)
22.05 GMT: Tottenham Hotspur have offered a professional contract to 17-year-old defender Charlie Sayers after he came in from Southend United on a trial, reports Football Insider. The lifelong Spurs fan has been offered a three-year pro deal and is expected to accept it, having made an impression on the club’s youth-team coaches.
21.32 GMT: Paris Saint-Germain will inevitably be linked with plenty of names in the build-up to the transfer window, but Mauricio Pochettino has played down the idea of any January signings coming in.
As quoted by Le Parisien when asked about a comment made after their 0-0 draw against Nice, the Argentine said: “No, I’m not expecting anything during the break, no signing. I don’t remember the context of my answer, but at no time was I referring to recruitments.
“In addition, this is not the time to talk about signings, we will discuss it when the time comes with Leonardo to see if there are needs in the team.”
20.58 GMT: Roma are evaluating the possibility of signing Bayern Munich midfielder Marc Roca after being offered the chance to sign the Spaniard, reports Corriere dello Sport. Jose Mourinho’s team haven’t given up on signing Borussia Monchengladbach’s Denis Zakaria despite competition from the likes of Juventus and Borussia Dortmund, while they are also considering Hoffenheim’s Florian Grillitsch, who could leave in January for €7m to €8m with his contract ending in the summer.
20.12 GMT: Accepting that he will leave Real Madrid when his contract ends in the summer, Marcelo has already asked Florentino Perez for a big farewell, according to El Nacional. The Brazilian has been with Los Blancos since 2007 and has become synonymous with the club and their successes during his time at the Bernabeu. However, the 33-year-old’s influence has declined in recent seasons and he has managed just 140 minutes in all competitions this term.
19.36 GMT: Chelsea are set to offer goalkeeper Edouard Mendy a new and improved contract, according to Football Insider. The Senegal international already has a deal that runs through to 2025, but the 29-year-old’s £60,000-per-week makes him a low earner among Chelsea’s biggest names. So, he is set to receive a significant rise in wages as a reward for the impressive performances delivered since he joined in 2020.
19.00 GMT: AC Milan are showing interest in signing Penarol attacker Agustin Alvarez, as has been reported by Calciomercato. They have even met with the Uruguayan’s agent, Edgardo Lasalvia, though there will also be competition from Fiorentina.
The Rossoneri are also looking at fellow compatriot and Benfica frontman Darwin Nunez, who already has a brace against Barcelona and goal against Bayern Munich to his name this season.
18.30 GMT: Mexico international and Tigres defender Carlos Salcedo has hinted at a possible return to Europe.
During Thursday’s episode of Futbol Americas (streaming on ESPN+), Salcedo opened up about interest from abroad.
“To be honest, I only have one year left [on my contract],” Salcedo said. “I’m having offers from Europe, but I leave that to my agent, because I want to be focused on my career, on what’s happening right now,” said the defender.
The 28-year-old has previously played in Europe with Fiorentina in Serie A and Eintracht Frankfurt in the Bundesliga. In 2018, he was a key figure in the Frankfurt side that defeated Bayern Munich in the DFB-Pokal Final.
18.00 GMT: Arsenal are hoping to sign Everton striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin in the summer transfer window as a replacement for Alexandre Lacazette, according to The Mirror.
Lacazette’s contract with the Gunners will end upon this season’s culmination, and he looks set to leave on a free transfer. And while Everton boss Rafa Benitez has stated that he will fight to keep his best players, the Spaniard has also admitted that raising funds at the correct time can help a club grow.
17.15 GMT: PSG Féminines have signed captain Grace Geyoro to an extension that will see the France international stay with the club until 2024.
A PSG academy product, Geyoro has played 148 senior matches and has scored 17 goals. She helped lead PSG to the top-flight title in 2020-21, snapping Lyon’s remarkable 14-season winning streak.
For France, Geyoro has 45 caps and seven goals.
17.00 GMT: Bologna will bring CF Montreal and United States midfielder Djordje Mihailovic to train with the Serie A side.
Speaking to reporters after announcing the USMNT roster ahead of a Dec. 18 friendly against Bosnia, U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter said that he urged Mihailovic to get the training experience in Italy ahead of a possible call-up in January.
Mihailovic is coming off a stellar season with Montreal, which barely missed reaching the MLS Cup playoffs this season. Both Bologna and Montreal are owned by Joey Saputo, so there has been past collaboration with the clubs. While the training stint won’t assure Mihailovic of a transfer, it could bode well toward securing a move to a European side and getting back into the USMNT picture.
16.25 GMT: Manchester City could be set to turn away from Harry Kane and towards Fiorentina’s Dusan Vlahovic.
City were keen to do a deal for Tottenham striker Kane over the summer, with the player equally as enthused to move, but Spurs would not budge from their £150m valuation and nothing happened.
Corriere dello Sport now says that City are on the trail of Vlahovic who, at 21, is a lot younger, and has more growth potential. The Serbia international is valued at around half of Kane’s transfer fee, in the region of £70m, but has a great scoring record of 35 goals in 56 games over the past two seasons.
Arsenal, Tottenham, Juventus and a host of other top clubs will also be interested in Vlahovic in January, but City should be favourites.
15.33 GMT: Newcastle are looking for a marquee signing to impress their new Saudi-backed owners and Paris Saint-Germain striker Mauro Icardi is on their shortlist, says Footmercato.
Icardi, 28, has dropped down the pecking order with Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar at the club and reportedly wants out. Tottenham and Barcelona are also keen, while the Argentina international is apparently keen on a move back to Italy’s Serie A.
The report claims PSG could move on at least six other players in the coming months, including: Sergio Rico, Thilo Kehrer, Abdou Diallo, Layvin Kurzawa, Leandro Paredes and Rafinha.
14.44 GMT: Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez says Ousmane Dembele will not be banished to the stands if he doesn’t sign a contract extension at Camp Nou.
Dembele, 24, is out of contract at the end of the season and talks with his agents have so far failed to yield an agreement over a new deal.
Sources had previously told ESPN that Barca were considering not playing Dembele if he did not renew — a tactic used with Ilaix Moriba before he moved to RB Leipzig in the summer — but Xavi is not in favour of such extreme measures.
“If he has a contract, he has to play,” the Barca boss said in a news conference on Friday. “I am very clear on that — because of what it means for the image of the club as well. But I am not contemplating [Dembele not renewing], I am staying positive. It’s not just a financial issue, either, but also about the project sporting. He can be the best in the world in his position, but it depends on him. Like I say, it’s not just money. He wants to be an important part of the project, to be loved. And he will be here.”
France international Dembele has been linked with Newcastle United and Manchester United in recent weeks, with reports claiming both English clubs are prepared to offer him much more than Barca.
Meanwhile, Xavi would not be drawn on January signings, insisting his focus is on working with the players he currently has. But he did say that midfielder Frenkie de Jong wouldn’t depart after speculation that Barca could be open to offers for the Netherlands international as a quick fix to their financial problems.
“He’s non-transferable,” the coach added. “He is very, very important for me and for the team. He is someone who can make a difference in games. He was brilliant between the lines against Villarreal, scoring, creating clear chances. That’s the Frenkie we want. He was excellent.”
14.22 GMT Diego Simeone praised the adaptation of summer signing Matheus Cunha at Atletico Madrid so far, while admitting they still need Luis Suarez to perform if they’re to chase down Real Madrid at the top of the LaLiga table.
Cunha, 22, was brought in from Hertha Berlin in August for €26m and is yet to start for Atletico this season, but has scored twice off the bench, including in a 4-1 win at Cadiz last weekend.
“Matheus is growing, he’s fitting into the team better all the time,” Simeone said in a news conference on Friday. “Let’s hope he carry on with that growth, which is why he came to Atletico Madrid.”
Suarez remains Atletico’s top scorer with seven goals in LaLiga this campaign, despite some concerns over his continued ability to deliver at the age of 34.
“We know Luis, we know what he can give us,” Simeone added. “We’ll look for him to give the best he has, in the moments the team most needs him.”
14.03 GMT: Carlo Ancelotti said “kids have to follow their dreams” on Friday when asked about Kylian Mbappe‘s self-confessed ambition to play for Real Madrid one day.
Mbappe recently released an autobiographical comic book which detailed his trial at Madrid aged 14, and his dream of playing for the club as a youngster.
“Kids have to follow their dreams,” Ancelotti said, smiling, in a news confernece on Friday. “I had the dream of playing in Serie A one day and I did it.”
Ancelotti — who had a successful career as a midfielder before becoming a manager, winning two European Cups with AC Milan — was also asked which player he’d like to be today.
“Not a midfielder for sure!” he said. “A forward maybe. I’d like to be Vinicius, Benzema, (Erling) Haaland for example. A centre-forward who scores a lot of goals, what I lacked in my career were goals.”
13.30 GMT: There are a host of top players set to become free agents in July 2022, including Kylian Mbappe, Paul Pogba, Antonio Rudiger and Paulo Dybala — enough even to fill a pretty good XI.
But these stars will still end up costing their future clubs a lot in wages and signing-on fees. Tor-Kristian Karlsen breaks down some of the other free agents who may have slipped under the radar of the top clubs. Including:
– Eddie Nketiah, 22, Arsenal
– Axel Witsel, 32, Borussia Dortmund
– Boubacar Kamara, 22, Marseille
– Thomas Strakosha, 26, Lazio
12.54 GMT: ICYMI — NWSL expansion side Angel City FC announced it has signed Julie Ertz and Sarah Gorden from the Chicago Red Stars on Thursday ahead of the trade deadline.
The announcement also revealed that Angel City will receive an international slot from Chicago in 2022 and 2023, while the Red Stars will have full roster protection from ACFC in the 2022 NWSL Expansion Draft on Dec. 16.
Ertz, 29, has spent her entire NWSL career at the Red Stars. The midfielder joined the club in 2014 and has six goals and eight assists in 95 appearances, but missed a lot of action in 2021 due to injury and her USWNT commitments.
NWSL Defender of the Year nominee Gorden has been at the Red Stars since 2016 and started every game of the 2021 season. Chicago reached the NWSL title game in November but lost to Washington Spirit in extra time.
12.30 GMT: El Nacional says that Liverpool are monitoring Karim Benzema‘s situation at Real Madrid.
Benzema, 33, recently signed a new contract until 2023 and doesn’t appear to be interested in leaving. However, if the club land PSG’s Kylian Mbappe for free next summer then Benzema may wish to move on and Liverpool are one of the top European clubs who would reportedly be interested in signing him.
11.41 GMT: Barcelona president Joan Laporta says that Manchester City forward Ferran Torres is one of their transfer targets for January.
Sources told ESPN that Barca director of football Mateu Alemany and CEO Ferran Reverter were in Manchester on Friday for a meeting with City to discuss a transfer. Having monitored Torres since he first broke through at Valencia, the club believe his experience in LaLiga would ease the adaption process.
Torres, 21, is understood to be open to a return to Spain and sources added City could open the door to an exit should he express a desire to leave. However, they would demand over €40m for a player they initially signed for a fee of €23m from Valencia in 2020, which Barca can’t afford amid their €1.4 billion debt.
“He [Torres] is one of the players we have in our sights, but there are many others. You have to wait and see how everything goes,” Laporta told TV3. “Xavi has asked us to reinforce the squad and we are going to try to do so, but at the moment we do not have a salary margin to do it. Therefore, at this moment it is not possible but we must let the sports management work.”
11.07 GMT: Ralf Rangnick said he has not ruled out staying on as Manchester United manager beyond the end of the season.
Rangnick was unveiled as interim manager at a news conference at Old Trafford on Friday before taking the reins until the end of the season. The German is then set to begin a two-year consultancy role in the summer but asked whether there was scope to continue as manager if things go well, the 63-year-old said he could “recommend” that he carries on.
He also joked about reports he will receive a bonus if he convinces Dortmund striker Erling Haaland to sign for the club by pretending to flick through his contract.
“Let me have a look, OK £10m for Haaland, £10m for Kylian Mbappe, £10m for Robert Lewandowski and £10m for Joshua Kimmich,” he said. “I mean this is nonsense, of course there are no such clauses in my contract.
“I’m more than happy with the offensive strike power we have here and the offensive players we have here and quite a few of them did not play [against Arsenal]. [Anthony] Martial only came on in the last five minutes, Mason [Greenwood] didn’t play at all. We have so many top players in the offensive department that we don’t need to speak about any other players.”
Ralf Rangnick says he’s aiming to improve Manchester United’s defensive record in his first press conference as interim manager.
10.51 GMT: Brazil legend Ronaldo has revealed that he considered buying a Major League Soccer franchise before opting to acquire Spanish club Real Valladolid.
The former Barcelona and Real Madrid star purchased a 51% stake of Real Valladolid in 2018 for €30m and became the club’s president.
Ronaldo was previously a minority owner of the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, a team in the North American Soccer League, but it folded in 2016, two years after he bought in.
“I went to New York and I had a meeting with the MLS president and he presented his ideas ‘you can win all you want but if you don’t have €70m for the franchise, you go nowhere,'” Ronaldo said. “That made me reject that project. Then I went to London to study sports management and sports marketing.”
Ronaldo said he continued his search for a club after the 2018 World Cup.
10.32 GMT: Borussia Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc has refused to be drawn on the nature of Erling Haaland‘s release clause.
Haaland, 21, is one of the best strikers in the world and can reportedly leave in 2022 for €75m, which could rise to €90m with bonuses.
All the top European clubs are interested in signing the Norway international, but Zorc is standing firm for now.
“The fact is that he has a contract. But it’s also a fact, and this is no secret, that he can leave the club under certain conditions,” Zorc told Sport1. “Both Erling and the club are dealing with the issue very professionally. We’ll see how things progress.”
09.47 GMT: FC Salzburg striker Benjamin Sesko is on the radar of Real Madrid and Barcelona, claims El Nacional.
Sesko, 18, has seven goals in 21 games this season and is starting to attract attention.
Madrid are considering moves for Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland and PSG’s Kylian Mbappe, helped by Haaland’s €75m release clause in 2022 and Mbappe’s expiring contract, as they seek replacements for Mariano Diaz and Luka Jovic behind Karim Benzema up front.
Barcelona have very little money to spend, so would need to work out a loan deal, or some kind of part-exchange, though Sesko may come considerably cheaper than many of his peers.
09.19 GMT: Barcelona striker Sergio Aguero has thanked fans for their continued support but refuses to discuss his medical condition.
The Argentina international suffered an arrhythmia on Oct. 30 during Barcelona’s game against Alaves. He underwent treatment and has been ruled out for at least three months.
Reports in Spain said Aguero’s career could be cut short because of the condition, but the player recently said he is just following medical advice.
Speaking on a social media stream, he said: “I’m not going to talk much about my issue. You all know that I’m well and I just wanted to say thanks to everyone for their support. I’m not going to talk much about this issue, I’m just going to enjoy the Kru [his eSports team] game and nothing more.”
09.10 GMT: South Korea international Lee Seung-woo, who famously graduated from Barcelona’s La Masia academy, will play professionally in his homeland for the first time after sealing a move to Suwon FC.
Lee, who displayed prodigious talent in his early teens and caught the eye of Barcelona scouts at an international youth tournament, never represented the LaLiga giants’ first team although he did feature once for the B side.
Having failed to make the breakthrough at Camp Nou, he then moved to Serie A outfit Verona and subsequently spent the last two years on the books of Belgium’s Sint-Truiden, which included a brief loan to Portimonense in Portugal.
The 23-year-old, who featured at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, will now continue his career back in South Korea, although it is perhaps surprising that he has not joined one of the K League 1’s traditional heavyweights and has instead signed for Suwon.
08.30 GMT: Barcelona have contacted Edinson Cavani’s representatives to gauge his interest on leaving Manchester United for the Camp Nou during the January transfer window, various sources told ESPN.
Sources said that Barca will target players who are not playing regularly for their clubs, with ESPN previously reporting that Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling and Chelsea duo Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech are also being monitored.
Cavani, 34, is contracted at United until the end of 2021-22 but has made only eight appearances this season following the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo.
Cavani has said previously he would not rule out playing in LaLiga. However, sources also told ESPN that Cavani plans to consult with Manchester United’s incoming interim manager, Ralf Rangnick, on his plans for the striker before making a decision.
Gab Marcotti explains the suggestions of the British government’s fan-led review of English football.
PAPER GOSSIP (By Adam Brown)
– Arsenal have increased their interest in Dusan Vlahovic as they look to challenge Tottenham Hotspur for the highly sought-after striker. Tuttosport reports that the Gunners could make an €80m move as early as January, with the Premier League side also aware of competition from Juventus. Vlahovic, 21, has remained in impressive form this season, scoring 12 goals in 15 league matches.
– Nicolo Schira writes that Juventus have offered Federico Bernardeschi a new contract. The Serie A club have proposed a three-year deal that contains a 30% salary reduction, despite the 27-year-old attacker recently signing with a new agent in hope of maintaining his current rate of €7.4m per year.
– Hugo Lloris is in line for a new contract at Tottenham, according to Tuttomercato. Talks are expected to take place in the first week of January over a one-year extension that will see the 34-year-old goalkeeper remain in North London until 2023. Spurs were previously linked with a move for Everton’s Jordan Pickford, but it looks as though that notion has changed in the last fortnight.
– Mundo Deportivo writes that Ousmane Dembele‘s agent had a three-hour meeting with Barcelona on Thursday as negotiations over a contract renewal continue. Despite the 24-year-old winger wishing to stay at Camp Nou, his representatives have delayed agreeing to a new deal, and with rumours that he has been offered an ultimatum, it looks as though patience is beginning to run thin amongst the Blaugrana’s hierarchy.
– Manchester City want a player exchange deal agreed if they are to allow Ferran Torres to leave for Barcelona, according to the Mirror. Pep Guardiola has identified Frenkie de Jong, Ansu Fati and Pedri as the three players whom he would like to be included in any deal, after it was reported that Torres had agreed personal terms with Barca on Wednesday.
– Another from Mundo Deportivo here that suggests Nabil Fekir has agreed a new contract with Real Betis. The 28-year-old attacking midfielder joined the club back in 2019, and after rumours linking him with a move to the Premier League, he will now commit his future in LaLiga as he pens a two-year extension until 2025.