COMETH THE AOUAR
It came as something of a surprise when Houssem Aouar was named as one of the top two transfer targets for Liverpool this summer. The Lyon midfielder had certainly been linked before but little had been made of the interest from the Premier League leaders recently.
That story, of course, said that Liverpool ‘now look virtually certain’ to spend no money as they are ‘budgeting for the loss of income’ due to the global pandemic. But Jurgen Klopp will be intrigued by L’Equipe’s latest exclusive.
The French newspaper suggest that their likely lack of European football next season could force them into selling a few coveted players. Two of Aouar, former Manchester United forward Memphis Depay and Chelsea target Moussa Dembele ‘could be sold’.
The case of Aouar is the most compelling. Lyon would want around £43.7m for a player with more than three years left on his contract. Manchester City would lead the race; Pep Guardiola loves the “incredible” Frenchman and the feeling is mutual.
Lyon would prefer an early sale that would allow them to reinvest. Another curious line from L’Equipe is that certain members of the squad are frustrated with Aouar for turning up in bigger games against PSG and Juventus but disappearing in less illustrious Champions League matches.
Might Liverpool change their plans not to buy this summer when they hear one of their top targets is on the market and wanted by their closest Premier League rivals? Perhaps.
One player Liverpool have never really been linked with is Adrien Rabiot. The same cannot be said for their two most bitter enemies.
Calciomercato suggest that Everton are ‘particularly interested’ in the Juventus midfielder, and Manchester United have ‘long observed’ him from afar. Now might be the time for either or both to strike, considering Rabiot is yet to return to Turin.
Indeed, he remains ‘in his French Riviera without any hurry to return’. That could change imminently – it would take a couple of hours for him to fly back – but this is rather taken as ‘the will’ of the player ‘to change teams after not even a season’.
Rabiot’s agent, his mother, feels that there are ‘at least too little positive’ factors weighing in favour of staying at Juventus. As a result, there have been ‘continuous contacts’ with Premier League clubs recently.
Everton made an offer in January and will come back knowing he will cost between £21.8m and £26.2m. United are contemplating a swap deal involving Paul Pogba, but also one without him.
Chelsea’s own search for a midfielder will stretch neither as far nor as wide. The Daily Mirror say the Blues ‘will move for Declan Rice if they lose N’Golo Kante’.
A John Cross exclusive states that Rice is seen ‘as a direct replacement’ for Kante, even though they are not really that comparable at all. But a move for ‘the perfect successor’ would be made if Real Madrid can tempt Kante to the Spanish capital.
Both moves would certainly stand out in a market that is expected to be bereft of big-money deals. But the belief is that clubs could spend relatively freely as long as they sell their own players first. It still seems unlikely.
AND THE REST
Tottenham and Arsenal have been boosted in their pursuit of Brazilian midfielder Willian because the 31-year-old’s contract extension talks with Chelsea are dead in the water… Borussia Dortmund want to sign Chelsea’s teenage midfielder Charlie Webster and give the 16-year-old the Jadon Sancho treatment… Manchester City want to sign Paris St-Germain’s 17-year-old French midfielder Edouard Michut.
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