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: PSG inch ahead in race for Alaba
Real Madrid have been most closely linked with regard to signing Alaba, who looks destined to leave the Allianz Arena on a free transfer in the summer after failing to agree a new contract with the German champions.
PSG, though, are reportedly willing to bow to his wage demands, whereas Real are a bit more hesitant on the matter.
The reason behind Madrid wanting to pursue Alaba in the first place is due to the impending threat of Sergio Ramos leaving, but unfortunately for them, they’re trailing behind right now.
19.44 GMT: After the agent of midfielder Miguel Almiron said his client would’ve left Newcastle United already if not for the coronavirus pandemic, Toon boss Steve Bruce called the player’s representative “an amateur looking to make a fast buck,” according to the BBC. The 26-year-old midfielder and former Atlanta United FC standout has been linked with Atletico Madrid and Internazionale in recent days.
18.07 GMT: As reports circulate of Juventus midfielder Sami Khedira reuniting with manager Carlo Ancelotti at Everton, the Toffees boss addressed the possibility of the 31-year-old moving to Goodison Park.
“I have a good memory of Sami Khedira, he was with me at Real Madrid and was a fantastic professional,” the Liverpool Echo cites Ancelotti as saying. “I would love to work with him, but unfortunately he’s not the only one. I’ve had fantastic players in my career, I’ve had good memories of them. But to come here to Everton is another thing to consider.”
16.30 GMT: Jose Mourinho‘s first year at Tottenham has had some highs and lows. James Olley reports on how he is looking.
Only Liverpool (82) and Manchester City (68) have taken more points than Spurs (62) since Mourinho arrived. Whether they have reached this point by luck or design — the evidence suggests it is a combination of both — the Premier League returns this weekend with Spurs in second place and fully primed to take the next step. It is technically his one-year anniversary, but it feels like the second season, the time when Mourinho really delivers.
Spurs might have scored seven against Maccabi Haifa, six at Manchester United and five at Southampton, but the past three League wins, over Burnley, Brighton and West Brom — all by the odd goal — bore the hallmarks of the more dogged Mourinho of old.
15.26 GMT: Borussia Dortmund are transfer kings, but they haven’t managed to translate signing top young players into titles yet.
Jan Aage Fjortoft says Dortmund have to win a trophy to justify their collection of talent over the years.
14.51 GMT: Pep Guardiola has said he hopes Lionel Messi will finish his career at Barcelona but admits he doesn’t know what the future holds for the player as his contract at Camp Nou winds down.
Guardiola signed a new two-year deal at Manchester City on Thursday, prompting more speculation the club may be able to convince Messi to move to the Etihad Stadium if he leaves Barcelona as a free agent in the summer. The City boss insists he wants Messi to stay in Spain but made sure he left the door open for the 33-year-old to join him in Manchester.
“Lionel Messi is a player from Barcelona,” Guardiola told a news conference on Friday. “If you ask me my opinion as a person, I have a huge gratitude for what Barcelona has done for me. In the academy as a football player and after as a manager it gave me absolutely everything.
“What I want is [for him] to finish his career there. I would love it, I would wish it. That is what I said I don’t know how many times maybe a thousand times. I would like as a Barcelona fan for Leo to finish there. But he finishes this year the contract and I don’t know what’s going to happen in his mind. Right now he is a Barcelona player and the transfer market will be in June and July.”
14.27 GMT: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says Paul Pogba remains an “important” player for Manchester United despite suggestions from France coach Didier Deschamps that the midfielder is unhappy at Old Trafford.
Pogba has started just two of United’s last seven games, prompting comments from Deschamps during the international break. The 27-year-old has accepted he is going through a “difficult” period in his career but Solskjaer insists he remains central to his plans.
“Paul had a difficult season last season,” Solskjaer told a news conference on Friday. “He had COVID, those three games he played for France have helped. I spoke to Paul and he felt towards the end of the Portugal and Sweden games, he felt stronger for it. He played well, they qualified [in the Nations League].
“I think he’s only going to improve. Paul is a very important player and very important person and to have him in form and happy is going to be important.”
14.01 GMT: When you read about ‘the next big thing’ you expect the player in question to be a bit older than 14…
Not so. Anderlecht midfielder Rayane Bounida has reportedly got a host of top European clubs following him, according to Sporza.
Anderlecht’s former head scout Urbain Haesaert, who is now at Ajax, is quoted as saying: “He is so strong both technically and tactically. Of course [Ajax want him]. But who doesn’t? Barcelona, Manchester, Chelsea, everyone wants Rayane Bounida.”
13.19 GMT: Chelsea forward Olivier Giroud will seek a move away from the club in January to keep his Euro 2020 dream alive if he is frozen out of the first-team picture at Stamford Bridge, sources have told ESPN’s James Olley.
France coach Didier Deschamps has told the 34-year-old “the situation he’s in today cannot drag on forever” with Giroud having played just 33 minutes in the Premier League this season.
The striker has started just one match in all competitions — the EFL Cup fourth round defeat at Tottenham on Sept. 29 — after falling down the pecking order behind Tammy Abraham and summer signing Timo Werner.
Jan Aage Fjortoft explains how Bayern could emerge as a contender for RB Leipzig’s Dayot Upamecano.
Supriaha, 20, has scored three goals in 14 games so far this season and has caught the eye of the Italian giants. Linked with Bologna as well, the Ukraine U20 international is valued at around €14m, with Milan willing to hand over €7m to sign him.
Of course the club have good memories of strikers from Dynamo Kiev as they signed Andriy Shevchenko in 1999 and he went on to score 172 goals in 296 games for them.
— Borussia Dortmund (@BlackYellow) November 20, 2020
The 18-year-old forward made his USMNT debut last Thursday against Wales and is regarded as one of the most promising talents in the Bundesliga.
Sources told ESPN there was interest in Reyna from the Premier League and La Liga, but he was focused solely on continuing his career with Dortmund.
Reyna signed an initial three-year deal when he agreed to join Dortmund from MLS side New York City in November 2018. He arrived at BVB in July 2019 and went on to make his debut in February 2020.
12.02 GMT: Football Manager 2021, out on Nov. 24, is the latest instalment of the game that has provided plenty of solace for fans around the world in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are some of the latest wonderkids to grace the 2021 edition. They turn out good in the game, but what does our resident scout Tor-Kristian Karlsen make of them in real life?
Julien Laurens breaks down how Pep Guardiola’s contract extension will impact Lionel Messi’s future.
Dalot is spending the season on loan at Milan and the 21-year-old has impressed since arriving in Italy. However, with no option or obligation to buy inserted into the agreement, Milan will have to re-open negotiations if they want to keep the full-back beyond the end of the season.
Dalot, who cost £19m when he moved to Old Trafford from Porto in 2018, is highly-regarded by United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who made the decision to allow the Portugal Under-21 international to leave on loan and play regular football to continue his development.
10.12 GMT: Barcelona are desperate to avoid losing talented youngster Ilaix Moriba, multiple sources told ESPN’s Moises Llorens, and his renewal will be a top priority for the club’s next president, along with a new deal for Lionel Messi.
Midfielder Ilaix, 17, has a contract until 2022 and Barca want to extend it at all costs, believing he could be the next big talent to break into the first team, following the path of Ansu Fati.
09.45 GMT: Isco‘s agent has denied that the Real Madrid midfielder is looking to leave the club in January.
The playmaker is out of favour at the Bernabeu and has only started three La Liga games this season, two of which were defeats, including this month’s 4-1 loss at Valencia.
“A lot of things are said,” a representative was quoted as telling Cadena SER radio on Thursday. “We aren’t looking at offers and the idea isn’t to leave the club.”
Isco has been linked with a move to the Premier League to join up with Carlo Ancelotti at Everton, although the former Real Madrid boss rejected claims that he’s tracking the midfielder in an interview this week.
09.11 GMT: Pep Guardiola extended his contract with Manchester City until 2023 on Thursday. Guardiola’s deal ran until the end of the 2020-21 season, which began on Sept. 12, but he will remain in the Premier League after agreeing to an extension.
“Ever since I arrived at Manchester City I have been made to feel so welcome in the club and in the city itself, from the players, the staff, the supporters, the people of Manchester and the chairman and owner,” Guardiola said.
“Since then we have achieved a great deal together, scored goals, won games and trophies, and we are all very proud of that success. Having that kind of support is the best thing any manager can have. I have everything I could possibly want to do my job well and I am humbled by the confidence the owner, chairman, Ferran [Soriano] and Txiki [Begiristain] have shown in me to continue for two more years after this season.
“The challenge for us is to continue improving and evolving, and I am very excited and about helping Manchester City do that.”
08.34 GMT: Jerome Boateng is looking forward to a new challenge when his contract at Bayern Munich expires next summer. Boateng, 32, joined Bayern Munich from Manchester City in 2011 and was a key member for the club’s Treble-winning sides in 2013 and 2020.
“I am someone who loves to get to know new cities, cultures and people,” the centre-back told Spox. “I am really not the guy who likes to stay at one place for too long. That’s why Paris, London but also cities outside of Europe are interesting for me.”
Earlier this month, Boateng learned via the media that Bayern were making their plans for next season without him. When asked about that decision, the 2014 World Cup winner said: “I was surprised and would have wished for a meeting before. But I am now longer thinking about it.”
08.00 GMT: Derby County’s battle to avoid relegation from the EFL Championship is likely to scupper Wayne Rooney‘s prospects of taking his first steps into management at the club, sources told ESPN’s Mark Ogden.
The former Everton, Manchester United and D.C. United forward, who has yet to secure all of his coaching qualifications, signed an 18-month contract as player-coach when he arrived at Derby last January, with the move designed to prepare the 35-year-old for a managerial role at a later date.
Rooney is part of a four-man interim coaching team, alongside Shay Given, Liam Rosenior and Justin Walker, appointed by Derby to take charge of the first-team following the sacking of manager Phillip Cocu, the former PSV Eindhoven coach, on Nov. 14.
“I am ambitious,” Rooney said. “I want to go into management. I have been quite open about that. There is an opportunity to show the different ideas you have. I want to be a manager one day.”
Derby are bottom of the 24-team Championship, with just one win from 11 games so far this season, and on the verge of being taken over by United Arab Emirates businessman Sheikh Khaled bin Zayed al Nahyan.
And although sources told ESPN that Rooney is one of several candidates being considered for the manager’s job by the incoming owners, his lack of experience and the necessary coaching qualifications point towards the former England captain instead being asked to work under a proven manager capable of steering Derby away from the relegation zone.
– ESPN Insider Notebook: Liverpool demand VAR answers
– Championship on ESPN+: Stream LIVE games and replays (U.S. only)
Wayne Rooney says he wants to turn his interim position as Derby manager into a permanent role.
PAPER TALK (by Harry Kettle): Barcelona concerned over Dembele
Barca were interested in selling him during the summer transfer window, but he was reportedly eager to stay. However, the Catalans now believe that he could be planning to leave for nothing when his contract expires in 2022.
Dembele will be allowed to speak with clubs before then, with Manchester United being one of the teams that are interested, as Barcelona need funds to fill a €300m financial hole caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Haaland not focused on leaving Borussia Dortmund
Erling Haaland‘s father, Alf-Inge, has confirmed that his son is not thinking about leaving Borussia Dortmund.
The Norway striker continues to be linked with a move away from the German giants, but in an interview with Sport1, Alf-Inge Haaland made it clear that the priority is to try to find success in Dortmund.
“At the moment it’s not in Erling’s or my head that another club will be vying for him,” Haaland’s father said. “We signed a long contract with Dortmund and they have a fantastic team for Erling right now. We don’t want to look any further ahead.”
Haaland Jr. reportedly has a €75m release clause in his contract and has attracted attention from every top club in Europe.
– Eintracht Frankfurt‘s Jetro Willems is interested in a return to Newcastle United, Calciomercato reports. The Dutchman spent last season on loan with the Magpies, but after an unfortunate injury cut his time short, Willems is now going in search of another chance to try to impress in the Premier League with the very same club.