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Last-minute shopping for new players

2018-01-28 06:04
Antonio Conte (Getty)

Johannesburg - With the transfer window closing in just three days, a number of top clubs are still scrambling to add some new blood to their squads.

Chelsea are reportedly looking for a commanding striker as manager Antonio Conte looks to give struggling Álvaro Morata some support in attack.

The striker started well at Stamford Bridge, but has recently had to endure some tough times.

With just three strikes in his past 15 appearances and a sending off that Conte described as “stupid” in a recent win against Norwich City, the Italian is seeking a big number nine.

Besides Morata’s poor form, the reasoning seems simple: Chelsea lead the league for most headed goals and are also in the top five in terms of crosses.

Links with the often injured Andy Carroll and 37-year-old Peter Crouch reeked of desperation, but now Roma’s Edin Džeko seems to be the primary target.

However, higher profile transfers could take place before Wednesday.

English ­betting company Ladbrokes has listed Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale with 14/1 odds of signing for Manchester United.

Ronaldo is Real’s leading goal scorer and, with the club having a torrid time in the 2017/18 season, he might feel it is time to return to his old stomping grounds at Old Trafford.

Similarly, Bale has been unable to win over the Los Blancos faithful despite helping Real secure three Uefa Champions League successes in three seasons, and he is probably eager for a new challenge.

League leaders Manchester City are also on the prowl for even more talent as Lille’s Boubakary Soumaré, described in some quarters as the “new Paul Pogba”, is reportedly on their radar.

With John Stones taking time to adjust to City’s expansive style in playing out from the back, the Citizens are also monitoring Barcelona centre-back Samuel Umtiti.

The 24-year-old is said to have a £55 million (R931 million) release clause in his contract.

Arsenal are also in rebuilding mode after Alexis Sánchez, Theo Walcott and Francis Coquelin left the club.

Manager Arsène Wenger is said to be looking at exciting Lyon forward Nabil Fekir, as well as experienced Sevilla holding midfielder Steven N’Zonzi.

In addition, Borussia Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is the club’s number one target, ­although negotiations have stalled over a ­reported £50 million asking price.

However, the Gabon star is widely expected to swap Signal Iduna Park for the Emirates before the transfer window slams shut.

It also appears as if Paris Saint-Germain’s Lucas Moura is set to join Tottenham ­Hotspur.

The 25-year-old recently toured the club’s facilities.

The Brazil star is out of favour due to the French giant possessing the likes of Neymar, Kylian Mbappé and Edinson Cavani in attack.

Meanwhile, Monaco’s Thomas Lemar, who was dropped from the squad by boss Leonardo Jardim after losing to Lyon, is close to penning a deal with Liverpool.

The versatile attacking midfielder is said to be on the verge of finalising the terms of his contract. – TEAMtalk Media

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