Each morning, we at Football Whispers pore over Europe’s major news outlets in search of the latest transfer reports relating to your club. We then assess the reliability of the rumours, determine the likelihood of the moves, and analyse where the potential signings would fit in.
Today’s edition of the European round-up includes reports of Manchester United moving to strengthen their midfield with a renowned Belgian international, Chelsea bolstering their squad with a new wing-back, and Arsenal facing competition for a strike target.
CHELSEA CLOSE IN ON ALEX SANDRO
Calciomercato are reporting that Chelsea are closing in on the signature of one of their primary summer transfer targets in Alex Sandro. The Brazilian left wing-back has already agreed personal terms with the Premier League champions, meaning now it is a case of striking a deal with his current club Juventus.
This move has been discussed at length in recent weeks, with many Italian outlets suggesting the rumour could soon become reality. And, considering Antonio Conte’s desire for serious squad reinforcements, the player would fit the bill.
Marcos Alonso was Chelsea’s first-choice left wing-back last term, slotting perfectly into the team’s 3-4-2-1 system and providing plenty of cutting edge down his flank. However, Sandro would be an upgrade on the Spaniard.
Last season, the Juventus man was statistically superior to Alonso. Defensively, he made more tackles and interceptions per game. In possession, he averaged more passes, more key passes and more crosses per game, while also achieving a higher completion rate. And, in attack, he completed more dribbles per game.
MANCHESTER UNITED MOVE FOR NAINGGOLAN
According to Rome-based newspaper Il Tempo, Manchester United have submitted a contract offer of £6.6million per year to Radja Nainggolan. The Belgium international midfielder was a Chelsea transfer target last summer, and has also been linked to Juventus.
Considering the player’s loyalty to Roma and consistent dismissal of speculation regarding a move away, United may encounter difficulties convincing the 29-year-old to join them, despite their prestige and riches. However, if they could, they would be getting someone made for José Mourinho’s tactics.
There are a few reasons why Nainggolan is, stylistically, a sound Manchester United target: he’s a voracious worker, he’s a team player, and he’s a hard tackler. However, it’s also worth pointing out that, in a midfield needing defensive protection, his preference would be to play closer to the forwards.
For Roma, the destroyer has taken up a fairly advanced position. From there, he defends from the front, pressing intensively in an attempt to break up opposition build-up. However, Mourinho is more in need of a classic defensive midfield shield, someone who will sit in front of the back line and keep things simple.
ARSENAL FACE BATTLE FOR LACAZETTE
Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas confirmed to French sports daily L'Équipe that he would be unlikely to accept anything less, stating that: “The price for a player who scores 25 to 30 goals a year, sometimes more than 30, should be that.”
The 26-year-old scored 28 goals in as many Ligue 1 starts last season, prompting widespread speculation that he will move on this summer.
However, the highly expensive fee needed to secure his signature may put off Arsene Wenger, who is renowned for his prudence in the transfer market.
If that does turn out to be the case, it would be a great shame. Arsenal are in need of a consistent scorer to help out, or replace, Alexis Sánchez up front.
Olivier Giroud has been linked to an exit, while Danny Welbeck is more of a defensive forward than a clinical finisher.
Lacazette, with his 65 per cent shot accuracy, pace, movement and skill, would add a touch of real class to Wenger’s front line.
BARCELONA LAUNCH VERRATTI BID
Paris Saint-Germain’s Marco Verratti has been viewed as a Barcelona target for several weeks now, and it appears the Catalan club will soon make a formal bid for the central midfielder many see as the natural heir to the iconic Xavi.
However, last season’s Ligue 1 runners-up are said to be holding out for an initial offer of €80million, according to Spanish sports daily AS. Anything less and they will question the seriousness of the La Liga side’s interest.
Verratti undoubtedly has the technical characteristics to play for Barcelona. The Italian is an accurate distributor of the ball, something shown by the fact he averaged 87.5 passes per game for PSG last term at a completion rate of 88.4 per cent. He is also incisive, having averaged 1.4 key passes per game.
With his unerring composure and ball control, quality passing and ability to resist pressure, he would fit right into Ernesto Valverde’s midfield alongside the likes of Andrés Iniesta and Sergio Busquets.