Messi’s mega-money move
Lionel Messi could be set to follow in the footsteps of his long-term rival, Cristiano Ronaldo, with a move to Saudi Arabia this summer. The World Cup winner’s current contract with Paris Saint-Germain is set to expire this summer and he is not expected to agree to an extension in the French capital. Messi has reportedly been offered a record-breaking contract to play in the Saudi Pro League and become the highest-paid footballer in history.
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“There are discussions that the whole package could be worth $400 million annually (£320 million) that would exceed even the £165 million that Cristiano Ronaldo is being paid annually to play in Saudi until the summer of 2025.
“The conventional process for signing the world’s top talent, as with Ronaldo in December, has been for the deal to have State involvement before a final destination club is decided. Ronaldo joined Al-Nassr, currently second in the league behind leaders Al-Ittihad. Al-Nassr’s traditional rivals are Al-Hilal and placing Messi with that club, historically the nation’s most successful, would recreate the rivalry the pair had for nine years with Real Madrid and Barcelona.”
Man City eye midfield reboot
Manchester City could be set for a change in midfield this summer as Barcelona look to lure Ilkay Gundogan to the Camp Nou. The Premier League leaders have not given up in their pursuit of Jude Bellingham either, and could allow Bernardo Silva to leave if they sign the England international, who has been heavily linked with a transfer to Real Madrid.
“Barcelona are also considering whether to revive their interest in Bernardo Silva, amid competition from Paris Saint-Germain, although his situation could be dependent on Bellingham’s future. If City don’t get Bellingham, it is likely that any sale of Bernardo would be completely off the agenda, and they may look to other options further back.
“Declan Rice is one name that has been mentioned, but they have balked at paying so much for the West Ham United midfielder in the past, and Arsenal are currently the club who see him as a main target.”
Arsenal’s transfer plans revealed
Arsenal are planning to spend big this summer in a bid to compete with Manchester City for the Premier League title again next season. Gunners boss Mikel Arteta is keen to sign a new centre-back, two centre-midfielders and an attacker. Bayer Leverkusen forward Moussa Diaby is on the top of Arsenal’s shortlist, while it is expected that Reiss Nelson will leave for free after rejecting a contract extension in north London.
“Wilfried Zaha is out of contract at the end of the season and is also a consideration for Arsenal, but they want to pursue a move for Diaby before exploring a potential free transfer for the Crystal Palace star.
“West Ham captain Declan Rice is the Gunners’ priority target in central midfield. Southampton’s teenage midfielder Romeo Lavia is also of interest, while the Gunners remain keen on Brighton’s Moises Caicedo. At centre-back, Crystal Palace’s Marc Guehi has impressed Arsenal’s recruitment specialists this season.
“The north London will also look to offload some of their fringe players with the likes of Folarin Balogun, Kieran Tierney, Rob Holding and Emile Smith Rowe set to attract interest this summer.”
There’s a sale on in west London
Chelsea face a tough summer of sales as the Blues attempt to clear the deadwood from their squad and cut their wage bill. Expected incoming manager Mauricio Pochettino has reportedly already requested for the bloated squad to be “cut ahead of pre-season”. However, Chelsea believe the summer clearout will be tougher than anticipated and demands may have to be lowered.
“Mateo Kovacic has attracted interest from Manchester City and Mason Mount is a Liverpool target, other highly paid players such as Christian Pulisic, Kalidou Koulibaly, Hakim Ziyech, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Kai Havertz, Edouard Mendy and Kepa Arrizabalaga will be much harder to sell for big fees. Chelsea’s £40 million valuation of Conor Gallagher may even be considered too high by interested clubs.
“Romelu Lukaku will be asked if wants a chance to be part of Pochettino’s revolution. But Chelsea will face a huge task to move the Belgian if he decides he does not want to return following a season on loan at Inter Milan.”
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