Real Madrid are the favourites to land a top-class defender after the exit door was opened by Chelsea, according to reports.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side are looking to improve their backline after allowing Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane to leave earlier this year. Ramos is now at Paris Saint-Germain, while Varane is representing Manchester United.
The Spanish giants need to sign players on the cheap, however, as they aim to fund a move for Kylian Mbappe. Even if the French superstar becomes a free agent in June, Madrid will need money available for agent fees and his huge wages.
There are four Chelsea defenders up for grabs – Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen, Cesar Azpilicueta and Thiago Silva.
These stars are all able to leave Stamford Bridge for free in 2022, unless new contracts are agreed.
Silva, 37, is the least likely to join Madrid as he is close to penning a one-year extension. But Los Blancos have reportedly expressed an interest in the other three.
The Guardian now provide a significant new update on Madrid’s transfer hunt. They write that the 34-time La Liga winners are the ‘favourites’ to sign Rudiger.
Positive talks have supposedly been held with the German and his agent. This means Madrid are growing in confidence over the centre-back’s capture.
Chelsea are eager to tie Rudiger down to a new deal. However, they are refusing to meet his £200,000-a-week demands. This has seen the Blues ‘open the door’ for a summer exit.
The report states that Chelsea’s relationship with Rudiger is still amicable. A deal could yet be struck to keep him in England, although uncertainty grows as we move closer to the new year.
Madrid can finalise a pre-contract agreement with the star in January under the Bosman ruling.
Chelsea learn Champions League fate
Meanwhile, Chelsea will face Lille in the last 16 of the Champions League.
Thomas Tuchel’s men were given Lille in both the faulty draw and the re-draw on Monday.
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It will be a tricky test to overcome the French champions, although the Blues could have had it worse.
Bayern, Madrid or Ajax were their other potential opponents. Chelsea will be hoping they can reach the quarter-final for the second year running and go on to defend their crown.
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Tottenham bid in as Antonio Conte looks to hijack Man Utd, Liverpool deals for €45m Porto sensation
Tottenham are reportedly looking to secure the signing of Porto attacker Luis Diaz before the January window shuts, despite strong interest from Manchester United and Liverpool.
The Premier League trio are all chasing the player dubbed ‘the Colombian Cristiano Ronaldo’, although United and Liverpool are yet to make official bids. That has left the door open for Spurs to strike, as Antonio Conte looks to bring in at least three players before the end of the month.
Pedro Sepulveda of Portuguese outlet SIC Noticias reports that the 25-year-old is subject of a €45million bid from the north London side.
Tottenham have reportedly given Porto 48 hours to respond to the offer.
Daniel Levy has typically gone in with a lowball offer, with Diaz valued closer to €60m earlier this window.
But the report adds that Spurs are actually considering breaking their transfer record to sign the forward.
Tanguy Ndombele stills holds that honour, although the playmaker could be on his way out before January 31.
Diaz has scored 64 goals in 275 career appearances and has netted an impressive 16 times already this term.
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Tottenham open talks over Sevilla swap deal
Meanwhile, Tottenham have opened talks with Sevilla about a potential swap deal to sign Newcastle centre-back target Diego Carlos, according to a report.
The Magpies have long had interest in a deal for the Brazil international. Following additions at full-back and up top with Kieran Trippier and Chris Wood, defence is a priority.
And Newcastle have held several rounds of talks with Sevilla about a deal for Carlos.
The Daily Mail now reports that the Magpies’ current offer is £32million. However, the La Liga club want £40million.
It remains unclear whether Eddie Howe’s side will stump up the rest of the money Sevilla want for their star man.
According to Football Insider, though, the delay has allowed Tottenham to garner hope of snapping Carlos up.
Indeed, they have opened ‘preliminary’ talks over a player-plus-cash deal which they hope Sevilla will accept.
Reports have claimed that Spurs are willing to let Giovani Lo Celso leave before the transfer deadline. The Argentine is alongside Tanguy Ndombele and Dele Alli as being a player who could leave Tottenham this month.
Lo Celso could head back to Spain
And Football Insider claims that Spurs could offer Lo Celso to Sevilla for Carlos in a part-exchange deal.
The report adds that the fact that Tottenham are an ‘established’ top-six club could give them an advantage.
While they are pushing for a top-four place, Newcastle are fighting against relegation.
Carlos, 28, moved to Sevilla from French club Nantes in 2019. Since then, the six-cap Brazil international has racked up over 120 appearances.
Lo Celso, meanwhile, has only played nine Premier League games this term, starting only twice.
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West Ham ramp up double move with wantaway Liverpool star phase one
Nat Phillips has let Liverpool know of his desire to leave in this window, and is being targeted by West Ham as part of a double move this week, per a report.
The centre-half, 24, has slid down the pecking order this season. Nat Phillips answered the call last season when Liverpool’s campaign threatened to unravel amid a spate of injuries in defence.
Rhys Williams and loanee Ozan Kabak played their part, but Phillips became the main man at the back, helping to steer Liverpool towards vital Champions League qualification.
But the signing of Ibrahima Konate and the return of their injured stars has seen Phillips marginalised this year. He is yet to play a single minute in the Premier League this campaign. As such, talk of a January exit began to swirl.
Jurgen Klopp stated Liverpool had no plans to sanction any loans this month. It appears a permanent exit is Phillips’ only route out.
West Ham emerged as a contender to to sign Nat Phillips after Angelo Ogbonna suffered a serious ACL injury.
Now, according to the Evening Standard, the Hammers are preparing to ramp up their pursuit.
They state Davis Moyes will ‘step up’ West Ham’s efforts to land both a centre-back and striker this month.
Phillips would fit the bill in the first regard, and ‘remains a target’ for Moyes. What’s more, the outlet state Phillips is now open to moving away with more regular minutes elsewhere seemingly on his mind. In the article’s words, Phillips ‘has expressed a desire to leave for regular football this month’.
Liverpool won’t stand in Phillips’ way if their demands are met. The Reds are understood to be seeking around £15m for his signature.
Adding further fuel to the fire is Liverpool’s decision to recall Rhys Williams from his loan spell at Swansea. The Welshman would fill the role of fifth-choice centre-half if Phillips were to leave.
Marseille’s Duje Caleta-Car is an alternative Hammers target, though that deal is unlikely this month.
West Ham eye Championship hotshot
Also on West Ham’s agenda is bolstering their firepower in the final third. The club have never replaced Sebastien Haller, leaving just Michail Antonio as their sole recognised centre-forward.
Blackburn’s red-hot striker Ben Brereton Diaz is on their radar. However, the striker is currently in South America on international duty with Chile.
That will ensure any late West Ham move this week will have an extra hurdle to overcome.
Brereton Diaz has plundered 20 goals in the second tier this season and would reportedly command a £28m fee.
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Hammers ace the perfect Salah replacement
Meanwhile, Klopp has been told that only one player has the necessary qualities to replace Mohamed Salah at Anfield if the Egyptian end up departing this summer, and he plays for West Ham.
Salah is said to be asking for £400,000 in weekly wages to sign another contract on Merseyside. That would make him the club’s highest paid player ever by a considerable margin. Understandably, progress on the new deal front has been slow thus far given the scale of commitment required.
Now, speaking on talkSPORT, Tony Cascarino reckons West Ham’s Jarrod Bowen is displaying the ideal qualities Klopp would target if Salah departed the Reds.
“I actually thought, if we lost Mo Salah, who could we logically go after?” the boyhood Reds fan asked.
“Well, the lad Bowen at West Ham ticks all those boxes. He’s tenacious, he chases everything and is decent technically, but not extraordinary.
“I keep thinking who would fit into that Liverpool frontline because Klopp loves those kinds of players in wide areas, who will chase and hassle players. He does all the ugly things for his team, and will always get chances.”
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