Reports in Spain are suggesting that Real Betis are still confident of agreeing a deal for Marc Muniesa.
The cash-strapped La Liga outfit have been unable to meet Stoke City’s asking price for their Spanish defender but are hoping that pressure from the player will force through a loan move.
Spanish media outlets are claiming that Muniesa is keen on a return to Spain after finding first-team opportunities limited in North Staffordshire this season and that he has already sought out accommodation in Seville. However, Betis are struggling to raise enough money to purchase the player on a permanent transfer and are pinning their hopes of any potential loan deal on the 24-year-old convincing Mark Hughes to sanction a temporary move. It is believed that Muniesa has already spoken to club officials in an attempt to convince the club to allow him to leave rather than keep him against his will.
Betis have been chasing the former Barcelona defender since the start of the transfer window and see him as the ideal player to reinforce their defensive line. However, the Spanish club are unable to pay more than £3,000,000 for Muniesa which falls well below Stoke City’s valuation.
Meanwhile, the Staffordshire Sentinel are reporting that Ibrahim Afellay could be the next Stoke City player to be handed a contract extension.
Veteran striker Peter Crouch signed a new contract earlier this month and Dutch midfielder Afellay looks set to follow and put pen to paper on a new deal.
The 30-year-old midfielder has recently returned to first team action after recovering from a long-term knee injury suffered last season and is highly rated by Mark Hughes. The Dutchman had proven to be a shrewd acquisition after signing on a free transfer in the summer of 2015 and was among those challenging for the player of the season award before cruciate knee ligament damage cut short his debut campaign in English football. However, Afellay has fully recovered and Hughes told the Staffordshire Sentinel that he has been impressed by the former Ajax and Barcelona player.
“There was always a case that we needed to make sure he was coming back fit and strong. He’s displaying that … he looks like the Ibby of old. That’s really encouraging”.
“We’d like to hope he’d want to continue here. He had a great initial spell when he was playing well. Unfortunately the injury stopped him in his tracks but he’s now come back at a good level and we hope he has the same impact he had before the injury”.
Afellay’s current deal is set to expire in the summer.
Elsewhere, Sky Sports have reported that Bojan Krkic has told Stoke City that he wants to leave the club during the January transfer window.
The former Barcelona forward has grown frustrated after finding first team opportunities limited at the Bet365 Stadium and is keen to confirm his exit before the end of the month.
Middlesbrough are currently leading the race for his signature, with Aitor Karanka publicly admitting his admiration for the 26-year-old, whilst West Bromwich Albion, Las Palmas and Valencia have also made their interest known. The Potters value Bojan at £12,000,000 and may decide to cash in on the Spaniard if they receive a substantial offer.
Mark Hughes is keen to hold on to the forward, who arrived in The Potteries in the summer of 2014, and told the player that he was still a key part of his plans when they held a private meeting during the Christmas period. However, Bojan was left out of the Stoke City squad that beat Sunderland at the weekend, officially due to a slight hip injury, and was hauled off at half-time when he started in Stoke’s FA Cup defeat to Wolves a fortnight ago.
Despite having almost four years remaining on his current deal, it looks increasingly unlikely that Bojan will remain at the Bet365 Stadium.
Furthermore, Stoke City are facing further competition in the race to sign West Browmwich Albion striker Saido Berahino.
The 23-year-old has been identified by Mark Hughes as his number one target during the transfer window and The Potters are determined to secure the striker’s signature after failing to agree a move over the summer. However, the Staffordshire Sentinel is reporting that Everton and Crystal Palace have joined the ever increasing list of clubs interested in Berahino.
Sam Allardyce is keen to bring in a forward as he looks to boost his side’s hopes of avoiding relegation and has set his sights on the West Brom outcast who has been frozen out of first team action by Tony Pulis. Ronald Koeman is also set to enquire about the striker’s availability as Everton continue to make considerable investments in the transfer market.
You sense that this transfer saga still has plenty of time to run before it comes to a conclusion.
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