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Transfer Rumor Roundup: Balde Diao to Chelsea, Mahrez to stay

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With Romelu Lukaku almost certainly headed to Manchester United, the transfer slate on Saturday is somewhat light. Teams are reacting to the big news of the morning and planning accordingly, with many Premier League clubs now looking to reevaluate the striker market after a big domino falls.

The biggest rumors on Saturday seem to be who won’t be moving instead of who will.

According to The Independent, Tottenham will not even consider offers for midfielder Eric Dier, who has been linked with Manchester United and Real Madrid in the past.

Jose Mourinho is looking for a defensive midfielder, and rumors seem to be pointing him in the direction of Nemanja Matic, but Dier’s name has come up. The report states Spurs chairman Daniel Levy is not willing to listen to offers for the 23-year-old. Levy has been successful in taking a hard-line stance in the past, both in his valuation of players such as Gareth Bale, or in his decision not to sell at any price such as Harry Kane or Moussa Dembele.


Another player who may not be moving is Leicester City’s Riyad Mahrez. According to multiple reports, with The Mirror first on the story, Arsenal has decided to move on from its interest in Mahrez.

The Gunners have long been linked with the Algerian ever since he won PFA Player of the Year during Leicester’s title run. Now, however, with their sights reportedly set on Monaco’s young winger Thomas Lemar, they have apparently put Mahrez on the back burner.

Reportedly, the reason for their lessening of interest is Leicester’s hard-line stance on their valuation of Mahrez, which is apparently above $64 million. This, coupled with the regression Mahrez saw last season has seen Arsenal decide against pursuing a move.

Mahrez told reporters in May that he wishes to leave the Foxes, and that has caused clubs to come calling, but also served to dampen his value on the transfer market with teams knowing Leicester is looking to sell. Leicester City manager Craig Shakespeare told Sky Sports today that no bids have been submitted just yet for the 26-year-old.


With Romelu Lukaku slipping from Chelsea’s grasp, there will be plenty of rumors on who the Blues will chase now for their next striker. It’s still possible that Diego Costa could stay and man the front line, but with Antonio Conte apparently preferring other options, expect to see plenty of names crop up over the next month.

Many popular choices include Alvaro Morata and Andrea Belotti, but both players will cost a hefty sum, and the Blues are likely to see that as a last resort. Instead, they could look to cheaper options, with Lazio’s Keita Balde Diao reportedly on the list.

According to Italian TV station Mediaset Premium, Diao is a possibility for the Blues with other clubs in Italy not so keen. AC Milan had a $23 million bid accepted back in early June according to Diao’s agent, but the player turned it down hoping for a move to Juventus. When that didn’t materialize, his situation was back to the drawing board.

Diao’s contract expires next summer, and he does not look likely to sign a new deal at Lazio.


One player who will be tough to keep in one place is Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho. The Reds lightning rod is a stellar player, and is a popular transfer rumor subject every summer for that reason.

According to French paper L’Equipe, Paris Saint-Germain is hoping to bring in Coutinho should they fail to pry Kylian Mbappe free of Monaco. PSG has been heavily linked with Mbappe, with the financial means to make it happen, but they may have to pay a premium to convince Monaco to sell its best player to a direct league rival.

Thus, should the Mbappe project fail, Coutinho is reportedly an option. Liverpool reportedly isn’t opposed to a sale, but it would cost PSG around $98 million, according to the report. The Reds also need to have a replacement lined up, and replacing the Brazilian playmaker is no easy task.

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.

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“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.

 

Report: Neymar tells Barcelona teammates he’s off to PSG

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Brazilian star Neymar isn’t keeping his future plans under wraps, at least when it comes to his current club teammates.

According to a report in French newspaper Le Parisien, Neymar has started telling his Barcelona teammates that he’s intends to join Paris Saint-Germain. Spanish publication Marca meanwhile is reporting that Neymar’s teammates are trying to persuade him to stay in Catalonia for the season.

The Le Parisien report adds that certain officials at Barcelona believe the transfer is imminent and are resigned to losing one of their stars this summer. The report also said that it was a “decisive step” that Neymar was on board with the deal, going along with his father and agent.

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Rumors intensified over the past few days as reports emerged in Spain that Neymar had agreed on a contract with PSG, and all that was awaiting was PSG exercising Neymar’s release clause, worth nearly $260 million (€222 million). On paper, PSG’s Qatari owners can probably afford that tremendous sum but it still remains to be seen whether PSG will see this move over the line.

Should Neymar move, it would break transfer records for the price of the deal as well as shock the world, as Neymar seemed settled and happy in Barcelona playing alongside the likes of fellow South Americans Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

Neymar and Barcelona are currently in New York training ahead of the club’s friendly match in the International Champions Cup against Juventus Saturday at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

Liverpool complete signing of Hull’s Robertson

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Liverpool has added to its defensive depth with the signing of one of Scotland’s bright young stars.

The club announced the signing of left back Andy Robertson for a reported $10.4 million, which can rise to $13 million with add-on clauses.

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Robertson made 33 appearances for Hull City last season in the Premier League, scoring a goal and assisting on two others. While Robertson is joining Liverpool, midfielder Kevin Stewart is heading the opposite direction, joining the Championship club for a reported $5.2 million.

Robertson will likely compete with Alberto Moreno for the starting left back position, and with Liverpool competing in the Premier League plus three cup competitions, depth at every position will be crucial when injuries and fatigue sets in.