Friday’s Transfer Rumor Roundup: Benzema, Ozil, Di Maria to Arsenal, Fellaini to Manchester United

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Everton midfielder Marouane Fellaini has told Roberto Martinez that he wants to leave the Toffees, as Manchester United continue to monitor the Belgian internationals situation. Fellaini, 25, has already been the subject of two bids from David Moyes and with his latest revelations United could well come in for a third and final bid before the transfer deadline.

And another Everton player is still rumored to be heading to United, as England left back Leighton Baines could be included in a double swoop by former Everton manager Moyes. The deal for Everton’s prized assets could reach $54 million as United are expected to table to a bid today but would Baines be a regular for the Red Devils? With Patrice Evra still in fine form at the age of 32 it’s hard to see Baines coming straight into the starting lineup ahead of the French veteran.

Arsenal are still planning to strengthen their side as the transfer window comes to a close, with manager Arsene Wenger aiming to bring in three Real Madrid stars. Karim Benzema, Angel Di Maria and Mesut Ozil have all been targeted by the Gunners but there’s one snag: it all hinges on Madrid’s deal for Gareth Bale being done before the deadline. Spurs are dragging their heels on the Bale deal so that their North London rivals can’t plan to bring in three top internationals from Madrid. The deal to bring all three to the Emirates would cost a whopping $105 million and would silence all the doubters that Wenger has had throughout a summer of transfer struggles. Can it be done?

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Can Arsenal really seal a triple swoop for Benzema, Ozil and Di Maria?

On a smaller scale, Arsenal have also bid for St. Etienne midfielder Josuha Guilavogui after putting in an offer of $12 million. The 23-year-old is a holding midfielder, which raises a few eyebrows after Wenger only added former Arsenal stopper and fellow Frenchman Mathieu Flamini yesterday. But French international Guilavogui can also play at center-back and this move could considerably strengthen Arsenal’s options in midfield and defense.

Manchester City midfielder Gareth Barry could be heading to Merseyside, as Everton aim to tie up a season-long loan deal for the 32-year-old. Barry hasn’t featured for City this season and his time at the Etihad appears to be over. Roberto Martinez could see Barry as a cheap replacement if Fellaini does move to Manchester United however one stumbling block is that Barry’s wages of $180,000 per week is way out of Everton’s wage structure. A compromise must be met.

And another player Martinez is aiming to attract to Goodison Park is one of his former Wigan players, James McCarthy. The Republic of Ireland international dazzled under the Spanish coach at the DW Stadium and could be reunited with Martinez at Everton. A bid is about to be tabled and McCarthy could be another direct replacement for Fellaini. Would Everton fans be happy with that? The 22-year-old midfielder is crafty and diligent in the engine room but may struggle to replicate Fellaini’s goalscoring threat.

As for City, their need for a new central defender has become abundantly clear in recent weeks and Pellegrini has his eye on FC Porto defender Eliaquim Mangala. The 22-year-old French international has a $60 million buy-out clause in his contract and Chelsea, Barcelona and Manchester United have all been following his progress closely. Maybe City will spend big one more time before the window slams shut, the Citizen’s could certainly do with some defensive reinforcements.

FC Schalke are set to sign AC Milan attacker Kevin-Prince Boateng to boost their Champions League hopes this season. Boateng, 26, was born in Berlin but represents Ghana at international level and can operate across midfield and attack. The former Hertha Berlin, Tottenham and Portsmouth midfielder has shone in recent seasons at the San Siro but a move back to the Bundesliga seems like a done deal. Schalke’s marquee addition could see them surprise plenty of people in the Champions League this campaign.

MORE: Tuesday’s Transfer Rumor Roundup, Lamela and Chiriches to Spurs, Fellaini to United

MORE: Wednesday’s Transfer Rumor Roundup, Mata to Spurs, Ozil to Arsenal

‘Nothing is impossible’: Bonucci brings hope to AC Milan

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MILAN (AP) Nothing is impossible. That’s AC Milan’s new unofficial slogan following Leonardo Bonucci’s surprise transfer from defending six-time Serie A champion Juventus.

[ MORE: Neymar reportedly tells Barca teammates he’s off to PSG ]

Presenting fans to Bonucci via Weibo on Friday, Milan CEO Marco Fassone recounted how Italy’s top defender moved to a rival club.

“It started by chance and it seemed impossible but Leo interrupted me right away and said, `Nothing is impossible. When there’s desire to do things you can get them done.”‘

Milan has been on a spending spree following the club’s sale to a Chinese-led consortium for $800 million in April, and Bonucci is the top acquisition, so far.

“Leo doesn’t require introductions,” Fassone said. “It’s an extraordinary reinforcement for us. … He completes a mosaic sought after by (Milan chief sport officer Massimiliano) Mirabelli – a mix of younger players and experienced leaders who will make the road ahead easier.”

Other recent signings by Milan included forward Andre Silva from FC Porto; midfielders Ricardo Rodriguez (Wolfsburg), Franck Kessie and Andrea Conti (Atalanta), Hakan Calhanoglu (Bayer Leverkusen) and Lucas Biglia (Lazio); and defender Mateo Musacchio (Villarreal).

Bonucci thanked Kessie for letting him wear his preferred No. 19 shirt, and pointed to Milan’s seven European Cups and Champions League titles as a reference point for a club that did not even qualify for continental play the last three years and hasn’t won Serie A since 2011.

“Milan deserves to be among the elite again in Italy and Europe,” Bonucci said. “When you are united you win. The strength has to be that of the squad whereas singular players alone can do nothing. We can get back to the top and that’s what this club deserves.”

Bonucci’s transfer fee reportedly topped the 40 million euro ($45 million) mark, and the center back was signed to a five-year contract worth up to 10 million euros ($11 million) per season, including bonuses – making him the highest-paid player in Italy.

Meanwhile, Juventus is reportedly near to signing prized winger Federico Bernardeschi from Fiorentina for a reported fee of 40 million euros ($45 million). The Gazzetta dello Sport reported Juventus will sign the 23-year-old Bernardeschi to five-year contract worth 4 million euros ($4.6 million) per season.

Vertonghen: “We need to level up” like rest of PL contenders

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Tottenham put up a heck of a title fight in 2016/17 as the club attempted to chase down Premier League champions Chelsea, but Spurs have been inactive this summer as Mauricio Pochettino‘s group gears up for next month.

[ MORE: Striker Morata signs five-year contract with Chelsea ]

The London side finished second in the PL a season ago — a record-high for the club during the modern Premier League Era.

[ VIDEO: History of the North London Derby ]

However, Pochettino and Co. have made no moves in the transfer market this summer, while its competitors — Chelsea, Manchester United, etc. — have all made significant roster additions to bolster their lineups.

Defender Jan Vertonghen says that Spurs must compete with the rest of the PL’s elite in the transfer market if the club is to finally realize its goal of finishing atop England’s top flight.

“The way our rivals are strengthening this season, we need to be aware of that and we need to level up as well,” Vertonghen told ESPN FC.

“I’m not saying with new players, but we need to take our levels up and I think we can. I’m the oldest outfield player in the team and I feel very fit. The younger guys can improve even more. It can definitely be our year and we want it to be our year.

“Luckily we almost kept everyone from this year. Obviously the window is not closed yet but if we can keep these guys, we can do the same thing again. It’ll be a bit harder because we play at Wembley! [The pitch] is a lot bigger but the training pitches have already been adapted.

While Spurs certainly benefit from having one of the strongest young groups of players in England, the club’s lack of spending is a bit concerning, especially after its recent loss of Kyle Walker — who joined Manchester City for a record fee.

Zouma signs new Chelsea contract, is immediately loaned to Stoke City

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Kurt Zouma‘s long-term future is secure at Chelsea, but his short-term future will be away from Stamford Bridge.

The France international centerback signed a new six-year contract with Chelsea and was promptly sent out on a season-long loan to Stoke City. Zouma made just three starts and nine total appearances last season as he came back from a torn ACL suffered in February 2016.

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“It is fantastic Kurt has chosen to commit his future to Chelsea,” Chelsea technical director Michael Emenalo said in a statement. “He has shown his talent since joining us three years ago, and has returned from a serious injury with a fantastic attitude.

“Now he has the opportunity to play regularly in the Premier League and we will be monitoring his progress closely while he is at Stoke.”

The move to Stoke will give Zouma a new experience, playing for a mid-table side in the Premier League, and it will be interesting to see where he fits in at centerback, battling with American Geoff Cameron and Englishman Ryan Shawcross.

Even with John Terry leaving the club, Zouma was likely to be second-choice in the back three for Chelsea and if he wants to make France’s squad for the 2018 World Cup, he’ll have to play regularly.

Morata signs five-year contract at Chelsea

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Chelsea FC will have another Spanish international leading the front line, with Diego Costa likely on his way out of town.

The club announced that Alvaro Morata has completed a transfer from Real Madrid, signing a five-year contract at Stamford Bridge. The BBC reports the transfer fee at nearly $78 million.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

“I am so happy to be here,” Morata said in a statement. “It’s an incredible emotion to be part of this big club. I am looking to work hard, score as many goals as I can and to win as many trophies as possible.”

Morata emerged as an option to replace Costa after Romelu Lukaku decided on joining Manchester United over his former club Chelsea. Morata, who was a Manchester United target at first, then turned his sights on London after becoming disillusioned in Madrid, playing second-fiddle to Karim Benzema.

Despite not being first-choice up top, Morata scored 15 goals in 26 La Liga games and another three in the UEFA Champions League, which Real Madrid went on to win over Morata’s former club Juventus. Morata started for Juventus the last time the club had been in the Champions League final.

Despite being just 24, Morata is emerging as one of the world’s top forwards. He has nine goals in 19 games for the Spanish National Team and now is the right time for him to experience the challenge of the Premier League, where the games come thick and fast and the pace of the game is a step up from what he’s experienced in Spain and Italy.

However, the tactical knowledge he’s learned in both places should help him in England, where he can position himself between the opposing centerbacks.