2016-17 Premier League summer transfer window

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Southampton agree club-record fee of $28 million for Sofiane Boufal

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Southampton look set to smash their transfer record as Moroccan international Sofiane Boufal is close to sealing a move to St Mary’s.

ProSoccerTalk understands that Saints have agreed a club-record fee of $28 million with Ligue 1 club Lille for Boufal and the attacker is now discussing personal terms with the side who finished sixth in the Premier League last season.

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It is believed there is still some way to go in the deal before Boufal, 22, is unveiled at Saints — it could be early next week ahead of the summer transfer window slamming shut at 7 p.m. ET on Aug. 31. — with the player currently in the latter stages of recovering from a knee injury he suffered at the end of last season.

With Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal and Liverpool all linked with Boufal in the past, this signing would represent a major coup for manager Claude Puel (former manager of Lille from 2002-08) and also boost Southampton’s attacking options following the loss of Sadio Mane and Graziano Pelle over the summer.

Boufal could be the latest in a long line of shrewd European pickups from Saints who have benefited greatly over the past three seasons from giving stars of other European leagues a chance in the PL (see: Mane, Sadio.) then selling them on to the likes of Liverpool and Manchester United for huge profits.

The Paris-born attacker shone for Lille in France’s top-flight last season, scoring 11 goals and adding four assists following his move from second-tier Angers where he came through the youth system. Born and raised in France, Boufal chose to represent Morocco at international level and he has already placed twice for the Atlas Lions after making his debut in 2016.

If the deal does get over the line, as expected, then what type of player may Southampton be getting?

Boufal has skill and trickery similar to Riyad Mahrez and the directness of a Yannick Bolasie. He can play out wide or centrally and his creativity is his main trait. That is something Saints need as they’ve scored just once in their opening two games of the season and they look to be lacking a cutting edge in the final third heading into their first-ever appearance in the group stages of the UEFA Europa League.

This could well be another masterful signing from Saints’ now famed analysts in the “black box” room at their Staplewood training ground.

Report: Chelsea offering $78 million for Napoli’s Koulibaly

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Chelsea addressed its midfield and attack over the summer, but Antonio Conte‘s side could be just about ready to add to their biggest area of need; defense.

[ MORE: Mahrez inks new Leicester deal, snubs Arsenal ]

According to the Telegraph, the Blues are set to offer a club-record of over $78 million for Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly in an attempt to sure up the backline.

Conte has always preferred to play a somewhat unconventional back three, and the addition of Koulibaly could allow the Italian to get his wish.

The addition of the Senegalese international will create more competition on the Chelsea defensive end, with captain John Terry still holding down a starting role and Gary Cahill working on retain a position of his own after an unstable performance at EURO 2016.

Kurt Zouma is also on his way back into the fold after suffering a major injury last season, and figures to be in the mix for a starting XI spot when healthy given his undoubted talent.

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At the very least though, Conte will now have options centrally on the backline, although outside could still be a bit of a concern with only Ola Aina sitting behind Branislav Ivanovic and Cezar Azpilicueta in the pecking order.

N’Golo Kante, Eden Hazard to Real Madrid?

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Los Galacticos could be about to add another two superstars.

According to reports both Eden Hazard and N'Golo Kante are being pursued by Real Madrid, the reigning European Champions.

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Hazard, 25, has led Belgium to the quarterfinals of EURO 2016 where they face Wales on Friday in Lille. The Chelsea winger endured a disastrous campaign in the Premier League last season but we’ve seen glimpses for Belgium that he’s back to his best.

The Daily Mirror believes that a swap deal for Hazard could be in the offing, with Real set to offer Spanish international striker Alvaro Morata and $47 million for the Belgian ace. Following his Player of the Season exploits in Chelsea’s title-winning campaign of the 2014-15 season, Hazard was worth around $120 million which scared off potential suitors. Now, though, a down year and Antonio Conte’s arrival at Chelsea in July may make this offer attractive.

Hazard has repeated many times he would like to stay at Chelsea but in the past he’s been open to moving to Paris Saint-Germain when it has been brought up.

Multiple reports — from Marca in Spain and the Independent in the UK — claim that Real are also willing to meet the release clause of $27 million in N’Golo Kante’s contract.

The Leicester City midfielder was a revelation in his first-ever season in the Premier League last season, becoming the heartbeat of the Foxes sensational title run.

Of course, Real Madrid aren’t the only team interested in singing the holding midfielder. Oh no. Arsenal, Paris Saint-Germain and many others are lining up to take him from the King Power Stadium and his performances for France this summer at EURO 2016 are continuing to see his stock rise.

Perhaps Real will have the advantage, though, as the opportunity to work with Zinedine Zidane may turn Kante’s head. Plus, Real only have one true holding midfielder in Casemiro so Kante has a good chance of playing in plenty of games for the Spanish giants.

It would be a huge blow for Leicester if Kante did leave but Claudio Ranieri has previously told any players who don’t want to be with the PL champs next season that they are free to go, depending if the deal is right for the club.