Mandzukic demands to leave Bayern Munich

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Making demands: Mandzukic is ready to leave the Bundesliga champions.

Croatia's World Cup striker Mario Mandzukic on Monday demanded to leave German side Bayern Munich telling a local newspaper he could not follow coach Pep Guardiola's playing style.

His announcement could set off a scramble for his signature with several English Premier League sides said to be trailing the prolific scorer.

"I had great time in Bayern, but let's be honest, the style of game forced by coach Josep Guardiola does not suit me," Mandzukic told the Sportske Novosti daily.

"No matter how hard I try I cannot see myself in that kind of football and I cannot give my best. Since that's the case, the best is to separate."

The 28-year-old spoke from Brazil where he is a key player in the Croatia team at the World Cup.

He will miss Thursday's opening match against Brazil on Thursday because of a red card in a match against Iceland in November.

Mandzukic thanked to the Bundesliga champions, whom he had joined in 2012, for offering to extend his contrat.

"Thanks also to Guardiola who is really a great coach, I wish them all a lot of success."

Media reports have highlighted disagreements between Mandzukic and Guardiola, who dropped the Croatian from the German Cup final team in May.

Mandzukic said he had informed the Bayern head Karl-Heinz Rummenigge in May that he wanted to leave.

He did not say where his next club might be, but Croatian media have mentioned Manchester United and Arsenal.

Chelsea have also been linked to the Croatian.

Croatia are in World Cup Group A with Brazil, Cameroon and Mexico.

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Barca close in on Rakitic as Marquinhos and Bravo talks continue

Andy West 7/06/2014
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Making a Rakit: The Sevilla man's (l) form this season alerted a number of big clubs across Europe.

Barcelona are hoping to tie up three transfers in the next few days as they continue negotiations for midfield man Ivan Rakitic from Sevilla, Paris Saint-Germain defender Marquinhos and Real Sociedad goalkeeper Claudio Bravo. 

The arrival of Rakitic would offset the anticipated departure of Cesc Fabregas who is poised to make a return to the English Premier League, with Chelsea believed to be in poll position after Jose Mourinho admitted his interest in the ex-Arsenal captain. 

Fabregas has endured a mixed three seasons at the Nou Camp, struggling to establish a consistent role in the team and often being the fans’ scapegoat for poor team performances. 

Team-mate Gerard Pique caused controversy earlier this week after being recorded by Spanish TV telling Spain boss Vicente del Bosque that a €33 million (Dh165.4m) deal has already been agreed.

Potential replacement Rakitic is a hero figure at Sevilla, having captained the team to an excellent season which culminated in a dramatic Europa League triumph against Benfica in Turin last month.

The Croatia international has stalled over a new contract offer from his current club, and has also attracted the interest of both Atletico and Real Madrid after recording 12 goals and 11 assists during the recently-concluded La Liga campaign.

Rakitic’s preferred option is the Nou Camp, and the clubs are believed to be close to agreeing a fee in the region of €18m (Dh90.2m) for the 26-year-old, making him the second Croatian midfielder to arrive in Barcelona this summer, following the Catalan club’s capture of teenage starlet Alen Halilovic from Dinamo Zagreb.

Bravo, who is currently in Brazil as part of Chile’s World Cup squad, is being pursued to provide cover and competition for already-signed Germany international Marc-Andre ter Stegen. 

The 31-year-old is keen to move to the Nou Camp but the deal is believed to have been held up by negotiations over Barca midfielder Jonathan dos Santos, who Sociedad are keen to take to the Anoeta as part of the deal.

Barca are also believed to be in advanced negotiations for Paris Saint-Germain defender Marquinhos, who is likely to become surplus to requirements after the anticipated arrival of David Luiz from Chelsea.

The Spanish giants are desperate to bolster their defensive ranks following Carles Puyol’s retirement, and regard the Brazilian, 20, as a potential long-term fixture in the centre of their back four.

However, Barca face competition for the former Roma and Corinthians youngster, who will cost in the region of €30m (Dh150m), with Manchester City also reportedly keen on securing his signature.

And Barca will almost certainly miss out on another defensive target after highly-rated young defender Aymeric Laporte yesterday signed a new four-year contract at Athletic Bilbao, with the Basque club inserting a prohibitive buy-out clause of €42m (Dh210.4m)

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Siqueira arrival looks to pave way for Luis move to Chelsea

Andy West 7/06/2014
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Waving goodbye? Luis has been strongly linked with a move to Chelsea this summer.

Chelsea moved a step closer to signing Atletico Madrid left-back Filipe Luis after the Spanish champions captured Guilherme Siqueira from Granada as his replacement.

Jose Mourinho’s men have been heavily linked with the Brazilian defender – who was controversially omitted from his country’s World Cup squad – following their decision to release veteran Ashley Cole.

And the classy Luis, who excelled during Atletico’s shock title-winning campaign and will turn 29 in August, is now effectively free to leave the Vicente Calderon after his team snapped up Siqueira for €10 million (Dh50m) from Granada after a season on loan with Benfica.

Chelsea are expected to fork out around €23m (Dh115.3m) on Luis, who will leave Atletico after four seasons with the Rojoblancos.

He should be joined in west London by fellow Atletico league winner, Diego Costa. 

The Brazil-born Spain forward reportedly underwent a medical in Madrid last week and having agreed to match his £32m (Dh197.5m) buyout clause, the Blues are keen to push through a deal before the start of the World Cup.

Siqueira, meanwhile, is delighted to have secured his move to Atletico after signing a four-year contract but insisted he will be his own man in Madrid.

“He (Luis) is a great friend of mine but I’m not coming to replace anyone,” said Siqueira. “I only want to do my work and prove my worth.”

The 28-year-old, who was born in Brazil but possesses Italian citizenship, joined Granada in 2010 from Udinese and helped the club gain promotion in his first season.

He remained a regular before joining Benfica on loan last summer – with a similar move to Real Madrid falling through at the last minute – and made 18 league appearances en route to the Portuguese title, also playing in last month’s Europa League final defeat against Sevilla.

Siqueira admitted he was delighted with the move to Atletico, saying: “It’s a dream come true. Every footballer wants to play for a great club and now I have the chance to join the Atletico family.”

He is Atletico’s third signing of the summer, following the arrival of goalkeeper Miguel Angel Moya and young Argentine striker Angel Correa.

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