Football transfer rumours: Ivan Rakitic to Manchester United?

Senior university lecturers have already begun teaching students about The Richarlison Precedent, which holds that no scenario can ever confidently be dismissed as unrealistic because Barcelona supposedly once bid £85m for a player who has spent most of this season revolving around Dominic Calvert-Lewin. It is understood that one lippy undergraduate at Solent University thought they were being very clever today by countering “what about if someone reported that, having being snubbed by Everton, Barça have now turned their attention to Shane Long?” and a hush immediately descended on the auditorium.

Might that be true? Could it happen? The sharpest minds in the land are no longer sure of anything. Except, of course, that BT Sport would be better off bringing in some busker to do a saxophone solo whenever Ian Darke needs a break, rather than getting Steve McManaman to do co-comms.

Elsewhere, one outlet would have us believe that, after shelling out for Bruno Fernandes, Manchester United are poised to strengthen their midfield even further by signing Ivan Rakitic. Meanwhile, some newspapers are bringing up the name of Gareth Bale for old time’s sake. One has even suggested that talks are ongoing between Real Madrid and Daniel Levy over a possible return of the Welshman to the revamped White Hart Lane. “Talks” and “ongoing” are hardly the right words to use for a conversation to which Levy’s total contribution was presumably “how much?” and “see ya”.

Far more likely are reports that West Ham are lining up a bid for Salomon Kalou, the 34-year-old former Chelsea forward now at Hertha Berlin. That seems like exactly the sort of thing that should happen next at a club where talks are almost certainly ongoing about replacing the Forever Blowing Bubbles anthem with a recording of thousands of angry radio phone-in callers. Meanwhile, West Ham’s next opponents, Brighton, are said to be plotting a £6m move for the Chelsea defender Tariq Lamptey, who is also being courted by Lille.

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Kalou, getting back to him, is available because Hertha Berlin are about to sign the Milan striker Krzysztof Piatek, on whom Tottenham have gone cold. But they’re still hot on the Real Sociedad goleador Willian José even though his release clause is £59m. Atlético Madrid are going to make one last effort to prise Edinson Cavani from Paris Saint-Germain, who are demanding that the Spanish club increase their previous bid (£13m) by around £2m. Well, PSG do have Neymar goal bonuses to pay.

Remember that time Danny Rose said he definitely wouldn’t be leaving Tottenham in January? Neither does he, apparently. He’s now set to head for Newcastle. And Arsenal are about to nab Cédric Soares from Southampton. And finally, Everton’s attempt to “build a team around Richarlison” continue to founder, with midfielder Matías Vecino set to stay at Inter despite interest from the ambitious Goodison club.


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