De Ligt is 'ready for a new step'

Matthijs de Ligt could leave Juventus next summer after his agent Mino Raiola revealed that the Dutch defender is "ready for a new step" in his career. The former Golden Boy winner, who the Mail report is wanted by Chelsea, is keen for a new challenge after completing a third season in Serie A. Chelsea are currently set to lose four centre-back options at the end of the season, unless they sign contract extensions. Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen, Thiago Silva and Cesar Azpilicueta are all approaching the final six months of their deals at Stamford Bridge.
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Paper Round's view: It's crazy to think that De Ligt is still only 22 years old. He was seen as a game-changing talent when he captained Ajax during their sensational Champions League run in 2018-19, but it would not be unfair to say that he has struggled a bit during his time at Juventus. When you remember his age, it makes sense though. He still has plenty of time to build up that level of consistency at the top level. Chelsea will definitely need to dip into the defence transfer market if any of those centre-backs leave, but surely it would save money if they do all they can to keep Rudiger and Christensen? De Ligt won't come cheap.
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Barca plan to sign Mata on free transfer

Barcelona are eyeing up a move for Juan Mata in January, according to the Sun. The Spaniard has only featured three times for Manchester United this season and his current contract at Old Trafford is set to expire next summer. Barca are unable to afford paying a transfer fee on top of Mata's salary, so the Catalan club will push for United to cancel the 33-year-old's contract in January in an attempt to sign him for free. If the Premier League side refuse to agree to an early contract termination, Barcelona plan to wait until the summer to bring Mata to the Camp Nou.
Paper Round's view: Barcelona are currently in a rebuild after suffering from a financial crisis and being forced to let Lionel Messi leave for free last summer. We've seen the Blaugrana target free transfers in the previous window and can probably expect more of the same going forward. Mata may not be the ideal player to bring in for a rebuild, but he will add some priceless experience and leadership to a squad that will contain plenty of youngsters and academy graduates. Signing the former Spain international would be a solid addition for Barcelona and Xavi.
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Trippier eyes return to England

Kieran Trippier could make a January return to the Premier League, but the Mail reveal that there are two conditions that will see Diego Simeone to allow the England international to leave Atletico Madrid. Newcastle United are the English club that are chasing Trippier, but Atletico will demand a £15 million transfer fee and will not allow the 31-year-old to depart until they find an adequate replacement. Atletico have used Sime Vrsaljko and midfielder Marcos Llorente when Trippier has been absent due to injury, but Simeone is not convinced by Vrsaljko, so would need a new right-back before selling Trippier.
Paper Round's view: Trippier's move to Atletico Madrid surprised English football fans but he has proven himself as a class addition. The Three Lions full-back won La Liga last season and played a vital role in Atleti's system throughout the title-winning campaign. It seems like he is keen to return to the Premier League now, but you have to respect the fact that he took the plunge and moved abroad as you don't really get many English players doing this. Trippier would be a great signing for Newcastle. He is a threat from set pieces and would add some much-needed leadership to Eddie Howe's struggling squad.
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Pause the Premier League?

Premier League chiefs are set to meet on Monday to address the ongoing Covid-19 crisis that is ripping through England's top flight. The latest gameweek only saw four matches after the other six were forced to be postponed due to a high number of positive cases within Premier League squads. The league plans to continue and will discuss the process behind postponements, testing, players' vaccination rates and the potential of playing behind closed doors again if there were to be another lockdown.
Paper Round's view: It's starting to feel like March 2020 again. Matches are being called off literally hours before kick off while fans are travelling across the country to support their clubs. Something needs to happen and the problem needs to be addressed as soon as possible. Squads should probably stick to a bubble, but the festive period is difficult for this. If this is not possible, maybe the Premier League should think about pausing the league for a couple of weeks in order to help work its way back to normality.
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Man Utd close in on De Jong, tempted by Oxlade-Chamberlain - Paper Round
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