Barcelona to acquire PSG star while Valencia chase Man United prospect, La Liga's possible deadline day deals

Andy West 30/08/2017
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The La Liga transfer window doesn’t actually shut until 3am UAE time Saturday so it gives the likes of Barcelona an opportunity to push through late deals.

Our Spanish football expert Andy West breaks down the three likeliest moves to occur before the window slams shut.

ANGEL DI MARIA – PSG TO BARCELONA

Although Barcelona appear to be eventually giving up on their protracted attempts to sign Philippe Coutinho – perhaps finally realising that Liverpool’s “no” really does mean “no” – their transfer activity for the summer is unlikely to be over.

Earlier this week sporting director Robert Fernandez admitted he would like to secure two new players before the window closes, and one of those is widely thought to be Argentine international winger Angel Di Maria from Paris St Germain.

In many ways it would be an eminently sensible move: Di Maria is an experienced, talented, hard-working and versatile performer who would add quality to the squad in a variety of positions and already has a good relationship with key man and international teammate Lionel Messi.

However, it would also be a hugely controversial transfer considering Barca’s torrid recent history with his current club PSG and the fact that Di Maria also used to play for Real Madrid.

Those factors would ensure a mixed reception for the 29-year-old if the deal is completed, but after their wretched summer Barca’s board just need to sign someone, anyone, and then hope for the best.

Angel Di Maria in action for PSG this season

Angel Di Maria in action for PSG this season

DIEGO COSTA – CHELSEA TO ATLETICO MADRID

The only surprise about the Brazilian powerhouse heading back to the Spanish capital would be if the deal does not happen.

Costa leaving Stamford Bridge to return to Atletico is perhaps the most logical move of the entire transfer window: Atletico want him to come, Chelsea want him to leave, and Costa is desperate to rejoin his former club to the exclusion of anyone else.

So far, however, negotiations between the clubs have been painfully slow with Atletico hoping to pay the lowest fee possible while Chelsea do their best to ensure his mutually antagonistic exit does not run smoothly.

There’s just no way, however, that Antonio Conte would allow himself to be lumbered with the player for the next few months. And another rather forceful manager, Diego Simeone, would be absolutely seething with his club’s hierarchy if they didn’t make the deal happen.

It all adds up to make an obvious transfer that really should happen for everyone’s sake, and once the posturing from all sides comes to an end that’s surely what will happen.

ANDREAS PEREIRA – MANCHESTER UNITED TO VALENCIA

The past few days have seen confusion over the future of 21-year-old Manchester United midfielder Andreas Pereira, with differing reports emerging over the status of his proposed loan move to Valencia.

At the start of the week it was already being claimed that the deal had been confirmed, but that was hastily withdrawn when it became clear that neither club had yet made the move official.

United boss Jose Mourinho is happy to let the youngster leave so he can gain more first team experience, and Valencia owner Peter Lim – who has close links with United through his ownership of Salford City – is also pushing hard for the move to happen.

But the sticking point is the player himself, with Pereira’s preference being to stay at Old Trafford and fight for a place in the team.

Eventually, however, he will probably be forced to accept that won’t happen this season, and a year in La Liga awaits for this talented prospect.

Andreas Pereira in pre-season for Man United

Andreas Pereira in pre-season for Man United

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Liverpool's record-buy Naby Keita will be among club's highest earners but Bundesliga reporter says he is a bargain

Alex Rea 30/08/2017
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Liverpool smashed their transfer record to sign RB Leipzig midfielder Naby Keita after a summer-long pursuit.

Despite long being on the club’s radar, Liverpool fans will have to wait until 2018 to see their new man in action.

The Guinea international will move to Anfield next summer as per the agreement between the two clubs.

No doubt plenty will be tuning into the Bundesliga this season for regular scouting reports but for now, we’ve enlisted the help of respected Germany daily Bild and their Leipzig reporter Stefan Krause to get the lowdown on the 22-year-old.

First of all, what are the numbers behind the deal?

Leipzig will receive €65million if they don’t qualify for the Champions League or Europa League, €70million if they qualify for the Europa League or €75million if they secure Champions League football.

Keita himself will earn €12million per year (€250,000 a week).

He’s talked up as one of the most complete midfielders in Europe, but what is he not so good at and needs to improve on?

Keita is one of the best midfielders in Europe. For his age group he is the best! No other player can be so aggressive defensively and then so brilliant in attack. His right foot and the ball are like Siamese twins and often he can only be stopped by tough tackling. But sometimes he isn’t interested to do work back in the style Leipzig coach Ralph Hasenhuttl demands. And he is not the toughest player as last year he was out injured three times with muscular issues.

His dribbling stats are very impressive but is that ability overlooking other aspects of his game which have caught the eye?

Keita came from Salzburg/Austria to Leipzig in the summer of 2016 and the for the first few weeks he was practically invisible in pre-season friendlies. He spent the first four matches of last season on the bench but he learned very quickly and played faster and tougher.

He has a high potential to learn things fast and to adjust for the bigger challenges as he’s said previously: “I’ve played in France, Austria and now Germany – each country has given me a new input and made me richer in experience. That is important for and one of my life goals is it to get better every day and make the next step in my career”.

It’s a record deal for Liverpool but at 22, have they potentially got themselves a bargain?

Yes, I’m sure that he is a bargain. Keita loves Barcelona and he’s told me in the past that he wants to play for them one day. Liverpool shouldn’t be seen as a stepping stone for him but I’m sure when Keita plays well and reaches his full potential, Barca will try to sign him in a few years. It could be an expensive deal like the one for Ousmane Dembele, so the deal could give resale value for them.

The majority of Liverpool fans won’t have heard much about him prior to this summer, how quickly has he developed?

Very fast. One of his character traits is that he is extremely ambitious. He has six siblings and hails from a poor family, where his father repairs motorcycles for a living. He once told me: “All people in our settlement were and are poor, the economic situation is bad, there was war, now there is peace, people help each other, they are happy and happy in their despair”.  He is learning fast – on the pitch and off the pitch.

In your opinion, why is he an obvious fit for Jurgen Klopp and if you could pinpoint anyone of the current Liverpool midfield – of course that could change – who would he fit in alongside?

I don’t know the Liverpool squad very well, so it is not so easy. But I think he is better as the No8 or as the No6, so maybe he could play alongside Gini Wijnaldum or Emre Can.

Fan relations are a big part of German football as is the case with Liverpool, what sort of relationship has he had with Leipzig fans?

Keita is always smart and friendly, so he has a very nice relationship with the people. But because of the language barrier (Keita speaks very good French but only small English and German) he cannot talk like a native German. But the fans loves him for the way he plays.

What’s he like as a person, his temperament and is he well liked by the rest of the squad?

Naby is very kind and reserved off the pitch, but he can be a beast on the training ground, which was shown with the bust-up earlier this summer. He was fouled by team-mate Diego Demme before he got his revenge with a brutal kick to the knee. Sporting Director Ralf Rangnick said about Keita: “Naby is off the pitch like a koala bear. You would also like to cuddle and love him all the time (but on it, it’s a different story)”.

If he does take the No8 shirt at Liverpool, the number made famous by Steven Gerrard, will he be able to handle the pressure of stepping into that role?

I’m sure he won’t feel any pressure. He isn’t the type of boy to dwell on any names and characters who have come before him. He is respectful but self confident enough to play his own game. He told me: “One day I will be the best footballer in Africa. And I’ll do it”.

Finally, any other facts we should know about?

He owns three cars; A yellow Mercedes GT (€135,000), Mercedes GLE AMG Coupe (€120,000) and a Porsche Panamera turbo (€140,000). He has some of his brothers and family around him and his second surname is Deco like the Portuguese legend – Keita’s dad was a big fan of his.

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Things to know about Liverpool's record buy Naby Keita including the Brazilian legend he's nicknamed after

David Cooper 29/08/2017
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Liverpool agreed a reported club record fee of £48million for Guinea international midfielder Naby Keita with German side RB Leipzig.

The 22-year-old will join the Premier League side in time for next season.

Here are five things on the young star.

BALDE FACTS

Not many Guinean players have made it into the top tier of British football though Keita is not the first to play for Liverpool as Titi Camara turned out for the Reds for the 1999-2000 campaign before moving to West Ham.

However, it was thanks to another Guinean that Keita got the chance to make his way in European football. Hardman defender Bobo Balde – who played with distinction for Celtic from 2001-09 – organised a talent-spotting contest in the French city of Marseille, which Keita attended almost out of desperation after being rejected by Le Mans and Lorient.

Ligue 2 side Istres saw enough to take a punt on him for the 2013-14 season and he displayed enough raw talent for Red Bull Salzburg to sign him after that campaign.

Guinean Bobo Balde (R) vies with Senegalese Henri Camara (L)

Guinean Bobo Balde (R) vies with Senegalese Henri Camara (L)

EXPENSIVE HABIT

Growing up in Conakry, he and his brothers played football in the street but equipment was hard to come by and being from an impoverished background food and other household goods were always the priority when his mother went to the shops.

However, that didn’t prevent the football-mad Naby from being the proverbial bull in a china shop as he told www.bundesliga.com last season.

“I always looked forward to going to the supermarket with my mother,” he explained. “There were a lot of round things to play football with. Unfortunately, there were also things like lampshades, which got broken. My mum always says that shopping with me was very expensive!”

IVORIAN LEGENDS IS HIS TOURE DE FORCE

Balde may have been his saviour but for Keita it is Manchester City’s Ivorian four-time African player of the year Yaya Toure who is his role model – they are both box-to-box midfielders – and whom he wishes to emulate in terms of being acknowledged as the continent’s greatest player.

“I want to be the best African footballer,” he has said. “My idol from Africa is Yaya Toure… he’s strong, works hard and has made it to the very top.”

‘AFRICAN DECO’

Small in stature, he has earned comparisons with two-times Champions League winner Brazil-born Portuguese pocket rocket Deco and been tagged as ‘The African Deco’.

Indeed he has now dropped his middle name Laye and inserted Deco instead. Like Deco, Keita makes up for his lack of physical presence with wizardry and artistry on the pitch, creating scoring opportunities and also equally adept at scoring a few too.

Deco in action for Chelsea against Liverpool in 2004

Deco in action for Chelsea against Liverpool in 2004

FEET ON THE GROUND

Despite his success Keita has not forgotten where he came from and he likes nothing better when he returns to Guinea than to chat about football with his childhood friends with whom he used to kick the ball about with in the streets of Conakry.

His dream evening too is to have dinner with his mother and he acknowledges how fortunate he has been to succeed where so many African players’ dreams founder saying if he had not made it he would “probably, like my father, repair motorcycles.”

Provided by AFP Sport

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