The battle to sign Lisandro Martinez waged between Arsenal and Man Utd is heating up, while Mohamed Salah had a shock switch to a Liverpool rival lined up before the Reds’ contract U-turn – both in Sunday’s Transfer Gossip.
LISANDRO MARTINEZ PREFERENCE EMERGES
Arsenal will meet Ajax this coming week as the battle to sign the Ajax defender intensifies, and a report has hinted at the likeliest outcome.
United reportedly lodged a bid worth an initial £34.5m prior to add-ons. However, the Athletic claim Ajax are holding out for £43m.
Given the size of the two clubs involved in the chase, the Dutch side look likely to get their way.
£43m could still represent good value in today’s market and the Athletic claim agreeing personal terms with either suitor won’t be an issue. Furthermore, they both reportedly believe Martinez is keen to join them.
Martinez has let it be known within Ajax that he craves a move to the Premier League. The Athletic add Ajax won’t stand in his way after agreeing to entertain suitable offers when the defender signed a new contract back in October.
If £43m is bid, Ajax will play ball regardless of which suitor it is. However, if both Arsenal and Manchester United are willing to stump up the full fee, Ajax will leave the decision to the player.
In that regard, the Athletic hint the odds would be in United’s favour.
Ten Hag connection could swing it
The Erik ten Hag connection is the primary factor. The idea of reuniting with his former manager at Old Trafford is said to appeal.
Additionally, Martinez has primarily played at centre-back in the Netherlands despite being just 5ft 9in tall.
United view him as a centre-half, though Arsenal would reportedly convert him into a left-back and have him compete with Kieran Tierney.
The Athletic don’t clarify how that would be received by Martinez, though is could be a factor in his thinking.
SALAH HAD CHELSEA TRANSFER ‘LINED UP’
Mohamed Salah was prepared to join Chelsea and had a deal ‘lined up’ before Liverpool relented on their contract stance, per a report.
After an 18-month saga, the Egyptian winger penned fresh terms at Anfield on Friday.
A two-year extension has been agreed that makes Salah the highest paid player in Liverpool’s history. His new deal – worth a reported £350,000-a-week in basic salary – extends his stay on Merseyside until 2025.
However, according to the Sun, Salah could quite easily have returned to Chelsea had Liverpool not backed down.
They state Salah ‘was prepared’ to re-join the Blues who he played for between 2014-16. New Chelsea owner, Todd Boehly, was reportedly the catalyst behind the move, though his Liverpool counterparts, FSG, refused to let the deal happen.
The Sun note Chelsea’s interest was a ‘major factor’ behind Liverpool’s softened stance. The noises coming out of Anfield had always been they wouldn’t smash their wage structure for any player, even one as influential as Salah.
But the Americans realised how bad of a look losing Salah to a title rival would have been, especially after Sadio Mane had already departed in the same window.
Prior Sun reporting claimed a £60m bid could’ve been enough to see Salah return to Stamford Bridge. Thankfully for Reds fans, FSG performed a U-turn at just the right time.
BARCELONA CLEARING DECK FOR RAPHINHA
Barcelona are ready to axe Memphis Depay to help clear the way for a Raphinha signing in a move that won’t be met warmly at either Leeds or Chelsea.
Chelsea reportedly have an agreement over the transfer fee in place with Leeds. The Blues are prepared to pay £60m in a deal potentially rising to £65m. However, Raphinha has his heart set on joining Barcelona.
The issue there is the club’s finances. The latest from Spain claimed they’re willing to fork out a package that could hit £60m, though the money would be paid in four instalments.
Now, according to the Daily Mail, Barca are prepared to axe Memphis Depay to aid their cause.
It’s stated they could recoup £21.5m from the forward’s sale and that cash could allow them to put more substance behind their Raphinha bid.
That is bad news for Chelsea, though won’t be warmly received at Elland Road either.
The longer the Raphinha saga drags on, the less time Leeds have to sign an adequate replacement. Cody Gakpo and Charles De Ketelaere have been linked, though a delay in selling Raphinha could leave those deals on ice.