Jules Kounde is seemingly bound to eventually move to the Premier League.

But where will the French centre-back land?

Manchester United and Chelsea are both believed to be interested.

 

TOP STORY – ANOTHER DEFENDER SET FOR OLD TRAFFORD?

Manchester United are in the race to sign star Sevilla defender Jules Kounde, according to Fichajes.

Kounde was tipped to join Champions League holders Chelsea but a transfer did not materialise before the end of the previous window, much to the frustration of the player.

Despite the arrival of Raphael Varane, United are reportedly set to make a move for the France international centre-back.

 

ROUND-UP

- The front page of Wednesday's Diario AS claims Real Madrid have re-activated their interest in United star Paul Pogba, who will become a free agent at the end of the season. A deal for Pogba would reportedly provide further encouragement for Kylian Mbappe in their pursuit of the Paris Saint-Germain forward.

- Corriere dello Sport claims PSG and Atletico Madrid want Nicolo Barella as his contract talks with Serie A champions Inter stall.

- The Express reports United are considering a move for Monaco and France sensation Aurelien Tchouameni, who is also attracting interest from Madrid, LiverpoolChelsea and Juventus.

Barcelona will sell Sergio Busquets in order to sign Milan's Franck Kessie, says El Nacional. Kessie is out of contract at the end of the season and the star midfielder has been linked with United, PSG, Liverpool, Arsenal and Inter. The front page of Wednesday's Mundo Deportivo, meanwhile, reports Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana, Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger and Pogba are among several soon-to-be free agents being eyed by Barca.

- Le10 Sport claims PSG could join the race for Fiorentina forward Dusan Vlahovic, who is seen as a potential replacement for Madrid target Mbappe. Vlahovic has been linked with Manchester City, Atletico Madrid, Juve, Inter, Arsenal and Liverpool. PSG are also believed to be interested in Borussia Dortmund's sought-after forward Erling Haaland.

Paul Pogba has been the subject of constant speculation over the past 12 months.

Manchester United's French midfielder is into the final year of his contract.

Pogba has been in excellent early season form, with seven assists in the league already.

 

TOP STORY – REAL MADRID MOVE LOOMS FOR POGBA

Real Madrid are Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba's most likely destination at the end of this season, claims El Nacional.

The France international is out of contract at Old Trafford at the end of this season and could leave on a free transfer.

Pogba's agent Mino Raiola is trying to persuade Pogba to join Madrid, despite interest from Paris Saint-Germain.

 

ROUND-UP

Liverpool target Karim Adeyemi is being chased by German pair Bayern Munich and Wolfsburg, reports Sport Bild. RB Leipzig are also monitoring the 19-year-old Salzburg striker.

Marco Asensio appears destined to leave Madrid given his current role, with Sevilla hoping to sign the midfielder, according to El Gol Digital.

– Fichajes reports that Milan are plotting a January move for out-of-favour Manchester United midfielder Donny van de Beek.

– The Sun claims that Tottenham have revived their interest in West Brom goalkeeper Sam Johnstone as they seek a successor to Hugo Lloris.

Roma head coach Jose Mourinho wants to reunite with Tottenham midfielder Tanguy Ndombele by signing him, reports Calciomercato.

– Marca claims that Manchester City are considering tabling an offer to sign Villareal forward Pau Torres .

Arsenal are set for a shake-up after missing out on European football for the first time in 26 years.

Mikel Arteta's side started the new Premier League campaign slowly.

But three wins in a row have offered hope and rumours are swirling about transfer activity.

 

TOP STORY – ARSENAL PLOT SWAP FOR EN-NESYRI

Arsenal will offer Alexandre Lacazette as part of a deal to land Youssef En-Nesyri from Sevilla, according to La Razon.

Morocco international forward En-Nesyri has sparked Arsenal's interest after netting 24 goals in all competitions in the 2020-21 season.

Lacazette has only made one league appearance for the Gunners this term and was reportedly shipped around during the off-season.

ROUND-UP

– Fabrizio Romano reports Lorenzo Pellegrini is set to sign a new long-term contract with Roma, which will remove his €30million release clause. Pellegrini was previously pursued by Liverpool and Tottenham.

– Liverpool scouts kept a close eye on Villarreal's Arnaut Danjuma at Wednesday's Champions League game against Manchester United as they plan for Sadio Mane's successor, claims the Daily Mirror.

– Real Madrid midfielder Marco Asensio remains in Arsenal's sights, reports the Daily Star.

Inter are not considering signing Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno, with Ajax's Andre Onana their preferred acquisition, claims Fabrizio Romano.

Real Madrid's salary cap spending limits for the 2021-22 season is seven times greater than financially stricken Barcelona's, LaLiga has announced.

Los Blancos have seen their limit boosted by €270million, with Barca's reduced by €280m.

Carlo Ancelotti's side will be capped at just over €739m, but Barca can spend only €97m – with six clubs able to splash more than them.

Reigning champions Atletico Madrid have also been hit, with their limit reduced by €81m from last term, resulting in Diego Simeone's men allowed to spend €171m for the next campaign – the third-highest ceiling in the division.

LaLiga corporate director Jose Guerra suggested to ESPN that Madrid's limit, which is over €500m more than any other LaLiga team, would have left room for them to secure Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe, who they attempted to sign last transfer window.

"They [Real Madrid] would have no problem whatsoever," LaLiga corporate director Jose Guerra said to ESPN. "They were ready for [Kylian] Mbappe or any other player."

LaLiga calculates these figures by considering club's earnings, spendings, overheads, losses and debts to encourage sustainability and financial fair play.

 

Barca caused conflict with the league in August when they, along with Madrid and Athletic Bilbao, refused to sign a deal to sell 10 per cent of its business to CVC Capital Partners and later saw Blaugrana legend Lionel Messi leave for PSG because of the club's perilous financial situation.

Players such as Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba responded by agreeing payment deferrals and salary reductions, but Guerra explained the Catalan club's severe decrease is down to losses of almost €500m last season.

"They acknowledge much higher losses than what they had initially estimated, so the impact is greater on their spending limit," Guerra continued.

"If you take the €97m limit and add the losses, around €480m, we're talking about €570m, which would be more normal. So it's more or less stable."

While Barca expect their cap to increase in the following season due to writing off several assets in last year's accounts, Guerra also warned that this was not guaranteed as LaLiga consider past losses moving forward.

Sevilla have the second largest kitty, capped at €200m, with Villarreal (€159m), Real Sociedad (€127m) and Athletic Bilbao (€111m) making up the top six.

However, Valencia – who won LaLiga in 2003-04 – have the smallest limit, with their spending reduced to just €31m, which is a €71m fall from the previous year.

Is the end nigh for Aaron Wan-Bissaka at Old Trafford?
 
Wan-Bisakka joined Manchester United in a big-money deal in 2019 but the Red Devils are reportedly ready to replace the Englishman.
 
A talented RB Leipzig defender could be the team's next right-back.

 

TOP STORY – NEW RIGHT-BACK SET FOR OLD TRAFFORD?

Manchester United are eyeing RB Leipzig right-back Nordi Mukiele, according Fichajes.net.

United are reportedly keen to sign a replacement after losing patience with Aaron Wan-Bissaka at Old Trafford.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is believed to be interested in Leipzig's 23-year-old star Mukiele.

 

ROUND-UP

- Calciomercato claims Milan and Juventus are interested in United States and Dallas sensation Ricardo Pepi. The 18-year-old has also been linked with Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich.

- Inter are willing to let Alexis Sanchez leave the Serie A champions, reports Calciomercato. Marseille, Real Betis and Sevilla are among the possible options for the 32-year-old Chilean.

Tottenham are weighing up a move for Aston Villa's Ollie Watkins, per Fichajes. It comes amid continued uncertainty over Spurs star Harry Kane, who has been linked with Manchester City, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus as well as United.

 

Cristiano Ronaldo is showing no signs of slowing down, despite his advancing years.

But the evergreen 36-year-old is still planning for life once he decides to call it quits.

A coaching career in Manchester is believed to be on the cards.

 

TOP STORY – RONALDO DOESN'T WANT TO LEAVE OLD TRAFFORD

Cristiano Ronaldo wants to stay at Manchester United beyond his retirement, according to The Sun.

Ronaldo is back at United for a second spell after re-joining from Juventus before the transfer window closed, having left Old Trafford in 2009.

The 36-year-old, however, is already planning for life after football as he eyes a coaching role with United's youth team in order to work with his son Cristiano Jr.

 

ROUND-UP

- Calciomercato claims Chelsea, Liverpool and Bayern Munich are interested in Juventus star Federico Chiesa, who has also been linked with Borussia Dortmund.

- Chelsea are preparing to make a big-money move for Juve centre-back Matthijs de Ligt after missing out on Sevilla star Jules Kounde, reports Diario AS.

- The Daily Mail says Arsenal and Tottenham are eyeing a January loan move for Barcelona misfit Philippe Coutinho.

- Staying in London and the Mirror claims Tottenham are considering an approach for Juve's Dejan Kulusevski.

Atletico Madrid are hoping to sign Fabian Ruiz from Napoli, according to Calciomercato. Determined to prise the Spain international, LaLiga champions Atletico could use Marcos Llorente as part of the deal. Fabian has also been linked with Real Madrid and Barca.

- Per Corriere della Serra, United, Chelsea and Juve are among the heavyweight clubs plotting a move for disgruntled Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, who has found himself on the bench since joining on a free transfer.

 

Alexandre Lacazette's future at Arsenal is uncertain and a move to Italy may beckon.

The French forward was said to have been a player Arsenal would have considered allowing to leave at the right price during the recent transfer window.

Lacazette has only managed two substitute appearances for the Gunners in the league this season.

TOP STORY - JUVENTUS PLOT MOVE FOR GUNNER

Juventus are considering a move to sign Arsenal forward Alexandre Lacazette, claims Calciomercato.

Lacazette is due to become a free agent at the end of next June and it remains to be seen whether he renews, yet the Turin club may move for him in January.

Juventus' slow start to the new season may play a part in their decision-making on when to pursue his signature.

ROUND-UP

- Bruno Fernandes will be rewarded with a bumper new Manchester United contract worth £250,000 per week, claims The Sun. The deal could be announced in the next few days, representing a £100,000 pay raise on his current deal that runs until 2025.

- Chelsea will reportedly consider selling Antonio Rudiger, who has been linked with Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid. Any Rudiger sale would raise funds to land Sevilla star Jules Kounde, according to Football365.

- Ansu Fati is committed to remaining with Barcelona despite the club's financial issues, according to Mundo Deportivo.

Erling Haaland was not lured away from Borussia Dortmund in the most recent transfer window despite widespread interest.

But the race to sign the 21-year-old Norway international will heat up in the coming months.

Haaland scored 41 goals for Dortmund last term, making him one of European football's hottest properties.

 

TOP STORY - MADRID LEAD HAALAND RACE

Real Madrid have a verbal agreement for Dortmund star Haaland to join the club next year, reports Diario Madridista.

The Spanish club leads the way amid widespread interest in the Norwegian forward, including from BarcelonaChelsea and Manchester City.

Additionally, Los Blancos' decision to respect Dortmund's stance to not sell the 21-year-old during the previous window has helped any potential deal.

 

ROUND-UP

Leicester City are planning to make a move to sign Sassuolo and Italy winger Domenico Berardi in January, reports CalcioMercato. Berardi, who has attracted interest from Milan and Fiorentina previously, could be available for approximately €35million (£30m).

- Dortmund will not sell Jude Bellingham amid reported interest from Liverpool as they plan to offer the 18-year-old England international a new contract, claims 90min. Bellingham's current deal runs until 2025.

- Milan midfielder Franck Kessie is on Chelsea's radar as they plan for Jorginho's potential departure, seeing him as a replacement, according to the Daily Express. Paris Saint-Germain are also interested in Kessie, who will be a free agent at the end of the season.

Chelsea will revive their interest in Sevilla's Jules Kounde in January, but the Blues still only want to offer approximately €50m (£42m), according to ESPN. Sevilla previously demanded a deal in the region of €70m (£60m), before then informing the English side only depositing his release clause – understood to be between €80m (£68.3m) and €90m (£76.8m) – would suffice in the final two days of the transfer window.

- Fichajes claims Tottenham are planning to hand 34-year-old French goalkeeper Hugo Lloris a new two-year deal, with his current contract due to expire in June 2022.

New Barcelona striker Luuk de Jong accepts he is "different" to the club's usual style of striker but pointed out Ronald Koeman knows how to utilise him.

De Jong joined Barca on loan from Sevilla at the end of the transfer window with the Dutchman seen by most as a curious option in many senses.

He had been linked with a potential return to former club PSV and was shunted down to third choice at Sevilla following the signing of Rafa Mir from Wolves.

But late on deadline day, cash-strapped Barca allowed Antoine Griezmann to depart for Atletico Madrid and the Blaugrana replaced the Frenchman with De Jong on a temporary deal for 2021-22.

It is a signing that many Barca fans will have deemed underwhelming given De Jong hardly sparkled previously in LaLiga with Sevilla and his skillset is not one that necessarily lends itself to the club's traditional philosophy of short, sharp passing and fluid, possession-based football.

Indeed, De Jong acknowledged he brings qualities that are seemingly at odds with Barca's past.

"I am tall, I am a good header of the ball," he told Barca TV upon his arrival. "As I already said before, I am a player with a different skillset."

De Jong played under Koeman for the Dutch national team, meaning the coach should feel confident about how to get the best out of his abilities.

"Koeman knows that he can use me in the final minutes when he needs a player that's tall and good with his head," he continued.

"That's the kind of player I am. [But] as I showed in Sevilla, I also have other aspects to my game."

Given the cultural significance of the style of play implemented at Barca, De Jong outlining his strengths suit a direct style of play may not go down too well with certain sections of supporters.

But there is no doubt such a brand of football is likely to ensure De Jong brings more to the table at Camp Nou – after all, he averaged 1.1 headed shots per 90 minutes in LaLiga last term, a figure bettered by only four strikers (minimum 900 minutes played).

Similarly, just four forwards bettered his 0.36 headed shots on target per 90 minutes as well.

 

What makes that figure slightly more impressive is the fact Sevilla would not be considered a 'direct' team. According to Opta data, Julen Lopetegui's men only recorded 35 'direct attacks' last season, the second-fewest in the division, whereas Barcelona's 67 was the third-highest.

A direct attack is defined as a sequence that begins just inside the team's own half and has at least 50 per cent of movement towards the opposition's goal and ends with a shot or touch in the box, so while that does not necessarily mean Barca smash long balls to the front man constantly, it does suggest Koeman's setup will provide De Jong with chances to be useful.

His first such opportunities could even come against Sevilla this weekend.

"I'm not worried," he said. "I'm looking forward to playing with all my team-mates. I'm looking forward to playing against Sevilla, and I hope to win also."

Ivan Rakitic is planning talks with Sevilla team-mate Jules Kounde in a bid to lift his spirits after a move to Chelsea did not materialise.

Kounde has established himself as one of the best defenders in LaLiga over the past two seasons, prompting interest from a number of elite clubs.

Reports of interest from Chelsea were persistent throughout the recent transfer window, and Sevilla sporting director Monchi confirmed the European champions had made an approach.

It was a move that would have appealed to Kounde, Monchi confirmed, but the two clubs were unable to agree a fee, as Sevilla held out for the player's €80million release clause.

Kounde appeared well suited to a top Premier League side, ranking third among LaLiga defenders for aerial duels won (205) and sixth for successful passes (3,536) since the start of the 2019-20 season – an effective blend of physicality and finesse.

Yet veteran Rakitic hopes the 22-year-old can move on quickly.

"Hopefully, on his return from his national team, we can have a moment to be able to talk, sincerely, so that he knows that he has the confidence of us, that we are his second family," Rakitic said in a wide-ranging interview with ELDesmarque.

"It is very important to us. The first thing we need is for him to feel at ease, to be at his best and to know that everything we do, we do together."

Already a complete defender – also counted in LaLiga's top 25 for duels won (339, 11th), recoveries (303, 22nd) and clearances (191, 23rd) since his arrival – Rakitic wants Kounde to kick on again and show his quality.

"He is a boy, 22 years old, very young," Rakitic added. "He has been here for some spectacular years, that's why he attracts the interest of big clubs with those amounts.

"He has earned that with his game. The most important thing is that he understands that this has already happened.

"Besides being young, he has a lot of experience. He no longer has to teach anything to anyone. He is already a well-rounded player.

"He still has to improve, of course, but he has to continue to enjoy football. It doesn't help him now to be down, sad, or angry. He has to lift his spirits." 

LaLiga's request to postpone the upcoming match between Sevilla and Barcelona due to player involvement in South American World Cup qualifiers has been dismissed by the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), but a "challenge" will be lodged. 

An appeal was issued by LaLiga to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) against the decision taken by FIFA to put in place a two-day extension to the CONMEBOL calendar for fixtures in September and October, a move made amid the complications caused by the coronavirus pandemic. 

Due to strict rules that would require players to quarantine for 10 days upon their return, England's Premier League refused to release nearly 60 players travelling to 26 countries on the United Kingdom's red list due to COVID-19. 

LaLiga announced support to those clubs in Spain that opted not to let individuals travel to play for South American nations in upcoming qualifiers. A total of 25 players from 13 different teams were due to be involved. 

The organisation also filed a lawsuit against FIFA in the Swiss courts for infraction of competition rules, adding that domestic leagues had already accepted a new window in January 2022 to accommodate matches disrupted by the global pandemic. 

However, CAS denied the interim measures put forward, meaning players would have to be released, and LaLiga responded by asking for two matches – Sevilla v Barcelona and Villarreal v Deportivo Alaves on September 11 – be postponed due to players only arriving back in Spain earlier that day. 

While the RFEF has rejected the request, LaLiga insists it will continue to fight for those postponements, adamant the decision "is not in accordance with the law". 

A statement read: "LaLiga expresses its absolute disagreement with the resolution of the president of the Competition Committee, issued by delegation of the president of the RFEF, to reject the postponement requests submitted by both Villarreal – with respect to the Villarreal v Deportivo Alaves match set for Saturday, September 11 at 18:30 – and Sevilla – for the Sevilla v Barcelona match set for Saturday, September 11 at 21:00 – and by LaLiga, organiser of this competition. 

"The reason for these requests is to be able to maintain the integrity of the competition as a consequence of the extension of the FIFA period in September (CONMEBOL confederation) established by circular 1776 of August 13, setting the end of said period on Thursday, September 9 (early morning on Friday the 10th in Europe, with many players landing in Spain on Saturday morning and having to play games hours later). 

"Finally, these requests have been rejected as it is considered, inexplicably, that based on article 239 of the general regulations of the RFEF, the circumstances raised are not identified as a cause of force majeure, motivated by an unforeseeable circumstance such as the current one that goes beyond of the mere summons of the players in the manner established by the regulations. 

"In this sense, with this resolution of the RFEF (FIFA representative in Spain), the approach made by FIFA itself to oppose the precautionary measure requested by LaLiga before the CAS is being contradicted, indicating that it was easier for LaLiga to postpone these matches than for FIFA to postpone those of the CONMEBOL qualifiers. 

"For all these reasons, LaLiga will challenge the aforementioned resolution considering it is not in accordance with the law." 

Antoine Griezmann and Saul Niguez were the big names to move late on deadline day, with Atletico Madrid having a busy night.

Griezmann's move to his former club completed a day of outgoings for Barcelona, who sold Emerson Royal and Ilaix Moriba, as well as loaning out Ray Minaj.

Ronald Koeman's Barca did get one player in, however, who will seemingly replace Griezmann in attack.

Barca's LaLiga rivals Real Madrid did not manage to get a mega deal for Kylian Mbappe over the line, despite a reported bid of €200m having been lodged on Tuesday, though Los Blancos did sign Rennes sensation Eduardo Camavinga.

Cristiano Ronaldo's move back to Manchester United was confirmed early on, but there was plenty of late action in England, too.

 

Another returning king as Chelsea call on Saul

Romelu Lukaku back to Chelsea. Ronaldo back to United. Now, Griezmann has made a return to one of his former clubs, with the 30-year-old re-joining LaLiga champions Atleti on a season-long loan.

There is an option to make the deal permanent for €40million – just the €80million less than Barca paid for the France forward in 2019.

Replacing Griezmann at Barca is Luuk de Jong, with Koeman turning to his compatriot from Sevilla. Messi to De Jong... not quite the end to the window Barca fans would have had in mind.

Saul, meanwhile, is leaving LaLiga. He has joined Chelsea on a loan deal from Atleti, with an option to buy for a reported £30m.

 

No Madrid move for Mbappe... yet

A third Madrid bid for Mbappe was reportedly lodged, and ignored, on Tuesday, as Florentino Perez's obsessive hunt of the Paris Saint-Germain star proved fruitless.

However, Mbappe is out of contract next year, so he may well be a Galactico soon enough.

One player who will be playing in the famous all-white strip this season is teenage midfielder Camavinga, who has joined from Rennes.

As well as keeping Mbappe, PSG added to their squad, completing a stellar transfer window by signing Sporting CP left-back Nuno Mendes to fill what has proved a problem position. Pablo Sarabia went the other way.

In Italy, Milan marked a quiet end to the window overall by confirming the signings of Yacine Adli and Messias Junior.

Inter already had their business done, while Juventus confirmed Moise Kean's return on Tuesday morning. The Bianconeri also signed Mohamed Ihattaren, who was then loaned to Sampdoria.

Ronaldo headlines Premier League moves

The early confirmation of Ronaldo's move back to United being complete was the biggest story of the day in England's top flight. It also paved the way for the Red Devils to sell Daniel James, who moved to Leeds United.

Arsenal blocked Everton's attempts to sign Ainsley Maitland-Niles, though Hector Bellerin did leave the Gunners to head to Real Betis on loan. Mikel Arteta's Gunners completed their record-breaking transfer window (in terms of overall spend) with the acquisition of Japan defender Takehiro Tomiyasu from Bologna. Earlier in the day, Arsenal loaned out Reiss Nelson and Alex Runarsson.

Their north London rivals Tottenham completed the signing of Emerson from Barca, with Serge Aurier's time at Spurs subsequently being brought to an end by the mutual termination of his contract.

Everton's hunt for a right-back was to no avail. The Toffees did bring in Salomon Rondon on a free transfer, handing the forward a two-year deal with an option for a third. James Rodriguez was involved in a mooted part-exchange deal with Porto for Luis Diaz, but the Colombian star is staying put.

Manchester City rounded off their dealings by sending out seven players on loan. Among them was Patrick Roberts, who was one of three players to join Ligue 1 club Troyes.

Wolves were unable to complete deals for Kieffer Moore or Boubacar Kamara. A late offer from Spurs for Adama Traore was reportedly rejected.

Czech Republic midfielder Alex Kral joined West Ham on loan from Spartak Moscow. He was the Hammers' second signing of the day, with Croatia playmaker Nikola Vlasic having arrived early on.

There were two outgoings at Celtic. Scotland international Ryan Christie signed for Bournemouth, while Crystal Palace bought striker Odsonne Edouard for a reported £15m. The Hoops replaced him with Greece forward Giorgos Giakoumakis.

Chelsea have not made a formal offer for Jules Kounde since Wednesday and there have been no negotiations since Friday, according to Sevilla sporting director Monchi.

Kounde is reportedly a target of Thomas Tuchel's men, with Manchester City previously said to be interested, and the centre-back was left out of the trip to Elche on Saturday.

However, Monchi declared in a press conference on Tuesday that the LaLiga outfit have not heard from Chelsea since Friday, their last formal offer being submitted two days prior.

"The only possibility is that they [Chelsea] pay the clause," Monchi said. "It's €80million euros. There has been interest from many teams, most of them rejected by the player himself.

"The footballer did like Chelsea. The first offer we received from Chelsea. It was last Wednesday, at five o'clock, with an amount that did not satisfy what we wanted.

"It was important, we did not underestimate the amounts. I had already spoken with the player to tell him that the longer time passed, the more difficult the operation was.

"We responded with a counter-offer to Chelsea and since Friday night there has been no more negotiation."

When comparing Kounde to Chelsea centre-backs across their respective domestic leagues last term, the Sevilla defender ranked first for clean sheets (15).

Only Antonio Rudiger made more tackles than Kounde (31 to 27), while none of the Blues could top the 22-year-old's 40 interceptions, 100 clearances or 102 aerial duels won.

Kurt Zouma, Thiago Silva and Andreas Christensen all boasted better passing accuracy than Kounde's 90.11 per cent, however.

Speculation persists, but Monchi remains confident of keeping his defender.

"I don't think anyone will pay it [the release clause], but there is a time to react," the Sevilla chief continued.

"The decision not to travel to Elche was made jointly by all parties.

"We asked him if he was 100 per cent to travel, he thought about it and then said yes. But we made that decision.

"Jules is not a superhero, even if he is a great guy or a great professional. It is normal for the player to have some doubts. He did not go on vacation, he is concentrating with France."

Chelsea have been linked with Sevilla's French defender Jules Kounde throughout the off-season.

The 22-year-old centre-back did not play for Sevilla at the weekend and reportedly wants to exit the club.

Kounde would be Chelsea's second major signing behind Romelu Lukaku, as the transfer window closure approaches.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA FACING MONDAY ULTIMATUM ON KOUNDE

Chelsea's drawn-out pursuit of Sevilla's Jules Kounde has hit another speed bump with the Spanish club issuing the Blues an ultimatum, according to AS.

Sevilla have told Chelsea if they do not submit a suitable offer on Monday, then they have to meet Kounde's €80 million (£68m) release clause.

Chelsea have not tabled a firm bid for Kounde beyond €50m, while the LaLiga outfit had reportedly previously wanted €60-70m.

ROUND-UP

- The Star reports that Cristiano Ronaldo's arrival at Manchester United will force Dan James out, with Everton, Brighton and Hove Albion, Leeds United and Crystal Palace all in the running for the Welsh winger.

- Manchester United are unlikely to move for Atletico Madrid full-back and long-term target Kieran Trippier reports the Manchester Evening News. United's capture of Ronaldo means their transfer business is over.

- Sport reports that Juventus are ready to make one final effort to sign Miralem Pjanic back from Barcelona. Juve are willing to take Pjanic on loan, with the midfielder out of favour at Barca.

- Aston Villa are set to table a £15m bid for Liverpool midfielder Curtis Jones according to the Express. The Villans are eager to strengthen having missed out on Arsenal's Emile Smith Rowe.

LaLiga has requested the postponement of two games, including Barcelona's trip to Sevilla, after failing to get interim measures in place relating to the release of players for international duty.

The governing body issued an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) against the decision taken by FIFA to put in place a two-day extension to the CONMEBOL calendar for fixtures in September and October, a move made amid the complications caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Due to strict rules that would require players to quarantine for 10 days upon their return, the Premier League refused to release nearly 60 players travelling to 26 countries on the United Kingdom's red list due to COVID-19.

LaLiga announced support to those clubs in Spain that opted not to let individuals travel to play for South American nations in upcoming World Cup qualifiers. A total of 25 players from 13 different teams were due to be involved for their countries.

The organisation also filed a lawsuit against FIFA in the Swiss courts for infraction of competition rules, adding that domestic leagues had already accepted a new match window in January 2022 to accommodate matches disrupted by the global pandemic.

However, CAS denied the interim measures put forward, meaning players will have to be released. LaLiga, which claimed the appeal had been "rejected by the court with no reasoning whatsoever", has reacted by announcing proposed changes to the fixture list for matchweek four.

Barcelona had been due to travel to face Sevilla on September 11, but that game is set to be postponed, along with the top-flight meeting between Villarreal and Deportivo Alaves.

There have also been changes to kick-off times too, with Real Madrid now set to host Celta Vigo in the late game on Sunday. That match could well see the debut of Kylian Mbappe at the newly developed Santiago Bernabeu, should his move from Paris Saint-Germain be completed before the transfer window closes.

LaLiga issued a lengthy statement while announcing the planned alterations to the schedule, as well as a warning that the "senseless situation" could be set to happen again during the October international break, too.

"We emphasise that, due to FIFA's decision, the affected players will rejoin their club teams on Friday after having played three games, and many of them will play league matches on Saturday or Sunday, clearly not being in a position to compete under equal conditions with their clubs," the statement read.

"LaLiga submitted this request to the CAS in defence of the integrity of the LaLiga competition and the rights of clubs affected by players being called up for international duty with CONMEBOL national teams, due to the two-day extension of the FIFA period in September and October 2021.

"Other confederations such as UEFA and CONCACAF did not extend their match calendar despite scheduling the same number of matches (three). These confederations made the effort to adapt their fixture schedule to a maximum of 10 days (until Wednesday), so as not to disrupt national league competitions.

"In addition, this problem occurs after the domestic leagues, together with their clubs, already made an effort to admit a new FIFA window (for all confederations except UEFA) in January 2022, to accommodate match dates previously affected by the pandemic.

"We will encounter this senseless situation once again in October, this time affecting Matchday 9 of LaLiga Santander."

FIFA also issued a statement following the CAS ruling, confirming it now expects all players to be released to play in South America.

"The compromise decision to add two additional days rather than three as requested by the South American confederation CONMEBOL was taken by the competent FIFA body after consulting all relevant stakeholders and after taking into account all relevant circumstances, in particular, the challenges created by the Covid pandemic and especially health considerations for players," the statement read.

"Today's CAS decision confirms the legality of FIFA's decision and entirely rejects the arguments made by Spain's LaLiga.

"On Wednesday, FIFA President Gianni Infantino called for a show of solidarity from all member associations, leagues, and clubs, to do what is right and fair for the global game.

"We now expect the release of players for the upcoming FIFA World Cup qualifiers in South America to occur in accordance with the recent FIFA decision, the legality and legitimacy of which has today been recognised in today's CAS ruling."

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