B/R Football Ranks Transfer Rumours: Erling Haaland, Mesut Ozil, Granit Xhaka

Dean Jones@DeanJonesBRFootball Insider at Bleacher ReportDecember 20, 2019

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 05: A dejected Mesut Ozil and Granit Xhaka of Arsenal wait to kick off after Brighton and Hove Albion score their second goal during to the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Brighton & Hove Albion at Emirates Stadium on December 05, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Visionhaus)
Visionhaus/Getty Images

As transfer season nears, we are bringing back the B/R Football Ranks column to rate and slate the big rumours in the football world.

Our secret sources have top intelligence on the inside stories, and our informants have details on the delicate dealings of talks between top clubs and superstar names.

Our aim is to cut between what's hype and what's right in order to open up the truths of this transfer window.

We dig into five potential deals to kick things off, starting at Stamford Bridge, where Chelsea's transfer ban has been lifted.

                    

Looking Likely: Nathan Ake to Chelsea

Head coach Frank Lampard is wary of making too many signings in January, but he does like the idea of bringing Nathan Ake back to the club.

The Netherlands international joined Bournemouth in 2017, but Chelsea inserted a £40 million buy-back clause into the deal and are now keen to activate it.

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BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 07: Nathan Ake of AFC Bournemouth during the Premier League match between AFC Bournemouth and Liverpool FC at Vitality Stadium on December 7, 2019 in Bournemouth, United Kingdom. (Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Image
James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

Ake is injured but would be brought back to the club to compete for a role at centre-back in the second half of the season. Chelsea's backroom team are aware of his versatility and feel he could also help them at left-back and even in midfield too when necessary.

Manchester City are also interested in the 24-year-old, but a move back to west London is looking likely at this stage. 

            

Could Happen: Merih Demiral to Leicester City

Juventus manager Maurizio Sarri has finally started to give Merih Demiral some playing time, and the defender is torn over whether he should stay or go.

Leicester City have jumped ahead of Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur in the pursuit of the Turkey international's signature, as sources believe talks are advancing.

TURIN, ITALY - DECEMBER 15: Merih Demiral of Juventus during the Serie A match between Juventus and Udinese Calcio at Allianz Stadium on December 15, 2019 in Turin, Italy. (Photo by Chris Ricco/Getty Images)
Chris Ricco/Getty Images

Demiral and his representatives are excited by the idea of joining this Leicester side, particularly because they are impressed by boss Brendan Rodgers.

Ideally, though, the 21-year-old has always wanted to stay at Juve if there were signs he could genuinely feel part of the setup. The Italian club does not want to sell him, but Leicester are going to make a big push over the next two weeks to convince them to let him leave.

         

Watch Out For: Granit Xhaka to Hertha Berlin

A new boss might not mean a new start for Arsenal's out-of-form midfielder. Granit Xhaka has struggled this season, and clubs are contacting the Gunners to discover whether he might become available.

Sources told B/R that Hertha Berlin are interested, with one insider even suggesting a representative from the German club has been in London for talks.

Xhaka, 27, has been booed by his own fans this season and it is thought he will welcome the chance to move away, even if it is just a loan deal to restore confidence.

          

Some Doubts About: Erling Haaland to Manchester United

Everyone at Old Trafford is content that the club has done everything it can to convince Erling Haaland to join Manchester United. Some are even confident it will happen, as they eye two signings in the January transfer window.

SALZBURG, AUSTRIA - DECEMBER 10: (BILD ZEITUNG OUT) Erling Braut Haaland of RB Salzburg looks on during the UEFA Champions League group E match between RB Salzburg and Liverpool FC at Red Bull Arena on December 10, 2019 in Salzburg, Austria. (Photo by TF-
TF-Images/Getty Images

But sources in Germany and Austria told B/R to remain cautious, as the 19-year-old and his representatives are not wholly convinced that moving to United is the best decision right now. They think he needs a stepping stone before putting himself under pressure in the Premier League.

RB Leipzig have the chance to strike a great deal with their sister club Red Bull Salzburg, and they have been in talks about a transfer. But Borussia Dortmund have put forward a great case too, believing they can offer the best chance to progress at this stage of Haaland's career. 

             

Not Happening: Mesut Ozil to Fenerbahce

This rumour does the rounds every time a new transfer window opens, but Mesut Ozil has always been pretty firm about the fact that he intends to see out this season at Arsenal.

The 31-year-old has already seen off a tough start to the season and outstayed Unai Emery. A move to Turkey in January is not going to happen, particularly because of the finances it would involve, even on loan.

According to sources, Ozil's intention is to find a path into Major League Soccer.

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