Ajax have beaten off reported competition from several Premier League clubs to sign highly rated Ghanaian teenager Mohammed Kudus from Nordsjaelland.

The 19-year-old attacking midfielder is thought to have cost Ajax roughly €9million and has signed a five-year contract.

Kudus came through the Right To Dream academy in Ghana, an organisation set up by former Manchester United scout Tom Vernon in the late 1990s.

Vernon and a group of investors acquired Danish Superliga side Nordsjaelland in 2016, with the view to eventually developing a team made up entirely of academy graduates, and Kudus is one of the early success stories.

Kudus made the move to Nordsjaelland two years after the initial link was established and he proved a big hit, playing 51 league matches across two seasons with the senior side, scoring 14 times.

Eleven of those came in 2019-20, with his form attracting the interest of several of Europe's leading clubs.

But it is Ajax who have taken the plunge, with Kudus potentially seen as a long-term replacement for Hakim Ziyech, who has joined Chelsea.

Kudus, a nominee for the 2020 Golden Boy award, made his senior international debut for Ghana last year and is predicted to have a bright future.

Francisco Trincao is a great talent who can prosper at Barcelona, according to Danilo Pereira.

Barca announced the signing of Trincao back in January, the 20-year-old penning a five-year contract to join from Braga for a €31million fee.

The Portuguese forward is to finish the season in his homeland before heading to Camp Nou and has scored eight goals in 25 league appearances, in the process impressing Porto midfielder Danilo.

For Danilo, the key for his compatriot when he heads to Spain is having the right coach at Barca to aid his development.

"He's a great talent, a great talent," the Portugal international told Stats Perform News.

Danilo was in the Porto side that lost 2-1 at home to Trincao's Braga back on January 17.

"I think he's only 20 years old but he's playing very well in Braga, scoring a lot of goals. He has a lot to improve, but he's a great player," Danilo said.

"If he has the confidence and if he has a good coach for him, to help him grow, I think he will do really well in Barcelona."

Danilo was on target on Wednesday as Porto clinched their 29th Primeira Liga title with a 2-0 victory over rivals Sporting CP.

They have capitalised on a collapse by Benfica to be crowned champions again and Danilo has praised the impact Iker Casillas, the legendary goalkeeper whose retirement was confirmed in February, has had this season.

The former Spain captain moved to Porto in 2015 but had not played since suffering a heart attack during a training session last May. However, having joined the backroom staff, Casillas has continued to have a major influence.

"I like Casillas so much – he's always trying to help the youngsters," Danilo said when the Portuguese season was paused due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"He's a leader for us. I think he's a great man who tries all the time to help the people, to help the coach and everybody. For me, Iker Casillas is a legend."

Milos Ninkovic believes Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is perfectly suited to the Premier League as he compared the in-demand Lazio star to Paul Pogba.

Milinkovic-Savic has long been linked with a Lazio exit following his exploits for the Serie A side, where he arrived from Genk in 2015.

Chelsea, Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid, Juventus and Inter have all emerged as reported suitors for the Serbia international midfielder.

As speculation grows over Milinkovic-Savic's future in the Italian capital, former Serbia international Ninkovic feels it is time for the 25-year-old to leave Lazio.

"He is an unbelievable talent," Ninkovic, who now plays for Sydney FC in Australia, told Stats Perform News. "Probably one of the best midfielders in Italy. He reminds me of [United star] Pogba, he is that type of player because he is good on the ball, tall, strong, can score outside of the box and he is good in the air.

"For him, the most important thing is to be happy. If he is happy at Lazio, he should stay there. But if he wants a different challenge, than he definitely needs to leave. They talk about PSG, Man Utd… but it depends on how he feels.

"I think if he makes the right choice, he will be one of the best midfielders in the world.

"Personally, I think he needs a new challenge in his career because he's spent three or four years at Lazio. It's hard when that's the first time in the last years they're fighting for the Scudetto and probably next season it will be the same or fourth or fifth. For him it would be better if he can go somewhere else to play Champions League as well.

"Of course it also depends on his president and how much he wants. Especially now after coronavirus, everything won't be like before in terms of transfer fees and salaries."

Milinkovic-Savic has scored five goals and supplied four assists in Serie A this season and Ninkovic, 35, added: "I think England is perfect for him. Even France, when you have good players around you it's much easier to play.

"If he goes to Manchester United, Real Madrid or PSG, there's not much of a difference because they're all good players there. It will be even much easier for him, I think he will score more goals and supply more assists."

Another Serbian player in the headlines recently has been United midfielder Nemanja Matic following his form for the Red Devils.

Out of favour and looking set for a move away from Old Trafford at the start of the season, Matic has forced his way back into Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's plans and signed a new three-year contract.

Ninkovic played alongside Matic for Serbia and he hailed his 31-year-old compatriot, saying: "I spoke with him maybe a month ago. Obviously he didn't know anything and he said he would like to stay. I'm very happy for him because he is an unbelievable player and a very nice guy which is the most important thing.

"But I thought maybe there was a chance if he didn't re-sign that he could come to Australia. Maybe we will have to wait two or three more years. Maybe now it's easier for him because they started to play with one six and two eights or 10s, which is much better for him. We used to play that formation in the national team and he was unbelievable.

"You need to be strong mentally, especially at Manchester United with so many great players."

United, who sat fifth in the Premier League ahead of Thursday's trip to Crystal Palace, have strung together an 18-game unbeaten streak across all competitions, with Matic, Pogba and Bruno Fernandes earning plaudits.

Ninkovic believes the Red Devils now boast a better midfield than champions Liverpool and can challenge for the title next season.

"I think they needed some player like Fernandes and now they have Pogba, Fernandes and Matic in the middle," Ninkovic said. "I think they have one of the best midfields in the Premier League – maybe Manchester City [have the best]. I would say a better midfield than Liverpool.

"Probably they will try to sign one or two more players and definitely they will fight for the title."

Paris Saint-Germain have reportedly told Barcelona what they want for Neymar, while Paul Pogba is set for a Manchester United stay.

Neymar continues to be linked with a return to the LaLiga giants, three years after leaving for PSG in a world-record €222million move.

It seems Barcelona know what PSG want for the attacker.

 

TOP STORY – PSG WANT €80M AND DEMBELE FOR NEYMAR

PSG want €80m and Ousmane Dembele from Barcelona in exchange for Neymar, according to El Chiringuito.

Dembele has struggled with injuries since arriving at Barcelona from Borussia Dortmund in 2017.

Like Neymar, the France international has regularly been linked with a move.

ROUND-UP

- Happy again amid Manchester United's resurgence, Pogba may be ready to extend his stay. The Sun reports the midfielder is close to agreeing to a five-year deal with the Premier League giants.

- Staying in Manchester and City are eyeing Inter star Lautaro Martinez as a long-term replacement for Sergio Aguero, according to Sky Sports. Martinez has been heavily linked with a move to Barcelona.

- After having their European ban overturned, Manchester City are reportedly ready to spend. The Mirror reports City have been quoted a cut-price £65million (€71.6m) price for Napoli star Kalidou Koulibaly, who has been linked to Liverpool, Manchester United and Chelsea among others.

- Manchester United are fighting to qualify for the Champions League late in the season. According to Sport Bild, Borussia Dortmund are expecting a £108.9m (€120m) bid from United for Jadon Sancho if they qualify for the Champions League.

- Staying with Borussia Dortmund, the Bundesliga club will pay €25m (£22.7m) for Birmingham City teenager Jude Bellingham, according to Sport Bild.

Luka Jovic needs to be more professional if he wants to have a future at Real Madrid, warned former team-mate Milos Ninkovic.

Jovic has endured a turbulent first season with Madrid following his big-money arrival from Bundesliga outfit Eintracht Frankfurt, the 22-year-old managing just two goals in 25 appearances.

A €60million signing after scoring 27 goals in 2018-19, Jovic has struggled for form and fitness, while the Serbia international's woes were compounded when caught breaking lockdown rules during the coronavirus pandemic.

Talk of a Madrid exit has intensified amid links to Premier League sides Leicester City and Arsenal and Serie A club Milan, while Hertha Berlin have reportedly joined the chase to bring Jovic back to Germany as Los Blancos close in on just their second LaLiga title in eight seasons.

Ninkovic knows Jovic better than most, having provided the assist for the latter's debut goal as a 16-year-old for Serbian giants Red Star Belgrade in 2014.

And Ninkovic – a former 28-time Serbia international now playing for A-League champions Sydney FC – told Stats Perform News: "His biggest problem is not how he performs on the pitch, it's how he performs off it.

"He had so many problems off the pitch with some injuries and hanging out with some friends from Serbia when this virus started.

"I understand that because I was young as well. I signed, not for such a big club like Real Madrid, but I signed for Dynamo Kiev when I was 19, probably the biggest club in Ukraine and Russia.

"When you're young and you sign for a big club, he is on big money as well, it's hard to stay normal. He wants everything. As a young kid, he wants to stay with friends and go out. I read that [Zinedine] Zidane believes in Luka and he will stay next season.

"They probably understand that he is still young and everyone went through this. I understand him but he needs to be more serious because Madrid are a big club, they won't wait three, four years… He needs to be more professional if he wants to stay there."

Gianluigi Donnarumma is motivated to stay at Milan amid reports of a contract extension for the goalkeeper, according to head coach Stefano Pioli.

Donnarumma, 21, is reportedly set to re-sign with the Serie A club, where his current deal ends in 2021.

Speaking after Milan's 3-1 win over Parma on Wednesday, Pioli said the Italy international was happy at San Siro.

"Nobody is talking about their future. We have to stay focused only on the present," Piolo told Sky Sport Italia.

"I see him calm and motivated to stay at Milan. He made a careful performance.

"I want to enjoy this team, it's nice to work with them."

Donnarumma has made 198 senior appearances for Milan since debuting in 2015-16.

The goalkeeper has been linked with the likes of Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain and Tottenham amid uncertainty over his Milan future.

Dimitar Berbatov has hit out at Real Madrid's Gareth Bale for his "unprofessional and disrespectful" behaviour in the Spanish capital.

Bale has found himself out of favour at Madrid, with the star forward playing just 100 minutes of LaLiga action since the league returned from its three-month hiatus in June amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The four-time Champions League winner sparked uproar when he was seen on camera with his face mask over his eyes before turning and laughing with team-mates from the stands during Madrid's 2-0 victory over Deportivo Alaves last week.

Bale – a substitute – then simulated holding a pair of binoculars in front of his face while he watched Madrid's 2-1 win at Granada and former Tottenham team-mate Berbatov criticised the Welsh outcast.

"Gareth Bale is in the headlines again for pretending to sleep in the stands when he found out he was going to be an unused substitute against Granada," Berbatov wrote in his column for Betfair.

"When I saw it, I couldn't believe it. I watched him put his mask over his eyes and pretend to be asleep. I cannot support that. It is unprofessional and disrespectful to Real Madrid.

"I love watching Bale play and I can feel his pain at not playing because I have been in the same situation. But that kind of reaction is going too far.

"Madrid need to find a solution to the Bale saga. It's not good for Bale or the team and it is bad publicity. I do feel his pain, I have been in his shoes of not playing and nobody is probably giving him any answers, then you are provoked to do those kinds of things, but I cannot support what he did.

"The only solution is for Bale to leave Real Madrid. If I was a Real Madrid fan and saw a player disrespecting the team like that, it would be too much. Bale should be asking for a solution, even if it is a loan move. It was a show of power, it was if he was saying: 'Play me or I'll do whatever I want.' That doesn't sit right with me."

Arsenal clearly need to sign new players in the transfer market despite stunning Liverpool, according to head coach Mikel Arteta.

Arteta's Arsenal received a boost in their rebuilding job, upstaging Premier League champions Liverpool 2-1 on Wednesday.

Arsenal trailed to Sadio Mane's opener and only claimed the lead after uncharacteristic Liverpool errors let in Alexandre Lacazette and Reiss Nelson midweek.

Despite the surprise victory, Arsenal – ninth in the table with two matches remaining – are 40 points behind Liverpool and Arteta insisted the Gunners must strengthen.

"I think it's pretty clear that we need to strengthen the squad," Arteta told reporters post-match.

Not since 2004 have Arsenal won the Premier League – failing to finish in the top four since their runners-up performance in 2015-16.

The gap has continued to widen in the Premier League, with Arsenal – who sacked Unai Emery in November – six points adrift of the top four.

Asked how long it will take to close the gap, Arteta said in a news conference: "Well I have seen it and I have experienced it. To do it in one year, and I have seen other clubs never do it. Or some clubs do it in four or five years.

"Depends on the context, depends on the resources, depends on how much you have to change.

"We are in a process, we don't know at the moment. There is a lot of uncertainty in many areas, what we can control now is who we want to be as a team, the culture we are building in order to do that, the spirit to be successful and then improve our players.

"My main focus is to make our players better, make them feel more comfortable and create an identity for the club because it will be easier to say we need this, this and this."

Arsenal are back in action against Manchester City in Saturday's FA Cup semi-final before visiting lowly Aston Villa in the Premier League on Tuesday.

Zinedine Zidane brushed off a question about Gareth Bale's future at Real Madrid, insisting the team is united.

Bale has played just 100 minutes for Madrid in LaLiga since the competition returned from its three-month hiatus amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Despite not spending much time on the pitch, the 30-year-old, who remained at the club after a move to Jiangsu Suning broke down following Zidane's return last year, has continued to make headlines.

During the 2-0 victory over Deportivo Alaves last week he was seen on camera with his face mask over his eyes, before turning and laughing with his team-mates.

He then simulated holding a pair of binoculars in front of his face while he watched Madrid's meeting with Granada on Monday from the stands at Los Carmenes.

Asked if Bale should leave Madrid, Zidane told a news conference: "What a question.

"You try to put things between us, but you won't be able to. Every day you ask the same thing. You can do it; you have the right to ask what you want.

"But we're united. Gareth, James [Rodriguez], everyone."

Madrid will be crowned LaLiga champions if they beat Villarreal at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano on Thursday.

Diego Simeone is not surprised by rumoured interest in Jan Oblak but hopes the goalkeeper will remain at Atletico Madrid.

Oblak has been named best keeper in LaLiga for the previous four seasons and has only conceded 26 goals in 36 games in the current campaign, helping Atleti once again clinch a top-four finish.

Chelsea are reported to be interested in the 27-year-old Slovenian, with speculation suggesting they could look to involve Kepa Arrizabalaga in player-plus-cash deal.

Simeone has become accustomed to rumours over the future of key players in his squad, however, as was the case previously in the Antoine Griezmann transfer saga before he eventually joined domestic rivals Barcelona.

"It does not surprise me, every year our most important players are wanted by the best in the world," the Atletico boss told the media ahead of Thursday's game with Getafe.

"It is normal to always look for the best – and we have many. Some have left and others have stayed.

"It is logical and normal that anyone wants Oblak. He is our captain and an important player. I hope we can count on his work, which is enormous for Atleti."

When asked again about Oblak's future at Atletico during the media call, Simeone replied: "I repeat the same thing: it is normal that they want a goalkeeper of his characteristics and value.

"It does not surprise me. He is decisive and important in the dressing room year after year. He has evolved in every way, as a goalkeeper and within the group."

Oblak has been integral in helping Atletico's nine-match unbeaten run since the resumption of the season in Spain.

The impressive streak – which includes a 2-2 draw away to second-place Barcelona – has secured Champions League football again for next season, while they still remain in the running to win this year's competition after knocking out holders Liverpool in the last 16.

For Simeone, qualification is crucial for Atleti's development both on and off the field.

"It's our responsibility to qualify, always looking at the growth that the club has from this possibility that we generate by qualifying year after year," he said.

"That's how the club grows in every aspect, so it is a responsibility, an objective to be met, which is not easy always to do in life.

"We all have objectives, in any type of job. I have the luck, the work ethic and the perseverance to qualify every year and allow the club to grow and improve. When the goals are met it is normal for the club to grow."

Borussia Dortmund have released Andre Schurrle from his contract one year ahead of schedule.

Former Chelsea forward Schurrle arrived at Dortmund from Wolfsburg in July 2016 for a reported fee of €32million, signing a five-year deal.

The World Cup winner made 33 Bundesliga appearances across two seasons for BVB before spending the following campaigns on loan at Fulham and Spartak Moscow respectively.

Schurrle is now a free agent after agreeing to mutually terminate his Dortmund contract.

The 29-year-old said in a statement: "On reflection, it was a period with highs and lows – but also with many valuable experiences both on a sporting and, in particular, on a personal level.

"I would like to thank those responsible at BVB and wish the club and its special fans all the best for the future."

Milan have exercised their option to sign on-loan Sevilla defender Simon Kjaer to a permanent contract.

Denmark international defender Kjaer cost a reported €3.5million and put pen to paper on a two-year deal at San Siro.

The 31-year-old spent the first half of 2019-20 on loan at Atalanta before joining Milan in January, when Mattia Caldara moved in the opposite direction.

Kjaer has made 13 appearances in all competitions for Milan, who sit seventh in Serie A with six games remaining this season.

Milan are reportedly set to receive €24m from Sevilla for Suso after the Andalusian club's place in next season's Champions League was secured this week.

Suso joined Sevilla on an 18-month loan in January with an obligation to buy, which was supposedly triggered by Julen Lopetegui's side finishing in LaLiga's top four.

The Premier League transfer window is set to be open from July 27 until October 5.

The 10-week period was settled upon by Premier League shareholders on Wednesday but is subject to approval from FIFA. 

England's top-flight campaign, which resumed in June after being suspended for three months amid the coronavirus pandemic, is scheduled to be completed on July 26. 

Although international transfers must be completed by October 5, a domestic-only window will run until October 16.

However, Premier League clubs will only be able to conduct deals with English Football League (EFL) teams and not with each other. 

A Premier League statement read: "Premier League shareholders have agreed on the dates for the summer 2020 transfer window. 

"The window will open for 10 weeks at the end of the current Premier League season, starting 27 July and ending October 5.  

"Following consultation with the EFL, a domestic-only window will be added from October 5, closing 5pm on October 16. During this window, Premier League clubs will only be able to trade with EFL clubs (either loans or permanent registrations). No transfers can take place between Premier League clubs in this period.  

"The transfer window is subject to the approval of FIFA."                                                                                                                                        

While Premier League clubs will be able make signings before the Champions League and Europa League reach their respective conclusions next month, UEFA has already confirmed no new recruits will be able to compete. 

A date for the start of the 2020-21 Premier League season is yet to be confirmed, though it has been reported it could commence on the final weekend of August. 

UEFA Nations League matches are scheduled to take place from September 3-8, meaning that if an August start is not possible the campaign may not begin until the weekend of September 12.

Paulo Dybala is set to become Juventus' second highest paid player, while Paris Saint-Germain are reportedly targeting Marcus Rashford.

Dybala was linked with a move away from the Serie A club last year, but ended up staying and is enjoying a fine season in Turin.

Now, the Argentina international is set to be rewarded.

 

TOP STORY – DYBALA TO BECOME JUVE'S SECOND HIGHEST PAID PLAYER

Coming out of contract in 2022, Dybala is close to extending his contract at Juventus until 2025, according to Tuttosport.

The playmaker will become Juve's second highest paid player behind only star forward Cristiano Ronaldo.

Dybala has scored 17 goals and provided eight assists in 41 games in all competitions this season.

ROUND-UP

- Paris Saint-Germain are eyeing a Manchester United forward. The Independent reports PSG have made Rashford their top transfer target.

- Staying in Paris and talk about Neymar's future continues. Mundo Deportivo says Neymar still wants a return to Barcelona, who are reportedly set to raise funds by selling numerous players. Sport says they are prepared to sell Samuel Umtiti amid interest from Lazio, Napoli, Roma and Torino.

- Jan Vertonghen is coming out of contract at Tottenham and appears set to leave the club. The Telegraph reports the defender has emerged as a target for Manchester City.

- Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma's contract expires in 2021. CalcioMercato reports renewing the shot-stopper's deal is becoming a priority for Milan, who are set to extend his contract until 2023.

- Former Juventus striker Mario Mandzukic, 34, is a free agent after leaving Qatari club Al-Duhail. According to CalcioMercato, Inter are yet to make a strong move for the Croatian amid reported interest.

- As they look to raise funds, Manchester United are open to selling six players. The Telegraph reports Alexis Sanchez, Chris Smalling, Marcos Rojo, Phil Jones, Jesse Lingard and Diogo Dalot are considered dispensable.

Nemanja Matic is optimistic Paul Pogba will remain with Manchester United "for a long time".

The Serbian has formed an impressive midfield trio with Pogba and Bruno Fernandes since the Premier League's resumption, helping United extend their unbeaten run to 18 matches in all competitions.

Pogba's future at United has long been the subject of intense speculation, with comments from his agent Mino Raiola causing controversy earlier in a 2019-20 season where he struggled with injury.

But the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic and the club's upturn in form since the World Cup winner returned to the pitch to join new signing Fernandes have led to increased hopes he will stay.

Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has expressed confidence that Pogba – who is contracted until 2021 with the option for a further year – would sign a new deal and Matic thinks his team-mate is enjoying life at the club.

"I think at the moment he is happy," Matic, who himself signed fresh terms with United this month, said to Stats Perform News.

"When you are injured and outside of the pitch people will always talk and rumours will always be around him, but he can do anything. 

"As soon as he came back to training with us and playing I think he has shown that he is happy to play football and he is a great guy. 

"I think for me it is very important that Paul stays because that gives us more quality. Also, with his personality, he brings a lot to the team. 

"Of course, you never know what is going to happen in life but I see him happy at the moment.

"I wish for him to stay, I wish for the team. It is good he is a great guy for the group there is always fun around him. I will be happy to see him for a long time at Manchester United."

Pogba said this week United felt like "a proper team" again and he does not think they can be stopped if they continue on their current path.

He also praised the balance of the starting XI under Solskjaer and Matic feels the arrival of Fernandes is what has helped get the best out of Pogba.

Matic added: "With him and Bruno, I think that Paul can now, in my opinion, do what is his job.

"He is the player and kind of midfielder that can play box to box, he is not only an attacking midfielder like people were thinking. 

"He is a box to box player because he is strong, he can run, he can shoot, he can also defend very well, he can read the headers. 

"So now with Bruno, Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard, when they play in front of him, then in my opinion he can do the best.

"He is a player for everything, so I don't think he is a typical playmaker to be behind the strikers, but that player like a number eight, box to box.

"For me he is one of the best players in the world. So, I expect him next season to be even better, but what we saw in the few games of him [after the restart] he was absolutely fantastic, a proper player."

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