Transfer Gossip: Messi madness ensues, Chelsea can't stop spending

Nothing can dampen the never-ending nature of transfer talk. Here’s a look at the wildest rumors that made the rounds this week.

Messi hysteria alerts football’s elite

Lionel Messi’s apparent desire to leave Barcelona has sparked reported interest from football’s upper crust. However, the Catalan side argue a clause in the Argentine’s contract approving a unilateral termination of his deal expired in June. Otherwise, Messi’s €700-million release clause remains.

Expect a legal battle, with Messi’s camp saying the clause should extend through August due to the coronavirus pandemic. Nevertheless, ESPN UK says Manchester City are crunching the numbers on a three-year deal for Messi that would include a quick stop at MLS side New York City FC.

Elsewhere, TyC Sports says Paris Saint-Germain could offer Messi better wages than City. The Daily Mail reckons Liverpool’s Sadio Mane could replace Messi at Barca because the Senegalese footballer played under Ronald Koeman at Southampton. Well, if that isn’t reason enough.

United’s initial Badiashile bid rejected

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Manchester United are also on alert for wantaway Messi, but that won’t distract the Red Devils from their focus on Jadon Sancho, per the Express. Borussia Dortmund are standing firm on the asking price for Sancho, and as such, United are shifting their gaze toward reinforcements in central defense.

Exemplary catcher of thieves Victor Lindelof could see competition from Monaco’s Benoit Badiashile, but The Daily Star claims United’s €25-million bid for the French defender was rebuffed per Monaco boss Niko Kovac’s request. Kovac, you’ll recall, was the fella who made Bayern Munich somehow look average.

Cavani denies Juve over Napoli loyalty

According to the Daily Mail, Ex-PSG striker Edinson Cavani has turned down a move to Juventus because the Uruguayan remains loyal to Napoli, where he bagged 104 goals between 2010-13. It’s worth noting that Cavani suitors Inter Miami have an open Designated Player spot.

The 33-year-old insists on a three-year deal and annual €10-million wages, which have proved too much for Benfica and Atletico Madrid. In steps Real Madrid, who are keen on Cavani if they can offload attacking afterthoughts Luka Jovic and Mariano Diaz, courtesy Football Espana.

Roma rebuff Spurs’ Zaniolo advance

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Tottenham have offered Roma €50 million for budding Azzurri star Nicolo Zaniolo, and, according to Sky Sport Italia’s Angelo Mangiante, the Eternal City citizens have no interest in selling the 21-year-old. Disappointing Jose Mourinho is a sensation everybody should get to experience.

Roma will bid goodbye to Aleksandar Kolarov, as Gianluca Di Marzio claims Inter have agreed to terms with the full-back after getting priced out of a move for Chelsea’s Emerson. Elsewhere, Roma’s former RB Leipzig loanee Patrik Schick could be off to Bayer Leverkusen to replace EPL-bound Kai Havertz.

Arsenal seek Soumare as Partey alternative

Arsenal’s long-standing fascination with Atletico midfielder Thomas Partey has been abandoned as the Gunners remain unwilling to meet Los Colchoneros’ €50-million valuation of the Ghanaian international, according to Spanish rag Sport. Mikel Arteta may turn his attention to a familiar setting.

FootMercato says Arsenal, after the Nicolas Pepe and Gabriel Magalhaes moves, could resume talks with Lille with a deal for Boubakary Soumare. Soumare, who like Gabriel was linked with United, famously denied Newcastle after Allan Saint-Maximin sent the 21-year-old a video of the club’s facilities.

Chelsea’s spending spree continues

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Hakim Ziyech, Timo Werner, Ben Chilwell, Malang Sarr, and Thiago Silva have already been lured to Stamford Bridge. If Frank Lampard has his way, Bayer Leverkusen star Kai Havertz and two others will cement Chelsea switches during the revised summer window.

Football Insider says Chelsea have launched into €56-million talks with AC Milan for ‘keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, who’s entering his contract’s final year. Elsewhere, The Sun alleges interest in Declan Rice endures, but West Ham’s €90-million appraisal of the 21-year-old is still an obstacle.

Bits and bobs

Atalanta are eyeing a potential loan plus €20-million option to buy for Liverpool’s Marko Grujic following the lanky Serbian’s standout temporary stay at Hertha Berlin, according to Corriere dello Sport. AC Milan and top-flight returnees Benevento are also reportedly considering a Grujic bid, per Football Italia.

According to Sky Sports, Fulham have joined Crystal Palace, West Brom, Leeds and Aston Villa in their pursuit of Brentford star and Championship Player of the Year Ollie Watkins. Brentford are understood to want no less than €28 million for Watkins. Fulham are also linked with Bournemouth’s Callum Wilson.

Finally, Hearts prodigy Aaron Hickey is the subject of a Bologna bid that’s “not anywhere near” the club valuation of the 18-year-old, Jambos boss Robbie Neilson told BBC Scotland. Hickey has also paid Bayern Munich a visit, while Celtic remain interested.