The summer transfer window was unlike any other; see all the major deals and check out how we graded the biggest signings. And just because the window is shut until January, that doesn’t mean the rumours won’t keep coming. Here’s the latest gossip and speculation.
TOP STORY: Bayern eye move for Barcelona star Pedri
When Barcelona put a release clause of €1 billion on Pedri‘s latest deal, it was presumed that any club thinking of signing the midfielder would be scared off by the amount. And they are correct. Nobody is paying €1bn for a player no matter who they are. Even Neymar’s world record of €222 million is probably still safe in this financial climate.
However, AS is reporting that Bayern Munich have shown interest Pedri and are looking to take advantage of Barcelona’s dire financial situation, despite him penning a new contract last month, to sign him.
Those around the 18-year-old midfielder are aware that the Bavarians are willing to quadruple his wages and, understandably impressed by the Spain international, Bayern could make him the most expensive signing in their history — surpassing the €80m paid to Atletico Madrid to sign Lucas Hernandez in 2019.
The Golden Boy award winner — the first at Barcelona since Lionel Messi won it in 2005 — has become a key player for both club and country since joining from Las Palmas for around €7m in the summer of 2020.
Nonetheless, with Bayern’s serious interest, the club realises there could be a point where Pedri has to leave Camp Nou. This comes in the knowledge that Bayern’s offer could go a long way to providing respite for their €1.4bn debt, even if it would hurt Xavi Hernandez‘s side on the pitch.
– ESPN+ guide: LaLiga, Bundesliga, MLS, FA Cup, more (U.S.)
– Stream ESPN FC Daily on ESPN+ (U.S. only)
– Don’t have ESPN? Get instant access
16.21 GMT: Wolves already have RB Leipzig forward Hwang Hee-chan on loan, but Liverpool are interested in landing him permanently, according to Football Insider.
Hwang, 25, has impressed for Wolves this season and the club reportedly have a €15m option to sign him in the summer.
However, with money tight at Molineux, Leipzig might be tempted to let the South Korea international go for a bigger offer if Liverpool come calling. Jurgen Klopp’s side will be short up front in January when Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah leave for the African Cup of Nations.
15.30 GMT: Did Tottenham make the right move to hire Antonio Conte?
Mark Ogden says Manchester United had no desire to remove Solskjaer, as shown by their lack of a backup plan.
14.57 GMT: Barcelona are still in need of raising funds and reducing their wage bill.
One thing they might be able to do is to release defender Samuel Umtiti from his contract.
Sport says that the club want to let the 28-year-old go before losing him on a free transfer in 18 months’ time. The France international reportedly earns around €200,000-a-week at Camp Nou but is also keen to move on as his chances of first-team football have decreased.
14.22 GMT: Sir Alex Ferguson will have no formal role in the search for Manchester United’s next manager, sources have told ESPN’s Mark Ogden, with football director John Murtough and technical director Darren Fletcher given the responsibility of identifying and assessing candidates to replace Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
United are now looking for their fifth permanent manager since Ferguson’s retirement in May 2013 after Solskjaer became the latest coach, following Jose Mourinho, Louis van Gaal and David Moyes, to lose his job at Old Trafford.
But although Ferguson was appointed as a director on United’s football board after retiring as manager, when he helped identify former Everton boss Moyes as his successor, sources have said that the 79-year-old will not be involved in the latest managerial recruitment drive.
Murtough and Fletcher, who were confirmed in their respective roles in March this year, have been tasked with running the search for Solskjaer’s successor. The pair will then report to outgoing executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward and club managing director Richard Arnold — Woodward’s likely successor — before a final decision is made by chairman Joel Glazer.
Sources have told ESPN that Ferguson’s influence at United has waned since his retirement as manager, although he has sporadically been used as a sounding board at times during the past eight years by Woodward.
And although Ferguson was involved in the final stages of Cristiano Ronaldo‘s transfer back to United from Juventus in August, the mechanics of the deal had already been agreed by Woodward and Ronaldo’s agent, Jorge Mendes, before Ferguson spoke to the player.
13.42 GMT: Arsenal are on the trail of FCSB forward Ianis Stoica, says The Sun.
Stoica, 18, has six goals in 14 games for the club formerly known as Steaua Bucharest this season.
However, the Romania U21 international is highly rated by his club and FCSB owner Gigi Becali insists that he won’t be allowed to move for at least another few years.
13.00 GMT: Bayern Munich’s scouting team have clearly been looking at Barcelona as El Nacional reckons they are after Gavi.
Gavi, 17, has enjoyed an incredible rise in recent months as he has become key for club and country. The Spain international is set to be offered new contract terms to account for his status but the report says that Bayern are keen to sneak in beforehand.
Barca are ready to offer the midfielder a deal until 2026 and increase his buyout clause to €500m, though Bayern will try their best to tempt him away.
12.36 GMT: Napoli’s Lorenzo Insigne is available on a free transfer in the summer, with Inter Milan keen to land him, according to Gazzetta dello Sport.
Insigne, 30, has spent his whole career at Napoli so may need some persuading to join their Serie A rivals. But the club captain can’t agree terms on a new contract and could look to move on.
11.47 GMT: Bayern Munich are ready to offer defender Niklas Sule a new contract, says TZ.
Sule, 26, has terms which expire in the summer and Newcastle have been linked with his signing on a free transfer in 2022.
However, Bayern boss Julian Nagelsmann is keen to keep the Germany international at the club, despite him not being first choice.
11.00 GMT: Manchester United are back in the market for a new manager, for the fifth time since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013, after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s 35-month reign in charge came to an end on Sunday. Mark Ogden breaks down who is being linked with the job.
Janusz Michallik says Spurs need several components before truly playing like Antonio Conte wants.
10.14 GMT: Chelsea duo Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner have emerged as alternatives to Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling for Barcelona in January, sources have confirmed to ESPN’s Sam Marsden and Moises Llorens.
Barca’s ability to make any signings mid-season will be dependent on them being able to free up some money, so they are scouring the market for players that could arrive on loan at first.
Sources told ESPN the club will target players that are not playing regularly elsewhere. They are prepared to include an option to make any deal permanent but don’t want it to be obligatory.
Barca explored the option of signing Sterling last summer and would be keen to revisit the option in January. However, the cost of any operation and City’s reluctance to let the England forward leave without an obligation for Barca to buy next summer makes any deal complicated.
Ziyech and Werner, therefore, have emerged as alternatives. The competition for places at Chelsea has seen them pushed to the fringes of Thomas Tuchel’s plans. Sources have told ESPN that Barca have asked about the availability of both players.
09.41 GMT: Vinicius Junior has said he wants to stay at Real Madrid “for many years” and agreeing an improved contract that reflects his status as a key player “isn’t the most important thing.”
The Brazil winger, 21, has scored ten goals this season, forming a lethal strike partnership with Karim Benzema, but still has the same deal that he signed when he joined the club aged 16.
“I’m lucky to have been here three years and I want to be here for many more,” Vinicius told El Larguero on Monday. “I want to have a great career like Cristiano Ronaldo did, like Sergio (Ramos) did, like Marcelo is doing. I want to be here as long as them.”
“Every player wants to earn money of course,” he added. “But I’m very focused on what I do on the pitch… Of course it’s important how much I earn, but it’s not the most important thing.”
Vinicius signed for Madrid in 2018 having previously been on the brink of agreeing a deal with rivals Barcelona.
“The two clubs looked at me,” he said on Monday. “I decided to go to Real Madrid for the project and what they did for me… I choose well.”
08.53 GMT: Lionel Messi has said he does not know if Paris Saint-Germain teammate Kylian Mbappe will still be at the club next season.
Mbappe has been a long-term target for Real Madrid and was close to moving to the Bernabeu in the summer. The France international is set to be a free agent at the end of the season when his contract at Parc des Princes expires. The 22-year-old is free to negotiate with foreign clubs from Jan. 1 as he enters the final six months of his deal.
Messi told Marca: “I can only say that I’m happy that he decided to stay this year here. He is a very important player for us and to fight for the aims we have. His head 100% focused on our aims. Once the season is over, he will then decide what to do. I really don’t know what will happen.”
08.00 GMT: Paris Saint-Germain have made contact with Zinedine Zidane in case of a potential departure of manager Mauricio Pochettino, sources have told ESPN’s Julien Laurens.
The former Real Madrid manager is the No. 1 candidate for the club’s owners if they lose Pochettino to Manchester United.
Zidane, 49, is available after leaving the Bernabeu last summer following his second tenure with Real Madrid — winning 190 of his 301 matches in charge and lifting three Champions Leagues and two LaLiga trophies. The France World Cup winner is keen on the PSG job if it becomes available, sources said.
Sources told ESPN’s Mark Ogden that Pochettino has yet to fully settle at PSG since joining them in January and the United job — left vacant after the departure of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer last weekend — is one that would make him consider a return to the Premier League.
As for Zidane, PSG believe that his pragmatic approach and his man management are perfectly suited to the star-studded Parisian side that includes the likes of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.
Julien Laurens explains his reservations about how Mauricio Pochettino would do at Manchester United.
PAPER GOSSIP (by Danny Lewis)
– Borussia Dortmund are preparing a package in an effort to persuade Erling Haaland to stay put for one more year, as has been reported by Sky Sports Germany. The main part of this will be a salary increase for the Norway international, says the report, with the contract confirming that the striker’s €75m release clause will be triggered in 2023, rather than the summer of 2022 as is set to happen.
– Chelsea are confident of extending Mason Mount‘s contract after making a breakthrough in talks with the midfielder, according to Football Insider. The academy graduate has been linked with the likes of Manchester City, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich recently with suggestions that he is no longer happy at Stamford Bridge. However, he has been offered an improved contract to keep him there past 2024 when his current deal ends.
– Fiorentina are hoping to sign Sassuolo striker Gianluca Scamacca as a replacement for Dusan Vlahovic, reports Calciomercato, with the Serbia international looking increasingly likely to leave in January or when his contract ends in the summer of 2023.
Another report from the Italian outlet adds that La Viola are looking to Sassuolo again as they aim to bring in Domenico Berardi to occupy the wing — though they may be put off by demands of €30m. With this in mind, Lille’s Jonathan Ikone is seen as an alternative.
– During an interview with Mundo Deportivo, La Masia graduate and Benfica left-back Alex Grimaldo has admitted that he would like to rejoin Barcelona. The Spaniard said: “Barcelona has always been my home and I am not going to close my door. I will not deny it, I will always bring her heart. I grew up there and it has been one of the dreams I have had since I was little.”
– Lazio are hoping to sign Bodo/Glimt forward Erik Botheim in the January transfer window, suggests Calciomercato. They will look to offload striker Vedat Muriqi to help through the deal that could cost around €10m, with the Kosovo international still highly regarded in Turkey having previously represented Fenerbahce among other Turkish Super Lig sides.