Football news - Paper Round: Chelsea close in on Higuain deal
Chelsea could sign Gonzalo Higuain, bring in two midfielders and send Willian to Barcelona, while the Catalans are eyeing a return for Neymar.
Chelsea confident over Higuain
Chelsea are confident that they will bring in AC Milan striker Gonzalo Higuain in the winter transfer window. They are discussing with both Milan and his parent club Juventus, over a short-term move. The deal is expected to be completed for the 31-year-old Argentine forward, who would replace the underwhelming Alvaro Morata, report the Sun.
Gonzalo HiguainGetty Images
Paper Round’s view: Chelsea have underwhelmed in the last two months as their Premier League title chase has fallen away, but if they don’t soon arrest their slump then their Champions League place could be in danger. Ordinarily, a loan move for a foreign striker carries with it some risks, but Maurizio Sarri’s experience with Higuain should help the transition.
Barcelona bid for Willian
While Chelsea may bring in Higuain for the second half of the season, they could also see players leave Stamford Bridge. Willian has been the subject of a bid from Barcelona, and they could find their way to signing the 30-year-old Brazilian winger. A bid of Barca forward Malcom plus around £12 million could be enough to convince Chelsea to sell a player with 18 months left on his deal, according to the Evening Standard.
Willian of Chelsea arrives at the stadium prior to the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Chelsea FC at Selhurst Park on December 30, 2018 in London, United KingdomGetty Images
Paper Round’s view: Chelsea are a club run with one eye on the balance sheet, and that has kept them in line with Financial Fair Play regulations. This might be a perfect deal for them: As reliable as Willian is, they would break even on his transfer fee while bringing in a young, promising player who at the very least would have a healthy resale value in a couple of years.
Chelsea consider Fabregas replacement
In yet more Chelsea news, the Telegraph reports that they have lined up two deals to replace Cesc Fabregas, who will likely finish his career in Monaco. Chelsea have agreed deals for Cagliari’s Nicolo Barella and Zenit St Petersburg’s Leandro Paredes, but they may ultimately elect to bring nobody in instead. Additionally, Chelsea could send Michy Batshuayi on loan to Monaco.
Cesc Fabregas of Chelsea acknowledges the fans after the FA Cup Third Round match between Chelsea and Nottingham Forest at Stamford Bridge on January 5, 2019 in London, United Kingdom.Eurosport
Paper Round’s view: Batshuayi seems unlikely to ever get a decent chance at Chelsea, so now is the time that he moves on to somewhere for the long term, and he had success on the French south coast with Marseille before. As for a midfield replacement for Fabregas, there is nobody else to pick up the slack for that role unless Sarri thinks he can develop Ruben Loftus-Cheek.
Neymar could return to Barcelona
Barcelona could bring Paris Saint-Germain striker Neymar back to Spain, according to their director Pep Segura. When asked about the chance of a return for the Brazilian international, the Express report him as saying: “If one day there is a possibility, does anyone believe that a club like Barca does not have to consider it? In the case of Neymar and anyone, we must give our partners the best."
Neymar Getty Images
Paper Round’s view: While the manner of Neymar’s departure was embarrassing for Barcelona, they are essentially pragmatic - they want the best players who are available. Bringing him back would have to be handled sensitively but it would hardly be impossible, given the player is reportedly keen to return, and PSG need to meet FFP obligations.