Atletico Madrid have signed Serbia Under-21 striker Ivan Saponjic from Benfica on a three-year contract.

Neither club disclosed the fee paid for the 21-year-old but the deal is reported to be worth in the region of €8million.

A physically imposing forward, Saponjic will provide an extra attacking option for coach Diego Simeone alongside Diego Costa, Alvaro Morata and record signing Joao Felix, who also arrived from Benfica for €126m.

But while the Portugal international starred in the club's Primeira Liga triumph in the 2018-19 season, Saponjic played for Benfica B after joining from Partizan Belgrade in January 2016 and spent the 2017-18 campaign on loan with Belgian club Zulte Waregem.

He joins fellow new faces Marcos Llorente, Hector Herrera, Felipe, Lodi and Joao Felix at Atletico, with star forward Antoine Griezmann widely expected to complete a €120m switch to Barcelona.

Ousmane Dembele's behaviour at Borussia Dortmund and Barcelona should put Bayern Munich off making a move for the France forward, according Die Roten great Lothar Matthaus.

Recent speculation has left Dembele's future looking uncertain, with Barca seemingly set to sign Antoine Griezmann and rumours over a move for Neymar refuse to go away.

Should either Griezmann or Neymar – or potentially both – come in, Dembele may well find himself further down the pecking order in Ernesto Valverde's squad.

Dembele joined Barca as Neymar's replacement in 2017, though he has struggled with injuries and inconsistent form since his move from Dortmund, who received an initial €105million fee after the player had gone on strike to push through a move.

With Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben – who has since retired – no longer at Bayern, the Bundesliga champions are on the hunt for at least one winger, with Manchester City's Leroy Sane also a target.

Rumours have linked Bayern with a move for Dembele, but Matthaus believes bringing in the 22-year-old – whose attitude has also been called into question during his time at Camp Nou – would be a mistake.

"When I think about the scandals that Dembele caused at Borussia Dortmund and at Barcelona, ​​I see no reason to believe that he would behave differently at Bayern," Matthaus told BILD.

And Matthaus does not believe he is the only one who thinks this way, citing Bayern chief Uli Hoeness' reaction to Dembele's behaviour at Dortmund as another reason to doubt the transfer rumours.

"Uli Hoeness had a clear position against Dembele's strike at Dortmund, and if Bayern pick the player up, they would have a credibility problem," he added.

Dembele scored 14 goals for Barca across all competitions last season.

Luca Zidane expects time away from Real Madrid to aid his development as he embarks upon a season-long loan at Racing Santander.

The 21-year-old goalkeeper made the move on Tuesday after losing sight of a first-team spot under father and head coach Zinedine.

Thibaut Courtois and Keylor Navas are set to battle for a starting berth at the Santiago Bernabeu, while the highly rated Andriy Lunin has returned from a loan spell at Leganes.

Racing will compete in Spain's second tier after winning promotion last season and Zidane thinks venturing outside the capital could kick-start his career.

"I want to grow as a footballer at a historic club," Zidane told reporters.

"I couldn't be happier or more excited about this new chapter I'm starting.

"It's going to be good for me to leave Real Madrid [the club] and Madrid [the city], to get to know a new team and a new place.

"Every day I will seek to improve, to grow, to take steps forward and I think Racing is the best possible place to do that."

Zidane made one senior appearance for Madrid last season, starting in a 3-2 win over Huesca in March.

Tunisia international Aymen Abdennour has terminated his contract at Valencia and signed for Kayserispor in the Turkish Super Lig.

The centre-back made 35 appearances across two underwhelming LaLiga campaigns with Los Che after arriving from Monaco as Nicolas Otamendi's intended replacement in 2015, costing the club a reported €25million.

He was shipped out to Marseille in 2017 but finished a difficult two-season loan spell as part of the Ligue 1 club's reserves side, which competes in the fourth tier of French football.

Valencia confirmed the defender's contract was rescinded to facilitate the move to Turkey.

Barcelona have fended off reported interest from other European heavyweights to sign England youth international Louie Barry.

Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain were rumoured to be eyeing the West Brom forward, along with several Premier League clubs.

But it is Barca who have secured the 16-year-old, who will now be part of the Juvenil A side having signed a three-year contract.

Barry has spent 10 years at West Brom, and made his debut for the Championship club's Under-23 team last season.

Formerly a Republic of Ireland youth international, Barry switched allegiance to England in 2019, making his debut against Brazil in February, going on to score seven goals in nine appearances.

James Rodriguez's potential move to Napoli is being held up by Real Madrid's unreasonable asking price, according to Partenopei president Aurelio De Laurentiis.

LaLiga giants Madrid reportedly want more than €40million for playmaker James, who has spent the past two seasons on loan at Bayern Munich.

Coach Carlo Ancelotti is eager to be reunited with the player he coached in Spain and Germany, but a stalemate in negotiations is said to have alerted Atletico Madrid.

Napoli are remaining calm, with De Laurentiis confident the Colombia international favours a switch to Stadio San Paolo.

"Carlo likes him very much and we're waiting for a more reasonable demand," De Laurentiis told Corriere dello Sport.

"The obstacle is Real Madrid, who are asking for too much in our opinion.

"But James wants to come to Napoli."

Mauro Icardi is one player who will not be joining Ancelotti's side, despite the striker being told he can leave Inter.

De Laurentiis acknowledged he enquired about the Argentina international, but found him to be set on joining Serie A champions Juventus, and the Napoli chief will not entertain a swap deal involving Lorenzo Insigne.

"[Icardi] will always want to go to Juventus," he said.

"Anyway, I prefer Insigne, because we need him, and then we have [Arkadiusz] Milik and [Dries] Mertens.

"We can't ignore Icardi's talent, he's a very strong player, but we've talked about him so much now that he looks older than 26."

Neymar's prospective return to Barcelona from Paris Saint-Germain has been given the seal of approval by Brazil and Blaugrana great Rivaldo.

A PSG exit for the 27-year-old forward looks increasingly likely this close season, two years after his world-record €222million move to the Ligue 1 champions from Barca.

The Brazil international failed to turn up to the first day of pre-season training, while PSG sporting director Leonardo has confirmed Neymar is available for the right price.

And Rivaldo, who spent five seasons at Camp Nou, wants to see his compatriot back at Barca.

"For the moment, the one [Brazilian] that I like the most is Neymar," he said, courtesy of Betfair.

"I [would] like that he returns to Barcelona."

Even without Neymar due to an ankle injury, Brazil managed to win the Copa America on home soil on Sunday thanks to a 3-1 win over Peru.

Asked for the nation's next star, 2002 World Cup winner Rivaldo praised Real Madrid attacker Vinicius Junior.

"We have Vinicius, who is a great player that went to Madrid and has everything that is needed to be a great player," he said.

Barcelona are in no rush in their pursuit of Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar.

Neymar, 27, is set to be fined by the Ligue 1 champions after failing to turn up for the first day of pre-season training.

With sporting director Leonardo confirming the Brazil forward can leave for the right price, Barca think they are in a strong position, and the Catalan giants are ready to play a waiting game.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA IN NO RUSH OVER NEYMAR

Barcelona are prepared to wait and see if PSG blink first over Neymar, according to a report from AS.

Neymar left Camp Nou for PSG in a world-record €222million move two years ago and it has now become clear he wants an exit from Parc des Princes.

In a strong position, Barca are remaining patient in their pursuit of the Brazil star, who has also been linked with their rivals Real Madrid.

Marca also report Barcelona are willing to wait, with PSG's asking price sure to continue dropping as the skilful forward continues to show his desire to leave.

ROUND-UP

- Juventus are ready to give in to Ajax's demands over Matthijs de Ligt. Sport report the Serie A champions are planning to present the star defender on Saturday, having apparently agreed to pay the Eredivisie club €75m for the centre-back.

- Manchester United are increasingly confident about signing Leicester City defender Harry Maguire. The Daily Mail claim the Red Devils are hoping to land the centre-back for £75m, which is short of Leicester's reported £85m valuation.

- West Ham have begun searching for someone to replace Marko Arnautovic, who left for China. The Sun say the Premier League club have been offered the chance to sign free agent Mario Balotelli, while Gianluca Di Marzio reports the Hammers have also shown an interest in Juve forward Gonzalo Higuain.

- Mario Mandzukic could be set for a surprise return to Bayern Munich. Bild report the Juve striker has been discussed as a possible back-up for Robert Lewandowski and another wide option for head coach Niko Kovac.

- Everton continue to be linked with forwards and the Telegraph say the Premier League club expressed an interest in Lille's Nicolas Pepe, who is said to have been a target of rivals Liverpool. Meanwhile, the Sun claim Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa is prepared to talk to the Toffees.

- Newcastle United seem close to finding their replacement for Rafael Benitez. According to the Daily Mail, Sam Allardyce has rejected a return to the club, with Sheffield Wednesday manager Steve Bruce now the favourite.

Lionel Messi deserves to win the Ballon d'Or this year, according to Barcelona and Brazil great Rivaldo.

Messi enjoyed another stellar season for Barca, scoring 51 goals in all competitions as the Spanish giants claimed the LaLiga title.

However, they fell short in the Champions League and lost the Copa del Rey final, while Argentina could only clinch third place at the Copa America.

Despite that, Rivaldo believes Messi should be awarded an outright record sixth Ballon d'Or.

"In my opinion, the Ballon D'Or of this season is Messi for what he has done," the 1999 winner said, courtesy of Betfair.

"He didn't win the Champions League, but because it is an individual prize he scored a lot of goals, important goals."

Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have each won five Ballons d'Or, claiming the prize in every year since 2008 before Luka Modric ended their run in 2018.

Rivaldo hailed the superstar duo for their performances, saying: "They are such great players. I like them both.

"Messi always makes the difference at Barcelona and Ronaldo at every club and the national team – Juventus and Portugal.

"It's going to be thrilling again. When you talk about them it's for something good, they both score so many goals."

Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong played down comparisons to club greats Xavi and Andres Iniesta.

De Jong, 22, was signed by the LaLiga champions from Ajax in January for a reported €75million, but only made the move at the end of the season.

The Netherlands international has already been compared to Xavi and Iniesta, however, De Jong had no interest in discussing any similarities.

"I don't want to be compared with those players," De Jong told Barca TV.

"It's the perfect club for a midfielder. They hold onto the ball well, they control the play, it suits me perfectly."

De Jong joins Barcelona after a fine season with Ajax, winning a domestic double and reaching the Champions League semi-finals.

Barca were also eliminated in the semis, continuing their wait for a first Champions League crown since 2015.

Discussing his goals for 2019-20, De Jong is eager to be a regular starter for Barca – and he wants to help deliver in Europe.

"I want to start most games. All players want that. I'll work as hard as I can in training to show what I can do in games," he said.

"I like to play attacking football, for it to be attractive and for people to have fun when they come to the stadium.

"Both me and Barca are really keen to win the Champions League this year and I hope that's what happens."

Eder Militao vowed to give his all to make history with Real Madrid following his arrival from Porto.

Madrid confirmed in March an agreement was in place to sign Militao after reportedly triggering his €50million release clause.

And following the conclusion of his Copa America commitments with tournament hosts and champions Brazil, the 21-year-old was presented to the media on Wednesday.

Militao, who made one substitute appearance in Brazil, said joining Los Blancos has always been his dream.

"I'm very happy to play for the best club in the world," the youngster said at a news conference that was cut short after he complained of feeling dizzy.

"Since I was a kid I wanted to play for the biggest club in the world and I want to thank the president and all the Madrid fans for their confidence.

"They can rest assured that I will give everything for this jersey. I hope to have a great season here and make history with this club."

Capable of playing at centre-back or right-back, Militao is expected to immediately challenge for a regular spot in Madrid's back four.

"I am a versatile player, who always plays for the love of what he does," he said. "I do not like to lose and I always expect the most from myself. I am very competitive and very competent.

"I think it's going to be a very good fight [for a starting place]. I've come to do my job - it will not be easy, but I'm going to listen to what the coach says."

Militao was the first signing of head coach Zinedine Zidane's second spell and he has since been joined in making the switch to the Spanish capital by Eden Hazard, Luka Jovic and Ferland Mendy.

Madrid president Florentino Perez welcomed the youngster's arrival and described him as one of the best defenders around after seeing off competition from rival clubs.

"Winning is part of this club's DNA and nobody surrenders here," he told reporters. "Today is an important day for us as we welcome one of the great defenders in world football.

"He arrives at just 21, he's adapted quickly to European football and for five months he was part of the best defensive set-up in Portuguese football with Porto.

"His courage and attitude will help him to succeed, as will the millions of fans we have around the world.

"Now you [Militao] will face the biggest challenge of your entire professional career. You arrive at Real Madrid because you have chosen this club ahead of all the big clubs that wanted to have you in their ranks. 

"Here you will demonstrate everything you have shown. Your courage and your love for this badge will help you succeed. And our supporters from all over the world will also help you."

Eder Militao's first press conference as a Real Madrid player was cut short after the defender complained of feeling faint.

The 21-year-old was unveiled as Madrid's latest close-season arrival at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday, fresh on the back of helping Brazil win the Copa America on home soil.

But the presentation came to an abrupt finish as Militao left the presidential box when asked about international team-mate Neymar's future.

"I'm feeling dizzy. This is quite an emotional day for me," he told reporters as he took a sip of water and got up from his seat.

Madrid triggered the reported €50million release clause in Militao's Porto contract in March to make him the first signing of Zinedine Zidane's second spell in charge at the Bernabeu.

Romelu Lukaku is on the other side of the globe and his future is still up in the air.

In Australia for Manchester United's pre-season tour, Lukaku remains a Red Devils player but he is reportedly keen to leave Old Trafford.

Linked to Inter, this could drag on for a while…

 

TOP STORY – INTER STEP UP LUKAKU CHASE

Inter will travel to England to try to complete a transfer for Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku, Sky Sports reports.

With Ole Gunnar Solskjaer preferring Marcus Rashford up front, €80million-rated Lukaku wants to leave and Inter have emerged as frontrunners to sign the 26-year-old.

Serie A champions Juventus are also reportedly interested but Inter head coach Antonio Conte, who missed out on signing Lukaku during his time as Chelsea boss in 2017, is desperate to bring him to Milan.

 

ROUND-UP

Paris Saint-Germain are willing to part with Neymar for €150m, according to El Pais. Neymar – linked with a return to Camp Nou and Real Madrid – arrived from Barcelona in a world-record €222m transfer in 2017.

Paul Pogba wants to leave Manchester United amid doubts over Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's ability to deliver silverware at Old Trafford, according to The Sun. Pogba has been linked to Real Madrid and Juventus.

- According to the front page of Corriere dello Sport, Napoli are stepping up their pursuit of Valencia forward Rodrigo. The 28-year-old is valued at €70m by the LaLiga club. Meanwhile, Sport Mediaset reports Napoli are poised to sign Eljif Elmas with the Fenerbahce midfielder set to undergo a medical.

- The Suns says Arsenal are planning to hijack Premier League rivals Everton's move for Barcelona winger Malcom. The Brazilian, who struggled to establish himself at Camp Nou last season, has emerged as a target for the Gunners – who look to have moved on from pursuing Crystal Palace star Wilfried Zaha.

Roma have met with the agent of Real Madrid forward Mariano Diaz, according to Gianluca Di Marzio. Mariano only returned to the Santiago Bernabeu last season, having left for Lyon in 2017.

- According to Gianluca Di Marzio, Leicester City have entered the race to sign Arsenal and Valencia target Dennis Praet from Sampdoria.

Atletico Madrid striker and former Chelsea star Diego Costa has an agreement with Wolves, reports Globo Esporte.

Napoli head coach Carlo Ancelotti is hopeful James Rodriguez will sign for the Serie A club.

James has emerged as a transfer target for Napoli, who want to reunite the Colombia star with former Real Madrid and Bayern Munich boss Ancelotti.

The 27-year-old's future is uncertain after Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich opted not to take up a permanent transfer following a two-year loan deal from Madrid.

Amid ongoing speculation over James, Ancelotti told reporters: "I don't know if he'll come, but we hope so.

"I know him very well, he can play in all the midfield positions. I used him as a left winger, as a number 10 and or even on the right.

"His position on the pitch isn't a problem. He's adaptable, he can play in many positions.

"As for the number 10 shirt, the important thing is that he puts on the Azzurri jersey. His number isn't important. However, he needs time and patience."

Napoli are reportedly interested in taking James on loan, though Madrid want a permanent sale and €42million as they look to raise funds amid a busy transfer window.

While Napoli are favourites to sign James, LaLiga's Atletico Madrid are believed to be monitoring the situation.

Luca Zidane has completed a loan switch from Real Madrid to Racing Santander for the duration of the 2019-20 campaign.

The 21-year-old featured once for Madrid at first-team level last season after being handed a surprise start by his father Zinedine Zidane for the 3-2 win over Huesca in March.

He is far down the goalkeeping pecking order at the Santiago Bernabeu, with Thibaut Courtois, Keylor Navas and Andriy Lunin - back from his loan spell with Leganes - all in front of him.

Following Zidane's loan exit to Segunda Division side Racing, it has been reported Navas could follow him out the door in a potential move to Paris Saint-Germain.

That would leave highly-rated Ukrainian keeper Lunin to provide back-up for Courtois, who joined from Chelsea last August.

As well as featuring once for the first team, Zidane appeared 30 times for Castilla in 2018-19.

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