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The arrivals of Lautaro Martinez and Neymar at the end of the season had been the dream for Barcelona.

Forming the best attack in the world had been the idea, prising Inter's Martinez to Camp Nou and re-signing Neymar from Paris Saint-Germain.

But Barca have reportedly been priced out of a deal for Neymar.

 

TOP STORY – PSG SET NEYMAR PRICE

Paris Saint-Germain want €175million in cash for Barcelona target Neymar, according to Sport.

Neymar left Barca for PSG in a world-record €222m transfer in 2017 but the Brazilian superstar continues to be linked with a Camp Nou comeback.

But Barca's hopes have been dealt a blow due to PSG's demands and coronavirus as they prioritise Inter forward Lautaro Martinez.

 

ROUND-UP

- RMC Sport claims Manchester City are interested in Milan midfielder Ismael Bennacer. Pep Guardiola has reportedly talked to Bennacer about a move to the Premier League. City are also interested in Barca's Sergi Roberto, claims Mundo Deportivo.

Real Madrid are keen on signing Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho, AS says. The England international has been tipped to join United, while Chelsea and Liverpool have also been linked.

- Calciomercato claims Napoli are eyeing a move for Lille forward Victor Osimhen. It comes amid uncertainty over the futures of Arkadiusz Milik and Jose Callejon. Milik has been heavily linked to Juventus, while the likes of Sevilla and Real Betis are reportedly interested in bringing former Madrid winger Callejon back to LaLiga.

Sevilla are prepared to wait until the end of the season for Barca's Ivan Rakitic, reports Mundo Deportivo. Barca are willing to sanction Rakitic's transfer and Spanish rivals Sevilla are looking to bring the Croatia international back to Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.

- According to L'Equipe, injury-plagued Barca star Ousmane Dembele has no intention of leaving Camp Nou for Juve.

- ESPN says United need more cash to sign Birmingham City sensation Jude Bellingham. The 16-year-old has also been linked to Dortmund.

Fabian Ruiz is wanted by Spain's two biggest clubs – Barca and Madrid. But Mundo Deportivo says the Napoli star is moving further away from a switch to the Santiago Bernabeu due to Madrid not being able to meet the Italian club's valuation. Luka Jovic and James Rodriguez have been mentioned as possible makeweights but Napoli only want cash.

- Lille defender Gabriel has emerged as a possible replacement for Napoli's Kalidou Koulibaly. Le10Sport says Napoli have identified Gabriel as well as Fiorentina pair German Pezzella and Nikola Milenkovic. Sky Sport Italia, meanwhile, says United are offering £71m (€80m) for Koulibaly but Napoli are holding out for at least £89m (€100m).

Pedro is a player in demand. The Chelsea forward is set to become a free agent and AS says Roma are the Spaniard's "priority". Juve, Sevilla, Betis and Valencia have also been credited with interest.

Southampton attacker Moussa Djenepo is hoping to "become the next Sadio Mane" as he uses the Liverpool star as inspiration.

Djenepo, 21, joined the club for a reported £14million from Standard Liege last year, and had scored two goals and provided two assists in 18 Premier League games before the season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Mane spent two seasons at St Mary's before joining Liverpool in 2016 and the Senegal international has developed into one of the world's best attackers.

Djenepo is using Mane as inspiration and the Mali international hopes he can exceed what the Liverpool star has achieved.

"Sadio is a big inspiration for me. I like him, he's a very big player," he told talkSPORT.

"But I think I can be better [than him] if I work hard. Sadio is a very big player, and I'm young and I need to learn more.

"In the future we will see. I will do my best to become the next Sadio Mane."

Mane has scored 14 goals and provided seven assists in 26 Premier League games this season.

A number of Premier League stars have put signed shirts up for a charity raffle to raise money for health services in the United Kingdom during the coronavirus pandemic.

Top-flight players launched their '#PlayersTogether' fund in April, an initiative working alongside NHS Charities Together.

In the latest development on Wednesday, players donated over 500 signed jerseys to the Shirts for Heroes raffle on eBay, with each ticket costing £5.

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson, who was said to be prominent in the initial movement, was among those to post of their involvement on Twitter.

Henderson and team-mate Virgil van Dijk each quickly gathered more than 150 ticket sales.

Manchester City's midfield duo Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva were also involved, along with Manchester United skipper Harry Maguire.

A number of Premier League stars have put signed shirts up for a charity raffle to raise money for health services in the United Kingdom during the coronavirus pandemic.

Top-flight players launched their '#PlayersTogether' fund in April, an initiative in which they would work with NHS Charities Together.

In the latest development on Wednesday, players donated over 500 signed jerseys to the Shirts for Heroes raffle on eBay, with each ticket costing £5.

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson, who was said to be prominent in the initial movement, was among those to post of their involvement on Twitter.

Henderson and team-mate Virgil van Dijk each quickly gathered more than 150 ticket sales.

Manchester City's midfield duo Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva were also involved, along with Manchester United skipper Harry Maguire.

Emile Heskey believes Liverpool's impending Premier League title triumph is "amazing for football".

Jurgen Klopp's side are 25 points clear of defending champions Manchester City ahead of English football's upcoming restart, needing just two more victories to win the Premier League for the first time and end a 30-year wait for a top-flight championship.

The title would be Liverpool's 19th in all, having dominated the English game in the 1970s and 1980s.

Former Reds striker Heskey believes football will benefit from having one of its grandest clubs on top once more.

"It's huge," Heskey told Stats Perform News.

"It's such a big club, and you don't realise until you go there, until you walk down the streets of Liverpool or anywhere and you realise it's different.

"They are massive and they are so used to winning. If you go back to the 80s, that was their time of winning.

"This is the major one that has eluded Liverpool for 30 years. The Premier League hasn't been won by Liverpool. To get so close on many occasions but fall at that last hurdle...

"But now, being in the prime position to actually take it, is just an amazing feeling for the fans, amazing for the city and amazing for football in general because you've got one of the biggest clubs in the world at the pinnacle again."

The Premier League is set to kick-off again amid the coronavirus pandemic, but Heskey believes Liverpool should have been awarded the title regardless.

"It was a weird one for me," he said. "If you look back at when we went into lockdown, when sport actually locked down, if you think about it, one more week, they could have actually won the league.

"One more week and then, mathematically, we've won it, so you can't take it off us, so give us the league and let's just call off the league.

"Obviously there would be problems with that because relegation is a huge thing as well. With Leeds top of the [Championship] league, trying to get back into the league for 10, 15 years, so you'd have problems there.

"But just think about it, one more week and you could have actually won that."


Emile's book Even Heskey Scored has been shortlisted for Autobiography of the Year at the 2020 Telegraph Sports Book Awards.

Jurgen Klopp has turned Liverpool into an "amazing" side who are a joy to watch, according to Yossi Benayoun.

The Reds are 25 points clear at the Premier League summit and two wins away from a first top-flight title in 30 years.

Klopp has already led the side to Champions League glory and Benayoun, who plied his trade at Anfield between 2007 and 2010, is delighted to see the progress they have made under the German.

"I'm happy to see it, it's amazing to see where Liverpool are at the moment," he told LFCTV's Legends in Lockdown.

"From what I see, they play amazing football. The most special thing is you feel they are a team – everyone knows what they're doing on the pitch, you don't have one or two big stars and everything is on them. The star of the team is the team itself, one unit. They play together. 

"And the commitment the players have is something special. I don't see any other team in Europe that has this commitment from the goalkeeper to the striker to work together, to press. When they decide to press they press everyone, no-one can play against them. It's amazing. 

"Of course, big credit to the manager, to Jurgen Klopp. I think this is the big difference from years before. I really enjoy watching them. Hopefully they will continue like this and make us proud."

After a lengthy coronavirus-enforced shutdown, Liverpool will be able to resume their title pursuit later this month.

However, their Champions League defence was ended just before fixtures were halted, suffering a round-of-16 exit to Atletico Madrid.

Chelsea players took a knee on Tuesday in a powerful statement of support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

The squad assembled for a photograph at their Cobham training base in which each player adopted the stance.

With each player on one knee, they lined up in an H shape, which Chelsea said stood for "humans".

Captain Cesar Azpilicueta was one of a group of Blues players who posted the same message on social media: "Enough is enough. We are all HUMANS. Together we are stronger."

The footballers' reaction follows protests and riots across the United States following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Floyd, an African-American man, died in police custody last week after an officer kneeled on his neck as he lay on the ground, sparking outrage across the globe.

Demonstrations have taken place around the world as well as in the US, with campaigners determined that Floyd's death should be a turning point in a long struggle against racism and police brutality.

Former US president Barack Obama has supported peaceful protests, while his successor Donald Trump warned he could send in the military to deal with violent disorder.

Fikayo Tomori, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Antonio Rudiger, Billy Gilmour, Mason Mount and Kepa Arrizabalaga were among the Chelsea stars to put the statement on Twitter, alongside the picture of the kneeling players.

Chelsea matched the example of Liverpool's players, who took a knee on Monday, after a weekend that saw several protests in Germany's Bundesliga.

Borussia Dortmund's England international Jadon Sancho revealed a 'Justice for George Floyd' message on a t-shirt after scoring against Paderborn, while Borussia Monchengladbach star Marcus Thuram took a knee when he netted against Union Berlin.

A number of black sporting greats, including Michael Jordan, Serena Williams, LeBron James and Tiger Woods, have spoken out on the issue.

NBA superstar James supported Liverpool's stance by reposting the Premier League leaders' tweet with his own "#YNWA" message – a reference to the Anfield club's 'You'll Never Walk Alone' anthem.

Jurgen Klopp wants Liverpool to close the season with nine straight wins to smash the Premier League points record.

The Reds only need two more victories to wrap up a first top-flight title in 30 years, but Klopp is eager to do much more than the bare minimum.

Liverpool have 27 points left to play for and the German wants to take them all, which would mean a total of 107 – exceeding Manchester City's all-time best tally of 100 from the 2017-18 campaign.

With fixtures set to resume on June 17 following a lengthy coronavirus-enforced shutdown, Liverpool are tantalisingly close to glory, but Klopp knows there is work to be done.

"It's nice to think about it but we are not champions yet and we know that," he told BBC Sport.

"We know we are close but close is not there. There are 27 points left for us and we will try everything to take them all.

"We are still not champions. We have to play football games and we have to win them.

"We don't want to stop winning after two games or whatever it is. I don't see results written in the stars; we have to work really hard."

Klopp's side lead the way by 25 points but hit patchy form before fixtures were halted, losing their unbeaten league record to Watford, suffering defeat to Chelsea in the FA Cup, and seeing their Champions League defence ended by Atletico Madrid.

Liverpool stars took a knee around the Anfield centre-circle on Monday in a show of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

Senior players including Virgil van Dijk, James Milner, Joe Gomez, Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold tweeted the same photograph of the squad along with the words 'Unity is strength'.

The tweets, which also included the hashtag #blacklivesmatter, were the latest messages of support from footballers amid the civil unrest in the United States in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd.

Floyd died while in police custody in Minnesota last week, sparking significant protests and rioting across many US cities.

Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho celebrated the first of three goals against Paderborn on Sunday by revealing a t-shirt with the message 'Justice for George Floyd'.

Borussia Monchengladbach striker Marcus Thuram earlier went down on one knee after scoring against Union Berlin. The gesture has become a recognised act of protest against racism and police brutality in the US in recent years since San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick knelt during the national anthem ahead of a pre-season game in 2016.

On Monday, Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford posted on Twitter that "we appear to be more divided than ever", adding: "People are hurting and we need answers. Black lives matter. Black culture matters. Black communities matter. We matter."

Former Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure said he felt "very proud" to see demonstrations in Manchester showing solidarity with protestors in the US.

"We ALL have a responsibility to challenge racism," he wrote on Twitter. "Racism is a problem for ALL people. WE have to fight it TOGETHER."

Philippe Coutinho is aiming to return to the Premier League, according to his agent Kia Joorabchian.

Coutinho was a star at Liverpool, yet failed to establish himself at Barcelona following a €145million move in January 2018.

The Brazil playmaker subsequently joined Bayern Munich on loan in August 2019 and has scored eight goals in 22 Bundesliga appearances.

With Coutinho out injured, it does not seem likely Bayern will be extending his stay after electing not to take up a €120m purchase option, with a host of Premier League clubs, including Tottenham, Arsenal and former side Liverpool, reportedly interested.

Joorabchian, who also represents Coutinho's compatriots David Luiz and Willian, has now confirmed the 27-year-old has set a return to England in his sights.

"He has a desire to come back to the Premier League at some point," Joorabchian told Sky Sports.

"It may not happen this year, it may happen this year but we don't know. We really have not discussed anything for now."

However, Joorabchian insisted talks of Barca putting a £70million (€78m) price tag on Coutinho, or asking for a £9m (€10m) loan fee, are wide of the mark.

"I've never heard those figures, we've never discussed numbers, none of those figures have ever been discussed," he added.

Elite sport is gradually returning to our screens amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Germany's Bundesliga, the UFC and the NRL were among the first top-level events to forge a route back last month after pausing due to the global crisis.

A clutch of Europe's other top football leagues, cricket, motorsport and the United States' major competitions all have designs on behind-closed-doors resumptions in the near future, too, which could create a significant backlog of crucial fixtures.

One positive is that sports fans might now be treated to a number of colossal match-ups back-to-back on the same day at some point over the coming months.

That prospect gives us the opportunity to reflect on five similar occasions with the greatest sporting days since the turn of the century - including one exactly a year ago.

 

JULY 23, 2000

The US had a day to remember as two of their most prominent stars bolstered their still burgeoning reputations with big victories on foreign soil.

The paths of Tiger Woods and Lance Armstrong have subsequently diverged a little, however.

Woods became the youngest player to complete golf's career grand slam with a record-breaking victory at The Open in 2000, while Armstrong wrapped up a second straight Tour de France title.

The American duo stood at the top of the world, yet history will recall Armstrong's achievements rather differently now he has been stripped of each of his seven successive yellow jerseys for doping.

Woods at least maintained his high standards and held all four major titles after the 2001 Masters, winning again at Augusta as recently as last year.

FEBRUARY 1, 2004

Two more sporting greats shared the same special page in the calendar early in 2004.

It was a long day for anyone who took in both Roger Federer's performance in Melbourne's Australian Open final and Tom Brady's Super Bowl display in Houston, but they were duly rewarded.

Twenty-time grand slam champion Federer had won just one major before facing down Marat Safin in Australia, also becoming the ATP Tour's top-ranked player for the first time. He stayed at number one for a record-shattering 237 weeks.

Brady similarly then doubled his tally of Super Bowl rings by delivering a second triumph in three years for the Patriots, in what was a classic encounter against the Carolina Panthers.

Brady threw for 354 yards and three touchdowns, before Adam Vinatieri's field goal secured a 32-29 win with four seconds remaining.

AUGUST 4-5, 2012

One would struggle to find a greater array of star-studded athletes of various sports than those who congregated in London across the penultimate weekend of the 2012 Olympic Games.

On the Saturday evening, at the Aquatics Centre, swimming prepared to say goodbye to its greatest name. Michael Phelps and the United States won the 4x100m medley, clinching his 18th gold medal in what appeared set to be his final race.

Indeed, Phelps confirmed his retirement following the Games, only to return in predictably dominant fashion in 2016.

Across the city that same night, Team GB athletes were capping a stunning run of medals that would see the day dubbed "Super Saturday". There were six home golds in all, including big wins for Jessica Ennis, Greg Rutherford and Mo Farah in quick succession.

The drama only continued the next day, too, as Andy Murray finally sealed a Wimbledon win over Federer in the tennis event, while Usain Bolt lit up London Stadium in the 100m.

JUNE 1, 2019

It is 12 months to the day since another epic sporting stretch, one that concluded in stunning fashion with one of boxing's great modern upsets.

Rugby union and football each had their respective turns in the spotlight earlier, with Saracens following up their European Champions Cup success - a third in four years - by retaining the Premiership title with victory over Exeter Chiefs.

In Madrid, two more English teams were in action as Liverpool edged past Tottenham in the Champions League final.

But as Sarries and the Reds celebrated, focus turned towards Madison Square Garden where Anthony Joshua was expected to make light work of Andy Ruiz Jr, a replacement for Jarrell Miller following a failed drugs test.

The heavyweight title match did not go to script, however, as Ruiz floored Joshua four times and forced a stoppage to claim his belts, albeit only until the rematch where the Briton saved face.

JULY 14, 2019

These crazy spectacles have largely seen sport spread throughout the day, but three sets of eyes were required to keep up with the action on an epic afternoon last July.

With England hosting and then reaching the Cricket World Cup final, the scene-stealing decider fell on the same day as the Wimbledon men's final and the British Grand Prix, ensuring the United Kingdom was the focus of the sporting world.

The cricket started off several hours before either the tennis or the F1 but still managed to outlast its rival events, with Ben Stokes determined to put on a show as England won via a dramatic Super Over at the end of a nine-hour saga against New Zealand.

Novak Djokovic was battling Stokes for attention as he was taken all the way by that man Federer at the All England Club before finally prevailing 7-6 (7-5) 1-6 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 13-12 (7-3) in the tournament's longest singles final.

The respective classics made the British GP, completed earlier in the day, something of an afterthought - but not for Lewis Hamilton, who claimed a record sixth victory.

Manchester United, Liverpool, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich… take your pick.

Kai Havertz is not short of options following his stunning form for Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga.

As clubs queue up to sign Havertz, a Premier League giant is reportedly leading the race.

 

TOP STORY – MAN UTD FAVOURITES FOR HAVERTZ

Manchester United are favourites to sign in-demand Bayer Leverkusen star Kai Havertz, according to The Sun.

Havertz has been linked to the likes of Liverpool, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid after his exploits for Bundesliga outfit Leverkusen.

United are ready to swoop for Havertz, as well as Borussia Dortmund sensation Jadon Sancho.

 

ROUND-UP

- Le10Sport says Paul Pogba is open to swapping United for Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain. Linked to former club Juventus and LaLiga giants Madrid, PSG have emerged as a possible destination for the disgruntled Frenchman.

Manchester City are determined to sign Juve centre-back Leonardo Bonucci, but Calciomercato claims the Serie A holders are unwilling to sell the key defender.

- Mundo Deportivo reports Barcelona are positive about signing Lautaro Martinez from Inter following Mauro Icardi's move to PSG. Inter recouped at least €50million after Icardi's loan deal at PSG became permanent. While Barca are aware it will be difficult to prise Martinez to Camp Nou, the LaLiga champions view Icardi's transfer positively.

Chelsea are leading the race to sign Barca outcast Philippe Coutinho, according to the Daily Express. Coutinho has spent the 2019-20 season on loan at Bayern but the German giants opted not to exercise their transfer option. Now, Chelsea are prepared to bring the former Liverpool star back to the Premier League on loan. Tottenham have also been linked.

- Juve's Douglas Costa is wanted by Atletico Madrid. That is according to Calciomercato, which claims Atletico want to bring in the Brazilian attacker in exchange for either Thomas Partey or Stefan Savic. Douglas Costa has been linked to United, while Arsenal are eyeing Partey.

Milan will meet with potential new head coach Ralf Rangnick, claims Gianluca Di Marzio. The Rossoneri continue to be linked to Rangnick while Stefano Pioli remains in charge.

- La Repubblica claims Juve have entered the race for Hellas Verona defender Marash Kumbulla. The 20-year-old has been linked to the likes of Napoli, Lazio, Fiorentina, United, Tottenham, Chelsea, PSG and RB Leipzig.

Jurgen Klopp has revealed just how much runaway Premier League leaders Liverpool are enjoying their moment in the sun.

After 30 years of frustration, close calls and intermittent spells of being barely competitive, the six-time European champions are on the verge of winning another English league title.

The coronavirus crisis has caused football in England to be suspended for three months, but the top flight is on course to resume on June 17.

Liverpool's 25-point lead over second-placed Manchester City should make it a formality that they seal a 19th domestic championship, with a maximum of two more wins required.

The glorious English weather in recent weeks has also made manager Klopp's task all the more straightforward at the Melwood training ground.

And the German has been particularly impressed by the attitude of his squad after they were fully reunited in training on Thursday, with contact now allowed between players.

He said of the squad being back together: "It's absolutely brilliant, a massive difference. The weather is just outstanding, it means all the things we have to do outside – we don't have changing rooms here, that makes it all slightly difficult – but with the weather it's absolutely no problem, it’s rather nice to do it this way.

"So, we enjoy it a lot. We could work on all the things we wanted to work on."

Speaking to Liverpool's official website, Klopp said: "The first week was already really good with the small groups, I enjoyed that as well, because it was just important to get on track again, to get used to the pitch and ball and boots and all that stuff. And now we work on tactical things, that works really well.

"The boys are still the same really good bunch of boys – and that helps a lot. We are in a good moment, we enjoy it.

"Hopefully we can make progress in the next two or three weeks, there are a lot of things that need to be organised still, obviously.

"We need to get hopefully a couple of [bits of] information but we take it like it is and use each second we are together."

Lille have received multiple offers for Victor Osimhen having rejected interest in the forward during January, according to owner Gerard Lopez.

The Nigeria international only joined the Ligue 1 club from Sporting Charleroi prior to the 2019-20 season but is already being linked with a big-money move elsewhere.

Osimhen has scored 18 goals in all competitions, including two in a Champions League campaign that saw Lille only register a solitary point as they finished bottom of Group H behind Valencia, Chelsea and Ajax.

While the 21-year-old's agent recently claimed Napoli were the only club seriously interested, Lopez has revealed there are a number of suitors from three different leagues in Europe. 

"There are multiple offers," he told Sportsmail. "We turned down one English and one Spanish offer this January transfer window.

"There is a wide array [this summer] and I wouldn't want to give the names of the clubs who are bidding but what I can tell you is that there are multiple [offers]. There are three championships that have clubs that have bid for him."

Lille stand to make a considerable profit on a player they reportedly paid €12million for last year; he has been linked with Premier League trio Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham.

The Gunners signed Nicolas Pepe from the same team in 2019 and Lopez expects somewhere close to the rumoured £72m (€80m) they received for the Ivory Coast forward.

"I am not being a sales guy because last year people didn't believe that we had the offers we had with [Nicolas] Pepe and it turns out we had multiple of them," Lopez said.

"Let me tell you with Osimhen, it is the same thing, whatever number you heard, the high number I have read is very much on the money of the offers that we have received. That's where we are."

There are some days in English football history that stand out as turning points.

On May 31, 1995 – a full 25 years ago – Chelsea agreed a deal to sign Ruud Gullit from Sampdoria. And the face of the game changed.

The fledgling Premier League had experienced a sprinkling of overseas talent already, with Eric Cantona making a staggering impact at Leeds United and Manchester United, and Jurgen Klinsmann coming off a season-long cameo at Tottenham.

Superstar Gullit's arrival at Stamford Bridge was the cue for a transfer-market melee, a spectacular flurry of deals that still take the breath away.

To this day, a host of players recruited in the wake of Gullit's arrival, many imported from overseas, are revered in the top bracket of talent that graced their clubs and the Premier League.

Dennis Bergkamp came to Arsenal with a lofty reputation. But David Ginola, Juninho and Georgi Kinkladze joined Newcastle United, Middlesbrough and Manchester City as near-unknowns in England, destined to join the pantheon of club greats.

Euro 96 was on the horizon, lads and ladettes were supping Hooch and bathing in a summer of Britpop battles, and there was feverish optimism about the state of the nation.

Here is a look at the biggest deals of that heady few months.

RUUD GULLIT ​– SAMPDORIA TO CHELSEA

A world star, who was arguably the finest player on the planet at his peak, Gullit may not have been at the height of his career by the time he arrived in London on a free transfer, but there was no disguising the 32-year-old's star quality.

He rivalled Klinsmann as the most famous arrival since the Premier League launched in 1992, and was arguably in a higher bracket.

British television audiences had watched Gullit every week on Channel Four's popular Football Italia shows, firstly with Milan and then Sampdoria, and Chelsea manager Glenn Hoddle was smitten.

Hoddle reportedly made two trips to Italy to meet Gullit before the stunning deal went through, and the Netherlands maverick was recruited to feature as a sweeper in the new high-culture Chelsea side.

"I am very fit and by playing sweeper I can control the speed of the game," said Gullit, quoted in the Independent the following day. "If you have possession of the ball you don't have to run around chasing after it."

The sweeper experiment was soon abandoned, however, Gullit moving into a better-suited midfield role where he proved predictably majestic, going on to succeed Hoddle as Chelsea manager in 1996.

DENNIS BERGKAMP ​– INTER TO ARSENAL (and David Platt – Sampdoria to Arsenal)

Bergkamp was a real eye-catcher, joining for a then British record fee of £7.5million, albeit with question marks over his suitability for the Gunners, particularly after a rocky season at Inter.

Platt had been captain of England, and was a guaranteed solid midfield presence, but new Arsenal boss Bruce Rioch appreciated he was perhaps getting something special when Bergkamp became the first signing of his reign.

That overwhelmingly proved to be the case, and although Rioch only lasted one full season at Highbury, he could always point to his nurturing of Bergkamp as being instrumental in shaping Arsenal's future.

The non-flying Dutchman played 423 games for the Gunners, scoring 120 goals and winning a hatful of medals. Today, a bronze statue of Bergkamp stands outside Arsenal's Emirates Stadium home.

DAVID GINOLA ​– PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN TO NEWCASTLE (and Les Ferdinand – QPR to Newcastle)

Newcastle had surprisingly allowed Andy Cole to join Manchester United for £7m in January 1995, but Kevin Keegan's team went from strength to strength nonetheless.

The £2.5m arrival of Ginola proved a masterstroke, the French winger magnificent on the left wing while Keith Gillespie, a makeweight in the Cole deal, dazzled on the right.

Ferdinand was the ideal targetman and proved to be another exceptional buy, but Ginola was the fans' favourite, his trickery, pace and personality lighting up the league.

Newcastle were almost champions, Ginola at the heart of some of the most cavalier football of the decade.

GEORGI KINKLADZE ​– DINAMO TBILISI TO MANCHESTER CITY

City fans are accustomed to success nowadays, brought to them by a foreign legion featuring the likes of Pep Guardiola, Sheikh Mansour, Sergio Aguero, Kevin De Bruyne and Vincent Kompany.

But there will always be a special place for Kinkladze in the hearts of City fans who saw him play in the Maine Road era, when Franny Lee was chairman and Uwe Rosler the star imported striker.

City were relegated from the Premier League in Kinkladze's first season, and he left in 1998 after a second relegation into the third tier, but the Georgian was a bright spark in dark times, his dribbling skills and free-kick ability never to be forgotten. A particularly memorable solo strike came against Southampton, a lasting gift.

STAN COLLYMORE ​– NOTTINGHAM FOREST TO LIVERPOOL

The British transfer record was broken twice in June 1995, firstly with Arsenal's swoop for Bergkamp and then when Liverpool paid £8.5m for Nottingham Forest striker Collymore.

He and Robbie Fowler formed an often menacing partnership, particularly in Collymore's first season at Anfield, but the big-money recruit lasted just two seasons with Liverpool in the 'Spice Boys' era before moving to Aston Villa for £7m.

PAUL INCE ​– MANCHESTER UNITED TO INTER

Pipped to the 1994-95 Premier League title by Blackburn Rovers, Manchester United cleared the decks and allowed star men Ince, Mark Hughes and Andrei Kanchelskis to leave Old Trafford.

It was a stunning gamble by Alex Ferguson, with Hughes and Kanchelskis joining Premier League rivals Chelsea and Everton respectively, while midfield general Ince floated off to Italy with Inter for £7.5m.

But Ferguson knew his Class of 92 youngsters were pushing for a chance at first-team level, and with the likes of David Beckham, Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt emerging, the old guard were barely missed, United going on to win a league and cup double.

JUNINHO ​– SAO PAULO TO MIDDLESBROUGH

This £4.75m move went through slightly later in the year, in October 1995, back when clubs could strike autumn deals.

Bryan Robson would bring in Fabrizio Ravanelli in the following close-season, but none of the Middlesbrough manager's signings are remembered quite so fondly as Juninho.

The little Brazilian was a marvel of an attacker, a low centre of gravity helping him to ride the wildest of tackles from defenders who could not handle his dribbling ability.

On Teesside, they adored the Brazilian, who began brightly enough but truly dazzled in his second season, helping Boro to reach both the FA Cup and League Cup finals.

They lost both and suffered the pain of relegation. Juninho left too, but returned for two later spells with the club that loved him best of all, winning the 2004 League Cup.

...MEANWHILE, NORTH OF THE BORDER

PAUL GASCOIGNE ​– LAZIO TO RANGERS

Chelsea had reportedly wanted Gascoigne to join Gullit in west London, but it was Scottish champions Rangers who prised the England international from Lazio, a massive coup for the Ibrox club.

'Gazza' was adored on the blue side of Glasgow and scored a raft of dazzling goals as Rangers won their eighth and ninth successive league titles.

Forgiveness even came quickly after his stunning strike past club-mate Andy Goram for England against Scotland at Euro 96.

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