Philippe Coutinho is set to make his long-awaited return from injury in Barcelona's Joan Gamper Trophy showdown with Juventus on Sunday.

The Brazilian has been passed fit and could play his first football for Barca of 2021, having undergone two knee surgeries since the turn of the year.

The attacking midfielder last played for the Catalan giants in their 1-1 draw with Eibar at the Camp Nou in December.

Ronald Koeman has also named the likes of Memphis Depay, Antoine Griezmann and Martin Braithwaite in his 21-man party for the club's annual season curtain raiser at Estadi Johan Cruyff.

However, Sergio Aguero and Clement Lenglet are missing for Barca, who begin their LaLiga campaign at home to Real Sociedad on August 15.

Aguero, who arrived from Manchester City on a free transfer, is set to undergo further tests on a right calf injury, while defender Lenglet has a tendon problem in his right knee.

Barca are seeking their ninth successive victory in the Joan Gamper Trophy, which they have won 43 times since the inaugural event in 1966.

Juventus, who launch their Serie A season away at Udinese on August 22, are one of the 11 teams to have denied the Blaugrana.

The Bianconeri prevailed on penalties in the 2005 showpiece.

Tottenham have completed the signing of defender Cristian Romero for a reported fee of £47million.

The Argentina international has put pen to paper on a reported five-year contract with the north London club.

The 23-year-old becomes Tottenham's third signing under Nuno Espirito Santo following the arrival of winger Bryan Gil from Sevilla and the loan acquisition of Atalanta goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini, whom Romero played alongside in 2020-21.

Romero is also the second-most expensive transfer in Spurs' history after Tanguy Ndombele's £53.8m switch from Lyon in 2019.

After beginning his career with spells at Belgrano and Genoa, the centre-half failed to make a competitive appearance during his two-year stint with Juventus, spending the entire time out on loan.

Atalanta signed him on loan with a purchase option in September 2020 and Romero went on to play 42 times in all competitions last season as the Bergamo club recorded a third-place finish in Serie A and reached the Coppa Italia final.

Atalanta triggered their purchase option on Romero before then selling him on to Spurs.

Romero's performances led to his senior international debut against Chile prior to this year's Copa America, in which he made three appearances and started the final as Argentina beat Brazil to end their 28-year wait for a major trophy.

His arrival provides a much-needed boost to the Tottenham back line, following the departures of Toby Alderweireld and Juan Foyth earlier in the window.

Romero will compete with Davinson Sanchez, Joe Rodon and Eric Dier for a place in the heart of the defence, and could make his debut when Spurs launch their Premier League campaign against reigning champions Manchester City on August 15.

Tottenham have completed the signing of defender Cristian Romero for a reported fee of £47million.

The Argentina international has put pen to paper on a reported five-year contract with the north London club.

The 23-year-old becomes Tottenham's third signing under Nuno Espirito Santo following the arrival of winger Bryan Gil from Sevilla and the loan acquisition of Atalanta goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini, whom Romero played alongside in 2020-21.

Romero is also the second-most expensive transfer in Spurs' history after Tanguy Ndombele's £53.8m switch from Lyon in 2019.

After beginning his career with spells at Belgrano and Genoa, the centre-half failed to make a competitive appearance during his two-year stint with Juventus, spending the entire time out on loan.

Atalanta signed him on loan with a purchase option in September 2020 and Romero went on to play 42 times in all competitions last season as the Bergamo club recorded a third-place finish in Serie A and reached the Coppa Italia final.

Atalanta triggered their purchase option on Romero before then selling him on to Spurs.

Romero's performances led to his senior international debut against Chile prior to this year's Copa America, in which he made three appearances and started the final as Argentina beat Brazil to end their 28-year wait for a major trophy.

His arrival provides a much-needed boost to the Tottenham back line, following the departures of Toby Alderweireld and Juan Foyth earlier in the window.

Romero will compete with Davinson Sanchez, Joe Rodon and Eric Dier for a place in the heart of the defence, and could make his debut when Spurs launch their Premier League campaign against reigning champions Manchester City on August 15.

Where will Lionel Messi land?

Barcelona's shock announcement of his departure set rumours flying.

Will it be Paris, Manchester or somewhere else?

 

TOP STORY - MESSI ON THE MARKET

Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City are rumoured to be the top suitors for Lionel Messi.

The French giants have already made contact with Messi's representatives, according to Fabrizio Romano, and are seen in many quarters as the favourites to land the Argentine forward.

It remains to be seen wherher PSG can take on Messi after making several major moves during the transfer window, while City may be in a similarly difficult situation after finalising their £100million deal for Jack Grealish on Thursday.

A reunion with Pep Guardiola may still be a possibility, though, especially if Tottenham refuse to engage in talks around a Harry Kane deal.

Major League Soccer could also be a possibility, though Messi is expected to remain in Europe for at least a few more years.

 

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United have not given up on a move for Kieran Trippier, though they have not come close to Atletico Madrid's £34million demands for the England international, The Sun says.

- West Ham are in talks with Fiorentina for centre-back Nikola Milenkovic, Fabrizio Romano reports, with the Serie A side eyeing Matija Nastasic of Schalke as a replacement.

- Arsenal have bid £17m for Lazio striker Joaquin Correa, claims Corriere dello Sport.

- Juventus are interested in bringing back Barcelona's Miralem Pjanic on either a loan or a permanent deal, says Calciomercato.

- Roma are lining up a £21m bid for Fulham midfielder Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa, says Gazzetta dello Sport.

- Crystal Palace are among multiple clubs hoping to lure Adam Armstrong from Blackburn, with the Daily Mail saying they are favoured ahead of Norwich City and Southampton.

Pep Guardiola's quest to conquer Europe and continue domestic domination with Manchester City has seen him sign Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish in a deal reportedly worth £100million.

Grealish becomes the most expensive signing in Premier League history after being prised away from Villa Park, where he had spent his entire career and captained his boyhood club since 2019.

The England international, who helped the Three Lions to a first major final appearance in 55 years at Euro 2020, has regularly been linked away from Villa but committed his future after rumoured interest from Manchester United, signing a long-term contract in 2020.

In the 2020-21 campaign, the 25-year old contributed with six league goals and 10 assists, while also creating 81 chances across 26 appearances for the Villains.

Dean Smith will no longer have the playmaker to call upon, though, as Guardiola has demolished the previous Premier League transfer record – set by Paul Pogba's return to United in 2016 – to secure Grealish's services.

After City's record-breaking acquisition of Grealish, Stats Perform looks at the other most expensive signings in English top-flight history.

PAUL POGBA – Juventus to Manchester United, £89.3m

Jose Mourinho's first transfer window with the Red Devils saw the France midfielder return to Old Trafford in a then-world record transfer.

Since making that reunion in 2016-17, only Marcus Rashford (78) and Anthony Martial (64) have been involved in more Premier League goals for United than Pogba (57 – 28 goals, 29 assists), while the midfielder has created more top-flight chances (207) than any other player for the club during this period.

He scored and assisted one apiece for France at Euro 2020, while only Antoine Griezmann (10) created more chances than Pogba's eight for Les Bleus.

HARRY MAGUIRE – Leicester City to Manchester United £80m

United broke the world transfer record for a defender in 2002 when they signed Rio Ferdinand for £30m and 17 years later they acquired Maguire for more than double that fee.

The centre-back endured a tricky start to life in Manchester, however, his quality eventually shone through as he strung together 71 consecutive appearances for United.

Despite missing the last four games of the 2020-21 campaign, Maguire ranked second in the Premier League for aerial challenges won (135) and fifth for successful duels (203) before featuring prominently at Euro 2020 for England.

 

VIRGIL VAN DIJK – Southampton to Liverpool, £75m

Jurgen Klopp, albeit under contentious circumstances, convinced Van Dijk to move away from St. Mary's Stadium in December 2017.

The commanding Netherlands captain guided Liverpool to their sixth Champions League success in 2018-19 before playing a key role as the Reds ended their 30-year wait for an English title.

Van Dijk's absence severely affected their Premier League defence last term. Klopp's men have won 75.8 per cent of their league matches with Van Dijk in the side since his debut in January 2018, a figure that falls to 54.3 per cent in his absence.

 

ROMELU LUKAKU – Everton to Manchester United £75m

The Belgium forward never settled in at Old Trafford and left after two seasons, despite converting 42 times in 96 games for United.

Lukaku scored twice in United's stunning Champions League last-16 comeback victory over Paris Saint-Germain in 2019 before completing a switch to Inter, where he helped Antonio Conte's men to their first Scudetto since 2009-10.

During the title-winning campaign, Lukaku shunned doubts over his finishing as he converted almost one in four chances to bag 24 goals and improved his link-up play to form an effective partnership with Lautaro Martinez. Since his Inter debut only five players have scored more goals in Europe's top five leagues than Lukaku (64).

He has now been linked with a return to former club Chelsea in a deal which could shatter Grealish's new record.

 

JADON SANCHO – Borussia Dortmund to Manchester United £73m

After leaving Manchester City in 2017 for Borussia Dortmund, Sancho found himself signing for the red half of Manchester four years later. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer pursued Sancho for multiple transfer windows and finally got his man in the wake of England's Euro 2020 shoot-out heartbreak.

Since the start of the 2018-19 campaign, the 21-year-old has been directly involved in the joint-most goals of any English player across the top five European leagues (78), while he has played fewer minutes than Harry Kane – also on 78 – in this period.

Sancho also became the first Englishman to reach at least 10 assists for three consecutive seasons in Europe's top-five leagues since David Beckham, who achieved the feat between 1997-98 and 2000-01 for Alex Ferguson's United.

Giorgio Chiellini is convinced Massimiliano Allegri is the right man to reclaim the Scudetto for Juventus following the failed Andrea Pirlo experiment.

Celebrated former midfielder Pirlo failed to guide the Bianconeri to a 10th successive Serie A title last season and was sacked in May, before the halfway point of a two-year deal.

Allegri was named as Pirlo's successor on the same day for a second spell in charge, having previously guided Juve to five league titles, four Coppas Italia and two Champions League finals.

Juve amassed 142 wins in their 190 league games under Allegri – only Giovanni Trapattoni has overseen more matches – giving him a win percentage of 74.74, clear of second-placed Antonio Conte (72.81), who managed 83 triumphs from 114 matches.

During his five seasons with Juve, Allegri suffered just 20 league defeats, with his team scoring 380 goals and conceding 125 in return, averaging 2.39 points per game.

Allegri is responsible for three of the seven Juventus seasons during which they have netted 100 goals or more, meanwhile, alongside Pirlo, Conte and Jesse Carver.

Chiellini was a part of that successful period at the club and will likely play a key role in this latest new era for Juventus after penning a two-year contract extension on Monday.

Allegri's immediate aim is to win back the title from Inter, while also seeing off competition from the likes of Milan and Atalanta, and experienced centre-back Chiellini is ready to do his bit.

"I am happy to see him again," Chiellini told Juventus TV. "He gave me and everyone a great deal. 

"I've kept in contact with the lads, and they've told me he's really fired up for the start of the season. I'm convinced he is the right man to take this team back to the top and create a new cycle.

"I am here to give my contribution, above all on the field, but off it too."

 

Chiellini has made 535 appearances for Juventus since joining in 2004 but has played just 21 times in Serie A since the start of 2019-20, partly due to injury.

He showed his quality at Euro 2020 as he helped Italy to their first continental crown in 53 years, starting five of the Azzurri's seven matches in the tournament.

The Livorno product produced six clearances, which was four more than any other Italy player, while also leading the way for interceptions (three) and aerial duels (seven).

After putting an end to potential retirement talk by putting pen to paper with Juve, Chiellini is now eyeing up a place in Italy's World Cup squad for Qatar 2022.

"The World Cup is just over a year away, so we'll see," he said. "I always want to enjoy every moment and to think of the present. 

"If I am fortunate enough to be in good shape and able to participate in the World Cup, then I'll be happy. If I don't, then I'll be happy anyway.

"I've learned over the last few years that the only secret is to live in the moment and without thinking of faraway objectives.

"Now we need to get the engine going again after these few weeks when I needed time to recover, then we'll take it one week at a time, game by game, and see where we end up."

Giorgio Chiellini has, as expected, re-signed with Juventus following the announcement of a new two-year contract.

Chiellini, 36, technically ceased to be a Juve player when his previous deal expired at the end of June after 17 years with the club.

His agent, who referred to potential retirement talk after Euro 2020 success as "madness", suggested Chiellini was open to hearing offers from other clubs, not just Juve.

Though it was always widely believed he would sign on again in Turin, Monday's confirmation put any doubts to bed.

The deal also suggests Chiellini has designs on featuring for Italy at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, with the veteran seemingly deciding to carry on with the Azzurri after Euro 2020.

Chiellini's performances in that tournament were evidence enough that he is far from finished at the top, his defensive dominance a vital element of an Italy team that played entertaining football but were also solid at the back.

He was colossal in the final as Italy beat England on penalties after a 1-1 draw.

Chiellini produced six clearances – four more than any other Italy player – and three interceptions, won more aerial duels (7) than anyone else in blue and completed 95.7 per cent of his 115 passes.

Juve will hope to see a little more of that Chiellini themselves in 2021-22, given he has played just 21 Serie A matches since the start of 2019-20, partly due to injury. 

He featured 17 times in 2020-21 as the club failed to win a 10th successive Scudetto.

Chiellini has made 535 appearances for Juventus since joining them in 2004, while he has also played 112 times for his country.

He has won the Scudetto nine times and claimed five Coppa Italia titles.

Massimiliano Allegri shrugged off talk of a possible Juventus return for Miralem Pjanic, saying Aaron Ramsey could instead be used in a deeper role this season.

Pjanic left for Barcelona last year in a swap deal with Arthur, but his time in Spain has been unhappy, the midfielder starting just six LaLiga games under Ronald Koeman in 2020-21.

There is speculation the 31-year-old wants to move back to Turin, where he could reunite with Allegri, the coach under whom he won six trophies in Italy.

Allegri, though, appears more interested in transforming Ramsey into a defensive midfielder ahead of the start of 2021-22.

The Wales international started at the base of a midfield three in Saturday's 2-1 friendly win over Monza, regaining possession four times and completing 100 per cent of his passes in his 45-minute outing.

Ramsey has been linked with a possible return to the Premier League but it appears Allegri has important plans for the 30-year-old if he is prepared to embrace the change in position.

"The club handles the transfer market. We speak every day," Allegri said to Mediaset when asked about the Pjanic rumours.

"The squad... it's a good squad. Ramsey played very well in front of the defence today and I think Aaron, in front of the defence, can become a really important player.

"[Pjanic] gave me some great victories. He's a Barcelona player, though.

"We have talented players and I think, if Ramsey is convinced to play in front of the defence, he can become important. He runs less there and can rest more on the ball."

Juve play Barca in the pre-season Joan Gamper Trophy match on August 8.

Juventus are confident of signing Manuel Locatelli from Sassuolo after tabling what vice-president Pavel Nedved describes as an "appropriate offer".

The 23-year-old midfielder has established himself with Sassuolo over the past two seasons in Serie A and is now on the radar of several leading European clubs.

Locatelli's stock has risen even further after featuring five times for Italy in their successful Euro 2020 campaign, including an appearance against England in last month's final.

He scored twice against Switzerland in the group stage and had the second best goals-per-90-minute ratio of any Italy player (0.66) in the tournament after Matteo Pessina (0.95).

Former Milan man Locatelli also won more tackles per 90 minutes (2.32) than any Italy player at the Euros, followed by Marco Verratti (2.02) and Federico Bernardeschi (1.42).

Arsenal have already made a bid for the midfielder, while fellow English side Liverpool have also been linked, but Nedved is positive Juve can win the race for his signature.

"We spoke to Sassuolo and we made our offer, which we believe is appropriate for the current climate, with the way finances and the transfer market have been affected by COVID," Nedved told Sport Mediaset.

"We are convinced this is a good offer and it is the right one. We are always confident. Naturally in negotiations there are things that must be clarified and resolved. When you want a player and that player wants you, it's clear..."

 

Nedved's comments come after Sassuolo CEO Giovanni Carnevali revealed last week that Locatelli would prefer a move to Juventus.

The Bianconeri, who reappointed Massimiliano Allegri in May after sacking Andrea Pirlo, have yet to make any new signings ahead of the 2021-22 campaign.

Juve face Barcelona in a prestige pre-season friendly next weekend before beginning their Serie A campaign away at Udinese on August 22.

Manchester City still hope to sign Tottenham and England striker Harry Kane in the coming days.

The Premier League champions appear likely to add his international team-mate first, with Jack Grealish reportedly close to a move to the Etihad Stadium.

Aston Villa have tabled a contract to keep their star man, but City are prepared to spend big to win his signature.

 

TOP STORY - CITY CLOSE ON GREALISH DEAL

Manchester City are set to complete a £100million move for Jack Grealish in the next few days, according to multiple reports

The Mail says the 25-year-old England international will earn more than £200,000 a week upon joining Pep Guardiola's side. 

Though City are expected to cut ties with some veteran players, adding Grealish will have no impact on their longstanding pursuit of Harry Kane, the Sun reports.

 

ROUND-UP

- Saul Niguez is weighing up a move to the Premier League, with the Mirror reporting Manchester United and Liverpool are possibilities for the Atletico Madrid midfielder in a £35-£40m deal. 

- Barcelona and Atletico Madrid are possibilities for Bernardo Silva if he leaves City in the coming weeks, reports the Mail. 

- Atalanta centre-back Cristian Romero wants to join Tottenham but the clubs are having difficulty reaching an agreement, reports Fabrizio Romano. 

- Brazilian striker Kaio Jorge is set for a €3m (£2.5m) permanent move to Juventus from Santos and is expected to sign through to 2026, reports Romano. 

- Arsenal and Everton have shown interest in Schalke's Matthew Hoppe after the USA international's strong Gold Cup performance, reports US journalist Grant Wahl.

- Talks between Wolves and Adama Traore have broken down and Leeds could swoop for the winger, reports Goal. 

- Brighton are interested in Benfica striker and Urugay international Darwin Nunez, reports the Mail. 

Manuel Locatelli won plenty of admirers for his displays at Euro 2020.

Locatelli played a key role in Italy's tournament triumph, including two goals against Switzerland.

The former Milan midfielder has established himself with Sassuolo over the past two seasons in Serie A and is now on the radar of several leading European clubs.

 

TOP STORY - LIVERPOOL HIJACK LOCATELLI PURSUIT

Liverpool have joined Juventus and Arsenal in the race to sign Italy international Manuel Locatelli , reports 90min.

The Reds are close to making their opening bid for the Sassuolo midfielder who helped Italy win Euro 2020.

Liverpool are looking to replace Georginio Wijnaldum who has left for Paris Saint-Germain.

 

ROUND-UP

- Aston Villa have countered Manchester City's £100million bid on Friday for midfielder Jack Grealish with a club-record contact offer, reports The Daily Star. The deal is believed to be worth £200,000 per week.

- Real Madrid are set to act fast on replacing Manchester United-bound Raphael Varane, with a €60m move for Villarreal defender Pau Torres, according to El Gol Digital.

- Granit Xhaka may stay at Arsenal despite strong links with a transfer to Roma, with the Gunners strongly considering a new contract offer for the Swiss midfielder, reports The Athletic.

- Hector Bellerin is close to exiting Arsenal, with his agent flying to London for talks with the Gunners about a move to Inter, claims Calciomercato. Inter are looking to replace Achraf Hakimi who left for Paris Saint-Germain.

- Sport1 claims that Liverpool have been unable to meet Borussia Moenchengladbach's €40m (£34m) asking price for midfielder Florian Neuhaus but remain interested.

Juventus defender Gianluca Frabotta has joined Verona on a season-long loan deal.

The Italy under-21 international will spend the 2021-22 campaign with the Gialloblu, who finished 10th in Serie A last term.

Frabotta joined Juve from Bologna in August 2019, making his senior debut in a 3-1 defeat by Roma the following year.

The left-back appeared 17 times for the Bianconeri in all competitions under Andrea Pirlo last season, scoring in the Coppa Italia victory over SPAL.

Verona have reportedly seen off competition from Atalanta and Genoa to land Frabotta's signature.

The 22-year-old will link up with Eusebio Di Francesco, who replaced Ivan Juric at Stadio Bentegodi in June.

The former Roma boss guided the Giallorossi to the Champions League semi-finals in 2018, when they lost a thrilling tie 7-6 on aggregate against Liverpool.

Barcelona, Juventus and Real Madrid have stated their intention to press on with the European Super League after a court protected them against UEFA disciplinary proceedings relating to the project's ill-fated launch earlier this year.

On Friday, the mercantile court in Madrid threw out UEFA's appeal against its ruling earlier this month that stated disciplinary proceedings concerned with the founding 12 Super League clubs must be scrapped.

The Spanish pair and Italian giants welcomed the decision against what they termed "UEFA threats" and condemned European football's governing body for its "monopolistic position" over its governance of the game in a joint statement.

The case will now be assessed by the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.

"FC Barcelona, Juventus, and Real Madrid CF welcome today's court's decision enforcing, with immediate effect, UEFA's obligation to unwind the actions taken against all European Super League founding clubs, including terminating the disciplinary proceedings against the undersigning three clubs and removing the penalties and restrictions imposed on the remaining nine founding clubs for them to avoid UEFA's disciplinary action," the statement read.

"The court backs the request made by the promoters of the European Super League, dismisses UEFA's appeal, and confirms its warning to UEFA that failure to comply with its ruling shall result in fines and potential criminal liability."

The statement continued: "Our aim is to keep developing the Super League project in a constructive and cooperative manner, always counting on all football stakeholders: fans, players, coaches, clubs, leagues, and national and international associations.

"We are aware that there are elements of our proposal that should be reviewed and, of course, can be improved through dialogue and consensus. We remain confident in the success of a project that will be always compliant with European Union laws."

The proposed Super League format guaranteed participation for its 12 founders but quickly prompted outrage across the footballing world in April.

With the Premier League clubs – Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Tottenham and Arsenal – pulling out, Milan, Inter and Atletico Madrid soon followed.

Those nine clubs each agreed to pay €15million in support of European grassroots football initiatives and cede five per cent of their revenues from UEFA club competitions in the forthcoming season after reconciliation talks with the governing body.

Barcelona, Juventus and Real Madrid did not stand down, prompting a UEFA investigation and the launch of disciplinary proceedings in May that were expected to yield harsher punishments.

Friday's ruling in the Spanish capital effectively renders all of those measures void. UEFA is yet to comment on the latest developments.

Kieran Trippier has one year remaining on his Atletico Madrid contract.

The England international has been heavily linked with a move to Manchester United.

It has been reported that Trippier wants to return to England, having left Tottenham for LaLiga in 2019.

 

TOP STORY - TRIPPIER TO WAIT ON UNITED MOVE

Manchester United target Kieran Trippier is willing to wait until late in the transfer window to secure his move, reports the Telegraph.

Atletico Madrid full-back Trippier is said to have set his sights on a move to United, who have already been busy in the transfer market by launching moves for Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane.

The report claims Trippier is prepared to sit tight and wait for United to raise the funds required to put together a move for the 30-year-old former Manchester City junior.

 

ROUND-UP

- Aston Villa are ready to restart talks with Jack Grealish about a new deal next week as Manchester City begin to ramp up their interest, according to the Express and Star.

- Chelsea defender Kurt Zouma is being lined up by West Ham,  with a proposed £20m bid set to be tabled, according to the Daily Mail. It had been reported Zouma may be used in a deal for Sevilla's Jules Kounde.

- Barcelona are lining up a second bid to sign Juventus defender Cristian Romero after having had a player-plus-cash deal turned down, reports SportItalia. Tottenham are also keen on Romero.

- Celtic could make a move for ex-England goalkeeper Joe Hart, who is currently on Tottenham's books, says BBC Sport.

It seems clear that Paul Pogba will not remain at Old Trafford for the long haul.

Also clear: Paris Saint-Germain's interest in the France midfielder.

The big question that remains to be answered is the timing of a potential move for the Manchester United man.

 

TOP STORY – PSG WEIGH UP POGBA OPTIONS

Paris Saint-Germain are interested in a move for Paul Pogba but are still debating when to make their bid.

According to The Athletic, PSG have begun discussions to determine Pogba's interest in a move but have not made a formal approach to United.

While the report says a bid is expected within the next few weeks, it remains a possibility that PSG could wait until Pogba is out of contract in 2022 and deal with the player directly.

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