With over two weeks of the January transfer window behind us, it appears the Premier League big boys are saving their dollars for the summer market. Lots of rumors continue to swirl but noone seems to be prepared to put the money on the table. In this week’s Rumor Mill we have two potential big-name arrivals at Barca as well as a possible return stateside for Tim Howard. Enjoy!
Rumor: Atletico Madrid to Manchester United / Likelihood: Happy in Spain / The Talk: Manchester United are set to revive their interest in Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul Niguez, according to the Daily Mail. The Red Devils are thought to have followed Niguez’s progress since he was 18 and could look to trigger his £19.5million ($27.8million) release clause. However, the Spanish under-21 international is a key player for Diego Simeone and the youngster wants to remain in Spain. Niguez has scored five goals this season which makes him Atletico’s second top scorer behind Antoine Griezmann.
Rumor: Real Madrid to Chelsea / Likelihood: Not until the summer / The Talk: Chelsea have entered discussions over a move for Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos, according to Spanish media outlet Fichajes. Manchester United and Liverpool are also thought to be keen on the German international, but it is apparently the Blues that have made the first move. The 26-year-old is thought to be unhappy at the amount of playing time he is receiving at the Bernabeu and Chelsea are reportedly lining up a bid of around £40million ($57.1million) to tempt the Spaniards to sell.
Rumor: Leicester to Chelsea / Likelihood: He’ll stay at Leicester / The Talk: According to reports, Chelsea are considering re-hiring Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri at the end of the season. Guus Hiddink is currently in interim charge of the Blues until the end of the season after Jose Mourinho’s sacking in December. Ranieri was the boss at Stamford Bridge from 2000-2004 and has since managed seven clubs, including current club Leicester, who he has guided to second in the Premier League table. Tuttosport claim Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is keen on bringing the Italian back to London for the start of next season. Ranieri is thought to have a good relationship with the Russian billionaire despite his sacking.
Rumor: Athletic Bilbao to Liverpool or Arsenal / Likelihood: If the release clause stays the same / The Talk: According to the Daily Mail, Arsenal and Liverpool are competing for the signing of Athletic Bilbao forward Inaki Williams. Williams -- who is known for being the fastest player in La Liga last season -- was watched by Arsenal scouts last Wednesday, while Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp is thought to be keen on the 21-year-old. He has a £15.3million ($21.8million) release clause, which Bilbao reportedly want to raise to £76.3million ($108.9million). Klopp and Arsene Wenger better get in there quick or this transfer could get a bit pricey!
Rumor: Leicester to Liverpool / Likelihood: A good chance / The Talk: The Daily Star report that Liverpool are in pole position to land Leicester striker Jamie Vardy. The Foxes star has taken the Premier League by storm this term, scoring 15 goals to lift Leicester into second place in the standings. His goalscoring prowess hasn’t gone unnoticed and Liverpool are thought to be readying a £25million ($35.6m) deal for the 29-year-old striker. In comparison to the Reds current star striker Christian Benteke, Vardy would fit in to Jurgen Klopp’s Gegenpressing-style system. With the England international’s fantastic movement this looks like a match made in heaven.
Rumor: Gladbach to Arsenal or Liverpool / Likelihood: Yes / The Talk: Borussia Mönchengladbach sporting director Max Eberl has revealed that they are willing to listen to offers for Arsenal and Liverpool target Granit Xhaka. The 23-year-old midfielder has been in great form for Gladbach during their march to fourth in the Bundesliga this season. Despite only fairly recently committing his future to the German side, Eberl says the club are open to selling the Swiss international. "It depends a bit on our own sporting success, it depends on Granit’s own performances and of course it depends on the figures," Eberl said in an interview with WDR2. “If they reach a certain level, then you could start to get dizzy. There are always situations in which every club would have to make considerations.”
Rumor: Arsenal to Barcelona / Likelihood: Too expensive / The Talk: The Daily Express reports that Barcelona have made Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey one of their top targets for the summer transfer window. Ramsey is thought to be excited at the prospect of playing for one of the biggest teams in the world and the Gunners are unlikely to stand in his way if they receive a bid, the Daily Express understands. However, it is thought a fee between £50-£60million ($71-85million) would be required to prise him away from the Emirates Stadium.
Rumor: Liverpool (on loan at AC Milan) to West Ham / Likelihood: Not yet / The Talk: West Ham are preparing a shock £10million ($14.3m) bid for Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli, according to the Daily Express. The Liverpool flop is currently on loan at Italian Serie A side AC Milan and Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp is reportedly not interested in making Balotelli part of his plans for next season. The 26-year-old has been limited to four appearances for Milan this campaign due to injury and poor form. And, with Andy Carroll out for several weeks, West Ham boss Slaven Bilic is thought to be on the lookout for a striker in the January window.
Rumor: Everton to Colorado Rapids / Likelihood: Makes sense / The Talk: According to the Daily Express, Colorado Rapids want to take Everton keeper Tim Howard back to America. The Major League Soccer outfit are seeking a high-profile signing for the new season, but a summer move is more likely as Everton would be short of cover. The USMNT keeper has come under criticism this season from some fans, but he was excellent in the Toffee’s recent 0-0 draw with Manchester City. Howard, who has over 400 appearances for the Merseyside club, is an icon for U.S. national side and would be a major coup for the Rapids.
Rumor: Everton to Barcelona / Likelihood: If they bid the most / The Talk: Barcelona sent a scout to watch John Stones at Stamford Bridge on Saturday as they reportedly step up their interest in the Everton defender. The Daily Mail reports that the Spanish giants have been monitoring the England international since last season and have been impressed with what they have seen. Lots of clubs are thought to be interested in the former Barnsley player, especially Chelsea, who had a £38million ($54.2m) bid rejected in the summer. Barcelona are believed to be looking for a long-term partner for Gerard Pique and the 21-year-old seems to fit the bill.