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Transfer rumours: Benitez whines over Digne departure, Bale's retirement ever more likely and City responds after Haaland disappointment

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Expert
8th January, 2022
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While many of the winter transfers to this point have been players lured to the English Premier League, clubs across broader Europe are also continuing to cast their nets in the search for talent.

Atlético Madrid is one such club, with a replacement desperately sought for Kieran Trippier. Arsenal defender Cédric Soares is the player the Spanish club has identified as perfect to fill the void.

Udinese are also on the hunt for depth, with an offer made to Celtic’s Stephen Welsh. The Italians are hopeful of a loan deal with a permanent move somewhere down the track, while the Scottish giants are reluctant to let the quality defender leave.

In one of the worst-kept secrets in football, Everton manager Rafael Benitez has confirmed that defender Lucas Digne has explicitly stated he wishes to leave Merseyside and seek opportunities elsewhere. The host of clubs interested in his services will now push even harder to establish the terms of a deal that bring him to their club, with Chelsea, West Ham, and, you guessed it, Newcastle United in the hunt to secure his signature.

Rather childishly, Benitez has suggested that Digne has placed his personal prospects above that of the club, something he or any other manager would, of course, never ever do.

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Philippe Coutinho’s arrival at Aston Villa has been greeted with much fanfare and despite reportedly taking a considerable pay cut to leave Spain for England, Steve Gerrard has a £33 million option to secure the Brazilian on a permanent deal in the summer.

Should Coutinho produce anything like the form of which he is capable, the Birmingham club will likely act on the option and secure a player more than capable of helping Villa improve dramatically as a team over the next 12 months.

Barcelona's Phil Coutinho

(AP Photo/Joan Monfort)

Former Liverpool champion Georginio Wijnaldum has expressed clear interest in returning to the Premier League, with Paris Saint-Germain likely to set him free after the Dutchman failed to set the world on fire in Paris.

Although, without a new deal on the table, the options begin to dry up for the 31-year-old and Welsh international Gareth Bale finds himself in a similar position at Real Madrid, with sad talk of a potential retirement now entering the narrative around a player who has seen his talent wasted and underused over much of the last half-decade.

Should Wales qualify for the 2022 World Cup, Bale is apparently ready for one last hoorah in national colours, with a move to Cardiff City or Swansea on the cards should he need to maintain fitness levels and sharpness in the lead-up to the tournament. Alternatively, should Wales flounder in their effort to qualify, the football world may well have seen the last of the talented, yet sadly unfulfilled, Gareth Bale.

Liverpool have thrown their hat in the ring for a potential January signing of Villarreal attacker Arnaut Danjuma, with the intention to cover the losses of Sadio Mané and Mohamed Salah while the star duo are away on African Cup of Nations duty.

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Jurgen Klopp is apparently well aware of the danger presented by the absence of two of his biggest stars and with the battle for Champions League spots in the Premier League well and truly alive, he is obviously prepared to take no risks when it comes to securing a spot at the elite level next season.

While Manchester City appear to have dipped out of contention for the signature of Erling Haaland over the last few days, the club has quickly moved on to other target. Spain appears to be the ultimate destination for the Norwegian star, with a ferocious fight between Real Madrid and Barcelona brewing over the coming weeks for the most prized signature in football.

After previously showing interest in England captain Harry Kane, rumours are abound that City’s purse strings could now allow another dip at one of the biggest fish in the Premier League pond.

Similarly, sheer money could interest Serbian striker Dušan Vlahović, a man wanted by all and sundry across Europe and a little whisper around the club’s interest in Atlético Madrid’s João Félix has also emerged in the last 24 hours.

Should the almost certain 2021-22 Premier League champions land Vlahović, Arsenal fans will hit the proverbial roof after feeling certain the Fiorentina man was the ideal replacement for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang this transfer window.

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In news that came through late Saturday afternoon, Everton has firmed as a serious contender for the signature of Alexis Sánchez, who appears keen to leave Inter Milan and test himself at the age of 33 with his third Premier League club.

It seems an odd one for the Toffees to pursue, yet struggling in 15th on the ladder, it is clear that the men charged with representing the club currently are in dire need of some competition and reinforcement.

The action continues to heat up during the winter transfer window and all the rumours, updates and done deals will be covered here on The Roar over the remainder of the weekend.

Be sure to stick around and stay abreast of all the latest moves.

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