Frenkie de Jong appears likely to remain at Barcelona for this season, if the comments from club president Joan Laporta after their side's 6-0 pre-season win against Pumas are to be believed.

De Jong scored the sixth goal in the rout, coming off the bench at half-time and finding the net in the 84th minute.

He has been one of the main names featured in transfer rumours this off-season, with Barcelona's questionable finances making it seem like the club would have to part ways with the 25-year-old Dutch international to fund their sizeable moves for Leeds United winger Raphinha, Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski and Sevilla centre-back Jules Kounde.

However, having been outspoken about his desire to remain at Camp Nou, it now seems more likely he will not be sold during this transfer window, with Laporta saying before the match against Pumas that it is what both parties want.

"Frenkie is our player and we want him to stay at Barcelona," he said. "He wants to stay, too.

"With him and his teammates, we have a very powerful midfield. He has offers, but we want him to stay."

After the match, Xavi was less emphatic about De Jong's future when interviewed by TV3, but insisted that he's "counting on" the midfielder this season.

"I don’t know what will happen to Frenkie, as until August 31st anything can happen," he said.

"He knows what I think, and what the club want and need. Of course I’m counting on him, he’s a great player."

Barcelona will open their LaLiga campaign at home against Rayo Vallecano on Saturday.

Pedri described playing with Robert Lewandowski as a "luxury" after both players starred in Barcelona's 6-0 demolition of Pumas UNAM in the Joan Gamper trophy on Sunday.

The Blaugrana ran riot in their traditional Camp Nou curtain-raiser, with goals from Pedri (two), Lewandowski, Ousmane Dembele, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Frenkie de Jong condemning the Mexican side to a crushing loss.

Barca took just 20 minutes to establish a 4-0 lead as Pedri scored twice after laying on new signing Lewandowski's opener, with the Poland striker returning the favour to tee up the skilful midfielder's second strike.

Lewandowski – who scored 50 goals in all competitions during his final season with Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich last term – was named as man of the match, leading Pedri to shower him with praise. 

"It was important for us to win in front of our fans and we have achieved it by playing a good game," the midfielder said.

"The coach asks us all to reach the top and that we score goals, and I hope it continues like this. We've had a good pre-season and we wanted to start scoring soon.

"It is a luxury to play with Lewandowski, I really enjoy seeing how he finishes and how he links up.

"The president [Joan Laporta] and everyone have done a great job, and we will fight until May for it to be a very beautiful year for us all."

With Lewandowski joining Franck Kessie, Andreas Christensen, Jules Kounde and Raphinha in moving to Camp Nou ahead of the 2022-23 season, hopes are high that Barca can challenge for silverware – even if speculation persists that they may be unable to register their newcomers.

For Xavi, the performance against Pumas – for whom Barca legend Dani Alves featured – represented the standard the Catalan giants must hit in every match.

"Everything went well tonight, I'm very happy with the good game and for the fans, who have been excited. This is the way," Xavi declared.

"We are in a good dynamic of play and results, but we have to continue working for this to work. The sensations are good, yes, but there is no need to lower the pace or the intensity during the 90 minutes.

"Today it is understood that we relaxed a bit because we were 4-0 very early and it was a friendly, but in official competition you cannot lower your guard."

Barca begin their LaLiga campaign at home to Rayo Vallecano next Saturday.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta has confirmed the club are looking to offload Samuel Umtiti and Martin Braithwaite before the transfer window closes.

The LaLiga giants have been busy in the transfer market, signing Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha, Jules Kounde, Franck Kessie and Andreas Christensen – with Chelsea's Marcos Alonso lined up as the next recruit.

Barca could not afford to keep Lionel Messi a year ago due to their financial crisis and there has been talk that LaLiga may not give them the green light to register their new recruits due to limits on spending.

Laporta has stated that he does not envisage any issues after the club signed up to a hugely lucrative sponsorship deal with Spotify, and sold a percentage of LaLiga broadcast rights, merchandising rights and a stake in Barca Studios.

Barca are prepared to activate a fourth financial lever to allow for those registrations, if required, and are also looking to reduce their wage bill, with departures and negotiations for wage reductions on the cards.

With the new season beginning on Saturday against Rayo Vallecano, Barca are in a race against time to register their new additions and, while Laporta remains confident they will be able to do so, there is still work to be done.

Ahead of Sunday's pre-season clash against Mexican side Pumas, Laporta revealed Umtiti and Braithwaite have been informed that they are not in the club's plans - following on from the cancellation of Neto's contract, with the goalkeeper joining Bournemouth.

"Umtiti and Braithwaite have a contract, but they have understood that the coach does not count on them and that the best thing for them is to leave," he told ESport3.

Laporta added: "We are awaiting some more dismissals, but with the operations we have carried out we understand that we will be able to register all signings and renewed players."

Frenkie de Jong is another player who has been heavily touted for an exit before the window closes on September 1, but Laporta has once again outlined the club's desire to retain the services of the Netherlands international.

"Frenkie de Jong is a Barca player. He has offers, but he wants to stay, and we want him to stay," he added.

Bournemouth have announced the free transfer signing of goalkeeper Neto, following the veteran's release from Barcelona.

The 33-year-old, who has also played with Juventus and Valencia, arrives on a year-long deal at Vitality Stadium as the Cherries' fourth signing of the window following their return to the Premier League.

The Brazilian will wear the number 13 jersey for Scott Parker's side and will provide competition for Mark Travers and Will Dennis.

"To be able to attract a player of Neto's calibre is very pleasing," chief executive Neill Blake stated. "This is a real coup for the club and we're delighted he has chosen to join us.

"He has vast experience at the very top level of the game so I'm sure he will be a huge asset for us."

A Serie A, Coppa Italia and Copa del Rey winner across his career, Neto has often played as a back-up option for other keepers, particularly during his time at Juventus and Barcelona.

He made more appearances in two years at Valencia than in five combined between the Bianconeri and Blaugrana, and was capped once by Brazil, in 2018 against El Salvador in a friendly.

Neto follows Joe Rothwell, Ryan Fredericks and Marcus Tavernier through the door on the south coast, as the club look to ensure they stay up following promotion from the Championship last term.

Bournemouth started their attempt to do so with a 2-0 home win against Aston Villa on Saturday.

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag remains keen to bolster his squad before the end of the transfer window.

The Dutchman, who took over at Old Trafford this off-season, wants to improve his front-line options, along with his midfield with Fabian Ruiz and Frenkie de Jong linked.

Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Anthony Martial along with Cristiano Ronaldo will likely lead the line for United this campaign.

TOP STORY – UNITED IN SURPRISE BID FOR BAYERN'S SANE

The Mirror reports that Manchester United have made a shock move to sign Bayern Munich's former Manchester City forward Leroy Sane.

United have made an enquiry with the Bundesliga champions about the 26-year-old Germany international's availability.

Sane's role at Bayern has been jeopardized by Sadio Mane's arrival, clouding his future, with Liverpool also interested in him according to the Liverpool Echo.


ROUND-UP

–  Manchester United may use Donny van de Beek in a swap deal in their pursuit of Barcelona's Frenkie de Jong, claims the Express. Goal reports that the Red Devils are also considering Napoli's Fabian Ruiz as an alternative if they fail to win De Jong's signature.

United are set to miss out on target Benjamin Sesko who has decided to stay with Austrian champions Salzburg, according to Sky Sport Austria. Chelsea and RB Leipzig were also keen on the 19-year-old Slovenian.

Real Madrid are plotting a move for Bayer Leverkusen's teenage Spanish forward Iker Bravo, according to Marca. Atletico Madrid are also interested in the 17-year-old who made his Bundesliga debut last year.

– The Sun claims that West are in for free agent Dan-Axel Zagadou amid interest from Roma. French defender Zagadou left Borussia Dortmund at the end of last season.

– Free agent Edinson Cavani will join Argentine giants Boca Juniors claims Fabrizio Romano. The Uruguayan left Manchester United in the off season and has been linked with Villarreal among other clubs.

Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel is hoping to welcome more new faces to Stamford Bridge before the end of the transfer window as he confirmed Marcos Alonso is close to joining Barcelona.

Jorginho's first-half penalty was enough to get Chelsea's 2022-23 Premier League campaign off to a winning start on Saturday, ending a run of four consecutive defeats for the Blues at Goodison Park.

New signings Kalidou Koulibaly and Raheem Sterling started the hard-fought victory, the latter twice coming close to a debut goal, while Marc Cucurella also made his Chelsea bow from the bench.

Having already parted with substantial fees for that trio, Chelsea have also been linked with moves for Leicester City defender Wesley Fofana and Barcelona star Frenkie de Jong.

After Chelsea won their opening Premier League match for the third consecutive season despite failing to produce a fluid performance, Tuchel insisted more recruits are required. 

"Yeah, if we can add, we'll add," Tuchel told Sky Sports.

"Maybe not midfielders as a first option but we are open for everything, and I think we can use new energy, new legs, and fresh input to bring us to a new level.

"If not, then we will push this team, but I think we could use some more input and some more quality. We are on it, but we will not tell you!"

Having dominated the opening period on Merseyside, winning the second-most corners on record in the first half of a Premier League match (13, second to Tottenham's 15 v Aston Villa in December 2012), Chelsea were indebted to Edouard Mendy for making two strong saves to preserve their lead after the break.

Mendy has now kept a clean sheet on 47 per cent of his Premier League starts (31/66) – only Ederson (50 per cent) has a better record among goalkeepers to have started at least 50 games in the competition.

But with Chelsea having struggled for results at Everton in recent seasons, Tuchel was content with the Blues picking up a victory despite not being at their best.

"We struggled last season to get points here, we have the points, a win is a win," he added. "It's most important for everything to get better, because we have to get better.

"I could assume that we are maybe not on our highest level. We have players in, but they came in late, pre-season was a bit turbulent. 

"The last week in training was promising, some situations in the first half were quite good, and in the second half we had simply not enough movement on the ball. It was a strange second half without the rhythm from our team and the interruptions, 10 minutes extra time... a bit strange.

"But we hung on and we did what was necessary to keep a clean sheet, so there are positive things and from there we go.

"Very classic that we win 1-0 with a penalty from Jorginho. Like I said, we know that we need to get better but first of all, a win helps us to be open for improvement and for the atmosphere and spirit."

Meanwhile, with Chelsea acquiring Cucurella this week, they look set to allow fellow wing-back Alonso to leave for Barcelona.

The Spain international was left out of the squad for the trip to Merseyside, and Tuchel confirmed that decision was the result of his desire to join the Blaugrana.

Asked whether Alonso's absence indicated a move to Camp Nou was close, Tuchel told reporters: "That is the case. 

"He tries to leave and we agreed to this wish. That's why it would not have made sense to put him on the pitch today. 

"He would've been on the pitch otherwise but in this situation, it was the right thing to do."

Marcos Alonso looks to be on his way to Barcelona after he was left out of Chelsea's squad to face Everton.

The Spain full-back reportedly said his goodbyes at the London club this week as he nears a return to his homeland.

Alonso did not travel to Goodison Park for the Blues' opening match of the Premier League season and is expected to become big-spending Barca's next recruit.

Chelsea splashed out to sign Marc Cucurella from Brighton and Hove Albion on Friday, while Ben Chilwell has returned after a long spell on the sidelines due to injury.

Thomas Tuchel also omitted Timo Werner and Callum Hudson-Odoi from his squad for the trip to Merseyside amid reports they could leave the club.

Barca president Joan Laporta on Friday said he was confident the Catalan giants would be able to register all of their new players despite claims LaLiga will require them to generate more funds.

Chelsea's rather scatter-gun approach to the transfer window since their takeover went through has been one of the talking points of pre-season.

New owner Todd Boehly has been a busy man but missed out on a host of players who were apparently key targets.

Jules Kounde, Raphinha and Matthijs de Ligt all went to other clubs; Ousmane Dembele opted to sign a new contract with Barcelona; and the Blues were unsuccessful in reported pursuits of Presnel Kimpembe and Nathan Ake. On top of that, Chelsea saw Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen leave on free transfers.

Sky Sports pundit and former Manchester United defender Gary Neville has likened Boehly's activity to someone playing on the computer game Football Manager.

But for all their failed dealings, Chelsea have brought in Raheem Sterling, Kalidou Koulibaly and now Marc Cucurella.

The deal for the latter, however, certainly hasn't been completed without criticism. First of all, Chelsea could end up paying £62million to Brighton and Hove Albion for the Spaniard, which would be a world-record fee for a left-back.

Manchester City were apparently unwilling to pay more than £30m for him, so why are Chelsea so convinced by him?


MAKING HIS MARC OUTSIDE OF SPAIN

A graduate of Barcelona's La Masia academy, Cucurella has always looked extremely promising.

As such, it was a surprise Barca ever let him go on loan to Eibar with a purchase option in the first place four years ago. It was even more bizarre 12 months later when the Blaugrana exercised their buy-back clause just 16 days after officially selling him, only to loan him again to Getafe with a €6million option – and reportedly 40 per cent of any future transfer fee – about 48 hours later.

His form at Eibar and Getafe regularly suggested Barca were being short-sighted, although neither club nor Brighton would be considered especially fashionable, which is perhaps why he's still only played once for Spain.

One might even say Cucurella's only season at Brighton went under the radar until City's interest surfaced a few weeks ago – but make no mistake, he took to the Premier League impressively, his development in the physically intense teams of Jose Luis Mendilibar and Jose Bordalas clearly coming in useful.

The 24-year-old was used predominantly in his favoured left-back position last term, while also filling in as a left wing-back and as a left-sided centre-back at a time of need for Brighton, despite previous doubts over his ability to defend.

"There were people who said I couldn't play as a full-back because I couldn't defend, but now I'm proving I can even play as a centre-back in a back three," Cucurella told Spanish outlet Marca earlier this year.

"What I was looking for was to play as a full-back, which is what I have done all my life. I had never played left centre-back before, but [Brighton head coach Graham Potter] has given me the confidence to feel very comfortable there."

Thrown in at the deep end as Brighton dealt with an injury crisis midway through the 2021-22 season – his first outside his native Spain – Cucurella more than passed the test and added further strings to his bow.

CUCURELLA THE ALL-ROUNDER

Whether operating at full-back, wing-back or centre-back, Cucurella helped Brighton keep 11 clean sheets in the Premier League last season, a tally that only six other clubs could better.

Far from being someone who is unable to defend, he led the way among players who played predominantly as full-backs in the English top flight last season in terms of winning back possession, doing so 247 times.

He also ranked behind only Tyrick Mitchell for tackles – 93 compared to the Crystal Palace youngster's 104 – showing he is happy to get stuck in when required.

The one-cap Spain international also proved he is capable of attacking, with his 40 open-play chances created placing him behind only new team-mate Reece James (42) and Trent Alexander-Arnold (51), who many would consider to be two of the finest attacking full-backs around.

Granted, those key passes only translated to one assist – for context, James recorded nine last season – but some of that can be put down to the finishing of Brighton's attacking players, rather than Cucurella alone failing to deliver from wide.

Indeed, his expected assists (xA) return of 2.8 last term was still the 14th-highest of any full-back. While that may not sound outstanding, it's worth bearing in mind the only players to exceed 4.0 xA were James (4.7), Andrew Robertson (5.5), Joao Cancelo (6.6) and Alexander Arnold (13), all of whom obviously play at clubs who dominate most of their games.

Furthermore, given his near decade spent in the Barca youth set-up and then on the fringes of the first team, it comes as no surprise to see Cucurella is very comfortable with the ball at his feet.

The 1,558 passes he completed last season were bettered – again among those who can be considered full-backs by trade – by only Robertson (1,642), Alexander-Arnold (1,684) and Cancelo (2,516).

Cucurella is clearly a feisty competitor who can also play, a combination that in itself is an asset.

A GAMBLE WORTH TAKING?

On the basis of those numbers and the importance Thomas Tuchel places on his wing-backs, bringing in Cucurella in this window does make some sense for Chelsea. But one problem, of course, is the mammoth transfer fee.

Of course, as Graham Potter said on Friday, Brighton didn't need to sell, and Cucurella still had four years left to run on his contract, so the Seagulls were in a position of absolute strength.

From Chelsea's perspective, that leads us to a key question: was Cucurella a necessity? Right now, arguably not, and the fee does look remarkable given he only cost Brighton £16m a year ago.

There remains the likely scenario that Marcos Alonso leaves the club, in which case Cucurella and Ben Chilwell will be left to fight over that spot on the left flank, but again, does a club need two players of such expense for one position?

Sure, Cucurella's greater versatility means the pair could potentially play together, although clearly one or the other would be playing at least slightly out of their natural position in such a scenario.

It's difficult to escape the feeling Chelsea might've been better served signing another natural centre-back or perhaps a striker.

But in fairness to Cucurella, the noise around his transfer has nothing to do with him. All he can do is concentrate on the obstacles in front of him, and he's done a pretty good job of adapting to his surroundings at each of his past three clubs.

As a player with Barcelona pedigree, who has proved himself in numerous roles during his short time in England and is still young enough to further improve, don't bet against Cucurella being a hit at Stamford Bridge, even if his signing has left plenty puzzled.

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag would rather develop the players he has than sign the wrong man if the club fail in their pursuit of Frenkie de Jong.

United have been strongly linked with Barcelona midfielder De Jong for months, with reports of their interest emerging even before Ten Hag was officially appointed in April.

De Jong enjoyed his Ajax breakthrough under Ten Hag, playing a key role in the team that almost reached the 2018-19 Champions League final.

He moved to Barca in 2019 but arguably has not reached the level many expected of him initially upon his transfer to Camp Nou.

Ten Hag apparently saw De Jong's acquisition as vital for the way he wants United to play, and media reports have indicated the club agreed a fee with Barca last month.

However, it is claimed Barca owe De Jong millions of euros in deferred wages, and he is apparently refusing to leave the club – who need a big sale in order to ease their financial issues – until a settlement is reached.

While some fans may be urging United to move on and sign an alternative, Ten Hag suggested that is not an option.

"We want Frenkie? I didn't know," he told reporters with a smile on Friday. "We want the right players, but I cannot comment on players contracted to other clubs.

"When we have news, we will bring it."

He added: "You work with the current squad, you develop players who are in your current squad. In this moment, the players in that position have performed really well [in pre-season]."

While the De Jong saga shows no sign of ending, United have been able to add promising left-back Tyrell Malacia, versatile Argentina defender Lisandro Martinez and Christian Eriksen to the squad.

Given United looked short of quality last season and eight first-team players have since left, many were expecting the club to be far busier on the transfer front.

Ralf Rangnick, who was interim manager for the second half of last season, suggested during his spell in charge that the squad needed as many as 10 new players, yet they have not brought in even half of that figure.

De Jong aside, United are rumoured to be keen on signing another striker, a right-sided winger and potentially a right-back, but again Ten Hag insisted panic buys will not satisfy him.

Asked if he is frustrated they have not strengthened all the areas he wanted to, Ten Hag said: "It would be good situation, but I am happy with the current squad, they make good progress.

"I'm happy with the signings until now. You don't just need any players, you need the right players. That's the point, and we're working together."

It was then asked of Ten Hag is he would rather go without any signings if they are not exactly who he wants, and his response was unequivocal.

"If it's not the right player, no, I'm happy with the current squad," he replied. "We need the right players."

Joan Laporta is confident Barcelona will be able to register all of their new signings after they "complied with everything" required by LaLiga.

Robert Lewandowski was presented as a Barca player at Camp Nou on Friday after the Poland captain was signed from Bayern Munich for a fee that could reportedly rise to €50million.

The Catalan giants have also splashed out on Raphinha and Jules Kounde, while Franck Kessie and Andreas Christensen arrived as free agents and Ousmane Dembele signed a new deal.

Barca were in dire straits a year ago, with Lionel Messi leaving the club as they could not afford to keep the legendary Argentina skipper due to a financial crisis at Camp Nou.

There has been talk that LaLiga may not give the green light to register Barca's new recruits due to limits on spending.

Blaugrana president Laporta does not envisage any issues after the club signed up to a hugely lucrative sponsorship deal with Spotify, and sold a percentage of LaLiga broadcast rights, merchandising rights and a stake in Barca Studios.

Laporta said in a media conference after Lewandowski was paraded on the pitch: "We have worked to be able to register all the players that we have incorporated.

"We have worked hard and well to meet the requirements that are needed for the registrations. If any further operation is needed, we will do it, but the documentation has been presented. It's a decision that LaLiga must make. We have complied with everything they require and we are confident that they will be able to sign up."

He added: "The second sale of Barca Studios was approved because we had foreseen it. As a precaution and in anticipation of divergence in some interpretations, we have done it. To have the foresight.

"We had already planned to do the fourth lever, if it also serves to consolidate registrations better. Barca has entered these two months and operations worth 868million euros. We have positive funds, a healthy balance sheet and results also because we have made profits.

"We have made a great effort, we have had to carry out operations to sell some assets, always in a controlled manner."

Laporta revealed that Lewandowski had to be assured his move to Barcelona would not collapse.

"When an agreement was reached with Bayern, we had a series of talks," he said.

"Robert and his agent were concerned about whether we could register him, but I gave them comfort and told them that if we had to register one Robert would be the first. There were other clubs that offered more money and more salary to the player."

Prolific striker Lewandowski has taken the number nine shirt that Memphis Depay wore last year, but Laporta does not feel Barca have been disrespectful to the Netherlands international.

He said: "The number nine thing was a club decision. For reasons that interest the club, for image and publicity reasons. We have considered an appropriate decision and we have made it with all respect for Memphis."

Leeds United owner Andrea Radrizzani felt "ashamed" to pull the plug on a "done deal" for Raphinha to join Chelsea and says only time will tell if Barcelona will pay up for the winger.

Raphinha left Elland Road to join Barca for a reported fee of €67million (£57m) last month.

Chelsea thought the Brazil international was on his way to Stamford Bridge after reaching an agreement with their Premier League rivals.

Radrizzani was embarrassed to inform Blues owner Todd Boehly that the deal was off, but says he had no choice.

He told The Athletic: "For me, it was done, the deal with Chelsea. When I have a deal, my word is my word and I felt ashamed to go back to Todd Boehly, the owner of Chelsea, and change the position.

"It was really for me, disrespectful and not the right thing to do, but I didn't have a choice.

"If I could decide to not sell the player, I would have preferred that. But I didn't have a choice because for us it was more important to buy six players than keep Raphinha."

 

Radrizzani confirmed London rivals Tottenham and Arsenal also wanted Raphinha.

He added: "Obviously we had interest from Tottenham, from Arsenal, from Chelsea and from Barcelona. So all of  these clubs and the best deal we agreed was with Chelsea.

"Then at the end the deal that came up with Barcelona is pretty much the same for the way we structured it at the very end, but it took time, it was hard. We had to manage well and as I said, I'd rather not sell him, but I didn't have a choice because we had to buy six players."

Eyebrows have been raised over Barca's spending in this transfer window given they had to let Lionel Messi leave 12 months ago due to a financial crisis.

Radrizzani says only time will tell if the LaLiga giants stump up the cash they have agreed to pay Leeds for Raphinha and vowed to take action if they do not.

Asked if he is confident Leeds will get the money from Barca, the Italian replied: "Look, I'll tell you on the 2nd of September. If not we will have a global case on all media in the world about Barcelona. So I don't know."

Pep Guardiola sees Bernardo Silva's future at Manchester City but accepts that could all change if the player sets his heart on a move to Barcelona.

The LaLiga giants are thought to be keen on City's Portuguese midfield star and could be preparing a bid to take him to Camp Nou.

Silva has spent five fruitful years with City, winning four Premier League titles in that time, and at the age of 27 can be reasonably considered to be still in his prime years.

Guardiola is aware of the Barca speculation but says he sees Silva as being settled, pointing to his fiancee and his dog as reasons for him to be happy with his life.

But after selling Oleksandr Zinchenko, Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus during the off-season, it is clear that City are a club willing to do deals if the timing and the terms are right.

"I was comfortable working with Oleks, Gabriel and Raheem. They were three figures with incredible characters who helped us achieve a lot," said Guardiola.

"Sometimes players have to depart our path. The desire of the players is the most important thing. I want people happy here, to be here and to try to do it together.

"Of course I'd love if Bernardo could continue here. He's been a special player here, for the locker room. I don't know what is going to happen.

"If he stays, it's perfect, and if he has to leave it's because football is like this, and the clubs have an agreement and the player has desires. When you're a football player [the career] is so short. When the club decides, for me it is okay.

"I want Bernardo to stay, definitely. To find players is difficult. I want 100 per cent Bernardo to stay here, but in the same time if you want to leave and have an offer and the clubs have an agreement, it's common sense what I said.

"This is the reality. He's an important player for me, Bernardo is special, but I don't know what's going to happen. Man City, as far as I know, didn't get any offer. Bernardo's training and doing really well, ready for Sunday."

City start their Premier League title defence at West Ham on Sunday, with Erling Haaland expected to make his debut in the competition.

Unless there is a dramatic intervention from Barcelona, Silva also looks set to feature at London Stadium.

The City star had his best season for Premier League goals last season, netting eight times in 35 games, having managed to score just twice in the previous campaign.

He and girlfriend Ines Degener Tomaz, who share a home with dog John, then became engaged at the end of the campaign.

"I talk a lot with Bernardo," said Guardiola. "But also with all of them, maybe because I'm getting old and we know each other quite well.

"Now the relationship is completely different to three or four years ago. I know the feelings they have, the good moments and the bad moments.

"I talk with them, but not especially with this situation. If he has to tell me something, he will tell me. I don't have doubts about that, but we don't talk about this situation.

"He's our player. I know he's happy: he's engaged, he has a beautiful dog, so he's happy here, I know that, and what's going to happen is going to happen."

Chelsea's ongoing negotiations with Barcelona could produce more than just midfielder Frenkie de Jong, with new reports that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is also on the table for a transfer.

The two powerhouse clubs have been in seemingly constant discussion over the past month, with Barcelona openly looking to add Marcos Alonso and Cesar Azpilicueta after swooping in to claim Blues target Jules Kounde.

Chelsea recently took Azpilicueta out of the equation by signing him to a two-year extension, but the two clubs re-opened their negotiations when the Stamford Bridge outfit decided to put in a bid for De Jong, and in the process they may have found the answer to their striker situation.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA WILLING TO INCLUDE AUBAMEYANG IN CHELSEA TRANSFER DISCUSSIONS

After expensive moves for Leeds United winger Raphinha, Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski and Sevilla centre-back Kounde, the Mirror is reporting Barcelona are "desperate to balance their books" and 33-year-old Aubameyang appears to be the most likely option to be moved on.

The report mentions both De Jong and Aubameyang are seen as surplus to requirements, and with Chelsea yet to bring in a replacement for Romelu Lukaku after he was loaned out to Inter, it could be a perfect match.

No potential asking price is mentioned for the striker who collected 20 goals in 38 club appearances this past season, including 11 goals in 17 LaLiga fixtures.

Meanwhile, ESPN adds that Chelsea were monitoring the Gabon frontman back in 2020 before he signed a contract extension with Arsenal, and that they are still interested.

 

ROUND-UP

– The Times is reporting Chelsea are expected to make a £70million bid for 21-year-old Leicester City centre-back Wesley Fofana after having a £60m offer turned down.

– According to Foot Mercato, Nottingham Forest and Leicester are competing for the signing of 24-year-old Lyon midfielder Houssem Aouar, who is valued at €15m.

– The Guardian is reporting 25-year-old Ivory Coast winger Maxwel Cornet only needs to pass a physical to confirm a move from Burnley to West Ham after the Hammers met his £17.5m release clause.

– Radioestadio Noche claims Real Madrid have identified 19-year-old RB Salzburg striker Benjamin Sesko or 22-year-old Nice forward Amine Gouiri as potential long-term successors to Karim Benzema.

Crystal Palace are exploring a move for 19-year-old RB Leipzig midfielder Ilaix Moriba – who is a product of Barcelona's youth academy – according to Foot Mercato.

Cesar Azpilicueta has ended speculation that he could join Barcelona by signing a new contract with Chelsea until 2024.

The long-serving captain had less than a year left on his previous deal with the Blues and emerged as a target for Barca.

Azpilicueta will not be returning to his homeland, though, after the defender agreed to remain at Stamford Bridge for at least another two seasons.

The 32-year-old joined the London club from Marseille in August 2012 and has won every major trophy during his decade at Stamford Bridge.

He has won the Premier League twice, the FA Cup, League Cup, Champions League, lifted the Europa League on two occasions, the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup.

The skipper said: "I am really happy to extend my stay at Chelsea, my home. It is almost 10 years since I first arrived and joined the club so I really feel the love and I am really excited for the new project we have in our hands.

"I would like to say thank you to Mr Todd [Boehly, Chelsea chairman and co-controlling owner] and Mr Behdad [Eghbali, Blues co-controlling owner] for giving me the opportunity to keep my journey at this amazing club and I am really looking forward to continuing our adventure. I am a really proud captain and I hope we can share many good memories together."

Azpilicueta's decision to stay at Chelsea is a major boost for head coach Thomas Tuchel ahead of his side's first game of the Premier League season at Everton on Saturday.

The Spain international, who has played in a back three and as a wing-back under Tuchel, made 47 appearances last season to take his total for the Blues to a mammoth 476.

Boehly said: "We are so happy that Cesar is staying at Chelsea for a minimum of two more years. We are thrilled with our captain showing his exemplary commitment and leadership yet again. There is still so much to do together."

The LA Galaxy have signed midfielder Riqui Puig from Barcelona on a three-and-a-half-year contract.

The Galaxy used Targeted Allocation Money to bring the 22-year-old to Major League Soccer after he was deemed surplus to requirements by Barca coach Xavi.

LaLiga giants Barca have the right to re-sign Puig and will be entitled to 50 per cent of any transfer fee he commands when he leaves Los Angeles.

Puig joined the Catalan club from Jabac Terrassa as an under-16 player in 2013 and went on to made 57 senior appearances for the Blaugrana, scoring twice.

"We are pleased to welcome Riqui to the LA Galaxy," said Galaxy head coach Greg Vanney. "Riqui is a very technical and well-educated player with incredible experiences for his age. He will fit seamlessly into our group and style of play."

Galaxy technical director Jovan Kirovski said: "Riqui is a very talented player with a unique profile that brings something different to our squad."

Puig won the LaLiga title with Barca three years ago and lifted the Copa del Rey in 2021.

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