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Today’s top stories:
“No one is able to do what Theo does. He’s incredible. We said to other clubs: don’t try to send proposals for some of our players, we won’t negotiate” - Paolo Maldini on Theo Hernandez, one month ago… and now he’s the owner of France’s left-hand side as they prepare for the World Cup final.
Dusan Vlahovic speculation goes on. I’m told there are no contacts with Arsenal as things stand, then let’s see in January but it’s quiet now. Vlahovic is focused on recovering from his injury, this is a key point; he’s not 100% fit yet. I think Vlahovic is always a good idea for top clubs but Juventus should not sell him after just 11 months.
At the moment it's Arsenal pushing for Mykhaylo Mudryk but there's still no advanced negotiation on the fee. Everton and Brentford wanted him in the summer, Brentford were actually first European club to move for Mudryk many months ago thanks to Lee Dykes who wanted him.
💬 Arsenal fans, who would be your priority this January - a striker like Vlahovic to replace Jesus, or a top young talent like Mudryk?
Barcelona expect Sergio Busquets to finish the current season at the Nou Camp. I’ve been told there’s no current plan to let him leave in January. Busquets himself is expected to decide his next steps in few months as Barca want him to stay one more year but Inter Miami have made an official offer.
📰 In other news, the door could open for Barcelona to sign Diogo Dalot due to Manchester United’s pursuit of Denzel Dumfries (Sport)
Alexander Nubel’s agent: “Bayern have informed me that they are in contact with Monaco, no decision has been made yet. Alex is very relaxed. It's a comfortable situation.”
Benfica are closing in on a new contract for Odisseas Vlachodimos. It’s imminent and set to be completed in the coming days. Understand new deal will be valid until June 2027, Vlachodimos was prepared to accept despite being close to moving to Ajax last summer.
“Devastated to be ending 2022 in this way”. Armando Broja confirms he’ll need surgery after an ACL injury. Sources are optimistic on his return at the beginning of the 2023/2024 season for the striker, recovery time expected to be around 6-7 months.
As I wrote in yesterday’s Briefing, Chelsea will now step up their search for a new striker in January. The Blues wanted one anyway, and the Broja injury makes their plans even clearer.
Chelsea’s deal for Christopher Nkunku is almost ready, but for the summer, so let’s see what names they look at this January, it will take some time for them to work out their options.
I can confirm again that Chelsea are not currently in the race for Cristiano Ronaldo, there are no negotiations ongoing, even though Todd Boehly was interested in the summer, before Thomas Tuchel blocked the deal.
💬 Could Cristiano Ronaldo be a good short-term option for Chelsea or should they focus on younger players?
Espanyol have offered €5.5m to sign Hellas Verona centre-back Isak Hien to strengthen their defence. There’s still no agreement with Verona as they’re asking for €7m plus add-ons to sell the centre back. Still, it looks like negotiations to agree a deal will continue.
Sofyan Amrabat: “I’m proud to be linked to top clubs like Barcelona and Atletico. But I’m Fiorentina player, I respect the club and I’ve great relationship with the president. Simeone? We have good coach at Fiorentina too but… yes, I like Cholo’s style.”
Christopher Nkunku, Presnel Kimpembe, Lucas Hernandez, Karim Benzema, Mike Maignan, N’Golo Kante, Paul Pogba - all of them not available, including this year’s Ballon d’Or winner, but Didier Deschamps’ France reach a second World Cup final in a row after their victory in 2018.
Done, confirmed. English talent Samuel Iling Jr has now signed a new deal with Juventus, been told it will be a four-year contract. Iling Jr was already part of the first team and will remain there as Massimiliano Allegri is happy with his performances.
Erik ten Hag and his staff decided for Jadon Sancho to proceed on individual training in Holland to make sure he will be 100% ready on physical and mental point of view in the next months. Ten Hag wants Sancho to be a key player for Man United, not just one of many in the squad. He was not performing at the best level and so they decided to proceed in that way.
Ten Hag explained: “We want to bring Sancho back as soon as possible. He’s not fit enough to be in training camp. Jadon wasn't in the right status, in the right fitness state, so now he's on an individual programme and so hopefully, we see him back soon.”
Ten Hag on Man Utd takeover: “I’m told it will only be good things, there will be more investment possible and so it’s good news. Richard Arnold confirmed to me that more money will become available for this project, so it’s better.”
Atletico Madrid and Manchester United have excellent relationship but Alvaro Morata is not something being discussed as of now, despite reports. I think he has good chances to stay at Atleti until the end of the season, but let’s see if that changes in the next weeks.
📰 In other news, Manchester United could be set to make an enquiry to Benfica over the potential signing of Goncalo Ramos (ESPN)
Class act - I’ve been informed that France president Emmanuel Macron visited Morocco’s dressing room after the game last night and told Sofyan Amrabat that he has been “the best midfielder of the tournament” in front of the whole squad.
Many clubs are keeping tabs on Azzedine Ounahi as well after an excellent World Cup. It’s actually around 8-9 clubs around the world. Too early to say what’s going to happen, these are just calls to agents to understand about conditions of the potential deal.
Cristiano Ronaldo has been training at Real Madrid sporting centre Valdebebas in the last hours — on a separated pitch. Cristiano’s just working there to keep fit thanks to great relationship with the club, waiting for a new chapter in his career.
📰 In other news, Real Madrid are interested in Cody Gakpo to come in as the long-term successor to Karim Benzema (AS)
Speculation over Pedro Porro is normal as Tottenham have sent their scouts many times to follow him, he’s a player who Fabio Paratici knows very well since a long time.
At the moment there are still no direct talks, so it’s not an easy one – also because Manchester City have a €20m buy-back clause and so they can control the situation.
Done deal: Talented young Brazilian striker Matheus Martins joins Watford, Pozzo family have completed the deal via Udinese for €6m & €3m add-ons to Fluminense.
He’s part of a hugely promising generation of Brazilian talent, alongside Endrick, Angelo, Matheus Franca and more.