Transfer news & rumours LIVE: Liverpool close in on Fekir

Liverpool close in on Fekir

Liverpool will step up their pursuit of Lyon star Nabil Fekir as they look to sign him before the World Cup, reports The Guardian.

The 24-year-old starred for Lyon in 2017-18, scoring 18 goals and earning a call to France’s World Cup squad. 

The Reds will see their finances boosted by £70 million (€80m/$94m) for reaching the Champions League final, and could spend that windfall on the attacking midfielder. 

Man Utd near Fred & Alderweireld deals

Manchester United are nearing the signings of Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Fred and Tottenham centre-back Toby Alderweireld, reports the Mirror.

United are in talks with Shakhtar over Brazil international Fred, who will cost around £52 million (€59m/$70m).

The club also wants to tie up Alderweireld before the World Cup begins, with the Belgium international set to cost £45 million (€51m/$60m).

Vidal wants Juve return

Bayern Munich midfielder Arturo Vidal hopes to re-join Juventus this summer, according to Calciomercato

The Chilean made a name for himself with the Old Lady, starring for the club in four seasons between 2011 and 2015. 

With Vidal’s contract set to expire at the end of next season, Bayern could cash in on the 31-year-old now rather than lose him for free next summer. 

Lazio’s Savic price too high for Man Utd

Manchester United have cooled their interest in Sergej Milinkovic-Savic after Lazio demanded £87.5 million (€100m/$117m) for the midfielder, reports the Daily Mail.

United have been heavily linked with the 23-year-old Serbia international, who has also drawn interest from Real Madrid and PSG.

Jose Mourinho does want to bring another midfielder to Old Trafford alongside the expected arrival of Fred, but is unwilling to go that high for Milinkovic-Savic.

Arsenal in for Seri

Arsenal are still interested in signing Nice midfielder Jean Michael Seri, according to Sky Sports.

New Gunners boss Unai Emery tried to sign Seri at PSG in January, but the deal was scrapped over Financial Fair Play concerns. 

Seri has an agreement with Nice that allows him to leave if an offer of £35 million (€40m/$47m) or more comes in. 

 Man Utd ready to pounce for Costa

Manchester United will make a big-money move for Douglas Costa if Juventus do not exercise their purchase option on the Brazilian, reports The Sun.

Costa starred on loan for Juve in 2017-18, and the Serie A side have the option to purchase the 27-year-old from Bayern Munich for £33 million (€38m/$44m).

Though Juve are expected to exercise that option, they could opt to spend elsewhere and if they do, United are ready to make a £79m (€90m/$106m) move to sign him from Bayern. 

Spurs target Zaha, Martial & Sessegnon

Tottenham are targeting Wilfried Zaha, Anthony Martial and Ryan Sessegnon this summer, according to the Daily Mail.

Mauricio Pochettino has requested £100 million (€114m/$134m) to strengthen his squad as Spurs look to add marquee names ahead of their move to a new stadium. 

Pochettino signed a new five-year contract with Spurs on Thursday. 

Leno to choose between Atletico & Arsenal

Bayer Leverkusen goalkeeper Bernd Leno will chose between Atletico Madrid and Arsenal as his next club, reports Kicker

The Germany international is in demand and is set to leave Leverkusen after the club signed Lukas Hradecky from Eintracht Frankfurt as his replacement on Wednesday.

Leno has turned down the advances of Napoli, meaning the 26-year-old can now decide whether he wants to continue his career in Spain or England. 

Mandzukic & Arnautovic interest Man Utd

Manchester United are eyeing up Mario Mandzukic and Marko Arnautovic, reports Gianluca Di Marzio.

Mandzukic is expected to leave Juventus this summer and Jose Mourinho is reportedly keen to add a tall, powerful attacker like the Croatian. 

Should a move for Mandzukic not materialise then United would be interested in West Ham star Arnautovic, who fits a similar profile to the Juventus man. 

Arsenal keen on Ndiaye

Arsenal are interested in signing Badou Ndiaye from recently relegated Stoke City, according to Galsenfoot

The Senegal international joined the Potters from Galatasaray in January, and performed well while making 13 Premier League appearances in a central midfield role. 

In addition to Arsenal, Besiktas and West Ham have also expressed an interest in the 27-year-old. 

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PL clubs tracking Blackburn teenager

Several Premier League sides, including Manchester United, are tracking Blackburn defender Jake Garrett, reports ESPN FC.

At 15, Garrett is considered one of England’s best defensive prospects and has been featuring for Blackburn’s under-18 side this season. 

In addition to United, Leicester City, Crystal Palace and Watford, as well as Championship sides Leeds, Derby and Fulham are all monitoring Garrett’s situation. 


Bolton Wanderers release Chinedu Obasi

Bolton Wanderers have released Chinedu Obasi after spending just two months with the English Championship side.

The 31-year-old arrived at the Macron Stadium outfit in March and signed a pay-as-you-play contract.

The former Schalke 04 player failed to make a single appearance for the first team during his spell with the Trotters.

The forward along with six other players, namely: Derik Osede, Dorian Dervite, Chris Taylor, Jem Karacan, Mark Howard and Jan Kirchhoff have been told they can leave the club when their contracts expire on June 30.

Coach Phil Parkinson appreciated the players for their contributions to the side during their time.

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“I would like to thank the players for their contributions to Bolton Wanderers Football Club and wish them well for the future,” Parkinson told club website.


Emery’s depth of knowledge impressed Arsenal’s Gazidis

Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis says the research Unai Emery had done on the club’s young talent was one of the reasons for his appointment as the club’s new head coach.

Emery replaces Arsene Wenger, whose near 22-year stay at the club ended with a second successive finish outside the Premier League’s top four.

The former Paris Saint-Germain and Sevilla coach beat out competition from seven other shortlisted candidates to earn the chance to take over from the departed Frenchman.

And Gazidis feels the depth of knowledge displayed by Emery during the interview process means the Spaniard earned the right to lead the Gunners.

“What was really impressive was when you scratched the surface to go deeper and deeper and deeper,” Gazidis told the Arsenal website. 

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“If we were speaking about one of our young players, if we targeted Ainsley Maitland-Niles for example, Unai knows Ainsley. He’s watched him, he’s familiar with his patterns of play, his capabilities, he’s very excited about his potential and was able to talk about how excited he was to work with Ainsley, to develop him as a player. 

“Very specifically, when you asked the follow-up question and the follow-up question and the follow-up question, you’d get more and more depth about how exactly he would do that, exactly how him and his team would work with an individual player to develop them into the best player they can possibly be and also within the team dynamic.

“There are a lot of platitudes in the game of football, a lot, and people can speak at a surface level very easily to sound confident and impressive. What’s impressive to me is when you scratch through that and you get deeply involved in what exactly they mean.”

Gazidis, however, is under no illusions about the size of the task facing Emery, who won a domestic treble before leaving PSG.

“The hard work starts right now,” Gazidis added. “We are right into the transfer window of course, but we’re also into many other things such as how we’re going to integrate his team, how we think about pre-season planning, how the teams are going to work together.

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“There’s a lot of work to be done now to integrate this new team into our existing team. I know that we can do that successfully but it’s going to take hard work through the summer. There’s been obviously a lot of question marks as we’ve gone through this period of transition over recent weeks but now it’s really time to look forward as a football club.

“I am really excited about Unai’s appointment. I feel he’s a great fit for our football club. His value set, the way he conducts himself is really Arsenal class. Underneath that, you’ve got all of the technical side that he brings to the table and then on top of it all, which our fans will connect with, is this passion for the game and this energy. Once he brings that into the Emirates and into the Premier League, our fans are going to feel electrified by it.

“We don’t know what the journey will hold exactly, and there will certainly be ups and downs, but I think our fans will appreciate the commitment and the passion that we’re bringing to this effort and I think they’ll be behind us on this journey.”


How Araujo absence, other injuries complicate Osorio’s Mexico World Cup call-up

Juan Carlos Osorio spoke to a murder’s row of great managers.

Always looking for advice from those who have experienced success in the game he loves, the Mexico manager sought out input from a number of managers who have been here before. This is, after all, the 56-year-old’s first time taking a national team to the World Cup and his previous major tournaments haven’t exactly gone as planned for El Tri.

After speaking with Argentine legend and former Chile coach Marcelo Bielsa, ex-Mexico coach Javier Aguirre, World Cup wizard Guus Hiddink, former Barcelona and Netherlands boss Louis van Gaal and current Uruguay manager Oscar Tabarez, the current Mexico boss decided he wanted to give it to everyone straight. No dashed hopes, no unrealistic expectations. Here are the 23 players who are going to Russia. The rest of you, keep training hard and maybe 2022 will be in the cards.

Real life intervened. Osorio said still delivered the news personally to each player, as he hoped,but he ended up naming a 28-man squad to cover for five injury concerns. One of those concerns turned into a full-blown absence with Nestor Araujo heading home to Santos Laguna on Wednesday after his knee injury suffered in March produced lingering effects that will keep him out of the World Cup.

Araujo’s injury is a good example of the complications caused by the various injuries Mexico is facing. Without Araujo, it seems logical that Hugo Ayala earns a place in the squad. He does similar things to Araujo with El Tri and largely fits the same profile. It goes deeper, though. Araujo generally plays as a left center back with Santos despite being a right-footed player. Osorio tried him out on the left in January’s friendly against Bosnia and Herzegovina, with Araujo replacing left-footed Oswaldo Alanis at the half.

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The manager may have been planning to have Araujo as both a first-choice center back on the right side or in a three-man back line but also as back-up in case Hector Moreno goes down with an injury. If he wasn’t already planning to take Alanis in his 23-man squad, the new Getafe signing could see his value boosted thanks to Araujo’s absence.

These are the kind of considerations Osorio is making. It’s not a secret, either. While there’s been a minor freak out about a player like Erick Gutierrez making the roster, Osorio explained that the Pachuca midfielder was included because of his ability to play in a similar role to the one Andres Guardado usually plays – an interior midfielder who is comfortable on the left side and can come forward into the attack.

Araujo’s absence is bad news, but there also will be players who get fit in time for Mexico and alleviate some of Osorio’s worries. For one, Carlos Salcedo already is back on the field and in form after his shoulder injury in the same March friendly that saw Araujo get injured. 

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On May 14, Osorio said his concerns were Araujo, Diego Reyes, Guardado, Jonathan dos Santos and Giovani dos Santos. Jona returned to the LA Galaxy lineup Monday and went a full 90 minutes, though Gio didn’t travel for the match in Montreal. Guardado had a procedure that was successful with Mexican officials optimistic about his recovery. Reyes’ status is up in the air. Hector Moreno took a knock that also had coaches worried for a while.

It has put Mexico in a holding pattern, and made Osorio’s life complicated not only in the face of the biggest tournament of his life but also figuring out what to do during the friendly matches. He will want to all but literally bubble wrap his injured players to make sure there’s not another late complication. That could mean giving time to a player who is not going to Russia, making it difficult for them not to begin the dreaming process Osorio wanted to ward against and tasting disappointment. He also could give minutes to the injured players to make sure they’re match fit and ready to go, though it seems like a risky strategy.

Injuries happen to every team, and Mexico is hardly alone in losing a key player to injury ahead of the tournament. Having company doesn’t make things any less miserable, though. The Araujo news was tough to swallow and creates a domino effect for Mexico. The players on Osorio’s list of injury concerns and Mexico’s medical staff will be working hard to make sure there aren’t more moments to suffer through and more excruciating decisions for the coach to make.


FC Cincinnati to hold MLS announcement Tuesday

FC Cincinnati appears to be on its way to becoming the newest Major League Soccer franchise.

The second-division United Soccer League side has announced it will hold a press conference on May 29 regarding “a significant announcement about the future of soccer in Cincinnati” with MLS commissioner Don Garber among the the guests.

FC Cincinnati Owner and CEO Carl H. Lindler III, team president and general manager Jeff Berding and Cincinnati mayor John Cranley will also be in attendance.

The language, including an “announcement” on “the future of soccer”, is similar to previous MLS expansion announcements.

It will make FC Cincinnati the 26th named MLS franchise, following David Beckham’s long-awaited Miami franchise and Nashville’s announcement in December.

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However, a report from Sports Illustrated indicates FC Cincinnati would become the 24th franchise to take the field, as it would join the league straight away next season in 2019. Miami and Nashville are expected to begin play in 2020.

Originally, it was expected the league would announce two teams late last year. However questions surrounding some of the prospective franchises led to Nashville’s confirmation by itself, with Cincinnati, Sacramento and Detroit still in the running.

Cincinnati appeared to have sorted out its potential stadium issues for a prospective new home in 2021. In the meantime, the team would continue to play at the University of Cincinnati’s Nippert Stadium.

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MLS has stated previously it intends to get up to 28 teams, so the door is not yet closed on Sacramento or Detroit.

FC Cincinnati has become known for its sizable crowds and had a memorable run to the U.S. Open Cup semifinals in 2017, losing to the New York Red Bulls in extra-time after surrendering a 2-0 lead in the second half.

The franchise averaged over 21,000 fans per game in 2017.