Rice, Ndidi, Saul on Man United shortlist of Pogba replacements

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For a club once renowned for its ability to identify and recruit the best talent around, Manchester United’s summer business so far has been somewhat underwhelming. The Old Trafford outfit are in the market for at least two new midfield signings – and have identified Leicester City’s N’Golo Kanté as their number one target. However, it has been reported that the Premier League champions are also looking at alternatives in the event the ex-Le Havre man doesn’t arrive. The Mirror (h/t Sky Sports) reports that Antonio Conte’s Chelsea are keen to add Leicester City’s Wilfred Ndidi to their ranks as they set about shoring up the Blues’ midfield ranks,

More than a year has passed since Paul Pogba’s £89.3 million move from Manchester United to Juventus, but the France midfielder’s possible return to Old Trafford remains a hot topic. Jose Mourinho has long made clear that he wants Pogba back in the side, but United’s efforts to sign the 25-year-old have been complicated by Pogba’s relationship with agent Mino Raiola. However, executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward remains determined to lure Pogba back to United, though Mourinho is also expected to add at least one more central midfielder to his squad before the transfer window closes, with Leicester City’s Wilfred Ndidi, Benfica’s Bruno Fernandes and Saul Niguez of Atletico Madrid all linked with

The January transfer window may seem like a distant memory, but that doesn’t mean the rumor mill has stopped! There is a lot of speculation about the summer moves. Check out the latest gossip below, and see all the official proposals here.

MAIN STORY : Man United make list of candidates to replace Pogba

It is already known that Manchester United are considering a departure for Paul Pogba if he refuses to sign a new contract, but the club have reportedly made a shortlist of candidates to replace him should he leave.

According to the Mirror, United will meet with Pogba and his agent Mino Raiola later this month to negotiate a contract extension. But if Pogba turns down the £400,000-a-week offer, United will act quickly to replace him rather than let him leave for nothing next summer.

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Declan Rice, Wilfred Ndidi and Saul Niguez are on the reserve list.

Rice, 22, has been a key figure for West Ham United in their promotion to the Premier League this season, but the Hammers could be asking up to £100m for their talented midfielder.

Ndidi has excelled as the focal point of Leicester City’s midfield this season and is seen as a much cheaper option. The 24-year-old Nigeria international helped the Foxes to a top-four finish and the FA Cup final.

Niguez, 26, has been with Atletico Madrid since 2013 and is the most attacking midfielder of the trio, but can play in several positions.

Of all the above options, however, United would prefer Pogba to sign on the dotted line.

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17:00 EST : Will Tammy Abraham stay at Chelsea if he stays on the bench?

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Julien Laurence warns that Jaydon Sancho will leave Dortmund for good this summer.

16.01 BST : Columbus Crew SC has loaned midfielder Liam Fraser to Toronto FC.

Frazier, 23, comes over in exchange for $50,000 general allowance for 2021, the clubs announced. The Canadian has played 33 games in the MLS since making his debut in 2018.

We’ve known Liam since his academy days in Toronto. He is a motivated and promising young player who will help strengthen our midfield in a very busy season, Crew president and general manager Tim Bezbatchenko said in a statement. We hope to integrate him into our team in Columbus and help him continue his professional development.

15.26 TSB : Florian Wirtz has extended his contract at Bayer Leverkusen until June 2026.

Wirtz, 18, joined the club in January 2020 and is currently a first-team starter. The midfielder is becoming one of the most sought after young players in football, but he signed on his 18th birthday.

At Bayer Leverkusen, everything went exactly as I expected and as I was promised, he said. I’m playing for a great club, one of the best in Germany, and I want us to aim for the highest goals in the coming years. I have already improved my football skills with a great team and I just want to keep doing that. I would like to contribute with my performance to win titles here in the near future.

Leverkusen sporting director Rudi Voller added: Not only does his first call-up to the German national team show that Florian has made fantastic progress in his 18 months here. His exceptional talent was obvious to everyone, so we had high hopes for him when we contracted him in early 2020 at the age of 16. But then again, we didn’t expect him to play a key role in our first team either! Considering his young age and the fact that he is still working on his high school diploma, this is an excellent achievement. If he continues like this, he will become a real leader in the coming years, one of the pillars of our team.

14:37 EST: Borussia Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke has stated that Erling Haaland will not be leaving the club.

The 20-year-old Haaland is the best young player in the world and is valued at around €180 million. The striker has a €75million buyout clause from 2021 and his manager Mino Raiola has been scouring Europe to determine his client’s next destination. Man United, City, Barcelona, Real Madrid and other top continental clubs are interested.

But Watzke told Sport1: I’ve known Raiola for a long time and I get along well with him. This is not a problem for us. Erling Haaland will remain a player of Borussia Dortmund next year as well.

14.08 TSB : Dortmund star Jaydon Sancho is expected to be selected this summer.

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Julien Laurence warns that Jaydon Sancho will leave Dortmund for good this summer.

13.45 TSB: The Scottish Sun reports that Newcastle have set their sights on Celtic defender Christoffer Ayer.

Ajer, 23, is in the final year of his contract and ready to leave after Rangers dominated the Hoops in Scotland this season. Celtic want around £8m for the Norwegian and Norwich are also reportedly interested in him.

13.02 TSB : Manchester United legend Roy Keane believes the club should target Tottenham striker Harry Kane and Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish this summer.

I still think they [United] are two or three players away from challenging for Man City, Keane told Sky Sports. They’re short. They still need a world class striker, another midfielder and possibly a central midfielder. But I’d rather have a striker and a midfielder.

The two players I think would be perfect for Man Utd in recent weeks are Harry Kane in attack – and Jack Grealish. I feel United are still missing such a special player. I think Grealish would give them everything and I have a feeling he would love to play at Old Trafford.

The fans will love it. What I admire about Jack is his great courage on the football field. He always wants the ball in tight situations. We have seen his end product improve over the last two years. He’s a great player and of course Kane guarantees goals.

12.17 BST : Borussia Dortmund are ready to sell Englishman Jaydon Sancho for €100 million, according to ESPN’s Stefan Wersfeld.

Last summer, the 21-year-old Sancho was lured to Dortmund, but the deal fell through because Dortmund wouldn’t let him leave for less than €120m and interested clubs like Manchester United weren’t willing to pay that amount.

But as the summer transfer window approaches, Dortmund have revised their earlier estimate to €100 million. The winger is under contract at the Westfalenstadion until 2023.

Sources told ESPN that there is no deadline by which the deal must be completed this summer.

11.45 TSB: Does Gareth Bale have a future at Tottenham?

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Nedum Onuoha believes Gareth Bale’s hat-trick against Sheffield United proves he can still be a top player.

11.11 BST : Valencia have said goodbye to coach Javi Gracia after Sunday’s 3-2 defeat against Barcelona.

The statement reads as follows: Valencia CF informed Javi Gracia on Monday of his resignation as first-team coach. The club publicly thanked him for his work and commitment during his tenure as team coach and wished him all the best for the future. Salvador Gonzalez Voro will lead the first team on an interim basis.

10.31 TSB : Club America striker Roger Martinez has become a priority target for Boca Juniors after ESPN reported that Edinson Cavani is likely to turn down a move to the Argentine squad in order to extend his contract at Manchester United for another season.

TYC Sport reports that Boca Juniors sporting director Juan Roman Riquelme has named Martinez as an alternative target, but a deal will not be easy as the Americans are likely to demand more than $10 million for his services. Martinez left Villarreal for America in 2018 and has since scored 23 goals in 99 appearances for the Mexican national team.

09.51 BST : Former Roma and Bournemouth striker Juan Iturbe is on his way to becoming a free agent when his contract with the Pumas expires at the end of 2021 and the Mexican club are unlikely to offer him a new deal due to his high salary, sources have confirmed to ESPN Deportes.

The 27-year-old came to the Pumas from Tijuana in 2018, but has since failed to establish himself as a starter, scoring 12 goals in 93 games.

09.23 TSB: Akhraf Hakimi left Real Madrid to head to Serie A champions Inter Milan for around €40 million and has settled in well there.

Hakimi, 22, impressed at Inter when they won the Scudetto for the first time since 2009/10, but the defender has hinted that a return to the Bernabeu at some point is a possibility.

Real Madrid was my home, I would like to stay there and fight for my place, he told El Chiringuito. But the club took a different decision, I can’t blame manager Zinedine]. Zidane or the board of directors. I think Real Madrid has the right of first choice for me.

08.30 TSB: According to Onda Cero, Real Madrid have made a better offer to Lucas Vazquez to stay at the club after this summer.

Vasquez, 29, will be on the 30th. June on a free transfer and has yet to sign a contract extension at Real Madrid.

The Spanish winger and full-back has already rejected a three-year contract extension offered by Madrid, which would have meant a 10% pay cut. Real Madrid want Vazquez to stay and have made an improved offer, which includes a three-year contract with the possibility of a fourth-year extension. Vazquez is a key player for coach Zinedine Zidane and has played 34 of Madrid’s 46 games this season.

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PSG star Neymar has explained why winning the Champions League is more important to him than the Ballon d’Or.

PAPER GOSSIP (by Nick Judd)

– Barcelona’s new president Joan Laporta’s main target appears to be Neymar. The La Liga giants have approached Paris Saint-Germain about a transfer that would see the 29-year-old Brazilian striker reunited with Lionel Messi. That’s according to RAC 1, who believe Barca not only want to persuade Messi to stay, but also create a business opportunity – namely signing Neymar – that could help the financial situation. The publication claims Barcelona would offer PSG €130 million and three players.

– Borussia Dortmund striker Jaydon Sancho has reportedly signed a gentleman’s agreement with sporting director Michael Zork allowing him to leave the club under certain conditions, according to an interview with ARD. Zorc reports that Manchester United had almost activated that contract last summer. The Red Devils are likely to come back with a €90 million bid this time around as Dortmund are denied a European place next season.

– Following reports on Saturday that Real Madrid are considering a bid for Bayern Munich star Robert Lewandowski this summer, Bild suggests the Premier League is a more likely destination. With the Pole’s current contract expiring in June 2023, Bayern are not yet considering a new deal, the newspaper reported.

– Leicester are continuing negotiations to sign midfielder Boubacari Soumaré from Lille, reports Fabrizio Romano. The Foxes have been hot on the heels of the 22-year-old for a while now and with his contract set to expire in June 2022, Leicester are one of the clubs looking to seize the opportunity to sign him, with Lille more likely to let him go this summer than lose him for nothing after 12 months.

– Newly promoted Watford are in negotiations to bring back 35-year-old Ashley Young for free, reports Fabrizio Romano. The Hornets are set to strike if Serie A champions Internazionale do not offer the left-back a new contract at the end of the season.

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