Monday's newspapers are full of fallout from Sunday's matches, but there is a smattering of transfer gossip—with the opening of the January transfer window less than 48 hours away.
The big news comes from Manchester, where reports suggest that David Moyes has finally identified the midfielder he really wants to bolster his squad at Old Trafford.
There are also reports on two players Real Madrid are chasing, along with further news surrounding the managerial vacancy at Cardiff and much more.
So click on for the penultimate paper gossip of 2013.
The Manchester Evening News reports that Manchester United have made Everton midfielder Ross Barkley their No. 1 January transfer priority, and will offer £50 million to ensure both club and player know how serious their interest is.
United's need for additional midfield reinforcement has been well-documented ever since the summer transfer window closed, and it seems David Moyes has decided that Barkley is the player he needs.
However, the MEN warns that there are many likely obstacles to an immediate deal.
The local paper reports:
Roberto Martinez insists that not even a Gareth Bale-sized bid of £86m would be enough to prise the 20-year-old away from Goodison Park—but the Merseysiders are bracing themselves for a host of big-money offers in January.
United—who made a last-ditch attempt to sign Bale before his summer move to Real Madrid—do not want to miss out on another superstar of British football.
They believe a bid of £50m will be enough to get Everton around the negotiating table—but the Premier League champions also know there will be plenty of bridge-building if there is any chance of a deal being done.
That came after Moyes had already made the switch from Goodison to Old Trafford to succeed Sir Alex Ferguson.
The bid was described as ‘derisory and insulting’ by Everton at the time, with United eventually having to pay £27.5m for Fellaini in a last gasp deadline day deal.
They do not want to risk antagonising Toffees chairman Bill Kenwright further—but do want to register their interest in English football’s most exciting prospect.
If a move for Barkley proves as problematic as anticipated, the MEN believes that United will pursue other long-term targets—with Ander Herrera, Koke, Wesley Sneijder and Ilkay Gundogan all named as alternative options.
Ashley Cole is a target for Real Madrid in the January transfer window, according to the Daily Express.
The newspaper believes that, with Real looking to offload Fabio Coentrao when the window opens, Real manager Carlo Ancelotti will try to raid his former club for Cole—believing the England international will be receptive to a move to the Spanish club.
The Express reports:
The Chelsea veteran, 33, is wanted by Real manager Carlo Ancelotti, who is prepared to discuss a short-term deal with the player he knows well from his spell in charge at Stamford Bridge.
Ancelotti—bracing himself to lose his current left-back Fabio Coentrao, who is unsettled—believes Cole is still capable of playing at the highest level and would get him cheaply in the January transfer window or on a free in the summer when his contract runs out.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho is anxious to bring in Southampton left-back Luke Shaw—also a target for Manchester United—but has been quoted a price of £35 million. Chelsea are hoping to broker an agreement at a reduced fee of around £20 million which would then push Cole down the pecking order.
Meanwhile, the Daily Telegraph reports that Real have also focused their attention on Paulinho—with Tottenham braced for a bid for the Brazilian midfielder.
The Brazilian international only joined Spurs last summer, in a £17 million deal, but has already attracted the interest of Real coach Carlo Ancelotti.
Spurs have had to deal with losing Luka Modric and then, of course, Gareth Bale, for a world-record £85 million to Real and would resist any attempt to sign Paulinho.
The 25-year-old is settled in London and is unlikely to want to seek a move but the draw of joining Real will be hard to resist should a bid be tabled.
It had been expected that Real would wait until the summer before bidding for Paulinho but Ancelotti is aware that there is interest from other European clubs to sign him.
Liverpool are looking at Udinese's Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu as they search for midfield additions in the January transfer window, according to Metro.
Glowing scouting reports on the Ghana international have drawn Reds manager Brendan Rodgers' attention, with the manager weighing up a move once the window reopens.
At around £7 million, the versatile player would be a relatively inexpensive but valuable addition.
The 23-year-old is rising star in Serie A and has been personally recommended to Rodgers by his European scouts.
Liverpool have been informed of the player’s desire to play in the Premier League, and are now planning a £7 million bid.
Agyemang-Badu can play in both midfield and defence, meaning he would provide valuable cover as Rodgers’ men chase Champions League football.
Arsenal and Tottenham have both previously scouted the player, who is famed for his powerful and aggressive approach.
Cardiff continue to pursue Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as their preferred candidate to fill the vacant manager's position, but will look to another former Manchester United player if necessary, reports the Daily Mail.
The Mail claims that Blackpool boss Paul Ince is also on the Bluebirds' radar, should Solskjaer continue to delay a decision on the opening.
The Mail reports:
Cardiff City have not given up on appointing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as their next manager, but are preparing to move for Blackpool’s Paul Ince in the event that the former Manchester United striker rules himself out.
Sir Alex Ferguson has reportedly told the Norwegian to steer clear of the club and its owner, Vincent Tan, after three months of chaos finally led to the departure of Malky Mackay last Friday.
But Sportsmail understands that Cardiff chairman Mehmet Dalman is planning to hold further talks with the Molde manager’s representatives today in an attempt to convince him to move to south Wales.
On Dalman, the paper adds:
He admitted he had 'only one candidate in mind' and, when pushed if contact had been made with Solskjaer, whose contract expires in the summer, he said: 'I might have and I might not have.'
Ince has emerged as a contender for the post, with sources close to Tan confirming he is a possibility. However, no approach has yet been made to Blackpool.
Another manager rumoured to be in the running is former Chelsea defender Dan Petrescu, who is currently in charge of Dynamo Moscow and was recently in contention for the job at Crystal Palace. Sources on both sides have ruled out Sven Goran Eriksson.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has suggested he could end his career at Celtic, according to Metro.
The same paper reports that controversial Cardiff City owner Vincent Tan has told his staff to only sign players with eight in their birthdate in the January transfer window.
West Brom forward Nicolas Anelka faces a minimum five-match ban for his controversial celebration against West Ham, as reported by the Daily Mail.
The Times (subscription required) writes that Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has made it clear he will not try to sign Yohan Cabaye in January, having seen his interest fall flat in the summer.
Hull are still keen on West Brom striker Shane Long and will offer £6.5 million once the transfer window opens, according to the Daily Mirror.
The Daily Mail reports that Gabriel Obertan's days at Newcastle might be numbered, as the winger stormed out on Sunday after being informed he would not be in the matchday squad against Arsenal.