Rumour Has It: Man City favourites to sign Koulibaly, Cavani and Aubameyang alternatives for Barca

By Sports Desk June 25, 2020

Kalidou Koulibaly has been a man in demand for quite some time.

Clubs in Europe have reportedly queued up to sign the Napoli centre-back.

Koulibaly could finally get his move, with a Premier League giant reportedly working on a deal.

 

TOP STORY – CITY FRONTRUNNERS FOR KOULIBALY

Manchester City are favourites to prise Kalidou Koulibaly from Napoli, according to Duncan Castles of the Sunday Times.

Koulibaly has long been linked with a Napoli exit – City, Liverpool, Manchester United, Tottenham, Real Madrid and Barcelona all reported admirers.

But it seems the star defender is more likely to join Pep Guardiola's City than Premier League leaders Liverpool.

 

ROUND-UP

Edinson Cavani is among the alternatives to Inter's Lautaro Martinez for Barcelona, says Sky Sport Italia. Barca want to sign Martinez but the LaLiga champions are struggling to meet Inter's demands. Now Cavani, who will not sign a new contract with Paris Saint-Germain and is a free agent, could end up at Camp Nou. The Uruguayan forward has also been linked to Inter and Atletico Madrid. Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is also on the list, though Juventus are reportedly eyeing the disgruntled Gabon international.

Juve and Barca have reached an agreement over a swap deal involving Arthur and Miralem Pjanic, reports Goal. Arthur had been reluctant to leave Barca for Juve but the Spanish giants could receive a fee of €70million.

Liverpool are frontrunners to sign Bayern Munich star Thiago Alcantara, says Bild. The Spanish midfielder had been set to extend his contract but he has apparently backed out of a new deal.

Borussia Dortmund may keep Jadon Sancho after all. The England international has been tipped to join United at the end of the season. Unless Dortmund receive £117m (€130m), they will continue with Sancho, reports Sport Bild, which also claims the Bundesliga club could offer a bumper new deal.

- Gianluca Di Marzio says Lazio and Inter are battling over the signing of Hellas Verona defender Marash Kumbulla. Inter have reportedly made a €25milion offer for Kumbulla, who has also been linked to Juve.

Chelsea and Real Madrid are going head-to-head for Bayer Leverkusen's Kai Havertz, claims WinSports. Chelsea are believed to have submitted an offer worth £8m (€8.8m) more than Madrid's bid.

Fred is ready to discuss a new long-term contract with United, the Sun reports. After a difficult start to life at Old Trafford, the Brazilian has established himself as a key member of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side.

- According to Le10 Sport, Madrid and Barca are interested in Arsenal midfielder Matteo Guendouzi.

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    "You want to speak about my mother?"

    Romelu Lukaku was seething. A yellow card and a stern talking to from referee Paolo Valeri having done nothing to lift the red mist.

    Inter's diminutive playmaker Nicolo Barella attaching himself to Lukaku's torso in a bid to calm the powerhouse striker was one of the more memorable sights of an action-packed first 45 minutes in this Milan derby for a place in the Coppa Italia semi-finals.

    Or the Derby della Madonnina, to give the game its full, grander title. A game that takes its name from a pristine golden statue of the Virgin Mary.

    It seemed for all the world that Zlatan Ibrahimovic had not spoken about Lukaku's mother with such reverence.

    Here was Milan's 39-year-old talisman, who suggested the youthful make-up of the Serie A leaders' XI was a factor in their 3-0 weekend defeat to Atalanta, deciding to display his own brand of leadership in the guise of juvenile schoolyard bully.

    Ibrahimovic's crowing chuckle as mayhem unfurled around him (Arturo Vidal got involved - of course he did - for no apparent reason) was one of a player who had recently enjoyed a familiar feeling for the 499th time in his career.

    Freed from shackles of their knife-edge Scudetto battle, both teams played with freedom and the intent to land a psychological blow. The fact each team had the same idea appeared to irritate all concerned, but it made for great entertainment.

    It is doubtful Antonio Conte would consider such a cavalier selection in league combat as he rolled out on Inter's left flank here. Ivan Perisic was at wing-back, paying as much attention as you'd expect to the part of his position lurking after the hyphen.

    That increased the defensive burden on Aleksandar Kolarov on, a defender who has worn 11 for the bulk of his career. Kolarov's shirt number is a statement of particular intent.

    Ibrahimovic showed he recognised that point of weakness in the 13th minute, when he leapt athletically to meet a Rafael Leao cross, knocking Perisic and Kolarov to the ground in the process. Brahim Diaz was just unable to turn home.

    Kolarov still seemed distracted when he backed off enough for the former Sweden international to fire though his legs and beyond Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic.

    The script seemed written, goal 500 was surely on the way to take Ibrahimovic closer to yet another piece of silverware. Why not have some fun and wind up the opposition's star man.

    Ibrahimovic's language and his message seemed appalling, with ESPN footage showing him at one point appearing to yell: "Go do your voodoo s***, you little donkey."

    A flaw in the plan to rile Lukaku was the yellow card that Ibrahimovic received for his part in the spat. Not a problem in itself, but in the 58th minute he clumsily and needlessly fouled Kolarov to collect a second booking.

    Displaying none of his vast experience, Ibrahimovic had gone from hero to villain to idiot within half an hour of playing time.

    And so, it was over to the youngsters and backup players who the star striker sometimes seems to consider walk-on extras in his one-man show.

    First there was on-loan defender Fikayo Tomori, who was quickly disabused of the notion he had escaped chaos by leaving Chelsea this week. Thrust into a debut by Simon Kjaer's first-half injury, he made a brilliant last-ditch block to deny Lukaku.

    Alessio Romagnoli and Theo Hernandez defended heroically down the Milan left but reduced numbers forced willing attacking players back to man unfamiliar barricades. Leao was pressed into action and brought down Barella. After consulting the pitchside monitor Valeri pointed to the spot.

    Lukaku has been known to roll his penalties home. On this occasion, he tested the structural integrity of the crossbar and the ball ricocheted into the turf and home. Then there was a shouting match with a team-mate (Yes, Vidal; nope, no idea).

    Enough mayhem? Nonsense. Valeri had to limp out of the action injured. Fourth official Daniele Chiffi looked like he was putting on the microphone and headset for the first time in his life and 10 minutes of stoppage time were required.

    In the seventh of those, wantaway midfielder Christian Eriksen curled home a sumptuous free-kick, leaving Ciprian Tatarusanu no chance to add to his fine catalogue of eight saves.

    Last act for Eriksen? Maybe. Definitely last laugh for Lukaku.

    Ibrahimovic likes to call himself a lion but Tatarusanu and the Milan players he left behind were the lions here, roaring defiantly at wave after wave of Inter attacks before buckling at the last. Nine of Inter's 27 shots were blocked.

    After fatefully dwelling too long in self-parody at the end of the first half, Ibrahimovic owes them an apology, and surely Lukaku is also due one. Perhaps they shouldn't hold their breath.

  • West Brom 0-5 Manchester City: Gundogan guides Guardiola's side into top spot West Brom 0-5 Manchester City: Gundogan guides Guardiola's side into top spot

    Ilkay Gundogan scored twice as Manchester City moved to the top of the Premier League for the first time this season with an outstanding 5-0 victory at West Brom.

    Pep Guardiola's side stretched their winning run to 11 straight matches in all competitions on Tuesday, a sequence that has again seen City emerge at the forefront of the title picture after a rocky start to the campaign.

    West Brom, then under Slaven Bilic, had been the last team to stop City winning when these teams met in mid-December, but Sam Allardyce's side were completely outclassed at The Hawthorns despite the absence of Kevin De Bruyne, the injured PFA Players' Player of the Year winner.

    Joao Cancelo's first Premier League goal separated a first-half Gundogan double, which Riyad Mahrez and stand-in captain Raheem Sterling added to either side of the break.

    West Brom's best spell came in the opening two minutes as City were penned in under an aerial barrage before countering through Phil Foden, whose low deflected shot was touched onto the post by Sam Johnstone.

    Johnstone was helpless from City's next attempt, watching the ball nestle in the bottom-left corner after Gundogan controlled Cancelo's long pass and finished expertly.

    The goalkeeper was then left awfully exposed for the second as West Brom defenders appeared to stop playing when Bernardo Silva was flagged offside. Cancelo had time and space to pick out the top-left corner with a gorgeous finish and the offside decision was overturned following a VAR review, meaning the goal stood.

    Gundogan pinched the ball from Romaine Sawyers and slid a left-footed effort beyond Johnstone before the half-hour mark, and it was 4-0 heading into half-time as Mahrez moved inside from the right and lashed past the keeper.

    The same pattern of play continued following the restart and, although Rodri's blast clipped the crossbar, City only had to wait until the 57th minute for Sterling to turn in Mahrez's first-time cross, finally then easing up slightly to spare their struggling hosts further punishment.


    What does it mean? City on top in epic title tussle

    In leapfrogging rivals Manchester United, who play Sheffield United on Wednesday but will grant City a game in hand, Guardiola's men became the ninth team to lead the table at the end of a day this season.

    If City can maintain this high standard, though, the run-in might be a little more predictable. Even without De Bruyne, the four-time Premier League winners look back to their very best.

    Ilkay in top form

    City will surely miss De Bruyne as he faces up to six weeks out, but they have now won both of their league matches without their talisman this season, scoring six and conceding none.

    His absence on Tuesday allowed those stars who have made up the supporting cast in recent weeks to come to the fore, including Gundogan.

    The Germany midfielder now has seven league goals this term - the first of which came in the previous West Brom clash, kickstarting a superb spell - to make this his best ever scoring season.

    Cancelo capitalises

    Neither the officials nor the West Brom defenders came out of City's second goal well.

    Sian Massey-Ellis correctly initially kept her flag down despite believing Silva was offside but then inexplicably indicated for the decision when City were still on the attack inside the area.

    But the whistle did not blow until the ball hit the net and there was little excuse for West Brom's static defending, their porous back line now having conceded 29 home goals - more than any other team in Europe's 'top five' leagues - after the five here.

    What's next?

    City will hope to run up another handsome total at home to basement side Sheffield United on Saturday. West Brom have a huge clash with Fulham, where they will aim to end a five-game losing run at home.

  • Southampton 1-3 Arsenal: Arteta's men get revenge for cup exit Southampton 1-3 Arsenal: Arteta's men get revenge for cup exit

    Arsenal earned revenge for their FA Cup defeat to Southampton by coming from behind to beat Ralph Hasenhuttl's side 3-1 at St Mary's in the Premier League on Tuesday.

    Having suffered a 1-0 loss on the same ground three days earlier, Arsenal looked a different team as they attacked with great panache, but fell behind to a superb Stuart Armstrong strike after three minutes.

    Nicolas Pepe, who scored on his previous Premier League start at Everton in December, levelled before Bukayo Saka gave Arsenal the lead with his fifth league goal of the season.

    Southampton created several chances to claim a share of the points but found Gunners goalkeeper Bernd Leno in good form, and Alexandre Lacazette scored in the 72nd minute as Arsenal leapfrogged their hosts into eighth place in the table.

    The home side stormed ahead after just three minutes when Armstrong met a James Ward-Prowse corner with a shot on the half-volley that flew past Leno and into the top corner of the net, despite the Arsenal goalkeeper getting a hand to it.

    The lead lasted five minutes, as Arsenal pounced on a sloppy Jack Stephens pass and Granit Xhaka played Pepe into the area where he fired a low shot into the far corner of the net from 10 yards out.

    Leno made a superb diving save from Che Adams to keep the scores level before Arsenal, six minutes from half-time, went ahead when Lacazette's incisive pass found Saka, who rounded Alex McCarthy and drilled the ball into the gaping net.

    Armstrong carved an opening for Theo Walcott early in the second half but Leno was equal to the former Arsenal winger's effort.

    Lacazette then finished a sweeping Arsenal attacking move from point-blank range at the other end to seal the victory with his eighth league goal of the season.

     

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