There’s a lot of talk and speculation, but when it comes to transfers, how do you separate fact from fiction? David Amoyal looks at some of the current rumours and predicts how likely it is that the proposed moves actually happen.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic to LA Galaxy: 40 percent
The timing might finally be right for Zlatan to play in the United States. His struggles at Manchester United and the fact he has just a one-year contract with an option make the move fairly feasible. In addition, the Galaxy — who pursued him heavily in the summer — will have at least one Designated Player slot available in 2017. Ibrahimovic would also like to be in the entertainment industry, once he retires as a footballer, so playing not too far from Hollywood might be very appealing to him at this stage of his career.
Jose Gimenez to the Premier League: 35 percent
The strong play by Stefan Savic has relegated promising Uruguayan defender Gimenez to the bench at Atletico Madrid. Considering the scarcity of quality centre-backs on the transfer market and the fact Gimenez is only 21, there are plenty of teams that would be keen to sign him. However, his high price tag ensures only a handful of clubs can afford him. While Arsenal have also been linked to him, Manchester United has better odds of signing Gimenez, since they have a clear and imminent need, with Eric Bailly expected to play in the African Nations Cup once he returns to the pitch from injury.
Memphis Depay to Roma: 30 percent
The Dutch winger has struggled to find playing time under Jose Mourinho at Man United, while Roma are looking for reinforcements at his position, with Mohamed Salah also leaving to play in Africa in January. Roma have always been very attentive to bargain opportunities in the Premier League (Edin Dzeko and Gervinho come to mind), so Depay makes a lot of sense for them, especially if Manchester United were open to a loan with option to buy. In addition, the Red Devils have expressed interest in Kostas Manolas and Alessandro Florenzi in the past, so a Depay deal might open the door for another transaction down the road.
Kevin Strootman to Everton: 25 percent
Had he not suffered so many injuries in recent years, the Dutch midfielder might already be playing in the Premier League. With Everton looking for a long-term replacement for Gareth Barry and Roma’s willingness to sell players at the right price (especially one who will turn 27 next year), this could be a good match. With Radja Nainggolan making it clear he wants to stay at Roma long term, the emergence of Leandro Paredes, as well as the fact Florenzi is more comfortable in midfield, the team would be able to offset the loss of Strootman. If this move comes to fruition, however, it is more likely in the summer, and by then, there could be more suitors.
Dimitri Payet to Paris Saint-Germain: 40 percent
Despite signing an extension with West Ham earlier this year, the talented attack-minded midfielder could be returning to Ligue 1 next season. It’s no secret that PSG are interested in signing more French players, and they have been linked to Payet since last summer. He’ll turn 30 in March, so this is West Ham’s last chance to get a massive return. Chelsea could also be an option for Payet, as the Blues made an inquiry for him at the end of last summer’s transfer window.
Javier Pastore to Chelsea: 25 percent
The odds of Payet heading to PSG would increase should the current Ligue 1 champions move some of their offensive-minded players. The rumours linking Pastore to Chelsea have increased since the Blues appointed Antonio Conte, as the Italian manager tried to sign him when he was at Juventus. Signing Pastore won’t be easy, though, since PSG’s new manager Unai Emery holds him in high regard. The Argentine’s issue has mainly been staying healthy.
Simone Zaza back to Italy: 65 percent
The 25-year-old striker is the latest former Serie A player to struggle in the Premier League. At least for West Ham’s sake, they acquired him on loan with an option to buy that becomes mandated after a certain amount of games are played. Considering Zaza’s inability to score in England, it’s almost certain the Hammers would get rid of him before having to pay Juventus another €25 million. Zaza will likely return to Italy in January. He could re-join Juventus, who need more depth up front, or head to Napoli, who are looking for a reliable alternative to Arkadiusz Milik as he targets a January return following knee surgery.
Joao Cancelo to Barcelona: 35 percent
With Hector Bellerin’s agent confirming that the full-back is set to sign an extension with Arsenal, something Arsene Wenger had also previously stated, and Juventus leaning toward keeping Stephan Lichtsteiner until the end of the season and perhaps lose him for free in summer, Barcelona’s options to replace Aleix Vidal in January are dwindling. Joao Cancelo could follow Andre Gomes, who also left Valencia to join Barcelona. Both are Jorge Mendes clients, and the Blaugrana had pursued the Portuguese defender last summer.
Christian Pulisic to Liverpool in January: 10 percent
The injury to Danny Ings and Sadio Mane’s participation in the upcoming African Nations Cup have made Liverpool buyers in the January transfer window. According to various reports, Klopp is looking to his former team Borussia Dortmund, who have Christian Pulisic. Having the most exciting American player would certainly be appealing to owner John Henry. But it’s highly doubtful that Dortmund would sell Pulisic in January, so the Reds will likely have to wait for the summer to start a formal negotiation.
Milan Badelj to Chelsea: 10 percent
Since Conte’s appointment, Chelsea have been linked to numerous Serie A players. While some, such as Antonio Rudiger and Manolas, would elevate the quality of Chelsea’s squad, it’s hard to say the same for Badelj. Marcos Alonso’s former teammate at Fiorentina has also been heavily linked to Milan (his family named him after the club), whom he’s expected to sign with after his contract expires in June. Fiorentina could preemptively try to sell him in January, but it’s hard to see Chelsea making a push to acquire him.
David covers transfer news for ESPN FC and works for Gianluca Di Marzio’s website.