The biggest football news stories at the moment are that Gareth Bale looks certain for a return to the Premier League with Manchester United in the summer, and Liverpool are seriously considering a January move for Fernando Torres.
The Wales international looks resigned to moving to Old Trafford, which will smash the club transfer record for the $100 million valued forward.
United’s owners, the Glazer family, want to replicate Real Madrid’s Galacticos route to increase United’s value with an eventual asking price of $5 billion if they decide to sell.
United actually offered Spurs more than the world record $110 million Real Madrid handed over when Bale left White Hart Lane 18 months ago, but by then the transfer to the Bernabeu was almost complete.
Even then Bale wasn’t adverse to a move to Old Trafford, and the prospect of a return to the English Premiership at the end of the season appeals to him and his family.
Old Trafford boss Louis Van Gaal is a big Bale admirer and would be happy to break the United buying record he set with the capture of another Real Madrid player, Angel Di Maria, for $70 million.
Real Madrid want most of their original outlay on Bale who helped them win the Champions League, scoring in the final against Atletico Madrid in Lisbon in May.
There is no chance, though, of Real Madrid selling Bale in the January window.
It’s the same situation with their two other main transfer targets, Roma’s Kevin Strootman and Borussia Dortmund’s Mats Hummels. If Van Gaal signs all three in the close season it’s likely to beat last summer’s outlay of $220 million.
United are still confident of completing three deals next month, amounting to over $120 million.
Benfica pair Enzo Perez and Nicolas Gaitan are close to agreeing moves while Strootman is their No.1 target.
Van Gaal is confident of sealing the Benfica pair for a combined fee of around $70 million. Strootman will cost around $50 million even though he is recovering from a long-term knee injury but is still a firm favorite with the United boss.
Van Gaal built his Holland team around the 24-year-old midfielder before his injury and wants to do the same at Old Trafford.
Liverpool could face competition from Atletico Madrid to sign Torres, the club where the Spaniard started his career.
Torres is currently on a two-year loan from Chelsea to AC Milan, but the Serie A side want to end the deal due to the striker’s lack of form and goals, scoring just once in 10 games.
Given the injury problems Diego Costa has suffered, Jose Mourinho might consider taking Torres back to add depth to his squad, but that seems unlikely.
Liverpool have accepted that signing Mario Balotelli for $22 million from Milan last summer was a mistake and need to bolster their strike force.
Torres, who was outstanding for the Reds with 65 goals in 102 Premier League games before being sold to Chelsea for $70 million, could fit the bill. Liverpool may take Torres, 30, on loan with a view to a permanent move. Meanwhile, Balotelli could be loaned to Napoli.
Liverpool’s American owners are considering possible replacements for under-fire boss Brendan Rodgers and are said to be considering approaching United States national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann for the role.
Klinsmann has previously been linked with a move to Anfield during the tenure of previous owner’s Tom Hicks and George Gillett and could be receptive.
The former German international striker has impressed since taking over the US team three years ago but may have an eye on a club managerial career and a move to Anfield is tempting.
Publicly Liverpool’s owners are backing Rodgers and are unlikely to fire the Northern Irishman mid-season regardless of whether the Merseyside outfit continue to struggle, but should the club fail to secure a Champions League berth, then they are ready to make a managerial switch.
Though Rodgers guided Liverpool to a runners-up finish last season to return to the Champions League, his side has struggled this term and the majority of the players he chose to invest heavily in over the summer have generally been a flop.
Klinsmann would be happy to return to the English top tier having enjoyed two spells with Tottenham as a player, and the club’s owners are well aware that the 50-year-old German is the type of high-profile appointment needed to attract top players.
At West Ham, Winston Reid wants $90,000 a week to commit his future there. The defender will be out of contract in the summer. Hammers boss Sam Allardyce said it would take an offer of $30 million to prize Reid away in January.
That’s a rather optimistic evaluation, although Liverpool and Arsenal remain interested.
So far, the West Ham board have offered Reid a new deal in the region of $70,000 a week, but if they raise it by around $20,000, the New Zealand international is likely to sign.
Aston Villa will tie up a $10 million move to keep midfielder Tom Cleverley there when the January transfer window opens.
Boss Paul Lambert has been so impressed with the 25-year-old England international that he wants to secure on deadline day the loan deal Villa agreed with Manchester United to sign him.
Spurs winger Aaron Lennon has been offered an escape route out of White Hart Lane by Inter Milan. Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino has hardly played the former England winger this season.
Lennon, the club’s longest-serving player, is a target for Inter boss Roberto Mancini but he is also wanted by Hull City and QPR, who will make a loan move for him if they fail with a similar bid for Andros Townsend.
Spurs want at least $10 million for Lennon, but Inter will offer midfielder Fredy Guarin, 28, in part exchange.
Arsenal are set to make a major bid to finally sign Southampton midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin in the January transfer window.
Schneiderlin held talks with the Gunners over a move in the summer, only for the switch to collapse with Southampton insisting he stays put. Tottenham are also keen on the Frenchman, but Arsenal are favorites to sign him.
Arsenal are ready to make a $30 million January move for Germany international Christoph Kramer, even though club Bayer Leverkusen are determined to keep him.
The defensive midfielder, who is on loan at Borussia Mönchengladbach, is high on Arsenal’s list to bolster their midfield.
Lars Bender is also an Arsenal target, but it is just as difficult to prize him from Leverkusen, having signed a new contract last season.
Ilkay Gundogan, Borussia Dortmund’s Germany international, is another holding midfielder who has impressed the Gunners, but Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger would want to be sure the player has fully recovered after he spent most of last year out injured.
Nevertheless, Arsenal are ready to sign Kramer, with Wenger insisting he is ready to spend and that the widely held view of him as a frugal manager is misconceived.
Wenger is also searching for a centre half, although the club ideally want a younger player who can develop, rather than an expensive star.
Although Calum Chambers is already providing backup in central defense, Arsenal feel they need a fourth central defender, with Laurent Koscielny having struggled with injury this season.
Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool all want Marco Reus, but he has agreed to join Real Madrid from Borussia Dortmund next summer.
Reus has agreed to join Real once Carlo Ancelotti meets his $30 million release clause. He will sign a lucrative five-year-deal.
The news is a massive blow to the Premier League giants hoping to tempt Reus with a move to England.
The Germany international is playing superbly despite Dortmund’s woeful Bundesliga record this season, but has not been convinced by the club’s direction in recent times. p>
Jurgen Klopp may leave, as well as club captain Mats Hummels, with both linked with a summer switch to Arsenal.
Ronald Koeman will make his first Dutch signing for Southampton. Flying winger Eljero Elia is set to join the Saints from Werder Bremen in January for around $6 million.
Elia, 27, is seen as Arjen Robben’s international understudy. After making his name at Den Haag and Twente, Elia moved to Hamburg and later joined Juventus in a $10 million move. But he struggled in Italy and moved to Werder Bremen two years ago.
At Hamburg he set a record by hitting the most powerful goal of the season at 83 miles per hour.
Elia turned down previous chances to move to the Premier League. Liverpool and Everton were interested in signing him before he joined Juventus three years ago.
Elia got in trouble with German police last year for racing on autobahns in the middle of the night with teammate Marko Arnautovic, who is now at Stoke.