LIVE Transfer Talk: Diop, Long, Mustafi on Liverpool centre-back shortlist

The transfer window opened in early January, and speculation is heating up about potential deals. Check out the latest gossip below, and see all official deals here.

TOP STORY: Diop joins Long, Mustafi on Klopp’s wanted list

Liverpool have made an enquiry over the potential signing of West Ham United defender Issa Diop, the Athletic reports.

It’s no secret that Reds boss Jurgen Klopp wants to bring in an emergency centre-back this transfer window to plug a hole in his injury-laden defence, and while the New York Red Bulls’ Aaron Long and Arsenal’s Shkodran Mustafi are both in the running, per ESPN and the Evening Standard, Diop has also emerged as a leading contender.

Diop, 24, has made 69 appearances for the Hammers since joining them from Toulouse in 2018, but he has fallen out of favour with manager David Moyes in recent times. The centre-back, who has been capped by France at under-21 level, is reportedly hoping a move to Anfield can reignite his career.

Meanwhile, sources told ESPN that an unnamed Championship club had a loan bid for MLS star Long rejected late on Saturday, meaning Klopp’s side are still in the running for the 28-year-old United States international.

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LIVE BLOG

17.00 GMT: Don’t underplay the importance of Paul Pogba staying at Man United this window.

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Gab Marcotti explains why Paul Pogba staying at Man United would be a huge coup for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

16.11 GMT: Spanish side Alaves have signed Manchester United forward Facundo Pellistri on loan for the rest of the season.

16.03 GMT: Wayne Rooney likes to keep things simple, as Derby have agreed a loan deal for Manchester United defender Teden Mengi.

Rooney, United’s top goal scorer of all-time, took over as Derby manager recently and has eyed the England U18 international centre-back as a player that could improve his team.

The Daily Mail says that Mengi will go for his medical on Sunday.

15.09 GMT: Bayer Leverkusen have signed winger Demarai Gray from Leicester City on a contract until 2022.

15.05 GMT: Paraguayan striker Antonio Sanabria has joined Torino from Real Betis on a four year contract. However, he has also tested positive for COVID-19 and must self isolate.

15.00 GMT: ICYMI – Why has Mesut Ozil selected Fenerbahce squad No. 67 after leaving Arsenal?

With the iconic No. 10 worn by the 32-year-old at Real Madrid and Arsenal already taken at Fenerbahce by striker Mbwana Samatta, Ozil raised the yellow-and-blue striped jersey of the club to reveal No. 67 on the back.

The number is clearly one that Ozil wanted, as he cryptically tweeted it along with a heart emoji earlier this month on the day he travelled to the Turkish city to complete his signing.

Ozil’s camp has confirmed to ESPN that the unconventional choice is a nod to his Turkish heritage, specifically his family’s hometown.

The town of Zonguldak, located on the coast of the Black Sea in northern Turkey roughly midway between Istanbul and capital city Ankara, has the post code 67000. As fitting five digits onto the back of a jersey is not really practical, Ozil has chosen the shortened version.

14.31 GMT: Will Chelsea make a move for RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano?

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Mark Ogden assesses where Dayot Upamecano will land this summer if he leaves RB Leipzig.

13.58 GMT: Lionel Messi and Barcelona will take legal action against Spanish newspaper El Mundo after it released the leaked details of the forward’s record-breaking contract on Sunday.

El Mundo published documents relating to Messi’s four-year deal, signed in 2017, and gave an intricate breakdown of the €555m he would receive if all add-ons were met. The report claimed that Messi’s contract is the biggest ever signed by an athlete.

Sources have confirmed to ESPN that Messi will take action against El Mundo and any Barca personnel involved in the leaking of the contract. There are only four copies of the contract — Messi has one, Barca have another, La Liga has a copy and so does Cuatrecasas, the law firm used by the Argentina international.

Barca, meanwhile, responded by denying any involvement in the leaking of the contract and said they would also take “appropriate legal action” against the newspaper.

13.30 GMT: Bayern Munich and United States defender Chris Richards is set to join Hoffenheim on a six-month loan move, a source has told ESPN’s Tom Hamilton.

Richards, 20, earned his first Bundesliga start for Bayern in the 4-3 win against Hertha Berlin on Oct. 4 — becoming the first American to start a Bundesliga match for Bayern in the 120-year history of the club — and has gone on to make seven appearances in all competitions this season.

The move will allow Richards to play under former Bayern reserve team boss Sebastian Hoeness again, who is now in charge of Hoffenheim.

12.34 GMT: Villarreal are looking to bring in Atletico Madrid outcast Vitolo on loan and talks are at an advanced stage, sources have told ESPN’s David Cartlidge.

Diego Simeone considers Vitolo, who has experienced ongoing injury issues since arriving at the Madrid club in the summer of 2017, surplus to requirements.

Now, Villarreal are looking to bolster their squad with the 31-year-old winger. However, a problem could be Vitolo’s high salary, which Atleti are desperate to get off the books.

12.11 GMT: Real Madrid have no money for transfers in January, but they have some defensive issues to fix.

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Janusz Michallik agrees Real Madrid rely too much on Karim Benzema, but says the back line is a bigger worry.

11.30 GMT: Arsenal defender William Saliba, who is on loan at Nice, has spoken to TF1 about his situation (H/T to GFF).

Asked if he had been told last year that he would play for Nice vs. [his former club] Saint-Etienne in January 2021, he replied: “Honestly, if you told me a year ago, I honestly would not have believed you…

“I really, really, really didn’t think that I would be transferred for €30m, to think that I would arrive, where people were expecting a lot from me, the fans excited about me and you find yourself in the reserves, play zero, zero nothing in the Europa League or the league. I was in the squad once in the league cup. It hurt me, it affected me. I don’t think I left too early. When you feel ready you have to go. I don’t think I left too early. These things happen. I believe in myself.”

On his future plans, he said: “I don’t know. I have learned now that it is better not to look too far in the future. So I am focused on just these 6 months to try to give absolutely everything and for the rest we will see.”

11.02 GMT: Manchester City academy star Jayden Braaf has been being tracked by Bundesliga sides RB Leipzig and Borussia Dortmund but is set to head to Italy to join Udinese on loan for the rest of the season, reports Goal.

Braaf, 18, has not made the breakthrough into the City first-team but is one of the stars of the club’s academy and is keen to play at a higher level.

The Dutch winger has a contract until 2023 and is valued at around €9m if they choose to move him on permanently, along with add-ons.

10.46 GMT: Former Chelsea goalkeeper Marcin Bulka, who is now at Paris Saint-Germain, has moved on loan to Ligue 2 side Chateauroux for the rest of the season. The deal doesn’t contain an option to make it permanent in the summer.

10.39 GMT: United States forward Jozy Altidore won’t play in Sunday’s friendly against Trinidad & Tobago due in part to injury, as well as a possible transfer involving the Toronto FC star, according to U.S. manager Gregg Berhalter.

Berhalter, addressing reporters via a Zoom call ahead of the match, said that Altidore was training hard and well, but sustained an injury two weeks ago, one that was a “very, very minor strain” that didn’t show up in scans.

“From there on in he just worked his way back and he was also in full training today,” said Berhalter about Altidore. “But with the transfer window looming, and the game being tomorrow, it’s a chance we didn’t want to take with Jozy, so he will not be participating.”

The U.S. manager added that “a number of clubs” have expressed interest in Altidore. Sources confirmed the possibility he could be on the move, and emphasized the fact that the player’s relationship with TFC — and GM Ali Curtis in particular — had reached a breaking point, and that he no longer wants to play in Toronto.

10.20 GMT: Leicester want to sign Ainsley Maitland-Niles on loan from Arsenal, reports The Athletic.

West Bromwich Albion and Southampton have been tracking the 23-year-old but Leicester are reportedly keen to play him in midfield, rather than full-back where he has been filling in for the Gunners.

10.07 GMT: Manchester City aren’t planning on making any major signings this window but they are snapping up some young talent.

The Daily Telegraph reports that they have approached Rochdale over a deal for 18-year-old winger Kwadwo Baah.

There are other clubs interested in him — namely Bayern, West Ham and Rangers — but City are willing to loan him back to Rochdale for next season.

09.31 GMT: Manchester United have been tracking Borussia Dortmund winger Jadon Sancho for a while now. His contract is valued at €120m, but recent poor form suggested he might be allowed to leave for less. Not any more.

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Jan Aage Fjotoft and Jurgen Klinsmann laud Jadon Sancho for how exceptionally he took his goal for Borussia Dortmund.

09.16 GMT: Sami Khedira is set to leave Juventus and join Hertha Berlin, reports kicker.

Khedira, 33, hasn’t play a single game under manager Andrea Pirlo and his contract expires in the summer. The report says he will undergo a medical at Hertha on Sunday.

09.09 GMT: United States defender DeAndre Yedlin is set for a move to Galatasaray from Newcastle United, sources have told ESPN’s Tom Hamilton.

Yedlin, 27, is to travel to Turkey for his medical after both clubs agreed on a fee for the right-back.

Yedlin’s contract was up in June and his original preference was to stay at Newcastle, but he has taken up a three-and-a-half-year deal with Galatasaray.

08.44 GMT: United States youth international Bryan Reynolds is set to join Serie A side AS Roma from FC Dallas, sources have told ESPN’s Tom Hamilton.

Roma have agreed a deal that would bring Reynolds to Italy originally on loan, but has an obligation to sign the player for €7m plus add-ons, sources say.

Reynolds, 19, departed Dallas for Rome on Saturday and will undergo his medical on arrival. Once Reynolds has passed his medical, he will sign a four-and-a-half year deal with the Italian club.

08.30 GMT: El Mundo claims it has obtained a copy of Lionel Messi‘s Barcelona contract, saying figures confirm the star player’s deal is the biggest in sports history.

According to the report, Messi would receive a maximum of €555,237,619 (US$673,919,105) over four seasons, if a series of conditions were met.

The contract was agreed in November 2017 and expires on June 30 this year, when Messi will leave Camp Nou if there is no agreement with the club over an extension.

Messi tried to leave Barcelona last summer, arguing that a clause in the deal allowed him to walk away for free, before eventually backing down.

The size of Barca’s financial commitment to Messi, 33, is one of a number of deals that have left the club’s accounts in a perilous position.

Their most recent set of accounts revealed that Barca’s total debt is over €1 billion and player wages are responsible for almost three-quarters of the club’s budget.

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ESPN FC’s Mark Ogden doesn’t think Sergio Ramos to PSG is a forward thinking move.

PAPER TALK (by Harry Kettle)

Ramos wants to move to Old Trafford

Sergio Ramos is ready to quit Real Madrid in favour of a move to Manchester United, the Mirror reports.

In addition to contract talks between Ramos and Real falling apart, the Spaniard has now also reportedly decided that he isn’t interested in a move to Paris Saint-Germain, instead preferring to test himself in the Premier League.

Possible switches to Manchester City or Liverpool have previously been described as very difficult, whereas Old Trafford is thought to be top of the Spain international’s wishlist.

Manchester United go after Kounde

The Mirror is also reporting that Manchester United are keen to make a move to sign Sevilla defender Jules Kounde.

United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer views Kounde as his primary target during the upcoming summer transfer window as he goes in search of the perfect centre-back partner for Harry Maguire.

Kounde’s contract is considered to be worth around £60m and the player is viewed as one of La Liga’s most promising defensive stars.

Tap-ins

– Arsenal are contemplating a late push to sign Crystal Palace defender Patrick van Aanholt, the Mirror reports. Mikel Arteta is eager to bring in another left-back as cover for Kieran Tierney before the January window closes, and with Van Aanholt having only six months left on his contract, the Eagles could be tempted into letting him go before he potentially leaves on a free transfer.

– Calciomercato says that Torino are pursuing the signing of Juventus defender Daniele Rugani. The defender is enjoying a loan spell with Rennes with many believing he would return to the Old Lady for another run at the first team, but instead, Torino are hoping to take advantage of the situation by signing him for themselves.

– Trabzonspor have seemingly pulled the plug on a move to sign Tottenham Hotspur’s Danny Rose, TalkSPORT reports. While it did seem like Rose was destined to head to Turkey, the club’s president has said it would be “very difficult” because of the time it would take to complete the deal — potentially indicating that the problem is related to COVID-19 quarantine rules.

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