The huge swap deal involving Paulo Dybala and Romelu Lukaku is seemingly getting closer.

In what shapes as being one of the biggest moves of the close season, Dybala could be heading to Manchester United and Lukaku to Juventus.

And unlike Inter's move for the striker, Juventus appear to be making progress with the Premier League giants.

 

TOP STORY – MAN UNITED, JUVENTUS AGREE DYBALA-LUKAKU SWAP DEAL

Manchester United and Juventus have agreed a swap deal involving Dybala and Lukaku in principle, according to Sky Italia.

All that is left is for the Premier League club to agree terms with the Argentina international and the blockbuster move would be complete.

Lukaku has been heavily linked with a switch to Inter, while Dybala's Juve future has been uncertain after four seasons in Turin.

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- Amid uncertainty at Valencia, former Real Madrid and Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho is being lined up as a potential replacement for coach Marcelino, according to Libertad.

- Neymar's potential return to Barcelona appears no closer to a resolution. Marca report Paris Saint-Germain have little desire to negotiate with the LaLiga champions, unwilling to even listen to offers from Barca. The saga rolls on.

- Nicolas Pepe is set to become an Arsenal player. The Mirror and The Sun report the striker's move from Lille for £72million (€78.5m) is done amid apparently leaked photos of the Ivory Coast international modelling the Premier League club's kit.

- With their move for Lukaku seemingly off, Inter are again turning to Roma striker Edin Dzeko. According to Gianluca Di Marzio, there was fresh contact between the Serie A clubs for a deal that would send Dzeko to Inter and Mauro Icardi, unwanted in Milan, to Roma. Meanwhile, he also reports Inter are continuing talks over Eintracht Frankfurt and Croatia attacker Ante Rebic.

- Moise Kean's surprise move from Juventus to Everton is almost done. According to CalcioMercato, the Premier League club have reached an agreement with Juve for a £27.5m (€30m) deal plus bonuses, which could take it to £37.5m (€40.9m), with the striker set to complete a medical on Wednesday.

- Are Manchester United looking elsewhere as they struggle to land Leicester City star Harry Maguire? Le10Sport say United are willing to make a £45.9m (€50m) offer for Barcelona defender Samuel Umtiti as they look to strengthen their defence after Eric Bailly's serious knee injury.

Manchester United may have identified a potential replacement for Romelu Lukaku.

Lukaku has been heavily linked with a switch to Inter, although progress on the striker's potential move from Old Trafford has been slow.

However, United are preparing if the Belgium international does depart, with Moussa Dembele reportedly on their shortlist.

 

TOP STORY – MAN UNITED EYE DEMBELE AS LUKAKU REPLACEMENT

Lyon striker Dembele will be on Manchester United's shortlist if they sell Lukaku to Inter, according to Sky Sports News.

The former Fulham and Celtic striker enjoyed a fine first season with the Ligue 1 giants, scoring 20 goals in all competitions.

United have also been linked to Lille's Nicolas Pepe, but the report says they see Dembele as a better replacement for Lukaku.

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- Mauro Icardi is almost certain to leave Inter and the forward was contacted by Boca Juniors, according to Fox Sports Argentina. However, they say Icardi will not make the move to his homeland.

- Another forward set for a possible move is Radamel Falcao. According to Soccer Link, Valencia have expressed an interest in the Monaco star.

- Barcelona have continually been linked with a move for Real Betis left-back Junior Firpo and, according to Sport, the defender is their priority. The Spain Under-21 international is seen as a possible future replacement for Jordi Alba, but Barca reportedly do not want to pay more than €20million, even though Junior's release clause is said to be closer to €50m.

- Wilfried Zaha is a reported target for Arsenal, but it seems Everton could be ready to pounce to sign the Crystal Palace star. The Daily Mail says Everton are prepared to make an opening offer of £55m.

- Rafinha has options should he want to move from Barcelona. According to Sport, the midfielder has offers from Valencia and Serie A clubs Atalanta and Fiorentina.

- Borussia Dortmund want to land Barcelona attacker Malcom. According to Goal, Dortmund could pay €42m for Malcom, just a year after the 22-year-old made the move from Bordeaux for the same fee.

Carlo Ancelotti has confirmed Napoli are in negotiations to sign Lille forward Nicolas Pepe.

The Ivory Coast international hit 22 Ligue 1 goals last term to announce himself among Europe's most in-demand talents.

Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain have been linked with Pepe, as well as Champions League winners Liverpool.

And Napoli are also in the race after Pepe's representative arrived in Italy to begin talks over the 24-year-old's future.

"If his agents are here it is obvious we're interested," Ancelotti told reporters on Thursday. "Negotiations are ongoing, anything can happen."

A deal for James Rodriguez appears no closer to completion but Ancelotti seems confident of Napoli signing a player he previously coached at Real Madrid and Bayern Munich.

"I am neither optimistic nor pessimistic, he is among the players who we are interested in," the Italian added.

"Let's see what happens. There is the will of Real to sell and of Napoli to take him."

Napoli have also been linked with a move for Mauro Icardi, who has been told he is not part of Inter's project.

Icardi is reportedly keen on joining Serie A champions Juventus instead, but Ancelotti indicated it would not mean Arkadiusz Milik leaves Napoli if the Argentina attacker signs for the Partenopei.

"None of our players are currently on the market," Ancelotti added. "All the players are here because we intend to keep them. Of course, if someone wants to try a new experience, we're here to listen."

Carlo Ancelotti said he has always had great strikers as Napoli continue to be linked with Inter outcast Mauro Icardi.

Icardi – absent from Inter's pre-season tour – is not wanted by new head coach Antonio Conte as the Serie A club try to sell their former captain.

Napoli and Italian champions Juventus are reportedly vying for Icardi's signature ahead of the 2019-20 season.

Asked about Icardi as Napoli also try to negotiate a deal with Real Madrid for James Rodriguez, Ancelotti told TV Luna following Wednesday's 3-3 draw against Cremonese: "A player in the James role can certainly help us in our finishing or in through balls for the strikers.

"I always had great centre-forwards in my career, from Pippo Inzaghi to Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Icardi is a great centre-forward, as is Arkadiusz Milik.

"The Pole is perhaps a more complete player, even if the Argentine is a stronger finisher in the box.

"Talking about Icardi now would be undermining Milik's qualities, but I am sure we'll all be happy with the squad at our disposal come August 31."

It has been a busy off-season for Napoli, who finished second behind Juve in the race for the Scudetto last term.

Napoli have signed star defender Kostas Manolas from Roma and Fenerbahce's Eljif Elmas, while Amadou Diawara, Marko Rog and Raul Albiol have departed.

Arsenal's quiet transfer window seems to be about to spark into life.

Widespread reports on Monday claimed Dani Ceballos is on the verge of joining the Gunners on loan from Real Madrid.

William Saliba could follow him to Emirates Stadium by the end of the week, too.

 

TOP STORY - CEBALLOS BOUND FOR ARSENAL

Arsenal are close to completing the loan signing of Dani Ceballos from Real Madrid.

AS report the midfielder could head to London on Tuesday for a medical, with Marca saying the 21-year-old is excited about the prospect of spending a season under Unai Emery.

Various UK media outlets have also stated Ceballos is not far from finalising a deal, while the BBC's David Ornstein says Saint-Etienne defender William Saliba could follow him to north London before the week is out.

 

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- Barcelona are to open talks with Lionel Messi to try to extend his contract beyond 2021, according to ESPN.

Jiangsu Suning have joined Chinese rivals Beijing Guoan in the race for Real Madrid outcast Gareth Bale but must offer wages of £1million per week, reports the Telegraph.

- Fotosport in Turkey say Galatasaray have made an approach to sign Fred on loan from Manchester United.

- Inter are still eager to sign Romelu Lukaku and have offered Manchester United a choice of €78m or €55m plus winger Ivan Perisic, FCInternews.it suggests.

Ademola Lookman is expected to arrive in Germany in the next 36 hours to finalise a transfer from Everton to RB Leipzig, say Sky Sports.

- Marca claim Atletico Madrid would prefer to sign Real Madrid's James Rodriguez than Tottenham midfielder Christian Eriksen.

- Atletico Madrid are likely to earn a total of €57m when Angel Correa finalises his move to AC Milan, Sky Sport Italia say.

- Corriere dello Sport claim Napoli are pushing to sign Mauro Icardi from Inter, with James Rodriguez poised for Atletico Madrid.

Juventus head coach Maurizio Sarri is pushing the Serie A champions to sign Tottenham full-back Danny Rose, according to the Daily Mail.

Gareth Bale's long goodbye to Real Madrid is edging closer after head coach Zinedine Zidane confirmed the club is actively working to sell the Wales international.

A move to either Paris Saint-Germain or the Chinese Super League looks most likely for a player who cut a frustrated figure for the majority of the 2018-19 season.

Bale is poised to be forced out at the behest of Zidane and there are a host of significant players across Europe who have yet to negotiate an exit despite expressing a desire to move on.

Here, we look at the players who are stuck in limbo with the start of the 2019-20 season just weeks away.

 

Neymar

Neymar has not publicly stated he wants to leave the Ligue 1 champions but the club's sporting director, Leonardo, has said he can move on if the price is right.

The Brazilian superstar has yet to feature for PSG so far during pre-season and was again absent as Thomas Tuchel's side laboured to a 1-1 draw with Nurnberg on Saturday.

A possible swap deal involving Bale could be a possibility, although a move back to his former club Barcelona looks more likely. Will the Catalan giants stump up the money, though, and end the impasse?

Romelu Lukaku

Lukaku joined United from Everton in a £75million deal in 2017, scoring 28 goals in 66 Premier League games since then, but his performances have been much maligned.

He fell out of favour towards the end of last season and has been heavily linked with a switch to Inter as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer shakes up his United squad ahead of the new campaign.

The two clubs appear to be some way apart in their valuation of the Belgium international – who has yet to feature in pre-season – and, for now, he remains a United player.

Philippe Coutinho

Things have not gone according to plan at Barcelona for Coutinho following his January 2018 move from Liverpool, with the Brazilian admitting last month he does not know what his future holds.

Coutinho only managed five LaLiga goals in 34 appearances as Barca retained their crown in 2018-19, with 12 of his league outings coming from the bench.

With Antoine Griezmann now on board at Camp Nou, Coutinho's playing time is likely to be reduced even further and a move might suit both parties.

Paul Pogba

The French World Cup winner hinted at being unsettled at Manchester United last month, telling reporters he was interested in a new challenge three years after returning to Old Trafford from Juventus.

His agent, Mino Raiola, doubled down on that recently, telling The Times: "Everyone within the club, from the manager to the owner, knows Paul's wishes."

A move back to Juve has been mooted for the 26-year-old, while Real Madrid and Barcelona are also rumoured to be interested in the playmaker. United are standing firm, though, and it is looking increasingly likely that he will spend at least another season in the Premier League.

Mauro Icardi

Icardi endured a controversial 2018-19 campaign with Inter, the Argentina international stripped of the captaincy amid conflicting views of an apparent knee injury and internal disagreements with the club's hierarchy.

The club's chief executive, Giuseppe Marotta, recently told the striker he was no longer wanted and both parties mutually agreed he would withdraw from their pre-season tour of Asia.

That has not hastened his departure from the club, though, with potential suitors perhaps wary of signing a player who will bring plenty of baggage.

Christian Eriksen 

The Denmark international stunned Tottenham supporters last month when he declared he wanted to "try something new".

Eriksen arrived from Eredivisie giants Ajax in 2013 and the 27-year-old has established himself as one of the Premier League and Europe's best midfielders.

Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid have been linked with the playmaker but no firm offers appear to have been tabled yet.

Antonio Conte feels Romelu Lukaku would be an important signing for Inter as the striker continues to be linked with a move away from Manchester United.

Lukaku is yet to feature for United in pre-season, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer citing fitness issues for his continued absence from the team.

The Belgium international will not play when United take on Inter in the International Champions Cup on Saturday.

With Inter set to sell former captain Mauro Icardi, a new striker is needed at San Siro ahead of the new season.

Conte denied being frustrated at Inter's inability to land Lukaku but accepted the Nerazzurri need attacking reinforcements.

"Lukaku is a player of Manchester United," Inter boss Conte told reporters. "I know him very well from the days when I was coach of Chelsea, but today he is a player of Manchester, this is the truth.

"I like him as a player and I consider him an important element for us to have a good improvement but at the same there is a transfer market.

"We know very well our situation at the moment and we will see what happens but for now Lukaku is a United player.

"For sure it's not easy to play without a striker at the beginning of the season like this. The market is still open."

Inter have confirmed Icardi and Radja Nainggolan will be allowed to leave the club, with Conte backing the club's decision.

"The situation is very clear [with Icardi]," Conte added.."The club was very clear to tell that he is out of Inter’s project and this is the reality in this moment.

"I will play against Manchester United without any strikers. [Nainggolan] is out of the project."

Stefan de Vrij insisted Inter are not thinking about ongoing speculation over Mauro Icardi's future with the Serie A club.

Icardi is set to leave after being told he can depart Inter, with the former captain not wanted by new head coach Antonio Conte.

The 26-year-old star endured a turbulent 2018-19 campaign after he was stripped of the captaincy amid conflicting views of an apparent knee injury and internal disagreements with the club's hierarchy.

Icardi continues to dominate headlines, with the Argentina international reportedly prepared to see out the final two years of his contract but Inter defender De Vrij told Sportitalia: "The Icardi issue doesn't concern us. We're only thinking about what we have to do."

De Vrij was speaking after Inter opened the Conte era with a 2-1 win over Lugano in their first pre-season fixture on Sunday.

Stefano Sensi and Marcelo Brozovic scored for the Nerazzurri, who took to the field for the first time since Conte replaced Luciano Spalletti.

"It was a good start," said De Vrij. "It's always great to be back out on the pitch. We've worked incredibly hard this week but it was necessary to start getting minutes in the legs.

"These matches are needed to help us understand what the coach wants, and how we want to play. It went well, it was important to get off to a start like this."

On Conte, De Vrij added: "I like his approach, he’s always positive and he explains well what he wants."

Sensi – who swapped Sassuolo for Inter on an initial loan deal with the option to buy – opened the scoring in the 25th minute before Brozovic doubled the lead on the stroke of half-time.

Speaking after his first outing, Sensi told Inter TV: "We're especially pleased because we tried to demonstrate the coach's methods out on the pitch.

"My goal? I'm happy with it, it's always important to start on the right foot and I believe that I've done so."

The future of James Rodriguez has dominated headlines this off-season.

Napoli have been tipped to sign James after Bayern Munich opted not to take up their permanent option to sign the Real Madrid midfielder.

However, James could be set to remain in the Spanish capital.

 

TOP STORY – ATLETICO SET FOR SHOCK SWOOP

Atletico Madrid are close to completing the signing of James Rodriguez from LaLiga rivals Real Madrid, according to Marca.

Napoli have been favourites to lure James to Italy, with the Serie A side keen to reunite the Colombia star and head coach Carlo Ancelotti.

However, negotiations have dragged on and James – who spent the past two seasons on loan at Bayern Munich – is reportedly keen to make the switch across town.

 

ROUND-UP

- According to le10sport, Barcelona have offered Philippe Coutinho in a straight swap for Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar. LaLiga champions Barca reportedly do not have money to spend after paying Antoine Griezmann's release clause.

- Sky Sports reports Arsenal have made an improved £25million offer for Celtic left-back Kieran Tierney. Meanwhile, BBC Sport claims the Gunners have not submitted a bid for Lille forward Nicolas Pepe as they cannot afford the €80m-rated star.

- Harry Maguire has told Leicester City he wants to leave amid growing speculation he will join Manchester United, says the Daily Mail.

- According to the Daily Mail, Bayern Munich have not given up on signing Chelsea youngster Callum Hudson-Odoi. The Bundesliga champions are reportedly set to make a £45million offer. Bayern are also interested in Tottenham right-back Kieran Trippier, Sky Sports understands.

Juventus goalkeeper Mattia Perin is close to moving to Portuguese champions Benfica, according to Gianluca Di Marzio. Perin is looking for regular football following Gianluigi Buffon's return to Turin, where Wojciech Szczesny is the number one.

- The Mirror says Liverpool have joined Arsenal, Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund in the race to sign CSKA Moscow striker Fedor Chalov.

Juventus could use Moise Kean in a deal to sign Inter outcast Mauro Icardi, according to FCInterNews.it. Rai Sport has also claimed Juve could take Icardi on loan with an option to buy for €40million.

Mauro Icardi has moved closer to a San Siro exit after mutually agreeing with Inter to withdraw from the club's pre-season tour of Asia.

Giuseppe Marotta, Inter's chief executive, recently told the striker he was no longer wanted and a divorce appears to be nearing fruition.

Icardi left the Nerazzurri's training camp in Switzerland on Saturday and will be excluded from upcoming friendlies against Manchester United, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain.

Inter confirmed the development in a statement published to social media.

It read: "Mauro Icardi will today return to Milan from our training camp in Lugano.

"The club and the striker have come to this decision by mutual agreement.

"Icardi will continue his pre-season training over the next few days and will take no part in our summer tour in Asia."

Whether Inter can find an appropriate suitor for their controversial former captain remains unclear.

Juventus have been linked and Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis, who admitted to being interested, has claimed Icardi is set on a switch to the Serie A champions.

The 26-year-old has spent six seasons at Inter.

Antonio Conte's men meet local Swiss side Lugano on Sunday before jetting off to face Premier League outfit United in Singapore.

Inter captain Samir Handanovic fired a broadside that seemed to be aimed at unwanted stars Mauro Icardi and Radja Nainggolan when he called for players to respect their "duties towards the club".

Icardi was stripped of the Inter captaincy last season amid conflicting views of an apparent knee injury and internal disagreements with the club's hierarchy, while Nainggolan was suspended by the Nerrazurri midway through a turbulent first term at San Siro.

Chief executive Giuseppe Marotta confirmed both players have been told they can leave the club, and Handanovic indicated they would not be missed by a squad beginning to thrive under the rules being laid down by new coach Antonio Conte and team manager Gabriele Oriali.

"We are happy that Lele Oriali has returned as team manager, because he is the link between the club and squad, he sees everything," Handanovic told a news conference.

"He is here because we want to get back to having the values that were lost over the years. Players have duties towards the club too, they can't just think they are allowed to do anything because they are talented.

"With Oriali's return and Conte in charge, we can improve a great deal."

The future remains unclear for Icardi and Nainggolan, but Handanovic indicated his support for the club's decision to let both players leave, saying: "The club has been clear in its position. I do not need to add anything more."

He went on to speak about his approach to captaining the team, doubling down on the insinuation that Icardi failed to commit to the responsibility.

"I feel great pride in wearing the captain's armband," said Handanovic.

"My attitude has not changed, though. A captain is someone who takes responsibility and speaks when he has to, trying always to be fair.

"It takes many captains in a team, as one is not enough."

James Rodriguez's potential move to Napoli is being held up by Real Madrid's unreasonable asking price, according to Partenopei president Aurelio De Laurentiis.

LaLiga giants Madrid reportedly want more than €40million for playmaker James, who has spent the past two seasons on loan at Bayern Munich.

Coach Carlo Ancelotti is eager to be reunited with the player he coached in Spain and Germany, but a stalemate in negotiations is said to have alerted Atletico Madrid.

Napoli are remaining calm, with De Laurentiis confident the Colombia international favours a switch to Stadio San Paolo.

"Carlo likes him very much and we're waiting for a more reasonable demand," De Laurentiis told Corriere dello Sport.

"The obstacle is Real Madrid, who are asking for too much in our opinion.

"But James wants to come to Napoli."

Mauro Icardi is one player who will not be joining Ancelotti's side, despite the striker being told he can leave Inter.

De Laurentiis acknowledged he enquired about the Argentina international, but found him to be set on joining Serie A champions Juventus, and the Napoli chief will not entertain a swap deal involving Lorenzo Insigne.

"[Icardi] will always want to go to Juventus," he said.

"Anyway, I prefer Insigne, because we need him, and then we have [Arkadiusz] Milik and [Dries] Mertens.

"We can't ignore Icardi's talent, he's a very strong player, but we've talked about him so much now that he looks older than 26."

Romelu Lukaku is on the other side of the globe and his future is still up in the air.

In Australia for Manchester United's pre-season tour, Lukaku remains a Red Devils player but he is reportedly keen to leave Old Trafford.

Linked to Inter, this could drag on for a while…

 

TOP STORY – INTER STEP UP LUKAKU CHASE

Inter will travel to England to try to complete a transfer for Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku, Sky Sports reports.

With Ole Gunnar Solskjaer preferring Marcus Rashford up front, €80million-rated Lukaku wants to leave and Inter have emerged as frontrunners to sign the 26-year-old.

Serie A champions Juventus are also reportedly interested but Inter head coach Antonio Conte, who missed out on signing Lukaku during his time as Chelsea boss in 2017, is desperate to bring him to Milan.

 

ROUND-UP

Paris Saint-Germain are willing to part with Neymar for €150m, according to El Pais. Neymar – linked with a return to Camp Nou and Real Madrid – arrived from Barcelona in a world-record €222m transfer in 2017.

Paul Pogba wants to leave Manchester United amid doubts over Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's ability to deliver silverware at Old Trafford, according to The Sun. Pogba has been linked to Real Madrid and Juventus.

- According to the front page of Corriere dello Sport, Napoli are stepping up their pursuit of Valencia forward Rodrigo. The 28-year-old is valued at €70m by the LaLiga club. Meanwhile, Sport Mediaset reports Napoli are poised to sign Eljif Elmas with the Fenerbahce midfielder set to undergo a medical.

- The Suns says Arsenal are planning to hijack Premier League rivals Everton's move for Barcelona winger Malcom. The Brazilian, who struggled to establish himself at Camp Nou last season, has emerged as a target for the Gunners – who look to have moved on from pursuing Crystal Palace star Wilfried Zaha.

Roma have met with the agent of Real Madrid forward Mariano Diaz, according to Gianluca Di Marzio. Mariano only returned to the Santiago Bernabeu last season, having left for Lyon in 2017.

- According to Gianluca Di Marzio, Leicester City have entered the race to sign Arsenal and Valencia target Dennis Praet from Sampdoria.

Atletico Madrid striker and former Chelsea star Diego Costa has an agreement with Wolves, reports Globo Esporte.

Real Madrid want Paul Pogba and the LaLiga giants are confident the Manchester United midfielder would reject a possible return to Juventus.

Pogba, 26, is set to leave Old Trafford this close season, just three years after returning to the Premier League club from Juve.

The France international is heavily linked with a move to Madrid, but the Serie A champions are also reportedly interested.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID BELIEVE POGBA WILL REJECT JUVE RETURN

Real Madrid feel Pogba will opt against a return to Juventus even if the chance presented itself, according to the Daily Mail.

The report says Pogba wants to play for compatriot and Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane and experience a new league.

Pogba has travelled with United for their pre-season tour, but his agent recently said the midfielder wants an exit.

ROUND-UP

- Madrid are set to raise some funds by selling James Rodriguez to Napoli. Marca report Napoli sporting director Cristiano Giuntoli is in Madrid with James' agent, with the LaLiga side wanting €42million for the playmaker. Napoli, meanwhile, want an option to buy later.

- Mauro Icardi is unwanted at Inter, with Napoli and Juventus linked with the forward. Corriere dello Sport report Juve president Andrea Agnelli was meeting with agent Gabriele Giuffrida, who could be the intermediary for negotiations between the Serie A champions and Inter.

- Manchester United appear to be searching for a midfielder this close season and they are linked with a surprise move for Tiemoue Bakayoko. RMC Sport say United have made contact with Chelsea about Bakayoko, back at Stamford Bridge after a loan spell at AC Milan, while Paris Saint-Germain are also chasing the French midfielder.

- Juventus are willing to sell Joao Cancelo. According to Corriere Torino, Maurizio Sarri has approved the sale of the full-back, who has been linked to Manchester City and Bayern Munich.

- Everton are looking to strengthen with the addition of a forward. Sport report the Premier League club are willing to offer £31.4m (€35m) for Barcelona forward Malcom, who has also attracted interest from Arsenal. Meanwhile, La Gazzetta dello Sport say Everton had a £26.9m (€30m) offer for teenage Juventus forward Moise Kean turned down.

- Like Icardi unwanted at Inter, Radja Nainggolan has offers from China. Gianluca Di Marzio reports the Belgian midfielder is evaluating offers from Chinese Super League (CSL) clubs Dalian Yifang and Shanghai Shenhua.

Napoli boss Carlo Ancelotti has spoken in glowing terms of the "true quality" of reported transfer targets James Rodriguez and Mauro Icardi.

Club president Aurelio De Laurentiis has confirmed Ancelotti would be keen to reunite with James, with whom he worked at Real Madrid and Bayern Munich.

The Colombia star's future is uncertain after his loan deal with Bayern ended and the option to make that move permanent was not taken up.

Speaking to reporters on Monday, Ancelotti said of James: "He is a player I know well and he is true quality.

"Unfortunately, he is not a Napoli player yet...maybe he never will be, or maybe he will!

"Let's talk about James once he becomes a Napoli player, as we do with other players. If today a manager from another club spoke about a Napoli player, I wouldn't be happy."

Napoli have also been linked with a move for Icardi, who has been told by Inter bosses he is not in their plans for the first season under new coach Antonio Conte.

They are reported to have offered the Argentina striker, who is also being linked with Juventus, a contract worth in the region of €7.5million per season.

"Icardi is a great player, held in high esteem by all of us, by me as well," said Ancelotti.

"All these names of such important players...it is positive they are mentioned next to us."

Ancelotti also spoke positively about his hopes for a new defensive partnership between Kalidou Koulibaly and new signing Kostas Manolas, with Raul Albiol having ended his six-year stay at the San Paolo by returning to Spain with Villarreal.

"From me and the entire Napoli community goes a big thanks to Albiol, who lived an important spell here at Napoli," he said. "He was very useful, a true professional and we will miss something there. But one of the best defenders on the market has arrived.

"Manolas is a formidable central defender and he will make a fantastic pair with Koulibaly. They will enable us to play a more aggressive football since we will be able to have a less deep defensive line."

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