Virgil Van Dijk

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De Ligt lands in Turin ahead of proposed Juventus move

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Cristiano Ronaldo’s recruiting tactics with Matthijs de Ligt during the UEFA Nations League final appears to have worked.

[READ: Transfer Rumor Roundup]

Juventus posted a video on the club’s social media accounts that shows de Ligt arriving in Turin, Italy on a private jet, likely to sign his contract and get started with the club. It’s a huge precursor to an announcement for one of the top targets of this summer’s transfer market, and it represents a huge coup for Juventus.

Just a month ago or so, Juventus were on the outside looking in, with Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona, and even Manchester United and Manchester City all mentioned in the race to sign the Netherlands and Ajax star centerback. And yet, PSG, which appeared in the lead at one point, lost ground to Juventus, and de Ligt now gets to compete alongside Ronaldo after facing him twice over the past season.

It’s the latest move in the incredible rise of de Ligt over the past three years. De Ligt was promoted to Ajax’s first team as a 17-year-old, and pretty quickly established himself as a huge talent for the Netherlands. Then Netherlands National Team coach Danny Blind called up de Ligt to start in a crunch World Cup qualifier against Bulgaria, with the Netherlands desperate for some defensive answers.

It’s didn’t exactly go well.

And yet, de Ligt has overcome those experiences and raised his game to new levels each of the last two years. Alongside Davinson Sanchez, Ajax made it to the Europa League final, and last year, de Ligt scored as Ajax defeated Juventus on the way to the UEFA Champions League semifinals. Ajax was just a few minutes away from the finals before Tottenham’s late winner.

At the same time, along with Virgil Van Dijk, they form one of the strongest centerback partnerships in Europe, and look set to lead the Netherlands to UEFA Euro 2020.

As mentioned before, it’s a massive get for de Ligt, assuming that the soon-to-be 20-year-old can settle in Turin. Juventus’ defensive corps continues to grow older, with Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini both well into their 30s. De Ligt’s arrival can help give some stability at the back and allow Juventus to transition to the next generation of centerbacks.

Transfer Rumor Roundup: Haller nearing West Ham move, Lovren to AC Milan

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According to multiple reports across England, West Ham is close to its marquee Marko Arnautovic replacement as Sebastian Haller is nearly a Hammer.

Haller’s club Eintracht Frankfurt confirmed that the 25-year-old is on his way to London for a medical and will be a Hammer before long. His signature would represent a club-record fee of $55.9 million according to both the BBC and Sky Sports, far surpassing the $44.7 million paid for Felipe Anderson.

Haller is a goalscorer as well as a contributor, bagging 24 goals in 60 Bundesliga appearances for Eintracht Frankfurt in his two years with the club and also assisting 13 more. The analytics folks love the move.

With Lucas Perez, Arnautovic and Andy Carroll all having departed the club this summer, the addition of Haller is a much-needed boost to the West Ham attack that includes Felipe, Robert Snodgrass, and Javier Hernandez.


Divisive Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren, who infamously declared not so long ago that he is the best defender in the world, is rumored to be considering a move away from Anfield after last season’s Champions League winning campaign.

According to Nicolo Schira of Gazzetta dello Sport, Lovren is a target for AC Milan, although he would likely be asked to take a serious pay cut from his current Anfield salary. The report says that Liverpool wants at least $22 million for Lovren’s services, and that AC Milan would offer him a contract of $13.6 million over four years. That’s a significant drop from the $5.6 million a year he makes currently.

Still, if a deal can be struck, it may be enticing for Lovren considering his playing time at Liverpool has dipped in the past year. Now 30 years old, Lovren appeared in just 13 games for Liverpool last season, partially due to a pair of injuries but also having lost his place to Joel Matip. He was on the bench behind Matip for the final three matches of the Champions League run after starting the final next to Virgil Van Dijk the year before.


According to French publication L’Equipe, Southampton is in talks with OGC Nice to offload winger Sofiane Boufal. The Moroccan international joined Saints in 2016 from Lille but spent last season on loan with Spanish club Celta Vigo where hee scored just three goals in 35 league appearances.

With those struggles, his value has reportedly dropped to just $11.2 million, having been purchased for $21 million three years ago. L’Equipe says that while fellow French clubs Marseille and Bordeaux were interested, neither wanted to commit to a permanent transfer, with both wishing for a loan with an option to buy, whereas Nice has gone the extra mile.

Boufal was with the Moroccan squad in the Africa Cup of Nations this summer, appearing in three of their four matches, with all three appearances off the bench. He did not score or assist a goal.


Over the past few days there have been reports that should Leicester City cash in on Harry Maguire to Manchester United, they could pounce for Brighton defender Lewis Dunk as his replacement for about half the reported fee they would receive from the Red Devils. Now, with more time to think, that price may have spooked the Foxes.

According to Rob Dorsett of Sky Sports, Leicester City may decide to stick with internal replacements instead of spend big on a defender they don’t believe to be of accurate value in the market. Dorsett mentions 23-year-old Caglar Soyuncu and 22-year-old Filip Benkovic as possible options to receive more playing time.

Benkovic, a Dinamo Zagreb youth product who arrived at Leicester City last summer, received his Croatian international debut this summer as a reward for a solid loan spell at Celtic last season. Aside from an ankle injury that sidelined him for all of February, Benkovic was a regular in the Celtic lineup and helped them post a glittering defensive record en route to the Scottish Premiership title, conceding just 20 goals in 38 matches. Celtic also lost every Europa League match that Benkovic missed, while they won three and lost one of the four he played.

Soyuncu joined Leicester last summer as well, coming over from German side Freiburg, but only saw the field for six Premier League matches, starting four. Of the four matches he started, the club conceded just one goal in every game, and he also started the EFL Cup loss to Manchester City that saw the league champions score just once in regulation before losing on penalties.


Kieran Trippier is reportedly receiving interest from major European clubs and could be considering an exit from Tottenham this summer, despite the season drawing closer. According to Daily Telegraph reporter Matt Law, Trippier has particularly interested Atletico Madrid, who could be in for a $25 million move.

Given Trippier’s growth at Tottenham and importance to Mauricio Pochettino‘s setup, selling a player of Trippier’s quality for that low a price seems a poor decision for Spurs, but if the player has his head turned after a run to the Champions League final there may not be much the club can do.

A right-back by trade, Trippier was recently deployed by Pochettino as part of a three-center-back system that saw the England international transform into one of the most versatile defenders in the Premier League, maintaining a strong defensive stance but also swinging out wide to perform wing-back duties at times and becoming one of the Premier League’s best free-kick takers.

Trippier’s name has cropped up a few times this summer, but nothing remotely concrete has taken hold and it would at this point be surprising if Daniel Levy allows an England international in his prime with three years left on his contract to depart so cheaply.

Reports: Manchester United agree to world record Harry Maguire deal

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According to a number of tabloid reports across England, including The Mirror, The Daily Star, The Express, and The Sun, Manchester United has come to an agreement with Leicester City for a world record fee to complete a long-rumored deal to send Harry Maguire to Old Trafford.

The reports all claim the deal is worth $100 million, making Harry Maguire the most expensive defender in the world. The rumored fee would surpass the $96 million Liverpool paid for Dutch defender Virgil Van Dijk. The up-front value is $88 million, with the rest to come later in add-ons.

The reports claim a medical is scheduled for Monday and the deal will be announced shortly after assuming all goes well.

Maguire has been linked heavily with Manchester United this summer, and Manchester City was connected two, with both clubs reportedly seeing bids of $88 million rejected by the Foxes this summer. Reports emerged recently that Maguire was unsettled by the rejected bids, with the club holding out for $113 million, but it appears Manchester United was ready to meet in the middle. Maguire was apparently annoyed that Leicester City was unfairly keeping him from a move up despite bids already in that topped the supposed value of highly touted Dutch defender Matthijs de Ligt, with Maguire also reportedly claiming the club had told him upon penning a new five-year contract last summer that they would not turn down a fair offer.

The 26-year-old England international fills a position of need for the Red Devils, who conceded 54 goals last campaign, the second-most of any team in the top half of the Premier League table. However, Manchester United will likely have to offload a number of central defenders this summer to balance the squad, with Chris Smalling, Eric Bailly, Phil Jones, Victor Lindelof, Marcos Rojo, and Axel Tuanzebe all already on the books.

Maguire would become the third signing of the summer for Manchester United behind Daniel James and Aaron Wan-Bissaka.

Matthijs de Ligt left off Ajax roster for start of preseason

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Matthijs de Ligts name was very noticeably absent from the 28-man list of players headed to Austria for the first leg of Ajax’s preseason preparations, further fueling speculation that a transfer to Juventus is nearing completion.

[ TRANSFER RUMORS: Alderweireld to Roma, Haller to West Ham ]

Ajax announced the squad on Saturday with while the likes of fellow rising stars Donny van de Beek, David Neres and Nicolas Tagliafico also not included, though transfer rumors involving players not named De Ligt have been much fewer and farther between.

De Ligt, the captain and remaining crown-jewel prospect, has appeared headed for the exit door since for quite some time.

[ MORE: Atletico Madrid to legally contest Griezmann’s transfer to Barcelona ]

Juventus are reportedly ready to pay $84 million for De Ligt’s services, making him the second-most expensive defender in the history of transfers, behind only Liverpool’s Virgil Van Dijk.

Report: Man United’s $90 million Maguire bid rejected

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Manchester United is determined to get their man.

But Harry Maguire‘s current club Leicester City is sticking to their guns, as the man affectionately known as ‘slabhead’ will likely be more expensive than Virgil Van Dijk, the most expensive defender in history.

Multiple outlets report that United have had a $90 million bid for Maguire, 26, rejected by Leicester as the England international is chased by both Manchester clubs this summer.

Maguire’s meteoric rise has seen him become one of the most coveted center backs in Europe, as his marauding runs and calmness on the ball combined with his aerial presence, pace and strength are perfect for a modern day center half.

Leicester bought Maguire from Hull City in the summer of 2017 for $22 million and after his move up the leagues from Sheffield United to Hull to Leicester, it now seems like Pep Guardiola and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will do battle to sign him this summer.

If Maguire joined either United or City he would be a guaranteed starter, but it is United who need him most. City have Aymeric Laporte, Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones right now, while United’s stable of center backs includes Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Marcos Rojo, Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly. Out of United’s options in the heart of their defense, only Lindelof has done himself any favors in recent months.

It is expected that Leicester value Maguire closer to $120 million, to United are still some way off their asking price. That said, a transfer fee of this size would allow Brendan Rodgers to bring in multiple players, as the Foxes look to seal a permanent move for Youri Tielemans in midfield, plus Jamie Vardy isn’t going to go on forever, so an extra attacking option would be handy as they push for European qualification this season.

Maguire is a man in demand and after signing Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Daniel James, United aren’t messing around in this transfer window as they aim to add young, hungry players to their squad. Maguire has the respect of his fellow pros and his leadership ability is clear for all to see.

He would set the tone for a new-look United defense and would be a game-changer. At City he would slot in seamlessly with how Guardiola wants his center backs to bring the ball out of the back, but maybe City’s priorities in the transfer market this summer are elsewhere with a right back and holding midfield their main targets.

If Solskjaer can get a deal for Maguire over the line, he would arguably be their most important signing since Sir Alex Ferguson retired. The cavernous voids in United’s defense have been the main reason they’ve struggled so much over the past six seasons.