We’re into the final hours of the January transfer window, which shuts at 11pm GMT (6pm ET; 3pm PST) on Tuesday, January 31.
Here’s what to keep an eye on as the clock ticks down…
Tottenham Hotspur’s move for Pedro Porro is off after Sporting Lisbon reneged on terms of the proposed deal.
The 23-year-old right wing-back was set to join Spurs and has been left distraught after Sporting president Frederico Varandas told him that following Saturday’s Portuguese League Cup final he would be allowed to leave.
Porro now looks set to miss out on the switch despite talks reaching an advanced stage and Sporting lining up Hector Bellerin of Barcelona as a replacement.
The performances of Porto for Sporting were rewarded with an international debut in March 2021, which came in a World Cup qualifier against Georgia.
This campaign he has been a regular presence for Ruben Amorim’s side, recording three goals and 11 assists in 25 matches across all competitions.
Sporting sit fourth in the Primeira Liga.
Talks over a move for Enzo Fernandez from Benfica to Chelsea have advanced. Dialogue has been taking place ever since Chelsea’s initial attempt to sign the Argentina World Cup winner failed to turn into anything concrete at the beginning of the month. But with the continued help of prominent intermediary Jorge Mendes in recent days, discussions have moved forward.
Fernandez, 22, has a release clause of £106million ($128m) and Chelsea were adamant they would not pay that price. But the new ownership at Stamford Bridge may now be willing to go to such lengths if the payment terms are right and given their desire to secure Fernandez before other suitors vie for him in he summer.
It remains unclear if a deal will be done but there are no other players involved at this point in time.
The view at Arsenal, meanwhile, is that the Premier League leaders must sign a midfielder in the next two days but Brighton have been steadfast in their determination that it will not be Moises Caicedo.
Arsenal’s £60million bid was turned down on Friday and increased to £65million plus £5million in add-ons on Sunday night, but Brighton dismissed it as irrelevant because they insist the Ecuador international is not for sale and going nowhere.
During dialogue between the two clubs, Brighton have made their position clear but Arsenal’s interest remains.
Brighton have been exploring potential replacements if he were to leave but that is just part of their normal recruitment process.
The club consider the case closed for this market — not only is the 21-year-old under contract until 2025 but there is an option to extend that by a further 12 months.
Central midfielder Naouirou Ahamada (top-left photo), though, is set to have a medical at Crystal Palace on Monday after the club agreed a €12million (£12.5m; $13m) deal with Stuttgart.
The 20-year-old France Under-17 international would link up with Patrick Vieira in what is being viewed as a savvy deal for a player who was expected to generate huge interest in the summer.
Everton are also sure to be active in the last hours of the window. Buoyed by the £40million they received from Newcastle United for Anthony Gordon, they are attempting to reinvest some of the money straight away and buy a direct replacement in Rennes winger Kamaldeen Sulemana (top-right photo).
Everton made a verbal offer on Sunday and were waiting for a response from Rennes, who want in the region of €30m to get the deal done.
Southampton, who are also trying to bring in a forward before the window shuts, have already had a €20m bid rejected but remain keen to recruit the 20-year-old Ghana international, while Bournemouth showed interest as well.
Sulemana is under contract until 2026 but wants to leave now owing to a lack of playing time.
Everton are also among the clubs keen to sign Anthony Elanga on loan from Manchester United, with the 20-year-old looking for more minutes.
United, however, are relatively low on attacking options and, with little opportunity or finance to source a replacement, the probability is that Elanga will stay at Old Trafford until the summer, along with Facundo Pellistri — whom manager Erik ten Hag indicated last week would not be allowed to leave on loan.
United remain unlikely to make any further additions this month beyond signing Wout Weghorst on loan but they have moved to snap up a player for the future.
A deal has been agreed with Cardiff City for striker Gabriele Biancheri, the 16-year-old Wales Under-17 international who also qualifies to represent England and Italy.
Biancheri completed a medical over the weekend and is set to join United, signing a scholar contract and then a long-term professional deal when he turns 17 in September.
The move does not need to be done before Tuesday’s deadline but United have acted decisively to secure a player who was on the radar for a number of leading clubs.
Visit Saudi to sponsor Women’s World Cup
Visit Saudi, the Gulf nation’s tourist board which counts Lionel Messi as an ambassador, is set to be unveiled as a sponsor of this summer’s FIFA Women’s World Cup.
The tournament takes place in Australia and New Zealand in July and August, and will feature 32 teams for the first time.
The World Cup will also have a new commercial strategy, with brands other than FIFA’s long-term partners — such as Coca-Cola and Adidas — invited to sponsor the competition as world football’s governing body looks to capitalise on ever-increasing interest in the women’s game.
In December 2021, FIFA announced Visa would be its first “global women’s football partner” and in December, Australia’s Commonwealth Bank (CommBank) was named as an “official supporter” of this summer’s tournament.
Saudi Arabia’s involvement, however, is bound to draw interest given the country’s human rights record, which Amnesty International calls “appalling”.
The nation only began to allow women to watch football matches in 2018 and their Women’s Football League was not launched until 2020.
It was only this month that Saudi Arabia’s women’s side hosted and won a four-team event in a bid to secure a FIFA women’s ranking for the first time.
Adverts promoting Saudi Arabia were very visible in neighbouring Qatar at last year’s men’s World Cup, and securing such a high-profile FIFA sponsorship will invite more questions about whether the country will soon run to host a major football tournament.
A joint bid between Saudi Arabia, Greece and Egypt for the men’s World Cup in 2030 has long been mooted.
Chelsea looking to plug £60m sponsorship gap
Chelsea have spent more than any other Premier League club in the transfer window this month but valuable new commercial deals for next season continue to prove harder to land, write Philip Buckingham and Simon Johnson.
Shirt sponsor Three, the telecommunications firm, will see its three-year arrangement with Chelsea expire this summer, while sleeve sponsor WhaleFin, the cryptocurrency group, is also set to exit a lucrative eight-year deal after just 12 months.
The two sponsors are thought to be worth a combined £60million ($74.4m) a year to Chelsea and, as yet, replacement partners have not been found by a club that has spent over £400million on transfers this season. An agreement with a new shirt sponsor had been close but collapsed before Christmas.
Chelsea’s commercial operations have not enjoyed a smooth transition since the arrival of a new ownership group led by Todd Boehly.
Damian Willoughby lasted a matter of weeks as commercial director before his contract was terminated amid allegations of inappropriate conduct, while WhaleFin’s financial problems brought a premature end to a sleeve sponsorship due to run until 2030.
Chelsea, though, feel they still have time to agree new deals, and the Boehly-Clearlake consortium is far more proactive in looking for new partners than under the club’s previous owner, Roman Abramovich. Last year, Clearlake’s Jose E Feliciano spoke about the ambition to more than double Chelsea’s revenue — the total amount of money generated — and take it to £1billion.
But Chelsea are not the only Premier League club searching for a new sponsor in a competitive marketplace. Manchester United announced last month they will part with TeamViewer once a replacement has been found, while Newcastle United are also seeking a replacement for Fun88, the betting firm.
Soonsup-Bell set for Spurs switch — but Chelsea include a sell-on clause
Tottenham are not paying a fee to sign Chelsea’s highly-rated academy striker Jude Soonsup-Bell, writes Simon Johnson.
The Athletic reported earlier this month that the 19-year-old was going to leave Chelsea in January, five months before his contract expired, with a number of clubs in England and Europe trying to sign him.
Soonsup-Bell was due to have a medical at Spurs on Monday morning to finalise the switch to north London.
No money will be exchanged, but Chelsea have installed a significant sell-on clause so they will get a good sum from any future sale, and personal terms have already been agreed on a multi-year contract.
There is still a lot of competition ahead of him at Tottenham for his position, with Harry Kane, Son-Heung Min and new loan signing Arnaut Danjuma to name just three. But he arguably faces even greater obstacles at Chelsea, while the prospect of learning from Kane is another significant factor in his decision.
Soonsup-Bell will start out in the Under-21s, with a decision about a possible loan so he can get more experience to be held in the summer.
Southampton considering new training base
Southampton have held exploratory talks over leaving their Staplewood training ground and building a new campus, reports Jacob Tanswell.
No decision will be made in the immediate future but the club have previously carried out feasibility studies to assess the potential long-term possibilities of moving training base and selling the land at Staplewood. Property companies were first hired over a year ago to provide suggestions and evaluate the costs of acquiring additional land or building a new complex.
Situated on the outskirts of the New Forest in Marchwood, across the River Test from Southampton, Staplewood is widely renowned for helping to develop players such as Theo Walcott, Gareth Bale and Luke Shaw.
But, despite undergoing a £40million ($49.52m) redevelopment in 2014 with ongoing building work still taking place, it is no longer big enough to host all club age groups, including the women’s team who turned professional at the start of this season. A new training ground would offer improved facilities and a bigger space.
While no decision is close to being made, a potential new site in Winchester would carry appeal.
Logistically, Winchester could help to persuade players and parents in the youngest age groups who don’t live in Southampton to join the academy, if their travel time is reduced.
Derby and Wayne Rooney ‘move on’
Remember when Wayne Rooney was given the freedom of the city of Derby? The vote was unanimous last May as councillors announced plans to honour the former England captain for his efforts in trying to save Derby County from relegation to League One, writes Daniel Taylor.
Rooney was hailed for his “great commitment” to the city and for “galvanising and revolutionising” Derby’s fanbase at a time when the club were in administration and had been docked 21 points for breaking financial rules. Jonathan Smale, one of the councillors who put forward the motion, said “loyalty in football is hard to come by these days” and praised Rooney for an “exceptional job… lifting the hearts and minds of fans”.
Now, though, Derby city council has quietly abandoned these plans.
Rooney resigned a month after the council’s vote, having backed the failed takeover bid by American businessman Chris Kirchner, and was appointed as the head coach of DC United a few weeks later.
In a statement to The Athletic, the council’s deputy leader, Mick Barker, said it had “proved difficult to maintain contact” with Rooney since his move to MLS.
“Time has now passed,” said Barker. “The current progress made by the team and manager (Paul Warne) following settlement of the administrative order makes it difficult to rekindle the process if Mr Rooney returns to the UK. The club, the city and Mr Rooney have moved on.”
Sunderland’s Rigg, 15, bringing football’s gambling rules into focus
Chris Rigg, the 15-year-old midfielder, could not buy a Sunderland junior shirt with a gambling sponsor but he was able to play for the first team with the branding on his chest in the FA Cup fourth round against Fulham on Saturday, reports Dan Sheldon.
Sunderland signed a three-year deal with Spreadex, a betting and financial trading company established in 1999, at the beginning of the season.
Gambling in the UK is banned for those under 18.
The Big Step, a campaign to end gambling advertising and sponsorship in football, said on Twitter: “There must… be attention on the fact that gambling sponsorship in football means children are used as billboards for online casinos. That isn’t normal or safe.”
Logos on football kits, however, are not deemed to be advertising under current guidelines.
And while the Championship club do not display Spreadex’s branding on shirts in any of their under-18s competitions — the Premier League or FA Youth Cup — it is worn by Sunderland Under-21s.
(Top photos: Getty Images; design: Sam Richardson)
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