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Neymar likely to join Chelsea

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Chelsea are likely to sign Paris Saint-Germain winger Neymar this summer after fresh talks between co-owner Todd Boehly and PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi, with Mauricio Pochettino open to a reunion with the Brazilian. 

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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Real sign goalkeeper Arrizabalaga on loan from Chelsea

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Real Madrid and Chelsea have reached an agreement for goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga’s season-long loan to the Spanish club, the clubs announced on Monday.

The 28-year-old Arrizabalaga will arrive as a temporary replacement for Thibaut Courtois, who will be sidelined for several months after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his left knee during a training session last Thursday.

Arrizabalaga joined Chelsea from Athletic Bilbao in 2018 for a record 80 million euros fee for a goalkeeper but fell out of favour in the London club, who signed goalkeeper Robert Sanchez from Brighton & Hove Albion this summer.

He has reportedly been targeted by Bayern Munich as the German side are seeking to replace their own injured goalkeeper, Manuel Neuer, but Real Madrid moved faster to secure the deal.

Courtois’ injury is a major blow for Real as they will have to make do without the services of one of their key players for the foreseeable future.

Courtois joined Real from Chelsea in 2018 after winning two Premier League titles, the FA Cup and the League Cup during his time at Stamford Bridge.

He was named Player-of-the-Match following the 2022 Champions League final after producing one of the greatest goalkeeping performances in a European Cup final.

Courtois recorded nine saves to deny Liverpool in Paris, leading his club to a record extending 14th European title after a 1-0 win.

Real Madrid had only one other goalkeeper in their first team squad, Ukraine’s Andriy Lunin.

The 24-year-old Lunin has made only nine Spanish league appearances for the club since signing from Zorya Luhansk in 2018. He spent his first two seasons in Spain on loan spells with Leganes, Valladolid and Oviedo.

-Reuters

 

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Mbappe ‘refuses to talk’ to Al-Hilal over 300-million-euro move

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Paris Saint-Germain striker Kylian Mbappe has refused to meet officials from Al-Hilal, dealing a potentially fatal blow to the Saudis’ ambitious hopes of completing a world record 300-million-euro ($333 million) swoop.

The French star has refused “any discussion with the representatives of the Al-Hilal club, present in Paris this Wednesday,” reported L’Equipe sports daily.

According to the report, a delegation from the Saudi club came to Paris to finalise the transfer of Brazilian Malcom from Zenit Saint Petersburg.

They also wanted to present their project to Mbappe while in the French capital.

“This approach will not succeed,” added L’Equipe because the entourage of the 24-year-old player “refused any discussions with the representatives of the Saudi club”.

“The captain of Les Bleus has never considered this option,” the report added.

Riyadh-based Al-Hilal had been given permission to open talks with Mbappe despite him never having expressed an interest in moving to the fast-growing Saudi league.

Mbappe has one year left on his contract with PSG, who want him to leave now rather than for nothing next summer.

But Mbappe is refusing to sign a new contract and the French champions believe he has already struck a deal to move to Real Madrid next year.

-AFP

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Osmihen, Mbappe, Muani and 12 other transfers which could shake up football in 2023

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Every transfer window is filled with rumours, intrigue and a hell of a lot of money thrown around. Teams are always looking to upgrade and the decisions they make in each transfer window can impact them for years to come. Here are some rumoured transfers which could shake up the European football landscape.

Victor Osmihen to Chelsea

Despite pouring eye-water figures down the drain on ill thought out transfer last year, Chelsea are undeterred from making a big push for Victor Osmihen. And to be fair, Osmihen has all the potential to solve their striking woes. With 26 goals in 32 games for league winners Napoli, Osmihen has proven his quality in Italy’s Serie A. Growing up a Drogba fan, it looks like Chelsea might even be a soft sell for the Nigerian. 

Kylian Mbappe to Real Madrid

The transfer everyone is watching, Mbappe’s move to Real Madrid has been on the cards for over a year now but the likelihood went up 100% when the French forward dropped the bombshell he wouldn’t be fulfilling his 2023/2025 option. Real Madrid have been circling Mbappe and are reportedly as keen to have him on the books as Mbappe is to be there himself, with the PSG star reportedly seeing Los Blancos as the best place to fulfill his Champions League dream. Will they have the funds though?

Declan Rice to Arsenal

Rice has long been linked to childhood club, Chelsea, but reports suggest Arsenal are well on its way to nabbing current West Ham captain. Arteta is rumoured to be a huge fan of the 24 year old, adding Rice to an already talented Gunners squad could help take them to the next level. It’ll cost them though, with Hammers coach David Moyes telling BBC Sport he believed Rice would be worth over 150 million pounds on the market. 

James Maddison to Newcastle United

The Saudi-backed Newcastle have taken huge strides this year, competing with the likes of Tottenham and Liverpool for 4th place in the Premier League. Adding a player of Maddison’s quality to an already talented squad would add goalscoring and depth in what will be a busy 2023/24 seen for the Geordies.

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Randal Kolo Muani to Manchester United

The Eintracht Frankfurt striker was inches away from winning France the World Cup back in December, but his late miss hasn’t slowed his league form down at all. With 12 goals and 10 assists this season, it is believed Kolo Muani’s dream move is to play in the EPL – and Manchester United are doing their utmost to ensure he does it in the North. Muani could bring some reliability and stability to their off-and-on and strike force.

Mason Mount to Manchester United?

Given the career Mount has had up to this point, it would seem strange for Chelsea to let him go. Two years removed from a Champions League winners medal and a key member of recent Chelsea squads, Mount has been unable to agree to a new contract in west London. Where he goes is the big question. Manchester United are very keen but were categorically rejected for their 40 million pound offer and will now need to up their offer to nab the midfielder. 

Joao Felix to Galatasaray

Despite Felix often looking like the Blues standout player in what has been a tough period for the club, the troubled west London club doesn’t seem keen on keeping the forward – but it could be the price tag. Having recently signed an extension at Atletico Madrid, this transfer would cost Todd Boehly well over $100 million. But Felix seems to be getting chummy with Galatasaray on social media and rumours are swirling the Istanbul table toppers are keen on getting the deal done.

Reece James to Real Madrid

The second young English player linked the Madrid side, this move would be a real blow to Chelsea. When healthy, James has proved to be 1 of the better right-backs in the Premier League, able to contribute in attack and comfortable defending 1 on 1 when needed. Madrid are looking for an upgrade to their RB slot, with Lucas Vazquez filling in and Dani Carvajal perhaps beyond his best.

Rasmus Hojlund to Manchester United

Rasmus Hojlund is a name football fans might need to get used to hearing over the coming years, an ascending star of European football, swiftly moving from Copenhagen FC to Atalanta with a year stop at Sturm Graz along the way. 5 goals in 2 games for his national side, Denmark, has solidified Hojlund has a star in the making. Linked to Arsenal and Bayern Munich, it is thought Manchester United have the inside track on the signing.

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Jesper Lindstrom to Arsenal

Another young Dane, Lindstrom has been plying his trade for Eintracht Frankfurt for the past two seasons, settling into a starting role this year. Able to play anywhere across the front line, his profile seems a perfect fit for Mikel Arteta’s team who value positional versatility more than most.

Josko Gvardiol to Manchester City

Gvardiol was close to signing for Chelsea in the summer of 2022, with RB Leipzig nixing the deal at the last moment. Since then it seems Man City have stolen a march on their Premier League rivals and now lead the race for a player some consider to be the best centre back prospect in Europe.

Vitor Roque to Barcelona

Buying talented youngsters from Brazil and developing them into world superstars is a tried and true method for success in football, recently perfected by Barca’s rivals, Real Madrid. This time it could well be the Blaugrana who end up with the next world beater in their squad. Recently linked to Arsenal, Roque is admired by many in European football, but with his heart supposedly set on the Nou Camp, this transfer could solve Barcelona’s need for a long term striker.

Moussa Diaby to Newcastle

Newcastle could well be ready to splash the cash this summer, with the potential for multiple big incomings. Moussa Diaby is reportedly high on their list, the tricky left winger could add real dynamism to their squad. Bayer Leverkusen will be loath to lose the French youngster, whose goals and assists make up a huge part of their attack.

Kim Min-jae to Manchester United

An all-but-done deal by all reports, Manchester United’s defensive ranks could be looking very fresh this year with the addition of Kim Min-jae. After all, the giant South Korean was a huge reason why Napoli won Serie A last season. Composed and technical on the ball and a physical monster off it, The Red Devils may have just found their backline X factor.

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Harry Kane to stay?

The bets are off to work out who exactly is going to pick up Harry Kane. The star forward has been heavily linked to Bayern Munchen, Manchester United and Real Madrid, only for interest from all of those clubs to wane once talks began. It seems the price tag for one of England’s finest is a little too rich for most club’s blood at the moment and it looks like he won’t be going anywhere

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