David de Gea would be keen to become Manchester United captain in future as he reportedly closes in on a new contract.

The 28-year-old is said to be on the verge of signing a new six-year deal that will see him become the highest-paid goalkeeper in the world.

Boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is yet to name a permanent captain following the departure of former skipper Antonio Valencia at the end of last season.

De Gea, who has spent eight years at Old Trafford, has put himself forward as a candidate for the role.

"I've been captain for some games," he said. "Of course, it is amazing to be captain of a club like Manchester United and defend this badge. It's amazing, so of course I'll be really, really happy to [be] captain."

De Gea has been one of United's standout performers during the difficult years following Alex Ferguson's retirement in 2013, the last time they won the Premier League.

He has been named the club's player of the season on four occasions and has been in the PFA Team of the Year five times.

However, some high-profile mistakes undermined his personal contribution to a difficult season in 2018-19, in which United finished sixth in the league and failed to win a trophy, and De Gea admits there is much work to be done to take the team back to where they believe they belong.

"We have to improve a lot. We are Manchester United; we need to fight for trophies," he said.

Sporting CP president Frederico Varandas says reported Manchester United target Bruno Fernandes will cost more than €62million.

The midfielder has been heavily linked with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side, with Ander Herrera having joined Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer and Paul Pogba's future far from certain.

However, Sporting appear determined not to allow the Portugal international to leave on the cheap.

"I don't know if there are a lot of people interested," Varandas told RTP.

"A lot has been said about values, 55million, 62million... for these values, it's not certain [he leaves].

"If Bruno Fernandes leaves, other quality players will come in."

Varandas also confirmed Sporting have not yet received any concrete offers for Fernandes, who scored 20 goals in 33 league appearances last season.

United were linked with Sean Longstaff but are said to have been put off by Newcastle United's £50m valuation.

The Red Devils have spent approximately £65m to sign Daniel James and Aaron Wan-Bissaka in the close season and are rumoured to be close to a deal to bring in Harry Maguire from Leicester City.

Former Arsenal goalkeeper Jens Lehmann believes the Gunners are in danger of losing their identity, saying "no-one knows which direction it is supposed to be going".

The Gunners finished fifth in the Premier League last season, meaning they will play in the Europa League for the third consecutive campaign.

Arsenal have only signed teenage Brazilian forward Gabriel Martinelli so far during the close season, while fan groups have joined together to call for major shareholder, Stan Kroenke, to reinvigorate the Gunners following what they see as a decade of decline.

Lehmann, who played for the Gunners between 2003 and 2008 before returning for a short spell in 2011, agrees with the fans' view and has accused the team of drifting.

"The club is certainly in a situation right now where no-one knows the direction in which it is supposed to be going," he said.

Lehmann believes Unai Emery has an impressive squad at his disposal but says they need to win a trophy soon in order to get back on track.

"All the guys playing for Arsenal are good, but they need to win something," he added.

"They were in the Europa League final last season and lost [to Chelsea]. Obviously, it would have been good if they had won it.

"The finish to the Premier League season was disappointing, as well. They had the chance to secure fourth or even third, but they didn't."

Arsenal have started their pre-season campaign in good form, registering wins against Colorado Rapids, Bayern Munich and Fiorentina.

Chelsea have sent Ethan Ampadu on a season-long loan to RB Leipzig.

Wales international Ampadu joined Chelsea from Exeter City in 2017 and made his first-team debut in the EFL Cup tie with Nottingham Forest that September.

However, the versatile centre-back made just five appearances in 2018-19 and was left out of the Blues' squad for their tour to Japan, with new coach Frank Lampard confirming the player was set to leave on loan.

Sporting director Markus Krosche revealed Ampadu turned down offers to remain in England, with the 18-year-old seeing Leipzig as the ideal place to continue his development.

"I am very happy to be at RB Leipzig and start the season with the team. I want to get to know the team as quickly as possible and integrate myself," said Ampadu in a statement.

"I've been following the club in recent years and saw how fantastic young players have come to develop here and the potential there is in the club. This is the perfect step for me."

Krosche said: "We are very pleased to have signed Ethan Ampadu on a one-year loan. He is only 18 and already has international experience and can play in both defence and defensive midfield.

"Despite many offers from England, Ethan decided to join us, and now we have another top talent in our ranks that is versatile enough to give our squad even more variation."

Wolves and Rangers have learned their potential opponents in the Europa League third qualifying round.

Wolves qualified for continental competition for the first time since 1980 by finishing seventh in the Premier League and will take on either Pyunik or Jablonec if they get through a tie against Crusaders.

Should Rangers overcome Progres Niederkorn, their reward will be a meeting with Danish outfit Midtjylland.

Eintracht Frankfurt, semi-finalists in 2018-19, face Flora Tallinn in the second qualifying round and if they triumph can look forward to a meeting with either Fehervar or Vaduz.

Aberdeen will take on Rijeka if they defeat Chikhura Sachkere, while the victor of Torino's tie against Debrecen was pitted against Shakhtyor Soligorsk or Esbjerg.

Gareth Bale's long goodbye to Real Madrid is edging closer after head coach Zinedine Zidane confirmed the club is actively working to sell the Wales international.

A move to either Paris Saint-Germain or the Chinese Super League looks most likely for a player who cut a frustrated figure for the majority of the 2018-19 season.

Bale is poised to be forced out at the behest of Zidane and there are a host of significant players across Europe who have yet to negotiate an exit despite expressing a desire to move on.

Here, we look at the players who are stuck in limbo with the start of the 2019-20 season just weeks away.

 

Neymar

Neymar has not publicly stated he wants to leave the Ligue 1 champions but the club's sporting director, Leonardo, has said he can move on if the price is right.

The Brazilian superstar has yet to feature for PSG so far during pre-season and was again absent as Thomas Tuchel's side laboured to a 1-1 draw with Nurnberg on Saturday.

A possible swap deal involving Bale could be a possibility, although a move back to his former club Barcelona looks more likely. Will the Catalan giants stump up the money, though, and end the impasse?

Romelu Lukaku

Lukaku joined United from Everton in a £75million deal in 2017, scoring 28 goals in 66 Premier League games since then, but his performances have been much maligned.

He fell out of favour towards the end of last season and has been heavily linked with a switch to Inter as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer shakes up his United squad ahead of the new campaign.

The two clubs appear to be some way apart in their valuation of the Belgium international – who has yet to feature in pre-season – and, for now, he remains a United player.

Philippe Coutinho

Things have not gone according to plan at Barcelona for Coutinho following his January 2018 move from Liverpool, with the Brazilian admitting last month he does not know what his future holds.

Coutinho only managed five LaLiga goals in 34 appearances as Barca retained their crown in 2018-19, with 12 of his league outings coming from the bench.

With Antoine Griezmann now on board at Camp Nou, Coutinho's playing time is likely to be reduced even further and a move might suit both parties.

Paul Pogba

The French World Cup winner hinted at being unsettled at Manchester United last month, telling reporters he was interested in a new challenge three years after returning to Old Trafford from Juventus.

His agent, Mino Raiola, doubled down on that recently, telling The Times: "Everyone within the club, from the manager to the owner, knows Paul's wishes."

A move back to Juve has been mooted for the 26-year-old, while Real Madrid and Barcelona are also rumoured to be interested in the playmaker. United are standing firm, though, and it is looking increasingly likely that he will spend at least another season in the Premier League.

Mauro Icardi

Icardi endured a controversial 2018-19 campaign with Inter, the Argentina international stripped of the captaincy amid conflicting views of an apparent knee injury and internal disagreements with the club's hierarchy.

The club's chief executive, Giuseppe Marotta, recently told the striker he was no longer wanted and both parties mutually agreed he would withdraw from their pre-season tour of Asia.

That has not hastened his departure from the club, though, with potential suitors perhaps wary of signing a player who will bring plenty of baggage.

Christian Eriksen 

The Denmark international stunned Tottenham supporters last month when he declared he wanted to "try something new".

Eriksen arrived from Eredivisie giants Ajax in 2013 and the 27-year-old has established himself as one of the Premier League and Europe's best midfielders.

Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid have been linked with the playmaker but no firm offers appear to have been tabled yet.

Toby Alderweireld says he expects to start the 2019-20 season as a Tottenham player.

The Belgium international has been linked with a move away from the club during the close season, with Roma reportedly interested in signing the 30-year-old.

Alderweireld, who captained Spurs in their 3-2 International Champions Cup win over Juventus on Sunday, insists he is not looking to leave and is fully focused on the forthcoming Premier League campaign.

"I've always said that I'm focused on Spurs and trying to deliver the job that I need to do," he told reporters after the game in Singapore, which was won courtesy of Harry Kane's spectacular stoppage-time strike from the halfway line.

When asked if he expects to be a Spurs player for the start of the season, he replied: "Yes, that's my focus."

Alderweireld was an integral part of Tottenham's squad last season, making 34 Premier League appearances and featuring 12 times in their run to the Champions League final, where they were ultimately beaten by Liverpool.

He admits that things can change quickly in football but believes manager Maurucio Pochettino is in no doubt about his commitment to the club.

"In football, everything can go quickly but my focus is on Spurs and to be ready for the start of the season," he added.

"The manager knows that I'm committed to the team and to the club. I was made captain, which shows the manager's trust in me."

Paul Pogba is a positive influence on his Manchester United team-mates and should remain at the club, says Juan Mata.

World Cup winner Pogba announced his desire for a "new challenge somewhere else" in June and has been heavily linked with a transfer to former club Juventus and Real Madrid.

The Frenchman has struggled to live up to expectations since arriving at Old Trafford from Juve in August 2016 for £89million, then a world-record fee.

Pogba was still included in United's squad for their pre-season tour to Australia and Asia, with manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hopeful of retaining his services.

Mata also wants Pogba to stay put and help unify the team.

"We all know Paul and he is a fantastic midfielder, and a very good guy, very positive, and a good influence for everyone," said Mata.

"I think he is happy and brings everyone together, but I cannot speak for other people - I speak for myself.

"As a team-mate and a friend I would like him to stay and be happy because he is a very good player for us."

David de Gea looks set to continue his career at United, as he is reportedly ready to sign a six-year contract extension.

"David is the best goalkeeper in the world and one of my best friends so I want him to stay," said Mata.

"On a professional level, it would be great if he stays because he will give us many points over the next season, so I'm very happy if he stays."

Neymar and Gareth Bale have been locked in something of a transfer impasse in recent weeks - but it appears there could be a solution.

According to the Independent, Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar's representatives are trying to push through a deal that would see the Brazil star move to the Santiago Bernabeu, with Bale and money moving the other way.

Manchester United are not thought to be interested in either player, but their pursuit of Harry Maguire may, at last, be coming to an end.

 

TOP STORY - NEYMAR AND BALE PROPOSED IN SWAP DEAL

Neymar is said to be "desperate" to leave Paris Saint-Germain and ideally return to Spain, but his options have so far seemed limited, with Barcelona and Real Madrid either unable or unwilling to stump up for the transfer.

Meanwhile, Gareth Bale has been told by head coach Zinedine Zidane that it would be best for him to leave, but suitors appear hard to come by for the Wales international.

The Independent claims this has prompted some of Neymar's camp to explore the prospect of the forward joining Madrid in a deal involving money and Bale heading to PSG.

The idea is that it would solve some of the concerns around transfer fees that have stalled moves for each player and allow the two teams to sign ready-made stars to replace the ones they are losing.

ROUND-UP:

Manchester United's chase for a centre-back could nearly be over, with the Independent claiming a deal to sign Harry Maguire from Leicester City is "imminent".

Manchester City could yet intervene but, according to the Sun, they would have to sell Nicolas Otamendi or Eliaquim Mangala to afford England international Maguire.

- If Bale does not become part of a Neymar swap deal, he could end up in China – the Mirror claim he has been offered a contract worth £1million per week to join Beijing Guoan.

- Having agreed personal terms, Andre Silva is close to moving to Monaco, which would free up AC Milan to sign Atletico Madrid's Angel Correa, both Sky Sport Italia and Sport Mediaset claim.

Napoli have been chasing James Rodriguez but might now go instead for Lyon captain Nabil Fekir, according to RMC Sport and L'Equipe.

- Another Madrid player tipped for an exit, Dani Ceballos, has been told to choose between Arsenal and Tottenham for his season-long loan, AS say.

- Calciomercato reports Juventus could sell either Merih Demiral or Daniele Rugani following Matthijs de Ligt's arrival. Demiral, who only just arrived from Sassuolo, has been linked to AC Milan. Roma are reportedly interested in Rugani.

Sadio Mane will miss Liverpool's Community Shield clash against Manchester City as manager Jurgen Klopp confirmed the star would return to training just days before the start of the Premier League season.

After helping Liverpool win the Champions League, Mane guided Senegal to the Africa Cup of Nations final in Egypt, where they lost to Algeria in the decider.

The attacker's busy off-season will mean he misses the Community Shield on August 4, set to return just four days out from his side's league opener against Norwich City.

"He is in good shape," Klopp told the club's website after a 2-1 friendly loss to Sevilla on Sunday.

"Obviously they had a celebration in Senegal and I'm happy about that because it showed that they respect the competition and saw the second place as a success, which is nice.

"He is now on holiday, not the longest one. He will be back on August 5, after the Manchester City game. That means he had two weeks.

"There is four or five days to prepare for Norwich, 10 days for Chelsea [in the UEFA Super Cup]."

Mane scored 26 goals in 50 games in all competitions for Liverpool last season.

Sevilla head coach Julen Lopetegui said Joris Gnagnon was "very, very worried" after his horror challenge left Liverpool teenager Yasser Larouci on a stretcher.

Sunday's friendly in Boston – won 2-1 by Sevilla – was marred by Gnagnon wildly kicking out at 18-year-old Liverpool left-back Larouci.

Sevilla defender and second-half substitute Gnagnon, who issued an apology post-game, was shown a straight red card with 14 minutes remaining, while Larouci required lengthy treatment at Fenway Park.

"[Gnagnon] was very, very worried and knows it could have been a bad injury," Lopetegui said.

"I am worried about the player [Larouci] but I asked Jurgen [Klopp] and he said the player is okay, it isn't a bad injury and I am happy for that.

"That's the most important thing. The referee thought it was a red card and I haven't seen a replay but it's possible it was a red card."

Larouci reportedly left the stadium on crutches following a fiercely contested pre-season fixture, with Liverpool on the receiving end of some tough tackles.

Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk was infuriated by Gnagnon's actions and he added: "I saw it from the side and it's not nice.

"Especially when it happens against a young guy who is playing pretty well this season, it's not great to see. I think it says something about him [Gnagnon]."

James Milner was scathing of Joris Gnagnon's "disgraceful" challenge on Yasser Larouci that marred the friendly between Liverpool and Sevilla.

Gnagnon was shown a straight red card for a horrendous tackle on Liverpool teenager Larouci, who was forced to leave the field on a stretcher in Sunday's 2-1 loss to Sevilla.

Sevilla defender and second-half substitute Gnagnon wildly kicked out at the 18-year-old with 14 minutes remaining in Boston, where tempers flared.

Gnagnon apologised post-match but Milner told LFCTV: "Was it too much? I thought so yes, it was a disgraceful tackle.

"We know it's only a friendly, but I mean, you don't see many red cards in friendlies, do you?

"Their guy said it is down to the referee and it's a tackle and a foul, but it's very disappointing. We [responded] in the right way.

"It is a tough one for the referee because you don't want to use red cards in friendlies and it is a rare thing to see.

"It's not easy to get hold of the game, you don't normally see too many tackles [like Gnagnon's] but it is a disgrace really."

Larouci reportedly left Fenway Park on crutches after Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool succumbed to Alejandro Pozo's 90th-minute winner.

Sevilla's Joris Gnagnon issued an apology to Yasser Larouci after his horrendous challenge left the Liverpool youngster on a stretcher.

Sevilla defeated Liverpool 2-1 in Sunday's pre-season friendly in Boston, where the fixture was overshadowed by Gnagnon's shocking tackle on Larouci.

Gnagnon – a second-half substitute – was shown a straight red card with 14 minutes remaining after wildly kicking out at Larouci, who required lengthy treatment before the 18-year-old was taken away on a stretcher.

Amid fierce backlash, Sevilla defender Gnagnon apologised to Larouci and Liverpool post-match.

"I would like to publicly apologise to Liverpool, the family of the player and the supporters," Gnagnon wrote in a statement posted to Twitter.

"It was a heinous act on my part for whatever reason and should not be seen on a football field. All my prayers are with the player and the family."

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp provided an update on Larouci, who left Fenway Park in worrying scenes.

"[It's] much too early in the season to create headlines with saying the things I think about the situation," Klopp told reporters after Liverpool succumbed to Alejandro Pozo's 90th-minute winner.

"Let me say how the situation is with Yasser; it looks like he was lucky but, of course, how it always is with these things we have to wait a little bit. He couldn't keep on playing, so that's the first not-so-good sign but in the dressing room it was OK."

Klopp added: "He hit him full throttle and, in that moment, [if it was] a little bit different position where he hit him then it's done. He rolls… he is a sports boy so that was OK, nothing happened there.

"I don't know 100 per cent. It looks like he was lucky but I only spoke quickly to the doc and that's what he said, but we have to see."

Liverpool's friendly against Sevilla was marred by a shocking challenge on Yasser Larouci that forced the Reds youngster to leave the field on a stretcher in Boston.

Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool suffered a late 2-1 loss to Sevilla, but Sunday's result was overshadowed by Joris Gnagnon's horrendous tackle on Larouci.

In a feisty game at Fenway Park, Sevilla substitute Gnagnon was shown a straight red card with 14 minutes remaining after wildly kicking out at Larouci.

Larouci required lengthy treatment before the 18-year-old was taken away on a stretcher as tempers flared in the United States.

Despite Sevilla's numerical disadvantage, Julen Lopetegui's LaLiga side were victorious thanks to Alejandro Pozo's 90th-minute winner.

It came after Divock Origi had cancelled out Nolito's opener on the stroke of half-time with an emphatic close-range finish.

James Milner's future at Liverpool is uncertain as the veteran revealed he was still waiting to hear about possible contract talks.

Milner is out of contract at the end of the season and could be set for an exit from Anfield, where he arrived on a free transfer in 2015.

The versatile 33-year-old, who helped Liverpool win the Champions League last season, said he had not heard back from the club regarding a possible new deal.

"As it stands, last year we spoke to the club and asked them if they wanted to do something and they said not at that time," Milner told UK media.

"We haven't heard anything since, so that's where we are at.

"All I can do is concentrate on my football and do what I can, but in terms of where I am with my contract, that's what has happened up until now and I haven't heard anything from the club."

Milner has made at least 40 appearances in all competitions in each of his four seasons at Liverpool, including playing 45 times in 2018-19.

The former England international, who has regularly been praised by manager Jurgen Klopp, hopes he can continue performing.

"Everyone pipes on about my age and stuff [and] I understand you are going to get that," Milner said.

"There are three things to it – availability, fitness and performance level. Hopefully I am delivering all three."

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