Real Madrid closing as Antonio Rudiger set to leave Chelsea


The summer transfer window was unlike any other. See all the major deals and check out how we graded the biggest signings. And just because the window is shut until January, that doesn’t mean the rumours won’t keep coming. Here’s the latest gossip and speculation.

TOP STORY: Real closing in on Rudiger

Antonio Rudiger is drifting closer to the Stamford Bridge exit with reports that Real Madrid are set to intensify talks and agree the signing of the 28-year-old centre-back over the next few weeks.

That’s according to Sport Italia, which writes that the LaLiga club are preparing a pre-contract agreement that will see the Germany international put pen to paper in the January transfer window before the move becomes official at the end of the season when his deal expires.

Paris Saint-Germain are also interested in the Chelsea defender’s services, though they might now have to work quickly if they are to beat Los Blancos to his signature.

Chelsea have been keen to resolve Rudiger’s precarious contract situation for a number of months but, with a failure to agree terms, it now looks as though he is destined to leave London after over three years in the Premier League.

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LIVE BLOG

11.00 GMT: James Olley looks at whether Arsenal’s former captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has played his last game for the club?

Arteta stripped Aubameyang of the captaincy for what he described as the Gabon international’s “latest disciplinary breach.” Sources have told ESPN that this was in reference to his late return from France for a visit with his ill mother, a trip for which he was given special dispensation at a time when overseas travel was being restricted due to rising coronavirus cases in the United Kingdom. Aubameyang was consequently a coronavirus risk upon his return, though this wasn’t the reason for his demotion.

It was simply one occasion too many on which he bent rules the entire squad are expected to follow, and rules as captain he’s supposed to support, and perhaps even enforce.

One of the biggest issues at Arsenal has been the erosion of a professional, ruthless culture. It dates back to the latter days of Arsene Wenger’s reign and can be reflected in his choice of captains, who were sometimes selected on the basis of their contractual status as much as any genuine leadership traits. Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie were given the armband in the hope it would somehow engender fresh loyalty to resist moves elsewhere. In both cases, the strategy failed.

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Julien Laurens reveals the player he thinks should replace Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as Arsenal captain.

09.55 GMT: Marseille’s Boubacar Kamara is available on a free transfer in the summer and now has Man United, AC Milan and Juventus on his trail.

Kamara, 22, is highly rated and versatile, with Calciomercato insisting that he will move on from Ligue 1.

The report claims United’s interim manager Ralf Rangnick likes Kamara and that the club have more money to spend than their rivals, which means they could land him in January rather than waiting until the summer.

09.11 GMT: ICYMI – Retired Real Madrid and Brazil striker Ronaldo has bought a controlling stake in his former club Cruzeiro, the player and the club said on Saturday.

Ronaldo, who played for Cruzeiro as a teenager in the early 1990s before going on to become one of the most successful centre-forwards in footballing history, did the deal with the help of Brazilian investment bank XP.

The transaction, which was done through Ronaldo’s Tara Sports company and is still subject to what the bank called “a series of conditions,” sees the 45-year-old invest 400m reais ($70m) in the Belo Horizonte club, which has spent two years in Brazil’s second division.

“I am so happy to have concluded this operation,” Ronaldo said in a video posted by the Cruzeiro president, adding, while holding one of the club’s blue shirts, that he wants to “give back to Cruzeiro and take them where they deserve to be.”

08.51 GMT: Flamengo vice-president Marcos Braz has confirmed Benfica coach Jorge Jesus is a “natural option” to take over the vacant Flamengo coaching position.

Flamengo dismissed Renato Gaucho on Nov. 30 after the club’s loss to Brazilian rivals Palmeiras in the Copa Libertadores final. Braz and other Flamengo club executives have travelled to Portugal to hold meetings with several candidates, including Jorge Jesus.

Jorge Jesus returned to Benfica in the summer of 2020 after a successful spell at Flamengo. Under the Portuguese tactician, Flamengo won the Brazilian first division title, the Copa Libertadores and Rio de Janeiro state championship in his 14 months in charge.

“I have a personal rapport with Jorge and I am very fond of him,” Braz told reporters after arriving in Lisbon. “When I came here in 2019, he believed in me and the sporting project I presented to him. I was true to the promises I made to him and Jorge will always be a natural option despite being under contract.”

The chances of Jorge Jesus returning next year to Flamengo are slim with the 67-year-old tied to Benfica until June 2023. Benfica have qualified for the Champions League round of 16 where they will face Ajax in February. Flamengo are also considering Paulo Fonseca and Paulo Sousa.

08.30 GMT: PSG sporting director Leonardo believes his team still have chances to keep “the best player in the world” beyond next summer.

Real Madrid target Kylian Mbappe will be free to negotiate with another club in the next few weeks with his contract at PSG expiring at the end of the season, while the French club’s attempts to get the 22-year-old to sign a new contract have proved unsuccessful so far.

“It’s a very particular situation because we are talking about the best player in the world who will be out of contract,” Leonardo told Europe 1.

“We have a very direct rapport. It can be said that we had times when we fought in a heated way but that is part of building a relationship. If he decides to stay, he will stay because that is what we want. It’s a complicated situation because we would have liked for him to have stayed here all of his life and we have to respect him. I think we still have good chances. I do believe that.”

Asked if the situation regarding Mbappe’s contract is affecting the France international, Leonardo said: “Kylian is very comfortable in the role as best player of the world so much so that nothing in his surrounding has a real influence in his performances, in his life, in his mood. It can be a new motivation.”

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Janusz Michallik criticises the performance of referee Paul Tierney in the draw between Tottenham and Liverpool.

PAPER GOSSIP (by Adam Brown)

– West Ham boss David Moyes is ready to begin talks with Jonathan David, according to Ekrem Konur. The 21-year-old forward has been on the radar of a number of clubs after strong form for Lille over the past two seasons, with West Ham now ready to advance negotiations over a potential deal in January. The Canada international has scored 14 times in 20 starts this season.

La Repubblica reveals that Internazionale will attempt to acquire Bartlomiej Dragowski if they miss out on Ajax keeper Andre Onana. There is fear at San Siro that Barcelona could tempt 25-year-old Onana to Camp Nou when his contract expires, despite positive talks in recent months, and that has led the Italian club to add the Fiorentina goalkeeper to their short list. Dragowski, 24, has started just five games in Serie A this season.

Youcef Belaili continues to be offered to Ligue 1 clubs, according to Foot Mercato. It is reported that the 29-year-old midfielder has been rejected by Marseille, Lyon and Stade Rennais, but is currently in negotiations with Montpellier. The Algeria international recently left Qatar SC in search of a move to Europe, though he might need to lower his salary demands if he is to secure a deal.

TalkSPORT writes that Newcastle United are set to sign Kieran Trippier, making him their highest paid player in a £25m deal. The 31-year-old right-back has been linked with a return to England throughout the season, with Manchester United also keen on his signature, but it now looks as though he is headed for St. James’ Park, with reports that the move is now “almost as good as done.” He has featured 13 times for Atletico Madrid this season.

Nicolo Schira writes that Amin Younes is set to leave Eintracht Frankfurt in January. The 28-year-old attacking midfielder is yet to start a game this season, having made just a single appearance as a substitute back in August. And despite rumours of a Napoli return, it is reported that Genoa have begun negotiations over a loan with an option to make the move permanent.





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