Clubs

The summer transfer window was unlike any other; see all the major deals and check out how we graded the biggest signings. And just because the window is shut until January, that doesn’t mean the rumours won’t keep coming. Here’s the latest gossip and speculation.

TOP STORY: Chelsea, Madrid, Barca eye Wirtz

Chelsea and Real Madrid could battle over the signing of Bayer Leverkusen playmaker Florian Wirtz.

El Nacional reports that the two clubs are interested in a deal for the 18-year-old, who has had a breakout year in the Bundesliga, but Barcelona are also said to be weighing up a potential move in the future.

Xavi Hernandez’s side would not be able to flex their financial muscle compared to the other two clubs though, due to their well documented issues regarding money at Barcelona. As a result, the club would wait until 2023 to make a move, however the player is said to admire the new manager — which could help with any move.

As for Real Madrid, the report claims that the Los Blancos are keen to not miss out on another youngster from Leverkusen, losing out on the race for Kai Havertz from them in 2019 — coincidentally to Chelsea.

The 18-year-old has impressed so far this season, making nine Bundesliga appearances with four goals and six assists in those games. The playmaker also earned a senior Germany call-up in September, making four appearances on the international stage.

The Blues are said to be the side following him closest as of now, but there are set to be plenty of suitors for the talented youngster.

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11.47 GMT: It’s “now or never” for Paul Pogba and Real Madrid, Marca reported on Saturday, as the midfielder’s latest injury — picked up on international duty with France — “could be the latest reason that leads Pogba go think his time at [Manchester] United is over.”

Pogba is expected to return from the thigh injury in January, when he’ll have just six months left on his Old Trafford contract and be free to negotiate with other clubs.

According to the newspaper, “the Pogba option is still on the table” for Real Madrid.

The 28-year-old was a long-term target for previous coach Zinedine Zidane, although the club had doubts about his then price tag.

A free transfer next summer would still not be a bargain deal, Marca says, with Pogba earning €12m a year after tax at United and looking for one last bumper contract.

10.51 GMT: Newcastle United‘s lengthy managerial search was a confused process that left several candidates baffled at the club’s lack of clarity over their future plans, sources told ESPN’s James Olley.

Former Bournemouth and Burnley boss Eddie Howe was eventually appointed on Tuesday, handed a two-and-a-half-year contract which ended an almost three-week long process that saw a raft of individuals interviewed and the job formally offered to Unai Emery.

Sources close to more than one candidate involved claimed there were competing voices within the Newcastle hierarchy over how to transform the club from battling relegation to Premier League title challengers following the Saudi-led £305m takeover. That led to a delay in identifying a clear first choice with directors Amanda Staveley and her husband Mehrdad Ghodoussi leading the process with a third director, Jamie Reuben, who is also one of several other prominent voices in discussions

Sources have also told ESPN that at a relatively late stage in the process, senior figures at Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund sought advice from financiers Citibank over who to target for a variety of executive positions including first-team manager and director of football.

Emery’s decision to stay at Villarreal was partly based on the mixed messages over how to take the club forward. Howe’s job will therefore include helping to deliver a clear vision in the boardroom as well as the pitch.

09.56 GMT: Frank Lampard has pulled out of the race to become the next Norwich City manager, according to the BBC.

Former Chelsea manager Lampard, 43, held talks with the Canaries to replace Daniel Farke this week, but will not taking over at the Premier League’s bottom club.

Lampard has been out of management since he was fired by Chelsea in January. He was recently linked with the job at Newcastle United, which eventually went to Eddie Howe.

Dean Smith, who was sacked by Aston Villa last week, is among the candidates to take over at Carrow Road.

09.00 GMT: Defender Dani Alves completed a shock return to Barcelona on Friday to become the first signing under new coach Xavi Hernandez, his former teammate. The Brazil international had been a free agent since leaving Sao Paulo in September.

Sources previously told ESPN that Barca were reluctant to bring back Alves, but the return of Xavi, who was appointed as manger last week following the sacking of Ronald Koeman, caused a change of opinion. Sources have told ESPN that Xavi will be given less than €10m to strengthen the faltering squad in January, despite chief executive Ferran Reverter saying earlier this year that the club would have double that amount.

Alves, who had a successful eight years at Barca before leaving the club for Juventus in 2016, posted a photograph of himself on Instagram kissing the Barcelona emblem at the Camp Nou, and wrote: “Almost five years fighting like crazy to arrive at this moment. I didn’t know it would last so long, I didn’t know it was going to be so difficult, but I knew inside my heart and my soul that this day would arrive.

“I return to the home that I never left and as I said before I left: I’M ONE OF YOU, I DON’T KNOW HOW LONG THIS DREAM WILL LAST, BUT MAY IT BE ETERNAL WHILE IT LASTS!!

“See you soon where most fascinates me, with the same enthusiasm as the first time and the same eagerness to help rebuilding THE BEST CLUB IN THE WORLD!! “I return to my home…”

Alves’ last game was on Sept. 9 when he featured in Brazil’s 2-0 win over Peru in a World Cup qualifier. Alves will be almost four months without playing an official game by the time he can play for Barca in January.

PAPER GOSSIP (by Luke Thrower)

– Barcelona are interested in a move for FC Salzburg forward Karim Adeyemi, according to Sport1 journalist Florian Plettenberg. The report claims that the 19-year-old was in Spain for talks over a move to the LaLiga club a few weeks ago, with his agent aware of a potential move.

– Barcelona are also weighing up a deal for Fulham wonderkid Fabio Carvalho, reports journalist Ekrem Konur. Reports have claimed the 19-year-old has turned down a new contract at the London club, with his current deal expiring in the summer. LaLiga rivals Real Madrid have also previously been linked with a move.

Manchester United will enter talks over a new contract with goalkeeper David de Gea, says journalist Ekrem Konur. The 31-year-old is out-of-contract in 2023 and has returned to some of his best form at the club since becoming No. 1 again ahead of Dean Henderson.

– Real Madrid are targeting 20-year-old forward Luiz Henrique for a potential transfer, according to AS. The Fluminense striker is seen as another emerging Brazil international, in the same vein of players such as Vinicius Jr. that Los Blancos have signed and made a success out of at the club.

Internazionale have set a deadline of the end of the year for midfielder Marcelo Brozovic to sign a new deal with the club, according to Calciomercato. The Croatia international is out-of-contract in the summer, with several clubs linked with the 28-year-old on a free transfer. The club are willing to offer €4.5m-a-year, whilst the player is said to be holding out for €6m to sign a new deal.

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