Transfer Talk Liverpool look to land US star McKennie from Schalke

The transfer window for Europe’s biggest clubs is open. Transfer Talk has been scouring the world’s media and setting our correspondents loose to see who could be heading to or out of your club this month.

TOP STORY: Morata move hinges on Higuain

Spanish football expert Guillem Balague says that Chelsea striker Alvaro Morata has agreed to join Atletico Madrid but the deal is being held up by the fact that Chelsea need to land a replacement (Gonzalo Higuain) and Atletico need to make room and sell a player (Nikola Kalinic or Gelson Martins).

“It seems to be a matter of finding a buyer for Kalinic,” Balague told the BBC 5 live Football Daily Podcast. “Everything else seems to be in place for Morata to abandon what feels like a nightmare.”


23.01 GMT: That’s going to bring Friday’s live edition of Transfer Talk to a close. Thanks very much for joining us, and be sure to check back in a few short hours when we return with the latest headlines pulled from Saturday’s back pages.

22.40 GMT: The LA Galaxy are closing in on deals for Mexico U21 winger Uriel Antunaon loan from Manchester City and Nacional centre-back Diego Polenta, the Los Angeles Times reports, and both could be confirmed by Monday.

22.00 GMT: Manchester United are preparing a bid for PSV’s £25m-rated winger Steven Bergwijn, according to the Mirror.

21.16 GMT: Mexico international Carlos Salcedo has agreed a move to Liga MX side Tigres from Eintracht Frankfurt, according to ESPN Mexico sources and multiple reports. Read the full story.

20.32 GMT: Chelsea are blocking Michy Batshuayi‘s loan to Monaco, the Express quotes Sky Sports’ Dharmesh Sheth as reporting, preferring to sell him and turn a profit on the £33m they spent on the Belgium international in 2016: “A loan deal with Monaco has been agreed, reuniting him with former assistant manager Thierry Henry. However, Chelsea are blocking the move just now as it’s thought they want to do a permanent transfer to recoup some of the £33m they spent on Batshuayi. Everton are interested but Batshuayi’s preferred destination is Monaco.”

19.48 GMT: Anthony Martial is nearing an agreement on a new five-year contract at Manchester United, Sky Sports reports.

19.04 GMT: Liverpool do not hold an interest in United States international Weston McKennie, a source has told ESPN FC. 

Reports in Europe had linked Jurgen Klopp with a move for Schalke’s versatile midfielder, who was born in Little Elm, Texas. However, the source said he is not a player on the radar of the Premier League leaders at this present moment.

Richard Motzkin, an agent for McKennie, declined to comment on the links with Liverpool and said the 20-year-old was focusing on the restart of the Bundesliga season after the winter break.

18.15 GMT: After a run of first-team appearances in the past month and a new contract worth £70,000 a week on offer, Chelsea are growing increasingly confident that Callum Hudson-Odoi will reject the advances of Bayern Munich and commit his future to his boyhood club, Goal reports.

17.27 GMT: With Diego Lainez now at Real Betis, Club America is monitoring New York Red Bulls standout Kaku, ESPN Mexico is reporting.

16.39 GMT: Inter are on the verge of beating Chelsea and Napoli to the signing of Cagliari midfielder Nicolo Barella, according to Calciomercato, with the Nerazzurri set to pay a fee that could rise to €50m including bonuses that would see the 21-year-old move to the San Siro in the summer.

15.51 GMT: Sporting strategy and development director Paolo Maldini and chief executive Ivan Gazidis are “at war” over whether to bring Arsenal outcast Mesut Ozil to AC Milan, the Mirror cites Corriere dello Sport as reporting.

15.03 GMT: Liverpool have reportedly had a €70m bid for Benfica starlet Joao Felix rejected, according to newspaper Correio da Manha.

The 19-year-old midfielder is highly-rated and has been scouted by Manchester City, PSG, Barcelona and Monaco, while he has a €120m release clause in his contract so won’t be going anywhere just yet.

14.47 GMT: And while we’re hearing from managers, Mauricio Pochettino says Giuseppe Rossi is not a target for Tottenham, and that the club feel no pressure to sign a replacement for injured striker Harry Kane.

Spurs expect Kane to be out of action until March and there have been reports of interest in 31-year-old free agent Rossi, who has been training with Manchester United. But Pochettino told a news conference: “I think there’s many names that appear in every transfer window. He’s another name to add on the list but it’s only a rumour. We are not considering him. It’s a rumour like another but if you ask me, I think no, it’s not a possibility.

“I think [Harry’s injury] is not going to change our mind about the view of the squad. Always we’re open to improving our squad, to adding players that can improve us. But I think that’s not going to put pressure on us to sign some players. We know very well the market now is so difficult, and the circumstance that we have. Of course, like always I tell you, if we identify the player that is going to help us and can add qualities that we don’t have in the squad, we’re more than open to trying [to make] that happen. But at the moment I think there’s not too many possibilities to add this type of player that can improve us.”

14.42 GMT: Asked about signing left-back cover for Manchester City — given Benjamin Mendy has been injured and Fabian Delph and Oleksander Zinchenko have filled in — Pep Guardiola told a news conference: “We survived well last season, this season too. But we are thinking about that, yes. I cannot assure you as I’m delighted with the players I have and at the end of the season we are going to decide. But we are going to look at both options on the table.”

14.16 GMT: According to Sport, Mexico international Carlos Vela has already reached an agreement in principle with Barcelona for his return to La Liga.

Barcelona are reportedly in negotiations with another forward as well, but if that deal does not go through then Vela will head to Barcelona on loan from Los Angeles FC, with Barca paying a fee. Vela’s contract will also include an option to sign him should his performance be exceptional.

14.02 GMT: Maurizio Sarri has said Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia is “working very hard” to conclude a deal to sign Gonzalo Higuain on loan.

“I don’t know [how close it is],” Sarri said. “I want to be clear, because I cannot help you. I spoke with Marina two weeks ago, so Marina knows my opinion on how to improve the team. Then I decided to focus on the pitch, on matches and training.

“I am confident because I know Marina is working very hard, but I don’t know the market at all. I want to be focused on the matches. So I don’t call her every evening, otherwise I spend all my mental energy on the market. I think it’s better if I spend all my mental energies on the pitch. So I can’t help you. I don’t know.”

13.42 GMT: Thomas Tuchel‘s pre-Guingamp news conference saw some interesting things said about PSG’s potential transfer window (via our correspondent Jonathan Johnson).

On the January transfer window: “14 days to bring somebody in is not much time, but we are working on it and I believe that we can recruit the players that we need.”

On Borussia Dortmund’s Julian Weigl: “I cannot talk about players who play for another club. Julian was a player of mine, but he is still a Dortmund player today. We are working hard to bring in a defensive midfielder.”

On Adrien Rabiot still training with the reserves: “I have to prepare my team to face Guingamp and it will be a team without Adrien. I respect the club’s decisions and this is a club decision.”

13.35 GMT: If Unai Emery knows the latest on Arsenal’s move for Barcelona midfielder Denis Suarez, he’s keeping it to himself.

13.31 GMT: ESPN Brasil’s Joao Castelo-Branco reports that Marko Arnautovic is not in the West Ham squad for the game against Bournemouth this weekend.

The forward is the subject of a £35m bid from China and wants to leave, but the Hammers have few options up front and are digging their heels in.

13.26 GMT: Leandro Paredes looked like he was about to join Chelsea but Sky Italy claim that PSG have made a £31m bid for the Zenit midfielder in a bid to steal him from under the Blues’ noses.

Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri literally said less than 20 minutes ago that the club need to buy a midfield replacement for Cesc Fabregas — “Marina [Granovskaia] knows very well my opinion. We need a replacement for Cesc, my opinion” — so he’s going to be disappointed.

13.15 GMT: Not often that a player goes from Dagenham and Redbridge to the Premier League, but that’s what young midfielder Michael Agboola has done as he has joined Wolverhampton Wanderers after impressing on trial.

13.04 GMT: James Rodriguez is staying at Bayern Munich until the end of the season “at least,” sources close to the player have told ESPN FC, with a decision then to be made about the future of the reported Napoli and Arsenal target.

James has six months left on a two-year loan from Real Madrid, although the 27-year-old has not been a regular starter since Niko Kovac took over as Bayern coach last summer. This led to speculation in the British and Italian press that clubs including Arsenal and Napoli were looking offer him a short term exit as soon as January.

However sources in James’ camp have confirmed to ESPN that the midfielder will stay at Bayern for the remainder of his loan deal, with the possibility still open that he would remain in Bavaria for 2019-20 and beyond.

12.36 GMT: Evidently Manchester United are closing on their first signing of the window. It’s set to be 16-year-old Noam Emeran from Amiens SC, who has also been tracked by PSG and Juventus, and the left winger will cost around £80,000 according to Le Courrier Picard.

12.15 GMT: So this is a ‘no’ then…

12.03 GMT: Spanish football expert Guillem Balague says that Chelsea striker Alvaro Morata has agreed to join Atletico Madrid but the deal is being held up by the fact that Chelsea need to land a replacement (Gonzalo Higuain) and Atletico need to make room and sell a player (Nikola Kalinic or Gelson Martins).

“It seems to be a matter of finding a buyer for Kalinic,” Balague told the BBC 5 live Football Daily Podcast. “Everything else seems to be in place for Morata to abandon what feels like a nightmare.”

11.40 GMT: Nice are working to bring Valere Germain back to the club from Marseille, France Football says.

The 28-year-old enjoyed his best-ever season at the Allianz Riviera during the 2015-16 campaign when on loan from Monaco, and having fallen out of favour with OM coach Rudi Garcia, he is likely to jump at the chance.

11.02 GMT: Something about London buses… as two deals are done at almost the same time.

1) Everton striker Oumar Niasse has joined Cardiff City on loan
2) Leicester defender Yohan Benalouane has moved to Nottingham Forest for an undisclosed fee.

10.50 GMT: Olivier Giroud told ESPN FC in an exclusive interview that he has found it “difficult” to adapt to not being Maurizio Sarri’s first-choice striker at Chelsea, but insisted that he will keep fighting to play regularly at Stamford Bridge. So he’s not looking to depart just yet then…

10.27 GMT: Staying with PSG gossip, Roma’s Lorenzo Pellegrini wasn’t up for a discussion with Sky Italia when asked about a potential move to Paris: “I am switching off the TV and going to train at Trigoria [Roma’s training facilities].”

10.17 GMT: Idrissa Gueyes switch to Paris Saint-Germain is being held up as Everton bargain with Watford for the Senegal international’s replacement, Abdoulaye Doucoure, says France Football.

Doucoure has himself been linked to PSG but Everton are now attempting to line him up to step into Gueye’s shoes when the latter makes his widely expected move to the French capital this month.

10.05 GMT: Premier League winner (sorry, we just had to remind everyone of that) Marc Albrighton has signed a contract extension at Leicester City until 2022.

09.46 GMT: Lucas Hernandez will stay with Atletico Madrid until the end of the season, shunning a January move to Bayern Munich, L’Equipe claims.

Bayern were ready to pay the €80m release clause in his contract this winter, but it seems Hernandez, who signed a contract extension through to 2024 in June, will remain in the Spanish capital until the summer at least.

09.25 GMT: Marouane Fellaini has been an offered the opportunity to follow Belgium teammate Mousa Dembele to the Chinese Super League, with sources telling ESPN FC that clubs in Beijing and Guangzhou are targeting the Manchester United midfielder.

United are ready to listen to offers for Fellaini, who signed a two-year contract worth £100,000-a-week to stay at Old Trafford following the backing of former manager Jose Mourinho last summer. But the 31-year-old has clocked up just three minutes of first-team action during Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s six-game reign as caretaker manager and the Norwegian is understood to be happy for United to sell Fellaini this month.

Solskjaer revealed on Friday that Fellaini has a “long-term” calf injury, but sources have told ESPN FC that it is not serious enough to threaten a mode away, especially with the Chinese transfer window open until the end of February.

09.04 GMT: Christopher Nkunku‘s agent Jose-Karl Pierre-Fanfan has told Le Parisien of his client’s unhappiness.

“His playing time and his place in PSG’s rotation are both insufficient,” he said. “Christopher is open to leaving in order to develop. Nothing has been discussed with PSG yet, but in sporting terms, it is not enough. He must take the next step and that is not possible at PSG — especially as his playing role is never defined or fixed.”

08.43 GMT: Sevilla have announced they have reached an agreement with Red Bull Salzburg to acquire Israel international forward Munas Dabbur on a permanent deal, with the transfer to be effective on July 1, 2019.

Dabbur, who will continue playing for the Austrian club on loan until the end of the season, has signed a contract until June 2023.

08.30 GMT: Marca report that Real Madrid are set to complete the signing of FC Porto defender Eder Militao in the coming days.

According to the Madrid-based sports daily, the Spanish club’s executives decided to go ahead with the deal after watching the Brazilian play five games. FC Porto will reportedly not allow the 21-year-old leave, however, unless a club pays his €50m release clause. That figure would rise by 50 percent to €75m if the negotiation is not completed by July 15.

If the deal is to be completed with Madrid, Militao, who is also a reported target of Manchester United and Barcelona, will not join the Spanish club until the summer. He joined FC Porto last summer from Sao Paulo in a €4m transfer.

PAPER TALK (by Danny Lee, Footballwhispers)

McKennie set for Liverpool

Liverpool were beaten to the punch by Chelsea to sign Christian Pulisic but they are reportedly interested in landing his U.S. international teammate Weston McKennie, according to the Sun.

McKennie, 20, has become a key player at Schalke after breaking into the first-team last season and his versatility is attracting the interest of Jurgen Klopp as he can play in both midfield and defence. The report claims that a deal worth £20m is on the cards, with Liverpool weighing up whether to bid in January or delay their interest until the summer. 

Any player who has been side by side with Pulisic since the age of 13 is certainly worth a look, but having signed him to a contract that runs until 2022, Schalke have the ball in their court.

Spurs set to snag Sanabria

Tottenham are looking to limit the effect Harry Kane‘s injury will have on their season by signing a striker this January.

They have already revived their interest in Brazilian winger Malcom, who is now at Barcelona, but are also looking at the possibility of signing Antonio Sanabria from Real Betis, according to the Independent.

The Paraguayan forward was a target for Spurs two years ago when he left Roma for Betis, and they have renewed their interest and are attracted by the 22-year-old’s £26 million release clause.

With Son Heung-Min at the Asian Cup for the rest of the month, the timing of Kane’s injury couldn’t have been worse, but at least the transfer window is open for Tottenham  to deal with the issue — but will they?

Higuain to complete Chelsea move

Gonzalo Higuain will fly to London in the next 24 hours to complete his move to Chelsea, according to the Mirror.

The Argentine striker is seen as the solution to Maurizio Sarri’s problems up front, and will join on loan from Juventus, having spent the first half of the season on loan at AC Milan.

The 31-year-old played for Sarri during his time at Napoli, and will be reunited with the Italian boss even if only for a short time. This means he should have no problems fitting in immediately, as Sarri’s tactics are much the same now as they were in Serie A.

Higuain’s brother Nicolas, who also acts as his agent, is already in England to sort out the deal.

Paredes next in line for Chelsea

Sarri is also set to bolster his midfield ranks with the signing of Leandro Paredes from Zenit Saint Petersburg this month, according to the Express.

The Chelsea manager has recently spoken about his reliance on Jorginho in the deep-lying midfield position, and the arrival of Paredes would allow the integral Italian to be rested.

Paredes would offer a similar style to Jorginho, but might also be more expansive with his playmaking, which would be useful in certain games.

The transfer is set to cost Chelsea £31m, and their new boss is showing that he’s not messing around when it comes to making his mark on the club.

They had targeted Cagliari midfielder Nicolo Barella as well, but the Russia-based Argentine proved more attainable.

Football Whispers’ top emerging whispers

Football Whispers’ transfer algorithm gives the likelihood of rumours happening a score out of 5.

Alvaro Morata to Atletico Madrid – 4.3

With a deal for Gonzalo Higuaín in the works at Chelsea, their out-of-favour Spanish striker is on the verge of joining Atletico Madrid for £45m, according to Sky Sports.

Malcom to Tottenham Hotspur – 2.7

Tottenham are looking at the possibility of signing reinforcements in attack due to Kane’s injury, and the Independent believes Barcelona’s Brazilian winger Malcom is an option at £39m.

Michy Batshuayi to Everton – 2.4

The Belgian striker is nearing a move to Monaco, but Everton have emerged as a possible destination for the 25-year-old, with a £40m deal reported by the Star.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka to Manchester United – 2.0

The Crystal Palace right-back is enjoying a breakthrough season in the Premier League  and is now drawing interest from Chelsea and Manchester United, as well as Manchester City, according to the Mirror.

Eder Militao to Real Madrid – 2.0

Spanish outlet AS reports that Liverpool could lose out on the versatile Brazilian defender to Real Madrid, who are ready to pay his £44.7m release fee.