The rumour mill is in full churn as we approach the thick of summer – see what Monday’s British newspapers had to say in the transfer gossip column.
What the papers say
Leicester City’s Harry Maguire could seal an £80million switch to Manchester City this week, according to the Daily Mirror. The 26-year-old is ready to join City over rivals Manchester United, who have also been pushing to land him, in a world record transfer for a defender, the paper says.
Unai Emery will push the Arsenal board for more cash to land number one attacking target Wilfried Zaha, The Sun reports. The paper says the Gunners boss has had his transfer budget limited to £45million after failing to reach the Champions League, but Crystal Palace’s Zaha would be expected to cost at least £55million. Zaha is said to be seen as central to Emery’s summer rebuild.
Manchester United will reportedly trigger Marcus Rashford‘s 12-month contract extension amid fears he could leave on a free when his current deal expires. The Sun claims Old Trafford chiefs will activate the 21-year-old’s extension before the end of next week, as Real Madrid and Barcelona both show interest in landing him.
Meanwhile, United are set to go head-to-head with Liverpool to land Real Betis defender Junior Firpo, according to reports. The Daily Mirror says the 22-year-old has attracted the attention of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as he plans an overhaul of his playing squad, with reports in Spain suggesting Betis are willing to let Firpo leave providing his £45million release clause is met.
Inter Milan are reportedly still some way off arriving at an agreement with Manchester United for the sale of Romelu Lukaku. The Daily Mail says reports in Italy suggest Inter, who have made the 26-year-old their priority signing of the summer, are at least £20million off the asking price.
Social media round-up
Players to watch
Mateo Mejia: Manchester United will sign the 16-year-old Spaniard from Real Zaragoza after seeing off rival bids in England and La Liga, The Sun claims. The paper reports United are paying an initial £600,000 for the youngster.
Che Adams: Southampton have made a final £14million offer for the Birmingham player, according to The Sun. The club have been trying to land the 22-year-old since their £10million bid was rejected in January but will not be held to ransom, the paper says. The Blues are said to be wanting closer to £16million for the striker.
Tammy Abraham insists it is now or never for Chelsea’s loan army to make their mark as he revealed he is planning to stay at Stamford Bridge.
The striker, who will return from a season-long loan at Aston Villa, is due to link up with Blues ahead of their pre-season tour to Japan.
Chelsea have been hit with a transfer embargo by FIFA, banning them for registering players for two windows after breaching regulations regarding minors.
Chelsea had 41 players out on loan last season – including Abraham’s Under-21 team-mates Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori at Derby.
And after selling Eden Hazard to Real Madrid for £89million this month Abraham wants to finally make an impact at Stamford Bridge with the Blues unable to sign a replacement.
“Yes, definitely. That’s how all the young players at the club are looking at it,” said the forward, who will return home after England Under-21s’ failed Euro 2019 campaign following Monday’s final Group C game with Croatia in San Marino.
“There is a great chance for us so we must get our heads down and training and go for it at Chelsea.
“I have already been talking to the club about pre-season. I’m going to have a couple of weeks and then come back hitting the ground running.
“I do feel ready for Chelsea. I really do. There is no better time for a young player to be at Chelsea. I am going to give it my all.
“I feel I needed that little push, some people might call more experience. Obviously I had a season at Swansea which didn’t go too well but that is another experience in itself.
“I had that season at Bristol City, my first experience of proper men’s football that gave me such a valuable insight into what to expect.
“Then this season at Aston Villa as well when I played under the pressure of people asking if I could score goals and help them get back into the Premier League.
“Well I have been there, done that and now I have full confidence in my ability to score for Chelsea in the Premier League.”
Record Chelsea scorer and current Derby boss Frank Lampard is heavily tipped to replace Maurizio Sarri, who joined Juventus last week, as manager and Abraham would be excited to work with him.
“Yeah, if it was him to take over the job. I believe in myself and there is no better guy to play under as well,” said the 21-year-old, who scored 26 times last season as Villa secured promotion by beating Lampard’s Derby in the Sky Bet Championship play-off final.
“He’s someone you have grown up watching and has been at Chelsea forever. Like I say, he knows about me as well – I played against his team in the play-off final!”
England Under-21s cannot reach the last four at Euro 2019 after defeats to France and Romania last week.
Abraham – who has one senior cap – came off the bench to score in Friday’s 4-2 loss to Romania in Cesena and will start his final Under-21 game in Serravalle.
“It is quite sad really. Demarai (Gray) and I were reminiscing in our room last night,” he added.
“This is our last Under-21 tournament and it is only just hitting us now really. You still believe in your head that you are young.
“It’s sad as well because we wanted to finish with a win. Most of us know we have fantastic players. I believe most of us can go back to our clubs and be banging on the door of the first teams.”
Provided by Press Association Sport
The UAE could soon be celebrating its first homegrown footballer to permanently ply their trade in one of Europe’s major leagues, as English and German clubs explore the possibility of signing talented Al Wahda winger Yahya Al Ghassani.
The 21-year-old is attracting strong interest from the Bundesliga and negotiations are already under way with the Clarets to seal a historic switch.
Sources close to the player have revealed to Sport360 that Premier League outfit Burnley have also joined the race for his signature.
If completed, the seismic transfer for UAE football would see Al Ghassani become the first player born in the Emirates to seal a move to one of Europe’s top-five competitions.
Al Ghassani already has his name in the history books after he emerged as the standout member of the group allowed to feature in the Arabian Gulf League during 2018/19 after the decision by UAE President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, that children of Emirati women born to foreign fathers will be able to compete in official UAE competitions for the first time.
And last season was a breakout campaign for the tricky left-winger.
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First season for me was more than what I expected first trophy scoring on my debut being among best 10 youngsters in Asia.Sorry for the fans that we couldn’t achieve what they wanted we will fight stronger next season. Thanks for everyone who supported me and trusted me. Sorry if I haven’t met your expectations🤙🏽❤️
After his first three deeply impressive displays for Wahda, the club immediately extended his one-year deal to tie him to the Abu Dhabi side until 2023.
He was then fast-tracked into the UAE Under-23 set-up during their bid to qualify for Tokyo 2020 and he finished an electric debut season with eight goals to his name for club and country.
Born and bred in the UAE to an Emirati mother and a father who holds Tanzanian and Omani passports, it’s not the first time Al Ghassani has attracted European onlookers.
Ligue 1 giants Paris Saint-Germain and Spanish sides Malaga and Leganes all kept tabs on him prior to him sealing a move to Wahda.
But the interest from Germany is concrete and the young attacker has long held an ambition to make his mark in Europe.
A player with massive potential, hallmarked by skill and will, Al Ghassani’s work ethic has always impressed.
He was first spotted by the Manchester United Academy during a two-week camp in his early teens before settling in Dubai side Al Ahli’s youth set-up when he was 15.
Now, there is genuine hope that the dexterous Al Ghassani can use his dancing feet to break ground in Europe.
Indeed, others have come close, most notably when Al Ain and UAE superstar Omar Abdulrahman dazzled during a trial with Manchester City in 2012 before work permit issues scuppered any deal.
In the same year, seasoned UAE international and Wahda defender Hamdan Al Kamali was loaned to Lyon but only featured for the reserves.
His younger brother Hamid spent time on loan with Maltese outfit Valetta FC in 2014, even turning out in the preliminary stages of the UEFA Champions League, the first – and only, to date – Emirati to feature in the competition.