- BOTH BARCA & CHELSEA ARE KNOWN TO BE GAZUMP MASTERS
- ALEXIS SANCHEZ UNWANTED AT INTER
- LEICESTER LOOK LIKELY TO LOSE SCHMEICHEL
- AJAX MIGHT SELL ANTONY TO MAN UNITED AFTER ALL
Chelsea have stepped up their scouting of a handful of alternative defenders as their pursuit of Sevilla’s Jules Kounde continues to stall. The Blues have agreed a £55m fee with Sevilla and have already struck a deal on personal terms with the center-back, and it looked as though they were set to wrap up the transfer before a late change of heart from fellow suitors Barcelona saw them try to gazump Chelsea with their own move for Kounde.
The La Liga giants are in constant dialogue with Kounde over personal terms and sources have confirmed that the Frenchman is keen to hear their proposal and consider all of his options before making a final decision. Barca boss Xavi has told Memphis Depay that he will have to leave Barcelona or endure the whole season warming the bench. In this harsh way, coach Xavi Hernández explained to him in the conversation between coach and player during the American tour that he wanted to be honest and not hide the reality from him. With the additions of Robert Lewandowski and Raphinha, in addition to the continuity of Dembélé, his playing options are reduced to a minimum hence, Xavi’s advice was for him to look for a team, aware that here he will not find much-needed play minutes.
Barcelona is willing to listen to offers starting at 20 million for the Dutch international, aware that when his contract ends next year they will not get much for Depay. At the club it is considered that the player has a potential market in the Premier League, so he is just looking for an offer that meets all his needs.
Obviously, the departure of Memphis would alleviate, at least, a small part of the wage bill and would also allow Robert Lewandowski, to retain the number 9 number that he has always worn throughout his career.
In the meantime, as the only side with an agreement over both a transfer fee and a contract for Kounde, Chelsea have refused to give up hope that they will eventually win the race for his signature, but the continued delay has seen them explore possible alternatives as well. As a response to Barca’s conduct, The signing of Marcos Alonso by Barça has been put in limbo when it seemed that he was definitely headed to Cataluna.
Chelsea has decided to block the operation, same with negotiations for Cesar Azpilicueta, as a reaction to Barça club’s offensive to take over the hiring of Jules Koundé. The London club has been angry, as it understands that Barça is interfering with its reinforcement plan and, at the same time, trying to acquire two other players from its dressing room.
Those in charge at Stamford Bridge have been looking to sign three new defenders this summer, a decision which has left young Levi Colwill open to a permanent departure and so scouts have already been looking at other players to sign alongside Kounde and Kalidou Koulibaly though measures have been stepped up recently amid concerns that the Frenchman may not actually end up making the move and two more targets may be required.
Among those to have been considered are Villarreal’s Pau Torres, Inter’s Milan Skriniar, RB Leipzig’s Josko Gvardiol and Bayern Munich duo Dayot Upamecano and Benjamin Pavard. Importantly, there is hope that Barcelona will not be able to match Chelsea’s proposal for 23-year-old Kounde.
In the meantime, Kounde remains in Lisbon with the rest of his Sevilla teammates. He is recovering from a minor surgery and is not yet in full training, instead working alone while he considers all the options available to him.
Alexis Sanchez is reportedly weighing up a move to French giants Marseille. Inter Milan are desperate to get the former Manchester United and Arsenal forward off the books And a move to Marseille would allow Sanchez, 33, to continue playing in the prestigious Champions League.
The Chile international is seriously considering a move to France. Sanchez’s sky-high wages are proving to be a problem for Inter as He is rumored to be on around £100k-a-week on his current contract, and is refusing to accept a wage cut.
Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel has agreed on a deal to join French side Nice. The veteran stopper is set to leave the Foxes after 11 years at the club. But his move is dependent on Leicester finding a replacement. Schmeichel is in the final year of his contract and is said to want to leave on good terms after his lengthy service to the club.
Cristiano Ronaldo has returned to the UK and will hold crunch talks with chiefs where he will tell them he wants to quit immediately. Ronaldo missed out on United’s pre-season tour of Thailand and Australia due to “family reasons”.
The Portugal icon Ronaldo wants a permanent transfer so he can continue playing in the Champions League after Man United could only finish sixth last season. Ronaldo has never played in the Europa League in his glittering career. United insists he is not for sale while new boss Ten Hag has maintained the striker is a key part of his plans for this season.
Meantime, Ajax are refusing to rule out selling Manchester United target Antony. The Red Devils were particularly keen on the Brazilian, who excelled under Erik ten Hag last season, earlier this summer. Ajax told United chiefs that Antony would cost them £67million and links subsequently went cold.
Having already sold a host of players, including Lisandro Martinez to Old Trafford, Ajax are hoping to keep their current squad as it is going into the new season though Ajax technical manager Gerry Hamstra doesn’t feel that he can rule anything out.
FRENKIE DE JONG
Long-term Manchester United target Frenkie de Jong has finally agreed to leave Barcelona for the Premier League but only if it means joining Chelsea. Dutchman is willing to depart the Nou Camp, but not to the club that wants him, and that leaves both Barca and United in a dilemma.
The Catalans are keen to sell the 25-year-old to help ease their financial issues that include the £17m they owe De Jong in deferred wages. It’s however tricky since Chelsea’s speculative bid is understood to be much lower than that of the €80m the Red Devils were prepared to pay.
United still want the player, but seem unable to convince him that his future lies at Old Trafford.