The new Premier League season is just over two weeks away, and that means teams are getting closer to finalizing their roster and looking to push through big-money moves to get squads settled as soon as possible.
The Nicolas Pepe saga is ramping up to a big finale, with four teams apparently in the mix. Manchester United is heavily rumored to be one of those teams, while Napoli is a confirmed suitor for the 24-year-old winger.
Lille president Gerard Lopez confirmed that four teams have met their valuation for Pepe, and now the player will choose the destination he prefers based on club stature and salary offer. “We’ve received offers that satisfy us in a financial sense from four clubs. [Napoli president] De Laurentiis has met our asking price of €80 million. Now it’s up to the player to decide where he’ll go, also based on the offers that his agents have received from the four clubs.”
According to reports in Italy via footballitalia, Napoli’s contract offer is $4.4 million per year, while Pepe is searching for $5.5 million per year. Other teams rumored to be involved are Liverpool, Arsenal and Bayern Munich, with the Reds reportedly one of the teams in with a bid according to L’Equipe. It’s unlikely the Gunners are in for that high a price given their reported budget this season. Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, and Inter have also been mentioned alongside Pepe’s name.
Zinedine Zidane wants the French midfielder but will have work to do to convince the club heirarchy as they’ve already spent big this summer on the likes of Eden Hazard and Luka Jovic. With the James Rodriguez deal yet to find a resolution and plenty of work to do on offloading Gareth Bale, it seems at the moment difficult to find room in the squad and money in the pocket for a swoop. Still, the report says Madrid harbors “a feeling” that a deal can be completed for less than Manchester United’s apparent $200 million asking price.
With that in mind, Spanish publication AS is reporting that Manchester United is making plans in the event Paul Pogba is snatched up. The chief target United has identified to replace the Frenchman is Lazio midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, who would cost around $83 million. The report says the two sides are already “very close” on a potential agreement that would go through only if Pogba is sold.
AS is also reporting that Barcelona is looking to offload Ivan Rakitic this summer in an effort to thin the bulging midfield ranks and make room for Frenkie de Jong.
Rakitic, who has been with Barcelona since the summer of 2014, will be 32 years old before the conclusion of next season and has two years left on his contract. He has been a fixture in the Barcelona midfield alongside Sergio Busquets and Sergi Roberto, but with Arturo Vidal plus the emergence of young Arthur and the arrival of De Jong, Ernesto Valverde feels he can cope without the aging Croatian as the club looks to get something for his services before his market value truly plummets.
While neither side has reportedly made strides in contract negotiations, Rakitic has said he wishes to stay with the club. He has made 268 appearances for Barcelona since joining five years ago, scoring 34 goals and assisting 37 more.
Reports in Italy claim that Juventus has rejected a bid from Tottenham for striker Paulo Dybala.
According to the reports, Spurs submitted a bid of $55 million, but the Italian side values Dybala at a considerably higher amount of nearly double the reported bid.
Spurs have looked for attacking options with the threat of Christian Erkisen’s possible departure constantly looming over the club, although talks of such an occurence has greatly diminished in recent weeks. Still, club president and transfer guru Daniel Levy must prepare for the possibility, and a number of names have come up in that department.
Dybala’s time at Juventus has seen him rise to a star in the European game, and yet he still has not secured a true place within the starting lineup of either his club team or country. While he’s made over 30 Serie A appearances in each of his four seasons with Juventus, he has never topped the 2,500 minute mark, only starting 24 of Juve’s 38 league games last campaign.