Cesar Azpilicueta has admitted he came close to leaving Chelsea for Barcelona last season, but that he ultimately felt a responsibility to remain "in my home".

The Blues skipper penned a new two-year contract extension earlier this month, to end weeks of speculation over his future, after the club triggered a 12-month extension clause before his prior deal expired amid the off-season.

The Spaniard completed a sweep of major honours at Stamford Bridge with the Club World Cup in February, and says that he felt ready to consider a move back to his home country in the aftermath.

But the subsequent sanctions imposed against owner Roman Abramovich amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine saw him have a change of heart, with a desire to stand by the team as they transitioned to the Todd Boehly era.

"Yes the conversations were there [with Barcelona]," Azpilicueta was quoted by The Guardian. "After the Club World Cup, where I became the only player to ever win every trophy, I felt it was the time to go back.

"But then everything happened with this club. I wanted to stay committed to the club. I never did anything against my club.

"We had private conversations where I said everything. We had players leaving, and I have never been in a transfer market situation in 10 years. It was different. For a period I was a free agent.

"Who knows what could have happened in that period. I decided to stay silent because I think there was already enough noise around me. I didn’t want to make it worse because I wanted to stay focused on my game.

"I had a meeting with the new owners. They wanted me to stay here to lead the team both on and off the pitch. It’s a big thank you to them. They were very honest and transparent from the first day.

"I felt a responsibility to stay here in my home. My family are happy here. We have a new project with new players and youngsters coming in. I feel right and ready to look forward."

Azpilicueta started Chelsea's first game of the new Premier League season on Saturday, as Thomas Tuchel's side ran out 1-0 victors against Everton.

The Blues next face Tottenham, in an early test of their top four credentials, on Sunday.

After the best goalscoring season of his career, Valencia's Goncalo Guedes has reportedly earned a move to the Premier League, with Wolves said to be finalising a transfer worth up to £35million.

After arriving at the Spanish side back in 2017 from Paris Saint-Germain, the 25-year-old forward has established himself as a regular in Portugal's international side, collecting 32 senior caps and scoring the only goal in their 1-0 Nations League final win against the Netherlands in 2019.

Having never previously scored more than five league goals in a season, Guedes racked up 11, as well as six assists, in Valencia's last LaLiga campaign, and helped his side through to the final of the Copa del Rey.


TOP STORY – WOLVES CLOSE IN ON GUEDES

Wolves have no shortage of talent, boasting arguably the strongest Portuguese contingent in the Premier League, including manager Bruno Lage, and four starters from their opening fixture against Leeds United – Pedro Neto, Daniel Podence, Ruben Neves and Jose Sa, with Joao Moutinho and Nelson Semedo among the others in their ranks.

According to the Daily Mail, all signs point to Guedes being added to that list, while at the same time a starting position may be opening up as Morgan Gibbs-White's name continues to be included in heavy transfer speculation, with Nottingham Forest keen to sign him for a similar price Wolves will fork out in this reported deal.

Flipping an unproven talent like Gibbs-White into an established international performer like Guedes would likely be seen as a win by the club, but if they do wish to retain their English midfielder, the Daily Mail is also reporting they should be able to collect £12m from Everton in exchange for centre-back Conor Coady.


ROUND-UP

– The Guardian is reporting Leicester City and Southampton are interested in Callum Hudson-Odoi after the 21-year-old informed Chelsea he would like to leave on loan, and the Daily Mail claim Borussia Dortmund are also a potential landing spot.

– The Mail is also reporting that Chelsea's Timo Werner is close to a permanent deal to return to RB Leipzig, with the fee said to be around £30m.

– According to the Northern Echo, Newcastle United have decided to make a run at in-demand 19-year-old striker and Manchester United target Benjamin Sesko from Salzburg.

Feyenoord have accepted a £12.6m bid from Bournemouth for 25-year-old Argentine defender Marcos Senesi, per The Sun.

– The Athletic is reporting United have made a £6.8m bid for 33-year-old Bologna striker Marko Arnautovic, who has previously spent six seasons in the Premier League between Stoke City and West Ham.

Frenkie de Jong appears likely to remain at Barcelona for this season, if the comments from club president Joan Laporta after their side's 6-0 pre-season win against Pumas are to be believed.

De Jong scored the sixth goal in the rout, coming off the bench at half-time and finding the net in the 84th minute.

He has been one of the main names featured in transfer rumours this off-season, with Barcelona's questionable finances making it seem like the club would have to part ways with the 25-year-old Dutch international to fund their sizeable moves for Leeds United winger Raphinha, Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski and Sevilla centre-back Jules Kounde.

However, having been outspoken about his desire to remain at Camp Nou, it now seems more likely he will not be sold during this transfer window, with Laporta saying before the match against Pumas that it is what both parties want.

"Frenkie is our player and we want him to stay at Barcelona," he said. "He wants to stay, too.

"With him and his teammates, we have a very powerful midfield. He has offers, but we want him to stay."

After the match, Xavi was less emphatic about De Jong's future when interviewed by TV3, but insisted that he's "counting on" the midfielder this season.

"I don’t know what will happen to Frenkie, as until August 31st anything can happen," he said.

"He knows what I think, and what the club want and need. Of course I’m counting on him, he’s a great player."

Barcelona will open their LaLiga campaign at home against Rayo Vallecano on Saturday.

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.

Marcos Alonso looks to be on his way to Barcelona after he was left out of Chelsea's squad to face Everton.

The Spain full-back reportedly said his goodbyes at the London club this week as he nears a return to his homeland.

Alonso did not travel to Goodison Park for the Blues' opening match of the Premier League season and is expected to become big-spending Barca's next recruit.

Chelsea splashed out to sign Marc Cucurella from Brighton and Hove Albion on Friday, while Ben Chilwell has returned after a long spell on the sidelines due to injury.

Thomas Tuchel also omitted Timo Werner and Callum Hudson-Odoi from his squad for the trip to Merseyside amid reports they could leave the club.

Barca president Joan Laporta on Friday said he was confident the Catalan giants would be able to register all of their new players despite claims LaLiga will require them to generate more funds.

Manchester United are reportedly willing to meet Salzburg's £41.8million asking price for 19-year-old Slovenian striker Benjamin Sesko.

Sesko, who does not turn 20 until next May and measures in at 195cm tall, scored 11 goals in 37 games last season, and he opened the new Bundesliga campaign with a goal and an assist in a 3-0 win over Austria Vienna.

According to The Athletic, United decided against signing Sesko for £2.5m as a 16-year-old, and they will now have to pay up to secure the services of the in-demand forward.


TOP STORY – UNITED PLAN BIG MOVE FOR TOWERING SLOVENIAN STRIKER

The report from Express calls Sesko "a priority target" for new boss Erik ten Hag, but also mentions that the Austrian club is extremely high on him as a prospect – going as far as comparing his future to that of former Salzburg man Erling Haaland.

Meanwhile, Sport Klub claims Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain are also monitoring the situation, and that Sesko and Salzburg will be meeting in the next week to make a firm decision on his future.

Sesko is also Slovenia's youngest-ever international debutant, having debuted one day after his 18th birthday, and became their youngest international goalscorer a few months later.


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– Calciomercato claims Tottenham are set to sign 19-year-old defender and Manchester City target Destiny Udogie from Udinese for a deal in the range of £25m.

– The Mirror is reporting that Everton have swooped in to land West Ham target Amadou Onana from Lille with a fee of £33.7m.

Leeds United are making a £22m bid for Paris Saint-Germain forward Arnaud Kalimuendo, according to the Sun.

– A Sky Sports report states Crystal Palace are interested in bringing back defender Aaron Wan-Bissaka from United.

– Liverpool are exploring a potential £50m move to bring in Leroy Sane from Bayern Munich, according to 90min.

Marc Cucurella has left Brighton and Hove Albion for Chelsea, rather than Manchester City, in a reported £50million transfer.

The Spain left-back enjoyed an outstanding single season at Brighton, having joined from Getafe last August.

With City selling Oleksandr Zinchenko to Arsenal, it appeared Cucurella was set to sign for the Premier League champions

However, it was widely reported Brighton were standing firm with their demands of a £50m fee while City were only willing to pay £40m.

Brighton head coach Graham Potter last week described the club as "confident and relaxed in our position" as they awaited a further bid from City.

Instead, it came from Chelsea, with the Blues moving quickly to sign Cucurella on a six-year deal. He follows Raheem Sterling and Kalidou Koulibaly in signing for the London club ahead of the new season.

Teenage Blues defender Levi Colwill has moved in the opposite direction, joining Brighton on a season-long loan deal.

Cucurella's arrival comes as a big boost to Thomas Tuchel, who has seen top targets Matthijs de Ligt, Jules Kounde and Raphinha go elsewhere.

With Marcos Alonso – another Spain international – linked with a move to Barcelona, ex-Blaugrana academy graduate Cucurella appears set for a battle with Ben Chilwell for a starting spot, although it has been suggested the new recruit could play in a back three.

Injury restricted Chilwell to seven appearances in the Premier League last season, although he still scored three goals and provided an assist. Cucurella, in 35 matches, netted just once and could also only match Chilwell's single assist.

But Cucurella also showed why he would be a good fit for any team competing at the top end of the table.

The 24-year-old enjoyed 2,827 touches, ranking seventh among Premier League defenders; each of the six players above him played for either City (Joao Cancelo, Aymeric Laporte), Liverpool (Trent Alexander-Arnold, Virgil van Dijk) or Chelsea (Thiago Silva, Antonio Rudiger).

Despite his sole assist, Cucurella finished sixth among defenders for chances created, with his 42 just behind Blues duo Reece James (48) and Alonso (43).

 

Cucurella ranked sixth among defenders for duels contested (323), winning a solid 59.1 per cent.

Listed at 1.72 metres tall, Cucurella is shorter than Lisandro Martinez (1.75m), the Premier League's smallest nominal centre-back, but he still won 52.6 per cent of his aerial duels last term, bettering the 44.7 per cent of James – another Chelsea star who switched between wing-back and centre-back roles.

Marc Cucurella has left Brighton and Hove Albion for Chelsea, rather than Manchester City, in a reported £50million transfer.

The Spain left-back enjoyed an outstanding single season at Brighton, having joined from Getafe last August.

With City selling Oleksandr Zinchenko to Arsenal, it appeared Cucurella was set to sign for the Premier League champions

However, it was widely reported Brighton were standing firm with their demands of a £50m fee while City were only willing to pay £40m.

Brighton head coach Graham Potter last week described the club as "confident and relaxed in our position" as they awaited a further bid from City.

Instead, it came from Chelsea, with the Blues moving quickly to sign Cucurella on a six-year deal. He follows Raheem Sterling and Kalidou Koulibaly in signing for the London club ahead of the new season.

His arrival comes as a big boost to Thomas Tuchel, who has seen top targets Matthijs de Ligt, Jules Kounde and Raphinha go elsewhere.

With Marcos Alonso – another Spain international – linked with a move to Barcelona, ex-Blaugrana academy graduate Cucurella appears set for a battle with Ben Chilwell for a starting spot, although it has been suggested the new recruit could play in a back three.

Injury restricted Chilwell to seven appearances in the Premier League last season, although he still scored three goals and provided an assist. Cucurella, in 35 matches, netted just once and could also only match Chilwell's single assist.

But Cucurella also showed why he would be a good fit for any team competing at the top end of the table.

The 24-year-old enjoyed 2,827 touches, ranking seventh among Premier League defenders; each of the six players above him played for either City (Joao Cancelo, Aymeric Laporte), Liverpool (Trent Alexander-Arnold, Virgil van Dijk) or Chelsea (Thiago Silva, Antonio Rudiger).

Despite his sole assist, Cucurella finished sixth among defenders for chances created, with his 42 just behind Blues duo Reece James (48) and Alonso (43).

 

Cucurella ranked sixth among defenders for duels contested (323), winning a solid 59.1 per cent.

Listed at 1.72 metres tall, Cucurella is shorter than Lisandro Martinez (1.75m), the Premier League's smallest nominal centre-back, but he still won 52.6 per cent of his aerial duels last term, bettering the 44.7 per cent of James – another Chelsea star who switched between wing-back and centre-back roles.

Leeds United owner Andrea Radrizzani felt "ashamed" to pull the plug on a "done deal" for Raphinha to join Chelsea and says only time will tell if Barcelona will pay up for the winger.

Raphinha left Elland Road to join Barca for a reported fee of €67million (£57m) last month.

Chelsea thought the Brazil international was on his way to Stamford Bridge after reaching an agreement with their Premier League rivals.

Radrizzani was embarrassed to inform Blues owner Todd Boehly that the deal was off, but says he had no choice.

He told The Athletic: "For me, it was done, the deal with Chelsea. When I have a deal, my word is my word and I felt ashamed to go back to Todd Boehly, the owner of Chelsea, and change the position.

"It was really for me, disrespectful and not the right thing to do, but I didn't have a choice.

"If I could decide to not sell the player, I would have preferred that. But I didn't have a choice because for us it was more important to buy six players than keep Raphinha."

 

Radrizzani confirmed London rivals Tottenham and Arsenal also wanted Raphinha.

He added: "Obviously we had interest from Tottenham, from Arsenal, from Chelsea and from Barcelona. So all of  these clubs and the best deal we agreed was with Chelsea.

"Then at the end the deal that came up with Barcelona is pretty much the same for the way we structured it at the very end, but it took time, it was hard. We had to manage well and as I said, I'd rather not sell him, but I didn't have a choice because we had to buy six players."

Eyebrows have been raised over Barca's spending in this transfer window given they had to let Lionel Messi leave 12 months ago due to a financial crisis.

Radrizzani says only time will tell if the LaLiga giants stump up the cash they have agreed to pay Leeds for Raphinha and vowed to take action if they do not.

Asked if he is confident Leeds will get the money from Barca, the Italian replied: "Look, I'll tell you on the 2nd of September. If not we will have a global case on all media in the world about Barcelona. So I don't know."

Barcelona's Frenkie de Jong has had a long-running transfer saga this off-season.

The 25-year-old Dutchman has been linked with a move away from Camp Nou amid Barcelona's financial issues, despite their off-season spending landing Robert Lewandowski among others.

The Catalans need to offload players before they can register new signings and De Jong is surplus to requirements.

TOP STORY – CHELSEA TO HIJACK MAN UTD MOVE FOR DE JONG

Chelsea have commenced talks with Barcelona in a bid to hijack Manchester United 's move for Frenkie de Jong, reports The Athletic.

Manchester United have actively pursued the Dutch midfielder this off-season but he has been unwilling to leave the Blaugrana for Old Trafford, creating a stand-off.

De Jong, who is still owed deferred wages by Barcelona, is more open to moving to Chelsea than United, according to the report. 

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–  Chelsea are also considering a move for Barcelona forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang claims Fabrizio Romano. The Blues have already held talks with former Arsenal man's representatives.

– Sky Sports reports that Manchester United's pursuit of 19-year-old Slovenian forward Benjamin Sesko is heating up, having held initial discussions with his club, Austrian champions Salzburg. Fabrizio Romano claims Chelsea have also spoken to Sesko's agent.

Chelsea remain keen on Leicester City defender Wesley Fofana and will offer him £200,000 per week according to the Mail. The Foxes want £85million for the Frenchman.

– The Sun reports that West Ham have agreed to a £35m deal with Lille for Belgian midfielder Amadou Onana. The Hammers still need to thrash out a personal agreement with Onana.

Juventus are interested in signing Udinese left-back Destiny Udogie according to Il Bianconero, while the Daily Mail claims Antonio Conte's Tottenham are also keen on him.

– Diario Sport reports that Rayo Vallecano president Raul Martin Presa has reached a deal with Diego Costa, who wants to return to Spain after time in Brazil.

Borussia Dortmund could be set to spend €30million to sign Almeria forward Umar Sadiq according to Mundo Deportivo. Dortmund are looking for cover as Sebastian Haller is absent due to a testicular tumour.

Gaga Slonina has joined Chelsea on a six-year contract before returning to the Chicago Fire on loan until January.

The 18-year-old has established himself as the most exciting young goalkeeper in MLS since making his Fire debut last August.

Then 17, Slonina became the youngest goalkeeper to start a match in MLS history as he kept a clean sheet in a draw with New York City FC.

Slonina has gone on to keep 13 clean sheets in 34 appearances and is Chicago's first-choice keeper, playing every minute of the 2022 campaign.

The United States youth international, who rejected a senior call-up from Poland in May, will play out the rest of the season in Illinois ahead of joining a pool of Chelsea goalkeepers that includes Edouard Mendy.

Chelsea have reportedly paid an initial £8.2million ($10m) for Slonina, although that fee could increase to £12.3m ($15m).

Fire sporting director Georg Heitz said in a statement: "We're very proud and happy to see Gaga reach this milestone moment in his career.

"Since joining the club, Gaga has embodied what it means to be a Chicago Fire player.

"In addition to his incredible talent, he is mature beyond his years, extremely hard-working and a fantastic team-mate.

"Gaga is a role model to many young aspiring footballers in Chicago, and this transfer demonstrates that a player can progress to the first team from our academy before joining one of the biggest clubs in the world."

Slonina added: "I joined this club [the Fire] with ambitions of playing at the highest level, and it's been a dream come true to wear the Chicago Fire jersey.

"This club has become my second home, my second family, and there are so many people that have played a big role in helping me get to where I am today.

"I'm so thankful for all the support that I've received from my family, coaches, team-mates and everyone associated with the club. It's been an incredible honour to work alongside each one of you."

Chelsea are hoping to raid Leicester City for both Wesley Fofana and Jamie Vardy during this transfer period, with the former reportedly telling the club he wants out, while the latter's contract is set to expire in 12 months.

Fofana, 21, has emerged as one of the most valuable young defenders in the Premier League despite missing most of this past season with a broken leg. He has represented France's Under-21s, and appears on track to a long international career at the senior level.

Vardy, 35, has scored at least 13 goals in each Premier League season since 2014-15, and if he indicates he has no interest in signing a new contract to stay in Leicester, this transfer window will be their last opportunity to cash-in on the club legend.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA SET SIGHTS ON DYNAMIC LEICESTER DUO

While Vardy will likely have a significant say in his future due to his contract situation, the same cannot be said for Fofana, who recently signed an extension that ties him to the club through 2027.

90min reports both Chelsea and Manchester United are monitoring Vardy's situation, with the thought that he could potentially be a relatively cheap replacement option after Romelu Lukaku was shipped out on loan to Inter, as well as Timo Werner having one foot out the door.

There is no word about an asking price for Vardy, but according to ESPN, Leicester are adamant Fofana is not available at any price, despite previous rumours that they value him at £85million. 

Meanwhile, the Mirror claims that since the Stamford Bridge side's interest became clear, the centre-back has been actively pushing for the move to Chelsea, and he has removed any mention of Leicester from his social media pages.

 

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– Sky Sports is reporting that Sampdoria have accepted Brentford's £16.7m bid for 22-year-old Danish midfielder Mikkel Damsgaard.

– According to 90min, if Tottenham cannot secure Roma forward Nicolo Zaniolo, they will switch attention to Wolves winger Adama Traore.

– Football League World is reporting Sevilla and Wolves will battle it out for the signing of 23-year-old striker Ben Brereton-Diaz from Blackburn Rovers.

– Fabrizio Romano claims Sevilla are also interested in United full-back Alex Telles, who is said to be behind both Luke Shaw and Tyrell Malacia in the club's pecking order. 

– The Guardian is reporting Chelsea are interested in Southampton's Kyle Walker-Peters, and that an offer between £35m and £40m could get the deal done.

Jules Kounde has detailed the role Xavi played in bringing the defender to Barcelona from Sevilla, describing how "important" it was the coach was pushing for the deal.

The 23-year-old was long courted by Premier League outfit Chelsea, who were widely reported to be set to secure a deal before Barcelona moved to hijack the agreement.

It was the second time in the window a late Barca move had frustrated the English side, with the Blaugrana beating them to the signature of Raphinha from Leeds United, while they also signed Andreas Christensen on a free transfer from the Blues.

For Kounde, though, the key to his decision was the conversations he had with Xavi.

"I had some good conversations with Xavi, he always expressed desire for me to come here, and that was important for me," he told a news conference.

"This is an important moment in my career, and in the conversations, he asked me to continue to do what I was doing in Sevilla, to continue to be aggressive, bring the ball out from the back, distribute, those are some of my strengths. 

"Barcelona is a great club, very demanding as well, and that's something that Xavi talked to me about."

Kounde's arrival at Barcelona comes as part of a significant recruitment drive from Xavi's side, with Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha, Christensen and Franck Kessie fellow new arrivals.

However, the France international has an advantage due to his experience of playing in Spain and believes he will quickly settle into the club.

"My knowledge of the league is going to make it easier to adapt as soon as possible, to adapt to the Barcelona style as well," he explained.

"My coach is obviously going to ask me to know my team-mates as well, and that's going to take time, but it won't be a problem.

"There is lots of competition, I think it's very good for the team. It's good to have a lot of competition in each spot; there are lots of games, of course.

"What I have to do here is grow and learn. I'm very young still, and I'm here to help the team at any given moment, whatever the coach asks of me and my team-mates.

"It's good that there is competition, I'm really looking forward to playing, and when there's competition, it's a challenge and that's great."

Brendan Rodgers insisted Leicester City would not be selling Wesley Fofana to Chelsea and derided Newcastle United's reported offer for James Maddison.

Leicester are the only Premier League club yet to make a new signing with less than a week to go before the start of the season.

With finances said to be tight at the King Power Stadium, a number of key players appear to be of interest to rival clubs.

Chelsea are reportedly considering a move for centre-back Fofana, having lost Antonio Rudiger to Real Madrid and Andreas Christensen to Barcelona while missing out on top targets Matthijs de Ligt to Bayern Munich and Jules Kounde also to Barca.

Reports suggest Leicester would only countenance the sale of one of Fofana or Maddison, and Rodgers ruled out the possibility of his top defender departing.

"Naturally, he's a top talent," Rodgers said following Sunday's 1-0 friendly win over Sevilla. "He's not for sale.

"He still has lots of improvements to make. He's very happy here, he really enjoys being here.

"Naturally, he will attract the interest of other clubs. Our job, in not signing anyone so far, is to at least keep the players we have. I know that's the intention of the club."

Rodgers was slightly less firm on Maddison's future, although he suggested the £40million fee Newcastle were said to be willing to pay fell well short of the midfielder's value.

Newcastle have also been linked to Maddison's team-mates Youri Tielemans and Harvey Barnes, while they last season targeted Rodgers himself before appointing Eddie Howe.

"He's still very much a player here," Rodgers said of Maddison. "Naturally, the players are sought after because they are talents.

"You see his performance, you see how happy he is, and he's not a player we want to sell.

"It's not for me to put valuations on the players, it's not my side, but [£40m] might just cover three-quarters of his left leg, that price. He's a top player."

Another player who could leave Leicester is captain Kasper Schmeichel, who has held talks with Nice.

Lucien Favre, coach of the Ligue 1 club, said over the weekend a potential move was "a real lead" but "not yet done".

Rodgers added: "There's been a little bit of interest over the summer.

"Kasper has earned the right to have a think about the next chapter of his career and where that's going to be. When there's something concrete, we'll sit and discuss it and take it from there."

Chelsea are showing they still have plenty of business to take care of during this transfer period, with reports they will make significant bids for Barcelona's Frenkie de Jong and Leicester City's Wesley Fofana.

De Jong has been a central figure in transfer news since the season ended, locked in an ongoing saga with Manchester United after they finally met Barcelona's asking price, only for the 25-year-old Dutch international to reveal he has no interest in heading to a club outside of the Champions League.

Meanwhile, Chelsea have been outgoing about their desire for another quality centre back to bring in along with Kalidou Koulibaly, and after Barcelona swooped in at the 11th hour to land Blues target Jules Kounde, Fofana is the new hot name in their hunt for a long-term solution in the middle of defence.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA PREPARE BIG-MONEY BIDS FOR DE JONG AND FOFANA

In the immediate aftermath of Barcelona securing Kounde, reports came out that Chelsea were then unwilling to do further business with the Spanish giants, withholding Marcos Alonso and Cesar Azpilicueta.

However, that seems to have changed as Sport is reporting the Stamford Bridge side will make a bid for De Jong, who Barcelona value at €80million, and if a deal can be made, Barca will then immediately use some of those funds to sign Manchester City midfielder Bernardo Silva.

For the 21-year-old Fofana, who has represented France at the under-21 level, Leicester reportedly value him at £85m after recently locking him down on a five-year contract expiring in 2027. Paris Saint-Germain are also said to be interested in the Foxes' defender.

 

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– The Athletic are reporting Chelsea have also put out a feeler for 26-year-old Inter defender Denzel Dumfries, while Sport Italia's Rudy Galetti claims they are also discussing Milan Skriniar.

– According to the Daily Mail, Newcastle United have turned their attention to Leicester winger Harvey Barnes after having their bid for James Maddison turned down.

Manchester United are reportedly weighing up moves for 25-year-old Stuttgart striker Sasa Kalajdzic and RB Salzburg 19-year-old Benjamin Sesko, with the latter said to be valued at over £50m.

– ESPN are reporting that if Manchester City cannot land Brighton left-back Marc Cucurella, then they will pivot to Borussia Dortmund's Raphael Guerreiro, who has 56 international caps for Portugal.

– Ekrem Konur has revealed that Aston Villa face stiff competition in their pursuit of Bodo/Glimt right-back Alfons Sampsted, with the 24-year-old Iceland international also drawing interest from Bayer Leverkusen, Lyon and Lazio.

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