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Sunday, February 28, 2021

Transfer Talk: Messi will decide his future at season’s end

The transfer window may have slammed shut, but that doesn’t mean the rumour mill has shut down! Speculation over summer moves is heating up so check out the latest gossip below, and see all official deals here.

TOP STORY: Man City to make summer move for Haaland

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Manchester City are looking to make Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland their No.1 target this summer, according to the Daily Mirror.

Haaland, 20, has scored 38 goals in 39 appearances since joining the club from FC Salzburg last year and is considered the best young player in the game. He has a reported release clause of €75m which comes into effect in the summer of 2022 but City are ready to swoop in ahead of that to beat other clubs.

City boss Pep Guardiola reportedly believes he can convince Haaland to replace Sergio Aguero, who looks set to leave the Etihad this summer once his contract expires. Haaland’s father Alf Inge played for City from 2000-2003 and the club are ready to offer his son wages of around £400,000-a-week.

Chelsea, Manchester United and Real Madrid have also been linked with the Norway international, but the Daily Express says that United have a backup plan if they can’t land him: 17-year-old Joe Hugill, who signed from Sunderland for £300,000 last year and scored four goals in a 6-3 win against Liverpool U23s last week.

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transfers21.38 GMT: Sao Paulo have announced that 21-year-old forward Brenner has joined FC Cincinnati. Read the full story.

— São Paulo FC (@SaoPauloFC) February 5, 2021

20.31 GMT: Stade Rennes have received an offer from MLS outfit Minnesota United FC for 27-year-old forward Adrien Hunou, according to Goal, as the Loons look to return to the French market where they’ve found success in recruiting the likes of Romaine Metanire and Bakaye Dibassy.

19.24 GMT: Pity Martinez left Atlanta United in September, just 18 months into his MLS adventure, for Al-Nassr, but already the former River Plate standout is being linked with a return to the U.S., this time with FC Cincinnati.

But, before you Cincy fans get your hopes too high, the 27-year-old Argentine playmaker has quashed rumours of his return, insisting on his Instagram story that he’s happy in the Saudi Professional League.

18.14 GMT: Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane has said he was reluctant to let Martin Odegaard join Arsenal on loan during the January transfer window.

“He wanted to leave, he wanted to play. We spoke two or three times,” he told a news conference ahead of La Liga match at Huesca on Saturday.

“If a player wants to play and has an opportunity elsewhere, when it’s the player’s request… he could stay, fight, be calm, it’s a long season, he’s an interesting player but in the end that didn’t happen. It’s everyone’s decision.”

17.00 GMT: Real Madrid have had some bad deals over the years. Is spending €100m to sign Eden Hazard from Chelsea the worst?

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1:32

Julien Laurens puts Eden Hazard’s latest injury into context for Real Madrid.

15.59 GMT: AC Milan have already lined up three summer transfer targets, according to reports in Corriere dello Sport.

The Rossoneri will hope to finish the campaign as champions and, at the very least be able to offer new arrivals Champions League football for the first time since 2013. Marseille’s Florian Thauvin is their No. 1 choice in attack, as he is available on a free transfer in the summer. while the report adds that Milan have pinpointed Palmeiras left-back Matias Vina as a possible alternative to the impressive Theo Hernandez.

Corriere dello Sport also reports that in the event Hakan Calhanoglu does not sign a new deal and Brahim Diaz returns to Real Madrid after his loan spell, they are looking at FC Porti’s Otavio.

15.41 GMT: Torino hope Andrea Belotti, who has rediscovered his goal scoring touch in the past couple of seasons, will sign a contract.

The Italy international burst onto the scene with 26 Serie A goals in the 2016-17 season at just 23 years of age. However potential suitors were put off by an €85m release clause and Belotti has suffered with injuries since.

But he scored 16 goals last season and already has 10 this campaign and Torino president Urbano Cairo told reporters: “We have already spoken about a renewal. “From our side, we are keen and to make advantageous proposals. We have a great relationship. The important thing is that he [Belotti] is convinced we will do our part from a financial point of view.”

15.15 GMT: Goal reports that “Niklas Sule and Dayot Upamecano are two of several central defensive targets being lined up by Chelsea as Thomas Tuchel looks to improve his squad in the summer.”

Upamecano, 22, is being tracked by all of Europe’s top clubs and is available for a reported release clause of €42.5m in the summer, though Bayern Munich are reportedly leading the way for him.

While the report claims that the Blues have been interested in the 25-year-old Sule since he joined Bayern from Hoffenheim in 2017.

14.42 GMT: Jesse Lingard scored twice on his West Ham debut in the midweek 3-1 win at Aston Villa, with Hammers manager David Moyes insisting that the club would consider signing him permanently after his loan from Manchester United.

“He is a more mature boy now and is someone who is getting to the prime of his career,” Moyes told a news conference. “He’s at the stage where he wants to play well and he wants to be on the pitch. We’re not getting carried away but we are obviously really pleased with Jesse.

“He was always a fit young player so getting some match practice for him is important. We don’t want to put too much pressure on him but he has set himself a great standard by his performance.

“We’ve had one game. The situation here is Jesse’s going to get a good chance to look at West Ham, see what he thinks of us and whether he likes it, and we’ll get a good look at Jesse and decide what we think in five or six months’ time.”

14.21 GMT: Thomas Tuchel is unbeaten as Chelsea manager, but can we judge him yet?

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1:21

Jurgen Klinsmann gives his thoughts on Thomas Tuchel’s first few matches in charge.

13.43 GMT: ABC Deportes says that Real Madrid will give captain Sergio Ramos until March to sign a new contract.

Ramos, 34, is a free agent in the summer and is considering whether to stay at the Bernabeu after all he’s given the club. The offer on the table is reportedly for two more years with a 10% pay cut, but the defender is keen for more money.

Manchester United and PSG are ready to hand him some big wages, but it seems that we’ll find out what’s going on in March.

transfers12.25 GMT: ICYMI – Former Manchester United striker Odion Ighalo has joined Saudi Arabia’s Al Shabab from Chinese Super League side Shanghai Shenhua.

Ighalo, who spent the last year on loan at Old Trafford, was unveiled by the Riyadh-based team in a video posted on the club’s social media channels.

The Nigeria international had been due to return to Shanghai at the end of the loan deal, which had been extended by United for a further six months after he impressed during his initial spell under manager Ole Gunnar Solsjkaer.

11.31 GMT: Paraguay star Miguel Almiron has claimed that is happy at Newcastle United but admits that his ambition is to play for one of the big clubs in Europe.

“I have a goal to try to keep playing in Europe, to improve, to go to top clubs,” Almiron said during an interview with GEN. “Now I am at Newcastle and I am enjoying everything that is there. Like I said, try to get better, try to raise up my game and I don’t know what could happen in the future.”

Almiron, 26, also revealed that he always dreamed about playing for River Plate but suggests that a move to Argentina is not currently on the cards, adding that if he goes back to South America he would like to return to his former side in Paraguay: Cerro Porteno.

“I always wanted to play at River Plate,” he added. “I think it was one of my dreams but now I don’t know if it will be possible. It was closer when I was at Lanus. But going back to Cerro would be nice. I am Cerro fan and if, I ever go back to Paraguay, I would like to go there.”

11.04 GMT: AC Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma will be available on a free transfer in the summer unless he signs a new contract.

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2:18

Mina Rzouki and Matteo Bonetti defend Gianluigi Donnarumma’s recent contract demands at AC Milan.

10.45 GMT: Manchester United have announced that Leah Galton has signed a new three-year deal with the club, with the option to extend for another year.

The deal keeps the winger and Women’s Super League December Player of the Month at the club until at least June 2024.

“Since being here, I feel like I’ve developed in so many ways on and off the pitch and I’m especially grateful to Casey [Stoney] for her belief in me from the very start,” Galton said in a statement. “I have to give a special mention to my teammates who are like family to me, we are building something really special here and there is nowhere else I would want to be playing my football.”

Galton, 26, joined United in 2018 from Bayern Munich and has made 51 appearances in all competitions since then, scoring 14 goals.

“Leah’s talent is undeniable,” Stoney added. “I have always said that I see her as one of the best wingers in this country, and her performances throughout this season just prove that. She is hard working and leaves it all out on the pitch every training session and every matchday, and she fully deserves to be signing a new contract with the club.”

App Icon Android 710.27 GMT: Boca Juniors have earmarked the signing of Huracan midfielder Esteban Rolon as their next priority, according to ESPN’s Emilian Raddi.

The Argentinian side recently signed Marcos Rojo from Manchester United to bolster the defence and now manager Miguel Angel Russo has identified Rolon as his No. 1 target to strengthen the midfield. Raddi adds that the deal should be completed in the coming days and will worth around $500,000.

App Icon Android 710.16 GMT: Marcos Rojo found out his Manchester United career was over on social media after reading that his contract would not be extended, sources have told ESPN’s Rob Dawson.

Rojo was still waiting to hear from United officials about whether they would take up their option to extend his deal by another 12 months to 2022 when manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer announced at a news conference in January that the club had decided to allow the 30-year-old to leave.

The defender ended his six-and-a-half year stay at Old Trafford on Tuesday after signing a permanent deal with Boca Juniors.

United said in a statement announcing his departure that they had received an “undisclosed fee” for Rojo, signed by Louis van Gaal, for £16m in 2014, but sources said that his contract was ended by mutual consent before signing for Boca as a free agent.

09.46 GMT: Inter Milan have spent some time gathering players over the past year but it looks like this summer they will be moving two on.

Gazzetta dello Sport reports that full-backs Aleksandar Kolarov, 35, and Matteo Darmian, 31, are expected to leave.

09.09 GMT: Florian Neuhaus is the anchor for Borussia Monchengladbach and Bayern Munich, as well as some other top clubs, are taking notice, writes Stephan Uersfeld and Tom Hamilton.

Whether he’s still at Gladbach by the end of the Championships remains to be seen. This January he’s been linked with a summer move to Bayern, Real Madrid, Tottenham as well as Borussia Dortmund, where his current coach Rose currently is in pole position to take over next term. However, given Dortmund’s financial and sporting situation, the Schwarzgelben are currently not considering trying to trigger the reported €40 million release clause, sources have told ESPN.

“Those rumours… they are not an issue right now,” Neuhaus says. “I feel well here at Borussia Monchengladbach. We have big goals. And that’s why it’s just not an issue and it’s not affecting me at all. I am delighted to be here. I want to be successful here.” Sources have told ESPN that there will be no rushed decision over his future and staying at Gladbach is a realistic option. In his third season now, he has long become a key player for the club.

08.35 GMT: Sao Paulo have agreed to sell striker Brenner to Cincinnati FC in a $15m transfer, according to TNT.

Brenner, 20, was the top scorer for Sao Paulo this season, scoring 22 goals in 44 games. He is expected to sign a five-year contract and join Cincinnati later this month.

The Brazilian began his professional career in 2017 and was loaned to Fluminense in 2019 before becoming a regular starter for Sao Paulo the following year.

08.00 GMT: Bayern Munich defender Alphonso Davies has appeared to confirm that teammate David Alaba will leave the club at the end of the season.

Alaba’s contract at the European champions expires in the summer, and the versatile Austria international is almost certain not to sign a new deal after talks broke off late last year.

“I learned a lot from him,” Canada international Davies told tz. “I regard him as my mentor…I will definitely miss him.”

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1:38

Shaka Hislop says a move to PSG doesn’t make sense for Lionel Messi if he is truly looking for a new challenge.

PAPER TALK (by Nick Judd)

Barcelona legend Lionel Messi will wait until the end of the season before determining his future, reports Goal.

Despite rumours linking him with a move to Paris Saint-Germain, the report states that Messi has yet to make contact with the French champions. Nor has he made contact with Manchester City, or any other club for that matter, and instead intends to wait until the season concludes before deciding whether he will remain at Barcelona or move on to pastures new.

The Argentina captain’s contract expires in the summer, and he has routinely been linked with a move to Paris, where he could line up alongside former Barca teammate Neymar. Man City also attempted to lure Messi to the Premier League last summer.

However, it would appear that any talk of a move is premature, with Messi keen to see out the season before committing to a new destination. The outcome of the club’s postponed presidential elections in March could yet see him agree to stay at Camp Nou too.

Aguero tempted by Barca move … if Messi stays

Sergio Aguero will be a free agent if he doesn’t extend his contract at Manchester City this summer, and he appears willing to talk to Barcelona, reports Cadena SER.

However, Aguero’s interest in a move to Camp Nou is dependent on compatriot Messi staying beyond the end of the season to play alongside him. Aguero and Messi are friends, so it would be a deal breaker if Messi were to leave.

There is, of course, a chance the two players could play together at Man City, where Aguero has established himself as a club legend. One thing is for sure, though: With both players’ futures in doubts, Europe’s biggest clubs will be keeping tabs on the duo’s contract developments, with at least one Barca presidential candidate reportedly already making contact with City’s No. 10.

Tap-ins

Mundo Deportivo reports that RB Leipzig will be Brian Brobbey‘s most likely destination when he leaves Ajax Amsterdam on a free transfer this summer. Sporting director Marc Overmars confirmed earlier in the week that the 19-year-old will leave the club when his contract expires this summer, and Leipzig are reported to now be the front-runners to sign the forward.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by WCT staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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