Pep Guardiola saluted Atletico Madrid midfielder Rodri as a "great player" but claimed ignorance about Manchester City's apparent pursuit of him.

Spain international Rodri has been strongly linked with City in recent weeks since he reportedly told Atletico he intends to leave the club during the close-season.

A deep-lying midfielder in the Sergio Busquets mould, Rodri enjoyed a fine first season at Atletico following his €20million move from Villarreal last year.

Reports claim City will trigger his €70m (£63m) release clause, which would make Rodri the club's record signing.

However, Guardiola was guarded when asked if the Atletico academy product was heading to the Etihad Stadium.

Speaking at a presentation in Barcelona, Guardiola told reporters: "I've no idea [if Rodri is going to City], you'll see. He's a great player."

Guardiola was rather firmer about tentative links with Real Madrid midfielder Marco Asensio, though, adamant a move is not on the cards.

"There is no chance that City will sign him," he said.

Cristiano Ronaldo's move to Juventus last year made everyone happy, according to Real Madrid midfielder and former team-mate Toni Kroos.

Madrid lost their all-time leading scorer to Juve nearly 12 months ago in a deal that will cost upwards of €100million and endured a difficult campaign in their first season without him.

The Spanish giants finished a lowly third in LaLiga and fell short in both the Copa del Rey and Champions League after failing to fill the void left by Ronaldo's departure, but Kroos can understand why the five-time Ballon d'Or winner left.

"It would be strange if you didn't miss someone like Cristiano Ronaldo, who has decided so many matches with his goals," he told Bild. 

"His transfer, however, made everyone happy. He wanted a new experience and Real Madrid earned a lot of money."

Kroos was also tipped to leave the Santiago Bernabeu last year, with Pep Guardiola's Manchester City rumoured to have made their interest known.

But the Germany international, about to enter his sixth season as a Madrid player, insisted he has never come close to joining the English champions.

"It has been written several times in the past," he said. "But I was never really offered the chance to go to Manchester City. Never. I can deny these rumours."

Kroos also reiterated he intends to retire from football at the age of just 33 when the four-year deal he signed in May expires.

"My contract duration was chosen consciously," he said. "Thirty-three would be a good age to hang up the boots. I will have the opportunity at that moment to choose if I want to do something else."

Defence appears to be an area of interest for LaLiga champions Barcelona.

Despite already boasting centre-backs Gerard Pique, Clement Lenglet and Samuel Umtiti, Barca continue to be linked to Ajax star Matthijs de Ligt.

However, the Blaugrana have contingency plans should they miss out on the 19-year-old sensation.

 

TOP STORY – LINDELOF BARCA'S PLAN B

Manchester United defender Victor Lindelof is Barcelona's alternative to Ajax captain Matthijs de Ligt, according to Mundo Deportivo.

The race is hotting up for De Ligt, who is a target for the LaLiga champions, United, Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus.

With uncertainty over De Ligt's destination, Barca reportedly contacted United over Lindelof but the Red Devils rejected the approach. The 24-year-old moved to Old Trafford from Benfica for €35million in 2017 and the Spanish giants remain confident a deal can be struck.

 

ROUND-UP

Ajax and Netherlands midfielder Donny van de Beek has emerged as alternative target should Real Madrid miss out on Manchester United star Paul Pogba, according to Marca. Pogba has also been linked to Juventus and Corriere dello Sport claims the Frenchman and the Serie A champions will ask Adidas to intervene in a bid to bring him back to Turin.

- According to Tuttosport, an agreement on salary has been reached between Juventus and De Ligt. Juve are increasingly optimistic a deal will be reached with Ajax.

Tottenham have not signed a player since 2018 but the Champions League finalists a poised to complete a club-record transfer for Lyon midfielder Tanguy Ndombele, says the Telegraph. A £55m transfer is set to be finalised, with Spurs also closing in on Leeds winger Jack Clarke, according to the Daily Mail.

- Marca says Barcelona are preparing for lengthy negotiations as they try to bring Neymar back to Camp Nou from Paris Saint-Germain following his €222milllion move in 2017.

- Premier League champions Manchester City and rivals Manchester United will battle it out for Leicester City centre-back Harry Maguire, who is rated at £65m, Sky Sports reports.

AC Milan are confident of signing Lucas Torreira from Arsenal, according to Gianluca Di Marzio. Milan want to reunite Torreira with former Sampdoria boss Marco Giampaolo on an initial two-year deal with the option of a permanent €30m transfer. France Football also says the Rossoneri are also a possible destination for Lyon captain Nabil Fekir.

Manchester United are considering a move for Sevilla's Wissam Ben Yedder should Romelu Lukaku join Inter, according to France Football.

Real Madrid will have a women's team in Spain's top division next term after completing a takeover of CD Tacon.

The capital side were promoted last term and Los Blancos announced the merger in a statement on Tuesday.

Madrid are reported to have paid a €500,000 for the deal to go through, with the women's side set to compete with clubs from Barcelona and Atletico Madrid among others next season.

"During the course of next season, the 2019-20 campaign, the CD Tacon first team will train and play their matches at Real Madrid City as a part of the transitory collaboration between the two clubs," a Madrid statement said.

Atletico claimed the title last season after winning 28 of their 30 matches to finish six points clear of Barcelona.

In March the top two sides faced off in front of over 60,000 fans at the Wanda Metropolitano, setting a new world-record attendance for a women's club football match. 

Real Madrid will provide Eden Hazard with the platform he needs to reach the highest level, according to Fernando Torres.

Chelsea this month sold Hazard, who had one year left on his contract at Stamford Bridge, to Madrid in a deal said to be worth €130million.

Luka Jovic, Eder Militao, Ferland Mendy and Rodrygo have also arrived at the Santiago Bernabeu as Zinedine Zidane bids to rejuvenate Los Blancos after a dismal 2018-19 season, in which they finished third in LaLiga and only won the Club World Cup.

Torres believes Madrid offers his former Chelsea team-mate Hazard with the perfect stage to raise his game, though the Belgium international will need to ensure he has the appropriate mindset.

"[Madrid] have got the brand where every player in the world wants to play there, and when they call the players see it as a club where you can make history," Torres, who last week announced his retirement, told AS.

"Hazard is a spectacular footballer who needs the boost from a club like Real Madrid to reach the level he can reach, which he did at Chelsea in a fleeting manner.

"It remains to be seen if he's able to push himself to want to be better. His ability and the conditions are perfect.

"Sometimes it seemed he struggled to want to be better when I saw him training, it was clear he could be at the level of the best. Now he's got the stage on which to do it. It'll depend more on his mentality than his football."

Madrid sold Marcos Llorente to Atletico Madrid in a reported €40m deal, the midfielder arriving at the Wanda Metropolitano ahead of Rodri's anticipated switch to Manchester City.

Torres does not see an issue with Llorente moving from Atleti's arch-rivals and hopes the club can become a place where players see out their careers.

"Atleti is bigger now than thinking about which team the players come from. What's more important is where they are leaving to go," said the World Cup winner.

"There will come a time when players will see Atleti as their final destination, where they want to win, to stay, to be part of the history and be remembered forever.

"It is a step that will be taken soon. No matter where you come from or the name, it matters that you are committed to Atleti.

"Once you're there, the people in the club are able to convey what it means. And the day they decide to leave they do so respecting what the club has given them, and nobody will reproach them for anything."

Neymar for Paul Pogba?

That was the proposal by Paris Saint-Germain to Manchester United, who are both set for busy off-seasons due to their wantaway stars.

But a swap between the two clubs does not appear to be on the agenda.

 

TOP STORY – WOODWARD SAYS NO TO NEYMAR

A swap deal involving Neymar and Paul Pogba was rejected by Manchester United vice-chairman Ed Woodward.

That is according to the Independent as Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar and United midfielder Pogba both seek exits.

Woodward reportedly said no to the idea due to costs and his determination to keep Pogba, who has been linked with a return to Juventus and Real Madrid .

Neymar is set to leave PSG and the world's most expensive player is ready to publicly apologise to Barcelona over his exit in 2017 to help facilitate a return to Camp Nou, according to AS.

 

ROUND-UP

Lazio midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic has agreed to join Paris Saint-Germain in an €80million deal, according to Serbian newspaper Blic. The 24-year-old was linked with Manchester United and Real Madrid prior to the 2018-19 season. AS reports that Ligue 1 champions PSG are also set to sign Sevilla attacker Pablo Sarabia.

- A move to Barcelona for Matthijs de Ligt is "still possible", according to Mundo Deportivo. Italian press have reported that Juventus are favourites to sign the 19-year-old Ajax captain, however, LaLiga champions Barca still appear to be in the running.

- According to AS, Real Madrid are keen on signing Napoli midfielder and Spain international Fabian Ruiz. The 23-year-old only moved to Serie A from Real Betis in 2018-19.

Edin Dzeko's move from Roma to Inter will be announced shortly, Corriere dello Sport reports. Antonio Conte's Inter are now targeting Cagliari star Nicolo Barella. The Nerazzurri are also interested in Brazil captain Dani Alves after his Paris Saint-Germain exit, according to France Football.

- Former Manchester City and Arsenal star Samir Nasri is a target for new A-League side Western United in Australia, according to the Herald Sun. The 31-year-old Frenchman is a free agent after leaving West Ham.

Borussia Dortmund defender Dan-Axel Zagadou is wanted by Arsenal, according to the Mirror. The Gunners have been linked with Saint-Etienne teenager William Saliba but Zagadou could be available following Mats Hummels' return to Dortmund.

- Serie A rivals Juventus and Napoli are battling it out to sign Tottenham full-back Kieran Trippier, the Mirror reports. Joao Cancelo is reportedly close to joining Manchester City and Juve see the England international as the perfect replacement.

James Rodriguez is unsure where he will be playing in 2019-20 as the Colombia and Real Madrid midfielder continues to be linked with Napoli.

Serie A side Napoli want James, whose future is up in the air after Bayern Munich did not take up the option to sign the star permanently following a two-year loan deal.

James does not appear wanted at the Santiago Bernabeu, where Zinedine Zidane's Madrid are looking to raise funds after a busy transfer window.

Asked about his future amid Colombia's Copa America campaign in Brazil, James said: "Right now I'm only thinking about the Copa America.

"I still don't know where I'll go but I want to be calm. The decision depends on the club [Real Madrid].

"There are people with a lot of power there, I can't do much. I haven't spoken with Zidane."

Colombia are through to the Copa America quarter-finals, with James and his team-mates set to face Chile.

A return to Barcelona appears on the cards for Neymar.

The Brazilian looks set to leave Paris Saint-Germain, with Barca and LaLiga rivals Real Madrid reportedly interested.

But the familiarity of Camp Nou could see Neymar play for Barca one again.

 

TOP STORY – NEYMAR CONFIDENT OF BARCA RETURN

Paris Saint-Germain superstar Neymar will re-join Barcelona, if he gets his wish.

According to Catalonia-based newspaper Sport, Neymar has told Barca players: "Relax, I will come".

Neymar – who left Barcelona for PSG in a world-record €222million deal in 2017 – has also been linked with Real Madrid.

 

ROUND-UP

AC Milan are in negotiations to sign Arsenal midfielder Lucas Torreira, according to Sport Mediaset. The Serie A side want to reunite Torreira with former Sampdoria boss Marco Giampaolo on a two-year loan deal at San Siro. Arsenal boss Unai Emery, meanwhile, wants extra cash to sign Crystal Palace forward Wilfried Zaha, says the Metro.

- According to La Voix du Nord, Lille star Nicolas Pepe could still move to Manchester United or Liverpool despite strong interest from Atletico Madrid and Inter, who are both reportedly preparing €90m bids. Le10 Sport, however, reports that Pepe would be keen on PSG if Neymar leaves.

Barcelona midfielder Arturo Vidal will reject a move to the Chinese Super League, according to Sport. RAC 1, meanwhile, says the LaLiga champions have turned down the chance to re-sign Dani Alves following his exit from PSG.

Daniele De Rossi could join AC Milan, Inter, Fiorentina, Sampdoria or Atalanta after deciding to remain in Serie A following his Roma exit, according to Sky Sport Italia.

Napoli midfielder Allan is attracting interest from PSG, according to Calciomercato. The Brazilian, who is valued at £60m, was target by the Ligue 1 holders in January.

Newcastle United and Paraguay star Miguel Almiron has caught the attention of Real Madrid, that is according to the Mirror. Almiron only moved to the Premier League from MLS champions Atlanta United in January.

Real Madrid forward Vinicius Junior is "sure" Kylian Mbappe's arrival from Paris Saint-Germain is imminent, while expressing his desire to play alongside Neymar.

Mbappe's future has been the subject of intense speculation since he announced a "new project" might appeal to his desire to take on more authority at club level, but PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi said he was "200 per cent sure" the 20-year-old will be remain at Parc des Princes.

Vinicius, who joined Madrid in a €45million switch from Flamengo in July 2018, shed light on his burgeoning friendship with Mbappe and indicated he would back a swoop for the France international or Neymar – or both.

Vinicius told Telefoot: "I want to play with Neymar, for sure, and also with Kylian Mbappe.

"All the Madrid fans dream of having them here, and I know it because I'm there.

"The fans of all teams in the world would like to see Mbappe play under their colours. We do not know each other but we talk a little bit, on Instagram, we send messages.

"I admire him a lot, he's already won several titles when he's only at the beginning of his career, if he came here it would be great."

Madrid have spent heavily in the aftermath of a disappointing 2018-19 season in which they finished third in LaLiga and failed to defend their Champions League crown.

Eden Hazard, Eder Militao, Rodrygo Goes, Luka Jovic, Ferland Mendy and Takefusa Kubo have arrived for a combined €308million, but Vinicius claimed another large outlay on Mbappe is in the offing.

"Everyone wants him to come here, and I'm sure he will come soon," said the 18-year-old Brazilian.

"With him, we would win many trophies, that's for sure."

The transfer saga that is Matthijs de Ligt could be coming to an end.

Linked with Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona, Manchester United and Juventus, the in-demand Ajax captain is reportedly set to pick Turin as his next destination.

With Juve's ageing defence, De Ligt is seen as the perfect signing.

 

TOP STORY – JUVE CLOSING IN ON DE LIGT

Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona, Manchester United or Juventus?

According to Tuttosport and Corriere dello Sport, Serie A champions Juve are increasingly likely to sign De Ligt.

After PSG were reportedly poised to sign the 19-year-old defender, Juve are now seen as the favourites to finalise a €70million deal with Ajax and a contract worth €12m per season.

 

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United are under pressure from Adidas to keep Paul Pogba, the Daily Mirror says. If the Red Devils do cash in on the reported Real Madrid and Juventus target, their kit manufacturers want him replaced with an equivalent star. According to The Sun, however, Pogba's United team-mates believe he should leave.

- Manchester City star Leroy Sane will snub a move to Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich, according to The Sun.

- Sami Khedira is out at Juventus following Maurizio Sarri's arrival, according to Calciomercato. The Germany international was plagued by injuries last season as Juve clinched an eighth successive Scudetto.

- According to the Glasgow Evening Times, Celtic are resigned to losing star full-back Kieran Tierney after Arsenal reportedly had a bid rejected by the Scottish champions.

- Rafael Benitez will leave Newcastle United when his contract expires on June 30, according to the Daily Mail. The Spaniard, who is believed to be unhappy with the terms put forward by the club, reportedly has an offer from Chinese Super League side Dalian Yifang, the home of Napoli great Marek Hamsik.

- Tottenham midfielder Christian Eriksen is considering a move to Manchester United or Juventus as a dream switch to Real Madrid fades, according to the Mirror.

- France Football reports Lille star Nicolas Pepe is Atletico Madrid's top transfer target. Inter have also reportedly improved their offer to almost €60m as they still try to negotiate a deal with Manchester United for Romelu Lukaku.

Eden Hazard will be considered a legend at Chelsea, who will find it impossible to directly replace the Belgian, according to Didier Drogba.

Hazard left Chelsea earlier this month, making a long-awaited move to LaLiga giants Real Madrid in a deal that could rise to €140million.

The 28-year-old departed Stamford Bridge having scored 21 goals across all competitions last season, helping Chelsea to a third-placed Premier League finish and the Europa League title.

Hazard's departure has come at a difficult time for the Blues, who are currently appealing a transfer ban which would prohibit them from signing players for the next two windows.

Christian Pulisic was brought in from Borussia Dortmund in January before being loaned back to the Bundesliga side for the remainder of the campaign and will likely take up Hazard's spot in the starting XI.

And though insisting Hazard is irreplaceable, Drogba believes Chelsea will eventually find a way to adapt to life without their star man, who had been at the club since 2012.

"No one can replace Hazard, he is special," Drogba said during an Instagram Live on his official account on Saturday.

"But someone else will come, [and] step up. Hazard is a legend at Chelsea. That's life, that's football."

Chelsea are currently without a manager after Maurizio Sarri left to join Juventus.

Blues icon Frank Lampard is reportedly the front-runner for the job, following an impressive season at the helm of Derby County, and Drogba has backed his former team-mate as the best candidate.

"Well, the one who is in line to get the job, I think Lampard," Drogba added when asked for his thoughts on who should take over at Stamford Bridge.

Paul Pogba has reportedly contacted Juventus coach Maurizio Sarri directly to ask for a move back to the Serie A giants.

Pogba left Juve to rejoin Manchester United in 2016, but seems set on a move away from Old Trafford ahead of next season.

Real Madrid have been heavily linked with a move for the France star, though the 26-year-old apparently favours a return to Turin.

 

TOP STORY – POGBA MAKES SARRI PLEA

Manchester United star Pogba wants out of Old Trafford, and has called Juventus coach Sarri in order to force through a return to Italy, according to Tuttosport.

The Italian publication claim that Pogba is "desperate" for the move to happen, and has contacted Sarri directly.

Juve sporting director Fabio Paratici already confirmed the Serie A giants' "love" for Pogba, though he did suggest another midfielder was perhaps closer to joining.

Adrien Rabiot is out of contract at Paris Saint-Germain, and he seems set to join Sarri's side.

ROUND-UP

- It could be a case of one in, one out, at Manchester United, with A Bola claiming the Red Devils are preparing a £49million bid for Sporting CP star Bruno Fernandes, following a meeting with the player's agent.

- Gianluigi Buffon is a free agent after leaving Paris Saint-Germain, and Sky Italia reckon the veteran goalkeeper is a target for both Porto and Atalanta.

- Sky Italia also believe that James Rodriguez is all but a Napoli player. Apparently, a loan fee of €5m has been agreed with Real Madrid, with the Azzurri committing to sign the Colombia playmaker for €35m in a year's time.

- Rodri's imminent move from Atletico Madrid to Manchester City is going to see Fabian Delph leave the Premier League champions, according to The Sun, who add that Galatasaray are interested in the England international.

- De Telegraaf, citing sources close to Juventus, have suggested the Serie A champions have derailed Paris Saint-Germain's move for Ajax star Matthijs de Ligt, and are willing to offer the Dutch club €70m to secure the defender's signature.

- According to German publication Bild, Mats Hummels rejected the chance to join Manchester United, instead choosing to return to Borussia Dortmund.

- And, finally, Emmanuel Adebayor could be in for a shock move back to the Premier League, with The Sun claiming West Ham, Watford and new boys Sheffield United all want the 35-year-old forward, who is available on a free transfer.

Atletico Madrid have finalised the signing of Marcos Llorente from fierce rivals Real Madrid on a five-year deal.

Last season's LaLiga runners-up announced on Thursday an agreement had been struck with Madrid over a transfer reported to be worth €40million.

And Llorente, who broke into Los Blancos' senior ranks in 2015, is now officially an Atletico player after passing a medical at the Clinica Universidad de Navarra.

He is expected to replace Rodri at the Wanda Metropolitano amid strong rumours that his compatriot is on the brink of a big-money move to Manchester City.

Llorente joins former Porto defender Felipe in making the move to Atletico ahead of the 2019-20 season, while in-demand Benfica teenager Joao Felix is also rumoured to be close to signing for Diego Simeone's men.

Paul Pogba appears set to be granted his move away from Manchester United.

Pogba has been linked with a return to Juventus and a blockbuster transfer to Real Madrid since revealing "it could be a good time for a new challenge".

And United may not stand in his way as the Red Devils look to rebuild in Manchester.

 

TOP STORY – POGBA EXIT TO BOOST TRANSFER KITTY

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants Paul Pogba out of Old Trafford, according to the Daily Star.

Solskjaer has reportedly been told he only has £100million to spend after the Red Devils finished sixth in the Premier League last season.

And with reported targets Crystal Palace's Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Leicester City defender Harry Maguire set to cost in excess of £100m, selling £140m-rated Pogba to either Juventus or Real Madrid would provide some significant funds.

 

ROUND-UP

- Could Philippe Coutinho make a shock return to Liverpool? According to Le 10 Sport, the Barcelona attacker is in line for an Anfield comeback having failed to establish himself at Camp Nou since his £140million arrival in January 2018.

- Serie A champions Juventus have identified Tottenham full-back Kieran Trippier as a replacement for Manchester City target Joao Cancelo, according to SportItalia and La Gazzetta dello Sport.

- Wage demands are standing in the way of Neymar and his potential return to Barcelona from Paris Saint-Germain, according to Le 10 Sport.

- RMC claims Real Madrid have joined the race to sign Ajax captain Matthijs de Ligt. Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona and Manchester United are also interested in the 19-year-old defender.

- According to the Mirror, Manchester City are set to beat neighbours Manchester United to the signing of Leicester City centre-back Maguire. However, the Premier League champions are reluctant to pay £80m for the England international.

AC Milan have requested Isco and Dani Ceballos from Real Madrid, reports Marca. According to Sky Sport Italia, however, the Italian side are only likely to take Ceballos and striker Borja Mayoral on loan.

- Sky Sport Italia says Porto and Atalanta are the most likely destinations for legendary Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon. The 41-year-old is a free agent after leaving Paris Saint-Germain.

Real Madrid great Raul will take over Los Blancos' Castilla side next season, the LaLiga giants have confirmed.

Raul had been in charge of youth sides Cadete B and Juvenil B, and will now take on the top job in Madrid's famed academy.

Castilla - Los Blancos' B team - currently play in Segunda Division B - Group 1, having lost out to Cartagena in the promotion play-offs last season.

Current Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane also started his senior coaching career with Madrid's Castilla side, with Santiago Solari having followed a similar path.

An academy product himself, Raul spent 16 years as a key figure in Madrid's first team between 1994 and 2010, winning six LaLiga titles and three Champions League trophies during that time.

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