Manchester United is set for a “surprise” move but it is just part of a bigger plan that could involve one of the Premier League’s superstars.
Plus — the Red Devils could pounce on one of Ange Postecoglou’s players and what to make of Lionel Messi’s future?
That and more in the latest Rumour Mill!
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UNITED’S ‘SURPRISE’ MOVE AS KANE DREAM DEALT REALITY CHECK
Manchester United is closing in on signing Wout Weghorst on a short-term deal but have lofty plans for the future, including a potential move for Tottenham superstar Harry Kane.
ESPN reported on Wednesday that Weghorst, who is currently on loan at Turkish side Besiktas from Burnley, could link up with United until the end of the season.
Prominent transfer expert Fabrizio Romano, meanwhile, reported that United has since “reached full, verbal agreement” to sign Weghorst on a €3 million deal.
There is one “final step” though according to Romano, who reports Besiktas “will only approve the deal if they find the right replacement”.
That is consistent with reporting from The Athletic’s Laurie Whitwell, who told Sky Sports Newsthat Weghorst helps fill a clear void at United, even if in the short-term.
In saying that, Whitwell also admitted that Weghorst’s signing does come as somewhat of a surprise.
“It’s a big surprise,” he said.
“We knew they were shopping in a particular market and loans is all they can afford, at least that’s their intention. It’s a surprise because he had the spell at Burnley where he scored two goals in 20 games but then, I suppose you reflect on his spell at Besiktas and career as a whole and he scores about one goal every two games and he had a very good World Cup as well.
“I think Erik Ten Hag is capable of thinking outside the box, isn’t going to disregard players who haven’t played at Manchester United’s level before. It’s a very specific situation where they need a No.9 to come in because all they’ve got is Anthony Martial. He’s hit and miss, he has had injuries as well.”
However, as Romano reported, Whitwell also noted that while all parties are on board with the deal happening it is not quite that simple.
“It’s a complicated deal though because Besiktas have to agree to terminate the loan early,” Whitwell added.
“They want compensation for that. Burnley will also look at the situation and want some kind of renumeration as well because they’ve actually got an option-to-buy clause in his loan for Besiktas for 10 million euros, so they’re kind of giving up that if they allow him to go to Manchester United on loan.
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“It’s one that might take a bit of time to solve but most parties I think want this to happen.”
Should it happen though, don’t think for a second that United don’t have a grander vision that it is working towards.
ESPN also reported that the Red Devils plan to try sign a marquee striker this summer, with Kane, Victor Osimhen and Benjamin Sesko among top targets.
Kane, of course, is the name gaining the most traction in the media, although Whitwell warned it is unlikely to happen before the January deadline.
“I can’t see it January,” he said.
“No chance. But he’s one they’ve had on their list for a long time… he’s got a year left on his contract once the summer comes around.
“I think he is someone who will have a pivotal summer coming up and if Manchester United can see if there is any solution to that situation, I think they will investigate it because he’s clearly one of a very small number of strikers that would come into the club and enhance [them]. He’s one to watch for sure.”
In other news, Sky Sports News also reported that United could bolster the right-back position and has an eye on one of Ange Postecoglou’s players at Celtic.
Josip Juranovic is reportedly one target, although any move would be dependant on Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s future.
CHELSEA’S KEY SIGNING DESPITE ARSENAL, MAN UTD INTEREST
Elsewhere, Joao Felix is inching closer to finalising a loan move from Atletico Madrid to Chelsea and could suit up for the Blues as soon as Friday.
It would be a welcome boost for Chelsea manager Graham Potter, who is under plenty of pressure ahead of Friday’s meeting with Fulham.
ESPN reported on Wednesday Felix has been given permission by Atletico to undergo a medical in London and that initial fee of the six-month loan is around €11 million.
Chelsea will also cover Felix’s wage in full.
The report also added that Felix signed a new contract with Atletico before the loan move which would keep him at the club until 2027.
For the time being though the forward will look to realise his full potential at Chelsea, who look to have secured the loan deal despite interest from Manchester United and Arsenal.
Although Sky Sports News reporter Dharmesh Sheth said on ‘The Transfer Show’ that Chelsea clearly had the most interest and were willing to spend more because of it.
“Manchester United and Arsenal were interested but as far as Man United were concerned it wasn’t on the agenda at the terms being quoted and reported,” he said.
“The loan fee plus the wages which Chelsea are going to pay in full was simply not going to be possible budget-wise in this transfer window.
“Arsenal held talks but those talks were centred around trying to find a compromise on the loan fee and wages, bringing it much further down than what Chelsea are going to be paying.
“Once Chelsea came in with the full whack, the loan fee and wages, Arsenal weren’t interested at those prices.”
As for whether Felix could play on Friday against Fulham, Sky Sports News chief reporter Kaveh Solhekol said “there’s a possibility” it could happen.
“If everything goes well and the paperwork is lodged with the Premier League by midday tomorrow which is the deadline for him to play against Fulham,” he added.
“It’s a big game for Chelsea and Graham Potter. There cannot be a repeat of the kind of performance we saw against Manchester City at the weekend.”
‘STILL INTERESTED’: PSG’S BIGGEST MESSI THREAT
Lionel Messi is expected to make his first appearance for Paris Saint-Germain since his World Cup triumph in a Ligue 1 clash at home against Angers on Wednesday, as the Qatar-owned club look to tie the Argentine down to a new contract.
The 35-year-old took part in training with his teammates on Tuesday, a little over three weeks after inspiring Argentina to victory over France on penalties in an epic World Cup final in Qatar.
He was granted a two-week holiday back in his home country following the tournament, before returning to Paris and being given a guard of honour at PSG’s training ground last Wednesday.
The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner, who scored 12 goals in 19 games this season for his club prior to the World Cup, did not take part in PSG’s win at third-tier side Chateauroux in the French Cup at the weekend.
But he could start as the Ligue 1 leaders play host to an Angers side who are bottom of the table and have lost their last nine league outings.
How Messi approaches the second half of the campaign in France after a career-defining World Cup will be closely observed, with his initial two-year deal in Paris coming to an end.
However, the Qatar-owned club are in talks to extend his contract with coach Christophe Galtier insisting the former Barcelona star is settled in the French capital.
“I know there are talks and that the club has spoken to Leo but I don’t know where they are at,” Galtier told reporters on Tuesday.
“Leo seems to me to be happy in Paris and I think there is a real desire on behalf of the club to extend Leo’s contract,” added Galtier, who said that Luis Campos, PSG’s football advisor, was in discussions with Messi’s representatives along with president Nasser al-Khelaifi.
Chief football reporter Kaveh Solhekol said on Sky Sports News’ ‘Transfer Show’ that PSG “are quietly confident” of extending Messi but that Inter Miami still pose a threat.
“PSG are quietly confident that the talks are going to go well and the player will stay and sign an extended contract,” he said.
“However, having said that, I think Inter Miami are still interested in signing the player. They think he wants to end his career in the MLS and he would like to move to Miami at some point. But I’m just thinking considering the impact he had at the World Cup and what he did, would next summer really be the right time to move to the MLS or could he carry on playing at the highest level in Paris?”
SOUTHAMPTON SNAP UP ARGENTINE ‘WILD CHILD’
Premier League club Southampton have signed Argentine midfielder Carlos Alcaraz from Racing Club for 13.65 million euros ($14.68m).
The 20-year-old midfielder is the second most expensive sale in Racing’s history, after the 25 million euros Inter Milan paid for Lautaro Martinez in 2018.
He has signed a four-and-a-half year contract.
The fee includes a 15 percent sell-on clause.
“I don’t know if this is the time to go or not, it was decided by the clubs,” Alcaraz told TyC Sports in Argentina before leaving for Britain to take a medical and sign his contract.
“I know I’m going to miss Racing a lot because it’s my home, every day and also the fans because of what they make you feel.”
South American football expert Tim Vickery compared Alcaraz to Frank Lampard and added the Argentine “has a bit of a wild child in him”.
“He’s very much in that kind of English school of midfielders in that he’s a central midfielder who gets in the box and has got a goal in him,” Vickery told talkSPORT.
“He’s like Frank Lampard, that kind of player. He times his runs very, very well. He sort of ghosts into the box well. He’s got promise.
“There may be a bit of a wild child in him, so you wonder how he’s going to adapt with a new language and a new culture.”
He played 83 times for Racing, scoring 13 goals and providing six assists. Southampton are currently rock bottom of the Premier League following a dire run of six straight defeats in the league.
They sacked Austrian manager Ralph Hasenhuettl in November at the beginning of that run but his successor Nathan Jones has been unable to stop the rot.