With his departure from Manchester United on the horizon, Paul Pogba had been free to discuss his future with other clubs since January.

Failing to ever really match his then world-record price tag with performances on the pitch, the World Cup winner's next destination always seemed limited to a few options.

Reports suggest a return to Serie A and Juventus is imminent.

 

TOP STORY – POGBA SET FOR FOUR-YEAR DEAL AT JUVENTUS

Paul Pogba is expected to complete medical in Turin this weekend to open the path for a free transfer to Juventus, according to Sky Sports.

Leaving Manchester United at the end of June upon the expiry of his contract, the move to Juve would see him return to the club where he spent four years and established his reputation.

Upon completion of his medical, the 29-year-old is reportedly set to sign a four-year deal with the club.

This comes after Pogba turned down what was reported to be a 3.5 per cent increase on his wages at Manchester United.


ROUND-UP

- Bayern Munich have reached a verbal agreement with Juve's Matthijs de Ligt amid interest from Chelsea, according to Sport1.

- Tottenham are keen on signing Villarreal's Pau Torres despite the impending arrival of Clement Lenglet, the Mirror is reporting.

- Newcastle United are willing to meet Bayer Leverkusen's asking price for Moussa Diaby, per the Telegraph.

- New Paris Saint-Germain boss Christophe Galtier hopes Neymar can stay at the club amid speculation over his future, The Sun is reporting.

Lothar Matthaus believes Matthijs de Ligt could be a critical long-term signing for Bayern Munich, and a defensive base they could build their squad around.

The 22-year-old's departure after an indifferent spell at Juventus, after signing in 2019 from Ajax, has prompted him to seek a move away with no apparent harm to his market value.

Though De Ligt had been linked with a transfer to Chelsea earlier in the off-season, reports in Germany have suggested the Netherlands international is more keen on a move to the Bundesliga.

Matthaus, the Ballon d'Or and World Cup winner in 1990, insisted De Ligt would be a transformative signing for his former club.

"He's a van Dijk type," Matthaus told Bild. "He can take on the role of defence chief at Bayern, which is missing there.

"He's one of the best central defenders in Europe, and at 22 he's such a young player that Bayern could have done with that position for the next few years. A super transfer if it works – a huge gain."

Former Schalke boss and De Ligt's compatriot Huub Stevens echoed Matthaus' sentiments, believing the centre-back has progressed despite an inconsistent time in Turin.

The 68-year-old also noted De Ligt would be a compatible signing within Julian Nagelsmann's aggressive system, making the reported €70million price tag reasonable.

"Just as I saw De Ligt play at Ajax Amsterdam back then, he learned a lot defensively at Juventus," Stevens said.

"He fits the style of Bayern, he has to defend up the pitch. He was already great at Ajax, he's a playing defender. The fee is, of course, crazy, but you can see in England that such sums are normal for defenders there."

Mainz will push ahead with plans to face Newcastle United in a pre-season friendly despite backlash from their supporters.

Newcastle will face German clubs Mainz and 1860 Munich in Austria ahead of the 2022-23 season.

But the scheduled matches have not been welcomed by supporters of those clubs due to the identity of Newcastle's owners.

The consortium that bought Newcastle last October includes Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF), which owns 80 per cent of the club.

Saudi Arabia's human rights record is of major concern, along with its role in the war in Yemen.

But Mainz insist they cannot afford to cancel the Newcastle friendly, both because of the need to prepare for the Bundesliga season and due to contractual obligations.

"A friendly against a big English club is first of all a really good test for us," said chairman Stefan Hofmann in a statement in which Mainz confirmed they had held further talks with Newcastle and would plan to meet with fans. "It's also important for our team’s pre-season preparations.

"After weighing up our options and not having an appropriate alternative opponent of this standard available, we agreed to play this game.

"We didn't expect the reaction we got from some fans. We respect them and regret that these concerns have arisen because it's our responsibility to start the new season as one big unit together with our fans."

Mainz board member Christian Heidel added: "From a footballing perspective, we can't afford to miss out on this friendly.

"A one-sided cancellation of the fixture, as has been demanded by some fans, is not feasible, because were we to not honour our contractual obligations, this could have serious legal and economic consequences for us, and so we're going to stand by the contractual agreement."

Mainz coach Bo Svensson had already addressed the concerns, saying as reported by Bild: "On the one hand, I can understand the arguments.

"[But] whenever it comes to football, things get very inflated and become huge issues."

Referring to the PIF's shares in Disney, Svensson added: "How far are we going? Will we then also forego Disney films with our children?"

1860 coach Michael Kollner said to db24: "You always have to be a bit careful when conducting a moral discussion. I find that difficult. You can find something in everyone.

"We haven't done everything right in the past either – and teams are still playing against us in preparation.

"Newcastle was bought by someone with the money he has. I don't know if we are always entitled to evaluate things – especially in times when we have completely different issues in Europe.

"Unity looks different. I'm responsible for the sport – and I'm glad we got this test match."

Five-time Ballon d'Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo wants to leave Manchester United and is willing to make some allowances to secure the move.

Reports of Ronaldo's transfer request emerged over the weekend, although United are said to be holding firm in their desire to keep the superstar.

That has not stopped the rumours around a potential destination for the Portugal great, though, and he is doing all he can to get the move he wants.

TOP STORY – RONALDO WILLING TO TAKE PAY CUT

The Independent reports Ronaldo is willing to take a "considerable" pay cut in order to move to a Champions League contender.

The forward's desire to win another European crown was widely cited as key to his decision to push for a departure from United, and the report suggests the player is hopeful a reduced salary could entice leading clubs.

Chelsea, Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain, who employ great rival Lionel Messi, are listed as potential suitors.

The Athletic also again reports Chelsea's interest following talk of a meeting between Ronaldo's agent Jorge Mendes and new Stamford Bridge owner Todd Boehly earlier in the close-season.

The Sun says Chelsea coach Thomas Tuchel is reluctant to agree to such a transfer, though, while AS claims Mendes has also met with Barcelona president Joan Laporta.

ROUND-UP

– Corriere dello Sport claims Bayern Munich are looking to bring in Napoli striker Victor Osimhen for a fee in the vicinity of €100million if Robert Lewandowski is to leave.

– According to Fabrizio Romano, Tottenham have agreed to sign 27-year-old Barcelona centre-back Clement Lenglet for a fee of £17.2m.

– The Sun is reporting Arsenal have made a £47m bid for 27-year-old Lazio midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic.

– After loaning Romelu Lukaku to Inter, Chelsea are also weighing up a potential loan move for Hakim Ziyech to Milan, according to The Athletic.

– The Mirror claims United representatives have met with Ajax to discuss a £39.6m offer for defender Lisandro Martinez.

Paulo Dybala's time at Juventus ended in a way where neither party was ultimately happy with the outcome.

Despite his desire to stay, the Bianconeri were unwilling to keep the Argentina forward, allowing his contract to run down.

Reports suggest his next destination will not be in Serie A but in the Premier League, with a number of clubs showing interest.

 

TOP STORY – MANCHESTER UNITED, ARSENAL AFTER DYBALA

Arsenal and Manchester United are set to engage in another transfer battle over Dybala, according to La Repubblica.

With the Premier League giants already in the race to sign Dybala's compatriot Lisandro Martinez from Ajax, it has been reported the two clubs have been in contact with his agent Jorge Antun.

The 28-year-old is available as a free agent with his contract at Juventus expiring this off-season, and a move to Inter stalling after Romelu Lukaku's transfer.

Reports suggest United are looking at Dybala as a replacement for the departed Cristiano Ronaldo, whose signing at Juventus coincidentally signalled the beginning of the end for the former in Turin.

 

ROUND-UP

- Meanwhile, United and Barcelona have reportedly agreed on a fee for Frenkie de Jong but are now in process of negotiating add-ons, according to Fabrizio Romano.

- Bernardo Silva has told his agent he wants to go in the opposite direction and leave Manchester City for Barcelona, Sport is reporting.

- Chelsea are making progress in their attempts to sign Matthijs de Ligt after Juventus lowered their asking price, per CBS Sports.

- Leeds United have opened talks with RB Leipzig over midfielder Tyler Adams, The Sun is reporting.

Robert Lewandowski's status and Sadio Mane's transfer have taken up the majority of attention at Bayern Munich this close season.

Meanwhile, Serge Gnabry's uncertain future has lurked in the background, despite his importance to the team in recent seasons.

Reports suggest he is set to leave for the Premier League sooner rather than later, with a number of clubs showing interest.

 

TOP STORY – PREMIER LEAGUE CLUBS QUEUE FOR GNABRY

Arsenal and Manchester United are both preparing to sign Bayern Munich's Serge Gnabry, according to the Daily Star.

According to reports, Gnabry is set to run down his contract after rejecting terms for a renewal, with one year left on his deal.

This leaves Bayern with compromised leverage as time becomes a luxury, despite their desire to cash in this window, instead of letting him go for free at the end of next season

While Arsenal and United are preparing a £40million (€46.4m) bid, The Sun is also reporting Gnabry would become a priority for Manchester City if Raheem Sterling leaves.

 

ROUND-UP

- Meanwhile, the Gunners and United are engaging in a bidding war for Ajax's Lisandro Martinez, according to the Daily Mail.

- Martinez's team-mate and compatriot Nicolas Tagliafico is attracting interest from Brighton and Hove Albion and Lyon, per Fabrizio Romano.

Barcelona have no intention to sell Frenkie de Jong to United but are looking for the midfielder to take a pay cut, Diario AS reports.

Mohamed Salah was prepared to join Chelsea before Liverpool made him the highest-paid player in their history, The Sun is reporting.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta insists the club have "no intention" of selling Manchester United target Frenkie De Jong, but says the midfielder may have to accept a salary adjustment to remain at Camp Nou.

De Jong, who emerged as one of European football's hottest properties under Erik ten Hag at Ajax before joining Barca in 2019, has been strongly linked with a move to Old Trafford since his former boss took over at United.

The Netherlands international said in May that his preference would be to remain at Camp Nou, which he labelled his "dream club", but the Blaugrana's financial difficulties have given rise to speculation he could depart.

Barcelona's desire to recruit wantaway Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski has only amplified such rumours, but Laporta believes De Jong is happy at the club and could stay – if an agreement over his salary can be reached.

"Frenkie de Jong is a Barca player and is recognised as one of the best players in the world," Laporta told reporters.

"We know of clubs that want him, not only United, and we have no intention of selling him. The player, I get the impression, wants to stay. 

"He is comfortable at Barca and I will do what is in my power so that Frenkie stays here, but it is also a salary issue and it would have to be adjusted.

"What is certain is that the salary levels of some players are not in line with the salary levels that the board of directors that I have the privilege of presiding over have set."

 

De Jong made 47 appearances for Barcelona during the 2021-22 season, scoring four goals and boasting the best passing accuracy (91.18 per cent) of any of the club's midfielders to play at least 20 games in all competitions.

Laporta refused to be drawn on Barcelona's interest in Lewandowski, however, only affirming his respect for the Poland international's current club. 

"He is a Bayern player," he said of the striker, who plundered 50 goals for the Bundesliga champions last season. 

"Everyone knows that he is a great player, but I would prefer to be reserved because he is a Bayern player. 

"We know that he has publicly stated that he wants to come to Barca and we are very flattered, but we have respect for Bayern Munich, which is one of the best clubs in the world. Between clubs, we respect each other."

Cristiano Ronaldo is poised to become the biggest news of the transfer window, with reports stating he is keen on leaving Manchester United to continue playing in the Champions League.

The Portuguese superstar has played in Europe's elite competition for 19 consecutive seasons since first moving to United from Sporting CP in 2003 and stands as the highest-ever scorer in the tournament with 140 goals.

However, United's sixth-placed finish in the Premier League last season means that Erik ten Hag takes over a side who are set for Europa League football – and it is now reported that Ronaldo is pushing for an exit.

If he does get his wish, there are only a few likely destinations for the 37-year-old and Stats Perform has assessed some of them.

Napoli

A return to Serie A has been touted for Ronaldo, with The Athletic naming Napoli as potential suitors – they have a void in their team following the exit of Lorenzo Insigne.

In Ronaldo's three years in Italy with Juventus, no player scored more Serie A goals than his tally of 81 and, despite spending the past year with Manchester United, only Ciro Immobile has scored more Serie A goals since 2018.

Napoli, having finished third in Serie A last year and nine points ahead of Juventus, would match Ronaldo's desire to play Champions League football – although the club's finances and Ronaldo's wage demands may prove to be restrictive.

 

Chelsea

Fresh from Todd Boehly's takeover, Chelsea are looking to rejuvenate the squad and finances do not appear to be a problem, given they have allowed Romelu Lukaku to return to Inter on loan just a year after spending a club-record £97.5million on the Belgium forward.

Interestingly enough, it has been reported that Ronaldo's agent, Jorge Mendes, has already met with the new Chelsea owner this summer and the Blues are in need of a striker having lost Lukaku, with Timo Werner performing better from a deeper role.

Whether Ronaldo would accept a move to a Premier League rival, given his status at Old Trafford, is the biggest question regarding any hopes the Blues may have in signing the veteran forward and, if he is keen, United would likely demand a significant return on the investment they paid last year.

Chelsea also have interest in Raheem Sterling and Leeds United attacker Raphinha, but Ronaldo would be a statement of intent for the new owner.

Sporting CP

With a United homecoming already under his belt, could Sporting secure a sensational return of their own and bring Ronaldo back to where it all began? It's certainly not beyond the realm of possibility.

Second in Primeira Liga last season, Sporting have the Champions League football that Ronaldo craves and he is already a great at the club – though his success has come in his years since he left his home country in 2003.

Ronaldo had just a single season in the senior squad with Sporting before he moved to United, so he may feel he has unfinished business – and it is a side that can definitely compete, having ended a 20-year barren spell without a league title in the 2020-21 season.

 

Bayern Munich

Ronaldo has shone in three of Europe's top-five leagues, the Premier League, La Liga and Serie A, with only the Bundesliga and Ligue 1 left standing – and Bayern have been touted as potential suitors, though Paris Saint-Germain are not said to be interest (sorry, no link up with Lionel Messi just yet, sports fans).

With Robert Lewandowski's future at the Allianz Arena continuing to be shrouded in speculation, it may fall into place for the Poland international to get what he wants, a move to Barcelona, and for Bayern to land Ronaldo as his replacement.

In the past five years, no player has scored more league goals than Lewandowski (193) but Ronaldo, along with the addition of Sadio Mane, should be able to fill any goalscoring void that would be left in the event of a departure.

Real Madrid

Another possible return destination... could Ronaldo wind back up in the Spanish capital?

The Champions League winners are hardly in need of another superstar forward, given the incredible form of Karim Benzema, but bringing Ronaldo back to the club where he scored 450 goals would surely appeal to president Florentino Perez? 

Madrid missed out on Kylian Mbappe, much to their frustration, and having Ronaldo in their side would plug a gap, so to speak, until the PSG forward is further into the new, three-year contract he signed with the French club in May.

MLS

Champions League football has been documented as the reason for Ronaldo's desire to leave but, if such offers are not forthcoming, could a move to MLS be on the cards? 

Financial rules and designated player spots would make a switch complicated, with there only being a handful of teams likely to be able to make a move possible – likely to be those in Los Angeles, Miami and New York.

With the 2026 World Cup taking place in North America, bringing Ronaldo to MLS would raise the profile of the league further – and would undoubtedly be the biggest acquisition for the league since David Beckham's move to LA Galaxy in 2007.

That move marked the start of a new era of soccer in the US and has evolved considerably since, though Ronaldo's arrival would send things to a completely new level.

It has been reported that United do not wish to sell Ronaldo, but with his contract being up next year, could a switch to North America be likely? 

Brazil star Neymar is reportedly interested in a move to the Premier League after being informed Paris Saint-Germain will not stand in his way if he wishes to depart.

ESPN is reporting that Neymar's agent has been in touch with Chelsea to gauge their interest in bringing in the 30-year-old, who scored 13 goals and added six assists in 22 Ligue 1 contests this past season.

While Neymar's talent is not in question, his health may be, having missed over two months of this campaign after suffering an ankle injury, and that is coming off a 2020-21 season where he only played 18 league games due to ankle and adductor injuries.


TOP STORY – NEYMAR WEIGHS UP CHELSEA MOVE AS PSG GIVE GREEN LIGHT

ESPN's report mentions that Neymar's agent, Pini Zahavi, believes there are only "two or three teams" that would be able to meet his wage demands, and it is thought that Chelsea are hoping to make a splash under the new ownership of Todd Boehly.

Spanish publication Sport claims Neymar activated a clause in his PSG contract as soon as he possibly could on July 1 to add one extra year to his deal – tying him to the French giants until 2027 – but that does not rule out a move happening.

Chelsea's Brazilian centre-back and Neymar's former PSG team-mate Thiago Silva has been vocal about his desire to recruit the superstar forward, but his salary of €43million could stand in the way if the Stamford Bridge club decide they would rather use this transfer period's resources in defence.


ROUND-UP

– The Star is reporting that Manchester United are closing in on a deal with Christian Eriksen as his contract with Brentford has expired and he is available on a free transfer.

– Barcelona forward Ousmane Dembele is expected to leave on a free transfer, with Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich the three teams listed by Marca as his potential landing spots.

Everton are hoping to replace Richarlison with Watford striker Emmanuel Dennis after their Brazilian forward departed for Tottenham this week.

– According to The Sun, Fulham are finalising a £17million move for 26-year-old Sporting defensive midfielder Joao Palhinha.

– ESPN is reporting Fulham have offered £10m for Manchester United's Andreas Pereira as the 26-year-old returns from his loan stint with Flamengo.

Corentin Tolisso is hopeful that his move from Bayern Munich to Lyon will help secure him a return to the France fold ahead of the World Cup.

The 27-year-old's return to Lyon, with whom he started his career, was confirmed on Friday following the expiration of his Bayern contract. 

Tolisso spent five trophy-laden campaigns at the Allianz Arena, but he started just 12 matches in all competitions in an injury-plagued 2021-22 campaign.

He did not feature for France at all last season, with the most recent of his 28 senior caps coming at last year's rescheduled Euro 2020.

But after completing a move back to Lyon on a five-year deal, Tolisso is targeting a place in Didier Deschamps' squad in time for Qatar 2022.

"I didn't talk with [Deschamps about the decision. It was a personal one, though I talked a lot about it with my agents and my family," he said at a news conference.

"We said it was the best decision for me. The future will tell if I was right or wrong. Lyon is the right club for me to return to the French team and go to the World Cup.

"I am very proud and happy to be back in Lyon. The project seduced me. It's a good thing for me and my personal goal, which is to play in the World Cup."

Tolisso was a member of France's World Cup-winning squad four years ago and also won five Bundesliga titles and the Champions League during his time in Bavaria.

Injuries, including a cruciate ligament rupture that ruled the midfielder out for the majority of the 2018-19 season, restricted him to 118 games in five years with Bayern.

However, the Lyon youth product feels he learned a lot with the German giants and does not believe his injury issues are any longer a concern.

"I learned on both a human and professional level," he said. "I remember the trophies and how we won them. There are many things to remember. 

"I remember a lot of positive things. Of course, there were not only positive things, but that's also part of life, that's how it is. The negative experiences helped me to grow.

"I have gained more maturity and experience; I have learned a lot at Bayern Munich in these five years. I grew and learnt a new system, a new culture, a new mentality.

"As for the injuries, I passed the medical, which is already a good point. It's true that I had problems.

"I previously said that my worries were more psychological and mental than physical, for reasons I won't necessarily reveal today. 

"A lot of things have been going on in my head over the last year that have influenced the large number of injuries I've had. I did a lot of physical preparation. 

"Now I am ready. I passed some [physical] tests yesterday. It went extremely well so everyone can be reassured about my fitness. There will be no problem."

Sadio Mane insists Robert Lewandowski is "one of the best" strikers in the world, but does not want to be involved in discussions over his future at Bayern Munich.

Lewandowski has been heavily linked with a move to Barcelona, with the striker after a new challenge following eight seasons at Sabenerstrasse, and 12 in total in the Bundesliga.

Mane arrives this off-season at Bayern in similar circumstances, seeking a departure from Liverpool with a year left on his deal after six seasons at the club, helping them win the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League, while also winning the African Cup of Nations with Senegal in 2021.

Speaking in an interview with BILD, Mane did not want to get caught up in any unnecessary drama with that in mind.

"Clearly, Robert Lewandowski is one of the best strikers in the world," Mane said. "But I'm not the right person to talk about his future or to say what the club should do now."

The 30-year-old revealed he was following Bayern Munich during the past season, expressing lament over their Champions League exit at the hands of Villarreal despite dominating play, likening it to Liverpool's own exit in the 2019-20 season.

Mane also insisted with his help, this upcoming season in Europe will be improved for the reigning Bundesliga champions.

"Of course I saw the games. Bayern tried everything, but they couldn't perform at their best" he said.

"I know that feeling all too well, that's how we felt at Liverpool against Atletico Madrid. But I assure you, next season will be different. I'm here now and we'll give everything.

"We have to be convinced that we can do anything. And when I look at the quality of this team, I think it's one of the best in Europe."

LaLiga president Javier Tebas says he hopes Barcelona are able to complete the signing of wantaway Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski.

With just one year remaining on his contract with the Bundesliga champions, Lewandowski has repeatedly expressed his desire to join Barca, saying "something has died" within him and insisting his time in Munich is "over".

While Bayern remain steadfast in their desire to keep the striker, who scored 50 goals and added six assists in all competitions last season, Barcelona have made no secret of their interest in the 33-year-old.

Their attempts to sign him, however, appear to be subject to raising funds from player sales and salary cuts, with Tebas saying last month the Blaugrana must part with prized assets to complete the deal, declaring "they know what they have to do: sell assets".

Barca president Joan Laporta reacted angrily to that suggestion, accusing Tebas of wishing to harm the club's interests, but LaLiga's chief now appears more open to the prospect of the Poland international moving to Camp Nou.

Speaking at an event in Madrid, Tebas said: "I hope Lewandowski plays for Barcelona and has a good campaign.

 

"I hope that the [economic] levers Laporta has activated will allow the player to make it to Barcelona, because he is a legend of Bayern Munich and European football.

"If they execute what they approved in the assemblies, he will be able to play for Barcelona.

"There is interest and if they execute those levers then they will be able to sign him."

Among players in the top five European leagues, only Kylian Mbappe (60) and Karim Benzema (59) recorded more direct goal involvements than Lewandowski (56) last term, while no player to score at least 15 goals averaged fewer minutes per strike than the the Pole's 80.1 minutes.

Borussia Dortmund chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke has hit out at "arrogant idiots" in the English media, while praising Bayern Munich in their signing of Sadio Mane.

Bayern confirmed Mane's signing from Liverpool last Wednesday, with Watzke heralding the 30-year-old's transfer as one that improves the quality of the Bundesliga.

With Karim Adeyemi and Adam Hlozek moving to Dortmund and Bayer Leverkusen respectively, and with Ryan Gravenberch also set to sign for Bayern, the Bundesliga's top clubs have bolstered with talented youth.

Meanwhile, German World Cup winner Mario Gotze will head for Eintracht Frankfurt ahead of their debut season in the Champions League.

In an interview with Bild, the Dortmund CEO praised the Mane transfer and barked back on the competitiveness of English clubs in response to comments from Dean Saunders on Talksport, claiming Mane will waste his prime playing in "third gear" at a dominant Bayern.

"Sadio Mane is a very good transfer, on which I expressly congratulate Bayern," Watzke said.

"There are always some arrogant idiots like in this case. As a board member of Europe's club association ECA, I know that German football still has a good reputation.

"The English didn't win any of the three European titles last season - even though I would have really given Jürgen Klopp a chance with Liverpool in the Champions League."

Along with his role at BVB, Watzke is also the DFL's supervisory board chairman, overseeing the operation of Germany's professional domestic leagues.

While expressing Dortmund's excitement on the return of fierce rival Schalke to the German top flight with Werder Bremen, he insisted it was important for the overall health of the Bundesliga along with high-profile transfers.

"Not only are we looking forward to the Revierderby but the whole Bundesliga, because it is the mother of all derbies," Watzke said.

"This is important because next year a lot of conditions will already be in place for the resale of the television rights in 2025, and if the Bundesliga booms this season, that will help us a lot with marketing.

"The Bundesliga has to get stars like Mane and Gotze, but also create stars themselves again."

Borussia Dortmund midfielder Jude Bellingham is the exact type of player Liverpool should be targeting and would make a "great signing" for the club.

That is according to John Barnes, who also told Stats Perform he believes the Reds missed a trick by not bringing in Yves Bissouma, who has now signed for Tottenham.

Liverpool have already been active this window, having added Darwin Nunez and Fabio Carvalho to their attack to compensate for the loss of Sadio Mane, who has joined Bayern Munich.

Jurgen Klopp's side continue to be linked with an array of other players, with Dortmund star and England international Bellingham a rumoured target.

Bellingham has made a big impact for the Bundesliga giants since arriving from Birmingham City two seasons ago, and Barnes would like to see him return to English football.

"I think he's a fantastic player," Barnes said of Bellingham. "Another player who I like to have thought would have suited Liverpool, but went to Tottenham, is Yves Bissouma.

"Obviously that's not there anymore because he's gone to Tottenham, but that's the template of the type of midfield player we want. 

"A hardworking midfield player, probably more defensive than attacking, who may not score many goals but works hard, wins the ball, gets it forward to the front three quickly. 

"Jude Bellingham is similar [to Bissouma]. He probably has a little bit more quality on the ball. He's English, he's young, that would be a fantastic signing for us. 

"But it probably isn't going to happen this year. Hopefully next season we could make that signing."

Despite still being aged 18, Bellingham started 44 games for Dortmund in all competitions in the 2021-22 season – four more than any other player.

He has also racked up 15 senior caps for England and became the youngest player to represent his country in a major tournament at last year's Euro 2020.

 

While speculation surrounding Bellingham's future looks set to continue, Liverpool have already spent big to sign Nunez from Benfica.

The Uruguay international starred in the Primeira Liga and Champions League and will help fill the void left by Mane's move to Bayern.

Nunez joins Liverpool after netting 48 goals in 85 appearances for Benfica in total, finishing as the top scorer in the Portuguese top flight in the 2021-22 campaign with 26 strikes.

But while Liverpool may have splashed out a reported £64million (€75m) to sign the striker, with a further £21.4m in potential add-ons, Barnes believes he will need time to adjust.

"He's coming to a new country, he's young, he's coming to new environments and new team, he has to be given time," Barnes said. 

"Now if he's like [Diogo] Jota, for example, he hits the ground running, that's a bonus, but I don't expect him to come in and all of a sudden take to the team straightaway.

 

"We've seen times that players, like [Roberto] Firmino for example, took time to adjust. Thiago [Alcantara] is another who took time to adjust.

"I think they've done their homework and knowing that they can fit him into the template of what they actually want.

"But I'm not putting expectations on him all of a sudden to be the best player on the team and for everything to be seamless. 

"Jurgen Klopp has done his homework and will feel that he can get the best out of him within the framework of the team. So I'm expecting him to be successful in time."

Newly promoted Premier League club Nottingham Forest have broken their transfer record to sign forward Taiwo Awoniyi.

Forest, who have returned to the top flight for the 2022-23 season after 23 years away, reportedly triggered a £17.2million (€20m) release clause in Awoniyi's Union Berlin contract.

The Nigeria international spent six years at Liverpool but only received a UK work permit last year, shortly before departing for Union in a permanent transfer.

Liverpool are reportedly due to receive 10 per cent of the fee paid by Forest for Awoniyi, who scored 15 times in 31 Bundesliga games last season.

In all competitions, the striker – who spent the previous campaign on loan at Union and was also linked to Newcastle United – netted 20 goals in 43 appearances.

Awoniyi has signed a five-year contract at The City Ground and boosts a side who relied on winger Brennan Johnson as their primary source of goals as they came up through the Championship play-offs. Johnson scored 18 league goals.

"I'm very excited to be here at Nottingham Forest," said Awoniyi, whose signing surpasses the club's previous record outlay of £13.2m on Joao Carvalho in 2018.

"It's always been my dream to play in the Premier League, and having spoken to Steve Cooper about our ambitions and looking at Forest, with its great history, it's a club that I want to be part of."

Awoniyi is widely expected to be followed to Forest by Manchester United and England goalkeeper Dean Henderson.

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