Football transfer rumours: Chelsea's N'Golo Kanté to join Real Madrid?

Gregg Bakowski
<span>Photograph: Christophe Archambault/AFP via Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Christophe Archambault/AFP via Getty Images

What does Zinedine Zidane dream about? Cute cats? No, it’s not his style. Cakes? He’s too svelte. Scary monsters? He’s 47 years old for heaven’s sake! No, according to reports in Spain, Zizou goes to bed at night and “dreams of” N’Golo Kanté. The Real Madrid manager believes signing the ultimate defensive midfield pivot will open up a new glittering pathway towards untold glories at the Bernabéu. Kanté won’t come cheap, though, so Florentino Pérez will strap £86m to James Rodríguez and dangle him in front of Stamford Bridge in the hope that Chelsea beancounters bite.

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Another midfielder who may be on the move is Ivan Rakitic, who has fallen so far down the pecking order at Barcelona that he’s probably making tea for Frenkie de Jong as you read this sentence. It says here that Juventus and Manchester United are interested, though with the Italian champions having around 756 available central midfielders at present, Rakitic might prefer to join Scott McTominay in his quest to stabilise the dysfunctional mess in Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s midfield. United may have to stump up £35m for the 31-year-old, though, which doesn’t sound like good value – but when has that ever stopped them in recent seasons? A better option could be catalogue model Emre Can, who has got the funk on at Juventus having been omitted from the Champions League squad. But those Liverpool links may be a stumbling block.

Olivier Giroud is getting fed up with kicking his heels on the Chelsea sidelines and has sent out smoke signals that have been picked up as far away as Milan and Vancouver. Inter manager Antonio Conte would love to see his old flame again and may not be able to help himself in January but, with the Frenchman approaching retirement age, a move to MLS with the Vancouver Whitecaps could be just the ticket for the old-timer and may be more appealing.

Reports in Spain suggest that no matter how good Philippe Coutinho is on loan with Bayern Munich, they still don’t want him back at the end of the season. So if the Bundesliga club choose not to take up the option to buy the whizzy little playmaker for £104m, then a more likely destination is a return to the Premier League.

And Crystal Palace scouts have got all hot and bothered by the exploits of Gabriel ‘Gabigol’ Barbosa, who has been guzzling goals in Brazil in exactly the manner you would expect from a striker with such a nickname. The 23-year-old, who is on loan with Flamengo from Inter, has scored 23 times in 28 appearances – and weighed in with five assists to boot. Palace, who are expecting to receive a huge fee for Wilfried Zaha in the near future, would be wiling to throw in a bid of around £30m for the player in January.

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