Reports: Barcelona target fellow Uruguayan as long-term replacement for Luis Suarez

Barcelona are in the market for Celta Vigo striker Maxi Gomez, as they search for a long-term replacement for an ageing Luis Suarez.

Mundo Deportivo reports that Barcelona have sounded out Celta Vigo in a bid to acquire the services of their 22-year-old Uruguyan striker Maxi Gomez.

The report states, however, that Barcelona have only offered around €25 million while Celta are holding out for a figure double that.

Gomez, who has 13 goals and 5 assists in 36 appearances this season, still has three years on his contract and his club feel that this would be the perfect time to leverage that and sell him for the maximum possible price.

‘I need to leave’ – Griezmann announces Atletico exit as Barcelona beckons

However, the report also claims that they are aware Barcelona do have other options as well and would be willing to part with the player for a bid of around €40 million.

For their part, Barcelona are interested in the player despite an on-going bid to sign Antoine Griezmann as they feel he could give competition to his fellow countryman Luis Suarez for a central starting berth, instead of playing out wide.

FOX Sports Asia probability rating: 4/5; Luis Suarez is also getting on in age and his scoring statistics aren’t quite what they used to be. As such, an economically feasible signing to play backup striker to him and push him for his spot would make sense.

 

Reports: Real Madrid star holds club ransom; demands €51 million to leave in the summer

Gareth Bale has been given his marching orders by Zinedine Zidane and Florentino Perez but the Welshman is content to batten down the hatches and stay at the club – unless they pay off his contract.

Sport reports that Real Madrid superstar Gareth Bale has refused to leave the club unless they pay off the remainder of his 3 year contract at the club that runs until 2022.

He reportedly earns €17 million per year, meaning that he is demanding that Real Madrid pay him €51 million should they wish to see the back of him.

This latest instalment in the Bale – Madrid saga comes on the back of a pronounced fallout between the Welshman and the team’s manager, Zinedine Zidane.

That coupled with Bale’s inability to fill Cristiano Ronaldo’s void has left him little option but to consider a move away from the club, even as Florentino Perez is keen to offload him and free up the wage bill to facilitate a squad overhaul.

‘We cannot forget the past, but I look to the future’ – Zidane on Bale

Bale’s unwillingness to mesh with the culture at the club, often times skipping team dinners with the rest of the squad and not learning Spanish, has also not served him well.

Real Madrid’s problem, however, is that no team seems interested in securing the services of an injury-prone, 29-year old Welshman, especially for the meteoric wages he is currently on.

So much so, that there were even rumours that the club may allow him to leave for free.

Reports: Pep Guardiola to leave Manchester City; has signed 4-year deal with European giants

Pep Guardiola has reportedly agreed to leave Manchester City and has signed a 4-year contract with Juventus to take over from Max Allegri.

According to Radio Sportiva, via a tweet by SuperSportTV journalist Adriano Del Monte, Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has agreed a multi year deal with Juventus to take over as their manager from next season.

Guardiola, 48, is fresh off a stunning Premier League title victory that saw them stave off Liverpool’s tilt by just 1 point in the end, in an absorbing title race that went down to the wire.

It was also his second Premier League title in two years, augmented by the fact that Manchester City completed the domestic quadruple along with Community Shield, Carabao Cup and FA Cup victories this season.

Serie A: Cristiano Ronaldo equaliser vs Torino

However, the Spaniard fell short on the European front yet again, as his team exited the Champions League after a close defeat to Tottenham in the quarterfinals.

Should the report be true, Guardiola will take over a team which has already racked up 8 Serie A titles on the trot and is wholly focussed on European glory.

He will inherit a squad comprising the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Paulo Dybala, Leonardo Bonucci and others, though it has been rumoured heavily that the Italian champions will make key additions in the summer to shake things up after a meek Champions League exit to Ajax.

Guardiola’s reported move to Juventus will come as a hammer blow for Manchester City fans as the Spaniard had only just mentioned that he will stay on at the club for at least two more years, earlier this month.

 

Reports: Arsenal star set to join Chelsea after Europa League finals

Arsenal’s goalkeeper Petr Cech will reportedly return to familiar surroundings, as he is in line to be appointed as Chelsea’s sporting director after he retires at the end of the season.

Cech’s final ever game for Arsenal would be the Europa League final clash against Chelsea, following which he is set to be absorbed into the fold at his former club as its new sporting director, reports Sky Sports.

Cech, 37, will slot into Michael Emenalo’s role at the club that has been vacant since 2017 and take over from Marina Granovskaia.

However, following the report, Petr Cech moved to silence the speculation surrounding his future as Arsenal have a high-profile Europa League final to negotiate against Chelsea at the end of this month.

Cech has made 21 appearances for Arsenal this season, out of which 10 of them have come in the Europa League. However, with rumours of him taking over as sporting director at Chelsea surfacing, it remains to be seen if he starts the finals at Baku.

The Czech Republic ‘keeper has enjoyed a glittering career in England before announcing that he would be retiring at the end of the season, winning the Premier League four times, the Champions League once, the FA Cup five times and the Carabao Cup thrice.

He has made 494 appearances for Chelsea and 138 so far, for Arsenal.

Reports: Manchester United to rival La Liga giants for £89 million worth ‘next Cristiano Ronaldo’

Manchester United are very interested in Benfica’s wonderkid Joao Felix, but will have to fight with Atletico Madrid for his signature.

Metro reports that Manchester United are willing to splash £89 million on 19-year-old Felix to meet his release clause, as they try to engineer a summer transfer for him.

The Portuguese youngster, touted as the ‘next Cristiano Ronaldo’, has well and truly broken into global football consciousness this season having racked up 20 goals and 11 assists in 43 first team appearances, including a tremendous Europa League hattrick against Frankfurt.

The English club, however, would have to contend with competition from La Liga giants Atletico Madrid as they search for a replacement for the outgoing Antoine Griezmann.

IN or OUT? – Manchester United face critical summer transfer window

The report states that the Spanish club would be more than willing to splash the cash on Felix, especially since the Griezmann deal should net them a princely sum by way of transfer fees.

As it stands, with Barcelona and PSG interested in securing the services of Griezmann, Manchester United and Atletico Madrid are left to battle it out for the signature of Felix.

FOX Sports Asia probability rating: 2/5; Felix is one of the precocious young talents in football today and as such, could well move to either Barcelona or Real Madrid in a year or two instead of taking a pit stop at the likes of Manchester United or Atletico Madrid.

 

Real Madrid star confirms stay at the club; kills off Manchester United speculation

Real Madrid centre back Raphael Varane confirmed that he would be staying at Real Madrid this upcoming season, thereby putting to bed the incessant speculation regarding his future.

Varane, 26, confirmed to Marca that he would be staying at Real Madrid next season and that he is convinced he would return to his best at the club.

The French defender has come under scrutiny this season following the team’s dismal showing in La Liga and limp Champions League exit – something he is keen to rectify in the next campaign.

“I’m going to continue here next year, I’m sure we’re going to relive strong emotions,” he said.

Kroos wants to retire in Real Madrid

“We have fought and we have tried hard, we can not blame anything, but it is true that we missed that spark in the difficult moments, they are cycles, I have not been to my best level but I will see the best Varane again.”

Varane has been incessantly linked with a move to Manchester United as the club seeks to sign a top class center back to shore up its leaky defence, especially on the back of the constant speculation regarding his future.

However, the World Cup winner’s statement strikes a hammer blow to the English club’s hope of signing him, meaning that they would have to shift their focus onto the likes of Kalidou Koulibaly or Harry Macguire.

 

Reports: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s latest ploy to get Paul Pogba to stay at Manchester United

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has reportedly decided to offer a captaincy role to Paul Pogba in a bid to get the French midfielder to commit his future to Manchester United.

The Times reports that Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has decided to entice Paul Pogba to stay on at the club by offering him a premier captaincy role next season.

The club captain would likely be Ashley Young due to seniority and Antonio Valencia departing at the end of this season, but owing to the full-back’s advancing years and the reduced role he would be having it would be Paul Pogba’s armband more often than not.

‘Go and shave it off’! Beckham reveals the extent to which Ferguson ruled Manchester United with an iron fist

Paul Pogba has been near the top on Real Madrid’s shopping list with Zinedine Zidane keen on bringing the World Cup winner to the Bernabeu in the summer. However, his enthusiasm hasn’t been shared either by president Florentino Perez or the fans of the club.

As such, the Frenchman’s future still remains in the balance and Solskjaer has moved in the meantime to get him to commit his future to the club.

Manchester United has started the transfer window on the right footing, having reportedly agreed terms with Swansea’s Daniel James and following up be registering interest in Newcastle’s midfielder Sean Longstaff.

 

 

Reports: Two PSG stars to compete against each other to join Real Madrid

PSG superstars Neymar and Kylian Mbappe both want out of the club with Real Madrid interested, but only one of them would be allowed to leave.

Don Balon reports that Neymar’s off-the-field conduct has been a subject of concern for the Paris club and that they would not be averse to letting the Brazilian star leave in the summer.

However, Kylian Mbappe’s admission while accepting the Ligue 1 best player award that this summer could represent a turning point for him has thrown a spanner in his teammate’s plans of engineering a move to Real Madrid.

Los Merengues are reportedly interested in both players and are prepared to break the bank to purchase either of them as part of a complete summer overhaul under the recently returned Zinedine Zidane.

However, the reports states that PSG would only allow one player to leave this summer, pitting Neymar and Kylian Mbappe at cross purposes with one another.

For now, it remains Neymar who is closer to making a Real Madrid move materialize but the report states that his father, who has been in contact with the Spanish club, has informed them that it would cost €250 million to dislodge his son from the French capital.

A whooping €62.5 million would then have to be paid to Neymar’s father as his 25% agent fee – something Real Madrid feel would be inevitable should they want to make the signing.

However, with Mbappe also in the mix now, it remains to be seen if Neymar’s representation would still be insisting on such a large outlay or just be content with facilitating a move for the player out of PSG.

FOX Sports Asia probability rating: 2/5; With Neymar and Mbappe pitted against each other, this scenario would only benefit Real Madrid to hammer out a better deal with PSG for either of them.

 

Reports: Real Madrid to announce signing of UCL finalist right after Tottenham vs Liverpool

Real Madrid will announce the signing of Tottenham ace Christian Eriksen immediately following Tottenham’s Champions League final clash against Liverpool, according to reports.

Jaime Astrain of El Chiringuito TV confirms that Real Madrid will announce the signing of Danish ace Christian Eriksen immediately following the Tottenham – Liverpool Champions League final.

Eriksen, 27, has been touted strongly to join Real Madrid as manager Zinedine Zidane views him to be a vital addition in the squad rebuild he is undertaking in the transfer window.

He has managed 10 goals and 17 assists in 50 appearances for Tottenham so far this season.

Much of Real Madrid’s transfer focus has been on the Premier League as Chelsea’s Eden Hazard looks odds on to join the club in the summer. Apart from him, the Liverpool duo of Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah and Manchester United’s Paul Pogba have also been strongly linked with a move to the club.

Eriksen, who operates out of centre midfield, is viewed as a potential successor to Luka Modric as the 2018 Ballon d’Or player is most likely on the outs with Inter Milan interested in his services.

FOX Sports Asia probability rating: 2/5; Without a potential transfer fee being discussed – which won’t be low at all because Madrid have to deal with Daniel Levy – it’s too early to bet on this move going through.

Reports: Real Madrid to opt for swap deal instead of paying €200 million for Champions League finalist

Real Madrid are weighing up a move for Liverpool’s Sadio Mane but may have to include Marco Asensio in the deal in order to knock down the price tag of the Senegalese forward.

Diario Gol reports that Sadio Mane has been a long-time fan of Zinedine Zidane and that the French coach, for his part, also wants the forward at Real Madrid next season.

However, a major stumbling block in a potential transfer is Liverpool’s valuation of the player at €200 million, while Florentino Perez is only prepared to pay up to €120 million for him.

A potential way around that would be for Real Madrid to involve Marco Asensio, a player Jurgen Klopp has long coveted, in a swap deal with the Premier League Golden Boot winner.

Kroos wants to retire in Real Madrid

However, the report states that Madrid would still have to shell out a considerable chunk of money on top of including Asensio in the deal, which could mean that it may be difficult to come to agreement with the Champions League finalists.

Especially since Florentino Perez is reportedly adamant that only players of the ilk of Kylian Mbappe or Neymar should cost €200 million and that Sadio Mane doesn’t command such a lofty transfer fee.

FOX Sports Asia probability rating: 2/5; Real Madrid has been linked with Sadio Mane from last season and it wouldn’t be too surprising to see a deal done – especially if Neymar or Mbappe do not arrive from PSG. However, the eye-watering amounts of money being discussed may prove to be the undoing of this move.

Reports: Manchester United to bid for second young player in 48 hours after Daniel James move

It was reported that Manchester United are on the cusp of sealing a deal for Swansea’s Daniel James. It hasn’t taken them long to target Newcastle’s Sean Longstaff next.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s youth revolution at the club continues as Telegraph reports that Manchester United are in the process of trying to work out a deal with Newcastle United for the services of young midfielder Sean Longstaff.

Longstaff, 21, who has an injury curtailed season, still did enough in his 26 club appearances to impress Manchester United scouts.

On the back of Ander Herrera’s and Marouane Fellaini’s departures, Solskjaer is on the lookout for able center midfield reinforcements and views Longstaff as an ideal signing towards that end.

Candid Beckham on abuse, insults and winning the treble with Manchester United in 1999

The young Englishman’s playing style has also, in the past, been compared favourably to that of Manchester United legend and current coach Michael Carrick – something that has surely earned him brownie points at Carrington.

The report states that United will make a bid for Longstaff in the ‘next 48 hours’, hot on the heels of them reportedly agreeing terms with Swansea’s rapid winger Daniel James.

FOX Sports Asia probability rating: 4/5; Young, talented, able and home grown. Sean Longstaff exactly fits the template of player that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is trying buy at the club. Expect this deal to be done.

Reports: Juventus target €110 million worth controversial player to be Cristiano Ronaldo’s strike partner next season

Juventus have identified Inter Milan’s embattled forward Mauro Icardi as the potential striker partner for Cristiano Ronaldo next season, as they seek to strengthen their squad ahead of another Champions League assault.

Calciomercato reports that the Turin based club has been keeping tabs on the developments between Mauro Icardi and Inter Milan as they seek to find an able strike partner for Cristiano Ronaldo.

Icardi’s tempestuous relationship with Inter Milan, which has seen him sit out a number of matches despite being club captain, has cast doubt over his future at the club.

As a result Juventus, who are not convinced that either Mario Mandzukic or Moise Kean can consistently deliver as the Portuguese sensation’s strike partner, sense an opportunity to poach the player from their rivals.

Serie A: Cristiano Ronaldo equaliser vs Torino

The report states that any deal could potentially cost I bianconeri in the ballpark of €110 million.

However, there is a caveat to the club’s interest in the striker. If Maurizio Sarri is appointed boss in Juventus’ managerial merry-go-round, he could end up favouring a move for former player Gonzalo Higuain instead of opting for Icardi.

FOX Sports Asia probability rating: 3/5; Mauro Icardi has been unsettled at Inter Milan and one could potentially see the allure of playing alongside Cristiano Ronaldo fuel a move to Juventus.

 

Why Cristiano Ronaldo didn’t deserve to win Serie A Player of the Year

Had it been anyone else not named Cristiano Ronaldo, a congratulatory mention and a pat on the back is all finishing 4th top scorer in Serie A would have earned him.

But that’s what an established sense of superstardom can do to you.

Not only was Cristiano Ronaldo comfortably outscored by 36-year-old Fabio Quagliarella, who ended up with 26 goals and 8 assists, but he was also officially the most wasteful attacker in the league, squandering 16 big chances over 31 appearances.

It isn’t that Cristiano Ronaldo had a bad season by any stretch of the imagination. Not at all. 21 goals and 11 assists in 30 games is an excellent return. Just, not when you’re named Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo. In that case, you’re held to a higher standard purely by the reputation you’ve accrued.

Lionel Messi’s exploits in La Liga this season seem to have been fuelled by the ludicrous Ballon d’Or snub last year, as he finished with 36 goals and 15 assists in 34 appearances. Those are the kind of numbers you’d expect from the other, currently active player in the 600 club goal cadre.

Lionel Messi gets standing ovation from Real Betis fans

In comparison though, Ronaldo’s numbers almost make him seem human.

And it isn’t even like his contributions were pivotal in Juventus winning Serie A. They had been the same thunderous force without him in the previous seven seasons, when they racked up successive league titles on the trot.

So why exactly was it that Cristiano Ronaldo won the Serie A player of the year award? The answer, for once in the goal machine’s career, doesn’t solely lie in the numbers.

For the longest time now, perhaps because of the inability of an Italian team to win the Champions League since Jose Mourinho’s Inter Milan did it a decade or so ago, Serie A has been viewed as a dated league. A league clinging on to the rooted, tactical, methodical approach of football that has long since been blown away by the intense, thrill-a-minute games that are thrown up regularly in the Premier League and Bundesliga.

La Liga’s technically superior football makes for intriguing viewing and PSG – the newest shiny toy in the football fraternity – attracts plenty of attention to Ligue 1.

Serie A, however, has fallen behind in the pecking order. The gutsy, hard-to-break-down low blocks, full-blooded challenges and methodical build up play may be delightful to a purist jotting away on a notepad, but it just doesn’t make for spectacular casual viewing.

Couple with that the metronomic dominance of Juventus year after year and for a viewer, there is little left to really shout about in Serie A. Traditional powerhouses AC Milan have fallen away from their perch and Inter Milan never really rebuilt into a winning outfit after Jose Mourinho won the treble with them.

Napoli is there and thereabouts, posing an outside challenge to Juventus’ stranglehold, but never really threatening to break the monopoly.

Serie A: Ronaldo scores 600th career goal

There just isn’t a Leicester City-esque story waiting to unfold in the league. Serie A doesn’t do fairytales.

It was that dire mix of predictability, stoicism and antiquity that Cristiano Ronaldo – the quintessential metrosexual, the millenial beacon – was introduced. And suddenly, it all exploded.

The ‘Sii’ goal celebrations became more frequent – here, hang a ring around the corner and you’d see the football kid from the next block doing it –  and the white and black jersey of the Old Lady, more visible. Paulo Dybala not receiving game time started to matter more in the scheme of European football discussion and questions were raised as to why Paul Pogba would ever leave Serie A only to mire himself in the mediocrity that is Manchester United.

Unerringly, the eternal debate involving Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo sprung forth once again too. Could the diminutive little master weave his magic in Serie A like he does in La Liga?

Suddenly, Serie A became a thing again. It began to matter.

Cristiano Ronaldo keeps goalscoring rivalry with Lionel Messi

A league that was slipping by in importance and strength was suddenly the talk of football consciousness and it all came down to one slick Portuguese cat deciding to take on the ultimate Italian Job. Now this season may have been, at best, a mitigating success for Juventus after they fell well short of Champions League glory. But at least people are much more interested in how they’re going to address their shortcomings in the next campaign.

And Cristiano Ronaldo’s goal involvement numbers may not have blown Lionel Messi’s out of the water this season. But because of him, suddenly Serie A was in the thick of football thinking once again.

Statistically speaking, that still isn’t enough – in my book at least – for him to be named Serie A player of the year. Quagliarella far and away deserved it more.

But Ronaldo certainly was the league’s most valuable player, without doubt.

 

 

 

 

 

Reports: Juventus target World Cup winner as new strike partner for Cristiano Ronaldo

In the face of dithering interest from Barcelona, Juventus have also entered the race to sign Atletico Madrid wantaway and World Cup winner Antoine Griezmann.

Don Balon reports that Barcelona have cooled their interest in Antoine Griezmann, especially since many in the dressing room do not think that he’ll be a great cultural fit at the club.

As a result, Juventus have entered the fray for the World Cup winner as they search for a potential replacement for Paulo Dybala, who seems odds on to leave the club.

Griezmann announced recently that he would be leaving Atletico Madrid at the end of the season, after committing his future to the club just last season on the back of constant speculation linking him with Barcelona.

‘For his hard work Ronaldo should win Balon D’Or’ – Benatia

However, that last minute change of mind to remain at Atletico Madrid has reportedly turned public opinion about the forward for the worse at Barcelona, making it tough for the club to extend him an open welcome in this transfer window.

As a result, Juventus is free to try and sign the player and pair him up with Cristiano Ronaldo up top, especially after Manchester City and PSG publicly washed their hands off him.

FOX Sports Asia probability rating: 2.5/5; This is as likely as it is unlikely to happen. Dybala does seem like he’s on the outs and Juventus does need a player to compliment Cristiano Ronaldo up front. But Griezmann is not going to come cheap.