Andres Iniesta is adamant his former Barcelona team-mate Ivan Rakitic wants to stay at Camp Nou despite links with Paris Saint-Germain, Inter and Manchester United.

Croatia international Rakitic has spent five seasons at Barca following a move from Sevilla in 2014 and has been a key part of the side ever since, making at least 32 LaLiga appearances in each campaign.

Although his coaches have valued Rakitic's input, some supporters have questioned whether the 31-year-old merits inclusion in the Barca team.

But in spite of United, Inter and PSG apparently holding an interest in Rakitic, Iniesta is convinced his former colleague has no plans to leave.

"I don't know if he is untransferable, but I know he is happy and wants to stay at Barca," Iniesta told reporters in Japan before his Vissel Kobe side face the Blaugrana on Saturday.

"I hope he can [stay at the club] and continue to perform as before. I would be happy for him."

One player linked with a move to Barca is Neymar, another former team-mate of Iniesta's at Camp Nou.

The PSG star is at odds with his employers, who have confirmed he can leave for the right price, and Iniesta is eager to see the Brazilian back with the Spanish champions.

"I have said it many times, for me, as a player he is one of the best there is," Iniesta said. "If his signing is going well or badly, that is something the club must conclude.

"They are considerations of the sports management. But as a player, he is one of the best."

William Saliba says Arsenal are the biggest club in England and that is why he chose the Gunners over Premier League rivals Tottenham.

Saint-Etienne defender Saliba completed his move to Arsenal on Thursday, but the 18-year-old will remain with the Ligue 1 side on loan during the 2019-20 season.

Arsenal were long seen as frontrunners to sign the highly-rated centre-back, with north London foes Tottenham making a late bid to beat Unai Emery's team to his signature.

But Saliba wasted no time in endearing himself to the Arsenal faithful by explaining why he decided to join the club instead of Spurs.

"First of all, it's a massive pleasure to sign for a really, really big English club," Saliba told Arsenal's official website.

"This is the biggest club in England for me, so it was an easy decision. I didn't think twice about signing here, so I'm really happy.

"The history, the badge... since I was little, I've been watching Arsenal play in the Champions League and so on, and there are a lot of French players who have come through here. So that really helped me to make my mind up.

"I spoke to Matteo [Guendouzi, the Arsenal midfielder]. I even bumped into him at a funfair in Paris, and that's where I told him that Arsenal wanted to sign me! He gently advised me to come here and explained what it was like."

Saliba feels it is the right move to remain with Saint-Etienne for another season before testing himself in the Premier League.

"Well, it was important first of all because I wanted to prove myself for another year at Saint-Etienne, before I come to try and establish myself here at Arsenal," he added.

"This is a big club, and when you come here, you need to be ready. So I'm going to try and have a great season with the club that developed me in order to be ready for Arsenal."

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."

Arsenal have beaten north London rivals Tottenham to the signing of William Saliba in a deal reportedly worth around £27million that will see the teenager return to Saint-Etienne on loan.

French centre-back Saliba will head straight back to Stade Geoffroy-Guichard for the 2019-20 season after penning a "long-term" contract with the Gunners.

The 18-year-old becomes Unai Emery's third signing of the close season following the capture of young Brazilian forward Gabriel Martinelli and Real Madrid's Dani Ceballos.

Saliba is a considered a talented prospect but will have to bide his time for an opportunity at Emirates Stadium.

He made 16 appearances in Ligue 1 last term, with Tottenham also reportedly having made a late bid for the player.

Celtic left-back Kieran Tierney remains a target, with Arsenal reportedly having had bids for the 22-year-old rebuffed.

Arsenal head coach Emery told the club's website: "We’re delighted William is joining us. Many teams wanted him but he decided he wanted to come to us and be part of our future.

"He will stay in France next season for more experience and then we look forward to him joining our group."

Arsenal have beaten north London rivals Tottenham to the signing of William Saliba in a deal reportedly worth around £27million that will see the teenager return to Saint-Etienne on loan.

French centre-back Saliba will head straight back to Stade Geoffroy-Guichard for the 2019-20 season after penning a "long-term" contract with the Gunners.

The 18-year-old becomes Unai Emery's third signing of the close season following the capture of young Brazilian forward Gabriel Martinelli and Real Madrid's Dani Ceballos.

Saliba is a considered a talented prospect but will have to bide his time for an opportunity at Emirates Stadium.

He made 16 appearances in Ligue 1 last term, with Tottenham also reportedly having made a late bid for the player.

Celtic left-back Kieran Tierney remains a target, with Arsenal reportedly having had bids for the 22-year-old rebuffed.

Arsenal head coach Emery told the club's website: "We’re delighted William is joining us. Many teams wanted him but he decided he wanted to come to us and be part of our future.

"He will stay in France next season for more experience and then we look forward to him joining our group."

Aston Villa have signed Douglas Luiz from Manchester City for a reported £15million.

The 21-year-old midfielder's move is subject to the provision of a work permit, something that prevented him from making a single competitive appearance for Premier League champions City.

Newly promoted Villa, however, are said to be confident authorities will approve their application.

A Brazil youth international, Douglas Luiz spent the past two seasons on loan at Spanish side Girona, featuring 38 times in LaLiga.

Villa boss Dean Smith said: "Douglas is an extremely talented young player with an outstanding pedigree who I am sure will fit nicely into our style and system of play."

The former Vasco da Gama player becomes Villa's 10th signing of the close season.

Borussia Monchengladbach have announced Christoph Kramer has suffered a serious ankle injury.

The 28-year-old Germany international is likely to miss several months of action after rupturing a ligament.

Gladbach revealed the news in a short statement posted on social media on Wednesday, saying Kramer "will be out for the next while".

Last season Kramer made 18 Bundesliga appearances for Gladbach, who finished fifth.

Real Madrid midfielder Dani Ceballos has joined Arsenal on a season-long loan, the Premier League club have confirmed.

Tottenham were reportedly leading the chase for the playmaker, who starred as Spain won the Under-21 European Championship last month.

But it is Arsenal who have the north London bragging rights on this occasion, with Ceballos agreeing to a temporary switch from Madrid to Emirates Stadium.

Ceballos signed for Madrid from Real Betis in 2017 but failed to establish himself in his first season at Santiago Bernabeu.

Zinedine Zidane's departure at the end of 2017-18 afforded the 22-year-old more opportunities, although he made just three LaLiga appearances following the Frenchman's return to Los Blancos in March.

Ceballos becomes Unai Emery's third signing of the close-season after William Saliba - who has been sent back to Saint-Etienne on loan - and young Brazilian forward Gabriel Martinelli.

"We're excited to see Dani join us," Emery told his club's official website. "He is a talented player with big technical ability, creativity and precision.”

Arsenal have pre-season engagements with Lyon, Angers and Barcelona before beginning their 2019-20 Premier League campaign at Newcastle United on August 11.

Real Madrid midfielder Dani Ceballos has joined Arsenal on a season-long loan, the Premier League club have confirmed.

 

Former Barcelona star Xavi hailed Neymar as "spectacular" as the Brazilian continues to be linked with a return to the LaLiga club.

Neymar, 27, is said to want a move back to Camp Nou after two seasons with Paris Saint-Germain.

His head coach, Thomas Tuchel, admitted to knowing about the forward's desire before the Copa America began over a month ago.

Barca have reportedly made contact with PSG about executing a deal for the player who is revered by club favourite Xavi, a team-mate of Neymar's for two seasons.

"In terms of football, he is a bomb, he is spectacular," Xavi said.

"I consider him a good guy, humble, a hard worker that gave his best at Barcelona.

"But it is Barcelona who need to make that decision. I want the best for Barca. If someone can guarantee that Neymar will have success at Barca again, I would be the first to want him to come back.

"But you never know. It all depends on Barcelona and their decisions."

While uncertainty surrounds Neymar's future, Barca have already secured one top target in Antoine Griezmann.

The France forward made his debut alongside Frenkie de Jong as Ernesto Valverde's men suffered a 2-1 defeat to Chelsea this week.

Xavi has been impressed with Netherlands international De Jong, a fellow midfielder, and also believes the experienced Arturo Vidal still has a role to play for the LaLiga champions.

"Both are good," said former Spain international Xavi, who now coaches Qatari side Al Sadd.

"Arturo Vidal gives you so many things like intensity, he gives you timing, sacrifice, he steals balls, he doesn't lose them easily. I think he is a complete footballer.

"He is a footballer with a very good level, like De Jong. We saw the other day [De Jong] is a footballer who can mark an era in Barcelona.

"He is able to dominate the game, he sees it easily and doesn't lose the ball.

"He also makes sacrifices to work defensively. I think they are top-level players, very good for Barca."

Jordan Ayew has joined Crystal Palace from Swansea City on a permanent basis for a reported £2.5million.

The 27-year-old forward returns to Selhurst Park after scoring two goals in 25 competitive appearances while on loan last season.

Ayew has signed a three-year deal with the Premier League club, his third in English football.

Eagles boss Roy Hodgson said: "He has proved himself as a dedicated and hard-working member of the squad, and certainly played his part in the club securing its highest ever Premier League points tally in the last campaign."

Formerly of Marseille and Aston Villa, attacker Ayew scored two goals in four games for Ghana at the recent Africa Cup of Nations.

Swansea, meanwhile, have signed defender Ben Wilmot from Watford on a season-long loan.

The teenage centre-back becomes the Championship club's second signing under new head coach Steve Cooper, following the arrival of Jake Bidwell from QPR.

Ademola Lookman has joined RB Leipzig from Everton in a deal that could rise to be worth €25million (£22.5m).

England Under-21 international Lookman spent the second half of 2017-18 on loan at Leipzig and willl return permanently on a five-year contract.

The attacker looked set to make the switch prior to the 2018-19 campaign, but Everton rebuffed numerous offers from the Bundesliga side as Marco Silva insisted he saw him as a key member of his squad.

However, Lookman failed to establish himself during Silva's first season at Goodison Park, scoring one goal in 24 appearances across all competitions.

"I am very happy to be back here and would like to continue where I left off in the second half of 2017-18 for RB Leipzig," the 21-year-old said.

 "Of course, I am also looking forward to seeing my team-mates again and would like to help the team to continue to celebrate great successes."

Lookman's arrival follows Leipzig's signing of Chelsea youngster Ethan Ampadu on loan for the upcoming campaign.

Everton, meanwhile, have been linked with numerous wide players throughout the off-season, with Lyon forward Bertrand Traore, Barcelona winger Malcom, Lille star Nicolas Pepe and Wilfried Zaha of Crystal Palace all reported targets, although the Toffees look set to lose Idrissa Gueye to Paris Saint-Germain.

Ademola Lookman has joined RB Leipzig from Everton in a deal that could rise to be worth €25million (£22.5m).

England Under-21 international Lookman spent the second half of 2017-18 on loan at Leipzig and willl return permanently on a five-year contract.

The attacker looked set to make the switch prior to the 2018-19 campaign, but Everton rebuffed numerous offers from the Bundesliga side as Marco Silva insisted he saw him as a key member of his squad.

However, Lookman failed to establish himself during Silva's first season at Goodison Park, scoring one goal in 24 appearances across all competitions.

"I am very happy to be back here and would like to continue where I left off in the second half of 2018 for RB Leipzig," the 21-year-old said.

 "Of course, I am also looking forward to seeing my team-mates again and would like to help the team to continue to celebrate great successes."

After two consecutive windows without a signing, Tottenham are keen to make a splash in the transfer market.

Tottenham purchased Tanguy Ndombele in a club-record deal, while Spurs are also reportedly interested in Real Betis star Giovani Lo Celso.

Now Tottenham could break the bank to prise an Argentina forward from Turin…

 

TOP STORY – SPURS EYE DYBALA

Tottenham have approached Juventus over the possibility of signing star Paulo Dybala.

That is according to the Evening Standard and reports in United Kingdom as Dybala faces an uncertain future at the Serie A champions.

Spurs have already spent £55million on Ndombele and the Champions League runners-up would need to break their transfer record again to sign the £80m (€90m)-rated Dybala, who has also been linked to Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain.

 

ROUND-UP

Juventus are eyeing Wolves midfielder Ruben Neves as part of a possible exchange deal involving striker Moise Kean, says Sky Sport Italia. Wolves are also reportedly in talks for Juve veteran Sami Khedira, who is not wanted by Maurizio Sarri.

- According to the Daily Mail, Everton are ready to hijack Arsenal's move for Crystal Palace star Wilfried Zaha. The Toffees are reportedly ready to offer £50m.

- Sportitalia claims Real Madrid playmaker James Rodriguez has been offered to AC Milan for €42m. Napoli only want to sign James on an initial loan deal, with Atletico Madrid now favourites to sign the Colombia international. However, agent Jorge Mendes has reportedly proposed James to Milan.

Manchester United have been asked to be kept updated on Christian Eriksen's future as they eye a move for the Tottenham midfielder, reports the Daily Mail. Eriksen – who is out of contract at the end of 2019-20 – has been linked to Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Barcelona.

- Staying at Old Trafford and as Manchester United reportedly pursue Leicester City defender Harry Maguire, Red Devils centre-back Eric Bailly fears for his future. The Metro claims Bailly feels he could be sacrificed should United sign Maguire.

- According to Corriere dello Sport, Inter have reopened talks with Manchester United for Romelu Lukaku.

Jurgen Klopp discussed potentially facing Bruno Fernandes again this season after Liverpool were held by Sporting CP in a friendly on Wednesday.

Fernandes, who is heavily linked with a move to Manchester United, scored and set up another in the 2-2 draw at Yankee Stadium.

The 24-year-old Portugal international has reportedly been a target for Liverpool previously, but he impressed amid growing talk of a move to Old Trafford.

Klopp said the midfielder would only make Liverpool's Premier League rivals stronger if he made the move to United.

"If he will do that [join United], then we will face him," he told a news conference.

"He's obviously a really good player, they have already a few really good players so that will make them probably stronger. It's not nice, but it's not our cup of tea."

European champions Liverpool have endured a quieter close season and Klopp has suggested there could only be one further addition to his squad during this transfer window, having signed 17-year-old defender Sepp van den Berg from PEC Zwolle.

However, the German ruled out moves for Real Madrid outcast Gareth Bale and Barcelona attacker Philippe Coutinho.

His side's depth was hit further on Wednesday with confirmation right-back Nathaniel Clyne sustained an anterior cruciate ligament injury.

But, asked whether that injury would impact Liverpool's transfer plans, Klopp said: "No.

"The injury will not have an influence on our transfers."

Divock Origi and Georginio Wijnaldum were on the scoresheet for Liverpool against Sporting as they finished their tour of the United States winless.

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