Football rumours from the media

What the papers say

One of the biggest transfers of recent years could be about to happen, with Manchester City the front-runners to sign Lionel Messi. Spain’s Esporte Interativo reports Messi has demanded an immediate exit from beleaguered Barcelona after Friday’s 8-2 Champions League embarrassment against Bayern Munich, which he felt was the result of a long-term lack of planning at the Catalan club. City, one of only a small list of clubs that could accommodate Messi’s wage demands, are first in line to sign the 33-year-old, a move which would reunite him with one of Barca’s most successful managers, Pep Guardiola.

Chelsea could undertake a wholesale restructuring of their defence by signing John Stones even if they are also successful in their pursuit of Brighton defender Lewis Dunk, the Daily Mirror reports. The Blues conceded 54 goals in the Premier League last season, the most of any top half team. They have launched a concerted £40million bid for Dunk, although Brighton are reluctant to lose the 28-year-old. Stones has fallen down the pecking order at Manchester City, and Chelsea are contemplating a loan bid for the 26-year-old.

Ben Chilwell File Photo
Ben Chilwell File Photo

Chelsea are also closing in on Leicester left-back Ben Chilwell, The Independent reports. Talks between the two clubs over the 23-year-old have been under way for some time. Leicester have been holding out for £80m, whereas Chelsea are hoping to have that figure reduced in a structured deal, with Chilwell said to be keen on the move.

Leicester are duly moving to bolster their defence by luring Atalanta and Belgium full-back Timothy Castagne, Calciomercato reports. The 24-year-old was first linked to the Foxes in March. The club is still keen on the £20m-rated defender but may face stiff competition from Paris St Germain. Castagne is predominantly a right-back but can also play on the left.

Arsenal v Chelsea – Heads Up FA Cup Final – Wembley Stadium
Arsenal v Chelsea – Heads Up FA Cup Final – Wembley Stadium

Arsenal have agreed terms for captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to stay at the club and are close to signing Brazil defender Gabriel Magalhaes, The Daily Telegraph reports. A handful of major clubs had shown an interest in Aubameyang, whose contract has less than a year to run, but the Gunners are set to retain him for £250,000-a-week. Arsenal are also believed to have agreed terms with Lille’s 22-year-old Magalhaes, despite interest from Everton and Napoli.

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Players to watch

Antoine Griezmann: Possibly about to lose Lionel Messi, Barcelona have said they will listen to offers for the France World Cup winner, Spain’s Sport website reports.

Chelsea v Bayern Munich – UEFA Champions League – Round of 16 – First Leg – Stamford Bridge
Chelsea v Bayern Munich – UEFA Champions League – Round of 16 – First Leg – Stamford Bridge

Thiago Alcantara: The 29-year-old Spain and Bayern Munich midfielder has agreed a four-year deal with Liverpool, France’s RMC Sport reports.