The transfer window officially opened on January 2 and between now and the first day of February, The Athletic team will keep you informed of all the significant developments we hear. Recently those developments have included Arsenal’s interest in Emi Buendia, Manchester United’s hopes of signing David Alaba, Sami Khedira wanting a move to the Premier League and the latest on Lionel Messi, Luka Jovic and Sven Botman.
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We won’t bring you gossip or rumours, just what is really happening and why.
January 8, 2021
It is the first move away from United for the 19-year-old, who has been at the club since he was eight, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be monitoring his progress.
Laird is set to be named in manager Russell Martin’s squad for the FA Cup trip to Burnley on Saturday and the chance of regular senior games was a decisive factor in MK Dons securing the move.
Laird is highly-regarded at United for his offensive attitude and athletic abilities and he featured in two Europa League games last season, against Astana and AZ Alkmaar. But he suffered an injury that ruled out further involvement.
After recovering he was called up to train with Solskjaer’s first-team squad during lockdown last summer but his progress this term has been affected by a hamstring problem sustained in the 6-0 EFL Trophy win over Salford City in September.
Laird is over those issues now, he impressed in the under-23s derby with Manchester City three weeks ago, and is expected to get a sustained run of competitive matches in League One.
“I’m buzzing to get started,” Laird said of his loan move on Friday. “The manager has shown a lot of faith in me and what I can do for the team. That’s all I could ask for. It’s now up to me show why he was right to choose me… this is the perfect place for me to continue developing.”
Meanwhile, United will not extend the contracts of Sergio Romero and Marcos Rojo with both available to leave the club this month.
Goalkeeper Romero, 33, and defender Rojo, 31, are out of contract at the end of the 2020-21 season. United will not trigger the one-year extension option in their deals and will instead look to sell the Argentine duo in the January transfer window.
“Both of them have contracts until the summer and they’re not going to be extended,” manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer confirmed at his press conference on Friday. “So we’re looking for them to find clubs.
“Marcos has been given time to go home, so he’s still in Argentina. Sergio has been back home as well to see his family but he is back now.
“But they are professionals, working hard and they’re ready if they call in for us, I’m sure they’re ready. Marcos will have to travel and do the quarantine before.”
The defensive midfielder, who signed from Feyenoord last summer, turned 17 earlier this week and has officially put pen-to-paper on terms.
Villa have high hopes for the talented teenager, who arrived as part of an aggressive spending spree, aimed at bolstering the U23 side before the rules on signing foreign players changed with the introduction of Brexit.
He’s quickly moved up from the U18 set-up to feature for the U23 side and is expected to be a part of the young squad for Villa’s FA Cup third-round clash with Liverpool tonight.
The entire first-team will miss out tonight due to a COVID outbreak, so Bogarde and co will be called on to fill in.
Lamare is the nephew of Winston Bogarde, the former Chelsea and Holland international.
January 7, 2021
There were suggestions on Thursday that West Ham had made contact with the player. But The Athletic understands that this is not the case.
Dembele is said to be focused on playing for Lyon, who are top of Ligue 1 and hope to qualify for next season’s Champions League. He has made 16 appearances this season for Lyon.
At the moment, the 24-year-old views that as more exciting than a switch to east London.
West Ham are looking to bring in another striker as Sebastian Haller is on the cusp of a €22.5 million switch to Ajax. Michail Antonio is their first choice up front, but they will need to bring in another forward due to his injury record.
The 32-year-old’s Arsenal contract expires at the end of the season and he is allowed to speak to other clubs this month. Ozil was not included in Arsenal’s Premier League squad and is yet to be named in a matchday squad in any competition this season.
The Athletic understands that Fenerbahce have started informal discussions with his representatives, while there have been reports in the United States that DC United are interested in luring Ozil to MLS.
“We will decide what’s happening in the next few days, I don’t know what is going to happen,” Arteta said ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup home game against Newcastle United.
“We’ll discuss internally what the best solution for him is for the near future, obviously with the player and agent too, and try to find the best solution for everyone.
“If something was sorted this month, it’s because it’s good for both parties, it’s good for Mesut and his future, and it’s good for the club. If that’s the case, we’ll move forward. If it’s not the case, the player will stay here.”
Earlier today, David Ornstein and James McNicholas of The Athletic broke the exclusive news that highly-rated teenage striker Folarin Balogun is close to signing a pre-contract agreement to join a foreign club.
The 19-year-old, who made his senior debut earlier this season, will be out of contract at the end of the season and has failed to find an agreement with Arsenal over a possible extension.
The 37-year-old is currently on loan to Watford, but his spell at Vicarage Road hasn’t worked out, as The Athletic documented last month.
Brighton will sanction the switch to Rangers as long as they do not lose out financially on the agreement they had with Watford to pay part of Murray’s wages.
Watford, currently sixth in the Championship, will allow Murray to join another club in the same division not in promotion contention.
Rangers are 20th in the table, two points and two places above the relegation zone. They want Murray’s experience to help them avoid the drop into League One.
Murray, an established goal scorer, joined Watford rather than Bristol City in September on a season-long loan with no break clause in search of more game time than he was getting in the Premier League at Brighton under Graham Potter.
He has made only one league start for the Hertfordshire club and a change of manager has made no difference to his situation.
Xisco Munoz replaced Vladimir Ivic in December, but Murray has not played since the last of his six appearances for Watford as a substitute in a 1-1 draw at Wycombe Wanderers at the end of October.
Murray’s career at Brighton appears to be over. There is no appetite from the club to bring him back to assist their fight against relegation from the Premier League.
He scored 111 goals in 287 games for Brighton across two spells, spanning their rise from League One to the Premier League.
The £16 million Italian striker left Molineux a year ago having scored three goals in 24 appearances, with Nuno Espirito Santo said to be unimpressed with the 23-year-old’s attitude. The Athletic understands Cutrone will now be given an opportunity to impress in the next couple of weeks before Wolves decide whether to make an addition late in the January window.
However his 18-month loan deal with Fiorentina has been cut short to help cover the absence of Raul Jimenez, with Wolves not yet having signed a replacement this month. Divock Origi, Luka Jovic and Josh King are three of the players they’re looked at.
Cutrone failed to score in 13 appearances for La Viola this season.
January 6, 2021
The 20-year-old had signed up for the season with the Swans but The Athletic can reveal he is on his way back to Molineux on Wednesday afternoon.
Wolves are enduring the worst injury crisis of Nuno Espirito Santo’s tenure and, with Daniel Podence joining Raul Jimenez on the sidelines, they have decided to recall Gibbs-White.
Podence missed the 3-3 draw with Brighton at the weekend with a calf injury. Wolves revealed on Wednesday morning that he is out for “a few weeks”.
Gibbs-White started the season well with Swansea before being sidelined by an ankle injury. He returned to action at the weekend.
Macey, 26, has been at Arsenal since 2013 when he signed from Bristol Rovers for £100k. He began training with Arsenal’s first team before loan spells at Accrington Stanley, Luton Town and Plymouth Argyle. This season he has been used as Arsenal’s third-choice goalkeeper, although was unable to add to the two senior appearances he made for the club in the 2017–18 campaign.
Macey’s departure leaves Bernd Leno and Alex Runarrsson as Arsenal’s only senior goalkeepers, after Emiliano Martinez’s £20 million transfer to Aston Villa in the summer.
Arsenal have a number of options should they choose to cover Macey’s departure internally. They rate 18-year-old Karl Hein and 19-year-old Arthur Okonkwo very highly, and both have trained with the first team this season. 25-year-old Deyan Illiev is also due to return from his short-term loan with Shrewsbury this month.
Arsenal are still understood to admire Brentford’s David Raya and it remains the club’s plan to pursue the Spaniard in the summer transfer window. Arsenal attempted to sign Raya as a replacement for Martinez in the last transfer window, only to meet stiff resistance from the Championship club.
Bristol City have received an enquiry about their Hungarian midfielder Adam Nagy from Russian club CSKA Moscow. Nagy, 25, is a Hungary international who moved to Bristol from Bologna in August 2019. CSKA’s interest is keen but City manager Dean Holden does not want to sell as he is in the midst of an injury crisis.
Holden is currently without ten first-team players, including Joe Williams and Liam Walsh who Holden would select in midfield alongside Nagy. Williams has a thigh injury which has kept the £1.2 million September signing from Wigan out all season and it is understood there is tension between the player and the medical staff regarding the treatment he has received.
Williams, 24, began his career at Everton and is a major absence for Holden, who also has interest in his centre forward Famara Diedhiou from Middlesbrough.
Diedhiou, 28, was City’s record signing when he arrived from Angers for £5.3m in 2017. He is into the last six months of his contract at Ashton Gate and City may wish to collect a fee for Diedhiou in January rather than lose him for nothing in June.
January 5, 2021
The 18 year-old’s deal was due to expire in the summer but The Athletic understands in recent weeks negotiations have resumed and a deal has been agreed.
He spent the first half of the season on loan at Inverness Caledonian Thistle in the Scottish Championship where he made ten appearances and scored a superb individual goal against Queen of the South.
After a standout season in the development squad last year he was promoted to Steven Gerrard’s first-team squad, but negotiations broke down over a contract extension in the summer.
With his future now secured it is thought that Kennedy, who is one of the most exciting prospects to have been produced at Auchnhowie in recent years, will go out on loan for the remainder of the season.
January 4, 2021
The Canada international has been playing the majority of his games for Barry Lewtas’s Under-23s side this term and has captained the team on six occasions.
Millar, who can operate in a central position as well as on the left wing, is familiar with London having joined Liverpool from Fulham’s academy in 2016.
The potential loan to the League One club will be 21-year-old’s second loan spell during his time at Liverpool. Millar previously spent one year at Kilmarnock.
The move will provide an opportunity for Saliba to continue his development back in his native France — the 19-year-old has not played a senior game for Arsenal since signing for £27 million in the summer of 2019.
The club had intended to send him out on loan during last summer’s transfer window, but failed to complete the paperwork that would have allowed him to rejoin AS Saint-Etienne. Now Nice have stepped in to provide him with a chance to play first-team football.
The French side, who are currently 12th in Ligue 1, will pay Saliba’s salary for the duration of his loan. There is no option for a permanent transfer attached to this deal, nor will Nice pay a loan fee.
Saliba will join Sead Kolasinac in leaving the club on loan in the January window, and more fringe players at Arsenal could follow. The Athletic understands centre-back Sokratis is also edging towards an exit.
January 3, 2021
It has been reported in the French press that Liverpool made contact with Botman’s representatives late last year ahead of a potential move to the Premier League.
The Athletic understands that this is not the case, however, and that the reigning Premier League champions have no interest in the 20-year-old central defender.
Botman signed a 5-year contract with Lille last summer following a move from Ajax. He has made 17 starts for the French side, who currently sit second in Ligue 1, one point above Paris Saint-Germain.
Ahead of the 2021 January transfer window opening on Saturday, we analysed some of Arsenal’s potential options in the winter market.
David Ornstein brought you the exclusive news that the club were considering signing Julian Brandt of Borussia Dortmund, while we previously reported that Arsenal have maintained an interest in Christopher Nkunku, the RB Leipzig midfielder Sven Mislintat had pushed for them to sign in that January 2019 window. Arsenal have also watched Barcelona’s young attacking midfielder Riqui Puig on several occasions, before the dismantling of their international scouting network.
The same piece also analysed the chances of Arsenal acquiring Norwich City midfielder Emi Buendia, in the event of the north London club deciding they wanted to favour signing a player more familiar with the Premier League. More commonly used off the right wing, this season he has drifted into central areas much more often than in his previous two seasons by Championship leaders. In Arsenal’s current state, where the use of a 3-4-3 looks to be frequent once again, his inclusion in this area would be particularly fitting to combat both the creative and defensive voids at the top of the pitch.
Buendia has been repeatedly linked with a move away from Norwich in recent weeks, however manager Daniel Farke has insisted the 24-year-old is committed to the club and is unlikely to leave this window, warning any potential suitors that he is on a “long-term contract” which does not expire until the end of the 2023-24 season.
“Emi is a key player for us, an important member of the group, and he is totally committed to us,” Farke said after Buendia scored a fine volley to secure a 1-0 win over Barnsley at Carrow Road. “He is our player and will continue to be our player – he is on a long-term contract with the club so we keep him.
“Everyone knows his qualities – and I don’t expect interest just because he scored a wonder goal today. He has scored a number like this for us and people know what he can do.”
January 2, 2021
Every club loves a bargain. And given the financial situation due to COVID-19, that will never be more the case than in this January window.
The financial ramifications of the global pandemic are biting deep, even across the Premier League. The overriding trend is for budgets to be slashed, meaning even more emphasis will be placed on securing additions for cut-price fees or signing players on pre-contract agreements ahead of free transfers in the summer. The demand for such talent will be fierce.
From Arkadiusz Milik to Stephen Caulker, it’s a list of surprising names that top-flight managers should take a look at.
January 1, 2021
The transfer window officially opens on Saturday, but for clubs in the United Kingdom there will be new rules to consider because of the exit from the European Union.
That has seen Liverpool strike deals early to beat the deadline and get players in. But it is not just Brexit that will be on the minds of the Premier League’s dealmakers.
A change in spending power, the need for gambles, a new focus on South America and the rise of the feeder club are all hot topics.
That and the fact bargains will be had from Ligue 1, given the collapse of the television deal in France.
Philip Buckingham has taken a look at the situation in detail and why it promises to be a January window like no other.
December 31, 2020
Mikel Arteta has prioritised moving on those who have featured under him infrequently during the upcoming January transfer window. He is keen to trim a bloated squad.
Kolasinac has started just once in the Premier League this season. He has been named in the starting line-up eight times in total, with those additional starts coming in the Carabao Cup and Europa League.
The left-back has therefore joined his former club Schalke on a temporary deal until the end of the season. There will not be a permanent option included as part of the deal to take him back to Germany.
Earlier on Friday, Arteta said: “We’ve had some conversations around a few players and whether we can find some loans because the numbers we have in the squad at the moment are really big.
“We have a large squad. We knew that. A lot of things that should have happened in the summer we could not accomplish them for different reasons.
“There are a lot of players that are going to go on loan. They are going to leave. And that’s the priority at the moment because we cannot sustain the numbers that we have in certain positions. We are looking to do that.
“And then we will see if we have the right opportunities in the positions that we need some more help. We are working with the club to try to address them.”
The World Cup winner last played for the Bianconeri in June after recovering from complicated knee and adductor injuries. He has not featured for a single minute for Juventus in the current campaign.
Khedira’s deal runs out in 2021 and there is talk of him being released early. And in an exclusive interview with The Athletic’s Raphael Honigstein, he admitted his ideal move would be to the Premier League.
“The Premier League is still missing in my collection, to play there would be the icing on the cake,” he said.
“There are fewer breaks in the game and many counter-attacks, but this is what I like. I’ve done a lot of extra sessions with fitness coaches to get myself ready for a higher pace and intensity. I’ve done extra sessions with fitness coaches to get myself ready for the pace and intensity in the Premier League.
“My gut instinct and passion tell me I need to play football, if possible in the Premier League. I’m working towards that.”
December 30, 2020
Diego Costa was released from his contract 18 months early by Atletico Madrid on Tuesday but there are considerations for any side looking to move for him in January.
Dermot Corrigan reported on Wednesday that sources have confirmed to The Athletic that Costa’s leaving agreement contains a clause which means they would be entitled to a big sum should he join a club which could challenge Atletico in either La Liga or the Champions League.
The ‘penalty’ fee is believed to be €15 (£13.6) million, with a 24-hour delay in Costa’s exit being confirmed caused by Atletico at first wanting it to be put at €25 (£22.7) million.
The Athletic also understands that Costa has not received any concrete offers from any new clubs and sources around Arsenal played down reports in Spain claiming the Premier League club have made an approach.
Another source suggested that the Lagarto native could go back to Brazil.
His connection with his home country remains strong despite his characteristically brave but questionable decision to switch international allegiances to Spain in order to play at the World Cup in Brazil in 2014.
December 29, 2020
The 27-year-old is about to enter the final six months of his deal and is free to speak to overseas clubs about signing a pre-contract from January.
The Athletic understands that Trabzonspor have presented an offer to sign the right-back next month, but do not want to pay Newcastle a fee. A move to fellow Turkish club Besiktas collapsed in September, despite terms being all-but agreed with Yedlin, because Newcastle demanded money for the American.
Yedlin was made available for transfer last summer as Newcastle looked to reduce their wage budget. He also started the season as third-choice right-back, behind Javier Manquillo and Emil Krafth.
However, Yedlin has started each of Newcastle’s last three matches — partly due to the after-effects of the COVID-19 outbreak at the club — and could feature again during the hectic festive schedule.
Steve Bruce, the head coach, must decide whether he can afford to allow Yedlin to leave mid-season, or if he should keep the defender until the end of his contract.
The Athletic understands Bournemouth are letting him train with them. It is similar to the situation that saw Charlie Daniels, Marc Pugh and Andrew Surman work with the Cherries after leaving the south coast side.
Wilshere will train with Bournemouth for this week. The Athletic has been told there is no view to a permanent deal as it stands.
The 28-year-old was a popular character during his previous spell at Bournemouth and as a result, they have decided to extend him this favour.
He began his career at Arsenal, making his senior debut in September 2008 at the age of 16, becoming their youngest ever league debutant.
Wilshere left the Emirates for West Ham in 2018, but only made 16 league appearances there.
In September, The Athletic’s Oliver Kay wrote a column discussing what had happened to Wilshere.
Diego Costa is to leave Atletico Madrid after the Spanish club agreed to the immediate termination of his contract.
The 32-year-old has found himself surplus to requirements this season, however, starting just two league matches for Diego Simeone’s side.
December 28, 2020
As it stands Arsenal are currently unlikely to rekindle their interest in Lyon’s Houssem Aouar when the transfer window reopens at the start of January.
David Ornstein reported in the summer that Arsenal had made contact with the French side over Aouar, with Edu and his opposite number Juninho said to have enjoyed a cordial dialogue about a potential transfer. In the end Arsenal elected to sign Thomas Partey from Atletico Madrid for £45 million, however, with Aouar publicly announcing his contentment at staying in France earlier this season.
The Athletic understands that there has been no indication Arsenal are ready to resurrect their interest in Aouar during the winter window, with the club prioritising other targets, as David reported in his Christmas Day mailbag.
Art de Roche and James McNicholas have assessed some of those targets in a new piece focused on the players who would help Arsenal in problem areas. One such player is Barcelona’s young attacking midfielder Riqui Puig, who Arsenal had scouted on numerous occasions before the dismantling of their international scouting network.
Puig’s recent fallout with head coach Ronald Koeman means he is likely to be available for transfer next month, with talk of interest from Leeds United. Technically, the Spaniard fits the profile of midfielder Arsenal require. However, at just 21, they may have similar concerns over his capacity to make an instant impact in English football — and fans will doubtless still feel stung by memories of Denis Suarez’s disappointing loan spell from Barcelona in the same window two years ago.
For a full preview of Arsenal’s winter window — including news on Julian Brandt, Emi Buendia and more — click here.
Messi’s existing deal with Barcelona expires at the end of the season, meaning he is free to negotiate a summer switch to a foreign club from January 1 2021, sparking consistent speculation over a move to the Premier League.
Last summer Messi even asked to leave Barcelona. He sent a fax to the club expressing his desire to exercise a clause that would have allowed him to leave on a free transfer with immediate effect, although he was eventually persuaded to stay.
Last night, in an interview broadcast by Spanish TV channel La Sexta, Messi said he is now happy at the Nou Camp but indicated his long-term future may lie across the Atlantic.
“I would like to play in the United States and experience life and the league there, but ultimately come back to Barcelona in some capacity,” he said. “I’m not thinking too far ahead in the short term and just want to see how the season finishes.”
Messi added that he remains in dialogue with Guardiola, who managed him at Barcelona. The Athletic has previously reported how City Football Group had hoped to sign Messi last summer and may make another attempt to bring the 33-year-old to the Premier League.
“I don’t know how long my last chat with Pep Guardiola was, but we do talk,” Messi said. “We don’t talk about whether we are going to meet again. For me Pep is the best, he has something special.”
December 27, 2020
The structure of the deal is still being finalised and will be subject to agreement on fee. It is understood Watford may want in the region of £4.5 million for the 32-year-old, who has two years remaining on his contract.
Valencia made an offer for the Frenchman in the summer but didn’t meet Watford’s valuation and although he has been integrated back into the squad — and started the victory over Norwich on Boxing Day — a move away in January was always a possibility.
It is understood that Watford would seek to reinvest the money in another defensive midfield option if the deal with Villarreal is completed.
The 23-year-old Serbian international joined Madrid in 2019 for £55 million but has only scored twice for the Spanish giants from 32 appearances, with 11 of those starts.
Former Benfica striker Jovic, who earned his move to Spain after a prolific season on loan with Eintracht Frankfurt, has been an unused substitute for Madrid’s two league matches having previously been out injured, but his last La Liga start came in September.
However, the chances of Wolves landing Jovic, a former team mate of Raul Jimenez, in January still appear to be slim. From Wolves’ perspective any deal would have to be a straight loan for the season, as they wouldn’t be willing to pay anything near £55 million as an option in the summer, but Madrid would likely prefer a transfer which included a permanent deal.
Jovic is one of several players on Wolves’ shortlist as they look to bring in a striker to temporarily replace Jimenez in January. The Mexican is out with a fractured skull and is unlikely to feature again this season.
Wolves have whittled some 30 strikers down to a handful but Liverpool forward Divock Origi is, at the moment, not a priority.
Last summer The Athletic reported that Brentford’s Rico Henry was a target for Aston Villa and today Nick Miller has profiled the 23-year-old left back ahead of the January transfer window, with more Premier League clubs poised to express an interest in a player signed from Walsall for just £1.5 million back in August 2016.
Along with being among the best teams in the English second tier, Brentford have become a sort of gourmet talent buffet, finding players in places nobody else thought to look then cooking them just so, before teams with more money but less patience help themselves. The list of players they have sold at great profit over the last few years includes — but is not limited to — Andre Gray, James Tarkowski, Ollie Watkins, Said Benrahma (initially on loan), Neal Maupay, Chris Mepham and Scott Hogan.
Henry is likely the next on the list of graduates. He may well have gone last summer if Brentford hadn’t already got £28 million for Watkins and had another £25 million coming down the pipe for Benrahma. A move then may have been a little early for him but even in the few months of this season, he has kicked on even further.
Henry has been a long-term target of Aston Villa’s, with manager Dean Smith previously working with the left back at both Walsall and Aston Villa. The Athletic understands that West Ham have also scouted Henry and considered making a bid in the summer, only for David Moyes to decide that signing a new central defender was his priority.
But that list is expected to grow further when the transfer window reopens due to Henry’s consistently impressive performances this season. To read Nick’s profile of Henry — which includes the latest on both his immediate and long-term future as well as the thoughts of Brentford’s manager, Thomas Frank — click here.
December 26, 2020
David Alaba is one of January’s hottest properties as the Bayern Munich defender’s contract enters its last six months, reports Laurie Whitwell.
A host of Europe’s top sides have entered discussions with his representatives over a deal.
But The Athletic understands that Real Madrid lead the way in pursuit of his signature. Alaba is reported to have turned down a £200,000 per week contract offer from Bayern and the European champions would like to keep the player who has been an integral part of the team since 2011.
Real, however, are ready to provide the kind of salary the Austria international is demanding and a departure is becoming more likely.
Manchester United have been credited with an interest in the 28-year-old, who can play full-back, centre-back and midfield to an elite standard. But having been made aware of the costs associated with the move, United will not be entering the running, it can be confirmed.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants to maintain a squad of balanced earnings as much as possible and the scale required to secure Alaba would be too great.
Alaba, who has 14 goals in 75 caps, is one of the continent’s most experienced players, having won nine Bundesliga titles and two Champions League crowns.
Real are hamstrung on paying transfer fees having been hit hard by the financial impact of the pandemic, but would be able to facilitate the signing of Alaba on a free once his contract expires at the end of this season.
He will not be leaving in the January window.
(Photo: Julian Finney – UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images)