LIVE Transfer Talk - Barcelona turn to Chelsea's Romelu Lukaku to solve striker quandary

OLE777 – LIVE Transfer Talk – Barcelona turn to Chelsea’s Romelu Lukaku to solve striker quandary


The summer transfer window is approaching, and there’s plenty of gossip swirling about who’s moving where. Transfer Talk brings you all the latest buzz on rumours, comings and goings and, of course, done deals!

TOP STORY: Barcelona turn to Lukaku

Barcelona are targeting Chelsea’s Romelu Lukaku as signing a striker remains the LaLiga club’s biggest priority for the summer transfer window, according to Marca.

Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland and Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski had originally been Barca’s favoured options, but deals for the Bundesliga frontmen have seemed increasingly difficult to complete.

This is where Lukaku comes in, with the Belgium international unhappy at Chelsea. While he had appeared on the verge of leaving Stamford Bridge during the winter window, the 28-year-old is set to depart in the summer with various clubs interested in signing him.

Lukaku’s 12 goals in all competitions for the Blues this term isn’t representative of his best, after the Belgian managed 64 goals in 95 games in two seasons with Inter Milan.

Barcelona officials Mateu Alemany and Jordi Cruyff have already met Federico Pastorello, Lukaku’s representative, about a possible move, though it seems this deal could also be complicated.

Chelsea paid a hefty fee for Lukaku, which Barcelona would be unable to replicate.

To date, there has been no concrete move for Lukaku, but both parties are aware of the situation and are waiting to see what happens with Chelsea’s ownership, as well as what any potential new owners intend to do with the stirker.

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21.05 BST: MLSsoccer.com’s Tom Bogert reports that MLS expansion club Charlotte FC have agreed a trade with the Colorado Rapids for forward Andre Shinyashiki. The 24-year-old native of Sao Paulo, who has registered 16 goals in 86 appearances across four seasons with the Rapids, will move to the Carolina club in exchange for $400,000 in allocation money.

20.18 BST: With 37-year-old centre-back Giorgio Chiellini potentially leaving the club this summer, and first-choice replacement Antonio Rudiger destined for Real Madrid, Juventus will look to bolster the heart of their defence by signing Milan Skriniar of Inter Milan, according to Tuttosport. The 27-year-old Slovakia international has just one year remaining on his contract at the San Siro, making any negotiations between the club difficult but not impossible.

19.31 BST: AS writes that after a change in heart, Adnan Januzaj will sign a new contract with Real Sociedad after all. After five years in San Sebastian, the 27-year-old Belgium attacker looked set to leave the Spanish club on a free transfer this summer, negotiating with the likes of AC Milan and Napoli, but will now sign the three-year deal offered to him in January.

18.44 BST: Following three seasons with Atletico Mineiro, winger Jefferson Savarino will now return to Real Salt Lake, where he played between 2017 and 2019, reports Fabrizio Romano. The 25-year-old Venezuela international has signed a deal with the MLS club through the 2025 season, which includes a 20% sell-on clause to the Brazilian outfit.

17.57 BST: With just two years remaining on his Lazio contract, this summer is the time for Sergej Milinkovic-Savic to leave the Italian capital club, according to Tuttosport.

Juventus have prioritised signing the 27-year-old midfielder, but would struggle to meet the Biancocelesti‘s demands of a transfer fee of between €70m and €80m. Should the Turin club fail to negotiate a players-plus-cash deal, then it’s said the Serbia international would be destined for a move abroad, with Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain both reportedly interested.

17.10 BST: United States defender Sergino Dest has managed to turn his situation around at Barcelona and is now likely to stay at the club beyond the summer, sources confirmed to ESPN’s Sam Marsden and Moises Llorens.

Barca were open to offers for Dest during the January transfer window following the signing of Dani Alves, with coach Xavi Hernandez unconvinced by the former Ajax right-back at first.

However, Dest, who always wanted to stay at Barca, has managed to change Xavi’s mind through working hard in training and performing when being given a chance.

Dest, 21, has made 13 appearances since the January window closed and had begun to re-establish himself as the first choice right-back before sustaining a hamstring injury in March.

He returned briefly earlier this month but another hamstring injury — this time in the other leg — has sidelined him for around six weeks, ruling him out of Barca’s final five games of the season.

Due to their financial situation, Barca remain open to offers for most of their squad if the money is right, but sources told ESPN that Dest has been informed he remains part of their long-term plans as planning for the new campaign gets underway.

16.19 BST: Cristiano Ronaldo would be justified in leaving Manchester United this summer if they do not qualify for the Champions League, according to his former Old Trafford teammate, Dimitar Berbatov.

Ronaldo is joint-second in the Premier League’s scoring chart this season with 17 goals. The 37-year-old has one more year left on his contract at United, but his future has been the subject of speculation as the club looks likely to miss out on a top-four finish this season.

Berbatov, who played with Ronaldo in the team that won the Premier League title and reached the Champions League final in 2008-09, said that while he hopes Ronaldo stays, he would understand if he decided to move on this summer.

“I’d be happy to see him stay and continue scoring as well as helping the players around him,” Berbatov told Betfair. “If he decides to go, obviously you cannot blame him. When you are used to playing Champions League football every year of your career and then you don’t have it, it’s tough to accept.

“His performances this season show how well he is taking care of himself. He will want to play as long as he can and show that the impossible is possible. He has proven that he can still do it at 37 in the Premier League, he likes to prove people wrong and I’m pretty sure that he will want to continue doing that and play a few more years.”

15.32 BST: Four Premier League clubs are among a host of top European sides to have made contact with Paulo Dybala‘s representatives over a potential free transfer this summer, sources told ESPN’s James Olley.

Arsenal, Manchester United and Newcastle have all asked to be kept informed of the situation while Tottenham made contact some time ago through the club’s managing director of football, Fabio Paratici.

The 28-year-old striker is expected to leave Juventus when his existing contract expires at the end of the season after talks broke down over an extension. ESPN has also been informed that unnamed clubs in Italy and Spain have sounded out Dybala’s camp with the player expected to assess his options in the coming weeks as the prospect of staying at Juventus looks increasingly unlikely.

Juventus were thought to have offered Dybala a new deal worth around £160,000-a-week after tax but then sought to change the terms following the January arrival of Dusan Vlahovic from Fiorentina. Sources insisted there are as yet no advanced talks between any club and Dybala. Arsenal are in the market for at least one striker this summer with Manchester City’s Gabriel Jesus also under consideration.

Meanwhile, Juventus president Andrea Agnelli believes it would have been disrespectful to have offered Dybala a new contract that didn’t reflect “his level.” Agnelli said: “[Dybala] is a great player, but certain decisions are taken at a given time. In December I would have said that it was impossible to have Vlahovic in January, resources are limited and you have to choose where to invest. There is also the rejuvenating aspect, having invested in Dusan, [Matthijs] De Ligt, [Federico] Chiesa, [Manuel] Locatelli. I can only reiterate the words of [Juventus CEO] Maurizio Arribavene, that to have made an offer to Paulo not suited to his level would not have been correct.”

14.48 BST: Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez says Frenkie de Jong remains a key part of his long-term plans despite reports linking the midfielder with a summer move away from Camp Nou.

Manchester United have been strongly credited with an interest in De Jong following the appointment of Erik ten Hag, his former boss at Ajax, while Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich and Manchester City have also been linked. However, Xavi insists the Dutch international’s future lies at Barcelona, although he called on him to be more consistent moving forward.

“He has to be a player that makes the difference and he does,” Xavi said in a news conference ahead of Sunday’s game against Mallorca (stream LIVE Sunday, 3 p.m. ET on ESPN+ in the U.S.).

“There aren’t many players with his quality in the world. He’s the present and the future [at Barca]. He is a very important player for me. He’s capable, strong, he gets into the box… He has had some excellent games, but he has to be consistent.”

Despite enjoying a run to the Champions League semifinal under Ten Hag at Ajax, the coach’s move to United, the same sources add, is not something that would necessarily enhance the Premier League side’s chances of landing De Jong.

United look set to miss out on Champions League qualification this season and a move to Old Trafford would be seen as a step back if Barca — whose financial situation dictates they have to listen to serious offers for most of their squad — did decide to entertain bids for De Jong, who joined from Ajax for €75 million in 2019. He has a contract until 2026.

13.56 BST: Espanyol’s Raul de Tomas is being considered by Real Madrid as an alternative to Erling Haaland if the LaLiga club miss out on the superstar forward this summer, according to Diario AS.

Madrid have been battling with Manchester City for the signing of Borussia Dortmund star Haaland, 21, but as the Premier League club have emerged as favourites in recent weeks, AS reports that De Tomas is well positioned as a plan B.

The 27-year-old Real Madrid youth product – who joined Benfica for €20m in 2019 — is enjoying the best top-flight scoring season in his career to date this year, with 15 LaLiga goals, second only to Karim Benzema.

Madrid will look to move on Luka Jovic and Mariano Diaz this summer, the newspaper says, leaving De Tomas or another academy product, Getafe’s Borja Mayoral, as potential back-ups to Benzema.

Real Madrid host Espanyol on Saturday needing just one point to become champions of LaLiga for the 35th time (stream LIVE on ESPN+ at 10.15 a.m. ET in the U.S.).

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Julien Laurens explains why he voted for Mohamed Salah to win the Football Writers’ Association (FWA) Footballer of the Year award.

13.09 BST: Jurgen Klopp has said his new Liverpool contract extension will not influence the futures of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane at the club.

On Thursday, Klopp put pen to paper on a new two-year deal that will see him remain at Anfield until 2026 amid speculation he was set to leave and take a sabbatical in 2024.

Liverpool have yet to agree new contracts with star forwards Salah and Mane but Klopp said his new deal will not have an impact on the players’ decision.

“I think that’s a question for the boys,” he told a news conference on Friday. “My relationship with both players is great.

“If it’s a positive sign for the boys then great, but I don’t think this will be a decisive factor. But the players who want to be here now know what they can expect.”

– Salah wins Footballer of the Year, but who did our writers pick?

12.23 BST: Mauricio Pochettino has not yet been told by Paris Saint-Germain he is being sacked at the end of the season, sources told ESPN’s Julien Laurens, but the expectation is he will leave this summer.

Sources added that Pochettino’s days in Paris are numbered and discussions over his exit have taken place recently. Zinedine Zidane is the club’s No. 1 choice to replace Pochettino while Tottenham manager Antonio Conte is also said to be keen on the job.

Pochettino is preparing as normal for PSG’s game away at Strasbourg this weekend, with the club crowned Ligue 1 champions for the 10th time in their history. But the former Spurs boss is likely to pay the price for an underwhelming season in the French capital. PSG may have won the league at a canter but their humiliating exit at the hands of Real Madrid in the Champions League weakened Pochettino’s position at the club.

Pochettino was defiant at his prematch news conference on Thursday, when he insisted that he is “100%” sure both he and Kylian Mbappe will remain with the club next season.

“One hundred percent in both cases. Today,” he said. “That’s just how I feel today, what I can see and what I can tell you,” he added when asked whether he had talked to Mbappe about a new contract. “I can’t say anything else because it is really what I feel and what I see. This is football, we never know what can happen. But I have to answer your question based on what I feel today and this is what I feel.”

– Mbappe for president? PSG star received votes in French election

11.32 BST: Arsenal are prepared to let club-record signing Nicolas Pepe join another Premier League club in the summer, the Daily Express reports.

Pepe, 26, signed from Lille for £72m in the summer of 2019, but he has struggled to live up to that fee for much of his time in England.

The Ivory Coast international has started just five Premier League games this season, and has scored just three goals this term.

The Express reports that Arsenal would be willing to let Pepe move for as little as £25m, with London rivals West Ham one of the clubs interested in a deal.

10.44 BST: Ralf Rangnick has said he will urge Manchester United to sign younger players in the future rather than focusing on signing established star names.

The 63-year-old — who on Friday was named as Austria’s new head coach and signed a contract until 2024 — will advise on recruitment and said his preference would be for United to target young players while moving away from a philosophy that has seen the club spend heavily on the likes of Angel Di Maria, Alexis Sanchez, Romelu Lukaku and Paul Pogba.

“My opinion is the club should try to find future top players and try to develop them,” Rangnick said. “We just need to look into the other top clubs in England and also in other countries in Europe and what players did they sign in the past and you get the answer.

“It is obvious the club and team needs new players. Some players have no contracts and some might want more game time and are on loan already. “It is obvious the club needs quite a few new players. You need mentality, quality, physicality and skill — the full package.”

09.51 BST: Wolves are preparing for life after Ruben Neves as they have sounded out agents and contacts over replacements for the midfielder, sources told ESPN’s Tom Hamilton and Rob Dawson.

Clubs have sent out wanted lists to top agents, and Wolves’ list includes a replacement for their 25-year-old midfielder. Manchester United have been offered the option to bid for Neves, according to ESPN sources, but there is firm interest from clubs in LaLiga and others in the Premier League as well.

Wolves are also in the running for a forward this summer, but finding someone to step into the sizeable shoes of Neves is top of their list. ESPN sources say there is desire on both Neves and agent Jorge Mendes’ part to move the player this summer.

Neves had been linked with moves to Barcelona and Arsenal, but has stayed put this season under Bruno Lage. He has made 28 appearances in the Premier League, contributing four goals and two assists.

He has been sidelined since mid-March with a knee injury, and is contracted to Wolves through to 2024.

– Notebook: The inside stories from around the world

09.00 BST: Barcelona’s Ronald Araujo has told ESPN that money was not the most important factor after confirming he rejected more lucrative offers from Premier League clubs before signing a new deal with the Blaugrana this week.

Araujo, 23, signed a contract extension on Friday that will keep him at Camp Nou through to 2026, with his release clause rising to €1 billion. The defender’s previous terms were due to expire in 2023 and ESPN previously revealed that Manchester United and Liverpool were prepared to better Barca’s proposal.

Speaking to ESPN, Araujo said his first choice was always to stay at Barca, whom he joined in 2018, despite the money available elsewhere.

“I am really happy and I am convinced that staying is the right decision because there are good years ahead for the club,” the Uruguayan said. “I was always certain I wanted to stay. There were big offers from abroad, but I’m happy at Barcelona. My family love it here and the fans and my teammates have always made me feel at home.

“I’m grateful for the effort the club have made. We all gave a little bit to reach an agreement, which is what we all wanted.

“[The Premier League interest] didn’t distract me at all. I was convinced what I wanted. It’s true money is a factor, but for me it’s not the most important thing. I am happy at Barcelona.”

PAPER GOSSIP (by Danny Lewis)

– AC Milan are showing interest in making an ambitious move to sign RB Leipzig’s Christopher Nkunku during the summer, reports Calciomercato. The Frenchman is wanted by some of the biggest clubs across Europe and while this is only an idea for Milan at the moment, they would be very keen to bring in the man who has contributed an incredible 30 goals and 20 assists in 47 appearances across all competitions this term. Nkunku’s transfer would cost at least €60m.

– Real Madrid are one of many clubs who have approached Chelsea right-back Reece James about a possible summer move, claims Goal. James is under contract until 2025 and Chelsea will do all they can to keep him, while Real Madrid’s priority remains ensuring Paris Saint-Germain talisman Kylian Mbappe joins them.

– Chelsea are considering paying the release clause for Villarreal centre-back Pau Torres, according to Ekrem Konur. The Blues are looking to bring in reinforcements at the back with Antonio Rudiger set to leave for Real Madrid, and Torres has been a key man in Villarreal’s commendable Champions League campaign this term.

– TSG Hoffenheim are hoping to sign Karlsruher striker Philipp Hofmann as a free agent when his contract ends in the summer, reports Kicker. It is felt his heading ability would make him the perfect addition, but it is far from a certainty that the 29-year-old will join them, as he could be set to go to VfL Bochum instead.

– Wolverhampton Wanderers and Celtic are both hoping to sign Bodo/Glimt goalkeeper Nikita Haikyn during the summer, reports Football Insider. The 26-year-old impressed during the Norwegian champions’ run to the Europa Conference League quarterfinal, who are willing to accept £500,000 due to his contract running out in December.


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