Reports in Spain suggest Atletico Madrid and Antoine Griezmann could be set for a reunion, just two years after Barcelona broke their transfer record to sign the France star.

Griezmann spent five seasons at Atleti, joining Diego Simeone's team from Real Sociedad.

He went on to score 94 LaLiga goals for the club, before a long-mooted switch to Barca went through in 2019.

Yet Griezmann, who turned 30 in March, has never quite managed to scale the same heights at the Camp Nou as he did in Madrid.

A disappointing first campaign marred by injuries and inconsistency left Griezmann playing catch up last term, though he did net 20 times across all competitions to finish as Barca's second-highest goalscorer, behind the imperious Lionel Messi.

With the uncertainty over Messi's future seemingly set to be resolved by a new five-year deal, reportedly worth half of the 34-year-old's previous contract, Barca have to clear their wage bill if they are to comply with LaLiga's salary cap.

The Blaugrana have added Sergio Aguero, Memphis Depay, Eric Garcia and Emerson Royal in the close-season, though are unable to register those new signings until players are moved out.

Griezmann, who is one of the club's highest earners, looks set to be one of the names to make way in a swap deal involving Saul Niguez – though Renan Lodi and Mario Hermoso have also been touted as potential options for Barca. Ahead of his potential return, Stats Perform assesses how Griezmann's efforts last season match up to his best campaign from his first Atleti stint.

 

GRIEZMANN AT HIS PEAK

Griezmann was the perfect example of consistency throughout his time at Atleti, as he became the perfect, versatile forward for Simeone's disciplined side.

He partnered Mario Mandzukic, Fernando Torres and Diego Costa among others during his time at the club, transforming himself from a nippy winger to a central striker with predatory instincts in the area, as well as harbouring plenty of creative talents.

Though he played more games (54) and scored more goals (32) during the 2015-16 season, Griezmann's finest campaign at Atleti arguably came in 2017-18.

His tally of 19 LaLiga strikes was 11 more than any other Atleti player, as he finished sixth in the scoring charts overall.

Griezmann added another 10 goals across the cup competitions, however, including a brace in the Europa League final, which Atleti won 3-0 against Marseille in Lyon.

Only Griezmann got into double figures for Atleti in terms of assists (13), while only Koke (81) created more chances than his 65.

Griezmann was clinical when opportunities came his way, too, converting 52.38 per cent of the 42 "big chances" that were crafted for him, and he ranked top for attempts (124) as he averaged a goal every 133 minutes.

To cap off an exceptional domestic campaign, Greizmann put in a man of the match display as France beat Croatia 4-2 in the 2018 World Cup final.

 

PAST HIS BEST?

After making much of his call to stay put at Atleti – Griezmann having taken part in a mini-documentary to confirm his decision before the World Cup – the 28-year-old completed a €120million switch to Barca a year later.

It came with controversy; Atleti insisting Barca had fallen some €80m short of the obligated fee, but the transfer was nevertheless upheld.

His first season at Camp Nou was one to forget. The coronavirus pandemic merely prolonging a dismal campaign by Griezmann's lofty standards – the nadir for all involved at Barca coming in the humbling 8-2 Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich.

Yet Griezmann came into his second season with a renewed sense of purpose and finally seemed to click under new boss Ronald Koeman.

While still having to fit in around key man Messi, Griezmann played 51 times in all competitions, making 45 starts, clocking up 3,904 minutes in total (the second most he has managed in a campaign since his move to Atleti).

A total of 20 goals sees him fall some way short of the 29 he managed in 2017-18, though his 12 assists come close to matching his Atleti peak.

 

His expected assists (xA) total of 8.99 does, however, suggest the quality of opportunities he created was perhaps not wholly responsible for his 12 goal provisions. Given he was linking up with Messi, that is perhaps no surprise. This was, though, also the case in 2017-18, with Griezmann tallying an expected assists figure of 6.3, suggesting his Atleti team-mates were finishing chances they may not have been expected to.

Griezmann created more chances (67) last term than in his 2017-18 season, though his conversion rate of gilt-edged opportunities dropped to 39.39 per cent from 33 such openings.

Only in 2018-19 (15.11) did Griezmann have a lower shot conversion rate than last term (18.02) while there was no international glory for him this time around either – he scored once as France dropped out of Euro 2020 in the last 16.

Manchester City's pursuit of a new striker is well known.

Sergio Aguero's exit has left a void for the Premier League champions.

City have been linked with a host of big names including Erling Haaland and Harry Kane.

 

TOP STORY - MAN CITY MONITORING LEWANDOWSKI

Manchester City are monitoring the status of Bundesliga top scorer Robert Lewandowski, according to the Daily Mail.

Lewandowski has two years remaining on his Bayern Munich deal but has previously indicated he may be open to a move elsewhere.

The report claims City are worried they may not succeed in their pursuit of Kane and see 32-year-old Lewandowski as an option given his quality and potentially lower asking price.

 

ROUND-UP

- Liverpool is readying a £60million (€70m) bid for Inter and Italy midfielder Nicolo Barella according to La Repubblica. However, Fabrizio Romano claims Inter will not sell him.

- Everton have submitted a £30m (€35m) bid for Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly, but the Italian club have told the Toffees to double the offer, claims Calciomercato.

- The Telegraph reports that England full-back Kieran Trippier is desperate to return to the Premier League as he waits on a move from Atletico Madrid to Manchester United.

- The Telegraph also claims that Joe Willock will spend time on loan again at Newcastle from Arsenal. He will join the Magpies on a season-long deal.

- SPORT claims that Chelsea are tracking Sevilla's Jules Kounde after he recently rejected interest from Tottenham.

- Chelsea are looking to utilise Tammy Abraham as a sweetener in any deal to land Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund, reports The Mirror.

- West Bromwich have turned down West Ham's offer for goalkeeper Sam Johnstone, claims The Athletic.

Real Madrid revealed they have lost "close to €300million" in revenue during the coronavirus pandemic as their financial results were announced on Wednesday.

However, Los Blancos reported a post-tax profit of €874,000 for 2020-21, up from €313,000 in the previous financial year.

"In this way, the club will be one of the few big clubs in Europe that does not incur losses in these two years, given that – according to a UEFA study – the operating losses accumulated by European clubs between 2019-20 and 2020-21 will approach €6billion," Madrid said.

A statement attributed the club's financial performance to "intense spending saving measures in all areas".

These measures, Madrid said, were the only way to compensate for a sizeable nine-figure revenue loss, "to which we would have to add the loss of new income that could have been achieved if the pandemic had not existed."

The 13-time European champions did not make a single first-team signing in the 2020-21 season while selling Achraf Hakimi and Sergio Reguilon and allowing James Rodriguez to leave.

Further big names are following this year, with Sergio Ramos departing after claiming a contract offer was withdrawn and Raphael Varane widely linked to Manchester United.

However, Madrid are not considered to be in as tricky a situation as rivals Barcelona, who are closing on a new deal for Lionel Messi but must first clear room under their salary cap.

And Los Blancos – whose Santiago Bernabeu stadium is under renovation, with the team playing elsewhere during the pandemic – continue to be linked with high-profile moves for the likes of Kylian Mbappe.

But the final line in Madrid's financial report appeared to rule out sudden significant expenditure.

"With regard to the economic situation, current forecasts indicate that the recovery from the pre-pandemic situation will not be immediate," the club said.

"In this context, the club will continue in the effort so far to contain spending."

Lionel Messi has agreed a five-year contract extension with Barcelona after accepting a substantial pay cut, according to reports.

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner became a free agent when his contract at Camp Nou, where he has spent his entire senior career, expired at midnight on June 30.

However, following months of speculation regarding Messi's future, Catalan dailies L'Esportiu and Sport reported on Wednesday that the 34-year-old has agreed to stay on.

An announcement could be made as early as Thursday, it is claimed, once LaLiga officials have signed off on the contract.

Barcelona are facing high-profile financial problems and need to reduce their wage bill if they are to comply with LaLiga's financial fair play rules.

Speaking on Monday, however, Barca president Joan Laporta revealed talks between the Catalan giants and Messi were "progressing adequately".

The same reports suggest Messi has agreed to a far lower salary, potentially as much as 50 per cent on his previous deal that was signed in 2017.

The five-year contract will take the superstar forward through to the age of 39, though Barca may allow Messi to see out the final part of his career in Major League Soccer.

Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City were the main frontrunners for Messi last year, though neither club made an immediate move for the free agent.

 

Messi was again hugely influential for Barcelona last season, finishing as LaLiga's top scorer and managing 38 goals and 12 assists across all competitions.

Taking all competitions into account, he created 117 chances for others and netted a goal every 110.32 minutes. 

Full-back Jordi Alba was next on the list of the most chances created for Barca in 2020-21, teeing up 85 goalscoring opportunities.

Despite the speculation surrounding his club future, Messi carried his club form onto the international stage by inspiring Argentina to their first Copa America crown since 1993.

He scored four goals and chipped in with five assists to win his first piece of silverware for his country.

Javier Tebas will not turn a blind eye to LaLiga's financial fair play rules to allow Barcelona to keep Lionel Messi.

Barca president Joan Laporta said this week that talks with Messi, who became a free agent for the first time in his career this month, were "progressing adequately".

And reports on Wednesday claimed Messi had agreed a new five-year contract with Barca that will pay him half his original salary.

Speaking prior to the emergence those reports, LaLiga president Tebas rejected the notion he could ignore salary cap rules to allow Barca to retain the services of the Argentina superstar.

In doing so, he hinted Barca could come under scrutiny from the league if they release players or staff to enable them to keep Messi.

"No, I won't [turn a blind eye] for Messi, it's impossible. There are many workers [at LaLiga] and in the economic control [department] as well," Tebas told Radio Marca.

 

"We often have to explain [the economic controls] to agents and players because they don't know about it or think clubs are deceiving them, and we've had to explain it in recent years.

"We'll have to analyse everything properly, because if there are dismissals for economic reasons but then they bring in Messi and others... we'd have to look into that.

"Right now, I can only give my opinion, and that is that it is odd that there has been no offer [for Messi] from Manchester City or Paris Saint-Germain.

"And I firmly believe there isn't and that the player wants to stay."

 

Messi is coming off a 2020-21 season in which he scored 38 goals in all competitions, the fourth-most across Europe's top five leagues behind Robert Lewandowski (48), Kylian Mbappe (42) and Erling Haaland (41).

The sole reward for his efforts was the Copa del Rey, as Barca missed out on LaLiga and lost in the last 16 of the Champions League to Mbappe and PSG.

However, he crowned the campaign with his first senior international trophy, helping Argentina to triumph in the Copa America on Saturday as they defeated Brazil 1-0 in the final.

Chelsea may have been European champions in 2021, but they have not won the Premier League since 2017.

Blues owner Roman Abramovich is reportedly ready to loosen the purse strings to end their league title wait.

Chelsea have been linked with several big-name signings this off-season.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA RELEASE FUNDS TO LAND HAALAND

Chelsea are ready to ramp up their bid to sign Borussia Dortmund striker Haaland now Euro 2020 is over.

Bild reports Abramovich has released the funds required to lure Haaland to London following an impressive 18 months in Germany.

Dortmund have reportedly told Chelsea it will take £150m (€176m) to sign the Norwegian, and Chelsea may sell Callum Hudson-Odoi, Hakim Ziyech and Tammy Abraham to fund the move.

 

ROUND-UP

Tottenham have set their sights on Southampton forward Danny Ings, making him a priority, claims The Telegraph. Manchester City are also apparently interested.

- Daily Express reports Chelsea are making plans to sign Antoine Griezmann on loan from Barcelona, with the Blaugrana attempting to reduce their wage bill in line with LaLiga salary cap rules.

- Another Barcelona player potentially on the move is Clement Lenglet. According to Sport, new Everton manager Rafa Benitez wants to build his defence around the France international.

- Monaco left-back Fode Ballo-Toure is close to signing with Milan, having already agree personal terms, according to Fabrizio Romano.

- Fabrizio Romano also claims Roma are interested in signing Alex Telles on loan from Manchester United to replace the injured Leonardo Spinazzola.

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez claimed comments where he allegedly criticised Iker Casillas and Raul have been "taken out of the context".

Perez's controversial remarks came from an audio recording in 2006 that was leaked on Tuesday and published in Spanish newspaper El Confidencial.

At that time Perez had just left his position as Madrid president and in the audio he appears to at least partially link the influence held by the two players to his exit.

He is reported to have opined Casillas was not good enough to play in goal for Madrid while questioning the huge influence held by Raul.

Perez, who returned as Madrid's president in 2009, reckoned his support of the European Super League was the motivation behind the leaked audio.

In a statement released by Real Madrid, Perez said: "Given the story in El Confidencial, in which comments are attributed to me, I think it's necessary to clarify.

"The comments were made in conversation with D. Jose Antonio [Abellan], who has been unsuccessfully trying to sell them for years. It's surprising that given the time that has passed, they have appeared today in the newspaper El Confidencial.

"The comments are taken out of the context in which they were made. That they are reproduced now, after so many years, I believe is due to my role as one of the promoters of the European Super League.

"I have placed the issue in the hands of my lawyers who are studying possible legal action."

Former striker Raul is Madrid's all-time record appearance holder with 741 and was their leading goalscorer with 323 until that total was eclipsed by Cristiano Ronaldo, who found the net 450 times for Los Blancos.

Raul is currently coach of Madrid's reserve team.

Ex-goalkeeper Casillas is just behind Raul with 725 appearances and won all the major club titles during a 25-year stint with Madrid.

Talks between Lionel Messi and Barcelona over a new contract are "progressing adequately", according to Joan Laporta.

Six-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi, who has spent his entire senior career at Camp Nou, is now officially a free agent after his Barcelona deal expired at the end of June.

He has been linked with Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain in the past, but the 34-year-old is widely expected to remain with the Blaugrana despite their financial problems.

However, Barca must first reduce their wage bill if they are to comply with LaLiga's financial fair play rules and offer Messi the deal he is holding out for.

Messi's club future is now back in focus after helping Argentina to Copa America success last week and Barca president Laporta remains hopeful terms can be agreed.

"[Messi's renewal] is progressing adequately," he told reporters during the presentation of Mago Pop's show 'Nothing is Impossible'.

"All the Catalans, Barcelona, Catalunya and the entire football world are happy because Leo won the Copa America.

"It is very exciting to see the best player in football history get excited about winning a title like this and he made all of us cry with joy.

"He is very happy, we are all happy. I am happy for Leo who has managed [to win the Copa America], together with his team-mates, and that Argentina are once again in the elite. 

"I am happy for Messi's family, for Argentina, for Barcelona who are recognised, admired and loved for having this bond with Leo."

 

Messi was again hugely influential for Barcelona last season, finishing as LaLiga's top scorer and managing 38 goals and 12 assists across all competitions.

Taking all competitions into account, he created 117 chances for others and netted a goal every 110.32 minutes. 

Full-back Jordi Alba was next on the list of the most chances created for Barca in 2020-21, teeing up 85 goalscoring opportunities.

Despite the speculation surrounding his club future, Messi carried his club form onto the international stage by inspiring Argentina to their first Copa America crown since 1993.

He scored four goals and chipped in with five assists to win his first piece of silverware for his country.

Manchester City's search to replace Sergio Aguero is well known.

Spanish reports have linked Pep Guardiola’s side with Barcelona's Antoine Griezmann.

So, could City - who won the Premier League but lost the Champions League final to Chelsea – be set to bring in the France international? Possibly not...

 

TOP STORY – GRIEZMANN NOT ON CITY RADAR

Manchester City are ready to ramp up their move for a new striker during the transfer window but will not pursue Barcelona forward Griezmann, claims The Sun.

Pep Guardiola's side will instead set their sights on Tottenham's Harry Kane, while Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland is another possibility.

The Sun's report denies Spanish links between City and Frenchman Griezmann, with Barcelona understood to be keen to reduce their wage bill to free up funds to re-sign Lionel Messi.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Daily Mail reports that Atletico Madrid's signing of midfielder Rodrigo De Paul from Udinese will pave the way for Liverpool's proposed move to sign Saul Niguez. De Paul's arrival means Atleti are free to sell him off, with the Reds and Barcelona reportedly interested.

- Juventus are homing in on a transfer for Manchester City's Brazilian forward Gabriel Jesus, while they are also keen on bringing back Moise Kean to Turin, according to Tuttosport.

- Manchester United are edging closer to agreeing terms with French defender and long-term target Raphael Varane for a move from Real Madrid, reports the Mail.

- Jadon Sancho's move from Borussia Dortmund to Manchester United will be confirmed this week with a medical before his post-Euro 2020 holiday, claims The Sun.

- Fabrizio Romano claims that Wolves goalkeeper Rui Patricio will become Jose Mourinho's first signing at Roma imminently.

Atletico Madrid have completed the reported €35million signing of Argentina international midfielder Rodrigo de Paul, with Diego Simeone acquiring arguably the ideal creator for his philosophy.

De Paul, 27, has signed a five-year contract with Los Colchoneros and gets the opportunity complete unfinished business in Spain.

The midfielder spent two years with Valencia from June 2014 but endured an unsuccessful spell, failing to win over Nuno Espirito Santo and then Gary Neville, who allowed him to return to former club Racing on loan in February 2016.

De Paul came through the youth ranks at Racing and made his jump up to the senior side the year after Simeone left the club for Atleti.

After his brief loan return to Racing concluded, Valencia sold De Paul to Udinese where he looked to recapture the form that had earlier seen him identified as one of South America's most-promising young players.

He was a regular throughout his five years in Serie A but enjoyed his finest campaign of all in 2020-21, displaying a skillset that looks an ideal fit for the requirements of a Simeone team.

Throughout Simeone's 10 years as Atletico coach, his signings of creative players have tended to be hit and miss, with it a common conception that his intense demands both in training and during matches can sometimes stifle more mercurial talents who are not used to such workloads.

But De Paul, who is comfortable playing both centrally and out wide, has shown plenty of evidence he should be up to the challenge and is relishing the chance to play under Simeone.

"I'm very happy to have the opportunity of working under Simeone's commands," he told Atleti's website. "Firstly, because of the kind of football manager he is; one of the all-time best.

"I love football, it's part of my daily life, and having a manager of Simeone's high-calibre guiding me is a privilege.

"In addition, it fills me with patriotic pride. I'll enjoy being under his command because I grew up watching him play with Argentina's national team."

 

Providing creativity is De Paul's bread and butter, with his 82 key passes in 2020-21 bettered by only Hakan Calhanoglu (98) in Serie A.

Of those chances, 34 came from set-pieces, highlighting his prowess from dead-ball situations and ranking him fourth in Italy's top flight.

Only five players got more assists than his nine, but all of them massively out-performed their modest expected assists records, which ranged from 3.4 to 6.7. De Paul topped the charts for expected assists with 10.3 xA, evidence that his assists reflected the quality of his service rather than him getting lucky or benefiting from unusually good finishing by team-mates.

Yet the area which highlights a particular compatibility with Atleti is the fact he won more duels (294) than anyone else in Serie A in 2020-21.

Combine that with his league-leading completed dribbles (122) and it paints a picture of a hard-working player who also possesses the quality to get his team on the front foot.

He will join up with Atleti following a short break having played a crucial role in Argentina's recent Copa America success, in which he got the decisive assist for the Angel Di Maria goal that secured the title.

Lionel Messi seems certain to stay at Barcelona, and he could reportedly be joined by Renato Sanches.

While Messi came out of contract at the end of June, he seems set to stay at Barca, who remain central to plenty of transfer talk.

They are apparently interested in Sanches, who helped Lille win Ligue 1 last season.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA EYE SANCHES

Barcelona want Lille midfielder Sanches, according to Le 10 Sport.

The report says Tottenham are also targeting the Portugal international, who has previously played for the likes of Benfica and Bayern Munich.

Barca have already signed Sergio Aguero, Eric Garcia and Memphis Depay ahead of the 2021-22 season, though missed out on midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum.

 

ROUND-UP

- One player whose future at Barcelona is uncertain is Antoine Griezmann. La Vanguardia reports the forward wants to remain at Barca, where he is contracted until 2024, but could leave given the financial uncertainty at the club.

- Could Kalidou Koulibaly finally be set to leave Napoli for the Premier League? 90min reports Everton manager Rafael Benitez has recommended the defender as a transfer target for the club.

- Also in Serie A and Sky Sport reports Andrea Belotti is set to decide in the coming days whether to renew his contract with Torino beyond 2022. The report says Jose Mourinho's Roma are interested in the striker.

- Barcelona are looking to offload goalkeeper Neto, but finding a suitor for the shot-stopper is complicated, according to Mundo Deportivo.

Lionel Messi lifted the Copa America on Saturday in Brazil.

But back in Europe, rumours continue to swirl about his future.

The 34-year-old forward is out of contract though the latest development suggests a resolution is in sight.

 

TOP STORY - NEW BARCELONA DEAL LOOMS FOR MESSI

AS reports that LaLiga have authorized Barcelona to register Lionel Messi despite the club's financial concerns.

Messi became a free agent last week with Barcelona working on a new deal, pending their financial constraints having been impacted heavily by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Paris Saint-Germain had been linked with a swoop for Messi but the approval of the authorities to register Messi is a strong indication he will stay.

 

ROUND-UP

- Highly sought-after Saul Niguez is being considered in a swap deal between Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, which would include Antoine Griezmann, claims Football Espana. Liverpool were linked with Niguez earlier this week.

- Chelsea have joined the race for Rennes teenage talent Eduardo Camavinga, alongside Manchester United, Arsenal and Real Madrid, according to Le Parisien.

- Manchester United are ready to spend £17m to sign Napoli's right-back Giovanni di Lorenzo following the Euro 2020 final, reports Il Napolista.

- Fabrizio Romano reports that veteran Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini will sign a new one-year extension with Juventus after the completion of Euro 2020.

- Newly promoted Watford are keen on Udinese's Danish star Jens Stryger Larsen after he impressed during Euro 2020, reports 90min.

- Newly promoted Brentford are preparing a £10m bid for Liverpool's Harry Wilson claims The Sun.

Marcelo is convinced Real Madrid will get back to winning trophies in the new season after he was named as Carlo Ancelotti's captain.

The Brazilian left-back takes on the leadership role from Sergio Ramos, who has left the Spanish giants to join Paris Saint-Germain, and said he felt "extremely lucky" to be chosen.

At the age of 33, Marcelo will hope to be a mainstay under Italian boss Ancelotti, who is back in charge at the Santiago Bernabeu after Zinedine Zidane left following a lack of silverware in the 2020-21 campaign.

It is Ancelotti's second crack at the Madrid job, after a prior spell covering two seasons from 2013 to 2015. Capturing the LaLiga crown that Atletico Madrid snatched last term will be a priority.

Marcelo said: "We're aware that it's very tough to go through a season without winning a title, but we fought 'til the end of the season.

"I'm sure we're going to win something. We're very happy, we've still got players to come back from international duty or on holiday, but we're very motivated for the season to start."

Despite only starting 12 LaLiga games during that barren final season of Zidane's reign, Marcelo was an understandable choice as Ancelotti targeted a dressing-room leader, given he is coming up to 15 years of service at Madrid, having signed for the club from Fluminense in December 2006.

 

"It's an honour and an enormous responsibility to be captain of the greatest club in the world. I'm extremely lucky," Marcelo said on Madrid's official website.

"I learn a lot every season, there's always something new. I'm even more excited about this campaign because I'm Real Madrid captain. It's a dream come true for me and I believe I've done everything I can to be here for such a long time.

"I believe that as captain I'm the spokesperson for the team and I'll always look to help as much as I can, just like I've always done."

Liverpool are reportedly leading the race to sign Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul Niguez.

Saul has five years remaining on his contract with the LaLiga champions, but could be on the move ahead of the 2020-21 season.

Jurgen Klopp may have competition to land the 26-year-old, with Barcelona said to be interested in a stunning swap deal which would see Antoine Griezmann return to the capital.

 

TOP STORY - SAUL IN DEMAND

Liverpool have lined up a move for Saul Niguez and are willing to fork out £35million to get their man, according to AS.

The Reds are in the market for a central midfielder after losing Georginio Wijnaldum, who moved to Paris Saint-Germain after his contract expired.

Saul is thought to be the man Jurgen Klopp has identified to fill the void left by Wijnaldum, although Football Espana claim Atletico Madrid and Barcelona could be open to a swap deal, with Antoine Griezmann returning to his former club and Saul joining the Catalan giants.

 

ROUND-UP

- Juventus will step up their attempts to sign Manuel Locatelli are are will to pay €40m for the Sassuolo and Italy midfielder (La Gazzetta dello Sport).

- Arsenal have raised their offer for Brighton and Hove Albion defender Ben White to an initial £48m plus a possible additional £6m in add-ons, according to The Star.

- Chelsea outcast Emerson Palmieri is a target for Napoli and Roma, but Calciomercato say the Serie A clubs are not willing to pay the €20m asking price.

Felipe Anderson is poised to rejoin Lazio from West Ham and will undergo a medical on Saturday. (Sky Sport Italia, Sportitalia and Tuttomercatoweb).

- Former Argentina striker Carlos Tevez has received three offers to finish his career in the MLS following his Boca Juniors exit. (ESPN Deportes) 

Barcelona have completed the signing of Yusuf Demir on loan from Rapid Vienna with an option to buy.

The 18-year-old winger has earned a fine reputation at home after breaking into the Rapid team so young and has been dubbed the 'Austrian Messi' for his style of play and stature.

He will now hope to link up with Messi himself, providing the Argentina star does sign a new deal at Camp Nou.

Barca have struck a deal to sign Demir on loan for 2021-22 at a cost of €500,000 and they will have the option to sign him permanently for €10million should he impress, the Catalan club said.

Similarly, Demir has also agreed a new contract at Rapid until 2023, meaning they will not lose him on a free transfer next year if Barca opt against making his switch to LaLiga permanent.

Demir's signing falls in line with Barca's recent transfer policy of mostly targeting young players, with Sergino Dest, Francisco Trincao, Eric Garcia, Emerson Royal, Pedri and Frenkie de Jong brought in well before their peak.

The low fees involved and the fact Demir will not demand exorbitant wages are both important factors given Barca's well-publicised financial problems and the fact they are reportedly required to slash their wage expenditure by 40 per cent in line with LaLiga salary cap rules.

Nevertheless, Demir will be seen as a wise yet low-risk move given his burgeoning reputation, which is built around his ability to excite.

 

While he only started in six of his 25 Austrian Bundesliga appearances (825 minutes) last season, he finished the campaign with a highly respectable seven goal involvements, which averages out at one every 117.9 minutes – only 10 players to play at least 825 minutes had a better record.

Despite only getting the one assist, Demir was a regular source of creativity when he did feature, as highlighted by the fact his 2.7 key passes per 90 was the sixth highest among those to play at least 825 minutes.

But arguably his most notable asset, and the one that inspires the comparison with Messi, is his ability on the ball.

A dynamic and exciting player, Demir attempted 6.3 dribbles per 90 minutes on average, a figure matched by no one who featured for more than 108 minutes last term.

Similarly, he was successful with 3.8 dribble attempts per game, which was also a league-high, and it was that kind of flair that has helped him realise a childhood dream.

"For eight years I was able to learn everything and develop myself at Rapid," he told the Austrian club's website. "That's one of the reasons why I extended my contract for another year.

"I am incredibly grateful to every supervisor, every player and everyone else. With the move to FC Barcelona, ​​an incredibly big childhood dream comes true.

"I will be moving to my favourite club and the biggest club in the world. I came to Rapid as a small child with big dreams and am now an incredibly grateful boy."

While the Austria international looks likely to initially feature more for Barcelona B, he will immediately link up with the first-team squad for pre-season training, allowing him to stake his claim.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.