Franck Kessie's agent denied the Milan star has been offered to city rivals and Serie A champions Inter amid ongoing doubts over his future at San Siro.

Kessie is out of contract at the end of the season and the Milan midfielder is no closer to re-signing with the Rossoneri, despite voicing his desire to remain at the club "forever".

There has been speculation linking Kessie with Inter, while the likes of Manchester United, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain, Liverpool and Arsenal have also emerged as options on a free transfer.

While downplaying the Inter reports, George Atangana warned Milan the 24-year-old Ivory Coast international requires a new deal that reflects his quality.

"A player of Franck's calibre does not need to be offered to anyone. In any case, I have never spoken to Inter," Atangana told Calciomercato.com.

"An important player needs a contract that is up to his standards.

"There was a formal offer from the club [Milan] and a request from the agent, but we are talking about figures a long way off what you are referring to.

"For too long people have been saying things in the wrong way. I am sorry for those who read these stories and believe them to be true."

Kessie has called Milan home since 2017, having initially joined from Atalanta on loan before signing permanently in 2019.

After scoring 13 Serie A goals in 37 appearances last season, Kessie is yet to find the back of the net through five matches this term.

The thought of Harry Kane joining Newcastle United prompted a Kevin Keegan impression from Rob Lee, who told Stats Perform: "I would love it!"

Kane's Tottenham visit St James' Park on Sunday for Newcastle's first game since their takeover was approved.

Widely unpopular owner Mike Ashley has been replaced by a consortium fronted by Amanda Staveley, whose PCP Capital Partners has purchased 10 per cent of the club, and backed by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF).

The PIF, which bought 80 per cent of Newcastle, has become the richest football club owner in the world, prompting links to a host of high-profile signings.

Kane has not been among those, but he pushed for a move away from Spurs ahead of this season.

The England captain has scored five Premier League goals at St James' Park as a visiting player, yet ex-Newcastle skipper Lee, who was signed by Keegan in 1992, would like to see him turning out on Tyneside on a more regular basis.

He told Stats Perform: "I would love to see him at Newcastle. I would love it, absolutely love it."

Kane has not scored in the league yet this season, his six-game barren run his longest since a sequence of eight goalless games back in 2014.

His streak of netting in England qualifiers also ended at 15 matches on Tuesday when he failed to find a way past Hungary's Peter Gulacsi.

There are concerns Kane has not recovered from his failure to secure a move to Manchester City, which is understandable to Lee.

"It depends on what's gone on behind the scenes," he said. "We don't know what's gone on.

"I don't know him at all, but it seems to me like he's a level-headed guy, and he's not one to make a fuss.

"If he had an agreement with Daniel Levy of some sort, then I'm sure he did. And if someone's gone back on that, then obviously he's going to be a little bit peed off."

Whether Newcastle or City, though, Lee still believes Kane is worth whatever fee it would take to prise him away from Tottenham.

"I still expect him to play to the best of his ability. For him to come out and say, 'I want to leave', surely he thought it was sorted," Lee said.

"Whatever you pay for Harry Kane, whether it's £150million, it's worth every penny."

Venezia have announced the signing of former Manchester United goalkeeper Sergio Romero on a free transfer.

Romero ended his six-season stay in Manchester when his contract expired at the end of last season and was a free agent until joining the newly promoted Serie A side, who fended off competition for his signature from fellow Italian outfit Spezia.

The 34-year-old is Argentina's all-time most-capped goalkeeper but did not play a single minute for the Red Devils last season, last featuring in 2019-20 as United's cup shot-stopper, making 17 appearances across all competitions before losing his place when Dean Henderson returned from his loan spell at Sheffield United.

Romero has experience in Serie A, joining Sampdoria in 2011 before his move to Manchester four years later, and will compete with Niki Maenpaa and Luca Lezzerini for a starting spot in Venice.

Steve Bruce's days at Newcastle appear to be numbered.

Rumours of possible replacements are swirling, with plenty of managers having been mentioned. 

Frank Lampard may well lead the race.

 

TOP STORY – LAMPARD FAVOURED TO REPLACE BRUCE

Frank Lampard is the leading candidate to step in once Steve Bruce is inevitably shown the door at Newcastle, The Sun reports. 

The Telegraph claims Lampard and former Borussia Dortmund boss Lucien Favre top the new owners' wish list.

The 43-year-old Lampard was sacked by Chelsea in January 2021, about six weeks after Favre, 63, left Dortmund. 

 

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- Liverpool are keeping a close eye on Ousmane Dembele, who is out of contract at Barcelona at the end of the season, Mundo Deportivo reports.

- Dortmund and RB Leipzig are the top potential landing spots for 19-year-old Salzburg striker Karim Adeyemi, reports Sky Sport Germany.

- Feyenoord will make another effort to prise Amad Diallo from Manchester United in January, according to The Sun, after a potential loan move fell through due to injury during the last transfer window. 

- Club Brugge and Belgium midfielder Charles De Ketelaere is drawing interest from Milan and Napoli, says Calciomercato, with Everton and West Ham also monitoring the 20-year-old.

- Former Manchester United goalkeeper Sergio Romero is expected to finalise his deal with Venezia on Tuesday, reports Fabrizio Romano. 

Bayern Munich could be set for a busy transfer window.

With Barcelona struggling financially, clubs are eyeing some of their talent.

Bayern are reportedly interested in a number of players at Camp Nou.

 

TOP STORY – DE JONG, TER STEGEN WANTED IN MUNICH

Bayern Munich are eyeing Barcelona quartet Frenkie de Jong, Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Pedri and Sergino Dest, according to Sport.

Barca are a club in crisis amid their financial woes, which led to the departure of superstar captain Lionel Messi on a free transfer at the start of the season.

Now, Bundesliga champions Bayern are looking to capitalise, having previously been linked with midfielders De Jong and Pedri, goalkeeper Ter Stegen and right-back Dest.

 

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Barca's move for Manchester City star Raheem Sterling is dependent on the future of Ousmane Dembele, says Sport. Dembele has been linked with Liverpool and Manchester United previously.

- Calciomercato claims Milan will wait to sign wantaway Torino star Andrea Belotti on a free transfer at the end of the season. Monday's Tuttosport reports Serie A champions and city rivals Inter are also interested in the Italy international.

Bruno Fernandes' contract extension is a priority for United, according to Fabrizio Romano. United are also looking to re-sign Luke Shaw and Paul Pogba, who has been linked with Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid.

- The Daily Telegraph reports Newcastle United are eyeing a move for Ralf Rangnick as their sporting director following the club's huge takeover. Rangnick currently works for Russian side Lokomotiv Moscow.

Tottenham managing director of football Fabio Paratici said in-demand Fiorentina star Dusan Vlahovic is not part of the Premier League club's transfer plans.

Vlahovic will not re-sign with Fiorentina and the Serbia international – out of contract at the end of 2022-23 – has been linked to the likes of Tottenham, Manchester City, Atletico Madrid, Juventus, Arsenal, Liverpool and Inter.

The 21-year-old forward scored 21 Serie A goals last season. Of players aged 22 or under in Europe's top five leagues in 2020-21, only Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland (27) scored more top-flight goals than Vlahovic.

Vlahovic – who also became the first player born after the year 2000 to reach 20 Serie A goals – already has four league goals in seven appearances this term, and six across all competitions.

However, Paratici said Tottenham will not be making a move for Vlahovic amid uncertainty over the future of Spurs star Harry Kane.

"Many clubs like the Serbian's profile, but for now he is not in Tottenham's plans," Paratici said at the Festival dello Sport event on Sunday.

Kane was tipped to leave Tottenham for Premier League champions City at the start of the season but a transfer to Manchester did not materialise.

The England international is yet to find the net in any of his opening six Premier League matches of the campaign, though he scored a Europa Conference League hat-trick prior to the international break to take his tally to five goals for the 2021-22 tournament.

As rumours continue regarding his Tottenham future, Paratici said: "Harry Kane loves Tottenham.

"We've decided to keep Harry last summer to start the re-building, and we're happy with our choice. There's no need of any new talk with Harry.

"He knows how to share the sense of belonging to Spurs."

Dusan Vlahovic will give everything for Fiorentina despite the uncertainty over his future, according to head coach Vincenzo Italiano.

Viola owner Rocco Commisso revealed this week that talks over a contract extension had proved fruitless, with Vlahovic unwilling to sign a new deal that would have made him the club's highest-paid player in history.

The striker, who scored 21 Serie A goals last season, is now anticipated to leave Fiorentina next year given his contract expires at the end of 2022-23.

Manchester City were credited with an interest in Vlahovic, as were Serie A champions Inter, but Juventus have been widely reported as the favourites to sign the Serbia international.

Despite the rumours over a possible departure, Vlahovic has scored four times in seven league games this term to help Fiorentina to 12 points from their opening matches, form that has put them in the top five.

Italiano is confident his star forward will continue to deliver the goods even as talk persists over a transfer, perhaps as soon as January.

"He still has two years on his contract. He is a serious professional," Italiano told Corriere dello Sport.

"He'll give everything for Fiorentina. I believe that, when he has to go out onto the pitch and push hard, he'll always do so. I hope non-football problems won't interfere. And I'll stop there.

"Talking now about how to replace him, with the window open in three months, makes little sense. We have (Aleksandr) Kokorin and we have to try to get the most out of him because in that area of the pitch, he and Vlahovic are our partnership, even if we might find other solutions in some games."

 

Erling Haaland has his pick of Europe's elite.

The Borussia Dortmund and Norway star is wanted by the likes of Manchester City and Real Madrid.

But Premier League champions City are one particular club looking to prise Haaland from Germany if the rumours are to be believed.

 

TOP STORY – CITY HOPING TO CAPITALISE ON PUMA PARTNERSHIP

Manchester City are hoping their Puma sponsorship and a looming boot deal can help land Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland, according to the Daily Star.

City's kits are manufactured by Puma, while Haaland is reportedly poised to sign a boot deal with the German giants.

Haaland has been linked with City, Manchester United, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain, Liverpool, Barcelona and Juventus.

 

ROUND-UP

- Gazzetta dello Sport claims Juve are planning an approach to bring United midfielder Paul Pogba back to Turin. Pogba is out of contract at the end of the season and while United are keen for a renewal, the Frenchman has been linked with Madrid and PSG also.

- United captain and England defender Harry Maguire is poised for a new bumper contract at Old Trafford, reports the Mirror.

Liverpool are considering a move for Barca's Ousmane Dembele with Juve unwilling to part with Federico Chiesa, says Team Talk.

- According to Football Insider, Newcastle United have made star Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly a priority signing in January. It comes after Newcastle's blockbuster takeover.

PSG are targeting Napoli's soon-to-be free agent Lorenzo Insigne, per Le10 Sport. Insigne has also been linked with Inter and Milan.

- Manchester United outcast Donny van de Beek is wanted by Serie A powerhouse Juve, claims Corriere dello Sport. Van de Beek was in talks over an Everton switch during the previous window.

- Milan star Franck Kessie is among Barca's midfielder targets for the January window, says Diario Sport. Van de Beek, Tottenham's Tanguy Ndombele and Marcelo Brozovic of Inter are also options.

Lionel Messi did not want to leave Barcelona and his eventual signing for Paris Saint-Germain even caught them by surprise, according to the Parisians' sporting director Leonardo.

Messi ended a 21-year association with Barca back in August when it was announced he would not be re-signing for the club.

His contract had officially expired at the end of June but Barca and Messi were expecting to be able to announce a new deal on a reduced salary.

But even with the reduced terms, Barca were still unable to get their wage expenditure under their LaLiga-imposed salary cap, which prevented them registering new signings.

As such, Messi was officially a free agent and PSG quickly swooped to bring him in, with the Ligue 1 champions and Manchester City both being linked with him extensively in the past.

The situation surrounding Messi's inability to re-sign for Barca and his move to PSG shocked the world of football, and that included those at PSG.

"Messi was convinced to stay at Barcelona," Leonardo told reporters at the Festival dello Sport on Saturday.

"We had some contacts. Some rumours were saying he may not stay at Barcelona because his contract was expiring.

"We checked the situation, we talked but we did not have the feeling he wanted to leave Barcelona. However we started networking. This helped us to be in a good position.

"Then Barcelona announced the end of their relationship, so that's the moment we started and it's been great. It's been a surprise for everybody.

"Then he arrived. The way he arrived… he was at Barcelona for 21 years. It was the first transfer he'd done.

"It was a new thing for him to be in a new dressing room. He's got an impacting silence, he doesn't talk much but he is someone to admire."

Another high-profile player signed by PSG on a free transfer in pre-season was Gianluigi Donnarumma, who departed Milan after running his contract down.

Many in Italy have been intensely critical of Donnarumma for opting to leave for the greater riches on offer in Paris, but Leonardo insisted PSG did not get in touch with him until June, two months after his exit was confirmed.

"I know it's a difficult situation," Leonardo said. "We never contacted Donnarumma before June. I don't want to be wrong, I think Milan announced in April that they were not extending the contract [of Donnarumma].

"They signed a new goalkeeper in Mike Maignan, so Donnarumma was free for the market. We had never contacted Donnarumma before, then some things happened.

"I had been in Milan but his future was not decided yet. He was free in June. We talked and we took this decision.

"We had never done previous work to have him for free. He was going to another team if it wasn't PSG. He wouldn't have stayed at Milan."

Real Madrid should be punished for their pursuit of Kylian Mbappe, according to Paris Saint-Germain sporting director Leonardo.

Mbappe's contract at PSG is due to expire next year and Madrid have been open in their admiration for the France international.

Madrid president Florentino Perez suggested earlier this week that Los Blancos were optimistic about getting positive news on Mbappe in January – though he quickly followed that up by saying his comments were misinterpreted.

Karim Benzema then said Mbappe moving to the Santiago Bernabeu was only "a question of time".

PSG were reported to have rejected multiple bids for Mbappe from Madrid during the most recent transfer window, though Leonardo still feels the Spanish giants have been posturing for the best part of two years in the hope of getting the striker on a free transfer, and he says their conduct should be punished.

"From Madrid they deny, but I think Real Madrid have been doing a job to buy Mbappe [on a free transfer] for a long time," Leonardo said at the Festival dello Sport.

 

"For two years they have been speaking publicly about Mbappe. This must be punished.

"From Real Madrid I see a lack of respect for Mbappe. He is not a normal player, he is one of the best in the world.

"The manager, the board, Madrid players spoke about Kylian... I think it's part of their plan. Not respectful."

Mbappe confirmed earlier this month that he wanted to leave PSG in pre-season and Madrid was the only club he wanted to join.

Nevertheless, he did not rule out signing a new deal with PSG, and his mother even claimed this week that Mbappe is still in talks over a contract extension.

"Our idea is to extend Kylian Mbappe's contract," Leonardo added. "Nothing has changed in our plans.

"Kylian is a jewel, he is incredibly perfect for PSG. Then we have Kylian, Leo [Messi], Neymar. We've never planned PSG's future without Mbappe."

 

Lionel Messi has revealed that Real Madrid target Kylian Mbappe speaks "perfect Spanish" as he explains how his Spanish-speaking Paris Saint-Germain team-mates have aided his transition to France.

Barcelona's financial situation forced Messi to move away from Catalonia and the 34-year-old is still adjusting to life away from Camp Nou, scoring just once in his five appearances for PSG across all competitions so far.

However, despite admitting that he found leaving the club he spent 21 years at difficult, while also acknowledging he feels "a little bit lost" in Paris, the six-time Ballon d'Or winner says that having players who speak the same language as him in the dressing room has helped.

"I knew I was coming to a new country and had to start from scratch," Messi said in an interview with France Football. "Knowing that I had friends in the dressing room made me think that things would be easier to adapt to.

"And I was not wrong, because it was very easy to settle, especially because there are many players who speak Spanish, like me, and some friends like 'Ney' [Neymar], 'Lea' [Leandro Paredes], 'Fideo' [Angel Di Maria], who helped me when I arrived."

 

France star Mbappe – who has revealed he instructed PSG in July that he would not sign a new deal – was also mentioned, with Messi praising his command of the Spanish language.

"With a player like [Mbappe], it's easy to get along. Also, Kylian speaks perfect Spanish, so we have good exchanges off the pitch as well," continued Messi.

"It makes things easier. Now, I've only been here a short time, so it's still a bit early to draw conclusions. But I'm sure it will work out well."

PSG ultimately turned down three bids for Mbappe, with the last offer said to be worth up to €200million for a player whose deal runs out at the end of the season.

Expectations are high for the attacking trio of Messi, Neymar and Mbappe, with Messi and Neymar previously forming two-thirds of the fearsome 'MSN' trident at Barcelona alongside Luis Suarez that scored a staggering 364 goals in 450 combined appearances.

So far, however, Messi and Neymar have contributed just one goal apiece, with Mbappe netting four and assisting a further five across all competitions.

Giuseppe Marotta missed out on signing Erling Haaland when the superstar striker was valued at a snip of his current value, while the Inter chief cannot see Paul Pogba ever returning to Serie A.

Now at Borussia Dortmund, Norway international Haaland is rated in the top bracket of the world's most lethal finishers, and he has been linked with the biggest clubs in Europe.

Marotta, Inter's chief executive for sport, has disclosed that during his time in a similar role at Juventus, there was an opportunity to snap up Haaland for what now would look like a bargain fee.

Speaking at the Festival dello Sport, Marotta said: "A big miss in my career? I say Haaland. When I was at Juve, I could get him for about €2-2.5million.

"But at the time we didn't have the strength to go extra-budget. Now he is among the best in Europe."

Marotta was with Juventus from 2010 to 2018, and the opportunity to sign Haaland is likely to have come in the closing months of his career in Turin.

It was announced in August 2018 that Haaland would leave Norwegian club Molde to sign for Salzburg, since when the 21-year-old has gone from strength to strength.

He has hit 47 goals in 48 Bundesliga games for Dortmund since making his debut for the German club in January 2020. Only Bayern Munich star Robert Lewandowski has netted more.

Haaland has outperformed his expected goals (xG) value of 37.36 by some way, while also contributing 11 league assists for BVB. On average, he has scored at a rate of 1.08 goals per 90 minutes played in the Bundesliga.

Marotta held his Juve role at the time of the club bringing in Pogba from Manchester United. Although the French midfielder later returned to Old Trafford, he has been repeatedly linked again with Juve while in England.

A return to Serie A for Pogba seems implausible, however.

"Will we see Pogba in Italy again? I think it is difficult, he still earns a lot in terms of salary," said Marotta. "At the moment there are no clubs capable of signing him."

Marotta's priority is ensuring Inter build on last season's Scudetto win, and to that end they look like keeping Lautaro Martinez for the long term.

Contract talks look like bringing about the outcome Inter have wanted, with the Argentine forward considered a key figure for the team's future.

"We will do everything so that he can continue at Inter," Marotta said. "With this renewal we are laying the foundations for the future with him at Inter, by making the right mix between young players and more experienced players."

Marotta explained at one stage how Inter had Juve forward Paulo Dybala in mind as a reinforcement, as they considered sending Mauro Icardi in the opposite direction.

Icardi ultimately became a Paris Saint-Germain player and Dybala stayed at Juve.

"There was uncertainty about Dybala's future," Marotta said. "Now, however, I think he will sign the renewal with Juventus, but there was the possibility of bringing him to Inter when we talked to Juve about Icardi."

Newcastle United look set to enter the transfer market in January following their change of ownership.

The Magpies are 19th in the Premier League, with no wins and three draws from seven games this term.

The Saudi-led ownership takeover at St James' Park was officially completed on Thursday.

 

TOP STORY – NEWCASTLE ENTER CHASE FOR ICARDI

Following their big-money buyout, Newcastle have entered the race to sign Argentine forward Mauro Icardi from Paris Saint-Germain, reports Calciomercato.

Tottenham and Juventus are reportedly already interested in the 28-year-old former Inter player, who joined PSG permanently in 2020 on a four-year deal after a loan spell.

The Telegraph claims Newcastle could spend up to £190m in January without breaking Financial Fair Play rules.

ROUND-UP

- Spanish newspaper Sport claims former Liverpool winger Philippe Coutinho could join Newcastle as Barcelona seek to offload the Brazilian in January.

- Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger is Real Madrid's number one transfer target next year, claims Spanish newspaper ABC. Rudiger's contract is due to expire at the end of this season.

- Calciomercato reports Juventus are open to a swap deal with Everton which would see Aaron Ramsey and Brazilian midfielder Allan exchange places.

Liverpool are ahead of Arsenal and Everton in the race to sign Olympiacos' Senegalese centre-back Pape Abou Cisse according to the Daily Mail.

Arsenal are considering a move for Zenit's Iranian forward Sardar Azmoun as they seek a replacement for Alexandre Lacazette, according to Onze Mondial.

- Cristiano Ronaldo wants former Juventus team-mate Federico Chiesa to join him at Manchester United, claims Calciomercato.

- The Sun reports that ex-Chelsea manager Antonio Conte would decline the chance to replace Steve Bruce as Newcastle boss.

Barcelona are proud to have Ronald Koeman as head coach and must trust him as they once did Frank Rijkaard, says president Joan Laporta.

Ex-Netherlands boss Koeman appeared to be on the brink of being sacked by Barca when widespread reports ahead of the match with Atletico Madrid on Saturday suggested it would be his last at the helm.

But Laporta came out to insist Koeman would be staying with the club regardless of the result, which proved to be the case despite the Catalans suffering a disappointing 2-0 away defeat in LaLiga.

That left them ninth in the table, while they are bottom of Champions League Group E after woeful defeats to Bayern Munich and Benfica.

Koeman said he was grateful to have been given "clarity" over his future after a meeting with Laporta, with the president citing the backing he had once given Rijkaard, who went on to secure Champions League glory in 2006.

Laporta explained he recognises the difficulties Koeman has had after the departure of talisman Lionel Messi, financial chaos at the club and a long injury list.

"The decision is that Koeman continues," he said to RAC1.

"Everyone, including him, is discouraged at the moment - things have happened that we did not want. 

"But he wants Barca to do well. He has a valid contract and he has to be respected. I am happy with the decision."

 

Laporta continued: "As president I have evaluated everything, I have listened to people I trust and I have come to the conclusion that I must trust and support him as I did with Rijkaard. 

"He is a cule like us, he loves Barça and he is a legend of this club.

"Indeed, has decided to come to us during a moment of sporting and institutional crisis. 

"I wanted to know if he trusted the team and he responded positively and forcefully. He said he needed time to recover the injured players and I saw a person determined to continue."

 

A host of other coaches have been connected with the Barca job, with Koeman's contract due to expire in 2022. Club great Xavi is persistently linked to the role.

Laporta added: "People can think what they want. 

"With Xavi I speak frequently because we are friends. Also with Pep [Guardiola]. I like to know what they think because they know more than me.

"But the coach we have is Koeman. We are proud to have him as a coach."

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