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Hottest Early January Transfer Rumours

Laura GreeneFeatured Columnist IIOctober 23, 2016

Hottest Early January Transfer Rumours

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    Clive Mason/Getty Images

    The January transfer window is almost open!

    Well, nearly. There are still three months to go before the next trading period is officially upon us, but there have already been some outlandish claims about who is going where this winter.

    There have even been rumours that Manchester United have money to spend and will actually spend it.

    Speculation still surrounds Luis Suarez's exit from Anfield, Andrea Pirlo has been linked with the Premier League and Mario Balotelli has been rumoured to be on his way back to England.

    Read on for a look at some of the hottest (if craziest) early transfer talk.

     

Mario Balotelli

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    Claudio Villa/Getty Images

    The word "audacious" is reserved for rumours like this.

    The Daily Mail's Rob Shepherd reckons that Super Mario could be on his way back to the Premier League, after just a year in Serie A with AC Milan.

    The striker is being linked with Arsenal and Liverpool—the former are in need a new striker to provide cover and competition for Olivier Giroud, and the latter may need a replacement for Luis Suarez.

    Balotelli, easily one of Milan's best players, would be an asset to the Gunners, but it's very unlikely that the Italian club will let him go.

    Still, it makes for a great story.

Juan Mata

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    Michael Steele/Getty Images

    Chelsea fan or otherwise, it's hard not to feel for Juan Mata.

    One of the Premier League's most consistently impressive players in recent years, the midfielder has been largely frozen out of Jose Mourinho's plans this term.

    The Spaniard showed his ability to change a game last weekend, when he came on as a substitute in Chelsea's 1-1 draw against Tottenham Hotspur—the 25-year-old proving too tricky for Spurs' midfield and providing the pass for John Terry's headed equaliser.

    Mourinho has made no secret of his preference to use Oscar in the No. 10 role at Stamford Bridge, being quoted in the Telegraph last month as saying: "In this moment, Oscar is my No. 10 and, if somebody tells me that Oscar is not Chelsea's best player since the beginning of the season, I'd have to disagree."

    Mata played a large role in Chelsea's 0-4 win against Steaua Bucharest this week, but who knows if he'll be back in the side to face Norwich at the weekend?

    Jack de Menezes, of the Independent, has reported that Mata's former club Valencia may launch a bid for him in January, with Arsenal and Manchester United also credited with interest in the midfielder.   

     

Christian Benteke

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    David Rogers/Getty Images

    With the kind of form Christian Benteke is showing, he is never going to be far from stories linking him with a move away from Villa Park.

    The Belgian has picked up where he left off last season, scoring four goals in five Premier League outings for Paul Lambert's side.

    To the delight of Aston Villa fans, the 22-year-old signed a new contract over the summer after initially handing in a transfer request, as seen on the BBC Sport website. 

    As reported by James Dickenson in the Express, Manchester United are keen on bringing Benteke to Old Trafford.

    Elsewhere, the Daily Star claims that Arsenal are also in contention to sign the striker in the New Year.

    Benteke would be a coup for any side. Expect to see the striker linked with a number of clubs between now and 2014. 

     

Luis Suarez

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    Gareth Copley/Getty Images

    Luis Suarez does not make life easy for himself. 

    An undeniable talent, his bouts of petulance and propensity to take a bite out of opposing players makes him as much of an annoyance as he is an asset.

    Over the summer, there was a protracted case of will he, won't he leave Liverpool after the striker announced his intention to leave England for pastures new, seen here in the Guardian.

    Linked with Real Madrid after claims that he wanted to escape the British media, it wasn't long before the gossip shifted and Suarez was rumoured to be on his way to Arsenal.

    The striker believed that he had a release clause in his contract, which would have to be triggered if a club made an offer in excess of £40 million, as seen on the BBC Sport website. Unfortunately the Gunners' £40,000,001 offer didn't quite cut it with the Liverpool board, and he remained a Red.

    Despite insisting that he is happy to stay at Anfield, as reported by the Express, it wouldn't be too much of a surprise to see Suarez getting a move this summer.

    In fact, he's already been linked with a switch to Arsenal in Metro and Real Madrid in the Express.

    It's likely to develop into another tale of will he, won't he, but one thing's for sure, it's going to be one of the most-talked-about transfers this January.

     

Andrea Pirlo

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    EuroFootball/Getty Images

    The Daily Mail have recently reported that Andrea Pirlo might make a move to the Premier League or La Liga.

    You mean...the Andrea Pirlo?

    Yes. He of effortless cool, impeccable technique, amazing vision and purveyor of "Panenka" penalties, the Andrea Pirlo.

    It's highly unlikely that we will see the Italian ply his trade in the English top flight, but then a couple of years ago it seemed inconceivable that AC Milan would ever consider letting him go.

    The 34-year-old's contract runs out at the end of this season and, as reported in the Daily Mail article above, it's unknown whether Juve boss Antonio Conte will extend his current deal.

    His arrival in the Premier League would be huge, and Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham are those credited with interest in the midfielder. 

    It's an exciting prospect, no matter how far-fetched.

Stephan El Shaarawy

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    Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

    According to the Mirror's Dave Kidd, Tottenham Hotspur want to sign Stephan El Shaarawy in January.

    The 20-year-old still has over two years remaining on his current contract at AC Milan, but reports suggest that Spurs might prise him away from San Siro to help their Champions League aspirations.

    Spurs may have spent over £100 million this summer, but the club still have money to spend after selling Gareth Bale to Real Madrid.

    With 16 goals, El Shaarawy was the third-highest scorer in Serie A last season, topped only by Antonio Di Natale (23) and Edinson Cavani (29).

    At the moment, it seems like pure speculation, but, as January draws closer, gossip involving "The Pharaoh" will be worth keeping tabs on.

     

Fabio Coentrao

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    David Becker/Getty Images

    Fabio Coentrao has only played two La Liga games for Real Madrid this season, leading the Portuguese left-back to be linked with a move away from the Bernabeu.

    Reports coming out of Spain in August claimed that the 25-year-old wanted to leave Madrid, as seen in this article in the Express.

    A month later and Carlo Ancelotti insisted that Coentrao was going nowhere. As reported in the Mirror: "I know that Fabio wants to play," he said. "But not all of the technical staff agree that he should leave. He is needed for the project."

    The Express revealed that Coentrao was "reduced to tears" when he didn't get a move to Manchester United in the summer.

    TalkSPORT are reporting that David Moyes now has no interest in signing the defender, whereas Metro claim that United are set to move for the player in January.

    Elsewhere, the Daily Mail reckons that Tottenham Hotspur have Coentrao at "the top of their list" for January.

    Are you still with us? It's hard to keep up.

    It's not clear whether Coentrao will come to the Premier League this winter, but he's already proving to be one of the leading transfer stories.

Leighton Baines

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    Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

    As reported by Sam Wallace in the Independent, Leighton Baines wanted to leave Everton to join Manchester United this summer but was refused a move.

    It's fair to say that the Red Devils had a disastrous transfer window, their first in an era of new management and the first for new chief executive Ed Woodward.

    The Old Trafford side missed out on many big targets, including; Baines, Cesc Fabregas, Thiago Alcantara and Ander Herrera.

    They got their man in Marouane Fellaini, who forced through a move to Old Trafford after issuing a formal transfer request to Everton, and there's a feeling that United are not done with the Toffees just yet. 

    Goal.com's Greg Stobart is of the impression that Baines will also submit a transfer request at Goodison Park and could be a United player in January.

    The Mirror's David McDonnell also reported this week that David Moyes will have £50 million to spend on new players this winter.

    Only time will tell if Everton can hang on to Baines. Watch this space.

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