Like Andy Dufresne in The Shawshank Redemption, the Rumour Mill continues in the early stages of its crawl to freedom, through 31 days worth of transfer-related foulness most people can’t even begin to imagine. And as unlikely a prospect as it seems, we’re also hoping to come out clean on the other side.
Cristiano Ronaldo could be planning an audacious escape bid of his own as he weighs up an attempt to break out of Old Trafford, where everything has gone pear-shaped for Manchester United since they hijacked Manchester City’s attempt to sign the forward last summer. The Portugal international is reported to be in “crisis talks” with his agent Jorge Mendes over what to do next.
Tanguy Ndombele is hoping to find a new home where he will be more appreciated after being booed off the pitch and down the tunnel during his slow trudge upon being substituted during Spurs’ FA Cup win over Morecambe on Sunday. The Athletic reports that the French midfielder is anxious to leave the club in the current transfer window, having unsuccessfully agitated for a summer move.
With more than two years left on his contract, whether or not Ndombele will be able to find a club willing to match his current £200,000-per-week wages remains to be seen and a loan move seems more likely in this window. Dutch winger Steven Bergwijn is also reportedly headed for the Tottenham door marked “Do One!” and could pitch up at Ajax in the coming weeks.
Having brought in Philippe Coutinho on loan last week, Aston Villa are reported to be confident of signing out-of-favour Everton left-back Lucas Digne. Newcastle are also interested in signing the £25m-rated Frenchman, while Chelsea would like to bring him in to deputise for the sidelined Ben Chilwell, but only on loan. The European champions are also trying to recall Emerson Palmieri from his loan spell at Lyon but are meeting stout resistance. They will almost certainly have to compensate the French side in order to bring the Italian defender back to Stamford Bridge.
With Kieran Trippier already one defeat into his Newcastle career, his new employers are interested in signing New Zealand striker Chris Wood from Burnley, all the better to convert the many delightful crosses they hope to see their new full-back ping towards opposition penalty areas. While you could be forgiven for thinking Wood’s employers would be unwilling to sell him to fellow relegation strugglers, reports suggest they are open to rinsing Newcastle’s preposterously wealthy new owners for an ageing player with just 18 months left on his contract. The Mags have also identified RB Salzburg’s young Swiss international centre-forward Noah Okafor as a potential target, it says here.
Best known for a Puskas Award-nominated scorpion kick he scored for Newcastle Jets in the A-League three years ago, Riley McGree now plies his trade with MLS side Charlotte FC but spent the first half of this season on loan at Birmingham City. The midfielder is believed to be on the verge of joining his fellow Aussie, Ange Postecoglou, at Celtic despite firm interest from Championship sides Middlesbrough and Nottingham Forest.
And finally, Gareth Bale is reported to be considering retirement when his contract with Real Madrid runs out this summer, but only if Wales fail to qualify for the World Cup. In the event of Wales booking a place at the winter jamboree through the play-offs, he is expected to prolong his playing career until the tournament by signing a short-term deal with some team or other from one of the English league’s top two tiers, in order to stay match fit ahead of Qatar.