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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Manchester City linked with move for Barcelona midfielder Rakitic

Craig Burley digs into the latest January transfer rumours with Ivan Rakitic's link to Man City headlining.

The winter transfer window is now in full swing! As usual, Transfer Talk has its finger on the pulse when it comes to which rumours are picking up steam. Check out all the latest deals here.

TOP STORY: Is Guardiola targeting Rakitic?

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is ready to return to his old club to sign midfielder Ivan Rakitic, according to multiple reports.

Rakitic was left out of Barcelona's squad for Sunday's La Liga trip to Villarreal, with the Croatia international in and out of the team in recent weeks having been an ever-present since signing from Sevilla in 2014.

The Star says he could now be heading for City in a £42 million move despite interest from rivals Manchester United.

Croatian newspaper Jutarnji List reports that Guardiola wants to bring in the 28-year-old after losing Germany international Ilkay Gundogan to injury, having decided he is his "preferred choice."

Barca boss Luis Enrique moved to play down speculation following Sunday's draw with Villarreal, saying "information which comes out in the media is not even 25 percent reliable."

And on Monday, Sky Sports reported that its sources did not believe City would table an imminent offer for the player.

LIVE BLOG

22.26 GMT: That's going to do it for this live edition of Transfer Talk. Thanks very much for joining us, and please check back in just a few short hours when we return with the best gossip pulled from Tuesday's back pages.

22.21 GMT: West Ham have been linked with a move for Chelsea striker Michy Batshuayi on loan this month, Sky Sports reports. The Hammers made a £31 million bid to Marseille for the player during the summer transfer window, but he moved to the Blues on a deal worth £33m. Now, he finds himself out of favour with the Premier League leaders under Antonio Conte.

22.02 GMT:  DONE DEAL Sporting Kansas City has completed the signing of Latif Blessing from Liberty Professionals of the Ghana Premier League on a contract that will keep him with the Major League Soccer club until 2019.

21.46 GMT: A loan deal for Bayern Munich defender Holger Badstuber could be on the cards for Manchester City, according to the Express. The Germany international could be a good option for Pep Guardiola if Vincent Kompany suffers yet another injury setback before the transfer window comes to a close.

21.35 GMT: Real Madrid youngster Martin Odegaard is on the verge of a loan move to Heerenveen of the Eredivisie, the Mirror reports.

The 18-year-old has no direct route to first-team football under Zinedine Zidane and has made just one La Liga appearance since joining the team in 2015, a 7-3 rout of Getafe in May 2015. He also played the full 90 minutes in Los Blancos' Copa del Rey victory over Cultural Leonesa this past November.

21.16 GMT: DONE DEAL Belgrano have completed the loan signing of Portland Timbers' attacker Lucas Melano, who joins the club until Dec. 2017.

20.55 GMT:  DONE DEAL Giovanni van Bronckhorst has signed a new contract to stay on as Feyenoord boss, the club announced on Monday. The new deal ties him to the team until mid-2019.

20.36 GMT: Giovani and Jonathan dos Santos to join forces on the LA Galaxy? Sources have told ESPN FC that the Major League Soccer club is in serious pursuit of the Villarreal midfielder, Giovani's younger brother, to take up one of two open Designated Player spots following the departures of Steven Gerrard and Robbie Keane.

Olympique Marseille winger Romain Alessandrini is also said to be on LA's radar.

20.16 GMT: Alexandre Lacazette has been linked with Arsenal for quite some time, but the Express reports that Liverpool and West Ham are also in the mix.

Lyon president Jean Michel Aulas has said that a number of big-money offers have been made for the player this month alone, ranging from £35-60 million. Will he finally make a move?

20.00 GMT: DONE DEAL We've got another completed transfer in Major League Soccer! The Philadelphia Union have announced the signing of Jay Simpson as a Discovery Signing using Targeted Allocation Money.

Arsenal product Simpson has played for six clubs in England, most recently Leyton Orient, where he scored 25 goals in 45 league appearances in 2015-16.

19.36 GMT: Arsenal legend Sol Campbell has weighed in on Mesut Ozil's contract talks following the Germany international's comments suggesting his decision to sign an extension could depend on Arsene Wenger's future at the club.

"Like any top player Ozil wants to play with the manager who signed him," said Campbell to Sky Sports, "It's nice to keep that continuity going with the same manager."

19.20 GMT: ICYMI, Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez has said that he does not plan to leave Bayer Leverkusen in January.

"Why I want to stay in Bundesliga? Because I feel content and I am happy. It's a nice experience to play in Bundesliga," said the Mexico international from his team's winter training camp in Orlando, Florida. "I have learned a lot: As a footballer and as a person."

18.52 GMT: Swansea are on the verge of completing a deal for Michy Batshuayi's brother, Aaron Leya Iseka, according to the Express. The Anderlecht forward would take the place of Fernando Llorente amid reports of the Spaniard's move to Chelsea.

18.30 GMT: Stoke have reopened negotiations with West Brom for the transfer of Saido Berahino, the Telegraph reports.

Berahino, 23, has been offered a new deal worth £60,000 a week by West Brom, despite the fact that he has failed to make a first-team appearance since September. His current contract runs out at the end of the season, but the club hope to persuade him to stay amid interest from Mark Hughes' team. 

18.12 GMT: DONE DEAL Derby County have secured the transfer of Middlesbrough striker David Nugent on a two-and-a-half-year contract for an undisclosed fee.

17.50 GMT: Patrice Evra's imminent Manchester United return is looking more likely by the minute, with Juventus already lining up a bid for Schalke left-back Sead Kolasinac to take his place, according to Italian outlet CalcioMercato.

17.27 GMT: After scoring two goals in his last two Premier League games, 35-year-old Peter Crouch has been handed a new contract by Stoke City...

17.14 GMT: Over in the Championship, Aston Villa are set to offer Barnsley £4 million for right-back James Bree, The Sun reports.

16.49 GMT: Manchester United and Arsenal are all set to end up rather disappointed, so says the Daily Mirror. The two clubs have been tracking Red Bull Salzburg defender Dayot Upamecano but both are to be beaten to his signature by Salzburg's sister club RB Leipzig.

16.33 GMT: Is Chelsea midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek set for a loan move away from Stamford Bridge this month? Not if Antonio Conte has anything to do with it, according to the Daily Mail. Watford, Middlesbrough and Swansea City are all apparently interested in the 20-year-old, but Conte wants him to stay put.

16.08 GMT: News of a DONE DEAL from Scotland where Rangers have completed the loan signing of Emerson Hyndman from Bournemouth until the end of the season...

15.50 GMT: Nathan Ake has plans to force his way into Antonio Conte's first team at Chelsea after being recalled early from his loan spell at Bournemouth. "The ambition now is to continue to improve and break into the team at Chelsea," he told Bournemouth's official website. "It's a great team and the manager there has given me a lot of confidence, so it's something I'm looking forward to."

15.34 GMT: Hull City have been linked with a loan move for Everton forward Oumar Niasse, but manager Marco Silva has refused to be drawn on the reports. "We will see,'' the Hull boss said. "I will only talk about transfers, about new players, only when these players sign for the club. If it is true or not, it is impossible for me to say."

15.13 GMT: Southampton manager Claude Puel said on his January transfer plans at a news conference earlier: "It's important for us to stay with our eyes open in this window for opportunities."

15.05 GMT: DONE DEAL Charlton Athletic manager Karl Robinson has dipped in to the transfer market:

15.00 GMT: Atalanta coach Giampiero Gasperini has said midfielder Roberto Gagliardini is set to join Inter Milan in the next few days.

Gagliardini, 22, has already agreed terms with Inter, who are waiting for funds to be released by owners the Suning Group in order to complete the deal.

14.38 GMT: Bournemouth midfielder Emerson Hyndman is set to complete a loan move to Rangers later today, Press Association Sport reports, with the Scottish club also hopeful they can conclude a loan swoop for Arsenal's Jon Toral.

14.22 GMT: Southampton have already confirmed that Jose Fonte has submitted a transfer request this month -- and now Claude Puel has revealed that he has been left out of the squad to face Liverpool in the EFL Cup semifinals on Wednesday... Story here.

14.15 GMT: One of the two agents representing Paris Saint-Germain's Jese Rodriguez has said his client does not see his future with the French champions. "Nothing has been decided [about a January move] and there is still time in this transfer window," Armando Ufarte said. "What is certain is that Jese no longer sees his future at PSG." Story here.

13.57 GMT: Arsenal midfielder and United States under-23 international Gedion Zelalem is nearing a move to Borussia Dortmund, sources close to the player have told ESPN FC.

13.41 GMT: Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho will not bring in another centre-back despite Marcos Rojo suffering an injury that leaves the club with only Phil Jones and Chris Smalling available in the position, according to the Guardian.

13.30 GMT: DONE DEAL A new face has arrived at Queens Park Rangers:

13.26 GMT: Premier league champions Leicester have turned down a £9 million bid for Jeffrey Schlupp from Crystal Palace, according to Sky Sports. A Schlupp departure could mean the Foxes make a move for Norwich's Robbie Brady, subject of an unsuccessful Crystal Palace offer, according to reports.

13.06 GMT: New Hull City manager Marco Silva has said he has no desire to lose midfielder Robert Snodgrass -- the subject of a £3m bid from West Ham -- and wants to bring in reinforcements. He said: "We are interested in a lot of players. To be more competitive and improve, we must do something fast."

13.00 GMT: Nemanja Maksimovic has said he has reached an agreement to join Valencia once his contract with Kazakh Premier League champions Astana ends in June.

12.30 GMT: We reported earlier that Middlesbrough winger Stewart Downing is likely to be allowed to leave on loan -- and now the Birmingham Mail says Aston Villa boss Steve Bruce is interested in bringing him back to one of his former clubs. It adds that Villa "are thought to be chasing another four players this month and Downing would definitely fit the bill."

12.20 GMT: Crystal Palace have had a £10 million bid for Norwich's Robbie Brady rejected, sources close to the Premier League club have told ESPN FC. New Palace boss Sam Allardyce has targeted a move for Republic of Ireland international Brady, who plays at left-back or left midfield, as he looks to strengthen his struggling squad.

12.05 GMT: DONE DEAL  And here is that Leeds United announcement -- a done deal, ladies and gents:

11.50 GMT: Stevan Jovetic, who appears set to leave Inter Milan in the window, has accused the club of not giving him a fair chance. Jovetic is reported to be in talks with Sevilla over a move to Spain and was again left out of the Inter side at Udinese on Sunday.

11.45 GMT: And Leeds United are doing their best to keep us all on tenterhooks:

11.43 GMT: There's a loan move coming on for Middlesbrough winger Stewart Downing, according to Sky Sports:

11.25 GMT: West Ham United's pursuit of Brentford striker Scott Hogan could be set to come to an end soon, with the Hammers signing him for around £12 million, according to the Mirror.

It says Slaven Bilic hopes they "can finally land Hogan this week after having a second £10 million bid rejected by Championship side Brentford, who value their 14-goal striker at £15 million and "West Ham feel they can agree on a compromise figure following talks over the weekend."

11.15 GMT: Cologne sporting director Jorg Schmadtke has insisted the club have not made an approach to re-sign Kevin Wimmer from Tottenham Hotspur. Reports in Germany last week claimed Wimmer, 24, could return to his former club on loan after he was pictured visiting over Christmas.

10.55 GMT: Crystal Palace boss Sam Allardyce wants to pep up his attacking options but he won't be doing that with a move for Norwich's Robbie Brady, the Eastern Daily Press reports. It says the Eagles have had a £10 million offer turned down, with Canaries manager Alex Neil saying: "He won't go if we don't get a bid we feel reflects his value."

10.45 GMT: Galatasary executive Levent Nazifoglu has indicated that Lukas Podolski could be close to a move to China, with Beijing Guoan reported to be leading the race for the former Germany forward.

Nazifoglu told reporters at the weekend that Podolski, who joined Galatasaray from Arsenal in 2015, "appears to favour a transfer" and added: "The transfer is nearing its completion."

10.30 GMT: The BBC reports that Reading have completed the signing of Liverpool defender Tiago Ilori and says the clubs are "understood to have agreed a £3.75 million fee for the 23-year-old." As we reported last week, a move has been in the pipeline for several days.

10.10 GMT: Liverpool will demand £20 million for out-of-favour defender Mamadou Sakho and want to do a permanent deal in the January window, a source has told ESPN FC.

The Reds will hold out for more than the £18m they paid Paris Saint-Germain for Sakho in 2013.

10.00 GMT: DONE DEAL A done deal from the Bundesliga, via Ligue 1:

09.55 GMT: Olivier Giroud has told Telefoot is "on the verge" of reaching an agreement with Arsenal to extend his contract.

Giroud, 30, is due to be out of contract in 2018 and had been linked with an exit due to his struggles to hold down a regular first-team place amid Alexis Sanchez's fine form in the centre of Arsene Wenger's attack.

09.40 GMT: With speculation growing that a Chelsea/Swansea striker swap is in the offing, here's an update:

09.35 GMT: Didier Drogba has told Canal+ he hopes to "keep my promise" and return to Marseille one day.

Former Chelsea striker Drogba, 38, became a hero to Marseille fans during his one season at the club, scoring 19 Ligue 1 goals and helping them reach the UEFA Cup final before leaving for Stamford Bridge in the summer of 2004.

09.10 GMT: Patrice Evra could be about to leave Juventus with the Serie A club's general manager, Beppe Marotta, confirming the France full-back is considering his future.

Evra, 35, was left out of Juve's squad to face Bologna on Sunday amid speculation linking him with Valencia or a return to Manchester United. "To start with, Evra has not left yet," Marotta told Mediaset. "We just mutually agreed that he would not be called up because he wants to consider his future and so it was right to leave him out.

09.00 GMT: Juventus managing director Beppe Marotta has said Real Madrid have not been in contact about any move for Paulo Dybala, telling Mediaset: "Florentino Perez has not called me to speak about Dybala.

08.50 GMT: Carlos Bacca again stressed his intention to stay with AC Milan after scoring winner against Cagliari, telling reporters: "I didn't leave when things were not going well -- so go figure if I want to leave now."

08.40 GMT: Liverpool were linked with a move for RB Leipzig midfielder Emil Forsberg last month -- and that link has grown stronger as the window opens.

The Mirror reported last week that Jurgen Klopp will target Forsberg after conceding defeat in his attempts to sign Borussia Dortmund's U.S. international Christian Pulisic.

But speaking to reporters at the Leipzig training camp, director Ralf Rangnick said: "We have no plans to give him away. I can promise all our fans and staff that Emil will play for us in the next six months and hopefully beyond the summer."

08.30 GMT: Over to Germany now, where Hoffenheim attacker Mark Uth, 25, has said there "is nothing to say" about reported interested from both Tottenham and Southampton. "It's a recognition, but I want to focus on football now, stay injury-free and be successful with Hoffenheim," he said. Uth is under contract with the Bundesliga club until 2018

08.15 GMT: We told you earlier of reports that Bournemouth are interested in Liverpool defender Mamadou Sakho -- and now the Mirror says Southampton are as well as they look for a replacement for Jose Fonte.

08.00 GMT: Struggling Hull City have agreed a deal to bring Everton striker Oumar Niasse on loan with a view to a potential permanent move, Sky Sports reports.

Niasse has so far failed to settle after a £13.5 million switch to Merseyside during last winter's window, starting only two Premier League games.

Milan make Memphis move

In November, Manchester United's Memphis Depay was linked with a move to Inter -- but now it's City rivals AC Milan who are interested in the Netherlands winger.

The Sun says Milan -- whose protracted takeover is due to be completed in March -- "have made contact with Manchester United over a move for him."

Depay seems all but certain to leave Old Trafford in the window, although manager Jose Mourinho said last week that neither he nor midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin, linked with Everton, were yet close to a move.

United want a Depay departure to be permanent rather than on loan, and the paper suggests that "spells trouble for Milan," who would rather the deal was temporary with an option for a full-time switch after their takeover deal is finalised.

Meanwhile, Italian champions Juventus want to sign United's Matteo Darmian, the report adds, with Benfica's Nelson Semedo being lined up if Italy defender Darmian moves on.

The FC crew evaluate Memphis Depay's struggles with Manchester United and concerns about his lifestyle off the pitch.

Striker swap for Swans and Blues?

A striker exchange is on the cards for Chelsea, with Swansea City's Fernando Llorente coming in and Michy Batshuayi going the other way, Sky Sports reports.

It says the deal is "moving closer" despite formal talks having yet to begin, with Conte keen to add Llorente as the Premier League leaders look to maintain their momentum.

Although it is unclear whether the swap would involve loans or permanent transfers, the Chelsea manager wants to be reunited with a striker with whom he worked at Juventus. For his part, Llorente has said Conte is the best manager he has played for.

But there could be disappointment for the Blues on the defensive front, with the Sun reporting that AC Milan are ready to offer Alessio Romagnoli "a bumper new contract to ward off interest from Stamford Bridge."

Centre-back Romagnoli was on Chelsea's radar during the summer window after attempts to bring in Kalidou Koulibaly of Napoli came to nothing.

Meanwhile, Chelsea's decision to recall Nathan Ake from his loan spell at Bournemouth means the Cherries could turn to a Liverpool player to fill the defensive gap.

According to the Mail, boss Eddie Howe "will ask Liverpool about the possibility of taking outcast Mamadou Sakho or teenager Joe Gomez on loan."

Tap-ins

- New Crystal Palace boss Sam Allardyce will focus on strengthening his attacking options when he talks through his January transfer plans with chairman Steve Parish, the Mail reports.

Allardyce, without a win in four matches since arriving at Selhurst Park, will lose winger Wilfried Zaha to the African Nations Cup while Christian Benteke has suffered an injury.

And the Mail says the former England manager "knows he needs reinforcements to keep the Eagles in the Premier League."

- Aston Villa manager Steve Bruce has said he is no closer to knowing whether he will be able to persuade Nottingham Forest midfielder Henri Lansbury to move to Villa Park amid continuing interest from Derby County, the Birmingham Mail says.

Lansbury is reported to be the subject of a £3 million bid from Villa, with Derby also said to have submitted an offer for the former Arsenal player.

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