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: Inter targeting Eriksen swap deal
Inter Milan are considering a controversial swap deal involving Christian Eriksen that would see the midfielder return to England … not to his old club Tottenham, but their bitter rivals Arsenal, according to Corriere dello Sport.
The newspaper claims that Eriksen is set for a return to the Premier League after just one year, having struggling to land a regular starting place under Antonio Conte, and that an exchange deal could be the simplest way for Inter to move him on.
Corriere dello Sport reports that Arsenal are one potential suitor, and that a swap deal involving Swiss midfielder Granit Xhaka is an option that interests the Nerazzurri.
Xhaka’s playing time at Arsenal has been reduced following the summer arrival of Thomas Partey, but would Eriksen be willing to move to the Emirates Stadium?
Inter are also exploring the idea of offering Eriksen to Manchester United in return for either Fred or Nemanja Matic, or Chelsea for N’Golo Kante.
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14.55 GMT: Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois has denied reports that he was close to joining Barcelona in 2014.
Former Barca director Javier Bordas made the claims in an interview with Catalan newspaper Mundo Deportivo on Sunday, but the Belgian played down what he said.
“Everyone knows my dream has always been to play at Real Madrid,” Courtois said in a news conference with Belgium. “It isn’t true that I had an agreement. I belonged to Chelsea, I went to Atletico Madrid on loan, I had to return to Chelsea and I played there. I don’t know why that has been said, but it isn’t true.”
Courtois signed for Chelsea in 2011 and spent three seasons on loan at Atletico, then four years at Stamford Bridge before joining Madrid in 2018.
14.18 GMT: Bild also reports that RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano could be set to make a decision over his future in January.
The 22-year-old has a reported €45m release clause in his contract which kicks in during the summer and has attracted interest from a host of clubs including Man United, Man City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, Barcelona, Real Madrid and PSG.
However, the paper says that at €45m, he would be too expensive for Bayern Munich.
14.02 GMT: Schalke defender Malick Thiaw has been linked to Liverpool by Bild recently — a situation which is only going to increase with another injury for the crisis-hit club.
Thiaw, 19, signed a new deal with Schalke in the summer and told the German club’s TV channel: “Of course you’re happy when big clubs are after you, but it was actually clear to me that I would stay at Schalke.”
13.23 GMT: Lionel Messi can leave Barcelona and join Manchester City for nothing in the summer. Or City might be able to sign him in January.
La Liga president Javier Tebas says Manchester CIty are the only club in the Premier League that could sign Lionel Messi.
12.42 GMT: Mario Balotelli, remember him?
Balotelli has been training with Serie D side Franciacorta after his contract with Serie A side Brescia was terminated this summer.
The Italian striker is still only 30 and is now looking for a new club, with Sky Sports reporting that Championship side Barnsley are interested. The report reads: “Conversations have been held between Balotelli’s representatives and Barnsley’s co-chairmen Chien Lee and Paul Conway, but talks have not gone any further.”
Balotelli left England for a loan move to Milan in 2015 after a spell at Liverpool, having won the Premier League and FA Cup during three years at Manchester City between 2010-2013. He won three Serie A titles and the Champions League at Inter Milan early in his career but last played for Nice, Marseille and Brescia, where he was released for failing to attend training.
12.06 GMT: Manchester United goalkeeper Dean Henderson could join Celtic on loan in January, according to 90min.
Henderson, 23, enjoyed a successful loan spell with Sheffield United last season, but since returning to his parent club has failed to depose David de Gea as first-choice goalkeeper at Old Trafford, playing just three times so far.
The England international is keen to build up his playing time ahead of Euro 2020 next summer, with Scottish champions Celtic keen to offer him what he needs.
Henderson was close to joining Aston Villa in the summer, according to reports, before manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer convinced him to remain at United.
11.33 GMT: Real Madrid would be willing to offer Vinicius Jr. to Paris Saint-Germain to help clinch the signing of Kylian Mbappe, according to Sport.
Mbappe, whose contract in Paris expires in 2022, is Madrid’s top target for next summer, and PSG’s sporting director Leonardo has been keen on Brazilian youngster in the past.
The Barcelona-based newspaper cites Spain’s infamous late night talk show “El Chiringuito” — not exactly the most reliable source — for the story.
11.01 GMT: Jose Mourinho is shaking things up at Tottenham.
Craig Burley is impressed by the solidity Jose Mourinho has brought to Tottenham in his first year in charge.
10.26 GMT: The Sergio Ramos contract saga continues, with Cadena SER radio claiming the Real Madrid captain and president Florentino Perez have verbally agreed a new two-year deal to keep him at the Bernabeu.
With the clock ticking on Ramos’ contract, which expires in June, there have been reports linking the defender with a big-money move away, with Paris Saint-Germain reported to be considering an approach in January when Ramos is free to speak to other clubs.
According to SER’s El Larguero show on Tuesday night, an agreement is “very close” with both parties hopeful of being able to make an announcement before the end of the year.
Marca also reports that Real Madrid are “calm” despite all the speculation, with Ramos and Perez expected to discuss the situation during Madrid’s trip to face Villarreal in La Liga on Saturday.
Meanwhile Diario AS claims that Bayern Munich’s David Alaba is Madrid’s “plan B” if Ramos does end up leaving.
Alaba will be available on a free next summer after Bayern withdrew their offer of a new contract for the versatile defender.
09.48 GMT: France coach Didier Deschamps has praised midfielder Paul Pogba‘s performances during the international break and hopes they will reinvigorate his Manchester United form.
Pogba started all three matches for the world champions over the past week, playing the full 90 minutes in the two UEFA Nations League games — Saturday’s 1-0 in Portugal and Tuesday’s 4-2 win over Sweden (stream replays on ESPN+ in the U.S.).
Pogba said in an interview at the weekend that his time away from Manchester United when he is playing with France is a “breath of fresh air,” and that he was going through the toughest period of his career at the moment at Old Trafford.
“Just look at what he did,” Deschamps said after the win over Sweden. “The first game [a 2-0 friendly loss vs. Finland] was useful and then we saw against Portugal and Sweden.
“I don’t want to have a dig at anyone. I know him, I know how he works. He has pride and more importantly the talent. When he has to defend, he defends. When he has to go forward, he goes forward. When there is an assist to give, he gives it. Paul is a world-class player. I hope this international break will be beneficial to him like to other people.
-Marcotti: Pogba comments no dig at United
Julien Laurens says Paul Pogba needs to find a way of expressing himself at Man United like he does with France.
09.11 GMT: Spanish fourth-tier club Murcia want to sign Samuel Eto’o for their Copa del Rey qualifier against Levante on Dec. 16.
Former Cameroon striker Eto’o, who won the Champions League at both Barcelona and Inter Milan, announced his retirement last year. However, Murcia president Morris Pagniello believes he has a “50% chance” of persuading the 39-year-old to put on his boots once more.
“During a dinner, I was talking to former Everton player Tim Cahill, another player that I wanted to sign being an Australian,” Pagniello told Radio Marca. “We discussed a few months ago that if we qualified for the next round [of the Copa del Rey], the possibility of signing him [Cahill] and another former Premier League player and the name of Eto’o came out.
“As a person, as an image, as a football ambassador, he would be perfect for our club. I have not spoken to him directly but I believe there’s a 50% chance he could come. We should know by next week and if not we already have a plan B. The aim of our club is to go as high as possible and compete in the professional leagues in the coming years.”
08.32 GMT: Joao Felix has no intention of leaving Atletico Madrid next summer amid links with interest from Paris Saint-Germain, according to Record.
The Portuguese outlet reports that that the 21-year-old is happy in Madrid despite growing speculation that PSG will make a bid to sign him next summer, should Kylian Mbappe leave the Ligue 1 giants.
Felix has a contract with Atletico until June 2026 and has a €300m release clause. The Portugal international joined Atletico from Benfica in the summer of 2019 in a club record €126m transfer. He has scored seven goals and set up three more in 10 appearances in all competitions for Atletico.
Mbappe, meanwhile, becomes a free agent in June 2022 and is a long-term target for Atletico’s local rivals, Real Madrid.
– Lowe: Felix is exceeding hype, to Atletico and Portugal’s benefit
08.00 GMT: La Liga clubs have seen their salary caps reduced by €610m because of the coronavirus pandemic, the league announced on Tuesday.
Barcelona‘s wage cap has been reduced by almost €300m, while Real Madrid‘s spending limit has also been slashed by €172.5m and Atletico Madrid’s cap has been cut by €131.8m.
In total, La Liga’s 20 clubs will be allowed to spend a total of €2.33 billion across the 2020-21 campaign on wages, a reduction of €610m on last season.
Barca had the biggest salary cap in Spain last season at €671m but must now adhere to La Liga’s new limit of €382.7m as teams across Europe are forced to deal with the financial consequences of COVID-19. The Catalan club started to reduce their wage bill in the summer by letting big earners Luis Suarez, Arturo Vidal and Ivan Rakitic leave.
Meanwhile, Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Frenkie de Jong, Clement Lenglet and Gerard Pique all agreed new deals which will see them take a hit on their salaries this season with the deductions to be repaid in the latter years of their deals. However, Barca’s interim president Carles Tusquets has said the club must still knock up to €190m off their wage bill. Negotiations over wage deferrals with the players are ongoing with further talks planned for Nov. 23.
Madrid have overtaken Barca as the club with La Liga’s highest spending limit, although their €468.5m ceiling is still much less than the €641m they could spend last season. As a result, the players will be asked to take another pay cut, having already taken one earlier this year, sources have told ESPN.
Sid Lowe explains how Atletico Madrid’s addition of Luis Suarez has brought out the best in Joao Felix.
PAPER TALK (by Nick Judd): Zakaria in frame for big move to City or Bayern
Manchester City and Bayern Munich are both on the trail of Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder Denis Zakaria, according to Calciomercato.
Zakaria, 23, is believed to want a move away from Gladbach to try his luck at the highest level, and though Manchester City have been interested in signing him for some time, Bayern are now also registering their own intent.
Zakaria is a strong midfielder with a keen eye for pass and his playing style would fit in at both clubs. However, both clubs are cautious, and are eager to see how he ends the season to analyse his fitness after he sustained a knee injury in March earlier this year.
The Switzerland international has only recently returned to action, but if he can stay injury free he could land the move he craves next summer.
Braithwaite has host of Premier League suitors
Barcelona are looking to sell four players in January and, in striker Martin Braithwaite, they have a player wanted by three Premier League clubs, reveals Sport.
Barcelona’s financial predicament is precarious, with La Liga revealing on Tuesday that the club’s salary limit has been cut by almost €300m. This, together with new boss Ronald Koeman’s desire to sign one or two new players in January means that players like Braithwaite need to be offloaded in the January transfer window.
Sport suggests Braithwaite is wanted by three Premier League clubs, namely West Bromwich Albion, West Ham United and Leeds United, with West Ham interested in the Danish striker in the summer.
Braithwaite is reluctant to leave Camp Nou, but he has a good choice of clubs if and when Barca can convince him to go. Barca will reportedly listen to offers of around €15m.
– Leicester City are monitoring Sporting Lisbon’s young defender Nuno Mendes, according to the Daily Mail. The 18-year-old is considered one of the best up-and-coming left-backs in Europe and he has attracted interest from scouts of clubs all over Europe. Sporting are reluctant to sell Mendes, but with a buy-out clause of €45m and after having been hit by the coronavirus pandemic, they could be convinced to let him go for financial reasons.
– Bayern Munich youngster Joshua Zirkzee could be set for a loan move in January, according to Dutch paper Algemeen Dagblad. Zirkzee, 19, has been unable to break into the first team and is growing frustrated with sitting on the bench. He has indicated that he wants to get more minutes under his belt and that he would be willing to leave Germany in order to get more game time.