Football transfer rumours: Chelsea to pip Manchester City to Virgil van Dijk?

Nick Miller
Virgil van Dijk, who Chelsea could sign ahead of Manchester City. Photograph: Julian Finney/Getty Images

If there is a way to make a mess of a defender, the chances are Manchester City will manage it. John Stones, Nicolás Otamendi, Eliaquim Mangala – these guys were all perfectly decent players at their old clubs, but pop on that blue shirt and they turn into shambling wrecks, unsure which foot to put their boots on. So in that respect it’s probably a good job that Chelsea are reported to be the favourites to sign Southampton’s Virgil van Dijk. Word on the street is that Antonio Conte’s boys will shell out the thick end of £50million for the defender, who might have to limp his way to Stamford Bridge.

James Rodriguez could join Van Dijk at the Bridge, if you believe everything you hear – specifically, in this case, that Real Madrid are going to sell him and that Chelsea and Liverpool are mustard keen. Chelsea might need those two to feel a little better about themselves, because they have competition for another of their big targets. Apparently Atlético Madrid have joined the chase for Arsenal tyro Alexis Sánchez, even though the Vincente Calderón is most definitely not in London. Atlético might need to raise some funds from somewhere, and that somewhere might be from Manchester United, who are keen on Uruguay defender José María Giménez, with whom the Spaniards are theoretically willing to part for the right price.

Speaking of United, the usual humdrum about David de Gea is doing the rounds. Yap yap Real Madrid, rhubarb rhubarb £66million, flim flam flip flap. Perhaps of more interest to you is United’s interest in Napoli winger Dries Mertens, whose contract is up at the end of next season and who apparently has a £30million release clause in his current deal. United will offer him twice the money he’s on at the moment, which sounds like a decent old bit of business to us. United also fancy Joshua Kimmich, but then who wouldn’t? Manchester City do too, so that might be an entertaining summer mud-wrestle for the German youngster.

Despite his obvious lack of passion and taking the easy option in choosing to play for the country he was born in, that hasn’t dissuaded Tottenham from the notion that Wilfried Zaha is a man worth having. Of course that might have something to do with the alternatives in their squad already, Erik Lamela suffering from chronic hip badness and Moussa Sissoko suffering from chronic badness badness. Another bid from Tottenham for Crystal Palace’s star man seems likely come the summer, as they very much toyed with the idea in the last transfer window, it says here. If Zaha does go, can anyone think of another example of a player nurtured by a club, sold for big money, bought back for a fraction of the price, nurtured again then sold again? Worked out pretty sweet for Palace, if you look at it like that. Also on his merry way out of Selhurst Park will be Yohan Cabaye, who wants to take his absurdly handsome face down to Marseille.

Everton are looking pretty good at the moment, but even the best of us can improve. And the Toffees reckon they could do with an upgrade at the back, and are thus hanging their nose over Hull’s Harry Maguire, who looks like a PE teacher but sounds like a 90s boy band star. They’re also interested in Micheal Keane, but in the same way that young children might be interested in a pony. Dynamo Kiev and Croatia defender Domagoj Vida is a popular boy by the sound of things, because not just Everton but West Ham, Stoke and Sunderland are after him too. And let’s leave it at that.

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