On Wednesday, the word on the street was that upwards of 11 Manchester United players wanted to leave the club, the reaction of fans being one of “good riddance”. Those reportedly most frustrated by the lack of changes under Ralf Rangnick include Jesse Lingard, Donny van de Beek, Dean Henderson and Eric Bailly. But who might replace them? Rúben Neves, one of the Wolves players to feature in Monday’s win at Old Trafford, has been linked with a move to Manchester for some time, and it may happen this summer. Dan-Axel Zagadou, a Borussia Dortmund defender available on a free this summer, is also a target.
Neves appears to the be the priority, as a cure to the aching gap that is United’s midfield. They would really like to have him on board by the end of January.
Aston Villa are ambitious. That much was clear even before Dean Smith was shipped out in favour of Steven Gerrard. This month’s transfer market looks like being the latest demonstration of that ambition. There is a Liverpool theme to Stevie’s latest moves. There will be no dice on an attempt to sign Joe Gomez from his former club but Philippe Coutinho has been the recipient of a personal phone call from his one-time captain at Anfield. Getting Coutinho off the books is one of the first steps in the new Barcelona regime’s attempts to become the old Barcelona. Should he leave then Ferran Torres, signed last week, might actually be allowed to play. Sources close to Coutinho have been telling hacks that a host of Premier League clubs want to sign him.
Keeping it Liverpool, the word is that they are prepared to lose the defender Nat Phillips and Divock Origi, the lucky charm super-sub who is out of contract. Origi is wanted by Lazio, and both players can leave in January, despite the club’s Covid crisis and inability to play Thursday’s Carabao Cup semi.
Across Merseyside, the future of Lucas Digne remains up in the air. With Everton having bought two full-backs already in January, the Frenchman looks headed for Chelsea as a replacement for Ben Chilwell rather than Newcastle to pair up with Kieran Trippier, the expected new arrival on Tyneside. Instead, Newcastle are looking to Digne’s compatriot and another man on the Barcelona exit list, Samuel Umtiti, a World Cup winner no less.
Aaron Ramsey is another on the unwanted list, with Juventus wanting to get rid of someone on a hefty wage and who doesn’t feature too much in the first team. Where might he end up? Newcastle seems a fair bet right now, with their financial fair play situation quite decent after Mike Ashley barely spent a penny. His wages of £325,000 a week would be prohibitive to many, but maybe not Newcastle. “Ramsey, he returned today after we had given him a few days off to work, to train separately, in England,” said Max Allegri, the Juve coach. “In any case, he’s an outgoing player.”