Galatasaray have confirmed the double signing of Dries Mertens and Lucas Torreira.

The Turkish Super Lig side announced they were in negotiations for both players on Saturday, with images circulating on social media of the pair travelling to Istanbul from Milan.

Mertens, a free agent following the end of his nine-year stint with Napoli, has penned a one-year deal with the club.

The Belgium international won the Coppa Italia twice during his time in Naples and was a member of the Red Devils squad that came third in the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

At 35-years-old, Mertens is yet to announce his international retirement and could yet feature at this year's World Cup in Qatar, where Belgium will be in Group F alongside Canada, Croatia and Morocco.

Torreira, meanwhile, had fallen down the pecking order at Arsenal, spending the past two seasons on loan with Atletico Madrid and Fiorentina. He has signed a four-year contract.

Capped 39 times by Uruguay, the midfielder will be aiming to represent the South Americans in Qatar – who sit in Group H with Ghana, Portugal and South Korea.

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has launched a stinging condemnation of Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis after he stated he would not sign African players unless they agreed to waive Africa Cup of Nations duties.

De Laurentiis angered the continent's governing body and others ahead of the new campaign when he said he would no longer recruit individuals eligible for the prestigious continental international tournament.

Unlike other major representative events, such as the European Championship and Copa America, AFCON is usually held midway through the European season, where many of its stars ply their trade.

This year's Qatar 2022 World Cup represents a break from the norm in a mid-season staging, though that was a decision dictated by the weather and the top leagues will pause for the competition.

De Laurentiis has been widely condemned for his words stating he would not bring such players to the club comments and now the continent's governing body have weighed in on the matter too.

"CAF is appalled by the irresponsible and unacceptable remarks made by Napoli President, Mr Aurelio De Laurentiis on African players and the Africa Cup of Nations," read an official statement.

"By publicly declaring that players who sign for Napoli must sign a waiver denouncing participation in the Africa Cup of Nations as a condition of employment, De Laurentiis' comments are likely to fall under Article 14 of the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations.

"CAF therefore urges UEFA to initiate disciplinary investigation against him. We have no doubt that Napoli and UEFA are as committed as CAF is to these global humanitarian objectives. 

"Are we to assume that the chairman of Napoli is going to include similar restrictive conditions to players from South America, Asia and other Confederations prohibiting them from playing in their Continental competitions which are important for the development and growth of football globally?"

The next iteration of AFCON is set to be held in January 2024 in the Ivory Coast, having been postponed from June and July 2023 over weather concerns.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Galatasaray have confirmed they are in transfer talks for both Dries Mertens and Lucas Torreira, with the Super Lig outfit plotting a double swoop.

Former Napoli forward Mertens is currently a free agent after leaving the Serie A outfit at the end of last season, while Arsenal midfielder Torreira is in the final year of his contract with at the Emirates Stadium.

Now, Galatasaray have confirmed they are in discussions to sign the duo, following reports they were interested in their services.

"Official negotiations have started with the player regarding the transfer of professional football player Dries Mertens to our club," they issued in a statement on Twitter.

"[Furthermore], negotiations have started with Arsenal regarding the transfer of Lucas Sebastian Torreira Di Pascua."

Mertens, a double Coppa Italia winner during his nine-year spell in Naples, was a member of the Belgium squad that came third at the Russia 2018 World Cup four years ago.

Despite being 35, he is yet to confirm his international retirement, and may hope to figure in the Red Devils' party for Qatar 2022 later this season.

Uruguay international Torreira meanwhile has spent the last two seasons away from Arsenal on loan, with Atletico Madrid - where he was a title winner in La Liga - and Fiorentina.

Dries Mertens has posted a farewell message to Napoli fans, saying his exit was not how he would have planned it.

The Belgium forward's nine-year stay at the Serie A club came to an end following the 2021-22 season after he rejected the offer of a new contract.

Napoli owner Aurelio De Laurentiis previously said Mertens turned down the offer of a new deal because he wanted more money, telling Radio Kiss Kiss: "I presented him with €4million per season gross and he refused.

"So I said thank you very much... I need to have money to buy young players who can represent Napoli in future seasons."

In a message posted to his social media on Wednesday, Mertens said: "Dear Neapolitans, I knew this day would eventually come, but I didn't know how difficult it would be to say goodbye."

He also went on to praise the city of Naples for "adopting" him, pointing out that his son Ciro, who features in the video with him, was born in the city.

The former PSV man added: "I did not leave as I would have liked" before finishing with: "this is not farewell, only goodbye." 

The Partenopei have seen Lorenzo Insigne, David Ospina, Kalidou Koulibaly and Arkadiusz Milik also depart during this transfer window, with Mertens leaving as the club's record goalscorer with 148 goals.

He scored 11 times in 30 Serie A games last season, with his 126 minutes per goal the fourth-best return of any player in the Italian top flight to have netted at least 10 times.

Mertens, who has been linked with Inter, Juventus and Marseille, made 397 appearances for Napoli in all, placing him behind Insigne (434), Antonio Juliano (505), Giuseppe Bruscolotti (511) and Marek Hamsik (520).

Kalidou Koulibaly has condemned plans by Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis to tell new signings they must agree not to play in the Africa Cup of Nations.

De Laurentiis proposed the controversial policy on Tuesday, saying that any African player who joined the Serie A club should make a commitment to skip the tournament.

It remains to be seen whether he goes through with the plan, or whether it is enforceable. The next AFCON is due to be played in the Ivory Coast in January 2024.

Last season, Napoli were without Cameroon international Andre-Franck Zambo Anguissa and Senegal defender Koulibaly as they represented their nations in the tournament that took place in January and February, while Nigeria striker Victor Osimhen missed out because of an injury.

Koulibaly, who has since moved on to Chelsea, felt De Laurentiis was out of line with his remarks, and claimed the views would not be endorsed by many others at the club.

"It's up to him if he wanted to tell this, but for me the most important [thing] is to respect everybody," Koulibaly told a news conference in London.

"When I played there, I was playing also for Senegal, and I won the AFCON with Senegal when I was playing with Napoli.

"It's true that it was a difficult moment for them when we went to AFCON, but we won it and I'm really happy today."

While Napoli may have struggled for numbers without their African players, their results were strong nonetheless, with Luciano Spalletti's team taking 13 points from a possible 15 from their first five league games of the year. The only real disappointment was a Coppa Italia exit at the hands of Fiorentina in mid-January.

Koulibaly added: "You cannot speak for African national teams like this, I think. You have to have respect, like you have for other national teams.

"As captain of Senegal, I think that this is not a good way to speak about African national teams.

"But I respect what he thinks. If he thinks the team can play without African players, it's up to him. But I think not everybody has the same idea as him at the club.

"I know that some people who are part of this society and team do not have the same idea as him. It's not the idea of the society or the city, because the city is very respectful."

Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis has controversially suggested the club will not sign African players unless they make agreements not to play in the Africa Cup of Nations.

Last season, Napoli were without Cameroon international Andre-Franck Zambo Anguissa and Senegal defender Kalidou Koulibaly during their participation in Africa’s showpiece tournament, the latter of whom went on to win the tournament and has since departed Naples for Chelsea.

Striker Victor Osimhen could have been another player to travel to the tournament in Cameroon to play for Nigeria, but an injury ruled him out.

The next AFCON is due to be played in the Ivory Coast in 2024, and De Laurentiis says the club would want some sort of commitment from any player joining Napoli that they would be willing to skip the tournament.

"I told them: lads, don't talk to me about Africans anymore," De Laurentiis told a streamed event in quotes reported by Football Italia.

"I love them, but either they sign something confirming they'll back out of playing the Africa Cup of Nations, or otherwise between that tournament, the World Cup qualifiers in South America, these players are never available!

"We are the idiots who pay salaries only to send them all over the world playing for others."

De Laurentiis also revealed how he rebuked the advances of American investors in an offer worth $900million back in the 2017-18 season.

"In recent years these investment funds have become fashionable, they have to guarantee their investors a certain revenue within five years," the 73-year-old added.

"They saw that football is a great opportunity and they can double their investment by selling clubs to investment funds in future. That's what Milan and Inter have done, right?

"I am assailed by funds, I can't take it anymore. In 2017-18, an American fund offered me $900m to sell Napoli. But they don't realise I am this pure entrepreneur who enjoys playing the game, so let me keep playing."

Timo Werner has only managed 23 goals in his first two seasons with Chelsea after joining from Leipzig in mid-2020.

The new Blues owners are open to allowing Werner, who signed on a five-year contract, to depart on loan.

The 26-year-old scored 95 goals in 159 appearances with Leipzig from 2016 to 2020.

TOP STORY – LEIPZIG LEAD RACE FOR CHELSEA'S WERNER

Leipzig are leading the race to sign Chelsea striker Werner ahead of Juventus, claims Fabrizio Romano.

The Bundesliga club met with Chelsea on Sunday, proposing a swap deal for Werner, who is Leipzig's main target.

Juventus and Newcastle United have also shown an interest in the Germany international. 

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Barcelona are considering a move for Leipzig defender Angelino should they miss out on Chelsea full-back Marcos Alonso, claims Diario Sport.

Everton could make a move for forgotten Chelsea forward Michy Batshuayi, according to talkSPORT. The Toffees lost Richarlison to Tottenham last month and will turn to Batshuayi, who scored 14 goals on loan at Besiktas last season.

– Portuguese forward Diogo Jota is set to be rewarded for his strong second season at Anfield, with Liverpool to offer him a lucrative pay rise as part of a new deal, despite having three years to run on his contract, claims The Telegraph.

Napoli and Chelsea are in talks on a loan deal for Spanish goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, according to Sky Sports.

– Football Insider reports that Leicester City have informed Newcastle that midfielder James Maddison will cost them £60million as they circle for his signature.

– Leicester City are set to farewell goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel,  who is on the cusp of joining French Ligue 1 club Nice, reports the Mail.

Sassuolo managing director Giovanni Carnevali says Juventus are still competing with Napoli to try and sign Giacomo Raspadori and "anything can happen" before the transfer window closes.

Napoli are reported to have emerged as the favourites to sign the Italy forward, who has just under two years remaining on his contract.

Juve are said to have cooled their interest in the 22-year-old, who was part of the Azzurri squad that won Euro 2020 last year.

Sassuolo sold striker Gianluca Scamacca to West Ham last week for a fee £30.5million (€36m) plus £5m in add-ons and look set to lose another prized asset.

Carnevali said in an interview with Il Giornale: "For Giacomo there are the eyes of Napoli and Juventus.

"It is clear that the transfer market is still long and anything can still happen, but it is equally true that our idea is to end the negotiations within a few days to concentrate on the championship.

"The goal is to enhance youngsters, just like Gianluca Scamacca and his arrival in the Premier League is a fantastic recognition."

Raspadori scored 10 goals and provided five assists for Sassuolo in Serie A last season.

Napoli have announced the signing of central defender Kim Min-jae from Fenerbahce, shelling out a reported €19.5million for the South Korea international in a bid to replace Kalidou Koulibaly.

Luciano Spalletti's team finished third in Serie A after threatening a first Scudetto win since the Diego Maradona era last term, conceding the joint-fewest goals in the division (31, alongside Milan).

But the Partenopei have been in the market for reinforcements since they lost defensive colossus Koulibaly to Chelsea in a €40m deal earlier this month.

Kim, who has 42 caps for his country and will hope to feature when they open their World Cup campaign against Uruguay on November 24, is the man Napoli have signed to fill that void after he enjoyed an impressive one-season spell in Turkey.

Having contributed to Fenerbahce conceding just 38 league goals last term, the towering 25-year-old has penned a three-year deal with the option of two further seasons in Italy.

Reports also suggest Kim will have a release clause of €45million.

Napoli begin their 2022-23 Serie A campaign at Verona on August 15 but have endured a troubled off-season, losing both Koulibaly and Lorenzo Insigne during the transfer window, while president Aurelio De Laurentiis confirmed on Saturday that club legend Dries Mertens is also departing.

Victor Osimhen has quashed rumours of a move away from Napoli and praised boss Luciano Spalletti, after he was ejected from a training session on Sunday.

Spalletti was referee for a team scrimmage and was prompted to kick Osimhen out of the training session after the Nigeria international responded angrily to a challenge from Leo Ostigard.

The 23-year-old, who contributed to 24 goals in all competitions for the Partenopei last term, has been linked in the off season with Bayern Munich and Tottenham.

Osimhen poured cold water over those rumours, however, by asserting he wants to stay at Napoli.

"A transfer? I talked to ADL [Napoli owner Aurelio de Laurentiis], calm down. Spalletti's top," he told Corriere dello Sport.

"I am at Napoli, and I have great respect for my club. They are only rumours of the transfer market. I am fine here and I have never had such close relationships with everyone as at this moment.

"I have spoken with the president, he is the one who decides, and he reassured me by explaining the club's plans."

Scoring 14 goals in Serie A last term, Osimhen was a key figure for Napoli as they ended the season strongly, losing only three games before eventually finishing third behind Inter and champions Milan.

Although the likes of Kalidou Koulibaly, Lorenzo Insigne and Dries Mertens have departed this window, the striker insisted he wants to keep working under Spalletti.

"He is a top coach," Osimhen said. "Every day he tries to motivate me and make me make the most of the potential I have. I think he is the ideal coach for me at this stage."

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.

Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis has confirmed Dries Mertens' nine-year stay with the club is officially over after the forward rejected the offer of a new contract.

The Belgium international's previous deal expired at the end of last month, but the Serie A side had been hoping to persuade him to agree fresh terms.

However, De Laurentiis says Mertens was not willing to accept the offer tabled by the club and he is now on the lookout for a new team.

"I feel the love for the club, but I must never forget that football is also an industry as well as pure passion," he told Radio Kiss Kiss.

"Unfortunately, that means sometimes going against what the fans want. 

"When a supporter asks me, 'why don't you keep Mertens?' I can only reply that he offered himself to us for another year, because he knows that he's 35 and then has to retire.

"If he makes it a matter of cold, hard cash, then I have to say no. If I have to pay a disproportionate salary to Mertens, that would take money away from next season's budget."

Napoli have already waved goodbye to Lorenzo Insigne, David Ospina, Kalidou Koulibaly and Arkadiusz Milik during this transfer window.

 

Mertens departs Stadio Diego Armando Maradona, where he arrived in 2013 from PSV, as the club's all-time record scorer with 148 goals.

The 35-year-old scored 11 goals in 30 Serie A outings last season, with his 126 minutes per goal the fourth-best return of any player in Serie A to have netted at least 10 times.

He made 397 appearances for Napoli, placing him behind Insigne (434), Antonio Juliano (505), Giuseppe Bruscolotti (511) and Marek Hamsik (520).

Providing further details on the contract offered to the club legend, De Laurentiis said: "I presented him with €4million per season gross and he refused. 

"So I said thank you very much to you, your son Ciro, your wife, for everything you've done here and the extraordinary goals scored, but we cannot go beyond our capabilities.

"I need to have money to buy young players who can represent Napoli in future seasons. 

"When we changed all the older players to bring in those like Mertens and Koulibaly, the fans were doubtful, but they became champions here."

Chelsea midfielder Jorginho hailed new signing Kalidou Koulibaly as a "real leader" as he expressed his delight at being reunited with his former Napoli team-mate at Stamford Bridge.

The Premier League club signed Koulibaly from the Partenopei last week for a reported fee of £33.8million (€40m), with the Senegal captain penning a four-year contract.

Koulibaly made 236 Serie A appearances during a distinguished eight-year spell with Napoli, helping them to three second-placed finishes and one Coppa Italia triumph. 

Jorginho starred alongside Koulibaly during the defender's first four seasons in Italy, and the pair are now set to link-up in England.

The Italy international has revealed he discussed such a reunion with Koulibaly on several occasions after making his own move to west London in 2018, as he lauded the defender for his leadership abilities.

"We spoke a lot about it," Jorginho told the club's website. "Even before I came here Chelsea were interested in him, and finally now it's happening so it's really good.

"I am so, so happy he's here. As a player, he's a brilliant defender – fast, strong and he has so much quality on the ball with both feet. He's also a real leader.

"We've stayed in contact since I left Napoli.

"He speaks better English already than I do so that will be good for him to help settle in. It's going to be really easy for him because of the person he is. 

"Of course, we will help him to make it maybe a bit easier for him to get involved with team-mates and everything, but even if he didn't know us it would be easy for him because he's such a good guy."

Napoli boss Luciano Spalletti has poured cold water on the prospect of Paulo Dybala's arrival amid reports the Argentina international is set to join Serie A rivals Roma.

The Partenopei will have sizeable voids to make up for, with Kalidou Koulibaly, Dries Mertens, Faouzi Ghoulam and David Ospina all following Lorenzo Insigne to the exit since the end of last season.

Napoli and Roma emerged as Dybala's likeliest destinations after talks with Inter broke down, with fans even voicing their displeasure towards Spalletti at the lack of transfer activity during an address as preparations for the new season continued over the weekend.

Speaking after his side's 4-1 friendly win against Perugia on Sunday, the 63-year-old said he believes Dybala's wage demands make him an unrealistic target, though the club will be looking to move as the dust settles elsewhere in the market.

"I read that there are several teams in for him, [but] he wants a high contract," Spalletti said. "And probably his demands are [too] high for the moment for a club who has to think about it.

"Certainly we are thinking of some integration of the squad, but the market tells us that many moves will be made at the last moment given the long period in which negotiations take place.

"It is clear that the fans want to see quality. We have only one means at our disposal, that of showing personality and technique when we enter the field."

Koulibaly, who signed for Chelsea on Saturday, might not be the last player to leave Naples before the start of the season, with Victor Osimhen and Matteo Politano also linked to moves elsewhere.

Spalletti tried to remove polemics from their respective situations, insisting they will flourish at Napoli if they stay.

"Victor has to find the best condition, but we know what his great potential is and we will work to bring out his qualities," he said.

"If Politano remains and gives us his important contribution like last year, we are all happy."

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