Fikayo Tomori has signed a new contract to keep him at Milan until June 2027.

The England defender joined the Rossoneri on a permanent deal from Chelsea in July 2021 after a successful loan spell at San Siro.

Tomori put pen to paper on a four-year deal with Milan when he left Stamford Bridge just over 13 months ago.

The commanding centre-back played a big part as Milan ended an 11-year wait to win the Serie A title last season and he has been rewarded with a contract extension.

Chelsea academy graduate made 30 appearances for Stefano Pioli's side in the Italian top flight last season, helping the champions keep 13 clean sheets.

He won more tackles (44) than any other Milan defender, and had the most tackles won (44), blocks (23), interceptions (44) and clearances (77).

The 24-year-old's new deal was announced on the eve of the champions' first game of the Serie A season against Udinese at San Siro on Saturday.

Stefano Pioli says Milan will "not back down" in the transfer market as they eye further reinforcements ahead of a "special" season.

The Serie A champions reportedly paid €36million to sign attacking midfielder Charles De Ketelaere from Club Brugge, and also brought in striker Divock Origi on a free transfer after his Liverpool contract expired.

But it has been a quiet transfer window for the Rossoneri after they ended an 11-year wait to win the Scudetto in May.

Milan start the defence of their title against Udinese at San Siro on Saturday and head coach Pioli hopes to have more new faces on board by the time the transfer window closes on September 1.

He told reporters on Friday: "I am very happy and delighted with who has arrived. If there is a chance to improve the squad, we will not back down."

Pioli added: "The transfer market can offer you situations that you may not have thought of until now. If there is the possibility the squad will be improved; different characteristics may be needed from those we have."

Such a hectic schedule due to the World Cup in Qatar will provide further challenges, but Pioli is relishing another title battle.

He said: "It will be a special season. Today I showed the team the whole calendar until November 13 and many will have 23-24 games in 90 days.

"I will need everyone available. In three months we will have already played a lot: we play 15 league games, the Champions League...

"It will be a very balanced championship and I think it will be difficult for everyone to improve the standard of the last championship. All the top eight are at a high level, the mid-table ones have grown. It will be a good fight."

Serie A returns on Saturday, with Milan looking to retain their title after a first Scudetto triumph in 11 years.

The Rossoneri have brought in Belgium duo Charles De Ketelaere and Divock Origi to bolster Stefano Pioli's squad as they prepare to face another challenge from rivals Inter.

Simone Inzaghi will have his own Belgium international striker Romelu Lukaku to call on again after he was brought back on loan from Chelsea.

How will those clubs fare, who is likely to be their closest challengers, and who will be fearing the drop from Italy's top flight?

Stats Perform AI has predicted the outcome of the campaign, estimating the likelihood of teams finishing in each position informed by their expected results in each match.

These are calculated using betting odds and Stats Perform's team rankings – based on historical and recent team performances – and have thrown up some interesting results, with a heavy favourite for top spot.

INTER TO TAKE THEIR TITLE BACK WITH FAMILIAR FACE ON BOARD

In the end, there were just two points in it.

A fascinating battle between Milan and Inter last season saw Pioli's men edge the title with 86 points after a 3-0 win at Sassuolo on the final day.

Despite the impressive way Milan closed out that title, the data makes Inter 47.97 per cent favourites to regain it in 2022-23.

The return of Lukaku is likely to be a big reason for that, with the 29-year-old having scored 47 goals in 72 Serie A games prior to joining Chelsea last year, and he played a major part in Inter's Scudetto win in 2020-21.

Milan's chances are surprisingly not even second best, with the data suggesting there is a 16.43 per cent likelihood of them retaining their title, with Juventus judged to have a slightly better 17.93 per cent chance.

Napoli are deemed to have a 13.75 per cent chance, with no other team being considered to have any more than a two per cent chance, including Jose Mourinho's Roma at 1.99 per cent.

 

TOP FOUR FIGHT EXPECTED TO BE MORE OF THE SAME

There was very little drama in the race for the Champions League spots last season, with Napoli and Juventus well out of the title fight but clear of fifth place with multiple games to go.

Stats Perform AI expects the same four teams to take up those spots again, albeit in a different order, with Juve in second, Milan third and Napoli fourth.

The positive numbers for the Bianconeri are likely to be a result of Serbia striker Dusan Vlahovic having a full season to lead the line, along with big name additions of Paul Pogba and Angel Di Maria.

Napoli could be the most at risk after losing several key players since the end of last season, including Kalidou Koulibaly, Lorenzo Insigne and Dries Mertens, but they are still given a 73.09 per cent chance of Champions League qualification.

In the chasing pack, Roma are given a 30.18 per cent chance of a top four spot and Stats Perform AI believes Mourinho's men are the likeliest team to finish in one of the two Europa League places, with no team given a greater chance than the Giallorossi's 19.58 per cent.

Atalanta have a 20.64 per cent chance of getting back into the top four, though are still deemed likely to improve on last season's eighth place as favourites for sixth and qualification for the Europa League (18.56 per cent).

That leaves Lazio with a 17.09 per cent chance of seventh and a Europa Conference League spot, though Fiorentina (11.10), Hellas Verona (8.45) and Sassuolo (8.34) are not counted out entirely.

 

CREMONESE UNLIKELY TO RISE TO THE TOP

It is not too much of a surprise to see the promoted teams are predicted to be facing a tough task to stay up.

Cremonese are the favourites for the drop at 63.41 per cent, with Lecce (47.10 per cent) also expected to head back to Serie B at the end of the campaign.

Second favourites for relegation, though, are last year's 17th place team Salernitana, who avoided relegation by a single point ahead of Cagliari. Davide Nicola's side are handed a 58.10 per cent chance of failing to escape this time.

Monza came up through the play-offs and have made a number of new signings, including former Inter players Andrea Ranocchia and Stefano Sensi, which could be why they are given just a 27.92 per cent chance of going back down, slightly ahead of Empoli at 25.17 per cent.

Only four teams are given a zero per cent chance of relegation, which unsurprisingly is last season's top four.

Nemanja Matic, not Paulo Dybala, is the signing that will provide the biggest boost to a Roma side who should be looking to push Inter for the Serie A title this season, according to former Giallorossi boss Fabio Capello.

While Roma's sixth-placed finish in Italy's top flight last term was nothing out of the ordinary, Jose Mourinho did lead the club to success in the inaugural Europa Conference League.

Overall, the season provided a solid foundation for Mourinho and Roma to build on, and they have enjoyed a promising transfer window as they prepare for the new campaign.

Georginio Wijnaldum, Mile Svilar and Zeki Celik all add depth to the squad, while Paulo Dybala arrived on a free transfer after his Juventus contract expired – the Argentinian's signing galvanised the fanbase and has been seen as a real statement of intent for the season to come.

Yet while Dybala may have attracted most of the focus, Capello – who spent time at Roma as a player and coach – thinks Matic may be an even shrewder acquisition after the experienced Serbian joined on a free from Manchester United to work under Mourinho for the third time.

Asked if he liked the signing of Dybala for Roma, Capello told Il Mattino: "Sure, who doesn't like him?

"But Mourinho's real shot is there in the middle, and it's Matic. He's impressive, few know how to dam the middle of the field like he does.

"Obviously Roma cannot hide [not play proactively], but I don't think, given the enthusiasm, that they think of doing that."

Roma have not won the Scudetto since the 2000-01 season, which was their first title success in 18 years.

Capello is not getting carried away and suggesting they are the frontrunners, but he does expect it to be the Giallorossi and Milan presenting the biggest challenge to Inter.

"It will be fun. I see a very balanced Serie A, a bit like last year, although the balances may still change based on market operations this month," he continued. "But, for example, Roma is there [as a challenger], with intelligent operations.

"Inter are always a step ahead. Roma and Milan are the ones that seem to me already complete, and that's a plus.

"Juventus live with [Paul] Pogba's injury and there is a risk that he could play with the handbrake pulled due to the injury, fearing he could miss the World Cup in Qatar.

"And also Napoli is there in the running for a place in the Champions League."

Roma begin their campaign away to Salernitana on Sunday.

Manchester United are scrambling for further reinforcements after their troubling loss to open the Premier League season, with Watford's Ismaila Sarr, Atletico Madrid's Alvaro Morata and PSV's Cody Gakpo all named as potential forward solutions.

Sarr, who scored a spectacular goal from the halfway line against West Brom on Monday, slowed after a strong start in the Premier League last season.

Meanwhile, Morata is back at Atletico after two years on loan at Juventus, and Gakpo, just 23, has hit the ground running for Champions League chasers PSV in the new season.

TOP STORY – UNITED WEIGH UP HOST OF FORWARD OPTIONS

The Sun reported interest in Sarr, ESPN detailed the Morata story, and The Telegraph had the scoop on Gakpo, indicating there are plenty of moving parts behind the scenes at United, and they are casting a wide net.

While no price has been named for either Sarr or Morata, Gakpo figures to demand a fee in the range of £35million, while The Telegraph is reporting the club are also assessing the availability of Lazio midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, who Corriere dello Sport suggests would cost €50m.

Milinkovic-Savic, 27, would likely fill a similar role envisioned by Erik ten Hag for Barcelona's Frenkie de Jong – who has ruled out a move to Old Trafford – and could relegate one of Scott McTominay or Fred to the bench.

ROUND-UP

– Fabrizio Romano is reporting Manchester City are closing in on a transfer worth at least €10m to bring Anderlecht left-back Sergio Gomez to the Premier League. 

– According to the Daily Mail, Arsenal are in discussions with Milan about acquiring 22-year-old midfielder Sandro Tonali, who the Italian club value at £46m.

– Metro claims Arsenal are also leading the race for 19-year-old winger Yeremi Pino from Villarreal, with the club said to be willing to meet the £33m asking price, while Liverpool are also interested.

– Foot Mercato is reporting Nottingham Forest are pushing to sign Villarreal's €20m Ecuadorian full-back Pervis Estupinan

Chelsea are preparing a £12m move for 19-year-old Inter midfielder Cesare Casadei, per the Evening Standard.

Chelsea are in the market to bolster their defence following the exits of Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen.

Thomas Tuchel's side have already added Kalidou Koulibaly from Napoli for £35million.

The Blues are eager to add another centre-back to their ranks before the closure of the transfer window.

TOP STORY – BLUES TO MAKE WORLD-RECORD BID FOR FOFANA

Chelsea are preparing to make a world-record offer for Leicester City's French defender Wesley Fofana, reports Football London.

The Blues' bid would be the highest fee paid for a defender, having had a previous offer declined by the Foxes.

It is believed Chelsea's previous bid was £70m with Leicester insisting he is not for sale. Harry Maguire, sold by Leicester to Manchester United, holds the record for a defender at £80m.


ROUND-UP

– Manchester United are closing in on a deal for Juventus midfielder Adrien Rabiot, having reached an agreement with the Italian club for an initial £15m fee, according to The Guardian. France international Rabiot is in the final year of his contract with Juventus.

– 90min reports that United target Benjamin Sesko is close to agreeing to a deal with German club RB Leipzig. The report claims that 19-year-old Slovenian forward Sesko will move from Salzburg to Leipzig in 2023.

– United have also reached out to Real Betis on Guido Rodriguez's status according to AS, while the Red Devils are still considering Lazio's Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, reports The Telegraph.

– Tottenham have reached an agreement with Udinese for winger Destiny Udogie for more than €20m, claims Fabrizio Romano. Udogie, however, will still on loan at Udinese this season.

– Monaco are keen on signing Manchester United defender Eric Bailly on loan, claims L'Equipe. The Ligue 1 club want the Ivorian, who is under contract until 2024, with an option to buy.

– Fiorentina will rival Villarreal for the signature of Tottenham's Giovani Lo Celso, according to Gianluca Di Marzio. The Argentina international spent time on loan with Villarreal last season.

Valencia will revive its interest in Tottenham's Bryan Gil following Goncalo Guades' move to Wolves, claims Diario AS.

– The Telegraph claims Milan have re-opened talks with Chelsea's Moroccan winger Hakim Ziyech who has been transfer listed.

Chelsea are in the market to bolster their defence following the exits of Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen.

Thomas Tuchel's side have already added Kalidou Koulibaly from Napoli for £35million.

The Blues are eager to add another centre-back to their ranks before the closure of the transfer window.

TOP STORY – BLUES TO MAKE WORLD-RECORD BID FOR FOFANA

Chelsea are preparing to make a world-record offer for Leicester City's French defender Wesley Fofana, reports Football London.

The Blues' bid would be the highest fee paid for a defender, having had a previous offer declined by the Foxes.

It is believed Chelsea's previous bid was £70m with Leicester insisting he is not for sale. Harry Maguire, sold by Leicester to Manchester United, holds the record for a defender at £80m.


ROUND-UP

– Manchester United are closing in on a deal for Juventus midfielder Adrien Rabiot, having reached an agreement with the Italian club for an initial £15m fee, according to The Guardian. France international Rabiot is in the final year of his contract with Juventus.

– 90min reports that United target Benjamin Sesko is close to agreeing to a deal with German club RB Leipzig. The report claims that 19-year-old Slovenian forward Sesko will move from Salzburg to Leipzig in 2023.

– United have also reached out to Real Betis on Guido Rodriguez's status according to AS, while the Red Devils are still considering Lazio's Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, reports The Telegraph.

– Tottenham have reached an agreement with Udinese for winger Destiny Udogie for more than €20m, claims Fabrizio Romano. Udogie, however, will still on loan at Udinese this season.

– Monaco are keen on signing Manchester United defender Eric Bailly on loan, claims L'Equipe. The Ligue 1 club want the Ivorian, who is under contract until 2024, with an option to buy.

– Fiorentina will rival Villarreal for the signature of Tottenham's Giovani Lo Celso, according to Gianluca Di Marzio. The Argentina international spent time on loan with Villarreal last season.

Valencia will revive its interest in Tottenham's Bryan Gil following Goncalo Guades' move to Wolves, claims Diario AS.

– The Telegraph claims Milan have re-opened talks with Chelsea's Moroccan winger Hakim Ziyech who has been transfer listed.

Simon Kjaer has challenged Milan winger Rafael Leao to "grow enormously" and realise his potential to be one of the top five players in the world.

Leao played a big part in the Rossoneri's first Serie A title triumph in 11 years last season and has been linked with Real Madrid.

The 23-year-old Portugal international, who has just under two years remaining on his contract, scored 14 goals and provided 10 assists across all competitions in the 2021-22 campaign.

Milan defender Kjaer wants to see Leao scale new heights, while he is also expecting big things of 22-year-old midfielder Sandro Tonali and new signing Divock Origi.

"This year I want to see Leao and Tonali: they are no longer kids, they have to grow enormously," the Denmark captain told Sportweek.

"What they did last year is no longer enough. Leao has quality. extraordinary and therefore he can no longer afford games in which one sees little: he must always be decisive.

"If he can make this leap, he can be one of the top five in the world.

"Then I want to see Origi: I was with him in Lille, he was a kid, now I expect a champion who makes the difference because he has everything to be, speed, strength and feet."

Kjaer has returned to action in pre-season after a long lay-off due to a knee injury.

 

Stefano Pioli has no concerns about Rafael Leao's future and wants Milan to make another two signings before the transfer window closes.

Leao played a big part in the Rossoneri's first Serie A title triumph for 11 years last season and has been linked with European champions Real Madrid.

The Portugal winger, who scored 14 goals and provided 10 assists across all competitions in the 2021-22 campaign, has just under two years remaining on his contract at San Siro.

Milan head coach Pioli is not fretting over the prospect of losing Leao and expects the 23-year-old to take his game to another level.

He told La Gazzetta dello Sport: "I am not at all worried by contractual events, you can see that he is happy to be with us."

Pioli added of Leao: "He has many goals in his legs, even more than last year. He has grown a lot without the ball, now he has to be able to occupy the area better."

 

Milan's biggest outlay since they were crowned champions was on a deal to sign attacking midfielder Charles De Ketelaere from Club Brugge for a reported fee of €36million.

Pioli is eager to strengthen further as Milan prepare to start the defence of their title against Udinese a week on Saturday.

"On paper, two roles are missing, the defender and the midfielder," he said.

"We need two characteristics: explosiveness and intelligence."

Piolo is excited by the potential De Ketelaere possesses and is expecting big things from the 21-year-old.

"De Ketelaere in perspective, in two or three years, can become a top European player," he said.

The 2022-23 season is right around the corner, with plenty to keep an eye on across Europe.

Title battles in England, Spain and Italy could be too close to call, while France and Germany will see rivals trying to knock Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich off their respective perches – while there is even more set to occur in the fight for European qualification and to avoid the drop.

Central to these battles will be the players, both new signings and established members of the old guard, and here are 10 to watch in the year ahead.

 

Ousmane Dembele – Barcelona

Previously considered to be one of the biggest pieces of evidence on Barcelona's transfer failings in recent years, Dembele turned a corner in the second half of last season to finish the campaign as one of Xavi's most important players.

Dembele finished with 13 assists in LaLiga last term, the most in the competition, 11 of which came in the final 15 games of the season – with the tally being more in that run from February than he accumulated across all competitions combined in the previous two seasons.

Handed a fresh new contract, all eyes will be on Dembele to see whether he is back to his best or whether the former Borussia Dortmund winger, who now has Raphinha for competition, merely had a purple patch.

 

Matthijs de Ligt – Bayern Munich

It has now been three years since De Ligt shone with the Ajax side that reached the Champions League semi-finals, where his performances made him one of the most coveted players in world football.

Stability was never quite found at Juventus, however, with shoulder injuries hampering his progress and the defender himself admitting the style was a "bit different" in Turin to what he experienced with Ajax.

Now at Bayern, De Ligt will look to return to the heights he was once at and is expected to form an exciting partnership with Dayot Upamecano.

Rafael Leao – Milan

In Milan's title-winning campaign last term, Leao was the team's joint-leading scorer in Serie A with 11 goals, alongside Olivier Giroud, but that was way off the pace in the overall charts as 15 players found the net more times.

Milan's total tally for goals in 2021-22 was 69, less than three of their rivals in the top five, and pressure is on Stefano Pioli's side to improve that return – with the signing of Divock Origi showing the desire to improve their return in the final third, with rivals Inter having strengthened by bringing Romelu Lukaku back to San Siro on loan.

It may all fall upon Leao, however, with the 23-year-old needing to show consistency in order to prove a significant venture into the market next year to replace veterans Giroud and Zlatan Ibrahimovic is not required.

 

Djed Spence – Tottenham

Middlesbrough will likely wonder what might had been if they retained Spence's services, having loaned him to Championship rivals Nottingham Forest and seeing him play a key part in their promotion back to the big time.

From September, the only two games Spence missed during Forest's league campaign were the two clashes with his parent club and his displays, including those in the FA Cup against the likes of Arsenal, made him hot property.

Spurs ultimately signed the England U21 international, who could be a contender to break into Gareth Southgate's World Cup squad if he quickly finds his feet in north London. He is a right-back, after all...

Darwin Nunez – Liverpool

Liverpool's prowess in the transfer market is facing its biggest test under Jurgen Klopp, who is looking to rejuvenate what has been a brilliant attacking trio with Sadio Mane moving on and Roberto Firmino's future uncertain.

Having signed Luis Diaz in January, the Reds raided a Portuguese giant again – this time Benfica – for Nunez.

Nunez scored six Champions League goals in the 2021-22 season and plundered a further 26 in the league, averaging a goal every 76 minutes. Nunez certainly has the capability to fill Klopp's Mane-shaped void, even if his style is slightly different to the Senegal attacker.

 

Matteo Guendouzi – Marseille

Swiftly breaking onto the scene at Arsenal but just as quickly earning himself a bad-boy reputation, Guendouzi flourished in his loan spell with Marseille last season and has now made the switch permanent.

The France international featured in every game for Marseille in the 2021-22 season, starting in 35 of his 38 Ligue 1 appearances, and forced his way back into contention to make Didier Deschamps' squad on a regular basis ahead of Les Bleus' World Cup defence in Qatar.

Guendouzi's growing maturity saw him captain Marseille in a 2-0 defeat against Lille last season and the forthcoming campaign may continue his redemption arc.

Adam Hlozek – Bayer Leverkusen

A name that will be familiar to Football Manager enthusiasts, Hlozek has earned his big move to one of Europe's top leagues after leaving Sparta Prague in his homeland for Bayer Leverkusen and the challenges of the Bundesliga.

Capable of playing across the front line, Hlozek heads to Germany with a stellar record of 29 goals and 30 assists in 91 league appearances in the top-tier in the Czech Republic.

Add in the 24 goals that compatriot Patrik Schick netted for Leverkusen last season along with the creativity of Florian Wirtz from midfield and the result is one that could be extremely exciting.

Vinicius Junior – Real Madrid

A formidable season for Vinicius saw the Brazilian net 17 goals and contribute 10 assists during Real Madrid's La Liga title-winning campaign, only being outscored by team-mate Karim Benzema in the league.

Benzema, who was one of only two players to get more assists than Vinicius last season, is now in the twilight years of his career and will soon surely hand the mantle to the next star forward at the Santiago Bernabeu – with Vinicius near-certain to be that man now Kylian Mbappe has decided to remain in Paris for the time being.

In a World Cup year, Vinicius could enjoy a campaign that sees him take the leading man tag for both club and country come the end of the season.

 

Hugo Ekitike – Paris Saint-Germain

Arriving into an attacking that already boasts Mbappe, Neymar and Lionel Messi, it remains to be seen just how much football 20-year-old Hugo Ekitike will manage to play for Christophe Galtier's side.

Moving initially on loan, Ekitike, who was also a target for Newcastle United, is certainly one for the future.

With 10 goals and four assists for Reims last term, Ekitike has shown his prowess in the final third and could be a valuable asset in the hunt to end the elusive wait for a Champions League crown.

Samuele Ricci – Torino

Long touted as the next star in Italy's midfield, Samuele Ricci has moved on from Empoli but, to the surprise of some, did not take the leap to one of Serie A's big guns and instead continued his development by joining Torino in January.

Ricci featured 13 times for Torino, including nine starts in what was a stellar breakout year in Italy's top tier, with the 20-year-old having previously been crowned Serie B's best player in the 2020-21 season.

Breaking into Italy's squad in 2022, Ricci's meteoric rise should continue, and he may find himself coveted by some of the biggest clubs across Europe.

Milan have announced the signing of promising attacker Charles De Ketelaere from Club Brugge.

The 21-year-old Belgium international has signed a five-year-deal with the Serie A champions and joins for a reported fee of €36million.

De Ketelaere – who scored 18 goals in all competitions last season and has won eight senior caps for Belgium since his 2020 debut – had also been strongly linked with Premier League side Leeds United.

At 19 years and 224 days old in October 2020, he became the second-youngest Belgian to score in the Champions League (behind Anthony Vanden Borre) when he netted for Brugge against Zenit St Petersburg.

De Ketelaere will wear the number 90 shirt, and joins fellow new arrivals at San Siro Divock Origi, Alessandro Florenzi and Junior Messias, with the latter two making their loan moves from last season permanent.

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.

Milan have confirmed Daniel Maldini has joined Spezia on a season-long loan, leaving San Siro for the first time.

The 20-year-old is a third-generation footballer with the club, having followed in the footsteps of his father, modern legend Paolo Maldini, and grandfather, club icon Cesare Maldini, in playing for Milan.

Cesare started his Serie A career at Triestina and ended his playing days at Torino, but Paolo stayed with Milan throughout.

This now represents Daniel's first move away from the club, having made 15 Serie A appearances for the Rossoneri across three seasons. However, those outings have only amounted 194 minutes.

At Spezia, the 20-year-old will get the opportunity to establish himself in the top flight.

Milan defender Fikayo Tomori has dismissed suggestions Inter and Juventus are favourites to take the Rossoneri's Serie A crown next season, declaring: "They also said it last year."

However, the England international acknowledged Inter's loan signing of Romelu Lukaku – who he described as "special" – represents a major coup for Milan's cross-city rivals.

Tomori enjoyed a stellar campaign as Stefano Pioli's men ended an 11-year wait to win the Scudetto last season, contributing to 13 clean sheets in 31 Serie A appearances. 

Meanwhile, the former Chelsea defender topped the Rossoneri charts for blocks (23), interceptions (45), clearances (77) and tackles (73) in his first campaign since making a permanent move to San Siro last June. 

No team conceded fewer Serie A goals (31) or recorded more wins (26) than Milan last term, but Inter's signing of Lukaku and Juventus' moves for Paul Pogba and Angel Di Maria have seen the Derby d'Italia rivals touted as title favourites for 2022-23.

Speaking to Sky Sports Italia, however, Tomori suggested it would be unwise to write off Milan, smiling: "Are they the favourites? They also said it last year and then we won.

"When I arrived in Milan I knew the team was strong and we could win the Scudetto. 

"I knew it was a special club, especially in the Champions League. We are excited and we are still hungry to win."

 

Lukaku's return to Inter, for whom he scored 24 Serie A goals during a 2020-21 Scudetto triumph under Antonio Conte, represents a significant coup for Milan's rivals.

And Tomori labelled the striker "a special player" as he revealed his high hopes for another Belgian attacker, new Milan arrival Divock Origi.

"The first time I faced him in the derby was my debut in Milan," Tomori said of Lukaku. "I am not afraid but I respect him, he is strong and will be like this again this year. Romelu is a special player.

"Origi is strong and fast, a good sign, I played against him last year [in the Champions League]."

Despite enjoying a dream campaign during his first full season at San Siro, Tomori is still targeting individual improvements, and has no shortage of defensive role models to look up to in Milan.

"I saw [Alessandro] Nesta, [Jaap] Stam, Cafu, all very strong. But the one I liked the most is Paolo Maldini, also because he is back here while we do the interview!" The defender continued.

"[Franco] Baresi is not as tall as me, but he had leadership, and then the position of the body, the voice on the pitch... the same thing for Maldini and Nesta. 

"Personality on the pitch, ability to read the different moments of the match… I want to show these characteristics too."

Milan begin their title defence at home to Udinese on August 13.

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.

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