Robert Lewandowski's status and Sadio Mane's transfer have taken up the majority of attention at Bayern Munich this close season.

Meanwhile, Serge Gnabry's uncertain future has lurked in the background, despite his importance to the team in recent seasons.

Reports suggest he is set to leave for the Premier League sooner rather than later, with a number of clubs showing interest.

 

TOP STORY – PREMIER LEAGUE CLUBS QUEUE FOR GNABRY

Arsenal and Manchester United are both preparing to sign Bayern Munich's Serge Gnabry, according to the Daily Star.

According to reports, Gnabry is set to run down his contract after rejecting terms for a renewal, with one year left on his deal.

This leaves Bayern with compromised leverage as time becomes a luxury, despite their desire to cash in this window, instead of letting him go for free at the end of next season

While Arsenal and United are preparing a £40million (€46.4m) bid, The Sun is also reporting Gnabry would become a priority for Manchester City if Raheem Sterling leaves.

 

ROUND-UP

- Meanwhile, the Gunners and United are engaging in a bidding war for Ajax's Lisandro Martinez, according to the Daily Mail.

- Martinez's team-mate and compatriot Nicolas Tagliafico is attracting interest from Brighton and Hove Albion and Lyon, per Fabrizio Romano.

Barcelona have no intention to sell Frenkie de Jong to United but are looking for the midfielder to take a pay cut, Diario AS reports.

Mohamed Salah was prepared to join Chelsea before Liverpool made him the highest-paid player in their history, The Sun is reporting.

Rafael Marquez is set to return to Barcelona as head coach of the Blaugrana's B team, club president Joan Laporta has confirmed.

The former defender, widely considered one of Mexico's greatest ever players, won La Liga four times and lifted the Champions League trophy twice with Barcelona between 2003 and 2010. 

He also won 147 caps for his country and appeared at five consecutive World Cups between 2002 and 2018, making his final professional appearance in El Tri's round-of-16 loss to Brazil in Russia four years ago.

The 43-year-old is now set to follow in the footsteps of Pep Guardiola and Luis Enrique by coaching Barcelona B, who play in the third tier of the Spanish league system.

Speaking at an event in S'Agaro, Laporta said: "Rafa in principle had [agreed] to be the coach of Barca Atletic last year, [but] he had a situation that prevented him from doing so.

"Now this has already been resolved and Rafa will be the coach of Barca Atletic next season. 

"I am especially happy because I had Rafa as a player, he is a person with a great personality, captain of the Mexican team, and who was part of one of the best Barca [teams] in history."

Barcelona president Joan Laporta insists the club have "no intention" of selling Manchester United target Frenkie De Jong, but says the midfielder may have to accept a salary adjustment to remain at Camp Nou.

De Jong, who emerged as one of European football's hottest properties under Erik ten Hag at Ajax before joining Barca in 2019, has been strongly linked with a move to Old Trafford since his former boss took over at United.

The Netherlands international said in May that his preference would be to remain at Camp Nou, which he labelled his "dream club", but the Blaugrana's financial difficulties have given rise to speculation he could depart.

Barcelona's desire to recruit wantaway Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski has only amplified such rumours, but Laporta believes De Jong is happy at the club and could stay – if an agreement over his salary can be reached.

"Frenkie de Jong is a Barca player and is recognised as one of the best players in the world," Laporta told reporters.

"We know of clubs that want him, not only United, and we have no intention of selling him. The player, I get the impression, wants to stay. 

"He is comfortable at Barca and I will do what is in my power so that Frenkie stays here, but it is also a salary issue and it would have to be adjusted.

"What is certain is that the salary levels of some players are not in line with the salary levels that the board of directors that I have the privilege of presiding over have set."

 

De Jong made 47 appearances for Barcelona during the 2021-22 season, scoring four goals and boasting the best passing accuracy (91.18 per cent) of any of the club's midfielders to play at least 20 games in all competitions.

Laporta refused to be drawn on Barcelona's interest in Lewandowski, however, only affirming his respect for the Poland international's current club. 

"He is a Bayern player," he said of the striker, who plundered 50 goals for the Bundesliga champions last season. 

"Everyone knows that he is a great player, but I would prefer to be reserved because he is a Bayern player. 

"We know that he has publicly stated that he wants to come to Barca and we are very flattered, but we have respect for Bayern Munich, which is one of the best clubs in the world. Between clubs, we respect each other."

Barcelona president Joan Laporta has confirmed the club have been in talks with Leeds United regarding Raphinha, who "wants to come" to Camp Nou.

The 25-year-old looks poised to leave Leeds amid a fierce battle for his services, with Chelsea widely reported to have had a bid accepted, while Arsenal have also been attributed with an interest.

Barcelona have long been seen as the favourites, however, though there have been questions as to whether the club could afford the winger due their financial problems – though they were boosted by a TV agreement this week.

Laporta has now confirmed that Raphinha does indeed want to move to Barcelona.

"We've spoken to Leeds, I don't think they will be offended. We have communication and we have spoken personally," he told reporters on Saturday.

"What happens is that there are other clubs that want Raphinha and are making their proposals. He wants to come."

Laporta also confirmed that two deals are set to be made official this week, with Barcelona landing Franck Kessie and Andreas Christensen on free transfers following the expiration of their deals with Milan and Chelsea respectively.

He added: "We will present Kessie on Wednesday and Christensen on Thursday."

The club are also expected to announce a new contract for Ousmane Dembele, who is reportedly ready to accept a wage reduction in order to remain with Xavi's side.

Luka Modric believes that Kylian Mbappe could still move to Real Madrid in the future despite snubbing the Champions League winners to remain at Paris Saint-Germain.

Mbappe was widely expected to move to the Santiago Bernabeu, with his contract at PSG having been set to expire, but instead he elected to pen a new deal to extend his stay in Paris through to 2025.

That led to an angry reaction from Madrid fans, and even LaLiga president Javier Tebas, who expressed his frustration by declaring the decision an "insult to football" as he launched a complaint to UEFA.

However, Modric has stated that Mbappe should not be crucified for staying in France and believes the door remains open for the 23-year-old to head to Madrid in the coming years.

"Mbappe decided as he decided, that is his right and now he lives with that decision. It goes on," Modric told Sportske.

"We all thought he would come to us, it didn't happen and – now what? Well, we're not going to crucify the man.

"Mbappe is a great player, but as I always repeat, in any context, no player is more important than the club. Real is the greatest, above every player and it will always be like that.

"Who knows what can happen tomorrow, let alone in three or four years in football? Only time will tell."

Mbappe's snub did not affect the end to the season for Madrid, who having wrapped up another LaLiga title, went on to defeat Liverpool 1-0 in the Champions League final, which was held in Paris.

Luuk de Jong has brought an end to his three-year spell in LaLiga with Sevilla and Barcelona by returning to PSV.

The 31-year-old joined Sevilla from PSV in 2019 and scored 19 goals in 94 appearances, including a brace in the club's 3-2 win over Inter in the 2020 Europa League final.

He joined Barcelona on loan last season and featured 29 times, but the seven goals netted were not enough to persuade Xavi's side of making a permanent move for the striker.

Rather than return to Sevilla for the 2022-23 campaign, the Netherlands international has instead re-joined Eredivisie side PSV on a three-year deal.

PSV and Sevilla both confirmed the transfer on their official websites on Saturday, with reports from Spain valuing the transfer in the region of €4million.

De Jong scored more than 100 goals for PSV in his previous five-year stint at the Philips Stadion, helping his side to three league titles, and is excited to be back in Eindhoven.

"I'm home again. That's how it really feels," De Jong said. "I can't wait to score goals for PSV again and hope to see the whole stadium jump again after that. 

"Great things can happen this season together. In all the years I played here, we went for the title. It seems logical to me that I want to do that again. 

"In addition, I want to enter the Champions League with PSV. It is fantastic to be able to play football on that podium."

De Jong, who had been linked with numerous other clubs, added: "It gives a great feeling to return. In recent weeks I read that many fans were hoping for it.

"This choice was not very difficult for me to make. The club is building something very beautiful and I want to be part of that. It feels like something great is about to happen here."

De Jong, capped 38 times by the Netherlands, has also previously won the Eredivisie and Dutch Cup with Twente.

He joins the likes of Xavi Simons, Walter Benitez and Ki-Jana Hoever in joining PSV, who are now managed by Ruud van Nistelrooy.

Hugo Ekitike may end up staying at Reims in this transfer window as he waits on a move to Real Madrid or Barcelona.

Newcastle United have long since agreed a deal with Reims for the forward, but the transfer has not progressed further.

Reports have suggested the demands of Ekitike's agent have put off Newcastle, while the 20-year-old has continued to be linked to other clubs.

And Oscar Garcia, the Reims coach, revealed on Friday the player is in no hurry to leave.

Wantaway Reims stars are said to have a July 10 deadline to secure moves, and with purported interest from Madrid subsequently dismissed, Ekitike's short-term future could still be in Ligue 1.

Garcia told a news conference: "He told me that he wanted to stay, but if Real Madrid or Barcelona arrive...

"I feel Hugo is calm. I spoke with him. He will have no problem staying at the club – and neither will I."

 

Ekitike scored 10 goals and assisted three more in the league last season, contributing a goal involvement every 98 minutes on average.

Attempting only 31 shots, his conversion rate of 32.3 per cent was the second-best among players with 20 or more attempts across Europe, far outperforming his expected goals total of 7.0.

As well as Newcastle and Madrid, Ekitike has been linked with Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain.

Ernesto Valverde has secured a return to Athletic Bilbao after being appointed the club's head coach on president Jon Uriarte's first day in office.

Valverde remains a popular figure at the club following a successful second stint as the first team's coach between 2013 and 2017.

During that four-year spell, Valverde took Athletic into the Champions League, reached the final of the 2015 Copa del Rey and a few months later ended the club's 31-year trophy drought with a 5-1 aggregate defeat of Barcelona in the Supercopa de Espana.

He eventually left in May 2017 to take over from Luis Enrique at Barcelona, with whom Valverde won two LaLiga titles, the Copa del Rey and Supercopa before being dismissed in January 2020.

The Blaugrana have won just one trophy since.

Valverde's return for a third spell in charge of the team he also represented for six years as a player coincides with the election of Uriarte as Athletic's new president.

Uriarte's key pledge in his election campaign was to bring Valverde back as coach following Marcelino Garcia Toral's departure in May.

Former Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa – who has also coached Athletic before – appeared to be Valverde's biggest rival, having reached an agreement to take over if presidential candidate Inaki Arechabaleta had won the election.

But Uriarte took 47.7 per cent of the vote compared to Arechabaleta's 33.7 per cent, with his success confirmed last week.

As such, Valverde will extend his record as the coach with the most matches managed at Athletic (306), while supporters will hope he can maintain the feat of not finishing below seventh in his last spell – they have not ended a season higher than eighth since his departure.

Barcelona have given themselves a major financial boost that should see their salary cap increase significantly after selling 10 per cent of their LaLiga TV rights for the next 25 years to an investment firm.

Last week, club president Joan Laporta promised to activate the "levers" that would ease Barcelona's financial concerns, and Thursday's announcement is the first such step.

The deal sees Barcelona generate capital gains totalling €267million, with Sixth Street Partners making an initial investment of €207.5million.

The investment group will subsequently receive 10 per cent of Barca's domestic TV rights revenue until 2047.

Barca's need for a financial injection was urgent due to their financial year ending on June 30 – their accounts at the end of Thursday would have impacted the salary cap for the upcoming season.

 

Last year, Barca's financial woes saw their salary cap slashed by €280m to just €97m for the 2021-22 campaign – to put that into context, six clubs had larger wage limits. Real Madrid were top of the pile with a cap of €739m.

That was ultimately the reason they could not sign Lionel Messi to a new contract, but the capital injection on Thursday will allow Barca to end this financial year with a profit, thus ensuring a salary cap increase that should be significant.

The club are also expected to sell almost 50 per cent of the Barca Licensing and Merchandising (BLM) part of the business, but that is now less urgent.

Speaking after the TV rights deal was announced, Laporta said: "We are activating economic levers and executing on our patient, sustainable, and efficient strategy to strengthen the club's financial footing.

"Sixth Street is a proven supporter of football, an experienced investor across global sports and media, and a partner that will contribute significant knowledge and resources while allowing us to independently manage our operations."

Barca are still yet to confirm the arrivals on free transfers of Andreas Christensen and Franck Kessie, who have been strongly tipped to join.

The club are also keen on signing Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski, while Manchester City's Bernardo Silva and Sevilla centre-back Jules Kounde are reportedly key targets.

Thursday's news should allow the club greater room for manoeuvre in the transfer market.

Alvaro Morata has returned to Atletico Madrid after Juventus failed to strike a deal that would keep the Spaniard in Turin.

Juve signed a loan agreement with Atletico back in September 2020, but the finances of the deal always looked to be on the expensive side.

Although initially a one-year loan agreement worth €10million and with a purchase option of €45m, Juve had the right to extend the temporary stay by another season for an extra €10m, which would bring the release clause down to €35m.

But Juve had reportedly been trying to negotiate the purchase figure down since the end of the season, with stories from Italy suggesting they offered €15m, at least €11m less than Atletico's asking price.

A third year on loan had emerged as an option, but seemingly Juventus opted to walk away from the deal as they confirmed on Thursday the striker's second spell at the club is over.

As part of a farewell note on their website, Juventus said: "Alvaro Morata's adventure at Juventus has come to an end.

"The Spanish forward, on loan from Atletico Madrid over the last two seasons, leaves the Bianconeri for the second time and returns to the ranks of Los Colchoneros."

Although Morata's Atletico contract expires next year, rumours at the end of the season suggested the club saw him as a potential short-term solution to Luis Suarez leaving.

The Uruguayan did not have his contract renewed and is expected to join River Plate in Argentina.

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel is eager to bring in two attacking players this off-season following their third-place Premier League finish last term.

The club's new owners are set to back Tuchel's plans, with the Blues linked to Raheem Sterling, Barcelona's Ousmane Dembele and Everton's Richarlison.

However, Chelsea could be set for their first splash of the window by signing a superstar from Elland Road.

TOP STORY – CHELSEA TO WIN RAPHINHA RACE

Chelsea are set to win the race to sign Leeds United's Brazilian forward Raphinha claims The Guardian.

Raphinha is being pursued by Arsenal and Barcelona along with the Blues, who are set to complete a £55million deal for the 25-year-old.

The winger is contracted with Leeds until 2024 and may follow Kalvin Phillips out of Elland Road with the England midfielder set to complete his move to Manchester City.

 

 

ROUND-UP

- The Mail reports Chelsea are also interested in a move for Inter defender Milan Skriniar who has been linked with Paris Saint-Germain. L'Equipe claims that PSG's initial offer for the Slovakian was worth €50m.

- Portugal midfielder Renato Sanches is eager to join PSG from Lille according to Le Parisien, with a €10m offer on the table. Sanches has one year remaining on his contract.

- Univision reports that LAFC are not pursuing Atletico Madrid forward Luis Suarez amid speculation linking the Uruguayan with the MLS club after they recently landed Gareth Bale and Giorgio Chiellini.

- Milan are looking into swooping to sign Juventus' Paulo Dybala who has been heavily linked with Inter, claims RadioRadio.

- Liverpool's Divock Origi is set to join Milan on a four-year deal pending a medical as widely reported by the Italian media.

- Argentinean outlet Relevo reports that Angel Di Maria is set to sign a deal with Juventus on Wednesday, having left PSG as a free agent.

Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Casemiro might make a seemingly eternal midfield composition, but Real Madrid still need to prepare for life after them.

Following the signings of Eduardo Camavinga and Aurelien Tchouameni over the past two off-season transfer windows, Los Blancos will look for a third.

Reports suggest that what they are looking for is penalty area threat, and the intent is not necessarily to replace the attributes of the three veterans. All signs point to Germany, and Borussia Dortmund's England international Jude Bellingham.

 

TOP STORY – REAL MADRID EYE BELLINGHAM AS FINAL PIECE OF MIDFIELD PUZZLE

Real Madrid will look to sign Bellingham in the 2023 off-season transfer window, according to Diario AS.

According to reports, Bellingham does not have a release clause in his deal at Dortmund and with his contract running to 2025, with the German club seeking a sale in excess of €100million.

Meanwhile, Real Madrid will not look to be the only suitors, with Chelsea and Liverpool also interested.

ROUND-UP

- Having already opened talks over Raheem Sterling, the Telegraph reports Chelsea are also looking to sign Manchester City's Nathan Ake.

- Meanwhile, Milan are considering a move for Chelsea winger Hakim Ziyech, per Calciomercato.

Tottenham want to sign Everton duo Richarlison and Anthony Gordon, according to Sky Sports.

- Christophe Galtier is close to being named as PSG's new boss, with Mauricio Pochettino on the way out, ESPN reports.

Patrick Kluivert hopes Barcelona will retain his compatriot Frenkie de Jong, amid reported interest from Manchester United.

Despite his own reported intentions to stay in LaLiga, De Jong has been linked to a reunion with Erik ten Hag - his former boss at Ajax – with Barcelona attempting to break even on an €85million package.

The 25-year-old has struggled to find a role that best suits him since arriving at Camp Nou in 2019, with Sergio Busquets still starting as Barcelona's deepest midfielder.

Kluivert believes De Jong would flourish in Busquets' role but it would be hard to supplant the veteran, but despite this and Barcelona's recent financial troubles, they should try to keep him.

"I hope that they will keep him," Kluivert told Cadena Ser. "If they sell him it is clear that the club would receive a lot of money, but it is a long season and Frenkie is not just any player. I wouldn't sell him.

"Busquets is there, who has had an impressive year and it is difficult to remove him but Frenkie can play in various positions. For me, the best is the 6, but Busi's there."

The 45-year-old scored 91 times in 192 LaLiga appearances for Barcelona, while he remains an ambassador for the club and his son Shane plays in the youth setup.

Kluivert added that with the likes of Ansu Fati, Pedri and Gavi, Barcelona's future can be bright under Xavi, who he believes needs time after replacing Ronald Koeman during last season.

"They are fantastic, I know them very well, they have grown up in the club and they know the values," he said. "Ansu is a pity, for injuries this year but he scores important goals for the club. If he is at 100 per cent we are going to enjoy him at Barça. Pedri has not grown in the club but he is a player of another level.

"Xavi, he is the ideal, but you have to give him a little time. Entering how he has entered in a difficult situation, he did very well.

"I don't know if they were fair to Koeman, but they are situations that happen, and I don't know everything that happened, I can't comment. I didn't speak to Koeman when he came out."

While criticising Joan Laporta's management, Ronald Koeman has claimed Barcelona are caught up in their own history as football evolves beyond their identity on the pitch.

The former Barcelona head coach claims Laporta placed unnecessary pressure on him before his dismissal in October last year.

Xavi taking over from the 59-year-old formed part of a narrative that the financially embattled club would return to their roots both on and off the pitch, as part of Laporta's second stint as club president.

In an interview with Esport3, Koeman suggested such a sentiment is ultimately impractical and ignorant of football's evolution, while defending his own tactical choices in charge of the Blaugrana.

"I am in favour of dominating the game," he said. "If you play with three central defenders, you cannot say that it is a defensive system. With this system for three or four months, we played the best games in recent years.

"The clearest example was the [2021 Copa del Rey] final against Athletic. Barcelona lives in the past, from 4-3-3, to Tiki-taka. Football has changed. Now it's faster, more physical.

"You can't live in the past. If you have Xavi, Iniesta... and Messi, who by the way, they took from me. This was a very hard one to take."

Koeman also hinted to the weight lifted off his shoulders after his dismissal, especially within the context of leaving the Netherlands national team to take Barcelona over during a period of significant financial and political upheaval at the club.

Laporta was elected as Barcelona president three months after Koeman's replacement of Quique Setien in 2020.

Set to take over the Netherlands from Louis van Gaal after this year's World Cup, Koeman insists life has become less complicated since leaving, but harbours no regrets about his return to the club he won a Champions League with as a player.

"Leaving was a bit of a liberation," he said. "It was a difficult time for the club, without a president, with Laporta's doubts about the coach.

"You want to be a coach and you know that if you don't win you have problems. I made an effort, I left the national team and if it happened again, I would do it again. I don't regret it.

"As president, you can always have doubts but if you say them to the public, everyone doubts. It was a big mistake on his part."

Barcelona are studying the possibility of taking legal action against Roma after the Italian club announced they will no longer take part in the Joan Gamper Trophy. 

The two clubs were set to meet at Camp Nou on August 6, with their respective women's sides also facing off, in a fixture that acts as an annual curtain-raiser for Barca's season.

However, just 12 days after the friendly was announced, Roma confirmed on Monday that they have withdrawn from the match.

Roma said in a statement the decision was taken as a result of modifying their pre-season plans to best suit both their men's and women's sides.

In a strong statement of their own released shortly thereafter, Barcelona hit out at the Europa Conference League winners, who are managed by their former coach Jose Mourinho.

"Roma have decided to unilaterally, without reason, withdraw from the agreed contract for both parties for the Joan Gamper Trophy," the statement read.

"The club is working on a finding a new opponent for this year's edition. In the next 24 hours the return of money already spent on tickets will begin.

"The club wants to make it clear that the suspension of the games has been due to circumstances outside the control of FC Barcelona, the express wish of AS Roma. 

"The club's legal department is studying possible action against the Italian club for damages caused to Barcelona and its fans due to this unexpected and unjustified decision."

Barcelona are scheduled to face UE Olot, Inter Miami, Real Madrid, Juventus, New York Red Bulls and Manchester City ahead of the start of the 2022-23 LaLiga season.

 

Page 1 of 154
© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.