Welcome to the Evening Standard’s rolling transfer news and rumours live blog.
Top-flight football in England will return next week after a 100-day absence in less than a week after the government green-lighted the Premier League’s Project Restart proposals to resume the 2019-20 season after it was halted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Fixtures will be played behind closed doors, and five substituted will be permitted, and with clubs across Europe facing reduced revenues there will be implications for this summer’s transfer window, and how much clubs are able to spend.
Latest transfer news and rumours…
MAN UTD NEWS
Ndidi on United radar
The Express say Manchester United will move for Leicester midfielder Wilfred Ndidi if they cannot sign Donny van de Beek from Ajax this summer.
Paul Pogba’s reintegration into the first team means Solskjaer’s need for central midfield reinforcements is not as desperate as it looked a few months ago, but the Norwegian is still keen to add to his option in the position.
Van de Beek has been a key target for some time and is likely to leave the Dutch giants, but the report claims Nigerian star Ndidi is being lined up as a back-up.
MAN UTD NEWS
Henderson ‘will become United no. 1’
Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says Dean Henderson will one day be number one for both club and country.
Henderson has spent the last two season on loan at Sheffield United, where he has excelled, but still finds his path to United’s first team blocked by David De Gea.
Solskjaer says the club are yet to decide where the Englishman will play his football next season, but insists his long-term future lies at Old Trafford.
“Dean has made some great choices over the years and has developed fantastically,” Solskjaer told The Mirror. “We’re looking at that in terms of where he’s going to be next season, but as yet that has not been decided.
“This season has proved a great experience for him, he’s done himself some favours with his performances, and proved he will be England’s No 1 and Man United’s No 1 at some point.”
Arsenal to sell Maitland-Niles?
Speaking of the Gunners, could Ainsley Maitland-Niles be on his way out of the Emirates?
According to The Sun, the versatile academy graduate could be sold this summer as Arsenal look to raise the necessary funds to either be able to make a sizable contract offer to captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, or else seek an adequate replacement.
However, a reported £20m asking price seems steep and it remains to be seen if any clubs will be willing to meet such a valuation.
It is also claimed that highly-rated teenage midfielder Emile Smith Rowe – currently on loan at Championship side Huddersfield – could similarly be sold by the Gunners for a big fee.
“Winning 10 in a row is very important for the club, the players and the fans,” he told The Mail. “Of course, I would love to be part of it. No one knows what will happen in the future but I want to be a part of it.
“My first target right now is to play football again after so much time away from the pitch. I only set personal targets for myself once the season actually starts. At the moment, I am still under contract with Celtic and my priority is to get back playing again. In the future, we will see what happens.”
“[The interest from Arsenal] shows you are working hard and doing the right things as a player. It is flattering, but I just concentrate on trying to play well for Celtic. That’s what I am focused on at the moment.”
Wenger dismisses Arsenal return
Arsene Wenger has dismissed the possibility he may return to Arsenal as chairman.
The Frenchman – who spent a total of 22 years in charge as Arsenal manager, winning 17 trophies – was tipped by fans to take over following the exit of lifelong fan Sir Chips Keswick, who turned 80 in February.
Wenger took the job as Fifa’s chief of global development last year, however, and a return to management – in the short-terma anyway – seems unlikely.
Asked about the chances of him succeeding Sir Chips during a recent appearance on beIN Sports’ Keys & Gray Show after being suggested as a candidate by fans, Wenger simply replied: “The candidate says there is no candidate.”
Talking of goalkeepers, Tottenham are looking at making a move for former loanee Pau Lopez, who is also of interest to Chelsea and West Ham.
Lopez spent the 2016-17 season on loan at Spurs but failed to make a senior appearance for the club.
Since then, he has established himself at Roma, with the Serie A side ready to cash in for around €40million (£35.89m).
PREMIER LEAGUE NEWS
Chelsea and Arsenal are battling to sign Southampton goalkeeper Fraser Forster, according to Football Insider.
The 32-year-old has spent the season on loan at Celtic, who are keen on signing him permanently.
With Forster facing an uncertain future on the south coast, Arsenal and Chelsea are reportedly looking at a possible cut-price move.
One to keep an eye on, for sure.
Tottenham may consider selling Harry Kane to ease their financial troubles, says Ian Wright.
Kane is Tottenham’s highest-earner and would command the biggest transfer fee, and Wright believes the player’s possible own desire to leave and club’s likely need to raise funds could see the England captain put up for sale.
“You have to say with Harry Kane and the goals he’s scored, what he’s done up to this point, there’s been a couple of years where you’re thinking, ‘Tottenham are gonna do it, they’re gonna do it’ but they’ve not done it,” he told Premier League Productions.
“He’s stayed, he’s scored the goals to push them there but it’s not happened and you have to start thinking whether you want to win stuff as well. ‘His goal record is going to be up there with the best but you want something to show for it.
“I don’t care what anyone says and Tottenham fans will say, ‘Ah, you’re talking rubbish’ but the fact is he will be thinking about wanting something now.
“He’s got the money, he’s got all the perks that come with being a top player but you want to be a player that’s won the Premier League, that’s played in Champions League finals. He wants to be in that arena and that’s the problem that Tottenham will have.
“If they’re struggling financially, he’s somebody that will probably be on the topic of selling him.”
Real Madrid want Kante
Real Madrid want to sign 29-year-old France international N’Golo Kante from Chelsea, according to AS.
The Liga giants are prepared to offer up to £71m for the midfielder. Real hope to pounce if the Blues slip up in their battle for a Champions League spot, with Kante keen to play in Europe’s leading club competition.
It is also thought Roman Abramovich would need to cut down his transfer wishlist or offload current players if the Blues miss out on the Champions League.
Chilwell alternative for Chelsea
Chelsea are lining up a summer move for Paris Saint-Germain left-back Layvin Kurzawa, according to France Football.
The 27-year-old is now able to leave the recently crowned French champions for free, and while it was Arsenal who reportedly made a move for him in January, it’s Chelsea who are set to make a move.
The Blues would face significant competition, however, with Inter Milan, Juventus and Atletico Madrid all interested.
Frank Lampard is desperate to bring a left-back to the club this summer, though it’s Ben Chilwell who seems to be at the front of the list.
That’s the opinion of former Liverpool defender Phil Thompson, with Timo Werner set to complete a move to Chelsea over the next few days.
“I would have loved to see him come, but Liverpool have not done that [as] they are thinking it will cost too much. Timo Werner will be going ‘maybe I might get in there’ but maybe Klopp is thinking ‘we can’t afford to have somebody for that price just sitting on the bench.’
“He will be alright for three of four years. I would have took that risk. If he wanted to come, I think you have to improve your team when you’re on top and he would have improved us.”
Timo Werner looks set to complete his move to Chelsea with only the final details left to iron out, according to The Telegraph.
The 24-year-old is set join the Blues in a £53m deal on a five-year contract after his release clause was triggered.
The report says the only remaining aspects of the deal to be agreed are how payments will be structured to his current club RB Leipzig as the 31-goal striker edges ever closer to sealing his move to Stamford Bridge.
Liverpool would have signed Timo Werner from RB Leipzig had it not been for the timing of the coronavirus pandemic, according to Jamie Carragher.
The Germany international has agreed to join Chelsea in a £53 million deal after the Blues triggered his release clause and the move is set to be officially announced next week.
Liverpool had appeared to be favourites to capture Werner – who has scored 31 goals this season – due to their status in European football and the striker’s admiration for Jurgen Klopp.
“I honestly believe that if the pandemic hadn’t happened then Timo Werner would have been a Liverpool player. I am absolutely convinced of that,” Carragher said.
“If Timo Werner had signed for Liverpool, he wouldn’t have been first choice because the front three is what it is. He would have brought a versatility I think Liverpool are lacking because he can play out wide or through the middle.
“Werner looked perfect. He’s German, he plays for a team with a similar philosophy to Liverpool, and he’s got great speed. But spending £50million on someone who wouldn’t be a first choice is a big decision.”
Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has challenged the Gunners to convince him to sign a contract extension.
The striker has scored 61 goals in 97 appearances since arriving in January 2018, but is without silverware or Champions League football in that time.
“Recently I have not received an offer to extend,” he told Telefoot. “But, of course, we have had exchanges with the club for a fair few months now.
“They know very well why so far nothing has happened. They have the keys. It is up to them to do their work and, after that, we will see how things go.
“It is a turning point in my career, and I will be very frank with everyone. It will certainly be a very difficult decision to make. I still haven’t decided and we will see. It will maybe be the most important decision of my career.”
Chelsea is now the obvious choice over Manchester United for transfer targets such as Kai Havertz, says Dietmar Hamann.
He told Sky Germany: “United has lost its appeal in recent years. They have been the measure of things for many years, they are still the largest club in England, but they have major internal problems.
“If there was a player on the market in the past, Manchester United was the first point of contact for years. I believe that is no longer the case today.
“When a player like Kai Havertz changes clubs and signs somewhere for five years, the long-term perspective is more important than participating in the Champions League next season.
Read the full quotes here.
MAN UTD NEWS
Normann to invade United?
Manchester United have identified Rostov midfielder Mathias Nomrann as a summer target, according to The Express.
Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is keen to bring in midfield reinforcements and were heavily linked with Atletico Madrid’s Saul Niguez, who has recently distanced himself from a move.
The 24-year-old would reportedly cost around £15million, with Valencia and Tottenham also interested.
Chelsea midfielder Jorginho has not made contact with former boss Maurizio Sarri in over a year, suggesting reports of a move to Juventus are wide of the mark.
That’s according to The Athletic, who say the 28-year-old is “happy and settled” with the Blues and is unlikely to follow Sarri back to the Serie A, having worked together at Napoli and then Chelsea.
That would come as a positive update for Chelsea considering Jorginho’s importance to the team this season, with six goals in 36 appearances in all competitions.
MAN UTD NEWS
Manchester United target Jadon Sancho has been told to leave Borussia Dortmund this summer.
Standard Sport understands that Sancho remains Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s key transfer target despite the financial uncertainty the coronavirus pandemic has brought to football.
Sancho is understood to want a return to England having left Manchester City three years ago, but would command a fee north of £100million.
Dietmar Hamann says the time is right for Sancho to leave Dortmund.
“There will continue to be a market for the top players, like Jadon Sancho – he’s just too good to wait another year,” he told Bild.
“I see him going to the Premier League. The most likely option there is Manchester United.”
Manchester United and Real Madrid failed to sign Lyon wonderkid Rayan Cherki, according to the Ligue 1 side’s president.
Cherki is considered a very exciting talent, having made his first-team debut earlier this season just a few months after turning 16 years old.
“He’s undoubtedly a player who will go to the highest level,” Aulas told Telefoot. “That’s why we did everything we could to sign him. The two clubs that were interested when we won his faith were Real Madrid and Manchester United.
“We want him to succeed with Lyon. We want to support him and that’s why we’re trying to move his career on. In years to come, we want him to become not only a leader for our attack, but a leader from the academy.”
Tottenham offered Ramsey loan
Tottenham have been offered the chance to loan former Arsenal man Aaron Ramsey, according to the Sun.
Ramsey left the Gunners for Juventus last summer in a deal worth around £400,000 a week.
The Italian giants are reportedly struggling financially and want to reduce their wage bill, with Ramsey disposable after making just 15 Serie A appearances.
Though, you’d imagine wages double what Harry Kane earns is likely to be a non-starter. The Mail reported earlier in the week that Manchester United could also be interested.
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When does the 2020 summer transfer window open?
The Premier League’s chief executive, Richard Masters, has confirmed that the window is not set to open until the end of the season.
The campaign is currently scheduled to finish on Sunday July 26th, though the FA Cup Final will be held on August 1.
Therefore, August 2 seems a likely date for the window to open, though Masters admitted there is not yet a plan for how long it would go on for – especially with no dates yet confirmed for the 2020/21 season.
A summer transfer window usually lasts at least 12 weeks. Recent reports suggest Fifa will allow leagues to open their windows up to four weeks before the culmination of the season.
Players can be officially registered with their new clubs when the Fifa international window opens on July 1 – such as Hakim Ziyech with Chelsea – though Fifa guidelines suggest players joining in July will not be able to play for their new clubs during the current 2019/20 season.
From January 1 onwards, Premier League players with six months left on their contract have been able to negotiate and agree pre-contract deals with foreign clubs.
Some players have signed short-term deals with their clubs to finish the current season, but there is no obligation for players to do so. However, they will not be able to play for a new team this season even if they become a free agent due to Fifa regulations on registrations.