LIONEL MESSI is staying at Barcelona – and the Catalan giants are trying to partner him with Lautaro Martinez.
Meanwhile we've the very latest on Gareth Bale and potential interest from Spurs, while Aston Villa are on the cusp of signing Ollie Watkins from Brentford.
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Get all the latest transfer news, updates and gossip here…
KANTE BELIEVE IT
Manchester United are plotting a shock transfer swoop for N'Golo Kante, according to sensational reports.
The French midfielder's future is still unclear with the Blues thought to be open to the idea of moving him on to raise funds.
Roman Abramovich has splashed out £230million this summer to bring in Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech, Kai Havertz and Ben Chilwell.
And the sale of Kante would help reduce the deficit.
Now according to Tuttosport in Italy, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is ready to make an ambitious bid to land the star.
United already have Paul Pogba, Bruno Fernandes, Scott McTominay, Nemanja Matic and Fred at their disposal in midfield – plus summer-signing Donny van de Beek from Ajax.
Aston Villa chief executive Christian Purslow has slammed Boris Johnson’s decision to limit sports pilot test events to a maximum of 1,000 spectators during September, writes GRAEME BRYCE.
There will be no fans when the Premier League returns this weekend and in an interview with BBC Radio, Purslow couldn’t hide his dismay at the PM’s decision.
He rapped: “We feel rather disappointed about yesterday's news.
“We have actually been told the test events will be delayed and capped at 1,000 fans.
“The only thing you will learn from having 1,000 fans in a stadium in a football test event is that football clubs lose huge amounts of money when their stadiums are empty and that has a profound impact on the economy of football.”
Purslow predicted the Premier league will haemorrhage £100m a month while fans remain locked out.
Fulham are eyeing Benfica star Florentino Luis on a season-long loan – with a £27m option to buy.
The Portuguese ace has been scouted by Scott Parker as a possible option to bolster his midfield.
The 21-year-old has also been looked at by AC Milan, along with a number of other top European clubs
The Cottagers are looking to sign another central midfielder in their fight to stay in the Premier League this season.
Florentino has made 21 appearances for Benfica and scored one goal since being promoted to their first-team.
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'ORTA BE MY JOB
Former Barcelona president Joan Laporta WILL stand for the position in the latest round of elections.
Laporta, 58, was president between 2003 and 2010 before the arrival of Josep Bartomeu.
He was responsible for bringing in Ronaldinho in 2013 and appointing Pep Guardiola as manager in 2008.
If he is elected, he will have some serious firefighting to contend with after Lionel Messi's bid to quit the club.
A DEAL CAN BE ‘DON
Jadon Sancho is the one who is pushing for a move to Manchester United, according to multiple reports.
The England winger has reportedly adjusted his salary expectations, as well as those of intermediaries.
United’s initial bid of £90million plus £18m in performance-related incentives has fallen short of Borussia Dortmund’s asking price.
But according to FourFourTwo writer Sam Pilger, United have made “significant progress in the last few days.”
ETHAN: LIFE'S A PITCH
Ethan Ampadu has told Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder he’ll be fighting tooth and nail for game time at Bramall Lane.
The Chelsea loanee, 19, said: “[I want] game time. That’s first and foremost but along with that comes developing as a player and developing as a person.
“I had been in touch the last couple of weeks with my agent speaking about options this year and when this loan came about my first instinct was very positive because they did well last year and everyone had positive things to say about the place.
“The gaffer, also the way he could develop me as a player.
“I had good opinions about this place, that got finalised once I spoke to him he plays with freedom and high intensity – that suits me.
“The expectations of wanting to win and everything just suited me.”
SILVA FOR THE COFFERS
A QUARTER of the £36.3million Wolves paid for Fabio Silva has been paid to agents, according to reports in Portugal.
The teenage sensation, 18, joined Molineux over the weekend from Porto.
But according to Record, around £6.3m has been paid to Jorge Mendes’ agency Gestifute.
Silva is usually represented by Soccer Talents Vision, but Gestifute was also involved in the deal.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s new three-year contract is signed, sealed and sorted, according to David Ornstein.
He claims the deal was negotiated by Raul Sanllehi before he left the club and has been finalised by Edu and director of football operations Huss Fahmy.
Aubamaeyang will become Arsenal’s highest earner – leapfrogging Mesut Ozil.
ROME IS WHERE THE HEART IS
Chris Smalling is training on his own at Carrington as he tries to force through a return to AS Roma.
The United centre-back has been told he can leave Old Trafford permanently if the Serie A club pay the asking price.
But the transfer is uncertain, with Roma so far unwilling to match the Red Devils’ £18million asking price.
According to BBC Sport, he has been working out solo as he keeps up his fitness with his fingers crossed for a transfer.
IT'S NOT ABOUT THE MONEY
Blues midfielder Danny Drinkwater has reminded fans he is not a mercenary after an awful few years at Chelsea.
The midfielder, 30, played just six first-team games on loan at Burnley and Aston Villa last season.
He told the Telegraph: “Look, I know my Chelsea move hasn’t worked out how anybody would have wanted and I’ve made mistakes, but it’s not as simple as me just not playing football or picking up a wage. “Money doesn’t solve anything. The pay cheque doesn’t really help at all, you don’t even think about money.
“There have been things that come above football that have not been as simple as I’d like. I’m not looking for sympathy, f— me “I don’t want that, but I suppose I’d just like people to understand it’s not all gravy when you earn so much money and that I do care.”
Real Madrid are reportedly willing to cover HALF of Gareth Bale’s £600k-a-week wages to ensure he leaves this summer.
The wantaway Welshman publicly criticised Los Blancos for “making it very difficult” for him to leave earlier this month.
But this latest news could pave the way for a summer exit putting long time admirers Manchester United on red alert.
It emerged yesterday the Spanish giants are willing to accept just £22million for their out of favour winger.
And now Real are willing to take another financial hit in order to get the ex-Tottenham man off their books, according to Spanish outlet AS.
Both United and Spurs had their ears pricked when Bale lifted the lid on his Bernabeu turmoil while on Wales duty.
Arsenal reportedly face competition from Manchester City in the race to prise Houssem Aouar away from Lyon this summer.
The 22-year-old has already been the subject of a player-plus-cash deal from the Gunners, but the offer was swiftly rejected by the Ligue 1 outfit.
Italian journalist Fabrizio Romano has stated that the North London side remain keen on bringing him to the Emirates.
He tweeted: “Arsenal board [as Arteta too] are convinced that Houssem Aouar is a real ‘top player’.
“And Aouar would love to move to Premier League. But after refusing Guendouzi as part of the negotiation, OL don’t want to accept any swap deal.
“Price tag €60m (£55m) and no new bid yet from afc.”
BAT FLIES WITH EAGLES
Michy Batshuayi has passed his medical at Crystal Palace ahead of his return to Selhurst Park on loan.
The Belgian striker, 26, arrives fresh off a two-goal haul for his country against Iceland.
According to Belgian publication Het Nieuwsblad, he has passed his tests and will be unveiled as a Palace player soon.
Batshuayi signed a contract extension at Chelsea recently, with the club hoping to make money out of selling him eventually.
WE'RE NOT LIKE YOU GUYS
Jurgen Klopp has told Chelsea that Liverpool won’t even try and match their spending power.
The Premier League-winning gaffer said: “For some clubs it seems less important how uncertain the future is. Owned by countries, owned by oligarchs, that's the truth. We are a different kind of club.'
“We got to the Champions League final two years ago, we won it last year.
“We became Premier League champions last season by being the club we are.
“We cannot change it overnight and say ‘now we want to behave like Chelsea.’
“They are signing a lot of players. That can be an advantage, but that means they have to fit together.”
WE’D BENZ OVER BACKWARDS
Lyon are “dreaming” of a return of Real Madrid star Karim Benzema before he retires.
The 32-year-old moved to the Bernabeu in 2009, the same summer as Cristiano Ronaldo arrived in the Spanish capital.
And Benzema has long been tipped for a return to the club where he made his name as one of the hottest young forwards in football.
Sporting director and Lyon legend Juninho – who played with Benzema during his emergence – said: “It's everyone's dream here to see him come back home to do maybe two seasons, play the Champions League with us, score goals, help us have good results, be a leader, carry the armband, bring all his experience with his four victories in C1.”
FAN PLAN IN BALANCE
Prem boss Richard Masters has admitted he is in the dark over when fans will be allowed back into grounds, reports MARTIN LIPTON.
League chiefs had hoped to open all turnstiles from October 1 with a staged return of supporters for the first time since March.
Clubs including Spurs and Manchester United were keen to run trials of selected fans at their opening home game of the campaign this month.
But with the Government having banned “social” gatherings of more than six people and Doncaster races putting the final three days of the St Leger meeting behind closed doors, Masters was unable to say how it will affect Prem plans.
He said: “We are always subject to a government decision and they haven't made that decision yet.
“All I can say is that the Premier League and the Premier League clubs stand ready willing and able to continue with our test events and test proposals and open our turnstiles from October 1 if we are given permission to do so.”
GOING, GOING, GUEN?
Paris Saint-Germain are reportedly considering a move for Matteo Guendouzi.
Arsenal are hoping to sell the Frenchman for £30million this summer to raise transfer funds.
According to Football London, PSG are plotting a move for the Gunners star.
Guendouzi played for the French side's academy from 2005 until 2014 when he left to join Lorient.
The Ligue 1 giants have been monitoring his progress ever since – but they are not the only club that want him.
Spanish side Valencia have held talks with Arsenal over a move for Guendouzi.
TELL ME MORE
Manchester United have been offered the chance to sign Porto left-back Alex Telles for £22.7million, according to reports.
According to Duncan Castles, Telles was one option – although Paris Saint-Germain are also interested.
He told the Transfer Window Podcast: “[United] have been looking for a left-sided, left-footed centre-back and a left-back, or a full-back of some type, preferably a left-footed left-back.
“I can tell you that they've been offered the Porto left-back Alex Telles.
“Twenty-seven years old, relatively cheap wages, €2m [£1.8m] gross but out of contract in June 2021.
“Porto, I'm told, want €25m [£22.7m] for the player who has been offered to Paris Saint-Germain, that deal hasn't been able to be concluded.”
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's new contract is expected to be announced this week, with Arsenal fans expecting the Gabon star to stay at the Emirates.
The star striker's current deal expires in less than a year's time, but supporters have been left on tenterhooks all summer as to an announcement over the deal.
Aubameyang has dropped a series of hints since the Gunners won the FA Cup final as to whether he will be staying beyond next summer.
According to ESPN, Arsenal are expected to announce the new deal before the opening Premier League clash against Fulham on Saturday.
GOOD MORNING FOOTBALL FANS
Newcastle have launched a fresh attack on the Premier League after their Saudi takeover was officially rejected.
And the Magpies have vowed to consider “all available options” as they hit back at the governing body and Richard Masters, its chief executive.
It read: “This conclusion has been reached despite the club providing the Premier League with overwhelming evidence and legal opinions that PIF is independent and autonomous of the Saudi Arabian government.
“The club and its owners do not accept that Premier League chief executive Richard Masters and the Premier League have acted appropriately in relation to this matter and will be considering all relevant options available to them.”
It added: “Mike Ashley understands fans’ frustrations and would like to reassure them that he has been fully committed to ensuring this takeover process reached completion as he felt it was in the best interests of the club.
“Mike continues to be fully supportive to Steve Bruce, the players and all the staff and wishes them well for the upcoming season.”
Meanwhile, former Toon star Georginio Wijnaldum is set to have talks with Jurgen Klopp over his future after being linked with a move to Barcelona.
Ronald Koeman wants to bring the former Newcastle midfielder to the Nou Camp and the 29-year-old would jump at the chance of playing for another one of the world's biggest clubs.
Sky Sports News report that the Dutchman WILL be in Klopp's squad when Liverpool face Leeds on Saturday.
And finally. Alphonse Areola has joined Fulham on a season-long loan from Pars Saint-Germain.
The French keeper spent last season providing back-up for Real Madrid No1 Thibaut Courtois, 28.
But having returned to PSG, the Ligue 1 champions had no plans to keep him.
Areola, 27, will now head to West London, with Fulham having the option to make the deal permanent.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admits Manchester United do not have “new millions” as Borussia Dortmund stand firm over Jadon Sancho's fee.
After being quizzed by Radio Five Live whether he would be OK without any further additions, he appeared to warn the Bundesliga outfit his side will not be held to ransom over the 20-year-old.
Solskjaer said: “I am very happy working with these players and the squad.
“We always trying to improve and to see if there’s any way possible that we can improve this squad and bring players in that will have the right level of quality and the right personality and have all the right criteria.
“We all know this summer and this year has been a very strange one and it’s important that everyone understands that this has an effect on football and not everyone can spend millions and millions, and new millions.”
I'LL TISS YOU
Chris Kamara has revealed he was “gutted” when Sky Sports sacked three of Soccer Saturday's regular panel.
Matt Le Tissier, Charlie Nicholas and Phil Thompson were removed from the show last month, as SunSport revealed.
He told the Mail: “Obviously I’m gutted, absolutely gutted.
“And I know they are. I’ve spoken to Thommo and Charlie and I’ve text Le Tiss… we were such a good team and it was all going well.
“Decisions were made, we don’t have any say in those. Whoever made [them] has done it and the boys accept it.
“I can honestly say they are the best fellas you could ever wish to meet.
“They are top-drawer and it’s been a great time to have worked with them over the past 15 years or so.”
Cardiff have sacked Nathaniel Mendez-Laing in mysterious circumstances.
The winger, 28, has departed the Welsh side with immediate effect after his contract termination was announced in a brief 27-word statement.
There has been no reason given for his departure.
But WalesOnline claims it is due to an alleged breach of contract.
Cardiff’s bombshell announcement on Wednesday afternoon read: “Cardiff City Football Club has, with immediate effect, terminated the contract of Nathaniel Mendez-Laing.
“The Club will not be making any further comment on the matter.”
Victor Moses has donated £20,000 to struggling former side Wigan Athletic.
The cash-strapped club is in dire straits after administrators were summoned in July, resulting in a 12-point penalty and relegation from the Championship to League One.
They are desperately looking for new owners to reverse their fortunes.
But in the meantime, a Supporters’ Club Crowdfunder page has been set up to raise cash and save Wigan from going under.
Former Lactics favourites including Roberto Martinez, Reece James and James McClean have all stepped forward with donations.
And now Moses has given £20k to the fundraiser in a touching gesture.
Wigan tweeted: “Thank you Victor Moses. Victor has pledged a significant donation to Save Our Club!”
The Chelsea wing-back, 29, starred for Wigan between 2010 and 2012.
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