Andres Iniesta welcomed by Vissel Kobe and Lukas Podolski on arrival from Barcelona

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Andres Iniesta has completed his move to Japanese side Vissel Kobe, after a terrific 22-year period at his boyhood club, Barcelona.

Iniesta was unveiled before an excited crowd at a Hotel in Tokyo in  a press conference, alongside billionaire owner, Hiroshi Mikitani.

Speaking at the event, the 34-year old said, “For me this is a very special day,” the Spaniard said. “This is an important challenge for me. My family is excited to come to Japan and we are very pleased. There were many offers. Other clubs showed interest. But I decided to sign with Vissel Kobe because the project presented to me was impressive.”

Iniesta received a memorable farewell at the Camp Nou after Barca secured the double – Copa del Rey and La Liga titles.

Meanwhile, the Spanish midfielder will be teaming up with German striker Lukas Podolski at his new club.

And Podolski was quick to welcome the maestro to his new destination. This was his message:

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Transfer Predictor: Fred to Man United gets an 8 but Karim Benzema to Napoli is a 5

David Cooper 24/05/2018
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Fred to United: done deal?

The transfer window is now open in the Premier League, with the rest of Europe set to follow soon.

With the window comes the usual speculation, with the airwaves full of transfer rumours, it can be difficult to figure out which ones are legitimate and which are just noise.

Fortunately, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to do it for you.

Below, you’ll find some of the latest transfer news churned out of the rumour mill broken down and analysed for your benefit along with our calculated predictions.

FRED – From Shakhtar Donetsk to Man United

Manchester United are closing in on a deal for Shakhtar Donetsk’s Brazilian midfielder Fred, according to the Manchester Evening News.

Why it will happen: With Michael Carrick retiring and Marouane Fellaini seemingly on his way out, United need to bolster their midfield. Manager Jose Mourinho is looking to add a young box-to-box midfielder and Fred fits the bill. The €60million release clause in his contract is not thought to be an issue for United.

Why it won’t happen: Fred may still have ambitions to play for United’s city rivals, having openly flirted with Pep Guardiola and Manchester City during the league season. City’s interest seems to have cooled, but the Brazilian made no secret of his first preference.

Prediction: United will make Fred their first signing of the window. He’s in England next week as Brazil play Croatia in a friendly in Liverpool, so the formalities could be completed then.

Rating – 8/10

Fred is Manchester-bound.

Fred is Manchester-bound.

KARIM BENZEMA – Real Madrid to Napoli

Former Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti, who has just taken up the Napoli job, is trying to lure Madrid striker Karim Benzema to Italy, The Sun reports.

Why it will happen: Ancelotti is a known admirer of Benzema’s, having managed the French striker during a few excellent seasons at Madrid. Benzema may be tiring of the criticism he receives at Madrid, not least from the fans, and a change of scenery could be just what he needs.

Why it won’t happen: Benzema has the support of his teammates, his manager, and the club’s hierarchy. It has been a below-par season by his standards, no doubt, but he’s more likely to stay at Madrid and try to set things right than run at the first sign of trouble.

Prediction: Part of Ancelotti’s appeal to Napoli was no doubt that he could help the club seal some blockbuster signings, given his reputation, and Benzema would certainly be a coup. But the Frenchman has expressed no desire to leave Madrid and the club have no intention of selling him, so he’s likely to stay in the Spanish capital.

Rating – 5/10

Time for a change for Benzema?

Time for a change for Benzema?

GIANLUIGI DONNARUMMA – From AC Milan to Liverpool

Corriere dello Sport claims Liverpool are looking to sign wantaway AC Milan keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma.

Why it will happen: Donnarumma has had a fractured relationship with the Milan hierarchy and the fans, who turned on him this season as details of his contract dispute leaked. Milan’s failure to qualify for the Champions League is another reason he could leave the San Siro. Liverpool, meanwhile, have had a need for a goalkeeper for the last few seasons, even if Loris Karius is finally looking more assured in the role.

Why it won’t happen: It’s more likely that he leaves Milan than that he stays, but would he go to Liverpool? He knows his admirers include Real Madrid, where the style of play will suit him more – not to mention, where he’ll get a better pay package.

Prediction: If Milan do put their star keeper on the trading block, expect Madrid to pounce. Otherwise it’s more likely he stays in Italy than go to Liverpool.

Rating – 3/10

Donnarumma could be looking for an escape route from Milan.

Donnarumma could be looking for an escape route from Milan.

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Chelsea star Alvaro Morata spotted in Italy with agent after talks with Juventus

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Alvaro Morata is being linked with a move away from Chelsea.

Chelsea‘s £60million striker Alvaro Morata has been spotted talking to Juventus sporting director Fabio Paratici in Milan amid speculation he wants to return to Serie A, the Daily Mail reports.

The Blues’ record signing, 25, was photographed with the executive outside a five-star hotel on Wednesday, amid reports he wants to leave Stamford Bridge after a difficult first season in the Premier League.

He managed only 11 league goals for Chelsea in the recently-concluded season and only appeared as a last-minute substitute in Saturday’s FA Cup final victory over Manchester United. AC Milan have also been linked with the Italy international, who played for Juve for two seasons before moving to Real Madrid in 2016.

Wayne Rooney has travelled to the US for talks over a transfer to DC United, with a medical, meetings with top brass and a whistle-stop tour of potential places to live on the schedule, the Washington Post reports.

The Everton striker and his agent, Paul Stretford, are set to have discussions with United’s managing general partner Jason Levien and general manager Dave Kasper, while Rooney is also likely to speak with Coach Ben Olsen on the phone.

One source told the paper the former England skipper’s family have done some “preliminary house-hunting” in nearby northern Virginia.

Rooney's move to the MLS is gathering pace.

Rooney’s move to the MLS is gathering pace.

Tottenham and Manchester United have started negotiating over a possible summer move for £75million-rated defender Toby Alderweireld, according to the Daily Mirror. Set to expire in 2020, the Belgium international’s contract is said to have a £22million release clause that activates in summer 2019.

Spurs, who bought him from Atlético Madrid for a reported £11.5million in 2015, are rumoured to fancy making over three times that by selling him now and Jose Mourinho is said to have targeted the 29-year-old as part of a defensive overhaul.

According to The Sun, Alderweireld has turned down a contract offer worth £120,000 a week, more than double his current terms, to stay at White Hart Lane.

Maurizio Sarri has been manoeuvring to place himself in prime position should manager Antonio Conte leave Chelsea, the Daily Telegraph reports. After making way for Carlo Ancelotti at Napoli on Wednesday following three years in the post, Sarri is said to be working hard to make sure he is the top pick if and when Conte’s widely-anticipated departure is confirmed.

The paper says Sarri, 59, has enlisted an English-based intermediary to press his case. Speculation around Conte’s future has reached fever-pitch, with reports suggesting a breakdown in relations between the Italian and the Blues’ players and hierarchy obliterating their FA Cup success.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Edouard Mendy: New West Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini is said to be keen on the Reims goalkeeper, 25, who plays for the Guinea-Bissau national team, the Daily Mirror reports.

Karl Jakob Hein: Arsenal fended off interest from Manchester United to sign the 17-year-old Estonian goalkeeper, the Metro reports.

Willy Boly: Wolves are near to completing a deal for the Porto defender, 27, according to the Express & Star.

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