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    Arsenal ‘still hopeful’ teen Folarin Balogun will stay despite transfer interest from RB Leipzig and two other clubs

    ARSENAL reportedly remain hopeful Folarin Balogun will stay at the club – despite interest from RB Leipzig.
    The 19-year-old is out of contract at the end of the season and will be able to leave the Emirates on a free transfer.

    Balogun has been linked with a move away from Arsenal with his contract set to expire in the summerCredit: Getty Images – Getty

     According to the Guardian, there is a three-way battle for his signature.
    It is believed more than 15 clubs have offered him a deal.
    German side RB Leipzig, who reached last season’s Champions League semi-final, are believed to be one of those interested.
    Julian Nagelsmann’s side sit second in the Bundesliga, two points behind champions Bayern Munich.

    They will face Liverpool in the last 16 of the Champions League.
    The Gunners were reported to have restarted contract negotiations with the teenager in November, but talks have stalled.
    They are understood to remain hopeful the highly-rated striker will sign a new contract.
    Balogun is yet to make his Premier League debut but has played four times in the Europa League, scoring twice.

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    It is claimed Balogun is one of 11 players that have been made ‘dispensable’ by Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta, although he does want him to stay.
    Arteta said: “The club wants to make a deal, the manager wants to make a deal, the player wants to stay and I’m not sure about the agent.”
    Balogun is represented by the same agency as his team-mate Eddie Nketiah.
    He is not the only academy product at risk of leaving the club, with winger Kido Taylor-Hart also yet to sign a professional deal amid interest from overseas.

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    Liverpool suffer Sven Botman transfer blow with Lille ‘desperate to keep’ £40m-rated defender until at least the summer

    LILLE defender Sven Botman is reportedly unlikely to join Liverpool this month.
    The Reds are interested in signing a centre-back after Virgil van Dijk suffered a serious knee injury in October.

    Lille are unlikely to sell Sven Botman in this month’s transfer window amid links to LiverpoolCredit: AP:Associated Press

    Netherlands Under-20 international Botman has been linked with a move to Anfield.
    But Liverpool have not made contact with Lille, according to ESPN.
    The French club are reportedly eager to retain his services until the end of the season.
    It is claimed only an offer in the region of £40million would tempt Lille into selling.

    Botman has cut an impressive figure for Lille following last summer’s transfer from Ajax.
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    How Liverpool have fared with and without Van Dijk since his debut in 2018 up to his injury against Everton
    The 20-year-old has been a regular at the back for the Ligue 1 title hopefuls, making 25 appearances in all competitions.
    Liverpool’s season has been disrupted by injuries to defenders.

    Van Dijk has been out of action since suffering a cruciate knee ligament injury against Everton in the Merseyside derby.
    Joe Gomez is expected to miss the bulk of the campaign after undergoing surgery on a tendon in his left knee in November.

    Liverpool’s other senior defender, Joel Matip, picked up a groin injury in last month’s 1-1 draw with West Brom.
    But there was some good news for Jurgen Klopp before Manchester United’s visit to Anfield as Matip returned to training.
    Speaking at his pre-match press conference, Klopp said: “To bring him [in], I don’t know. We have to see, we have to decide, we have to look at him and how he will train, how he looks in training and these kind of things, but we have still different solutions.”

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    Man Utd prepared to rival Chelsea in £70m summer transfer battle for West Ham star Declan Rice

    MANCHESTER UNITED are preparing to rival Chelsea in a £70million transfer battle for Declan Rice, according to reports.
    Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is thought to want a defensive midfielder and centre-back in the summer.

    Manchester United are reportedly preparing a bid for Declan Rice in the summer transfer windowCredit: Getty Images – Getty

    Rice, 22, has played in both positions over his career but is now settled as a holding midfielder.
    And ESPN report the Red Devils will line up a bid.
    Ed Woodward is ready to back Solskjaer in the transfer window as the club begin to challenge at the top of the Premier League again.
    But a lot of United’s spending plans also ride on Paul Pogba’s situation as well as the coronavirus pandemic.

    Pogba has 18 months left on his current Old Trafford contract and has repeatedly hinted at his desire to leave – but whether the likes of Real Madrid or Juventus could afford him is unclear.
    Rice would be a natural successor to Nemanja Matic in the United midfield and an upgrade on Fred.
    However, Chelsea remain favourites to land Rice in the summer.
    The England international was released by the Blues aged 14 but is reportedly open to a return.

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    There, he would link up with best pal Mason Mount as well as fellow English youngsters Ben Chilwell, Reece James, Tammy Abraham and Callum Hudson-Odoi.
    Reports suggested Rice would prefer to stay in the capital than move to Manchester while his dad and agent Sean is a Blues supporter.
    Although West Ham hope the £70m price tag slapped on their academy graduate would be enough to deter potential bidders – especially with his contract running until 2024.
    He has played 19 times for the Hammers so far this season, wearing the captain’s armband for most of those.
    ⚽ Read our Man United live blog for the latest news from Old Trafford

    Rice would link up with best mate Mason Mount if he returned to ChelseaCredit: Arfa Griffiths – The Sun

    Rio Ferdinand predicts Chelsea will seal Declan Rice transfer from West Ham this summer More

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    James Rodriguez’s mysterious Everton transfer cleared up as Goodison chief Marcel Brands confirms he didn’t cost a penny

    EVERTON confirmed they were able to sign James Rodriguez for free last summer, clearing up his mysterious transfer.
    The Colombian joined the Toffees from Real Madrid, finally ending his six-years with the Spanish club.

    Everton confirmed they were able to sign James Rodriguez for free Credit: Rex Features

    Director of football Marcel Brands said Rodriquez came with no transfer fee Credit: Getty – Contributor

    But confusion emerged following the move, with reports initially indicating that Rodriquez signed for £22million.
    That was until Argentine side Banfield – who had a stake in any profit from the sale – claimed the deal was done for nothing.
    Now, Everton’s director of football Marcel Brands revealed at their Annual General Meeting that the deal was in fact wrapped up with no fee.
    He said: “It was one of the most difficult and weirdest transfer windows ever. The pandemic was clearly involved in this transfer window.

    “We finished the window with a squad of 27 players – a little bit more than originally planned.
    “We signed six new players. Three on a permanent transfer – Allan, Doucoure and Ben Godfrey.
    “One on a free – James Rodriguez. One on a training compensation – Nkounkou. And one loan without a loan fee – Robin Olsen.”
    Everton spent £65m to bring in their new additions for the season under manager Carlo Ancelotti.

    And despite Rodriguez still having a year left on his Madrid contract, they managed to nab the playmaker for free.
    It left Banfield – who the 29-year-old played for between 2008-2010 – gutted as they were also left empty handed.
    The Argentine’s said in a statement obtained by Marca: “Unfortunately for the pass of James Rodriguez from Real Madrid to Everton, Banfield does not correspond to money. 
    ‘The transaction was made without cost, as if it were a free player.
    “The pertinent consultations have already been made to the two clubs involved and to the corresponding organisations. 
    “In all cases they confirmed to us that the club will not receive money as a solidarity mechanism.”
    Rodriquez, who had two year loan spell at Bayern Munich during his time with Madrid, made a flying start to his Everton career.
    He bagged three goals and three assists in his opening five games, but suffered injury in December.
    Since returning to the squad at the start of the new year, it has been steady going for the 2014 World Cup Golden Boot winner.
    But Rodriquez & Co currently sit fifth just outside the top four but only behind Manchester City and Leicester on goal difference. More

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    Odion Ighalo ‘set to leave Man Utd this month’ but striker insists he wants to extend loan transfer

    ODION IGHALO is set to leave Manchester United this month, but the striker has revealed he is desperate to extend his loan at the club.
    The Nigerian, 31, has played just four times this season – with just one of those coming in the Premier League – after his loan from Shanghai Shenhua was extended.

    Odion Ighalo, 31, wants to stay at Man Utd but knows his time could be upCredit: PA:Press Association

    Ighalo has slipped further down Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s pecking order thanks to Edinson Cavani’s summer arrival.
    And while the ex-Watford ace has admitted he wants to stay at Old Trafford, he’s aware his time could be coming to an end.
    Ighalo told ESPN: “Today, I’m in Manchester but at the end of the month I don’t know where I’m going to be.
    “If it’s possible I’d like to stay here but if not I have to go.

    ⚽ Read our Man United live blog for the latest news from Old Trafford
    “I have options. I wait for my agent. He is doing his job and I’m doing mine.
    “At the end of the month, we have to decide what is best and we’ll take it.”
    Should Ighalo be pushed out, he’s revealed he would love the chance to try his hand in the MLS.

    He continued: “If it’s possible I’d like to play in MLS but I have to wait to see if it’s possible.
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    “The league is doing well and if the opportunity arises then I’d grab it with two hands.”
    Despite featuring just once in the league, Ighalo has revealed he is still keeping his head down and training hard rather than kicking up a fuss.
    The Nigerian continued: “I’m a professional, I don’t make trouble and I don’t complain.
    “I just go to training and give my best.
    “Lately I haven’t been playing much but it’s the coach’s decision.
    “If I’m not in the team and give them 100 per cent support.
    “The team is doing well and that’s the most important thing.”

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    Mesut Ozil transfer talks ‘slowly’ progressing claims Fenerbahce sporting director as Arsenal look to cut ties

    ARSENAL outcast Mesut Ozil could soon be departing the Emirates after Fenerbahce sporting director Emre Belozoglu revealed he is ‘closer than ever’ to joining.
    His comments come after the Turkish side’s president, Ali Koc, talked up the possibility of bringing the World Cup winner to the club.

    Mesut Ozil could leave Arsenal this month with Fenerbahce keen to sign himCredit: Getty Images – Getty

    He too admitted that the Super Lig giants are in contact with the 32-year-old – who is in the final six months of his contract in North London.
    And SunSport have exclusively revealed that the ex-Real Madrid ace would be prepared to leave the Gunners this month.
    But the former Schalke playmaker – who has spoken of his love for Fenerbahce – would want Arsenal to spread out the remaining of his £350,000-a-week across three years.
    Commenting on the player, Emre – who enjoyed a three-year stay at Newcastle – told reporters that while negotiations are slow, he is confident a deal can be reached.

    Quoted by Sky Sports, he said: “Mesut Ozil has been one of the most special players in the world for his position in the last 20 years.
    “If this transfer takes place, it will be a first. I regard it as a very positive move for both our community and our president, but I don’t think it will be easy.
    “We have our own plans. And Mesut has a contract with his club. He is a superstar.
    “We are talking about a player who contributes to goals in every other game, regardless of which team he plays for.

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    Fenerbahce sporting director Emre Belozoglu has discussed the possibility of signing OzilCredit: Getty Images – Getty

    “I will be extremely pleased if Fenerbahce can have such a player, especially while we are on duty.
    “We had a meeting with him and his agent. It’s happening slowly, but Mesut is closer than ever to Fenerbahce.
    “The fact that Mesut’s childhood dream is still alive and Fenerbahce has such a dream has made this step so close for the first time.
    “After Mesut is done with the negotiations with his club, we will have our own negotiations among ourselves.
    “If Mesut can make a deal with his club on the terms we expect, it won’t be a burden for us financially considering our limits this year.”
    ⚽ Read our Arsenal live blog for the latest news from The Emirates

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