Dembele approaching Barcelona exit
Ousmane Dembele looks likely to quit Barcelona in the near future as it appears he will not be signing a new deal with his current club. Spanish newspaper Marca reports that the French international wants 30 million euros a year, a 30 million renewal bonus and a 15 million agent commission, and given their financial situation, they were able to offer him a new deal with a pay cut, and additional bonuses for meeting performance clauses.
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Paper Round’s view: Dembele is clearly a talented player, but he has had discipline problems as well as injury concerns for much of his time in Spain. While it would make sense for Barcelona to keep him on if the price is right, if the agent and renewal bonus comes to 45 million euros, Barcelona might well be thinking that they could find a better alternative for similar money.
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Spurs and Liverpool keen on Kessie
Franck Kessie is out of contract at AC Milan at the end of the season, and has been offered £5.4 million a year to remain with the club, reports The Daily Mail. However, now he is free to negotiate with other clubs, Tottenham boss Antonio Conte wants the 25-year-old Ivory Coast international in London, while the midfielder is also attracting interest from Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp.
Paper Round’s view: Kessie is a very promising player who is potentially yet to hit his prime, so to sign him for nothing would be a bargain for both clubs. Liverpool have an ageing squad and it appears they don’t have the financial muscle they once did, and Tottenham have plenty of work to do on their own squad, so keeping spending to a minimum would make sense.
Barcelona line up Chelsea pair
Barcelona are reportedly set to hold talks with two Chelsea defenders, Cesar Azpilicueta and Andreas Christensen. The duo are both out of contract at the end of the season and The Sun writes that they are summer targets for the Spanish club. There is also interest from Barcelona in Ajax’s Noussair Mazraoui and Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland.
Paper Round’s view: Both the Chelsea defenders would offer the quality that Xavi Hernandez needs if he is to improve the quality of the defenders at Barcelona, and Christensen is just 25, meaning he could stay around for some time. As for Chelsea, it is possible that they will also see Thiago Silva and Antonio Rudiger depart for nothing, which would be a huge problem in the summer.
St Etienne forward wants Aubameyang back
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been linked with a move to Barcelona in the winter transfer window after falling out with manager Mikel Arteta, but that transfer now seems unlikely. The Mirror reports that one remote possibility might be that he returns to his former club, St Etienne. The club’s forward Bakary Sako said: "I am trying to attract him… Wouldn’t you like to see Aubameyang back at St Etienne?”
Paper Round’s view: If Aubameyang wants somewhere with the chance for regular football then spending the next six months in St Etienne would at least keep him active and sharp, and keep him in the minds of other clubs. When his contract then expires in the summer, he’ll have more options with clubs able to better plan to take him on for a year or two.
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