Rumour Has It: Real focused on Mbappe not Haaland opening door for Man City swoop

By Sports Desk February 02, 2022

When the next transfer window opens, Erling Haaland's future will be a hot topic.

The 21-year-old striker has two years remaining on his Borussia Dortmund contract.

But there is a £65million (€75m) release clause that enables him to talk to clubs who can meet that valuation from this off-season.

 

TOP STORY - CITY READY TO RAMP UP HAALAND ADVANCES

El Chiringuito claim that Real Madrid's interest in signing Haaland has waned as they focus on landing Kylian Mbappe from Paris Saint-Germain.

Madrid have been heavily linked with Haaland once his release clause becomes active, along with Barcelona, PSG, Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City.

City "will do what they can" to persuade Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland to join them in the off-season despite believing they are not front-runners, reports The Athletic.

ROUND-UP

- ESPN claims that Manchester United have asked Paul Pogba to delay a decision on his future until they have appointed a permanent manager. Pogba's contract is up in June and he has been linked with PSG and Juventus.

- Chelsea have shortlisted West Ham United's Declan Rice, Sevilla's Jules Kounde and Monaco's Aurelien Tchouameni as off-season targets, claims The Athletic.

- Newcastle United plan to re-ignite their interest in Lille's 22-year-old defender Sven Botman, who is worth £35m (€42m) according to The Mirror.

- Arsenal turned down approaches from Newcastle and Crystal Palace for Eddie Nketiah in the closing days of the January transfer window reports Fabrizio Romano. Nketiah has six months remaining on his Gunners deal and could sign a pre-contract elsewhere.

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    Inter have completed the signing of Kristjan Asllani on loan from Empoli with an obligation to buy.

    The 20-year-old has signed a contract until June 2027 and will cost Inter €14million, with €4m of that identified as the fee for the initial loan.

    A central midfielder, Asllani came through Empoli's youth system and enjoyed a breakout season in 2021-22, featuring 23 times in Serie A as the Tuscans comfortably avoided relegation.

    He scored his only goal of the season in a 4-2 defeat to Inter on May 6.

    While the youngster is unlikely to be a regular starter initially – rather a back-up to Marcelo Brozovic – he will bolster Inter's midfield following the departure of Matias Vecino and expected exit of Stefano Sensi.

    Asllani was present at the club on Wednesday, when Romelu Lukaku completed his loan return from Chelsea, and the Belgium striker was central to a slightly bizarre announcement video.

    Speaking to club owner Steven Zhang in the clip, Lukaku said: "I spoke to this guy, the new guy, Asllani... I like his mentality. You'll be surprised. He's only 20, but he speaks like a 27-year-old."

    As part of the deal, promising Uruguayan striker Martin Satriano is expected to join Empoli on loan for the upcoming season.

  • Fernandes quells Ronaldo exit rumours but hopes for Sporting return Fernandes quells Ronaldo exit rumours but hopes for Sporting return

    Bruno Fernandes has addressed speculation Cristiano Ronaldo is seeking to leave Manchester United, saying he "doesn't believe" such a move will materialise.

    Ronaldo returned to Old Trafford from Juventus last year and finished as United's highest scorer in the Premier League with 18 goals – only behind Tottenham's Son Heung-min and Liverpool's Mohamed Salah in the division (both 23).

    However, it was a disappointing season for United as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer lost his job and Ralf Rangnick failed to steady the ship, with the club missing out on a top-four finish and Champions League football.

    Recent speculation has suggested Ronaldo is unhappy with United's direction and is seeking a move, and Chelsea have reportedly shown an interest.

    Fernandes does not believe a departure will follow, however, and expects to see his compatriot in United training when the pair return from holiday next week.

    "From what I've talked to him – we're both on vacation still, and no-one bothers friends on holiday – I hope in four days to find him to train there. I'm not expecting more than that," he told reporters on Thursday.

    "As far as I know, there's nothing more to it than that, but everyone takes care of their future. I do not believe that the club is willing to lose an asset like Cristiano."

    Fernandes was then asked about the possibility of Ronaldo returning to Sporting CP, where his career began, and acknowledged he was hopeful such a move would happy in the future.

    "It would be a great moment for Sporting, almost everyone expects this; I'd like that to happen," Fernandes, also a former Sporting man, added.

    "He has the ambition to continue playing for many years. We will see what he will decide, I hope, when the contract with United is over, but the ambition and dream of the fans would be to see Ronaldo playing with the Sporting jersey."

  • Valverde returns to Athletic as new president Uriarte takes office Valverde returns to Athletic as new president Uriarte takes office

    Ernesto Valverde has secured a return to Athletic Bilbao after being appointed the club's head coach on president Jon Uriarte's first day in office.

    Valverde remains a popular figure at the club following a successful second stint as the first team's coach between 2013 and 2017.

    During that four-year spell, Valverde took Athletic into the Champions League, reached the final of the 2015 Copa del Rey and a few months later ended the club's 31-year trophy drought with a 5-1 aggregate defeat of Barcelona in the Supercopa de Espana.

    He eventually left in May 2017 to take over from Luis Enrique at Barcelona, with whom Valverde won two LaLiga titles, the Copa del Rey and Supercopa before being dismissed in January 2020.

    The Blaugrana have won just one trophy since.

    Valverde's return for a third spell in charge of the team he also represented for six years as a player coincides with the election of Uriarte as Athletic's new president.

    Uriarte's key pledge in his election campaign was to bring Valverde back as coach following Marcelino Garcia Toral's departure in May.

    Former Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa – who has also coached Athletic before – appeared to be Valverde's biggest rival, having reached an agreement to take over if presidential candidate Inaki Arechabaleta had won the election.

    But Uriarte took 47.7 per cent of the vote compared to Arechabaleta's 33.7 per cent, with his success confirmed last week.

    As such, Valverde will extend his record as the coach with the most matches managed at Athletic (306), while supporters will hope he can maintain the feat of not finishing below seventh in his last spell – they have not ended a season higher than eighth since his departure.

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