Thursday Transfer Rumor Roundup: Ben Arfa to Real Madrid, El Ghazi to Premier League

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With the January transfer window just around the corner, some Premier League teams are looking for a jolt in the backside, others simply searching for depth that will carry them through any potential struggles that often come with a long league season.

Leicester City remains atop the table and will be there when the calendar switches, but there’s a lot of pressure on their top players who have been sensational thus far but at the moment need to keep that unsustainable form in order for the club to remain in that position.

As a result, the Foxes could go searching for the help in the area they’ve excelled at the most this season: attacker. Particularly, they could be in play for Ajax youngster Anwar El Ghazi, a 20-year-old who can play either out wide or up front, and he’s impressed with eight goals in 13 league appearances for the Dutch giants this year.

El Ghazi has already been linked to Manchester United, Southampton, and Newcastle, likely for their Dutch connections already in place in with the likes Memphis Depay and Georginio Wijnaldum. However, many Eredivisie players have come to the Premier League and only few have succeeded, which should work in Leicester’s favor. Could they swoop in and complete yet another upset? It would take much of the pressure off the likes of Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez.

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Speaking of Southampton, manager Ronald Koeman admitted the club is a striker light, something that would corroborate their connection to El Ghazi and other attacking players. Graziano Pelle is in poor form and currently injured, and Jay Rodriguez has struggled with injury for much of the year. “If we need to sign a player, it needs to be a striker,” Koeman said, although he did also add it’s “too early to make conclusions about that.”

Real Madrid is reportedly keeping tabs on flashy former Newcastle winger Hatem Ben Arfa, who currently plays for Ligue 1 side Nice. The 28-year-old has seven goals in 18 league appearances this season, although he has not scored or assisted a goal since October 18. Nevertheless, Nice manager Claude Puel says that Madrid has its eye on the talented and eclectic Frenchman.

Chelsea interim manager Guus Hiddink shot down any chance of Cesc Fabregas leaving the club mid-season, saying that they need all their talent to overcome a difficult first half of the year. When asked about the rumblings that Fabregas is unhappy at Stamford Bridge, he said, “We need all the players here until the end of the season. Chelsea are still in a position where they have to improve a lot.”