The January transfer window is up and running with several of Europe's top clubs in the market for reinforcements as they battle to strengthen their squad for the remainder of the 2020-21 season. Meanwhile there is already speculation aplenty over what will happen in the summer months when a host of big names enter the free agency market.
Giving you an idea of the hottest stories, we round up the latest transfer rumors. As always, you can check in with transfer guru and CBS insider Fabrizio Romano's weekly Here We Go column. Check out today's latest stories from across the world below:
Man City believe they're leading Messi race
The race to sign Lionel Messi is heating up and every tough game for Barcelona seems to only further enhance the belief of his suitors that the Argentine will leave the Nou Camp when his contract expires at the end of the season. At the head of the queue to sign him, according to The Telegraph, are Manchester City.
They report that City are confident that they're leading Paris Saint-Germain in the race and that they are putting together plans to maximize the significant investment that they would be making to sign a 33-year-old with nearly 1,000 competitive games already in his locker. That would include him eventually winding down his career with another club in the City Football Group, which includes franchises in India, Japan, Australia and the USA.
Messi has made no secret of his desire to play in MLS at some stage in his career and indeed Spanish publication AS reported earlier this week that Barcelona presidential candidate Xavi Vilajoana is looking at whether the Catalans can acquire a franchise stateside.
Messi's future continues to dominate the conversation in the Barcelona presidential election, due to take place on January 24. with candidate Agusti Benedito acknowledging that the club were facing an uphill struggle to retain the Argentine.
"Keeping Messi would be the best news for the club but I am not very optimistic," he told ESPN. "Remember that in August he said he wanted to leave after 20 years and now he's still not cleared up what he wants to do. The most likely outcome I see is that he leaves us in the summer."
West Ham and Wolves eye Ajax striker
According to De Telegraaf via Voetbal Primeur, West Ham United and Wolverhampton Wanderers are both chasing Ajax striker Lassina Traore. The 19-year-old has been in remarkable form this season, making headlines worldwide when he scored five and assisted three in a 13-0 win over VVV Venlo. That helped swell an already impressive goal return for Traore, who has 12 goals and 12 assists in 29 senior games for the Dutch giants.
Unsurprisingly it has been reported in the Netherlands that Ajax are reluctant to lose such a promising young player though the simple fact of their business model is that every player at their club has a price at which they can be sold.
Notably, West Ham's reported interest in Traore comes as Ajax negotiate a deal for the Hammers' own striker Sebastien Haller. Sources have confirmed to CBS Sports that the Premier League club are prepared to part way with Haller and are ready to accept a significant loss on the $60million they paid for the Ivory Coast international. Indeed the opening bid is less than half that figure.
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Haller enjoyed great success under Ajax boss Erik ten Haag between 2014 and 2017, scoring 51 goals in 98 games before joining Eintracht Frankfurt. The 26-year-old has struggled to find the same success he enjoyed in the Netherlands and Germany at West Ham and lost his starting berth to Michail Antonio following the appointment of David Moyes.
Whatever West Ham do get for Haller and Robert Snodgrass, set to join West Bromwich Albion, will go into finding a new striker to rival Antonio. The Hammers are prepared to back the judgement of manager Moyes, who has enjoyed success in the transfer market with the likes of Vladimir Coufal and Tomas Soucek.
Liverpool's Ramos raid
According to Spanish TV show El Chiringuito de Jugones, Liverpool are eyeing a surprise swoop for Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos. The 34-year-old is out of contract at the end of the season and the Spanish champions are yet to agree new terms with reports in Spain suggesting he is unwilling to lower his wage demands.
Though there would doubtless be a string of clubs declaring their interest should Ramos depart the Santiago Bernabeu, Liverpool would certainly be a curious suitor for him after their recent encounters. Notably in the 2018 Champions League final the Spaniard earned the enmity of many on Merseyside for a robust challenge on Mohamed Salah that left the Egyptian with a shoulder injury.
Equally Liverpool's need for veteran center back reinforcements is perhaps more pressing now, with Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez set to miss much of the remainder of the season, than it will be in the summer. The Reds' shortlist for the position includes Schalke defender Ozan Kabak but Jurgen Klopp and his transfer committee are reluctant to rush a decision that may backfire on them.