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    Chelsea ‘open Jules Kounde transfer talks and Sevilla defender open to Blues move’ in Man Utd blow

    CHELSEA have reportedly opened talks with Sevilla for main defensive target Jules Kounde.Transfer guru Fabrizio Romano claims that the 22-year-old is open to joining the Blues as he remains keen to play Champions League football.
    Chelsea have made their move to sign top target Jules Kounde from SevillaCredit: Getty
    EXCL. Chelsea have opened official talks with Sevilla for Jules Koundé. He’s the main target as centre back, negotiations ongoing to reach an agreement. 🔵 #CFCKoundé is open to accept Chelsea as next clubs as he wants Champions League football. Now it’s up to the two clubs. pic.twitter.com/M4bVua2NU7— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) July 27, 2021

    The report adds that a potential deal will now come down to whether Chelsea can agree a fee with the LaLiga side for the centre-back.
    SunSport previously reported that Manchester United were also interested in Kounde – despite nearing a move for his compatriot Raphael Varane.
    Tottenham attempted to join the race for the Frenchman only to be snubbed as Spurs fail to offer Champions League football next season.
    London rivals Chelsea meanwhile are the current European holders and have been keeping tabs on Kounde over the last month.
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    Thomas Tuchel is eager to land a new central defender this summer with Thiago Silva turning 37 in September.
    Kurt Zouma has also been linked with a move away while academy graduate Marc Guehi has already sealed a move to Crystal Palace.
    Kounde was part of the France squad that suffered a shock loss to Switzerland in the Round of 16 at Euro 2020.
    The former Bordeaux star made 34 top-flight appearances for Sevilla last term and scored three goals as Julen Lopetegui’s side finished fourth.

    Kounde can play at both right-back and centre-half, the sort of versatility that is enticing several Premier League clubs.
    He is under contract until 2024 at the Spanish side, and was a second-half substitute in Sevilla’s 4-0 loss to Chelsea back in December.
    Bayern Munich stalwart Niklas Sule is another name thought to be among Tuchel’s list of defensive targets at Stamford Bridge this summer.
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    Ryan Giggs’ son Zach plays in Man Utd U16s 2-0 win over Coleraine in opening game of Northern Ireland tour

    RYAN GIGGS’ son Zach starred in Manchester United’s Under 16s 2-0 win over Coleraine on Monday night.The Red Devils’ youth outfit scored twice in the opening half to ensure they kicked off their mini-tour of Northern Ireland with a victory.
    Zach Giggs started Manchester United’s Under 16s win over ColeraineCredit: Getty
    The teenager (right) has been training with the Red Devils since he was 12Credit: Getty
    Wanted singer Max George was cheering on Zach from home
    Ryan, with Zach in 2011, became a United legend during his 25 years at Old Trafford
    Zach, who can play as a centre-back or full-back, was called up by Wales to face England back in May.
    And the teenager continued his development by starting United’s U16s win over Coleraine at Seahaven in Portstewart.
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    Victor Musa broke the deadlock after a quarter of an hour by firing home at the back post following a deep cross from Jacob Devaney.
    Jack Moorhouse then doubled United’s lead with a long-range free-kick before the half-hour mark which caught the keeper out.
    Although the future Old Trafford stars saw out the win, there was also a penalty shootout after the game to give the players valuable experience.
    And United claimed a 5-3 victory from the spot-kicks as well with all 10 players allowed to take an effort from 12 yards.
    Wanted singer Max George – who is dating Ryan’s ex-wife Stacey – was cheering on Zach from home after uploading a short clip on Instagram.
    He captioned the post: “Casually watching superstar (Zach) for (Manchester United)… I think Stacey is a little proud…”

    Zach will next get the chance to impress when United take on a Ballymena United academy side on Wednesday night.
    Father Ryan however is currently in court after being charged with assaulting his ex-girlfriend and her sister.
    Giggs pleaded not guilty to the charges when he appeared at Manchester Crown Court last week.
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    Arsenal ‘refuse to give up on Martin Odegaard transfer and Real Madrid midfielder is keen to return to Emirates’

    ARSENAL have NOT given up hope on signing Real Madrid ace Martin Odegaard, according to reports. The 22-year-old spent the second half of last season on loan at the Gunners, making 20 appearances in the process.
    Odegaard wants to fight for his place at Real, but is open to returning to ArsenalCredit: GETTY IMAGES
    But the Norwegian wonderkid only managed to play a part in four goals across all competitions.
    According to Football.london, Odegaard wants to fight for his place at Real, but hasn’t shut the door completely on a return to Arsenal.
    Real are interested on listening to offers for Odegaard, who has failed to stake a claim to a first team place since joining at the tender age of 16.
    Odegaard enjoyed his time in London and posted a heartfelt message to the club and its supporters once his loan had expired.
    He said: “Arsenal, Thank you so much for these 6 months.
    “My time with the Arsenal family will always hold a special place in my heart.
    “I wanna [sic] thank everyone in and around the club for the way you made me feel like a part of the family since the first day.
    “Special thanks to the fans, even without you guys at the stadium for the majority of the season, I felt you with me at all times.
    Martin, you are in Madrid. Wake up, macho.Tomas Roncero
    “A huge thank you to the boss and his staff for everything I’ve learned during my stay. Thank you also to all my teammates for such a great time on and off the pitch.
    “Will miss you all. Thank you, gunners family. Always in my heart.”
    Since returning to his parent club, Odegaard has been blasted for his performance in Real’s shock 2-1 pre-season loss to Scottish champions Rangers.
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    Spanish outlet AS’ Tomas Roncero has warned Odegaard to “wake up”.
    In his review of the loss, Roncero said: “Odegaard is the eternal promise. Surrounded by homegrown players, he should have said ‘here I am’.
    “What is there to do? Like at Arsenal, do they all play for him? Martin, you are in Madrid. Wake up, macho.”
    ⚽ Read our Arsenal live blog for the latest news and transfer gossip from The Emirates

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    Arsenal’s worst XI of the 21st Century includes Francis Jeffers, Gervinho and one of Arteta’s current squad

    ARSENAL are a great club and poor players do not tend to play for it. It is more a case of players not quite being at the level we as fans expect, hope for, or indeed have been used to.
    The ex-Chelsea winger is one of many Brazilians in the team
    Willian is the only member of Mikel Arteta’s current squad to make the Worst XI this CenturyCredit: Getty
    With regards to my rules when determining Arsenal’s worst XI of the 21st Century – a player must have played a minimum of 10 Premier League matches to qualify for consideration.
    This rules out failed signings that never truly played enough for us to judge.
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    Secondly, the formation of the 11 will be 4-2-3-1, simply because it has been the predominant set up this century.
    Arsenal fan Dave Seager tells us below as he picks his very own team of north London flops:
    GK: Vito Mannone
    Since Jens Lehmann, Arsenal have not covered themselves in glory in this position with no goalkeeper truly getting close to the German Invincible or Seaman’s consistency.
    Of the average bunch I think Vito Mannone was the most disappointing, and the level of his career post 15 matches in seven years at the club probably bears this out.
    RB: Nelson Vivas
    Many might shout Emmanuel Eboue, wrongly, or even Stephan Lichtsteiner after one awful season but I am opting for Nelson Vivas.
    I do so because in 2000 and 2001 as a full and regular Argentina international he was unable to edge out a 37-year-old Lee Dixon. Something a central midfielder Lauren was able to do when Vivas left.
    Nelson Vivas was unable to edge out a 37-year-old Lee Dixon during his stint at ArsenalCredit: News Group Newspapers Ltd

    LB: Andre Santos
    In all honesty, this position has been a strong one for Arsenal for as long as I can remember with one notable exception.
    When the roll call for the century is Silvinho, Cole, Clichy, Gibbs, Monreal and now Tierney, only Andre Santos can be given this dubious honour. Enough said!
    CB: Igor Stepanovs and Sebastian Squillaci
    There have been many that have not quite been able to follow the likes of Tony Adams, Martin Keown, Sol Campbell and Kolo Toure – and many have tried.
    Of all the candidates, Philippe Senderos, Johan Djourou, William Gallas, Thomas Vermaelen, Pascal Cygan might stick their hands up but Igor Stepanovs and Sebastian Squillaci are easily the worst for me. 121 international caps between them too!
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    RDM: Gio van Bronckhorst
    This is one of the most difficult areas for me because truth be told we have had so much quality over the past 21 years that whoever I pick it will be a harsh one.
    The easier of the two is Gio van Bronckhorst simply because for such a talented player he never managed to do what he was signed to do, which was to replace Emmanuel Petit as Patrick Vieira’s partner.
    His career at Arsenal was marred by injury but when fit he was often utilised as a left-back and failed to rival Ray Parlour for the position he was signed for.
    LDM: Denilson
    Alongside Gio, whilst it pains me to do it, I will have to opt for Denilson.
    It may seem harsh given the young Brazilian played over 150 games for Arsenal, but he never really made the shirt his own and his demise post leaving speaks volumes.
    Arsenal fans failed to see the best of Gervinho during his two years at the EmiratesCredit: Arsenal FC – Getty
    LW: Gervinho
    Again a position graced by Marc Overmars, Robert Pires, Antonio Reyes, Samir Nasri, Andrei Arshavin, Santi Cazorla, Alexis Sanchez and even Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang since the turn of the century, this position has been pivotal for Arsenal.
    Sadly, the gap and the blip came post-Nasri when Arsene Wenger invested in the wrong player from Lille. Gervinho shone in France with Eden Hazard and starred again in Italy. He singularly failed to shine or star in North London.
    RW: Willian
    After all the initial excitement, followed by seven seasons and seven loans Joel Campbell should have walked into my team but of course, that was before Willian.
    I have no idea what became of the Brazilian that played for Chelsea but no one has stunk quite like our £200k a week flop.
    CAM: Julio Baptista
    The second striker role I have given to Julio Baptista. After banging in goals for fun at Sevilla, Real Madrid beat Wenger and Arsenal to the Brazilian’s signature in 2005.
    Despite scoring 11 for the Spanish giants, he was allowed to leave on loan for the 2006/7 season and I along with most of the Arsenal faithful was super excited.
    I needn’t have been because he was a shadow of the player we all hoped for, managing only three goals in 23 league appearances. A massive disappointment.
    Francis Jeffers failed to make the grade at Arsenal after his early promise at EvertonCredit: Getty Images – Getty
    ST: Francis Jeffers
    There have been many strikers who have not quite made the grade at Arsenal in the 21st Century and there is even talk of a curse on the Number 9 shirt.

    Marouane Chamakh gets bad press but actually began like a train before falling under the huge shadow of an imperious RVP and Lucas Perez failed to breakthrough.
    However, for the sheer fall from grace and failure to deliver on early promise at Everton, my striker can only be Francis Jeffers. 
    He has the chance to partner the greatest striker the league had seen between 2001 and 2004 but failed to force himself past either Nwankwo Kanu or Sylvain Wiltord for the honour.

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    Raphael Varane ‘studies Man Utd and asks for clips of set-pieces to get head start ahead of transfer from Real Madrid’

    RAPHAEL VARANE has studied clips of Manchester United defending set-pieces so he can hit the ground running when he joins, according to reports.The Real Madrid defender looks set to move to Old Trafford this summer, and he’s already looking into where they can improve.
    Varane, 28, wants a new challenge and has his sights set on a move to the Premier LeagueCredit: GETTY IMAGES

    According to the Manchester Evening News, Varane has been studying United’s defending from last season.
    And has specifically requested footage of their set-piece organisation.
    The four-time Champions League winner was told it would be a waste of time, as United were poor at defending set-piece situations last season, despite finishing second.
    Man Utd have already taken matters into their own hands by appointing Eric Ramsey as their set-piece coach.
    Varane, alongside club captain Harry Maguire, would form a formidable centre-back partnership.
    Both possess leadership qualities, are dominant in a tackle and in the air, which is just what United need.
    And as SunSport understands, Man Utd and Real are nearing an agreement over a fee believed to be in the region of £40million for the Frenchman.
    Personal terms with 28-year-old Varane are believed to be already agreed.
    We’ve signed a genuine world-class centre back. His list of honours is ridiculous, it’s as long as my arm.Rio Ferdinand
    United legend Rio Ferdinand – who formed a legendary partnership with Nemanja Vidic – is excited by the potential signing and the project that is at hand under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
    Speaking on his Youtube channel, Rio Ferdinand Presents FIVE, he said: “What a signing. There’s been talk in the transfer market since it opened up – it must have come from the player.
    “He must have wanted to leave, and be part of the new Man United way, the project that’s going ahead.
    “With Ole Gunnar Solskjaer signing a new deal, Sancho coming in – the talent they’ve got there, the ability to play alongside Maguire after he did so well at the Euros probably played a part. 
    “I just think he sees this as a better project than what he’s got at Real Madrid now.”
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    Ferdinand also praised United’s ‘assertive’ approach in the transfer market.
    He continued: “United have been criticised in the past, and rightly so, for dilly-dallying in the market.
    “This one they were assertive, they went for their man and they got him. No doubt in my mind, he would have said to Real Madrid ‘I need it, I want it, I have to go.'”
    ⚽ Read our Man United live blog for the latest news and transfer gossip from Old Trafford

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    Atletico Madrid set to return for Arsenal striker Alexandre Lacazette as they plot transfer for £15m Frenchman

    ATLETICO MADRID are reportedly set to renew their interest in Arsenal striker Alexandre Lacazette.ESPN claim Diego Simeone wants more competition to his attack after relying heavily on veteran Luis Suarez to win the LaLiga title last season.
    Atletico Madrid are set to renew their interest in signing Arsenal star Alexandre LacazetteCredit: Getty
    Suarez, 34, scored 21 goals for the Rojiblancos as they tasted domestic glory for the first time in seven years but he cannot continue to shoulder the goalscoring burden alone.
    The ex-Barcelona hitman hit the net more than Joao Felix and Angel Correa combined while Moussa Dembele failed to open his account during his loan.
    Atleti are now said to see Lacazette as a solution to their striking conundrum, with Simeone a long-term admirer of the Frenchman.
    The LaLiga giants were heavily linked with a move for the Arsenal forward last summer and had even tried to sign him when he was at Lyon in 2017.
    SunSport revealed Lacazette is now available after the Gunners made the decision not to offer their No9. a new contract.
    The French international, 30, is now in the final year of his £175,000-a-week Emirates deal and will become a free agent next summer.
    But the club have decided against extending the striker’s stay after previously being panicked into handing huge pay rises to Mesut Ozil and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
    Now they are trying to find a buyer willing to pay a fee in the region of £15million as well as Lacazette’s substantial salary.
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    And they will only follow up their interest in Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham if Lacazette leaves this summer.
    But if there are no offers, manager Mikel Arteta will happily keep the player at the club for the new season as back-up to captain Aubameyang.
    Arsenal are looking to step up their transfer activity next week by finalising a £50m deal for Brighton centre-half Ben White.

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    Canadian football team Atletico Ottawa lets fans ‘pay what you want’ for first game in new stadium

    CANADIAN Premier League side Atletico Ottawa are letting fans ‘pay what you want’ for tickets to watch their first ever home game at their new stadium.The game against HFX Wanderers FC will take place at the TD Place Stadium on August 14.
    Ex West Ham defender Vashon Neufville, 22, will be in action against HFX Wanderers

    And fans can choose to pay anything from nothing to £28 for tickets for the first outdoor sporting event post-COVID.
    Ottawa – who are owned by Atletico Madrid and only formed – have got off to a rocky start to the season, sitting rock bottom of the league on seven points.
    But they are, however, just one point behind their August 14 opponents.
    President of Ottawa, Jeff Hunt, believes the event will be good for the community, who have had to come to grips with the pandemic.
    He said: ” The pandemic has affected all of us.
    “Many of our neighbours, friends, and colleagues have had a tough year, but there is light ahead!
    “Saturday, August 14, we invite everyone to ‘Pay What You Want’ for your ticket to the Atletico Ottawa home opener and join us for this special return back to live sports and professional soccer in Ottawa!”
    In an official statement on the club website, the event was hailed as a good opportunity to “rally together as a community”.
    Many of our neighbours, friends, and colleagues have had a tough year, but there is light ahead! Jeff Hunt
    Ottawa said: “Ottawa is our home. Everything we do, and every action we take, will be for the community and the people of Canada’s Capital region.
    “We want you to be at our first home match at TD Place. It’s the first post-pandemic live outdoor sporting event with fans in our city-with room for 15,000!
    “It is our chance to rally together  as a community, as neighbours, as friends and fans.
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    “We want everyone to have an opportunity to be a part of this momentous occasion.
    “So we invite everyone to ‘Pay What You Want’ for our Home Opener, and join us for this special return back to live sports.
    “It’s our way of introducing our club and our philosophy to you.”
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    Newcastle ‘making transfer push to sign Axel Tuanzebe from Man Utd’ after growing frustrated in Joe Willock pursuit

    NEWCASTLE are pushing to sign Manchester United’s Axel Tuanzebe.The Red Devils are closing in on a deal to finally complete their own transfer swoop for Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane.
    Newcastle are looking to add Manchester United defender Axel Tuanzebe to their squadCredit: Getty
    The star played 18 times for the Red Devils last seasonCredit: Getty
    Now The Telegraph claims Tuanzebe could become Toon’s first arrival of the summer once that move has been finalised.
    The report states that talks have already begun between Newcastle and United.
    And that both a permanent and potential loan switch for the 23-year-old centre-back.
    However, due to the North East side’s limited budget, the latter seems the most likely option.
    Tuanzebe appeared 18 times for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team last term.
    But he has failed to establish himself as a first-team regular and needs more action to continue his development.
    And he is a player that Newcastle boss Steve Bruce already knows well.
    The former England youth ace played under him twice during loan spells at Aston Villa when they were in the Championship.
    Newcastle also have room in their squad for another defender.

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    They allowed Florian Lejuene to depart to Alves last week.
    The Magpies are also still hopeful of persuading Arsenal to send Joe Willock back to them after his stunning stint there last season despite beginning to grow frustrated in that long-running pursuit.
    And they are also trying to bring in midfielder Conor Gallagher, who is also wanted by Crystal Palace and Leeds, from Chelsea.
    ⚽ Read our Man United live blog for the latest news and transfer gossip from Old Trafford

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