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TOP STORY: Man United and Real Madrid battle for Felix
Benfica starlet Joao Felix is one of the most sought-after young talents in football (one of our top 30 players under 21) and no wonder, given the ‘new Cristiano Ronaldo’ moniker which has followed him around for the past year or so.
The 19-year-old midfielder has a €120m (£105m) release clause, which means some of Europe’s elite clubs are salivating at the prospect of landing him after he won the domestic league title with Benfica and scored 15 goals, setting up nine more in 26 league appearances.
Portuguese newspaper Record maintain that Man United are ready to start their rebuilding process with a bid, while Real Madrid are thinking likewise. One problem though: Felix’s mother, Carla, says her son is “very happy” at Benfica.
She told Benfica TV, as reported in Record: “He is very happy at Benfica. We are very proud of him. We always try to accompany when we can. At home there’s only talk about football, football and football.”
10.28 BST: PSG right-back Thomas Meunier has been linked with a summer move and had this to say to RTBF: “PSG the club and its management know that I would like to see my contract [until 2020] out, or even extend it. If this gets done, so much the better. If not, we will see what can be done and go elsewhere.
“Rumour-wise, I am linked with everybody. Nothing but beautiful names of clubs are being linked with me. Manchester United, Juventus, Borussia Dortmund, those are all exceptional clubs. I am also lucky to be able to develop with a club like PSG as, even with limited playing time, it offers a certain visibility. We know that PSG rarely invest in players who are not worth it, in quotation marks. So, I hope to find a nice place to land if PSG decide that they do not want to prolong our adventure.”
10.12 BST: AC Milan forward Krzysztof Piatek says he wants to play in the Champions League next season as he left his future at the Serie A club open.
The 23-year-old joined the Rossoneri from Genoa in January for a reported €35m, but with one game of the season remaining, Milan risk missing out on a place in Europe’s elite club competition next season and may be forced to sell players in the summer to meet Financial Fair Play parameters.
“I’m not thinking about [my future], I’m just focused on our next game against SPAL and our objective,” he told Sky Sport Italia. “I hope to play in the Champions League because that would be perfect.”
Milan need to beat SPAL and hope either Atalanta or Inter Milan lose their final game of the season to qualify for the Champions League, or draw and hope that Atalanta lose and Inter get at least a point.
09.44 BST: Borussia Dortmund have announced the signing of Hoffenheim left-back Nico Schulz. The Germany international signed a contract until 2024 and produced this interesting video.
🗣 #SCHUUULZ pic.twitter.com/M61c6cEgYK
— Borussia Dortmund (@BVB) May 21, 2019
09.17 BST: Does anyone remember a transfer summer without Dortmund signing an up and coming La Liga player? We don’t. And Dortmund don’t. This year, they have set their sights on 19-year-old Barcelona right-back Mateu Morey.
Corresponding reports in both Germany and Spain say the deal is done and Morey will join on a free. The youngster has every chance to win a place in Dortmund’s starting formation in 2020 as Lukasz Piszczek is set to retire at the age of 34 next summer and Achraf Hakimi‘s loan from Real Madrid will end.
08.50 BST: Lazio midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic has dismissed talk of him leaving the Biancocelesti this summer, saying it is just recurring speculation.
The Serbia midfielder was linked with Real Madrid, Juventus and Manchester United a year ago, but he has since penned a new deal with the Serie A club and told Sky Sport Italia that he expects to stay with them next season.
“Even last year there was a lot of talk about me and that I was leaving, but then I stayed,” he said. “I hear the same things now, but I’ve signed a new contract and still have four years on it, so let’s see.”
Lazio have already booked their place in the group stage of next season’s Europa League by winning the Coppa Italia last week.
08.25 BST: Manchester City midfielder David Silva admits he is unsure of his future with the Premier League champions beyond the end of next season when his contract expires.
The 33-year-old – ranked at No. 3 among the world’s attacking midfielders in the ESPN FC 100 – has won four Premier League titles since joining City from Valencia in 2010.
Asked if he would like to return to Spain after next season when his contract with City ends, Silva told Onda Cero radio on the day City celebrated their domestic treble in Manchester: “I still have one year left on my contract and I don’t know what will happen. I will see what options I have and the willingness and decide what is best.”
08.00 BST: Ex-Paris Saint Germain coach Unai Emery says it took a lot of convincing to stop Kylian Mbappe moving to Real Madrid in the past.
“There was a moment when I had to speak a lot with him, and his father, to convince him to stay at PSG,” Arsenal manager Emery said on Monday night’s El Larguero radio show. “He wanted to choose Real Madrid, and also had the option of Barcelona. He really wanted to go to Madrid, but among us all we convinced him to stay in Paris, along with the money which was put on the table.”
The ex-Monaco striker’s future is again up in the air following the 20 year old’s talk of a “new project” last weekend, although PSG have reacted by saying he was not for sale and a source told ESPN FC that what Mbappe wants is more responsibility at his current club.
Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane is a confirmed fan of his fellow Frenchman, who was a Blancos supporter as a boy, and a big summer squad shake-up is sure at the Bernabeu.
PAPER TALK (by James Capps)
Bayern confident on Sane swoop
Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich are growing in confidence in their pursuit of Manchester City winger Leroy Sane, according to reports in The Mirror.
Despite a return of 16 goals in 47 appearances for the Germany international this season, it is believed that Pep Guardiola is willing to let Sane leave the club and potentially replace him with Benfica forward Joao Felix.
That has opened the door for Bayern, who are rethinking their transfer strategy following an Achilles injury to previous top target Callum Hudson-Odoi, while the departures of veteran wingers Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery have left a glaring void in the Munich ranks.
And a prominent role in the Bayern side would be a big pull for 23-year-old Sane, who has found himself out of the City side for much of the season, with Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva being largely preferred in the wide midfield berths.
Chelsea resigned to cash in on Hazard
Eden Hazard looks set to finally seal his dream move to Real Madrid, with the Daily Mail claiming Chelsea are now prepared to sell the Belgian, despite an incoming transfer ban.
The 28-year-old Hazard has just a year remaining on his contract at Stamford Bridge, meaning he could leave for nothing in the summer of 2020, and such a move would deal a severe blow to Chelsea’s hopes of remaining in line with Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations.
Chelsea have been trying to convince the former Lille forward to extend his stay in west London since the turn of the year, and were prepared to offer a hugely lucrative deal to make him one of the world’s highest-paid players, but Hazard’s desire to work under Zinedine Zidane at the Bernabeu has proven to be the deciding factor in negotiations.
It is believed an £87 million fee will be enough to secure a deal for Chelsea’s highest goal scorer this season.
PSG set for midfield revamp
Reports in Calciomercato claim Paris Saint-Germain are targeting Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante and Napoli schemer Allan, as manager Thomas Tuchel prepares to reshape his midfield after an uninspiring first season in the French capital.
Critics have lamented a lack of midfield prowess in the Parisians’ fruitless quest for Champions League glory, and the Ligue 1 champions have identified Kante as the ideal midfield destroyer, while Brazilian Allan is seen as versatile enough to occupy both a deep-lying playmaker role and play as a box-to-box midfielder.
Financial Fair Play implications could halt PSG’s plans to sign both players in the summer, and the Italian publication believes that should the French giants make a move for Allan, then Serie A champions Juventus will subsequently jump the queue for Kante, who they see as the ideal partner for incoming Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey.
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– The Daily Mail claims Vincent Kompany‘s return to Anderlecht as player-manager is set to be the first step toward the Belgian side becoming a partner club of the Premier League champions. Such a move would see Anderlecht potentially land loan deals for City’s rising stars.
– Newcastle United are plotting a move for Club Brugge striker Wesley Moraes, but must fight off competition from West Ham for the Brazilian’s signature. The Mirror claims Serie A side Lazio are also in the chase for the 17-goal striker, who has also notched 10 assists in the Belgian league this season.
– Premier League sides Everton and Wolves head up a host of clubs in the race to sign Benfica full-back Andre Almeida. The 28-year-old has racked up a dozen assists to help his side to the Portuguese league title.
– Ignazio Abate has played his last game at AC Milan after 10 years at the San Siro, and Calciomercato has linked the former Italy international with a move to MLS side LA Galaxy. A move to Los Angeles would see Abate reunited with former Rossoneri teammate Zlatan Ibrahimovic.