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Alan 11:18 Sun Dec 25
Christmas Day newspapers

Here's to a Happy Christmas to all you luvverly WHOers


Aston Villa are willing to sell Brazil midfielder Philippe Coutinho in January, just a year after the 30-year-old arrived at Villa Park. (Football Insider)

Villa manager Unai Emery does not want to work with Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez, 30, and is keen to offload the World Cup winner next month. (Fichajes - in Spanish)

Liverpool could give up on trying to sign Borussia Dortmund and England midfielder Jude Bellingham because they believe getting a deal done for the 19-year-old is proving too complicated. (AS - in Spanish)

Atletico Madrid have agreed personal terms with Caglar Soyuncu until 2027 - and the 26-year-old Leicester and Turkey centre-back could join as early as January, even though he only becomes a free agent next July. (Nicolo Schira)

Chelsea are best placed to sign England midfielder Declan Rice as the 23-year-old enters the final 18 months of his West Ham contract. (Athletic - subscription required)

Chelsea will have to make RB Leipzig centre-back Josko Gvardiol, 20, the most expensive defender in history if they are to sign the Croatia international in January. (Football London)

Chelsea are also working to sign a new left-sided centre-back and Monaco's France defender Benoit Badiashile, 21, is the leading candidate. (Athletic - subscription required)

Liverpool and Tottenham are among the top Premier League sides ready to submit contract offers to Inter Milan and Slovakia centre-back Milan Skriniar, 27. (Teamtalk)

Uruguay striker Luis Suarez, 35, is set to join Brazilian club Gremio on a two-year deal. (Cesar Luis Merlo, via Mail)

Atletico Madrid are reportedly willing to let Portugal forward Joao Felix, 23, leave on loan for a Premier League club so long as the Financial Fair Play costs of his contract are taken care of by the other side. (Mirror)

Angers and Morocco midfielder Azzedine Ounahi, 22, has said he is yet to decide on his future, despite interest from Leicester, Leeds United and West Ham. (Goal)

Tottenham are attracting interest in Spain winger Bryan Gil, 21, and Senegal midfielder Pape Sarr, 20, with the transfer window about to open. (Relevo, via Mail)

Tottenham are long-time admirers of Adama Traore but new Wolves boss Julen Lopetegui hopes the Spain winger, 26, will sign a new contract at Molineux, with his current deal set to expire next summer. (90min)

Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers is not expecting the club to sell England midfielder James Maddison, 26, in the January transfer window. (90min)

Newcastle United are making progress on agreeing a new contract worth £200,000 a week with Brazil midfielder Bruno Guimaraes, 25. (Football Insider)

Benfica have offered a new two-year deal to Argentina centre-back Nicolas Otamendi, 34, who is out of contract next summer and wants to continue playing in Europe, but negotiations are not advanced. (Fabrizio Romano)

Spain left-back Marcos Alonso, 31, is on the verge of signing an improved contract at Barcelona after arriving on a free transfer from Chelsea in the summer. (Mundo Deportivo - in Spanish)

Football London

David Moyes provides injury latest on Kurt Zouma after West Ham defender’s knee surgery

West Ham United centre-back Kurt Zouma underwent knee surgery last month and manager David Moyes has provided an update on the Frenchman, who has missed all three of the mid-season friendlies in December

ByJonty Colman West Ham United FC writer

West Ham United manager David Moyes has said the French centre-back Kurt Zouma is currently recovering ahead of schedule after undergoing knee surgery.last month.

After being forced off early on in West Ham ’s last competitive match before the break for the 2022 World Cup against Leicester City, Zouma underwent surgery on his knee, leading to an enforced spell on the sidelines.

Zouma missed all three mid-season friendlies and is still out of action ahead of the festive schedule, but speaking on Zouma’s recovery, Moyes has been pleased by his progress and believes he is ahead of schedule, although no expected return date has been set yet.

“Kurt Zouma’s doing really well, he’s probably ahead of schedule,” said Moyes. “He is always someone who normally comes back pretty quickly so I’m hoping that he might not be too bad.

"I’m not sure [of a return date] yet, but I’ve got to say he’s recovering really well and he’s going well.”

Zouma has played in 14 of the Hammers’ 15 league matches this season, scoring once during the 2-0 win over AFC Bournemouth at the London Stadium in October.

The Athletic

Declan Rice: His future, Chelsea links and what happens next

Roshane Thomas

Declan Rice was candid when addressing his long-term ambitions on the eve of England’s last-16 tie against Senegal.

“One hundred per cent, I want to play in the Champions League,” he said. “For the last two or three years, I’ve been saying that. I’ve been playing consistently well for my club and I feel like I really want to keep pushing. I see my friends here who are playing Champions League and for big trophies.”

At the World Cup Rice showed he belongs on the biggest stage — starting every game for Gareth Southgate’s side.

“You only get one career and at the end you want to look back at what you’ve won and the biggest games you’ve played in,” he said. “I really want to do that.”

At 23, Rice is the youngest captain in the Premier League and a key player for England and West Ham United. But he is yet to feature in Europe’s elite competition, instead representing West Ham in the Europa League and Conference League during the past two seasons.

Rice’s contract expires in the summer of 2024 and there is an option to extend by a further year. Rice, who has rejected three contract offers, has no desire to sign a new deal and has made it clear he wants to win trophies and play regularly in the Champions League. It has been over nine months since the midfielder held contract talks with West Ham.

Rice would have been the highest-paid player in the club’s history had he accepted the club’s last contract offer.

Under no circumstances will Rice be sold in January but the club have conceded internally they will have to sell him this summer.

West Ham have tried to convince Rice to stay. This summer the club spent £165million on eight new arrivals with proven international pedigree. For context, that window was only the second time in the club’s history they have spent more than £100million on signings, the other being 2019-20 when Sebastien Haller and Pablo Fornals arrived.

But the midfielder still plans on leaving this summer and the England international wants to go on amicable terms. He will not hand in a transfer request to force an exit. As it stands, no one is in pole position to secure Rice’s signature but his stock has grown following his assured performances in Qatar. It is not known when West Ham will activate the one-year option in Rice’s contract, but this summer is their last chance to earn a sizeable fee for the midfielder.

“£100million was cheap last summer,” said manager David Moyes in April. “£150m just now would be the minimum.”

If a club meets West Ham’s valuation, that would make Rice the most expensive British footballer in history. It is important to stress there is no release clause in Rice’s contract. Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United have all registered an interest in the midfielder.

Respected analysts of the market, CIES Football Observatory, value Rice at €80million (£70million), which is significantly less than West Ham’s valuation.

The next five months will mark Rice’s final chapter at West Ham. They will hope his value goes up if they secure a European finish, or win the Conference League. Rice’s honest answer about wanting to play in Europe’s elite competition did not surprise West Ham’s hierarchy. They know his intentions and they know realistically they cannot offer Champions League football.

Rice’s straightforward answer would have alerted suitors, noticeably Chelsea co-owner Todd Boehly. He was at the Khalifa International Stadium for England’s 6-2 group stage win against Iran. Since succeeding Roman Abramovich, Chelsea’s new owners spent a club record £250million-plus in their first transfer window. Chelsea would have the edge over Manchester City and Manchester United given Rice’s previous affiliation.

It is well documented the midfielder was released by Chelsea aged 14. “That was everything I ever knew to be honest,” said Rice in a previous interview. “From nine to 14, training there Monday to Friday, playing games and to get told you won’t be a part of that anymore was a major shock. I never thought it would have to happen but it did.”

Coaches at the time felt Rice was behind his peers in terms of his development. Upon his release, the midfielder initially had interest from Fulham and Tottenham Hotspur. Dave Hunt — who was West Ham’s head of academy recruitment — convinced Rice’s family that West Ham were the right club for his development.

Some of the misgivings over Rice at Chelsea was how he was not progressive with the ball. However members of staff at the club felt other areas of his game now compensated for that. Given the rate in which he has improved, they felt they needed to consider him an option.

Chelsea are worried about losing Rice to rivals Manchester United or Manchester City. There are frustrations over Mohamed Salah and Kevin De Bruyne’s departures in 2016 and 2014 respectively and there is an eagerness to rectify those mistakes.

Chelsea’s owners want a squad built with players 25 and under, young and hungry that want to win trophies. Rice, who turns 24 in January, would fit the mould.

Chelsea’s interest in Rice dates back to when Frank Lampard was manager. They explored the possibility of signing the midfielder in the summer window of 2020. Lampard, now manager of Everton, made concerted efforts to convince Rice his future lay at Chelsea. However there was concern from the club’s hierarchy about what it would look like to spend a fortune on a player that was let go for nothing. It is believed Lampard’s constant push for Rice aggravated Chelsea’s board so a deal never materialised.

“We are fortunate to have him in England,” said Lampard. “West Ham are fortunate to have him. He’s a leader and it is clear that he’s destined for great things. I have probably given it away with how I spoke about him, but I think it’s common knowledge that I was a big fan of his. It didn’t happen for various reasons, but we brought in a lot of players in the summer. But I was a big fan of him.”

Thomas Tuchel, Lampard’s successor, was also a big admirer of Rice.

“I rate him very highly,” he said. “He seems to be a very nice guy from what everybody tells me and is from the Chelsea academy and he proves this (his quality). That’s the most important thing. It feels like he plays every single game.

“He is available, is captain, plays with a lot of responsibility, is a physical player, very strategic-minded, a key player for his team, and is strong at set-pieces. This is not a surprise. Everybody sees this. He is a huge part of the success of West Ham and it is impressive.”

Chelsea are looking to rebuild their midfield department and are looking to spend big in 2023. Jude Bellingham, the Borussia Dortmund midfielder, is another target.

The expectation is Jorginho will leave at the end of the season when his contract expires. Both parties are still no closer to agreeing to terms for a contract extension. N’Golo Kante’s contract also expires in summer 2023, but his future remains in the balance. Graham Potter, who was appointed manager in September, is an admirer but Kante has been injured since August, and there is an acceptance he cannot be relied upon to play every game.

Since making his first-team debut against Burnley in 2017, Rice has been Mr Dependable for West Ham. He has hardly been injured and played 182 league games, only missing 24 fixtures. From June 2021 to June 2022, Rice played in 68 games for club and country.

Rice’s mindset and other attributes explain why other clubs also have a strong interest.

Pep Guardiola, the Manchester City manager, labelled Rice as an “exceptional player” following West Ham’s 2-1 loss away to City last season. However the club are well stocked in his position with Ilkay Gundogan, Rodri and summer signing Kalvin Phillips, who joined for £42m from Leeds United in the summer. West Ham’s valuation could also put the club off. Manchester City also retain a strong interest in Bellingham. A deal for the 19-year-old is considered more of a priority than signing Rice.

Rice has been on Manchester United’s radar for several years, but his price was always regarded as far too much considering there was not universal consensus among club scouts.

Still, United held initial talks over a move last season to survey the potential cost of a transfer and it could be that the situation is revisited given other clubs are ahead in the pursuit of Bellingham. Similarly to Manchester City, Manchester United are well stocked in central midfield with Fred, Scott McTominay, Christian Eriksen and summer signing Casemiro, who joined in a deal worth up to £70m from Real Madrid in August.

Aside from club matters, Rice has been earmarked as a future England captain. He has earned 39 caps and is a popular member of Southgate’s squad.

Rice’s commercial value has also soared — something his admirers will have noted. In April he teamed up with high-end fashion brand Prada to feature on the cover of Circle Zero Eight magazine. He featured in Sports Direct’s Christmas advert alongside childhood friend Mason Mount, Thierry Henry and Eric Cantona.

Rice is equipped to perform at the highest level, whether it is on the field or off it.

The next five months will be a defining moment in his career and when it comes to potential suitors, it is a case of who decides to blink first.

Replies - Newest Posts First (Show In Chronological Order)

Alan 5:41 Thu Dec 29
Re: Christmas Day newspapers
Thanks MPI. All the best to you too.
The owners wouldn't let me out of WHO Towers 'til after the King's speech.

Moncurs Putting Iron 4:03 Thu Dec 29
Re: Christmas Day newspapers
Flipping heck Alan, just seen this proper dedication that is!

Hope you had a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Texas Iron 11:03 Sun Dec 25
Re: Christmas Day newspapers

Meerkat 4:19 Sun Dec 25
Re: Christmas Day newspapers
Thanks Alan .

Jaan Kenbrovin 3:19 Sun Dec 25
Re: Christmas Day newspapers
one iron 11:33 Sun Dec 25

ironsofcanada 3:13 Sun Dec 25
Re: Christmas Day newspapers
Thanks Alan for all the times I peek in on the threads, all the best for the season.

LAF 3:11 Sun Dec 25
Re: Christmas Day newspapers
Saluting your brilliant work I’ve the year, and previous ones, Alan. Many, many thanks.

ted fenton 3:04 Sun Dec 25
Re: Christmas Day newspapers
Thanks Alan 1:56 Sun Dec 25

cheesebgt 2:33 Sun Dec 25
Re: Christmas Day newspapers
one iron 11:33 Sun Dec 25

Thanks Alan 1:56 Sun Dec 25
Re: Christmas Day newspapers
charleyfarley 1:37 Sun Dec 25

Athletico Easthamico 1:33 Sun Dec 25

happygilmore 12:59 Sun Dec 25

Mex Martillo 12:33 Sun Dec 25

one iron 11:33 Sun Dec 25

Kaiser Zoso 11:21 Sun Dec 25

charleyfarley 1:37 Sun Dec 25
Re: Christmas Day newspapers
Happy Christmas Alan thanks for all the reports during the year

Athletico Easthamico 1:33 Sun Dec 25
Re: Christmas Day newspapers
Thanks Alan. Ho ho ho.

happygilmore 12:59 Sun Dec 25
Re: Christmas Day newspapers
Thanks Alan for the year long effort and a very Happy Christmas to you.

And thanks for all the tips and trick for firestick etc.

Mex Martillo 12:33 Sun Dec 25
Re: Christmas Day newspapers
one iron 11:33 Sun Dec 25

one iron 11:33 Sun Dec 25
Re: Christmas Day newspapers

Kaiser Zoso 11:21 Sun Dec 25
Re: Christmas Day newspapers
Thanks Alan, and cheers for the reads all year!

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