In a break with tradition the Rumour Mill had to do some mild research. You see, when we read that Manchester United had “progressed talks with Barcelona” over the transfer of Ousmane Dembélé something felt a little off. No, no, no, that’s the wrong Dembélé, we yelped. Only a few weeks ago, we were filling this page with fluff linking Lyon’s 24-year-old forward, Moussa Dembélé, with a move to Old Trafford. It’s a rumour that has kept us well-stocked for the best part of 18 months, but we went to the trouble of using a search engine, and lo and behold, it does appear that the most recent piffle doing the rounds is that Ed Woodward has Barça’s Dembélé on his shopping list.
The 23-year-old forward has misfired like an Austin Maestro running on chip fat since arriving at Camp Nou for €105m. He was supposed to be the new Neymar but injuries, a David James-style obsession with video games, Lionel Messi bringing down the mood every other week and a rolling cast of soon-to-be-sacked managers have hardly helped him fill the void left by the Brazilian. So with Jadon Sancho seeming a non-starter, United would happily see if they could get Dembélé motoring again on loan. And that’s the problem. Barcelona desperately need to reduce their wage bill and would rather United agree to a permanent deal for the player before they let him go. Perhaps that is why United have offered unfilled-potential’s Jesse Lingard a one-year deal and told Tottenham to sling their hook.
In other Barcelona-related news, you may have read in these pages that Max Aarons is close to swapping Carrow Road for Camp Nou. The latest we have is that the 20-year-old left-back is close to inking a five-year-deal and will occupy the place in the Barça squad that Nélson Semedo will vacate when he joins Wolves. French defender Jean-Clair Todibo is another who looks like he has run his course at Barça. Premier League pacesetters Everton [subs, please check] have suffered an early defensive injury crisis and Carlo Ancelotti wants to bring in reinforcements. The 20-year-old, who impressed on loan at Schalke last season, would fit the bill.
One man who could be on his way out of Goodison is New York style icon Tom Davies. The midfielder with the short socks, long hair and penchant for smoking jackets has been nudged down the pecking order at Goodison by the arrival of wage bill-busting Abdoulaye Doucouré, Allan and James Rodríguez and Southampton would quite like to give the young scouser a platform to showcase his unique stylings.
PSG are confident that Dele Alli would jump at the opportunity to put the Channel between himself and José Mourinho and are still working on securing him a loan move away from Tottenham. Not only that but they want to rescue Tiémoué Bakayoko, who has had a Winston Bogarde of a time at Chelsea since arriving in 2017.
Reports in Italy suggest that Newcastle are in for Napoli’s Arkadiusz Milik but we’re guessing hacks who floated that idea haven’t done their homework on Mike Ashley. And Mattéo Guendouzi has slapped down a transfer request at Arsenal, who may try to raise some of the £49.5m they would need to buy Atlético Madrid Thomas Partey by selling pocket-sized midfield tyro Lucas Torreira.