Updates on David Neres, Alvaro Morata and Gonzalo Higuain as Chelsea assess striker situation

Nick Purewal 18/05/2019
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Ajax star David Neres

Chelsea could turn their search for a new striker towards Ajax’s David Neres with Luka Jovic poised to sign for Real Madrid.

The Blues had been closely tailing Eintracht Frankfurt hitman Jovic, but the 21-year-old Serbia striker should shortly finalise his Madrid move.

Chelsea remain hopeful of having their two-window FIFA transfer ban frozen while appealing to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), so are pushing ahead with tentative recruitment plans.

And Stamford Bridge bosses are understood to favour a move for Brazil star Neres now that Jovic appears out of reach.

Paris Saint-Germain, Liverpool and Arsenal are all also eyeing a move for £40million-rated Neres, who has impressed amid Ajax’s run to the Champions League semi-finals and the Eredivisie title.

Real Madrid bound Luka Jovic

Real Madrid bound Luka Jovic

The 22-year-old hit 10 goals in 42 matches in Ajax’s fine campaign, catching the attention of a clutch of top clubs when scoring in the 4-1 Champions League win at Real Madrid in March.

Chelsea enjoy a positive relationship with Neres’ agents Giuliano Bertolucci and Kia Joorabchian, with the pair representing Blues defender David Luiz.

Gonzalo Higuain would likely return to parent club Juventus should Chelsea recruit a new forward, with the Blues then not extending the ex-Argentina striker’s time at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea are still expected to trigger the one-year extension in Olivier Giroud’s contract to keep him in west London next season.

Winger Christian Pulisic will join the Blues this summer, with the USA star’s arrival to some extent offsetting Eden Hazard’s expected departure to Real Madrid.

Striker Tammy Abraham, midfielder Mason Mount and right-back Reece James head the queue of Chelsea stars returning from loans pushing for first-team chances next term.

One Blues forward not keen to return is Atletico Madrid loan man Alvaro Morata.

Alvaro Morata

Alvaro Morata

“What is clear is what I want, I want to be here,” Morata told Marca.

“I’m going to do all I can to keep playing here, I did all I could to come and I will do all I can to stay.

“I’m not thinking about going back anywhere, only being here.

“I’m happy here and I want to be here for the years I have left at the top level.”

Morata also backed Hazard to shine anywhere in the world, as the Belgium talisman closes in on a move to Real.

“He’s one of the best players in the world and could fit in well in any team,” said Morata.

“He’s a top player and top person, he’d fit in at any team.”

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Paulo Dybala's agent hints at Juventus exit but insists issues with Cristiano Ronaldo are not personal

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In Cristiano Ronaldo's shadow

Paulo Dybala’s brother and agent Gustavo Dybala cleared the air regarding the relationship between the Argentine and Cristiano Ronaldo.

The attacking midfielder has had to take a backseat to accommodate the Portuguese and has long been linked to a move away from Juventus.

Gustavo confirmed that his brother’s issues with Ronaldo are purely on the field and nothing personal.

“There’s no problems with [Ronaldo] off the field, the problems are on it,” Gustavo Dybala told Radio Impact Cordoba.

“You cannot beat [Ronaldo] and Paulo is young.

He also signalled that Dybala might not be the only player at Juventus who will be on his way out, with a few other players feeling unhappy at the club.

“There are many possibilities that Paulo leaves Juve, he needs a change. He’s not happy and he’s not the only one who’ll leave. Many players are unhappy at Juventus, not just Paulo.”

“He was very comfortable in Italy, but now he’s not,” he concluded.

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Five potential destinations for Gareth Bale as Real Madrid exit looms

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Bale's future lies away from Real Madrid.

The Gareth Bale saga at Real Madrid looks like it’s finally coming to an end, with manager Zinedine Zidane seemingly making it clear the Welshman’s future lies away from the club by leaving him out of the squad for the team’s 3-1 defeat to Real Sociedad on Sunday.

Bale has been linked with an exit almost since the moment he arrived in Madrid, but now that it’s finally set to happen, it’s time to see where exactly the winger could end up.

He’s been mooted as a transfer target for several of Europe’s leading clubs, with a return to the Premier League where he first made a name for himself potentially in the offing.

Here are five possible landing spots for the Wales star.

BAYERN MUNICH

Bayern Munich have been focusing on youth in recent seasons, furthering the development of players like Serge Gnabry and Kingsley Coman while signing the likes of Leon Goretzka and, more recently, Alphonso Davies.

But there’s no substitute for quality. Especially in the competition Bayern want to win most, as racking up Bundesliga titles season after season gets boring.

They haven’t won the Champions League since 2013. Bale’s won four in six seasons since then, starring in two separate finals.

And the Bavarians should already know that the Welshman would be a good fit. A left-footed player on the right wing who loves putting on the afterburners and has a penchant for scoring great goals?

Arjen Robben’s been doing that in Munich for a decade. He’s leaving this summer – just in time for Bale to take up the mantle.

0515 Bale Robben

CHELSEA

Though Chelsea are facing a potential transfer ban, if they win their appeal against that then Bale should definitely be on their radar.

Eden Hazard is set to leave the club this summer and it’s easy to see a scenario where the two players effectively replace each other, with Hazard set to take Bale’s place at Madrid.

The Welshman could do the same at Chelsea. He would be a readymade star with Premier League experience, and would slot straight into the Blues’ XI when fit.

While Christian Pulisic, set to arrive this summer from Borussia Dortmund, acclimatises to English football and Callum Hudson-Odoi continues his development, Bale would ensure Chelsea don’t miss Hazard too much.

He’s been linked with a move to Stamford Bridge before and, in theory, a move this summer could be easy – Chelsea could ask Madrid for Bale in exchange for the Belgian, with any difference in transfer fees being sorted out between the two clubs.

Maurizio Sarri’s side have just finished third and a player like Bale would be exactly the sort of signing that helps close the gap to Liverpool and Manchester City.

0515 Bale Hazard

PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN

Bale was part of one of the original acronym strike forces, Real Madrid’s ‘BBC’ attack alongside Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo, to counter Barcelona’s ‘MSN’ – Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar. Could he do it again at PSG?

It may prompt some confusion over how best to arrange the letters B, N, and M with Kylian Mbappe thrown in to the mix alongside Neymar – and, of course, how to get those three to play together.

Mbappe plays in Bale’s usual right-wing position and Neymar plays on the left where Bale began his career, though all three of these players are capable of playing anywhere in a front three.

Then again, it may be time for Mbappe to move into a central role with Edinson Cavani almost certain to leave this summer, and that would go a long way to accommodating Bale – though what impact it would have on the young Frenchman is unknown.

Bale would be a typical – some would say typically ill-advised – PSG signing, a readymade superstar who can slot into the first-choice XI. If it clicks, that trio would be lethal.

Whether it would bring the French side any closer to the ultimate goal of winning the Champions League is hard to say. They’ve brought players with experience of winning the trophy before without it paying off, so assuming Bale is the final piece of the jigsaw is unrealistic. But there’s no doubt that he’d be a quality addition, one that would ensure there’s no drop-off when Cavani leaves.

There would be concerns over his fitness, given that in Neymar they already have one injury-prone superstar. On the other hand, wages wouldn’t be an issue, which makes signing Bale much easier. There’s considerable downside but also tremendous upside to this signing for PSG – and the latter often ends up outweighing the former in transfer calculations.

0515 Bale PSG

MANCHESTER UNITED

Manchester United need a right-winger. They have several players who are right-footed but prefer playing on the left – Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Alexis Sanchez – and it’s made their attack lopsided.

Of course, Bale to United is a move that has dominated the rumour mill almost every season since he joined Madrid – and even before; according to David Moyes the club put in a bigger bid for the Welsh star when he became manager in 2013 than Madrid did to land him from Tottenham that summer.

By now, the club, and the fans, probably have Bale speculation fatigue.

And after the Sanchez debacle, another injury-prone star on high wages will give United pause, not least because Bale turns 30 this summer. United would rather go for the likes of Jadon Sancho or Nicolas Pepe, even if they cost more.

But they’ve also scouted Swansea’s Daniel James as a low-cost alternative in a bid to shift from prioritising big-name signings. Bale would still be one of those, of course, but bringing him in as a bridge player for the next couple of years while his younger compatriot develops wouldn’t be the worst idea.

0515 Bale Man United

TOTTENHAM

The fairytale return. Bale rose to stardom during Tottenham‘s first-ever Champions League campaign during the 2010/11 season, and it was that one followed by the next two that earned him his move to Madrid.

Returning to a team that is now a regular in the Premier League top four and even competes for the title on occasion, and has made the Champions League final, could help take Spurs to the next level.

It’s set up to be the perfect script. Tottenham’s first full season in their brand new stadium, a campaign begun either as European champions or losing Champions League finalists, and their old hero returns.

Could Spurs afford to sign him? That new stadium will no doubt be affecting their transfer budget for a while, and if it’s a question of losing Christian Eriksen or Harry Kane to bring in the Welshman, the north London club would rather pass.

But recent reports have suggested a deal in which Tottenham pay a small loan fee while Madrid continue to pay a good chunk of Bale’s wages – an arrangement that could fit within Spurs’ budget while helping his current club offload him. It’s unlikely, but after this season, who’s going to stop Spurs fans from dreaming?

0515 Bale Tottenham

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