LIVE Transfer Talk: Barca plot move for Salah as contract

LIVE Transfer Talk: Barca plot move for Salah as contract

The 2022 January transfer window is closed, but there’s still plenty of gossip swirling about who’s moving where. Transfer Talk brings you all the latest buzz on rumours, comings and goings and, of course, done deals!

TOP STORY: Barcelona ready to make move for Salah

Barcelona have begun their rebuild under new boss Xavi Hernandez, results taking an upturn — including Sunday’s runaway 4-0 Clasico win over Real Madrid — with a number of January signings helping revitalise the side.

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In their pursuit of a return to the top, Mundo Deportivo reports that the Blaugrana are interested in a move for Mohamed Salah. The Liverpool winger is currently in a standoff with the Reds, as his deal expires in just over a year. If he doesn’t renew this summer, then Barcelona will make a move for the 29-year-old in the hope that he would be tempted to make the switch and Liverpool willing to accept a transfer fee before he moves toward free-transfer status.

Salah has spent five years on Merseyside since moving from AS Roma in 2017, becoming arguably one of the best players in the world. In 239 competitive appearances under Jurgen Klopp, the Egypt international has scored 153 goals and assisted 57, averaging a goal involvement for every 102 minutes played. It’s this sort of form that has led to his agent to ask Liverpool for a contract matching that of some of the world’s other top players, worth in the region of £500,000 a week.

Xavi wants a high-profile striker for the summer, with Robert Lewandowski, Kylian Mbappe and others mentioned as alternatives to Barca’s No. 1 option, Salah.

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LIVE BLOG

21.59 GMT: That’ll do it for today’s live blog, but check back in shortly for tomorrow’s paper round before we start the fun all over again on Sunday.

21.01 GMT: AC Milan are prepared to enter preliminary talks with Sassuolo regarding a double move for Gianluca Scamacca and Domenico Berardi, reports Gazzetta dello Sport.

Fees in the neighborhood of €15m for Berardi and €30m for Scamacca are being reported, with Milan executives keen to push ahead and spend in order to bolster their attacking options ahead of next season.

Scamacca, 23, has been in fine form this season for Sassuolo, scoring 13 goals in his 17 starts and 11 substitute appearances. Meanwhile, the 27-year-old Berardi has been even more prolific, contributing 14 goals and 12 assists in 27 Serie A starts in 2021-22.

20.12 GMT: Barcelona could send winger Francisco Trincao back out on loan for the 2022-23 season, says Record. The winger is spending this season on loan with Wolves and the report suggests the Premier League club is unlikely to exercise its £25m option to keep him.

Trincao’s inability to nail down a regular spot with Bruno Lage’s side hasn’t deterred a pair of Portuguese Liga clubs — Benfica and Sporting Lisbon — in making inquiries as to his loan availability for next season, though. If the 22-year-old was sent out on loan to either of the aforementioned teams in Portugal, Barcelona would reportedly insist that a “mandatory purchase option” was included in any deal.

19.33 GMT: Serie A holders Inter Milan are faced with the departure of two key players this summer, according to Gazzetta dello Sport, with Lautaro Martinez and Denzel Dumfries drawing interest from Spain and Germany, respectively.

Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone sees Argentine striker Martinez as the perfect pairing for Joao Felix in his attack, while Julian Nagelsmann is keen to bring Dumfries into his Bayern Munich project as he looks to solidify his defence.

The Italian site adds that Inter are ready to dig in their heels in an effort to keep both Martinez and Dumfries at the San Siro after losing two top players in Romelu Lukaku and Achraf Hakimi last summer.

18.44 GMT: One from The Sun here, which reports that Arsenal are pursuing a move for Wolves attacking midfielder Ruben Neves, even as the Midlands club try to extend his contract beyond its remaining two years.

The outlet reports that the former Porto player, who has 21 goals in 179 appearances since joining Wolves in 2017, is seen as a key part of Mikel Arteta’s ongoing rebuild at the Emirates and could fetch a transfer fee in the region of £50m.

With additional interest coming from the likes Manchester United, Real Madrid and PSG, Wolves realise that they either need to extend his deal or cash in on the 27-year-old while they can.

“We’re obviously talking to him and we all know how much he loves playing for the club. We know how much he has settled here, but he is also an ambitious young man,” Wolves technical director Scott Sellars said.

“As with all players, you try and have an open dialogue with them and their representatives to come to the best scenario for the club and the player.

17.59 GMT: Real Madrid’s out-of-favour star Gareth Bale will make a decision on his future at the end of the current season, with several clubs interested in the Wales forward, according to his agent Jonathan Barnett.

Bale, who joined Madrid for a then-record transfer fee in 2013, has appeared just twice for Carlo Ancelotti’s side since last August. The 33-year-old’s contract expires this summer.

“We have had a lot of interest in him, but we have not done anything,” Barnett told the Daily Mail. “After June we will discuss what we want to do.”

While he has featured seldom for Madrid and battled numerous injury problems, Bale put in a starring performance in scoring twice for Wales in their World Cup qualifying playoff semifinal win over Austria on Thursday.

After the game, Bale hit out at criticism he has received from the Spanish media, describing it as “disgusting.”

And Barnett insisted that the former Tottenham man deserves more respect.

“I have been saying for years he is one of Britain’s greatest, most successful sports stars,” Barnett added. “If he hasn’t had the credit he deserves, it’s because he doesn’t speak much publicly. He is a quiet lad, but I don’t understand why he hasn’t been treated better.”

17.04 GMT: Barcelona president Joan Laporta expects Ousmane Dembele to leave this summer amid reports the player is reconsidering his future at the club.

Dembele, 24, turned down all contract extension offers made by Barca and becomes a free agent this summer. The France international came close to leaving Barca in January but rejected a move to the Premier League and instead opted to remain at the Camp Nou, where he has had a starring role.

“At the moment, for our purposes, we have no news that he wants to continue,” Laporta told Mundo Deportivo. “I don’t know if his agent has been in touch, but I don’t think so because I would know.”

Barca can’t afford to pay Dembele’s salary demands, and the last contract extension offer made by the club is now off the table.

“The option [contract extension offer] that he was given has expired and we are setting wage levels that all of the players that stay next season would have to fit into,” Laporta said.

Dembele, 24, joined Barca from Borussia Dortmund in the summer of 2017 and is widely reported to be in talks to sign for Paris Saint-Germain.

16.15 GMT: Marcos Alonso has fueled speculation he could leave troubled Chelsea in the summer by saying he wants to play in LaLiga, and nothing is decided beyond the end of the season.

Alonso, 31, started his career at Real Madrid but made just one league appearance for Los Blancos before joining Bolton Wanderers in 2010. He has also played for Fiorentina in Serie A, as well as Sunderland in the Premier League, but wants a proper crack at Spanish football before he retires.

“I would love to play in LaLiga, all my life I’ve wanted to play in Spain, but the circumstances have been different and not everything has depended on me”, he said in an exclusive interview with Diario AS. “At the moment, I am focused on this season and what will be, will be.”

15.33 GMT: Barcelona president Joan Laporta has said no exceptions will be made with potential new signings regarding wages.

The Catalan club, who have a negative €144m spending limit according to LaLiga, continues to work on cutting down spending.

“We are working on the financial issue and obtaining more resources to have the salary margin we need,” Laporta told Mundo Deportivo. “And at the same time, we are working from the sporting management side to incorporate four or five reinforcements that we think the team needs to be increasingly competitive.”

As well as Salah, Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland has been linked with a move to Camp Nou while French newspaper L’Equipe reported that Barca have entered the race to sign Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe, who is also wanted by Real Madrid.

When asked about the potential of signing both players, Laporta replied: “I’m not going to enter, and you have to allow me not to, to talk about players because if I do, the only thing I can do is harm the interests of our club. If we talk about a player and we had the intention of signing him, that will increase the price.”

14.50 GMT: Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur are locked in a transfer battle for Rennes star Lesley Ugochukwu, according to L’Equipe.

Ugochukwu, 18, is a midfielder in the mould of Gunners legend Patrick Vieira, and Mikel Arteta is reported to be ahead in the race to land the France under-18 international.

The player, who still has two years remaining on his contract at Rennes, is also being watched by Borussia Dortmund.

14.08 GMT: ICYMI: United States youth international Adrian Simon Gill has signed a new three-year contract with Barcelona.

Gill, 16, first joined Barca’s La Masia academy in 2018 and has advanced through the youth teams over the last four campaigns, now playing for the under-16 side.

The midfielder will be promoted to the U19 set up next season, along with U.S goalkeeper Diego Kochen, who also recently penned new terms at Camp Nou.

Born in Denver, Gill has represented the U.S. at youth level and has been involved in training camps with the U17s this season.

13.20 GMT: Barcelona president Joan Laporta says contract talks with Gavi and Ronald Araujo are progressing well. The LaLiga giants have already extended the contracts of teenagers Ansu Fati (2027) and Pedri (2026) and are hoping to do the same with Gavi and Araujo. The contracts of both players expire in June 2023 and talks to extend have taken longer than expected.

“They are on the right path,” Laporta told Mundo Deportivo. “They are two players that we want them to continue for many years at Barca keeping within the wage limits we are establishing. We are negotiating and everything is going with absolute normality, whether it’s in the case of Gavi or Araujo.”

Both players are on the radars of top European clubs and want a notable increase in their wages to continue at Barca, and coach Xavi has reportedly asked the club to make a financial effort to renew both.

Gavi, 17, is a Spain international and has made 24 league appearances for Barca this season. Uruguay defender Araujo has also been a regular player under Xavi making 33 appearances across all competitions.

12.38 GMT: Gazzetta dello Sport reports that Jose Mourinho will make a renewed effort to sign Granit Xhaka at the end of the season.

Xhaka, 29, was linked with a move to AS Roma last summer, but in the end he stayed with Arsenal. But with only 12 months remaining on his Gunners contract, he could move on this time.

Roma are set to net €20m when Pau Lopez and Cengiz Under complete permanent moves to Marseille, while Justin Kluivert may do likewise with Nice in a deal worth €15m.

That will provide Mourinho with the funds to strengthen, and Xhaka is at the top of his wishlist. Arsenal were looking for €18m last summer, and the report says that demand has not been lowered.

11.52 GMT: Zlatan Ibrahimovic says he will continue to play football until “someone better” than him comes along.

The veteran AC Milan forward becomes a free agent this summer but wants to extend his contract with the Italian outfit for at least a further season.

“I want to play as long as I can,” Ibrahimovic said. “The reality is I’ll play until I see that someone is better than me, so I’m still playing. The future is yet to be written. I don’t plan. Let’s see what happens.

“I don’t want to regret stopping football and then saying that I could continue to play football because then I’d regret it for the rest of my life, seeing that I could have continued. I want to play as long as I can.”

Ibrahimovic, 40, looked to be closing in on retirement in 2018 when he left Manchester United for MLS side LA Galaxy. He returned to Europe in January 2020 and has performed at a high level in his second stint at AC Milan.

11.08 GMT: Liverpool will not be one of the clubs attempting to sign West Ham United midfielder Declan Rice this summer, reports Football Insider.

Rice, 23, is expected to be the subject of intense transfer interest after he turned down offers to extend his contract.

The England international has made no secret of his desire to play in the Champions League, and compete for honours.

Manchester United had been strongly linked with the player, but it looks unlikely that they will qualify for the Champions League. Chelsea and Manchester City now appear more likely destinations for a player who West Ham believe will command a transfer value in excess of £100m.

The report says that the transfer fee, combined with Rice’s wage, will be too much for Liverpool’s owners, Fenway Sports Group.

10.19 GMT: Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United are fighting it out for the signature of 16-year-old Rangers starlet Rory Wilson, reports the Daily Star.

Wilson has been offered a professional contract by the Scottish champions, but he has the option to move to the Premier League, with Leeds and Newcastle United also hoping to complete a deal.

Scouts will watch the striker again this week on international duty with Scotland under-17s.

It is expected that Wilson will reject the deal on offer from Rangers, and will then have his pick of clubs. Rangers will only receive training compensation of around £300,000 rather than a transfer fee, with the player out of contract.

09.30 GMT: Sport reports that Barcelona have failed with an initial move for Leeds United winger Raphinha.

Raphinha, 25, is expected to leave Elland Road this summer after becoming a regular Brazil international. The departure of coach Marcelo Bielsa before the player had signed a new contract is expected to hasten his departure, and both Barcelona and Liverpool have been linked with moves.

The report says that Barca have seen a transfer offer worth €35m turned down by Leeds, who do not want to sell the player and have told Barca they must match the player’s €75m release clause.

However, Sport says that the Blaugrana are confident of reaching a compromise and bringing the player to the Camp Nou for next season.

Raphinha is under contract for the next two years, so this summer is the best chance for Leeds to get his maximum transfer value — unless he signs a new deal.

PAPER GOSSIP

– Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku made his return to Stamford Bridge last summer for a club record transfer, but has struggled since. The 28-year-old has scored just five times in the Premier League this season, with a potential exit rumoured. And in light of that, Football Insider reports that Paris Saint-Germain are interested in signing the Belgium international.

– Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland’s next destination is set to be one of the transfer sagas of the summer, with lots of speculation over where he could go. AS reports that the 21-year-old has rejected an initial offer from Manchester City, though he would still be open to a move to the Etihad. Another major club involved is Real Madrid, who are also set to make an offer.

– A permanent move to Barcelona for Adama Traore seems less likely this summer, according to Mundo Deportivo. The future of the Spain international is closely linked to Francisco Trincao, who is on loan from the Blaugrana to Wolves. A deal for Traore, 26, is dependent on Trincao also making his move permanent, with each cancelling out the transfer fees of the other. Wolves are said to be unlikely to sign Trincao, placing Traore’s future at Camp Nou in doubt.

– Inter Milan are looking to renew the contract of defender Milan Skriniar at the end of the season, according to Gazzetta dello Sport. The centre-back has spent five-years with the Nerazzurri, with his contract expiring in 2023. The 27-year-old has featured in nearly every league game this season, playing an important part under Simone Inzaghi.

– Napoli are interested in a move for former Manchester United forward Adnan Januzaj, says Calciomercato. The 27-year-old has been a key player for the LaLiga club, but his deal expires in the summer and he is nearing an exit. The Azzurri are said to view the Belgium international as a potential replacement for Lorenzo Insigne, who will move to Toronto FC on July 1.

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