There’s a surprise new suitor for out-of-favour Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge, while Manchester United have been linked with two defenders, rated at £40m and £30m apiece, according to Wednesday’s papers.
SOUTHAMPTON EMERGE AS SHOCK STURRIDGE SUITORS
Southampton want to take Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge on loan in January with a view to a possible £25m summer move, according to surprising reports on Wednesday.
The Liverpool striker has struggled for game time this season, with Jurgen Klopp preferring Roberto Firmino, Philippe Coutinho and Sadio Mane in attack and a January exit for Sturridge has been widely mooted. Last week the player was linked with Tottenham, Stoke and West Ham.
Although our piece recently tipped Sturridge to play a vital role for Liverpool in January, the Daily Express today says Southampton are ready to make the enquiry to the Reds to check on the striker’s availability.
Saints have been monitoring Sturridge’s situation for some time, and are ready to table a loan offer in the mid season transfer window, with a view to a permanent summer deal.
Southampton manager Claude Puel wants a regular partner for central striker Charlie Austin, having seen front men Graziano Pelle and Sadio Mane both leave in the summer .
As well as West Ham, Stoke and Spurs, the player has also been linked with a move to AC Milan.
Liverpool could prefer to do business with Southampton, however, if a deal for Sturridge works as a sweetener for Virgil van Dijk, with whom they were linked on Tuesday.
UNITED TARGET £70M DEFENSIVE DUO
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho wants to sign two defensive players in the January transfer window – with Southampton centre-back Virgil van Dijk, 25, and versatile Bayern Munich defender David Alaba, 24 the men in his sights.
Mourinho wants assurances from United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward that significant funds are available to go for the players he has targeted.
And the top of that list is Austria defender Alaba, who can play across the defence and can also slot in at the base of midfield.
Alaba is also wanted by Man City boss Pep Guardiola, who managed him while at Bayern.
But the Daily Mirror claims Mourinho had Austria international Alaba watched twice by United scouts during the international break, with a view to making a January bid for the versatile 24-year-old.
Alaba plays as a left-back for Bayern, which has been a problem position for United this season, but can also operate in midfield.
Bayern are likely to rebuff any attempts to prise Alaba away from them in January, with Arsenal also said to be keeping tabs on the player who looks set to spark a huge bidding war.
United chief Woodward backed Mourinho to the tune of £150million in the summer, bringing in world record £89million signing Paul Pogba from Juventus, defender Eric Bailly from Villarreal, Henrikh Mkhitaryan from Borussia Dortmund and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Mourinho wants the same backing again in January, believing he needs to add two defenders of stature if United are to make the top-four and stand any chance of an unlikely title push.
It was claimed on Tuesday that Mourinho believes he needs two transfer windows to sort out the mess at United.
United are also keen on Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk, but the Reds are likely to have to fork out at least £30million to prise him away from the south coast club.
Van Dijk, who was also linked with Liverpool on Tuesday, has become a man in demand on the back of a series of impressive displays at Southampton.
Mourinho has made new defenders his priority in January, with the United boss also set to lose centre-half Bailly – currently out injured – to the African Cup of Nations, while also questioning the mental toughness of Chris Smalling and Luke Shaw.
AND THE REST
Manchester United are keeping tabs on Barcelona youngster Carles Alena, who has been dubbed the “new Andres Iniesta” (Daily Mirror)
Chelsea are confident of sealing a £2m deal for Exeter’s 16-year-old wonderkid midfielder Ethan Ampadu – even though his dad, Kwame, works as an academy coach for London rivals Arsenal (Daily Mirror)
Manchester United face new competition from Real Madrid to sign Sporting Lisbon and Portugal winger Gelson Martins (Daily Mirror)
Chelsea defender Andreas Christensen says he will not be cutting short his loan spell at Borussia Monchengladbach to return to Stamford Bridge in January (Daily Mirror)
Everton are preparing to swoop for Ajax teenage sensation Kasper Dolberg in the upcoming January transfer window (Daily Mirror)
Leicester have lodged a £16m bid for Genk midfielder Wilfred Ndidi (Daily Mirror)
Republic of Ireland legend Robbie Keane is a target for Australian club Brisbane Roar (Daily Mirror)
Arsenal face having to stump up £200,000-a-week each if they want Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez to sign new deals with the club (The Sun)
Manchester City star Jason Denayer wants to make a permanent £10m switch to Sunderland (The Sun)
Chelsea have moved into pole position to land AIK whizkid Alexander Isak (The Sun)
Juventus have offered to sign Branislav Ivanovic on a free in the summer if Stephan Lichtsteiner leaves the Italian giants (The Sun)
Wigan boss Warren Joyce has axed coach Joe Parkinson, paving the way for Paul Scholes to join his back-room team (The Sun)
Phil Neville is ready to begin his managerial career by taking over at home-town club Bury (The Sun)
Serge Aurier’s career could be wrecked after he was banned from entering Britain to face Arsenal (Daily Star)
West Brom’s players are uniting behind troubled striker Saido Berahino in his fight to save his career (Daily Star)
Danny Drinkwater is set to be charged with violent conduct by the Football Association, dealing another blow to Leicester City’s Premier League title defence (Daily Telegraph)
Roman Abramovich will fight to keep Steve Holland at Chelsea as Gareth Southgate lines up a full-time role for the highly-rated coach with England (Daily Mail)
Crystal Palace insist Alan Pardew’s job as manager is safe despite his team having won only once in seven league matches (London Evening Standard)
Barcelona manager Luis Enrique has dismissed reports linking Argentina striker Lionel Messi, 29, with a move to Manchester City (The Guardian)
Juventus and Croatia striker Mario Mandzukic, 30, is a target for West Ham (The Sun)
Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City are interested in 22-year-old Atalanta defender Mattia Caldara (Gazetta dello Sport)
The brother and agent of Swansea striker Fernando Llorente says Bob Bradley’s appointment as manager was “fatal” for the 31-year-old Spaniard (Daily Star)
Marc Muniesa is prepared to leave Stoke City in January – on loan or permanently – in search of regular first-team football. The central defender, 24, has not started a league game this season (Stoke Sentinel)