2020-08-26 by W.M.
Wednesday’s Transfer news: Lionel Messi forcing Barcelona exit as Man United and City eye move, Arsenal to sign Gabriel, Thiago Silva to Chelsea latest
Re-live the latest updates live from the summer transfer window as Premier League clubs remain on red alert following the sudden availability of Lionel Messi. The Barcelona great informed the club of his desire to leave following a frosty conversation with new manager Ronald Koeman, which has alerted the likes of Manchester United and Manchester City over a stunning move.
Arsenal are close to completing a move for Lille defender Gabriel Magalhaes for an initial £22m fee, while Chelsea are nearing a done deal for a defender of their own in the form of Leicester City’s Ben Chilwell, with the England international poised to complete a £50m switch to Stamford Bridge.
A surprise development saw Everton make their move for Real Madrid midfielder James Rodriguez, who previously played under manager Carlo Ancelotti while in Spain, while Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea are all in contention to sign former Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho this summer as he pursues a move away from Barcelona. Re-live the updates below.
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Good morning and welcome back to The Independent’s transfer news live blog!
With the longest ever Premier League season finally wrapped up and consigned to the history books, attentions once again turn to the summer transfer window, which opened nearly two months later than normal.
Clubs are set for a busy six weeks until the 5 October transfer deadline, with a number already confirmed to be in the market to reinforce their squads ahead of the 2020/21 season – which will begin on the weekend of 12 September in fewer than three weeks’ time.
With developments surrounding Lionel Messi, James Rodriguez and Ben Chilwell this morning, there’s no shortage on updates to bring you.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the headlines this morning.
Where else to start this morning?
Lionel Messi rocked Barcelona yesterday by informing the club of his desire to leave this summer, with his intentions communicated BY FAX MACHINE.
The development had been mooted in previous weeks, but the reverberations are none-the-less seismic as Europe’s elite clubs suddenly battle for his signature.
Manchester United, Man City, Paris Saint-German and Inter Milan are all among those being strongly linked with a move for the Argentine, but whether Barcelona will actively look to sell him at all remains to be seen.
The situation is far from a straightforward one, and our chief football writer Miguel Delaney has broken down the situation and attempted to answer ‘What Next?’ for Messi, Barcelona and biggest clubs in Europe.
Why does Messi want to leave?
A number of factors have played into the Argentine’s decision to push for a move, with divisions between himself and the club emerging over the last 12 months.
Messi was deeply unhappy with the club’s failure to re-sign Neymar from PSG last summer and laid the blame at the door of club president Josep Bartomeu, who he already has a fractured relationship with.
Barcelona’s humiliating 8-2 Champions League defeat at the hands of Bayern Munich earlier this month did nothing to improve his mood, and the appointment of Ronald Koeman as Barcelona head coach following Quique Setien’s sacking has not gone as planned.
Koeman first informed striker Luis Suarez – a key ally of Messi’s – that he is no longer needed at the Nou Camp and free to pursue a move away, before holding talks with Messi himself in which it was left clear that the ‘special privileges’ that have been afforded to him in recent years will no longer apply.
Who would be in the hunt to sign Lionel Messi?
In an ideal world, everyone, but when the six-time Ballon d’Or winner commands a reported £100m a year, there aren’t many left who can afford his wages on top of the €222m asking price that Barcelona want.
According to Spanish newspaper Sport, Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain are leading the race to sign Messi if he does indeed leave the Nou Camp, while Catalunya Radio reports that Messi made contact with Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola – his long-time boss at Barcelona – about a move to the Premier League.
Inter Milan are also said to be interested, while Champions League winners Bayern Munich would have the funds to launch a move even though it goes against their recent approach.
Let’s take a look at the non-Messi news now.
Chelsea are expected to complete at least on defensive recruitment this week in the shape of Brazilian veteran Thiago Silva, but their proposed move for the free agent very nearly came unstuck at the final minute.
Sky Sports reports that Silva is due to undergo a medical with the Premier League club later today ahead of agreeing a one-year deal for the 36-year-old, who left Paris Saint-Germain after their Champions League final defeat.
However, the same report states that PSG made a last-ditch effort to keep Thiago Silva in Paris after manager Thomas Tuchel’s passionate plea to offer him a new deal, but it appears his heart is set on a move to Chelsea.
Chelsea are also set to complete their move for Leicester City left-back Ben Chilwell.
According to The Telegraph, the move for the England international is as good as done, with Chelsea happy with his medical results even though he is currently struggling with a foot injury that could keep him out of the start of the season.
Leicester are set to receive a whopping £50m for selling Chilwell (more on where that money is going shortly) which will take Chelsea’s summer spending well above the £100m mark.
If Chilwell leaving for Chelsea is bad news, there is at least some good news coming out of Leicester this morning.
Jamie Vardy has signed a new one-year contract extension with the club, according to Sky Sports, in a move that commits him to the Foxes until 2023. With Leicester set to take on Birmingham City later today in their first pre-season friendly, an announcement is expected to be made in due course, with Brendan Rodgers likely to be asked to confirm the news after the match.
Jose Mourinho has revealed that the only advice Sir Alex Ferguson gave him when manager of Manchester United was to sign Dele Alli.
Mourinho, now managing at Tottenham, made the confession to his chairman Daniel Levy in a meeting shown on the Amazon Prime Video documentary All or Nothing, with the first three episodes airing next Monday.
The Portuguese had just taken over from Mauricio Pochettino in north London and was discussing his early impressions of Alli.
He said: “I told already Dele very directly that he doesn’t train well, he is not a good trainer.
“I am not saying a disaster but I am not saying Harry Kane, Harry Kane is a very good trainer.”
Luis Suarez has been told in a brutally short phone call from new manager Ronald Koeman that he does not have a future at Barcelona.
The Uruguayan is the club’s third-highest goalscorer of all time, behind teammate Lionel Messi and club great Cesar of the 1940s and 50s, yet he does not feature in what Koeman has planned for their rebuilding project.
Suarez has been linked with a move back to former club Ajax in the Netherlands, but it is an unusual feeling for the striker to be exiled from a club given that he has never experienced it before.
As Tony Evans writes, Suarez has always moved on to bigger and better things. But can the same be said in ending his six-year stay at the Nou Camp? It seems unlikely.
News in from north of the border, where Rangers are preparing to sell their most prized asset in striker Alfredo Morelos.
The Colombian hothead had forged a prolific reputation for goals in Scotland, and it has attracted intense interest from French side Lille, who look close to signing him this summer.
However, that was not the reason for Steven Gerrard leaving Morelos out at the weekend, as the striker was fit and available for selection. Instead, Gerrard revealed that he only wants players who are committed to his plans to make Rangers successful once again, which he believes Morelos no longer is.
As football writer Stefan Bienkowski writes, the sale of Morelos carries more importance than simply offloading a player who no longer wants to be at the club. It could prove to be the catalyst to closing the gap on Celtic once and for all, which means everything to the blue half of Glasgow.
Arsenal are on the verge of signing defender Gabriel Magalhaes from Lille.
The Brazilian has already undergone a medical with the Premier League club after turning down an offer from Italian side Napoli, as well as additional English interest from Manchester United and Everton, and he is expected to be unveiled as Arsenal’s latest signing imminently – following the acquisition of Willian and arrival of last summer’s signing in William Saliba.
All eyes at Barcelona are of course on Lionel Messi’s future, but the next move for Philippe Coutinho remains a big interest to many in the Premier League.
The Brazilian is on his way out of the Nou Camp after a loan move to Bayern Munich failed to result in a permanent switch, and according to Spanish newspaper Marca, his heart is set on a return to the Premier League.
The report adds that Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United are all in the running to sign the former Liverpool attacking midfielder on a cut-price deal, which would represent a huge coup after Barca signed the 28-year-old for a deal worth up to £142m just two years ago.
In one of today’s more surprising developments, Everton have lodged a bid for Real Madrid midfielder James Rodriguez, which the Spanish club are currently considering.
The 29-year-old played under current Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti after the Italian signed him for Madrid back in 2014, where he enjoyed a successful debut season, and a reunion has been on the cards for some time after Ancelotti missed out on signing him for Napoli.
According to The Telegraph, the Goodison Park outfit have submitted a permanent offer for James, which Madrid are genuinely considering as he has just one year remaining on his contract and because they would prefer to sell him this summer than seek another loan deal, following a stint with Bayern Munich.
Arsenal centre-back Rob Holding was on the scoresheet for the Gunners last night in their pre-season victory over MK Dons, but he could be on his way out of the club on a short-term basis.
The Daily Mail reports that Holding is a loan target for Newcastle United, and Arsenal are open to letting him leave for the 2020/21 campaign due to the arrival of William Saliba and the imminent signing of Gabriel Magalhaes.
With David Luiz, Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis also on the books as well as Callum Chambers, Holding will find it hard to secure first-team football at Arsenal this season.
Barcelona’s recently-appointed sporting director Ramon Planes says the club are “not contemplating” selling Lionel Messi.
Planes only replaced the sacked Eric Abidal earlier this month following the club’s hierarchy shake-up, which saw Abidal follow head coach Quique Setien out of the door.
He will not have expected to land himself into such a transfer saga though, with Messi’s sudden transfer request coming as a surprise to the Spanish club. With Planes addressing the current speculation surrounding Messi’s future, Planes told media that “we (Barcelona) all continue to count on Messi”, and that the club “are not contemplating a departure”.
Here’s the full story on Barcelona’s hard-line stance that they are preparing for the 2020/21 season with Lionel Messi a key part of their plans, according to new sporting director Ramon Planes.
Manchester City are one of the clubs who are capable of signing Lionel Messi – but will they.
Yes, we’ve been here before. Messi expresses his desire to leave, throws his toys out of the pram and triggers a loving response from Barcelona that results in a new contract and helpful pay rise, and the world continues to turn as normal.
But City are considering their options, according to Mundo Deportivo journalist Francesc Aguilar, who claims that chief executive Ferran Soriano has already crunched the numbers and confirmed to Messi himself that the Premier League side have the financial capabilities to sign him this summer.
The reports adds that City have the power to meet Barcelona’s transfer valuation – with a little room for negotiation of course – but are confident that Messi will be able to activate his release clause and leave for free.
Leicester City have as expected confirmed the new contract extension for Jamie Vardy, with the striker agreeing a one-year extension to remain at the King Power Stadium until 2023.
Speaking after extending his stint with Leicester – which will stretch to 11 years if he sees out the remainder of his contract – Vardy said: “The journey that I’ve been on with this Football Club is hard to describe, and although we’ve accomplished so much together already, I know that I’ve got so much more to achieve with this team, so it’s a special feeling to be able to commit my future to Leicester City once again.
“I love playing my football in front of our fans at King Power Stadium and I’m delighted to continue this journey at such an exciting time for the Club. We’ve a fantastic team that I believe is capable of getting even better and I can’t wait to see what we can achieve together in the next few years.”
Here’s the full story as Jamie Vardy signs up for three more years at Leicester City.
Thomas Tuchel is on the lookout for a new right-back, with Thilo Kehrer lining up in the Champions League final against Bayern Munich.
Part of the motivation behind being willing to sell Bellerin is thought to be the need to raise funds to strengthen elsewhere, which includes Ainsley Maitland-Niles, who is a target for Wolves for £20m.
Leeds United are on the verge of making their first marquee signing since returning to the Premier League after reaching an agreement with Valencia for the transfer of Spain striker Rodrigo. The Liga club announced on their website on Tuesday evening that a deal in principle has been agreed, for a reported £30m fee, with personal terms and a medical still to be finalised.
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