TOP STORY: PSG could move for Ronaldo
Paris Saint-Germain are taking measures to cover the potential departure of striker Kylian Mbappe by sounding out a move for Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo, reports Le Parisien.
PSG chief Nasser Al-Khelaifi has reportedly already been in touch with Ronaldo’s agent, Jorge Mendes, following Juventus’ exit from the Champions League round of 16 at the hands of FC Porto on Wednesday night.
Juventus are considering a rebuild over the summer, so it’s possible that they wouldn’t stand in Ronaldo’s way should he want to leave.
And with Mbappe’s future still unclear, PSG are sounding out possible replacements should the Frenchman decide to depart the capital for either Real Madrid or Liverpool at the end of the season.
Mbappe has just one year left on his contract and is yet to commit his future to PSG, but even at the age of 36, Ronaldo would be a suitable big-name replacement.
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18.07 GMT: According to Le Parisien, Barcelona are in pole position to keep Lionel Messi beyond this season, despite the efforts of Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City to lure the 33-year-old playmaker away from the Catalan capital. In order to afford to retain their captain, the Blaugrana reportedly will look to offload Antoine Griezmann and Philippe Coutinho.
17.00 GMT: Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo to MLS?
The Futbol Americas crew discuss whether Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo is more likely to move to MLS first.
16.27 GMT: Napoli midfielder Fabian Ruiz is of interest to Manchester City, says Corriere dello Sport.
Ruiz, 24, has caught the eye of Real Madrid and Barcelona as well, who have “never stopped following him” and the Spanish midfielder could be set to move to the Premier League in the summer if Pep Guardiola gets his way.
Sources told ESPN back in 2019 that Real Madrid were leading the way and that the player was keen to head to the Bernabeu.
15.45 GMT: Liverpool’s horrible season need to start turning around. What do our writers think needs to happen? And how do the Reds approach the summer transfer window?
Mark Ogden: Money is tight at Anfield, as it is at most clubs due to the financial impact of the pandemic, so Liverpool are facing a difficult summer window. In normal times, they might have looked to sell an older player — [Mohamed] Salah, perhaps — at a premium and reinvest the money on a younger replacement. But even if Salah would be open to a move, there’s little prospect of a buying club having the funds required to sign him. Georginio Wijnaldum looks increasingly likely to leave as a free agent this summer, so he will need replacing, while age and injuries are beginning to catch up with James Milner and Henderson.
Julien Laurens: Let’s believe, for a moment, that some money will be made available for transfers. (Honestly, it needs to be.) On my list, I would have a centre-back who could be Ozan Kabak, but could also be someone else like Fiorentina’s Nikola Milenkovic, or Ibrahima Konate from RB Leipzig. I would like to find a midfielder as Wijnaldum will leave. I need someone young who can press with intensity, and also dictate the play when required, too. Someone like Yves Bissouma from Brighton & Hove Albion, for example.
Tom Hamilton: It should be a summer of evolution over revolution. Salah’s future needs clarifying, with the forward giving a wonderfully ambiguous interview in December and his agent’s recent tweet both raising question marks over the phenomenal forward’s future. The team does need freshening up, but it’s not a case of starting from scratch.
14.56 GMT: Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane has been speaking to reporters ahead of the weekend.
Zidane denied that defender Raphael Varane is considering leaving the club this summer — he said: “I think he’s very happy here” — and was also asked about Cristiano Ronaldo, after reports that agent Jorge Mendes had spoken to Madrid about a potential return from Juventus.
“You know what Cristiano is for Real Madrid,” Zidane added. “What he did, the affection we all have for him, not just me as coach. He made history here… A lot of things are said, but he’s a Juve player and I have to respect that.”
14.31 GMT: Manchester United spent €21m, plus €20m in add-ons, to sign Amad Diallo from Atalanta in January. The 18-year-old winger could be a star.
ESPN FC’s Shaka Hislop lauds Amad Diallo’s impact on and off the ball in Man United’s draw vs. AC Milan.
13.40 GMT: A host of European clubs are monitoring the precarious financial and ownership situation at Valencia, with the Spanish giants possibly set for some major exits this summer.
After raising around €100m at the end of the last season, Valencia are braced for more departures as they look to raise €50m in player sales with left-back Jose Gaya considered one of their most valuable players.
Gaya isn’t short of admirers with Barcelona, Paris Saint-German, Real Madrid and several Premier League clubs following his progress closely. Gaya has remained loyal to his boyhood club Valencia and is keen to remain, but if their financial predicament does not improve he may need to exit.
Sources have told ESPN’s David Cartlidge that Valencia would look for a minimum fee of €30m-€40m for his contract, though they remain reluctant to lose a player who has remained loyal to them and forms a key part of the squad. Valencia already turned down two offers for the 25-year-old last summer.
13.15 GMT: Ilaix Moriba does not want Barcelona to raise his buyout clause above €150m as he wants to remain in control of his own future, sources have told ESPN’s Moises Llorens and Sam Marsden.
Ilaix, 18, is out of contract in 2022, with his terms including a €100m buyout clause. Barca want to extend his deal and increase the clause following his performances for the first team since the turn of the year.
The midfielder became the highest-paid player in the history of the club’s academy when he last renewed in 2019 but he has since seen friend and teammate Ansu Fati, also 18, sign a bigger contract. Therefore, his agency, Stellar Group, hope to land a similar deal.
12.49 GMT: Barcelona are battling with a number of Europe’s biggest clubs to sign Rapid Vienna midfielder Yusuf Demir, various sources have confirmed to ESPN’s Moises Llorens and Sam Marsden.
Manchester United, Manchester City, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund and also tracking Demir, who won’t turn 18 until June and has a contract in Vienna until 2022.
Demir made his first-team debut for Rapid at the end of 2019 and, despite his age, he has already become a regular in Dietmar Kuhbauer’s side, making 23 appearances in all competitions this season.
The creative midfielder can also play further forward and has scored six goals in the current campaign, propelling him into the Austria under-21 set-up.
Sources told ESPN that scouts from the world’s biggest teams have earmarked him as one of the brightest young players in Europe and expect a bidding war to break out at the end of the season.
12.32 GMT: Is Andrea Pirlo going to work out as manager of Juventus?
Gab Marcotti makes an interesting metaphor when describing Andrea Pirlo’s situation at Juventus.
11.54 GMT: Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel said Christian Pulisic remains part of his plans despite a lack of game-time and joked the USMNT international could even be a future captain of the club.
Pulisic has started just one game since Tuchel succeeded Frank Lampard as head coach in January, making a further seven substitute appearances in Premier League and Champions League appearances totalling only 137 minutes.
Sources have told ESPN that Pulisic is keen to fight for his place at Stamford Bridge but ahead of Saturday’s Premier League clash with Leeds United, Tuchel was asked whether he would stand in the 22-year-old’s way if he requested a move in search of more regular action this summer.
“[There are] a lot of ifs in your question,” Tuchel replied. “If he starts tomorrow, if he does brilliantly and if he starts again against Atletico [Madrid next Wednesday] and if he scores again two goals, maybe he is the captain next year! I don’t know.
“I know what you mean but this is too far ahead. We have so many games and he is in my plans. He is an important player and has the potential to be decisive for us from the bench and as a beginner.
“Is it necessary that he can prove it? Yes. So, this is my job and his job is to be ready like everybody else and when comes the moment, you have to be ready. This is what you sign up for in a club like Chelsea. There is no difference between Christian and everybody else.”
11.09 GMT: Manchester United and Real Madrid are both monitoring the development of Villarreal centre-back Pau Torres as they look to strengthen their defences, sources have confirmed to ESPN’s Rodrigo Faez and Alex Kirkland.
The Premier League giants are prioritising the signing of a central defender and ESPN reported last month that Sevilla’s Jules Kounde, Aston Villa’s Tyrone Mings, Braga’s David Carmo and long-term target Raphael Varane of Real Madrid are all options being considered.
Multiple sources have told ESPN that United have added Torres to the list, believing the 6-foot-3. defender would be well-suited to the Premier League. Madrid, who are also chasing the signing of Bayern Munich’s David Alaba on a free transfer, have been following Torres for some time, with doubts over the future of captain Sergio Ramos who is out of contract this summer.
10.30 GMT: Barcelona are considering a move for Manchester City forward Sergio Aguero as part of plans to rebuild without Lionel Messi, sources told ESPN’s Mark Ogden.
Messi has yet to give any indication of a willingness to commit to a new contract and will be a free agent on June 30.
Joan Laporta’s election as Barca president, with his candidacy led on the face his personal relationship with the Argentina international would help convince him to stay. Reports in Argentina had suggested Laporta was looking to pair Aguero and Messi, but sources told ESPN the ex-Atletico Madrid striker is considered a potential replacement should the club’s record goal scorer not extend his contract.
Shaka Hislop doesn’t see Sergio Aguero making a big impact for Barcelona if the club were to sign the Man City striker.
10.02 GMT: RB Leipzig have announced the signing of young Ajax striker Brian Brobbey on a free transfer.
Brobbey will join the Bundesliga side at the end of the season on a four-year deal.
Ajax were keen to keep the 19-year-old striker but with his contract up in June, he has opted for a move to Julian Nagelsmann’s RB Leipzig.
“RB Leipzig is a great club and is playing an amazing season,” Brobbey said. “Julian Nagelsmann is a young and very good coach, who I can learn a lot from. The team is stable and gives off a strong feeling of unity. I’m looking forward to joining the team and of course want to play my part in helping the club be so successful.”
RB Leipzig sporting director Markus Krosche added: “As a young, very versatile and determined player, Brian Brobbey fits the profile of an RB Leipzig player very well. He has shown with Ajax that he can do it on the big stage in Europe. We’re delighted that Brian has opted to join us, as he had several offers from top clubs around Europe. We will enjoy having him in the coming season.”
Brobbey also caught the eye of Borussia Dortmund, sources have told ESPN, but he will bring a new option to RB Leipzig’s attack next term. He has scored 13 goals in 26 Eredivisie appearances for Ajax this season, and has two caps for the Netherlands.
Brian #Brobbey is a Bull! ✨
— RB Leipzig English (@RBLeipzig_EN) March 12, 2021
09.47 GMT: Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos was asked about the possibility of the club signing PSG striker Kylian Mbappe in the summer.
“Maybe in these circumstances, right now, it would be a bit easier to sign [Dortmund striker Erling] Haaland,” Ramos said on Twitch show ‘Charlando Tranquilamente.’ “At the end of the day, perhaps the one who’s coming to take over from Cristiano [Ronaldo], [Lionel] Messi, Neymar is Mbappe. The financial situation is more difficult. He’s a player where it could be complicated to reach an agreement.
“I think it would never be a bad thing for Real Madrid to strengthen with a No. 9 like Haaland, with that hunger for goals, that hunger for trophies, that size, it would give us something that maybe we don’t have – height, pace, he scores goals, he’s a player that could give this Real Madrid a lot. I’m not saying Kylian Mbappe wouldn’t, of course he would, but right now I think it would be a bit easier to reach an agreement for Haaland.”
09.14 GMT: Chelsea forward Fran Kirby has signed a contract extension until the summer of 2023, with the club having an option to extend for a further 12 months.
– Fran Kirby’s ultimate battle: How the Chelsea women’s star beat heart disease to get back to the top
— Chelsea FC Women (@ChelseaFCW) March 12, 2021
“I’ve been a part of this club for a very long time, and it didn’t take much thought,” Kirby said. “I knew where I wanted to be, and I think you could see that in my performances. I was really trying to prove to myself, to the fans who haven’t been able to watch me for a long time and to the club. It was a no-brainer for me that I wanted to stay in this environment.
“I really wanted to work and prove that I was worthy of a new contract. I’ve spent a lot of time out ill and I remember speaking to Emma [Hayes] at the start of the year and I said I didn’t want anything given to me, I wanted to earn my spot to play, I wanted to earn my spot to be involved with this team and stay in this team.
“That’s been a massive goal of mine this season and I want to keep doing that. I’ve signed a new contract, but I want to make sure that I keep pushing myself every day and as long as I keep doing that, I know that I’ll be in a good place.”
08.50 GMT: The LA Galaxy signed former France youth international Samuel Grandsir from Ligue 1 side AS Monaco, the club announced on Thursday.
The 24-year-old winger was signed with Targeted Allocation Money and has agreed to a three-year deal with the club that runs through the 2023 season.
“Samuel is an attack-minded, talented player who will strengthen our roster,” general manager Dennis te Kloese said in a statement. “He has demonstrated to be an outstanding and talented player in a very respected and competitive league.
“We are confident he will show his potential and are excited to watch him grow even more and have him become an important part of our roster. We look forward to him joining our squad and integrating Samuel to the team.”
08.30 GMT: Lionel Messi received a surprise house-share offer from Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos on Thursday.
The Real defender said that should the Barcelona forward decide to leave the Camp Nou for the Bernabeu when his contract expires this year he could stay with the Ramos family while he went house hunting.
“Of course, 100%!,” Ramos said on Twitch show “Charlando Tranquilamente” when asked if he would welcome Messi to Real.
“He could stay at mine for the first week or so. He can find his feet and get comfy, I’d be more than happy to do that.
“Us Madrid fans have had to endure Leo’s best years [with him at another team] so to not have to face him every week would be great and to have him with us would obviously help us to win and have more success. It would be stupid to say it wouldn’t.”
ESPN’s newest soccer show “Futbol Americas” tackles Christian Pulisic’s conundrum at Chelsea.
PAPER TALK (by Nick Judd)
Chelsea are considering a move for Bayern Munich winger Kingsley Coman, particularly if Christian Pulisic pushes for a summer move, reports the Daily Mail.
The Blues are believed to be long-term admirers of France international Coman and have considered moving for him before, but the 24-year-old remains very much on their radar.
Pulisic is reportedly keen to get more first-team football than he is under Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel, with Liverpool, Manchester United and Bayern Munich all keen on the U.S. international.
And if Pulisic does decide to leave West London, Coman would be the perfect replacement.
Coman, who has already won 23 major titles, has two years left on his contract, but Bayern might decide to let him move on so that his value doesn’t drop next summer.
– Fulham want to make Ruben Loftus-Cheek‘s loan move from Chelsea permanent in the summer, say the Sun. The Cottagers are confident they can pull off the audacious move if they can secure Premier League survival. Scott Parker’s men are in the bottom three on goal difference, but if they can edge out of the drop zone, there is a strong feeling the 25-year-old midfielder would want to join them, particularly with his chances under Tuchel at Chelsea limited.
– Liverpool have registered just one clean sheet in their past 10 games, which is probably why Tuttomercatoweb is suggesting the Reds have been enquiring about Porto’s 26-year-old centre-back Chancel Mbemba. The DR Congo international spent three years at Newcastle United but has come into some form in Portugal, starring in the Champions League victory over Juventus. Porto reportedly value Mbemba’s contract at around €15m.