West Ham Linked With Stunning Dimitri Payet Return – But Conflicting Report Claims Interest Is False

Conflicting reports have emerged over the future of former West Ham playmaker Dimitri Payet, with sources in France suggesting that a return to east London could be on the cards.

The 32-year-old left the London Stadium in acrimonious circumstances three years ago, engineering a move back to Ligue 1 after struggling to adapt to life in England.

Prior to his departure, Payet was a huge favourite with West Ham’s supporters – with a string of absolutely sensational performances helping the Hammers say goodbye to their old Boleyn Ground home in some style.

But once homesickness kicked in, Payet became a disruptive influence at the club, leading to then-manager Slaven Bilic revealing in an emotional, but funny, press conference that his star player was refusing to play for the club.

Marseille eventually came calling to take him home to France, but L’Equipe (via ​MailOnline Sport) claim that West Ham are pursuing a deal to bring Payet back to east London. 

As ever, though, counter claims have swiftly hit the headlines, and ​Sky Sports report that Payet is not a target for the Hammers, insisting that interest has not been registered with Marseille despite L’Equipe claiming otherwise.

Dimitri Payet

Instead, Sky’s report cites ​West Ham’s unhappiness with how Payet exited the club in the first place, even though they managed to recoup a sizeable £25m fee for his services. 

Abdoulaye Touré, a defensive midfielder who plays for Nantes, is touted as an alternative target for manager David Moyes, who has overseen just one signing in the January transfer window so far; the return of goalkeeper Darren Randolph from Middlesbrough.

One thing that is certain is West Ham’s need to bring in reinforcements ahead of a tough few months. They are firmly embroiled in this season’s relegation dogfight, with the comprehensive 4-1 defeat away at ​Leicester indicative of the club’s problems this season.

An alarming lack of pace, concentration and creativity was on show once more at King Power Stadium, with Michail Antonio – a substitute on the night – the only West Ham player to emerge from the game with any credit.

Sebastien Haller

A move for Payet sounds fanciful but, in truth, would do little to solve the Hammers issues. That said, he did score 15 times and contribute 23 assists during his two-year stint at the club – numbers that the current crop of players can only dream of right now.


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Gareth Bale Set for Tests on New Ankle Injury After Copa del Rey Win

​Gareth Bale faces tests on a possible ankle injury, after coming off in the second half of Real Madrid’s Copa del Rey win over Unionistas de Salamanca on Wednesday evening.

Real Madrid enjoyed a fairly trouble-free evening away against third-tier Salamanca, with Bale opening the scoring on 18 minutes. While the hosts got a surprise equaliser in the second half, it took Madrid – 19 times winners of the competition – five minutes to go back in front, while they eventually won 3-1 on the night.

With ​Barcelona leaving it late as they toiled to a 2-1 victory over UD Ibiza on the same night, Zinedine Zidane and his charges enjoyed a less taxing experience in the revamped Copa, with the only lasting worry Bale’s fitness.

​​The Welsh forward was taken off in the 53rd minute, apparently nursing an ankle knock.

Speaking after the game, Zidane told ​reporters: “He’s twisted his ankle a bit. I don’t think it’s much but, as always, we’ll see tomorrow. He couldn’t go on.”

After the game, COPE journalist Melchior Ruiz was among those to tweet that the initial diagnosis was a sprain, while the player would be tested on Thursday.

Bale has remained a marginalised figure at ​Real Madrid this season under Zidane, starting nine La Liga games and just one in the Champions League, with his only two goals prior to Wednesday night’s effort, coming in the 2-2 draw with Villarreal back in September. Bale was also sent off in that encounter.

Gareth Bale,Guille Andres

The forward continues to be linked with a move away from Madrid, though the likelihood of a deal being done any time soon seems minimal.

​Reports from Spain on Wednesday claimed that Tottenham had made a bid to bring their former star back to London, while Bale’s agent Jonathan Barnett – not for the first time – categorically dismissed the notion that his client could leave on loan.

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Manchester United’s Dean Henderson Added to Chelsea Shortlist in Search for New Goalkeeper

​Chelsea have discussed a number of different options as they contemplate replacing goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, the latest of which is Manchester United youngster Dean Henderson, who has excelled on loan at Sheffield United.

Current first-choice Kepa has endured a torrid run of form this season and has cost the Blues on a number of occasions. 16% of the shots which Chelsea have faced have resulted in goals, and no other Premier League team has conceded at a higher rate since the stat was first tracked in 2003.

Kepa Arrizabalaga

​Links to Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope emerged recently, and ​The Times have since confirmed that Pope’s name has come up in initial discussions as ​Chelsea look to bring in a more reliable shot stopper.

The report adds that Henderson has also been mentioned as a potential replacement for Arrizabalaga. The 22-year-old has been in fine form out on loan with ​Sheffield United, and Chelsea have seemingly been impressed.

However, it certainly seems unlikely that ​United would offload such an exciting youngster to a rival like Chelsea.

Dean Henderson

A source confirmed to 90min earlier in January that Frank Lampard’s ​search for a winger has been put on hold while they look for a new goalkeeper, as that position has suddenly emerged as one of the weakest in the squad.

Arrizabalaga, who became the world’s most expensive goalkeeper as a result of his £71.6m move to Stamford Bridge in 2018, has failed to live up to expectations so far.

The Spaniard has shown glimpses of his potential, but the excitement appears to have evaporated this season. 

Kepa Arrizabalaga

While Chelsea’s defensive line is not exempt from criticism, Arrizabalaga has proven to be a real weak link in the Blues’ side, and the fact that no ​Premier League side has ever officially conceded goals at a higher rate speaks volumes of their struggles.

Backup goalkeeper Willy Caballero could soon find himself in the starting lineup as a result of Arrizabalaga’s frailties, but Chelsea fans will certainly want a more high-profile name in between the sticks in the near future.


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Barcelona Pushing for Loan Deal for Valencia Striker Rodrigo

​Barcelona are understood to be negotiating with Valencia to try and bring striker Rodrigo Moreno in on loan for the remainder of the season.

La Blaugrana have been on the lookout for a new forward all season, but Luis Suárez’s predicted four-month absence through injury has accelerated their plans and new boss Quique Setién has already ​spoken with club officials about the need for a new forward.

Luis Suarez

A number of names have been considered, but ​Sport claim that ​Barcelona have settled on Rodrigo. However, given they aren’t blessed with a large transfer kitty this winter, they want to take the Spaniard on a six-month loan with an option to buy in the summer.

Rodrigo is believed to have informed Barcelona that he would be willing to head to Camp Nou this month, and negotiations are well underway to try and make it happen.

To try and get this deal over the line, Barcelona are prepared to let Valencia take one of their players on loan in return, but there is no mention of which players have been mentioned.

Mundo Deportivo add that Rodrigo is represented by agent Jorge Mendes, who just so happens to be a close adviser to Valencia president Peter Lim as well.

Both Rodrigo and Barcelona are optimistic that Mendes will be able to help complete this deal, having already been crucial in their previous negotiations with Valencia which brought André Gomes to the club.

Rodrigo

A deal for Rodrigo is seen as far simpler than any potential moves for either RB Leipzig’s Timo Werner or ​Arsenal striker ​Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, both of whom are close to the top of Barcelona’s wish list.

On Aubameyang, ​Mundo Deportivo add that he has actually told Barcelona of his interest in joining the club, although Arsenal are determined to do whatever it takes to keep him for the remainder of the season.

Arsenal have completely rejected the idea of losing Aubameyang, and given he is the club captain, he is unlikely to kick up a fuss and force an exit, so Barcelona have turned to Rodrigo instead.


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José Mourinho Offers Harry Winks Injury Update & Laments Lack of Attacking Options in Norwich Win

​Tottenham Hotspur manager José Mourinho has revealed that the injury suffered by midfielder Harry Winks does not look too serious.

Winks was forced off the field during the second half of Wednesday’s 2-1 win over Norwich City after a heavy challenge from Todd Cantwell left him with an ankle injury. Having already lost striker Harry Kane to a long-term injury, fans feared that Winks might find himself sidelined as well.

Harry Winks

Fortunately, speaking after the game (via the ​Daily Mail), Mourinho revealed that Winks’ injury does not look too bad, and any period on the sidelines is expected to be relatively brief.

“It is not a crazy one – hopefully weeks and not months,” the boss admitted.

Mourinho will certainly be glad that Winks’ injury is not too serious. His squad has already been stretched by injuries and a lack of recruitment – particularly in attack, where ​Spurs are still lacking an out-and-out striker following ​Kane’s injury (except for Troy Parrott…whom Jose Mourinho has clearly forgotten about).

Lucas Moura started up front against ​Norwich, but it was ​Son Heung-min who popped up with a late header to rescue the three points for Spurs.

Heung-Min Son

Mourinho confessed to ​BBC Sport that the situation has proven to be a real challenge as he does not have the same squad depth as some of his ​Premier League rivals.

“We are in a situation when I have to think, think, think,” said Mourinho. “I look to bench and we don’t have attacking players. I had to take off Érik Lamela because of fatigue but we showed an incredible reaction to score a second goal.

“When ​Chelsea want to win they bring on Michy Batshuayi. When ​Manchester City want to change Gabriel Jesus they bring in Sergio Agüero.

Jose Mourinho

“We are so, so unlucky with injuries. We get back Hugo Lloris and we lose Harry Winks. It’s incredible.”

Mourinho’s only remotely attacking substitute was midfielder Christian Eriksen, who has been heavily linked with a move to ​Inter, so the boss was clearly letting Spurs officials know that they need to look to the ​transfer market as soon as possible.


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