Paolo Maldini insists AC Milan did not make an offer for Luka Modric this close season, although he admits the Real Madrid man would be "perfect" at San Siro.

Modric is expected to stay at Madrid, where he has been since 2012, but the 33-year-old was linked with moves to Inter last year and rivals Milan in recent months.

Maldini, acknowleding the midfielder's blend of experience and talent, says there was never any negotiation for the 2018 Ballon d'Or winner.

"We never negotiated for Modric, but we've said to [coach Marco] Giampaolo this club are looking for good young players and some experienced ones," Rossoneri technical director Maldini told a news conference.

"The growth of young players takes place through the presence of experienced players. Modric would be perfect here, but we've never negotiated for him."

Maldini was speaking alongside Rade Krunic and Theo Hernandez as they were presented as Milan players on Friday.

Hernandez, a left-back just as Maldini was in his playing days, was delighted to have joined Milan.

"It is a real honour to be sitting next to [Maldini]," Hernandez said. "He will always be the best full-back in the world.

"We met in Ibiza, where he had some very beautiful and sincere words for me. Since then, I have had the desire to join Milan. I trained hard to succeed and in the end I did it."

Midfielder Alberto Soro will join Real Madrid imminently, according to Real Zaragoza president Christian Lapetra.

It has been reported Soro will sign for Madrid in a €2.5million deal that could rise to around €5m, before returning to Zaragoza on loan.

Lapetra said on Friday he expected the transfer to be formally announced "in a matter of hours".

"As president, I have to sign off on the sale and I want to announce Soro will join Real Madrid in a matter of hours," he said, as reported by AS.

"All that remains is to sign a deal that is already done."

The 20-year-old made 29 appearances in a breakout season in the Segunda Division last term, scoring twice.

Alvaro Gonzalez has become Andre Villas-Boas' first signing at Marseille after joining on an initial one-season loan from LaLiga side Villarreal.

The agreement includes an option for Marseille to purchase the Spanish centre-back on a permanent basis.

It is the first time the 29-year-old has played outside his homeland and he will be tasked with shoring up a defence that shipped 52 goals in Ligue 1 last season.

His arrival comes as a welcome boost for ex-Chelsea boss Villas-Boas, who has endured a difficult few weeks since replacing Rudi Garcia.

Marseille lost 2-1 to Accrington Stanley in a friendly in Manchester and were then routed 4-0 by Rangers at Ibrox.

Star striker Mario Balotelli left the club on a free transfer at the end of last term.

Victor Valdes has returned to Barcelona to become head coach of the club's premier under-19 side.

The homegrown Blaugrana great and retired goalkeeper replaces Denis Silva on an initial one-year deal, which Barcelona announced includes an option for a second season.

Valdes, 37, made 539 competitive appearances for the LaLiga giants after debuting in 2002.

He left the club after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament in 2014 and went on to have brief spells at Manchester United, Standard Liege and Middlesbrough, before moving into coaching at Madrid-based Moratalaz last season.

Valdes, who also won 20 caps for Spain, is scheduled to begin pre-season work with his new side on July 29, ahead of a friendly against Ajax's youth team on August 27.

Barca boast a proud history of appointing former players to coaching positions – Pep Guardiola, Luis Enrique and incumbent Ernesto Valverde are among those to have won trophies after returning to lead the first team in recent times.

Maybe Juventus are not ready to give up on signing Manchester United star Paul Pogba just yet.

Pogba, 26, has been linked with a return to Turin and a move to Real Madrid as he looks for an Old Trafford exit.

But, just as it looked like Juve were struggling and Madrid was the midfielder's most likely destination, that may have changed.

 

TOP STORY – JUVE TO OFFER THREE PLAYERS IN MOVE FOR POGBA

Juventus could offer a fee plus three players in their move for Manchester United star Pogba, according to Corriere dello Sport.

Full-back Joao Cancelo, attacker Douglas Costa and midfielder Blaise Matuidi are the players mentioned for potential moves in the report.

Meanwhile, ESPN FC report Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has told coach Zinedine Zidane that it will be very difficult to sign Pogba this close season.

 

ROUND-UP

- Barcelona are still trying to find a way to bring Neymar back to Camp Nou from Paris Saint-Germain. According to Sky Germany, Barca are offering €100million plus two players, having given PSG a list of six that includes Philippe Coutinho, Ousmane Dembele, Ivan Rakitic, Nelson Semedo and Malcom. That is up from the earlier offer of €40m plus two players. According to Sport, Barca have made Coutinho and Rakitic priorities to be sold.

- After being linked to Bayern Munich, Callum Hudson-Odoi is set to re-sign with Chelsea. The Daily Mail report the 18-year-old England international will sign a five-year deal worth more than £100,000 per week to stay at Stamford Bridge.

- Giovani Lo Celso apparently wants to join Tottenham, but Spurs are unwilling to meet Real Betis' £60m (€66.8m) asking price, according to The Sun, who say Erik Lamela could be added into a deal. Danny Rose could also reportedly leave Spurs and Sky Sports say PSG are interested in the left-back.

- Arsenal have beaten their north London rivals to the signing of Saint-Etienne defender William Saliba, according to ESPN FC. Arsenal will complete the signing of Saliba for £26.9m (€30m) and loan him back to the Ligue 1 club despite late interest from Spurs, the report says.

- Another reported Arsenal target, Wilfried Zaha, has told Crystal Palace he wants to leave, according to The Sun. Arsenal have reportedly had a £40m bid for the attacker rejected.

- Bayern Munich are ready to meet Celta Vigo midfielder Brais Mendez's €25m release clause, according to Kicker. Mendez, 22, was handed a Spain debut late last year and scored six goals while providing seven assists for Celta in LaLiga in 2018-19.

Barcelona have loaned Marc Cucurella to Getafe only two days after signing him back from Eibar.

Cucurella caught the eye in his loan spell with Eibar last season and scored in a 2-2 LaLiga draw with Barca in May.

Eibar took up the option to sign him for €2million but Barca inserted a €4m buy-back clause in that deal, which they activated on Tuesday.

Cucurella, who can play as a full-back and a winger, had been linked with Sevilla, Real Betis and Bundesliga clubs Eintracht Frankfurt and Borussia Monchengladbach.

But he will be playing his football for Getafe in 2019-20 after they agreed a temporary deal with the option to make it a permanent one.

Cucurella made 31 LaLiga appearances for Eibar last term, scoring once.

Atletico Madrid's close-season spending spree has continued with the €29million acquisition of Spain defender Mario Hermoso from Espanyol.

The 24-year-old centre-back has cost Atletico €25m upfront despite having just 12 months left on his Espanyol contract, with Hermoso signing an five-year deal at the Wanda Metropolitano.

A Real Madrid academy product, Hermoso only made his top-flight debut in the 2017-18 campaign but has since enjoyed a rapid rise.

Hermoso particularly impressed last term as Espanyol - who have a 20 per cent sell-on clause - finished seventh in LaLiga, earning his first Spain cap last November.

With Atletico seeing Diego Godin, Lucas Hernandez, Filipe Luis and Juanfran all depart at the end of last season, Hermoso had long been suggested as a likely arrival.

But Espanyol's apparent initial reluctance to reduce their asking price from the reported €40m release clause in his contract meant negotiations dragged on.

An agreement has been found, though, and Hermoso is the latest defender to join Atletico after Felipe, Renan Lodi and Kieran Trippier, who arrived a day earlier.

Hermoso takes Atletico's reported expenditure to €248m with Marcos Llorente, Joao Felix, Hector Herrera, Nicolas Ibanez and Ivan Saponjic also new to the club, although they recouped €120m from Antoine Griezmann's controversial departure to Barcelona.

Kieran Trippier says he had no hesitation about leaving Tottenham for Atletico Madrid because of his long-held ambition to play abroad.

The right-back signed a three-year contract in the Spanish capital on Wednesday, bringing an end to his four-season stint at Spurs.

Serie A side Napoli expressed interest before Atleti swooped on their replacement for Juanfran, who left the club on a free transfer at the end of June.

Trippier, 28, has the chance to rediscover the form that eluded him last season as he forges a place in Diego Simeone's notoriously mean defence.

"The Premier League is one of the best leagues in the world, but I didn't think twice when Atletico were interested," Trippier said at Thursday's presentation.

"It's a great opportunity to come and live in Madrid. Not many British players come abroad, but I always wanted to play abroad, especially in LaLiga, since I was young.

"I'm looking forward to learning the language straight away, which is my first priority. The quicker I can do that, communicate with my coach and team-mates, the better.

"I want to enjoy playing for Atletico and living in Madrid."

Trippier greeted the local media moments after Atletico sealed the signing of another defender, centre-back Mario Hermoso.

The Spain international, formerly of rivals Real Madrid, arrives from Espanyol in a €29million deal.

If starting his career across town does not attach enough pressure, Hermoso also has the unenviable task of trying to plug the gap left by Diego Godin's departure for Inter.

"It's a beautiful, important challenge," the 24-year-old said.

"Diego has been a symbol for the club. What better way to continue making history. I hope to continue that line."

Where will Neymar be playing in 2019-20? It is the €222million question.

After joining Paris Saint-Germain for a world-record fee in 2017, Neymar wants to leave the Ligue 1 champions.

Only a select few of Europe's elite can afford the Brazil superstar. Could a sensational move to Turin be on the cards?

 

TOP STORY – NEYMAR SR TO TALK TO JUVE

Neymar could team up with Cristiano Ronaldo at Serie A champions Juventus.

That is according to Rai Sport following a report claiming Neymar's father will meet Juve sporting director Fabio Paratici in Turin.

Neymar wants to leave Paris Saint-Germain following his world-record €222m transfer in 2017 and the Brazil international has been linked with a return to Barcelona and LaLiga giants Real Madrid.

 

ROUND-UP

- The future of Luka Modric is once again in the spotlight, but the Real Madrid star is reluctant to leave, according to Marca amid interest from AC Milan. The speculation comes as the Rossoneri also look to bolster their defence. Gianluca Di Marzio says Milan are keen on signing €40m-rated Merih Demiral from Juventus, while Tuttosport reports the Italian giants have turned to Manchester United's Eric Bailly after being put off by Liverpool's valuation of Dejan Lovren.

- With Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben no longer around, Bayern Munich are desperate to reinforce their wide areas but the Independent claims the Bundesliga champions have given up on signing Callum Hudson-Odoi from Chelsea.

- Lyon captain Nabil Fekir is attracting a lot of interest from LaLiga and Valencia are now in pole position to sign the France international, according to Le10Sport. Diario Sport says Barcelona's Rafinha Alcantara is also hopeful of joining Valencia.

- According to Marca, Barcelona are ready to sell Arsenal and Tottenham target Malcom for £55m (€60.9m). Everton and Paris Saint-Germain are also reportedly interested in Malcom, who only arrived from Bordeaux in 2018-19.

- CalcioMercato claims Premier League giants Manchester United have entered the race to sign Roma sensation Nicolo Zaniolo. The 20-year-old has reportedly been involved in a tug-of-war between Tottenham and Juventus.

Inter are edging closer to Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku, who sat out Wednesday's friendly win over Leeds United in Australia. However, Corriere dello Sport also says Paris Saint-Germain's Edinson Cavani is an alternative for the Serie A side.

Kieran Trippier is delighted at the prospect of working under Diego Simeone after completing his move to Atletico Madrid.

England international Trippier officially joined LaLiga giants Atleti from Tottenham on Wednesday, signing a three-year contract in a deal reportedly worth €22million (£20m).

Trippier impressed in England's charge to the World Cup semi-finals at Russia 2018, but struggled to recapture that form for Spurs last term.

Serie A side Napoli expressed firm interest despite the 28-year-old slipping out of the England squad, while Juventus and Manchester United were also linked, but it is Atleti who secured the right-back.

And it would seem having the opportunity to work with Simeone was a major factor in Trippier's move to Madrid.

"It's an amazing feeling. I've always wanted to play abroad and what a place to play," Trippier told Atleti's official website.

"A fantastic team, an unbelievable manager and I'm just looking forward to getting on with it now.

"They've been to some major finals, they've done so well in LaLiga over the years. They have world class players and a brilliant manager.

"I can't wait to work with the manager, learn from the manager and help the team be a success in the future. You can see how close he is with his squad."

Trippier made 38 appearances across all competitions for Tottenham in 2018-19, scoring one goal.

Ernesto Valverde is expecting a swift impact from €224million trio Antoine Griezmann, Frenkie de Jong and Neto at Barcelona.

France star Griezmann became the LaLiga champions' third major signing of the close-season last Friday, after Barca paid his €120m release clause at Atletico Madrid.

De Jong had agreed to a move to Camp Nou in January for an initial fee of €75m, having been courted by a number of Europe's top sides due to some standout displays for Champions League semi-finalists Ajax.

Goalkeeper Neto was signed in June for €29m, with a further €9m to be paid in add-ons, as Jasper Cillessen went the other way to Valencia for €35m in total.

Such an expensive outlay has led to big expectations for Griezmann and De Jong in particular, and Barca boss Valverde hopes to see them hit the ground running.

"They are three important signings," he told Barca TV. "Of course, we expect a lot out of them, they have our fans excited and what we want them to do is get into the team dynamic and perform to their levels.

"[De Jong] has last year and in recent years been playing at a high level, as did his whole team. We hope he can give us some fresh energy in midfield, which can only be good for us. We're building for the future and he has years ahead of him. He's a quality player. He has a little bit of our playing style in him.

"[Griezmann] is a player who fills spaces quickly and is decisive near goal and we know how much a player like that is worth and what he gives you in return. We have high hopes for him because he is young but with experience and that leads us to expect him to perform right away.

"Neto is an experienced player too, an insurance policy in goal, and we think he is an ideal complement to Marc-Andre ter Stegen."

Valverde accepts the pressure is on Barca to challenge on all fronts once more, with last term's league title win overshadowed by a Copa del Rey final loss to Valencia and a humiliating Champions League semi-final exit to Liverpool.

"We have challenges, just like any other year, and we also have the demand of having to win everything, to win all the time, to get our fans excited," he said.

"There is nothing else for Barca except trying to win every competition we take part in, to win all our games and stay faithful to our style."

Kieran Trippier has joined Atletico Madrid on a three-year contract after leaving Tottenham in a deal reportedly worth €22million (£22m).

The England international heads to Spain in the hope of reinvigorating his career, which stagnated in the aftermath of the World Cup in 2018.

Right-back Trippier exceeded expectations in Russia, scoring the opening goal in the semi-final defeat to Croatia, but lost form on his return to Tottenham.

Serie A side Napoli expressed firm interest despite the 28-year-old slipping out of the England squad, while Juventus and Manchester United were also linked.

Atleti ultimately outlasted their competitors to secure a direct replacement for the long-serving Juanfran, who left on a free at the end of June.

Santiago Arias and the injured Sime Vrsaljko are the other right-backs on the free-spending LaLiga club's books.

Trippier's departure leaves Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino to choose from Serge Aurier, Kyle Walker-Peters and Juan Foyth on the right side of defence.

The departing Trippier made 69 Premier League appearances for the north London outfit after arriving from Burnley in 2015.

Tottenham also look set to sell Trippier's England team-mate Danny Rose, who has been left out of their squad for their Asia tour to "explore prospective opportunities with other clubs."

Kieran Trippier has joined Atletico Madrid on a three-year contract after leaving Tottenham in a deal reportedly worth €22million (£22m).

The England international heads to Spain in the hope of reinvigorating his career, which stagnated in the aftermath of the World Cup in 2018.

Right-back Trippier exceeded expectations in Russia, scoring the opening goal in the semi-final defeat to Croatia, but lost form on his return to Tottenham.

Serie A side Napoli expressed firm interest despite the 28-year-old slipping out of the England squad, while Juventus and Manchester United were also linked.

Atleti ultimately outlasted their competitors to secure a direct replacement for the long-serving Juanfran, who left on a free at the end of June.

Santiago Arias and the injured Sime Vrsaljko are the other right-backs on the free-spending LaLiga club's books.

Trippier's departure leaves Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino to choose from Serge Aurier, Kyle Walker-Peters and Juan Foyth on the right side of defence.

Barcelona are making moves to bring Neymar back to Camp Nou, but they have work to do.

Neymar, 27, is set to leave Paris Saint-Germain this close season, having told the Ligue 1 champions of his desire for a Parc des Princes exit.

It comes just two years after his world-record €222million move from Barcelona, who are taking steps to bring the Brazil star back.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA OFFER COUTINHO, RAKITIC PLUS €40M FOR NEYMAR

Barcelona have verbally offered Philippe Coutinho and Ivan Rakitic, plus €40m, to PSG for Neymar, according to L'Equipe.

The report says PSG are standing firm over Neymar, having paid €222m for the superstar forward two years ago.

There have been contrasting reports about Barca's offer, with others saying it was Ousmane Dembele, not Rakitic, included as part of the deal.

ROUND-UP

- Romelu Lukaku's possible switch from Manchester United to Inter has moved slowly, but the Serie A outfit could be getting closer. According to The Sun, Inter will tell United they will meet their €83m (£75m) asking price if the deal includes bonus payments.

- Atletico Madrid are well and truly rebuilding and their latest addition looks set to be Kieran Trippier. AS say the Tottenham right-back could soon complete a €30m (£27.1m) move to Atletico, while Spurs have enquired about Angel Correa in a potential deal.

- Arsenal have had a quiet close season, but they are still chasing Real Madrid midfielder Dani Ceballos. According to AS, Ceballos is set to join the Premier League outfit on a one-season loan deal.

- Daniele De Rossi was apparently contemplating retirement, but the Roma great could instead be set for a surprise move. Sky Sport say De Rossi is set to accept a short-term deal with Boca Juniors.

- Napoli are struggling to agree a deal with Real Madrid for James Rodriguez and they may turn their attentions to Nicolas Pepe. The Lille forward has been linked with numerous clubs this close season and Gianluca Di Marzio reports Napoli could move for the Ivory Coast international.

- Barcelona are extremely interested in signing Real Betis left-back Junior Firpo, according to Marca. The Spain youth international has reportedly been a target for Liverpool and Manchester United, but Barca are looking at negotiating with Betis over a €50m release clause.

Atletico Madrid president Enrique Cerezo denied James Rodriguez is poised to join the LaLiga side, adding there have not been negotiations for the Real Madrid midfielder.

Tipped to move to Napoli throughout the off-season, Atletico have reportedly emerged as the favourites to sign James as the Italian outfit and Madrid struggle to reach an agreement.

James is set to leave Madrid following a two-year loan spell at Bayern Munich, who opted not to make the deal permanent at the end of 2018-19.

Asked about Colombia star James, Cerezo told reporters: "Atletico are interested in great players and James is a great player, but from that to he's going to come, there's some distance.

"Negotiations? Not that I know of, no."

Atletico have been busy in the transfer market, breaking a club record to sign Portuguese sensation Joao Felix, while also adding Marcos Llorente, Hector Herrera, Felipe, Renan Lodi and Ivan Saponjic following the departures of stars like Antoine Griezmann, Rodri, Lucas Hernandez and Diego Godin.

Diego Simeone's transfer business is far from over, however, with Tottenham right-back Kieran Trippier and Espanyol defender Mario Hermoso reportedly close to moving to the Spanish capital.

"We've had a few signings and are in negotiations for a few more," Cerezo said. "Negotiations can end well or badly, but there are negotiations.

"Everything's going well, the team is training well, blending in well and very happy at Los Angeles de San Rafael. Now we're waiting for next season with a month left to go."

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