January is now a mere matter of weeks away, and with that comes the opening of the transfer window. Many clubs will be desperate to strengthen their squad one last time in an attempt to achieve their season goals and objectives.
The first name up is an old rumour, but with new life breathed into it only this week…
Hazard – Chelsea to Real Madrid
Back on 6 December, Talksport reported that Hazard had ‘agreed’ personal terms to join the reigning European champions. While these will undoubtedly meander backwards and forwards, while the finer details of the deal are thrashed out, it is the surest sign yet that Chelsea are about to lose their star man.
Like Chelsea, Real Madrid are out of their own domestic title race, but un-like Chelsea, still have a chance of winning the Champions League. These days, it is unheard of for a club to win it four times in a row, but with sports spread betting at Sporting Index currently showing Real Madrid as 5th favourites to win the trophy, and Hazard on course to better his league tally of last season, the Belgian is undoubtedly talented enough to make it a very real prospect for the ‘Galacticos’.
Alderweireld – Tottenham to Manchester United
In a move considered likely by former Tottenham player and manager Tim Sherwood, Toby Alderweireld looks like a prime candidate to leave Tottenham for the bright lights of Old Trafford. Throughout Derby Day, the Belgian cut a frustrated figure on the bench, as the Lilywhites underwent a second-half capitulation at the Emirates Stadium to hand the reigns of local power back to hated rivals Arsenal.
In the immediacy, Alderweireld and Manchester United look like a match made in heaven. The Red Devils went into the weekend of 8 December eight points off the last Champions League spot, and much of this was due to their shocking rate of 25 goals conceded across 15 matches. Such a rate would have been unthinkable under Sir Alex Ferguson, and with United in serious danger of failing to qualify for Europe altogether in the spring, a proven, international-standard defender like Alderweireld is needed now.
At a rumoured price of £25m, United have no choice but to take the initiative.
Darmian – Manchester United to Fulham (Loan)
In turn, Alderweireld’s arrival at Old Trafford could finally shift the likes of Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Matteo Darmian – none of whom have really thrived over the past five years. Darmian arrived at Old Trafford in July 2015 under a wave of expectation. His versatility on either side of the defensive wings was seen as a potential saving grace for Louis Van Gaal’s faltering reign as manager.
Of course, that isn’t how it turned out. Even Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young have outperformed the Italian in the same default position on the right, while Luke Shaw has shown tremendous spirit to overcome injury and finally get a run in the starting XI. Current rumours state that Darmian could revive his English career at Craven Cottage.
Good, bad or indifferent, the Italian can only improve the Fulham defence if these rumours prove to be true. Prior to Fulham’s festive fixture at Old Trafford, Claudio Ranieri’s new club had conceded 36 times, putting them on course to become the first club to break the 90 goals conceded barrier under the 38-game Premier League format.
Fekir – Lyon to Liverpool… & Fabinho – Liverpool to PSG
According to recent reports, it could be a case of ‘one in, one out’ at Anfield in the New Year. Liverpool’s blazing, title-chasing form remains largely down to their lethal front three, but they are nothing without a world class midfield. While Liverpool’s aren’t quite at the level of reigning champions Manchester City in that department, one major change could well put the Reds on the level.
Fabinho’s summer arrival at Anfield was heralded as a real statement of intent, and while he has shown flashes of what he can do, the Brazilian has taken far too long to settle into Liverpool life. For that reason, Fabinho is widely seen as the man most vulnerable to whatever changes Jurgen Klopp sees fit to make, prior to the endgame of a title race that promises to go down to the wire.
PSG will need a surprise element, in their bid to finally win a Champions League trophy that remains inexplicably absent from the honours list. Though Fabinho himself has ruled out any move to the club, the French champions have the resources to turn even the most resolute of heads, and ensure that any new signing can be sold the opportunity to bleed silverware for the rest of time.
Speaking of selling opportunities and visions, Klopp has a great ability to do this with his charm and charisma. With Lyon’s attacking midfielder Nabil Fekir stalling on a contract – and being told in no uncertain terms to ‘stay or go’ – Klopp may have a golden opportunity to strike, and secure a World Cup winner that Lyon could soon be ushering out of the door at a reduced price.
For their part, Liverpool have still not truly compensated for the loss of Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona. The sort of forward drive from the centre of the park that Fekir could offer has been absent from ‘big games’, with the likes of Chelsea, Man City and Arsenal taking potentially vital points off the Reds this season.
Ultimately, Klopp could do much worse…