Man United are linked with moves for Andre Gomes and Toni Kroos

Alex Rea 2/01/2018
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Madrid makeweight: Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos

The transfer window is now open!

Here, we take a look at the biggest stories dominating the headlines today.

Will any of the following deals happen?

Let us know your thoughts.

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ARTURO VIDAL

Chelsea have inquired about the availability of Bayern Munich midfielder Arturo Vidal, according to Bild.

Vidal is under contract until 2019 but the Bundesliga giants could be tempted to sell if a big-money offer is tabled.

RATING: 7/10

VERDICT

Blues boss Antonio Conte and Vidal won three straight Serie A titles together, as well as one Coppa Italia, during their time at Juventus. The Chile international represented an on-pitch lieutenant for the Italian and Chelsea have been linked with a move for some time.

With Leon Goretzka expected to join Bayern, it’s a transfer which could make sense for both teams but it remains to be seen as to whether a 30-year-old Vidal wants a move to Stamford Bridge.

Arturo Vidal in action for Bayern Munich this season

Arturo Vidal in action for Bayern Munich this season

ANDRE GOMES

Manchester United are set to double their efforts to sign Barcelona midfielder Andre Gomes, reports Il Bianconero.

The Red Devils reportedly had a £35million bid rejected but are preparing a new offer.

RATING: 6/10

VERDICT

There is a good player in there somewhere and confidence could be the key to unlock it because Gomes’ 2016 move from Valencia to Barca has fallen way short of expectations.

The 24-year-old has made just two league starts under Ernesto Valverde and there are suggestions he is struggling to adapt to the Catalan giant’s style of play.

Lionel Messi alongside Andre Gomes

Lionel Messi alongside Andre Gomes

TONI KROOS

Real Madrid are considering selling Toni Kroos to Manchester United to help raise funds to sign PSG star Neymar, according to The Express.

Los Blancos have been linked with a sensational move for Neymar as they seek a long-term replacement for Cristiano Ronaldo and Kroos alongside Gareth Bale may be sold to comply with Financial Fair Play regulations.

RATING: 3/10

VERDICT

There are few things better than an ‘Inception Rumour’, a transfer rumour, within a transfer rumour. Let’s unpack this one, Neymar won’t be joining Madrid, it’s quite literally unfathomable and it’s harder still to picture them letting one of their most influential midfielders departing to facilitate a transfer.

Enough said on this one.

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Problem areas for Wenger and Conte as Arsenal host Chelsea in the Premier League

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Arsenal and Chelsea have been reduced to also-ran status by Manchester City‘s blistering pace in the title race, but there is still a lot to learn when the London rivals clash at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday.

With champions Chelsea lagging 14 points behind City and Arsenal sitting six points outside the top four, there’s clearly plenty of room for improvement in both teams.

Here we look at the problem areas for Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and Chelsea boss Antonio Conte:

REBELS WITH A CAUSE

After boldly deciding against selling Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil before the start of the season, Wenger has seen his gamble backfire as speculation about Arsenal’s contract rebels has been a constant distraction.

Sanchez and Ozil are out of contract at the end of the season and have refused to sign new deals, raising the possibility that both could be sold in January to avoid losing them for free in June.

Making matters worse, Sanchez, who was frustrated by Wenger’s refusal to let him join Manchester City in August, has pouted his way through the campaign – frustrating players, coaches and fans in the process.

City, Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid are all contenders to rid Wenger of the Sanchez problem, but the damage has already been done.

German midfielder Ozil, wanted by Manchester United and Barcelona, has been less overtly troublesome, but his inconsistent performances have hardly suggested complete commitment to the cause.

No wonder former Arsenal star Martin Keown said: “Wenger puts so much trust in his players but Sanchez and Ozil have been overindulged.

“You wonder where they would be had these two been fully committed for the whole season.”

Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil are both out of contract in the summer

Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil are both out of contract in the summer

FORWARD THINKING

Although Alvaro Morata has been a qualified success in his first season at Chelsea, the former Real Madrid striker has been virtually the sole goal threat for Conte’s men.

Morata has scored 12 times, but only twice in his last seven league games.

With 39 league goals this season, the Blues have scored less than the other teams currently in the top four.

Solving that problem has been impossible for Conte because Belgian forward Michy Batshuayi, the main back up for Morata, has scored only twice in the league and hasn’t netted since October.

Conte is certain to push for a new striker to be signed in the January transfer window, with Inter Milan’s Mauro Icardi and Sassuolo’s Domenico Berardi among potential targets.

Alvaro Morata has scored 10 goals in the league this season

Alvaro Morata has scored 10 goals in the league this season

DEFENSIVE WOES

Having leaked 26 league goals this term – more than any other team in the top seven – Wenger once again finds his failure to fix Arsenal’s leaky defence is undermining his side’s ambitions.

While Wenger has switched formations from a back three to a back four, changed defensive personnel and tried to protect them with different holding midfielders, the root cause of Arsenal’s Achilles heel remains philosophical.

Wenger’s commitment to an attacking game-plan which relies on a smooth-passing style earns plenty of plaudits from the purists.

But the Frenchman’s tactics often leave Arsenal’s full-backs out of position and his midfielders too far forward, while his reliance on diminutive playmakers allows opponents to bully the Gunners.

Arsene Wenger's side sit fifth in the league

Arsene Wenger’s side sit fifth in the league

SEARCH FOR MOTIVATION

Manchester City’s sensational first half of the season has left Conte with the tricky task of keeping his players motivated when it seems they have little to play for in the league.

At times, Chelsea were fatally unfocused when they faced opponents who didn’t immediately inspire respect and the result was lethargic and damaging defeats at lowly Crystal Palace and West Ham.

Conte is a notoriously demanding coach and there has been growing speculation that his players are tired of Italian’s intense training sessions.

Balancing a need to remain in charge of his stars, while also keeping them onside could be a challenge for Conte given the lack of drama in the title race, but he has no intention of changing his style.

“You must always have a great desire to do this job. My wish for myself is to continue to have this desire for many years,” Conte said.

Provided by AFP Sport

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Klopp says he couldn't care less about Nike showing Coutinho's name on Barca kit

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Jurgen Klopp insists Philippe Coutinho was genuinely injured for Liverpool’s 2-1 win at Burnley as he laughed off talk of the Brazil forward joining Barcelona.

Coutinho missed Monday’s Premier League fixture at Turf Moor with a thigh injury amid a backdrop of speculation over a move to the Nou Camp in the January transfer window.

The rumours were fuelled further by pictures – subsequently removed – of a Barcelona shirt with Coutinho’s name appearing on the website of Nike, the Catalan club’s kit manufacturer, over the weekend.

However, Reds boss Klopp claims there was nothing untoward behind the 25-year-old’s absence from Liverpool’s squad at Turf Moor as he responded to questions about the Nike pictures.

“I heard about it. Somebody told me and I thought ‘wow’. But I couldn’t be less interested in anything in the world!” Klopp said.

“Him (Coutinho) and Mohamed (Salah) are injured, not massively but enough for today, no chance and at least a doubt for Everton.”

Despite Coutinho and Salah’s absences, Estonia defender Ragnar Klavan scored a dramatic stoppage-time winner for Liverpool after Johann Berg Gudmundsson had cancelled out Sadio Mane’s opener.

And Klopp was most satisfied with the fortitude shown by his defence on a day when they might have wilted against a dogged Burnley side.

“I am really happy about our attitude and character,” Klopp said.

“You need to win your average games, win with attitude when you are not 100 percent.

“Burnley were an opponent motivated at the highest level. We needed to be ready for the wind, rain.

“It was cold and you need first of all concentration, you need readiness to work really hard, organisation, discipline and a little bit of luck. We deserved the three points.

“We need the wins on the not sunny days. It was a fantastic moment when we scored. I was never in doubt about the character of my boys.”

Provided by AFP Sport

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