Juventus star Douglas Costa branded links with Manchester United as "baseless" after an agent claimed the Premier League club tried to sign him.

An English newspaper published an interview with agent Giovanni Branchini on Monday, in which he claimed United had held "strong" interest in Costa but Maurizio Sarri did not want to sell him.

But in response to the reports, Costa has issued a strong rebuttal and insisted Branchini, who worked as an intermediary in Costa's move to Juve, is not a representative of his anymore.

Writing on his official Instagram, Costa said: "I'm writing to deny the baseless news published today, which said I was in negotiations with some clubs during the last transfer window.

"Since the start of this season, I've been clear that I wanted to stay here to win trophies and give blood for the Juve jersey.

"Junior Mendoza is my only agent and the only person authorised to speak on my behalf."

Manchester United held a "strong interest" in Juventus winger Douglas Costa but Maurizio Sarri was adamant he would not be sold, according to the Brazilian's agent.

Costa, 28, only played a bit-part role under Massimiliano Allegri last season, starting seven times in Serie A as injuries hampered him.

The Brazil international had been linked with a move away from the club due to his decrease in playing time and his agent revealed United were interested in bringing him to Old Trafford.

United have been linked with Costa numerous times over the course of the winger's career, but Sarri was unwilling to see him depart, with the former Bayern Munich attacker starting both of Juve's first two games of the season.

"I sincerely say that Allegri and Sarri have never thought of letting him go," agent Giovanni Branchini told the Daily Mail.

"The interest of Manchester United was strong, a club that has always been interested in him. They were not the only club, but in England they were certainly the most active team on the trail of Douglas Costa.

"He had countless health problems. Last season he was very often injured. He is wanting to recover with great professionalism after standing still. Juventus never intended to sell him despite the big pressure from United."

While Costa is in no rush to leave Turin, his agent does not rule anything out in future, convinced the player can adapt to any surroundings.

"Douglas is a 'cool' professional in the best sense of the word," Branchini said. "He is able to adapt to everything. Just think of how well he did in Ukraine, in a country totally different from Brazil.

"He loves Juventus but is able to adapt to every reality. The Premier League is a beautiful championship, but for now United have failed in all their attempts to convince Juventus to sell him. The player remained in Turin and is a champion."

Samuel Umtiti laughed off rumours raising him as a makeweight in a potential Barcelona deal for Neymar as he rejected reports linking him to Arsenal.

The France international's future at Camp Nou came into question following an injury hit 2018-19 season in which he managed 14 LaLiga appearances.

With Gerard Pique and Clement Lenglet established at centre-back, Barca reportedly considered bundling 25-year-old Umtiti into negotiations for former player and Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar.

The purported offer would also have seen at least two of Philippe Coutinho, now at Bayern Munich on a season-long loan, Ousmane Dembele and Ivan Rakitic head to Parc des Princes.

"Me? Currency in an exchange? It's crazy," Umtiti told Canal+.

"That made me laugh. I do not even have an answer to that."

The transfer window ended on September 2 with Neymar and Umtiti still at their respective clubs following months of speculation.

Arsenal and Manchester United, along with PSG, were mentioned as alternative destinations for the defender had he been eager to explore his options after three seasons at Barca.

Umtiti denied ever being interested in a move elsewhere, claiming the Arsenal link came as a surprise.

"I do not know where this rumour came from," the World Cup winner said.

"Overnight I started receiving messages from my friends... but sorry, for me Barcelona is Barcelona.

"I had discussions with my agent to tell him that whatever was happening he did not even need to talk to me about it.

"My goal since I was a kid was to play for Barcelona. I came here to last and to win titles."

Umtiti left France's camp over the weekend after suffering a foot injury prior to the Euro 2020 qualifying victory over Albania.

It is the latest in a series of setbacks which led him to Qatar in November in search of a solution to ongoing knee discomfort.

"I really forced my knee during the World Cup," he admitted. "But I'm world champion. In life you have to make choices and I do not regret that choice."

Lionel Messi's Barcelona contract is making headlines.

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu confirmed Messi has a get-out clause in his deal.

Now, a move across the pond could be on the cards for the Argentina superstar…

 

TOP STORY – MESSI CONSIDERING MLS

Barcelona captain Lionel Messi could leave Camp Nou for MLS, according to Mundo Deportivo.

Messi has an annual exit option in his deal and the five-time Ballon d'Or winner could swap Spain for the United States.

It comes as the Catalan giants look to offer Messi – who has been linked to David Beckham's Inter Miami franchise – a lifetime contract.

 

ROUND-UP:

- Lazio star Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is set to sign a new contract, reports Il Messaggero. The Serbia international midfielder – contracted until 2023 – was linked to Manchester United, Inter, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain during the transfer window. However, Lazio are looking to include a release clause of at least €100million.

- Tuttosport, meanwhile, says Inter are targeting Milinkovic-Savic and Fiorentina star Federico Chiesa.

- According to AS, Real Madrid are lining up Ajax midfielder Donny van de Beek for the 2020-21 season. Van de Beek was heavily linked to Madrid prior to the transfer deadline but a move did not materialise.

Manchester City continue to be linked to Inter centre-back Milan Skriniar. Tuttosport says Pep Guardiola wants to sign the star defender in January following Aymeric Laporte's knee injury.

- Corriere dello Sport claims Dries Mertens could move to China, Belgium or the USA on a free transfer when his Napoli contract expires at the end of the season.

- According to the Daily Star, Adidas played a crucial role in keeping Paul Pogba at Manchester United. Reports linked Pogba to Real Madrid and Juventus but the Frenchman remained at Old Trafford.

Virgil van Dijk is set to remain with Liverpool until the end of 2025.

Netherlands international Van Dijk, 28, headed to Anfield from Southampton for a reported £75million in January 2018, signing a deal until 2023.

But the superstar centre-back is rumoured to be ready to recommit to the reigning European champions.

 

TOP STORY – VAN DIJK AGREES SIX-YEAR LIVERPOOL DEAL

Van Dijk has agreed a new contract with Liverpool, according to the Mirror.

The defender will earn close to £200,000 per week with his new deal, up from his current £125,000 per week wages, the report says.

It comes just a month after Van Dijk lost his title as the world's most expensive defender when Manchester United signed Harry Maguire from Leicester City for a reported £80m.

ROUND-UP

- David de Gea could be set to leave Manchester United. Coming out of contract at the end of the season, the goalkeeper has told friends he is willing to turn down a deal from the Premier League club, according to The Sun. The Express reports Serie A giants Juventus want to sign De Gea on a free transfer at the end of the season.

- Paulo Dybala almost left Juventus in the close season and the playmaker is set to be at the centre of talk again in January. Paris Saint-Germain want to beat Tottenham to the signing of Dybala when the transfer window reopens, according to the Express.

- Edwin van der Sar could be set for a return to Old Trafford. The Mirror reports the former Netherlands goalkeeper and Ajax chief executive is on Manchester United's list as they search for a director of football.

- Staying at Old Trafford, Manchester United's stars are happy Alexis Sanchez has left on loan to Inter, according to The Sun.

- After the emergence of 16-year-old forward Ansu Fati, Barcelona have set up a plan to look after the teenager. Sport reports the LaLiga champions consider Fati a first-team player and want to protect him as he gains plenty of attention.

Juan Cuadrado says he is set to hold talks with Juventus over his future at the club.

The winger has only played 19 minutes of the 2019-20 Serie A season under new coach Maurizio Sarri.

Cuadrado is reportedly set to be used as a right-back following the sale of Joao Cancelo to Manchester City.

But Danilo moved in the opposite direction and Juve also have Mattia De Sciglio as an option in that position.

Cuadrado's opportunities to play as a wide attacker could also be limited with Juve boasting Douglas Costa and Federico Bernardeschi in their squad.

The 31-year-old's contract is expiring and Cuadrado confirmed he will sit down with the club after the international break.

"I'm very happy and grateful, I have one year left with Juventus," he told reporters. 

"As soon as I return we have a meeting to see what happens. I'm in the hands of God to make the best decision."

Cuadrado started for Colombia as they earned a 2-2 draw with Brazil in Miami on Friday.

 

Barcelona players have no input into transfers and were not against the signing of Antoine Griezmann, according to club president Josep Maria Bartomeu. 

Reports in Spain claimed Ernesto Valverde's squad opposed the pursuit of France international Griezmann, who moved to Camp Nou from Atletico Madrid for €120million in July.

The LaLiga champions almost secured his signature 12 months earlier, but the forward ultimately chose to spend a fifth season at Atletico.

That decision was said to have upset Barca's senior players, including Lionel Messi, who reportedly favoured the return of former team-mate Neymar.

"The dressing room did not reject us signing Griezmann," Bartomeu told Barca TV.

"The players don't give their opinions on signings, it is the technical team who decide."

Barca ramped up their interest in Neymar after capturing Griezmann but were unable to come to terms with Paris Saint-Germain before the transfer window closed on September 2.

Another target, Matthijs de Ligt, opted to join Juventus, yet Bartomeu insists head coach Valverde has the tools at his disposal to forge a highly successful campaign.

"This squad is more competitive than last season's," he said.

"It's a small squad, but very competitive. Ernesto Valverde accepts the level of demand and I am expecting a lot from this season.

"De Ligt was one of our targets, but he decided not to come to Barca."

Barcelona halted negotiations over the transfer of Neymar when Paris Saint-Germain altered their demands, according to Josep Maria Bartomeu.

Neymar was heavily linked with a return to Camp Nou throughout the transfer window, with PSG publicly confirming the Brazil star wished to leave Parc des Princes.

But no transfer materialised and Neymar will remain part of Thomas Tuchel's squad, with Barcelona president Bartomeu ruling out a move for the forward in January.

Bartomeu revealed negotiations were extensive, though only because PSG's sporting director Leonardo indicated the Ligue 1 champions would be willing to sell the 27-year-old.

However, Bartomeu has claimed a move for Neymar was never likely to come to fruition once PSG changed their demands.

"In the winter window he's not an option," said Bartomeu in an interview with Barcelona's website. "The planning for next season is done in January, February.

"That will be when we get back to talking about the topic. But [not] if PSG keep asking for such high figures.

"We heard Neymar wanted to leave PSG and there was a moment when Leonardo opened the door to negotiations, for other clubs too.

"But during the negotiations, when the new demands of PSG appeared, we said that they were unassailable. We decided to stop the conversations.

"It's a sporting decision. The technical team said we should try to sign him. He would have been an extra for the squad. We didn't arrive at a deal because we could not match PSG's demands."

Numerous Barcelona players – including Ivan Rakitic, Ousmane Dembele and Philippe Coutinho – were reportedly considered in a swap deal, but Bartomeu insisted those names were not put forward by his club.

"Barca never put names on the table, they are players that PSG put there," Bartomeu said. "We could not match their demands."

Though Neymar did not arrive, Barca did spend €120million on Antoine Griezmann, while Frenkie de Jong – signed in January from Ajax – completed his €75million move.

Barca have made an indifferent start to their LaLiga campaign, losing to Athletic Bilbao and drawing with Osasuna either side of a 5-2 win over Real Betis.

Chris Smalling can foresee a long-term future for himself in Serie A if his loan at Roma from Manchester United goes to plan.

The 29-year-old defender swapped Old Trafford for Stadio Olimpico in search of playing time after falling out of the first-team picture at United.

Harry Maguire's arrival sent centre-back Smalling further down the pecking order and his hopes of returning to favour appear limited for as long as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer remains in charge.

Roma offered a way out and the 31-cap England international jumped to seize what could become more than a temporary lifeline.

"I think this is an opportunity that came to me that I was very interested in, and I was very eager to come," Smalling said.

"It happened very quickly. I am very focused on the next game, getting up to speed with training and learning the manager's methods. And then hopefully I want have a very good season. After that, we will see.

"To have a chance at a big club, if it goes well and the club is happy and I am happy, then I can definitely see a longer-term future in Italy."

Smalling is "looking forward" to testing his defensive qualities in Serie A and will have an important part to play in the Europa League, for which his parent club have also qualified.

The former Fulham man says winning the competition with Roma would be more special than it was with United in 2017.

"I think this club definitely has a chance," he said.

"We will be one of the favourites in the competition. Obviously, there are a few other clubs too, but Roma will be among the favourites.

"It has been great to have won it previously, but it would be even greater to win it here in Italy."

Inter will forever be Mauro Icardi's first choice in Italy despite the club having tried to force him out, according to his wife and agent Wanda Nara.

Argentina striker Icardi brought an end to a turbulent six months when he secured a season-long loan switch to Paris Saint-Germain on deadline day.

The Ligue 1 champions can make the move permanent for a reported €70million fee but Nara, whose husband signed a one-year contract extension before leaving San Siro, insists his Inter departure is "not a divorce".

That is despite the Serie A side's rumoured willingness to complete a deal that would have sent Icardi to Juventus in a part-exchange for Gonzalo Higuain, who spent part of last season on loan at AC Milan.

The 26-year-old's future became even more uncertain the following month when he was stripped of the captaincy amid a standstill in contract talks.

"Inter needed to sell Icardi. As captain, Mauro would never have left the club. It was a strategy to sell him," Nara told Corriere della Sera.

"In January, he refused to transfer to another team. I won't tell the team's name. The other player, however, came to Milan, but not to Inter...

"[Icardi] replied: 'I am the captain and I will not leave this team'. That's when the relationship broke. They had another idea."

Despite the rift, Nara claims Icardi still views the Nerazzurri as his preferred Serie A home.

"He likes playing in Italy, he knows the league well," she said.

"I think he will come back. I don't know where and how. Inter will always be the priority.

"[There have been] many misunderstandings, but the desire to play for Inter and the love of the fans remains.

"There are crises in a long relationship. In the end we leave each other with a repaired relationship, without any betrayal."

The ex-Sampdoria star spent almost two months out of Inter's first team last season before Luciano Spalletti ended the exile in April.

However, he was compelled to accept PSG's offer of a fresh escape route after being told he did not figure in new boss Antonio Conte's plans.

"You can't say no to PSG," Nara said. "They have everything needed to win, it's a club full of stars and Mauro is honoured to be part of it.

"At the end of the season we will choose whatever is best. I work for him; the choices are his."

Neymar's failed move back to Barcelona will not diminish his importance to Paris Saint-Germain, according to Brazil team-mate Richarlison.

The world's most expensive player attempted to engineer a close-season return to Camp Nou after reportedly growing unhappy in the French capital.

Months of speculation resulted in an anti-climax as the transfer window shut on September 2 with the clubs apparently unable to reach an agreement.

Head coach Thomas Tuchel has not used forward Neymar in any of PSG's matches this term but Richarlison, one of his Selecao understudies, believes the 27-year-old remains valued for club and country.

"Everyone knows his importance, not only here in the national team but for his club," the Everton attacker said.

"And everyone saw his happiness being here in the national team again. So, now we're cheering for him to have a good match tomorrow [against Colombia] and to help us."

Richarlison added: "Neymar is like everyone here. He's happy. Life goes on for him, too, even if it didn't work out for him.

"I don't know what happened at his club. What matters is that he is happy here in the Brazilian national team. And the important thing now is that he helps us."

Brazil are preparing to face Colombia and Peru in a pair of friendlies in the United States, their first matches since winning the Copa America on home soil.

Richarlison, scorer of six international goals in 13 appearances, urged the South American champions to use that triumph as a platform for success on the global stage.

"There is a great atmosphere here in the Brazilian national team," the 22-year-old said.

"We know the weight of the shirt and we have to keep winning titles. It is good to win. And we like to win!

"We are building a victorious group. Now we have to continue. May the Olympic Games and the World Cup come and may we win more titles."

Henrikh Mkhitaryan is unsure if he has a future at Arsenal after joining Serie A side Roma on loan.

The Armenia international joined Roma on a season-long loan on Monday, after just a season and a half at the Emirates Stadium.

Asked about his Arsenal future after Armenia's 3-1 loss to Italy in Euro 2020 qualifying on Thursday, Mkhitaryan said his focus was on Roma.

"Let's first see what I can do in Roma and at the end of the season I think we can talk if I will have the possibility to stay or to go to something else, I don't know," the midfielder told reporters, via VBET News.

"Now, I cannot say about future, it's better to be focused on the next games."

Roma have made a slow start to the Serie A season, playing out draws with Genoa and Lazio in their opening two games.

Asked about where he would prefer to play for Roma, Mkhitaryan said he was open to anything to help his side.

"I'm ready to play in every position and I'm ready to help the team because the club is great," he said.

"The team is a very good team and I'm going to try and do my best to help the team to achieve."

Mauro Icardi's wife and agent Wanda Nara claims the striker's loan move to Paris Saint-Germain was an "ace up her sleeve".

Icardi, who was stripped of the captaincy at San Siro in January, secured a season-long switch to PSG from Inter on deadline day after much speculation over his future.

The striker had been linked with Juventus and Napoli but agreed a one-year contract extension with Inter, who have given PSG a reported €70million option to buy Icardi at the end of the campaign.

Icardi's move to PSG followed reports his legal team were threatening to sue Inter over his omission from the first team.

Nara says she always had the switch to Paris lined up even though it is not the ideal scenario for her.

"If I waited until the last moment, it's because I had an ace up my sleeve," Nara told Argentine show Morfi Telefe. "Nobody knew, not even the kids. Mauro packed a small suitcase and left the rest to me.

"The kids go to school in Italy, so we'll live between Milan and Paris. Of the three options we had, PSG was the worst for me, because I have to go back to live in Milan with the kids.

"But I thought of what was best for him. There were many important Italian clubs who wanted him and it would've been easier."

Icardi did not feature for Antonio Conte's side during pre-season or the opening two games of Inter's Serie A campaign after being told he could leave.

He could be in contention to feature for PSG against Strasbourg on September 14, before Thomas Tuchel's side take on Real Madrid in their opening Champions League group match.

Gareth Bale feels he has been made a scapegoat at Real Madrid and is eager to reach an amicable conclusion with the club over his future.

The 30-year-old came close to leaving the Santiago Bernabeu for Chinese club Jiangsu Suning during the transfer window after being told by boss Zinedine Zidane he was free to leave.

Madrid's board reportedly blocked his exit at the last minute, however, and Bale has started all three LaLiga matches this term.

Bale, under contract for another three years, believes he has been unfairly targeted during a period of upheaval for the Spanish giants and says he is "not playing happy".

"I understand I was made more of a scapegoat than most - I take it with a pinch of salt even though maybe it's not all fully fair," he told Sky Sports.

"Towards the end of last season was difficult, there is no denying that, not just for me but for the team.

"I wouldn't say I'm playing happy, but I'm playing. When I'm playing I am professional and I am always giving all I can, whether that be for club or country.

"I'm sure there'll be plenty more turbulence, to be honest. I suppose it is something you will have to speak to Real Madrid about and it's between me and them, and we will have to come to some sort of conclusion."

Bale has started the new season in solid fashion with two goals and an assist in three LaLiga matches, including a brace in Sunday's 2-2 draw at Villarreal before being sent off for two quickfire yellow cards.

The winger, who is in line to start Wales' crucial Euro 2020 qualifier with Azerbaijan on Friday, dismissed the notion it has been the most difficult period of his career.

"Coming back to pre-season, I just kept my head down and I know there was a lot of talk, with people saying the good, bad, or whatever they wanted," he said.

"It wasn't the worst time of my career. It has been not ideal, but I know how to deal with it and it's about keeping your head down.

"You get rewarded with the work you put in and I've started the season well and did a good pre-season, even if that hasn't been the case with the number of games.

"Things in football can turn quickly and it is just a matter of time."

Neymar will retire at Paris Saint-Germain unless his salary and asking price are lowered, according to LaLiga president Javier Tebas.

The Brazil forward was strongly linked with a return to LaLiga before the closure of the transfer window on Monday, with both former club Barcelona and Real Madrid said to be interested.

Tebas, though, reiterated his previous stance that the 27-year-old's return to LaLiga is not required for Spanish football and talked down the chances of Neymar finding a new club if his wage demands remain the same.

"It is always important to have good assets to increase [LaLiga's] value, but he is not essential," Tebas said at the Soccerex Europe congress in Lisbon.

"If Neymar comes, good. If Neymar doesn't come, I don't see it as essential, because we continue to grow."

Barca were reportedly unwilling to meet the Ligue 1 champions' valuation for Neymar, who made the switch two years ago in a record €222million deal and has three years to run on his PSG contract.

"The problem of not coming back now [to Barcelona] has to do with his own departure for PSG," Tebas said. "It was an off-market transfer, it was only possible to happen with 'traps' to increase sponsorships. 

"When you do it out of the market, it is impossible to sell again at this price. In view of the market, Neymar will retire at PSG unless he lowers his salary and also his PSG claims."

Neymar has not featured for PSG since May due to injury concerns and doubts over his future.

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