Believability Meter on the Week's Biggest Rumours: Isco, Caceres, Sandro Ramirez
January gossip has been gathering for months and now, finally, the winter transfer window is here, but can any of the current speculation be believed?
Over the following pages, we look at some of the biggest rumours of the week, including Isco's repeated links with Manchester City, Martin Caceres' connections with Liverpool, plus the latest talk surrounding Tottenham Hotspur's interest in Sandro Ramirez.
Read on for more.
Adnan Januzaj: An Early Return to Old Trafford?
Adnan Januzaj could be on his way back to Manchester United sooner than expected, claimed Toby Gannon in the Sun.
The 20-year-old joined Borussia Dortmund on a season-long loan over the summer but has made just six appearances in the Bundesliga for Thomas Tuchel's side.
After being spotted by Bleacher Report's Paul Ansorge at Old Trafford during United’s recent 0-0 draw against Chelsea, speculation linking the young Belgian with a return has increased.
As Gannon reported, "Adnan Januzaj could be coming home to Old Trafford early to salvage under-fire boss Louis van Gaal's season and job at Manchester United."
Januzaj has completed just two 90-minute performances for Dortmund—both in the Europa League—since his arrival at Signal Iduna Park.
In BVB's last four league outings, the winger was left on the bench twice and did not make Tuchel's squad for the games against Eintracht Frankfurt and Cologne.
His contract with United is set to run until 2018.
Believability Meter: Low to Medium
When Adnan Januzaj was shipped off to Dortmund, most assumed we'd see more of the youngster who managed to start just eight Premier League games under Louis van Gaal since the Dutchman's arrival at Old Trafford in 2014.
Little over four months later, with no Bundesliga starts to his name, his future is up for discussion.
Januzaj plays in the same position, primarily, as BVB's Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Jonas Hofmann. With only three defeats so far and second in the table going into their winter break, Dortmund are having a great season. Forcing your way into a winning side, as a newcomer, is never easy.
It's worth pointing out that Hofmann has just been sold to Borussia Monchengladbach, which may open up more opportunities for Januzaj in the second half of the season. With Van Gaal still at United's helm, there is the danger that if he did return, he still wouldn't play.
This one really could go either way. Our believability meter is hovering somewhere between low and medium.
Leroy Sane: Schalke to Manchester City
Schalke's Leroy Sane has emerged as a prime target for Manchester City, according to Bild (h/t Jamie Jackson and Fabrizio Romano in the Guardian).
It seems City are hoping to pay less than the €40 million (£32 million) the Bundesliga side is expecting for the attacking midfielder.
As reported in the Guardian:
City have been monitoring Sane since December 2013 and have now stepped up their interest. Txiki Begiristain, the sporting director, would hope to seal the transfer in January but the summer is considered a more realistic prospect.
Sane is contracted to Schalke until June 2019 after signing fresh terms in July, putting the German club in a strong position with regard to any bargaining. Horst Heldt, Schalke's general manager, said on Wednesday that they will resist any approaches for the player who has scored four times in the Bundesliga this season.
‘We don't want to sell him and Leroy doesn't want to leave the club,' Heldt told the German newspaper Bild. 'Even Man City haven’t got that much money.'
Elsewhere, Sane has also been described as a top target for Liverpool by Jonathan Green in the Daily Star. However, in that report, the player's agent, Jurgen Milewski, is said to have ruled out a January move.
The 19-year-old has a return of four goals and four assists from his 17 Bundesliga performances this term, with an additional one of each across five Europa League games.
Sane made his debut for Germany in November, in a friendly against France.
Believability Meter: Low
Manchester City’s interest in Leroy Sane appears genuine, and an asking price in the region of £32 million is unlikely to deter the moneyed Premier League club.
In the past, we've seen Schalke hold onto young, highly rated players such as Julian Draxler for season after season despite relentless transfer gossip.
We get the feeling Horst Heldt is ready to play hardball over Sane too.
Will we see him in the English top flight before 2016 is out? Quite possibly. But a summer switch is the most likely option.
Felipe Anderson a £45M Target for Manchester United
Manchester United remain keen on bringing Lazio's Felipe Anderson to Old Trafford, with talk of a £45 million bid in the offing.
The Brazilian has long been linked with Louis van Gaal's side, and this week the rumours returned in La Repubblica (h/t the Telegraph):
Anderson, a fast operator in midfield or out wide on the wing, joined the Serie A club in 2013 from Santos and would command a fee of around £45 million.
Louis van Gaal, the under pressure manager at Old Trafford, is believed to have identified James Rodriguez as his main target during the January transfer window, however Real Madrid appear unwilling to sell their Colombia international.
United have been monitoring the Brazil international and are reportedly now prepared to meet the Serie A club's demands.
Elsewhere, MailOnline's Oliver Todd suggested Lazio value the player at £35 million.
Anderson has featured in every Serie A game for Stefano Pioli's side this term. He is under contract at Stadio Olimpico until 2020.
Believability Meter: Medium
Over the summer he pledged his future to Lazio, per Football Italia, and he also inked a five-year contract extension, but the rumours connecting Felipe Anderson with Manchester United just won't go away.
Like many transfer targets linked with a move to Old Trafford these days, this one may turn out to be nothing more than gossip and Anderson's pledges to remain in Rome could turn out to be heartfelt.
However, there is the sense Lazio may find it difficult to say no to an offer for the 22-year-old, whose price tag seems to be hurtling north by the day.
Liverpool Chasing Martin Caceres
Liverpool would like to sign Juventus defender Martin Caceres, according to Don Balon (h/t Liam Corless in the Mirror).
The report suggested Jurgen Klopp's side have already made a bid for the 28-year-old's services and noted that Inter Milan and Fenerbahce are also said to be keen on the player.
Caceres signed for Juventus in 2012 following two loan spells at the club while at Barcelona and Sevilla. He has since made 104 appearances for the Italian side.
The Uruguay international will be out of contract next summer.
Believability Meter: Medium
Benched five times and out injured for long spells this season, Martin Caceres has played just 180 minutes of Serie A football in 2015/16.
It was a similar story last term, when—despite starting Juve's first three league games—the centre-back's campaign was derailed through injury and he managed to clock up just 14 outings in all competitions.
A fantastic and versatile defender, albeit one with a patchy fitness record, Liverpool could do a lot worse than signing a player of Caceres' talents. But we remain skeptical that they are ready to bring in a player who has been crocked so much of late.
Already into the final six months of his contract in Turin, he is free to talk to other clubs in January. And with Daniele Rugani breaking into the first team, not to mention Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli, Juve do have options.
Our believability meter wants to give a high reading, but Caceres' injury record is making us think twice about the likelihood of a winter move.
Manchester City Targeting Real Madrid's Isco
Manchester City are preparing a £32 million bid for Real Madrid's Isco, according to Charlie Wyett in the Sun.
The Spain international is said to be unsettled at the Bernabeu. Manuel Pellegrini, his former manager when at Malaga, is reportedly ready to take advantage.
In La Liga, Isco has started nine games so far this term, making 13 appearances, providing three assists and one goal.
In the Champions League, the 23-year-old started every fixture in Group A, notching five assists.
His contract is set to expire in 2018.
Believability Meter: Low
Another transfer window, another case of Isco wanting out of Madrid. We are back in familiar territory.
Said to be unhappy with his lack of playing time under Carlo Ancelotti less than a year after signing for Madrid in February 2014, per Goal, 2015 quotes relayed by Marca's Miguel Serrano suggested more of the same: "After so many months of playing everything and then out of the blue not even getting a game...how do I feel? I wouldn't say hurt, I'd say very unhappy."
Now reports indicate Ancelotti's replacement, Rafael Benitez, has lost faith in Isco following "incidents of misbehavior," per Football Espana.
The links with Manchester City have resurfaced because of the fact Pellegrini and Isco know each other well from their days at La Rosaleda and, of course, the club's financial muscle sees them connected with all manner of players.
However, Pellegrini's future at City is also anything but clear, and with players such as Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva already there, does the club actually need Isco?
The bottom line is we can't see Madrid agreeing to let him leave in January. It feels like it is going to be a big summer of ins and outs and contract negotiations at the Bernabeu, and we imagine we will see Isco depart post-Euro 2016, not before.
Tottenham Hotspur to Move for Sandro Ramirez
Tottenham Hotspur could move for Barcelona's Sandro Ramirez to bolster their forward line.
The north London club need backup for striker Harry Kane, and after being linked with West Bromwich Albion's Saido Berahino for much of the season, it seems attentions have now shifted to the Camp Nou.
As reported by Adrian Kajumba in the Mirror:
Spurs are understood to have held talks with Barcelona and the player, who can play wide or up front, about a January switch.
He has an £8.8m buyout clause in his contract—a fee Barca may be prepared to reduce if Spurs agree to include a buyback clause in any deal they strike for Sandro.
The 20-year-old has made four starts in La Liga so far in 2015/16, with two in the Champions League. Yet to score in either of those competitions this term, Sandro has notched three goals for Barcelona in this season's Copa del Rey.
The Spain under-21 international is under contract with Barcelona until 2017.
Believability Meter: Medium to High
Barcelona are not averse to selling the bright, young talents who can't get into their starting XI. They have also been known to favour inserting buy-back clauses into the contracts of these outgoing young stars, reserving the right to change their mind.
Everton's Gerard Deulofeu is one such example. As is Villarreal's Denis Suarez and Aston Villa's Adama Traore.
Exactly the kind of player Spurs need and, according to the gossip, seemingly available, we can see Sandro becoming the latest player to join that list.
Adrien Rabiot on His Way to Arsenal
Adrien Rabiot could be on his way to Arsenal, claimed Buzz Sport (h/t Aaron Flanagan in the Mirror) this week:
The midfielder has been heckled by Paris Saint-Germain fans after reportedly requesting a move away from the French capital early last month.
And with Arsenal lurking, they could complete the move for the hot shot, who is valued at around £15million.
In December, the Mirror’s James Whaling relayed quotes from Telefoot in which Rabiot spoke about his future:
I've asked the president for a loan move in January if my time on the field is insufficient. It’s something that he can’t refuse me—I know he likes me very much.
When you train all week, you want to be on the field. Sometimes it’s not possible and it’s frustrating. Paris is my city. It’s great to play here. If I could impose myself here, it would be brilliant. I would be ready to play my whole career at PSG if I was a starter. I would see things differently, that’s for sure.
Meanwhile, in Metro, Jamie Sanderson credited Tottenham, West Ham United, Inter Milan and Juventus with interest in the 20-year-old.
Rabiot, who came through the club's youth system, is under contract at Parc des Princes until 2019.
Believability Meter: Low
Euro 2016 is on the horizon, Adrien Rabiot has been vocal about his need for game time, the Parisians are well-stocked in central midfield and there's plenty of reported interest in the player.
All the ingredients for a move are there, but it looks like the Frenchman read the situation very, very badly when he spoke out about a January loan. We'd be very surprised if PSG sanctioned an exit. As club president Nasser Al-Khelaifi told Le Figaro (h/t ESPN FC):
I was very disappointed—I said it to his face. His statements are unacceptable. I didn't appreciate at all that he declared that a loan would be a Christmas present. It's a complete lack of respect toward his first club who did so much for him. ...
The club will always be more important than any player. He's a big talent. My dream is that he might become captain of PSG one day. But he has to respect the club, the coach and his teammates.
He's part of the PSG family and he should respect it. He understood the message. He'll be there at 100 per cent in January.
Despite the speculation, which will continue throughout January, PSG will ensure Rabiot goes nowhere this winter.
All player and contract information comes from Transfermarkt unless otherwise indicated.