Colombia centre-back Yerry Mina joined Barcelona from Brazilian side Palmeiras on Thursday on a five year contract for a fee of 11.8 million euros ($14 million), the Catalan club announced.
The 6ft 5in 23-year-old is set to fill the void left by Javier Mascherano, who is on the verge of a 10 million euro switch to China’s Hebei Fortune.
The Colombian international will be Barcelona’s second signing of the January transfer window after Philippe Coutinho’s 160 million-euro capture from Liverpool.
Mina has a 100 million euro release clause attached to his contract.
With Mascherino set to leave and injured young French centre-back Samuel Umtiti widely reported to be in talks with Manchester City, Barcelona had faced being left with only two recognised centre backs in Gerard Pique and Thomas Vermaelen.
WHAT THE PAPERS SAY
Everton will battle Southampton to sign Arsenal’s Theo Walcott, according to the Daily Mail. The paper says the Gunners may consider letting the England forward leave this month, while Everton are confident they can beat the Saints to the 28-year-old’s signature.
Tottenham have started new contract talks with Dele Alli amid interest from Europe, the Mirror reports. The paper says Spurs are confident the 21-year-old will sign a new deal, with informal discussions having already taken place, despite transfer links with Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain.
Arsene Wenger is eyeing up Bordeaux’s 20-year-old Brazilian star Malcom as a potential replacement to Alexis Sanchez, with Arsenal having already started talks with the Ligue 1 club according to the Mirror.
Manchester City have reportedly held talks with West Brom about signing defender Jonny Evans. According to the Daily Mail, Arsenal are also interested in the 30-year-old, but know they would not be able to match any offer City make to Evans.
Martin O’Neill could be in the frame for the vacant Stoke job and was set to meet with club officials, according to the Irish Independent. The paper says O’Neill is in pole position to succeed Mark Hughes, with the club keen to have a new man in place for Monday’s meeting with Manchester United. The Daily Mail reports that their search could also include Espanyol boss Quique Sanchez Flores.
SOCIAL MEDIA ROUND-UP
@talkSPORT: Real Madrid make contact with Eden Hazard over possible move – reports
@Mirrorfootball: Liverpool ‘can get Naby Keita in January for £13m’ as RB Leipzig reportedly soften stance on midfielder
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Diafra Sakho: Crystal Palace are said to be confident of signing the 28-year-old from West Ham by the end of the week. The Mirror claims Palace believe they can bring him to London this month, despite being unable to secure a deal for him last summer.
Dani Ceballos: Liverpool interested in signing the 21-year-old from Real Madrid, according to Spanish news site Diario Gol. It claims the midfielder has told the La Liga club he wants to leave, with Liverpool interested in him as a replacement for Philippe Coutinho.
Karim Benzema has consistently fallen short of the targets a Los Blancos marksman should be hitting and Cristiano Ronaldo desperately needs someone to share the goal-scoring burden with, much the way Lionel Messi can rely on Luis Suarez at Barcelona for example.
Real Madrid’s endless resources means they’re able to cast a wide net and choose from the lavish talent on offer. Robert Lewandowski, Antoine Griezmann and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are some of the names linked to a move to the Santiago Bernabeu.
So how does Kane match-up to the rest of the candidates out there?
If there’s one English player primed to take La Liga by storm, it’s Harry Kane. The Spurs striker has scored goals for fun over the last four seasons with the current campaign on course to be his most prolific yet.
Kane is more than comfortable leading the line on his own. While he’s not a traditional lumbering, robust number nine despite his towering frame, he does use his physique to his advantage.
He isn’t gifted with pace but is a powerful runner and relentlessly works the channels. His movement on the other hand is among the best, playing nicely into arguably his finest quality – instinct.
The 24-year-old is a goal-poacher for the ages. Couple that with his sharp-shooting, clinical nature and remarkable persistence, and he’s one lean, mean, goal-scoring machine.
He’s just the kind of ruthless goalscorer Madrid have longed for to lead their attack and with years on his side, he will only get better, and that’s a scary thought.
Rating – 9/10
Lewandowski is just as compatible with Madrid as Kane. That’s largely because the two strikers share many of their best qualities. The Pole however is the more accomplished. Kane has been rising steadily over the last four years but the Bayern Munich man has done it over a decade, breaking the 40-goal barrier in two separate seasons.
In that time, Lewandowski has racked up plenty of silverware as well while Kane is still on a quest for his first trophy. You could say that the 29-year-old is everything Kane aspires to be in five years’ time and a move to Madrid could be the way forward.
In the Bayern striker though, Madrid would get the complete package. Someone with all the ability and experience to back it up, on the biggest stages as well.
Of course, reports linking Lewandowski to Madrid have faded of late, with logic perhaps prevailing, however unlikely that may seem for transfer season. There’s no reason for Bayern to sell their star striker and to one of their main competitors for European supremacy no less.
For Madrid as well, they may be missing a trick if they pursue Lewandowski. When presented with the opportunity to recruit a new frontman to lead them for years to come, opting for someone just eight months younger than Benzema, however proven, would be a little short sighted.
Rating – 8/10
With a release clause of only €100m ready to be triggered in the summer, Griezmann makes a lot of sense for Real Madrid. The Frenchman knows what La Liga is all about and can certainly take over the mantle from Ronaldo as Madrid’s main man for the next five years or so.
The forward has been a creative spark for Atletico Madrid since joining from Real Sociedad in 2014 and has flourished in a relatively rigid system under Diego Simeone. As such, it’s reason to suggest that he could have far more joy with Real’s more expansive brand of football.
While he doesn’t fit the bill of a traditional lone striker, he brings something different to the role and should Zinedine Zidane choose to go with two up front, the France international has plenty to offer in that capacity as well.
His particular skillset, whether it involves his ability to drop into pockets of space, link-up superbly with his team-mates or using his burst of acceleration to carry the ball forward, Griezmann offers a different dimension to Real.
Unlike an out-and-out striker, the 26-year-old poses an unpredictable threat. His ability to drop deep or drift wide and be just as dangerous from any of those positions makes him difficult to keep quiet.
Simply put, raiding their city rivals offers the potential for Real to explore new dimensions in their attacking play that they don’t even know exists at the moment. However, it could just as easily fail to click, leaving them in a search of a focal point in attack yet again.
Rating – 7/10
The Gabon international extended his contract at Borussia Dortmund only in December, signing a deal until 2021. However, the links to Madrid won’t go away.
Aubameyang’s main draw is his searing pace but his ability to find the back of the net with such consistency over the last four seasons has made him one of the top strikers in Europe.
However, unlike Kane or Lewandowski, the Dortmund man isn’t exactly a natural goal-poacher or the most clinical of finishers. The feeling is that much of his threat will be neutralised once he loses his pace, while his link-up play isn’t up to the standards of the others on this list.
In a team that also features Ronaldo, the striker would have to be intelligent with his movement to work with the Portuguese star and Aubameyang perhaps isn’t the best candidate in that regard.
Rating – 6/10