Joao Felix has had a mixed start to his loan spell at Chelsea, but the Premier League club are eager to make his stay permanent.

The 23-year-old Portugal forward joined Chelsea on loan from Atletico Madrid in January, getting sent off on debut before scoring on his Premier League return against West Ham on Saturday.

Felix signed for Atletico from Benfica in 2019 on a seven-year contract for a transfer fee of €126 million and extended his deal until 2027 prior to the move to Stamford Bridge.


TOP STORY – CHELSEA WANT PERMANENT JOAO FELIX STAY

Chelsea want to make Joao Felix's stay at Stamford Bridge permanent, according to Relevo.

The Portuguese is on loan with the Blues for the rest of the season from Atletico Madrid, with Chelsea willing to pay €100 million (£88.3m) for his services.

The Spaniards were originally asking for more, believed to be around €130m-140m (£115m-£124m) but may be willing to accept a reduced fee.

Meanwhile, Christian Pulisic could be heading in the opposition direction with Atletico considering a cut-price bid for Chelsea's United States international, according to Fichajes.

 

ROUND-UP

- Real Madrid are monitoring Tottenham forward Richarlison and Juventus striker Dusan Vlahovic, reports ESPN. Los Blancos are looking for long-term replacements for 35-year-old Karim Benzema.

- Neymar's future at Paris Saint-Germain is uncertain with the French champions to place him on their transfer list in the upcoming off-season, claims Foot Mercato. PSG paid a staggering €222m for Neymar in 2017 but are set to move on.

- Chelsea's pursuit of West Ham midfielder Declan Rice could lead them to sell Conor Gallagher and Ruben Loftus-Cheek to raise funds for the deal, claims Football Insider.

- Barcelona have reached a verbal agreement with Eintracht Frankfurt centre-back Evan Ndicka for a free transfer at the end of this season, claims German journalist Christopher Michel.

- Bayern Munich want to sign Manchester City full-back Joao Cancelo for a reduced fee, rather than trigger the €70 million buy option, reports 90min. The report claims a fee around €60m is more realistic.

Real Madrid are eager to bolster their forward options, with a quality striker wanted to deputise for Karim Benzema.

Benzema, who is now 35-years-old, has battled injuries this season and played in 12 of their 20 LaLiga games.

Los Blancos have been regularly linked with Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe, while there have been reports of a big-money bid for Eintracht Frankfurt's Randal Kolo Muani in recent days.

Instead of signing another French forward though, there is a report that Madrid are eyeing up a Brazilian.


TOP STORY – ANCELOTTI WANTS FIRMINO

Real Madrid want to sign Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino on a free transfer at the end of this season, claims Gazzetta dello Sport.

Liverpool are bullish on re-signing Firmino but no extension has yet been agreed, with his contract due to expire in June.

According to the report, Atletico Madrid and Inter are also interested in the 31-year-old, who has been battling a calf injury in recent months.

 

ROUND-UP

- Barcelona president Joan Laporta is determined to sign Julian Alvarez from Manchester City, reports Fichajes. The report claims "Laporta will do everything in his power" to land the Argentinean World Cup winner.

- Manchester City are monitoring Southampton full-back Tino Livramento, claims the Evening Standard. The English 20-year-old is viewed as a long-term successor to Joao Cancelo, who is currently on loan at Bayern Munich.

- Tuttomercatoweb reports that Bayer Leverkusen will compete with Juventus to sign Alex Grimaldo from Benfica. The Bianconeri want the left-back as a replacement for the departing Alex Sandro.

- Chelsea have joined the contenders to sign Brentford goalkeeper David Raya, writes Football.London. Raya's contract expires in 2024, with interest also from Tottenham and Manchester United too.

- West Ham United are circling for Brazil international striker Pedro, who plays for Flamengo, according to Fichajes.

- Former Leeds United manager Jesse Marsch is being considered for the vacant Southampton job following Nathan Jones' dismissal, claims The Athletic. Football Insider reports Southampton and Leeds both want Marcelo Gallardo, while the Mail adds that Saints are also interested in Torino boss Ivan Juric.

Arsenal and Brighton and Hove Albion were victims of "significant" human errors during Saturday's Premier League action, according to the body responsible for match officials in English football.

Ivan Toney equalised against the Gunners at Emirates Stadium to ultimately secure Brentford a 1-1 draw, but the goal should not have stood due to Christian Norgaard – who nudged the ball across goal for the assist – having previously been in an offside position.

VAR Lee Mason failed to spot it despite the goal going to a review to check if Ethan Pinnock had been offside.

Also on Saturday, Brighton were denied a winning goal when Pervis Estupinan had his strike ruled out for offside – the VAR seemingly deemed the wrong Crystal Palace defender to be the deepest player.

The Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) admitted there were mistakes.

A statement read: "PGMOL can confirm its chief refereeing officer Howard Webb has contacted both Arsenal and Brighton and Hove Albion to acknowledge and explain the significant errors in the VAR process in their respective Premier League fixtures on Saturday.

"Both incidents, which were due to human error and related to the analysis of offside situations, are being thoroughly reviewed by PGMOL."

PGMOL did not comment on the controversy that occurred at London Stadium, however, where Chelsea were denied a late penalty when West Ham's Tomas Soucek handled the ball in the box.

Chelsea boss Graham Potter sarcastically praised Soucek for a "good save" after the game.

Arsenal dropped points in the title race on a busy Saturday in the Premier League, denied by an Ivan Toney equaliser as Brentford drew 1-1 at Emirates Stadium.

Mikel Arteta's had a better day of it than north London rivals Tottenham, though, as Spurs were thrashed 4-1 at Leicester City, despite taking an early lead.

Elsewhere, Chelsea were denied a win at West Ham after Emerson Palmieri equalised Joao Felix's first goal of his loan spell from Atletico Madrid.

Southampton's woes continued as they were beaten 2-1 at home against Wolves, despite taking the lead and having a man advantage for over an hour after Mario Lemina was sent off for the visitors.

Newcastle United's run of draws continued as they were held 1-1 at Bournemouth, while Crystal Palace and Brighton and Hove Albion also could not be separated, and Fulham beat Nottingham Forest 2-0 at Craven Cottage.

Here, Stats Perform looks at Saturday's biggest games, with the guidance of Opta data.

West Ham 1-1 Chelsea: Blues struggle to handle Hammers

Graham Potter's Chelsea were left frustrated after a late claim for handball was denied at London Stadium, and this draw was the first in nine Premier League encounters between West Ham and Chelsea since a 0-0 in September 2018.

The Blues have drawn three consecutive Premier League matches for the first time since February 2012, and remarkably, there were no shots on target in the second half from either side, being just the second Premier League match where that has occurred this season after Southampton v Nottingham Forest in January.

Emerson became the first former Chelsea player to score his first Premier League goal for a club against the Blues since Frank Lampard for Manchester City in September 2014.

On his return from suspension, Joao Felix became the 12th different player to score for Chelsea in the Premier League this season, with no side having had more in 2022-23 (excluding own goals), which perhaps is not a surprise when you consider the number of players they now have.

Arsenal 1-1 Brentford: Toney time dents Gunners' title push

It seemed like business as usual when Leandro Trossard gave the hosts the lead, but this ended up being the first time Arsenal had failed to win a Premier League home game in which they scored first since January 2022. They had won 10 in a row at Emirates Stadium when opening the scoring before this game.

Brentford showed great resilience and have now scored 15 goals from set-pieces in the Premier League this season, with no side netting more (including penalties).

That could also be something for Arsenal to work on, as each of the last three Premier League goals the league leaders have conceded have come from headers, despite not conceding any beforehand this season.

Only Harry Kane (nine) has found the net away from home more often in the Premier League this season than Brentford striker Toney (seven), whose equaliser broke Gunners hearts.

Leicester City 4-1 Tottenham: Lloris-less Spurs hammered by Foxes

A high-scoring game was hardly a shock at King Power Stadium. There have been 128 goals scored in 34 Premier League matches between Leicester and Tottenham, with the average of 3.8 per game the highest such ratio among fixtures to be played more than 20 times in the competition.

Spurs, who were without injured goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, have lost two of their last three away games in the Premier League (W1), conceding four goals in each defeat, having only lost two of their previous 14 such games beforehand (W7 D5). The other recent heavy loss was 4-2 at Manchester City.

Despite having a disappointing campaign so far, Leicester here became the first team in Premier League history to score three first-half goals in back-to-back matches when conceding first in each game, having also done so at Aston Villa last time out.

Leicester's James Maddison, who was linked with a move to Antonio Conte's Spurs this week, scored and had an assist. Maddison has been directly involved in 11 goals in his last 10 Premier League starts (seven goals, four assists), scoring in each of his last three league appearances against Spurs.

Southampton 1-2 Wolves: Jones under pressure as Saints lose to 10 men

Head coach Nathan Jones is not the first Jones to struggle at Southampton. Saints have lost five consecutive Premier League home games for the first time since April-August 1998, when they were under the leadership of Dave Jones.

Wolves fought from a goal and a man down to win against their favourite Premier League opposition, having won each of their last five meetings, the first time they have ever been victorious in five consecutive games against a specific opponent in the competition.

It is clear where a big problem lies for Saints, having only kept one clean sheet in their last 28 Premier League matches (1-0 v Bournemouth in October).

Jan Bednarek found his own net, again, and has now scored four own goals as a Southampton player in the Premier League; the joint-most of any player for the club in the competition, along with Jos Hooiveld.

Chelsea head coach Graham Potter sarcastically commended West Ham's Tomas Soucek for a "good save" that mystifyingly did not lead to a penalty in Saturday's 1-1 draw.

Former Chelsea defender Emerson Palmieri cancelled out Joao Felix's opener at London Stadium before the VAR took centre stage.

First, the technology came to Chelsea's rescue in the 82nd minute as Soucek tapped in a rebound, the goal disallowed due to Declan Rice being offside with the initial headed effort.

Then, Chelsea were convinced they were due a penalty as Soucek blocked Conor Gallagher's effort with his hand in the area.

According to reports, PGMOL – the body responsible for match officials in English football – has since said the decision was correct because it perceives Soucek's arm to have been outstretched to break his fall.

The incident did not go to a VAR review as referee Craig Pawson's decision was deemed satisfactory, and although Potter was initially surprisingly calm about the controversy, he could not resist a pop or two in his post-match press conference.

"I thought it was a good save so you need your goalkeeper sometimes to get you the points," he told reporters.

"It hasn't been given so there's nothing for me to say. I've only seen it briefly as I walked across. It looks like one of those where if it was given, I don't think it would be overturned but it hasn't been given, so I don't know."

He added: "It looked quite a handball to me. I didn't know Tomas could get down that easily and save like that. It's a good stop from him. It's not for me to say about VAR."

Potter was then asked if he just wanted more consistency with such decisions, but the Chelsea boss was sceptical about that even being possible.

"You won't [get consistency] because they're human beings," he said of the VAR officials.

"A different human being in the room and every single decision and action, you won't get the same one again, so it's very hard to get consistency.

"Sometimes they go for you, sometimes they don't. You just have to accept that."

The draw leaves Chelsea ninth in the Premier League.

Graham Potter thinks Chelsea were falsely denied a late penalty in Saturday's draw with West Ham, but the head coach refused to openly call out the officials.

The Blues were held to a 1-1 draw at the London Stadium, with former Chelsea defender Emerson Palmieri cancelling out Joao Felix's opener.

VAR then came to Chelsea's rescue in the 82nd minute as Tomas Soucek tapped in a rebound, the goal disallowed due to Declan Rice being offside beforehand.

But Chelsea were adamant they should have then been given a penalty soon after, as Soucek blocked Conor Gallagher's effort with his hand.

The incident did not go to a VAR review, with referee Craig Pawson's decision ultimately final despite it looking a glaring error.

Potter did not appear as angry as some might have expected, however.

"It looks it [a penalty] but these are the little things you need to go in your favour and at the moment they are not, so that's life," he told BT Sport.

"There is nothing to complain about there. We have to keep working. There were positives and some good attacking moments from players who are adapting to the Premier League.

"That's where we're at. We just have to keep moving forward."

Joao Felix was making his return after receiving a red card on his debut last month, while fellow new arrivals Mykhaylo Mudryk and Noni Madueke joined him and Kai Havertz in attack.

The first 25 minutes were arguably as fluent as Chelsea have ever been in the league since Potter's appointment in September, with Joao Felix at the centre of many of their most threatening passages of play.

Enzo Fernandez also caught the eye in midfield, with his sumptuous cross teeing up the 16th-minute opener, and Potter felt there were certainly positives to take in despite the disappointing result, a third successive league draw that leaves them ninth.

"I think you saw the potential in the first half," he said to BBC Sport. "You can't control what people say from the outside, you see it how it is and carry on working.

"They are a good group and we are excited with the team and the potential, but it is still a work in progress.

"The second half was more of a reflection of where we are in terms of integrating new players and getting players up to speed in the Premier League."

On Fernandez, he added: "It is his second game. He is a young player but you can see his quality and his personality.

"Like Joao Felix, Madueke and Mudryk, he will get better the more we understand them and they understand us. It is a process that you can't really short circuit."

Chelsea now turn their attention to the Champions League with a trip to Borussia Dortmund up next on Wednesday.

Late VAR drama saw Chelsea spared and then angered as they drew 1-1 away to London rivals West Ham in the Premier League on Saturday.

Tomas Soucek had what briefly looked to be a late winner chalked off before the midfielder got away with a clear handball in his own box to leave the visitors stunned.

Chelsea had earlier enjoyed arguably their best spell since Graham Potter's appointment during the first 25 minutes, Joao Felix netting a well-worked opener on his return from suspension.

But former Chelsea full-back Emerson Palmieri levelled soon after, and while the visitors dominated much of the following hour, their woes in front of goal meant they were at the mercy of VAR towards the end.

Chelsea's purposeful start had West Ham struggling, surviving an early scare when Joao Felix saw a goal disallowed for offside.

But he did put the visitors in front in the 16th minute, tapping in Enzo Fernandez's curling cross from deep on the left.

Kai Havertz's ruled out goal soon after seemed to jolt West Ham – who lost Lucas Paqueta to a shoulder injury – into life.

The equaliser arrived before the half-hour, Emerson pouncing after Jarrod Bowen flicked on Vladimir Coufal's right-wing delivery.

Chelsea were back in the ascendancy after half-time, but clear-cut chances were hard to craft.

It briefly looked like Chelsea would pay for that.

Rice headed on a free-kick delivery and Soucek converted the rebound, but the England man clearly strayed offside.

West Ham had an escape of their own a few moments later when Conor Gallagher's shot struck the hand of the falling Soucek, but no penalty was awarded as Chelsea drew a third straight league game for the first time since February 2012 under Andre Villas-Boas.
 

What does it mean? Chelsea's problems in front of goal continue

They at least managed to avoid going three league games without scoring, which would have been their first such drought since 2007 (four games), but this was hardly an emphatic response.

Joao Felix was sharp and they did of course have a couple of goals ruled out for offside, but otherwise big chances were rare – their opener was Chelsea's only opportunity worth more than 0.14 expected goals.

Chelsea won their first three Premier League games under Potter, scoring seven goals in the process, but they have now won just two of their subsequent 13 (D6 L5), netting only eight goals in this run.

Joao Felix shows his class

His red card against Fulham last month was a big blow to Chelsea, as demonstrated by this performance.

Joao Felix was particularly lively in the first half, scoring after having one chalked off. On top of that, his three shots was a match high, while none of his Chelsea team-mates tallied more key passes (two) either.

Madueke off the boil

Noni Madueke was another who looked quite busy, but his decision making in the final third was poor before he was withdrawn in the 68th minute, having not created a chance for a team-mate.

Key Opta Stats:

- West Ham and Chelsea have shared the points for the first time in nine Premier League encounters since a 0-0 draw in September 2018.
- The Hammers have failed to win 10 of their last 11 London derbies in the Premier League (W1 D2 L8), conceding at least once in every game in this period (20 goals against in total).
- There were no shots on target in the second half between West Ham and Chelsea, the second Premier League match with none after half time this season, after Southampton v Nottingham Forest in January.
- Emerson became the first player to score his first Premier League goal for a club against Chelsea having previously appeared for the Blues in the competition since Frank Lampard for Man City in September 2014.
- Joao Felix became the 12th different player to score for Chelsea in the Premier League this season, no side have had more in 2022-23 (excluding own goals).

What's next?

Chelsea go to Germany in the Champions League on Wednesday to face Borussia Dortmund. West Ham have another derby on February 19 as they travel to play Tottenham.

A late VAR reprieve came to Chelsea's rescue as they drew 1-1 away to London rivals West Ham in the Premier League on Saturday.

Tomas Soucek appeared to have secured the Hammers a comeback win in the 82nd minute, but a review showed Declan Rice was offside just before a crucial flick-on to spare Chelsea another defeat.

The Blues had earlier enjoyed arguably their best spell since Graham Potter's appointment during the first 25 minutes, Joao Felix netting a well-worked opener on his return from suspension.

But former Chelsea full-back Emerson Palmieri levelled soon after, and while the visitors dominated much of the following hour, their woes in front of goal meant they were at the mercy of VAR at the end.

Liverpool and Newcastle United are reportedly among the Premier League teams exploring a potential move for Bayer Leverkusen centre-back Jonathan Tah – and the interest could be mutual.

Tah, 26, is in his eighth season in Leverkusen after arriving ahead of the 2015-16 campaign, racking up 283 appearances in all competitions and earning 16 senior international caps for Germany.

After five consecutive seasons finishing in the Bundesliga's top-six, Leverkusen have struggled this campaign, with just seven wins and a negative goal difference after 19 games, leaving them 10th.

Facing an uphill battle for any European football next season, the club will reportedly struggle to convince Tah to stick around, especially with plenty of interest from his desired landing spot in the Premier League.

 

TOP STORY – TAH SETS HIS SIGHTS ON THE PREMIER LEAGUE

According to 90min, Tah is "keen to take his talents to England at the end of the season".

He has two more seasons on his contract, tying him to Leverkusen until 2025, leaving the club with a difficult decision about whether to hang on to one of their top players or cash in and use the funds to improve the squad.

As well as Liverpool and Newcastle, West Ham are also understood to have touched base with Leverkusen about Tah's availability in January, while his name also came up in discussions with Tottenham, but they are said to prefer his centre-back partner Piero Hincapie.

 

ROUND-UP

– The Mirror is reporting Tottenham are admirers of 26-year-old Leicester City midfielder James Maddison

– According to El Nacional, Real Madrid have held talks with Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp about potentially taking over from Carlo Ancelotti at the end of the season, and Klopp is said to have requested the Spanish giants pursue Jude Bellingham and Kylian Mbappe.

Milan have an interest in signing 27-year-old Liverpool midfielder Naby Keita, per the Mirror, while the Daily Mail adds the Italian side are also impressed by 21-year-old Arsenal loanee Folarin Balogun, who has 14 Ligue 1 goals for Reims this season.

Manchester United and Newcastle are said to be two of many clubs keeping a close eye on 18-year-old Royal Antwerp prospect Arthur Vermeeren, per the Daily Mail.

– Fabrizio Romano is reporting United, Arsenal and Liverpool have all held talks with the agent of 20-year-old Barcelona forward Ansu Fati.

Off the pitch, 2023 has offered plenty of excitement for Chelsea supporters. However, the same cannot really be said for the on-pitch fare being served up by Graham Potter's men this year.

The Blues' return of six points and three goals from six Premier League games since the turn of the year is hardly commensurate with their estimated £291million outlay in the January transfer window, and they need to turn a corner soon.

West Ham are in similar need of an upturn, with David Moyes' side just one point clear of danger and embroiled in a tense battle to beat the drop.

That means there is plenty at stake for both as Chelsea travel for Saturday's derby meeting with the Hammers, and there is certainly no love lost between the London rivals.

Stats Perform picks out the standout Opta numbers ahead of a game that both West Ham and Chelsea will hope marks a turning point in their disappointing seasons.

Chelsea bid to end goalscoring blues

Having followed up a 1-0 home victory over Crystal Palace with 0-0 draws against Liverpool and Fulham, Chelsea are looking to avoid making unwanted history on Saturday.

Chelsea could record three successive goalless draws for the first time in their league history next time out, with their plethora of big-money arrivals so far failing to click in the final third.

Last week's stalemate against Fulham represented the 17th goalless draw Potter has overseen since the start of his first Premier League campaign in 2019-20 – more than any other boss during that run.

Those hoping Chelsea's opponents step up to provide the entertainment may be disappointed. West Ham have underperformed their expected goals figures by almost 10 goals this season (18 goals from 27.9 xG) – the biggest negative difference in the Premier League this term.

Can Joao Felix lead the way?

Chelsea will hope the solution to their goalscoring issues is provided by Joao Felix's return to action, with the Portugal international eligible once again after last month's debut red card against Fulham led to a three-match ban.

Joao Felix has never scored more than 10 goals or contributed more than five assists during a single season for parent club Atletico Madrid, but there are signs he could evolve into a more prolific player at Chelsea.

The 23-year-old was averaging a goal involvement every 120 minutes for Atleti this season prior to being loaned out, his best figure since joining the Spanish giants in 2019.

Joao Felix also averaged a goal every 191 minutes for Rojiblancos this campaign, a ratio not bettered by any Chelsea player in the Premier League this term. 

Hammers chase rare derby delight

West Ham have not garnered much enjoyment from their recent meetings with cross-city rivals.

The Hammers have lost eight of their last 10 London derbies in the Premier League, the exceptions being a draw against Tottenham and a win over Fulham, though both of those results came this season.

However, West Ham have alternated between winning (four times) and not winning (D1 L2) in their last seven home Premier League games against Chelsea, and the teams' last meeting at the London Stadium saw Arthur Masuaku hit a late winner for the hosts in December 2021.

If that represents a negative omen for the hosts, Chelsea could be set to make history – victory would make the Blues the first team to win 150 London derbies in the Premier League. 

Late drama incoming?

No Premier League fixture can lay claim to containing the levels of late drama witnessed in meetings between these two teams.

There have been seven winning goals scored in the final five minutes of Premier League games between West Ham and Chelsea, more than in any other fixture in the competition's history.

The last three meetings between the teams have been settled by a goal scored in the final five minutes, with Kai Havertz doing the honours 88 minutes into September's return fixture at Stamford Bridge.

Christian Pulisic was the last-minute hero as the Blues also edged the previous clash last April, and given their recent shortcomings, the visitors will not mind if they are made to wait again on Saturday. 

Graham Potter is hopeful Joao Felix can make a difference for out-of-form Chelsea on his return from suspension at West Ham, acknowledging his raft of new signings must gel quickly.

Joao Felix arrived on loan from Atletico Madrid last month and initially impressed on his debut at Fulham, though a rash challenge on Kenny Tete saw him sent off 58 minutes into the Blues' 2-1 defeat.

That made him the first player to be dismissed on his Premier League debut for Chelsea, and Potter's men have struggled for attacking inspiration during his subsequent three-match ban.

After beating Crystal Palace 1-0 in their next game, Chelsea laboured to goalless draws with Liverpool and Fulham – they have never drawn three successive league matches 0-0 in their history.

Speaking ahead of Saturday's short trip to face London rivals West Ham, Potter highlighted Joao Felix's positive performances in training. 

"I think we all saw the impact he had in his hour before the red card," Potter recalled of his debut. "You can see his quality, we see it every day. 

"He's a player that can make a difference for us. It's about helping him to get integrated into the team, but the signs are really positive."

The Portugal attacker has since been joined by more big-name arrivals at Stamford Bridge, with Chelsea investing heavily to acquire Mykhaylo Mudryk, Enzo Fernandez and others.

Asked how patient he could afford to be with his new players, Potter said: "It's my job. When you're coaching players, there is a process to go through and you have to understand the context.

"I'm not stupid, at the end of the day, if the results aren't what this club should get, and if I'm the reason for it... then that's the job.

"In the meantime, I have to go through the process of working with the players, helping them improve. 

"It's a complicated situation at the moment, but I'm really looking forward to the challenge that awaits us. I don't worry about the absolute timescale of it all."

Reports have suggested Chelsea could help to balance their incomings by letting Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang depart for Major League Soccer outfit Los Angeles FC, but Potter says there is "nothing to report" on that front.

"He's been training with us this week, conducting himself well," Potter added. "He has been supporting his team-mates and while he is here, he is doing exactly what I expect him to do."

Potter was also asked about this week's announcement that Manchester City have been charged with breaching the Premier League's financial regulations, but he was careful to stress the champions remain innocent until proven guilty. 

"I don't know anything about it, we focus on ourselves. It's something Manchester City have to deal with," he said.

"As I understand it, they're just charges. Certainly in this country, you're innocent until you're proven guilty, so it's not for me to comment on it."

Declan Rice will set a British record fee if he leaves West Ham at the end of the season, David Moyes believes.

The Hammers captain has long been linked with a move across London to Chelsea, while Arsenal have reportedly made the England international their prime target ahead of next season.

Chelsea recently set a new British transfer record with the deadline day captain of Enzo Fernandez, splashing a reported £107million on the Argentina World Cup winner, but Moyes does not expect that record to stand for long.

In fact, he believes a deal for Rice would not only surpass that figure but would "blow it out of the water".

"Undoubtedly Declan is going to be a top player. He'll be a British transfer record if he ever leaves West Ham," he told the BBC following West Ham's 1-1 draw against Newcastle United.

"There's a lot of talk about it and when you see what's going about for the prices, I think Dec will be blowing that out of the water, that's for sure, when it comes around."

Asked whether he felt an exit for Rice was inevitable, Moyes added: "I hope it's not. I hope he sees his time here."

Rice has 18 months remaining on his contract at the London Stadium, meaning a sale would be required next season to avoid losing him on a free transfer in 2024.

Manchester City have reportedly identified Brighton and Hove Albion midfielder Alexis Mac Allister as their desired replacement for Ilkay Gundogan at the end of the season.

Mac Allister, 24, is enjoying a career-best season, with his five goals in 17 Premier League fixtures already matching his best ever tally for a full league season.

The talented creative midfielder also made six starts for Argentina during their march to victory at the Qatar World Cup, scoring his first senior international goal during a 2-0 win over Poland in the group stage.

His emergence as a player capable of shining on the world stage, as well as his contribution to Brighton's terrific season, has apparently caught the eye of City boss Pep Guardiola.

 

TOP STORY – CITY VIEW MAC ALLISTER AS IDEAL GUNDOGAN REPLACEMENT

According to Fichajes, Gundogan is expected to leave City when his contract expires at the end of the season, and Bernardo Silva could follow if he gets his wish with a LaLiga move.

The report states Guardiola is a big fan of Mac Allister, and believes he has proven himself as a capable Premier League producer.

Fichajes claim Brighton have set an asking price in the range of £40million, indicating they are more willing to part ways with him than 21-year-old Moises Caicedo, with both of their contracts expiring in 2025.

 

ROUND-UP

– ESPN is reporting Napoli will hold firm with an asking price of at least €100m (£90m) for 24-year-old striker Victor Osimhen, who has strong interest from Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain.

– According to 90min, Chelsea's top priority now is sorting out a contract extension for 24-year-old England international Mason Mount.

Mason Greenwood will look to revive his career in China if United decide to let him go, per the Sun.

– Caught Offside is reporting West Ham and Everton will have to return after the season if they want to sign 27-year-old winger Sheraldo Becker, with Union Berlin unwilling to deal in January due to their strong league position.

Tottenham will face a trip to Wrexham in the fifth round of the FA Cup if the Welsh side overcome Sheffield United in a fourth-round replay next week. 

Wrexham, the National League outfit co-owned by Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney, were pegged back at the death in a pulsating 3-3 draw with Championship promotion hopefuls United on Sunday.

Hollywood star Reynolds was in attendance at the Racecourse Ground as John Egan's stoppage-time equaliser denied the hosts a famous win, teeing up next Tuesday's replay at Bramall Lane.

Should the fifth-tier outfit cause an upset against the Blades, they will host Spurs in a mouth-watering midweek tie, a fixture which would certainly be viewed as their biggest since Reynolds and McElhenney took charge in 2021.

Elsewhere, Manchester City will face Bristol City for a place in the quarter-finals after overcoming Premier League title rivals Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium on Friday.

Manchester United's reward for their 3-1 victory over Reading is another home tie against the winners of Monday's meeting between Derby County and West Ham, while Brighton and Hove Albion will go to Stoke City after Kaoru Mitoma's last-gasp strike eliminated holders Liverpool.

The winners of Fulham's replay against Sunderland will host Leeds United, potentially teeing up a rematch of the 1973 final in which the second-tier Black Cats stunned then-holders Leeds with a 1-0 victory at Wembley Stadium.

The ties will be played during the week commencing February 27 and will be decided by extra time and penalties if drawn, with replays no longer taking place after the fourth round.

Tottenham are reportedly investigating a potential move for young Bayer Leverkusen centre-back Piero Hincapie, despite the hefty asking price for the Ecuador international.

Hincapie, 21, is in his second Bundesliga season after arriving from Argentinian side Talleres, and has forced his way into Leverkusen's starting XI, earning 13 starts among his 15 total league appearances this campaign.

He also has 24 senior international caps for Ecuador under his belt, playing every minute of his country's three group stage fixtures at the Qatar World Cup.

Hincapie's emergence has not gone unnoticed, and Leverkusen are said to be informing interested clubs that any sale of their talented youngster will come at a heavy price.

 

TOP STORY – SPURS KICK THE TYRES ON PRIZED LEVERKUSEN DEFENDER

According to the Sun, Spurs boss Antonio Conte is desperate to add a new central defender before the end of the month, but the club were knocked back by a massive £80million price tag.

The report indicates Hincapie would be in favour of a move to the Premier League, and to Tottenham specifically, but that it would be far more likely to occur at the end of the season.

Interestingly, the Sun believes Leverkusen would be open to accepting as little as £20m if it meant Hincapie could spend the rest of the season on loan with the German side, but with his contract tying him to Leverkusen until 2026, it is hard to believe they would budge so significantly from their lofty valuation.

It also mentions Tottenham's pursuit of Sporting right-back Pedro Porro is on the verge of falling through, but Portuguese publication Record is reporting that a verbal agreement is in place for a £42m (€48m) deal.

 

ROUND-UP

– GiveMeSport are reporting Chelsea will make a run at 23-year-old Juventus striker Dusan Vlahovic at the end of the season, while Calciomercato adds Juventus are anticipating the Serbian's departure and will seek to replace him with 25-year-old Atalanta forward Ademola Lookman.

– According to Sport, Barcelona are focusing on 25-year-old Wolves midfielder Ruben Neves as their long-term replacement for Sergio Busquets after failing to land Real Sociedad talent Martin Zubimendi.

Manchester United believe they are priced out of the Harry Kane sweepstakes, per the Daily Star.

– Mail on Sunday are reporting Arsenal have returned with a second offer for 21-year-old Brighton and Hove Albion midfielder Moises Caicedo, but their £70m bid is still below the £80m demand.

– The Telegraph adds that the outcome of Arsenal's push for Caicedo will not affect their desire to sign West Ham midfielder Declan Rice after the season, and they will try to secure both.

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