Gareth Bale is "very unlikely" to join Manchester United and will not leave Real Madrid in a loan deal, according to his agent.

Bale joined Madrid in 2013 after emerging as one of the Premier League's best players at Tottenham, commanding what was then a world-record transfer fee of €100million.

His first three seasons were a success, as he scored 47 LaLiga goals in 81 appearances and helped Madrid to two Champions League titles.

However, from an individual perspective, the following three campaigns have been rather more difficult, as Bale has been troubled by fitness problems and struggled to hold down a place in the starting XI.

Madrid are reportedly willing to let him leave and United – who are said to have wanted him when he was at Southampton and Spurs – have been tentatively linked, but a move seems improbable.

"He could fit in there," Bale's agent Jonathan Barnett told Sky Sports News when asked about a potential move to Old Trafford.

"I think he could do very well - he is still one of the best players in the world, but it is very unlikely."

Given Madrid's valuation of Bale and his huge wages, media reports had suggested a loan move away from the Santiago Bernabeu might be more realistic than an outright sale, with Bayern Munich said to be interested.

But Barnett dismissed such a scenario out of hand, adamant only a remarkable offer – and not a loan – would persuade Bale to leave Spain.

"A loan move is not going to happen, there's more chance of me winning Ascot," Barnett added. "I don't think he wants to go out on loan.

"He's got a lovely life and home in Spain. I think it would take something exceptional for him to leave and loans are not on the menu. Obviously, Gareth's situation at Real hasn't improved."

Pep Guardiola's style of play will suit Rodri if he completes a transfer from Atletico Madrid to Manchester City, according to former Real Madrid and Barcelona midfielder Luis Milla.

Spain international Rodri is expected to complete a £62.5million transfer to the Etihad Stadium, bringing the former Villarreal midfielder's time at Atletico to an end after just one season.

Milla, who won La Liga twice with Madrid and once with Barcelona during an illustrious playing career, said the 22-year-old would be a natural fit at City should the club opt to make him their record signing.

"Rodri could fit perfectly at Manchester City, because his coach has an Ajax and Barcelona style and looks for the same idea of play," Milla told Omnisport.

"City has a coach that was influenced at Barcelona. Rodri has the ability and virtues to play that way."

Guardiola is thought to see Rodri as a potential successor to 34-year-old midfielder Fernandinho in the City engine room, offering a similarly disciplined approach to the game.

West Ham's Declan Rice and Lyon's Tanguy Ndombele have also been linked with City, but Milla sees Rodri as an ideal signing for the Premier League champions.

"We are talking about a player with the ability to read football quickly," said Milla.

"He also understands what he has to do in each moment, he is intelligent, tactically he never loses his position, and he knows how to play a positional game."

Leon Goretzka and his Bayern Munich team-mates would be "ecstatic" if Leroy Sane joined from Manchester City.

Sane has been touted as a top target for the Bundesliga champions with experienced wingers Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery leaving the club at the end of the season.

Bayern president Uli Hoeness confirmed their interest but acknowledged it would take an "insane" fee to prise the Germany international away from City, where it is hoped he will sign a contract extension despite seeing a decrease in his starts under Pep Guardiola in 2018-19.

Goretzka would be delighted to reunited with his former Schalke colleague, who joined City in 2016 for a reported £37million.

Asked for his thoughts on Bayern plucking away Sane, one of the Premier League's leading stars, he told Bild: "I think that Bayern can definitely keep up in that regard.

"It's still one of the best and biggest clubs in the world. Leroy knows that. He's felt really good in England in the past few years. Now he has to decide for himself what the right move is.

"Leroy knows that Munich is a very beautiful city, so I don't have to tempt him. He knows he can always contact me if he needs advice or wants to hear my opinion.

"We would all be ecstatic if he comes. But I'll be damned if I put him under pressure or influence his opinion. I was in a similar situation last year. I had to make a decision for myself and felt it was best to do it alone."

Barcelona midfielder Arturo Vidal added weight to the growing reports linking Neymar with a move back to Camp Nou, saying it would be "very nice" to have the Brazil forward back at the club.

Vidal arrived at Barcelona in August 2018, a year after Neymar's €222m transfer to Paris Saint-Germain brought his four-year spell with the Blaugrana to an end.

Despite not having played alongside Neymar, Vidal is aware of the high regard in which the 27-year-old is held at the club.

Asked about the possibility of Neymar arriving in Barcelona ahead of the 2019-20 season, Vidal told reporters: "It would be very nice. He is dearly liked there."

Vidal is hoping to help Chile to a successful defence of the Copa America before turning his attention back to club football, and he helped his country to a 4-0 win over Japan on Tuesday.

The 32-year-old is one of Chile coach Reinaldo Rueda's most important players, and Vidal was delighted by Chile's performance against Japan.

"We had many days of preparation, to play matches and to mature everything we have done this year and a half [since Rueda took charge]," Vidal told Marca.

"The friendlies were not good but the important thing is that the real Chile appeared [against Japan].

"We are the champions and we have to defend the cup."

Luis Suarez added to the growing doubts over Antoine Griezmann's prospective move to Barcelona by declining to comment on the transfer reports, despite indicating he would back a swoop for Neymar.

Griezmann was thought to be bound for Camp Nou after announcing his decision to leave Atletico Madrid, but Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu claimed the Blaugrana have not spoken to the 28-year-old.

When asked about the prospect of lining up alongside Griezmann in 2019-20, Suarez referred back to comments he made in December 2017 when he described the World Cup-winning forward as "an elite player", but stopped short of reiterating his support for a move.

Suarez told RAC1: "What I have to say, as I said last year, is that he is a quality player.

"But he is an Atletico player and I prefer not to comment on it."

With reports linking Brazil talisman Neymar with a move back to Barcelona following a tumultuous second season at Paris Saint-Germain, Suarez indicated he would welcome him back with open arms, saying: "Who would not want to enjoy players like Ney?"

Suarez will turn 33 in January and he said he accepts the club will be looking for goal-scorers who can pick up the mantle as his career enters its twilight years.

"A Barca player has to be prepared for competition and the club bringing in a partner who can impersonate you in some moments. We all want to help the club," he added.

"I do not say who to bring in or who not to bring in.

"I took over last season and I assume that over the next few years the club has to bring a young player, a number nine, not only to compete with me but for the future of the club, because I also want what's good for the future of the club.

"I assume my responsibility because I am 32 years old and I am going to be 33."

The race for Paul Pogba appears well and truly on, but Manchester United will not let the midfielder go easily.

The France international said on Sunday he would be interested in a "new challenge", casting fresh doubt over his future at Old Trafford.

Real Madrid have continually been linked with Pogba, but it seems Paris Saint-Germain, and perhaps former club Juventus, could also be interested.

 

TOP STORY – POGBA INTEREST INTENSIFIES

Real Madrid indicated they are willing to pay £90million for Pogba despite United valuing the midfielder at £150m, according to The Sun.

United are ready to do their all to keep Pogba, with the Daily Mail reporting they are set to offer him a bumper new contract worth close to £500,000 per week.

This saga appears likely to take time to play out with Ligue 1 champions PSG also expressing an interest in Pogba, according to The Independent.

ROUND-UP

- Neymar appears more and more likely to leave PSG in the close season. Globo Esporte says talks are already underway for the Brazil international to return to Barcelona, who may pay €100m and send players, with Ivan Rakitic, Ousmane Dembele and Samuel Umtiti mentioned.

- It seems Benfica sensation Joao Felix has decided where he will be next season. According to Record, the 19-year-old Portugal international was in Spain to sign with Atletico Madrid in a €120m move, a report Benfica denied. El Chiringuito later claimed to have spotted the attacker and agent Jorge Mendes leaving a Madrid restaurant.

- Real Madrid look like they want to see Gareth Bale make an exit before next season. ABC says the LaLiga giants have lowered their asking price for the Wales international from €100m to €85m.

- With Neymar and Antoine Griezmann potentially arriving, Philippe Coutinho's Barcelona future seems clouded. AS reports PSG have made contact with the player's camp, while he may return to the Premier League. However, Sky Sports News reports Coutinho is unwilling to join Manchester United out of respect to former club Liverpool, but The Sun says he would head to Chelsea, although the club's transfer ban is standing in the way of that move.

- Now that Juventus have appointed Maurizio Sarri, the Serie A champions could make numerous additions. Tuttosport reported Juve vice-president Pavel Nedved met with agent Mino Raiola regarding Ajax captain Matthijs de Ligt – who is expected to join PSG – and Pogba.

- A dream Chelsea return for Frank Lampard could be on the cards. The Sun reports the club great and Derby County manager is set for talks with owner Roman Abramovich over the position left vacant at Stamford Bridge by Sarri's departure. The same paper also reports Chelsea have rejected £35m bids from Barcelona and Atletico Madrid for Willian, with the Mirror saying Lampard wants the Brazil international to stay.

Brazil coach Tite told Neymar to move to where he will be happy as the Paris Saint-Germain star is linked with a return to Barcelona.

Neymar, 27, could reportedly head back to Camp Nou just two years after leaving the LaLiga giants for PSG.

According to Globo Esporte, Barca may pay €100million and give PSG players to bring Neymar back to the club he spent four seasons at.

Tite, who is without the forward at the Copa America due to an ankle injury, urged Neymar to go where he felt happiest.

"I would go to a team where I always felt happy – as a person, as a human being and as a family, because there I will be professionally better," he told a news conference.

"They are very particular situations. It is a professional issue. It has to do with where you feel good, where you feel happy."

Without Neymar, Brazil opened their Copa America campaign by beating Bolivia 3-0 in Group A.

Ahead of facing Venezuela in Salvador on Tuesday, Tite was giving nothing away about his team's approach.

"The biggest meaning and the most important thing is not to give opportunities to give the opponent an idea about how we are going to play," he said.

"We don't want to make it easier for the opponent, since the players know who will play."

Luis Suarez would seemingly welcome Neymar back to Barcelona, recalling one of the best years of his career alongside the Brazilian and Lionel Messi.

Neymar, 27, is linked with a return to the LaLiga champions, two years after making a €222million switch to Paris Saint-Germain.

The Brazil international spent four seasons at Barca before his move, including winning a treble in 2014-15.

Suarez said he would be happy to see Neymar, who is sidelined with an ankle injury, back at Camp Nou.

"I was privileged to fulfil one of the best years of my life as a football player at Barcelona next to the best in the world, Messi, and the second best in the world, Neymar," the Uruguay international told RAC1 on Monday.

"For me, it was one of the best moments I've ever lived, won the treble."

Suarez added: "Who would not want to enjoy players like Ney?

"But he belongs to PSG and these are things that are always talked about during the market."

Barcelona spokesman Josep Vives wanted to avoid falling into a "trap" by discussing a possible return to the club for Neymar.

Neymar, 27, has been linked with a return to Camp Nou, two years after making a world-record €222million switch to Paris Saint-Germain.

But Vives, spokesman for the board of directors, tried to bat away questions about the superstar on Monday.

"It's something we're not going to get into. Now, he is a PSG player and we do not have to talk," he said, via Marca.

"We will not say anything because we will fall into a trap."

Neymar's two seasons at PSG have been hampered by injuries, although he has won two Ligue 1 titles, a Coupe de France and a Coupe de la Ligue.

Vives refused to say whether the Brazil international, who spent four seasons at Barca, would be welcomed back.

"We don't leave the door open or closed," he said. "The facts are known. We explained them.

"He's a PSG player and from there we don't talk about Neymar or anyone. It's PSG. We will not do it here."

Belgium boss Roberto Martinez urged Romelu Lukaku to leave Manchester United ahead of the new Premier League season to get his career back on track.

Lukaku fell out of favour at Old Trafford under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in the second half of the 2018-19 campaign with Marcus Rashford being preferred.

Reported Inter target Lukaku has acknowledged he would be interested in a move to Italy and hinted last week he may be on his way out of Old Trafford.

The 26-year-old scored 15 goals in 45 appearances for United in all competitions last term and Martinez stressed the importance of Belgium's leading man finding a new club.

"It is clear that he has to leave Manchester United," Martinez told Belgian outlet Het Laatste Nieuws.

"It  would be a good thing for both parties. It is now important that Romelu finds the right club."

Belgium's record scorer Lukaku, reportedly valued at £80million by United, scored three goals for Martinez's men across two Euro 2020 qualifiers earlier this month.

Bayer Leverkusen have signed defender Daley Sinkgraven from Ajax.

The left-back has signed a contract until 2023 with the Bundesliga side, who have made him their third signing of the close-season ahead of a return to the Champions League in 2019-20.

Leverkusen brought in midfielder Kerem Demirbay from Hoffenheim and winger Moussa Diaby from Paris Saint-Germain, the latter filling the void left by Julian Brandt's move to Borussia Dortmund.

Sinkgraven was part of the Ajax side that won the Eredivisie and KNVB Beker double in 2018-19 while also reaching the semi-finals of the Champions League.

The 23-year-old made 11 appearances in all competitions last season, though he started just once.

He joins Frenkie de Jong in leaving Ajax, who are also expected to lose Matthijs de Ligt and Donny van de Beek from the side that stunned Real Madrid and Juventus en route to the last four.

Sinkgraven reunites with former Ajax coach Peter Bosz at the BayArena, with sporting managing director Rudi Voller confident his versatility will be a huge asset to Leverkusen.

"Daley was turned into a left-back in Amsterdam under Peter Bosz but he can also play in central midfield and wide on the flanks," Voller said.

"His versatility gives us further options. That is extremely important in terms of the opportunity to rotate with such a large number of games ahead of us."

Sinkgraven added: "Leverkusen have consistently been one of the best clubs in the Bundesliga for many years.

"I'm looking forward to playing in this league and, of course, to the challenges in the Champions League."

 

Benfica have vehemently denied teenage star Joao Felix is on the cusp of completing a €120million move to Atletico Madrid.

Reports in Spain on Monday indicated that Atleti had triggered Felix's release clause and were set to announce the signing.

The 19-year-old is believed to be wanted by Europe's top clubs after scoring 20 competitive goals during an exceptional debut season in Benfica's senior squad.

Benfica insist no agreement is in place with any club, describing the reports as "fake news" in a statement issued on their website.

The Primeira Liga outfit further refuted claims that agent Jorge Mendes, whose clients include Cristiano Ronaldo, stands to make a considerable sum for arranging Felix's purported switch to LaLiga.

"In view of the news published in these last hours, Benfica clarifies that it is false that any negotiation process is currently underway regarding a possible transfer of the player Joao Felix," the statement read.

"The conditions for his negotiation are public and known, taking into account the termination clause defined in the amount of €120million.

"More serious, and that which deserves our most vehement repudiation and denial, is the fake news that refers to negotiations that involve commissions of 30 per cent and which, unfortunately, was echoed in Portugal by the newspaper A Bola, with intentions and goals that we do not understand.

"We repeat: this information is totally false, absurd and has clear intentions for the reputation and dignity of Benfica."

Should Joao Felix eventually find his way to Atleti, it would likely be as Antoine Griezmann's replacement, the France forward having made clear his desire to leave the Wanda Metropolitano.

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu insists the LaLiga champions have not spoken to Antoine Griezmann about a move to Camp Nou.

France star Griezmann appeared destined to join Ernesto Valverde's side after announcing his intention to find a new club after five seasons at Atletico Madrid.

The links went cold amid reported interest from Paris Saint-Germain until Atletico CEO Miguel Angel Gil Marin reignited rumours of a done deal.

Gil Marin, in an interview with Movistar, claimed to have known about Griezmann's impending switch to Barca since March.

Bartomeu disputed that account, telling Spanish broadcast RAC1: "There's nothing to announce.

"We've always said the same. We haven't spoken to him. There's nothing to it.

"We'll see how the market changes in the next few days and weeks."

Barca have been quiet in the transfer market since the end of the season, while rivals Real Madrid have invested heavily in Zinedine Zidane's squad.

The Blaugrana cruised to the LaLiga title in 2018-19 but collapsed against Liverpool in the Champions League semi-finals, a defeat that led to speculation over head coach Valverde's future.

Paul Pogba's tempestuous second stint at Manchester United will end this close season if the France midfielder has his way.

Speaking over the weekend, Pogba stated it was time for a "new challenge", having been linked with a big-money move away from Old Trafford for several months.

The 26-year-old was the most expensive player in football history when he re-joined United from Juventus for £89.3million in 2016.

Despite scoring 31 goals in all competitions over the course of three seasons, Pogba's failure to consistently hit top form for a sustained period has invited regular criticism, while the collapse of his relationship with Jose Mourinho was an unseemly factor towards the end of the Portuguese's ill-fated reign as manager.

Nevertheless, United are reportedly in no hurry to sell and a £150m price tag means only a small selection of the game's elite can consider a move for Pogba. We look at where the 2018 World Cup winner might end up next.

Real Madrid

The Santiago Bernabeu has long been mooted as Pogba's next destination and the appeal of him linking up with France great and Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane is an obvious one. Following an underwhelming campaign, club president Florentino Perez has bankrolled a considerable overhaul for Zidane, with Eden Hazard, Luka Jovic, Ferland Mendy, Eder Militao and Rodrygo all arriving at considerable expense. The coffers are not bottomless and the question is whether Pogba, after his mixed recent seasons, remains the most appealing use of Madrid's remaining funds.

Paris Saint-Germain

Indeed, glances have probably been turned from the Spanish capital and towards the French one by Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi saying star forwards Neymar and Kylian Mbappe – along with the rest of the squad – must "work more", adding: "I no longer want to have superstar behaviour," in an interview with France Football. Pogba's detractors would argue such a policy change might rule him out, but PSG are light in central midfield and Al-Khelaifi will be aware of the commercial bounty to be made from bringing one of Les Bleus' 2018 heroes back to his home city. Links between PSG and Ajax defender Matthijs de Ligt also suggest the lines of communication between the club and Pogba's agent Mino Raiola are open.

Juventus

Pogba's standing in the eyes of the United faithful has dwindled over recent months and he must long for the esteem in which he was once held in Turin. Four Scudetti in as many seasons preceded his second act in Manchester, although those did come in a talent-stacked midfield alongside the likes of Arturo Vidal, Andrea Pirlo and Claudio Marchisio. Juve are approaching a new era under Maurizio Sarri and Pogba would be a statement signing to bolster their Champions League ambitions alongside the evergreen Cristiano Ronaldo.

Barcelona

Pogba was widely considered to be on Barcelona's radar in the aftermath of Russia 2018, however that ship appears to have sailed. Arthur adapted impressively to life in LaLiga last term and Frenkie de Jong will arrive on the crest of an Ajax wave. On the other hand, recent speculation linking United with an interest in Barca duo Ivan Rakitic and Philippe Coutinho means a lucrative game of musical chairs might not be out of the equation entirely.

Neymar was not forced to join Paris Saint-Germain and he understood what he was signing up to, club president Nasser Al-Khelaifi said amid increased speculation over the Brazil star's future.

A report in L'Equipe claimed PSG are willing to sell Neymar, though they would not accept less than the world-record €222million fee they paid to sign him from Barcelona in August 2017.

Neymar's time at PSG has been largely defined by injuries and talk of dressing room discord. He argued with Julian Draxler, who has since played down the incident, and is said to have criticised Presnel Kimpembe and Alphonse Areola in the wake of their Coupe de France final loss to Rennes in April. 

Al-Khelaifi told France Football he will no longer put up with any "celebrity behaviour" at the club.

In the same interview he said of Neymar: "I want players that are ready to give everything to defend the honour of our shirt and who sign up to the club's project.

"Those who do not want to, or do not understand it, we meet and we speak. There are of course contracts to respect, but the priority now is complete commitment to our project.

"Nobody forced him to sign here. Nobody pushed him to. He came with a full understanding of the cause to sign up to a project."

Neymar this month suffered an ankle injury that ruled him out of Brazil's Copa America campaign.

While speculation swirls over Neymar's future, Al-Khelaifi is adamant PSG will not sell Kylian Mbappe, saying he is 200 per cent sure the France forward will not be leaving.

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