Juventus to use secret weapon to beat Barcelona for top target, Barcelona respond to links with €180m-rated superstar, and more: Transfer Roundup, 6th February 2019
With the winter transfer window done and dusted, all attention returns towards the pitch ahead of what promises to be an exciting second half of the season in all the major European leagues.
Several prominent teams ventured into the market to recruit reinforcements, while others did not. A number of high-profile players also switched clubs over the course of the month-long window.
Now, clubs will begin to prepare for the summer transfer market - where most of the major business happens. Expectedly, transfer speculation has failed to end with the window, and several new rumours and stories have emerged.
Today's top transfer stories feature some giant clubs like Real Madrid, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United, and Juventus, among others. They also feature some extremely popular superstars who are being touted to move to different clubs in the summer.
On that note, here is a look at the top transfer news, stories, rumours, and updates for the day:
James Rodriguez's father backs Juventus move
Real Madrid star, James Rodriguez - who was loaned to Bayern Munich for a two-year spell in July 2017 - has entered the last six months of his deal. With no announced update on his future, speculation over his future has been rife.
At Bayern, the Colombian's playing time has been limited under manager Niko Kovac, and as a result, the Bavarians could abstain from making the deal permanent. According to the latest reports from Goal.com, the 27-year-old's father is reportedly eyeing a potential move to Juventus for him.
James' father reportedly told Sport Bild:
"He has many offers. He is a good friend with Cristiano. The way I perceive Italian football right now, moving to [Juventus] would be a good decision."
Meanwhile, the star himself spoke about a potential move and reportedly said:
"Until then there are still four months left and I'm only thinking of Bayern at the moment."
Manchester United to offer Marcus Rashford bumper new contract
Since Jose Mourinho's exit from Manchester United, Marcus Rashford is among the few players that have seemingly been revitalised. Under the caretaker manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Rashford has been unstoppable and has scored 6 goals and assisted 2 more in 8 Premier League matches.
However, the promising 21-year-old reportedly considered a move away from his beloved boyhood club as matters at the club grew toxic towards the end of Mourinho's stint. Notably, he was linked with a potential move to Real Madrid.
As per reports from The Sun, Madrid are indeed interested in a potential move, and Rashford was also reportedly interested in it before Mourinho was sacked. Now, the Englishman is understood to be ready to negotiate a new contract with United.
The report also claims that the Red Devils view him as an important part of the club's future, and are reportedly planning to offer him a bumper new contract worth 200,000-per-week in order to keep Madrid at bay.
Barcelona to wait before renewing Lionel Messi's contract
This season has been business as usual for Barcelona superstar, Lionel Messi, who seems to be showing absolutely no signs of slowing down. At the moment, he is the only player across Europe's top five leagues to have accrued more than twenty league goals this season.
Despite the fact that Messi has just two years left on his contract, Barcelona are understood to be in no hurry to offer him a new contract. As per reports from Goal.com, Barcelona certainly intend on retaining him for longer but will wait until Messi decides to sign new terms before offering them to him.
Speaking about the matter, the club's President, Josep Maria Bartomeu, said:
"Messi's contract is up in two years but, given how he is playing, we will have him for many more years. Leo is intelligent, he knows how to measure things. If he feels good, he will tell us. When he decides, we will renew his deal. Messi is the best player in history."
Barcelona respond to speculation over Neymar's return
Former Barcelona, and current Paris Saint-Germain superstar, Neymar, has been among the goals and assists in Ligue 1, but is widely suspected to be eyeing a move back to Barcelona.
Neymar joined PSG for a world-record fee of €222 million less than two seasons ago, but the Brazilian is understood to be unhappy with the quality of competition in the French league. Subsequently, he was widely been linked with a return to his former club.
However, Barcelona's President, Josep Maria Bartomeu, has now publicly responded to the speculation and was quick to dismiss the rumours.
"I have never spoken to them, nor have the father or player called me to return to Barca. They have not called," he said.
"We are preparing for next season and the name of Neymar is not on the table. We are talking about a PSG player and I do not think that PSG want to get rid of a player like him."
Juventus to use secret weapon against Barcelona in race for Matthijs de Ligt
Ajax's 19-year-old Matthijs de Ligt has quickly become one of the most promising defenders in Europe after putting in some sensational performances at the heart of Ajax's defence. Consequently, the Dutchman has been subject to speculation over potential moves to Barcelona - who are believed to view him as an appropriate successor to Gerard Pique - and Manchester City.
However, reports from Goal.com are now claiming that Juventus are also interested in the centre-back and have reportedly entered the race for him. The report goes on to claim that while Barcelona is still considered to be the favourites to sign de Ligt, Juventus have a secret weapon that could tilt the scale in their favour.
The Serie A giants have a close relationship with their former player, Edwin van der Sar, who currently happens to be Ajax's director of football. As per the report, Juventus' president, Andrea Agnelli, reportedly spoke to van der Sar about a potential move for de Ligt in December.
Juventus reportedly plan on using their rapport with van der Sar to pip Barcelona and Manchester City to the 19-year-old in the summer.