Transfer Gossip: Morata, Mertens, Bakayoko

Sport360 staff 09:02 01/05/2017
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On the move? Real forward Morata.

With only a few weeks to go until the end of the season, transfer gossip is beginning to gather pace!

Here, we look at three key transfers that could happen this summer as clubs and players alike look for new moves and opportunities.

Will any of the following deals happen?

Share with us your thoughts by commenting below, using #360fans on Twitter or getting in touch via Facebook.

ALVARO MORATA

The Real Madrid forward is expected to leave the Santiago Bernabeu at the end of the season and has indicated Chelsea is his preferred destination.

According to Madrid-based newspaper AS, the 24-year-old is set to snub Manchester United and join the Premier League leaders this summer.

Since returning to his boyhood club at the start of last season after Los Blancos exercised a buy-back clause they had with Juventus, Morata has been frustrated by irregular first-team start time under Zinedine Zidane.

However, when called upon, the Spaniard has shown his class – scoring 18 goals in 38 appearances across all competitions. As the tweet below shows, his record this term is better than Karim Benzema and he’s not too far behind Cristiano Ronaldo (20) in the La Liga goalscoring stakes either.

But, after Morata revealed he wishes to play in England, Chelsea are set to rev up their interest in the close season especially given the uncertainty surrounding Diego Costa’s long-term future.

Morata’s Bernabeu deal runs until 2021 and Madrid are expected to command at least €30m (AED120m) – the sum they paid for him last year – from Antonio Conte’s charges.

Rating: 8/10

Sport360 Verdict: Whatever trophies Real Madrid end up with at the end of the season, the Whites are set for a shake-up in the transfer window and a number of changes will be made. Morata’s future will certainly be under the spotlight and it’s likely he could move on, especially if Real secure their No.1 striking target Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Dries Mertens

Napoli are braced for a long summer struggle to keep hold of top talent Dries Mertens, according to Italian station TMW Radio.

The Belgian, who has once again shone for the Naples club this term – scoring 22 Serie A goals to all but secure Champions League qualification, has been touted as a future Juventus star.

Mertens’ name has also been linked with Manchester United but Napoli chairman Aurelio De Laurentiis insisted during an on-air interview that he will do all he can to keep the tricky winger and head coach Maurizio Sarri at the Partenopei.

Napoli are hoping to scupper rivals’ hopes of signing Mertens by offering him a new deal, but no contract proposal has yet to be made.

Rating: 7/10

Sport360 Verdict: Mertens is a fans’ favourite at the Stadio San Paolo and Napoli will want to do all they can to keep this season’s dream team together. However, the Belgium international is 29 and may not get another chance for a big move.

TIEMOUE BAKAYOKO

Chelsea won’t waste any opportunities to strengthen their squad this summer and have already moved to sign Monaco ace Tiemoue Bakayoko, according to L’Equipe.

The promising French defensive midfielder, who has been compared to N’Golo Kante, is firmly on the Blues’ radar and the English giants believe they can land the 22-year-old.

Although Bakayoko is reportedly settled in France and enjoying life under Monaco boss Leonardo Jardim, a big-money bid should test the resolve of the would-be Ligue 1 champions.

Just where the midfield star fits into Chelsea’s team is a question for Antonio Conte, but the Italian believes he needs extra strength and depth in all departments as he targets success in Europe too.

Monaco have been linked with Anderlecht midfielder Youri Tielemans as a replacement for Bakayoko.

Rating: 7/10

Sport360 Verdict: Bakayoko is one of the hottest properties in European football and world-class defensive midfielders are typically hard to come by so expect Chelsea to lead the race for his signature once the season comes to a conclusion.

What else is going on?

Ajax defender Davinson Sanchez is yet another name linked with Real Madrid.

With Pepe’s advancing years and regular injuries to key men in defence this term, Zidane could turn to the 20-year-old Colombian to strengthen his defensive ranks.

However, Real face competition from eternal rivals Barcelona.

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Transfer Gossip: Aubameyang, Bellerin, Van Dijk

Sport360 staff 09:58 26/04/2017
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On the move? Star trio.

With only a few weeks to go until the end of the season, transfer gossip is beginning to gather pace!

Here, we look at three key transfers that could happen this summer as clubs and players alike look for new moves and opportunities.

Will any of the following deals happen?

Share with us your thoughts by commenting below, using #360fans on Twitter or getting in touch via Facebook.

PSG AHEAD OF REAL MADRID IN RACE FOR AUBAMEYANG

Real Madrid will need to act fast if they are to land Borussia Dortmund star Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

According to French football news GFFN, Paris Saint-Germain director of football Patrick Kluivert has already met with the Gabon international’s agent and father.

While the Ligue 1 giants seem to have seized the initiative over the transfer, the 25-year-old has made no secret of his desire to join Los Blancos in the past and Zinedine Zidane’s men are in the market for a striker this summer, with the futures of Karim Benzema and Alvaro Morata uncertain.

This bodes well for Madrid but they will need to come up with an offer to meet Dortmund’s £85million (AED400m) asking price soon.

In what will likely be one of the summer’s drawn out transfer sagas, Real fans can seek solace in the fact they usually get their man.

RATING: 7/10

SPORT360 VERDICT: Dortmund will feel they can hang on to Aubameyang for at least one more season, and up until now, Real Madrid have been slow to act over their pursuit of the striker. The former Saint-Etienne player may be prepared to wait and stay in Germany until the wheels are in motion for a dream move to the Santiago Bernabeu.

LEADING MARKSMAN ⬇

IS FULL-BACK BELLERIN READY TO RETURN TO BARCELONA?

Despite signing a new contract at the Emirates until 2022 last November, it’s been a difficult season for the Spaniard.

The 22-year-old was jeered by Gunners fans during the recent defeat at Crystal Palace and has been heavily criticised for a number of below-par performances.

However, Barcelona-born Bellerin, who was part of the club’s famed La Masia academy as a youngster but failed to register a senior appearance, could now be set for a return.

According to Catalan daily Sport, Barca’s sporting director Robert Fernandez is chasing the defender’s signature and believes he can convince Bellerin to move back home to Catalonia.

The Spanish giants have tried many combinations but ultimately found it tricky to fill the right-back berth since Dani Alves’ departure – and as such – see home-grown Bellerin as the perfect answer to their problems.

Barcelona are likely to test Arsenal’s resolve with a summer bid.

RATING: 8/10

SPORT360 VERDICT: Barcelona is home for Bellerin and the Spanish international has made it clear in the past he wants to play for his boyhood club at some stage. A move at the end of the season, on paper at least, seems to work out for all three parties so watch this space.

SPORTING BRAIDS ⬇

🔴⚪️

A post shared by Héctor Bellerín (@hectorbellerin) on

MERSEYSIDERS SET TO BATTLE IT OUT FOR VAN DIJK

Liverpool are ahead of city rivals Everton to land Southampton captain Virgil Van Dijk this summer.

Kop boss Jurgen Klopp has made the Dutch international his top target and is willing to pay a club record £50m (AED235m) to land the centre-back.

The Toffees also view Van Dijk as a future blue, with Ronald Koeman being a big fan of the 25-year-old having signed him from Celtic when he was Southampton manager.

But the potential of Champions League football is likely to convince the defender to choose Anfield instead and the Reds are set to ramp up their interest in the coming weeks, according to the Liverpool Echo.

RATING: 8/10

SPORT360 VERDICT: It’s well documented that the Saints struggle to hold onto their best players and Liverpool have made it a habit of pinching the south coast club’s top talent. Few people would be surprised if that happens again.

VAN DIJK IS CURRENTLY ON HIS WAY BACK FROM INJURY ⬇

Happy Monday everyone. Back working with the ball ⚽️ #progress

A post shared by Virgil van Dijk (@virgilvandijk) on

WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON…

– Liverpool eye a move for Bayern Munich forward Douglas Costa.

– Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez has been handed a mega-money war chest for the club’s Premier League campaign next season and is set to tie up a permanent deal for Christian Atsu.

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Transfer Gossip: Diego Costa, Dybala, Verratti

Sport360 staff 11:13 25/04/2017
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DIEGO COSTA AND THE CHINESE CONNECTION

The Brazilian-born Spain international has been subject to controversy for club and country, hardly shying away from having moments under the spotlight on and off the pitch.

Forced onto the bench during the recent FA Cup tie, this isn’t the first time Antonio Conte has sidelined the striker in an important game. Costa has made it clear life in London isn’t one he wishes to pursue amid reports in January about a possible move to China.

RATING: 7/10

SPORT360 VERDICT: Despite a reduced lead to four points, Chelsea are still favourites to lift the Premier League trophy. Complaining about life in the English capital since Mourinho’s second spell at Chelsea, the 28-year-old is unlikely to feature next campaign, particularly with Chelsea heavily linked to secure the services of Romelu Lukaku. If the Belgian doesn’t return to Stamford Bridge then Conte will attempt to break the bank for Inter’s Mauro Icardi.

Diego Costa.

Diego Costa.

PAULO DYBALA TO REAL MADRID

The Argentine has flourished in the Serie A this campaign, taking his career to new heights following an awe-inspiring performance against Barcelona in the Champions League.

Paulo Dybala is destined for great feats and Real Madrid president Florentine Perez wants to ensure the former Palermo forward will unlock his full potential for Los Blancos next season.

According to Spanish outlet Don Balon, Perez wishes to reunite Morata with Juventus and add James Rodriguez into the mix in exchange for the highly talented 23-year-old.

RATING: 6/10

SPORT360 VERDICT: It will be difficult for Juventus to keep Dybala considering his surge in popularity. Although he recently signed a new long term deal at the club, there remains a possibility that he could leave this summer.

Paulo Dybala.

Paulo Dybala.

MARCO VERRATTI TO BAYERN MUNICH

The Italian has been at the heartbeat of PSG’s exploits this season, and despite enjoying life in the French capital, he could be headed for an exit this summer.

According to Bild, Bayern Munich have set their sights on Verratti as Ancelotti believes he is the primary candidate to fill their midfield vacancy next season.

RATING: 6/10

SPORT360 VERDICT: With Xabi Alonso retiring at the end of the season, Carlo Ancelotti has been given the difficult task of replacing the midfield maestro. The former AC Milan tactician has complimented Verratti, name-checking the playmaker as “the best of all” in an interview with Radio Anch’io Sport. The former Pescara man has a wealth of experience in elite competition and could be a perfect fit for the Bavarians to help them in their pursuit for Champions League glory.

Marco Verratti.

WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON…

– Newcastle secure promotion to the Premier League.

– Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere eyeing possible China departure.

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