Liverpool eye Fekir for bargain fee – report

Liverpool are reportedly still keen on Nabil Fekir while a French journalist has suggested Lyon will accept a knockdown fee for the France playmaker.

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Fekir was all set to join the Reds last summer for a fee in the region of £53million with the star having had his photo taken in a Liverpool shirt but the deal broke down at the 11th hour.

Jurgen Klopp is still looking for creativity to strengthen his Champions League-winning midfield – and a report in France suggests the Reds boss remains keen on Fekir.

Le Progres suggests new Lyon boss Sylvinho will look for more experienced players this summer but the French side will have to sell to fund  new recruits. Liverpool are the side linked with a renewed move for Fekir.

Should Klopp move again for the 25-year-old, they could get a huge discount on the fee agreed last summer. L’Equipe journalist Vincent Duluc told Foot Radio that Lyon chief Jean-Michel Aulas may accept as little as €15million euros for Fekir.

Aulas has revealed a fortnight ago that he and Fekir have an agreement over the star’s departure: “Thanks Nabil for bringing what he brought, we have an understanding to let him go.”


Liverpool put £25m price tag on back-up defender

AC Milan will look to make a bid for Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren after appointing a new manager, according to reports.

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Liverpool are understood to be only interested in ‘minor tweaks’ to their squad this summer with a few squad players coming and going.

The form of Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip and Joe Gomez last season meant that Lovren was restricted to just 18 appearances in all competitions.

Sky in Italy claims that AC Milan are interested in the Croatia international despite not yet making a formal offer.

They will instead wait until Sampdoria boss Marco Giampaolo is in place as their replacement for Gennaro Gattuso – who left his role as head coach recently – to act on their interest.

And Paul Joyce in The Times claims it would take offers of at least £25million to tempt Liverpool into selling Lovren.

Joyce adds: ‘No contact from AC Milan, but their prospective new sporting director Ricky Massara rates Lovren highly.’


Chelsea defender responds to reports he could follow Sarri to Juve

Emerson Palmeiri says he is “happy” at Chelsea despite reports linking him with a move Serie A giants Juventus.

The Blues boss Maurizio Sarri has been tipped to fill the vacant managerial role at Juventus with his Stamford Bridge future in doubt.

The former Napoli coach only took charge of Chelsea last summer and secured the Europa League title, a third-place Premier League finish and reached the Carabao Cup final.

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Despite that, he sometimes felt the wrath of fans for his approach and is now reportedly being lined up to succeed Massimiliano Allegri at Juventus.

And there have been reports that suggest Emerson, who was first-choice left-back under Sarri, could follow his compatriot back to Italy.

On the speculation, Emerson told Tutto Mercato Web: “I have a contract with Chelsea where I am happy, especially after winning the Europa League. Apart from that, I have not received anything.”

When pushed further on whether he will move to Juventus, Emerson added: “They all say that, but I am a very calm guy. I work and try not to think about these things.”


Woodward to ‘continue to dictate Man Utd transfer policy’

Ed Woodward will remain in charge of deciding Manchester United transfer policy with the appointment of a potential technical director put on hold, according to reports.

United are going through a background restructuring process, with executive vice-chairman Woodward believed to be looking to bring in a technical director having named Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as permanent manager.

Woodward is reported to have spoken to ex-United defender Rio Ferdinand as he looks to fill the role, but the exact intricacies of such conversations are unclear, while Darren Fletcher and Patrice Evra have also been mentioned as potential candidates.

However, the Daily Mail report on Wednesday that Woodward ‘has yet to identify a preferred candidate’ and will carry on transfer business himself.

The newspaper says that the recent deal to bring Daniel James to Old Trafford from Swansea was negotiated by United’s head of corporate affairs, Matt Judge, before Woodward signed everything off.

United ‘feel the system works’ that is currently in place where Solskjaer, assistant Mike Phelan – who ‘take an active part in deciding transfer targets’ – or United ‘can veto any signing’.

Solskjaer faces a major restructuring job this summer after the club finished sixth in the Premier League last season, with the likes of Crystal Palace full-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka linked.


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USA boss reacts to record-breaking 13-0 win v Thailand

United States boss Jill Ellis stressed the need to “play as hard as we possibly can in every single game” after the record-breaking 13-0 win against Thailand in Reims.

The US opened their Women’s World Cup title defence by registering the biggest win in the history of the competition, bettering Germany’s 11-0 victory over Argentina in 2007.

Alex Morgan netted five times, while there were braces for Rose Lavelle and Sam Mewis. Lindsey Horan, Megan Rapinoe and substitutes Mallory Pugh and Carli Lloyd also got on the scoresheet.

When asked in her post-match press conference about the scoreline reaching “embarrassing levels”, Ellis, whose side scored 10 times in the second half, said: “This is a world championship so every team here has been fantastic to get to this point.

“I think to be respectful to opponents is to play hard against them. And it’s a tournament where goal differential is a criteria.

“Games are games and you have to go out and play, and compete, and a lot of this is about building momentum.

“As a coach I don’t find it’s my job to go and harness my players and rein them in, because this is what they’ve dreamt about, a world championship.

“I respect Thailand, I celebrate that they are here. I spoke to some of the players afterwards and (said) keep your heads up because this is part of the growth of the game.

“It is about mentality, it is about confidence, and so getting off on the right foot is important.

“We also believe we have more to do. No doubt, we’re going to stay humble and we go back to work. But it was a very good start.”

Ellis was then asked if she thought there were teams that have a “fear factor” when it comes to the US.

And she said: “I sit here and go ‘if this is 10-0 in a men’s World Cup, do we get the same questions?’

“If you can get as many players hot as you possibly can, feeling good, feeling the back of the net, that’s so important. Those feelings are what can help you through the tournament.

“I think we have to come out and play as hard as we possibly can in every single game. This will be an incredibly hard World Cup and this is only game one.”

Ellis added: “Look at Alex. You want those players to have those feelings because then they go into games. It’s feeling the mentality, feeling invincible, that’s the feeling you want.

“I’m not saying a big result like this is the be all and end all but it lights a little bit of a fire in terms of their confidence, for sure.”

Thailand boss Nuengrutai Srathongvian said: “We accept the score today. We haven’t done enough.

“We accept they are very strong and they were excellent all around. We accept our mistakes and we are going to improve.”


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Real to chase Pogba ‘with everything’; Zidane wins Eriksen battle

Zinedine Zidane has won the battle to make Manchester United’s Paul Pogba his primary midfield target this summer, according to reports.

It looks like being a busy summer of change at Real Madrid with Luka Jovic and Eden Hazard already confirmed ahead of the new season.

With their attentions now turning to central midfield, Marca‘s front page splash on Tuesday (via Sport Witness) is all about Pogba with Los Blancos ready to fight for the France international ‘with everything’.

Pogba is one of a number of midfielders linked with Madrid, including Tottenham’s Christian Eriksen and Ajax’s Donny van de Beek but Zidane does not want ‘Eriksen, Van de Beek or anyone else’.

United are believed to value Pogba at €150million with Real keen to get the price down and Pogba is understood to be ‘willing to pressure’ the Red Devils into letting him go.

Marca add that agent Mino Raiola is ‘in charge of the operation,’ while Real are thought to be keen on getting Gareth Bale involved in an attempt to bring Pogba’s asking price down.

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Pogba says he’s ‘judged differently’ over £89m Man Utd fee

Paul Pogba thinks he is “judged differently” than other players at Manchester United because of the huge transfer fee the club paid for him.

The Red Devils took Pogba from Juventus in 2016 in a record £89million deal but three seasons later, the France star is said to be keen to leave Old Trafford.

Pogba has been linked heavily with a move away from United this summer with Real Madrid and Juventus reportedly interested.

And the France international believes he is especially harshly judged as he is a midfielder whereas forwards such as Neymar and Kylian Mbappe – who have also commanded large fees –  don’t receive the same level of criticism.

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“Because it was the biggest transfer in history at the time, you get judged differently,” Pogba told the LifeTimes podcast. “They expect more from you because of the price tag.

“A good game would be a normal game. A top game would be a good game.

“It’s a big amount. It went down when other transfers came, so it’s fine. I think it’s also because I’m a midfielder.

“People see more strikers because they score goals, so that’s why it made such a big impact. I don’t think [Neymar and Mbappe] get it because they’re strikers.

“I knew it would come with it. I knew there would be a big impact. But I didn’t know it would go so negative. When I signed, I wasn’t used to seeing so many negative comments.

“It was a big change. I was surprised. I didn’t know a price tag would change so much for people.

“Maybe they think I have the money. It’s not me – I don’t have the money. I don’t know [the reason for the criticism]. I wish I knew so I could help them get the answer.”


Coutinho makes Barca admission amid Man Utd, Chelsea links

Philippe Coutinho admits that he has been disappointed with his performances since swapping Liverpool for Barcelona.

Coutinho joined Barca in January 2018 for an initial £105m, with a portion of the £37m in add-ons already met through his two La Liga titles and 21 goals in 75 appearances.

But he has struggled to settle at the Nou Camp, with Liverpool chairman Tom Werner suggesting he “probably regrets his decision” to leave.

Recent reports have linked Coutinho with a move back to the Premier League, with Manchester United and Chelsea both linked over the last week.

The 26-year-old started all but one of the club’s 12 Champions League games this season, but was either benched or out of the squad completely for 16 La Liga games.

“I have not had a good season,” Coutinho told Marca.

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“My performances have been a lot worse than I expected they would.

“The only way to improve and gain confidence is through hard work, and I have been working hard.”

However, Brazil captain Thiago Silva knows Coutinho’s ability and reckons that the playmaker can step into Neymar’s shoes, with the PSG forward ruled out of the Copa America.

“Coutinho had a difficult season in Barcelona,” Silva said. “It was demanding and they booed him many times, but here in the team he is our reference, especially when we don’t have Neymar.

“Coutinho calls the game. In the two friendlies we played he was the best player on the pitch, not only because of passes and goals, but also with his defence. He is finding his happiness again.

“I’m very happy and not at all uncomfortable talking about this player because we are very close. In the first friendly, I tried to pass him some calmness, and I told Neymar also to give him help.

“We need him, especially now with the absence of Neymar.”


Fernandes aims dig at media over fresh Man United links

Bruno Fernandes is open to leaving Sporting Lisbon for “a team that you can’t refuse”.

Fernandes has been linked with most of Europe’s top clubs, as well as Manchester United.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side reportedly blew Tottenham out of the water with a huge offer last week, while Liverpool have also been linked.

Italian radio station Radio Rossonera claimed that United were ‘working on the last details’ of a £62m move on Monday, with the deal ‘very close’ to completion.

But the 24-year-old seems to be tired of the speculation, stating: “I don’t need to move.”

“I know nothing, I will take the next few days to understand what is true,” he told Sport Mediaset.

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“We know that newspapers sometimes have to make a show to move the market and sell. I’m calm, I’m at a big club. I don’t need to move, I’m not trying to leave.

“If the opportunity comes to go to a team that you can’t refuse, I’ll talk to Sporting.”

Asked directly whether a return to Italy with Inter Milan was feasible, he replied: “I had a great time in Italy, I still watch the Italian championship: both Inter and the others, I follow them all.

“I do not know if their interest is true, but Inter are a great team, they have history.

“They have a great coach who has made history with Juventus, he has done well with their national team, but the other teams will strengthen as well.”


England star buzzing after Southgate commitment

Eric Dier believes it is “fantastic” that England manager Gareth Southgate has distanced himself from a return to club football as the Three Lions set their sights on Euro 2020 glory.

On the eve of their Nations League third-place play-off win, on penalties against Switzerland, it was put to Southgate that he was a name linked with the manager’s role at Chelsea.

It is little surprise that the former Middlesbrough boss has been on several shortlists for elite posts after he guided England to the World Cup semi-finals last summer.

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He followed that up with qualification for the inaugural Nations League finals and, after falling to Holland in the final four, England secured third place with a 6-5 shoot-out win following a goalless draw in Guimaraes.

Attention now turns to going one better at the European Championships, with Dier pleased that Southgate’s future has been put to bed a year before the tournament.

“Yes, it’s fantastic,” the Tottenham man said when asked if it was good that Southgate had rubbished rumours of his departure.

“He has shown his commitment which is a great thing for us. I think it’s great. We are all really happy with the manager and everything he does for us.

“The way he carries himself, the way he looks after us. The relationship between the players and the manager is fantastic.

“He has built an incredible relationship between us and the fans, the nation. The way he acts is something that we as players look up to and follow. He does things in the best way.”

If England go all the way at Euro 2020, the semi-final and final will see them on home turf at Wembley.

That is something else Dier, who played frequently at the national stadium with Tottenham while their new ground was under construction, is looking at as a positive as he heads for his summer break.

“It doesn’t really matter where the Championships are being held, you want to win it,” he added. “But being in England does make it extra for us. Hopefully we can get to the semi-finals and final and the fans can play a huge part.

“It would be something of a plus to be playing those games at Wembley in front of our own fans. The support will be fantastic and there will be more of a push than if we were playing in a different place.”