With no on-pitch football action to enjoy for a while yet, we will keep you up to date with all the latest transfer news in relation to the Covid-19 outbreak.
Latest transfer news, rumours and gossip…
MAN UTD NEWS
Some potentially groundbreaking news here for Manchester United fans.
According to 90min‘s report, the Red Devils have warded off competition from Europe’s elite to snap up Birmingham City sensation Jude Bellingham.
The 16-year-old, who has emerged as a key player for the Blues this season with four goals in the Championship, has been targeted by United and Borussia Dortmund, with rumoured interest from Barcelona and Real Madrid.
And the report claims United are confident they have won the race to capture the teenager ahead of a summer move, with Bellingham supposedly poised to become one of the highest-paid teenagers in the world.
Philippe Coutinho’s future is often a hot topic of conversation in the transfer market, and the Brazilian could have been playing in the Premier League this season had things gone a little differently.
Tottenham, Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United and his former club Liverpool have all been linked in some shape or form with the 28-year-old after his unsuccessful stint at Barcelona.
But according to The Mirror, Coutinho’s proposed loan switch to Spurs fell through not because of financial difficulties – but because Mauricio Pochettino was not keen on signing him.
The player’s agent, Kia Joorabchian, revealed the deal “did not collapse for financial reasons”, with the report claiming it was Pochettino who vetoed the deal.
Coutinho joined Bayern Munich in the end but is unlikely to seal a permanent move to stay with the Bavarian giants.
Reports in Spain claim Inter Milan striker Lautaro Martinez is attracting interest from Chelsea and Manchester City – but they face face a fight with Barcelona to secure his signature.
Diario Sport report the Catalans are keen to sign the Argentina star as a long-term replacement for Luis Suarez.
But Chelsea and Man City also remain interested, with City looking to replace Sergio Aguero, who has made clear his desire to return to his native Argentina when his contract expires.
However, it remains to be seen whether Inter would entertain the sale of their prized asset, with the 22-year-old likely to cost in excess of £100 million.
MAN UTD NEWS
Paul Merson has said he would be “shocked” to see Odion Ighalo walk away from Manchester United in order to stay in China.
The 30-year-old striker has hit the ground running at Old Trafford with four goals in three starts, but there are doubts over whether the Nigerian will be able to extend his loan or sign a permanent deal with United.
Merson, speaking to Sky Sports, said: “I know he hasn’t played a lot of football but when he’s come off the bench and when he has got some game time, he’s looked class.
“It’s a hard decision Manchester United have to make regarding his future because if you give him a contract, can he perform again that next season?
“Everything’s gone right for him so far and if United do offer him a chance to stay, I’d be shocked if he walked away.”
MAN CITY NEWS
Manchester City have been linked with a move for Juventus defender Leonardo Bonucci and according to the Daily Star, his arrival could signal the end of John Stones’ time at the club.
The 25-year-old has made just 12 appearances in the Premier League this season and has fallen down the pecking order in terms of Pep Guardiola’s defensive options.
With speculation rife that City are interested in landing Bonucci, 32, it could lead to Stones heading out the door, with Arsenal one of the clubs credited with an interest in the England international last summer.
Arsenal midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan has given the clearest indication yet that he wants to stay at Roma after revealing he “prefers” their style of play.
The Armenian playmaker has spent the season on loan at the Serie A outfit after falling out of favour under Unai Emery. Now, the 31-year-old has revealed why he struggled under the Spaniard.
“When I was at Arsenal, I had different things asked from me by the coach, people were expecting different things from here,” he told The Times.
“The philosophy of Emery was different from Fonseca, but here I’m feeling much better because we’re playing better football and I think it matched me.
“I prefer Fonseca’s football because we’re playing very offensively, we’re trying to have the ball all the time here and of course I like this kind of game.”
Reports in Spain suggest Chelsea could face a fight from Barcelona in their pursuit of Porto defender Alex Telles.
The Blues are said to be targeting a left-back this summer with Marcos Alonso and Emerson both facing uncertain futures at Stamford Bridge.
Telles, 27, is reportedly available for £35 million but despite having Jordi Alba and Junior Firpo available at left-back, Diario Sport suggest Barcelona also hold an interest in the Brazilian.
Arsenal are lining up a move for Newcastle United goalkeeper Freddie Woodman, according to reports.
Woodman, 23, is currently on loan at Swansea City and has impressed visiting scouts in the Championship this season.
According to The Chronicle, the Gunners are keen to snatch the highly-rated stopper and provide some competition for Bernd Leno and Emi Martinez.
But they could face competition from Tottenham and Everton, who have both been linked in the past.
Real set for summer clearout?
That’s according to Spanish outlet AS, who report the Frenchman is ready to sell a number of key players in order to refresh his squad.
Luka Modric, James Rodriguez, Lucas Vazquez and Gareth Bale are the names put forward by the newspaper, while Marcelo – recently linked with Juventus – and Nacho may also be allowed to depart the Bernabeu.
The 27-year-old replaced Tom Heaton as the Clarets’ No.1 goalkeeper and some excellent Premier League performances have seen him become an England international.
There is a belief that there could be more to come from Pope, and he could well thrive with a big move in the same way that Gary Cahill did when he signed from Bolton.
Pope is a calm, unflappable character, and while he is contracted to Burnley until 2023, he would be unlikely to cost as much as Donnarumma.
Signing Pope and keeping Kepa at the same time could spur the latter on, though it remains to be seen whether Pope would leave Burnley without a guarantee to be the No.1 keeper at his new club.
Tottenham have also been linked with Pope given Hugo Lloris’ injuries and erratic form, so Chelsea may be backed into a corner regarding an early bidding war – a situation Burnley would love.
Pope’s statistics for this season show a solid shot-stopper, and his impressive form in February will definitely have put him on Chelsea’s radar again.
Pope is relatively young, English, Premier League-proven, and not playing for a direct rival – that makes him an exceptionally wise choice for Chelsea without costing the earth.
Donnarumma appears a seasoned pro given how often he has been written about in recent years, but the keeper only turned 21 in February – it is easy to forget he broke into the Milan first team at 16 years old.
It is virtually unheard of for teenage goalkeepers to be first-team starters anywhere, let alone one of Italy’s most famous clubs – but the young Italian has already been on the receiving end of the Milan fans’ wrath.
In the summer of 2017, Donnarumma announced he would not be renewing his Milan contract. That led to fury among Rossoneri fans – and while the then-teenager ended up signing a new long-term deal at San Siro, the damage was done.
Donnarumma’s current deal runs until 2021, and Milan could well cash in to fund a rebuild – especially if they miss out on Champions League football yet again. Even with just a year left on his deal, it is likely Milan would initially demand over £70m given the precedent set by Chelsea and Liverpool for Kepa and Alisson respectively.
It is likely that fee could be negotiated down to something closer to £50m, though it would be interesting to see if Chelsea would attempt to offer Kepa as part of a swap deal.
The Italian also boasts superior SmarterScout statistics in every department regarding saving the ball. The one area Kepa outshines Donnarumma is with the ball at his feet, however – and much depends on how highly Lampard regards a ball-playing keeper in his future team.
At 21, Donnarumma is still one of the most highly-rated young goalkeepers in world football, and – injuries permitting – has almost two decades in which to learn his trade. Even with a huge price tag, whichever club Donnarumma ends up joining could well be getting one of the bargains of the decade.
Johan Cruyff said: “In my teams, the goalkeeper is the first attacker.” That description fits Neuer like one of his giant gloves.
Quite simply, he is one of the most respected and talented keepers of all time. The Bayern Munich legend has won it all at club and international level, but at 34, his powers are on the wane.
While the prospect of signing Neuer initially appears a no-brainer, Chelsea fans could legitimately question whether swapping an error-prone 25-year-old for an error-prone 34-year-old makes sense.
Neuer’s key strengths are his near-unparalleled distribution – both from his hands and his feet – and his command of the first third of the pitch (and sometimes further) mark him out as a unique talent.
At his age, Neuer may be tempted by the prospect of living in London and trying out the Premier League – but it would be naive to suggest it would not be a gamble on Chelsea’s part.
However, his SmarterScout 2019/20 Bundesliga saving ratings are a considerable improvement on Kepa, boasting a host of ratings in the 90s compared to the Chelsea keeper’s shaky efforts at set-pieces and against headers.
While Neuer has suffered foot problems over the last couple of years, his build and athleticism suggests he could play on until he is approaching his 40s.
Chelsea paid a world-record fee to sign Kepa Arrizabalaga in 2018 – but there are doubts as to whether the goalkeeper has a future at Stamford Bridge.
The Spaniard is carrying the weight of a £71.6million transfer fee, with such an outlay for a young keeper suggesting that the Blues viewed him as a David de Gea-esque signing to span a decade or more in west London.
The 25-year-old is clearly talented, but some high-profile mistakes this term have cost Chelsea at big moments – and his extraordinary outburst at coach Maurizio Sarri during last season’s Carabao Cup final will not be forgotten by senior figures at the club so easily.
That is not to say that Kepa has not also bailed out a defence which is fully capable of catastrophic errors all by themselves – but Frank Lampard may feel that he cannot afford both a defence and a No.1 who are error-prone. Having decided to make him the world’s most expensive keeper, it can safely be assumed that Chelsea extensively scouted Kepa and were aware of both his strengths and weaknesses. Scouting platform SmarterScout shows Kepa has struggled in terms of shot-stopping this season, though his passing ability from the back remains a valuable asset for the Blues. However, it increasingly looks like Chelsea are ready to cut their losses and install a new No.1 to organise Lampard’s defence.
Plenty of keepers have been linked with a move to Stamford Bridge in recent weeks – here’s a run-down of how they could fit in…
Erling Haaland may have only joined Borussia Dortmund in January but is already thinking about his next move, according to ABC Deportes.
The striker moved from RB Salzburg less than three months ago, part of the deal seeing a €75m release clause entered into his contract. Real Madrid are reportedly very keen to sign Europe’s hottest young property.
However, though they may have be able to have a say in it, Dortmund do not want to lose the player so soon and have told Haaland as such. Haaland understands and is happy to stay put until 2021.
Elite football will not return in England until at least April 30, though may expect that deadline to be pushed further back.
There are growing suggestions the season could be delayed null and void, with tiers three to seven of non-league scrapped by the FA to a backlash.
Talk of Paul Pogba’s possible exit will not subside with word that Manchester United have made a bid for Ajax star Donny van de Beek.
Marca claim United and Juventus have both tabled offers for the 22-year-old, though Real Madrid are still the player’s preferred option.
Interestingly, Marca claim Zinedine Zidane’s interest in Van de Beek hinges on Pogba’s availability.
One to watch, you’d think.
Pep Guardiola is ready to reignite interest in Leonardo Bonucci, according to Daily Star.
Manchester City failed in a bid for the Juventus man four years ago, Guardiola at the time describing Bonucci as “one of my favourite ever players.”
Bonucci has a long contract with Juve after two years ago returning from an ill-advised one-season spell with AC Milan.
Manchester United have been told to prioritise the signing of Jack Grealish over James Maddison.
“Over the past few months there’s been talk of Grealish coming or Maddison coming,” Jonathan Greening told Metro.co.uk. “I actually feel I would prefer Jack Grealish. Maddison is a very good player, super technical, he can create, great passing both short and long, and great on set plays.
“Jack Grealish, however, has that little bit of difference, he can take players on, he can drive forwards with the ball, and slide that pass through. He’s got that bit of grit and determination; and doesn’t like losing, you can see that in his game.
“Maddison is also maybe a bit too similar to Fernandes, whereas Jack Grealish will bring in something different, he can find pockets of space, he can drive at opponents and take on 2-3 players in one movement. He’d be a better player at United with the current squad than Maddison would be for me.”
Juventus are willing to offer Paulo Dybala or Miralem Pjanic to Manchester United in their bid to bring Paul Pogba back to the club, report Tuttosport.
Pogba’s future at Old Trafford remains far from clear, though Standard Sport understands United’s asking price is putting off potential suitors.
Juventus are reportedly trying to bring that price down – perhaps to zero? – with the offer of a big-name player.
The Italian publication claim Juve see the deal as a “win-win”, with Dybala and Pjanic considered expendable.
Mesut Ozil is “really happy” at Arsenal and plans on seeing out the remaining 15 months of his contract, according to his agent.
“You never know in football,” Erkut Sogut told Goal. “First of all, you can never predict the movement of players.
“I have said it before and I am saying it again that he is really happy where he is at Arsenal. He still has a contract to go and there is no change.
“We will see what the future holds when the contract ends but for now, there is nothing I can say.”
Can’t see the transfer news LIVE blog? Click here to access our desktop page.
When does the 2020 summer transfer window open?
The summer window opens in England at the end of the season – currently May 18, but that will almost certainly not be when it finishes due to Covid-19 delays.
Players can be officially registered with their new clubs when the Fifa international window opens on July 1.
From January 1 onwards, Premier League players with six months left on their contract have been able to negotiate and agree pre-contract deals with foreign clubs.
Source: Evening Standard UK