Each morning, Football Whispers pore over Europe’s major news outlets in search of the latest transfer reports relating to your club. We then assess the reliability of the rumours, determine the likelihood of the moves, and analyse where the potential signings would fit in.
Today’s edition of the European round-up includes reports of Manchester United moving closer to the signing of a new striker, Chelsea looking to add options to their attack, and a Southampton player being targeted by Barcelona.
MORATA MOVE TO MANCHESTER UNITED STILL ON
Diario AS are reporting that, following his wedding, Álvaro Morata is close to leaving Real Madrid. The Spanish striker has been seen as a Manchester United target for some time, and a move looks set to take place this summer when the two clubs agreed on a transfer fee.
The player is known to want a more important role, something he is unlikely to get with the European champions due to the presence of Karim Benzema and the redeployment of Cristiano Ronaldo as a striker. However, he would be the first choice No.9 at Old Trafford.
Zlatan Ibrahimović’s departure has left a void at the top of José Mourinho’s system, and a new frontman is needed to lead the line. Morata could fill the gap, although he would by no means be a like-for-like replacement.
The 24-year-old much prefers running in the channels to dropping deep and linking play. This is shown by the fact he completed comparatively more dribbles than Zlatan last term, while making comparatively fewer key passes.
Ultimately, Morata would bring pace, drive and an increasingly clinical right foot to Manchester United’s attack. He would also drag opposition defenders out of position with his movement, freeing up space for the Mourinho’s array of excellent attacking midfielders.
CHELSEA FAVOURITES TO SIGN VITOLO
Chelsea have emerged as the favourites to sign Spanish winger Vitolo from Sevilla, according to Spanish sports daily Marca. The Premier League champions could even allow some players – such as Kurt Zouma and/or Michy Batshuayi – to move in the opposite direction in order to facilitate a deal.
This move would make a great deal of sense from a tactical and personnel perspective. The 27-year-old is a technically gifted yet versatile operator who could bring options to Antonio Conte’s line-up. In addition, he isn’t a star name, and so is unlikely to come with the expectations and ego that accompanies others.
Vitolo has been a key player in Sevilla’s recent successes, and was outstanding last season while playing under Jorge Sampaoli. He completed 2.4 dribbles per game, which was significantly more than any of his team-mates, and also averaged 1.5 key passes, a number only Samir Nasri could better.
Able to play on either wing, behind a striker or in a deeper wide role, the Spaniard provides the sort of flexibility Chelsea would value having in their squad as they plan to compete in both domestic and continental competition next term.
BARCELONA IDENTIFY SOUTHAMPTON’S CÉDRIC AS BELLERÍN ALTERNATIVE
However, after weeks of speculation without a deal being resolved, the Catalan giants have identified four alternatives to fill the right-back position.
Among the quartet, according to Don Balon is Cédric Soares.
At 25 years of age, he is the oldest player on the list, though he would be well suited to Ernesto Valverde’s team.
Right-back has been a problem position for Barcelona for several years. Sergi Roberto has filled the role fairly well temporarily, though in the long term he may be better suited to a central midfield berth. This is where Cédric comes in.
The Portuguese is a sound defender and an adventurous attacking full-back. He is an effective passer and crosser of the ball and provides good overlaps down the right wing.
He may not be as exciting as Bellerín or others in his position, but he is a highly functional performer.
TOTTENHAM IN RACE TO SIGN AURIER
Tottenham Hotspur are one of several teams in the race to sign Serge Aurier. The Ivorian right-back has a contract with Paris Saint-Germain until 2019, however he has refused to extend and has told the French club he wants to leave this summer, according to France Football.
The news that Spurs are interested in the player is perhaps linked to the rumours continuing to surround the future of their current first-choice right-back Kyle Walker, who remains a Manchester City target.
Aurier is an explosive and powerful full-back, one who offers genuine pace and penetration down the right flank. He would be an ideal option should Mauricio Pochettino need to sign a right-back this summer.
Last season, the PSG man completed more crosses and a higher percentage of his passes than Walker. He also averaged more tackles and interceptions per game, while his dribbles and key passes per game were only 0.1 behind the English international.
On top of those impressive statistics, Aurier has the attacking intent to play the wing-back role should Tottenham continue with the 3-4-2-1 system that served them so well at various stages of the 2016/17 campaign.