Football transfer rumours: James Rodríguez to Arsenal?

Transfer window favourite James Rodríguez is being levered towards the exit turnstiles at the Bernabéu, with Real Madrid ready to cash in on the Colombian. Unai Emery is ready to … sorry, Arsenal are ready to bring in the 28-year-old playmaker to help fill any Mesut Özil-created gaps, with Freddie Ljungberg looking the most likely to be doling out the handshakes come January after the Gunners sagged to Europa League defeat on Thursday.

That said, Madrid think James can be part of the 3D chess solution that helps them finally get their mitts on Manchester United’s Paul Pogba, still on the sidelines with an ankle injury for Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side. Fringe forward Mariano and £73m are the sweeteners. If Rodríguez himself has anything to do with it, PSG or Internazionale are his destinations of choice.

Another Colombian, Alfredo Morelos, is up to 24 goals this season, and predictably attracting eyelash-fluttering and cooing noises from several quarters, including Leicester City. Granted, Rangers’ season began back in July and four of the goals came against St Joseph’s of Gibraltar, but enough interest is swirling to force his manager Steven Gerrard to put all talk of any move to bed with a once-and-for-all-hands-off warning, adding, for interest’s sake, that even if anyone did want him, no one’s listening for any less than £50m.

Leeds United are sick of this whole second-tier thing, and are on the hunt for the kind of firepower that can take them back to the top table. They want Newcastle’s Dwight Gayle, goalless in the Premier League this season but with two 20-plus hauls on his CV in past Championship campaigns. Wages could be a problem, while second on their list, Liverpool’s 19-year-old Rhian Brewster, could be a non-starter for Jürgen Klopp if it looks like the England under-21s international may end up marooned beyond Patrick Bamford in the pecking order.

Finally, Sporting’s Bruno Fernandes may have signed a new deal tying him to the club until 2023, upping his release clause to £85m accordingly, but potential January suitors have taken the news to mean: “Oh, so he’s for sale then?” José Mourinho would very much like his 20 goals a season from midfield at Tottenham ta very much, and leaks suggest more like £60m could get the deal done.

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