Manchester United have had a long pursuit of Barcelona's Frenkie de Jong this off-season, which has not borne fruit.

But the Red Devils have switched their attention with links to Juventus' Adrien Rabiot and now another potential midfield signing.

United are desperate for reinforcements after losing their opening two Premier League games under new boss Erik ten Hag.

TOP STORY – MAN UTD MOVE FOR CASEMIRO IN £60M DEAL

Manchester United are on the cusp of landing Real Madrid midfielder Casemiro on a four-year contract in a £60million (€70m) deal, claims Marca.

It has only taken three days of negotiations, with Casemiro cleared by the Spanish club to undergo a medical at United on Friday.

The four-year deal includes the option of a further 12 months, with the exact fee to be £50.7m plus £8.5m in add-ons.

If the deal is completed on Friday, it is unlikely he will be available for Monday's clash with Liverpool as he still requires a visa.

 

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– AS claims that Madrid are considering a move for Newcastle United midfielder Bruno Guimaraes as a replacement for Casemiro amid United's interest in him.

– United are interested in signing Napoli's Hirving Lozano according to Gianluca Di Marzio, re-opening speculation around a swap deal involving Cristiano Ronaldo.

– PSV are not open to selling forward Cody Gakpo until their Champions League qualifying tie with Rangers is settled, following links with United, reports Daily Mail.

– Sky Sports reports that United have also had a £67.6m (€80m) bid for Ajax forward Antony rejected. United are weighing up whether to make an improved bid, but Ajax are understood to want to keep the Brazilian.

– L'Equipe claims that Marseille are open to selling Polish striker Arkadiusz Milik before the transfer window closes. Everton and United have been linked to Milik who scored 20 goals in all competitions last season.

– Gerard Romero claims that an agreement on personal terms between Barcelona and Villarreal right-back Juan Foyth is close, but the clubs are yet to agree on a deal with the Argentinian have a €42m release clause.

Nice are targeting former Real Madrid full-back Marcelo according to Foot Mercato. The ex-Brazil international was released by Madrid after last season.

Napoli have completed the signing of striker Giovanni Simeone from Hellas Verona.

Simeone, who is a son of Atletico Madrid boss Diego, has joined Napoli on an initial loan with an obligation to buy if certain clauses are triggered.

Napoli announced the signing on Thursday, with Simeone opting for the number 18 shirt.

The 27-year-old has spent the past six seasons in Serie A with Genoa, Fiorentina, Cagliari and Verona, whom he only joined permanently in June after impressing on loan.

He scored 17 goals in the Italian top flight last season – a tally bettered only by Lautaro Martinez (21), Dusan Vlahovic (24) and Ciro Immobile (27) – while assisting five more.

Five-cap Argentina international Simeone's arrival at Napoli comes on the back of the club's record goalscorer Dries Mertens departing on a free transfer this window.

Napoli have also waved goodbye to fellow regular goalscorer Lorenzo Insigne since the end of last season, as well as David Ospina, Kalidou Koulibaly and Arkadiusz Milik.

Luciano Spalletti's side are believed to be closing in on further deals for Giacomo Raspadori from Sassuolo and Tottenham's Tanguy Ndombele.

Manchester United are under pressure to make some signings amid their poor start to the new Premier League season.

The Red Devils have lost their opening two league games under new boss Erik ten Hag.

United have only brought in a few players this off-season and are in need for reinforcements.

 

TOP STORY – MAN UTD DECLINED BY ATLETICO IN JOAO FELIX BID

Atletico Madrid have rejected a bumper £110million (€130m) bid from Manchester United for Portuguese forward Joao Felix, claims AS.

Atleti have reportedly inserted a staggering €350m (£295m) release clause in the 22-year-old's contract.

United's reported bid is a club record, £25m more than the fee they paid Juventus for Paul Pogba in 2016.

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United want to sign five more players this transfer window reports the Telegraph and have a shortlist of potential signings with Borussia Dortmund's Thomas Meunier, Chelsea winger Christian Pulisic, Real Madrid midfielder Casemiro, Lazio's Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Barcelona's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Everton goalkeeper Asmir Begovic is also on their radar to provide a back-up to David de Gea.

Paris Saint-Germain have not given up in a pursuit of Manchester City midfielder Bernardo Silva and are plotting a €71m (£59m) move for him, according to The Times.

Napoli are closing in on a deal to sign Sassuolo's 22-year-old forward Giacomo Raspadori reports Calciomercato. It is claimed he will join Napoli by the end of the week.

Nottingham Forest's busy window continues with the newly promoted Premier League club chasing Madrid right-back Alvaro Odriozola, according to AS.

Brighton and Hove Albion want a permanent move for Chelsea midfielder Billy Gilmour, reports the Daily Mail. 

Napoli are closing in on the signing of Verona striker Giovanni Simeone as Luciano Spalletti said the Serie A club are beginning a "new cycle" following a host of big-name exits.

Spalletti's team threatened a first Scudetto since the Diego Maradona era before tailing off to finish third last season, but have since seen the likes of Kalidou Koulibaly, Dries Mertens and Lorenzo Insigne depart.

Reports have suggested Napoli will combat the losses of Mertens and Insigne – the top two goalscorers in the club's history – by bringing in Verona striker Simeone on an initial loan deal.

Simeone – the son of Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone – scored 17 Serie A goals last season, a tally bettered only by Ciro Immobile (27), Dusan Vlahovic (24) and Lautaro Martinez (21).

The Argentine averaged a goal every 157 minutes throughout the campaign, converting 55 per cent of his big chances.

Ahead of Napoli travelling to Verona for their Serie A opener on Monday, Spalletti revealed the striker's arrival was imminent as he pledged to rebuild the Partenopei's side.

"If everything is okay, of course he will come, we are waiting for him, if you stay, say hello to him too!" Spalletti said amid reports Simeone was undergoing a medical with Napoli.

"He is one we need and Naples is what he needs, it is a correct purchase.

"We will do our best right away, and that I am convinced that we will make the fans fall in love again, as happened last year.

"Now we are talking about a Napoli that no longer sees in their ranks the most important players, and there is talk of players for a new cycle.

"It's a responsibility that stimulates me a lot. Of course, a little support from the city and society is needed, the most difficult things are those of the changing room dynamics.

"They changed without [Faouzi] Ghoulam, [David] Ospina, Mertens and Insigne. In addition to the game dynamics there are those of character, and we have to recreate those there. I'm not afraid of anything." 

Paris Saint-Germain have been open about wanting three more new signings before the transfer window closes.

PSG head coach Christophe Galtier also explained that among those was the desire to bring in a forward.

The French champions have already sealed the services of Renato Sanches, Nordi Mukiele, Hugo Ekitike, Vitinha and Nuno Mendes during the off-season.

TOP STORY – PSG IN TALKS WITH MAN UTD'S RASHFORD

PSG have opened talks with Marcus Rashford's representatives about joining the Ligue 1 club from Manchester United, according to L'Equipe.

The England international striker is contracted with United until 2023, having signed a four-year deal in 2019 with the option to extend by a further year.

Sky Sports, however, claims that PSG are unlikely to follow up on their initial interest, having first enquired about Rashford last week.

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Manchester City are targeting Atletico Madrid's Brazilian Renan Lodi as they look to add a new left-back, according to The Telegraph. City want to bolster their options in the position following Oleksandr Zinchenko's departure for Arsenal. City are also considering Arsenal left-back Kieran Tierney, claims 90min.

– Foot Mercato reports that Italian champions Inter are looking at Nice defender Jean-Clair Todibo as a possible replacement for Martin Skriniar, should he leave. Todibo also has interest from PSG and Chelsea . Inter have also been linked to Borussia Dortmund's Swiss defender Manuel Akanji along with Lazio veteran Francesco Acerbi.

– Chelsea's Emerson Palmieri is drawing interest from both Nottingham Forest and Atalanta, according to the Evening Standard. The 28-year-old left-back is being squeezed out at Stamford Bridge following Marc Cucurella's arrival.

Napoli and Argentina international forward Giovanni Simeone have reached a verbal agreement, reports Sky Sport Italia. Simeone is set to join Napoli on loan from Hellas Verona, but Sky Sport Italia claims Juventus are prepared to poach him at the last minute.

Napoli have announced the arrival of Italy goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu on a free transfer, with the former Paris Saint-Germain player reportedly penning a one-year deal with the club.

Sirigu, who won the most recent of his 28 Italy caps in a win over Lithuania last September, left Genoa upon the expiry of his contract after they were relegated to Serie B last season.

The 35-year-old will be expected to compete with Alex Meret for a starting spot in Naples after David Ospina left for Saudi Arabian outfit Al Nassr, although Luciano Spalletti's men have also been linked with moves for Keylor Navas and Kepa Arrizabalaga.

Sirigu made 190 appearances for PSG between 2011 and 2016, and has also spent time at Palermo, Torino, Sevilla and Osasuna.

Napoli boasted Serie A's joint-best defensive record as they finished third last season, conceding just 31 goals, but have seen the likes of Kalidou Koulibaly, Lorenzo Insigne and Dries Mertens leave ahead of the new campaign.

Napoli travel to Verona for their first outing of the 2022-23 Serie A season on Monday.

Serie A returns on Saturday, with Milan looking to retain their title after a first Scudetto triumph in 11 years.

The Rossoneri have brought in Belgium duo Charles De Ketelaere and Divock Origi to bolster Stefano Pioli's squad as they prepare to face another challenge from rivals Inter.

Simone Inzaghi will have his own Belgium international striker Romelu Lukaku to call on again after he was brought back on loan from Chelsea.

How will those clubs fare, who is likely to be their closest challengers, and who will be fearing the drop from Italy's top flight?

Stats Perform AI has predicted the outcome of the campaign, estimating the likelihood of teams finishing in each position informed by their expected results in each match.

These are calculated using betting odds and Stats Perform's team rankings – based on historical and recent team performances – and have thrown up some interesting results, with a heavy favourite for top spot.

INTER TO TAKE THEIR TITLE BACK WITH FAMILIAR FACE ON BOARD

In the end, there were just two points in it.

A fascinating battle between Milan and Inter last season saw Pioli's men edge the title with 86 points after a 3-0 win at Sassuolo on the final day.

Despite the impressive way Milan closed out that title, the data makes Inter 47.97 per cent favourites to regain it in 2022-23.

The return of Lukaku is likely to be a big reason for that, with the 29-year-old having scored 47 goals in 72 Serie A games prior to joining Chelsea last year, and he played a major part in Inter's Scudetto win in 2020-21.

Milan's chances are surprisingly not even second best, with the data suggesting there is a 16.43 per cent likelihood of them retaining their title, with Juventus judged to have a slightly better 17.93 per cent chance.

Napoli are deemed to have a 13.75 per cent chance, with no other team being considered to have any more than a two per cent chance, including Jose Mourinho's Roma at 1.99 per cent.

 

TOP FOUR FIGHT EXPECTED TO BE MORE OF THE SAME

There was very little drama in the race for the Champions League spots last season, with Napoli and Juventus well out of the title fight but clear of fifth place with multiple games to go.

Stats Perform AI expects the same four teams to take up those spots again, albeit in a different order, with Juve in second, Milan third and Napoli fourth.

The positive numbers for the Bianconeri are likely to be a result of Serbia striker Dusan Vlahovic having a full season to lead the line, along with big name additions of Paul Pogba and Angel Di Maria.

Napoli could be the most at risk after losing several key players since the end of last season, including Kalidou Koulibaly, Lorenzo Insigne and Dries Mertens, but they are still given a 73.09 per cent chance of Champions League qualification.

In the chasing pack, Roma are given a 30.18 per cent chance of a top four spot and Stats Perform AI believes Mourinho's men are the likeliest team to finish in one of the two Europa League places, with no team given a greater chance than the Giallorossi's 19.58 per cent.

Atalanta have a 20.64 per cent chance of getting back into the top four, though are still deemed likely to improve on last season's eighth place as favourites for sixth and qualification for the Europa League (18.56 per cent).

That leaves Lazio with a 17.09 per cent chance of seventh and a Europa Conference League spot, though Fiorentina (11.10), Hellas Verona (8.45) and Sassuolo (8.34) are not counted out entirely.

 

CREMONESE UNLIKELY TO RISE TO THE TOP

It is not too much of a surprise to see the promoted teams are predicted to be facing a tough task to stay up.

Cremonese are the favourites for the drop at 63.41 per cent, with Lecce (47.10 per cent) also expected to head back to Serie B at the end of the campaign.

Second favourites for relegation, though, are last year's 17th place team Salernitana, who avoided relegation by a single point ahead of Cagliari. Davide Nicola's side are handed a 58.10 per cent chance of failing to escape this time.

Monza came up through the play-offs and have made a number of new signings, including former Inter players Andrea Ranocchia and Stefano Sensi, which could be why they are given just a 27.92 per cent chance of going back down, slightly ahead of Empoli at 25.17 per cent.

Only four teams are given a zero per cent chance of relegation, which unsurprisingly is last season's top four.

Galatasaray have confirmed the double signing of Dries Mertens and Lucas Torreira.

The Turkish Super Lig side announced they were in negotiations for both players on Saturday, with images circulating on social media of the pair travelling to Istanbul from Milan.

Mertens, a free agent following the end of his nine-year stint with Napoli, has penned a one-year deal with the club.

The Belgium international won the Coppa Italia twice during his time in Naples and was a member of the Red Devils squad that came third in the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

At 35-years-old, Mertens is yet to announce his international retirement and could yet feature at this year's World Cup in Qatar, where Belgium will be in Group F alongside Canada, Croatia and Morocco.

Torreira, meanwhile, had fallen down the pecking order at Arsenal, spending the past two seasons on loan with Atletico Madrid and Fiorentina. He has signed a four-year contract.

Capped 39 times by Uruguay, the midfielder will be aiming to represent the South Americans in Qatar – who sit in Group H with Ghana, Portugal and South Korea.

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has launched a stinging condemnation of Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis after he stated he would not sign African players unless they agreed to waive Africa Cup of Nations duties.

De Laurentiis angered the continent's governing body and others ahead of the new campaign when he said he would no longer recruit individuals eligible for the prestigious continental international tournament.

Unlike other major representative events, such as the European Championship and Copa America, AFCON is usually held midway through the European season, where many of its stars ply their trade.

This year's Qatar 2022 World Cup represents a break from the norm in a mid-season staging, though that was a decision dictated by the weather and the top leagues will pause for the competition.

De Laurentiis has been widely condemned for his words stating he would not bring such players to the club comments and now the continent's governing body have weighed in on the matter too.

"CAF is appalled by the irresponsible and unacceptable remarks made by Napoli President, Mr Aurelio De Laurentiis on African players and the Africa Cup of Nations," read an official statement.

"By publicly declaring that players who sign for Napoli must sign a waiver denouncing participation in the Africa Cup of Nations as a condition of employment, De Laurentiis' comments are likely to fall under Article 14 of the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations.

"CAF therefore urges UEFA to initiate disciplinary investigation against him. We have no doubt that Napoli and UEFA are as committed as CAF is to these global humanitarian objectives. 

"Are we to assume that the chairman of Napoli is going to include similar restrictive conditions to players from South America, Asia and other Confederations prohibiting them from playing in their Continental competitions which are important for the development and growth of football globally?"

The next iteration of AFCON is set to be held in January 2024 in the Ivory Coast, having been postponed from June and July 2023 over weather concerns.

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag remains keen to bolster his squad before the end of the transfer window.

The Dutchman, who took over at Old Trafford this off-season, wants to improve his front-line options, along with his midfield with Fabian Ruiz and Frenkie de Jong linked.

Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Anthony Martial along with Cristiano Ronaldo will likely lead the line for United this campaign.

TOP STORY – UNITED IN SURPRISE BID FOR BAYERN'S SANE

The Mirror reports that Manchester United have made a shock move to sign Bayern Munich's former Manchester City forward Leroy Sane.

United have made an enquiry with the Bundesliga champions about the 26-year-old Germany international's availability.

Sane's role at Bayern has been jeopardized by Sadio Mane's arrival, clouding his future, with Liverpool also interested in him according to the Liverpool Echo.


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–  Manchester United may use Donny van de Beek in a swap deal in their pursuit of Barcelona's Frenkie de Jong, claims the Express. Goal reports that the Red Devils are also considering Napoli's Fabian Ruiz as an alternative if they fail to win De Jong's signature.

United are set to miss out on target Benjamin Sesko who has decided to stay with Austrian champions Salzburg, according to Sky Sport Austria. Chelsea and RB Leipzig were also keen on the 19-year-old Slovenian.

Real Madrid are plotting a move for Bayer Leverkusen's teenage Spanish forward Iker Bravo, according to Marca. Atletico Madrid are also interested in the 17-year-old who made his Bundesliga debut last year.

– The Sun claims that West are in for free agent Dan-Axel Zagadou amid interest from Roma. French defender Zagadou left Borussia Dortmund at the end of last season.

– Free agent Edinson Cavani will join Argentine giants Boca Juniors claims Fabrizio Romano. The Uruguayan left Manchester United in the off season and has been linked with Villarreal among other clubs.

Galatasaray have confirmed they are in transfer talks for both Dries Mertens and Lucas Torreira, with the Super Lig outfit plotting a double swoop.

Former Napoli forward Mertens is currently a free agent after leaving the Serie A outfit at the end of last season, while Arsenal midfielder Torreira is in the final year of his contract with at the Emirates Stadium.

Now, Galatasaray have confirmed they are in discussions to sign the duo, following reports they were interested in their services.

"Official negotiations have started with the player regarding the transfer of professional football player Dries Mertens to our club," they issued in a statement on Twitter.

"[Furthermore], negotiations have started with Arsenal regarding the transfer of Lucas Sebastian Torreira Di Pascua."

Mertens, a double Coppa Italia winner during his nine-year spell in Naples, was a member of the Belgium squad that came third at the Russia 2018 World Cup four years ago.

Despite being 35, he is yet to confirm his international retirement, and may hope to figure in the Red Devils' party for Qatar 2022 later this season.

Uruguay international Torreira meanwhile has spent the last two seasons away from Arsenal on loan, with Atletico Madrid - where he was a title winner in La Liga - and Fiorentina.

Dries Mertens has posted a farewell message to Napoli fans, saying his exit was not how he would have planned it.

The Belgium forward's nine-year stay at the Serie A club came to an end following the 2021-22 season after he rejected the offer of a new contract.

Napoli owner Aurelio De Laurentiis previously said Mertens turned down the offer of a new deal because he wanted more money, telling Radio Kiss Kiss: "I presented him with €4million per season gross and he refused.

"So I said thank you very much... I need to have money to buy young players who can represent Napoli in future seasons."

In a message posted to his social media on Wednesday, Mertens said: "Dear Neapolitans, I knew this day would eventually come, but I didn't know how difficult it would be to say goodbye."

He also went on to praise the city of Naples for "adopting" him, pointing out that his son Ciro, who features in the video with him, was born in the city.

The former PSV man added: "I did not leave as I would have liked" before finishing with: "this is not farewell, only goodbye." 

The Partenopei have seen Lorenzo Insigne, David Ospina, Kalidou Koulibaly and Arkadiusz Milik also depart during this transfer window, with Mertens leaving as the club's record goalscorer with 148 goals.

He scored 11 times in 30 Serie A games last season, with his 126 minutes per goal the fourth-best return of any player in the Italian top flight to have netted at least 10 times.

Mertens, who has been linked with Inter, Juventus and Marseille, made 397 appearances for Napoli in all, placing him behind Insigne (434), Antonio Juliano (505), Giuseppe Bruscolotti (511) and Marek Hamsik (520).

Kalidou Koulibaly has condemned plans by Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis to tell new signings they must agree not to play in the Africa Cup of Nations.

De Laurentiis proposed the controversial policy on Tuesday, saying that any African player who joined the Serie A club should make a commitment to skip the tournament.

It remains to be seen whether he goes through with the plan, or whether it is enforceable. The next AFCON is due to be played in the Ivory Coast in January 2024.

Last season, Napoli were without Cameroon international Andre-Franck Zambo Anguissa and Senegal defender Koulibaly as they represented their nations in the tournament that took place in January and February, while Nigeria striker Victor Osimhen missed out because of an injury.

Koulibaly, who has since moved on to Chelsea, felt De Laurentiis was out of line with his remarks, and claimed the views would not be endorsed by many others at the club.

"It's up to him if he wanted to tell this, but for me the most important [thing] is to respect everybody," Koulibaly told a news conference in London.

"When I played there, I was playing also for Senegal, and I won the AFCON with Senegal when I was playing with Napoli.

"It's true that it was a difficult moment for them when we went to AFCON, but we won it and I'm really happy today."

While Napoli may have struggled for numbers without their African players, their results were strong nonetheless, with Luciano Spalletti's team taking 13 points from a possible 15 from their first five league games of the year. The only real disappointment was a Coppa Italia exit at the hands of Fiorentina in mid-January.

Koulibaly added: "You cannot speak for African national teams like this, I think. You have to have respect, like you have for other national teams.

"As captain of Senegal, I think that this is not a good way to speak about African national teams.

"But I respect what he thinks. If he thinks the team can play without African players, it's up to him. But I think not everybody has the same idea as him at the club.

"I know that some people who are part of this society and team do not have the same idea as him. It's not the idea of the society or the city, because the city is very respectful."

Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis has controversially suggested the club will not sign African players unless they make agreements not to play in the Africa Cup of Nations.

Last season, Napoli were without Cameroon international Andre-Franck Zambo Anguissa and Senegal defender Kalidou Koulibaly during their participation in Africa’s showpiece tournament, the latter of whom went on to win the tournament and has since departed Naples for Chelsea.

Striker Victor Osimhen could have been another player to travel to the tournament in Cameroon to play for Nigeria, but an injury ruled him out.

The next AFCON is due to be played in the Ivory Coast in 2024, and De Laurentiis says the club would want some sort of commitment from any player joining Napoli that they would be willing to skip the tournament.

"I told them: lads, don't talk to me about Africans anymore," De Laurentiis told a streamed event in quotes reported by Football Italia.

"I love them, but either they sign something confirming they'll back out of playing the Africa Cup of Nations, or otherwise between that tournament, the World Cup qualifiers in South America, these players are never available!

"We are the idiots who pay salaries only to send them all over the world playing for others."

De Laurentiis also revealed how he rebuked the advances of American investors in an offer worth $900million back in the 2017-18 season.

"In recent years these investment funds have become fashionable, they have to guarantee their investors a certain revenue within five years," the 73-year-old added.

"They saw that football is a great opportunity and they can double their investment by selling clubs to investment funds in future. That's what Milan and Inter have done, right?

"I am assailed by funds, I can't take it anymore. In 2017-18, an American fund offered me $900m to sell Napoli. But they don't realise I am this pure entrepreneur who enjoys playing the game, so let me keep playing."

Timo Werner has only managed 23 goals in his first two seasons with Chelsea after joining from Leipzig in mid-2020.

The new Blues owners are open to allowing Werner, who signed on a five-year contract, to depart on loan.

The 26-year-old scored 95 goals in 159 appearances with Leipzig from 2016 to 2020.

TOP STORY – LEIPZIG LEAD RACE FOR CHELSEA'S WERNER

Leipzig are leading the race to sign Chelsea striker Werner ahead of Juventus, claims Fabrizio Romano.

The Bundesliga club met with Chelsea on Sunday, proposing a swap deal for Werner, who is Leipzig's main target.

Juventus and Newcastle United have also shown an interest in the Germany international. 

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Barcelona are considering a move for Leipzig defender Angelino should they miss out on Chelsea full-back Marcos Alonso, claims Diario Sport.

Everton could make a move for forgotten Chelsea forward Michy Batshuayi, according to talkSPORT. The Toffees lost Richarlison to Tottenham last month and will turn to Batshuayi, who scored 14 goals on loan at Besiktas last season.

– Portuguese forward Diogo Jota is set to be rewarded for his strong second season at Anfield, with Liverpool to offer him a lucrative pay rise as part of a new deal, despite having three years to run on his contract, claims The Telegraph.

Napoli and Chelsea are in talks on a loan deal for Spanish goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, according to Sky Sports.

– Football Insider reports that Leicester City have informed Newcastle that midfielder James Maddison will cost them £60million as they circle for his signature.

– Leicester City are set to farewell goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel,  who is on the cusp of joining French Ligue 1 club Nice, reports the Mail.

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