Rumour Has It: Chelsea favourites to sign Coutinho, Man Utd lower Pogba fee & Barca consider swap

By Sports Desk March 19, 2020

Things have not worked out for Philippe Coutinho since his big-money exit from Liverpool.

Coutinho failed to establish himself at LaLiga champions Barcelona, while the Brazilian star has struggled to convince during his loan spell with Bayern Munich.

Now, a Premier League club are reportedly ready to hand Coutinho a lifeline.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA LEAD COUTINHO RACE

Chelsea are favourites to bring Barcelona's Philippe Coutinho back to the Premier League, according to AS.

Coutinho left Liverpool for Barcelona in a deal reportedly worth €160million (£151m) in 2018, however, he has not been able to match the lofty heights he reached at Anfield.

The 27-year-old was shipped out to Bundesliga powerhouses Bayern Munich at the start of the season, and Frank Lampard's Chelsea have reportedly sounded out Barca about a transfer.

 

ROUND-UP

- Where will Paul Pogba be playing in 2020-21? Linked to former club Juventus and Real Madrid, Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has previously insisted the Frenchman will be at Old Trafford next season. However, The Sun says United are now willing to sell Pogba for £100m (€105m).

United are desperate to beat Borussia Dortmund to Jude Bellingham's signature. Dortmund are reportedly favourites to sign Birmingham City's 16-year-old sensation. However, the Mirror claims United are prepared to outlay £30m to sign Bellingham, who toured the club's training facilities last week.

- Mundo Deportivo claims Barca are considering swap deals to facilitate the signings of Inter forward Lautaro Martinez and Paris Saint-Germain's Neymar. The report says Ousmane Dembele and Coutinho could be moved on.

- The Athletic says Liverpool are willing to pay RB Leipzig striker Timo Werner's release clause, but Barca are set to provide competition.

Chelsea are chasing CSKA Moscow striker Fedor Chalov, reports the Daily Star. Brighton and Hove Albion, West Ham and Crystal Palace are also interested.

- According to Gazzetta dello Sport, Gianluigi Donnarumma is happy to extend his Milan contract but CEO Ivan Gazidis is open to cashing in on the 21-year-old Italy goalkeeper.

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    City beat Paris Saint-Germain 2-0 in midweek to close out a 4-1 aggregate triumph and book their place in a maiden Champions League final.

    Chelsea ensured it would be an all-English affair as they overcame Real Madrid by the same scoreline on Wednesday at Stamford Bridge to prevail 3-1 on aggregate.

    The make-up of the final already led to speculation over whether the match might be moved, given Turkey is currently under lockdown due to spiking COVID-19 rates as the UK loosens restrictions thanks in part to a successful vaccine roll out.

    UEFA insisted it was committed to the game remaining at the Ataturk Stadium but the situation became more complicated on Friday when the UK government added Turkey to its travel "red list".

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    Unless exemptions can be secured for players, this would be particularly problematic given Euro 2020 and the 2021 Copa America start on June 11, 13 days after the Champions League final.

    The change in status is effective from May 17, the same day Turkey's own national lockdown is set to end, and will not be reviewed for three weeks, meaning there is no prospect of a change in the UK government stance before the final.

    UEFA is in discussions with the Football Association (FA) over the next steps, with Villa Park touted as a potential alternative venue as Wembley is slated to host the Championship play-off final on May 29.

    "I'm pretty sure UEFA will decide the best for everyone," Guardiola said, speaking prior to the UK government decision.

    "If we go to Istanbul, it will be a pleasure. I think the situation depends on the pandemic there but if they decide to move on or stay here in this country or another place, we'll take the plane or the bus and we will be there."

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    The Catalan's often-repeated mantra of players needing to be in "rhythm" will not be allowed to slide with a defining night on the horizon.

    "I want to be honest, the players will not be rested to think about the Champions League final," Guardiola said.

    "Now we have a period of six days [between] Chelsea [and the trip to] Newcastle, so now the schedule is a little bit more fresh.

    "Now it's time to try to… it's in our hands and we don't depend on other results to win the Premier League as quickly as possible. It won't be easy because of the opponent we have.

    "It's not necessary to tell them to be focused on the last game of the season because nobody in the club has been there before apart from Ilkay [Gundogan], who played in the [2013 Champions League] final. The rest, everyone will be so focused to arrive in this final in the best condition possible."

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