Rumour Has It: Chelsea pursue Haaland interest, Donnarumma set for PSG and Man Utd make Sancho progress

By Sports Desk June 08, 2021

Chelsea won the Champions League last month but they are not sitting still.

Thomas Tuchel is determined to strengthen his attack as he seeks to dethrone Premier League champions Manchester City in 2021-22.

Erling Haaland is reportedly Chelsea's number one target.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA WANT HAALAND

Chelsea are "working intensely" on a deal to sign Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland, according to the Telegraph.

Haaland has been linked with Real MadridManchester CityBarcelonaParis Saint-GermainManchester UnitedJuventusLiverpoolChelsea and Bayern Munich.

Tottenham's Harry Kane and Inter forward Romelu Lukaku have emerged as options for Chelsea, though the Champions League winners appear set on Haaland.

 

ROUND-UP

PSG are poised to sign Italy international goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma on a free transfer, reports Gianluca Di Marzio. Out of contract at Milan, Donnarumma was also linked with Juve and Barca.

- The Times says United are moving closer to reaching an agreement with Dortmund for Jadon Sancho. The England international was heavily tipped to move to Old Trafford ahead of the 2020-21 campaign.

City are chasing Spurs star Kane and Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish, per ESPN. Pep Guardiola's side are willing to buy both if they are able to do so. Kane and Grealish have also been linked with Manchester neighbours United.

Atletico Madrid have offered Saul Niguez to City in exchange for Bernardo Silva, according to the Times. Unsettled at LaLiga champions Atletico, Saul has also reportedly caught the attention of United, Chelsea and Bayern.

- The Daily Mail claims Brighton and Hove Albion are looking to keep England international defender Ben White by demanding £50million amid interest from clubs such as United, Liverpool and Arsenal.

Milan are eyeing Chelsea trio Olivier Giroud, Fikayo Tomori and Hakim Ziyech, claims the Gazzetta dello Sport. Ziyech has also been linked with Napoli.

- Gazzetta dello Sport says Inter are hopeful of re-signing Nicolo Barella and Atletico Madrid target Lautaro Martinez by the end of the off-season.

- Juventus are interested in Roma veteran Edin Dzeko and are ready to offer a two-year deal, reports Corriere dello Sport.

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  • Barella and Lautaro close to extending Inter deals as Marotta says Lukaku joined Chelsea for money Barella and Lautaro close to extending Inter deals as Marotta says Lukaku joined Chelsea for money

    Inter CEO Giuseppe Marotta said star duo Nicolo Barella and Lautaro Martinez will extend their contracts with the Serie A champions, while he hit out at former striker Romelu Lukaku.

    Barella is contracted to Inter until 2024 amid links with Liverpool, Atletico Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain, and the Nerazzurri have been determined to tie the Italy international down to a new long-term deal.

    Martinez – long linked with LaLiga giants Barcelona – and his current deal does not expire until 2023.

    Marotta addressed the futures of Barella and Martinez ahead of Sunday's Derby d'Italia against rivals Juventus, while highlighting the time needed to re-sign midfielder Marcelo Brozovic, who is reportedly wanted by Manchester United and Barca.

    "Barella and Lautaro will extend their contract with a pay rise, we are close," Marotta told Il Corriere della Sera.

    "Brozovic's contract is expiring, it will take more time, but I am confident."

    Marotta, meanwhile, said there is not much difference between Inter's Edin Dzeko and former star Lukaku – who he claims left San Siro for more money.

    After leading Inter to the Scudetto last season, Lukaku re-joined Chelsea in a club-record £97.5million (€115m) deal.

    Dzeko was brought in from Roma as a replacement for Lukaku ahead of the 2021-22 campaign.

    "Lukaku was sold for €115m and we bought Dzeko for free. On the pitch, there isn't much difference,” Marotta said. "Lukaku left to double his salary, in Italy these figures can't exist.

    "Today, we can't make important investments, I wouldn't be allowed to sign Lukaku for €75m. We need reduced and specific investments."

    Barella and Arturo Vidal netted in the last home Serie A match against Juventus – the last Inter midfielder to score in consecutive league seasons against the Bianconeri at San Siro was Lothar Matthaus (in 1989-90 and 1990-91).

    Among the 13 teams he has faced at least 10 times in Serie A, Juventus are one of the two against which Dzeko has been involved in the fewest goals (alongside Torino) – only three (two goals and one assist).

    Inter have scored 78 goals (in 32 games) in 2021 in Serie A. In the big five European leagues, only Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich have netted more (89 in 29 games) this calendar year; Juventus have scored 64 goals in 33 matches.

  • Lukaku-Haaland partnership talk a 'joke' – Chelsea boss Tuchel Lukaku-Haaland partnership talk a 'joke' – Chelsea boss Tuchel

    Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel insisted his comments about a possible Romelu Lukaku-Erling Haaland partnership were a "joke" as he tried to play down speculation linking the European champions with the Borussia Dortmund star.

    Tuchel this week said Chelsea had discussed a move for Haaland and did not rule out partnering the in-demand Norwegian forward with Lukaku at Stamford Bridge.

    However, Tuchel backtracked on those comments as Chelsea prepare to host Norwich City in the Premier League on Saturday.

    "I fell into a trap," Tuchel told reporters, referencing his Bild interview. "I got an award in Germany. I got an award from a newspaper and they asked me about a player.

    "Normally I never, never speak about other players because simply I never, ever do.

    "Then we were making more or less fun about it. I should have known better because [I was] making fun about it and being a nice guy and answering a question instead of 'no, I don't want to answer a question'.

    "Getting this award and I joke about a double striker with Romelu in October and then it gets like we put in an offer. That was the context but OK, I should have known better."

    Haaland has 70 goals in 69 games for Dortmund since his arrival in January last year, only Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski (89 goals in 74 games) has a better return among players from Europe's top-five leagues.

    In this season's Bundesliga, Haaland surpassed his expected goal (xG)-value by 2.9 (nine goals, 6.1 xG) – only Bayer Leverkusen sensation Florian Wirtz eclipsed his value (3.0), per Opta.

    Since Haaland joined Dortmund, he exceeded his xG-value (38.7) in the Bundesliga by 10.3. It is the highest value of a player in Europe's top-five leagues in this time.

    Since Haaland's arrival in Dortmund, he has scored 13 Bundesliga goals after carries – in Europe's top-five leagues, it is only bettered by six-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi (15).

    In the 2021-22 league campaign, Haaland is one of four players who has been involved on 10 open-play sequences which ended in a goal – together with Hoffenheim's Andrej Kramaric, Bayern veteran Thomas Muller and Wirtz.

    "It is interesting that we as German staff, we become very humble when we see the difference in performance in the Bundesliga and obviously how much harder it is to produce the same numbers in the Premier League," Tuchel added.

    "It is, by the way, the big question in every transfer you do. This player performs in Germany, Spain, Italy or the other way around in England, can he also perform in the other country, the other culture, in the other team, in the other style of football? That is for me one of the big questions because you can scout them on any physical, mental level, do tests with them and observe them, how they behave.

    "On social media, they let you observe their lives so you know pretty much everything except for the fact what does it mean if you perform in club A in country B, what does it mean for your club C in country D? This will be the question.

    "Every player is different so to make it a general rule, it is maybe not possible but it seems it is the toughest league here and to produce outstanding stats. This cannot be a surprise. You are proud to have this league in England and you should be. It is big fun to watch and maybe bigger fun to work in it. That's the way it is."

  • Cristiano Ronaldo criticism wrong – Solskjaer backs Man Utd superstar's work ethic Cristiano Ronaldo criticism wrong – Solskjaer backs Man Utd superstar's work ethic

    Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insisted it is wrong to criticise Cristiano Ronaldo's work ethic as he launched a staunch defence of the Red Devils superstar.

    Ronaldo was the hero again on Wednesday, scoring the match-winning goal in a thrilling 3-2 Champions League win over Atalanta, having trailed 2-0 at half-time.

    The five-time Ballon d'Or winner has scored six goals in eight matches across all competitions since returning to United from Juventus, though there has been some scrutiny of the 36-year-old amid the club's struggle for form.

    Ronaldo has been criticised for not working hard or defending enough and as United prepare to host bitter Premier League rivals Liverpool on Sunday, Solskjaer backed the all-time leading scorer in men's international football.

    "First of all, he's fit enough to do it still. But he's played this game 500 times before," Solskjaer told Sky Sports.

    "He's been in that situation so many times, and it's one of them: 'I know what [team-mate Luke Shaw] is going to do, I know where I need to be and I'm still capable of doing it'. That's key.

    "He's changed his position from being a wide forward into more of a box centre forward because he knows how to score a goal, he wants to score goals. When he first came, with all the tricks and the pace, he had the hunger - and he's still got the hunger.

    "He's done what every player has to do throughout his career, you have to evolve."

    Solskjaer added: "When Cristiano came to us, he'd not had a proper pre-season at Juventus and you can see he's gradually getting fitter and fitter.

    "Now he feels: 'I'm getting towards the level I know I can be'. Wednesday night, the focus, the physical effort, the run… he had the highest amount of sprints, the longest sprint distance, the longest high-intensity distance.

    "We talk about players who run a lot, he does as much as them. If people want to criticise his work ethic, that's completely wrong. You see him running down the channels, which he has to do as a centre forward.

    "He does the work that we want him to do for the team. Of course, the team, when you have a player like him, you've got to get the best out of him, but he knows he's part of the jigsaw of that team and he's been brilliant."

    United – sixth in the table and four points behind second-placed Liverpool – have won just one of their last 10 Premier League meetings against the Reds (D6 L3), losing this exact fixture 4-2 last season.

    Solskjaer's United shipped four goals in a home Premier League game for only the fifth time in last season's encounter with Liverpool. The last team to score four-plus goals in consecutive top-flight visits to Old Trafford was Burnley in 1961-62 (won 4-1) and 1962-63 (won 5-2).

    United are without a clean sheet in any of their last nine home league matches, their longest streak without one since a run of 10 between September 1970 and February 1971.

    Meanwhile, United have only picked up eight points from their last seven home Premier League matches (W2 D2 L3), winning twice as many points in their previous seven at Old Trafford (16 – W5 D1 L1).

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