Barcelona are yet to fully resign themselves to losing Ousmane Dembele on a free transfer, while they may also have a decent chance of signing Cesar Azpilicueta from Chelsea for nothing. Elsewhere, Manchester United want a huge payoff for Jesse Lingard to let him join Newcastle, and Diego Costa is likely to move to Italy.
DEMBELE COULD YET STAY
Ousmane Dembele could potentially stay at Barcelona, according to Spanish newspaper Marca. The 24-year-old French international is determined to run down his contract and leave this summer on a free transfer, earning a huge signing-on fee in the process. However Barcelona have scheduled one last round of talks with the player in the hope of convincing him not to do so, meaning they won’t have to freeze him out of the first team.
AZPILICUETA SET TO LEAVE CHELSEA
Cesar Azpilicueta is likely to leave Chelsea if the London club continue their practice of only offering players over 30 single-year contract extensions. The same process saw Willian leave the club for Arsenal, and despite the 32-year-old Spaniard rarely missing games through injury the most he can hope for is an extra year option, according to The Sun, meaning Barcelona could step in.
Paper Round’s view: While Azpilicueta is a reliable performer, sticking to a hard-and-fast rule does take the problem of judgement out of Chelsea’s hand. In many ways it is easy to simply know to make a decision rather than waste brain power on indecision. As for Barcelona, they have such a wretched track record in the transfer market that they can scarcely afford another waste and risk.
NEWCASTLE REFUSE UNITED DEMANDS OVER LINGARD
The Telegraph reports that Manchester United have made a huge demand of Newcastle as they negotiate for the transfer of Jesse Lingard. The club are ready to pay £2.5 million in a loan fee for the England international, but United also want £12m to be paid should Newcastle survive in the Premier League this season, something that the club are not willing to countenance.
Paper Round’s view: Ordinarily this looks like a ludicrous demand from United, and they have a track record of mistakes in the transfer market. But Newcastle should be title challengers in the next few years, so it is in their interests to make sure that them staying up offers a huge financial benefit, and such a large bonus based on survival is one way to soften the blow for Mancester United.
ARSENAL TO MISS OUT ON COSTA
Diego Costa was a surprise target for Arsenal earlier in the January transfer window as he became a free transfer after a short spell in Brazil. However, The Mirror reports that the 33-year-old Spanish international has decided that he will instead be moving to Serie A. He is interested in Salernitana, with the Italian side facing a battle to stay in the top flight this campaign.
Paper Round’s view: Costa was a brilliant player and also someone who could be relied upon to break Arsenal’s spirit and discipline on more than one occasion, but he was hardly known for either his professionalism or fitness. At 33 those qualities will not be improved unless something revolutionary has happened, and it would be baffling given the reasons for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s excommunication.