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Chelsea join Real Madrid, Manchester City in Haaland chase

The coronavirus pandemic made the summer transfer market unlike any before it, but there were still plenty of deals done, and you can check out the major ones here. The window is closed across the top leagues in Europe, but here are the best rumours from around the globe.

TOP STORY: Chelsea target Haaland along with Rice

Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland has emerged as another summer target for Chelsea, according to Angelo Mangiante of Sky Sports.

The Blues’ interest in West Ham United defensive midfielder Declan Rice has been well documented, but Haaland teaming up with the likes of Timo Werner, Christian Pulisic and Hakim Ziyech would be a very intriguing one.

Bringing in those two players will be an expensive proposition for Stamford Bridge, with the Hammers eyeing £70 million for Rice and Haaland reportedly having a £68m release clause. Complicating a potential swoop for Haaland is that the clause can’t be activated until 2022 and the fact he has also been linked to moves with Real Madrid and Manchester City.

Having spent £220m on new players last summer, Mangiante suggests that Chelsea will potentially offload Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen, Jorginho, Marcos Alonso, Ross Barkley, Danny Drinkwater and Victor Moses to fund the splurge.

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15.22 GMT: Reigning MLS Cup holders Columbus Crew are set to announce the signing of veteran striker Bradley Wright-Phillips, The Columbia Dispatch reports.

Wright-Phillips is a free agent after ending his one-year spell at LAFC, where he scores eight goals and registered six assists.

The 35-year-old is a two-time MLS Golden Boot winner, finishing as the league’s top scorer in 2014 and 2016 while playing for New York Red Bulls. The Englishman was recently named among MLS’ The 25 Greatest, a definitive list of the most decorated and important players in the league’s 25-year history.

– The 25 Greatest: Donovan, Beckham on MLS list dominated by LA Galaxy

14.45 GMT: Liga MX giant Cruz Azul’s shortlist for its vacant head coach position has been reduced to San Jose Earthquakes manager Matias Almeyda or Mexico legend Hugo Sanchez, according to ESPN Mexico sources.

La Maquina was left without a head coach after Robert Siboldi resigned following a devastating 4-0 loss to Mexico City rival Pumas UNAM in the second leg of the Liga MX semifinal. Cruz Azul had won the first leg 4-0, but crashed out due to its inferior position in the regular season standings.

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Former Real Madrid great Sanchez, an ESPN pundit, hasn’t coached since he took over Pachuca in 2012, but has admitted there have been discussions with Cruz Azul.

“There’s been contact with my agent, there are some candidates,” said Sanchez on ESPN. “I gave my point of view and the door to coaching Cruz Azul is open.”

Almeyda is regularly linked to the bigger jobs in Mexico, following his success in Guadalajara with Chivas, although prizing him away from the Major League Soccer side could prove difficult.

14.06 GMT: Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne is close to committing his future to the club until 2025 by signing a new contract, The Guardian reports.

De Bruyne, 29, still has two-and-a-half years to run on his current deal, but talks began in October over extending his stay at the club and an agreement is close.

The Guardian report suggests that the fact manager Pep Guardiola recently signed a new contract, which runs until 2023, has helped convince De Bruyne that his future lies at City.

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The Belgium international, who earns up to £300,000 a week, has reportedly had the situation surrounding his future monitored by Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain.

13.30 GMT: Manchester United have been dealt a blow in their pursuit of Celta Vigo teenager Stefan Bajcetic, with the defender opting for a move to Liverpool in a last minute U-turn.

Sources told ESPN’s David Cartlidge that United thought they had a deal wrapped up for the 16-year-old, who they had been negotiating with for several weeks, but Liverpool have swooped in to secure a deal.

Liverpool went as a far as sending a member of their staff to Vigo on Tuesday so they could arrange travel for the player, who had also been the subject of interest from RB Leipzig.

Bajcetic has a non-professional contract at Celta so Liverpool will only pay a small amount of compensation and training rights costs.

12.40 GMT: Juventus had a bit of a wobble on Tuesday, but does their defence need work?

12.05 GMT: England youth international Calum Scanlon could be set to join Liverpool, as The Times reports that Birmingham have accepted a bid.

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Scanlon, 15, is left-sided defender, with Liverpool’s offer in the region of £500,000.

The report reads: “Scanlon and his family are now considering the chance to move to Merseyside and continue the next phase of his development at Liverpool’s academy.”

11.34 GMT: Boca Juniors have asked Cristian Pavon to re-join the team in training on Jan. 1, according to TyC.

Pavon, 24, joined LA Galaxy on loan in August 2019 but they have yet to exercise a purchase option for the Argentina forward before his contract runs out on Dec. 31.

Boca want €20m for Pavon, a figure that the Galaxy are reportedly not prepared to pay.

Instead, the Galaxy are hoping to reach a late agreement with Boca to extend Pavon’s stay beyond the New Year. He has scored 10 goals and set up seven more in 22 appearances for the MLS side.

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10.53 GMT: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has told ESPN’s Rob Dawson that the Manchester United squad can play their part to convince Paul Pogba to stay by showing him he can win trophies at Old Trafford.

Pogba’s agent Mino Raiola has said publicly the midfielder wants to leave United, either next summer or at the end of his contract in 2022. Solskjaer described Pogba, who is wanted by Juventus and Real Madrid, as “ambitious” but said the 27-year-old can win silverware with him.

“There’s always a demand at Man United to win trophies and the more you win trophies, the more players are going to want to play for us and then there’s a higher standard you’ve got to set yourself,” Solskjaer told ESPN in an exclusive interview.

“It’s a demand for the players, it’s a challenge for the players that we want them to improve and get better and better. Paul has been here for a while and of course he wants to win more trophies. It’s down to us to win trophies and then let’s see who will be part of the team going forward.”

10.30 GMT: Do Arsenal need to consider a change of manager?

09.55 GMT: Manchester United and Tottenham are leading the race to sign Fiorentina defender Nikola Milenkovic in the winter transfer window, according to La Nazione.

Milenkovic, 23, is the only Fiorentina player to have played every official game this season. His performances have not gone unnoticed with top European clubs monitoring him closely, though the Serbia international is tied to La Viola until June 2022 and is valued at €25m.

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Spurs and United are looking to strengthen their defensive line and Milenkovic is considered an attractive option. Since joining Fiorentina in the summer of 2017 from Partizan Belgrade, he has made 100 appearances for the club.

09.25 GMT: Left-back Nuno Mendes — linked with Real Madrid, Liverpool and Manchester United in recent weeks — has signed a new contract at Sporting Lisbon until 2025.

The Portuguese club have confirmed that the deal raises the 18-year-old’s release clause rise to €70m.

The highly-rated youngster had been tipped as a possible successor to Marcelo at Real Madrid and is reportedly tracked by Premier League clubs Manchester United and Liverpool.

Mendes only made his first-team debut this summer and has started nine of Sporting’s ten Primeira Liga matches this season, helping the club top the table ahead of rivals Benfica and Porto.

“I’m very happy. It’s a unique feeling… I’m always ready to help the club,” the Portugal under-21 international said.

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08.42 GMT: Bayern Munich have all but given up on left-back David Alaba signing a new contract, according to club executive Oliver Kahn.

The Austria international’s contract with the European champions expires in the summer of 2021 and he can sign a pre-contract at his new club from Jan. 1 on ahead of a free transfer in July.

Sources told ESPN’s James Olley last month that Chelsea are keeping tabs on Alaba, 28, but face competition from Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid for his signature

“We rolled out the red carpet for him and for his agent, Pini Zahavi, in particular. But they did not go over it. And so we packed up the red carpet again,” former Bayern and Germany goalkeeper Kahn has told Sport Bild, adding that he “wouldn’t know right now” if contact would be renewed between the parties. “David has been here for 12 years, 10 years as a pro. And he’s looking elsewhere now. We must accept it.”

– Bundesliga on ESPN+: Stream LIVE games and replays (U.S. only)

08.00 GMT: Manchester United are confident of securing a work permit for Atalanta winger Amad Diallo in order to add the teenager to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s squad during the January transfer window.

Sources have told ESPN’s Mark Ogden that United are now in the process of applying for his Governing Body Exemption with the English Football Association.

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United completed a deal worth an initial €21m for Diallo on the final day of the summer transfer window in October, but were unable to fly the 18-year-old to Manchester due the Ivory Coast-born player’s ongoing wait for an Italian passport.

Sources told ESPN that the passport issue has now been resolved, with Diallo being granted his Italian documents earlier this month. But he is yet to receive clearance to play in England and is still waiting for United’s request for a work permit to be cleared by the UK government. Sources said, however, that United have been given positive indications that Diallo will be given the necessary paperwork in the coming weeks.

PAPER TALK (by Danny Lewis)

Liverpool show interest in Grealish

Liverpool are the latest admirers of Aston Villa talisman Jack Grealish, as has been reported by the Daily Mirror.

Manchester United and Manchester City have already shown an interest in him, with United most heavily linked in the past. But the 25-year-old’s performances have only got better this term, which has naturally seen more clubs take notice.

Recent reports around the future of Mohamed Salah have reportedly made Liverpool start seriously considering Grealish, with the Egyptian refusing to rule out a move to Real Madrid or Barcelona.

Man United join race for Alaba

Real Madrid are the favourites to sign Bayern Munich’s David Alaba, but Manchester United are looking to hijack the deal, according to the Daily Star.

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The Austria international has decided to leave Bavaria after failing to agree on a new contract. While there is understandably plenty of interest in the versatile defender, United are said to be “confident” that they’ll be able to sign him.

Alaba is free to talk to clubs from on Jan. 1 and Bayern’s chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has accepted the notion that the defender will leave.


– Tottenham Hotspur remain interested in Lille centre-back Sven Botman, per ESPN sources yesterday, but Foot Mercato are now suggesting that there is also an interest from Liverpool in the Dutchman. Inter Milan are also reported to have asked for information about the 20-year-old with the possibility of making a move for him.

– Inter are also prepared to accept Cagliari’s Leonardo Pavoletti as part of a swap deal for Radja Nainggolan, reports Calciomercato. It is suggested that they would usually aim higher when looking for a striker but have taken the current market into account. They are also desperate to offload Nainggolan, and this is seen as a way of helping to make that happen.

– Bayern Munich youngster Angelo Stiller will not renew his contract with the club, reports Bild. The 19-year-old midfielder’s contract will come to an end and he will leave at the end of the season, despite earning game time in the Champions League against Atletico Madrid. The signings of Marc Roca and Tiago Dantas in his position are said to have played into this decision.

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