LIVE Transfer Talk: PSG’s Mbappe talks ‘at a stalemate’ amid Real Madrid interest

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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: PSG talks with Mbappe stall

Talks over a new deal for Kylian Mbappe at Paris Saint-Germain are “at a stalemate” according to Diario AS, with no progress made in negotiations with the Real Madrid target in recent months.

The newspaper reports that “the situation is identical to what it was in August” when Mbappe, 22, was keen to move to the Bernabeu in the summer.

PSG had been optimistic about being able to convince the forward to stay, but he will be free to negotiate with other clubs in January and AS says that “with every day that passes, Mbappe is further from continuing in Paris.”

Sources told ESPN’s Alex Kirkland and Rodrigo Faez in August that Madrid were willing to pay €200 million on transfer deadline day, but received no reply and had to put their bid to land the star forward on hold.

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21.45 GMT: Calciomercato writes that Juventus would entertain offers for 21-year-old attacker Dejan Kulusevski, but interest in the Sweden international has waned since the summer, and now north London pair Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur are said to be the most aggressive suitors.

The story also suggests that United States midfielder Weston McKennie is available, and that Spurs would be keen to add the former FC Dallas prodigy in addition to Kulusevski in January. Should such a deal materialise, it would see the 23-year-old move from the Bundesliga to Serie A to the Premier League in less than 24 months.

20.38 GMT: Thirty-three-year-old attacker Sebastian Blanco, who has been dominant in the Portland Timbers‘ MLS Cup playoff run, has verbally agreed to a new contract that will keep him in the Rose City until 2024, Cesar Luis Merlo reports. The twice-capped Argentina international’s existing deal is set to expire at the end of the season.

19.31 GMT: After losing Gianluigi Donnarumma and Hakan Calhanoglu on free transfers last summer, and likely to lose Franck Kessie to free agency in 2022, AC Milan are prioritising a new contract for left-back Theo Hernandez, according to Gazzetta dello Sport.

The report suggests that the Rossoneri are set to offer a pay rise from the €1.5m annual wages the 24-year-old France international earns to €4m a year — a sum that the former Real Madrid man is said to find agreeable.

18.24 GMT: Juventus are hoping Jurgen Klopp’s admiration for Aaron Ramsey will lead to a bid from Liverpool for the midfielder in January, sources have told ESPN’s James Olley. The 30-year-old is under contract until 2023 but Ramsey could be made available for transfer after struggling to break into the first team since his arrival.

17.17 GMT: Barcelona fear interest from the Premier League’s top clubs in Ronald Araujo as well as the centre-back’s salary demands could complicate their contract renewal negotiations with him, sources told ESPN’s Adriana Garcia and Moises Llorens.

Liverpool and Manchester United have been monitoring Araujo’s development closely and Barcelona want to secure his future as a priority, with the plan to offer him a five-year deal, with his existing contract up in 2023.

However, sources said that during preliminary discussions with the player, there is a concern at Barcelona that they may not be able to meet the terms that he is requesting. Barcelona’s financial crisis has deepened after LaLiga cut another €300m from their spending limit this season and they recently confirmed losses for the 2020-21 season of €481m, while debt is around £1.3 billion.

Liverpool and Manchester United possess the financial might to beat what Barcelona can afford if they decide to push forward on their interest. Sources added that Liverpool are particularly keen on Araujo and scouts have watched him throughout 2021.

Barca starlets Pedri and Ansu Fati recently renewed their contracts, which included £1bn release clauses, and they want to secure midfielder Gavi as well as Araujo: two players considered key under new coach Xavi Hernandez. The club want to avoid a similar situation they experienced with Ilaix Moriba in the summer. The Spanish midfielder had one year left on his contract and refused to sign a new deal, leading to his transfer to RB Leipzig for €16m plus add-ons.

Araujo, 22, arrived at the Camp Nou in 2018 from Uruguayan side River Boston in a transfer worth €1.5m plus €3m in add-ons.

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16.30 GMT: Paris Saint-Germain sporting director Leonardo insists that coach Mauricio Pochettino has not spoken to the club about leaving to join Manchester United.

Sources told ESPN’s Mark Ogden this week that Pochettino is open to taking over at Old Trafford as United’s next permanent manager. Ralf Rangnick is close to being appointed as the club’s interim manager, following the sacking of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer last weekend.

“I think it’s important to clarify the situation given the amount of false information circulating,” Leonardo told AFP. “Mauricio Pochettino is under contract with the club until 2023.

“We do not want Pochettino to leave. He never asked to leave and no club contacted us in relation to him.”

Leonardo also denied reports that PSG had met with former Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane to discuss him replacing Pochettino should he leave.

“We have a lot of respect for Zinedine Zidane, for what he did as a player and coach, but I can tell you very clearly that there is no contact and that no meeting with him has taken place,” he added.

“It’s ridiculous to imagine that a meeting with Zinedine Zidane could have taken place in a big hotel in Paris in front of the eyes of everyone.”

– Insider Notebook: Why United moved for Rangnick

15.39 GMT: Leeds United and England midfielder Kalvin Phillips would turn down a move to Manchester United in favour of joining Liverpool, according to the Daily Star.

Phillips, 25, has been on the radar for some of the Premier League’s biggest clubs ever since Leeds returned to the top flight last season, and his performances for his country at Euro 2020 only consolidated his claims to make the step up to a club competing in the Champions League.

However, the Star reports that the long-standing rivalry between Leeds and Manchester United would deter Phillips from making a move to Old Trafford.

14.52 GMT: Carlo Ancelotti has said that Gareth Bale “respects Real Madrid fans” and doesn’t share the views of agent Jonathan Barnett, who called their treatment of the player “disgusting” this week.

Barnett — speaking to reporters after landing in Madrid on Wednesday — was asked about abuse aimed at Bale after his injury-hit start to the season and described fans’ opinions as “irrelevant.”

“I’ve read about it. I don’t know [Barnett] personally. They aren’t Bale’s thoughts,” Ancelotti said in a news conference on Saturday ahead of their clash against Sevilla (LIVE on ESPN+ Sunday at 3 p.m. ET in the U.S.).

“Bale doesn’t think that. Bale respects Real Madrid fans, and Real Madrid fans have always respected Bale.

“Maybe they’ve whistled him sometimes, but he isn’t the only Real Madrid player that fans have whistled,” he added. “I don’t have anything to say. It has come from a person that I don’t know.”

14.05 GMT: Nani has announced that he will be leaving Orlando City SC after three seasons with the Major League Soccer side.

The ex-Manchester United and Portugal star had served as captain for Orlando, helping the team reach the playoffs twice and to the final of the MLS is Back tournament in 2020.

Nani’s announcement comes days after Orlando lost to Nashville SC in the first round of the MLS Cup playoffs.

Since joining Orlando in 2019, he tallied 28 goals and 23 assists across 77 games (64 starts). The winger was also a two-time MLS All-Star.

Nani’s departure opens a coveted Designated Player spot for Orlando. The Lions will have two DP spots open, with Mauricio Pereyra the only one on the roster. The team could see further roster upheaval as Daryl Dike continues to gain interest from clubs abroad. Chris Mueller is already confirmed to leave for Scottish side Hibernian.

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13.21 GMT: Real Madrid aren’t considering a move for Paul Pogba on a free transfer if his Manchester United contract expires next summer, Marca reports.

According to the newspaper, club executives believe the 28-year-old midfielder “wouldn’t fit in, despite his footballing qualities” and prefer to extend Luka Modric‘s deal by another season to allow them to focus on strengthening other positions.

Pogba was previously close to joining Madrid when he left Juventus for United in 2016, Marca says, and again in the summer of 2019 as a request of then coach Zinedine Zidane.

12.28 GMT: Barcelona have made a move to sign Spain forward Ferran Torres but talks with Manchester City have so far proven unsuccessful, sources have told ESPN’s Sam Marsden and Moises Llorens.

New coach Xavi Hernandez wants to add another attacking player to his squad in January, with ESPN reporting last week that Barca have also sounded out City’s Raheem Sterling and Chelsea duo Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech.

Barca have also made Torres one of their primary targets, having monitored him since he first broke through at Valencia. The club believe his experience in LaLiga would ease the adaption process.

Director of football Mateu Alemany and CEO Ferran Reverter were in Manchester on Friday for a meeting with City to discuss a transfer.

Sources have told ESPN that City’s initial response was that they are reluctant to let go of Torres, who is expected to return from an injury at the end of the year.

Torres, 21, is understood to be open to a return to Spain, though, and sources added City could open the door to an exit should he express a desire to leave.

However, they would demand over €40m for a player they initially signed for a fee of €23m from Valencia in 2020.

11.41 GMT: Real Betis have made “significant advances” in talks with playmaker Nabil Fekir over a new contract that could keep him at the club until 2026, Marca reports.

Fekir, 28, was close to joining Liverpool from Lyon in 2018 — the year he was part of France’s World Cup-winning squad — before the move broke down.

He has shone since joining Betis a year later. This season he’s among LaLiga’s top players for shots on goal, chances created and fouls suffered and the club are now keen to extend a deal which expires in June 2023.

Marca says that a series of meetings have been held between club bosses and Fekir’s representatives in recent weeks and only “a financial and sporting offer he can’t refuse” would see him leave.

10.48 GMT: Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool have been put on alert by midfielder Carney Chukwuemeka‘s decision not to sign a new contract with Aston Villa, The Guardian reports.

The 18-year-old made his first Premier League start for Villa in August’s 1-1 draw against Brentford, having made substitute appearances in the league against Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea last term as a 17-year-old.

Chukwuemeka reportedly does not see a path to the Villa first team, and is looking for opportunities elsewhere. Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund has also been linked with interest in him.

09.51 GMT: Michael Carrick has backed the Manchester United squad to adapt to Ralf Rangnick‘s high-pressing style if and when the German takes over at Old Trafford.

Sources have told ESPN’s Rob Dawson that United are set to appoint former RB Leipzig coach Rangnick until the end of the season before installing a new permanent boss in the summer.

Rangnick’s teams have a reputation for fierce pressing, something Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s United were accused of not doing well before the Norwegian was sacked.

Carrick, who will be in charge for Sunday’s trip to Chelsea, remained tight-lipped about Rangnick’s imminent arrival as interim manager until the end of the season at a news conference on Friday but believes the squad will be able to adjust to any coach who comes in.

“Speculation and reports is speculation and reports,” said Carrick, when asked if he had been kept in the loop about Rangnick’s appointment.

“As I’m sitting here now I’m preparing the team for the game [against Chelsea]. I haven’t got any more news to share with you on that front.”

Asked specifically if Rangnick could be successful in trying to implement his pressing style with United’s crop of players, Carrick said: “There’s a lot of different styles in football.

“There’s a group of players here, whoever comes in, they can adapt. There are some really good people and human beings in the squad and I’m sure they’ll look forward to what’s ahead.”

09.00 GMT: Chelsea are yet to open fresh contract talks with Mason Mount but all parties are relaxed about the situation contrary to reports in Spain that Real Madrid were interested in him, sources told ESPN’s James Olley.

It had been suggested that the midfielder was unhappy at Stamford Bridge, specifically over his role within the squad, but sources claim Mount enjoys a healthy relationship with head coach Thomas Tuchel and is focused on further success with the Blues.

Negotiations are yet to begin over a new deal but the 22-year-old has two-and-a-half years left to run on his existing agreement and the club believe there is no rush for the time being.

It is anticipated that conversations will begin later in the season as Chelsea first prioritise talks with several players whose deals expire next summer, chiefly Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen, Cesar Azpilicueta and Thiago Silva.

– ESPN’s Notebook: The inside stories in football

PAPER GOSSIP (by Danny Lewis)

Marca has reported that it is going to be a busy January transfer window for Real Madrid and continued to say why. First off, they will be able to freely talk to Paris Saint-Germain‘s Kylian Mbappe, Chelsea‘s Antonio Rudiger and Manchester United‘s Paul Pogba about possible free transfers in the summer of 2022 – though they are still undecided about whether to move for the latter two.

Luka Jovic, Mariano Diaz and Jesus Vallejo could all depart, while renewals for Vinicius Junior and Eder Militao will be worked on. Nothing will be done about Marcelo, Isco and Gareth Bale, though, as they will all leave for free when the season has finished.

Bayern Munich could look to sign Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen in 2023 with Manuel Neuer aging, reports El Nacional. The Blaugrana‘s financial position means they could be willing to discuss a deal if the Bavarians exceed his €55m market valuation. However, the stopper has a contract until 2025 and is not a priority to offload.

Juventus and Tottenham Hotspur are both interested in signing AS Roma man Nicolo Zaniolo, as has been reported by Calciomercato. Roma will be doing their best to keep the Italian, though, with their plan being to extend the 22-year-old’s contract by another year, which would take him through to 2025.

Newcastle United have been linked with the signing of Ousmane Dembele, but Diario Sport have suggested that the Frenchman has no interest in joining them. Barcelona are receptive to the financial offer being made, but Dembele wants a greater sporting project and is not impressed by their squad – something that won’t be changed by any wage or package on offer.

Internazionale are interested in Sassuolo trio Davide Frattesi, Giacomo Raspadori and Gianluca Scamacca, as has been reported by Calciomercato. Deals for the first two are currently seen as complicated, but Scamacca could be realistically signed as an alternative to Edin Dzeko due to their similar profiles. A good relationship between the two clubs will help any potential deal.

Nani has announced that his deal at Orlando City SC will not be extended and he will be leaving the club. The Portuguese winger has spent three years in Orlando, but it is stated that the club didn’t take up the option to extend that stay.





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