Manchester United look likely to wait until the summer to land their top transfer target, while Chelsea aim to improve their squad by making a double £80million raid on Ligue 1, according to Saturday’s newspapers.
UNITED TO WAIT ON LINDELOF DEAL
Jose Mourinho has made Benfica defender Victor Lindelof his No.1 transfer priority – but will have to wait until the summer to land his man.
The Manchester United manager is desperate to bolster his central defence and has had to rely on stand-ins Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones in recent weeks with Eric Bailly and Chris Smalling on the sidelines.
Although Bailly is now back, Smalling is expected to leave the club – either in January, or more likely at the end of the season – by which time Mourinho will hope to have brought in a replacement.
That has seen the club linked with moves for Virgil van Dijk and Jose Fonte of Southampton, while Juventus lynchpin Leonardo Bonucci has also been mentioned as a possible target.
However, it is Lindelof who has emerged as Mourinho’s top choice.
According to the Daily Mirror, United have already made enquiries about the Swedish centre half but the Portuguese giants are insisting they will not sell next month because they are still in the Champions League.
United have made regular checks on 22-year-old Lindelof and watched him again on Sunday when Benfica beat Sporting Lisbon.
However, although United look unlikely to seal a move for the player in January, Mourinho is prepared to wait until the summer to land his man, with the United boss hoping both Lindelof and Bailly can form the bedrock of a solid defence for years to come.
CHELSEA’S £80MILLION DOUBLE SWOOP
Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is willing to bankroll a push for the title with manager Antonio Conte reportedly targeting two quality transfers from Ligue 1 in January.
The Blues will be top of the table at Christmas for the first time since their title success of two seasons ago and Conte is keen to ensure they maintain their momentum heading into the new year.
And according to the Daily Mail, Conte wants to add £40million-rated PSG playmaker Marco Verratti to his squad. The Italian is well known to Conte having played under him for the Italy national side.
The deal has been left in the hands of Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia, who has been tasked with bringing the player to Stamford Bridge in January.
It’s claimed the Blues have already made an enquiry of around £30million – but are willing to go up to £40million to land their man.
Insiders have said that Chelsea are confident they can get Verratti, despite the 24-year-old’s deal in France running until 2021.
Asked about Verratti at his press conference on Friday and whether he will find it difficult to get PSG to agree to let him leave in January, Conte said he did not want to discuss the potential deal out of respect to the French club.
“I don’t like to talk about different players [to the media], because this is a great lack of respect,” he said.
Meanwhile, Chelsea have reportedly identified Monaco midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko as their preferred replacement for Oscar, who is set to join Shanghai SIPG for a club record £52m next month.
Oscar will become the world’s highest-paid player on a salary of £400,000 a week when he moves to China – but the Blues will waste little time in securing his replacement, according to The Times.
Bakayoko has been earning rave reviews in the Monaco midfield this season and while the France Under-21 international is a different type of player to Oscar, Conte considers his physicality and athleticism to be far better suited to the needs of his squad.
The player is expected to cost around £40million.
AND THE REST
West Ham flop Simone Zaza to return to Juventus as club look to avoid spending £20m on permanent deal (Daily Mail)
West Ham have a launched a bid to sign Chelsea forward Michy Batshuayi on loan (The Sun)
West Ham are in talks over a move to take Chelsea youngster Ruben Loftus-Cheek on loan until the end of the season (Express)
Stoke are weighing up a move to re-sign their former keeper Asmir Begovic from Chelsea after baulking at Derby’s demands for making the loan of Lee Grant permanent (Daily Mirror)
Danny Welbeck set to return to full Arsenal training next week after seven months out due to knee injury (Daily Mail)
Seville have joined the race to sign Inter Milan outcast Gabriel Barbosa. Chelsea and Arsenal have both been linked with the former Santos star, who was touted for a Premier League switch in August before Inter pounced (The Sun)
Manchester United thought they had convinced Reece Oxford to make an £8m move to Old Trafford – only for the youngster to sign a new deal at West Ham (The Sun)
Manchester City are ready to go back in for Benfica’s Brazilian keeper Ederson Moraes (The Sun)
Southampton are lining up an audacious January move for Arsenal striker Lucas Perez (The Sun)
New Birmingham boss Gianfranco Zola is ready to raid former club Chelsea next month (The Sun)
Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy has provided a firm indication of the club’s determination to keep hold of Dele Alli amid interest from Paris Saint-Germain by valuing the England midfielder at £100m (The Times)
Pep Guardiola does not want to make any signings in January to bolster Manchester City ‘s title charge (Daily Mirror)
Manchester City will seriously consider making a bid for Southampton central defender Virgil van Dijk next month if they continue to get exposed at the back over the coming weeks (Daily Telegraph)
Southampton want a world record £50m for Virgil van Dijk – meaning a £5m boost for Celtic if their former defender moves in January (Daily Record)
West Bromwich Albion boss Tony Pulis expects another transfer headache thanks to Saido Berahino next month – even though the striker hasn’t played in three months (Daily Mirror)
Sunderland boss David Moyes admits he would have turned down them if he’d known just how limited his transfer funds were going to be (Daily Mirror)
Ronald Koeman said Everton will open talks over a fresh contract for Ross Barkley in the new year and added that no club is ‘knocking on the door’ for his players (The Guardian)
Cesc Fabregas could follow Oscar out of Chelsea in a shock move to China this summer. Oscar is closing in on a £52m switch to Chinese Super League outfit Shanghai SIPG (Daily Express)
Greg Stewart has ruled out a potential return to Scotland in the New Year – and vowed to become a star under new Birmingham boss Gianfranco Zola (Daily Record)
David Moyes has said he might have turned down the Sunderland manager’s job if he had known the true state of the club’s finances (Daily Star)
Spanish side Valencia are considering a January move for Chelsea and Liverpool target Geoffrey Kondogbia. The 23-year-old France midfielder has fallen out of favour at Inter Milan (Superdeporte)
Manager Pep Guardiola says Claudio Bravo, 33, will be staying at Manchester City despite reports the Chile goalkeeper could return to Barcelona (The Independent)
Hebei Fortune, the Chinese Super League team who want to offer Barcelona forward Lionel Messi 100m euros (£83.7m) a season, already pay former Arsenal striker Gervinho £83,000 a game (Sport)
Colombia midfielder James Rodriguez, 25, says he is happy at Real Madrid, despite speculation surrounding his future (AS)
Record signing Borja Baston, 24, will not be leaving Swansea in January, despite reports linking the Spanish striker with a return to his home country (South Wales Evening Post)