One of the more prolonged transfer sagas of the close-season is over after Juventus completed the purchase of highly rated Dutch defender Matthijs de Ligt from Ajax.

The 19-year-old is regarded as one of the finest prospects in world football and will cost Juve a total of €85.5million, with the Serie A champions beating off competition from a host of major European clubs for his signature.

Manchester United, Manchester City, Barcelona and Liverpool were all strongly linked with the imposing centre-back, but he will instead bolster Juve's already impressive squad.

Juve have moved with impressive decisiveness in the transfer market in recent times and new coach Maurizio Sarri has a particularly strong array of defenders to choose from next term following confirmation of De Ligt's arrival.

Below, we examined what Sarri's squad looks like after De Ligt's signing, what further changes could be made and how the team might start the season...

GOALKEEPER AND DEFENCE – An end of an era?

There have been changes aplenty in this department at Juve recently. Wojciech Szczesny can expect to remain first choice between the posts, but the return of Gianluigi Buffon on a year-long contract will keep the Pole on his toes.

One of the most surprising things about Juve's close season is their apparent willingness to offload Joao Cancelo, a standout performer last term. He is being strongly linked with Manchester City, as Danilo seems likely to go the other way.

Nevertheless, Juve's defence has been suitably bolstered. With Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci getting on in years, the sought-after De Ligt, Cristian Romero and Merih Demiral provide long-term quality and youthfulness at centre-back (albeit Romero will remain at Genoa on loan next season], while 19-year-old Luca Pellegrini offers competition at left-back.

Sarri's biggest decision will revolve around his centre-back choices. Having worked with Daniele Rugani at Empoli, he might see more action and De Ligt can surely expect to feature regularly.

An end to the Chiellini-Bonucci dynasty might not be far away.

 

MIDFIELD – Big roles for Pjanic and Ramsey

Aaron Ramsey and Adrien Rabiot are the new midfield arrivals and both join with massive expectations – particularly the former, who many feel could be Juve's answer to the Marek Hamsik of Sarri's Napoli side.

Sarri's favoured 4-3-3 dictates one of the midfield trio will sit deeper. He likes that player to be very comfortable on the ball and a fine passer, meaning Miralem Pjanic looks set to fill the 'Jorginho role', as the Bosnian appears rather more suited than Sami Khedira and Emre Can.

Given Rabiot's lack of action over the past year at Paris Saint-Germain, he looks to have the most work to do to break into the starting XI, while Rodrigo Bentancur's fine development means he is likely to become essential.

However, should Juve pull off the signing of Paul Pogba from Manchester United, he would surely be an automatic pick on the left of the central trident.

 

ATTACK – Departures galore expected

Juve's options in attack are numerous, and several of them were being linked with moves away even before Sarri's appointment was confirmed.

Paulo Dybala, Juan Cuadrado, Douglas Costa and Mario Mandzukic are all reportedly for sale, while Gonzalo Higuain's situation is by no means clear.

The Argentinian excelled under Sarri at Napoli and joined him at Chelsea in January, but he underwhelmed in the Premier League. As such, it is difficult to see how he fits in at Juve, but he and the coach clearly have a rapport.

Federico Bernardeschi and Cristiano Ronaldo are untouchable, while Moise Kean showed plenty of promise towards the end of last season, but if all of Sarri's expendables leave, they will be left a little short on the flanks.

Few wingers have been linked with the Bianconeri, though they are said to hold an interest in Callum Hudson-Odoi, Federico Chiesa and Burnley youngster Dwight McNeil.

 

POSSIBLE JUVENTUS XI FOR 2019-20

Szczesny; De Sciglio, De Ligt, Rugani, Alex Sandro; Pjanic, Ramsey, Bentancur; Bernardeschi, Ronaldo, Mandzukic

Juventus have signed the much-coveted Matthijs de Ligt from Ajax for an initial €75million on a five-year contract, the Serie A champions have confirmed.

The teenage defender agreed personal terms earlier this month and successfully completed a medical on Wednesday after Juve committed to a steep increase on their reported opening offer of €50m.

De Ligt's value skyrocketed across two exceptional seasons as part of Ajax's first team, during which the 19-year-old became club captain and one of the most highly rated youngsters in world football.

Barcelona, Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain had all been heavily linked with the Netherlands international before the Bianconeri moved to make him their seventh signing of the close season.

Juve will pay €75m over five years for the player, plus a further €10.5m in add-ons.

A powerful, commanding and technically gifted centre-back, De Ligt rose to prominence on a greater scale last season when helping Ajax to the Champions League semi-finals.

Although they came unstuck in a dramatic collapse against Tottenham, De Ligt starred throughout Ajax's unlikely run, netting the winner in the last-eight victory over Juventus.

In signing De Ligt, Juve have brought in a worthy heir to club icon Giorgio Chiellini, who celebrates his 35th birthday in August.

His arrival could conclude Maurizio Sarri's remodelling in defence, the new head coach having already brought in Merih Demiral, Luca Pellegrini and Cristian Romero, who duly rejoined Genoa on loan.

Juventus have signed the much-coveted Matthijs de Ligt from Ajax for an initial €75million on a five-year contract, the Serie A champions have confirmed.

The teenage defender agreed personal terms earlier this month and successfully completed a medical on Wednesday after Juve committed to a steep increase on their reported opening offer of €50m.

De Ligt's value skyrocketed across two exceptional seasons as part of Ajax's first team, during which the 19-year-old became club captain and one of the most highly rated youngsters in world football.

Barcelona, Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain had all been heavily linked with the Netherlands international before the Bianconeri moved to make him their seventh signing of the close-season.

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.

Jurgen Klopp remains "relaxed" about Liverpool's transfer activity and while he is looking at strengthening one position, he reiterated the European champions would be relatively quiet during the window.

Liverpool have signed 17-year-old defender Sepp van den Berg from PEC Zwolle this close season, while the likes of Daniel Sturridge and Alberto Moreno have left.

The Champions League winners have been linked with moves for numerous players, including former playmaker Philippe Coutinho – now at Barcelona – and Lille forward Nicolas Pepe.

Klopp, whose team are in the United States for pre-season friendlies, is remaining calm about Liverpool's movements in the market.

"We are pretty relaxed in that, we will see what's coming up," he told the club's website.

"How I said, it will not be the biggest transfer window of LFC. We invested a lot in the team in the last two years, I would say. We cannot spend every year in the same manner.

"People talk about it like, 'Now another £300million or £200m'. There are maybe only two clubs in the world – it looks in the moment like Barcelona and [Real] Madrid can do the same – [Manchester] City and PSG that can do it every year.

"But we are fine. I'm happy with the team, we are really happy. We have to see if we find maybe one position, if we find something for it, but there's no real pressure because it's not about signing a player. We have solutions for all the situations.

"Do we have exactly the solution that everybody from outside would be 100 per cent happy? I don't think so because people want to have world class here, world class here and the guy on the bench has to be world class as well. That's not so easy. But we are of course working on it."

Marko Grujic will remain on loan at Hertha Berlin, while Sheyi Ojo will spend 2019-20 with Rangers.

But Klopp has no concerns about his squad at Liverpool, who finished a point behind champions Manchester City in the Premier League last season.

"On the outgoing side, we are relaxed. The young boys are here and enjoyed working with us a lot," he said.

"Not to forget Naby [Keita] and Shaq [Xherdan Shaqiri] are injured still and are not here with us. Players will come back.

"I'm really looking forward to the season, it will be really exciting again."

Liverpool face Borussia Dortmund in a friendly on Friday.

Bayern Munich midfielder Corentin Tolisso is confident new arrivals Lucas Hernandez and Benjamin Pavard will significantly improve the German giants.

The versatile defenders and Tolisso helped France to 2018 World Cup glory and the trio are now re-united as Bayern target another successful campaign.

Both players sought the opinion of Tolisso before making their respective moves, but the 24-year-old said it was "not difficult" to convince them to join him at the Bundesliga champions.

"They wanted to know how the club [works] and the atmosphere in the team," Tolisso told Bayern's official website.

"I told them that they will surely be happy here. We have so many great players here. Of course I advised [them to join] ... Bayern is a big club."

Asked to describe Hernandez and Pavard, Tolisso added: "Lucas is a bit crazy! He makes a lot of jokes and laughs a lot, but when he's on the pitch – wow. He is a fighter and always gives everything.

"Benjamin is a bit calmer, but he works very hard. He brings a lot of power when he plays. They both bring a lot of quality to our team."

Bayern have dominated the Bundesliga in recent years, winning the past seven titles.

Tolisso insist Bayern have the firepower to contest many fronts, though, with winning the UEFA Champions League a primary goal of his.

"We want to win the Bundesliga and the cup and we know the fans want to win the Champions League," he said.

"That's normal, because the last time they could celebrate the Champions League [was] six years ago. We have the team to play big games and also to win this title."

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.

Galatasaray are in talks to sign Fulham flop Jean Michael Seri on loan.

The Super Lig champions confirmed via a brief Twitter statement on Wednesday that negotiations are underway.

Seri signed for Fulham from Nice last year for a reported fee of £25million - a club record at the time - after having previously been linked with Barcelona.

He made 32 appearances in the Premier League last term but was unable to impress consistently as the Cottagers suffered relegation to the Championship.

AC Milan have also been credited with an interest in the midfielder, who turns 28 on Friday.

His former Fulham team-mate, Ryan Babel, signed for Gala on a free transfer last month after leaving the London club.

Vincent Kompany has made the most of his links to Manchester City, bringing Philippe Sandler to Anderlecht on a season-long loan.

Kompany left the Premier League champions to return to his former club as player-manager at the end of last season and already moved for a former City team-mate in the form of free agent Samir Nasri.

And Sandler has become Anderlecht's fifth signing under Kompany, with the 22-year-old Dutch defender completing a loan move from City on Wednesday.

Sandler made four appearances for City's Under-23s last term following his move from PEC Zwolle and was given his first senior start in the EFL Cup semi-final second leg against Burton Albion in January.

Kompany has won three of his four games in charge of Anderlecht so far, and their pre-season preparations continue with a game against another of the centre-back's previous clubs Hamburg on Saturday.

Robert Lewandowski is showing the right qualities to be a leader at Bayern Munich, according to coach Niko Kovac.

The Poland striker appeared to be agitating for a move away from the Allianz Arena last year but stayed at the club and scored 40 goals in all competitions to help them to the domestic double.

The 30-year-old said in March he could finish his career at the club and has now confirmed he is in talks over an extension to his contract, which expires in 2021.

Kovac now has little hesitation in trusting the former Borussia Dortmund forward as one of the vice-captains of his side.

"Last season, I wanted to give him the recognition he deserves as a player, due to his performances he has shown not only in Germany but also as the captain of the Polish national team," he said.

"You can see it means a lot to him to be the vice-captain. I'm really happy with his development and he shows what's expected of a leader."

Bayern looked at times last season as though their stranglehold on the Bundesliga was to be broken by Dortmund, but they ended the season in strong fashion to claim a seventh league title in a row and win the DFB-Pokal final against RB Leipzig.

Kovac expects Dortmund to challenge once more given their strong close season in which they have signed Thorgan Hazard, Nico Schulz, Julian Brandt and Mats Hummels, but he is not discounting one or two other surprise contenders.

"All we know is that it was a close race last season between Dortmund and us," he said. "There will be other teams chasing us, but of course we will be the team everyone in the Bundesliga wants to catch.

"I think Dortmund have made some good signings. As I mentioned before, it was a really close race between us two for the title. We'll have to see; you never know.

"I think maybe [Bayer] Leverkusen will play an important role with their new coach [Peter] Bosz, who plays very good football, very attacking football. We have to count them as well as a competitor for the German title.

"Leipzig were very strong last season. Now they have signed a new coach [Julian Nagelsmann], so we'll have to see. We have to give them some time, see how they develop with the new coach, but I think they'll be a serious opponent as well. And then maybe another surprising team, you never know in the Bundesliga, so we will have to see what happens."

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."

Hoffenheim have confirmed Joelinton is in talks with a Premier League club amid speculation of a £36million (€39.8million) move to Newcastle United.

Joelinton was left out of Hoffenheim's squad for their friendly with Jahn Regensburg on Wednesday.

The Brazilian forward was rumoured to be close to a move to Newcastle in January, though the switch failed to materialise.

However, the 22-year-old now looks set to join the Magpies, who officially confirmed Steve Bruce as their new head coach on Wednesday, with Hoffenheim confirming negotiations are ongoing with a Premier League side.

"Joelinton is not here," Hoffenheim posted on their official Twitter account. "He is in concrete negotiations with a Premier League club. It may be that he leaves us."

Joelinton scored 11 goals across all competitions for Hoffenheim last season, following a spell with Rapid Vienna.

It has been an off-season of upheaval for Newcastle, who were demolished 4-0 in their Premier League Asia Trophy match with Wolves.

Rafael Benitez's departure was followed by that of Ayoze Perez, who joined Leicester City in a reported £30m deal, while Joselu and last season's top scorer Salomon Rondon have also left.

Pep Guardiola is aiming to convince Leroy Sane to stay at Manchester City amid interest from Bayern Munich, insisting the club can help the winger fulfil his potential.

Sane has been heavily linked with a move to the Bundesliga champions in this transfer window, with Bayern having confirmed their interest.

The Germany international came off the bench to set up a Raheem Sterling goal on Wednesday, as City cruised to a 4-1 win over West Ham in the Premier League Asia Trophy.

And Guardiola did not shy away from acknowledging his wish for Sane – who scored 16 goals in all competitions last season – to remain at City.

"I have said many times that we want people to be happy here and we want to help Leroy to reach his potential," Guardiola told a news conference.

"He's a great player with incredible quality."

One player who has left City is Vincent Kompany, with the defender having called time on his 11-year stint in Manchester at the end of last season.

Kompany has returned to his former club Anderlecht in a player-manager role, leaving City without a club captain, and Guardiola revealed a new skipper will only be chosen when all of his players have returned to pre-season training.

"We will choose the captain," Guardiola said. "We will wait until everyone is back and they will choose their captain."

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.

Yann Karamoh has left Inter to join fellow Serie A side Parma on a season-long loan with an obligation for a purchase.

Karamoh joined Inter from Caen in 2017, though failed to establish himself at San Siro, scoring just one goal in 18 appearances across all competitions.

The forward spent last season on loan at Bordeaux, netting three times in 32 games, and Karamoh has now been deemed surplus to requirements by Inter coach Antonio Conte.

Parma have secured the 21-year-old on an initial one-year loan, but are obligated to buy Karamoh - who has penned a deal until June 2023 - at the end of the season for a reported €13million fee.

Karamoh looks set to be followed out of the exit door at Inter by Mauro Icardi, with Juventus and Napoli reportedly interested in the striker.

Romelu Lukaku seems to be Inter's primary target to replace Icardi, with the striker having been left out of Manchester United's squad yet again for the Red Devils' pre-season clash with Leeds United in Australia on Wednesday.

Page 7 of 145
© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.