José Mourinho knows a thing or two about allowing players to leave a Premier League club only to watch them turn into incredibly influential footballers elsewhere. Isn’t that right Kevin, Mo, Romelu and Nemanja? He hopes to redress the balance slightly – but not by rectifying one of his own mistakes. No, he’ll fix his moody stare on Louis van Gaal, who allowed Jonny Evans to join West Brom for £6m in 2015, as he attempts to pip Manchester City and Arsenal to the centre-back’s signature in the hope he can slot him into the Eric Bailly-shaped hole that exists in his Manchester United back line since the Ivorian’s ankle injury. Mourinho got a good first-hand look at what the 29-year-old can do in Sunday’s 2-1 win at The Hawthorns and believes he’s more than capable of parking a Manchester United bus instead of a West Brom one.
Chelsea will rummage through the ash-strewn remains of Monaco’s squad in January until they find Thomas Lemar, at which moment they’ll leave £50m and a bewildered Michy Batshuayi on the steps of Stade Louis II before whisking the 22-year-old away to Stamford Bridge. And it says here that Juventus are willing to bring the hammer down on the highest bidder for defender Alex Sandro, who Chelsea wanted in the summer. But they’ll face stiff competition from Manchester United, Manchester City and PSG for the £60m-rated player. Wilfried Zaha’s name has also been whispered around Stamford Bridge in recent weeks.
If Zaha does join Chelsea he may find himself being managed by an Italian other than Antonio Conte. There is some seriously hot gossip doing the rounds that shiny high-end managerial autopilot, Carlo Ancelotti, will return for a second stint at Stamford Bridge. He was sacked in 2011, a season after winning the Double, because that’s football for you. He hasn’t lasted more than two seasons anywhere since but he’s still kept things ticking over to the tune of two league titles, a domestic cup and the Champions League at PSG, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich respectively. Not bad considering for the most part he was doing it with his feet up while looking wistful and smoking multiple cigarettes. And where might Conte end up? Real Madrid, that’s where.
Sam Allardyce has instructed Everton beancounters to find a wad of cash big enough to reunite him with Crystal Palace’s Christian Benteke, having decided that the only way to properly replace a big Belgian striker, is with a big Belgian striker. Allardyce also has the hots for Sevilla’s £35m-rated Steven N’Zonzi but Arsenal are favourites to bring the former Stoke defensive midfielder back to the Premier League.
If Benteke does leave Crystal Palace then Roy Hodgson will bid £10m for strapping centre-forward Guido Carrillo, who is also lurking somewhere among the Monaco leftovers (see above).
Jürgen Klopp just can’t get enough of tricky winger-cum-forwards so Liverpool will attempt to prise 20-year-old Federico Chiesa away from Fiorentina for a cool £53m. Spurs are also interested but all the zips on Daniel Levy’s pockets are stuck. Again. One man on his way out of Anfield is former Red Star midfielder Marko Grujic, who can’t even get a game in that one-paced midfield. Aston Villa and Brighton want the 21-year-old on loan. And if Mauricio Pellegrino is still Southampton’s manager in January he says he hasn’t ruled out letting Virgil van Dijk leave. Did you hear that Liverpool fans?
Barcelona want a ball-playing defender to replace Javier Mascherano. Step forward, um, Daley Blind? Yes, the Manchester United utility player ticks all the Catalan club’s boxes but Internazionale fancy luring him to Serie A, where they too can offer him a role in a proper title race rather than the joyless schlep towards a second-placed finish 1,000 points behind Manchester City he faces being a part of at Old Trafford.
And members of Antoine Griezmann’s family have met with Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu, so expect the Atlético striker to turn up at the Camp Nou in the summer then.