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Transfer rumor roundup: Higuain, Morata nearing moves; Hazard wants Madrid move

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More than two-thirds of the January transfer window has gone by, and Premier League clubs have made very few deals as of yet.

With 10 days remaining, it’s probably safe to assume that business is about to pick up…

[ MORE: Arsenal’s head of recruitment leaving club after one year ]

With Gonzalo Higuain expected to join Chelsea on loan in the coming hours or days, Alvaro Morata remains the player who’ll be most affected by the Argentine’s arrival. As such, the 26-year-old Spanish forward is expected to complete a loan move of his own in short order. Atletico Madrid could announce Morata’s arrival as soon Monday, according to Sky Sports.


Elsewhere in the locker room at Stamford Bridge, Eden Hazard has his heart set on joining Real Madrid in the summer, according to a report from Spanish newspaper Marca. With the Blues not wanting to sell their prized superstar, Hazard is reportedly ready to force the move through. At 28 years old, the Belgian likely only has two or three years remaining in the prime of his career, at which point paying a fee of (presumably) well over $100 million — if not $150 million — would be unwise on Madrid’s part.


Matteo Darmian is expected to leave Manchester United before the January window closes, with Juventus the current frontrunners for his services, according to the Guardian. Darmian’s initial move to the seven-time defending Serie A champions will be a loan deal, but Juve will have a $9-million option to sign the 29-year-old right back on a permanent basis. With his contract set to expire this summer, Man United would exercise an option in Darmian’s contract in order to recoup nearly 75 percent of their initial investment in the summer of 2015.


Marko Arnautovic reportedly has on the table an extremely lucrative offer from a Chinese Super League club, but the 29-year-old Austrian winger won’t be allowed to leave West Ham United until the summer, according to the Standard. While West Ham hope to avoid a drawn-out saga over the season’s final five months, the Hammers have zero intent to budge from their hardline stance, even if Arnautovic refuses to play and sits out. Arnautovic stands to make nearly $400,000 per week should a move to China come to pass.

Transfer rumor roundup: Latest on Grealish, Kluivert; Darmian to Juve

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As Thibaut Courtois is linked with a Chelsea exit and Alisson mentioned as a replacement, the Roma goalkeeper’s agent has shot down a link to Real Madrid.

[ MORE: Zlatan displeased with LA effort ]

“The idea he already has an agreement with Real Madrid is completely false. I don’t see how Cafu could know more than I do on the matter,” he said.

So what might not be completely false? Let’s rumor run.

A sale of Jack Grealish would be helpful for Aston Villa as it looks to balance its books and avoid running afoul of Financial Fair Play.

Grealish, 22, is said to be interesting to a number of big names teams including Arsenal and Manchester United, but a $53 million price tag is said to hang from the player.

Sky Sports says Leicester City is mulling a bid for Grealish as they perceivably move on from Riyad Mahrez (linked often with a $75 million momve to Man City).

An attacking midfielder who also can operate on both wings, Grealish overcame immaturity issues to score three times and add five assists in the Championship last season.

— Di Marzio reports that Justin Kluivert, son of Dutch legend Patrick Kluivert, is set to leave Ajax for AS Roma to the tune of $17-23 million.

Justin, 19, scored 10 times with five assists in Eredivise play this season, featuring mostly on the left wing. Despite his tender age, he boasted the league’s ninth-best rating according to WhoScored.

— Manchester United may have found a buyer for right back Matteo Darmian, with Juventus ready to spend $16 million on the Italian. Darmian, 28, played every position across Jose Mourinho’s back line, but was limited to 17 appearances running 1,105 minutes last season.

Transfer Rumor Roundup: Italian full-backs on the market

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A pair of Italian full-backs are dominating the Saturday morning transfer headlines, and they could have a direct effect on each other’s futures.

Roma is reportedly interested in Manchester United right-back Matteo Darmian, and according to a number of reports from Italy, are challenging Inter for his signature. The Milan club has been linked with Darmian for some time, but Roma’s name next to his is a new one.

The 27-year-old has struggled for playing time, often serving as second-fiddle to Antonio Valencia who Jose Mourinho seemed to prefer. Darmian was often moved to left-back to fit into the United squad, but even then saw competition from Daley Blind and Luke Shaw.


24-year-old Mattia de Sciglio could also be on the move, with his AC Milan contract running out next summer. Like Gianluigi Donnarumma, he seems intent on a move elsewhere rather than a new deal at the San Siro, and both Napoli and Juventus seem the most likely destinations.

[ Thursday Transfer Rumor Roundup | Wednesday | Tuesday ]

According to Italian newspaper Il Mattino, de Sciglio could be on his way to Napoli on a four-year contract, but he has also long been linked with Juventus, especially with the potential departure of Dani Alves and heavy interest in Alex Sandro. Manchester City is also known to be in the market for a full-back, but they have yet to be specifically linked to de Sciglio.


Speaking of Alex Sandro, Juventus confirmed they have rejected a bid from Chelsea for the Brazilian full-back. Sandro dazzled Europe during Juventus’s run through the Champions League, and has earned himself links to other big clubs throughout Europe.

Juventus executive Guiseppe Marotta told reporters early Saturday, “We said no to a very good offer from Chelsea for Alex Sandro. But we know that we are competing with clubs that are in a position to offer wages that are not rational for us and players are always their own boss.”

Reports all over England tabbed the “very good offer” at a whopping $70 million, which would potentially be a Chelsea transfer record, with the 2011 capture of Fernando Torres currently at the top of the chart.

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has been looking to strengthen his defensive line with a season of Champions League play to come. Sandro would likely end up fitting into Conte’s three-at-the-back formation on the wing, giving competition to Marcos Alonso down the left.


As the Kylian Mbappe saga continues to drone on, Arsenal remains a hot destination for the French youngster to land. However, Arsenal is not often known to drop the amount of money possibly required to land the Monaco teenager. Therefore, the possibility of a player moving in the opposite direction remains high.

With Arsenal in a massive battle with Real Madrid for the 18-year-old, a report in the Sun has suggested that Olivier Giroud could be sent to Monaco in addition to a world record fee. This would be an attempt by Arsenal to counter the $150 million Madrid bid reported by L’Equipe a few days ago.

Giroud has repeatedly stated his desire to stay at Arsenal and help them return to Champions League play, and would have to agree to a move away from the Emirates in order for the deal to work.

EFL Cup semis: Manchester United 2-0 Hull City

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  • Mata, Fellaini score
  • Chances few for Hull
  • Second leg on Jan. 26

Juan Mata was the star of the show and capped a terrific team goal as Manchester United took the first leg of its EFL Cup semifinal with a 2-0 win over Hull City at Old Trafford on Tuesday.

Marouane Fellaini scored the second goal off a feed from Matteo Darmian.

The other semifinal begins Wednesday with Liverpool at Southampton.

[ MORE: Schneiderlin off to Everton ]

Old Trafford had no problems getting amped for the Cup tie, and its Red Devils were almost as lively.

Early chances were squandered, though, most notably Henrik Mkhitaryan flashing wide of the near post from 10 yards.

[ MORE: Hull nabs Niasse on loan ]

Hull found some happiness in the late goings of the first half, but Mata put an end to that. Paul Pogba found Antonio Valencia deep in the right of Hull’s half, and Mkhitaryan nodded the ensuing cross back across goal for Mata to finish. Well-played. 1-0.

Pogba had a free kick from inside 25 yards and rattled it off the post with under 20 minutes to play.

The passes were an inch-off in the final third for United, on the whole, as the Red Devils looked the only team likely to score in the final part of the first leg.

Fellaini supplied the finish with a leaping nod over Eldin Jakupovic. After a hard-nosed bit of play from Anthony Martial on the left wing, Darmian crossed over the Tigers backs for the big man to finish.

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Report: Darmian finalizing transfer to leave Man United in January

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Matteo Darmian doesn’t seem long for Manchester United after making just one appearance for the Red Devils thus far in the 2016-17 season, and indeed Italian defender is reportedly headed for the Old Trafford exit in January, according to reports out of Italy.

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Both Gazetta dello Sport and Tuttosport have reported on Saturday that Inter Milan have made significant progress toward signing the 26-year-old Italian international after failing to strike a deal during the recently completed summer transfer window. Darmian felt compelled to stay and fight for his place under new manager Jose Mourinho, but has featured just once this season, in Man United’s Europa League defeat to Feyenoord last month.

Earlier this week, Darmian’s agent went public with his client’s desire to leave the club in January, a season and a half after signing for then-manager Louis Van Gaal last summer, assuming he isn’t give first-team action between now and then.

[ MORE: Cristiano Ronaldo hammers An-four-a in goal-scoring blitz ]

According to the reports, Inter will pay a fee to United to take Darmian on loan in January, and will then pay an additional fee in the summer of 2017 to make his transfer permanent.