Kepa set for Real Madrid and other potential January signings for Europe's elite clubs

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Liverpool‘s £75 million ($100 million) splurge on Southampton’s Virgil van Dijk indicated that the English Premier League will again be where most money is spent in the January transfer window.

But some of Europe’s top clubs will be active this month looking to strengthen their squads for the run-in.

AFP Sport looks at what to expect in the continent’s biggest leagues after the window opened on Monday.

SPAIN: KEPA SET FOR MADRID

La Liga leaders Barcelona could say they already have their big January signing with Ousmane Dembele close to a return having injured himself shortly after his big-money move from Borussia Dortmund at the start of the season.

That will not stop speculation that the Catalans will go back in for Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho after failing in their bid to sign the Brazilian in the summer.

But strengthening at the back might be of more immediate importance with Javier Mascherano set to depart.

A move for the giant Colombian Yerry Mina of Palmeiras could be completed imminently.

Atletico Madrid can finally register new players with a FIFA-imposed ban now having ended. That means Diego Costa and Vitolo can make their debuts after agreeing deals to move to the Wanda Metropolitano from Chelsea and Sevilla respectively in the summer.

Real Madrid are likely to make moves too. But if there is to be only one signing it should be that of Kepa Arrizabalaga, the Athletic Bilbao and Spain goalkeeper.

The 23-year-old’s contract expires in June, but Madrid could pay his 20 million-euro buyout clause to get him now.

Madrid could splash the cash in January to secure Kepa's signature.

ITALY: SALES AT MILAN?

Juventus could splash some cash as they chase league leaders Napoli and they have been linked with a move for Liverpool’s Germany midfielder Emre Can.

“We know that he is a good player and a good opportunity but nothing more,” Juve CEO Beppe Marotta told Premium Sport on Saturday.

Already out of the Champions League, Napoli are desperate to win a first Serie A title since 1990.

They want to reinforce their attack this month, and have been linked with a 25 million-euro move for the Bologna striker Simone Verdi.

There could be sales at AC Milan, who are in financial difficulty and struggling in mid-table.

Most headlines, though, currently surround the future of goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, who has been linked with a move away but said on Saturday that he was “happy” at San Siro.

The window in Italy opens on Wednesday.

Donnarumma is one AC Milan player linked with a move away from the club.

GERMANY: GORETZKA BAYERN-BOUND

Bayern Munich are on course for another Bundesliga title. They are top, 11 points clear of Schalke, at the season’s halfway stage. And they are set to add insult to injury for their rivals by making a move for Schalke star Leon Goretzka.

The 22-year-old German international is out of contract at the end of the season and Sport Bild reported on Sunday that he would sign a pre-contract agreement this month to move to Bavaria in the summer.

There is likely to be movement at Borussia Dortmund, with Andre Schuerrle being linked with West Ham United.

They will also have to deal with inevitable speculation as to the future of star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who is under contract until 2021.

Goretzka seems to be the latest Bungesliga star on the way to Bayern.

FRANCE: PSG TO TRIM SQUAD

There will almost certainly be departures from Paris Saint-Germain as they look to raise funds to comply with financial fair play.

Javier Pastore is reportedly keen to leave to boost his chances of making the Argentina squad for the World Cup and could be Italy-bound.

The out-of-favour Lucas Moura will depart too, while PSG are also hoping to bring in a midfielder, although they look to have missed out on the Brazilian Wendel, who is set to join Sporting Lisbon from Fluminense.

Elsewhere, Monaco will trim their squad, and English clubs could come back in for Thomas Lemar, the target of huge bids from Liverpool and Arsenal in the summer.

Moura is another PSG attacker who could make way in January.

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Adrien Silva finally free to play for Leicester after completing deal

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Adrien Silva is looking forward to putting months of ‘frustration’ behind him after finally completing his registration as a Leicester player.

The Portugal international was unable to seal a £22million move from Sporting Lisbon on transfer deadline day last summer as the paperwork was submitted 14 seconds late.

Subsequent appeals to FIFA and the Court of Arbitration for Sport were rejected, meaning both the club and player had to wait until January for Silva to become eligible to play.

Silva is excited about the prospect of now being able to make his debut for Leicester, although his registration was not completed in time for him to face Huddersfield later on Monday.

The 28-year-old, who has played several behind-closed-doors friendlies to help gain match fitness, told LCFC TV: “It’s been very frustrating, but now the difficult times are past me and now I’m very happy to be close to my goal.

“I’ve been working hard every day to arrive at this moment and I’m in good shape.

“I will be in good shape because I have worked a lot – I have confidence in that – but I have to play games to get better.”

Silva thanked his team-mates for helping him during his spell on the sidelines, and says he sees a “great future” for Claude Puel’s men.

“They’ve been great for me and they keep pushing to keep my mentality up,” he said.

“They have been very important for me. I see a great future in front of us.

“They keep your smile on your face. I have to thank them also for being there, not only in the good times but also in the bad ones.” 

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Barcelona preparing to clinch Mina deal in January, Man Utd chase Inter star

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Mina is reportedly close to a switch to Barcelona.

The transfer window is now open!

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

Will any of the following deals happen?

Let us know your thoughts.

BARCA LOOK TO SIGN MINA EARLIER THAN PLANNED

Barcelona are hoping to complete a deal to sign Palmeiras defender Yerry Mina in January, as opposed to the summer – the timeframe where both clubs had initially agreed the transfer.

The highly-rated Colombian is all set to join the Nou Camp club in the close season but Barca remain confident they can bring the 23-year-old to La Liga earlier than planned, during the current window.

According to Sport, it remains to be seen whether Ernesto Valverde’s men will be able to break an existing gentlemen’s agreement between the two clubs.

SPORT360 RATING: 7/10

VERDICT

With Javier Mascherano set to exit the Camp Nou this month, Barcelona need defensive reinforcements as they look to tie-up the La Liga title and go far in the Champions League.

While a fee of around €9m had already been confirmed for Mina ahead of his transfer next summer, expect Barca to seal the deal on his signature earlier if they are prepared to add a few million euros onto that price-tag.

BELO HORIZONTE, BRAZIL - JULY 09: Murilo #35 of Cruzeiro and Yerry Mina #26 of Palmeiras battle for the ball during a match between Cruzeiro and Palmeiras as part of Brasileirao Series A 2017 at Mineirao stadium on July 09, 2017 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. (Photo by Pedro Vilela/Getty Images)

Mina has a pre-agreement in place to join Barca.

RED DEVILS TARGET INTER MILAN MIDFIELDER

Manchester United are set to launch a window offer for Inter Milan midfielder Joao Mario, as Henrikh Mkhitaryan nears the Old Trafford exit door.

After a difficult December and a barrage of injuries to contend with, Jose Mourinho’s men are set to strengthen this month with urgent reinforcements.

Mario, the 24-year-old Portuguese playmaker, is a player Mourinho knows well and feels he could be the man to provide a timely creative spark for the Reds.

SPORT360 RATING: 7.5/10

VERDICT

The former Sporting star is a key man for the Nerazzurri and the Black and Blues have offered no indication they would be willing to move the midfielder on.

However, if a big-money offer came in from United, it could well prove too good to resist.

MILAN, ITALY - DECEMBER 03: Joao Mario of FC Internazionale Milano looks on during the Serie A match between FC Internazionale and AC Chievo Verona at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on December 3, 2017 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images)

Joao Mario is an important man for Inter.

WALCOTT HEADING HOME?

Arsenal star Theo Walcott could be heading back to former club Southampton, initially on loan, according to the Daily Mail.

The 28-year-old broke through the south coast side’s ranks back in 2005 before joining the Gunners in January 2006.

But, after a difficult campaign at the Emirates, Walcott is looking for more game time – especially with the World Cup on the horizon.

SPORT360 RATING: 6/10

VERDICT

Given that Arsenal potentially face losing both Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez, although unlikely, in the window – Arsene Wenger will be keen to keep hold of Walcott’s experience.

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 28: Theo Walcott of Arsenal warms up prior to the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Arsenal at Selhurst Park on December 28, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

A return to the club where it all started?

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