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Transfer roundup, Jan. 18: An African record, Arsenal updates, and outlandish rumors

Mesut Ozil (front) and Alexis Sanchez (back) before Arsenal’s clash with Chelsea. Sanchez is leaving the club, but could Ozil be set to stay? (Getty)

Welcome to FC Yahoo‘s daily transfer roundup, where we’ll dissect the January market, assess the credibility of gossip, and discuss the likelihood that deals come to pass. Every day, we’ll split the various links between players and clubs into four categories to sift through the BS and direct your attention to the reports that deserve it.

Here’s the transfer roundup for Thursday, Jan. 18:

THURSDAY’S DONE DEALS

Cedric Bakambu | Villarreal —> Beijing Guoan — Villarreal finally said goodbye to its top scorer on Wednesday, and Bakambu has finally completed a complicated move to China. Guoan activated his $49 million release clause, but as we explained last week when Bakambu was undergoing his medical:

Guoan will also have to pay over $40 million in “tax” – money that gets earmarked for the development of the sport in China. That means it’s an extreme overpay on the part of Guoan. But Villarreal won’t be thrilled to lose the 26-year-old striker for less than $50 million. He’s a real talent.

In addition, Bakambu becomes the most expensive African player ever – kind of. Maybe. It depends on what currency you use, because exchange rates fluctuate. Sadio Mane’s summer 2016 move from Southampton to Liverpool still holds the record if you measure in euros. But in either pounds or dollars, Bakambu has set a new mark. (Mane’s fee was paid in pounds; Bakambu’s was paid in euros.)

Both of those marks, however, will be topped by Naby Keita next summer.

Kostas Stafylidis | Augsburg —> Stoke City — A week after filling its hole at right back with Moritz Bauer, Stoke has shored up the left flank with Stafylidis, a Greek international, on loan until the end of the season.

CHATTER

Alexis Sanchez, Henrikh Mkhitaryan updates — It’s close! But not over the line yet. Here’s Arsene Wenger speaking on the deal Thursday:

“It may or may not happen. It’s at that stage. If it doesn’t happen he will play on Saturday. I’ve worked on transfer for 30 years so it’s likely to happen but at any moment things can break down, that’s how the market is. As long as it is not over the line, you have to accept that it could not happen. These kind of things are never guaranteed.”

When asked if Mkhitaryan would be heading in the opposite direction, Wenger said:

“That is my understanding, yes. Of course, I like him as a player. If it’s a possibility it’s because I like the player. We played many times against him when he was at Dortmund. He appreciated the quality of our games and the way we play football so that’s why he loves the club.”

Wenger speaks on Malcom — Wenger said Arsenal would remain active in the market after the Sanchez-Mkhitaryan swap, but, on Bordeaux forward Malcom, he said: “I don’t think we are close to doing that. … I don’t think” it will happen in January.

Dortmund director takes a shot at Wenger — Wenger was also asked about Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. He didn’t give any definitive update, but did speak about the player. Borussia Dortmund apparently wasn’t happy about that. “There’s no contact with Arsenal,” BVB sporting director Michael Zorc said. “We assume that Mr. Wenger has enough concerns with the performance of his own players.” Shots fired.

Ozil to stay at Arsenal? — Wenger confirmed Mesut Ozil will not be leaving in January. Hours later, former Arsenal striker Alan Smith said Ozil was close to re-upping his contract at the Emirates.

Daniel Sturridge — Sturridge has been linked with a host of clubs, from Sevilla to Inter Milan to several Premier League mid-table sides. Newcastle is the latest name to appear. But it seems most Sturridge suitors want him on loan. Liverpool, according to Sky Sports, would rather sell. As for Sturridge himself? He just needs game time to catch Gareth Southgate’s eye and secure a spot on the plane to Russia.

Joao Mario turns down West Ham — Inter Milan is reportedly willing to let Mario leave on loan, and West Ham was interested in acquiring him on loan. But Sky Sports Italy reports Mario snubbed West Ham. (To be fair to him, if you were in his position, you probably would too.)

RUMORS

Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, Real Madrid | Real Madrid —> ?
Eden Hazard, Neymar, Robert Lewandowski | —> Real Madrid — LOL. (Marca)

Jean Michael Seri | Nice —> Manchester — City and United are both interested in a deal for the Ivorian at season’s end, per the Guardian. The Sun says Chelsea is also interested.

Eden Dzeko | Roma —> Chelsea — Probably not happening, but here’s the rumor.

Fernando Llorente | Tottenham —> Chelsea — Likelier than Dzeko – Chelsea was also interested in Llorente this past summer – but if this were to happen, Tottenham would need to scramble for a backup striker. The Independent says Antonio Conte is eyeing up Llorente.

Lucas Moura | PSG —> TottenhamPer L’Equipe, Spurs could join the race for the Brazilian winger.

Juan Bernat | Bayern Munich —> Everton — Bernat is stuck behind David Alaba. He needs games. Everton needs an upgrade at left back. This link, courtesy of the Liverpool Echo, certainly makes a lot of sense.

Matteo Darmian | Manchester United —> Valencia — Darmian has been linked with a host of clubs, including Roma and others back in his native Italy. The latest rumor, per Onda Cero, is that Valencia is interested.

Andre Ayew | West Ham —> Swansea — Ayew brothers (re-)unite! Sky Sports claims Swansea has expressed interest. The two played together for five years at Marseille before going off in their own directions.

Ibrahim Amadou | Lille —> Crystal Palace — Palace reportedly wants a loan, Lille reportedly wants a permanent deal.

Chicharito, Danny Welbeck, Kelechi Iheanacho, Islam Slimani | —> Besiktas — It had previously been reported that Slimani was on Beskitas’ short list. According to Bleacher Report‘s Dean Jones, so are the other three.

JANUARY’S TOP DONE DEALS

(Chronological order)

Kostas Stafylidis | Augsburg —> Stoke City (loan)
Cedric Bakambu | Villarreal —> Beijing Guoan ($49 million)
Theo Walcott | Arsenal —> Everton ($27.6 million)
Martin Hongla | Grenada —> Barcelona (loan) 
Lisandro Lopez | Benfica —> Inter Milan (loan)
Manuel Akanji | FC Basel —> Borussia Dortmund ($27 million)
Alex Pritchard | Norwich City —> Huddersfield Town ($16.6 million)
Yerry Mina | Palmeiras —> Barcelona ($14.2 million)
Francis Coquelin | Arsenal —> Valencia ($14.4 million)
Fousseni Diabate | Gazélec Ajaccio —> Leicester City ($4.8 million)
Renato Steffen | FC Basel —> Wolfsburg ($2 million)
Mark Uth | Hoffenheim —> Schalke (summer, free)
Moritz Bauer | Rubin Kazan —> Stoke City ($6.8 million)
Georges-Kevin Nkoudou | Tottenham —> Burnley (loan)
Kevin Mirallas | Everton —> Olympiacos (loan)
Philippe Coutinho | Liverpool —> Barcelona ($192.5 million)
Cenk Tosun | Besiktas —> Everton ($36.5 million)
Wesley Sneijder | Nice —> Al-Gharafa (undisclosed)
Ross Barkley | Everton —> Chelsea ($20.3 million)
Marko Pjaca | Juventus —> Schalke (loan)
Konstantinos Mavropanos | PAS Giannina —> Arsenal ($2.4 million)

Terence Kongolo | Monaco —> Huddersfield Town (loan)

Virgil van Dijk | Southampton —> Liverpool ($101.4 million)
Diego Costa | Chelsea —> Atletico Madrid (€71.5 million)
Adrien Silva | Sporting CP —> Leicester City ($29.8 million)

Previous rumor roundups: Jan. 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 15 | 16 | 17

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Henry Bushnell covers global soccer, and occasionally other ball games, for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Question? Comment? Email him at henrydbushnell@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @HenryBushnell.