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Transfer Talk: Man City to swoop past Real Madrid for PSG’s Kylian Mbappe?

The summer transfer window is closed for the top leagues in Europe! After a summer full of international football, countless clubs waited until the last minute to pull off their transfers. See all the major deals here and check out how we graded the biggest signings. But just because the window is shut until January, that doesn’t mean the rumours won’t keep coming.

TOP STORY: Man City join Mbappe race

It has long been presumed that Kylian Mbappe will join Real Madrid if he leaves Paris Saint-Germain, but could Manchester City have something to say about that?

According to the The Transfer Window podcast, City owner Sheikh Mansour has issued a mandate to make the 22-year-old their latest signing “at any cost.”

The Frenchman will be a free agent when his contract runs out at the end of season, and while Los Blancos tried to sign him for €200 million this summer, Man City are willing to swoop in for the World Cup winner.

City’s unsuccessful pursuit of Tottenham Hotspur talisman Harry Kane during the summer was well documented, but it seems attention has now turned to Mbappe.

It has been felt that City are missing a true striker in the absence of Sergio Aguero, who left the club to join Barcelona on a free transfer. Manager Pep Guardiola has said that he’s happy with his squad despite the lack of an Aguero replacement, though it now seems that City will still be pushing for a big signing in January.

Real Madrid are also desperate to sign Mbappe, as they dream of recruiting both the Frenchman and Borussia Dortmund frontman Erling Haaland.

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15.13 BST: Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema is getting better and making a case to be the best in the world, writes Sid Lowe.

He’s always been good, all right. Former Ballon d’Or winner Jean-Pierre Papin once said: “He has the power of Ronaldo, the speed of Ronaldinho, the class of [Thierry] Henry, the instinct of [David] Trezeguet.” Benzema was 19 then; he is 33 now. But while he has always been a great player, different too, it isn’t true that he has always been this player — a timely reminder that football, as the phrase goes, is played in the head even if the ball is played by the feet — that everyone plays within a context.

Benzema creates that context, constructs it. And that has shifted, which says much about him but which shouldn’t just say that it, that he is the same as ever. And now things are different. Now, he is better. Yeah, now maybe we are, too.

13.02 BST: Barcelona have a new player… well, sort of. Forward Ansu Fati is in line to make his return to action this weekend after over 10 months out with a serious knee injury.

Ansu, 18, has not played since injuring the meniscus in his left knee in a 5-2 win over Real Betis last November. Several operations have been required to fix the problem, but the Spain international returned to full training earlier in September and he has been included in the squad for Sunday’s LaLiga game against Levante.

Coach Ronald Koeman said that Ansu, who recently inherited the No.10 shirt from Lionel Messi, is only ready for a “maximum of 15 minutes” and warned that it could take a while for him to return to top form.

12.32 BST: Cristiano Ronaldo can dominate the agenda, but Manchester United have other players too.

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0:52

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer opens up on Cristiano Ronaldo’s impact since his return to Manchester United.

11.45 BST: Arsenal were willing to pay €40m to sign Marco Asensio this summer, according to Cadena SER radio, while Tottenham and AC Milan also made enquiries about the Real Madrid forward.

Asensio scored a hat trick in Madrid’s 6-1 LaLiga win over Real Mallorca on Wednesday in his first start of the season.

The 25-year-old’s agent Horacio Gaggioli subsequently revealed that there had been discussions about Asensio leaving the Bernabeu this summer, and doubts had persisted until a chat with manager Carlo Ancelotti this week.

The coach has said he will pick Asensio in an advanced central midfield role this season — rather than out on the wing, where he’s spent much of his Real Madrid career — saying “it’s a position where he can do lot of damage, between the lines.”

11.04 BST: Achraf Hakimi has said that Zinedine Zidane wasn’t responsible for his departure from Real Madrid in 2020 — suggesting the club’s decision to let him move was made for financial, not sporting reasons.

The 22-year-old Madrid youth product left the Bernabeu for Inter in a €43m deal last year before joining Paris Saint-Germain for €60m this July, and is now rated as one of the best right-backs in world football.

“What happened in 2020 didn’t have anything to do with [Zidane],” Hakimi told L’Equipe in an interview published on Friday. “There are other aspects, related to COVID in particular and Real Madrid, which made me leave. At that time I had a conversation with him that will stay between us. He thought differently.”

10.36 BST: Brazil defender Dani Alves has decided not to join any club until the end of the year, the 38-year-old said after terminating his contract with Sao Paulo following a dispute over unpaid salaries.

Sao Paulo said this month Alves would no longer play for them after he refused to return to training and told the club he wanted to be paid. Neither Alves nor the club cited a figure, but Brazilian newspaper O Globo reported that the club owed him around 11 million reais ($2m).

After his exit from Sao Paulo, Alves had been linked in local media with a host of leading Brazilian clubs, including Fluminense and Flamengo.

The defender, who joined Sao Paulo in 2019 after a glittering 17 years in Europe with Sevilla, Barcelona, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain, said in a post on Instagram that he would be back, adding the hashtag “it’s not over.”

10.18 BST: Calciomercato claims that Juventus have made an improved contract offer to Paulo Dybala.

Dybala wants terms on par with Matthijs de Ligt at €12m per year, and has been in talks for months over the agreement.

The report says that Juve are willing to offer the Argentina international €10m per year plus bonuses.

09.48 BST: Barcelona will ask Samuel Umtiti, Philippe Coutinho and Neto to take pay cuts as they continue to seek ways to reduce their wage bill, according to Esport3.

Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets, Jordi Alba and Sergi Roberto have already accepted reductions to their salaries to help Barca fight their financial problems.

Umtiti and Coutinho are among the biggest earners at Camp Nou following the departures of Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann and Miralem Pjanic in the summer. Neto, meanwhile, shares the same agent as Coutinho, Kia Joorabchian.

President Joan Laporta explained earlier in September that the club’s wage bill accounts for 80% of its revenue. To comply with LaLiga’s spending limits, it needs to be at around 70%.

Laporta had previously revealed that, before Messi, Griezmann and Pjanic left, spending, which includes amortisation payments on previous transfers, stood at 110% of the club’s income.

Barca’s gross debt stands at close to €1.4 billion. Vice president Eduard Romeu asked supporters for “two years of patience” earlier this week as the club attempt to get back on a sound financial footing.

09.24 BST: Eduardo Camavinga left replica Real Madrid shirts for every member of the Rennes backroom staff following his move to the Bernabeu, sources told ESPN’s Julien Laurens.

The midfielder exited the Ligue 1 club in a €30m deal in the transfer window, as he had one year remaining on his contract. Rather than leave as a free agent, he wanted to ensure the club received a transfer fee, out of respect for the opportunity they handed him as a 10-year-old.

In addition, Camavinga sent a shirt with his name on the back to 166 people working at Rennes, sources told ESPN, with the club touched by his gesture.

09.00 BST: Manchester United’s scouts have been instructed to identify alternative options to Declan Rice in the club’s search for a defensive midfielder next summer, sources told ESPN’s Mark Ogden, amid concerns over West Ham’s valuation of the player and contrasting opinions within Old Trafford over his ability to significantly improve the team.

Rice, 22, emerged from England’s Euro 2020 campaign as one of the key figures in Gareth Southgate’s team as the Three Lions reached their first major tournament final since the 1966 World Cup. His performances for England have been followed by an impressive start to this season for David Moyes’ team, who have faced United in their last two senior fixtures in the Premier League and Carabao Cup.

Though United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer remains an admirer of Rice, sources told ESPN the club’s recruitment team is yet to be convinced the former Republic of Ireland youth international possesses the qualities to take the team to another level.

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1:52

Janusz Michallik discusses the benefits for both Arsenal and Juventus should they decide to swap Granit Xhaka and Weston McKennie.

PAPER GOSSIP (by Danny Lewis)

Theo Hernandez is ready to commit his long-term future to AC Milan, as he feels it is the best place for him to keep growing, reports AS. The France left-back’s deal runs until 2024 and, while negotiations haven’t started yet, there is expected to be an offer of a new contract coming soon — something he will be more than happy to receive.

– In an interview with De Telegraaf, 25-year-old goalkeeper Andre Onana has suggested that he could still sign a contract extension with Ajax Amsterdam, as his deal ends in the summer of 2022. This comes despite speculation that the Cameroon international would leave, after the Eredivisie champions signed Remko Pasveer. Onana has been linked with a move to Internazionale, Arsenal, Nice, and Lyon.

– Having already signed James Rodriguez from Everton, Qatari side Al-Rayyan are now set to move for AS Roma midfielder Steven N’Zonzi, reports Calciomercato. This is their third attempt to sign the Frenchman, who could now agree to a move ahead of their deadline of Sept. 30. This comes after he turned down a three-year contract at Benfica.

Rangers attacking midfielder Ianis Hagi has dismissed reports linking him with a January move to Roma, as reported by Sky Sports. When asked about his future, the Romania international replied: “After five days there is another game. I am fully concentrated on Rangers. I don’t think right now is the moment to talk about transfers. The transfer window just ended so there is no point talking about transfers.”

– As reported by The Chronicle, Newcastle United boss Steve Bruce admitted that Sean Longstaff‘s future rests in the hands of those above him, as the midfielder’s contract comes to an end in the summer amid interest from Everton. When asked about the academy graduate, Bruce said: “There’s nothing I can do with anybody that gets linked. Sean is playing very well at the moment. I have been very, very pleased with him. So as far as I am aware, the contract details, we understand, that is for other people to sort out.”

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