By Neil Leverett
- Premier League clubs looking to do business in the January transfer window, which remains open until 23:00 on Friday 31 January
- Manchester United looking to seal double swoop to bolster top-four and European hopes
- Chelsea look to Spanish starlet, Gunners eye midfield reinforcement as Everton look to pick Cherries defender
PREMIER LEAGUE, UK – With the transfer window kicking into top gear as we enter mid-January, what five deals should we be looking out for in the remainder of the winter window?
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Bruno Fernandes (Sporting Clube de Portugal to Manchester United)
A move that has been mooted for some time, Bruno Fernandes‘ move to Manchester United from Sporting Clube de Portugal could finally come to fruition in the remaining fortnight of the transfer window, with an initial £50m suggested as per The Mirror.
The creative Portuguese midfielder has been a revelation at the Iberian capital club in the past few season, and still only 25-year-of-age, the Lions’ often prolific talisman could soon become the latest export from Primera Liga to the English top flight.
Having scored 39 goals in 81 appearances during the last two seasons with Sporting, Fernandes is slowing becoming a lynch-pin for Fernando Santos‘ senior national side, with 19 caps to his name already.
With Paul Pogba‘s days at Old Trafford looking to be numbered, the Red Devils has been bereft of that special ingredient in the heart of midfield, where Fernandes could tick a big box for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Given United’s strong relations with the Lisbon club – after Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani’s spells in Manchester – this move seems as good as done, and despite the small improvements seen in recent weeks for United, Fernandes could be the perfect addition to Solskjaer’s engine room, in particular partnering Fred in midfield.
Kalidou Koulibaly (Napoli to Manchester United)
United could be busy bees in the coming two weeks of transfer activity. Still only six months after recruiting Harry Maguire from Leicester City, the Red Devils could further increase number at the club in a big way, with the addition of Kalidou Koulibaly from Serie A side Napoli, before the January window slams shut.
With The Sun stating a fee in the region of £64m has reportedly been agreed, that, combined with the Fernandes price-tag could extend United’s outlay for this transfer window around the £115m mark – a sizeable statement from chairman Ed Woodward.
Koulibaly, 28, has become one of the hottest defensive properties in European football since his move to Naples in 2014. The French-born, Senegalese international is renowned for his strength and agility, together with his superb reading of the game and an outlet from the back line.
This season however, has seen the Partenopei endure a difficult campaign with the sacking of Carlo Ancelotti and the subsequent rebuilding under Gennaro Gattuso, so a move may come at the right time.
Victor Lindelof has enjoyed a more stable season after a difficult first season after the Swede’s switch from Benfica, but any move for Koulibaly may bring his place in Solskjaer’s starting XI into question.
In a similar fashion to when Liverpool broke the transfer record for a defender in bringing in Virgil van Dijk from Southampton for £75m back in January 2017, United would make a seismic impact on the domestic game should a move be completed, but there is some ground to cover yet if Koulibaly is to become a United player this month.
Franck Kessie (AC Milan to Arsenal)
The early weeks of the Mikel Arteta era at Arsenal has experienced a real mixed bag in fortunes, and with the chance to put his own signature stamp on his tenure, the Spaniard is rumoured to be making Franck Kessie his number one priority this January.
A target in past seasons, the AC Milan midfielder has again appeared on the Gunners’ radar, and with the North Londoners’ midfield still lacking bite in the midst of their newly-honed and improved work rate, the Ivorian central midfielder may fit Arteta’s bill this month.
Formerly of Atalanta, Kessie made the switch from Bergamo to Lombardy 18 months ago permanently after a two-year loan, but with heavy upheaval experienced in the past two seasons for the Rossoneri – indeed, still on-going – Kessie has now found himself out of the favour of new boss Stefano Pioli.
An uncompromising midfield enforcer, Kessie could be the perfect foil for the likes of Granit Xhaka and Matteo Guendouzi, and with a fee that would unlikely climb to much over 20m as per The Metro, the Ivorian could be the next piece in the Arsenal jigsaw. However, West Ham United have also registered their interest.
Dani Olmo (Dinamo Zagreb to Chelsea)
With their transfer ban now lifted, Chelsea are preparing to flex their financial muscle and dust off the Roman Abramovich coffers, with Dani Olmo strongly linked with a switch from Dinamo Zagreb before the month is out.
A product of Barcelona’s youth academy between 2007 and 2014, the 21-year-old Spaniard was plucked from Catalonia in July 2014, making the surprise move to the Croatian capital.
Moving up through the ranks of La Furia Roja’s teenage international system, Olmo was part of last summer’s Spain side that were crowned European U-21 champions in Italy and San Marino and after a season where the Spanish attacking midfielder has caught the eye in the UEFA Champions League, Olmo’s stock has risen, making the jump to the senior Spanish squad.
With Frank Lampard keen on youth in his side and with Ross Barkley looking like he won’t make the cut at Chelsea for the moment, Olmo could provide that create edge behind Tammy Abraham, or as an extra option in the wide areas to challenge both Christian Pulisic and Willian on the flanks.
Now that La Blaugrana have distanced themselves withe a return from one of their former products, the Daily Mail suggest the Blues could make a move in January, and Olmo has all the facets to a be a hit in West London.
Nathan Ake (AFC Bournemouth to Everton)
Another move that has began to gain momentum is Nathan Ake‘s departure from AFC Bournemouth, and after Chelsea ruled themselves out of a move for their former defender, it now seems Everton could steal in for the Dutch centre-back’s services.
As Sky Sports report, following the news that the Blues will not pay the release clause for the Cherries’ defender, the Toffees may step in to make their first marquee signing under Ancelotti, with Ake touted as a player Everton are keen in.
Having racked up a century of appearances in Dorset, the versatile 24-year-old Dutch international seems the perfect acquisition for Ancelotti, given his similar abilities to that of former player Koulibaly, a player the Italian steward had at his disposal in Naples.
Yerry Mina was heralded on his arrival 12 months ago from Barcelona, but the Colombian has not adapted to life in the Premier League as desired and as an already bedded-in centre-half with an eye for goal, might Everton owner Farhad Moshiri be prepared to break the bank for Ake in the transfer window?
With Bournemouth caught up in a relegation dog-fight, boss Eddie Howe will not be keen to sanction his star centre-back’s sale to Merseyside, however if the price is good enough, the Cherries may have precious little choice to invest. This is one to watch for the remainder of the month.
The January transfer window remains open until 23:00 on Friday 31 January
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