TOP STORY: Arsenal eye Daka, Edouard to replace Lacazette
Arsenal moved to tie down striker and captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to a new contract early this year but the same may not happen with Alexandre Lacazette.
CBS reports that the Gunners are not convinced by Lacazette in the long-term and have got FC Salzburg’s Patson Daka and Celtic’s Odsonne Edouard on their radar to replace him.
Lacazette netted the winner against Brighton a few days ago but has struggled for form and has netted 45 goals in 145 games since arriving from Lyon for around €53m in 2017.
Arsenal are also looking for depth in midfield, with Real Madrid’s Isco and Norwich playmaker Emiliano Buendia reportedly of interest.
12.30 GMT: Some big-name players will be available on a free transfer in 2021 if they don’t put pen to paper soon. Including:
– Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
– David Alaba (Bayern Munich)
– Gianluigi Donnarumma (AC Milan)
– Sergio Aguero (Man City)
11.40 GMT: Barcelona won’t have to worry about Lionel Messi leaving… until the summer.
Sid Lowe gives his thoughts on Lionel Messi’s latest comments concerning his future with Barcelona
10.53 GMT: Japanese midfielder Keisuke Honda has apologised to fans after ending an underwhelming spell at Brazilian club Botafogo and said he accepted the criticism levelled at him for his disappointing performances.
Honda, who has played for CSKA Moscow and AC Milan in a globetrotting career, arrived from Dutch club Vitesse Arnhem on a reported 11-month deal in January.
The 34-year-old was greeted by thousands of fans at the Rio airport on his arrival but failed to live up to expectations, netting just three times in 27 games. He departs with Botafogo second-last in the Brazilian Serie A standings and in danger of being relegated.
“As you know, I am leaving Botafogo,” Honda wrote on Twitter. “I accepted all your criticism that I could not bring results. Criticism is natural and I am not giving excuses. I have also been disappointed and I am sorry. I am very grateful for everything you have done, it was a great experience and I never saw and felt anything this big with the fans at the airport and the stadium when I arrived. I made this decision for personal and professional reasons.”
10.01 GMT: Gab Marcotti’s soccer wishes for 2021 contain a few transfer related themes.
That Barcelona make themselves a club that Messi finds worth staying at. This might take a bit more work given the dumpster fire in which they find themselves — some of it self-inflicted, some of it out of their control — but elections are coming up. Believe it or not, Barcelona fans have been through far worse times and not just survived, but thrived. They’ll be back, and hopefully quickly enough for Messi to stick around.
That Mesut Ozil and Sami Khedira find some place to play when their contracts expire next June. Both joined Real Madrid a decade ago, both have been shut out for most of 2020 in part because of their enormous contracts and because they couldn’t be moved on (and did not want to take a pay cut). I don’t want to remember these two World Cup winners as sad-sack figures training by themselves while being called greedy.
That Paul Pogba regains his smile, whether it’s at Old Trafford or elsewhere. The punditocracy — mostly ex-pros, mostly ex-United “Golden Era” players who seem hellbent on holding everyone to the standard they set (or that they think they set) — appears to take great delight in pointing out his every flaw. He’s not perfect, but he’s supremely talented and fun to watch. And that word “lazy” gets thrown around far too much when it comes to Pogba.
09.25 GMT: Juventus midfielder Sami Khedira is set to leave the club in January and could land in the Premier League, having been linked with Everton.
“The Premier League is still missing in my collection, to play there would be the icing on the cake,” he told The Athletic.
“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.”
09.00 GMT: Xavi Hernandez will return to Barcelona as general manager next month if Victor Font is elected as the club’s president on Jan. 24.
Xavi, 40, left Barca in 2015 and is the coach of Al-Sadd in Qatar but has always been open about his desire to return to Camp Nou one day.
Font explained on Wednesday that his plans for Barca’s future, which include bringing in Jordi Cruyff as sporting director, have been drawn up with the help of Xavi.
“As [general manager], Xavi will ultimately take responsibility for all the decisions taken related to football at the club,” Font said at a news conference.
“He has everything needed: he can manage, he can lead, he has the trust of the players, he knows the club and he loves the club.”
Kasey Keller praises USMNT Player of the Year Weston McKennie for how quickly he has adapted at Juventus.
PAPER TALK (by Harry Kettle)
Juventus to go after Llorente
The Old Lady, who sit sixth in the table, are hoping to give their attacking options an injection of life as they try to retain their Serie A crown amid pressure from the Milan clubs and, while he may not always be the most consistent goal scorer, Llorente appears to be one of the main names on their wishlist.
He is with Napoli but, after leaving Juventus in 2015, a return could be on the cards sooner rather than later.
Barcelona set to keep Puig
For a long time, the youngster has been linked with some kind of departure from Camp Nou, but in a bit of a U-turn, Barca will instead trigger a clause that will extend his contract until 2023.
The club doesn’t want to see him leave as a free agent in the summer and, based on this report, they don’t want him to leave at all right now.
Napoli pursue Emerson loan
The belief is that the Naples club want to try to get a deal over the finish line during the January transfer window and, given how fast the Blues have worked in the transfer market under Frank Lampard so far, that prospect doesn’t seem so far-fetched.
The two sides have done a lot of business with one another over the years, and it now appears as if Emerson’s time at Stamford Bridge could be coming to an end.
– Sky Germany is reporting that Schalke 04 are working on a deal to try to bring Sead Kolasinac back to the club. The full-back departed the Bundesliga for the Premier League back in 2017 and, after three inconsistent years at the Emirates with Arsenal, he’s desperate to go back to the place where he first made a name for himself.
– Papu Gomez is edging closer to leaving Atalanta, Fabrizio Romano reports. After his relationship with manager Gian Piero Gasperini became strained, the 32-year-old forward has been training individually away from the rest of the first-team squad. Gomez is now waiting for the right bid to come in during the January transfer window.