Liga - Paper Round: Barca want Chelsea ace who's never played

Usually when you hear of Barcelona sniffing around a Premier League player it is Arsenal fans who break out into a sweat.

Liga - Shock as FIFA hits Barcelona with lengthy transfer ban

View photo

Barcelona fans

Well this time the Catalan giants are being linked with a Chelsea player, one who signed for the Blues 18 months ago.

But there is a twist: he has never actually played for the Stamford Bridge club.

Chelsea signed goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois for £8 million from Belgian side Genk but they immediately sent him out on loan to Atletico Madrid when the Liga side sold David De Gea to Manchester United.

The 20-year-old has been such a revelation in Spain that Barcelona have targeted him as the man to replace Victor Valdes, according to The Sun.

The paper reveals that: "Sources close to the Belgian player confirmed last night that Barca have sounded out the chances of signing the 20-year-old but so far 'without making a formal offer'."

It all means Chelsea could soon have a decision to make regarding just how valuable Courtois is to them, and whether they are happy enough to carry on with Peter Cech, who is still only 30.

On Sunday it was reported that Mario Balotelli was taking Manchester City to a tribunal to challenge a £340,000-a-week fine and as a result the Times is now claiming his relationship with the club is "at rock bottom".

The paper says that: "City are understood to be eager for the situation to be resolved before the winter transfer window opens in a fortnight in the hope that they will be free of any complications should a buyer be found for the 22-year-old.

"AC Milan and Inter Milan, from whom City signed Balotelli for £23 million in August 2010, are thought to be monitoring the situation, but even though the player has two and a half years left on his contract, the latest developments are unlikely to bolster his transfer value, which has been damaged by indiscretions and indifferent form."

Merseyside clubs Liverpool and Everton are both said to be interested in Birmingham and England goalkeeper Jack Butland, but won't get him on the cheap.

The Blues rejected a £6m bid from Southampton before the transfer window shut and with Butland now an established regular in the Championship, manager Lee Clark is quoted in The Sun as saying that they "would be looking for an even more substantial figure than we were offered in the summer," should they decide to sell the 19-year-old.

Norwich City are plotting a double raid on Brighton as they look to bolster a squad that has gone an impressive 10 Premier League games unbeaten.

Canaraies boss Chris Hughton plans to submit bids with the Championship club for striker Craig Mackail-Smith and midfielder Liam Bridcutt. (Daily Mirror)

Finally, Marouane Fellaini's misdemeanours at Stoke have so infuriated manager David Moyes that he may now be willing to sell the Belgian.

The Guardian says that "Chelsea and Paris St-Germain are among his prospective suitors, and having condemned the 25-year-old's lack of discipline in no uncertain words, it may be Moyes will conclude the £30m transfer fee he would command is now worth taking."

View comments (83)