With the winter transfer window shutting Monday, who could move in the final hours? Ben Lyttleton takes a look at the major names on the transfer block.
With three days left until the January transfer window closes, there are several players who are in limbo ahead of a possible late switch of clubs. As often happens this month, European clubs sit back and watch the Premier League sides run wild as the clock ticks down, grateful they are not part of the madness–unless they are receiving over-priced offers for their players.
As explained in a recent episode of the Planet Fútbol Podcast, it's rare for established internationals to move clubs so close to a major tournament, and with Euro 2016 and Copa America Centenario on the horizon, players in stable situations are unlikely to jeopardize their international standing by changing environments:
That said, here are some of the players who could be on the move (as well as the likelihood that they'll go) as the window shuts for the winter:
Ezequiel Lavezzi (PSG)
Interested clubs: Barcelona, Chelsea, Inter, Liverpool
Valuation: €4 million | Move Likelihood: 6.5/10
The worst-kept secret in the market this month, the Argentine forward has been available for around €4 million before his contract expires in the summer.
Has been seen as a potential short-term option for some of Europe’s biggest clubs, including Barcelona, Chelsea and Inter Milan, but could be twiddling his thumbs if no one dives in.
Despite not being a regular, he is still popular in the dressing room and could be open to an unlikely contract extension, although he may have to reduce his current €4 million annual salary.
Alex Teixeira (Shakhtar Donetsk)
Interested clubs: Liverpool, Chelsea
Valuation: €40 million | Move Likelihood: 7.5/10
Liverpool has been here before: it wanted to sign Willian from Shakhtar before Spurs, and then Chelsea, beat it to the punch; and while Anfield remains the most likely destination, until a deal is done, you never know. Liverpool has offered €32 million for the Brazilian, who turned it down. His buy-out clause is said to be €70 million and Shakhtar, still in the Europa League, would rather sell in the summer.
“He can be as good, or even better, than Di Maria,” said Shakhtar coach Mircea Lucescu. “He gets better every year.”
He’s not that good, but such is Liverpool’s need, it will pay top price to get its man–and it’s running out of time.
Islam Slimani (Sporting Lisbon)
Interested clubs: Everton, Crystal Palace, Manchester United, Liverpool, West Ham
Valuation: €18 million | Move Likelihood: 3/10
There’s nothing like a hot streak of form in January to bang up the price for Premier League clubs, and Slimani has scored eight in his last five games for title-chasing Sporting. The Lisbon side, currently two points clear at the top, don't want to sell as the target is winning a first league title since 2002, and even if a club offers the release clause sum of €30 million, it’s thought that can only be activated in the summer.
Loic Remy (Chelsea)
Interested clubs: Everton, West Ham, Newcastle, West Ham, Sunderland, Leicester City
Valuation: €12 million | Move Likelihood: 8/10
Now Chelsea has Alexandre Pato imminently arriving on loan, it frees up the opportunity to release another striker, but given Falcao is injured, the likely mover is Remy, who has a decent goal record in the Premier League when given games (something he has never had at Chelsea).
The French forward could help a team at the bottom avoid the drop, which is why Newcastle wants him back.
His talent is such that even table-topping Leicester is interested, with reports of a possible player-plus-cash swap deal with in-form Jamie Vardy. Either way, Remy could be packing his bags soon.
Breel-Donald Embolo (FC Basel)
Interested clubs: Wolfsburg, Liverpool
Valuation: €35 million | Move Likelihood: 3/10
Wolfsburg was knocked back in its efforts to sign 18-year-old wonderkid Embolo from FC Basel, with a €27 million bid rejected by president Bernard Heusler. Wolfsburg is considering increasing the offer but Heusler is expert at extracting top prices for his players. He has also told Embolo that he would prefer him to wait another 18 months before moving on; at which point his price could reach Anthony Martial-levels (in fact, that might even happen this summer).
Wolfsburg might give Heusler another decision to make, but at the moment his mind seems made up.
Saido Berahino (West Brom)
Interested clubs: Newcastle, Tottenham, West Ham, Liverpool
Valuation: €25 million | Move Likelihood: 6/10
Could there be a late twist in a transfer saga that began last summer and is still going on? West Brom rejected four bids from Spurs in the summer, which ended up with Berahino threatening to go on strike. He scored 20 goals last season but has not started since October and is not part of coach Tony Pulis’s plans. He has one year left on his deal in the summer and unless someone meets the valuation of WBA chairman Jeremy Peace, looks set to sit out the second half of the campaign.
Guillermo Ochoa (Malaga)
Interested clubs: Aston Villa, Bordeaux
Valuation: €2 million | Move Likelihood: 3/10
The Mexican keeper is stuck on the bench in La Liga and keen to get some game- ime. Bordeaux was interested after losing first-choice Cedric Carasso to injury but may keep faith in Jerome Prior. Aston Villa is also looking for a goalkeeper although Lovre Kalinic (Hajduk Split) is its top target. Ochoa’s agent needs to move quickly to make something happen.
Dwight Gayle (Crystal Palace)
Interested clubs: Swansea, Norwich, Middlesbrough
Valuation: €11 million | Move Likelihood: 9/10
Palace accepted a bid for Gayle from Bristol City in the summer but the player did not want to move; then Norwich came in for him on the last day of the August window but too late for Palace to find a replacement. It could be another last-gasp window for Gayle as Palace is weighing up Swansea’s latest bid. At least the Eagles now have center forward cover in Emmanuel Adebayor, but this latest fee sounds like a lot for a player whose last Premier League goal came over a year ago.
Seydou Doumbia (Roma)
Interested clubs: Marseille, Aston Villa, Fenerbahce, Leicester City, Swansea
Valuation: €12 million | Move Likelihood: 8/10
Roma wants to sell the Ivorian forward, whose move to Italy has not worked out. The Italian club wants a straight sale, but Marseille and Fenerbahce have only offered up loan deals for now. There is still time for a Premier League club to sneak in–although this is a case of buyer beware: of the 13 goals he scored in calendar year 2015 (two for Roma, 11 on loan back at CSKA), six came on the big stage of the Champions League.
Gianni Imbula (FC Porto)
Interested clubs: Wolfsburg, Stoke, Valencia, Inter Milan
Valuation: €25 million | Move Likelihood: 7/10
Some of Europe’s top clubs wanted Imbula last summer but FC Porto beat the likes of Atletico Madrid to the former Marseille man. His move has not worked out, and Porto is ready to sell this month, but wants to make a profit on the €20 million it just spent. Stoke is his most likely destination, but Porto is not a cheap seller and the Premier League might have to break its transfer record for the 23-year-old.