Rumour Has It: Barcelona to hijack Real Madrid plans with shock Mbappe move

By Sports Desk October 22, 2021

Superstar 22-year-old Kylian Mbappe is expected to leave Paris Saint-Germain at the end of this season.

Real Madrid have long courted the France international and are expected to secure his signature.

PSG remain hopeful of Mbappe extending his contract but there could be another twist in the transfer saga.

Madrid's LaLiga rivals Barcelona appear ready to make a surprise move.

TOP STORY – BARCELONA READY FOR MBAPPE MOVE

Barcelona believe they can outspend Madrid and land Mbappe from PSG, according to AS.

Despite their financial challenges, the Catalans intend to hijack their rivals' move for Mbappe, who will be a free agent in mid-2022.

Barcelona's salary cap will increase by then and vice president Eduard Romeu reportedly wants to make one major signing.

ROUND-UP

- ESPN reports that Erling Haaland will demand a salary of £30million (€35m) per year for his expected transfer from Borussia Dortmund next year. Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid, Chelsea, Manchester City and Bayern Munich are among those chasing the Norwegian.

- Eden Hazard could return to Chelsea with the Blues interested in a deal for the Real Madrid midfielder, claims El Nacional.

- Everton have set their sights on a January deal for Manchester United's Jesse Lingard, according to Football Insider.

- Marca claims that Newcastle are ready to splash out £67m (€80m) to sign Porto's Colombian striker Luis Diaz.

- Manchester City are set to enter the race for Ajax's 21-year-od Brazil international Antony alongside Barcelona, according to El Nacional.

 

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  • Ederson insists 'I don't think I influenced much' as playmaking keeper approaches 100 Man City clean sheets Ederson insists 'I don't think I influenced much' as playmaking keeper approaches 100 Man City clean sheets

    Manchester City star Ederson does not believe he has been a huge influence on the way goalkeepers in England play as he bids to keep a 100th clean sheet for the club.

    The Brazil international will reach a century of shut-outs on Saturday if he does not concede against Watford, a team who have never beaten City in the Premier League and lost the previous 10 meetings by an aggregate score of 37-4.

    Since signing from Benfica in 2017, Ederson has been an integral part of Pep Guardiola's set-up, his distribution proving both a valuable counter-attacking weapon and a vital component to City's possession-based approach.

    However, he feels the importance of keepers using their feet is simply part of the evolution of the game.

    "Nowadays, having a goalkeeper with good feet is essential in any team that likes to build up play from the back," he told Sky Sports.

    "I don't think I influenced much. In fact, I have been influenced by other goalkeepers with good feet in the past. But football evolves and players need to evolve with the game as well.

    "I just play naturally. It's a matter of concentration. If a goalkeeper misses a pass, there is nobody there who can help you. The goalkeeper is key in our team because we can't make any mistakes in the build-up. But my team-mates offer me a lot of options for the pass, so I'm very relaxed."

    Since his City debut, Ederson has created six goalscoring chances, a tally bettered by two keepers in that time: Ben Foster (nine) and Nick Pope (10), each of whom have played for teams with a more direct style.

    His contribution to his side's overall approach dwarfs that of any other keeper, though. Ederson has been involved in 226 sequences to end in a shot in the Premier League, with Alisson (138) and David de Gea (127) the next highest on that list. Thirty-four of those involvements have ended in a goal, which is at least 14 more than any other keeper has managed.

    Ederson has also started 66 shot-ending sequences, 22 more than anyone else in his position since his debut, having made 3,390 passes in that time – again, by far the most among keepers.

    There may be an element of risk to the way Ederson plays, but it is not without its reward: no keeper comes close to his 78 clean sheets in the league since his arrival in England, and his brilliant save to deny Carney Chukwuemeka helped City win 2-1 at Aston Villa on Wednesday.

    "The most important things for a goalkeeper are concentration and decision-making," he said. "In most of the games, we control the ball and we only concede one chance to the opposition team, so concentration is key.

    "It's something that comes with my personality: calm and concentration," he adds. "I'm aware that, if I lose focus during any moment of the game, it can end up in a goal for the opponent.

    "We can't be attacking all the time, so we need to know how to defend during some stages of the game too. We all know, myself and my team-mates, how important it is to be focused."

    On the prospect of 100 clean sheets in what would be his 211th appearance, he added: "It's an important achievement for me, because it means I have kept a clean sheet in almost half of my games for Manchester City.

    "The forwards, the midfielders, the defenders, they all do exceptional pressing and defending. The clean sheets involve the whole team, not just me."

  • Rumour Has It: Real Madrid certain of Mbappe deal, Man City enter Vlahovic race Rumour Has It: Real Madrid certain of Mbappe deal, Man City enter Vlahovic race

    Kylian Mbappe has had an extended flirtation with Real Madrid.

    The Paris Saint-Germain forward is out of contract at the end of this season.

    Mbappe has stalled on signing a new deal with PSG amid speculation of a move.

    TOP STORY – REAL CONVINCED OF MBAPPE DEAL

    Real Madrid are convinced they will win the race for Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe's signature, according to AS.

    Los Blancos are certain the 22-year-old France international will join the club on a free transfer at the end of this season.

    Mbappe has long flirted with Madrid and has decided he will not renew with PSG. The LaLiga giants are already planning Mbappe's arrival at the sporting and commercial level.

     

    ROUND-UP

    - Manchester City have joined the race to sign Fiorentina's hot property forward Dusan Vlahovic, claims La Repubblica.

    - Barcelona have held discussions with Manchester City about the potential to sign Spanish forward Ferran Torres in January, according to ESPN.

    - Fichajes reports that Liverpool are interested in signing Lille's Portugal midfielder Renato Sanches. Lille have valued him at £34m.

    - Arsenal are homing in on Lille's Canada international forward Jonathan David, according to the London Evening Standard. David is currently Ligue 1's leading scorer.

    - Calciomercato claims Christian Eriksen is close to terminating his deal with Inter, having been unable to play since his cardiac arrest at Euro 2020.

    - Bayern Munich midfielder Marc Roca is in the sights of Roma who have considered a move for the Spaniard, claims Corriere dello Sport.

    - Chelsea have opened talks with goalkeeper Edouard Mendy over a new deal, claims Football Insider.

    - Everton have joined the race to sign Zenit striker Sardar Azmoun, according to 90min.

  • Kane and Son: Can the Premier League's once dynamic duo recapture their vitality? Kane and Son: Can the Premier League's once dynamic duo recapture their vitality?

    Football is never "an easy game" and Harry Kane should have known better.

    Football is a game that takes even the most level-headed through the emotional wringer and Harry Kane can be forgiven.

    Take your pick, but it was not so much tempting fate as giving fate a firm kick in the nethers when Kane suggested he was on easy street on this very same weekend last year.

    Of course, fate was bound to kick back, but what a vengeance it has taken.

    Spurs sat giddily on top of the Premier League after a 2-0 north London derby win over Arsenal on December 6, 2020. It was their first game back in front of fans, albeit just 2,000 of them, at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium since the pandemic struck in March.

    Talk was of a sustained title tilt, Jose Mourinho had a glint back in his eye and seemed to have his magic touch back, and the Harry Kane and Son Heung-min combination was poised to break all records.

    "They are working like animals, with all due respect to animals, I love animals," Mourinho said of his front two.

    A year on, so much has changed.

    What happened that day

    The basics are these: Kane created a glorious 13th-minute opener with a pass through for Son, the finish a delight. England captain Kane netted a similarly impressive second on the stroke of half-time following a pass from Son. Arsenal had almost 70 per cent of possession but could not make it count.

    Kane became the all-time leading scorer in derbies between the teams, with his 11th goal against Arsenal taking him past Emmanuel Adebayor and Bobby Smith in the history of the rivalry. The goal was the 250th of his career at club and international level, with 202 of those having come for Spurs, 32 for England, nine for Millwall, five for Leyton Orient and two for Leicester City.

    Spurs could celebrate having won consecutive derbies against Arsenal for just the third time in the Premier League, after a 1992-93 season double and wins in April and November of 2010.

    They were on a high, and the fanfare was loudest about the Kane and Son combination.

    Their spectacular start to the 2020-21 season had seen them register an astonishing 11 direct combinations for goals – where one of the pairing has the assist and the other scores – in the opening 11 games of the season. That took them to 31 goal combinations in total during their time together at Spurs, just five short of the Premier League era record, held by Chelsea greats Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard. They had overtaken Arsenal's Thierry Henry and Robert Pires (29), Manchester City's David Silva and Sergio Aguero (29) and Tottenham's own Teddy Sheringham and Darren Anderton (27).

    Kane's assist was his 10th of the season, and no player has ever reached double figures for Premier League assists in fewer games from the start of a Premier League season. The only player to match Kane in that regard has been Mesut Ozil for Arsenal in the 2015-16 season.

    These were dizzying heights and Kane, speaking on Sky Sports, said of his Son alliance: "When I'm passing him through and he's cutting inside and whipping them into the top bins it is an easy game for me."

    What could possibly go wrong?

    Between them, Kane and Son were making Mourinho's job look easy. A haul of 24 points from 11 games meant Spurs led Liverpool on goal difference. They had taken seven points from their previous three games: against Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal.

    In January, the deadly double act reached 13 direct combinations for the season when Kane crossed for Son to put Spurs 2-0 up during a 3-0 win against Leeds, and that matched a Premier League record set by Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton in Blackburn Rovers' 1994-95 title-winning campaign.

    The record fell outright in March when Son crossed for Kane to put the seal on a 4-1 home win over Crystal Palace.

    Since then? Just two more direct combinations for goals have been recorded by the pair. The once red-hot connection between Kane and Son has gone cold.

    Mourinho was sacked in April and Tottenham plodded in seventh, the rot having set in with a grim toll of seven defeats in the 13 league games that followed the victory over Arsenal.

    They spluttered through the opening stages of the 2021-22 campaign too, with Mourinho's supposedly permanent successor Nuno Espirito Santo shown the door after only 17 games and four months at the helm. A 3-1 defeat to Arsenal hardly helped his cause.

    It has taken the appointment of Antonio Conte, on a reported £20million-a-year deal, to right the good ship Spurs, with back-to-back wins over Leeds United and Brentford lifting the team to sixth going into the weekend, surprisingly within touching distance of West Ham in fourth.

    So what now? Can Conte revive former glories?

    Kane and Son are edging closer to that Lampard and Drogba record, but their progress towards the target has been more sloth-like than swashbuckling.

    They have 35 direct goal combinations now (Son to Kane 18 times, Kane to Son 17 times), and there remain flickers of life in that partnership.

    It was Kane's probing forward pass that freed up a sprinting Sergio Reguilon to centre for Son to slot Spurs' second goal in the 2-0 win over Brentford on Thursday. That was Son's 75th Premier League goal.

    Since the table-topping delirium after the Arsenal game last season, Son has managed 12 goals and eight assists in 38 Premier League games, while Kane has 16 goals and five assists in 36 appearances in the top flight.

    These are modest totals by their standards, given that in Son's previous 38 Premier League games, up to and including that December 2020 derby, he managed 19 goals and 13 assists, while Kane's previous 36 league matches saw him grab 23 goals and 12 assists.

    Son is outperforming his expected goals (xG) in the Premier League this season, scoring five goals from an xG score of 3.8, which is a good sign, but Kane's solitary strike from an xG of 3.1 must worry those with affections towards Spurs.

    Kane unable? That's not what the numbers say

    Kane has had an enigmatic 2021 by any standards, with doubts cast over his long-term commitment to Tottenham at one point as he looked eager to join Pep Guardiola at Manchester City. He has more recently stressed how "excited" he is about the chance to work under Conte, a proven winner as a manager.

    With England, the goals have certainly flowed for Kane this year, a team-record 16 taking him to 48 in his international career, the same number as Gary Lineker achieved.

    This season alone he has scored 10 in World Cup qualifiers for England, while with Spurs in 2021-22 he has hit six goals in the Conference League, including qualifying games for that third-tier UEFA competition, one in the EFL Cup and only one in the Premier League, against bottom-of-the-table Newcastle United.

    Conte said in the wake of the win over Brentford: "I'm very pleased with the way that he's playing. I know the striker wants to score but we want to give him many chances to score. I think we're on the right path to do this type of situation."

    Across the whole of 2021, taking all competitions and commitments into account, Kane has scored 41 goals at one every 123 minutes, which shows that he still knows the way to goal, even if there is unusually no sign of him on this campaign's Premier League top scorers' list.

    Spurs' Italian boss may be capable of digging into the root cause of Kane's slump at club level, but it may take forensic examination and soul-searching to reach the eureka moment.

    Or perhaps it will take a home game against lowly Norwich City. That is next on the agenda for Tottenham, this Sunday, and Kane has scored five goals in three Premier League games against Norwich, netting a penalty in all three matches.

    No player in Premier League history has scored a penalty in four consecutive appearances against a specific opponent before. A penalty might be considered a cheap way for Kane to get back to scoring ways with his club, but Conte is looking for upticks in whatever form they might come.

    It has been a rough old year for the Kane-Son combination, a long time since the "easy game" remark.

    Perhaps the pressure of the Lampard and Drogba record is weighing heavily. Or just maybe it is high time they took it upon themselves to smash through the glass ceiling and consign the narrative of these last 12 months to history.

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