Rumour Has It: Liverpool set to sign RB Leipzig's Konate, Barca want Ansu Fati to renew

By Sports Desk April 24, 2021

Is Ibrahima Konate bound for Anfield?

The 21-year-old defender has caught the eye of both Liverpool and Manchester United.

But, the Merseyside club appear set to win the race for his signature.

 

TOP STORY – KONATE HEADING TO ANFIELD

Liverpool have agreed a deal to sign Ibrahima Konate from RB Leipzig, according to the Guardian.

Konate had also been linked with Premier League rivals Manchester United, who are eyeing a new centre-back at Old Trafford.

But Liverpool have reportedly agreed a five-year contract with Konate, who has a €35million (£30.5m) release clause.

 

ROUND-UP

- The front page of Saturday's Mundo Deportivo reports Barcelona want to offer a new and improved contract to teenage sensation Ansu Fati, which would keep him at Camp Nou until 2026. The 18-year-old, previously linked to United, until at least 2022, with the option to extend it by a further two years.

- What does the future hold for Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma? The 22-year-old Italy star's contract is set to expire at the end of the season and he is yet to re-sign at San Siro amid links with United, Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus and Real Madrid. While Milan remain hopeful of keeping Donnarumma, Calciomercato says they have begun conversations with Lille's Mike Maignan.

Milan, Inter and Roma are eyeing Torino captain and star forward Andrea Belotti, claims Calciomercato.

- Fabrizio Romano reports Manchester City are set to sign Metinho in the same deal with Fluminense team-mate Kayky.

Madrid remain optimistic about the possibility of signing Kylian Mbappe from PSG, according to Le Parisien. Mbappe has been tipped to join Los Blancos, who have also been linked with Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland.

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    Italy will aim to equal their all-time unbeaten record of 30 matches and finish top of Euro 2020 Group A when they face Wales at the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday.

    The Azzurri have won their opening two matches by the same 3-0 scoreline against Turkey and Switzerland, making it 10 wins in a row in all competitions without conceding.

    Roberto Mancini's side are already assured of a place in the last 16, but they require a point against second-placed Wales to make certain of top spot.

    However, victory will be the target for Italy on home soil as they look to match their previous record for games without defeat, set between November 1935 and July 1939.

    Mancini has indicated he will rotate his side with the knockout stages in mind, but experienced defender Giorgio Chiellini has warned Italy cannot take Wales lightly.

     

    "They are a great team," said Chiellini, who is not expected to play any part in the match. "Wales have been playing together for many years and we know them well. 

    "There have been many small changes but never revolutions, so they are tough opponents."

    Wales are practically through to the last 16 after drawing with Switzerland and beating Turkey in their two games, but need a point in the Italian capital to seal the deal.

    The Euro 2016 semi-finalists do not have the best of records against Italy, though, losing seven of their previous nine meetings and failing to score in three attempts on Italian soul.

    But winger Daniel James is relishing the chance to end Italy's long-running unbeaten run, which spans back to September 2018.

    "Italy are a great team, but we have to go in believing we can win. We will do our analysis, and we will go there with our heads held high," he said.

    "They've had a great run going into this tournament, but we want to win every game and we fully believe that we can do that."


    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Italy – Marco Verratti

    Verratti was not even named in Italy's squad for their opening two games as he continues to recover from an injury sustained with Paris Saint-Germain, but Mancini has hinted he will play a part on Sunday.

    Manuel Locatelli has starred in Verratti's absence, becoming the third youngest Italy player to score a brace at a major tournament with his double against Switzerland.

    But PSG midfielder Verratti has been one of the key men in Italy's remarkable turnaround after failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup and Mancini will be eager to get him back to full fitness.

    Wales – Gareth Bale

    Gareth Bale skied a penalty in Wales' 2-0 win against Turkey, becoming the first player to miss the goal frame entirely with a spot-kick at the Euros since Raul for Spain against France in 2000.

    The Real Madrid forward more than made amends for that, however, by assisting goals for Aaron Ramsey and Connor Roberts in a well-earned win for the Dragons.

    He created five big chances across the 90 minutes in Baku – the most by a player at the Euros since such records were recorded in 1980.

    KEY OPTA FACTS

    - Italy and Wales' latest encounter was 18 years ago, in a European Championship qualifier back in September 2003. On that day, Filippo Inzaghi scored his one and only hat-trick with the Italian national team (4-0).

    - Wales have made it out of the group stages in their previous two appearances at a major tournament (1958 World Cup, Euro 2016). If they avoid defeat in this game, they are guaranteed a spot in the knockout stages.

    - Italy are looking to win all three of their group-stage matches for the fourth time at a major tournament, previously doing so at the 1978 and 1990 World Cups, and at Euro 2000.

    - The Azzurri have gone 965 minutes without conceding, scoring 31 goals without reply in that run.

    - If he keeps a clean sheet, Italy keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma would be the youngest keeper to earn shutouts in three consecutive games at the Euros (22y 115d on the day of the game).

  • A-League: Sydney FC beat Adelaide to reach third straight Grand Final A-League: Sydney FC beat Adelaide to reach third straight Grand Final

    Sydney FC remain on course for a third straight A-League Championship after beating Adelaide United 2-1 at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium in Saturday's semi-final.

    Adelaide produced an upset by beating Brisbane Roar in the Elimination Finals but could not replicate that performance in their semi-final with Sydney.

    Adam Le Fondre was on target when the sides met in the regular season last month and converted from the penalty spot to put the hosts ahead in Saturday's clash.

    Brazilian striker Bobo added a second before half-time and the Sky Blues held on, despite Le Fondre's penalty miss and Juande's stunning strike to set up a nervy finish.

    The home team were awarded a  24th-minute penalty for James Delianov's challenge on Kosta Barbarouses, with Le Fondre sending the goalkeeper the wrong way from 12 yards.

    Bobo doubled his side's advantage with a sliding first-time shot to round off a well-crafted move just before the break.

    It looked like being plain sailing for Sydney when Javi Lopez took out Barbarouses in the box, but Le Fondre's penalty was saved by Delianov and that sparked an Adelaide revival.

    Tomi Juric's free-kick hit the Sydney wall but Juande thumped in the loose ball from 20 yards with a little over 25 minutes still to play.

    Thomas Heward-Belle was required to keep out efforts from Juric and Jordan Elsey, but Sydney held on to reach their third final in a row and a fifth in seven years.

    Melbourne City and Macarthur FC meet in the other semi-final on Sunday.

  • Gilmour a big part of Scotland's future – Clarke hails Chelsea prospect Gilmour a big part of Scotland's future – Clarke hails Chelsea prospect

    Billy Gilmour is a huge part of Scotland's future after his standout performance against rivals England at Euro 2020.

    Those were the words of Scotland boss Steve Clarke after his side impressively kept their last-16 qualification hopes alive with a 0-0 draw at Wembley on Friday.

    Chelsea prospect Gilmour, 20, was handed his first international start for the massive match, which ended in the first goalless draw between the two nations in 33 meetings at Wembley.

    Despite his inexperience, the composed Gilmour led Scotland for passes (44), completed passes (40) and passes in the opposition half (24), while he gained possession eight times, more than anyone else on the pitch.

    Gilmour got a huge reception from the Scotland fans when he was replaced by Stuart Armstrong in the closing stages, with Clarke thrilled by what he had seen.

    "It was nice for him to get that start, a big platform – he is a big player, Billy," said Clarke.

    "I've said for a long time he'll be a big part of the future of Scottish football.

    "We know what we've got in the camp, we'll try to manage that and keep a lid on things. Performances like that will do him no harm whatsoever.

    "Stephen O'Donnell was exceptional, and Billy was just behind him. 

    "Getting Kieran [Tierney] back into the three and having Scott [McTominay] there [in defence] gives us the platform to build from the back. Billy Gilmour and Callum McGregor [in midfield] are both good footballers. 

    "We knew coming here we couldn't just sit and defend for 95 minutes, we knew when we had the ball, we had to take care of it and try to create our own chances. 

    "That's what we managed to do."

     

    Scotland ended the match with more attempts (11-9) and shots on target (2-1) than England, though the hosts edged the xG battle (1.6-0.7), given John Stones had headed against the post early on.

    Having recovered well from their first loss to the Czech Republic, Scotland now face a must-win clash with Croatia at Hampden on Tuesday as Group D concludes.

    Scotland captain Andy Robertson also had praise for Gilmour as he looked ahead to that contest.

    "I'd put Gilmour's performance right up there," said the Liverpool defender.

    "Nothing phases him. I believe he can have as many caps as he wants for Scotland. He's got a big future, but the here and now's pretty good for him too.

    "I think we did deserve to win but we will take a point, it keeps us alive.

    "But it's important we use the feeling, the feeling, the fans being happy with us going into Tuesday and try to use it to get a positive result to get out of the group."

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