Bayern Munich or Barcelona?

Two of the world's biggest clubs are going head-to-head for Ajax sensation Sergino Dest.

And the club from LaLiga are reportedly favourites to land the teenager.

 

TOP STORY – DEST WANTS BARCA

Ajax full-back Sergino Dest has pushed aside an offer from Bundesliga and Champions League holders Bayern Munich as he looks to join Barcelona, according to Sport.

Bayern and LaLiga giants Barca are both interested in the 19-year-old United States international.

But Dest has his heart set on Barca, where a principle agreement is reportedly in place between the player and Ajax.

 

ROUND-UP

Tottenham and Inter are in talks regarding centre-back Milan Skriniar, reports Sky Sport Italia. Skriniar is wanted by Jose Mourinho's Spurs but the Premier League club are unwilling to match Inter's £55million (€60m) valuation. Benfica's Ruben Dias remains a serious alternative.

- Diario AS claims Real Madrid defender Nacho Fernandez is wanted by Serie A trio Napoli, Roma and Milan.

- The same outlet also reports that Manchester United and Arsenal are two possible destinations for out-of-favour Barcelona defender Samuel Umtiti. Former club Lyon, Rennes and Inter have also been linked.

Aston Villa are eyeing Chelsea midfielder Ross Barkley on loan, according to the Telegraph. Barkley is down the pecking order at Stamford Bridge.

- Kicker says Barca and Roma have joined Paris Saint-Germain in looking at Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger, who looks set to leave London.

Manchester City are still pursuing Atletico Madrid's Jose Gimenez, says the Daily Star. An alternative to Napoli star Kalidou Koulibaly, City's interest in Gimenez could be scuppered as the Uruguay international isolates and recovers from coronavirus.

- Despite already signing Gonzalo Higuain and Blaise Matuidi, Le10 Sport claims David Beckham's Inter Miami remain keen on free agent Edinson Cavani. However, the former PSG forward is still hoping to remain in Europe.

Mings signs new Villa deal

September 21, 2020

England defender Tyrone Mings has renewed his contract at Aston Villa until June 2024.

Mings initially joined Villa on loan from Bournemouth in January 2019, helping to secure their promotion back to the Premier League.

The 27-year-old made the move permanent before the 2019-20 campaign and continued to impress - earning his maiden England cap in a 6-0 Euro 2020 qualification win over Bulgaria in October last year.

Mings penning fresh terms completes a productive few days for Villa.

Influential playmaker Jack Grealish agreed a new five-year contract last week before they signed goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez from Arsenal and Lyon forward Bertrand Traore.

Aston Villa have signed Lyon forward Bertrand Traore for an undisclosed fee, thought to be worth in the region of £19million (€20.5m).

The 25-year-old has agreed a long-term contract at Villa Park and his move is subject to international clearance.

"We're delighted that Bertrand has chosen to come to Villa," manager Dean Smith told his club's official website ahead of their Premier League opener against Sheffield United on Monday.

"He's a player with immense talent who will really enhance our attacking options."

Traore cited the presence of Smith's assistant John Terry, with whom he shared a dressing room at Chelsea, as a factor in the transfer, while he also counts Villa duo Marvelous Nakamba and Anwar El Ghazi as former team-mates from his time in the Eredivisie.

"I played with JT at Chelsea, I spoke to him," he told Villa TV

“I spoke to the manager, spoke with the sporting director as well and some players I used to play with – Nakamba and El Ghazi.

“I spoke to Nakamba, I talked to him a little bit about the club. Many things made me take the decision to come here. I'm happy."

Traore joined Chelsea as a teenager and enjoyed loan stints at Vitesse and Ajax before joining Lyon for an initial €10m in 2017.

He scored 33 goals in 126 appearances for last season's Champions League semi-finalists but insists he always wanted another crack at England's top flight.

"I always wanted to come back to the Premier League," he added. "I had to follow my own way as well and gain some more experience.

"I think it is the right time to come back.I think I'm coming back as a better player, with more experience."

The new 2020-21 season is really kicking into gear as Premier League matchweek two approaches.

After prior European commitments delayed Manchester City and Manchester United starting their respective campaigns, there is a full slate of matches this weekend.

That means there is plenty of opportunity for fantasy managers to make up for missing out on Mohamed Salah, Jamie Vardy or even Jeff Hendrick last week.

Need to get back on track or build on a strong start? This Opta-powered selection provides some must-haves for the coming round of matches.

 

EMILIANO MARTINEZ

Picking an Arsenal goalkeeper heading into the campaign was slightly risky business with two vying for the first-choice spot. Fortunately, with Emiliano Martinez leaving for Aston Villa, the matter has been settled.

From his first start last season on June 25, following Bernd Leno's injury, Martinez made more saves (31) than any other top-flight keeper and only trailed Nick Pope (85.3) and Ederson (81.8) in terms of save percentage (81.1). He kept three clean sheets, too.

Only Bournemouth and Norwich City - both relegated - managed fewer clean sheets than Villa's seven last term, yet one of those came at home to Monday's visitors Sheffield United.

 

LUCAS DIGNE

Everton left-back Lucas Digne was certainly worth having on the opening weekend. He contributed to a clean sheet at Tottenham and also supplied the assist for Dominic Calvert-Lewin's decisive goal.

But that display was no one-off.

Only Liverpool pair Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson (both 13) have more Premier League assists from defence than Digne (eight) since the start of the 2019-20 campaign.

Over that same spell, the Frenchman ranks second for chances created (73) and passes played into the box (320) by defenders and third (150) in terms of open-play crosses. He can test out that supply line at home to West Brom.

 

TARIQ LAMPTEY

Although beaten against former club Chelsea last time out, Tariq Lamptey continues to show himself to be an all-round package for Brighton and Hove Albion.

From right-back, the 19-year-old has created the most chances from open play (eight - tied with two others), supplied the most crosses (24), completed the most dribbles (17) and made the most interceptions (19) of any Brighton player since June 2020.

If Brighton get a result at Newcastle United, Lamptey is likely to be in the points.

 

WILLIAN

New signing Willian gave Arsenal fans and fantasy managers alike a taste of what they can expect on opening day.

At Fulham, he became the first player to contribute two assists on his Premier League debut for Arsenal since Ray Parlour against Liverpool in August 1992.

Since June 2020, Willian trails only Robertson (six) in terms of assists (four) and Kevin De Bruyne (40) for chances created (28), with struggling West Ham up next at home.

 

BRUNO FERNANDES

Joining in January, Bruno Fernandes quickly established himself as a star fantasy performer last season. There is little reason to suggest he will not be similarly effective this term.

The Manchester United midfielder has been involved in 20 goals (including eight assists) in all competitions since his arrival from Sporting CP, the most of any of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's players.

Indeed, Fernandes leads the way across the whole Premier League in that regard, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (17 involvements) second. United face Crystal Palace.

 

HARRY KANE

Tottenham talisman Harry Kane has tended to start Premier League seasons slowly, but his record against Southampton - this week's opponents - is particularly impressive.

The England captain has nine goals in his past nine league games against the Saints, only tallying more often in clashes with Leicester City (14) and Arsenal (10).

Kane will no doubt be determined to continue that scoring streak this weekend, having suffered a torn hamstring at Southampton in January that checked his 2019-20 campaign.

 

JAMIE VARDY

Needed to check he has still got it? Vardy again proved his worth with a brace for Leicester against West Brom last week.

Those strikes improved his total since the start of last season to 25 in the league, while he also leads the way for shot conversion rates (27.47 per cent) among those with 10 or more goals in that time.

Even at 33, it is too early to write off Vardy, who will aim to dampen Burnley's new-season optimism on Sunday.

Aston Villa have completed the signing of goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez from Arsenal in a reported £20million deal.

Martinez was left out of Arsenal's squad for the 3-0 win over Fulham on Saturday as the move approached and he has now put pen to paper on a four-year contract at Villa Park.

The 28-year-old is Villa's third major signing of the transfer window, following the arrivals of Matty Cash and Ollie Watkins from Nottingham Forest and Brentford respectively.

Villa boss Dean Smith said: "We are really pleased with the signing of our new goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez.

"We know how highly Arsenal rated him and we watched his outstanding performances last season in a trophy-winning top side.

"We moved for Emi when we saw the opportunity, as it is rare to be able to buy a top-class goalkeeper who hasn't yet reached their peak age and who can therefore be a key player for our club for the long term."

Martinez joined Arsenal in 2010, though has often been second or third choice at Emirates Stadium.

However, the Argentinian impressed when called upon last season following an injury to Bernd Leno and made nine Premier League appearances following the restart of the season in June.

He also put in strong performances to help Mikel Arteta's side clinch the FA Cup in August, and continued his form into the Community Shield, which Arsenal won on penalties against Liverpool.

But with Arteta unable to guarantee Martinez first-team football, he decided to bring his stay in north London to an end.

Aston Villa have completed the signing of goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez from Arsenal in a reported £20million deal.

Arsenal goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez farewelled the Gunners in an emotional video ahead of his reported transfer to fellow Premier League club Aston Villa.

Despite helping Arsenal to FA Cup and Community Shield glory in the absence of injured starter Bernd Leno, Martinez is expected to join Villa in a £20million deal.

Martinez joined Arsenal from Independiente in 2010, though the Argentine goalkeeper has often been second or third choice at Emirates Stadium.

Saying goodbye to Arsenal in an Instagram video on Tuesday, the 28-year-old said: "Thank you Arsenal. For me, I could not be happier to leave through the front door with the Arsenal fanbase supporting me and the club supporting me.

"I had 11 years at the club, and even if it was a hard road for me, and I suffered through my time at Arsenal, today I am happy and I tried to show young goalies how work pays off. 

"When you work hard, you are not going to be happy the whole time, you are going to have frustration, bad times in life. 

"They all understood at Arsenal and they support me for my decision. The Arsenal fanbase were always there for me, I felt their love.

"Even when Bernd got injured this season, I received loads of messages like 'we trust in you', 'you are our goalie'. That made me confident, made me win games and made me the keeper I am today.

"They understood my story and they love the way I worked in the club. I am so glad to be part of the Arsenal family for 11 years."

Jack Grealish has signed a new five-year contract with Aston Villa, in a move that appears to put to bed rumours the club captain could leave for Manchester United.

Villa announced the deal on their official website, with Grealish now committed to his boyhood club until 2025.

The 25-year-old midfielder, who made his England debut against Denmark this month, first caught the eye in the 2014-15 and 2015-16 Premier League seasons, when still a youngster.

He stayed with the team after their relegation to the Championship, despite interest from top-flight teams, and finally helped Villa out of the second tier after three years of trying.

Last season he scored eight goals and had six assists in the Premier League, playing a crucial role as Villa avoided relegation in a dramatic finale to the campaign.

Grealish said of his new deal: "I am delighted to make this commitment to Villa. It is my club, my home and I am very happy here.

"The owners have made it very clear to me how ambitious they are and how they want to build Aston Villa.  There are exciting times ahead and I am very glad to be part of it."

Villa have strengthened ahead of the new campaign by bringing in forward Ollie Watkins from Brentford and right-back Matty Cash from Nottingham Forest.

Grealish has been linked with a host of teams since emerging as a gifted playmaker and talk of a move to Old Trafford had persisted.

However, United have strengthened in midfield already in the transfer window with the signing of Donny van de Beek from Ajax, which appeared to diminish the prospect of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer coming in for Grealish in the short term.

Retaining Grealish provides Villa head coach Dean Smith with reassurance, being safe in the knowledge his star man has no intention of moving on.

Villa chief executive Christian Purslow welcomed Grealish's decision, saying: "We are determined to build a top team around him and are delighted that he is extending his contract and committing himself to the club he loves."

Jack Grealish has signed a new five-year contract with Aston Villa, in a move that appears to put to bed rumours the club captain could leave for Manchester United.

Barcelona are reportedly targeting Liverpool star Mohamed Salah.

Salah made a fine start to the Premier League season, scoring a hat-trick for Jurgen Klopp's men in a 4-3 win over Leeds United on Saturday.

Unsurprisingly, the forward is apparently wanted by LaLiga giants Barca.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA MAKE SALAH TOP TARGET

Barcelona have made Liverpool star Salah their top transfer target, according to the Express.

Salah and his Liverpool team-mate Sadio Mane have often been linked with moves to Barca's rivals Real Madrid.

Since Ronald Koeman arrived to take charge at Camp Nou, Barca have been said to be interested to numerous forwards, including Lyon star Memphis Depay.

ROUND-UP

- Frustrated in their pursuit of Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho, Manchester United may look elsewhere. The Express reports the Premier League giants could make a move for Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale.

- Back at Camp Nou and Luis Suarez is expected to make an exit this close season. Mundo Deportivo reports Juventus – the most strongly linked to the forward – remain hopeful of signing Suarez.

- Could Christian Eriksen leave Inter after less than a year? CalcioMercato reports the Serie A giants are prepared to listen to offers for the midfielder.

- Inter may already have their replacement if the Denmark international leaves. Gianluca Di Marzio reports Barcelona midfielder Arturo Vidal is "one step away" from joining Inter.

- Emiliano Martinez looks set to leave Arsenal. Goal reports the goalkeeper is close to a £20million move to Aston Villa with a deal to be finalised in the coming days. Martinez has been at Arsenal since 2010.

Paul Pogba has returned to Manchester United training after recovering from coronavirus but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is unsure if the midfielder will be fit for the team's Premier League opener.

The 27-year-old was forced to pull out of France's Nations League double-header with Sweden and Croatia over the past week following a positive test for COVID-19.

However, after a period of self-isolation, he has now been cleared to link up with his United team-mates ahead of their trip to Crystal Palace on September 19.

Pogba has not played since the 2-1 Europa League semi-final defeat to Sevilla on August 16, though manager Solskjaer is hopeful the former Juventus man can quickly rebuild his fitness.

"Paul's had a couple of training sessions so he's lost out on a few sessions because of the virus, of course," Solskjaer told MUTV on Friday.

"But Paul is quick to get fit. Of course, he worked really hard to get back after lockdown last time and played the majority of the games.

"Hopefully he'll be ready for next weekend. I am not 100 per cent sure, though."

Pogba was used 22 times for United in an injury-plagued 2019-20, 14 of those appearances coming after football resumed in June.

He is not expected to play any part in this Saturday's pre-season friendly with Aston Villa, but left-back Luke Shaw is set to feature after recovering from an ankle injury sustained in the latter stages of last season.

New signing Donny van de Beek, brought in from Ajax earlier this month for a fee that could rise to £39million, is also likely to get his first minutes in a United shirt.

"Luke is looking really good in training," Solskjaer said. "He has come back, looking strong, and will play in the friendly against Villa.

"It's going to be a game to give players minutes. Some have trained more than others and some will be more ready than others.

"Some played international games, which actually sometimes you think you don't really want that but some of them have got valuable minutes there.

"We'll give the others minutes against Villa so they can all start on a decent level because it's going to be a long season."

Aston Villa have confirmed the signing of striker Ollie Watkins from Brentford for a reported club-record fee of £28million.

Watkins, who finished level with Aleksandar Mitrovic as the Championship's top scorer on 26 goals last season, has penned a five-year deal at Villa Park.

The transfer fee could potentially rise to £33m with add-ons and it surpasses the £22m Villa spent to sign previous record signing Wesley Moraes from Club Brugge last year.

Dean Smith previously worked with Watkins during his time as Brentford boss and turned to the Englishman after Callum Wilson rejected Villa to join Premier League rivals Newcastle United.

Villa announced the arrival on their official website on Wednesday, and their new signing said: "I am so excited to join Aston Villa and to reunite with Dean Smith.

"I cannot wait to wear the famous claret and blue in the Premier League. I want to do something special here and score some goals."

Smith has also added defender Matty Cash to his squad during the close season and is delighted with this latest capture.

"Ollie has developed into one of the most sought-after strikers in the country and we are looking forward to seeing him show his great qualities in an Aston Villa shirt," he said.

"He is a hugely determined character who has both the ability and personality to succeed at the highest level."

Villa begin their new season with an EFL Cup second-round tie against Burton Albion next Tuesday, before facing Sheffield United in their Premier League opener six days later.

With the asking price for Memphis Depay reportedly set, Barcelona also apparently want Thiago Alcantara back.

Ronald Koeman is preparing a rebuild at Camp Nou after a tumultuous 2019-20 season in which Barca finished trophy-less.

The former Netherlands coach wants Depay, while an ex-Barcelona midfielder may also make a return.

 

TOP STORY – LYON WANT €30M FOR DEPAY

Lyon want €30million from Barcelona for Depay, according to Mundo Deportivo.

After the Netherlands' Nations League loss to Italy, Depay said he was aware of interest in him, but remained unsure about his future.

Meanwhile, the cover of Mundo Deportivo also says Barcelona want to negotiate with Manchester City for defender Eric Garcia.

ROUND-UP

- Widely expected to leave Bayern Munich, Thiago has been heavily linked with a move to Liverpool. However, Sport Bild reports Barca are interested in bringing the midfielder back to Camp Nou, seven years after he left for Bayern. 

- Chelsea's spending spree seems set to continue. Goal and The Athletic report the Premier League club are pushing to seal a deal for Rennes goalkeeper Edouard Mendy. Chelsea have been linked with numerous goalkeepers amid pressure on Kepa Arrizabalaga.

- Manchester United's interest in Alex Telles has reportedly intensified. A Bola says the Porto left-back's representatives are in Manchester for talks over a possible €30m (£26.9m) move, while Sevilla are also reportedly interested.

- Aleksandar Kolarov is seemingly close to an Inter switch. Sky Sport Italia reports the Serbian has landed in Milan for a medical ahead of joining from Roma.

- With Kai Havertz having left for Chelsea, Bayer Leverkusen are likely to be looking for a replacement. Le 10 Sport claims the Bundesliga club are interested in Paris Saint-Germain attacker Julian Draxler.

- Aston Villa are looking to strengthen. The Sun says they want Liverpool forward Rhian Brewster in a £20m move, while The Athletic understands they have made a second bid for Arsenal goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez.

Aston Villa have completed the signing of Matty Cash from Nottingham Forest on a five-year deal.

Cash arrives at Villa Park for an undisclosed fee, with reports suggesting the Premier League side agreed a deal that could rise to £16million.

The 23-year-old started his career as a right-sided attacker but developed into one of the best full-backs in the Championship. 

"Absolutely buzzing to have signed a 5 year deal at Aston Villa. Something I've always dreamed of since I was a young boy to play in the Premier League, it really is a dream come true," Cash, Forest's  2019-20 Player of the Season, wrote on Twitter. 

"I can't wait to meet up with the squad, meet everyone around the club and the supporters!"

Villa boss Dean Smith said: "We are delighted to welcome Matty to Villa and believe we have secured one of England's brightest young prospects.

"He has an excellent playing record for a young player and we believe he will settle in easily and continue his rapid development into a top full-back."

Cash is Villa's first signing ahead of the 2020/21 season.

Jack Grealish has earned a first senior England call-up for the Nations League clashes with Iceland and Denmark, while Marcus Rashford and Harry Winks have withdrawn from the squad.

Grealish was initially overlooked for the Group A2 encounters with Iceland in Reykjavik on Saturday and Denmark in Copenhagen three days later.

The Aston Villa captain has now been drafted into the squad by Gareth Southgate, who came in for criticism for omitting the midfielder last week.

Grealish represented England at under-21 level and played in Southgate's 2016 Toulon Tournament-winning squad.

Manchester United forward Rashford misses out with an ankle injury, while Tottenham midfielder Winks is also unavailable due to injury so Southgate is down to a squad of 24.

Rashford tweeted on Monday: "Never want to let this team down but these fixtures just came a little too soon for me.

"I tried my best but I have to focus on starting the season at my strongest for club and country. Good luck boys, I'll be cheering you on from home."

Southgate also called-up uncapped Wolves defender Conor Coady and versatile Arsenal's versatile 23-year-old Ainsley Maitland-Niles at the weekend.
 

 

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