The transfer window for Europe’s biggest clubs is closed, but click here for all the deals, and keep track of who has joined the big boys. Transfer Talk will continue to scour the world’s media and set correspondents loose to see what’s on the agenda for the summer.
TOP STORY: Bayern rival Barcelona for De Ligt
Ajax’s Champions League win over Real Madrid has only intensified the hunt for Matthijs De Ligt. Barcelona are still optimistic that the highly-rated central defender will join them but Catalan newspaper Sport claims that Bayern Munich have now joined the race.
The Spanish champions have publicly revealed their eagerness to sign De Ligt, but Bayern’s expressed interest to Ajax threatens to make the challenge more difficult than first thought.
Both Bayern and Barca face some serious competition for the centre-back though, with Man United, Chelsea, Man City, Juventus and PSG all fighting for his services as well. He’s certainly going to have a tough choice on his hands if he decides to leave, but with Ajax overcoming Madrid maybe he doesn’t have to!
22:00 GMT: The Washington Post is reporting that a MLS side Sporting Kansas City have struck a deal for Arsenal’s Gedion Zelalem. The German-American has never played in a Premier League match for the Gunners, having joined the academy in 2015. He has done loans with Rangers and Dutch club VVV-Venlo.
20.02 GMT: Well this pretty clear.
Guardiola on Juventus: “I have two more years and I’m not going anywhere unless they sack me.”
— Jonathan Smith (@jonnysmiffy) March 9, 2019
19.12 GMT: Oddly, despite PSG’s failure to yet again get too far in the Champions League, club president Nasser Al-Khelaifi is ready to extend the contract of coach Thomas Tuchel until the end of the 2022 season. So say Le Parisien anyway.
16.55 GMT: Arsenal will be looking for a new left-back this summer, with Nacho Monreal getting older and a revamp in the making. But if they can nab Ajax left-back Nicolas Tagliafico for just £8m from under the noses of Atletico Madrid, as the Daily Mail claim, then Transfer Talk will eat its hat.
16.44 GMT: Manchester City have strongly denied reports Pep Guardiola has agreed to take over as Juventus coach in the summer with a source telling ESPN FC the idea is “nonsense.”
A report on Radio CRC in Italy claimed on Friday that Guardiola had reached a verbal agreement to replace Massimiliano Allegri in the summer, ending the Juventus coach’s five-year spell in charge. Asked about the claims on Saturday, a source dismissed the idea as “nonsense,” with the City coach contracted to the club until 2021.
Shame, if only for the fun of watching ex-Barca boss managing Cristiano Ronaldo.
16.09 GMT: Ajax captain Matthijs de Ligt loves playing with Netherlands international teammate Virgil van Dijk. But does that mean he wants to join Liverpool?
“Virgil is a player who has experience in the top leagues,” De Ligt told Omnisport. “Of course you want to learn from him. It’s very useful to play next to him in the Dutch team.
“It could happen [joining Liverpool]. He plays for Liverpool. A nice club. But I’m not focused on this. I focus on Ajax. And then I will see where I will end up.”
15.30 GMT: Yesterday’s blog had news that Barcelona were keen on Sochaux teenager Lucien Agoume. Now it seems that the rest of Europe have got involved.
Manchester United and Man City are on the trail now, having been told the 17-year-old is ‘the new Paul Pogba’ and L’Equipe report that 23 clubs sent officials to watch him in Sochaux’s 4-0 defeat to Nancy.
14.41 GMT: L’Equipe claim that PSG could be forced to sell Thomas Meunier, Jese Rodriguez and Christopher Nkunku this summer. Arsenal showed some big interest in Nkunku in January but they may be more keen on reported Liverpool target Julian Draxler, who could also be sold as the French side bid to make €150m to meet FFP regulations.
13.54 GMT: Manchester City are the subject of a fourth investigation into alleged financial wrongdoing, with the Premier League joining FIFA, UEFA and the Football Association in probing their transfer dealings.
The Premier League’s investigation relates to the signing of academy players and third party ownership.
“The Premier League has previously contacted Manchester City to request information regarding recent allegations and is in ongoing dialogue with the club,” a statement read. “The league has detailed financial regulations and strong rules in the areas of Academy player recruitment and third-party ownership.
“We are currently investigating these matters and will allow Manchester City every opportunity to explain the context and detail surrounding them.”
13.02 GMT: Lionel Messi has done OK at Barcelona over the years hasn’t he? The 31-year-old has a contract until 2021 after signing an extension two years ago and Mundo Deportivo claim that the club want to tie him down until 2022 or 2023.
Messi has always been open about his desire to play for boyhood club Newell’s Old Boys before retiring from football. So Barca have to plan this one carefully.
12.05 GMT: The Real Madrid clearout could be starting early with left-back Marcelo set to join Juventus, according to La Stampa.
The Brazil international, 30, has been unhappy about his lack of playing time and is reportedly set to sign a four-year deal at the end of the season.
11.17 GMT: He’s been dubbed the “New Ronaldo” and it’s fair to say Joao Felix at Benfica has plenty of admirers. Calciomercato and Sport Mediaset believe Juventus are the latest to express an interest in the rising star, who has been linked with Manchester United. Felix, 19, has 11 goals and six assists in 29 matches for Benfica this season and reports in Italy believe Juve could make their move this summer.
10.40 GMT: What a start it has been for Mario Balotelli at Marseille. With four goals in six matches, Super Mario is loving life at the Stade Velodrome after moving from Nice in January and the striker wants a longer stay once his contract expires.
“The fact of the matter is that my contract expires at the end of this season and after that, we’ll discuss it,” Balotelli told La Provence.
“I’ve told my agent that I am happy here and want to stay. My first two seasons at Nice were good, but Marseille is on another level, another type of football and atmosphere.
“As far as I am concerned, Marseille are the biggest club in France. I thank Nice and its supporters, but there’s no comparison with Marseille.”
10.15 GMT: A reaction to their Champions League nightmare, perhaps? Paris Saint-Germain are keen on Jan Oblak, according to Marca. Gianluigi Buffon endured a horrible night as PSG lost 3-1 to Manchester United on Wednesday and was at fault for Romelu Lukaku’s second goal in the miracle comeback. And Marca believe Thomas Tuchel will react by moving for Oblak, who has become one of the world’s best since moving to Atletico Madrid for €16m transfer from Benfica in 2014.
09.56 GMT: Luis Muriel seems to be loving life at Fiorentina. He’s on loan there from Sevilla but says he wants to make it permanent this summer.
“It’s great to be here,” Muriel told Corriere dello Sport. “The fans support us because they see the sacrifices we make. I’m a man of my word, I showed it by accepting Fiorentina’s offer.
Muriel has scored seven goals in 10 appearances for La Viola since his loan move.
09.44 GMT: The head of Bayern Munich’s board of directors, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, is certain the club will sign James Rodriguez permanently. The playmaker comes to the end of his two-year loan at Bayern from Real Madrid this summer and the Bundesliga champions have until June 15 to exercise their option to buy.
“I am a fan of James — he has an incredible left foot and, to me, is a world star,” Rummenigge told Munchner Abendzeitung.
“Everyone is happy with him and I’m confident that James will be playing at Bayern again next season. I’m sure [coach] Niko Kovac will be fine with it. He is now very happy with James.”
09.02 GMT: Not a player, but absolutely worth mentioning nevertheless: Pep Guardiola has been linked with a sensational move to Juventus, with a four-year contract on the table according to Radio CRC, as reported by the Daily Mail. Il Giornale reporter Luigi Guelpa, who broke the news that Cristiano Ronaldo would move to Juve last summer, believes the Manchester City boss could leave City and replace Massimiliano Allegri in the summer. It seems a fanciful suggestion, but one to keep an eye on at least.
09.00 GMT: Welcome to Saturday’s edition of Transfer Talk!
PAPER TALK (by Richard Edwards)
Spurs and Man City join Lo Celso hunt
Challenging for the Premier League title is not the only thing that Manchester City and Tottenham currently have in common. According to Marca, the pair have joined Real Madrid in watching developments on Giovani Lo Celso‘s immediate future with interest.
Lo Celso has spent this season on loan with Real Betis and looks set to make his move from Paris Saint-Germain a permanent one as the Spanish side prepare to exercise their option to sign the Argentine. But Betis are expected to entertain offers in the region of €60 million for the player. Spurs are tracking the 22-year-old as a potential fallback in the event that Christian Eriksen leaves the capital while City are also said to be keen on the goal-scoring midfielder.
Ram raid? Not likely at Milan
He may be one of the most wanted defenders in Europe, but Milan are far from keen on being separated from their captain, Alessio Romagnoli. Calciomercato, quoting Corriere dello Sport, reports that Chelsea, Manchester United and Juventus have all come in for the Italian this season. But Milan are in no mood to sell — for the moment at least.
Mind you, Milan’s dismal form in Serie A might change all that. Missing out on the Champions League, and failing to progress in the Europa League, could force the hand of the Rossoneri.
All that means that Chelsea and United, not to mention the serial Serie A champions, Juventus, will continue to carry on sniffing.
– Inter Milan are set to launch a bid for River Plate midfielder Exequiel Palacios. According to Calciomercato, the Serie A giants will firm up their interest in the 20-year-old. Real Madrid are also in vying with the Nerazzurri for the Argentina international.
– Florentino Perez’s threat to sack Sergio Ramos from Real Madrid could prove easier said than done. AS claims that it would cost the dethroned Champions League holders around €25m to part ways with the defender this summer. Ramos’ current deal is due to expire in 2021.
– Brendan Rodgers has made an extension to Wes Morgan‘s stay at Leicester City an immediate priority, reports the Telegraph. The 35-year-old defender’s current contract at the King Power Stadium is set to run out at the end of this season.