Memphis Depay remains Barcelona's preferred transfer option, while Manchester United want Jadon Sancho and Alex Telles in this window.

LaLiga giants Barca have been linked with numerous attackers as they rebuild under Ronald Koeman.

Depay has seemingly been the favourite to join, and it appears nothing has changed.

 

TOP STORY – DEPAY THE FAVOURITE TO JOIN BARCELONA

Depay is in pole position to join Barcelona from Lyon, according to Mundo Deportivo.

The report says Depay, 26, fits the profile and salary expectations at Barca.

Depay and Koeman worked together while the latter was in charge of the Netherlands between 2018 and 2020.

ROUND-UP

- United are still hoping for two signings this transfer window. The Sun says the Red Devils are looking to land Borussia Dortmund star Sancho and Porto left-back Telles .

- Arsenal could be close to strengthening by signing Houssem Aouar . Telefoot says the attacker has agreed to join the club, with Lyon and Arsenal set for talks over a fee.

- As they continue their search for a defender, Manchester City may be close to making a decision. Goal reports the Premier League club are in talks with Benfica over Ruben Dias , in a deal that could see Nicolas Otamendi  go the other way. Meanwhile, ESPN says Sevilla are expecting an improved bid from City for Jules Kounde after an initial £50.2million (€55m) offer was rejected.

- Chelsea may not be done spending just yet. The Mirror reports they want to make another move for West Ham midfielder Declan Rice , and it could lead to Jorginho joining Arsenal .

- Sergino Dest is expected to join Barcelona and Guillem Balague claims the Ajax right-back should officially join them next week. Barcelona sold Nelson Semedo to Wolves this week.

- Could there be late movement in the transfer window for Tottenham ? The Sun reports Spurs are in talks to sign Inter defender Milan Skriniar and are prepared to pay between £25m (€27.4m) and £30m (€32.9m), which is well below Inter's valuation.

Pep Guardiola seems desperate to reinforce his centre-back options before the transfer deadline early next month, and it appears his primary targets are Ruben Dias of Benfica and Sevilla's Jules Kounde.

Media reports on Friday suggested that City have offered approximately €55million, plus Nicolas Otamendi, for Dias having apparently had a similar offer turned down for Kounde last week.

Sevilla sporting director Monchi confirmed the club had received an offer for the talented Frenchman, though he did not reveal the club that bid – which was rejected – came from.

City had previously seemed focused on Napoli's Kalidou Koulibaly, while Kounde's partner at Sevilla, Diego Carlos, was also said to have been considered.

But with no progress on those deals, City have identified younger options, with Dias 23 years old and Kounde not due to turn 22 for another two months.

With Dias and Kounde looking the likeliest to bolster Guardiola's defensive ranks, we used Opta data to compare the two players.

Adapting to City's style

Given he is a year-and-a-half older than Kounde, it's fair to suggest Dias is slightly further ahead in his development than Kounde, while he is also playing for one of the top teams in a less competitive league than LaLiga.

But there is a lot to like about the Portugal international's game and he does look well-suited to City's possession-based style of play.

He completed 1,934 of his 2,184 passes last term, and though that statistic in isolation doesn't prove a huge amount – many will have been simple and under no pressure – it does show he is used to seeing a lot of the ball.

Of those, 927 were in the opposing half and 81 per cent found a team-mate, whereas Kounde attempted 491 in the attacking half and completed 76.6 per cent.

It's a similar story with regards to passes ending in the final third, where play is likely to be more congested. Dias made 364 passes into such an area and was accurate 68.4 per cent of the time, while Kounde found a team-mate in the attacking third with 66.3 per cent accuracy from 160 passes.

As a base for comparison, City's current centre-backs are reflected much better by the data in this area – Otamendi's passing accuracy in the opposing half is 87.9 per cent, Aymeric Laporte's is 90 per cent, while in the final third their respective figures are 76.8 per cent and 84.6 per cent.

With respect to Kounde, it is worth bearing in mind that Sevilla play far more direct than either of the other two teams in question. They played 2,594 long balls in the league last term, while City registered 1,978 and Benfica attempted 1,581.

Where Kounde does come out on top, however, thus proving his ability on the ball and ease at bringing it out from the back, is the fact he attempted 22 dribbles and completed 81.2 per cent of them – of the defenders (that's centre-backs and full-backs) in LaLiga to try 20 or more dribbles, only one had a better success rate.

Dependable defenders?

As possession-oriented as City are, even a team like that has to do a bit of defending now and again – and although they only conceded two more goals than Liverpool in 2019-20, it was widely felt the centre of defence was their biggest issue.

Otamendi proved unreliable, Fernandinho isn't a natural centre-back, John Stones was unconvincing when fit and Laporte – undoubtedly their best option – missed a chunk of the season with an ACL injury.

The hole left by Laporte and Vincent Kompany's departure to Anderlecht was gaping and resulted in City looking flimsy, particularly when put under pressure – seven of their nine defeats were away from home.

Dependable, hard-working centre-backs capable of playing with the ball at their feet are seemingly what Guardiola is after, and both Dias and Kounde proved to be just that for their respective teams.

Kounde was a standout performer as recently as Thursday for Sevilla, impressing in spite of a 2-1 UEFA Super Cup defeat to Bayern Munich. He made three tackles and nine clearances, also winning each of his six aerial duels.

In a straight comparison between Dias and Kounde with regards to standard defensive metrics, the former does generally come out on top, as he won possession back more times (175 to 108) than the Frenchman, and bested him in terms of interceptions (30 to 23), overall clearances (101 to 88), tackles (44 to 23) and duels (254 to 229).

But Kounde, though less of a domineering physical specimen than Dias in appearance, does tend to be more effective aerially, suggesting his stats against Bayern were no fluke.

Despite playing four fewer matches than Dias, he made more headed clearances (56 to 50), engaged in a greater number of aerial duels (149 to 141) and won more as well (94 to 86).

The verdict

Both players fit the general mould of centre-backs that Guardiola likes, but to suggest either is the finished article or a world-class player yet would be premature.

Kounde did very well in his first season in LaLiga, but he only truly found consistency in his performances at the start of 2020 – a talent, certainly, with his ceiling seemingly very high, but prising him away could cost City well over £60m.

Dias appears the easier to sign given he will likely be slightly cheaper than Kounde, while in most cases in this statistical comparison, he has the edge.

But, with Victor Lindelof impressing for Benfica but struggling to convince with Manchester United, City may want to take note of a warning from across town.

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.

First Juventus, now Atletico Madrid.

For so long, Luis Suarez appeared set to leave Spain for Italy.

But a proposed move to Juve did not materialise as the Barcelona forward stands on the cusp of uniting with Diego Simeone in the Spanish capital.

 

TOP STORY – SUAREZ TO JOIN ATLETICO

Luis Suarez will swap Barcelona for LaLiga rivals Atletico Madrid, according to widespread reports in Spain.

Suarez had been tipped to join Serie A champions Juventus after being told he could leave Camp Nou.

But the 33-year-old Uruguay international forward will now sign a two-year deal with Atletico as he dominates the front pages of Wednesday's Marca, Diario AS and Mundo Deportivo.

 

ROUND-UP

Manchester United have progressed talks with Barca regarding forward Ousmane Dembele, Record Sport reports. Having so far failed to prise Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund, United are eyeing an initial loan move for Dembele.

- Esport3 claims Barca are set to sign Ajax right-back Sergino Dest, who was also wanted by Bayern Munich.

Milan have offered €20million for Nikola Milenkovic but Fiorentina have said no, reports Gazzetta dello Sport. Celtic's Kristoffer Ajer and Schalke centre-back Matija Nastasic are also options for the Rossoneri.

- Tuttosport claims Wolves are circling Juventus winger Douglas Costa, who has also been linked to United.

Fulham and Newcastle United have entered the race to sign Napoli forward Arkadiusz Milik, reports Gazzetta dello Sport. Tottenham have also been linked to the Poland international, while Roma are believed to be in talks as Milik enters the final year of his Napoli contract.

- Sky Sport Italia says Tottenham have opened talks for Inter defender Milan Skriniar, while Benfica's Ruben Dias is another option for Spurs.

- Torino are battling Atletico for Arsenal midfielder Lucas Torreira, according to Sportitalia. The former Sampdoria star has also been linked to Milan.

- Telefoot says Paris Saint-Germain are in talks with Chelsea over the possible signing of midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko. Discussions with Milan over a return have become complicated and PSG are now eyeing an initial loan deal for the former Monaco star.

Real Madrid and Liverpool reportedly lead the race for Kylian Mbappe if the France star decides to leave Paris Saint-Germain.

Mbappe, 21, is contracted at PSG until 2022, making his future a talking point heading into next year.

It seems the France international's future lies at one of three clubs.

 

TOP STORY – REAL MADRID, LIVERPOOL LEAD RACE FOR MBAPPE

Mbappe's future will be decided next year and the forward will be at PSG, Real Madrid or Liverpool, according to L'Equipe.

The World Cup winner has been heavily linked with Zinedine Zidane's Madrid previously, while Jurgen Klopp's Premier League champions have also reportedly been interested in the past.

The report says Liverpool and Madrid are in regular contact with Mbappe.

 

ROUND-UP

- Luis Suarez is set for a Barcelona exit, but the forward's next club remains unclear. Sport reports Suarez has an agreement with Atletico Madrid, apparently for two seasons, but Barca are said to be intending to block him joining a direct rival for free.

- Manchester United could strengthen as soon as this week. The Guardian reports Porto left-back Alex Telles hopes to seal a move to United this week and it says the Premier League club are hoping to get the 27-year-old's price down to £23mllion (€25m).

- With Kepa Arrizabalaga again coming under fire, Chelsea are set to welcome a new goalkeeper. RMC Sport reports the Premier League club have finalised a deal worth £22million (€24m), plus £5.5m (€6m) in bonuses, with Rennes for Edouard Mendy.

- Staying at Chelsea and N'Golo Kante is reportedly wanted by Inter. Corriere dello Sport reports Inter coach Antonio Conte wants the midfielder, but a €50million (£45.9m) asking price is unthinkable for the Serie A club unless Christian Eriksen or Marcelo Brozovic are sold.

- There could also be movement at Real Madrid. EFE reports Luka Jovic is pushing for a return to Eintracht Frankfurt on loan after struggling in his first season with the LaLiga giants. Meanwhile, Marca says former Paris Saint-Germain striker Edinson Cavani has been offered to Madrid.

- While Suarez may arrive, Atletico Madrid are also considering their transfer options. AS reports they are waiting for offers for Diego Costa, while Marca says the LaLiga club need to see a player leave before potentially signing Arsenal midfielder Lucas Torreira.

Sevilla have signed Marcos Acuna from Sporting CP to all but end their interest in fellow left-back Sergio Reguilon.

Reguilon starred on loan with Sevilla last season and the Europa League winners had hoped to re-sign him from Real Madrid for the 2020-21 campaign.

However, sporting director Monchi conceded last week his side would likely miss out on the 23-year-old, who is also a reported target for Manchester United.

And on Monday the LaLiga outfit confirmed the arrival of Argentina international Acuna on a four-year deal for a reported upfront fee of €10million.

Acuna spent three seasons with Sporting, making 134 appearances for the Portuguese giants in all competitions.

He becomes Sevilla's fifth signing of the window following deals for Ivan Rakitic, Oscar Rodriguez, Yassine Bounou and Suso, the latter two making their loan moves permanent.

Julen Lopetegui's side finished fourth last season to qualify for the Champions League and begin their 2020-21 campaign with a UEFA Super Cup clash against Bayern Munich on September 24.

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.

Wolves have completed the signing of highly rated Porto star Fabio Silva in a club-record deal reported to be €40million (£35.6m).

Silva, 18, has signed a five-year deal with the club and further increases the significant Portuguese contingent at Molineux.

The striker made the step up to the Porto senior side in 2019-20 having helped the club win the UEFA Youth League in the previous campaign and holds the records for the Portuguese club's youngest player and goalscorer.

He made 20 appearances across all competitions for Porto's senior team, and although he scored just three goals, Silva is regarded as one of Portugal's finest prospects.

Wolves' executive chairman Jeff Shi revealed the club had been tracking Silva for several years and that the desire for his signing comes straight from head coach Nuno Espirito Santo.

"Our recruitment team have been watching Fabio since he played for Portugal Under-16s and they feel he has always been the best number nine coming through his age group anywhere in Europe," Shi said.

"In recent years, Fabio has been developing very fast and now has proven himself in Porto's first team, which is a top squad.

"Our head coach's requirement for quality is very high, but he thinks Fabio is an important signing who will help the team immediately this season.

"The timing of this deal is similar to the timing of when we bought Ruben Neves; we've waited for the right time to get a high-quality player at the right price."

Silva's prodigious talent has seen some pundits suggest he can become Cristiano Ronaldo's long-term heir for Portugal.

While such claims may be premature given Andre Silva was given the same treatment a few years ago, the teenager has attracted interest from many of Europe's biggest clubs.

Real Madrid and Liverpool had both been linked as keen admirers of the tricky attacker, yet it is Wolves who have pulled off an impressive transfer.

Wolves boast strong connections to Portuguese football and 'super agent' Jorge Mendes, with much of the club's coaching and playing staff from Portugal.

Seven of the senior squad are from Portugal, while there are also several others who have plied their trade in the Primeira Liga.

Silva will compete with Raul Jimenez, Daniel Podence, Pedro Neto, Diogo Jota and Adama Traore for a first-team role, with the teenager's skillset making him a potentially versatile option across the front.

Wolves have completed the signing of highly rated Porto star Fabio Silva in a club-record deal reported to be €40million (£35.6m).

Premier League giants Chelsea and Arsenal appear close to strengthening their defences.

After conceding more league goals than any other side that finished in the top eight in 2019-20, the two clubs have been linked to defensive reinforcements.

It seems both are close to making additions.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA CLOSE TO SIGNING SILVA

Chelsea are close to signing Paris Saint-Germain centre-back Thiago Silva on a one-year deal, according to Sky Sports.

Silva, 35, confirmed after Sunday's Champions League final loss to Bayern Munich that he had played his last game for the Ligue 1 giants.

The Brazil defender has been linked to Chelsea and Fiorentina, but looks set to join the former.

 

ROUND-UP

- Chelsea's rivals Arsenal have almost landed a centre-back of their own. RMC Sport reports a deal taking Lille defender Gabriel Magalhaes to the club is done, with the sides agreeing a £27million (€30m) fee and the 22-year-old opting for Arsenal over Napoli and Everton.

- On the outer at Real Madrid, just whether Gareth Bale leaves this close season remains to be seen. AS claims there have been no offers for the attacker and MLS seems the only way out due to his salary.

Lionel Messi reportedly has Barcelona in "suspense" amid talk over his future.

Messi, 33, has been linked with a move away from the LaLiga giants amid chaos at the club following their capitulation in the Champions League.

Contracted until 2021, Messi's future has become a major talking point.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA IN 'SUSPENSE' OVER MESSI FUTURE

Barcelona are in suspense amid uncertainty over Messi's future, according to Marca.

Club president Josep Maria Bartomeu said on Tuesday he expected Messi to lead the club into the future under Ronald Koeman.

TuttoMercatoWeb reports only Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain or Inter would be able to afford the six-time Ballon d'Or winner.

 

ROUND-UP

- Staying at Barcelona and Mundo Deportivo reports Koeman wants a two-year deal at the club and Henrik Larsson as one of his assistants at Camp Nou.

- Chelsea continue to chase Kai Havertz. Sport Bild claims negotiations between the Premier League club and Bayer Leverkusen started last week and Havertz will become the most expensive German player of all-time.

- Will Kalidou Koulibaly leave Napoli? The Mirror reports City are being invited to make a £60million (€66.6m) move for the defender, who Napoli want to replace with Lille's Gabriel Magalhaes. ESPN says Arsenal are hopeful of sealing a deal for Gabriel for around £22m (€24.4m).

- Leeds United could be preparing to strengthen on their return to the Premier League. The Evening Standard reports Leeds are interested in Chelsea striker Michy Batshuayi.

- Benfica could be nearing two big signings. Gianluca Di Marzio says the Portuguese giants want Inter midfielder Joao Mario, while Record reports Benfica are close to completing a deal for former Paris Saint-Germain star Edinson Cavani.

- Having signed Blaise Matuidi, Inter Miami may add some firepower. DIRECTV Peru says the MLS club have started talks to sign former PSV and Schalke forward Jefferson Farfan.

Benfica have confirmed the signings of Jan Vertonghen, Everton Soares and Luca Waldschmidt.

In an announcement on Friday, Benfica revealed the three additions to coach Jorge Jesus' squad.

Vertonghen, who will wear the number five shirt, arrives as a free agent after the experienced Belgium defender left Tottenham at the end of the 2019-20 Premier League season.

Meanwhile, Everton – who was also linked with the English club of the same name – has joined for an undisclosed fee from Gremio.

The 24-year-old winger has made 14 appearances for Brazil, scoring three goals.

Waldschmidt arrives from Bundesliga club Freiburg, having netted seven league goals to help his former side finish eighth in 2019-20.

A three-time Germany international, Waldschmidt will wear the number 10 jersey.

Benfica finished second in Portugal's Primeira Liga last term, five points behind champions Porto.

Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho says Jan Vertonghen is among the best players he has ever worked with and wished the defender well ahead of his imminent move to Benfica. 

Belgium international Vertonghen confirmed his Tottenham exit last month following eight seasons with the club. 

The 33-year-old made over 300 appearances for the Premier League side and finished his Spurs career under Mourinho. He is expected to complete a free transfer to Benfica in the near future. 

Mourinho has wished the centre-back well in Portugal with Benfica, who have confirmed the return of head coach Jorge Jesus ahead of the 2020-21 campaign. 

"He will be a great man to play in the Portuguese League. A big professional, a silent leader, an example in a work group," Mourinho told Portuguese newspaper Record.

"Fortunately I've met many throughout my career, but Jan is certainly among the best.  

"As a player, everyone knows him and the Benfica coach, as well as his structure, certainly analysed everything he can bring to the team.  

"I wish him to be very happy in my country. At Spurs we'll all be behind a person who is very dear to us."

Lionel Messi described former Real Madrid captain Iker Casillas as "a legend of the game" following his retirement from football. 

Casillas issued a statement on Tuesday to confirm he is calling time on a playing career that spanned more than 20 years. 

The 39-year-old suffered a heart attack during Porto training in May last year and has not played since. 

Casillas won five LaLiga titles and the Champions League on three occasions in a glittering Madrid career, while he was also a key part of Spain's greatest period in international football. 

He earned 167 senior caps for his country and captained them to back-to-back European Championships in 2008 and 2012 and the World Cup triumph in South Africa in 2010. 

Although on the other side of the Clasico rivalry, Messi has no doubt Casillas deserves the highest praise for his career. 

"Iker is retiring, but his status as a legend of the game was secured long ago - not just because he was one of LaLiga's best players, but also because he won everything at international level," Messi told AS. 

In a message to the former goalkeeper, he added: "You're a fantastic goalkeeper and were a really tough opponent, I have to say. 

"Looking back, I think it was a really special rivalry that pushed us to reach new levels every time we came up against each other."

Gianluigi Buffon told the retiring Iker Casillas "without you everything would have been less meaningful" in an emotional social-media tribute.

There has long been a mutual respect between veteran Juventus legend Buffon and Real Madrid great Casillas, who have earned reputations as two of the greatest goalkeepers of their generation.

On Tuesday, Casillas called time on his career, which started with a Madrid debut in 1999 and saw him rack up 725 appearances, five LaLiga titles and three Champions League medals before departing for Porto in 2015.

Buffon is still going strong at the age of 42, albeit he departed Juve for a season at Paris Saint-Germain before returning last year and now largely acts as understudy to Wojciech Szczesny.

While Buffon has never experienced Champions League success with Juve, both he and Casillas have won the World Cup with Italy and Spain respectively.

Buffon credits Casillas for making him a better goalkeeper.

"They say competition makes us better than others but not perfect faced with ourselves," Buffon wrote on Twitter. 

"Maybe this futile pursuit of perfection is what made us who we are. 

"#Grac1as Iker, without you, everything would have been less meaningful."

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