The transfer window is heating up and we have our daily transfer gossip column to keep you in the loop.
Here, we look at the top headlines doing the rounds in Europe’s media on Sunday.
REDS IN FOR LEON BAILEY
Liverpool have made the Bayer Leverkusen winger their top summer transfer target and have reportedly ended their interest in signing Monaco star Thomas Lemar. Following the sale of attacker Philippe Coutinho, the Kop club are hoping to bolster their attacking options and have joined the likes of Chelsea and Manchester United in the race to sign the 20-year-old. The Jamaican international, who started his career with Genk in Belgium, is enjoying a stellar campaign with the Bundesliga side having netted 10 goals in all competitions, scaring defenders with his blistering pace.
It won’t be an easy pursuit for the Merseysiders but they are leading the chasing pack to land Bailey. Indeed, the youngster has bags of potential and Liverpool are doing the right thing by identifying his talent early doors. His ability to operate either as a winger or central striker is a real feather in his cap so expect movement on this deal in a few months’ time.
BARCA HAVE REAL INTEREST IN MARCO VERRATTI
Barcelona are set to reignite their long-term pursuit of the Paris Saint-Germain hard man at the end of the season. Blaugrana have been keen admirers of the Italian midfielder for some time, while arch rivals Real Madrid have also been tracking the Ligue 1 star. The Spanish giants are hopeful they can banish any ill-feeling between the two clubs following the protracted Neymar deal and secure the 25-year-old’s signature after the conclusion of the World Cup. Verratti fits the bill with Ernesto Valverde looking to build a youthful midfield and ensure veteran Andres Iniesta isn’t overplayed.
The Verratti transfer saga hasn’t really slowed down since the summer and while he is a crucial man for PSG, the central midfielder isn’t expected to pass up the chance of moving to one of the big two in La Liga or indeed the Premier League. His future will definitely be sorted out at the end of the season.
RED DEVILS CHANCE THEIR ARM WITH ALEX SANDRO PURSUIT
Manchester United and Chelsea will go head-to-head for the Juventus left-back at the end of the campaign, with the Red Devils emerging as the favourites to sign the 27-year-old Brazilian. Sandro has been a key performer for the Turin giants this term, showing his class going forward, as well as defensively. Although the Old Lady would command at least £50m for his services, Jose Mourinho is on the hunt for a new full-back to provide competition for Luke Shaw. The Blues, meanwhile, have struggled defensively this term and are looking for reinforcements regardless of whether or not Antonio Conte stays on as boss.
Sandro is expected to be a big star at the World Cup and will no doubt have no shortage of offers but sources close to the player have suggested he is keen on a move to England, so Mourinho has a firm base in which to start negotiating from.
Jose Mourinho has no intention of allowing David de Gea to leave as Manchester United are trying to attract the best players, not lose them.
The Portuguese has bolstered his squad with a handful of stars each summer since succeeding Louis van Gaal and last month delved into the January window for the first time to bring in Alexis Sanchez.
The only exits to date have been out-of-favour players but Real Madrid continue to be linked with a move for outstanding shot-stopper De Gea, who was on the brink of a switch to the Bernabeu in 2015.
Zinedine Zidane’s men could instead move this summer for Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois – a man who this week confessed his “heart is in Madrid” – but Mourinho is not interested in such talk as he looks to keep building his team.
“I don’t speak about Courtois,” he said of a player he managed at Chelsea.
“Do you think a club that is trying to attract the best players is a club that is open to sell their best players? Makes no sense.
“If you want to go to that level, we have to attract the best players like we did with Alexis, (Nemanja) Matic, (Paul) Pogba and so on, and don’t let our best players go.”
The January transfer window may be shut but there’s still plenty of news from the rumour mill with several moves being put off until the summer.
Here, we round up the transfer tales that have got everyone talking.
The Bayern Munich forward is believed to be in talks with Real Madrid over switching to the Bernabeu this summer. Rumours have persisted for some time that the prolific Pole dreams of playing for Los Blancos and given the striker is 29, his chances of one last big move are starting to run thin. As ever, Lewandowski has been plundering in the goals this term as the German giants close in on another Bundesliga title while Real’s La Liga troubles have been well-documented.
Expect, the Whites to move for the former Dortmund star in the close season and launch a bid in the region of €60m for his signature. With the future of Karim Benzema seemingly uncertain, as well as Cristiano Ronaldo’s long-term plight, Lewandowski’s experience and goal-getting ability is perfect to fill a quick void.
Having struggled for first-team action and experienced a drop in his performance level of late, the Portugal international is set to leave Camp Nou at the end of the season. The midfield talent has had to bear the brunt of boo boys this term and could be given an escape route out of Catalonia, with both Tottenham and West Ham considering moves for the 24-year-old midfielder. Gomes, who arrived at Barcelona in the summer of 2016, is apparently keen to play in the Premier League and will be available for a cut-price fee after the World Cup in Russia.
The Barcelona man struggled to impose himself during Thursday’s Copa del Rey clash against Valencia but despite a disappointing time of late, has youth on his side and plenty of talent to make an impact away from Blaugrana’s star laden side.
The Chelsea forward has not ruled out a return to Spain in the future, insisting that Madrid will always be his home. Morata, who was born in the Spanish capital, has endured a testing campaign at Stamford Bridge and struggled of late after an initially explosive start to life with the Blues. According to reports in Spain, the 25-year-old has revealed he will never turn down the chance to move back to his country and re-join boyhood side Real Madrid. With the Whites looking for striking reinforcements, a fairytale comeback should not be ruled out but it looks unlikely while Zinedine Zidane is still in charge.
While there is not any interest from Real Madrid at the moment given they only sold Morata last summer, there are many at the Bernabeu who still think the Whites should have stuck by the boyhood Madridista who actually netted in the Champions League final. But, after a decent season with Chelsea, expect him to stay in west London.
Paris Saint-Germain have reportedly made the Chelsea defensive midfield star their No.1 transfer target this term. Kante’s form, along with the rest of his team-mates, has dipped following a string of bad results under boss Antonio Conte and this has increased speculation the Frenchman could head out of the exit door at the end of the season. The Stamford Bridge club are thought to be reluctant to lose the 26-year-old marathon man in the middle of the park but a big-money offer from PSG could turn the player’s head. Kante, who last season became the first player to win two back-to-back league titles, previously played in Ligue 1 with Caen.
Like Morata, Kante is still very much an integral part of the furniture at Stamford Bridge – and is one of the most respected players in the squad, so, as such – don’t expect him to be going anywhere.