LIVE Transfer Talk: Liverpool still keen on Napoli defender Koulibaly

Football

The coronavirus pandemic made the summer transfer market unlike any before it, but there were still plenty of deals done and you can check out the major ones here. The window might be closed across the top leagues in Europe, but here are the best rumours from around the globe.

TOP STORY: Liverpool still keen on Koulibaly

Liverpool are still interested in signing Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly, says Calciomercato.

The Reds have lost Virgil van Dijk and now Fabinho to injury, with the Italian outlet claiming that the club will come back in for the Senegal international in January.

Koulibaly is still valued at over €80m, with Napoli not keen to enter negotiations midway through the season, and the player himself doesn’t seem in much of a rush either.

“I love Naples and Naples loves me, that’s the most important thing,” Koulibaly told Sky Sports after Thursday’s 1-0 Europa League win over Real Sociedad. “I always make myself available game after game, I still have three years of contract, I’m calm, the teams are looking for me but I’m still here. I play at my level and I help this team and these people because I want to give something back to them then we’ll see what happens.”

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10.16 GMT: Lautaro Martinez is edging closer to signing a new contract with Inter Milan, despite being linked with Barcelona, according to Gazzetta dello Sport.

Martinez, 23, has scored three goals in five Serie A appearances for Inter this season. He reportedly wants to remain at Inter and could sign a new deal as early as next month. Inter are hopeful of reaching an agreement with the player, who has requested a salary increase to become one of the highest earners at the club.

Martinez wants €7.5m per season while Inter have offered him €5m, although they are willing to negotiate. Inter don’t want to sell Martinez, who is valued at over €100m.

A target of Barcelona in recent transfer windows, the Argentina international is tied to Inter until June 2023.

09.48 GMT: Manchester City are watching FC Salzburg striker Patson Daka as a potential replacement for Sergio Aguero, says 90min.

Daka, 22, scored 27 goals in all competitions last season and has 12 goals in 11 appearances so far.

The Zambia international took over from Erling Haaland when the striker left for Borussia Dortmund in January and is doing a great job. So City are now keeping an eye on him to fill the rather sizeable shoes of the best foreign striker to have played in the Premier League: Aguero.

The Argentine’s contract is set to expire at the end of the season and he could return to his homeland.

09.27 GMT: Sheffield United midfielder John Lundstram, who is in the final year of his contract at the club, has rejected the offer of a new deal.

Lundstram, 26, can leave Bramall Lane as a free agent next summer, and is free to open talks with clubs outside of England from Jan. 1.

Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder said: “It has been frustrating for me personally. I wanted John to stop here. We have discussed for a few months about him stopping. We have offered him an attractive contract, up there with the top players at the club.”

Asked if he would still select Lundstram as the contract talks continue, Wilder added: “I have to think hard about it and I am frustrated. John should have signed it. Players have committed to us. Should I be beside those, or a player who has not committed?

“We will invite offers for a good young player who did well in his first season in the Premier League. He is still a Sheffield United player and available for selection. We are coming into a period where it is straightforward, He runs down his contract, that is not ideal for us.”

08.46 GMT: Napoli sporting director Cristiano Giuntoli is confident Gennaro Gattuso will remain at the club beyond this season.

Gattuso replaced Carlo Ancelotti at the helm of Napoli in December 2019 and steered the Naples-based club to a seventh-placed finish last season.

Giuntoli told reporters when asked about Gattuso’s future: “As I’ve always said, when there is a will from both sides to continue together, there are no problems.

“I think that soon there will be an agreement reached. Could an agreement be done in 2020? It could be, why not?”

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08.07 GMT: One of the likely candidates to be Barcelona’s next president says he wants Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola and other club legends to return to Camp Nou.

Josep Maria Bartomeu resigned as Barcelona president on Tuesday rather than await a fans’ vote of confidence on his future at the club. The rest of the board of directors have stepped down alongside Bartomeu, and an election will be scheduled within the next 90 days to appoint a new president.

And Victor Font believes that the best way to restore the club to its former glory and to convince Lionel Messi to stay is to bring back the coach who won two Champions Leagues in four years, as well as a host of his most senior former players.

“It is our intention to build a very strong and competitive project and we are very lucky at Barca that we inherited a style of play that Johan Cruyff instilled throughout the organisation,” Font told Sky Sports. “And most of the best professionals who know about this style are also fans and love the club – like Pep Guardiola, Xavi [Hernandez], [Andres[ Iniesta, [Carles] Puyol.

“They are all legends that love Barcelona but do not work for Barca today — we need to bring them back to ensure we will have a very competitive project.

“The only thing Messi needs is to know he is part of a competitive project that aspires to win the next Champions League. We have no doubt that if we basically have the honour to take the helm of FC Barcelona we will be able to achieve that [Messi staying].”

– Marcotti: Why being Barca president might be an impossible job

08.00 GMT: ICYMI – LA Galaxy have parted ways with manager Guillermo Barros Schelotto as Major League Soccer’s most successful club sits in last place in the Western Conference with only three regular-season games still to play.

The former Boca Juniors coach was hired in January 2019 and guided the club to the semifinals of the Western Conference last season, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic netting 31 goals during the campaign, but the club’s form had significantly dropped in his second year in charge.

Dominic Kinnear will step in as the Galaxy’s interim head coach for the remaining games of the 2020 season.

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PAPER TALK (by Nick Judd): Origi eyes Anfield exit amid Belgium worries

Divock Origi could be on the move in January, a result of him having fallen further down the pecking order at Liverpool, reports the Liverpool Echo.

Origi is finding game time hard to come by this season. Last week, when Jurgen Klopp changed his entire strikeforce in the Champions League match against Ajax, Origi watched on as Diogo Jota, Takumi Minamino and Xherdan Shaqiri replaced the usual trio of Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino.

Origi was always the first man called upon when Klopp wanted to switch things up in attack, and now he’s seventh in line. Not only that, but Liverpool are in need of defensive reinforcements, and so would welcome a fee for the Belgian striker.

Moreover, Origi wasn’t selected for Belgium‘s international matches in September, so he’ll also need to fight his way back into Roberto Martinez’s thoughts too.

Atletico can’t close deal for Kondogbia

Following Thomas Partey‘s exit from Atletico Madrid to Arsenal, the Spanish club were left with €50m in the bank but some hard feelings over how the deal was finalised. Even though they were able to secure the services of Lucas Torreira on loan from Arsenal, the brass at the Wanda Metropolitano remained in pursuit of replacing the Ghana international following his last-minute exit to the Emirates.

La Liga rules specify that clubs have 30 days to replace a player whose buyout clause is paid — provided he plays within the league — and Diego Simeone’s side were therefore eyeing Valencia‘s Geoffrey Kondogbia as an viable replacement. But according to Marca, that raid won’t happen until at least January due to the hardball being played at La Mestalla and an injury to the midfielder.

While the money from the Partey deal will give Atletico some flexibility in the upcoming winter window, it now seems they will need to make due with the players they have as they juggle domestic and Champions League competitions.

Tap-ins

Marseille are hoping to lure Nikola Maksimovic away from Napoli, reports Calciomercato. The centre-back has been left out in recent weeks by Napoli boss Gennaro Gattuso and he is approaching the end of his contract. Marseille’s head of football Pablo Longoria believes it would be a solid move for his club, but he faces pressure from Inter Milan who are also keen.

Manchester City‘s hopes of signing Lionel Messi next summer could depend on who is elected as Barcelona‘s next president, reports The Athletic. Messi had indicated he was ready to leave the Catalan club after having fallen out with Josep Bartomeu, but he could now be used as a political weapon by potential incumbents to the president’s hotseat, and commit his future further, if he can be convinced by the club’s new masterplan to win back the Champions League.

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