Police used riot gear and tear gas on the crowd after thousands of ticketless people turned up and were seen jumping the fence. UEFA…
In just a few short hours, the January transfer window will open for some of the biggest clubs in Europe.
The opportunity to trade players and find the missing pieces of the never-ending puzzle that is professional football will begin in earnest for EPL, Scottish Premiership, Bundesliga and Ligue 1 clubs tonight, while La Liga and Serie A involvement will commence on January 3.
The window closes on January 31 for the major European leagues yet is extended in other parts of the world, with February 10 the final day of permitted trading for Australian clubs.
As always, there is a host of talent seemingly keen on departing their current digs and moving on to greener pastures.
For some players, limited opportunity and disappointment has led to such a state of mind.
For others, poor form has seen their value plummet, with managers keen to move them on and take the short-term hit of a financial loss, in the hope that a new arrival can provide exactly what the departing player failed to deliver.
There are plenty of big fish on offer in the European winter window with Kylian Mbappe perhaps the biggest of all.
Destined to be a free transfer this summer, PSG scuppered efforts to lure him away from the French capital 12 months ago.
The rumours around Real Madrid’s interest will not go away and it appears likely that there will be movement in this space in the coming days.
Fans of Norwegian striker Erling Haaland might argue his case for being the most attractive player to potential suitors and Borussia Dortmund’s early exit from Champions League play could well see continued enquiries from right across Europe.
Barcelona’s interest appears to have been constant and I wonder whether Newcastle United might well be able to top the €70 million (A$110 million) price tag that has been reportedly placed on the 21-year-old’s head.
The entire football world knows Newcastle United is now the wealthiest club on the planet and with a team mired in the Premier League relegation zone, the chances of the club not investing heavily during the January window are simply slim and none.
Things have not worked out well for Eden Hazard at Real Madrid or Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, whose days at the Gunners appear limited at best.
Rumours of Newcastle’s interest in the Gabon international continue to circle while Hazard has also been linked to England, in a potential move that would add immense strength to any club looking to derail Manchester City’s charge towards another EPL title this season.
Manchester United’s Anthony Martial has reportedly been on the radar of big clubs in Spain, Italy and a few English rivals and the ‘will he or won’t he’ saga around a potential move for Jesse Lingard back to West Ham United may well play out over the coming weeks.
With new management and a fan-base still furious at just how low their club has sunk on the pecking order, expect significant moves at Old Trafford and any potential departures such as Martial and Lingard to be well and truly compensated for with significant new signings.
Despite rumours to the contrary, Tottenham manager Antonio Conte appears confident both Tanguy Ndombele and Harry Winks will remain at the London club, while Juventus are not likely to let Swede Dejan Kulusevski go for anything less than a reported €29.4 million (A$46 million), a price tag both Arsenal and Tottenham appear to be considering.
Jose Mourinho has high hopes of acquiring Ainsley Maitland-Niles from Arsenal and Chelsea are in desperate need of reinforcements, with AC Milan defender Theo Hernandez apparently near the top of their wish list.
There also appears to be big changes afoot at Barcelona, with Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele unhappy and looking for new challenges.
It is hard to believe that all of the above is just the tip of the January transfer window iceberg.
In a few short hours the fun will begin and football fans right across Europe will be hoping their club gains exactly what they need to improve.
At the same time, clubs will also be hopeful of moving on players no longer in the long-term plans of the manager.
Doing so at the best price and attracting the right players are the keys to a successful transfer window. Getting both right is vital in the cut and thrust world of modern football.
Follow The Roar daily for all the transfer window updates, rumours and completed deals.