Everton have completed the signing of former Leicester City winger Demarai Gray from Bundesliga club Bayer Leverkusen.

In a deal reportedly worth around £1.7million, the Premier League winner has signed a three-year deal at Goodison Park.

Gray will therefore be contracted to the club until the end of the 2023-24 season, with Everton having an option to extend that by a further year.

The 25-year-old joins Andros Townsend and goalkeeper Asmir Begovic as the first arrivals ahead of the 2021-22 season under new manager Rafael Benitez. 

"I'm delighted to be back in the Premier League at such a big club and I'm excited to play with the team and get to work," Gray said to Everton TV.

"Speaking to the manager and [Director of Football] Marcel Brands, I had a really good feel for the Club and I feel this is a place where I can continue to develop.

"The manager, with his ambition and what he has won in the past, is important and we’ll look to push forward and compete with the top clubs. I think a club of this magnitude has all the potential to be right up there.

"Everton are a very big club and the main objective is to be pushing and competing back up there in the table. 

"I want to work hard on the training pitch and work my hardest for the club on the pitch."

Gray, who will wear the number 11 shirt for Everton, only spent six months in Germany and made 12 appearances for Leverkusen, scoring once.

He has linked up with Benitez's squad in Florida ahead of Everton’s participation in the Florida Cup.

Everton were due to face either Arsenal or Inter after playing against Colombian side Millonarios, but the Gunners and the Serie A champions have pulled out of the competition due to coronavirus concerns.

Everton have suspended a first-team player pending a police investigation, the Premier League club announced.

In a statement on the team's website, Everton did not identify the player or provide any further details.

The statement read: "Everton can confirm it has suspended a first-team player pending a police investigation.

"The club will continue to support the authorities with their inquiries and will not be making any further statement at this time."

A Liverpool stalwart might make an early exit from the club.

Jordan Henderson is under contract for two more years and is said to want an extension.

But talks have reportedly not progressed, potentially opening the door for outside suitors.

 

TOP STORY - HENDERSON COULD LEAVE ANFIELD

Completing a new deal for Henderson is reportedly not a priority for Liverpool's ownership this off-season, and The Athletic says a move could be on the cards for the England international.

The report cites Paris Saint-Germain head coach Mauricio Pochettino as a long-time admirer of the midfielder and notes Henderson's close friendship with Atletico Madrid's Luis Suarez as potentially weighing in favour of a move to one of those clubs.

Liverpool are said to be eager to get something in return for Henderson, should he leave, after watching Georginio Wijnaldum move to PSG on a free transfer last month.

 

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- If the rumoured swap deal that would send Saul Niguez to Barcelona and Antoine Griezmann to Atletico falls through, the Daily Mail reports that Liverpool and Manchester United could swoop for the 26-year-old Spaniard.

- Raphael Varane's expected move to Old Trafford is gaining momentum, as Fabrizio Romano reports the Real Madrid centre-back has told United he is "ready" to accept their contract offer should the clubs agree to terms.

- Tottenham are set to acquire Pierluigi Gollini from Atalanta on loan through next season with a €15million option to make the move permanent, says Romano, and Football London reports Atalanta defender Cristian Romero also is in talks to join Spurs.

- Manchester United's Donny van de Beek could be headed to Barcelona on loan, according to Mundo Deportivo.

- Villarreal are the leaders to sign Arnaut Danjuma away from Bournemouth, the Sun reports, with Villa and Southampton also possibilities for the Dutch forward.

- Burnley winger Dwight McNeil is Everton's top transfer target according to the Mirror, though the Liverpool Echo says Aston Villa may also be in the mix.

Manchester City's pursuit of a new striker is well known.

Sergio Aguero's exit has left a void for the Premier League champions.

City have been linked with a host of big names including Erling Haaland and Harry Kane.

 

TOP STORY - MAN CITY MONITORING LEWANDOWSKI

Manchester City are monitoring the status of Bundesliga top scorer Robert Lewandowski, according to the Daily Mail.

Lewandowski has two years remaining on his Bayern Munich deal but has previously indicated he may be open to a move elsewhere.

The report claims City are worried they may not succeed in their pursuit of Kane and see 32-year-old Lewandowski as an option given his quality and potentially lower asking price.

 

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- Liverpool is readying a £60million (€70m) bid for Inter and Italy midfielder Nicolo Barella according to La Repubblica. However, Fabrizio Romano claims Inter will not sell him.

- Everton have submitted a £30m (€35m) bid for Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly, but the Italian club have told the Toffees to double the offer, claims Calciomercato.

- The Telegraph reports that England full-back Kieran Trippier is desperate to return to the Premier League as he waits on a move from Atletico Madrid to Manchester United.

- The Telegraph also claims that Joe Willock will spend time on loan again at Newcastle from Arsenal. He will join the Magpies on a season-long deal.

- SPORT claims that Chelsea are tracking Sevilla's Jules Kounde after he recently rejected interest from Tottenham.

- Chelsea are looking to utilise Tammy Abraham as a sweetener in any deal to land Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund, reports The Mirror.

- West Bromwich have turned down West Ham's offer for goalkeeper Sam Johnstone, claims The Athletic.

Rafael Benitez's appointment at Everton was a divisive one, though one of his former players believes the ex-Liverpool manager is the right choice.

Benitez was appointed as Carlo Ancelotti's replacement at Goodison Park, with the Italian having left to rejoin Real Madrid.

The 61-year-old Spaniard led Liverpool to the Champions League title in 2005, managing the Reds from 2004 until 2010.

Sections of Everton's fanbase were far from pleased with Benitez's appointment. Indeed, banners were left outside Goodison Park and, in an incident which is being investigated by Merseyside Police, a threatening message was left close to the manager's family home in Wirral.

However, Benitez has shrugged off the negativity, insisting he is confident he can lead Everton, who finished 12th and 10th under Ancelotti, to challenge.

It is a sentiment echoed by Amedeo Carboni, who played under Benitez at Valencia, winning two LaLiga titles in 2001-02 and 2003-04.

"When you join [a club] in a bad atmosphere, it is not joining through the main door," Carboni told Stats Perform.

"It makes you a bit upset and you don't feel calm. However, Rafa is a master in terms of managing groups of people. He knows how to build a squad. He might do well at Everton.

"Obviously, if the atmosphere doesn't let you work properly, it won't be easy either. It is true that he has coached Liverpool and we know how the rivalry is between Liverpool and Everton.

"If you have that weight in your shoulders every day, within training sessions and the games, because sometimes there will be bad performances and defeats, so I don't know. But he is a very good, high-profile manager and I believe he will be able to deal with all of this."

Benitez is the first manager to cross the Merseyside divide since the 1800s, with a former Liverpool boss having never taken over at Everton.

He was unveiled to the media on Wednesday, and reiterated his commitment to pushing Everton on.

"I have a great connection with the city, we support a lot of charities, have a lot of friends," he said.

"I am really pleased, really proud to be here. The connection with the city keeps me happy, to come back to the Premier League is great motivation and to do it with a team that can compete for something, I think it will be great.

"I know about the club, the tradition, the history and ambition of the owners, the fans behind the team.

"For anyone who knows the history of the club, it is quite easy. I am at home, I want to compete, to challenge for whatever you can challenge for. Enough motivation, a great opportunity for me and I'm really happy with that."

A cloud of uncertainty hangs over the future of James Rodriguez, who has been linked to Serie A giants Milan following Ancelotti's departure.

Benitez coached James at Madrid, though reports claim he did not always see eye to eye with the Colombia star.

"I am sure you [journalists] will be asking me about players, but it's more important to talk about teams rather than individuals," Benitez said when asked about James' future.

"Everyone has to keep training, do their jobs and we will continue looking for the best options for improving the team. We don't talk about individuals, it's not fair on the other players."

Chelsea may have been European champions in 2021, but they have not won the Premier League since 2017.

Blues owner Roman Abramovich is reportedly ready to loosen the purse strings to end their league title wait.

Chelsea have been linked with several big-name signings this off-season.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA RELEASE FUNDS TO LAND HAALAND

Chelsea are ready to ramp up their bid to sign Borussia Dortmund striker Haaland now Euro 2020 is over.

Bild reports Abramovich has released the funds required to lure Haaland to London following an impressive 18 months in Germany.

Dortmund have reportedly told Chelsea it will take £150m (€176m) to sign the Norwegian, and Chelsea may sell Callum Hudson-Odoi, Hakim Ziyech and Tammy Abraham to fund the move.

 

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Tottenham have set their sights on Southampton forward Danny Ings, making him a priority, claims The Telegraph. Manchester City are also apparently interested.

- Daily Express reports Chelsea are making plans to sign Antoine Griezmann on loan from Barcelona, with the Blaugrana attempting to reduce their wage bill in line with LaLiga salary cap rules.

- Another Barcelona player potentially on the move is Clement Lenglet. According to Sport, new Everton manager Rafa Benitez wants to build his defence around the France international.

- Monaco left-back Fode Ballo-Toure is close to signing with Milan, having already agree personal terms, according to Fabrizio Romano.

- Fabrizio Romano also claims Roma are interested in signing Alex Telles on loan from Manchester United to replace the injured Leonardo Spinazzola.

Manchester City's search to replace Sergio Aguero is well known.

Spanish reports have linked Pep Guardiola’s side with Barcelona's Antoine Griezmann.

So, could City - who won the Premier League but lost the Champions League final to Chelsea – be set to bring in the France international? Possibly not...

 

TOP STORY – GRIEZMANN NOT ON CITY RADAR

Manchester City are ready to ramp up their move for a new striker during the transfer window but will not pursue Barcelona forward Griezmann, claims The Sun.

Pep Guardiola's side will instead set their sights on Tottenham's Harry Kane, while Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland is another possibility.

The Sun's report denies Spanish links between City and Frenchman Griezmann, with Barcelona understood to be keen to reduce their wage bill to free up funds to re-sign Lionel Messi.

 

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- The Daily Mail reports that Atletico Madrid's signing of midfielder Rodrigo De Paul from Udinese will pave the way for Liverpool's proposed move to sign Saul Niguez. De Paul's arrival means Atleti are free to sell him off, with the Reds and Barcelona reportedly interested.

- Juventus are homing in on a transfer for Manchester City's Brazilian forward Gabriel Jesus, while they are also keen on bringing back Moise Kean to Turin, according to Tuttosport.

- Manchester United are edging closer to agreeing terms with French defender and long-term target Raphael Varane for a move from Real Madrid, reports the Mail.

- Jadon Sancho's move from Borussia Dortmund to Manchester United will be confirmed this week with a medical before his post-Euro 2020 holiday, claims The Sun.

- Fabrizio Romano claims that Wolves goalkeeper Rui Patricio will become Jose Mourinho's first signing at Roma imminently.

Lionel Messi seems certain to stay at Barcelona, and he could reportedly be joined by Renato Sanches.

While Messi came out of contract at the end of June, he seems set to stay at Barca, who remain central to plenty of transfer talk.

They are apparently interested in Sanches, who helped Lille win Ligue 1 last season.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA EYE SANCHES

Barcelona want Lille midfielder Sanches, according to Le 10 Sport.

The report says Tottenham are also targeting the Portugal international, who has previously played for the likes of Benfica and Bayern Munich.

Barca have already signed Sergio Aguero, Eric Garcia and Memphis Depay ahead of the 2021-22 season, though missed out on midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum.

 

ROUND-UP

- One player whose future at Barcelona is uncertain is Antoine Griezmann. La Vanguardia reports the forward wants to remain at Barca, where he is contracted until 2024, but could leave given the financial uncertainty at the club.

- Could Kalidou Koulibaly finally be set to leave Napoli for the Premier League? 90min reports Everton manager Rafael Benitez has recommended the defender as a transfer target for the club.

- Also in Serie A and Sky Sport reports Andrea Belotti is set to decide in the coming days whether to renew his contract with Torino beyond 2022. The report says Jose Mourinho's Roma are interested in the striker.

- Barcelona are looking to offload goalkeeper Neto, but finding a suitor for the shot-stopper is complicated, according to Mundo Deportivo.

Paul Pogba's future at Manchester United has drawn speculation.

The France international has one year left on his United contract and is yet to re-sign with the Red Devils.

The 2018 World Cup winner has numerous big-spending admirers and impressed at Euro 2020.

 

TOP STORY - PSG PLOT CUT-PRICE POGBA DEAL

Paris Saint-Germain are lining up Manchester United's French mdifielder Paul Pogba for a cut-price £50million (€58m) deal, claims the Daily Star.

Big-spending PSG have already landed Achraf Hakimi and Georginio Wijnaldum this off-season and will need to sell players to fund the deal.

L'Equipe reports PSG are confident they can land Pogba on a cut-price deal given his contract status.

 

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- Denmark's Euro 2020 star Mikkel Damsgaard is set for a Premier League switch this off-season with interest from Tottenham, Liverpool, Leeds and Leicester City reports HITC. However, Gazzetta dello Sport claims Sampdoria will not sell the Danish talent for less than €40 million (£34m).

- Atalanta want €60million (£52m) for Manchester United target Cristian Romero, who has also been linked with Tottenham and Barcelona according to Calciomercato.

- Sport claims Philippe Coutinho will leave Barcelona this off-season, with Leicester City, Inter and Milan among the top contenders to sign him.

- Football Insider reports that Liverpool have approached Wolves about Spain winger Adama Traore.

- New Everton manager Rafa Benitez wants to sign Barcelona defender Clement Lenglet, reports Fichajes.

- Hector Bellerin is ready to leave Arsenal to join Italian champions  Inter, claims FourFourTwo.

- Tottenham are mulling over a move for Wolfsburg defender Maxence Lacroix according to The Boot Room.

Erling Haaland's future is a major talking point this off-season.

The Norwegian has been linked with several top clubs but could also stay with Borussia Dortmund.

Haaland and his representatives visited Real Madrid and Barcelona, while Chelsea and Manchester City have also been credited with interest.

TOP STORY - CHELSEA TO OFFER UP TO £150M FOR HAALAND

Chelsea are readying a bumper £150 million (€175m) move to sign Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund, reports 90Min.

The Blues are prepared to offer up to that amount, believing the deal will be too hard to refuse for Dortmund.

Chelsea spent approximately £120m (€140m) last off-season on German pair Timo Werner and Kai Havertz but want an out-and-out striker.

 

ROUND-UP

- New Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti wants to sign Brazil international Richarlison from his former club Everton, reports ESPN.

- Fabrizio Romano claims Milan are still working on a deal to sign Chelsea's French veteran forward Olivier Giroud.

- RB Leipzig's Marcel Sabitzer is in the sights of Borussia Dortmund according to Bild, amid reported interest from Premier League clubs.

West Ham and Tottenham are both interested in Sassuolo's Mert Muldur reports the Mail.

- Football League World claims Southampton will sign Blackburn Rovers forward Adam Armstrong for £10m plus add-ons.

Are Manchester United set for a busy transfer window?

After finishing runners-up to Manchester City in the Premier League and losing in the Europa League final, United are keen to strengthen.

A trio of stars are reportedly on the club's shortlist.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED WANT THREE MORE PLAYERS

Manchester United are targeting three more signings this off-season, according to The Guardian.

United have agreed a deal to bring Jadon Sancho to Old Trafford from Borussia Dortmund but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants more.

The Red Devils are reportedly closing in on Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane, though Villarreal's Pau Torres has also been linked, with Tottenham star Harry Kane and West Ham midfielder Declan Rice also on the list.

 

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- Italy and Roma full-back Leonardo Spinazzola is attracting interest from Madrid following his exploits at Euro 2020, reports Calciomercato. LaLiga rivals Barcelona have also been linked.

- After agreeing to sell Sancho, Dortmund are eyeing PSV's Donyell Malen and RB Leipzig defender Marcel Halstenberg, reports Sport Bild.

Paris Saint-Germain are planning to announce the arrivals of Sergio Ramos, Inter star Achraf Hakimi and former Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma within 15 days, according to Fabrizio Romano. Ramos has agreed to sign a two-year deal in Paris.

- Antena 2 claims James Rodriguez is in talks with Serie A runners-up Milan over a move from Everton.

United are prioritising a contract extension for star Bruno Fernandes, says Romano. Fernandes has flourished since arriving from Sporting CP.

Madrid have joined Milan in the race to sign United and Portugal full-back Diogo Dalot, claims Calciomercato.

PSG have emerged as the only likely suitor for Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo after United signed Sancho, reports Calciomercato. However, a move depends on whether Kylian Mbappe leaves PSG for Madrid or Liverpool.

Everton have appointed Rafael Benitez as their new manager, with the former Liverpool boss replacing Carlo Ancelotti.

The Toffees have been searching for a new manager since Ancelotti's surprise return to Real Madrid at the start of June.

Nuno Espirito Santo was reportedly close to being appointed earlier in the month, with West Ham's David Moyes having also been a mooted option, yet it is one of their main rivals' most successful managers of recent times who has been handed the reins instead.

Benitez has signed a three-year contract with Everton, who finished 12th and 10th in their two seasons under Ancelotti – whom the Spaniard also succeeded at Madrid in 2015.

The appointment has not come without controversy, with sections of Everton's support having shown their displeasure by leaving messages of protest at Goodison Park, while Merseyside police are investigating a 'threatening banner' left close to Benitez's family home.

Benitez led Liverpool to a famous Champions League triumph in 2005, with the Reds coming from 3-0 down to beat Ancelotti's Milan on penalties in Istanbul.

He followed that up with an FA Cup success in 2006 and a run to the 2007 Champions League final, though Milan prevailed on that occasion. From 228 Premier League games in charge of Liverpool, he managed 126 victories – a record surpassed only by Jurgen Klopp in December 2020.

His six-year stint at Anfield came to an end in 2010, and though he went on to manage Inter, Madrid, Chelsea, Napoli and Newcastle United, he remained a Liverpool fan favourite.

Benitez has most recently coached in the Chinese Super League, having taken the helm at Dalian Professional from July 2019 to January of this year.

His efforts at Newcastle are perhaps what drew Everton's majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri to Benitez, who failed to save the Magpies from relegation in 2015-16 but secured an instant return to the Premier League before finishing 10th and 13th in the next two campaigns.

Of his 86 top-flight games in charge of Newcastle, Benitez won 27, with his team scoring 97 goals, bettering their expected goals (xG) total of 90.35. He left in 2019 after failing to agree a new contract, later citing a lack of backing from the club's owner Mike Ashley.

Benitez also counts two LaLiga titles, one Suppercoppa Italia, the 2006 Community Shield, a Coppa Italia and a Europa League triumph among his honours.

He becomes Everton's fifth permanent boss in the space of five years, with Ronald Koeman, Sam Allardyce, Marco Silva and Ancelotti having all held the role since Roberto Martinez – the Belgium boss who was also a reported target this time around – was relieved of his duties in 2016.

Everton start their 2021-22 Premier League campaign at home to Southampton, with Benitez's first reunion with Liverpool coming at Goodison Park in November.

Sergio Ramos' Real Madrid contract is due to officially expire on June 30.

The 35-year-old defender has been with Los Blancos since 2005.

There appears to be no shortage of suitors lining up for Ramos' signature.

 

TOP STORY – RAMOS WEIGHING UP POWERHOUSE TRIO

European heavyweights Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich have all approached Sergio Ramos about a potential move, ESPN reported.

Ramos, who will leave Madrid as a free agent this off-season, is said to be assessing the interest.

Family considerations are a big part of Ramos' decision-making, while it is claimed City could offer him a two-year deal.

ROUND-UP

- Jose Mourinho's new club Roma are closing in on a deal to sign Wolves' Portuguese goalkeeper Rui Patricio , reports Sky Sports.

- Arsenal target Aaron Ramsey has opted to stay with Juventus following the appointment of Massimiliano Allegri, claims The Sun.

- Uruguayan prospect Martin Satriano is attracting attention from Premier League clubs Arsenal , Everton and Tottenham , claims the Daily Mail. Satriano is currently on the books of Inter.

- Turkey international Merih Demiral wants to leave Juventus but the Serie A club have set an asking price of €40million (£34m), according to Calciomercato.

- Chelsea are close to agreeing a loan deal with Norwich City for Billy Gilmour , reports Sky Sports.

Merseyside Police is investigating after a threatening banner was hung up near the home of prospective new Everton manager Rafael Benitez.

Benitez is the strong favourite to take over at Goodison Park following Carlo Ancelotti's move to Real Madrid earlier this month.

The proposed appointment has not gone down well with some Everton fans given Benitez's links to city rivals Liverpool, whom he guided to Champions League. FA Cup and European Super Cup success.

Sections of the Toffees' fanbase have left messages outside the club's stadium over the past week, but those protests have now turned more sinister.

Images and videos emerged on social media on Monday of a banner reading "We know where you live, don't sign" close to Benitez's family home in Wirral.

Merseyside Police has confirmed that it is looking into the matter.

"We can confirm police are investigating reports of a threatening banner at a location in Caldy today, Monday 28 June," a statement on the force's official website read.

"At around 7am, it was reported that a banner made from bed sheets had been placed over a wall and bushes on a residential driveway, with wording which is thought to target football manager Rafa Benitez."

CCTV and witness enquiries are being carried out in the area to try and trace whoever was responsible.

Detective Inspector Darren Taylor added: "This message has understandably caused some distress and worry for residents in the area. 

"Due to the football language used, we suspect that it was aimed at Rafa Benitez – but whoever placed the message left it outside the wrong house.

"If anyone has information about who produced the banner or helped to put it up, please let us know as soon as possible."

Benitez spent six years with Liverpool in total before departing in 2010.

The Spaniard apologised in 2007 for labelling Everton a "small club" following a goalless Merseyside derby.

European champions Chelsea and French powerhouse Paris Saint-Germain have both been in hot pursuit of Achraf Hakimi.

Morocco international Hakimi, 22, helped Inter win the Serie A title.

The former Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid full-back is a star on the rise.

 

TOP STORY – HAKIMI AGREES TO CHELSEA MOVE

Chelsea appear to have won the race for Inter defender Hakimi after he "verbally agreed" to join the European champions, according to Calcio in Pillole journalist Ekrem Konur.

Konur claims Inter want £43million (€50m) and full-back Marcos Alonso from Chelsea as part of the deal.

Footmercato reports PSG will table a second bid for Hakimi worth €70m.

 

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United have made their move for Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane with a £50m (€58m) bid for the French defender, claims the Manchester Evening News. It is alleged Madrid want £80m (€93m) for Varane.

- Roma will turn their attention to Aston Villa's Brazilian midfielder Douglas Luiz should they fail to sign Arsenal's Granit Xhaka, claims Gazzetta dello Sport.

- Football Insider reports Everton are keen to pursue Wolves defender Conor Coady.

- Wolves are weighing up a move for ex-Chelsea forward Diego Costa , who is a free agent, according to UOL.

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