Ranking the Week's 20 Hottest Transfer Rumours with Mata, Dybala, Chicharito
Our transfer rumours collection is far from slowing down despite the closure of the winter window for most major European clubs; instead, we see things cranking up and turning attention toward the summer, with teams seemingly laying plans already for new players, new coaches and new ideas for how to improve.
One recurring theme we can also expect to see over the coming months is the amount of money and players linked with deals to Chinese Super League clubs—they appear this week a number of times.
The 20 rumours collected are ordered according to fee involved, reputation of the player and the size of the buying club.
20. Emmanuel Eboue
Former Arsenal right-back Emmanuel Eboue is training with Sunderland and could move on a free transfer in the coming days—if he proves his fitness.
Chronicle Live's James Hunter reported that Sam Allardyce said the deal was a "possibility," but Eboue needs to show he has the ability and fitness levels, having been without a club since last summer.
Billy Jones and DeAndre Yedlin are the Black Cats' other options in the position.
19. Ezequiel Lavezzi
Paris Saint-Germain forward Ezequiel Lavezzi had his pick of Chinese Super League clubs to move to and has decided on Hebei Huaxia Fortune, according to Marca's Mikel Sainz de Vicuna.
The Argentinian was out of contract at the end of the current season and could have seen out his deal to move on a free in Europe, but it seems he's the latest to head to China for a big-money salary.
In a separate report, De Vicuna said Luiz Adriano will be on his way from Milan to China soon.
18. Radamel Falcao
Chelsea striker Radamel Falcao has never looked like being a success in England, neither last year at Manchester United nor this season on another loan, and the Mirror's John Cross has reported his time in the Premier League could be over soon.
Unsurprisingly, it's the Chinese Super League being mentioned as his possible destination—but the difference here is that the league itself is looking to buy him.
The report indicates Falcao would be assigned to a club by the league, but his registration rights would be entirely owned by the CSL.
17. Mario Balotelli
Liverpool forward Mario Balotelli has been on loan with AC Milan this season, but his recent game time has been scuppered by injury.
Calciomercato's Lorenzo Bettoni has reported his lack of production on the field and no improvement in his work rate has meant Milan boss Sinisa Mihajlovic has decided against signing the Italian striker permanently, even though the Premier League club have dropped their asking price to around €7 million.
He has not played 90 minutes since September.
16. Pablo Zabaleta
Gazzetta Dello Sport (h/t the Mirror's David Anderson) has reported Roberto Mancini wants to be reunited with a couple of his old players from Manchester City, with right-back Pablo Zabaleta the first name on the list.
Mancini, now at Inter Milan, wants to raid the Etihad club to make the most of Pep Guardiola's entrance as head coach in the summer, when changes to the playing squad are expected to be made.
Inter have just let right-back Martin Montoya, who was on loan from Barcelona, depart early as he had not made an impact.
15. Yaya Toure
The second City player mentioned in Gazzetta's report (h/t Anderson) is Yaya Toure, with the powerful but ageing midfielder thought by many to have no future in the team under Guardiola.
Toure has at times been criticised for his lack of defensive work and having less of an impact in the final third too, but he was also sold by Guardiola from Barcelona in his younger days.
Inter are currently fourth in Serie A and chasing a UEFA Champions League berth.
14. Loic Remy
Loic Remy looks to be another Europe-based player to head to the Chinese Super League, but Simon Johnson at the Evening Standard reported Chelsea will not let the striker move until after their Champions League tie with Paris Saint-Germain and Premier League fixture against Manchester City.
Shanghai Shenhua and Hebei Fortune are the clubs said to be interested in the French forward, who has played back-up to Diego Costa this season at Chelsea.
An £11 million fee could be received by the London club, but it would leave them with only Radamel Falcao to cover for Costa.
13. Andreas Christensen
Liverpool's summer rebuild will include a move for Chelsea defender Andreas Christensen, according to the Mirror's James Whaling.
The teenage centre-back has been on loan at Borussia Monchengladbach, and the Daily Mail (h/t Mirror) reported the German club want to make the move permanent, but the Reds are ready to jump in and snare his signature instead.
Liverpool currently have six senior centre-backs, including January loan signing Steven Caulker and Tiago Ilori, who was recalled off a loan spell of his own at Aston Villa.
12. Nicolas Gaitan
Claims have been made that Manchester United made yet another offer for Nicolas Gaitan in January, with Al Ahli coach Cosmin Olaroiu reported by talkSPORT to have confirmed the news.
The UAE side are said to have outbid Manchester United in January, offering €35 million to United's €30m, but the player wanted to remain in Europe and so stayed at Benfica.
Gaitan has regularly featured for his Primeira Liga club this season and has racked up 10 assists and two goals in league play alone.
11. Marouane Fellaini
A loan move in January was turned down by the Premier League club, but the Belgian is still a priority for the Serie A side, who now want a £12 million deal once the season ends.
A sponsorship move may be necessary for the Italians to match Fellaini's £100,000-a-week salary if United will not subsidise part of the payment.
10. Wayne Rooney
Former England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson has told Swedish newspaper Expressen (h/t the Mirror's John Cross) that Wayne Rooney is a target for Chinese Super League clubs and the likes of "Ronaldo, Messi or Rooney" would be in the CSL sooner or later.
The report suggests Rooney, England's all-time record goalscorer, could earn up to £500,000 a week in the CSL, with several clubs forking out huge sums for Europe-based players over the last year or so.
Rooney has scored 14 in 31 this season for Manchester United.
9. Loris Karius
Bleacher Report Insider Dean Jones has reported Liverpool are eyeing up alternatives to first choice goalkeeping target Marc-Andre ter Stegen in summer, and Loris Karius is heading the list.
The Mainz stopper is known to Reds boss Jurgen Klopp, and his performances this season have impressed the watching Anfield hierarchy, who want competition or an outright replacement for Simon Mignolet.
Karius has kept six clean sheets in 20 Bundesliga games this season.
8. Javier Hernandez
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has identified who he wants to be his main striker for next season: former Manchester United forward Javier Hernandez.
The Mexican is also wanted by Arsenal and Bayern Munich, according to ITA Sport Press (h/t Metro), but Klopp has instructed his board—or, more probably, the transfer committee—to make their move quickly in the summer.
Hernandez has been in excellent form for Bayer Leverkusen this season.
7. Juan Mata
The Daily Mail's Neil Ashton reported Manchester United are in discussions with Jose Mourinho about taking over as boss for next season—and the Portuguese boss will begin with a "ruthless purge," which includes selling Juan Mata.
It would be the second time Mourinho has sold the Spaniard, who he let go for £37 million from Chelsea to United in 2014.
Marouane Fellaini is also mentioned as a must-sell for Mourinho.
6. Michy Batshuayi
Reports out of France suggest Tottenham Hotspur are in pole position to sign Marseille forward Michy Batshuayi.
L'Equipe (h/t Metro's Jamie Sanderson) reported Spurs are in "advanced" talks with the Ligue 1 club about signing the Belgian hotshot in the summer, with a fee of around £25 million being mentioned.
Spurs have long been looking for another striker to help Harry Kane, and Batshuayi, who is in form this season, would certainly be a big step forward in that regard.
5. Renato Sanches
Reports out of Portugal have suggested Bayern Munich will go head to head with Manchester United over the summer in an attempt to sign Benfica midfielder Renato Sanches.
A Bola (h/t talkSPORT) reported the teenager will only be snared by either if they come up with a huge £45 million deal for the 18-year-old, who only broke through into the first team earlier this season.
The same report indicated United failed with a deadline day bid for Sanches in January.
4. Gonzalo Higuain
Napoli and Argentina forward Gonzalo Higuain had a £40 million bid made ready for him in January by Chelsea—but he turned down the move over game time fears.
The Daily Mail's Sami Mokbel reported Higuain was not given assurances about being the Blues' starting striker ahead of Diego Costa and thus opted to remove any possibility of a move to the Premier League by refusing to entertain the notion he could be a back-up.
Higuain has 24 goals in as many matches in Serie A this season.
3. Blaise Matuidi
Another rumour out of France sees L'Equipe suggesting Blaise Matuidi is wanted by Chelsea (h/t the Star's Jamie Anderson) as a replacement for Ramires.
The Paris Saint-Germain midfielder is set for his fourth Ligue 1 title in a row this season, and French outlet BuzzSport has suggested £39 million could be enough to see PSG let their key man leave.
Matuidi is a first choice for the France national team, and the original L'Equipe report claimed a number of clubs are chasing his signature.
2. Paulo Dybala
Juventus' list of strikers seem to be in perpetual demand, and Paulo Dybala is likely to be the hottest name on the market this summer.
Gazzetta World has reported that Bayern Munich's soon-to-be boss Carlo Ancelotti has told the club's hierarchy that he wants the Argentinian forward in place when he joins, while Sport (h/t Gazzetta World) suggested Robert Lewandowski will be heading out at the same time as Pep Guardiola.
Dybala has 13 goals in 23 Serie A appearances this season.
1. Gareth Bale
Spanish outlet Sport is another publication that has suggested the Mourinho-to-United rumour is a certainty, and a report from LL Miguelsanz (in Spanish) said the former Chelsea boss will "torpedo" Real Madrid with his summer wishlist.
Top of his priorities is Gareth Bale, the Welsh winger who has struggled with injuries this season but has shown himself as one of the league's most effective forwards when fit and in form.
Luka Modric and Raphael Varane are also on Mourinho's wanted list, and Sport says he'll have €300 million to spend.