Chelsea are hoping to raid Leicester City for both Wesley Fofana and Jamie Vardy during this transfer period, with the former reportedly telling the club he wants out, while the latter's contract is set to expire in 12 months.

Fofana, 21, has emerged as one of the most valuable young defenders in the Premier League despite missing most of this past season with a broken leg. He has represented France's Under-21s, and appears on track to a long international career at the senior level.

Vardy, 35, has scored at least 13 goals in each Premier League season since 2014-15, and if he indicates he has no interest in signing a new contract to stay in Leicester, this transfer window will be their last opportunity to cash-in on the club legend.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA SET SIGHTS ON DYNAMIC LEICESTER DUO

While Vardy will likely have a significant say in his future due to his contract situation, the same cannot be said for Fofana, who recently signed an extension that ties him to the club through 2027.

90min reports both Chelsea and Manchester United are monitoring Vardy's situation, with the thought that he could potentially be a relatively cheap replacement option after Romelu Lukaku was shipped out on loan to Inter, as well as Timo Werner having one foot out the door.

There is no word about an asking price for Vardy, but according to ESPN, Leicester are adamant Fofana is not available at any price, despite previous rumours that they value him at £85million. 

Meanwhile, the Mirror claims that since the Stamford Bridge side's interest became clear, the centre-back has been actively pushing for the move to Chelsea, and he has removed any mention of Leicester from his social media pages.

 

ROUND-UP

– Sky Sports is reporting that Sampdoria have accepted Brentford's £16.7m bid for 22-year-old Danish midfielder Mikkel Damsgaard.

– According to 90min, if Tottenham cannot secure Roma forward Nicolo Zaniolo, they will switch attention to Wolves winger Adama Traore.

– Football League World is reporting Sevilla and Wolves will battle it out for the signing of 23-year-old striker Ben Brereton-Diaz from Blackburn Rovers.

– Fabrizio Romano claims Sevilla are also interested in United full-back Alex Telles, who is said to be behind both Luke Shaw and Tyrell Malacia in the club's pecking order. 

– The Guardian is reporting Chelsea are interested in Southampton's Kyle Walker-Peters, and that an offer between £35m and £40m could get the deal done.

Jules Kounde has detailed the role Xavi played in bringing the defender to Barcelona from Sevilla, describing how "important" it was the coach was pushing for the deal.

The 23-year-old was long courted by Premier League outfit Chelsea, who were widely reported to be set to secure a deal before Barcelona moved to hijack the agreement.

It was the second time in the window a late Barca move had frustrated the English side, with the Blaugrana beating them to the signature of Raphinha from Leeds United, while they also signed Andreas Christensen on a free transfer from the Blues.

For Kounde, though, the key to his decision was the conversations he had with Xavi.

"I had some good conversations with Xavi, he always expressed desire for me to come here, and that was important for me," he told a news conference.

"This is an important moment in my career, and in the conversations, he asked me to continue to do what I was doing in Sevilla, to continue to be aggressive, bring the ball out from the back, distribute, those are some of my strengths. 

"Barcelona is a great club, very demanding as well, and that's something that Xavi talked to me about."

Kounde's arrival at Barcelona comes as part of a significant recruitment drive from Xavi's side, with Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha, Christensen and Franck Kessie fellow new arrivals.

However, the France international has an advantage due to his experience of playing in Spain and believes he will quickly settle into the club.

"My knowledge of the league is going to make it easier to adapt as soon as possible, to adapt to the Barcelona style as well," he explained.

"My coach is obviously going to ask me to know my team-mates as well, and that's going to take time, but it won't be a problem.

"There is lots of competition, I think it's very good for the team. It's good to have a lot of competition in each spot; there are lots of games, of course.

"What I have to do here is grow and learn. I'm very young still, and I'm here to help the team at any given moment, whatever the coach asks of me and my team-mates.

"It's good that there is competition, I'm really looking forward to playing, and when there's competition, it's a challenge and that's great."

Brendan Rodgers insisted Leicester City would not be selling Wesley Fofana to Chelsea and derided Newcastle United's reported offer for James Maddison.

Leicester are the only Premier League club yet to make a new signing with less than a week to go before the start of the season.

With finances said to be tight at the King Power Stadium, a number of key players appear to be of interest to rival clubs.

Chelsea are reportedly considering a move for centre-back Fofana, having lost Antonio Rudiger to Real Madrid and Andreas Christensen to Barcelona while missing out on top targets Matthijs de Ligt to Bayern Munich and Jules Kounde also to Barca.

Reports suggest Leicester would only countenance the sale of one of Fofana or Maddison, and Rodgers ruled out the possibility of his top defender departing.

"Naturally, he's a top talent," Rodgers said following Sunday's 1-0 friendly win over Sevilla. "He's not for sale.

"He still has lots of improvements to make. He's very happy here, he really enjoys being here.

"Naturally, he will attract the interest of other clubs. Our job, in not signing anyone so far, is to at least keep the players we have. I know that's the intention of the club."

Rodgers was slightly less firm on Maddison's future, although he suggested the £40million fee Newcastle were said to be willing to pay fell well short of the midfielder's value.

Newcastle have also been linked to Maddison's team-mates Youri Tielemans and Harvey Barnes, while they last season targeted Rodgers himself before appointing Eddie Howe.

"He's still very much a player here," Rodgers said of Maddison. "Naturally, the players are sought after because they are talents.

"You see his performance, you see how happy he is, and he's not a player we want to sell.

"It's not for me to put valuations on the players, it's not my side, but [£40m] might just cover three-quarters of his left leg, that price. He's a top player."

Another player who could leave Leicester is captain Kasper Schmeichel, who has held talks with Nice.

Lucien Favre, coach of the Ligue 1 club, said over the weekend a potential move was "a real lead" but "not yet done".

Rodgers added: "There's been a little bit of interest over the summer.

"Kasper has earned the right to have a think about the next chapter of his career and where that's going to be. When there's something concrete, we'll sit and discuss it and take it from there."

Chelsea are showing they still have plenty of business to take care of during this transfer period, with reports they will make significant bids for Barcelona's Frenkie de Jong and Leicester City's Wesley Fofana.

De Jong has been a central figure in transfer news since the season ended, locked in an ongoing saga with Manchester United after they finally met Barcelona's asking price, only for the 25-year-old Dutch international to reveal he has no interest in heading to a club outside of the Champions League.

Meanwhile, Chelsea have been outgoing about their desire for another quality centre back to bring in along with Kalidou Koulibaly, and after Barcelona swooped in at the 11th hour to land Blues target Jules Kounde, Fofana is the new hot name in their hunt for a long-term solution in the middle of defence.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA PREPARE BIG-MONEY BIDS FOR DE JONG AND FOFANA

In the immediate aftermath of Barcelona securing Kounde, reports came out that Chelsea were then unwilling to do further business with the Spanish giants, withholding Marcos Alonso and Cesar Azpilicueta.

However, that seems to have changed as Sport is reporting the Stamford Bridge side will make a bid for De Jong, who Barcelona value at €80million, and if a deal can be made, Barca will then immediately use some of those funds to sign Manchester City midfielder Bernardo Silva.

For the 21-year-old Fofana, who has represented France at the under-21 level, Leicester reportedly value him at £85m after recently locking him down on a five-year contract expiring in 2027. Paris Saint-Germain are also said to be interested in the Foxes' defender.

 

ROUND-UP

– The Athletic are reporting Chelsea have also put out a feeler for 26-year-old Inter defender Denzel Dumfries, while Sport Italia's Rudy Galetti claims they are also discussing Milan Skriniar.

– According to the Daily Mail, Newcastle United have turned their attention to Leicester winger Harvey Barnes after having their bid for James Maddison turned down.

Manchester United are reportedly weighing up moves for 25-year-old Stuttgart striker Sasa Kalajdzic and RB Salzburg 19-year-old Benjamin Sesko, with the latter said to be valued at over £50m.

– ESPN are reporting that if Manchester City cannot land Brighton left-back Marc Cucurella, then they will pivot to Borussia Dortmund's Raphael Guerreiro, who has 56 international caps for Portugal.

– Ekrem Konur has revealed that Aston Villa face stiff competition in their pursuit of Bodo/Glimt right-back Alfons Sampsted, with the 24-year-old Iceland international also drawing interest from Bayer Leverkusen, Lyon and Lazio.

It is becoming increasingly likely that Chelsea striker Timo Werner will be on his way out of Stamford Bridge with reports he has been offered to Real Madrid, while Newcastle United are also investigating a possible loan.

The two new teams linked with Werner come after Bild reported recently he was willing to take a 50 per cent pay-cut to return to former club RB Leipzig, indicating the Blues are well and truly shopping him around.

The 26-year-old scored only four Premier League goals in 21 appearances last season, though also recorded four goals and two assists in his five Champions League contests.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA'S WERNER ON THE WAY OUT

Chelsea and Madrid have been in recent contact about the Spanish side's interest in 20-year-old Armando Broja – who Thomas Tuchel is said to be a fan of – though El Larguero is reporting that the London club put Werner on the table instead.

Meanwhile, the Sunday Mirror claims Newcastle have also touched base about a potential loan deal, and the report states they are currently a more likely landing spot than his former club Leipzig.

His reported weekly wage of £270,000 per week would need to be significantly reduced to accommodate a move to either Leipzig or Newcastle, and that could be where Madrid come into the equation.

 

ROUND-UP

– The Athletic is reporting that Brighton have put their foot down on a £50million asking price for 24-year-old left-back Marc Cucurella, who Manchester City is aggressively chasing.

Newcastle have had a £40m bid for Leicester City's James Maddison rejected, with his price-tag said to be at least £50m, according to the Times.

– Sport is reporting that Barcelona still have the intention of signing Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso from Chelsea, despite the English club marking them off-limits after being beaten to the signing of Jules Kounde by Barca.

Milan have agreed to a £26.9m deal for exciting 21-year-old Club Brugge midfielder Charles de Ketelaere, according to Calciomercato.

– Fabrizio Romano is reporting that Stoke City are in advanced discussions to secure young Man City midfielder Liam Delap on loan.

Real Madrid are the latest side to enquire about the availability of 20-year-old Chelsea striker Armando Broja, but the Premier League club are maintaining that he is not for sale.

The Albania international has been the subject of significant interest after a successful loan spell at Southampton last season, netting nine goals in 38 appearances.

Chelsea reportedly turned down a £30million offer from West Ham for Broja, and although Thomas Tuchel is said to be a fan, Madrid are eager to land the youngster.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA'S RISING ALBANIAN DRAWS REAL MADRID'S INTEREST

Since Romelu Lukaku departed from Chelsea on a season-long loan to Inter, questions have been asked about what the London club's plans are to bolster their attack.

The Evening Standard's report claims Carlo Ancelotti is on the hunt for young strikers to find a potential successor to 35-year-old Karim Benzema, although with Timo Werner potentially on his way back to RB Leipzig, Chelsea may have simply decided that Broja must stay.

West Ham have also reportedly not been driven away yet and remain interested, as do Everton and Newcastle United.

 

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– According to Bild, Bayern Munich full-back Benjamin Pavard would be willing to join Chelsea if they make a serious offer.

– The Telegraph is reporting RB Salzburg want £55m for 19-year-old Slovenian striker Benjamin Sesko, who is a Manchester United target, according to Manchester Evening News.

– Sky Sports Italia claims Juventus would like to acquire Barcelona forward Memphis Depay on loan, however the Catalan giants wants to make it a permanent deal.

– 90min say Everton are in advanced discussions with Chelsea to bring Ross Barkley back to the club, and they also have interest in Michy Batshuayi and Billy Gilmour.

– According to Talksport, West Ham are willing to meet the £17.5m release clause for 25-year-old Burnley winger Maxwel Cornet.

Chelsea withdrew their offer to sign Jules Kounde, allowing Barcelona to pounce, according to Sevilla's director of football Monchi.

Barca confirmed on Thursday that they had struck a deal to sign France international Kounde from their LaLiga rivals.

The centre-back, who has been a standout performer since joining Sevilla in 2019, will reportedly cost up to €55million.

Yet only last week, the 23-year-old looked set to join Premier League club Chelsea, who agreed a fee with Sevilla.

Monchi, though, has claimed the Blues opted out of the arrangement after having "doubts".

"On Thursday [July 21] Kounde was 'sold' to Chelsea," Monchi told Sevilla's club media. "They began to have doubts and pulled out. Then Barcelona appeared. The first time [sporting director Mateu] Alemany got in contact was on Monday.

"We received an offer that was lower than what we had in mind, but we renegotiated with them and reached an agreement for a club-record sale."

Monchi added that Chelsea subsequently returned with another bid, but that did not match up to Barcelona's offer.

Kounde was previously linked with Manchester City in 2020, while Chelsea had an approach rebuffed last year, and Monchi explained that Sevilla believed it was the right time to let the player leave.

"This would have been the third time we'd have told him no," Monchi said. "He's a professional, but you have to consider the person as well."

Sevilla now head into the 2022-23 campaign having sold their regular starting centre-backs in Kounde and Diego Carlos, who has left for Aston Villa.

Julen Lopetegui's team looked capable of mounting a title challenge in LaLiga last season, but ultimately fell away and finished fourth as Real Madrid cruised to glory.

Tottenham have reportedly entered the race for 23-year-old Roma attacking midfielder Nicolo Zaniolo, with Juventus also heavily linked to the Italy international.

Zaniolo missed the entire 2020-21 season after suffering the second torn ACL of his career, but he made a successful return this past campaign, totalling 42 club appearances, including five goals and four assists in 10 Conference League fixtures.

The man with nine senior international caps has been linked with Juventus for some time now, but with the club yet to make any breakthrough, they could face competition from the Premier League.

TOP STORY – TOTTENHAM LOOK TO SWOOP IN FOR JUVENTUS TARGET

According to Tuttosport, Juventus and Roma have been holding discussions about different constructions of a deal for Zaniolo, including an iteration that would make it a loan this season with an option to buy after. The report mentions his price tag is believed to be between £30million and £40million.

With Tottenham set to play Roma in a friendly on Saturday, it is said to be an opportunity for the two clubs to sit down and discuss the possibility of a move.

Reports have claimed Spurs are willing to include Giovani Lo Celso in their bid, with the English club said to value the Argentinian at £17million.


ROUND-UP

– L'Equipe is reporting that Marseille are investigating a potential move for Inter's Alexis Sanchez.

– Fabrizio Romano says Chelsea have yet to receive an acceptable offer for 20-year-old striker Armando Broja after turning down a £30million bid from West Ham, and that he may be competing for first-team minutes this season.

– Fabrizio Romano is also reporting that Everton have approached Paris Saint-Germain about bringing 32-year-old Idrissa Gueye back to the club after he left in 2019.

– According to 90min, West Ham are in talks with Eintracht Frankfurt about 29-year-old wing-back Filip Kostic after having their first bid turned down.

Ajax, Newcastle United and Bayer Leverkusen are tracking 18-year-old forward Giovani, playing for Palmeiras in the Brazilian top division, according to ESPN Brasil.

Barcelona have announced they have reached an agreement to sign Sevilla defender Jules Kounde, with the Blaugrana seeing off competition from Chelsea.

Kounde, who has starred for Sevilla since arriving from Bordeaux in 2019, seemed set to join Chelsea after also being heavily linked with a move to Stamford Bridge throughout the 2021 transfer window.

However, despite Barcelona reportedly failing to match Chelsea's offer of £55million (€65m) for the 23-year-old, the Blaugrana had been touted as Kounde's preferred destination.

On Thursday, they announced a deal is now in place with Sevilla for the transfer of the France international, with the move subject to a medical.

 

Kounde ranked first in duels won (169), second in blocks (17) and second in headed clearances (56) among Sevilla players in LaLiga last season.

His arrival represents another major coup for Barca, who have already strengthened their backline by signing Andreas Christensen, as well as completing marquee deals for Robert Lewandowski and Raphinha, after bringing in free agent Franck Kessie.

Meanwhile, missing out on Kounde's signature will be another source of frustration for Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel, with the Blues struggling throughout a pre-season tour of the United States and also being turned down by Raphinha, who favoured a move to Camp Nou.

Chelsea defenders Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso continue to be strongly linked with moves to Barca.

Timo Werner and RB Leipzig made for a sublime match over four joyful years, but the Bundesliga club are reluctant to say whether they want to rekindle the relationship.

Leipzig head coach Domenico Tedesco was asked about the prospect of re-signing Werner when he addressed a news conference on Thursday, and gave the idea absolutely no encouragement.

Nor did he discourage the idea, though, which points to a reunion possibly being under consideration but far from certain to happen.

Werner might believe he has endless escape routes from Chelsea if he reads the gossip columns, with Juventus also linked with him in recent days.

Two years with Chelsea might be enough for Werner, whose involvement decreased last season and whose goal return in the Premier League has fallen far short of expectations.

By adding Raheem Sterling to their squad, Chelsea have brought in a player who performs a similar role to Werner – a goal threat from the flanks with a sharp turn of pace – and looks sure to be a regular starter for Thomas Tuchel.

Tedesco said: "Timo Werner is not my player, not our player. He's a Chelsea player and I have a very clear opinion on that, not to comment, not to take a position on players who don't belong to us, who aren't under contract with us. I think that has something to do with respect. And it is simply an important principle that I have established for myself."

Pressed on whether he could confirm any interest from Leipzig at all in the Germany forward, Tedesco said: "No, I can't. I can't, because as I said, I stand by that, he's a Chelsea FC player and everything else has become superfluous."

Werner scored 34 goals in 45 games across all competitions in his final season at Leipzig, at a rate of one every 105.53 minutes. At Chelsea, he has managed 23 goals in 89 appearances so far.

Leipzig may wish to sell a player to fund any offer for Werner, with Konrad Laimer repeatedly linked in German media with Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich.

But it is not the case that Leipzig particularly want to lose another significant figure to Bayern, after coach Julian Nagelsmann and first-team key figures Marcel Sabitzer and Dayot Upamecano went to Munich last year.

"[Laimer] is our player, is my player and I am happy that he is my player," said Tedesco.

"And as long as there is nothing else, he has my full support, is treated the same as any other player. And of course it's also clear that the longer this drags on, the more difficult it will be to do that at some point. So time is in our favour because, as you rightly said, there is no deadline."

Tedesco is not ignorant of the speculation surrounding Laimer, however, and said the Austrian midfielder "is also of the opinion that he would like to have clarity at some point".

Leipzig face Bayern in the DFB-Supercup on Saturday, and Tedesco believes the German champions are collectively more powerful going into the new season than they were 12 months ago, despite losing star striker Robert Lewandowski to Barcelona.

Sadio Mane, Ryan Gravenberch, Noussair Mazraoui and Matthijs de Ligt have arrived at Bayern, and Tedesco said: "They have been flexible before. But of course, this is a different story because I think that Lewandowski will be missed by them. Not just in this game but in general since he scored a lot of goals for them.

"But they have reinforced themselves and I think that they have a stronger squad than last year."

The tense Frenkie de Jong transfer saga continues with uncertainty on his Barcelona future.

The 25-year-old Dutchman has two years to run on his Barcelona contract, having postponed part of his deal during the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

De Jong is unwilling to accept another pay cut to remain at Camp Nou, though, amid the club's hefty off-season transfer spending.

 

TOP STORY – DE JONG DECISION OVER ENGLISH SUITORS

Decisions will be made on Frenkie de Jong's future at Barcelona after their United States tour, with interest from Chelsea alongside Manchester United, reports Sport.

De Jong is reluctant to leave Camp Nou, particularly for a move to Old Trafford, despite ending last season out of favour.

However, the Dutchman is more open to Chelsea's advances, but the Blues are unwilling to pay as much as United, leaving the Blaugrana in a bind.

 

ROUND-UP

– Leicester City have placed a £70million asking price on Wesley Fofana, who is being courted by Chelsea, reports CBS Sports.

Newcastle United are considering a move for Chelsea's Germany international forward Timo Werner, claims Bild. Juventus are also interested in Werner according to Sky Sports.

– Fabrizio Romano reports that ex-Chelsea midfielder Oscar is pushing for a move from Shanghai SIPG to Flamengo, with talks ongoing.

– L'Equipe believes that Danish goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel has agreed to a deal with Ligue 1 club Nice, although Leicester City are yet to approve the move.

– Arsenal and Fulham are in talks over an £8m deal for goalkeeper Bernd Leno, claims Sky Sports.

Roma head coach Jose Mourinho is trying to woo Manchester United defender Eric Bailly to the Italian capital, reports The Daily Mail.

Newcastle United are planning a move for out-of-favour Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Julian Draxler, with the Germany international's price tag believed to be in the range of £25million (€29.5m).

Draxler, 28, has spent the past six seasons with the French giants, but his last campaign was mostly from a bench role, with 13 of his 18 Ligue 1 appearances coming as a substitute.

He also had two separate injuries that forced him to miss over a month each time, but with 58 senior caps for Germany and a World Cup right around the corner, he could be a savvy purchase for a club desperate for a marquee signing.

 

TOP STORY – NEWCASTLE ENQUIRE ABOUT VERY AVAILABLE DRAXLER

According to French publication Le 10 Sport, Draxler is on Paris Saint-Germain director of football Luis Campos' "blacklist" of players who have no future at the club.

The report says he has been asked to find a way out, and with a relatively low price tag – around half the £40m demanded by Lyon in Newcastle's reported pursuit of Lucas Paqueta – the stars could be aligning for the Magpies to land an established international on a cheaper deal.

Draxler was left out of PSG's pre-season squad for the recent tour of Japan, indicating he already has one foot out the door, but it remains to be seen if Newcastle will be his landing spot.

ROUND-UP

Chelsea are reportedly willing to part ways with Timo Werner, with Foot Mercato claiming the forward was included in an offer to former club RB Leipzig  in exchange for defender Nordi Mukiele, who appears to be PSG-bound.

– Sport believes Chelsea will block Barcelona moves for Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso due to the Spanish club's chase of Blues target Jules Kounde.

– The Guardian is reporting that Gianluca Scamacca will have his medical this week before confirming a £35.5m move from Sassuolo to West Ham.

– According to Calciomercato, Milan have increased their bid for Club Brugge midfielder Charles de Ketelaere to €32m, and are also trying to secure a move for Chelsea's Hakim Ziyech.

Barcelona have told Memphis Depay to find a new club after Robert Lewandowski's arrival, according to AS.

Inter defender Alessandro Bastoni has claimed he never considered leaving the Nerazzurri despite being linked with a Premier League move, as he professed his hope Milan Skriniar would also remain at San Siro.

Meanwhile, Bastoni claimed the loan signing of Romelu Lukaku can help Inter compete for silverware on both domestic and European fronts, but warned old rivals Juventus will put up a stern challenge next season.

Bastoni had been linked with both Tottenham and Chelsea after a fine 2021-22 season with the Serie A runners-up, making 31 league appearances as he nailed down a regular spot in Simone Inzaghi's backline.

In June, however, Bastoni's agent Tullio Tinti claimed he would "100 per cent" remain at San Siro, and the defender has now revealed a move never crossed his mind.

"I never had the slightest doubt of leaving Inter, here I have everything I need to feel good and express myself at my best," he told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"I am great with my teammates, with the club, I love Milan and so why go elsewhere? For many years [I hope to be] with this shirt and, in the meantime, I hope to still win a lot.

"The fact that the club wants to keep me means a lot. Here I have everything to feel good, I never thought about leaving."

Bastoni's defensive partner Skriniar has also been liked with an exit, with Paris Saint-Germain rumoured to be interested in the Slovakia international.

But Bastoni believes the presence of Skriniar, as well as that of the returning Lukaku – who scored 24 goals as Inter won the Scudetto in 2020-21 – will be crucial in the Nerazzurri's pursuit of silverware.

"[I hope] my friend Skriniar stays here with us, it would be a shame if he left us," Bastoni added. "Lukaku? He is the same [as his previous spell], now let us win."

Inter are likely to face stern competition in their bid to regain the Serie A title, both from champions Milan and Massimiliano Allegri's Juve.

The Bianconeri have had a busy transfer window after finishing fourth last term, acquiring the likes of Paul Pogba, Angel Di Maria and Gleison Bremer, and the 23-year-old expects Allegri's team to fare much better this time around.

"We have grown, but keep an eye on Juventus," he warned. "The Bianconeri are a battleship, but we are no less."

Atletico Madrid are reportedly set to fund a bid for Cristiano Ronaldo by putting Antoine Griezmann up for sale, with the club hoping to bring the Portugal superstar back to La Liga.

Ronaldo has sat out Manchester United's pre-season tour of the Far East and Australia amid reports he has requested an exit from Old Trafford if a suitable bid is lodged.

The veteran forward signed a two-year deal in a spectacular homecoming last season, but could not help United avoid missing out on a top-four finish, leaving him without Champions League football this term as things stand.

 

TOP STORY - ATLETICO SEEK TO SELL GRIEZMANN TO LAUNCH RONALDO MOVE

Widely considered one of the greatest players in the modern game, Ronaldo is likely to accept only a move to a club that can offer him a shot at major European glory once again, limiting his pool of options.

Though linked with a host of European heavyweights, the funds required to cover his wage bill also present a major stumbling block - which is why Atletico are looking to push Griezmann off their books, says The Times.

Having left Atletico for Barcelona in 2019, the France international and World Cup winner returned to Wanda Metropolitano last year after a dismal stay at Camp Nou, pushing to recapture his best form.

He is halfway through a two-season loan with a permanent transfer set to come into force at the end of that deal, with Diego Simeone's side looking to move him on early.

Prospective buyers, such as Paris Saint-Germain, are not interested in taking Griezmann however, suggesting Neymar will remain at the Parc des Princes despite talk of an exit.

 

ROUND-UP

– According to the Mirror, United would let Ronaldo leave on a season-long loan deal - providing he triggered a one-year extension that would ensure his Old Trafford return in 2023.

– Sport believes that Barcelona hope to successfully hijack Chelsea's move for Jules Kounde by offering a lump sum payment to Sevilla, rather than the instalments favoured by the Blues.

– Newcastle are weighing up a move for Leicester winger Harvey Barnes, but the Foxes' £50m price tag is throwing a wrench in the Magpies' plans, says The Sun.

Brighton will not take a penny under their asking price for Marc Cucurella, with the Seagulls refusing to drop from their £50m valuation after Manchester City's £30m offer, per The Athletic.

– Timo Werner is eyeing an exit from Chelsea in this window as the Germany international is concerned over his game-time ahead of the Qatar 2022 World Cup.

Barcelona could not compete financially with Chelsea for the signing of centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly, according to Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis.

Chelsea confirmed the signing of Koulibaly last weekend in a deal worth a reported £33.8million (€40m), bringing an end to the defender's eight-year stay in Naples.

LaLiga heavyweights Barca, whose financial problems have been well documented over the past year, also had an interest in the Senegal international.

However, De Laurentiis claims the Catalan club could not meet Napoli's valuation for Koulibaly, who was into the final year of his contract at Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.

"Barcelona had come in, but they didn't have the money because they are in debt," he told Radio Kiss Kiss. "Then Chelsea came forward and we couldn't say no."

Koulibaly helped Napoli to three second-place finishes in Serie A and to Coppa Italia glory in 2020, as well as winning the Supercoppa Italiana shortly after he arrived in Italy.

Since joining the club in 2014, no defender in the Italian top flight has won more tackles than Koulibaly (344), or made more successful passes (14,528).

De Laurentiis revealed Napoli offered the 31-year-old an improved contract in an attempt to fend off Chelsea.

"I let Koulibaly go because he asked me to. I tried in every possible way to keep him, offering €6million per season net," De Laurentiis said.

"But if a player wants a new experience at a prestigious club, in the biggest league in the world, you have to recognise what he's given you and not put up walls."

Koulibaly made 236 Serie A appearances for Napoli, including 27 as the Partenopei finished third last season.

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