Dembele set for Barcelona exit
The Mirror reports that Barcelona winger Ousmane Dembele will leave the Spanish club at the end of the season, keen on a move to the Premier League. The 24-year-old French international seems no closer to agreeing a deal with his current side and they have elected to renegotiate terms with Samuel Umtiti rather than Dembele in order to facilitate the registration of Ferran Torres.
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Paper Round’s view: Barcelona’s signing of Torres does go some way to making sure that Dembele’s exit is not quite so painful, with the Spanish international less injury prone than the former Borussia Dortmund forward. As for Umtiti’s contract, it simply demonstrates that the club continue to juggle their wretched finances with no clear end in sight.
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Brighton want Bissouma
The Telegraph writes that following the signing of Lucas Digne from Everton, Aston Villa are looking to strengthen elsewhere. They have their eye on Brighton and Hove Albion’s midfielder, Yves Bissouma. The Mali international is currently away on AFCON duty and so could be absent for a couple more weeks, and is valued at around £40 million.
Paper Round’s view: If Bissouma is out of contract in a year and a half then Brighton would be reckless not to at least consider an offer of £40m. At 25 there is plenty of potential for him to continue to improve in that position, and would give support to Philippe Coutinho and others.
Flamengo fail to keep Kenedy
Brazilian side Flamengo had signed Chelsea’s Kenedy on loan for the season but they failed to register their interest in a permanent deal for the 25-year-old in December, with the Mail reporting that the omission means that they had no recourse when Thomas Tuchel decided to recall the player. The Brazilian will be used as cover given Ben Chilwell and Reece James are out injured.
Paper Round’s view: Given Chilwell and James are both highly regarded by England and Chelsea, it does feel excessive to go back in the market if the latter is expected to be back in action before the season ends. Kenedy has not yet shown that he has the talent or consistency to hold down a place in the first team so could consider this his final chance.
Laporta’s colleague makes Haaland claim
Joan Laporta’s campaign manager, Lluis Carrasco, has indicated that Erling Haaland will turn down Real Madrid in order to join Barcelona, according to Spanish newspaper Marca. Carrasco said: "I know that the president loves Erling Haaland, he knows that he is a symbolic player, a reference, and a flagship of this project and he can dominate European football for the coming years."
Paper Round’s view: There is no real indication about how Haaland could be afforded by Barcelona. His wages would presumably touch £400,000 a week, and both he and Mino Raiola could demand a huge signing-on fee given the relatively light 75 million Euro release clause that was inserted into his contract when he joined Borussia Dortmund.
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