The January transfer window may seem like a distant memory, but that doesn’t mean the rumour mill has shut down! Speculation over summer moves is heating up, so check out the latest gossip below, and see all official deals here.
TOP STORY: Man Utd to include Lingard in deal for Rice
Manchester United will look to include Jesse Lingard in a deal to sign West Ham United midfielder Declan Rice, reports the Athletic.
Lingard joined West Ham on loan in January and is due to return to Old Trafford in the summer, but the forward has been in superb form this season, scoring six goals and assisting a further four in eight Premier League games.
While this has, understandably, made the prospect of making Lingard’s loan permanent an exciting one for West Ham, it has also made United believe they have another way of signing his 22-year-old England and Hammers teammate.
West Ham are looking to get around £100 million from clubs looking to sign Rice and United have been constantly linked with him in recent years, with Chelsea and Manchester City also keen.
Rice may be out of action, having injured his knee during England’s 2-1 World Cup qualification win over Poland, but that has not dampened the interest in securing his signature.
While there are no fees given in the report, it is suggested that United will be exploring how a deal involving Lingard could work.
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16.30 BST: The transfer market this summer is setting up to be unlike any other in recent memory, with a host of star players seemingly lined up for big moves and some of the world’s top clubs struggling to find a way to sign their targets while also keeping their best players. Lionel Messi, Erling Haaland, Paul Pogba, Mohamed Salah, Harry Kane and many others face a crucial summer, but time will tell how many will move.
With football still coming to terms with the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic, some moves will grind to a halt, while others will only happen if clubs can source money from outside the game.
As agents, directors of football and club owners begin to fine tune their transfer strategies, ESPN senior writers Mark Ogden and James Olley have assessed what, how and why some deals will happens and why others won’t even get off the ground.
Ogden: Expect loan deals to become the biggest section of the transfer market this summer. Clubs will want, and need, to freshen up their squads, while players will be determined to move if they have fallen out of favour or grown frustrated with their current employers. Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool and Spurs have all used the loan market this season, either to bring players in or move them out, and they have all benefited to varying degrees from that system.
Olley: The wider picture is troubling. Many clubs are going to post huge losses as the full financial impact of the pandemic is laid bare over the remainder of 2021. The January window is never especially vibrant, but this year’s was noticeably quieter — only five Premier League clubs spent money on permanent signings — with sources telling ESPN that several teams were concerned about the pandemic to the extent they retained players in case an outbreak of the virus ripped through their squad.
As a result, agents were trying to generate interest rather than facilitating deals. A lingering sense of that caution may even partly explain the recent Mino Raiola roadshow with Haaland, travelling Europe to drum up excitement. Many clubs are used to kicking the can down the road, borrowing and spending against future income. COVID-19 has brought that risk-taking into sharper focus, though the temptation will always be there to gamble on another signing.
15.36 BST: Arsenal are close to agreeing a contract extension with highly-rated teenager Folarin Balogun, sources have told ESPN’s James Olley.
Balogun, 19, had been heavily linked with a move abroad, having been free to negotiate with overseas clubs since January as he entered the final six months of his contract.
However, the Gunners were always hopeful Balogun would commit his future to the club and after a breakthrough in negotiations, the Daily Mail first reported he is now close to signing a new deal to stay in north London.
Balogun is yet to make a Premier League appearance for the club but has scored twice in four substitute appearances in the Europa League.
The futures of two other Arsenal strikers, Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah, who will both have one year remaining on their contracts this summer, remain uncertain.
15.22 BST: Record reports that Barcelona, Manchester City and Manchester United are all keen to sign Sporting CP left-back Nuno Mendes.
Mendes, 18, has a release clause of €70m and his performances are attracting the biggest clubs in Europe. United might be able to offer Sporting the chance to sign former Porto defender Alex Telles in return, which may give them the edge.
14.29 BST: Ajax midfielder Ryan Gravenberch has a bright future ahead of him.
Gab & Juls see a big future and a possible transfer for Ajax’s latest young star, midfielder Ryan Gravenberch.
13.57 BST: Spain defender Pau Torres is hopeful clubs interested in his signature this summer will not have to pay his full release clause to engineer an exit from Villarreal, sources told ESPN’s Rob Dawson.
Torres is keen on a move to one of Europe’s elite clubs after impressing during two seasons as a regular at Villarreal. The 24-year-old, who has been capped seven times by Spain, has a release clause of around €65m but sources told ESPN that offers closer to €50m may be accepted.
Manchester United and Real Madrid are among the clubs interested. United, according to sources, are particularly interested in signing a left-footed centre-back. Torres fits that criteria but is unproven in the Premier League, although there is an acceptance at United there are not many available players who tick every box this summer.
Torres was among the central defenders shortlisted by Manchester City last summer before they signed Ruben Dias from Benfica and Nathan Ake from Bournemouth for over combined €100m.
13.17 BST: Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane has said he hopes Lionel Messi stays at Barcelona, saying his presence is “good for La Liga” ahead of an El Clasico clash that could help decide the title race.
Real Madrid host Barcelona on Saturday with both teams looking to chase down leaders Atletico, with Barca just one point off the top, and Madrid two points further back. Messi has failed to score in the last seven Clasicos, last finding the net in the fixture in May 2018. He is yet to announce a decision on his future, with his Camp Nou contract expiring in June.
“I hope he stays at Barcelona,” Zidane said when asked if this could be Messi’s last Clasico. “He’s fine there, and it’s good for the Spanish league too.”
Zidane was also asked about reports linking long-term Real Madrid target Kylian Mbappe with a move to the Bernabeu this summer, after Spain’s Deportes Cuatro reported that the forward had decided not to renew his contract at Paris Saint-Germain.
“It’s different [with Mbappe] because I know him, we know each other really well and that’s all,” Zidane said when asked for his reaction. “But he isn’t my player and I can’t talk about anything… Kylian is a great player, and what he wants to do in the future we’ll see. Right now it isn’t my concern.”
12.46 BST: Should Juventus be looking to bring in a new manager?
Mina Rzouki says Zinedine Zidane’s pragmatism as a manager could help Juventus turn their fortunes around.
12.09 BST: Dortmund have plenty of top talent in their squad and while Jadon Sancho continues to top Manchester United’s wishlist, it’s another player who may end up at the club soon.
Ruhr Nachrichten claims that 25-year-old centre-back Manuel Akanji wants to move to United “at some point.”
The Switzerland international isn’t pushing for an exit yet, having extended his contract recently until 2023, but United are keen to find a long-term partner for Harry Maguire as Victor Lindelof, Eric Bailly and Axel Tuanzebe have endured mixed form.
United have also been linked with Real Madrid’s Raphael Varane, Sevilla’s Jules Kounde and Brighton’s Ben White as their defender search continues.
11.45 BST: Arsenal are sympathetic to Lucas Torreira‘s desire to leave the club this summer but will demand a fee in the region of £15m to sanction the midfielder’s departure, sources told ESPN’s James Olley.
Torreira, 25, is on loan at Atletico Madrid from Arsenal and told ESPN Argentina last week he wants to return to Boca Juniors in South America following the death of his mother due to the coronavirus.
Manager Mikel Arteta said on Wednesday that “it is not the moment to make any decisions” over Torreira’s future but sources told ESPN the club are willing to listen to offers given the need to raise funds through player exits.
11.04 BST: Barcelona will listen to offers for Konrad de la Fuente this summer with several clubs in Spain and Germany interested in the United States winger, sources told ESPN’s Sam Marsden and Moises Llorens.
De la Fuente, 19, made his first-team debut for Barca earlier this season in the Champions League and received his first cap for the United States men’s national team in November.
His contract at Camp Nou expires in 2022 but the Catalan club have an option to extend it until 2024.
The Miami-native has been training regularly with Ronald Koeman’s side since last summer but has spent more time with the B team in recent weeks, who are vying for promotion to the second tier of Spanish football.
10.24 BST: Could Man United end up sending goalkeeper David de Gea on loan to PSG?
Mark Ogden shares his thoughts on where Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea could end up this summer.
09.58 BST: Barcelona’s players still “dream” of the club re-signing Neymar from Paris Saint-Germain, according to a report in Mundo Deportivo.
Neymar, 29, is out of contract in 2022 and is yet to sign a new deal in Paris. Some reports in France suggest an agreement to renew is close to being finalised, but Diari ARA claimed last week that talks have broken down with the Brazilian keen to return to Camp Nou.
Mundo Deportivo says that Barca’s players, especially those that previously played with Neymar, are desperate for the club to make an effort to bring him back.
“They would prefer [Barca] to sign him than Georginio Wijnaldum and Memphis Depay,” the report says, referencing Neymar’s first-half “exhibition” in the 3-2 Champions League win against Bayern Munich in midweek.
Barca tried to re-sign Neymar in 2019 but couldn’t reach an agreement with PSG. With the club’s gross debt approaching €1.2 billion, it’s unlikely they will be able to pay for him this summer, either, unless they move players on or can tempt PSG with a swap deal. Ousmane Dembele and Antoine Griezmann have been mentioned as possible options.
Another would be for Neymar to see out his contract and return to Barca for free having left them for a world record €222m fee in 2017.
09.21 BST: Agent Mino Raiola’s Erling Haaland roadshow (a move that looks a precursor to a summer exit, says ESPN’s Gab Marcotti) has led some Manchester United insiders to feel they were right to cool their interest in the striker before he signed for Borussia Dortmund.
Sources told ESPN’s Rob Dawson it came as no surprise to see Raiola and Haaland’s father Alf-Inge visit Barcelona and Real Madrid in the lead up to Dortmund’s 2-1 Champions League quarterfinal first-leg defeat at Manchester City on Tuesday.
United are among a host of elite clubs who remain interested in Haaland, either this summer or in 2022 when his release clause at Dortmund becomes active, and sources told ESPN Dortmund value Haaland at €180m. Privately, United and Manchester City have distanced themselves from agreeing to a fee that high amid the coronavirus pandemic, with club finances across the world suffering a significant hit. City revealed the full impact of COVID-19 on the club by reporting a net loss of £126m for the 2019-20 season, a year after reporting a profit of £10.1m.
United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer visited Haaland in the run-up to his departure from Salzburg in 2020 but club bosses, including executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, were never comfortable with the terms put forward by agent Raiola and Haaland’s father. Talks with Haaland’s camp led United to believe his representatives wanted to stay in control of the youngster’s future by including a release clause in his contract — something Dortmund accepted before his move to Germany. United’s concern was that should Haaland be a success, he could be touted around Europe’s biggest clubs at any point, with the club unable to do anything about it.
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Gab Marcotti, Julien Laurens and Derek Rae discuss Erling Haaland’s release clause at Borussia Dortmund.
08.43 BST: It wasn’t long ago that Karim Benzema was spotted on camera seemingly criticising Vinicius Junior — but the striker has been full of praise for the Brazilian after his Champions League brace in the 3-1 win over Liverpool this week.
TV images showed Benzema telling teammate Ferland Mendy “don’t pass to him, brother” at half-time in Real Madrid’s game with Borussia Monchengladbach in October, in apparent reference to Vinicius.
“I believe in him, he has everything to triumph here,” Benzema told La Liga in an interview ahead of Saturday’s Clasico against Barcelona. “That’s why I talk to him a lot, on the pitch and off the pitch. Sometimes I’m a bit hard on him, but it’s for him. I know he can give more because he’s a phenomenon when he wants to be.”
Vinicius, 20, hasn’t always convinced since joining Madrid in 2018 and had been linked with a move to Paris Saint-Germain, even being named as potentially part of a transfer deal that would bring Kylian Mbappe to the Bernabeu.
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08.00 BST: Tottenham are leading the race for West Bromwich Albion goalkeeper Sam Johnstone, sources have told ESPN’s Mark Ogden, with West Ham and Leeds also monitoring the 28-year-old’s situation at The Hawthorns.
Hugo Lloris’ indifferent form for Jose Mourinho’s team this season has led to the club searching for a potential replacement and Johnstone is regarded as a reliable, and inexpensive, option to challenge or replace the France No. 1, who has been deputised by ex-England keeper Joe Hart this season.
The former Manchester United youngster, who was loaned out to six different clubs during his nine-year career at Old Trafford, earned his first senior England call-up for the World Cup qualifiers against San Marino, Albania and Poland last month after emerging as one of the most consistent keepers in the Premier League at West Brom this season.
But with Sam Allardyce’s team facing a battle to avoid relegation — West Brom are eight points adrift of safety with eight games to play — Johnstone’s future at the club is now in doubt due to the financial impact of dropping back into the Championship following promotion last season.
Having arrived from United in a £6.5m deal in 2018, sources have told ESPN that Johnstone could be sold for as little as £10m this summer due to the keeper having just one year left to run on his contract at The Hawthorns.
Jurgen Klinsmann discusses how Kylian Mbappe scored such a fantastic goal in PSG’s win vs. Bayern Munich.
PAPER GOSSIP (by Danny Lewis)
– Kylian Mbappe will refuse to sign a contract extension with Paris Saint-Germain and wants to join Real Madrid, reports Cuatro. This will put the Parisians in a difficult position, as the 22-year-old forward, who scored twice against Bayern Munich last night, only has a deal that runs until 2022.
– Both Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur are monitoring Denmark centre-back Joachim Andersen, reports the Telegraph. The 24-year-old has impressed during his loan spell at Fulham this term, meaning Lyon will have a decision on their hands regarding whether or not to let him leave upon his return to France.
– According to Calciomercato, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain could come to a deal that would see Paulo Dybala and Mauro Icardi swap clubs. PSG shouldn’t be celebrating the signing of Dybala just yet though, as Barcelona, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur are all said to hold an interest in the 27-year-old striker.
– Internazionale centre-back Andrea Ranocchia and Napoli defender Nikola Maksimovic both have contracts coming to an end this summer, and Calciomercato have claimed their futures could intertwine. If Ranocchia is not kept on at Inter, it is suggested that the Serbian could come in to replace him. Meanwhile, Lazio are interested in both of them, while Sassuolo want Ranocchia and AS Roma are keeping an eye on Maksimovic.
– Bologna won’t accept anything less than €20m to sign 24-year-old Riccardo Orsolini, as has been suggested by La Gazzetta dello Sport. This news comes with AC Milan and unnamed Bundesliga clubs interested in the Italian. The emergence of Andreas Skov Olsen could make them more likely to let the winger leave, but they won’t go under their valuation.
– Leeds United have been priced out of a move for PSV Eindhoven’s 19-year-old winger Noni Madueke, reports Football Insider. The Premier League side had shown an interest in the England Under-21 international, but PSV are demanding between £20m-£25m, a fee Leeds are unwilling to match.