After weeks of reports that Arsenal were poised to make a move for James Maddison, Brendan Rodgers has dismissed that notion as "all gossip", saying no bids have been made made. 

The Leicester City manager said ahead of Monday's trip to West Ham that he believes everyone in the squad wants to remain at the King Power.

That marks a significant step for the Foxes, who have grown accustomed to losing key players to big-money rivals. 

Maddison appeared to be the man in demand during the off-season but Rodgers insisted there have been no offers for the 24-year-old England international. 

“There’s obviously been things around James this summer but the reality is that it was all gossip, as there was never an inquiry or a bid made," Rodgers said. "There was no drama there.”

The Gunners' £30million move to land Martin Odegaard from Real Madrid may have pre-empted an official bid, but the bottom line is the same for Leicester. 

On the heels of a second successive fifth-place finish in the league and with a new training facility up and running, Rodgers said he believes the club is ready to retain its players. 

"Players have felt the need to move on and further their careers, which is fine, and that's the nature of the game," Rodgers said. "It will always happen and some of the biggest clubs in the world will lose their players.

"You've always got to be preparing this pipeline of players going forward so if you do lose them you get the next ones coming in. That's something we are very clear on as a club.

"I just think this summer the players have been able to reflect on where we're at as a team and a club and feel they want to be a part of that, which is great news."

Brendan Rodgers is confident James Maddison will remain a Leicester City player, despite speculation linking him with Arsenal.

Having already brought in Ben White and Albert Sambi Lokonga, Arsenal are rumoured to be interested in the Leicester midfielder, though Rodgers dismissed those reports on Thursday.

Leicester, who are preparing for the Community Shield on Saturday, won the FA Cup last season before falling at the final hurdle for Champions League qualification, with Maddison playing an integral role.

"Yes, I believe so," Rodgers said when asked whether Maddison would remain at the King Power Stadium. "I haven't been told anything to say he won't be.

"He's happy in training, he's working very hard and he's just recently become a father so he has responsibility off the pitch as well.

"There's obviously gossip and speculation that goes around, especially this time of year, but James is a very important member of our squad.

"He's a very talented player. His season was disrupted last year by injury but hopefully this season he can go and show what a top player he is.”

Maddison, whose 13 goal involvements in 31 games last term represented his best return in the Premier League, led Leicester's charts for chances created with 51, despite playing seven games fewer than second-placed Youri Tielemans.

The England midfielder's 788 passes inside the opposition half were the second most among Rodgers' players, yet Maddison still ranked fourth with 81.22 per cent of those balls finding a team-mate.

While Rodgers will have reason to celebrate if he can keep a hold of playmaker Maddison, Wednesday's friendly against Villarreal led to concerning issues at the back.

Wesley Fofana, who was just one of two defenders to attempt at least 50 tackles, make 50 interceptions and produce 50 headed clearances last season, suffered a broken leg against the LaLiga outfit, leaving Leicester short for centre-backs.

Rodgers admitted he was "not overly happy with the way the game was officiated" and concluded it was "disappointing for something like that to happen in a pre-season friendly".

Already without the injured Jonny Evans, Leicester have just Caglar Soyuncu left as a first-choice centre-half and could be forced to push Wilfred Ndidi back into defence for Saturday's clash with Manchester City.

Rodgers now faces a race against the clock to fill the defensive void as he noted the shock 2015-16 Premier League winners are "definitely light in that area."

European champions Chelsea have been in the market for a new striker this off-season.

The Blues chased Erling Haaland without success and have now set their sights on Romelu Lukaku.

Lukaku was on Chelsea's books from 2011 and 2014 but has since become one of the world's best forwards.

 

TOP STORY - CHELSEA TO TABLE NEW BUMPER LUKAKU BID

Chelsea  are preparing to table a new bid of between £100million and £110m (€120-130m) bid for Inter forward  Lukaku  claims Fabrizio Romano.

The Blues had an initial £85m (€100m) offer, including Marcos Alonso, for the Belgian striker rejected by Inter.

The Sun claim Lukaku is keen on a return to Chelsea, citing "unfinished business" from his previous stint in London.

 

ROUND-UP

- Paris Saint-Germain are not guaranteed to retain Real Madrid target  Kylian Mbappe , reports AS. The France superstar has already informed PSG that he will not extend his current contract, due to expire in 2022, and president Nasser Al-Khelaifi is set to take over talks.

- Aymeric Laporte has told Manchester City he wants to leave to return to Spain this off-season, reports 90min. Barcelona and Real Madrid are both interested in the Spain international, who is not first choice at City.

- Arsenal have proposed a player-plus-cash deal, believed to be worth £60m, for Leicester City's James Maddison according to Football.London, but negotiations are "very slow". 

- Tottenham will complete a £47m (€55m) deal for Atalanta defender  Cristian Romero imminently according to Romano. Atalanta will fill the void by signing Merih Demiral from Juventus.

Jack Grealish was the player England fans wanted to see during Euro 2020.

Now a move to a bigger Premier League club might be on the cards.

Grealish is reportedly moving closer to leaving Aston Villa.

 

TOP STORY – CITY EYE GREALISH SWOOP

It seems increasingly unlikely Aston Villa will be able to hold onto Jack Grealish.

The England winger has agreed to personal terms with Manchester City, according to a Football Insider report.

Though he grew up a Villa fan and has spent his entire career with the club, save for a season on loan to Notts County, Grealish is in demand among the Premier League's big-money clubs.

City reportedly are preparing a £90million offer that would be difficult for Villa to refuse.

ROUND-UP

- With Paul Pogba and Manchester United at a stalemate in contract talks, the Telegraph says Paris Saint-Germain believe they can sign the midfielder with a £43million bid.

- Alexandre Lacazette is entering his final year under contract with Arsenal but the Gunners are ready to move on. According to the Sun, they are hoping to net £15m for Lacazette after paying £52m to sign him four years ago.

- Arsenal remain interested in a move for James Maddison, reports the Mirror, and they could explore a swap deal with Leicester City to get it done.

- PSG want to keep Moise Kean on a permanent deal after his year on loan from Everton, but Juventus also are interested, Le 10 Sport reports.

Is Erling Haaland's future close to being resolved?

Borussia Dortmund, up until now, have been unwilling to part with their top asset.

But Chelsea are reportedly making progress to bring Haaland to London.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA CLOSING IN ON HAALAND?

Chelsea have agreed personal terms with Erling Haaland and now just need to agree a fee with Borussia Dortmund, according to the Transfer Window Podcast.

Haaland is a player in demand, linked with Chelsea, Manchester City, Real Madrid, Manchester United, Barcelona, Liverpool, Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich and Juventus.

But Chelsea have reportedly made a breakthrough in their pursuit to prise the Norway forward to Stamford Bridge.

 

ROUND-UP

- Sport claims Madrid are targeting Inter star Nicolo Barella or Sassuolo's Manuel Locatelli. Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips has also been linked. Locatelli is attracting interest this off-season, with Juventus, Arsenal, Inter, Dortmund and City reported admirers.

Arsenal are chasing Leicester City's James Maddison, according to Chris Wheatley. Chelsea and Liverpool are believed to be also tracking the England international.

- Eurosport reports Real Sociedad winger Mikel Oyarzabal is on City's radar. Pep Guardiola's side could make a move if Bernardo Silva – linked with Barcelona and Atletico Madrid – or Raheem Sterling leave.

Atletico are set to sign Rodrigo De Paul from Udinese, says Fabrizio Romano. The Argentina international has been wanted by Liverpool, Juve and Leeds United.

Milan are looking to sign Stuttgart forward Sasa Kalajdzic, according to Calciomercato. Chelsea's Olivier Giroud, Torino star Andrea Belotti and Madrid outcast Luka Jokic have also been linked.

- Bild claims Bayern would be willing to sell Kingsley Coman for the right price amid interest from United and Liverpool. The Bundesliga champions are also considering the futures of Niklas Sule and Corentin Tolisso.

England manager Gareth Southgate has named his provisional 33-man squad for the rearranged Euro 2020, which starts next month. 

The Three Lions boss has until midnight on June 1 to cut his squad down to 26, but he will have time to assess players in training ahead of friendlies against Austria and Romania on June 2 and June 6 respectively.

England then start their Euros campaign at Wembley on June 13, taking on Croatia. Scotland are next up in Group D, before they face the Czech Republic on June 22.

Here, Stats Perform looks at the data behind some of the notable inclusions – including a midfielder who could become England's youngest player at a major tournament – and eye-catching omissions from Southgate's preliminary selection.

Bellingham on course to break Owen's record

Jude Bellingham has enjoyed a stunning debut season at Borussia Dortmund following his move from Championship side Birmingham City for a reported €23million (£21m). 

He made 19 appearances in the Bundesliga, scoring once, and became the youngest English player to net in the Champions League when he struck against Manchester City in the quarter-finals, aged 17 years and 289 days. 

The midfielder made his England debut as a substitute against the Republic of Ireland in November, which he followed up with another appearance from the bench in the World Cup qualifying win over San Marino in March. 

Bellingham is expected to make Southgate's final squad and should he feature in any of the games – a near-certainity given the supreme confidence with which he has taken to elite-level football – he will break Michael Owen's 23-year record as the youngest player to feature for the Three Lions at a major tournament. 

He could also be joined by two other teenagers, with Arsenal's Bukayo Saka and Manchester United forward Mason Greenwood, who are both still yet to turn 20, also in Southgate's long list.

The inclusion of that trio meant the average age of the squad on Tuesday was just 25 years and 12 days. 

Alexander-Arnold storms back into contention

Liverpool right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold was controversially left out of England's squad for the March internationals, but a strong end to the season saw him included in Southgate's pool of players this time around.

The Liverpool right-back certainly struggled in the early stages of the campaign, but he finished it having created more chances (77) than any other defender in the Premier League. 

He also had more goal involvements (two goals, seven assists) and tallied up more successful crosses (37) than any other defender, while only Leeds United's Luke Ayling (279) made more than his 258 recoveries. 

A surprise inclusion in defence was Brighton and Hove Albion's Ben White. 

The 23-year-old quietly went about his business with Graham Potter's side and ended the campaign with the best combined tackles and interceptions ratio per 90 minutes (3.13) of any English centre back who played more than 900 minutes. He was significantly ahead of second-placed Harry Maguire (2.63), who has also been included in the squad despite injury concerns. 

White also has the highest average carry distance (11.4 metres) of that group of players, ahead of John Stones (11.2) and Maguire (11.1), while he also made the most carries which resulted in taking an opposition player on (18). A carry is defined as when a player travels five or more metres with the ball.

Everton defender Ben Godfrey was also selected for the provisional squad, with Southgate saying of the pair: "I think they're both exciting young defenders, they can play left, right, midfield in White's case.

"It's an opportunity for us to know them better. I think it works for everybody. Not knowing how long they'll be with us at this stage, but it'll be a fantastic experience for them."

'Difficult call' to leave Dier out

While a number of players will consider themselves unfortunate to miss out, James Maddison, Eric Dier, Danny Ings and Patrick Bamford were arguably the four most glaring omissions.

Dier, in particular, will feel aggrieved to have been snubbed, having been a key member in the run to the World Cup 2018 semi-finals and a regular in the squad since, but he has struggled for form for Tottenham this term.

He gave away two penalties in his 28 appearances in 2020-21 – only Kyle Walker and team-mate Davinson Sanchez (three) conceded more in the English top flight.

Explaining his decision to not call up Dier, Southgate said: "Unfortunately, I don't think his season has been strong enough to be in the squad. It's a difficult call because I know how much he brings to the whole group and when you're at a tournament those team players are critical."

Maddison has not always been a favourite of Southgate's, meanwhile.

The attacking midfielder managed eight goals and five assists in 31 Premier League appearances for Leicester City this season. However, of the seven other midfielders to have been directly involved in more goals than Maddison's 13, three of them – Phil Foden (14), James Ward-Prowse (15) and Jack Grealish (16) – are part of England's squad.

Maddison created an average of 2.18 chances per 90 minutes in an injury hampered 2020-21 league campaign, which is again below the likes of Mason Mount (2.71) and Grealish (3.34), but ahead of Foden (2.01), Ward-Prowse (1.58) and Jesse Lingard (1.14).

FA Cup Winners 2021 Dreams really do come true  pic.twitter.com/EHdXsgKTEg

— James Maddison (@Madders10) May 15, 2021

"It's an area of the pitch where we've got unbelievable competition for places," Southgate said. "We just feel there are players ahead of James in those areas."

As for Ings and Bamford, the pair scored 12 and 17 top-flight goals for Southampton and Leeds respectively this season.

Bamford's average of 0.5 goals per 90 minutes and Ings' 0.49 ranks them favourably among English strikers in the Premier League, ahead of Marcus Rashford (0.34), Greenwood (0.34) and Ollie Watkins (0.38), who they were competing with for a squad place.

"There is of course Danny and Patrick, who have had very good seasons," Southgate said. "But we didn't see any reason to change these positions from the players who did very well with us in the three qualifiers that we won in March."

The goal that started Leicester City's late turnaround against Liverpool was "a clear offside" and they should not have even been awarded the free-kick, according to Jurgen Klopp.

Mohamed Salah fired Liverpool ahead in the 67th minute and Leicester felt they had been harshly denied a penalty when a VAR review deemed that Thiago Alcantara's foul on Harvey Barnes occurred outside the box.

However, James Maddison's free-kick found the far corner in the 78th minute, with VAR overturning an offside decision against Daniel Amartey – who did not get a touch on the delivery – after Roberto Firmino's foot was adjudged to have put the Leicester defender in a legal position.

Jamie Vardy was gifted a goal when debutant Ozan Kabak and Alisson failed to deal with a ball over the top, and the Foxes had a third goal in the space of eight minutes when Barnes was released by Wilfred Ndidi and slotted in a cool finish.

Liverpool consequently fell six points behind Leicester, who moved up to second in the Premier League, and 10 adrift of leaders Manchester City.

"We conceded a goal, which is a really tough one to take. I know we discuss VAR a lot, but I think we all agree it was a turning point in the game," said Klopp.

"I have seen it a couple of times and the moment when they stop the situation, where you look who is offside and who isn't, he didn't even touch the ball yet, so it means it's still an individual decision someone makes. That's really hard because for me it looks like a clear offside in that moment, because he has to touch the ball. That's the moment it's yes or no.

"The second goal is a misunderstanding, we said they need to get used to each other and they were fine for 75 minutes.

"It was a really good game. They were one position ahead of us – maybe now more – but on the pitch that was not obvious, we were the clear dominant side.

"We played football we wanted to play, we avoided their counter-attacks, we scored a really nice goal, had more chances. We have to work harder to get more chances and maybe score more goals, but the game was really good and then we concede two goals.

"The third one we lose the ball too easy and one pass and they are done. That's something I don't like. We were much too open at that moment and that is not OK."

Alisson made two errors in Liverpool's 4-1 loss to City last weekend and Klopp was unsure whether that was a factor in his mix-up with Kabak, though he said he did not hear the goalkeeper make his presence known to his centre-back as he rushed out of the box.

Klopp said: "We tried everything. We were confident, Ali was confident. He played a super game, made super saves. Then at that moment - maybe because of last week, who knows - he came out, I didn't hear him shouting and to be honest I'm not sure if he said something or not. Ozan doesn't know if he's coming or not and that leads to the second goal."

The Liverpool boss was disappointed with the way his team collapsed after the equaliser and questioned the foul that preceded Leicester's equaliser.

"The turning point was the first goal. That's not okay, but that's the point we take as criticism for ourselves that it changed too much with one goal," he said.

"Even when the goal was really tricky – I don't think it was even a foul because Barnes jumps in the situation. We didn't react well to that and I take that.

"They were lucky, for me. They know it probably. They finished the game and deserved the three points, but we have to take our observations."

Leicester City scored three goals in the space of seven minutes to stun Liverpool as the Premier League champions slipped to a 3-1 defeat in Jurgen Klopp's 300th match in charge. 

Mohamed Salah's carefully placed finish gave the visitors a 67th-minute lead at the King Power Stadium, yet from a position of strength they suffered a dramatic collapse to slip to a third successive loss. 

James Maddison equalised with a free-kick from a tight angle – the strike was initially ruled out for offside prior to a VAR check – before a calamitous moment between Alisson, at fault for two goals in last Sunday's 4-1 loss to Manchester City, and debutant Ozan Kabak gifted Jamie Vardy his first goal of 2021. 

With Liverpool still reeling, Harvey Barnes wrapped up a first win for Brendan Rodgers over his former employers since the end of his Anfield reign – and moved his current club six points clear of them in the table. 

Raheem Sterling struck Manchester City's second goal in their 2-0 win at Burnley to move onto 99 for the club in the Premier League.

With Pep Guardiola's men starting to build an ominous lead at the top of the table, this weekend would be an ideal time for Sterling to score for just the second time against Liverpool in what would be his 11th league meeting with his former employers.

Burnley have had a poor couple of games but there's value to be had in backing three of their top performers to deliver when they host in-form Brighton and Hove Albion.

Meanwhile, Anthony Martial is back among the goals for Manchester United and could well be worth a spot in your fantasy line-up.

NICK POPE

Burnley's number one Nick Pope had a rare moment of misfortune last time out, flapping at a Bernardo Silva shot that allowed Gabriel Jesus a simple goal three minutes in.

Still, he made four saves in total to keep the scoreline reasonably respectable and take his tally to 204 in the competition since the start of last season. No goalkeeper has made more.

In fact, only Ederson (29) has kept more clean sheets than Pope (22) in that same time frame, and the man hopeful of becoming England's regular number one will be determined to add to that against Brighton and prove his City slip-up was a mere blip.

 

JAMES TARKOWSKI

Like his goalkeeper, James Tarkowski has also kept 22 Premier League clean sheets since August 2019, more than any other defender (Harry Maguire is next on 21). He has every chance of getting another here.

Brighton are on a roll after beating Tottenham and Liverpool 1-0 and they won this game last season at Turf Moor 2-1, Aaron Connolly scoring a second-half winner.

However, three of the seven Premier League meetings between these two have finished 0-0, including the reverse game in November. Indeed, this could be the first fixture in Premier League history to see no goals scored in both games in two separate campaigns (there were two 0-0 draws in 2017-18, too).

 

LUCAS DIGNE

Everton left-back Lucas Digne has already registered six assists this season, the most of any defender in the league. Since he joined the Toffees in 2018, only Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold (28) can better his tally of 17.

Digne actually splits the two Liverpool full-backs when it comes to chances created over the same time period, his 165 bettered only by Alexander-Arnold among defenders (166).

His battle with Manchester United's Aaron Wan-Bissaka could be key to the result at Old Trafford.

RAHEEM STERLING

As well as scoring 99 goals, Sterling has provided 55 assists in all competitions for City under Guardiola. Those 154 goal involvements are the most of any player in the Catalan's time in charge, eight more than next best Sergio Aguero.

The England forward has not always enjoyed facing his old club and City have a fairly miserable record at Anfield, having won just once in their previous 29 league visits – and that was back in May 2003.

But with the champions reeling from consecutive home defeats to Burnley and Brighton, Sterling may well sense the Reds are there for the taking.

 

JAMES MADDISON

In Leicester City's 2-0 win at Fulham, James Maddison set up both goals, marking the first time he has recorded multiple assists in a Premier League game.

In his previous 12 appearances in all competitions, the former Norwich City man has been directly involved in 12 goals (six scored and six assisted). There were just three games in that run where he failed to score or set up a team-mate.

Brendan Rodgers' men are flying high and will be confident of a result away to an inconsistent Wolves.

 

CHRIS WOOD

Chris Wood has only scored four league goals all season and just one of those has come in his most recent seven appearances.

That could all change against Brighton. Wood has scored eight times in league football against the Seagulls, making them his favourite opponent in English football.

 

ANTHONY MARTIAL

Anthony Martial had a positive cameo in that 9-0 demolition of Southampton, scoring twice and winning a (controversial) penalty after coming on at half-time.

Everton will not want to see Martial with renewed confidence. The France forward has managed six goals and three assists in his past 11 appearances in all competitions against the Toffees.

Even if Edinson Cavani starts in his place, Martial may well be a threat: he came off the bench to score one and set up another in a 2-0 EFL Cup win at Goodison Park in December.

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