Chelsea set to lose out on Paredes as PSG table €45m offer

Chelsea are set to miss out on signing Zenit St. Petersburg midfielder Leandro Paredes, with Paris Saint-Germain willing to meet the Russian club’s asking price.

Goal understands the Ligue 1 leaders have made an offer of €40 million (£34.9m/$45.5m) for the Argentina international, with a further €5m (£4.1m/$5.7m) to be paid in commissions.

Chelsea value the player are closer to €30m (£27m/$34m), and as such will be forced to look elsewhere in their search for midfield reinrforcements with Zenit chief Alexey Miller likely to accept PSG’s offer.

The Blues had hoped to bring the 24-year-old to Stamford Bridge as they try to replace the hole left in their squad following Cesc Fabregas’ departure to Monaco.

Maurizio Sarri is keen to bring in a midfielder with a strong technical ability to act as a deputy to first choice Jorginho.

That player is unlikely to be Paredes, however, with PSG’s hunt for a defensive midfielder of their own during the January transfer window set to come to an end.

They have been linked with Everton’s Idrissa Gueye, Watford’s Abdoulaye Doucoure and Borussia Dortmund’s Julian Weigl during the course of the winter window as Thomas Tuchel looks to add to his own roster.

The Parisiens’ need for a central midfielder has been intensified by an injury picked up by Marco Verratti against Guingamp on Saturday, with Adrien Rabiot also not in contention as he runs down his contract at Parc des Princes.

Marco Verratti PSG Paris Saint-Germain 2018-19

“It’s January 21 and we have needs,” Tuchel told reporters ahead of his side’s Coupe de France victory over Strasbourg on Wednesday. 

“We lost Adrien Rabiot, Lass Diarra and Marco Verratti, the situation has not improved.

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“We stay with our decision [on Rabiot] because Marco returns in a few weeks. We stay with our basic choice.

“We have recovered Dani Alves in this role but it is very, very serious for us. Who do I want? Yeah, yeah, I know. Unfortunately I cannot tell you!”

PSG had previously held an interest in Chelsea’s own N’Golo Kante, but following his decision to sign a new five-year deal with the Blues in November the French champions have decided taking that any further.

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‘I’m bored of the rumours’ – De Ligt insists Ajax exit links don’t bother him

Matthijs de Ligt says he is bored of rumours linking him with a lucrative move away from Ajax.

Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United and Juventus are all reportedly interested in signing the 19-year-old, who is Ajax’s captain.

De Ligt has already confirmed he will not leave Ajax – who face Real Madrid in the last 16 of the Champions League next month – during the January transfer window.

The centre-back is in no hurry to leave, although Ajax and Netherlands team-mate Frenkie de Jong has already been tempted away to Barca in a deal worth €86m.

“Am I annoyed by the rumours? No. Bored? A little bit,” De Ligt said to ESPN.

“But it doesn’t matter to me if there’s an article about where I should go or what I should do. It doesn’t matter, at all.

“This place means a lot to me. I grew up here. I came here when I was nine years old.

“At Ajax you learn to win every game, to be at your best every game and it doesn’t matter who your opponent is. It’s in my blood.”

The club’s chief executive Edwin van der Sar himself left Ajax to forge a successful career for European giants Juventus and Manchester United.

And the former Netherlands goalkeeper accepts it is a challenge for Ajax, who are second in the Eredivisie, to hold on to star names such as De Jong and De Ligt.

“That’s the big question of course, when you see the numbers,” Van der Sar told ESPN.

“But we are a club that’s financially very stable. We have a war chest. Our stadium is sold out every match. We have good commercial partners.

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“We sold some players in the past [but] at a certain point you have to ask if you can retain players. Hakim Ziyech was a player who received some interest and we managed to keep hold of him and improve his contract.

“We have our philosophy, players, city, stadium and history … we have a lot of things going on, but we play in a small league. 

“We don’t have to sell them but at a certain point for the player’s development – I’ve seen that myself as well – you think you’re ready, you want to compete against better, world-class players, and unfortunately they’re not playing in Holland.”

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AC Milan seal €35m Piatek signing following Higuain departure

AC Milan have confirmed the €35 million (£30m/$40m) signing of Krzysztof Piatek from Genoa. 

The 23-year-old striker has signed a contract at San Siro through to the end of the 2022-23 season and will be presented to the media on Thursday.

The move was announced just minutes after Chelsea confirmed that Gonzalo Higuain joined the club on an initial loan deal with a purchase option.

Piatek will replace the Argentine, who scored eight goals while spending the first half of the season on loan at Milan from Juventus. 

Poland international Piatek rose to prominence this season, having scored 19 goals in 21 games for Genoa while drawing comparisons to his countryman Robert Lewandowski.

The forward spent just a half season with Genoa, having only joined the Serie A side last summer from KS Cracovia in Poland for a reported fee of €4m. 

Piatek also became a full international this season, having made his debut for his country in September 2018.

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He becomes Gennarro Gattuso’s second major signing of the January window after they brought in talented Brazilian forward Lucas Paqueta from Flamengo.

Milan currently sit fourth in the Serie A table, 22 points back of runaway leaders Juventus. 

Piatek could make his Milan debut in a crunch clash with second-place Napoli on Saturday.

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Chelsea complete loan move for Higuain

Chelsea have confirmed that Gonzalo Higuain has joined the club on an initial loan deal with an option to buy this summer.

Higuain joins after spending the first half of the campaign on loan at AC Milan, where he scored eight goals.

He was on loan with the club following a stint with Juventus after shining under current Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri at Napoli.

Under Sarri, Higuain finished as top scorer in Serie A with 36 goals in 2015-16, breaking the Italian record in the process.

Higuain, who will take the No. 9 shirt, comes in as as Alvaro Morata prepares for a loan-to-buy move to Atletico Madrid.

“When the opportunity to join Chelsea presented itself I had to take it,” Higuain told the club’s official website. “It’s a team I’ve always liked that has a lot of history, a wonderful stadium and they play in the Premier League, a league I’ve always wanted to play in.

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“I now hope I can give back that trust Chelsea have shown me out on the pitch. I can’t wait to start and I hope to adapt as soon as possible.”

More to come…

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De Jong confirms Man City and PSG talks ahead of Barcelona move

Frenkie de Jong has revealed he spoke to both Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City before deciding to sign for Barcelona.

The La Liga giants completed the signing of De Jong on a five-year contract from Ajax for €75 million (£65m/$85m) on Wednesday, although he will not link up with his new side until the end of the season.

There has been consistent speculation linking the 21-year-old with all three clubs, but De Jong says a switch to Catalonia was his dream move. 

“I am happy, proud and also somewhat relieved that it’s now all behind us,”  De Jong told NOS.

“I spoke to PSG, yes. I rang Maxwell to tell him I was not joining them and my agent informed PSG. I also spoke with Guardiola about a move to Man City. Clubs all try to convince you when they want you. I am happy and proud that they did so much to get me.

“Barcelona have wanted me for a long time, they already tried to sign me last year. But they also have their financial situation, they can’t just spend loads of money.”

De Jong joins a long list of players to have made the switch from Ajax to Barca, following in the footsteps of the likes of Johan Cruyff, Ronald Koeman, Patrick Kluivert, Frank de Boer.

His new team-mate Luis Suarez, who is the Catalans second-top scorer of all time, also excelled at the Dutch club between 2007-11.

“Barcelona have always been a dream club for me,” De Jong continued. “The fact that they were so serious about getting me and that I have a good chance of getting playing time made the decision a bit easier. 

Frenkie de Jong Ajax

“I already watched Barcelona as a kid and then when I was a bit more aware of the game you had the Guardiola era with all their successes. That turned me into an even bigger fan. I have always been a big fan of Messi, although I liked the entire team.”

De Jong will have to compete with a host of talented midfielders when he completes his move to Spain, including World Cup winner Sergio Busquets and £16.2 million ($21m) signing Ivan Rakitic, who joined from Sevilla in 2014.

“It’s not like I am going to Barcelona as a tourist who is there to watch Messi in action,” the Dutchman added. “I am not going to say that I will bench Busquets or anything! But I think I have a good chance of getting plenty of minutes.”

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“The playing style should fit me. I have not spoken to [Ernesto] Valverde yet.

“The large transfer fee doesn’t really affect me much. It is nice to be the most expensive Dutchman and it is nice for my agent and for Ajax.

“But it does not matter to me whether I cost €5m, or €150m, or €200m. I just need to make sure that I do my own thing.”

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