Three players from Serie A, Ligue 1 and the Bundesliga are being heavily targeted by Premier League clubs as the winter transfer window heats up.
We begin with Wolfsburg’s Ricardo Rodriguez. A Swiss international with World Cup and European Championship experience at 24-years-of-age, Rodriguez is believed to be a target for London rivals Arsenal and Chelsea.
Naturally a full-back, Rodriguez’s 6-foot-frame enables him to play at centre-back, something he has done a part of a back three with Wolfsburg this season. His versatility across the back line seems a perfect match for Conte, who has used Cesar Azpilicueta and Victor Moses in non-preferred roles for maximum effect this season.
Rodriguez’s desire to leave Wolfsburg, if there is any, is understandable; they sit just three points above the relegation spots, though they have at least managed back-to-back victories in recent weeks to scrape some hope of survival. Rodriguez has scored two goals and added two assists in the Bundesliga this term.
Rodriguez is under contract until June 2019 and has a €22 million release clause. Inter Milan are also tipped as heavy favourites to sign the Swiss international.
Arsene Wenger provided a damper for Arsenal’s fans hopes of adding the full-back to their ranks, stating that ‘nobody’ is coming in this window, while Antonio Conte refused to speak about players from teams other than his own.
Staying with Chelsea targets for the moment, Faouzi Ghoulam is next on their wish list. The Napoli full-back’s contract runs out in June 2018 and rumours are circulating that he is stalling on signing a new deal.
The Algerian has played for his national team in the World Cup and just joined up with the squad for the upcoming African Cup of Nations. He is an experienced full-back who would give Marcos Alonso competition, plus his wage demands are well below what a top Premier League player would ask for.
Chelsea will have to fend off competition from Atletico Madrid for his signature, though. It is believed that the 25-year-old is asking for somewhere around a £40 thousand per-week deal.
Last up is Porto right-back Ricardo Pereira, who is currently on loan with Ligue 1 table-toppers Nice. Pereira has been capped twice by Portugal at the age of 23 and has played in 15 of Nice’s 19 games in the league this season, scoring one goal.
Although it has already been stated that Wenger won’t make moves this January, the Portuguese defender could be an option for Arsenal in the future. The Gunners depth at right-back is thin, with Hector Bellerin untroubled for a starting spot ahead of Carl Jenkinson and Mathieu Debuchy. The former is being eyed for a move away from the club while the latter has endured a torrid, injury plagued time at Arsenal.
A £20 million bid would be required to lure the full-back to Arsenal, which would be a betrayal of character of sorts for Arsene Wenger, who has never spent such a fee for a single player in a midseason window.