LIVE Transfer Talk: Zlatan Ibrahimovic to snub Premier League for AC Milan switch

The transfer windows in Europe’s top leagues are closed, but it’s never too early to look forward to January. Click here to view the latest transfers, and keep up to date with the newest gossip below.

TOP STORY: Ibrahimovic set for AC Milan move

His future has been the source of almost constant speculation since the end of the Major League Soccer season and his departure from the LA Galaxy, and The Telegraph is reporting that Zlatan Ibrahimovic seems certain to join AC Milan, despite attracting attention from a host of Premier League clubs.

The interest from England has clearly not turned his head, though, and he now looks set to rejoin the club he graced for two seasons between 2010-2012.

The paper reports that his switch to the Italian giants has been agreed in principle, and he will be handed a deal until at least the end of the season to make an impact in Serie A, with the Italian strugglers needing a boost as they sit 11th in the table.

LIVE BLOG

12.22 GMT: Croatian midfielder Ivan Rakitic says it is his dream to return to Sevilla when he leaves Barcelona.

Rakitic, 31, spent three years at Sevilla before joining Barca in 2014. However, he has found himself out of favour under Ernesto Valverde this season, starting just three games in all competitions.

That lack of game time has seen him linked with a move away from Camp Nou. A number of teams have been credited with an interest, including Inter Milan, Man United, Tottenham, PSG and Juventus, but he says his preference would be to return to the Sanchez Pizjuan.

“I have always said that if I go back to any club it will be Sevilla,” he told Cadena Ser. “I hope it happens one day. They’re better and stronger every year and that fills me with pride and happiness. My dream would be to play for them again.”

11.08 GMT: Lionel Messi gave Barcelona fans a fright after winning the Ballon d’Or on Monday by saying that he’s conscious of the fact he’s approaching the end of his career.

Messi’s deal at Camp Nou runs until 2021 but sources have told ESPN FC that Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu has already initiated talks over a new deal and wants to hand the Argentina international a contract for life.

“I’m aware of how old I am,” Messi said after winning the Ballon d’Or for a record-breaking sixth time. “And I enjoy these moments so much because I know that retirement is approaching. Time flies.”

There is a clause in Messi’s terms that would allow him to leave for free at the end of the season should he wish. But he allayed fears that he’s about to walk away from Barcelona by saying the small print in his contract is not important.

“Barca know me and know there’s no type of problem with these issues,” he added. “[My commitment] goes beyond a contract. What I feel for this club is [worth] more than any signature of a piece of paper, so there’s no issue.”

10.37 GMT: If Wilfried Zaha still wants to leave Crystal Palace then he might not want to read the latest comments from his manager Roy Hodgson. Everton, Arsenal and Napoli were all linked with moves for the winger, who has a contract until 2023, this summer but he stayed put.

“In the summer, the club received at least one bid they didn’t feel was the right one to accept and he — unfortunately, if he chooses to see it that way — had to respect the three or four-year contract he signed with the club,” Hodgson said.

“I don’t read quite that much into it as a manager as you do sitting on the other side of the table. There is no drama and those players are always going to be coveted by other teams.

“But when you sign a long-term contract as a player with the club, you have to accept that the chances are that the club won’t accept bids and the club will say to you, ‘no, you signed a three-year contract and we expect you to play for the club for three years’. I don’t see quite where the massive drama is in that, personally.”

09.51 GMT: Real Madrid are in the market for players and defence is high on the list with news that Kalidou Koulibaly could be available soon.

The Napoli defender was the subject of a €100m bid from Man United last summer but was not allowed to leave and now Real have entered the race given how badly everything is going in Naples.

Calciomercato says that the 28-year-old Senegal centre-back is the man that Real want to sturdy their defence.

09.02 GMT: Real Madrid are said to be “serious” about signing Napoli midfielder Fabian Ruiz in a deal first reported by ESPN FC last month.

Late-night radio show El Larguero claimed that the Spanish club are “optimistic” about the possibility of completing a deal for the playmaker on Monday.

Sources told ESPN FC that initial talks took place in October and the player would favour a move to Madrid over Manchester City or Barcelona.

Napoli would expect a fee of between €80m-€100m for the Spain international.

Real Madrid have been tracking the 23-year-old since 2017 when he broke into the Real Betis first team.

08.39 GMT: Tottenham Hotspur playmaker Christian Eriksen has definitively told the club that he has no intention of signing a new contract, according to the Daily Telegraph.

Eriksen’s deal expires at the end of the season, meaning the Denmark international is free to open talks over a summer free transfer with foreign clubs from Jan. 1.

The Telegraph reports that Spurs manager Jose Mourinho is already planning for life without the 27-year-old, and has restricted him to two substitute appearances in his three matches in charge so far.

The impasse raises the prospect that Tottenham could consider selling Eriksen in the January transfer window in order to recoup a transfer fee rather than lose him for nothing at the end of the season.

08.00 GMT: Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has said that the club will not open contract talks with Fernandinho until the summer, when the midfielder’s deal expires.

“There will be a need to regenerate,” Guardiola told a news conference ahead of Tuesday’s Premier League clash at Burnley. “David [Silva] has confirmed he is leaving. Fernandinho doesn’t know, but its normal when players reach this age and stage in their lives. Of course we have to replace them [if they leave].

“I think at the end of the season we are going to decide all the situations; the players finishing contracts, the players for contracts, what we have to do, what we believe is the best for the club, for the organisation next season.

“[If they leave] we don’t have to rebuild too much. Three players is not rebuilding a team. That’s bringing in seven players, like we did in the second season when seven finished their contracts. Three players is just substituting some positions.”

Fernandinho, who is in his seventh season at City, will be 35 when the 2019-20 season ends. Despite his age, the Brazilian remains a key player, and has filled in at centre-back this season to cover for the long-term injury absence of Aymeric Laporte and the struggles with form and fitness of John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi.

PAPER TALK (by Rich Edwards)

Giroud set to leave Chelsea in January

French striker Olivier Giroud looks set to exit Stamford Bridge in January, with the club ready to listen to offers for a man who has fallen behind Tammy Abraham and Michy Batshuayi in the Chelsea pecking order.

That’s according to the Daily Mail, with the paper reporting that Giroud will be as keen as Chelsea to get the deal done, given his lack of first-team football and the fact that he’s still eyeing a key role in the French side at next summer’s European Championships.

Giroud’s current deal is up at the end of the season, and though he made his first start for Frank Lampard‘s side since August against West Ham this weekend, there’s little sign that he will play a prominent role in the second half of the campaign.

He also looked well short of his best against West Ham as Chelsea fell in a home defeat to their London rivals.

Inter prepare offer for Chiesa

Inter Milan might be top of the Serie A table, but their squad lacks the depth required for a title fight with battle-hardened Juventus. That has Antonio Conte and the club’s board worried.

That is why they’re ready to bring in Fiorentina forward Federico Chiesa, according to Calciomercato. Conte is said to believe that the 22-year-old would be a perfect fit for the style his Nerazzurri play, and ihe s enamored with his technical ability.

In order to get a deal across the line, Inter reportedly will offer €30 million in addition to Dalbert, who has played in all but one of La Viola‘s Serie A this season on loan from the San Siro, and 26-year-old winger Matteo Politano.

The report suggests that the Serie A leaders will raise funds for January business through the sale of Gabriel Barbosa, whose goal-scoring exploits in Flamengo’s Copa Libertadores triumph have turned heads on both sides of the Atlantic.

Tap-ins

— Reports in Italy suggest that Manchester United and Arsenal are ready for a scrap for the signature of young Juve defender Merih Demiral. Calciomercato claims that the Italian is “open to the prospect of leaving the Old Lady in January” after finding his first-team opportunities limited at Juventus so far this season.

— Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has ruled out making new signings in January. City missed out on signing a replacement for Vincent Kompany in the summer, but Guardiola insists they will not splash the cash when the January transfer window opens.