Barcelona could be about to replace one brother with another, while Jose Mourinho is fuming after Manchester City opened talks for one of his top targets, according to Wednesday’s European papers.
RAFINHA WANTS OUT AS THIAGO ALCANTARA NEARS RETURN
Barcelona midfielder Rafinha has asked to leave the Nou Camp this month, according to reports in Spain.
Mundo Deportivo claim the Brazil midfielder wants to leave Ernesto Valverde’s side in a bid to safeguard his place in his country’s World Cup squad.
The player has previously been linked with both Arsenal and Liverpool, but it appears the most concrete interest comes from Italy, with Juventus, Napoli and AC Milan all said to be considering offers.
Ironically, Rafinha fears being pushed further down Valverde’s first-team order by the potential arrivals of countryman Philippe Coutinho as well as his brother Thiago Alcantara.
Reports in Spain claim that Barca are closing on a deal to bring Thiago back to the club from Bayern Munich.
Both Thiago and Rafinha came through the ranks together at Barcelona, but were split up when the former joined Bayern, and his former manager Pep Guardiola, in a €25million deal in 2013.
However, Bayern’s planned signing of Leon Goretzka – for which they officially confirmed their interest in on Wednesday – means Thiago may well be sold on.
MOURINHO FUMES AS CITY LEAD CHASE FOR BARCELONA DEFENDER
Barcelona defender Samuel Umtiti has held a meeting with Manchester City representatives to discuss a potential €60m (£53.4m) move to the club, according to reports in France.
L’Equipe claims City’s director of football Txiki Begiristain has met with both the player and his agents to discuss a potential move to the Etihad this month. City want the deal done this month, with the former Lyon defender also in talks with Barcelona over a new deal.
Umtiti joined Barca in a €25million move in the summer of 2016 and had a €60million release clause inserted into his deal. While that looked high at the time, the shift in value of top-class central defenders – typified by Liverpool’s recent £75million swoop for Virgil van Dijk – means clubs are willing to pay top whack for those who excel in the position.
Barcelona hope to reward the 24-year-old France defender with a new deal and also significantly hike up his exit fee – but City are looking to take advantage now, having met with the player.
L’Equipe claims Umtiti is giving serious thoughts to City’s offer and it’s believed the potential deal has caused outrage across the city with Jose Mourinho.
The United manager had also earmarked a deal for the bulky defender and, having got wind that City had moved ahead of them in negotiations, is believed to have lashed out at United’s moneymen.
Mourinho has bemoaned United’s lack of spending in recent weeks, blaming his inability to bring in all the players he wants as a factor behind City’s huge lead at the top of the Premier League table.
It’s believed his mood has not been helped by news of City’s Umtiti negotiations, with the Daily Mail claiming that some senior officials at Old Trafford have taken offence at Mourinho’s ‘less-than-subtle attempt’ to pressure them into spending more.
In addition, the board are apparently happy for the former Real Madrid boss to set his own agenda when it comes to relations with match officials and other managers, but they do not appreciate public digs at the club’s levels of spending.
And if Umtiti ends up moving to City this month, expect the United boss to be even more frustrated, even if his priorities perhaps lie in strengthening his left-back and wide attacking areas first and foremost.
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AND THE REST
Juventus are set to rival Man Utd for the signing of Sergej Milinkovic-Savic at the end of the season, though the player appears to have ruled out leaving Lazio any time soon (Tuttosport)
Napoli are considering snapping up former Liverpool and Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli for free in the summer (Corriere dello Sport)
Liverpool are battling PSG to sign Roma goalkeeper Alisson (Gazetta dello Sport)
Ryan Kent is expected to return to Liverpool early after struggling for game time while on loan with SC Freiburg (Kicker)
Manchester United could be set to sign one of their top targets in Joao Mario after Inter Milan boss Luciano Spalletti signalled his indication to sign him in a straight swap for Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Corriere dello Sport)
Juventus are ready to move for Atletico Madrid right back Sime Vrsaljko, whom they see as a long-term replacement for Stephan Lichtsteiner (Calciomercato)
New Sevilla boss Vincenzo Montella wants to keep Steven N’Zonzi at the club in the wake of interest from Arsenal and Everton (AS)
Crystal Palace have renewed their interest in Ibrahim Amadou and have launched a £16m bid for the Lille central defender (L’Equipe)
Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero believes his Tottenham counterpart Harry Kane would have no problems playing for Real Madrid (El Larguero on Cadena Ser)
Jakub Jankto and Moussa Dembele have both been earmarked as top transfer targets for AC Milan (Tuttosport)
Fenerbahce could be to set to offer Olivier Giroud a way out of Arsenal this month (Fanatik)
Inter Milan are closing in on a loan deal for out-of-favour Barcelona forward Gerard Deulofeu (Tuttosport)
Stoke City are looking to bolster their defence this month with the signing of Bologna’s Sebastien De Maio (Corriere dello Sport)
Villarreal striker Cedric Bakambu is set to move to Chinese Super League club Beijing Guoan in a €40m deal ( El Periodico Medittteraneo)
Nikola Kalinic has been put for up for sale by AC Milan, with clubs in China showing interest in the €25 striker (Corriere della Sera)
Wolves are set to make a move to sign PAOK’s £8.8million-rated star Aleksandar Prijovic, who has also been linked with Leeds (Super Express)
PSG could swoop for Lassana Diarra this month to bolster their midfield options. Diarra, who represented PSG’s fiercest rivals Marseille last season, is a free agent after leaving UAE-based Al-Jazira last month (TFR Sports)
Torino are interested in signing Arsenal target Manuel Locatelli on loan from AC Milan until the end of the season (Tuttosport)
Wolves have beaten Real Madrid to the £1.5m signing of Valencia B striker Rafa Mir (Marca)
Former Spurs star Sandro has completed a move to Benevento