Tuesday , July 5 2022

Romelu Lukaku set to leave Chelsea, return to Inter Milan

The summer transfer window is here, and there’s plenty of gossip swirling about who’s moving where. Transfer Talk brings you all the latest buzz on rumours, comings and goings and, of course, done deals!

TOP STORY: Lukaku close to Inter loan return

Internazionale and Chelsea are preparing the paperwork to complete the negotiations for Romelu Lukaku to return to Italy on loan, according to Fabrizio Romano.

New Chelsea owner Todd Boehly is prepared to accept an initial loan fee of €8 million plus add-ons for the Belgium international, who only arrived at the club last summer for a club-record €115m.

Blues boss Thomas Tuchel has wanted Lukaku to leave Stamford Bridge ever since the 28-year-old publicaly pushed to make a move, with one interview leading the striker to make an apology to Chelsea supporters.

It has only been one season since he re-joined the Blues from Inter, but he hasn’t had the best time back in London with 15 goals and two assists in 44 matches across all competitions last term. In contrast, Lukaku scored 64 goals and provided 16 assists in 95 appearances during his time with Inter.

After they had lost out to city rivals AC Milan in the race for the title last season, Inter will be especially keen to complete the deal and secure the return of a player who was so effective in the Nerazzurri shirt.

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10.44 BST: Mexican club Pachuca have completed the signing of 2021 FIFA’s The Best runner-up Jennifer Hermoso on a free transfer as she announced her departure from Barcelona.

Hermoso, who is Barca Femeni’s all-time leading scorer with 174 goals, announced she is making the switch to Pachuca after turning down a contract extension at the Camp Nou.

“To have won everything with this jersey is something that I will take with me forever,” Hermoso said in a message posted to Instagram on Tuesday. “To play in a sold-out stadium, to celebrate a goal at the Camp Nou and to lift high up our first Champions [League]… Now is time for a new adventure that fills me and that make me feel truly valued.”

10.22 BST: Real Betis captain Joaquin joked with Norway forward Erling Haaland that there’s no room for him at his club this season so he has to go to Man City.

Haaland, who will officially join Manchester City from Borussia Dortmund for €60m on July 1, is seen laughing and sitting with Joaquin having a coffee in a beach in Marbella, Spain, in an Instagram video shared by the Spaniard.

Joaquin, who will continue at Betis for a further season, said on the video: “Haaland says he wants to come to Betis and I’ve told him there’s no room for him now, next year. So to [Manchester] City!”

Haaland laughs and replies in Spanish: “Muy bien! [Very good!]”

09.48 BST: Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser al-Khelaifi said on Tuesday he was in talks with Nice to hire coach Christophe Galtier to replace Mauricio Pochettino at the French champions.

Sports paper L’Equipe on Monday reported Galtier was being lined up to take over at PSG, but that the announcement of his appointment would have to wait until Argentine Pochettino’s departure was finalised.

“We have a shortlist of coaches, we are in talks with Nice, this is not a secret,” Qatari Al-Khelaifi told Le Parisien in a detailed interview published on Tuesday.

The club’s current manager Pochettino, who was appointed 18 months ago, came under pressure having failed to help PSG break new ground in the Champions League last season, after they were eliminated in the round of 16 by Real Madrid.

Galtier joined Nice ahead of last season having led former club Lille to their first Ligue 1 title since 2011 in the previous campaign.

Al-Khelaifi also appeared to put an end to the constant speculation surrounding France great Zinedine Zidane, dismissing reports that the club had been in talks with the 1998 World Cup winner about becoming their new head coach.

“Many clubs are interested in hiring him, including national teams, but no, we have never been in discussions with him,” Al-Khelaifi said.

09.32 BST: Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia has left the club, it was announced on Wednesday.

Granovskaia follows chairman Bruce Buck in leaving the Premier League club following the takeover in May by a consortium led by LA Dodgers owner Todd Boehly. The American will now serve as “interim sporting director,” the club said.

“Boehly will operate as interim sporting director until the club names a full-time replacement, continuing the club’s work towards its targets during the current transfer window,” Chelsea said. “Chelsea FC and Ms. Granovskaia have agreed that she will remain available to Boehly and the club for the departure of the current transfer window, to the extent required to support the transition.”

Granovskaia was named the best club director in European football at the Golden Boy awards in 2021. She began working at Chelsea when former owner Roman Abramovich bought the west London club in 2003, taking charge of player transfers and contracts in 2013.

09.00 BST: The transfer window for the English Premier League and French Ligue 1 is already open, but the rest of Europe is springing into life on July 1 when some of the big deals already agreed will go through officially.

Here’s our club-by-club guide of all the major deals to keep an eye on this summer. Including:

Arsenal have sealed a £34m deal for Porto midfielder Fabio Vieira on a five-year contract. They are also pursuing Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus. Arteta has a long-standing interest in Leicester midfielder Youri Tielemans, but it is unclear at this stage whether Vieira’s arrival is the end of their desire to strengthen in that area, while Leeds winger Raphinha is on their radar. They are also keen on Ajax defender Lisandro Martinez, who would theoretically strengthen both the centre-back position and provide cover at left-back given his versatility.

AC Milan midfielder Franck Kessie and Chelsea defender Andreas Christensen will both arrive on free transfers. Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski is the striker Barca want, but they are negotiating over a potential €40m fee, while options on the wing will depend on Ousmane Dembele’s decision to stay or leave at the end of his contract. There have also been talks to sign Christensen’s Chelsea teammates Azpilicueta and Alonso. In a world where money becomes available, Barca could also move for Sevilla defender Jules Kounde and Manchester City’s Bernardo Silva — even though midfield is not currently a priority position.

One man’s name is on the lips of everyone: Lewandowski. After doing some smart early business with midfielder Ryan Gravenberch (€18m) and defender Noussair Mazraoui (free) both signing from Ajax, Liverpool winger Sadio Mane was the headline-grabbing move and his €41m arrival could see him replace Lewandowski, though don’t rule out another striker coming in. RB Leipzig midfielder Konrad Laimer is a player Bayern continue to monitor.

Kounde is the top target to fill the gaps left by Antonio Rudiger and Christensen at the back, but Barcelona have emerged as competition for the France international. RB Leipzig’s Josko Gvardiol, Torino defender Gleison Bremer and Paris Saint-Germain’s Presnel Kimpembe have also been linked with a move to Stamford Bridge. Man City winger Raheem Sterling is a major target up front, but he could cost £60m.

Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips and Brighton left-back Marc Cucurella are two players City would like to sign before the transfer deadline. Sources have told ESPN that both are keen to move to the Etihad, but they are key players for their current clubs and won’t be allowed to move cheaply.

Barcelona’s Frenkie de Jong remains the top target to fill the void in midfield. There is also interest in Ajax winger Antony, with United looking for a more flexible forward who can play in a variety of positions rather than an out-and-out striker.

08.29 BST: Borussia Dortmund are set to sign striker Sebastian Haller from Ajax in a deal worth around €36m, sources have told ESPN.

Haller, 27, joins the team following the departure of Erling Haaland to Manchester City in a €60m move earlier this month.

The Ivory Coast international had a prolific 18-month spell at Ajax since arriving in January 2021 following a disappointing period at West Ham United. He scored 13 goals in 23 matches during his first season in Amsterdam before hitting new heights, becoming the top scorer in the Eredivisie last term with 21 goals, as well as netting 11 times in eight Champions League matches.

08.00 BST: ICYMI — Arsenal have completed the signing of Fabio Vieira from Porto, the Premier League club announced on Tuesday.

Last week, ESPN reported that Vieira was set for his medical in London on Friday after Porto confirmed he would join Arsenal for an initial fee of €35m.

Arsenal announced that the attacking midfielder has signed a long-term deal and will wear the No. 21 shirt.

“I am very excited that we have identified and signed such a special talent,” Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta said in a club statement. “Fabio is a very creative player that will bring high quality and versatility to our attacking play. We welcome Fabio and his family to our club and are looking forward to starting work with him ahead of the new season.”

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Julien Laurens profiles Arsenal’s first summer signing, midfielder Fabio Vieira from Porto.

PAPER GOSSIP (by Danny Lewis)

– Arsenal have submitted their first formal offer to Leeds for Raphinha, according to The Athletic, but while a figure isn’t provided in the report, it is stated to be well below Leeds’ £75m valuation and is expected to be rejected. The Gunners face competition from Barcelona, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur in trying to sign the Brazilian winger.

Newcastle United, Arsenal, Manchester United and Manchester City are all looking into the possibility of signing Napoli midfielder Fabian Ruiz, as has been reported by Corriere dello Sport. He currently has a contract that runs until the summer of 2023 and has rejected an offer of a one-year extension, so Napoli owner Aurelio De Laurentiis is asking for €30m for the 26-year-old, as the Serie A side can’t afford to lose him for free next season.

Paris Saint-Germain are happy to let Neymar leave in the summer, reports Foot Mercato, which adds that new sporting director Luis Campos is in agreement with this stance. They have already set a figure that they will accept for the Brazilian player’s departure — although that number isn’t provided in the report — with it being added that the forward’s wages in excess of €30m per year could be problematic in trying to offload him.

Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and PSG are all showing interest in Stade de Reims striker Hugo Ekitike, as reported by L’Equipe. This could come as a shock for Newcastle United, who have already made a large offer for the 20-year-old and had appeared to be in a strong position to sign him.

– PSG are considering a move for Vasco da Gama midfielder Andrey Santos, according to Le10 Sport, who add that Barcelona also are interested in the 18-year-old. This is another sign of their efforts to strengthen in midfield, an area they haven’t been completely satisfied with, having almost completed the signing of Vitinha from Porto and made strides to bring in Renato Sanches from Lille.

AS Monaco have agreed to a deal with Liverpool to sign Takumi Minamino that is worth €18m, as reported by Sky Sports. The initial fee is set at €15m with a potential €3m coming in add-ons for the Japan international, who has represented Liverpool 55 times, scoring 14 goals.




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