Espanyol have completed the signing of Raul de Tomas from Benfica for an initial fee of €20million.

The 25-year-old has signed a six-and-a-half-year deal to become the first arrival since head coach Abelardo took charge last month.

The deal also includes €2m in add-ons and Benfica will retain a 20 per cent sell-on clause for the forward.

The fee smashes the club's previous transfer record of €10.5m, which they paid to sign Matias Vargas from Velez Sarsfield last July.

De Tomas, who progressed through the Real Madrid youth system, enjoyed productive loan spells with Real Valladolid and Rayo Vallecano before joining Benfica on a five-year deal in July.

However, he managed only seven appearances in Portugal's top flight and did not score a single goal.

Espanyol were reportedly keen to sign him last year as a replacement for Borja Iglesias, who joined Real Betis in a €28m deal.

Sevilla were also said to be interested in bringing him back to Spain this month after allowing Munas Dabbur to sign for Hoffenheim.

De Tomas, who scored 14 goals in 33 appearances for Rayo in LaLiga last season, will be tasked with finding the goals to help drag Espanyol out of the relegation zone.

Espanyol have scored just 14 goals in 19 league games this season, two of which came in the 2-2 draw with city rivals Barcelona last Saturday.

Abelardo's side are bottom of LaLiga on 11 points, four adrift of safety, having won just twice all season in the top flight.

Massimiliano Allegri is without a club since leaving Serie A champions Juventus at the end of 2018-19.

However, Allegri could be nearing a return to management sooner rather than later.

The Italian is believed to be interested in taking charge of Manchester United.

 

TOP STORY – ALLEGRI WANTS UNITED JOB

Massimiliano Allegri is interested in becoming Manchester United manager as pressure mounts on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, according to the Daily Mail.

Allegri has been rumoured to be of interest to Bayern Munich after leaving Serie A champions Juve at the end of last season, while the Italian was also linked to Arsenal prior to Mikel Arteta's appointment.

However, he is reportedly holding out for the United job should Solskjaer be sacked. Ex-Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino is also believed to be monitoring the situation.

 

ROUND-UP

- ElDesmarque claims MLS duo Inter Miami and LA Galaxy are ready to vie for the signature of Real Madrid's Gareth BaleChelsea, though, have also been linked with the former Tottenham star.

- The race is heating up for Milan striker Krzysztof Piatek. Struggling for goals and with Zlatan Ibrahimovic back at San Siro, the Poland international is wanted by Tottenham, reports The Guardian and Calciomercato. Spurs want to boost their attacking options following Harry Kane's injury. Aston Villa have also tabled a bid for Piatek, but Calciomercato claims he is holding out for a bigger club.

- While Piatek could prove a difficult signing, Villa are closing in on Milan goalkeeper Pepe Reina. Calciomercato, Gazzetta dello Sport and Tuttomercatoweb say former Liverpool keeper Reina has agreed a contract with the Premier League side until the end of the season.

- The Mirror reports United are in the market to sign a defender on loan after Harry Maguire's injury. Maguire – the world's most expensive defender – is facing a spell on the sidelines due to a muscle tear.

United are also weighing up a move for Ajax and Netherlands star Donny van de Beek, reports The Telegraph. With Scott McTominay and Paul Pogba injured, the Red Devils are in need of midfield reinforcements. Van de Beek has previously been linked to Real Madrid.

- AS claims Atletico Madrid are looking at Napoli striker Arkadiusz Milik as an alternative to Paris Saint-Germain's Edinson Cavani. Out of contract at season's end, Cavani is reportedly poised to make the move to Atletico, however, United and Arsenal are also interested.

- Gianluca Di Marzio says Inter winger Matteo Politano has agreed to join city rivals Milan. Struggling for game time with the Nerazzurri, Politano's agent met with Milan's management on Wednesday as a shock switch nears.

Chelsea are preparing a £40million bid for West Ham defender Issa Diop, according to the Express. London rivals Tottenham are also reportedly interested.

Barcelona head coach Ernesto Valverde said he is not thinking about Arturo Vidal leaving the LaLiga champions amid links to Inter and Manchester United.

Vidal has slipped down the pecking order since Frenkie de Jong's arrival from Ajax, prompting speculation over his future at Camp Nou, where he has only started four LaLiga matches this season.

The 32-year-old Vidal has been heavily linked to a reunion with former Juventus head coach Antonio Conte at Serie A side Inter, while struggling Premier League giants United are reportedly interested.

Valverde addressed the rumours ahead of Thursday's Supercopa de Espana semi-final against Atletico Madrid in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

"We're not thinking about him going to another team," Valverde told a news conference. "We'll see tomorrow [Thursday]. In principle he's with us. No clues."

Pressed on reported interest from England and Italy, Valverde replied: "Arturo Vidal plays for us and tomorrow he'll be on the pitch or on the bench.

"We don't pay any attention to other clubs being interested in our players."

Vidal swapped Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich for Barcelona in 2018 and the Chilean has since won LaLiga and the Supercopa de Espana.

He has scored six LaLiga goals in 15 matches this season, while the veteran has amassed 20 appearances across all competitions.

Kylian Mbappe dodged questions about his contract negotiations with Paris Saint-Germain, insisting "it's not the right time to make some waves".

Mbappe has been heavily linked with a move to LaLiga giants Real Madrid, where head coach and fellow Frenchman Zinedine Zidane has made no secret of his admiration for the 21-year-old star.

PSG sporting director Leonardo has previously revealed talks over a new contract are progressing, with Mbappe's current deal running through to the end of the 2021-22 season.

Asked about his future following PSG's 6-1 Coupe de la Ligue quarter-final rout of Saint-Etienne on Wednesday, Mbappe told reporters: "I am ready to play football first. Because we are in January.

"We start the final sprint, where we can compete for trophies. I think it's not the right time to make some waves.

"The club are calm, serene, everyone is walking in the same direction so talking about external things of the pitch would not be realistic or good."

Mbappe was on target against 10-man Saint-Etienne as PSG cruised into the semi-finals thanks to Mauro Icardi's hat-trick midweek.

PSG led 3-0 at half-time via Icardi, Neymar and a Jessy Moulin own goal, and the hosts maintained their dominance in the second 45 minutes.

Mbappe helped Icardi complete his hat-trick with a pair of assists before the latter returned the favour by setting up the Frenchman in the 67th minute – Saint-Etienne's Yohan Cabaye bagged a consolation four minutes later.

On the relationship between Mbappe and Icardi, who is on loan from Serie A outfit Inter, PSG head coach Thomas Tuchel said: "I don't know if they reach another level but I know they love to play together.

"They play all four with great complicity especially Kylian and Mauro. It's obvious and it's necessary. If you play with four strikers, it's necessary that they try to find themselves on the pitch. They try to put each other in the best conditions. They give the ball to make an assist or to find a guy in a better position.

"They did great tonight. We speak a lot about the four strikers but you know that for me it's all about the team, we need to play as a team with the eleven players. That's football."

Moussa Dembele has been the subject of transfer bids but the striker will not leave Lyon in January, according to president Jean-Michel Aulas.

Chelsea are reportedly interested in the 23-year-old, who has scored 10 goals in Ligue 1 this season in 18 appearances, as Frank Lampard seeks a new forward to take some of the pressure off Tammy Abraham.

It has been suggested the Premier League club could offer cash plus Olivier Giroud to tempt Lyon into a sale during the transfer window.

However, although he says offers have been made for some of Lyon's top players, Aulas insists Dembele wants to stay at the club at least for now.

"Moussa Dembele will not leave because he wants to stay and win something with OL," he said to reporters on Wednesday.

"There have been offers for him and for other players, but none of those whom we want to keep will leave in January."

Indeed, Aulas says Lyon's primary objective is to strengthen their squad and mount a challenge for the Champions League places, given they are 12th in the table after 19 matches.

"We'll try to make ourselves stronger," he said. "The first reaction was to get the youngsters in the academy to play more and show themselves more. The second is to recruit.

"The board of directors have decided to do that, but not at any cost and not in just any situation. We'll only carry out plans that correspond to what the sporting director, the advisers and the coach want."

Inter are seemingly nearing an agreement with Tottenham midfielder Christian Eriksen, reports say.

The Denmark international is out of contract at the end of the season and has also been linked with a move away from Spurs in January.

Inter are among the clubs reportedly interested in Eriksen and it seems the Serie A high-flyers are close to a deal.

 

TOP STORY – INTER IN ADVANCED TALKS WITH ERIKSEN

Inter are in advanced talks with Eriksen for a move ahead of the 2020-21 season, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport journalist Nicolo Schira.

However, he reports Spurs are looking to sell Eriksen in January for at least €20million (£17m).

Amid uncertainty over his future, Eriksen has made just nine Premier League starts for Tottenham this season.

 

ROUND-UP

- Staying at San Siro, multiple reports suggest Inter are eyeing Manchester United veteran Ashley Young. Italian journalist Fabrizio Romano reports Inter and United are in advanced talks regarding the 34-year-old.

- Georginio Wijnaldum has been linked with a surprise move from Liverpool, with his contract expiring in 2021. However, Sky Sports reports the Netherlands international is happy at the European champions and wants to stay as long as possible.

- Arsenal are looking to strengthen in January, but the Premier League club are considering loan deals. Goal reports Arsenal are unlikely to make any permanent signings this month, unless an opportunity is too good to turn down.

- In a Premier League relegation battle and with injuries mounting, Aston Villa have held talks with Milan over possible deals for forward Krzysztof Piatek and goalkeeper Pepe Reina, according to the Daily Mail. Villa lost Wesley and Tom Heaton for the rest of the season to begin the year.

- Wilfried Zaha still looks set to leave Crystal Palace. The star's agent is said to have held preliminary talks with Bayern Munich, although a move to the Bundesliga giants is unlikely, according to Sky Sports. The Mirror reports Zaha's new agent, Pini Zahavi, is also trying to get the attacker to Tottenham.

- There continues to be talk about a possible move to Tottenham for Thomas Lemar. The Independent reports Spurs are considering making a loan approach for the Atletico Madrid midfielder, with a £51million (€60m) option to buy.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is uneasy at the thought of letting players leave Manchester United following rumours Inter have expressed an interest in Ashley Young.

United lost 3-1 at home to bitter rivals Manchester City in the first leg of their EFL Cup semi-final on Tuesday, with the visitors outclassing Solskjaer's men for most of the match.

The defeat highlighted the glaring deficiencies in United's squad, with Jesse Lingard, Andreas Pereira, Phil Jones and Victor Lindelof coming in for criticism for their respective performances.

Shortly after the match, rumours began to emerge claiming Serie A leaders Inter are in advanced talks for Young, who has been used as a back-up option for the full-back positions over the past few seasons.

Despite the 34-year-old being out of contract at the end of the season, Solskjaer seemed reluctant to let Young leave this month.

"Tonight's not the time to talk about players leaving, because we need the players we have in the squad and we've got a few months left of this season," Solskjaer told reporters.

"You've got to ask Ash, to be fair. For me it's about focusing on the next game and tonight [City]."

United return to Premier League action this weekend at home to Norwich City.

Liverpool striker Rhian Brewster has joined Swansea City on loan for the rest of the season.

The 19-year-old reunites with Swansea boss Steve Cooper, under whom he won the Golden Boot with England at the Under-17 World Cup in 2017.

Brewster has made only three appearances for Liverpool in 2019-20, most recently as a substitute in the 1-0 FA Cup third-round win over Everton at Anfield last Sunday.

The forward will be available to make his debut in the all-Welsh clash with Cardiff City on January 12.

Swansea sit sixth in the Championship after 26 matches.

Liverpool striker Rhian Brewster has joined Swansea City on loan for the rest of the season.

The 19-year-old reunites with Swansea boss Steve Cooper, under whom he won the Golden Boot with England at the Under-17 World Cup in 2017.

Brewster has made only three appearances for Liverpool in 2019-20, most recently as a substitute in the 1-0 FA Cup third-round win over Everton at Anfield last Sunday.

The forward will be available to make his debut in the all-Welsh clash with Cardiff City on January 12.

Swansea sit sixth in the Championship after 26 matches.

Edinson Cavani looks set to stay at Paris Saint-Germain after Thomas Tuchel suggested January departures will breed uncertainty following Leonardo's reported decision to keep the Uruguayan.

Cavani, 32, is into the final six months of his PSG contract and had been linked with an early exit after falling out of favour, but that now seems unlikely.

Sporting director Leonardo is said to have told Cavani he will not be allowed to leave in January, despite the pre-season arrival of Mauro Icardi limiting him to just four Ligue 1 starts this term.

The former Napoli striker was reportedly a target for Manchester United and Arsenal, however he looks set to see out the final months of his contract in Paris.

When asked if he agreed with Leonardo's reported decision, Tuchel said: "We need to make difficult decisions and we [Tuchel and Leonardo] have the same opinion.

"We don't like to change during the winter. It's not monopoly, it's a locker room, men who get on well together and who have formed a spirit.

"Each player entering or leaving creates uncertainty. If it's not necessary to change, that's fine. I am happy with the group."

PSG have not suffered with Cavani's decrease in playing time, as Icardi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe have scored 28 Ligue 1 goals between them.

But Tuchel did not rule out the experienced forward fighting his way back into contention.

"It depends on the quality of others and of him," Tuchel said. "It's healthy competition between attackers.

"Kylian and Mauro have been great together. Edinson is fighting for his place. This is what we ask of him.

"He can do it. He's a great player, we never forget about him, but there is great competition. They can all play, but I can't promise anyone anything."

Cavani scored a brace in Sunday's 6-0 Coupe de France win over Linas-Montlhery, and while Tuchel was happy with his display, he also highlighted it was a match against sixth-tier opposition and suggested he will pick a first-choice XI for the Coupe de la Ligue visit of Saint-Etienne on Wednesday.

"It's good and I'm happy for Edi, but we played with Edi, [Julian] Draxler, [Pablo] Sarabia and [Adil] Aouchiche against a team from the sixth division," the German added.

"They played well but that's what we expect of them. This is the best thing for Edi and the attackers because it gives confidence, but we can't forget what Mauro, Neymar, Kylian and Angel [Di Maria] did for several games.

"They have the opportunity to start together tomorrow [Wednesday]. We are a great team, we need each player in good shape."

Hoffenheim have completed the signing of striker Munas Dabbur from Sevilla for a reported fee of €12million.

The 27-year-old Israel international has agreed a four-and-a-half-year deal with the Bundesliga side and will link up with the squad in their training camp in Marbella.

"I'm absolutely delighted that the transfer to TSG worked out," Dabbur told his new club's website.

"Hoffenheim are an exciting team in one of the strongest leagues in the world. In recent years, I've come to see Hoffenheim as a club that offers footballers outstanding prospects to continue their development, and I can't wait to make my own contribution to this club's history."

Dabbur shone for Grasshoppers in Switzerland and Salzburg in Austria, but he made only nine appearances in all competitions under Julen Lopetegui at Sevilla, with all three of his goals coming in this season's Europa League.

He had been linked with a possible move to Premier League side West Ham before finalising a deal with Hoffenheim that reportedly includes an additional €2m in add-ons.

"Munas is a class striker – agile, quick reactions, precise timing, good technique and dangerous finishing," said Hoffenheim director of football Alexander Rosen.

"Furthermore, he's a strong character and speaks outstanding German, which will definitely help him settle in quickly."

Head coach Alfred Schreuder added: "Munas is a special footballer whose potential and international experience will undoubtedly enhance our play."

Dabbur could be involved in this week's friendly matches with Feyenoord and ADO Den Haag.

His first chance to appear in the Bundesliga will be at home to Eintracht Frankfurt on January 18.

Danny Drinkwater has joined Aston Villa on loan from Chelsea for the rest of the season after finishing his unsuccessful spell with Burnley.

The midfielder's short-term stint at Turf Moor officially ended on Monday after five months and just two competitive appearances.

Villa moved quickly to snap up the 29-year-old despite his unhappy time with the Clarets, during which he was allegedly involved in an altercation outside a Manchester nightclub in September.

An ankle injury suffered in the incident further curtailed Drinkwater's attempts to rejuvenate his career, although he did return to start Burnley's 4-1 home loss to Manchester City in December.

His move to Villa Park rules the relegation battlers out of contention for Chelsea strikers Olivier Giroud and Michy Batshuayi as Premier League regulations prohibit them from signing two players on loan from a divisional rival.

Villa boss Dean Smith said: "Danny was a key member of Leicester City's title-winning team and has represented England so he is a vastly experienced player.

"He will strengthen our squad significantly."

Villa's move into the transfer market comes after goalkeeper Tom Heaton and striker Wesley suffered season-ending knee injuries.

Oliver Kahn feels incoming Bayern Munich goalkeeper Alexander Nubel has taken a "very courageous step" by agreeing a move to Bavaria to challenge Manuel Neuer for the number one spot.

Last week Bayern confirmed Nubel, 23, would be joining the Bundesliga champions on a free in July upon the expiration of his contract with Schalke.

That was the very transfer Neuer made in 2011, though his presence as Bayern's number one and captain means Nubel may struggle for playing time initially.

Former Bayern keeper Kahn, who has returned to the club as a member of their executive board, had advised Nubel to remain at Schalke last April because he had not earned his stripes internationally.

"Back then I wasn't involved in decisions regarding transfers," Kahn told a news conference on Tuesday.

"Every player has to go his own way. He expressed that his way is to come to Bayern Munich; he wants to establish [himself] in a few years as the number one.

"But he wants to learn first from a great goalkeeper as Manuel Neuer is and to take this step you need to be very courageous. It's a very courageous step he decided to take here.

"At the moment we shouldn't think too much about it because we have to focus on the second part of the season, we want to show great performances and we need Manuel Neuer at his best, as we have seen in the first part of the season and recent years."

Neuer, 33, has a contract at Bayern until 2021 and he said Nubel's impending arrival would not affect discussions over a new deal.

A controversy over who occupies the spot between the posts for Bayern could therefore be forthcoming, with Kahn adamant his club made the right decision to acquire Nubel.

"I think we all know what a great talent Alexander Nubel represents, which qualities and abilities he has, so it was a smart and strategic decision to get him if Alexander Nubel is free," he added.

"To have such a great goalkeeper on board is a good sign. Alexander Nubel said he will put himself into the second row to start learning from Manuel Neuer, about whose qualities we don't have to talk about at all.

"He is world number one goalkeeper for many years and well-deserved number one of FC Bayern Munich. He secured lots of titles for FC Bayern Munich.

"For someone like me, who comes to this club after a break, I can speak freely and can discuss and give out my thoughts.

"We will see how we will handle this situation. At the moment, the full focus should be put on the second part of the season."

Whatever advice Kahn chips in with, it is likely to be delivered in a more measured tone than the one he delivered during his 14 years as a Bayern player.

"I think emotions are important - emotions on the pitch for me were an important part and as I saw others on the stands, they are also very emotional," said Kahn, who is due to replace Karl-Heinz Rummenigge as club chairman at the end of 2021.

"I have seen a lot of other things, many business-related things and there you don't see that many emotions and it doesn't help very much.

"Many might wonder, not seeing me so emotional any more. The emotion that I showed back on the pitch, it helped me, but you won't see me doing the same things with the board of directors."

With Manchester City's Premier League title defence in tatters and a mounting injury list in defence, Pep Guardiola's side need reinforcements.

Aymeric Laporte and John Stones have been struck down by injuries this season, leaving City with limited options in defence.

As Liverpool run away with the title, City are eyeing an Inter star to rebuild their central defence.

 

TOP STORY – CITY TARGETING SKRINIAR

Manchester City have set their sights on Inter centre-back Milan Skriniar, according to The Mirror.

Premier League champions City have struggled with injuries in defence this season as rivals Liverpool charge towards the title.

City are reportedly ready to buy in January and Skriniar – also a target for LaLiga champions Barcelona and Real Madrid – is on the list.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Athletic says MLS outfit DC United want to sign Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric after Wayne Rooney's exit.

Juventus are "still hopeful" of signing Paris Saint-Germain loanee Mauro Icardi, reports Calciomercato. Icardi left Inter for PSG at the start of the season, having been linked to Juve and Napoli.

- Sky Sports claims Manchester United are interested in Leicester City star James Maddison, but are aware a January transfer will be difficult. Sky Sports also says the Red Devils are chasing Lille's Boubakary Soumare, along with Arsenal, Chelsea, Madrid and Valencia.

Mario Gotze will leave Borussia Dortmund at the end of the season, according to Bild. Gotze's contract is set to expire and he has been unable to agree a new deal.

- TZ says Bayern Munich are interested in Manchester City full-back Joao Cancelo, with the Bundesliga champions distancing themselves from RB Leipzig's Lukas Klostermann.

Erling Haaland said Borussia Dortmund's plan "triggered" him to pick the Bundesliga side instead of Premier League giants Manchester United.

Highly rated Norwegian striker Haaland signed a four-and-a-half-year deal with Dortmund, despite strong interest from United.

United, along with RB Leipzig and Juventus, were among the admirers of Haaland – who scored 28 goals in 22 appearances across all competitions for Salzburg this season.

Haaland revealed why he opted to join Dortmund, with the 19-year-old sensation saying: "They just went direct and said 'we need you upfront, we like your playing style and we want to have you here'.

"I liked how they spoke to me then and that's what triggered me [to sign]. I just felt that me and Dortmund was a good match."

Haaland joins a Dortmund side fourth in the Bundesliga and seven points behind leaders Leipzig after 17 games.

Lucien Favre's Dortmund do not return action until January 18 due to the midseason break.

"To slightly get to know people better, to train good with the team and we'll see if I am good enough I will play and we'll just have to see, step by step," Haaland said of his aims at Dortmund.

"Of course, I want to play and I know I have something to give to the team. That's my main goal now to have smaller goals and to reach them and I know it will be good."

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