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Transfer Rumor Roundup: James to Atletico, Rondon to China

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It has seemed for weeks that James Rodriguez is just a formality away from becoming a Napoli player, with Real Madrid motivated to offload the Colombian and Napoli appearing equally as excited to bring him on. However, as the weeks drag on without any official announcement, things may have begun to sour.

According to a number of reports in Spain, Real Madrid were upset with Napoli president Aurelio de Laurentiis due to comments made by the Italian. With Real Madrid insisting any would-be suitor pony up immediately with a permanent deal, de Laurentiis went public with his insistence on a loan with an obligation to buy. “We are all prepared to make sacrifices for James Rodriguez, but we ask Real Madrid to make them too,” de Laurentiis said to Sky Sport Italia. “We’ve not given up, but in order to break the ice we need Madrid to consider that rather than have an unhappy player sitting around, they should send him out to play. Perhaps on loan.”

That reportedly upset Real Madrid enough to the point where they have shifted focus to Atletico Madrid, willing to deal with a direct rival rather than capitulate to Napoli’s wishes. The reports also state that Rodriguez is on board, growing frustrated with Napoli’s wavering desire for his services. Atletico is also an attractive destination for the Colombian given the gap up front created by the departure of Antoine Griezmann. They have spent all the Griezmann money on Portuguese youngster Joao Felix, but with such a departure, there is always a power vacuum Rodriguez could exploit.


According to Lyall Thomas of Sky Sports, Championship side West Brom has agreed to sell Salomon Rondon to Chinese club Dalian Yifang where he will reunite with manager Rafa Benitez.

The report states the deal between the clubs is done and the player now must agree to personal terms, with the possibility for official confirmation of the deal in as little as 48 hours. It is unclear what the value of the deal is, but Sky mentions that Rondon has a release clause in his contract worth $20.6 million.

Rondon spent last season on loan at Newcastle with Benitez after West Brom was relegated the season before. He was a superb creative force, scoring 12 goals across all competitions, good for second on the team behind Ayoze Perez. The 29-year-old is an experienced attacker with 78 international caps for Venezuela.


Sheffield United is preparing for its first season in the Premier League since the 2006/07 campaign, and they are looking for reinforcements to bolster their lineup and avoid the straightaway drop they faced last time in the top flight. Having already broken the club transfer record by acquiring Callum Robinson from Preston North End for $10 million, they are now looking to beat that number again.

According to The Guardian, the Blades had a $19 million bid for striker Oli McBurnie rejected by Swansea City. The Championship side is reportedly desperate to keep the 23-year-old after already offloading Daniel James to Manchester United.

McBurnie, a Leeds-born Scottish international, scored a massive 22 goals for the club in 42 Championship appearances last season as the club finished ninth in the table, plus he another two in a pair of FA Cup games. He first arrived at Swansea in the summer of 2015 in a deal with Bradford and was loaned out three separate times before sticking with the first team last season.


Roma technical director Gianluca Petrachi has issued a hands-off warning for Tottenham target Nicolo Zaniolo, saying the defender isn’t for sale.

“I have to work to try to get the best out of Zaniolo,” Petrachi said during a press conference for Leonardo Spinazzola’s unveiling. “I am also a very practical person, I have direct contact with my players. I never put Zaniolo up for sale, nor did I say it was on the market. The market is full of surprises, but today Zaniolo is not on the market.”

The 20-year-old joined from Inter last summer and signed a contract through the summer of 2023. There have been reports that Spurs are circling due to Zaniolo’s unhappiness with Petrachi reportedly breaking off new contract negotiations upon his arrival. There were even rumblings of a swap deal for Spurs defender Toby Alderweireld.

The youngster was a mainstay for Roma last season once he earned a starting place in early November, making 27 Serie A appearances and scoring four goals.

Transfer rumor roundup: Man Utd eye Lazio star, PL clubs duel for Joelinton

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Rampant links with transfer targets happen every summer at Manchester United, especially when a manager is involved with his first transfer window.

Throw in the Red Devils recent spells outside the UEFA Champions League, and there are plenty of wrinkles this go-round.

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For great players on middling clubs like Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, however, Europa League football is a step up considering Lazio’s underwhelming 2018-19 season.

Lazio slapped a nine-figure price tag on the exceptional 24-year-old center midfielder; Milinkovic-Savic was the club’s top performer last season, and chipped in offensively with five goals and three assists.

That was a far cry from his 12-goal 2017-18 season, but he’s only gotten better in his defensive contributions. Sky Sports says the player likes the idea of moving to United, but would also be happy to spend another season in Rome.

Hoffenheim’s big, young Brazilian striker Joelinton is looking to take the next step in his career, with both Wolves and Newcastle interested in the 22-year-old.

Joelinton scored seven times with seven assists in his return to the Bundesliga, which came after two loan stints with Rapid Vienna. He posted a combined 15 goals and six assists in league matches with the Austrian powers.

Newcastle is in dire need of a center forward, with Salomon Rondon reportedly on the verge of a move from West Bromwich Albion to Dalian Yifang in China.

Wolves would add a target forward with playmaking abilities much like Raul Jimenez, who is 28 and will need relief with the West Midlands club eyeing up a Europa League campaign.

Transfer rumor roundup: Maguire on record fee, Rondon to Newcastle

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We begin this post with a doozy.

This is just too much, but that’s the price you pay for English national team center backs in the Premier League.

Manchester United is said to be prepared to offer Leicester City a wild $113 million to bring Harry Maguire to Old Trafford, a bid almost $13 million more than Man City’s reported ceiling (itself an eyebrow-raiser).

Either fee would break the transfer record Liverpool set on Virgil Van Dijk, and just embarrass the $15 million Leicester spent to bring Maguire from Hull City two summers ago.

While the fee is insane, Maguire brings invaluable consistency in his performances and does have plenty of punch in the box on attacking corner kicks.

United was also said to be in on Wilfred Ndidi, and spending over $160 million on two players from the same club sure would say something. Do you think Brendan Rodgers prefers the players or the money?


Speaking of wacky transfer values…

Newcastle’s hopes of landing Salomon Rondon from West Bromwich Albion have been given a boost.

Why? Because Dwight Gayle‘s incredible Championship record has Slaven Bilic valuing the Newcastle man about as much as Rondon’s fee.

Gayle, 28, has twice scored 23 goals in a Championship season, once with Newcastle and once on loan to West Brom last season. He’s scored 7, 6, 3, and 5 goals in four Premier League campaigns.

Meanwhile, the 29-year-old Rondon has scored 9, 8, 7, and 11 top flight goals in four seasons between West Brom and Newcastle.

For their values to deliver a straight swap is something Rafa Benitez or whoever’s in charge of Newcastle by the end of summer will love deeply.

Bilic back in England at Championship side West Brom

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WEST BROMWICH, England (AP) Former Croatia coach Slaven Bilic is back in club management at second-tier team West Bromwich Albion in England.

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Bilic has been out of work since being fired by Saudi club Al-Ittihad in February, only five months into the job. Prior to that, he spent two-plus years at West Ham in the Premier League before being fired in November 2017.

West Brom lost in the League Championship playoffs last month and is preparing for a second season in the second tier.

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Bilic says “Albion have convinced me they want to return to the Premier League. Albion have a short-term project and a long project and they do not clash.”

Report: West Brom looks to snap up Hughton

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West Bromwich Albion is ready to turn to a promotion veteran in its bid to return to the Premier League.

Chris Hughton is in frame for the Hawthorns set, which controversially fired Darren Moore earlier this year with the club in fourth place. The Baggies bowed out of the Championship playoffs with a Tuesday loss to Aston Villa.

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Brighton and Hove Albion fired Hughton on Monday, the day after the Seagulls completed the Premier League season in 17th place. They were 10th after 15 match days but won just three more matches in skidding into a relegation campaign.

Should Hughton get the job, he could have a very different set of players from the group which made the playoffs. From Sky Sports:

Whilst Albion have no debt and no need to sell, we have been told there was a verbal agreement with a number of players who were relegated from the Premier League last year, that if the team did not win promotion at the first attempt, they would be allowed to leave this summer, assuming a suitable bid was tabled.

Hughton also led the Seagulls to the FA Cup semifinals, two years after guiding the club into the Premier League via a second place finish in the Championship. He’s also guided Newcastle to promotion and helped Birmingham City to a fourth place finish in the second tier.