The January transfer window may be closed around Europe, but teams are looking ahead to the summer and there's plenty of gossip swirling around. Transfer Talk brings you all the latest buzz on rumours, comings, goings and, of course, done deals!
TOP STORY: Mount, Kovacic nearing Chelsea exit
Chelsea are prepared to allow midfield pair Mason Mount and Mateo Kovacic to depart Stamford Bridge as the Blues look to raise funds for the summer, according to Football Insider.
The report reveals that following heavy spending in January under new owner Todd Boehly, the club must let certain players depart in the summer for further signings.
It is believed that the west London outfit are hopeful of securing £100 million in transfer fees for both players, who are out of contract in 2024.
It has been reported that Mount is looking for a new contract that reflects his role at the club, however, talks have not made progress in recent weeks, escalating rumours that the England international will leave. The 24-year-old has been linked with a move to Premier League rivals Liverpool, with Jurgen Klopp expected to undergo a midfield overhaul ahead of next season.
The Blues are optimistic that they can transfer Kovacic for a profit, after the Croatian signed for £40m from Real Madrid in 2019. The midfielder has featured over 200 times for Chelsea since his move, but will seemingly see his time at the club finish.
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22.30 BST: Amid an injury-plagued season, Giovani Lo Celso's future is unclear. According to Estadio Deportivo, Lo Celso will likely not stay with Villarreal beyond this year and will return to Tottenham in the summer.
Lo Celso joined Villarreal on loan but an early-season thigh injury -- which also cost him a spot with Argentina's World Cup-winning squad -- has limited his playing time. A permanent switch to Villarreal would likely depend on the squad solidifying a European competiton spot, but the report states that El Submarino Amarillo are looking to cut salary costs.
But his status at Spurs will be on shaky ground. With Antonio Conte now out as Tottenham's coach, Lo Celso will have to bet to impress whoever takes over that job in the summer.
21.30 BST: Athletic Club have given a new deal to midfielder Oihan Sancet that will keep him with the Basque side until 2032.
Not sure what's more odd to see, a nine-year extension or that seeing contracts getting inked for the turn of the next decade.
20.45 BST: Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy reportedly won't do business with either Manchester City or Manchester United, according to the Daily Mail.
After Kyle Walker moved to City from Spurs in 2017 and has since emerged as one of the top fullbacks in the Premier League, Levy regretted the move and vowed to not let such as a move happen again.
This could undermine any movement regarding Harry Kane, whose been on the radar of United. A transfer for the England captain and star striker would likely cost £100m but that fee could be lowered should Spurs miss out on Champions League for next season.
19.30 BST: What will it cost PSG to keep Lionel Messi at the club? Whatever it takes, according to Mundo Deportivo.
Having reportedly agreed to a new deal in December after winning the World Cup with Argentina, Messi has yet to sign the one-year extension at PSG. He reportedly remains in a holding parttern over what the direction of the club is amid two seasons of Champions League early exits. As such, the PSG hierarchy in Qatar are committed to boosting Messi's salary or guaranteeing more years.
Messi continues to be linked with a move to MLS, with Inter Miami the likely destination if that were to happen. Also, eyebrows were raised on Friday Barcelona vice president Rafa Yuste confirmed that the club are looking into the possibility of re-signing Messi, with coach Xavi Hernandez later adding he hopes to see the Argentine back at Spotify Camp Nou.
18:30 BST: Napoli announced a new contract for Juan Jesus through June 2025, with an option until June 2027.
The 31-year-old Brazilian defender has made 11 appearances this season for the Serie A runaway leaders. He joined Napoli in 2021 after stints at Inter Milan and Roma.
17:37 BST: Manchester United midfielder Scott McTominay faces a pivotal moment of his career as his futre at Old Trafford is uncertain, according to the Daily Mail.
McTominay, 25, has been at United since he was five years old and has a contract until 2025, but he has fallen down the pecking order since manager Erik ten Hag took over.
The Scotland international has started only 13 club games this season, while Newcastle United made an attempt to sign him in January and are likely to go back in for him tin the next transfer window.
16.26 BST: Arsenal's record signing Nicolas Pepe says there will talks over his future at the end of the season once his loan spell at French club Nice is over.
Pepe signed for Arsenal from Lille for £72m in 2019, but only managed 16 Premier League goals in three seasons before returning to Ligue 1 with Nice this term.
"I'm very happy at Nice, there are still two important months for the club," the Ivory Coast international told France Bleu. "I want to focus on the last two months and the rest, I don't know. There will be discussions."
Pepe added that he felt he could have played a bigger role at the club but that he did not fit into Mikel Arteta's plans after the club changed managers midway through his first season at the Emirates.
"I don't know what Arsenal want to do," he said. "I still have a lot of friends there. I could have been important for this club, but it's the manager's choices."
15.15 BST: Roma striker Tammy Abraham is not ruling out a return to the Premier League with either former club Chelsea or Arsenal in the future.
Abraham, 25, left boyhood club Chelsea in 2021 to join former Blues boss Jose Mourinho in Italy, since when he has scored 34 goals. However, when asked about a potential return to Chelsea in an interview with FourFourTwo, the England international said: "Never say never in football.
"Right now, my focus is on Roma -- I've no other plans. Maybe I'll stay at Roma for the next 10 years, maybe not. You never know."
Abraham also revealed that he considered joining Arsenal when he left Chelsea, and had a strong connection to the club as a child.
"My family were massive Arsenal fans, so I grew up watching them," he said. "I'd be lying to say Thierry Henry wasn't my biggest idol."
14.21 BST: Chelsea are interested in making a move for Barcelona left-back Alex Balde, according to SPORT.
Balde's agent, Jorge Mendes, is in talks with Barca over a new contract to replace the 19-year-old deal which expires in 2024. Balde wants his new salary to be in line with the club's other top young stars like Pedri and Ansu Fati, who have both signed new contracts in the past year.
Staying at Camp Nou is the Spain international's priority, but any breakdown in negotiations could open the door for Chelsea, SPORT reports.
Vinicius Jr. speaks about the rumours linking Carlo Ancelotti to the vacant managerial role with Brazil.
13.27 BST: Carlo Ancelotti has confirmed the Brazil national team want to appoint him as coach but reiterated his desire to stay at Real Madrid.
Brazil have been without a manager since Tite left after the World Cup and various reports claim Ancelotti is their top target. Madrid forward Vinicius Jr. recently said he "believes" his club coach wants to take the Selecao job and Ancelotti is flattered by the interest.
"The reality is that the Brazilian national team wants me; I love that, it's exciting," Ancelotti told a news conference before Sunday's game against Real Valladolid (stream LIVE at 10:15 a.m. ET on ESPN+ in the U.S.). "From there, you have to respect the contract you have, which is a contract that I want to fulfil."
Ancelotti, 63, has a deal with Madrid until 2024. He returned to the club for a second spell in charge in 2022 and led Los Blancos to a LaLiga and Champions League double last season. This year, Madrid are 12 points behind leaders Barcelona in LaLiga but remain in the Champions League and the Copa del Rey. The Italian's future, therefore, is expected to be linked to how Madrid do in those two cup competitions, although he insists he wants to stay at the Santiago Bernabeu.
"Everything is quite clear, I'll stay here as long as Madrid allow me to stay here," he added. "I feel a lot of affection from the president [Florentino Perez], the fans, the players, the atmosphere is very calm around me ... we now have two and a half months to try to win two trophies."
Pressed further on the Brazil interest, Ancelotti said he did not personally know Ednaldo Rodrigues, the president of the Brazilian Football Federation, but that he would be "delighted to speak to talk with him" if he wanted to.
12.32 BST: Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has confirmed that the club will spend big on transfers in the summer.
The Reds are one of several top European clubs vying to sign Borussia Dortmund midfielder Jude Bellingham when the transfer window opens. The England international could move for a fee in excess of £100m and when asked in a news conference if Liverpool were prepared to spend that much on a single player, Klopp said: "The club will spend in the summer, definitely. For who, how many, those kind of things, there is nothing to say [right now.]"
Klopp added that it was time for a period of renewal among the playing staff at Anfield, adding: "I am long enough in the business to know how these things develop. It's clear after a specific amount of time that you need to shuffle things and kind of start anew.
"That is completely normal, it happens all the time, it's just rare nowadays that it happens with the same manager because people realise when you sack a manager and bring in a new manager, things change and you readjust the squad. After seven years it was clear that we have to do it."
ESPN FC analysts give their take on the top 10 best players under 21 in world football.
11.38 BST: "Who are the hottest young talents in Europe right now?" we hear you ask. Well, each month the ESPN FC hotlist highlights some of the most in-form players aged 23 or under across the continent.
Generally, young but established stars like Manchester City's Erling Haaland, Borussia Dortmund's Jude Bellingham or Barcelona's Gavi aren't included -- otherwise they'd be on the list every month -- but we'll shine a light on some of those who deserve praise for their performances and who could potentially be European football's next big name.
This month, ESPN's scouting expert Tor-Kristian Karlsen has both league and international football to take into consideration.
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10.43 BST: Luke Shaw is close to agreeing a new contract with Manchester United, sources have told ESPN's Rob Dawson.
Shaw extended his deal by a year in December but the club have moved to tie the left-back down to a longer contract. His deal was set to expire in 2024 but is now set to run until 2027.
The England international is approaching 250 appearances for United since arriving from Southampton in 2014. After being dropped earlier this season, he has established himself as Erik ten Hag's first-choice left-back at Old Trafford and was part of the team which lifted the Carabao Cup in February. Ten Hag was asked about Shaw's contract at his weekly news conference on Friday, ahead of Sunday's trip to Newcastle.
"If he signed, I don't know, I haven't heard," the United manager said. "I have to wait for that. If true, I am pleased. We definitely want to keep him because he's a really important player for our team."
Shaw's is the first of a number of contract renewals United hope to sort out before the end of the year. Sources have told ESPN that talks are ongoing with Diogo Dalot and David de Gea. Dalot has a contract until 2024 while De Gea's contract will expire in June. United are also planning to step up negotiations with Marcus Rashford before the end of the campaign.
09.51 BST: Tottenham's managing director of football Fabio Paratici will step back from his role with immediate effect as he awaits the outcome of an appeal over his global ban.
In January, Paratici was handed a 30-month suspension by FIFA after his former club Juventus was found guilty of falsifying financial records.
That punishment initially only applied to Italy but the country's Football Association applied for Paratici to be suspended from all football activity worldwide, a request FIFA granted on Thursday.
Spurs then sought "urgent clarification" over Paratici's ability to work having been blindsided by FIFA's decision, especially given it came at a time when they are beginning the search for a new manager after parting company with Antonio Conte by mutual consent on Sunday evening.
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09.00 BST: Barcelona have acknowledged they are in contact with Lionel Messi about bringing him back to the club when his contract with Paris Saint-Germain expires in June.
Vice president Rafa Yuste confirmed Friday that the club are looking into the possibility of re-signing Messi, who left for PSG in 2021, with coach Xavi Hernandez later adding he hopes to see the Argentine back at Spotify Camp Nou.
"I am still gutted he couldn't continue here," Yuste said at a news conference. "Of course I would like him to come back, because of what he represents on a sporting, social and economic level.
"We are in contact with [Messi's camp], yes. Beautiful stories should have happy endings, and there is a mutual love between the two parties."
Messi, 35, left two years ago after two decades in Catalonia because Barca could not afford to renew his contract. The financial side of any return this summer remains an obstacle.
Barca need to knock more than €150m off their annual spending -- or raise money through transfers -- to comply with LaLiga's economic regulations and be able to sign players and register contract renewals.
"We still have two months to work hard to present our revenue and sustainability plan to [LaLiga president Javier] Tebas," Yuste added when asked whether bringing Messi back was really possible.
"I don't like to speak about Leo because he is a PSG player, but if all the conditions are met, we are open to the possibility. [Barca] president [Joan Laporta] has been with Leo's father, and there is a good relationship.
"Of course, there is no plan to go on the attack because we don't want PSG to see it like that. If it happens, it will be because destiny takes you back to where you have to go. If all the conditions come together and Leo comes back to Barcelona, it would be the perfect ending to a very happy story."
- Stream LIVE: Elche vs. Barcelona, Saturday 4/1, 2:50 p.m. ET, ESPN+
PAPER GOSSIP (by Rajan Hothi)
- Internazionale and Napoli are monitoring the situation of Liverpool midfielder Naby Keita, according to Ekrem Konur. The 28-year-old has failed to live up to expectations at Anfield since his move from RB Leipzig in 2018, as injuries and inconsistent performances have seen the Guinea international fall down the pecking order. Keita is out of contract in the summer, and with a contract extension at Liverpool unlikely.
- Arsenal have made West Ham United midfielder Declan Rice a priority for the summer and are preparing a bid in excess of £100m, report Football Insider. The report states that the Gunners are in the market for a central midfield player and are willing to splash the cash, in order to beat their rivals to the signature of the England international. Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool all hold an interest in the 24-year-old.
- Barcelona and Inter Milan are both interested in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang but Chelsea are reluctant to transfer the forward back to the Spanish giants, as per AS. Aubameyang was seen supporting his former club at the El Clasico earlier in the month, which left the Blues were left furious. AS have revealed that Internazionale are also interested in the former Arsenal talisman, which dampens the Catalan club's chances.
- Barcelona would prefer to sign Bernardo Silva over his Manchester City teammate Ilkay Gundogan but finances make the latter more likely, reports Mundo Deportivo. The report states that Silva's transfer would cost roughly £80m, which would prove to be problematic for cash-strapped Barcelona. Instead, the temptation of Gundogan, who would be available on a free transfer, could prove decisive in who the LaLiga leaders opt to sign.
- Marcus Thuram is undecided on his next destination, with Inter Milan and Juventus both interested in the winger, according to Calciomercato. The Frenchman is almost certain to leave Borussia Monchengladbach on a free transfer in the summer, and the report reveals that Inter are currently ahead of rivals Juventus, in the race for Thuram's signature.