Will Manchester City finally land Kalidou Koulibaly?

Pep Guardiola's City want defensive reinforcements and Napoli centre-back Koulibaly is reportedly at the top of the list.

If they are unsuccessful, Sevilla's Jules Kounde is next on the list.

 

TOP STORY – CITY NOT GIVING UP KOULIBALY

Manchester City are still in talks with Napoli to sign star defender Kalidou Koulibaly, according to journalist Fabrizio Romano.

City have been tipped to sign Koulibaly, who has also been linked to Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain.

However, City are yet to reach an agreement with Napoli and Sevilla's Jules Kounde is the "backup option" but a bid has already been turned down.

 

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- Romano says Wolves will complete the signing of Barcelona full-back Nelson Semedo on Monday. It comes as Barca eye Ajax defender Sergino Dest or Real Betis' Emerson to replace Semedo. Norwich City's Max Aarons has also been linked.

Milan have made Fiorentina's Nikola Milenkovic their number one defensive target ahead of Celtic centre-back Kristoffer Ajer, reports the Daily Record.

- Calciomercato claims Juventus are eyeing Real Madrid full-back Marcelo. The Brazilian has been repeatedly linked with a Cristiano Ronaldo reunion in Turin.

- The Telegraph says PSG are interested in Tottenham's Dele Alli. Out of favour under Jose Mourinho, Spurs are reportedly targeting Manchester United's Jesse Lingard as a replacement.

Roma remain interested in Napoli's Arkadiusz Milik but Madrid outcast Luka Jovic has emerged as 'Plan B', according to Calciomercato.

Leeds United are out of the race to sign Dinamo Zagreb sensation Josko Gvardiol, reports Romano. Wanted by Marcelo Bielsa, the Croatian teenager is now set for Bundesliga outfit RB Leipzig.

Manchester City have confirmed Claudio Bravo has left the club following the conclusion of his contract.

The 37-year-old Chilean goalkeeper signed from Barcelona in 2016 after two years with the Blaugrana.

His arrival at City came shortly after Pep Guardiola took over as manager, helping to establish the Catalan's possession-based philosophy.

Guardiola favoured Bravo's skillset – specifically his greater passing ability – to that of previous first-choice shot-stopper Joe Hart and he made 30 appearances in all competitions in his debut season.

Bravo's form was rarely consistent, and he spent the rest of his City career as back-up to Ederson following his move from Benfica in 2017.

Bravo leaves having won two Premier League titles and two EFL Cups.

While his next move is uncertain, Bravo has been most prominently linked with Celtic and Real Betis, who will be coached by former City boss Manuel Pellegrini next season.

Barcelona are set to re-sign Ansu Fati until 2024, while Real Madrid are eyeing "the new Raphael Varane".

Fati, 17, has been linked with a stunning move to Manchester United after a breakthrough season at Barca.

But the teenage forward seems to be going nowhere.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA TO EXTEND FATI STAY UNTIL 2024

Barcelona are set to renew Fati's contract until 2024, according to the cover of Sport.

Out of contract in 2022, Fati has scored eight goals in 32 games this season, leading to links to Manchester United.

Sport also reports Barcelona are prepared to listen to offers for attacker Ousmane Dembele.

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- Are Real Madrid looking to sign a new defender? AS reports the LaLiga giants are closely following Monaco defender Benoit Badiashile, who it compares to Madrid star Raphael Varane.

- Raul Jimenez could be set for a Wolves exit. RTP Sport says Jimenez is on his way to Manchester United and Wolves are on the verge of signing Sporting Braga striker Paulinho as his replacement.

- Barcelona may be preparing to strengthen their defence. Mundo Deportivo claims three defenders – Bayern Munich's David Alaba, Paris Saint-Germain's Juan Bernat and Manchester City's Eric Garcia – are within range for the LaLiga giants.

- Tanguy Ndombele continues to be linked with a move away from Tottenham. Sky Sport reports Inter have made contact with Spurs about the midfielder.

- Where to next for Willian? Coming out of contract at Chelsea at season's end, the attacker's future is uncertain. Sky Sports says Chelsea, Barcelona and Inter Miami have made contract offers to the Brazil international.

- A player looking likely to leave Stamford Bridge is Kepa Arrizabalaga. The Sun reports the goalkeeper fears he has played his last game for Chelsea.

- After Dejan Lovren's departure, Liverpool continue to be linked with defenders. COPE reports the Premier League champions have made an offer of £9.1million (€10m) for Real Betis defender Aissa Mandi.

Manuel Pellegrini hopes to get Real Betis back to challenging for European qualification when he takes over next season. 

Betis last week announced Pellegrini's appointment as head coach on a three-year deal, though sporting director Alexis Trujillo will remain in charge for the rest of the campaign. 

Trujillo was appointed on an interim basis after the Andalusian club dispensed with Rubi three games after LaLiga resumed following its suspension amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

Betis are 13th in LaLiga but Pellegrini, who took Villarreal to the Champions League semi-finals in 2006 and then Malaga to the last eight of the same competition in 2013, hopes to get them challenging near the top again. 

The club reached the round of 32 in the Europa League last season, their first appearance in the competition since going out on penalties to local rivals Sevilla in 2014, and participated in the Champions League for the first and only time in 2005-06. 

"Although the results have not been adequate, there has been institutional progress which must go hand in hand with the results on the field," Pellegrini said when presented to the media on Monday. 

"We will contribute with our experience to get the best out of the team, to have committed players. 

"It is everyone's job, we are on the same boat and the objectives are more feasible to achieve this way, with a winning mentality, because this is a team that should be fighting for European places." 

He added: "I had other offers, but I preferred Betis because I believe in the club's project. They want to make Betis grow and they have done so, although perhaps not with the results on the pitch due to different circumstances." 

Betis handed club legend Joaquin a one-year contract extension in December, meaning he has a deal at the Estadio Benito Villamarin until just before his 40th birthday.

Pellegrini is looking forward to reuniting with the winger, who he coached at Malaga, and a number of other players.

"Joaquin's career speaks for itself. At 38 or 39 years old, he is capable of making a difference, scoring eight goals this season," said Pellegrini.

"I'm very happy to coach him again, we had a great season together at Malaga. He brings experience, personality, joy and he will be important for the dressing room.

"I have no doubt that he can still bring many things to Betis.

"I am happy to be with him again, as with Juanmi, who I had at Malaga, and [Sergio] Canales who I was with at Real Madrid, and Javi Garcia at Manchester City."

Diego Simeone is looking for improvement from Atletico Madrid despite securing Champions League qualification once more.

A 74th-minute goal from Diego Costa saw 10-man Atletico overcome Real Betis 1-0 on Saturday to qualify for the Champions League for an eighth straight season.

Atletico had only played in Europe's top club competitions eight times in total before qualifying for the 2013-14 Champions League.

But head coach Simeone is refusing to rest, eager for Atletico to continue growing.

"I don't stop to analyse what is being done," he told a news conference, via AS.

"We always seek to improve and grow and the only way is to give the club the possibility with our work on the field that they can manage the tremendous growth of the club in these years.

"If there was a moment to qualify for the Champions League as it was, it was what happened in the match, because this is us.

"They hit us and we got up and we always compete and we will continue to compete, having all the energy so that all four legs – fans, players, coach and club – we stay firm.

"This is Atletico Madrid and I think that in the second half when it seemed that everything was going to suffer, we won."

Costa's winner came 17 minutes after Atletico were reduced to 10 men when Mario Hermoso was sent off.

Atletico are on a 16-match unbeaten run ahead of visiting Getafe on Thursday.

Diego Costa denied that his goal in Atletico Madrid's 1-0 victory over Real Betis was scored with the assistance of his arm.

Atleti secured the win they needed to clinch a top-four finish in LaLiga on Saturday, despite playing over half an hour with 10 men following Mario Hermoso's straight red card for a foul on Loren Moron.

Costa was sent on as one of a trio of attacking changes just before Hermoso's dismissal and, after Diego Simeone's side absorbed some late pressure, he guided Yannick Carrasco's free-kick into the bottom-right corner to seal the three points.

Betis defender Marc Bartra played Costa onside but a lengthy VAR check was conducted to see whether the Atleti striker had used his arm in the process of scoring.

The replays appeared inconclusive and the goal was allowed to stand, unlike first-half efforts for Angel Correa and Alvaro Morata that were chalked off with video assistance.

"It would be one thing if they called it offside for my goal but it didn't come off my arm. I'm very clear it wasn't [handball] and I'm happy," Costa told Movistar.

"It was a difficult game after Mario's red card. Our goal was to finish in the top four. Now we have that and we've got two more games we have to try to win to continue our good form.

"I think it was a good sign that we scored from a set-piece. We were in control. What happened in the second half made it more difficult, but we had a bit of luck and got the win.

"I don't know why we always have to suffer like this, but we always suffer and win. If we don't suffer, we don't feel right, so we're happy and we'll look for more glory."

Referee Jose Luis Gonzalez Gonzalez maintained his decision to dismiss Hermoso after a trip to the pitchside monitor, but Costa felt a booking would also have been a fair punishment.

"If they'd given a yellow card for Mario Hermoso then fine. I think it was on the limit and in the end the referee has to make the decision, but I think a yellow or red was fair," he said.

Guido Rodriguez disagreed with Costa's assessment of the goal, claiming the ball clearly struck the attacker's arm.

"We saw that when Costa scored it touched his arm, but they didn't make that decision, so that's how it was," the Betis midfielder said.

"We played with a player more, looking for the goal, but we leave pretty annoyed because we couldn't get it."

Diego Costa guaranteed 10-man Atletico Madrid's place in next season's Champions League by heading home the winner in a 1-0 LaLiga victory over Real Betis.

Atleti looked destined to hold on for at most a draw after Mario Hermoso was shown a straight red card for a foul on Loren Moron, but substitute Costa steered home Yannick Carrasco's free-kick in the 74th minute to secure a top-four finish for Diego Simeone's men.

After seeing goals for Angel Correa and Alvaro Morata overturned by VAR, there were concerns Costa's header would be ruled out during a lengthy check for handball.

However, the goal was allowed to stand, ensuring Atleti will return to European football's top table in 2020-21.

 

Diego Simeone is not thinking about resting his Atletico Madrid stars ahead of the return of the Champions League.

Atleti were pitted against RB Leipzig in the quarter-final draw on Friday, with the winner of that game taking on Atalanta or Paris Saint-Germain in the last four of the mini-tournament that will be hosted in Lisbon next month.

Simeone's side will secure a top-four finish in LaLiga if they defeat Real Betis on Saturday - with three games remaining they sit six points clear of Villarreal, whom they hold the upper hand over in the head-to-head record.

Despite being so close to guaranteeing a return to the Champions League next season, the Atleti boss is not considering rotating his players.

"Every time we select a line-up, we do so thinking of winning the game. Tomorrow [Saturday] will be no exception," Simeone told the media on Friday.

"It will be a very important game. It is a game which can give us the access to next season's Champions League, which is what we really want and have been looking for and working towards for a long time.

"We will try to be at our best in the game; looking at the training today in order to know who are best for tomorrow's game, which is the most important. And after, we will try to put that in the pitch, the only useful thing."

Having knocked out defending champions Liverpool in the Champions League last-16 and landed in the kinder half of the draw for the final stages, Atletico are considered strong candidates to go all the way.

Simeone does not see it that way, though, pointing to the threat Leipzig pose.

"They are always the same people who either exaggerate or discredit you. As I am trying to escape from extremes, I will only say what I said already after the draw," the Atleti boss said.

"We are going to face a good team with quick attacking players. A team that scores many goals and finished a great season in Germany."

Manuel Pellegrini will take over as head coach of Real Betis from next season, the club confirmed on Thursday.

Former Manchester City and Real Madrid boss Pellegrini has agreed a three-year contract at the Estadio Benito Villamarin.

The 66-year-old Chilean had been without a team since being sacked by West Ham last December.

Betis fired Rubi just three games after LaLiga's restart, following its suspension amid the coronavirus pandemic, leaving the team in 14th.

Sporting director Alexis Trujillo was handed the reins until the end of the season and has overseen two wins in five games.

Although Pellegrini's greatest achievement is a Premier League and EFL Cup double with City in 2013-14, he has impressed in LaLiga with teams from outside the established elite.

He led Villarreal to the Champions League semi-finals in 2005-06 and to a second-place finish in the top flight two years later.

Pellegrini spent a trophy-less 2009-10 with Madrid before taking over Malaga and being denied a return to the Champions League semi-finals in 2012-13 by a pair of stoppage-time goals from Borussia Dortmund.

Add Tottenham to the list of Sergej Milinkovic-Savic admirers.

The Lazio star and Serbia international has teams queuing up for his services, with Paris Saint-Germain reportedly tipped to secure his signature.

However, Premier League outfit Spurs are now eyeing Milinkovic-Savic.

 

TOP STORY – MILINKOVIC-SAVIC WANTED BY SPURS

Jose Mourinho is interested in bringing Lazio star Sergej Milinkovic-Savic to Tottenham, according to Foot Mercato.

Milinkovic-Savic is a player in demand, having been linked with the likes of Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid, Manchester United, Juventus, Manchester City and Chelsea.

While a move for Milinkovic-Savic appears out of reach for Spurs, Jose Mourinho is still dreaming.

 

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- While Milinkovic-Savic is a dream for Spurs, The Telegraph says Tottenham are confident of signing Southampton's Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg. Mourinho, however, must raise transfer funds through sales from his squad.

Inter are in advanced talks with Brescia to finalise a deal for star Sandro Tonali, according to journalist Nicolo Schira. Inter have agreed a five-year deal with Tonali.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic's future at Milan beyond the 2019-20 season is complicated, says Calciomercato. Ibrahimovic is out of contract at the end of the campaign and the 38-year-old striker is no closer to signing an extension. While he would like to remain at San Siro, an extension looks set to be postponed until the proposed arrival of Ralf Rangnick as head coach.

- Sport Bild reports Bayern Munich are hopeful of extending David Alaba's contract, despite failing to come to an agreement at a meeting last week. Alaba has been linked to Chelsea recently. Meanwhile, Sky Sport says Bayern are not prepared to exercise their option to sign Ivan Perisic permanently from Inter following his loan spell.

- ABC says Real Betis have been in negotiations with former West Ham, Real Madrid and Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini about their coaching vacancy.

Milan and Napoli are both interested in Fiorentina defender Nikola Milenkovic, claims Le10 Sport. The Serbian could be a replacement for Napoli centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly, who has been linked to the likes of Manchester City, Liverpool and Real Madrid.

- The Daily Mail reports Arsenal are ready to use out-of-favour midfielder Matteo Guendouzi as a bargaining chip in a potential swap deal. United, PSG, Madrid and Barca have emerged as possible destinations.

Dani Ceballos accepts it is difficult to see a future for himself at Real Madrid where he is an important player and confirmed a return to Real Betis is an option.

Ceballos, 23, joined Madrid from Betis in 2017 after developing into one of LaLiga's most promising young players, but he found the step-up difficult.

With numerous high-profile players occupying the central and playmaking roles he would ordinarily fill, Ceballos had to be content with playing back-up, making just 17 league starts across his two seasons at the Santiago Bernabeu before joining Arsenal on loan this term.

Life has not been much more straightforward with the Gunners, who have struggled for form and started going through a potentially significant transition period.

Nevertheless, Ceballos suggests he is happier this season and he cannot envisage being considered a key player at Madrid as he targets a place in Spain's squad for next year's European Championship.

"My goal is to play next year and it will be difficult at Real Madrid to play 40 games being important," he told El Larguero.

"This year I have been happy playing and next year I want to do the same,

"It is my goal [to be in the Spain squad]. I will give it my all and it will depend on me. If I give a high level, I am sure that I will be there and we will have a great European Championship."

Ceballos retains a strong affinity for boyhood club Betis, as he showed when posting a photo of himself wearing the team's jersey prior to their 2-0 defeat to bitter rivals Sevilla earlier this month.

A return to the Benito Villamarin is not out of the question and he acknowledges LaLiga is a good fit for him stylistically, but he wants to discuss his future with Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane first.

"[Betis] is an option. I don't close the door on playing for any club. LaLiga suits me well, but I'm also happy at Arsenal and I have to have respect for them, so I am focused on the remaining days.

"I have to make the decision, I own my future. I miss playing in Spain because it is a league where I have played all my life, but, well, England has also been good for a year.

"I want to be where I am most comfortable playing. Zidane told me that the best thing was for me to play a year on loan and gain experience, so I will have a chat with him. We will have to sit down and see the best option."

Ceballos is on loan at Arsenal until the end of the season, and his Madrid contract runs out in 2023.

Arthur is reportedly nearing a move from Barcelona to Juventus.

The LaLiga and Serie A giants have been linked with numerous deals heading into the close season, including Arthur making the switch to Turin.

And it seems that is getting closer to reality.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA, JUVENTUS AGREE ARTHUR FEE

Juventus have agreed an €80million fee with Barcelona to sign Arthur, according to Sky Sports.

However, the Italian champions must still convince the Brazil international midfielder.

The clubs reportedly want to complete a deal for the 23-year-old before the end of the month.

ROUND-UP

- David Luiz is set to stay at Arsenal. The Mirror reports the defender has agreed to a one-year extension with the Premier League club.

- He may be staying at Chelsea until the end of the season, but Pedro reportedly knows his future. Mundo Deportivo reports the Spanish attacker will join Roma after ending his stay at Stamford Bridge.

- Leicester City may be close to strengthening their midfield. Sport says the Premier League side are in advanced negotiations with Real Betis to sign Portugal international William Carvalho.

- With Bernd Leno injured, Arsenal may be looking for a goalkeeper. The Mirror reports they have made an enquiry about Barcelona goalkeeper Neto, who joined the LaLiga side from Valencia last year.

- Staying at the Emirates Stadium and ESPN says Arsenal are set to agree an extension to Cedric Soares' loan from Southampton and want to sign the defender permanently in the close season.

Real Betis have parted with head coach Rubi amid the club's poor form, the LaLiga side announced.

Rubi departs Betis following Saturday's 1-0 defeat at Athletic Bilbao, a result which left the Seville-based outfit 14th in the standings and eight points above the relegation zone through 30 matches.

Betis have appointed sporting co-ordinator Alexis Trujillo until the end of the season after just one win in 10 LaLiga games.

"Real Betis Balompie administration board have decided today that Alexis Trujillo will be in charge of the first team," a statement read.

"The former green and white player and captain, currently co-ordinator of the sporting area of the club, will be at the helm until the end of the current season.

"Humberto Alexis Trujillo Oramas was a Real Betis player for seven seasons, in which he played 264 official games in total. He has also been the head coach of the green and white for two games in the 2016/2017 season

"Also, the club would like to thank Joan Francesc Ferrer Sicilia 'Rubi' and his technical staff for all their services and wish them all the best in the future."

Betis host bottom side Espanyol on Thursday.

Lucas Ocampos and Fernando did the derby damage as Sevilla boosted their Champions League hopes with a 2-0 home win over Real Betis when the LaLiga season resumed on Thursday.

The first top-flight match in Spain since March 10 saw the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stands deserted, albeit with piped-in crowd chanting and a bank of CGI supporters generating some kind of atmosphere.

It was nothing like a true Seville derby, of course, but this will have to do while Spain, and the rest of the world, attempts to contain and eventually move forward from the coronavirus pandemic.

The goals had been long in coming by the time they arrived, with dominant Sevilla taking the lead after 56 minutes when Ocampos beat Joel Robles from the penalty spot after Luuk de Jong was impeded by Marc Bartra, a VAR check confirming the spot-kick.

It made Ocampos the first Sevilla player to score in five successive LaLiga appearances since Alvaro Negredo netted in six straight games nine years ago.

Sevilla's second goal came six minutes later, with a tremendous backheeled flick from Ocampos following a corner setting up Fernando to head home.

Ocampos had a fine game, hitting the angle of post and crossbar early on and showing no signs of any rustiness after a three-month break from competitive action.

Sevilla strengthened their grip on third place on a night when they commemorated the life of their long-serving former captain Marcelo Campanal, who died aged 89 in May.

A minute of reflection preceded the match as sombre music played, with those quiet moments dedicated to those whose lives have been lost to COVID-19 and on this occasion also to Campanal.

Sevilla's players wore shirts bearing his name as they took another step towards a top-four finish, with more recorded cheering and celebratory singing at the final whistle giving a firm indication of what to expect over the final weeks of this atypical season.

LaLiga president Javier Tebas has threatened to force teams into training camps if players continue to flout medical protocols.

Spain's top flight was due to resume on Thursday with the Seville derby between Sevilla and Real Betis at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, three months after playing was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Lockdown measures across the country have been eased in recent weeks, with life beginning to return to relative normality, but some protocols remain in place and a few players have broken them.

Four Sevilla players were photographed at a barbecue in a group of 12 people at a time when any gathering was supposed to be limited to 10, while Barcelona confirmed on Thursday that Nelson Semedo was missing from training "as per protocol established by LaLiga".

The Portugal defender was reported to have attended a party and broken social-distancing guidelines earlier in the week.

Tebas has now warned players that LaLiga will impose rules forcing them to work in training camps if they continue to ignore the regulations.

Speaking to reporters on a conference call, Tebas said: "What we are thinking is that if players keep doing this we'll have to consider having obligatory training camps.

"We wanted to do that but over the last few weeks we saw the clubs were obeying the protocols, but if we start to see three or four players at each club disobeying these rules then we'll have no other remedy than to impose training camps.

"We hope we don't have to but if people keep going to barbecues and parties we might have to. LaLiga has shown a lot of faith in players by not enforcing camps so, [we ask them] please, return that confidence, and don't break the rules as that harms LaLiga and people's health in general."

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