Thursday 12 December 2019

Transfer talk: Man City in for John Stones and Chelsea target Antoine Griezmann

Everton's John Stones is one of the most sought-after defenders in world football
Everton's John Stones is one of the most sought-after defenders in world football

Samuel Stevens

Chelsea could be frustrated in their attempts to sign long-term target John Stones after Manchester City emerged over the morning as surprise favourites to ensnare the defender from Everton in the summer.

Despite the England centre-back delivering a disappointing performance as City defeated the Toffees in the Capital One Cup semi-final second-leg on Wednesday, the Etihad hierarchy are undeterred in their wish to build an English spine at the heart of their squad. Plans are already at an advanced stage for the imminent arrival of Pep Guardiola, the Bayern Munich manager, at the end of the season with current boss Manuel Pellegrini set to leave.

The Blues, who still hold on to faint hopes of clawing Guardiola away from City’s clutches, failed with a succession of bids for Stones last summer and may be inclined to return with fresh terms in the near future. But the Daily Mirror report that City are desperate to get their man and will be prepared to part with upwards of £50m to secure the 21-year-old’s services. It remains to be seen if interim manager Guud Hiddink’s replacement, with the Independent revealing Antonio Conte as among the favourites, will replicate his employers’ enthusiasm for Stones.

With long-term concerns persisting over captain Vincent Kompany’s fitness, the central defensive area remains a worry for City. With Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid known to be keen on Stones, the north west club will have to move quickly.

New Chelsea signing Matt Miazga has spoken of his joy after completing a £3.5m switch from New York Red Bulls yesterday afternoon. The 20-year-old central defender has signed a four-and-a-half-year contract at the South London club. He has told the official Chelsea website: “I am very happy to sign for Chelsea, a world-famous club with a reputation for major success. I am delighted to be in the Premier League, the best league in the world, and can’t wait to meet my team-mates and get going.

“I am still at the beginning of my career but I believe this is the place to develop and learn from some of the best players in the world.”

Antoine Griezmann

The Blues are planning a swoop for Atletico Madrid ace Antoine Griezmann, if Eden Hazard completes his long-suggested transfer to Real Madrid in the summer, according to the Daily Mail. The Belgian has struggled for form and fitness this season while Griezmann, on the other hand, has been scintillating for Atletico in La Liga, helping the Spanish club launch another title bid. Griezmann is valued at the Vicente Calderon in the region of £50m but has a release clause written into his contract equating to £60m.

Hiddink hopes that, even if there are big bids for last season’s PFA Player of the Year in the summer, the club will reject them. “It’s not up to me, its up to the club,” said Hiddink. “When he gets his rhythm back, then he’s of big value to Chelsea.”

Players such as Eden Hazard, Chelsea's top earner on £200,000 per week, remain on full salaries

Premier League leaders Leicester City have reportedly had a £11.5m offer accepted for striker Loïc Rémy, according to beIN Sports. The unsettled France international is widely expected to leave the champions before tomorrow’s transfer window deadline with Newcastle United among his suitors. The Magpies have seemingly turned their attention to Swansea forward Bafetimbi Gomis.

Leicester, on the other hand, are on the look-out for a new forward after allowing Andrej Kramarić to join Hoffenheim on loan until the end of the season. The Foxes have turned to 29-year-old Rémy after failing with bids for Italian striker Éder, who joined Internazionale in the week, and AC Milan hitman M'Baye Niang. Rémy has scored eight goals in 28 appearances for the Blues, often from the substitutes’ bench, but has not been given the opportunity to replicate the form which saw him net 14 times while on loan at St James’ Park in 2013/14.

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