The summer transfer window was unlike any other, see all the major deals and check out how we graded the biggest signings. And just because the window is shut until January, that doesn't mean the rumours won't keep coming. Here's the latest gossip and speculation.
TOP STORY: Lewandowski wants Real move
AS writes that the 33-year-old Poland striker -- ranked No. 1 in the position in ESPN FC 100 -- has informed his agent of a desired transfer to Madrid, with the hopes of heading to the Santiago Bernabeu at the end of the season.
However, the move hinges on where Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland (ranked No. 2 in ESPN's list) ends up. Los Blancos are looking to invest heavily next summer, and they have also been linked with Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe, though Karim Benzema's stellar form means there is only room for one marquee signing at the striker position.
Lewandowski has remained in sublime form this season, scoring 25 goals in 23 games for Bayern Munich, and narrowly missed out winning the Ballon d'Or, which went to PSG's Lionel Messi.
15.22 GMT: The Times claims that Man United striker Edinson Cavani wants to join Barcelona on a free transfer next summer.
Cavani, 34, agreed a one-year extension to his contract recently but is keen for a new challenge and wants to play at the top level for at least another two seasons.
The Uruguay international has 18 goals in 47 games for United since he arrived in 2020 and Barca may need a replacement for Sergio Aguero if he is unable to recover from the heart issue which is keeping him out of action for three months.
14.45 GMT: Liverpool landed Diogo Jota for around £45m from Wolves in 2020 and that seems like a bargain.
Has Jota solidified his spot in Liverpool's XI?
Steve Nicol and Craig Burley discuss if Diogo Jota has knocked Roberto Firmino out of Liverpool's starting XI permanently.
14.04 GMT: ICYMI - LAFC has picked up its short-term contract option on Carlos Vela, extending his deal until next summer.
Vela, 32, had one of the most dominant seasons in MLS history in 2019 as he scored a record 34 goals while LAFC won the Supporters' Shield with the league's best regular season record.
But injuries have dramatically limited the Mexico striker's effectiveness in the past two seasons. He scored only four goals while appearing in just seven games during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, and he made only 15 starts for LAFC this year, scoring five goals.
Despite the new deal, the former Real Sociedad star still could leave in the January transfer window. The club is undergoing a significant reboot after missing the playoffs last month for the first time in their existence, most notably parting ways with original coach Bob Bradley.
LAFC said it also exercised its options on forward Danny Musovski and midfielder Eduard Atuesta.
13.28 GMT: Denmark's Inter Milan midfielder Christian Eriksen has begun working out at the training ground of his youth club in Denmark following his rehabilitation after suffering a cardiac arrest at Euro 2020, a spokesperson for the club said on Thursday.
Eriksen, 29, has not played since suffering the cardiac arrest while running near the left touchline during Denmark's opening game of the tournament against Finland in June and received life-saving treatment on the pitch.
"Eriksen reached out to us, and he is now training by himself," a spokesperson for Odense Boldklub (OB) told Reuters. "It's natural for him since he played here in his youth and lives around the corner. We are very happy to be able to provide training facilities for him," he said.
Eriksen played for OB before joining Ajax Amsterdam in 2008, where he became an international. He moved to Tottenham Hotspur in 2013, playing in the 2019 Champions League final, and then signed for Inter Milan last year.
13.03 GMT: Barcelona defender Samuel Umtiti confronted a group of fans after they blocked his car while he left the club's training ground on Wednesday.
Video of the incident showed that three fans stood in the middle of the road and jumped up and down in front of the player's vehicle. One fan climbed on top of the car's bonnet while Umtiti, who has yet to play for the LaLiga side this season, was behind the wheel.
Umtiti was jeered by Barcelona fans in preseason after rejecting the opportunity to leave the club for free this summer. Some supporters felt his decision to stay was one of the reasons the club could not afford to keep Lionel Messi, who later joined Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer.
The defender is determined to see out his contract at the Camp Nou, which runs until 2023.
12.34 GMT: Ralf Rangnick has been given the green light to take over as Manchester United's interim coach after obtaining a work visa, sources have told ESPN's Rob Dawson.
Rangnick's reign at Old Trafford, announced on Monday, has been delayed while United work through the necessary paperwork. With the process now complete, the 63-year-old can begin his role, which includes a contract to lead the team until the end of the season before taking up a two-year consultancy position.
Sources have told ESPN that Rangnick, who toured Old Trafford on Wednesday with football director John Murtough, will watch the Premier League clash with Arsenal on Thursday night from the stands but should be in the dugout for Sunday's fixture against Crystal Palace.
Caretaker boss Michael Carrick will be in charge on the touchline against Arsenal and sources have told ESPN that Rangnick has had no input in the build-up.
12.20 GMT: Manchester United have a decision to make over Cristiano Ronaldo.
Does Ronaldo start against Arsenal?
Craig Burley and Steve Nicol preview Manchester United's Thursday clash against Arsenal.
11.37 GMT: Antonio Conte has said being Tottenham Hotspur manager is the biggest challenge of his career so far and that the club is paying the price for letting standards slip over the years.
Tottenham, who are ninth in the Premier League, have won two of their four games in all competitions since Conte took charge last month. They suffered an embarrassing 2-1 defeat by Slovenian team NS Mura in the Europa Conference League last week.
Conte won three Serie A titles with Juventus before winning the Premier League and FA Cup with Chelsea. He then guided Inter Milan to their first league title in 11 years in May.
"[This is] my biggest challenge, yes," Conte said. "I have a lot of enthusiasm... Now the most important thing is to create a good base and then to build something important. The club, in the last years, has been slipping. If I compare Tottenham to when I was in Chelsea, Tottenham was very, very competitive, was a really, really strong team.
"And I think that to lose important players or someone became old and then to have a change of generation, I think Tottenham now is paying a bit for this. Now we have to create, to start again... We need a bit of time but I'm sure we can improve a lot."
11.15 GMT: Brazilian club Flamengo have received an offer from MLS side Charlotte FC for their right-back Rodinei, according to Globo.
Rodinei, 29, is under contract with Flamengo through December 2022 and returned to the club in June after a loan spell at Internacional.
Charlotte FC have offered the Brazilian a two-year contract with an option to extend it for a further season.
Rodinei arrived at Flamengo in 2016 and has scored nine goals in 181 appearances for the Rio de Janeiro outfit.
10.33 GMT: Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola wants U.S. international Sergino Dest to be included as part of the deal that would see Spain forward Ferran Torres join Barcelona in the January transfer window, according to Sport.
ESPN sources revealed that Barca have held talks with City to sign Torres but so far they have proved unsuccessful. However, talks could re-open if Barca include a player in the deal.
Guardiola is keen on Dest and Barca would be open to letting him leave. Dest, 21, has made 14 appearances in all competitions for Barca this season but his performances have not convinced coach Xavi Hernandez.
Dest joined Barca from Ajax in the summer of 2020 in a €21m transfer and has a contract with the Catalan giants through June 2025. Torres, contracted to City through June 2025, joined the Premier League giants in 2020 in a €28m transfer from Valencia.
10.11 GMT: Barcelona have given Ousmane Dembele a 15-day ultimatum to make a decision on his future, Mundo Deportivo reports.
Dembele, 24, has yet to sign a new contract at Camp Nou and his deal expires at the end of the season. The France international has an offer on the table but has yet to give an answer and Barca are growing impatient.
Manchester United and Newcastle are reportedly interested in signing him, but have not made a firm offer yet. Dembele has reportedly told his teammates he wants to remain at Barca because he is happy there and wants to give back the confidence given by the club. However, Dembele is also having doubts and his agent Moussa Sissoko wants him to listen to other offers that would be better financially.
Barca signed Dembele for €105m from Borussia Dortmund in 2017. Since joining he has managed just 30 goals in 120 games in all competitions in an injury-laden spell.
09.43 GMT: Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has played down the prospect of spending significant sums in the January transfer window.
The Gunners committed £140m on six summer signings as Arteta embarked upon a major overhaul of his squad with Aaron Ramsdale, Nuno Tavares, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Ben White, Albert Sambi Lokonga and Martin Odegaard all arriving at Emirates Stadium.
The club have five players about to enter the final six months of their existing contracts, the most high-profile of which is striker Alexandre Lacazette, who hinted at an exit when speaking to French outlet Telefoot last month by claiming "my agents are now looking left and right a bit, but not before Janaury."
Arteta alluded to the complexity of this and other situations -- Eddie Nketiah is also out of contract next summer and was close to a move to Crystal Palace in the summer -- when asked whether supporters could expect a major outlay on new players in January.
"We are in discussions, we have talks every week about it: how we can improve the team, what things can happen in the January transfer window can affect our squad," Arteta said on Wednesday morning.
"As you know, we have certain players with a little bit of uncertainty in the summer so we have to plan what is going to happen now and what is going to happen in the summer. A lot had to be done as well.
"We know and we don't expect big things happening but we are going to be very alert in the market to see if we can improve the team. And as well, we have to be prepared because things can happen, injuries arise in this period and you have to be prepared."
08.49 GMT: Jan Oblak's agent is due in Madrid in the coming weeks for talks with Atletico Madrid over a contract extension, Marca reports.
The 28-year-old Slovenia international -- who was voted No. 1 among goalkeepers in ESPN's FC 100 for 2021 -- has a current deal which expires in June 2023, with a €120m release clause.
Oblak conceded a bizarre goal at Cadiz on Sunday but, according to Marca, both Atletico and coach Diego Simeone have "no doubts" about him.
The newspaper says negotiations with agent Miha Mlakar are expected to be "a hard road," as they were the last time a new contract was agreed in 2019, with long-term interest in Oblak from the Premier League.
08.00 GMT: Manchester United caretaker Michael Carrick says it's a "myth" that Cristiano Ronaldo can't play in a pressing team as Ralf Rangnick's arrival has sparked questions about the forward's place in his team..
Ronaldo's role at Old Trafford has been under scrutiny following the appointment of interim manager Rangnick, who has a reputation for coaching an intense, pressing style. The Portugal captain's statistics this season and last season at Juventus suggest he does not close down defenders very often, but Carrick insists the 36-year-old will be able to adapt to Rangnick's demands.
"Maybe it is a myth," Carrick told a news conference on Wednesday. "Maybe that is how it is. He's played in enough teams over the years being successful to play in a variety of ways and kept scoring goals for every team. I'm sure he will continue to score goals, there is no doubt about that."
Rangnick has not yet been able to work with the players because of ongoing issues obtaining a work visa and Carrick will remain in charge for Arsenal's visit to Old Trafford on Thursday.
It means the squad could be set for a crash course in Rangnick's methods once he takes over during a hectic schedule of eight games in 30 days before the end of 2021.
"Players adapt, there's different skills and styles you have to have," added Carrick. "We have played different styles since we came here. Ralf has a terrific pedigree over a long period of time and had good success with that so I am sure that the players are looking forward to the days and weeks ahead."
Why FC 100 winner Jan Oblak had to be a goalkeeper
Jan Oblak says it was always his dream to be a goalkeeper after being named best in the world in the ESPN FC 100.
PAPER GOSSIP (by Adam Brown)
- Napoli are continuing their search for a left-back and have begun talks with the agent of Besiktas star Umut Meras. That's according to Calciomercato, which writes that the 25-year-old is open to a move to Serie A, but is remaining focused on Besiktas until an official offer is made.
- Jonathan Ikone is set for a switch to Serie A in January after agreeing on a deal with Fiorentina. Fabrizio Romano writes that Lille will receive a fee of €15m for the 23-year-old. Ikone has had a mixed campaign after being a standout performer when his side won the Ligue 1 title last season.
- Meanwhile, Lille have set their sights on FC Midtjylland's Gustav Isaksen for a move in January, according to Sport Italia TV. The 20-year-old star was a standout performer as his side defeated Braga 3-2 in the Europa League, and he has also impressed while on international duty with the Denmark U21 national team.
- Nicolo Schira reveals that Manchester City have scouted Bologna's Mattias Svanberg, who scored the winner in his side's 1-0 victory over AS Roma on Wednesday. The 22-year-old attacking midfielder has been in good form this season and has previously been linked with Arsenal.
- Barcelona are interested in Las Palmas star Alberto Moleiro, says Mundo Deportivo. The Blaugrana are reported to have been following the 18-year-old for some time with hopes he could be the next Pedri, but the Canaries are planning to make it more difficult for clubs to acquire Moleiro, with plans to triple his release clause in a new contract extension.
- Zlatan Ibrahimovic has reaffirmed his desire to stay at the San Siro after scoring the opening goal in AC Milan's 3-0 win over Genoa on Wednesday. Speaking after the game, as quoted by Fabrizio Romano, he said: "I'm happy for our manager [Stefano Pioli] but now it's time for me to extend the contract. These guys make me have fun."