Getty Images

Transfer Rumor Roundup: Fabregas to Real Madrid, Barbosa to Man United

1 Comment

Cesc Fabregas has been linked with a move to Real Madrid by Spanish outlet Sport. 

Fabregas, 29, was left on the bench by new Chelsea boss Antonio Conte on Monday and did not come on as a sub in Chelsea’s 2-1 win over West Ham United. Conte told reporters after the game that he is happy with Fabregas but the former Arsenal and Barcelona midfielder surely won’t stick around at Stamford Bridge long if he’s going to be a squad player.

[ MORE: Costa back to his best ]

Against West Ham in his opening PL game in charge, Conte lined up with N'Golo Kante as the lone holding player and Nemanja Matic and Oscar ahead of him in a 4-1-4-1 formation.

Under Jose Mourinho he initially flourished on his return to the PL in 2014, bagging 18 assists in Chelsea’s 2014-15 PL title-winning season but his form dropped off remarkably during that campaign and that hangover lasted throughout most of last season as Chelsea finished in 10th and Mourinho lost his job. Fabregas had previously been linked with a move to Manchester United to link up with Mourinho again but with United signing Paul Pogba and already possessing a bloated midfield, it seems unlikely they’d add Fabregas.

As for Real Madrid, with Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, Casemiro and Isco around, Fabregas could find it tough to get a spot in Zinedine Zidane’s team but the report states Fabregas has reached out to Florentio Perez about a possible move. Maybe he’s better off staying at Chelsea and waiting for his chance under Conte…

Manchester United have emerged as the new favorites to land Brazilian striker Gabriel Barbosa.

The 19-year-old striker was said to be closing in on a move to Leicester City last week but the Sun is reporting that Mourinho will pay $39 million to land the Santos striker. Barbosa has emerged as a star of the Rio Olympics as the host nation have qualified for the semifinals of the tournament.

[ MORE: Latest transfer news ]

Nicknamed “Gabigol” in his homeland, the likes of Bayern Munich, Juventus, Inter Milan and Atletico Madrid want to sign Barbosa but per the report he is keen to join United. He has scored 56 goals in 152 games for Santos in the past three years and has been dubbed the new Neymar in Brazil.

With Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Wayne Rooney around, United do have a wealth of attacking talents but Zlatan is only on a one-year deal, plus Rashford and Martial will be mainly used out wide and Rooney as a secondary striker.

After Paul Pogba, Eric Bailly, Henrik Mkhitaryan and Zlatan arrived this summer already, if Mourinho pulls off this bid for Gabigol it could be one of the greatest — and most expensive — transfer windows for any club ever.

A potential outgoing at Old Trafford could be Italian international right back Matteo Darmian.

Sky Sports is reporting that both AS Roma and Napoli is interested in signing the 26-year-old. Darmian arrived at the Red Devils from Torino last summer in a $16.5 million deal but has fallen behind Antonio Valencia and Timothy Fosu-Mensah in the pecking order at Old Trafford.

Although Darmian can also play at left back, it is unlikely that Mourinho will want three right backs in his side, hence why rumors about Darmian departing are cropping up. With two Serie A teams interested, maybe a loan deal can be arranged for this season with a permanent deal in the making for next summer.

Barcelona ready to sell six players this summer

Getty Images
Leave a comment

According to the latest news out of Barcelona, the Catalan giants are ready to rework their squad and want to sell up to six players to fuel their transfer plans.

Those players being sold are Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Sergio Busquets… just kidding. Of course not.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

According to a report from the Daily Mirror, Barca have made Rafinha, Arturo Vidal, Jean-Clair Todibo, Nelson Semedo, Junior Firpo and Moussa Wague available for permanent transfers. Wague is currently on loan at Nice, while Todibo is on loan at Schalke and Rafinha at Celta Vigo. Ousmane Dembele is another player who has been consistently linked with a move away from the Nou Camp too, as he continues to be hampered by injuries.

Why the huge exodus? It is believed Barcelona want to sign Lautaro Martinez from Inter Milan and Miralem Pjanic from Juventus to spruce up their squad under relatively new manager Quique Setien, who only arrived in mid-January.

It is believed Inter boss Antonio Conte is a big fan of Vidal, but any deal for the Chilean midfielder would reportedly be separate for a deal for Martinez. The Argentine striker has been sensational for the Italian giants so far this season and is said to have been in close contact with Messi about a move to Barcelona.

As for Pjanic’s potential arrival, what does that mean for Ivan Rakitic? He has just one year left on his current Barcelona contract and seems relaxed about his future but Pjanic plays in a very similar position to the Croatian playmaker.

One thing is for sure, Barcelona need to freshen up this squad and there is plenty of transfer news floating around when it comes to ins and outs. They are just ahead of Real Madrid at the top of La Liga and Real have certainly had a huge overhaul over the last 12 months with Vinicius Jr., Eden Hazard, Brahim Diaz, Ferland Mendy, Rodrygo and Luka Jovic all arriving at different times.

Barcelona’s old guard remains intact with Messi, Busquets, Gerard Pique and Jordi Alba as instrumental as ever but there’s no doubt Setien will want to strengthen his squad as they aim for Spanish and European glory next season and beyond.

With plenty of talk about Barcelona’s financial situation and the huge contracts that Messi, Suarez and Antoine Griezmann in particular have, offloading this many players suggests they have to cut their cloth accordingly in order to bring in top talent.

Setien will be hoping he can offload as many players as possible reshape this Barcelona squad which is still incredibly talented but has a few glaring needs.

Reports: Premier League clubs want June 17 restart; neutral stadiums possible

Premier League
Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Premier League is holding in-depth meetings with all 20 clubs on Thursday to determine a potential restart date for the 2019-20 season and June 17 has emerged as the leading contender, although there is plenty to still sort out before then.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Multiple reports claim that clubs and the league have agreed that from June 17 games can resume, which is five days later than the original placeholder date suggested last month. It has been reported the two games in hand, Man City v. Arsenal and Aston Villa v. Sheffield United, could be played on June 17 so all teams are on 29 games played, then the rest of the games would kick off on June 20.

It is believed that the clubs want the Premier League season to be finished by August 1, so clubs can then focus on the FA Cup and European action in the Europa League and Champions League, while the 2020-21 season can then resume in early September.

Other reports suggest that a sticking point remains neutral stadiums as police forces in the UK want certain high-profile games to be played at neutral stadiums over fears of fans congregating outside home stadiums. However, it is believed the majority of games could be played home and away as normal.

More details will no doubt filter out in the coming hours, while the meeting is also set to discuss the plan for possible curtailment if playing the remaining 92 games of the 2019-20 season is not possible. The schedule for how games will be played will also be discussed, with five games back-to-back on both Saturday and Sunday reported as a possibility.

The third round of COVID-19 testing saw a slight rise in positive tests compared to the last, as a total of 2,752 COVID-19 tests have now been carried out on Premier League players and staff with a total of 12 positive results.

All players and staff at Premier League clubs will be tested twice a week during the strict return to training protocols put in place.

All 20 Premier League clubs have agreed to return to contact training in stage two of the ‘Project Restart’ plan, as the Premier League’s main focus is to agree on a restart date that managers and players can focus on.

Aston Villa boss Dean Smith’s father dies of COVID-19

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Aston Villa manager Dean Smith has lost his father, Ron, who died at the age of 79 after contracting COVID-19.

Ron Smith was a lifelong Aston Villa fan who worked at Villa Park as a steward and passed on his love of the club to Dean and the rest of his family.

The Premier League club released the following statement honoring Smith.

“The Aston Villa Family are saddened to announce that Ron Smith, the father of our current head coach Dean, has passed away at the age of 79.

“Ron, who had recently been living in a care home after being diagnosed with dementia six years ago, contracted coronavirus four weeks ago and after a short spell in hospital passed away with his family at his side.

“A lifelong supporter, Ron was a steward at Villa Park for many years and passed on his love of the club down to his children. As well as being a regular at home games, Ron was also there to witness that greatest of days in May 1982 when Villa lifted the European Cup in Rotterdam.

“The thoughts of everyone at the football club are currently with Dean and his family at this most distressing of times and would kindly ask for the family’s privacy to be respected.”

Dean Smith is a hardcore Aston Villa fan and the fact he joined them midway through last season and got them promoted back to the Premier League via the playoffs was a hugely emotional moment for the former Walsall and Brentford manager.

He has spoken candidly in the past about his close relationship with his father and the impact dementia had on his dad. Last summer Dean Smith revealed this story before he led their beloved Aston Villa to promotion back to the Premier League.

“I went to see my old man on Friday and I managed to get his eyes open for two minutes and I said to him ‘next time you see me I’m going to be a Premier League manager’,” Smith said. “He smiled and nodded, for me that’s enough.”

Man City manager Pep Guardiola lost his mother to the coronavirus pandemic and the Premier League rallied around the Spanish coach. They will do the same for Smith who has lost the man who introduced him to the beautiful game in the first place.

Deeney considers training return after talking with top doctor

Troy Deeney
Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Watford captain Troy Deeney is considering a return to training after some of his concerns were allayed by a leading doctor.

Deeney, 31, declined to return to training last week due to fears of spreading the coronavirus to his five-month-old son, who struggles from breathing difficulties.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

He also expressed concerns over how the virus has disproportionately affected the black community.

Deeney stated he never said his absence from training was permanent and that talks with Jonathan Van-Tam, the government’s deputy chief medical officer, have helped him.

From Sky Sports:

“I’m potentially going to go in next week. Even if it’s just to have a conversation. I’ve already been in dialogue with all the players and all the management.”

Deeney also said he received some vile abuse directed at his son following his first comments, which is disgusting but unfortunately not surprising.

Watford is currently outside the Premier League drop zone on goal difference, one of three teams on 27 points. Deeney’s six goals share the team lead with Ismaila Sarr, and the veteran has scored 129 goals in his Hornets career.

Hornets goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes said this week that Watford “cannot afford” to be without the striker and that he believed the environment is very safe. Hopefully all things work out for Deeney and his family.