New Chelsea boss Sarri plays down Hazard to Real Madrid transfer links

Maurizio Sarri has attempted to play down speculation linking Eden Hazard with a move to Real Madrid, insisting that he is looking forward to having fun working with the Belgian and hopes to make him a better player.

The Italian, who has replaced Antonio Conte as the Blues boss, was speaking at his official unveiling on Wednesday amid mounting speculation that Hazard could be on his way out.

The 27-year-old has been strongly linked with a switch to Real Madrid as a possible replacement for Cristiano Ronaldo, while Barcelona are also apparently interested. 

And while Sarri could offer no guarantees he would definitely stay put, he was keen to talk up the prospect of working with one of the top players in Europe.

“Hazard is a high level player and I think he is one of the top two or three European players,” he told reporters. 

“I would like to have fun during the week with him, this would mean good results and being competitive at the end of the season. I hope I will manage to improve him, this is very difficult as he is at a high level.”

When asked how Hazard compares with one of his former players at Napoli, Dries Mertens, Sarri added: “Dries has improved with me but he started at a lower level. I hope Hazard will improve with me but it will be difficult.

“Two top players, I hope I will improve Hazard too, but this will be very difficult.”

More to follow…

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Maccabi Tel Aviv sign Nigeria forward Ofoedu from Eskisehirspor

Maccabi Tel Aviv keep solidifying their squad for the new Israeli Premier League term following the addition of Chikeluba Ofoedu from Eskisehirspor on a free transfer.

The player signed a two-year contract at Netanya Stadium following an impressive two-year stint in the Turkish outfit.

He notched 19 goals in 58 appearances across competitions for the Red Lightnings.

Ben Mansord, club CEO, expressed his delight in securing the service of Chikeluba Ofoedu whom he sees as a prospect for the club and fans.

“I am delighted to welcome ‘Chico’ to Maccabi as we continue to finalize the squad for this season,” Mansord told club website.

“Chico had many options across Europe and it is a superb achievement from everyone at the Club, from Mitch to Vladamir, that we got this one closed out.

“We truly believe that Ofoedu will excite the fans as he is the type of player that has you on the edge of your seat. Chico is a player that is capable of scoring and providing opportunities. Welcome to Maccabi.”

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The Nigerian forward will be looking forward to proving his worth when he gets to feature for Vladimir Ivic’s side.

Maccabi Tel-Aviv continue their Uefa Europa League qualification game when they host Ferencvaros on July 19, 2018.

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Liverpool agree £66m fee to sign Alisson from Roma

Liverpool are closing in on the signing of Alisson after agreeing a £66million fee with Roma for the Brazilian goalkeeper, Goal can confirm.

The Reds have been in intensive talks with the Serie A club this week, and now have permission to speak to the player about a move to Anfield.

The deal would make the 25-year-old the most expensive goalkeeper in history, and comes as Jurgen Klopp seeks to strengthen a position that was a problem long before Loris Karius’ much-publicised errors in the Champions League final in May.

Alisson, it is understood, is open to the idea of a move to Merseyside, but Liverpool could face competition from Chelsea, who look set to lose their own goalkeeper, Thibaut Courtois, to Real Madrid.

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Liverpool, though, are growing confident they can win the race, which would mean they have broken the world transfer record for both goalkeepers and defenders in the last seven months. 

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The Reds have already added Virgil van Dijk, Fabinho, Naby Keita and Xherdan Shaqiri to their squad in 2018, and the addition of Alisson, identified by the club’s recruitment team as their top goalkeeping target last season, would be seen as a huge boost ahead of the new Premier League campaign.

Liverpool fly to the USA for a three-game tour on Saturday, though Alisson would not be expected to return to training until after that in any case.

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Transfer news & rumours LIVE: Pogba wants to leave Man Utd for Juventus return


Pogba wants to leave Man Utd for Juve


Paul Pogba wants to return to Juventus after becoming frustrated with life at Manchester United, according to Tuttosport

The France international left Juve to rejoin United two years ago, but he is now ready to head back to the Serie A champions following their stunning capture of Cristiano Ronaldo.

Pogba recently joked with France team-mate, and Juve midfielder, Blaise Matuidi about a potential return to Italy.


Chelsea to hijack Liverpool’s Alisson move


Chelsea will look to hijack Liverpool’s move for Roma goalkeeper Alisson, according to the Mirror

Goal reported on Tuesday that the Reds have opened talks with Roma over a £62 million ($82m) deal for the 25-year-old.

But Chelsea are now prepared to bid £70m ($92m) in an effort to steal the Brazilian away from their Premier League rivals. 


Ancelotti calls Di Maria over Napoli move


Carlo Ancelotti has called Angel di Maria regarding a potential move to Napoli for the Paris Saint-Germain attacker, reports Corriere dello Sport

Di Maria enjoyed an impressive season at Real Madrid under Ancelotti in 2013-14 and the new Napoli coach is keen on a reunion.

However, the Argentine’s €10 million (£9m/$12m) a season salary is a potential issue for Napoli to get a deal over the line.


Everton in advanced Malcom talks


Everton are in advanced talks to sign winger Malcom from Bordeaux, Sky Sports News reports. 

The 21-year-old Brazilian emerged as a target for a host of European clubs, with Inter thought to be his preferred destination.

But Malcom instead appears ready to move to Merseyside in a deal worth £30 million ($39m) plus add-ons.


Courtois nears €35m Madrid move


Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois is closing in on a move to Real Madrid for €35 million (£31m/$41m), reports Marca

The Belgium number one has long been linked with a return to Spain to be with his family, after he spent three seasons on loan at Atletico Madrid between 2011 and 2014. 

With just a year left on his deal, the Blues will be forced to sell the 26-year-old at a relatively bargain rate rather than lose him for free next summer. 


Tottenham make Pavard approach


Tottenham have contacted Stuttgart to express their interest in signing defender Benjamin Pavard, reports TEAMtalk

The 22-year-old impressed at the World Cup, helping France lift the trophy in Russia. 

With Toby Alderweireld set to move on Spurs are hoping to land Pavard, who can play multiple positions on the back line and can also slot in at midfield. 


CSKA deny Golovin deal with Chelsea


CSKA Moscow president Evgeniy Giner has denied that a deal has been reached to sell Aleksandr Golovin to Chelsea.

The 22-year-old playmaker has been in high demand since starring for Russia at this summer’s World Cup.

Giner did confirm that Golovin is likely to leave CSKA soon, but was adamant that no deal with the Blues had been completed. 

Read the full story on Goal!


Zidane to join Juve as advisor


Former Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane will join Juventus as an advisor in the front office, reports Libertad Digital.

Zidane surprisingly resigned as Madrid boss in June after clinching the side’s third consecutive Champions League crown. 

And the Frenchman will now join his former club, where he played from 1996 to 2001. 


Pochettino wants Grealish on U.S. tour


Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino wants to sign Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish before the club’s U.S. tour, according to the Mirror

Time is running out for Spurs to wrap up a deal for the 22-year-old before they jet off to North America on Sunday. 

Cash-strapped Villa originally wanted ­£40 million ($52m) for Grealish, but they may now be forced to accept around half that amount. 


Brewster signs five-year deal at Liverpool 


Liverpool striker Rhian Brewster has ended speculation over his future by signing a five-year professional contract.

The highly rated 18-year-old will be given a chance to break into Jurgen Klopp’s first team at Anfield this season. 

Read the full story on Goal!


Chelsea offered chance to re-sign Cech


Arsenal have offered Chelsea the opportunity to re-sign goalkeeper Petr Cech, according to the Daily Mail.

Cech spent 11 seasons with Chelsea before moving to the Gunners, who are looking to raise funds for additional purchases this summer. 

The Blues are expecting to lose Thibaut Courtois this summer, and have also identified Kasper Schmeichel and Gianluigi Donnarumma as possible replacements. 


Bournemouth move for £57m South American pair


Bournemouth are ready to spend big money on Levante midfielder Jefferson Lerma and Genoa full-back Diego Laxalt, according to The Sun.

Both players impressed at the World Cup this summer, Lerma with Colombia and Laxalt with Uruguay. 

The Cherries will bid a club-record £32 million ($42m) for Lerma, while Laxalt will likely cost around £25m ($33m). 


Cahill ready to leave Chelsea


Gary Cahill is considering his future at Chelsea, according to the Evening Standard.

The 32-year-old defender fell out of favour last season, and could be pushed further down the depth chart with the possible arrival of  Daniele Rugani from Juventus. 

Cahill is set for talks with new manager Maurizio Sarri over his role, with the veteran hoping for assurances of more minutes in 2018-19. 


Conte could replace Gattuso at Milan


AC Milan could offer former Chelsea manager Antonio Conte an instant return to the sideline, claims  Sport Mediaset.

U.S. hedge fund Elliott Management has taken control of the Serie A side, and are understood to desire a clean break from the club’s former management. 

Conte, who has been linked with the Rossoneri in the past, could be appointed in place of current manager Gennaro Gattuso.


West Brom reject Newcastle bid for Rondon


West Brom have rejected Newcastle’s loan bid for striker Salomon Rondon, according to The Telegraph. 

The Magpies looked to land the 28-year-old on an initial loan, but the Baggies will only accept a permanent deal for the forward.

Rondon has a buyout clause in his contract of £16.5?million ($22m). 


Sounders chasing Argentine winger


The Seattle Sounders are interested in the signing of AIK forward Nicolas Stefanelli, according to Swedish outlet Fotboll Direkt

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The MLS side has already made a splash with the signing of Peruvian international forward Raul Ruidiaz this summer, but would like to add the 23-year-old Argentine to the roster as well. 


‘High-profile’ Croatian wants Miami move


One of David Beckham’s ownership partners in Miami claims that a “very high-profile” player from the Croatian national team is interested in a move to join the expansion team. 

As part of wide-ranging interview with the  Miami Herald ,  Jorge Mas said that one of Croatia’s stars was “extremely interested in coming to Miami.”

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‘The Messi of goalkeepers!’ – Roma’s £62m superstar Alisson would make Liverpool title challengers

Alisson Becker doesn’t make many mistakes. However, shortly after joining Roma, he appeared on a Brazilian talk show and was asked if he had learned any Italian swear words. 

“I said some terrible things without realising how bad they were,” the goalkeeper admitted. “Once I did know, it was too late!”

Alisson would have been forgiven for relying almost exclusively on swear words during his first, frustrating year in the Italian capital. 

Despite his arrival from childhood club Internacional in 2016 as Brazil’s first-choice goalkeeper, then Roma coach Luciano Spalletti stuck with Wojciech Szczesny as his No.1. 

That would have irked many goalkeepers. Alisson, though, preferred to look on the bright side.

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“It did feel a little lonely at first, but then I got to spend more time with my wife,” he explained. “She was pregnant and so I got to focus less on my career.

“I worked hard in training and learned a lot alongside a great goalkeeper like Szczesny.”

Restricted only to appearances in the cup competitions, Alisson’s lack of game time became a major talking point in Brazil, with many pundits arguing that Ederson should be the Selecao’s No.1. 

Alisson, though, never let Brazil down, conceding just three goals in 11 appearances in the World Cup qualifiers under new coach Tite. As a result, he never felt compelled to go running to either Spalletti or the press to complain about his situation at the Stadio Olimpico.

“I wasn’t playing much due to the coach’s decision but I am a calm boy and I don’t like talking,” he confessed. “I didn’t feel comfortable going to him and saying things because he chose to have two high-level keepers and he played me in the cups.

“He used meritocracy because Szczesny had done well during the first year but let’s say that I learned to have a bit of patience.”

However, Alisson knew that with a World Cup year approaching, he needed to be playing regular league football to fend off the intense competition he was under for his Selecao shirt from Manchester City ace Ederson.

Consequently, he seriously considered a move elsewhere until it emerged that Szczesny was off to Juventus last season.

“I didn’t want to leave, but I would have had to think of myself and my targets,” he reasoned. “Nobody in Brazil, in a World Cup year, has a guaranteed place.”

Alisson Messi PS

Despite Ederson’s excellence in England, there was never any danger of Alisson losing his place in Brazil’s starting line-up for Russia 2018. He wasn’t just the best goalkeeper in Italy last season; he was the best in the world. 

Spalletti’s successor, Eusebio Di Francesco, knew from the moment he first saw Alisson in action at Trigoria last summer that he was something special.

“I was stunned by his presence and the calmness he brought to the entire team,” he enthused. 

Alisson vindicated his new coach’s faith him by playing a pivotal part in Roma’s remarkable 2017-18 campaign, which saw the Giallorossi finish third in Serie A and, even more impressively, reach the semi-finals of the Champions League.

Indeed, Alisson made a whopping 155 saves in all competitions last season – only overworked Verona goalkeeper Nicolas made more across Europe’s big-five leagues. The Brazilian also boasted the third-best save percentage (79.26) across the continent, just below those of Manchester United No.1 David De Gea (80.28%) and Jan Oblak (82.68%). 

However, his distribution stats were of greater significance, as Alisson has always been a fine shot-stopper. When he first broke into the Brazil squad, the one major criticism levelled at him was that he was poor with the ball at his feet.
 
Last term, no goalkeeper completed more sweeper-keepings (51) in all competitions, while only Gianluigi Donnarumma (1135) racked up more successful passes than Alisson (1125). 

Alisson Karius Stats PS

In essence, he is now the modern goalkeeper that Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp was hoping Loris Karius would develop into. 

The pair do share one thing in common, in that both have previously attracted attention for their good looks. Alisson, ‘O Goleiro Gato’ (‘The Handsome Goalkeeper’) as he is known in Brazil, proved so popular with the ladies back home that his wife once had to show off her own goalkeeping skills.

“We had just won the title and went to a restaurant to celebrate with other team-mates and their families,” he revealed. “There were many fans outside the entrance and some of the girls grabbed my backside: my wife was parrying everyone’s hands!”

Now, though, it is Europe’s top clubs who are trying to get their hands on Alisson not only because of his ability, but also his composure and presence.

As reported by Goal, Liverpool have opened talks with Roma over a £62 million deal to sign the Brazilian, with Real Madrid and Chelsea also credited with an interest.

Whereas Karius has never instilled confidence in those around him at Anfield, Alisson exudes self-belief. 

“The way he behaves in the goal, he reminds me of Dino Zoff,” enthused former Roma coach Roberto Negrisolo. “I’d also compare him to Michel Preud-Homme, who had the class of someone born to be a goalkeeper.

“I told Alisson when I met him at Roma’s Trigoria ground that he was born for this. He was already strong when he arrived, but has improved even more since he has been in Italy.”

This is a self-confessed perfectionist who works tirelessly to eradicate every perceived flaw in his game in order to become the very best goalkeeper he can be and, as he underlined with expletive-laden appearance on Brazilian TV, he is a pretty fast learner.

At 25, he only going to get better, too, which is why Klopp is willing to pay a record-breaking £62m for a goalkeeper to land his signature. 

As Ederson proved after succeeding Claudio Bravo as Manchester City’s No.1 last season, signing a great goalkeeper can be the difference between a top-four finish and winning the title. Signing Alisson could be that decisive a move for Liverpool.

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The fee would be a record for a goalkeeper but, as Negrisolo reasoned, “I don’t think many people have realised who Alisson is. This guy is a phenomenon. He is the number one of number ones.

“He is the Messi of goalkeepers, because he has the same mentality as Messi. He is a goalkeeper who can define an era.”

If he doesn’t do so at Anfield, it will be Klopp turning the air blue with swear words.

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