Transfer Predictor: Nabil Fekir's move to Real Betis gets a 7 and Borja Iglesias to West Ham is a 5

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Nabil Fekir was on the verge of joining Liverpool last summer.

Struggling to pick out the facts from the figures? Reality from the rubbish? Sense from the silly season? We’ve got you sorted in our daily dose of the Transfer Predictor, where we round up the latest rumours with an analytical spin.

We sort through the most eye-catching transfer reports of the past 24 hours and give a balanced judgment on whether the move really will happen – and why.

Today’s edition features potential signings for West Ham, Paris-Saint Germain and Real Betis.

BORJA IGLESIAS

Espanyol -> €28 million -> West Ham

Marca report that Espanyol’s best attacker of the 2018/19 season Iglesias could have his release clause of €28 million triggered by West Ham. This rumour surfaced only days after the London club failed to acquire Celta Vigo striker Maxi Gomez.

WHY IT WILL HAPPEN

West Ham would have you believe that there’s something attractive about tier two strikers in La Liga. After failing to sign Gomez, the Hammers have turned their attention to Iglesias, who just enjoyed a 20-goal season with Barcelona’s second club.

The transfer fee could be on their side this time as the 26-year-old’s contract can be bought out for just €28m, which is €22 million less than Gomez’s release clause.

The Galician is in great touch and could prove to be an able replacement for Marko Arnautovic.

WHY IT WON’T HAPPEN

Real Betis are also interested in buying the player and could pay up to €30m to acquire his services, according to various Spanish outlets.

However, the twist is that the Seville club want to do it over installments and are yet to reach an agreement with Espanyol over the mode of payment.

In any case, the possibility of Iglesias continuing to ply his trade in the familiar territory of La Liga can’t be ignored.

TRANSFER RATING: 5/10

TIEMOUE BAKAYOKO

Tiemoue Bakayoko looks on

Chelsea -> Loan -> Paris Saint-Germain

An impressive stint with AC Milan has earned Chelsea midfielder Bakayoko a possibility of a move to his hometown and test himself at the biggest club in France.

Goal report that PSG are plotting a one-year loan move with a purchase option for the Frenchman as they look to add depth to their squad following the departure of Adrien Rabiot to Juventus on a free transfer.

WHY IT WILL HAPPEN

It’s unlikely that Chelsea will want to keep the player after a woeful 2017/18 season. PSG want him and he wants to play in Paris, or so he told L’Equipe.

“Yes, for sure, one day I would like to play in Paris,” Bakayoko said. “I cannot lie about it. It’s big for me and my loved ones. We are real Parisians.”

The loan deal hence seems straightforward and one that is very likely to materialise.

WHY IT WON’T HAPPEN

Bakayoko was not in Maurizio Sarri’s plans but with the managerial change and the transfer ban complicating the situation, the London club could have to think twice before letting their sixth most expensive transfer go so easily.

At the moment, the player is on the Blues’ pre-season tour and the decision to let him go on loan is Frank Lampard’s to make. The former Chelsea midfielder would want his options open amid the transfer ban.

TRANSFER RATING: 7/10

NABIL FEKIR

Nabil Fekir

Lyon -> €30 million -> Real Betis

Welcome to the most bizarre transfer story of the day. Fekir was inches from joining reigning Champions League winners Liverpool last summer but could now see himself wearing the green and white stripes in Seville.

Several publications such as Le Parisien and Marca claim that Betis are not only interested in Fekir, but are in advanced talks and could finalise a deal worth €30m soon.

WHY IT WILL HAPPEN

Once a hot prospect, could the Frenchman really sign for a club which has not had a sniff a trophy for a while? Don’t be surprised. Despite not falling into the category of the ‘big clubs’ in Spain, Betis have managed to pull off impressive transfers in the last two seasons thanks to a good sporting project and massive strides made in the growth of the club.

Betis managed to rope in top players like Marc Bartra, William Carvalho, Sergio Canales, Diego Lainez and Giovani Lo Celso in the last two years. In fact, Fekir could also be seen as a slight downgrade to the last name on the list – the player he will be replacing in the starting line-up.

Lo Celso is off to the Premier League in all likelihood and Fekir could pick up the mantle in midfield.

WHY IT WON’T HAPPEN

The figure surrounding the rumour is half as much as transfermarkt’s valuation (€60 million) of Fekir. It’s hard to believe that Lyon would agree to a transfer fee as low as €30m in this inflated market, regardless of what reliable sources say.

Should the French club demand a sum close to the player’s value, Betis could opt for a cheaper alternative.

TRANSFER RATING: 7/10

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Man United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer remains coy over Romelu Lukaku’s future amid Inter interest

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was coy about Romelu Lukaku’s Manchester United future as the Inter Milan target hinted at movement next week.

Just two years after arriving from Everton in an initial £75million deal, the 26-year-old is understood to be welcoming interest from the Serie A giants.

Antonio Conte’s side met United in recent days for discussions, but PA understands that Inter have been struggling to fund a deal for the Belgium international.

The striker missed Saturday’s 2-0 friendly win against Perth Glory due to a knock and fuelled speculation about his future as he left Optus Stadium, telling reporters: “You guys will know something next week”.

Lukaku’s brief comment came as Solskjaer faced questions about the frontman’s fitness and happiness at the post-match press conference.

“There’s been so many speculations but, yes, he should be fit for Wednesday (against Leeds),” the United boss said.

“He trained with the team yesterday, but it wasn’t useful today to risk him, to be fair.”

Quizzed on whether Lukaku will still be a player at the start of the season, Solskjaer added: “Well, let’s see when the season starts. We’ve not had any bids that we’re considering.

“All my conversations with the players I will keep confidential. That’s between us.

“That’s my privilege and I can promise them that I won’t tell (about) our discussions.”

Provided by Press Association Sport

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Ruben Dias leads list of cheaper Harry Maguire alternatives for Man United

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Manchester United were touted for a major overhaul in the summer but with their first pre-season fixture already played, only two recruits have been inducted into the squad for the upcoming campaign.

Daniel James and Aaron Wan-Bissaka were good bits of business for the Red Devils but, disturbingly, no signing has been made at centre-back yet – a position that’s widely regarded as a priority.

United have been in hot pursuit of Leicester City centre-back Harry Maguire and a fee in the region of £75 million is reportedly being negotiated.

Even for a defender of Maguire’s caliber, that figure is on the higher side especially when Juventus appear to be reaching an agreement with Ajax for Matthijs de Ligt for £63 million.

United are growing desperate though but before they pull the trigger, here’s a few cheaper alternatives they should consider.

RUBEN DIAS

If Solskjaer is determined to implement a more fluid style of play at United then much of that starts with the backline and in Ruben Dias he would attain a centre-back comfortable playing out from defence.

Of course, that’s an area of strength for Maguire as well but Dias seems to at least match if not better the Englishman’s stats. A pass success rate of 86.3 per cent in Ligo NOS last season is marginally better than the 85.6 per cent the Leicester City defender registered in the Premier League.

Maguire is renowned for his tackling and rightly so having won an impressive 83.7 per cent of his 37 tackles last season. Dias was incredibly even more impressive in that regard though, winning 89.7 per cent of his 49 tackles.

Dias’ aerial prowess also fits the profile of the sort of centre-back United are seemingly looking to acquire. However, his success rate of 57.6 per cent from aerial duels in the league last season was well below Maguire’s 77.6 per cent.

That’s the only area in which the Englishman is notably superior though and Dias certainly holds a pace advantage over his counterpart. Meanwhile, the Portuguese defender is one of the most promising centre-backs in the game having established himself in the national team set-up over the past year.

Dias currently has a release clause set at €66 million, around €20 million cheaper that the fees quoted for Maguire. At only 22, he’s also got four years on the England international.

Ruben Dias

NIKOLA MILENKOVIC

Nikola Milenkovic has impressed at Fiorentina as one of the best defenders in Serie A. At 6’5” and around 90kgs, the Serbian is an imposing figure, naturally drawing comparisons with compatriot and former United star Nemanja Vidic.

Milenkovic won 61.7 per cent of his aerial duels last season, an improvement on Dias’ numbers but still a fair amount shy of Maguire’s, while a tackle success rate of 78.6 per cent is effective but not entirely impressive.

The Fiorentina defender is surprisingly fleet-footed. Maguire’s main drawback has been his lack of agility which sometimes sees him struggle against diminutive forwards with a low centre of gravity.

Milenkovic is far better in those scenarios, so much so that he’s often been deployed at right-back for La Viola even though his crossing leaves a lot to be desired. That versatility is noteworthy perk of securing services as well.

One of his more underrated qualities though is his reading of the game. The Serbian, when playing in central defence, likes to stay tight to his man and nip ahead to make an interception when the opportunity arises.

According to gianlucadimarzio.com, United’s bid of €40 million was turned down by Fiorentina in January. The Italian outfit are thought to be holding out for around 50 million which would be a significantly smaller fee than the one required to sign Maguire and for a player five years his junior.

Nikola Milenkovic

WILLI ORBAN

United are in desperate need of some leadership in defence and that’s presumably why Maguire appears to be a priority. The centre-back has been a commanding presence in Leicester’s first team over the last couple of years and is proven in the Premier League.

However, Willi Orban boasts much of the same traits and has captained RB Leipzig admirably over the last couple of seasons. Like Maguire, Orban isn’t particularly quick across the turf but compensates for that with power and aggression.

The Hungarian isn’t as accomplished on the ball as the Leicester centre-back but in terms of organising the defence, he’s arguably every bit his equal. He also shares the Englishman’s levels of concentration and is aggressive in assessing and dealing with danger quickly.

Unlike the other two centre-backs on this list, Orban is the finished article and what makes him even more attractive is the fact that he could be something of a bargain.

Leipzig have an embarrassment of riches in central defence at the moment. Both Dayot Upamecano and Ibrahima Konate are among the most highly-rated young centre-backs in Europe. With Leipzig eager to hold on to both 20-year-olds possibly until they can command exorbitant transfer fees, they may be convinced to sell their skipper this summer.

According to transfermarkt.co.uk, Orban is valued at €20 million but even a fee up to €40 million would have the makings of a good deal while being about half as expensive as Maguire.

Willi Orban

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