Saudi Arabia won't give up on Lionel Messi; Chelsea target Gustavo Moscardo; And AS Roma are already planning the future of Romelu Lukaku. Here are some of the main stories from the last few days of the transfer market from TribalFootball's transfer expert Rudy Galetti.
MESSI, SAUDI WON'T GIVE UP
A few months ago, Leo Messi decided to accept the offer of Inter Miami, definitively leaving Europe after an incredible career spent with Barcelona and, in recent years, at PSG. As everyone knows, the Argentine was also very close to landing in Saudi Arabia, with a verbal agreement in principle with Al Hilal who, after Leo's definitive refusal, turned their attention to Neymar, convincing the Brazilian to embrace their project.
However, for the Saudi Arabian Football Federation and the PIF it's not enough: for this reason, they are exploring the opportunity to go back in to convince Messi to play in the Saudi Pro League.
The idea the Saudi Federation are internally evaluating is to ask for Leo on loan from Inter Miami, taking advantage of the winter break expected in MLS between the end of the 2023 and the start of next season. For sure, it's a complicated track, but SAFF will certainly do their best to make this happen.
Not only Messi: in addition to the Argentine player, the Saudi Federation include in the target list for 2024 other "big" names, as Mohamed Salah, Luka Modric, Kevin De Bruyne and Thiago Alcantara. The aim is the same: create a League stacked with football stars.
CHELSEA'S GREEN LINE, NEXT STOP MOSCARDO
Chelsea are always looking for valuable young players. Not for nothing, the chairman Todd Boehly has made investments for the present, but also for the future, strengthening scouting and youth structures.
In recent months, many talents have decided to embrace Chelsea's project: Cesare Casadei, Lesley Ugochukwu, Angelo Gabriel are just the latest in this long list. Following this green line, now the Blues are approaching a new interesting young player in South America: Gabriel Moscardo.
Followed by many important clubs in Italy, Spain and England, his current team - Corinthians – have already defined the price tag, setting the request to evaluate any proposal to let him go at €30m. Chelsea consider this cost too high for the Brazilian defensive midfielder and are trying to lower the price: after the first verbal proposal - of around €20m – already made by the English team, now talks between clubs are underway.
No agreement or advanced negotiation so far, but for sure the Blues are working to increase the pressure and to anticipate the fierce competition - as told - of Italian, Spanish and other English clubs.
PALHINHA, THE INCREDIBLE STORY BETWEEN FULHAM AND BAYERN
Many know the incredible story of Palhinha and his failure to transfer to Bayern Munich on Deadline Day. The Portuguese player, after saying farewell to his teammates at Fulham, had arrived in Germany to undergo medical tests and then sign a contract with Bayern to finalise - for around €65m - his move to the Bundesliga.
Everything was close to a positive conclusion, but in the end the English club decided not to give the green light, having not found a suitable replacement in midfield. And so Palhinha, despite his medical visits being ok and the Bavarians' shirt being ready, very sadly had to return "home", to Fulham.
An incredible story over? Of course not: after the deal collapsed, no one would have imagined his contract extension with the English club, made official a few days ago. Many saw this event as raising the bar of demands - especially for Bayern - but coach Marco Silva denied everything, confirming that: "It was not something that we started after the Bayern Munich stuff. This conversation about his contract renewal started much earlier".
True or not, the German club will undoubtedly try again in January for Palhinha.
AS ROMA, THE PLAN FOR LUKAKU IS CLEAR
Romelu Lukaku scored his first goal of his new Italian experience - with AS Roma – in the huge victory against Empoli. After a complicated summer, now the Belgian striker finally seems to smile again thanks to the Giallorossi that, in the last days of the transfer session, decided to bring Romelu back to Italy, on loan.
However, the interest of AS Roma in Romelu started months before, in May, when the Italian club asked for information about him, exploring the condition of the deal, a permanent purchase in that moment. A concrete interest also with this formula: the Giallorossi, in fact, wanted to sign the Belgian player in the first part of the market. The plan was to monetise the sale of Tammy Abraham - lightening the salary of the squad - and so finalise the agreement with Chelsea for Lukaku.
But the injury of Tammy during the last match of the 2022/23 Serie A against Spezia changed everything. However, the permanent move of Romelu could become real in the next months: AS Roma will evaluate - based on his performance on the pitch - the opportunity to discuss again with Chelsea his definitive purchase. Abraham, beyond injury, has no longer a central role in the project and during 2024 he could return to the Premier League, as he would like. This eventual transfer should definitely unlock the opportunity for the Giallorossi to move freely to reinforce their attack, maybe even with Lukaku.
BRUNO VARELA, TORINO WILL TRY AGAIN FOR HIM
He was undoubtedly one of the summer transfer targets of Torino, but - in the end - Bruno Varela, the goalkeeper of VitoriaGuimaraes, decided to stay in his country, Portugal. An interest, that of the Italian club, which began long before the last market session and has been going on for several years: however, the different approaches have come to nothing concrete so far.
Certainly, the possible exit of Vanja Milinkovic-Savic - which ultimately didn't happen - could have facilitated his arrival in Serie A, but the real dream of Bruno is to return to play with his favourite team, Benfica.
Growing up as a player among the Eagles, Varela is very connected to the club of his hometown, of which he has been a fan since he was a child and hopes - one day - to wear that historic shirt again. However, despite his desire, Torino will not give up on him and it is not excluded that during the winter session they will contact again the Portuguese goalkeeper, whose contract with VitoriaGuimaraes will expire in 2026.