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Transfer Rumor Roundup: Mbappe, Keita to Liverpool; Iheanacho wanted

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Liverpool are going for it, big time.

Jurgen Klopp‘s men having UEFA Champions League action to offer (the playoff round, at the very least) next season and they’ve already snapped up Mohamed Salah for a club-record fee this summer.

The Reds are also interested in bringing Kylian Mbappe, just 18 years old, to Anfield, according to Sky Sports in the UK.

Yes, signing Mbappe would not only be a massive financial commitment but it would also be a huge surprise as the likes of Real Madrid and Arsenal have long been linked with a move for the talented French teenager who led AS Monaco to the Ligue 1 title and UCL semifinals last season with 26 goals and eight assists.

The level of Liverpool’s “interest” is key here, as every club in the world would be “interested” in signing Lionel Messi, but realistically it ain’t gonna happen…

Per the report, Liverpool have lodged their interest in Mbappe with Monaco but are said to be unsure that he wants to move to the Premier League. After seeing his France teammates Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba struggle at Manchester United last season, perhaps he’s had a word of warning from some to either stay at take a huge payrise at Monaco or maybe head to Real Madrid where he can develop further behind star-studded strikers in Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo and Karem Benzema.

Although the latter option would be incredibly enticing for an 18-year-old who is on top of the world right now, playing regularly should be his aim. Therefore, a move to Arsenal or Liverpool would make much more sense, career wise, for Mbappe. We all know it doesn’t often work out like that in the soccer world where careers are short and huge financial offers can be withdrawn after a lean spell or a serious injury. Mbappe is the most-wanted striker in world soccer as things stand and Liverpool’s chances of signing him are probably below 10 percent.


Another player Liverpool are chasing is Naby Keita from RB Leipzig.

And the Guinea international, a box-to-box midfielder, is now said to be available to buy via the Guardian, but only for $89 million.

Keita, 22, was a revelation for Leipzig as they finished second in the Bundesliga last season and qualified for the UEFA Champions League. In his first season in Germany’s top-flight he scored eight goals and added seven assists as Keita’s energy and powerful runs from midfield took the Bundesliga by storm.

With Liverpool reportedly willing to only pay $70 million for Keita, they may have to look elsewhere for a new midfield general. That said, with Leipzig now willing to do business, perhaps a compromise could be met.

Emre Can, Jordan Henderson and Georingio Wijnaldum are Liverpool’s leading contenders for the two central midfield roles but with Can’s inconsistency and Henderson’s injury problems, it’s easy to see why Klopp could be wiling to rebuild his midfield around the high-energy of Keita. Think of the Guinea star as a more attack-minded N'Golo Kante and you can see why he’d slot in perfectly at Liverpool.


Kelechi Iheanacho is a wanted man.

The Manchester City striker, 20, is seemingly on his way out of the Etihad Stadium after failing to build on his impressive 2015-16 campaign last season. The Nigerian international scored 14 goals in 35 games in his debut season, but scored just eight times under Pep Guardiola last season.

West Ham United, Crystal Palace and Leicester City are also said to be keen on Iheanacho with City wanting $31.8 million for the promising striker.

Able to finish calmly and hold the ball up around the box, Iheanacho is a true poacher but has found himself behind Sergio Aguero, and now Gabriel Jesus, in the pecking order at City.

West Ham badly need a poacher to finish off chances created by Manuel Lanzini and wide-men Michail Antonio and Aaron Cresswell as Slaven Bilic‘s side couldn’t rely on the oft-injured Andy Carroll last season. Leicester’s goals dried up with Jamie Vardy and Islam Slimani streaky last season, while Ahmed Musa and Demarai Gray delivered just six goals between them in all competitions.

Palace have Christian Benteke, Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend in the three attacking areas, but having someone to fed off Benteke’s knockdowns would certainly be prefereeable for new Palace boss Frank de Boer.

Wherever he goes you can guarantee one thing from Iheanacho: goals.

Young Englishman Oxford goes abroad, to Gladbach, on loan

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MOENCHENGLADBACH, Germany (AP) Borussia Moenchengladbach has signed English central defender Reece Oxford on loan for the season from Premier League club West Ham.

Gladbach sporting director Max Eberl says “Oxford has gone through all the England youth teams and is one of the biggest defensive talents in Britain.”

The 18-year-old Oxford, who spent the second half of last season on loan at second-division club Reading, is Gladbach’s fifth arrival of the off-season.

Transfer Rumor Roundup: Salah medical, Giroud to West Ham

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Olivier Giroud has already stated this summer that he hopes to stay at Arsenal and fight for his place, saying, “my future is written at Arsenal for now.” He may not get the chance.

According to Sky Sports, West Ham is preparing a bid for the Frenchman, and the Gunners are keen to listen. Giroud lost his starting place last season as Arsene Wenger deployed Alexis Sanchez as a lone striker, and with Arsenal seemingly a favorite to sign Kylian Mbappe, Giroud’s place could become even more precarious.

The Sky report didn’t give any other details on the story, even admitting that Giroud is one of many attacking players that the Hammers are interested in, including Chelsea castaway Michy Batshuyai, Manchester City youngster Kelechi Iheanacho, and Middlesbrough lightning rod Adama Traore. Even so, the transfer would make sense given that Giroud wouldn’t have to move from London and the Hammers struggled with finishing last season.

The 30-year-old signed a new Arsenal contract in January that runs through the summer of 2020, so his future is firmly in the hands of his club.


According to Egyptian publication KingFut, AS Roma has successfully come to an agreement with Liverpool for winger Mohamed Salah and the 25-year-old will fly to England to complete his medical on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Saturday’s transfer rumor roundup ]

The report states the agreed transfer fee amounts to a whopping $50 million, which includes bonuses. That would be a record sale for Roma, smashing their previous record set by the $36 million sale of Miralem Pjanic to Juventus just last summer.

Salah had a fantastic season this past campaign, scoring 15 Serie A goals for Roma and assisting 13 more despite missing six weeks on African Cup of Nations duty. The move also represents a return to the Premier League for the Egyptian, after he was unable to crack the Chelsea lineup, making just 13 Premier League appearances for the Blues in a loan-filled Chelsea stint.


There have been conflicting reports concerning AS Monaco midfielder Fabinho, but it appears now that Premier League clubs may have missed out. According to French television channel Telefoot, Fabinho has decided he wishes to join PSG next season, much to the dismay of his current club and those chasing his signature.

The report states that, because Fabinho is under contract at Monaco until 2021, the club retains most of the control in the transfer story, and therefore could potentially reject a bid from a Ligue 1 rival such as PSG, or at the very least could charge them a premium. However, the defending champions have already prepared for Fabinho’s imminent departure this summer, signing his replacement in Zulte Waregam midfielder Soualiho Meite.

Fabinho has reportedly been a target for a number of Premier League teams, most notably Manchester United, although recent reports state the Red Devils have made Eric Dier a priority over the 23-year-old Brazilian.


Don’t expect the Gianluigi Donnarumma saga to end anytime soon. After AC Milan released the details of their contract offer to the 18-year-old goalkeeper yesterday – which was rejected – today the Italian’s agent Mino Raiola has announced he will hold a press conference.

It’s unclear what he will discuss, and there are reports that he could leave the door open for AC Milan to continue negotiations. Donnarumma and Raiola have taken plenty of heat for the decision to leave the San Siro in search of a massive payday, and that only intensified after the club publicized its sizeable final offer.


Despite the near-completion of the deal for Mohamed Salah, Liverpool has been linked with yet another winger. According to Portuguese publication A Bola, the Reds are in for expensive Sporting wide player Gelson Martins.

The report values him at upwards of $56 million, saying that Liverpool has already seen an offer of $45 million rejected.

The 22-year-old Sporting youth product has six caps for the Portuguese national team and had a stellar season last year, notching six goals and 13 assists in the Portuguese top flight, helping Sporting to a third place finish.

Transfer rumor roundup: Veratti to Barcelona; Hart’s next loan home

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A roundup of Thursday’s transfer rumors from around the Premier League, and the rest of the world…

[ MORE: Wednesday’s transfer rumor roundup | Tuesday | Monday ]

Barcelona need to rebuild a midfield, and Marco Veratti is ready to leave Paris Saint-Germain. If you were to put two and two together, you might conclude that Barca should sign Veratti this summer, and you might just be onto something.

Not only have Barca been heavily linked with the 24-year-old Italian midfielder for a couple weeks now, according to some social-media sleuthing, Veratti, along with his agent, is said to have eaten dinner at the same Ibiza restaurant as Lionel Messi on Wednesday. Messi’s camp denies that he was even at the restaurant on Wednesday, but the Internet has never been known to tell a lie. Veratti could cost Barca as much as $111 million (100 million euros).

[ MORE: Man United confirm Lindelof signing ]


According to the Standard, Arsenal are willing to include Olivier Giroud in a player-plus-lots-and-lots-of-cash deal for Monaco forward Kylian Mbappe. The 18-year-old is expected to fetch close to $130 million if he moves this summer, meaning Arsenal would likely have to offer $120 million plus Giroud in any future bid. Monaco have already reportedly rejected a bid of $110 million from Arsenal. Alexander Lacazette remains Arsenal’s Giroud-plus-quite-a-bit-less-cash backup plan.

[ MORE: Donnarumma to leave AC Milan; Real Madrid come calling ]


Joe Hart‘s Manchester City career is all but officially finished, which means he’ll be looking for a new home this summer. West Ham United are one on a short list of clubs without a fully entrenched no. 1 goalkeeper, thus an obvious fit emerges. With Hart’s weekly wages ($150,000) and Man City’s desired transfer fee ($23 million) likely to prove insurmountable hurdles for a permanent transfer, the Standard reports Hart could move to east London on loan next season.

[ MORE: Bayern Munich sign Corentin Tolisso in Budesliga-record deal ]


With Romelu Lukaku seemingly set to leave Goodison Park this summer, Everton will need to replace the big Belgian who in three seasons at the club has scored 53 PL goals. If we’re to trust the public statements of an Everton scout, AC Milan’s Carlos Bacca and Napoli’s Duvan Zapata are “interesting” candidates.

West Ham, Everton, and the superstar striker’s need for the Champions League

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Come up with a list of active elite level strikers, and it’s likely to be a short one filled with names from UEFA Champions League clubs.

Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Diego Costa, Luis Suarez, Robert Lewandowski, Edinson Cavani, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain, Harry Kane, even Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Rarely do names like these move to a non-UCL club while in their prime, and it’s just as uncommon to see them stay at clubs which have failed to qualify for the UCL.

The money, the prestige, the endorsements; All are amplified by the world stage. Given the massive import of their domestic stage and spotlight, Premier League sides have bucked this trend on occasion — see Romelu Lukaku — but it’s the exception to the rule.

That’s what puts an ambitious club like West Ham United between a rock and a hard place. The Irons have been vocal about their desires to bring in a top-end striker, and it’s likely they’d be happy to spend what it takes to attract Alexandre Lacazette, Aubameyang, or Cavani to town.

Lyon reportedly rejected a $45 million bid for Lacazette last season, admitting that ultimately the player’s desires would determine his future. Higuain, too, was linked to chairman David Gold’s wallet before moving to Juventus. Carlos Bacca also saw his future connected to the Irons.

Instead, Gold landed Andre Ayew from Swansea, and had to hope Andy Carroll could stay healthy or Enner Valencia would deliver. Not a striker, Dimitri Payet apparently decided to skip town soon after West Ham’s Europa League exit at the hands of Astra Giurgiu.

Now it’s Kelechi Iheanacho being linked to the London Stadium, another hopeful swing from the Irons that points a strong finger at the problem: West Ham can be as ambitious as it likes, but it’s going to need a miracle to pull an elite striker to London without European football.

And it shouldn’t happen, but what if Everton is bumped from the UEL in the third qualifying round or playoff next year? Will Lukaku follow Payet’s lead and sink another team from joining the discussion? Though an argument can be made it’s better for Everton to lose those summer games, the Toffees very much need to succeed in the UEL qualifying and also show signs of strength in the early PL docket. That’s the unforgiving life of sitting on the outskirts of the powerful tier.

Every team at every level is searching for the next elite striker. Some, like West Ham, will need to luck into a young buck on the rise or a flawed striker finding his potential. And how do they hold onto that player, one who will have alerted the big boys to his arrival, without qualifying for Europe? It’s improbable.

The ability of teams like Chelsea and Liverpool to compete for a European slot in the PL standings thanks to missing out on the UCL the year before signals hope for clubs like Everton and West Ham. And five Premier League sides competing in the UCL this year could extend an invitation to stay longer in the Top Seven discussion for sides like Southampton and Leicester City, too.

So this summer’s striker captures are huge for Slaven Bilic and David Gold. This is a window the league’s “next group” won’t have open annually, and West Ham’s hopes of barging into the discussion again hinge on who shows up by August.