With European football’s silly season in full swing, it can be a challenge to discern between an accurate report and fraudulent speculation. Here’s a glance at the week in transfer talk, covering marquee moves both possible and phony.
Deulofeu ditches Camp Nou for Sarri safari
If Gerard Deulofeu was useless at Barcelona before the holidays, Philippe Coutinho‘s transfer paired with Ousmane Dembele‘s return to fitness have sealed the former Everton man’s fate in the infantile stages of 2018. In steps Napoli, whose pursuit of attacking help has linked the Partenopei with both Deulofeu and Bologna‘s Simone Verdi, and with Barcelona looking to dump some wages as whispers of FFP concerns become muffled groans, the Spaniard would be wise to dart to Italy for the tutelage of Maurizio Sarri.
Odds this move happens: As likely as Sarri is to reach for a Marlboro Red when Deulofeu sends a cross into Row Z. Probable.
Portuguese annexation of Wolves includes Silva
Nuno Espirito Santo has shaped Wolves into Premier League promotion faves with a squad that features seven fellow Portuguese players, and if the ex-Porto boss has his way, it could be eight before the window slams shut. It seems absurd that AC Milan would want to ship Santo’s former pupil Andre Silva to England’s second tier just months into a five-year deal, but with super-agent Jorge Mendes managing the striker’s matters after a summer of currying favours for the West Midland’s side, talk of a £34-million bid may not be as baloney as initially thought.
Odds: Seems implausible, but if it comes out that Li Yonghong bought I Rossoneri with Monopoly money and IOUs scrawled on cocktail napkins, anything could happen.
Sako! Sakho! Sakho!
Diafra Sakho needs West Ham and David Moyes’ Glaswegian patter like he needs advice for betting on ponies, and with a failed summer switch to Rennes in the rearview, the Senegalese striker could swap Stratford for cozy Croydon. With Bakary Sako and Mamadou Sakho already in Roy Hodgson’s Crystal Palace squad, the Eagles’ reported quest to provide Christian Benteke with support could see Sakho join the south London lot and moonlight as a 90s R&B trio in one fell swoop.
Odds: Consider this a coat-tugger and take a punt on Diafra completing a trifecta at Selhurst Park.
Leicester beckons Ben Arfa
Exiled to sporadic spots on the bench and fetching Unai Emery’s groceries, Hatem Ben Arfa might fancy brushing up on all things crisps and Kasabian as a potential move to Leicester City looms. Like Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain is desperate to jettison some wages in hopes of avoiding FFP penalties, and Ben Arfa played some of the best football of his life under current Foxes gaffer Claude Puel at Nice. With Leicester hampered by a glut of strikers but short on attacking-midfield depth, a move for Ben Arfa could be a low-risk solution, especially if talk of Riyad Mahrez‘s desire to ditch the King Power gains steam.
Odds: Unexpected, but if there’s one thing that marks Ben Arfa’s career besides Houdini routines at training and temporary timber, it’s the unconventional.
Guangzhou’s Gabonese goal machine?
Few players feature in transfer talk as much as Borussia Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and amid links with half the teams in the Premier League and a Twickenham temp agency, a move to China has emerged as a potential destination. A Chinese outlet contends Guangzhou Evergrande has placed a £63.5-million bid for the 28-year-old, and with one last lucrative contract in a celebrated career luring the Gabon international to Fabio Cannavaro’s side, BVB may very make a healthy profit and maintain its youth movement at the same time.
Odds: Doubts are Aubameyang isn’t doing back flips over a move east, and with three-and-a-half years left on his current deal, it’s likely he stays put.
(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)