Veteran striker Peter Crouch could be set for a shock loan move to Premier League champions Chelsea from strugglers Stoke City, according to the British media on Friday.
The former England international – who turns 37 on January 30 – is wanted by Chelsea as cover for Alvaro Morata as Antonio Conte is willing to let Belgian Michy Batshuayi leave.
Conte had originally wanted West Ham United target man Andy Carroll but the injury-prone striker has an ankle injury that may rule him out for the rest of the season.
The Sun, The Daily Mirror and The Daily Telegraph report that Chelsea have switched their interest to the 42-times capped Crouch – who has scored four goals in 21 appearances this term.
The west London club would prefer a loan deal for the Chelsea fan and former ball boy, who only last November signed a one-year contract extension with an option for another year.
Conte has been seeking a target man since the close season and was beaten by Tottenham Hotspur to signing Spaniard Fernando Llorente from Swansea City.
WHAT THE PAPERS SAY
West Brom will let defender Jonny Evans leave the Hawthorns for Manchester City – as long as the price is right, the Sun reports. The paper said West Brom will expect £23.5million for the defender, who is also subject to interest from Arsenal – with boss Alan Pardew resigned to losing the 30-year-old during this transfer window.
Michael Lang could be coming into the Hawthorns, according to reports in the Mail. The 26-year-old is currently at Basel, but scouts from the Baggies have been watching the Swiss international during their training camp as a potential replacement for Evans, the paper said.
Newcastle are looking to bolster their squad with the loan signings of Everton’s Aaron Lennon and Leicester’s Islam Slimani, according to the Shields Gazette. Boss Rafa Benitez is looking at the loan market with Lennon out of contract in the summer and Slimani struggling for a game at the King Power.
The list of potential suitors for Nice midfielder Jean-Michael Seri continues to grow, with Manchester United leading a four-way battle for the defender, according to the Mirror. Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City are all looking to take on the 26-year-old who is also fancied by Paris St Germain.
Michy Batshuayi has caught the eye of West Ham boss David Moyes, who was at Stamford Bridge to watch the Belgian in action against Norwich earlier in the week, the Mail reports.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Tottenham are looking to sign Paris St Germain forward Lucas Moura, with Manchester United also interested, according to L’Equipe.
Paulo Dybala will have to submit a transfer request to leave Juventus, following interest from Manchester United, La Gazzetta Dello Sport reports.
Arsenal are closer to securing the services of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Borussia Dortmund, according to Bild.
The club claimed the player had other things on his mind and wasn’t focused as a result.
Here are three things that could happen at the Emirates if Aubameyang completes the switch to Arsenal.
A WIDE ROLE FOR LACAZETTE
Alexandre Lacazette has scored in patches since his arrival in the summer but has largely failed to live up to his billing.
However, the Frenchman has many qualities and does pose a significant goal threat. With his searing pace and eye for goal, Arsene Wenger may well decide to deploy him in a wide forward position.
It seems like a colossal waste to confine an attacker of his calibre, and indeed transfer fee, to the bench. Lacazette could go some way to filling the void left by Sanchez from a wider role should the Chilean’s move to United materialise.
After all, he would be playing as a wide forward, not an out-and-out winger with the wing-backs providing width as well.
Without the responsibility to lead the line, hold up the ball and challenge robust centre-backs in the air, could we perhaps see a resurgence from the forward who bagged 28 goals in Ligue 1 last season?
He hasn’t scored in over 10 hours for Arsenal in the league but there’s a good chance that the freedom of a wider role will unleash the best he has to offer.
GIROUD ON THE MARKET
Olivier Giroud has scored 105 goals for Arsenal in 249 appearances, a fine record, especially when you consider the fact that many of his outings were from the bench.
The Frenchman has never been first-choice despite his consistency and has rarely been afforded a decent run in the side.
Aubameyang’s arrival could see him fall further down the pecking order. Even if Lacazette adopts a wide role to accommodate the Gabon striker, you’d expect him to lead the line in his absence, while Giroud still waits in the wings.
At 31, this year’s World Cup could be his last and as long as he’s confined to Arsenal’s bench, he risks being dropped from the final squad. There are plenty of teams who would love to take on Giroud, with Dortmund being one of them.
It seems as if a swap deal could be in the best interests of all parties and naturally there have been reports of such an agreement being considered.
Bayern Munich beat Dortmund by 10 points to the Bundesliga title in the 2015-16 season. However, it was the Black and Yellows that outscored the champions, courtesy of two outstanding performers.
Aubameyang was second only to Robert Lewandowski in the league with 25 goals while a certain Henrikh Mkhitaryan topped the assists charts with 15 to his name.
It’s been widely reported that the Armenian will be part of Sanchez’s imminent move to Old Trafford and while he’s been hit and miss at United, perhaps a reunion with Aubameyang at the Emirates will get him back on track.
The duo struck up a fine relationship on the pitch at Dortmund and Arsenal’s fluid, attacking style of play may be the perfect platform on which they can pick up from where they left off.
Mkhitaryan is arguably far more suited to Arsenal’s system than United’s and while Romelu Lukaku is deceptively quick, he doesn’t boast the blistering pace Aubameyang does. Zlatan Ibrahimovic didn’t offer much pace last season either.
Perhaps working with a rapid forward capable of getting in behind the defence will bring the best out of the attacking midfielder once again, who is much more adept at sliding in through balls or fizzing them across the box than he is at aerial crosses into the area.