Transfer Talk: Memphis Depay preparing to force through January move to Barcelona

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The coronavirus pandemic made the summer transfer market unlike any before it, but there were still plenty of deals done, and you can check out the major ones here. The window might be closed across the top leagues in Europe, but here are the best rumours from around the globe.

TOP STORY: Real Madrid eye Mbappe move amid €180m clause claims

Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe is in talks over a new contract, but AS reports that it might contain a €180 million release clause allowing him to join Real Madrid.

With Mbappe’s current deal ending in 2022, PSG are keen to tie him down to fresh terms. Long-term admirers Real Madrid will make their move next summer and hope that his price drops significantly, otherwise they may be forced to pay €180m to sign him as the player is reportedly insisting on a release clause if he puts pen to paper.

Mbappe has hinted that a move to Madrid would be a dream, while Liverpool are also keen on him if he doesn’t agree a new deal.

PSG sporting director Leonardo confirmed on Tuesday that contract talks have also started with Neymar, Angel Di Maria, Juan Bernat and Julian Draxler. However, sources told ESPN’s Julien Laurens that the negotiations with Neymar are more advanced than Leonardo let on.

LIVE BLOG

13.00 GMT: Manchester United’s Paul Pogba could leave the club in the coming months after some poor performances, but he’s a different player for his country. Or is he?

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Frank Leboeuf questions if Didier Deschamps is making the right decision backing Paul Pogba vs. Portugal.

12.11 GMT: Soccer transfers are a murky business. Gab Marcotti asks if FIFA can clean them up?

Agents in football are nothing like Jerry Maguire. It’s not that they don’t develop heartfelt bonds with their representatives: Mino Raiola, who represents Paul Pogba, Erling Haaland and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, famously has no written contracts tying him to his clients but relies on handshakes instead. No, the difference is that in Maguire’s world — and in most U.S. sports — agents are paid by players for representing them in contract negotiations, whether with sponsors or clubs. In football, they still represent players in contract negotiations with teams, but agents typically get paid by the teams, not the players they’re representing.

Moreover, for many agents, a big chunk of the business comes during the transfer window when they act directly for clubs as intermediaries.

In most football leagues outside MLS, players under contract aren’t traded and because they have guaranteed deals, they can’t be released. So their contracts are bought and sold for cash, which means there’s plenty of business to be had representing either a club looking to sell a player or a club looking to acquire a player. You can get paid for that, too.

If it’s a player you represent, you get paid twice. And though this is rare, you can hit the trifecta and get paid by all parties involved: buyer, seller and the player.

Such a system is evidently rife with potential for conflicts of interest and malfeasance. But last week, FIFA unveiled a raft of new regulations aimed at limiting such practices while increasing transparency, mandating licensing and putting a cap on the commissions an agent can earn for an individual transfer. It appears certain they will be approved next spring and come into effect in September 2021.

11.31 GMT: Inter Milan were optimistic in offering Christian Eriksen back to Tottenham this week. Sources told ESPN’s James Olley that neither Eriksen nor Spurs are particularly keen to revisit a partnership that ended with an awkward €20m transfer in January, prompted by the midfielder deciding to run down the final year of his contract.

Although Eriksen was an important player during his six-and-a-half years in north London, scoring 69 goals in 305 appearances, Tottenham were disappointed by the way the 28-year-old pushed to leave. They have also remodelled their attack in the meantime, having made Giovani Lo Celso‘s loan deal from Real Betis permanent in addition to re-signing Gareth Bale on a temporary basis from Real Madrid.

Eriksen would likely be available for a cut-price fee given he has endured a difficult first year in Italy, with Inter coach Antonio Conte preferring more mobile players in advanced positions. But Spurs boss Jose Mourinho is following a similar approach at Tottenham.

Eriksen remains a talented player who would improve many teams across Europe, but more water surely has to flow under the bridge before any reunion with Spurs becomes a realistic possibility.

10.43 GMT: Liverpool need a new defender, but there’s one option that’s better than the rest.

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Steve Nicol believes Liverpool should do their best to sign Dayot Upamecano in January.

09.49 GMT: FC Salzburg midfielder Dominik Szoboszlai is on the radar of a host of clubs, including Arsenal, AC Milan and RB Leipzig, but Real Madrid have reportedly entered the race according to AS.

Szoboszlai, 20, secured Hungary a spot at Euro 2020 after helping to down Iceland, and has impressed for Salzburg this season.

The attacking midfielder is out of contract in 2022 and could be available for around €30m in January.

09.19 GMT: Portuguese defender David Carmo is attracting interest from Premier League clubs including Manchester United, sources told ESPN’s Rob Dawson.

The highly rated 21-year-old has impressed for Braga in Portugal, emerging as a target for a number of clubs in England and across Europe. Roma and Fiorentina were among the clubs to express an interest in Carmo during the summer.

United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer remains keen to add a left-sided centre-back to his squad and Carmo, part of the Portugal Under-19 team that won the European Championship in 2018, is among the options.

However, any move for a defender is likely to be based on at least one centre-back leaving Old Trafford. United are open to offers for both Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo after the pair were left out of this season’s Champions League squad.

09.00 GMT: Wolves striker Raul Jimenez has confirmed that Manchester United and Juventus made moves to sign him this summer.

Jimenez, 29, signed a new three-and-a-half-year contract at the beginning of October and scored 27 goals in all competitions last season. The Mexico international is in high demand and it seems plenty of clubs are keen.

“One day I woke up and Juventus wanted me, another Manchester United, and what I know is that there were approaches made,” he told TUDN. “But an agreement was never reached and nothing was close. I’m very happy at Wolves.

“The truth is I am very happy in Wolverhampton. It’s never wrong to be in a place where you are well but they know that I am not satisfied [with my form], I always look for more.”

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Sid Lowe reacts to the news Barcelona sensation Ansu Fati will miss four months after a knee operation.

PAPER TALK

Depay to force Barca move?

Lyon star Memphis Depay will attempt to force a move to Spanish giants Barcelona in the January transfer window, according to Mundo Deportivo.

His proposed €25m switch to Camp Nou over the summer never quite came to fruition, but with his contract set to expire in June, the Netherlands international winger doesn’t want to waste any more time.

Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas noted that the club don’t want to sell him halfway through the campaign, but that seemingly isn’t going to stop Depay from trying to push through a move once 2021 rolls around.

Real Madrid look for Ramos replacement

Real Madrid are keeping an eye out for potential replacements in case Sergio Ramos doesn’t sign a new contract, Sport reports.

The 34-year-old’s deal is set to expire at the end of the season, and while there are ongoing discussions among all parties regarding a new arrangement, Madrid aren’t ruling anything out.

In addition to Bayern Munich’s David Alaba, manager Zinedine Zidane is also believed to be taking a look at Villarreal’s Pau Torres and Man City’s Eric Garcia, with the two considered viable alternatives — even though the latter is being tipped to rejoin Barcelona.

Boateng surprised by Bayern exit speculation

Bayern Munich centre-back Jerome Boateng has been left feeling surprised by the recent transfer speculation surrounding his future at the club. During an interview with Suddeutsche Zeitung, the 32-year-old made it clear that the reports in Bild linking him with a switch to the Premier League are news to him.

“Nobody approached me, nobody spoke to me,” Boateng is quoted as saying. “I didn’t know anything about it, I was surprised.”

With his contract set to expire in the summer, it appears the standoff between the two parties is going to continue.

Tap-ins

New York City FC midfielder James Sands is being considered for a big move to Europe by many top clubs, according to MLSsoccer.com. At the age of 20, Sands has established himself as one of the country’s fastest-rising homegrown stars, with teams from Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands interested in the United States under-19 international.

Chelsea left-back Emerson Palmieri has confirmed that he would like to return to Serie A, Tuttomercatoweb reports. As the speculation mounts regarding the 26-year-old’s future in London, Palmieri himself reportedly had the following to say on the matter: “I’ve received interest, not only from Italy. No concrete things, but it’s clear that I’ll be happy to return to Serie A. I don’t know if it will happen in January or in five years, I can’t say — in football everything changes too quickly.”