Paul Pogba and Matthijs de Ligt futures take twist with agent Mino Raiola ban decision

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Mino Raiola

Agent Mino Raiola will be able to broker transfers everywhere except Italy after the Court of Arbitration for Sport stayed a FIFA ban as they process his appeal against it.

The 51-year-old has a number of high-profile players on his books, including Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Mario Balotelli and sought-after Ajax youngster Matthijs De Ligt.

The Italian Football Federation (FIGC) hit Raiola with a three-month ban from practising as an agent back in May and it was followed up with a worldwide suspension from FIFA.

Raiola has since filed an appeal against the bans with CAS and it was announced on Wednesday that he can go about his work – apart from in Italy – while the case is deliberated.

“The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has registered an urgent appeal filed by the football intermediary, Carmine “Mino” Raiola, against the decision taken by the FIFA Appeal Committee on 28 May 2019 (the Challenged Decision) which confirmed a previous decision of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee,” a CAS statement read.

“In such decision, a three-month period of suspension from performing the role of sports agent in Italy which was imposed on Mino Raiola by the Intermediaries Committee of the Federazione Italiana Giuoco Calcio (FIGC) was extended by FIFA to become a worldwide ban.

“Prior to the filing of his appeal, Mino Raiola also filed an urgent application to stay the execution of the Challenged Decision. On 7 June 2019, the President of the CAS Appeals Arbitration Division upheld the application.

“Accordingly, the worldwide extension of the suspension of Mino Raiola is stayed pending the outcome of the CAS proceedings. However, the suspension imposed by the FIGC in Italy is not affected by the CAS decision.

“Further to the parties’ agreement, CAS will conduct an expedited procedure with a shortened procedural calendar in order to allow for a final decision to be rendered at the beginning of July 2019.”

With the outcome unknown, Raiola may look to complete any deals for the players he represents before the decision is announced in July.

Speaking in May, Raiola blamed the initial ban on “political willing” inside the FIGC.

“I guess the FIGC has not forgiven me for when I diffused my critics for their role in the disastrous state of Italian football, as well as their role around the latest episode of the racism problem, and my opinions could have had an influence in the evaluation of the matter,” he said in a statement.

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Nicolas Pepe is targeted by Bayern Munich, Liverpool and others but one club fits best

Alex Rea 12/06/2019
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Lille frontman Nicolas Pepe

It’s appropriate Nicolas Pepe’s signature celebration is a maritime searching gesture because there are few players in Europe with more to look out for this summer.

The Ivory Coast front man is in high demand after an electrifying Ligue 1 campaign in which his 22 goals spearheaded the end of Lille’s six-year Champions League exile.

One of the most devastating counter-attacking outfits in Europe, Pepe alongside Jonathan Bamba and Jonathan Ikone tore through teams last season.

Deployed on the right side of Lille’s attack, Pepe gripped French football and is attracting interest from the wider world.

Contracted until 2022, though, the 24-year-old reportedly won’t leave for anything less than €80million and so the question is, which team is the right fit and enters his vision?

BAYERN MUNICH

1206 Nicolas Pepe destinations

The prime candidate. Bayern have cracked open the safe and are busy splurging their immense wealth this summer.

Alongside Real Madrid, Barcelona and Manchester United, the German giants are undergoing a massive squad renovation, doing so by putting together their biggest investment in the squad ever.

Key positions have already been filled – Lucas Hernandez and Benjamin Pavard were recruited early – but after ‘Robbery’ hung up their capes, Bayern are in need of a new wing hero.

At least one, preferably two, from Callum Hudson-Odoi, Leroy Sane and Pepe will be acquired.

Kingsley Coman, while undeniably talented, has been unable to develop his ability because of frequent and various injuries. His unreliability could see the impressive Serge Gnabry continue his arc on the left side, freeing up a space for Pepe on the right.

There are conflicting reports in Germany and France over the validity of Bayern’s interest in Pepe, however, it is a move which makes sense for both sides.

The Bavarians are in the market for the best young players in Europe and Pepe fits that remit.

SUITABILITY = 9/10

PROBABILITY = 8/10

LIVERPOOL

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Liverpool have entered tricky territory. The issue with having a formidable front three, in the form of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane, is that convincing players to battle them for game time is a difficult sell.

Pepe’s best position is on the right side because his direct style and lethal left foot marries well his ability to beat a man, cut inside and shoot.

There’s little chance the Ivorian, rightly seeking a starring role which mirrors that of his Lille standing, would dislodge Salah, not forgetting there is also Xherdan Shaqiri who is an alternative option there, too.

Now, Pepe has the skillset to operate as a No9 – though he didn’t feature their once last season – and one area where Liverpool do look a little light is up front.

A flexible forward is what Jurgen Klopp will be in the market for, but despite Pepe’s swagger, it’s difficult to see the club shelling out €80m for a player who would be used primarily in rotation and is only really established in one position.

Yet the rumours persist, and it would be hard to argue with the Liverpool transfer committee’s logic considering their hit rate of late.

After all, Sadio Mane was largely used on the right side of Southampton’s attack and has made the opposite flank is own at Liverpool while also very impressive as a No9 last season.

SUITABILITY = 6/10

PROBABILITY = 5/10

INTER MILAN

1206 Nicolas Pepe destinations4

Antonio Conte has said the mandate for 2019/20 – it’s unclear whether this is his own or the club’s – is for Inter to become a credible rival to Juventus’ sovereignty over Serie A.

That would require money and lots of it because Inter need fresh blood to inflate their challenge, especially because they face a tactical revolution with Conte in charge.

Good thing the club will flex their financial muscle with €200m reportedly available to inject into the squad.

Federico Chiesa was thought to be their number one target to fill the right wing but it appears the Fiorentina forward will opt instead to join Juventus.

Having been prepared to pay €70m for his signature, it’s feasible the Nerazzurri would show similar intent for Pepe.

Within Conte’s desired 3-4-3 structure, Pepe’s explosive ability would light up Italian football while Inter’s offer of Champions League football allows the former Angers wideman to impose himself on the continent, too.

However, it remains to be seen what money Inter realistically have to spend and it’s not hard to picture the Milan outfit being outbid by other interested parties.

SUITABILITY = 8/10

PROBABILITY = 5/10

PSG

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Trophies and records are not the only thing Paris Saint-Germain have built a reputation for swallowing up in France.

Indeed, players have also filled the bellies of the Ligue 1 giants with Kylian Mbappe and Layvin Kurzawa two prominent examples of ingredients sourced from closer to home.

And who better to recognise the talent of Pepe than a PSG side given front row seats to a screening of his talent during Lille’s 5-1 demolition of the champions back in April?

That game served as a billboard of what Pepe can offer. He even found the feet of a PSG player for a goal as well…

A delicious cross was turned in by a contorted Thomas Meunier before last-man Juan Bernat was sent off for desperately pulling the galloping Pepe back. He then profited from the chasm left behind to spear through the middle of PSG’s defence and calmly score after the break, adding two set-piece assists in a man-of-the-match display.

With Kylian Mbappe to occupy the No9 role full-time, Neymar on the left plus Julian Draxler now inhabiting a midfield role, the right side is open for Pepe and a new compelling front three.

The issue is money, not if PSG have it, but whether Financial Fair Play would allow it.

SUITABILITY = 9/10

PROBABILITY = 7/10

MANCHESTER UNITED

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United have cash to burn, but they may end up doing exactly that this summer.

Buying the right players will be tough for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer considering United are no longer the enticing option they once were.

Without Champions League football to offer and an unsteady structure behind the scenes, United are dealing with players dwelling in the tier below the upper echelons.

Pepe has his suitors, but money talks loudest so perhaps there is a chance.

Granted, a winger has already been signed after Daniel James sealed a switch from Swansea but the £15m buy is not the elite option Pepe represents.

That signature will not dissuade United exploring the market again for a problem position.

United are anaemic in the forward areas and are crying out for better penetration from the wide areas. Solskjaer wants to lean his investment towards younger players and so the argument for Pepe carries weight.

It all depends on whether United is a heavy pull for the player, though.

SUITABILITY = 9/10

PROBABILITY = 5/10

ARSENAL

1206 Nicolas Pepe destinations5

Arsenal are in exactly the same position as United, only much worse.

They, too, are desperate for a winger. The Gunners also don’t have the offer of Champions League.

However, where the fork appears from United is that Unai Emery has little funds to spend.

Pepe is a perfect acquisition for Arsenal but it would require Europe calling Lille’s bluff in regards to his price tag in order for them to join the arena.

Whether Pepe is actually worth the €80m Lille desire is up for debate – incidentally that could be why reports in France are curiously linking Liverpool to him in an attempt to begin a bidding war.

And after the club have said he will definitely leave this summer, there’s a chance the price could come down if interest has cooled elsewhere.

That’s where Arsenal could arrive. Still, it’s a lot of variables and right now, Arsenal are not a big player when it comes to the major transfer game.

SUITABILITY = 9/10

PROBABILITY = 3/10

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Transfer predictor: Atletico Madrid to beat Man United and Man City to Joao Felix gets a 6

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Joao Felix.

Struggling to pick out the facts from the figures? Reality from the rubbish? Sense from the silly season? We’ve got you sorted in our daily dose of the Transfer Predictor, where we round up the latest rumours with an analytical spin.

We sort through the most eye-catching transfer reports of the past 24 hours and give a balanced judgment on whether the move really will happen – and why.

Today’s edition features potential signings for Atletico Madrid, Arsenal and AC Milan.

Joao Felix

Joao Felix (1)

Benfica -> €120 million -> Atletico Madrid

Manchester United and Manchester City target Joao Felix could join Atletico Madrid for a fee of €120 million, according to AS.

WHY IT WILL HAPPEN

Atletico are in need of a marquee signing in the attacking department with Antoine Griezmann set to leave the club. In Felix, they can capture one of the biggest talents in Europe and this transfer can comfortably be covered by the Frenchman’s sale.

The Spanish club is known for grooming young forwards, as evidenced by the development of Fernando Torres and Sergio Aguero. With guaranteed minutes, this could be the most suitable club for young Felix.

WHY IT WON’T HAPPEN

Both Manchester clubs are financially superior and in a position to offer Felix lucrative incentives.

City are a team positioned well to challenge for European trophies after achieving domestic domination. These factors and the prospect of playing under Pep Guardiola could provide City the edge in this tussle.

Transfer rating: 6/10

Yannick Carrasco

Yannick Carrasco

Yannick Carrasco

Dalian Yifang-> £25 million -> Arsenal

After a loan move failed to materialise in January, Dalian Yifang winger Yannick Carrasco could move to Arsenal on a permanent deal, according to Italian publication Sport Mediaset.

WHY IT WILL HAPPEN

The player revealed in an interview that he intends to return to Europe to stay close to his family. Given there’s no reported interest from any other top club, this could be a direct indication that the Belgian will soon be a Gunner.

Unai Emery’s side are in need of a winger while Carrasco can also play more centrally, thus bringing a lot to the table.

WHY IT WON’T HAPPEN

Arsenal are yet to agree on a transfer fee and it’s unlikely that the Chinese outfit will budge from their £25 million valuation of the former Atletico man.

Given their low transfer budget, it’s possible that Arsenal pull out and look for a cheaper alternative.

Transfer predictor: 8/10

Dejan Lovren

Dejan Lovren of Liverpool

Liverpool -> undisclosed -> AC Milan

AC Milan are said to have targeted Champions League winner Dejan Lovren as they attempt a squad rebuild ahead of the 2019/20 season. No talks have been held yet, but Gianluca Di Marzio reported that the Italian club are ready to splash money in the summer window.

WHY IT CAN HAPPEN

Lovren is fourth in the pecking order at Liverpool, with Joel Matip earning rights for third-choice centre-back. The Croatian has played three major finals in the last two years – two Champions League and one World Cup.

A player with his CV deserves more playing time and Milan can provide him just that. Lovren’s experience could earn him the untouchable status in Milan’s starting line-up, providing him a key role in their rebuild.

WHY IT CAN’T HAPPEN

Although this move seems logical, it’s too early to tell. Di Marzio is the only journalist to have reported this and with complications regarding transfer fee, player wages and contract length, there is still a lot of work to be done for this transfer to materialise.

Transfer rating: 4/10

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