With the appointment of Unai Emery at Arsenal, the club have been looking for players who can plug a hole in their defence. Right-back and centre-back options both being able to play in the middle of the defence were identified as a priority, but centre-back is not an easy position to fill. You need good mobility, good stamina, good organisation, good at tackling, good at intercepting, and good at anticipating. You also need to be able to pass the ball out of the back. You don’t want someone who is happy to keep doing the same thing, as they will never turn into a better player.
Arsenal are actively looking to strengthen their defensive options for the upcoming 2018/19 season as Arsene Wenger attempts to secure a top four spot. The Gunners have reportedly made an offer for Montpellier defender Jules Kounde according to French outlet Le10 Sport. The Ivory Coast international is a 25-year-old defender who has previously played for Toulouse, Lugo and Rennes.
Arsenal are scouting teenage Cameroon defender Jules Kounde, with the Gunners considering a move for the 16-year-old. The Gunners are among a number of clubs interested in the uncapped centre back. Their interest is likely to be a result of the fact that Kounde is on the books of French club Paris St Germain.
TOP STORY: Gunners look to Kounde, Tapsoba
Arsenal are on the hunt for two new centre-backs after an underwhelming season saw them finish eighth in the Premier League and subsequently miss out on European football. The Athletic reports that the Gunners are tracking Sevilla star Jules Kounde, though there could be a few stumbling blocks in completing the move. 2 Related The main ones are the £50 million transfer fee that it could take to sign the 22-year-old, while there is also his preference to play in the Champions League to consider. The same report claims that Arsenal are displaying serious interest in Bayer Leverkusen’s Burkina Faso international Edmond Tapsoba. The 22-year-old impressed in his 39 games across all competitions this term, while he has also shown the ability to play as the right or left centre-back, which adds to the intrigue. However, the Gunners could face similar financial issues in the deal to those encountered if they move for Kounde, as it is stated that the Leverkusen man will realistically not be worth much less than the Frenchman. The report also references their interest in a “young, developing goalkeeper,” Norwich City’s Emiliano Buendia and making Martin Odegaard’s loan spell from Real Madrid permanent. – Stream ESPN FC Daily on ESPN+ (U.S. only) – European Soccer Pick ‘Em: Compete to win $10,000
22.00 BST: That will do it for the latest edition of our LIVE Transfer Talk blog. We hoped you enjoyed following along with us and remind you to check back shortly for the latest transfer rumours, reports and completed deals. Goodnight! 21.45 BST: Could Philippe Coutinho return to Liverpool? AS writes that Barcelona want to offset the remaining £40 million owed to Liverpool for the Brazilian by giving him back to the Reds. Barca payed £142m for Coutinho in 2018, but so far has only delivered 23 goals and 14 assists in 90 appearances for the Blaugrana. Coutinho might not be the only player set to leave the Camp Nou this summer, as Antoine Greizmann and Jordi Alba have also been linked with departures. That said, a Coutinho return to Anfield seems very unlikely… 21.03 BST: If Harry Kane leaves Tottenham this summer, the London club will look to replace him with another English striker, the Sun claims. The outlet claims that Aston Villa’s Ollie Watkins and Southampton’s Danny Ings are both options to replace the England captain. Watkins, 25, scored 14 goals this season in his first in the Premier League with Aston Villa, while Ings, 28, bagged 12 for the Saints. The report says that a move for either hinges on whether or note Kane leaves this summer. 20.07 BST: Thiago Silva is close to signing a one-year contract extension to stay at Stamford Bridge, the Evening Standard reports. The 36-year-old centre-back has had a strong season for the Blues, helping them win a second Champions League crown. The Brazilian was signed to a one year deal on a free transfer last summer after eight seasons with PSG. 19.18 BST: Fresh off a career season, Villarreal’s Gerrard Moreno is suddenly on the radar of clubs in England and Italy. Calciomercato has revealed that West Ham, Newcastle and Roma are keen on the 29-year-old who finished with 23 goals in La Liga. The late bloomer was recently named to Spain’s squad for the upcoming European Championships and last week scored against Man United as Villarreal won the Europa League. Villarreal will be keen to hold on to their star striker, especially now that they have secured Champions League football for next season. 18.33 BST: Arsenal are set to make some major changes this summer and Fabrizio Romano says Arsenal could sell a trio of midfielders. The transfer guru reports that Granit Xhaka, Matteo Guendouzi and Lucas Torreira are all up for sale, with the latter two having spent time on loan this season. Roma are reportedly interested in Xhaka, while Guendouzi, who spent this past season with Hertha Berlin, could return to his native France with Marseille. Lucas Torreira, 25, is also unlikely to have a future at the Emirates, with the Uruguayan keen to return to South America to be closer to family. 17.57 BST: Tottenham are interested in Gabriel Jesus as a replacement for Harry Kane, the Daily Star has learned. With Kane wanting to leave Tottenham and Manchester City a potential landing spot for the England man, the paper has proposed a swap plus cash deal involving the two strikers.The deal would see City offer Jesus plus £70 million for Kane, which would seem to suit both clubs. Kane, 28, has scored 221 goals in 336 games for Spurs, while Jesus, 24, has scored 82 times in 195 games for the Premier League champions. 17.03 BST: Burnley are keen to bolster their defence with the Sun claiming they are hoping to sign two centre-backs. The outlet understands they have their eyes on Nottingham Forest’s Joe Worrall and Stoke’s Nathan Collins, while they have also reportedly enquired about Liverpool’s Nat Phillips. Burnley have long had their eyes on the 24-year-old Worrall, and are lining up a £10 million move for the player. The Clarets have not made as much progress on Collins, 20, and face potential competition from Man United, Arsenal and Crystal Palace for the Irishman. 16.35 BST: Brighton & Hove Albion chairman Tony Bloom has hinted that Yves Bissouma could leave the club this summer if the right offer is put on the table. The midfielder has been one of the standout performers in the league this season and has been linked with a move to Liverpool and Arsenal. “The more big clubs there are interested in our players, the more we’re doing right, so I’m delighted with that,” Bloom told The Athletic. “We know some of our best players are not going to be with us forever. “If the right offer comes along — and it has to be the right offer — and they want to go, then they will leave. I foresee the vast majority to be here at the beginning of next season.” 15.41 BST: Crystal Palace have set their sights on making Nuno Espirito Santo their next manager, according to The Sun. The Portuguese, who left Wolves at the end of the Premier League season, is at the top of Palace’s wishlist as they look to replace the departing Roy Hodgson. Nuno is attracting interest from a number of Premier League clubs and the Eagles are keen to offer him a quick route back into football. 14.59 BST: The Mail on Sunday reports that Manchester United are planning to target Borussia Dortmund forward Jadon Sancho this summer rather than attempt to sign Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane. United would reportedly need to pay £120m to land the Spurs star but prefer to focus on signing Sancho and wait another 12 months to secure the signature of his club teammate Erling Haaland. United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes that Sancho’s presence will help the club challenge Manchester City and Liverpool for trophies next season while there is no rush to sign a striker after extending Edinson Cavani’s deal. 14.04 BST: ESPN’s Julien Laurens offers some insight into defender Ibrahima Konate and how he became Liverpool’s new signing: Konate’s progression has been swift, direct and impressive: Paris FC, Sochaux, RB Leipzig and now Liverpool. Every time, he faced new challenges, new obstacles and every time he rose to the occasion, elevated his game and reached the next level. Even a lingering hip injury in Germany, which caused him to miss much of the 2019-20 season — a flare-up also led him to miss two months over the winter — didn’t slow him down. Before agreeing to join Liverpool, he spoke to manager Jurgen Klopp, who has been following his progress for a while along with key decision-makers in the club’s scouting department. The young Frenchman didn’t get assurances of game time, or that he would start every game, but the extra competition doesn’t scare him. He has a lot of respect for Virgil Van Dijk, Joe Gomez, Joel Matip, Rhys Williams and Nat Phillips, though he’s heading to Anfield with the intention of becoming a fixture in their backline. Under Julian Nagelsmann at RB Leipzig, Konate continued his football education. He improved a lot when it came to tactical acumen as Leipzig routinely switched between a back-three and back-four. His decision-making got better as well, and coaches feel he is now ready for a step higher. He would answer that he was born ready, but he will take the twin challenges of assimilating to the Premier League and a high-pressure club like Liverpool with focus and drive, as always. Other top clubs like Manchester United were interested but once Klopp comes calling, you don’t say no. 13.01 BST: Real Madrid announced the signing of David Alaba on a free transfer on Friday, bringing the former Bayern Munich defender to the Bernabeu on a big five-year contract. Will he prove to be good value? play 1:35 Alex Kirkland explains why Real Madrid have signed David Alaba on such a lucrative five-year contract. 12.22 BST: AC Milan plan to open talks with Chelsea on Monday over the permanent signing of defender Fikayo Tomori, Tuttosport reports. Tomori spent most of the 202-21 season on loan at Milan where he made 22 appearances, including 16 Serie A starts as the Rossoneri finished second in the table to qualify for the Champions League. That loan deal reportedly came with an option to make the transfer permanent for a €28m fee, but Tuttosport claims that Milan are hopeful of negotiating that figure down when they speak to the new European champions this week. 11.29 BST: The knockout phase of the European Under-21 Championship kicks off on Monday (watch LIVE on ESPN3 and ESPNU in the U.S.). There will be plenty of scouts from top European clubs following closely as young stars like France’s Eduardo Camavinga and Germany’s Florian Wirtz are in action. But there are a whole host of other players who could play their way into a big summer transfer. – Euro U21 players to watch: Camavinga, Wirtz and more 10.32 BST: Arsenal striker Eddie Nketiah is a target for newly promoted Watford, the Mirror reports. The 22-year-old scored six goals in 29 appearances for the Gunners in 2020-21, the season in which he broke into the first-team picture after coming through the club’s youth system. However, the England U21 international’s contract has just over a year left to run, and Arsenal are willing to let him leave for a transfer fee of around £15m rather than on a free transfer next summer. Watford, who will return to the Premier League next season after one year back in the Championship, are one of the clubs montiroing his situation. 09.47 BST: Celtic are in “advanced talks” with former Australia national team coach Ange Postecoglou over becoming their new manager, according to Sky. Postecoglou has emerged as the bookies’ favourite to fill the vacancy at Parkhead after Celtic’s first-choice, Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe, turned down the job after lengthy negotiations. Postecoglou is currently at the helm of Japanese club Yokohama F. Marinos, guided the Socceroos to victory in the 2015 Asian Cup and led them to qualification for the 2014 and 2018 World Cups. The 55-year-old was reportedly recommended to Celtic by Fergal Harkin,who is expected to join the Glasgow club as their new sporting director this summer. 09.00 BST: Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel has hinted he may be close to extending his contract after guiding the Blues to only the second Champions League title in their history. Saturday’s 1-0 win over Manchester City in Porto secured a stunning end to a campaign in which they secured a top-four finish in the Premier League and reached the FA Cup Final. Tuchel replaced Frank Lampard as head coach in January on an 18-month deal and has surpassed all expectations given Chelsea were ninth in the Premier League when he took charge. Owner Roman Abramovich attended the Estadio do Dragao to witness the Blues’ success with Tuchel revealing their conversation on the pitch as the team celebrated the first time they had met. When asked by ESPN’s James olley whether talks would soon begin on a contract extension, Tuchel said: “I’m not even 100% sure but maybe I have a new contract now with that win. It can be. My manager said something about it but I do not know. Let’s check this first. “I spoke to the owner right now on the pitch. I think it was the best moment for a first meeting. Or the worst as from now on it can only get worse! “We will speak [more] later and tomorrow and I’m looking forward to this. I can assure him I’ll stay hungry, that I want the next title, I feel absolutely happy and part of a really ambitious club and a strong group that suits my beliefs and passions about football in this moment perfectly.”
PAPER GOSSIP (by Danny Lewis)
– Juventus’ Matthijs de Ligt may have stated that he is happy to stay in Turin, but Marca are reporting that Barcelona still want to sign the centre-back. The Blaugrana had aimed to bring in the Dutchman before his move to the Serie A giants in 2019, and want to add another defender alongside Eric Garcia, who will join when his Manchester City contract comes to an end this summer. Villarreal’s Pau Torres is seen as another option if they can’t sign De Ligt. – Paris Saint-Germain are looking to sign Internazionale wing-back Achraf Hakim and L’Equipe have suggested that the Nerazzurri have moved quickly to identify a possible replacement, landing on Jonathan Clauss. It is even stated that discussions around a possible move for the 28-year-old Lens player have already begun. – There have been various clubs linked with Rodrigo De Paul, but Calciomercato reports that it is Atletico Madrid who have begun negotiations — speaking to both Udinese and the player. It is suggested that Udinese are looking to bring in €40m for the Argentine midfielder, though that figure can be brought down with the insertion of add-ons. – Marseille are making their move to sign Matteo Guendouzi this summer, according to Foot Mercato. The Frenchman has spent the season on loan at Hertha Berlin from Arsenal, having fallen out with Mikel Arteta. – Roma are showing an interest in signing Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka, and La Gazzetta dello Sport have suggested that they could even include Amadou Diawara in a deal for the Switzerland international. This comes after they saw a €13m offer turned down as the Gunners are demanding €20m. – La Gazzetta dello Sport have identified various Atalanta targets ahead of the summer transfer window. For centre-back, the Serie A side are said to be interested in Bologna’s Takehiro Tomiyasu and Genk’s Jhon Lucumi. In midfield they’re considering Bologna’s Jerdy Schouten, while Chelsea loanee Davide Zappacosta is seen as a possible recruit for the wide areas. In addition, Sassuolo’s Jeremie Boga and AZ Alkmaar’s Calvin Stengs could strengthen their attack, while a whole host of goalkeepers are named.
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