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ESPN FC Posted by ESPN staff
Aug 8, 2014

Vermaelen heading to Barcelona

Arsenal have agreed to sell defender Thomas Vermaelen, with Barcelona or Manchester United reportedly the likely destination for the Belgian.

Can you believe the transfer window closes three weeks on Monday? What will you do without the latest gossip, rumours and speculation? Having said that, based on today's stories, you can probably live without more installments of long-running -- and slow-moving -- sagas.

Top pick: Barcelona have reportedly agreed a 15 million pound deal with Arsenal to sign Belgium centre-back Thomas Vermaelen while Manchester United pull out of the race after refusing to consider a swap deal. 

- Leicester City are eyeing up an audacious swoop for former Real Madrid and Inter midfielder Esteban Cambiasso and have offered the Argentine a two-year contract worth five million pounds.

- Fiorentina president Andrea Della Valle admits that he faces a difficult task in keeping Manchester United and Barcelona target Juan Cuadrado at the club.

- Aston Villa are closing in on the signing of Valencia left-back Aly Cissokho, who spent last season on loan at Liverpool.

22.58 BST That's it for tonight, but fear not more transfer talk is on its way shortly.

22.35 BST Breaking news just in to ESPN Towers. Celtic and England goalkeeper Fraser Forster is at Southampton tonight to thrash out the finer details of a move to the Premier League.

21.56 BST DONE DEAL - Empoli have announced the loan signing of Matteo Bianchetti from Hellas Verona.

21.12 BST We're hearing reports that Spurs have completed the signing of United States star DeAndre Yedlin from Seattle Sounders, but the player will remain in MLS for the rest of the year. The fee is said to be around 2.25 million.

20.49 BST The Sun is reporting that free agent Samuel Eto'o could be about to end his exile from football by signing for Dutch giants Ajax.

20.15 BST DONE DEAL - Aston Villa have just completed the signing of Aly Cissokho from Valencia for an undisclosed fee. He was on loan at Liverpool last season.

20.09 BST An interesting rumour regarding Liverpool here. Sky Sport Italia (yes, them again) say that the Reds have had an offer of 16 million pounds for exciting young striker Keita Balde Diao rejected by Lazio. It is said the Serie A club are holding out for 24 million pounds for the former Barcelona youth team player.

19.46 BST Adel Taarabt was a surprise loan signing for AC Milan in the second half of last season, and now it seems like he could be heading back to the San Siro from QPR. Sky Sport Italia claim the deal could be done for five million euros.

19.12 BST Erm... DONE DEAL! This one is not going to come as much of a surprise. He's even already in our Premier League fantasy game, but Man City have officially announced the signing of Bruno Zuculini from Racing Club. He had already been playing for City throughout preseason.

18.51 BST Mark Hughes' attempts to change Stoke City's style continues, and now he is reportedly interested in Andriy Yarmolenko. The Daily Mail says Stoke will pay Dynamo Kiev eight million pounds for the winger, but the demands for wages of 75,000 pounds a week could be problematic.

18.26 BST Scottish side St Johnstone have given permission for prolific striker Stevie May to hold talks with Championship neighbours Rotherham United and Sheffield Wednesday. It is believed both have matched the asking price of 800,000 pounds.

18.07 BST Fiorentina president Andrea Della Valle is pessimistic about his club's chances of holding on to Barcelona and Man United target Juan Cuadrado this summer. "I've spoken with Cuadrado and explained to him our project," Della Valle told reporters at a news conference in Florence on Friday. "I said 'try staying a year with a side like ours, with a winning project.' Of course I'm not optimistic because if a big offer were to arrive, I would have to let him go."

17.35 BST Tottenham are hopeful of bringing highly-rated Ajax forward Viktor Fischer to White Hart Lane, according to the Evening Standard.

The 20-year-old Denmark international is regarded as one of the hottest young talents in the Eredivisie but Tottenham hope to use their close ties with the Amsterdam club to negotiate a deal.

Spurs and Ajax have been in regular contact over the past few seasons, with Jan Vertonghen and Christian Eriksen both making the switch to North London. 

17.25 BST Out-of-favour Barcelona winger Ibrahim Afellay is reportedly close to joining Greek champions Olympiakos. 

The 28-year-old Dutchman has been plagued by injury for the past two seasons and new Barca coach Luis Enrique has informed both Afellay and Alex Song that they can find new clubs as they do not feature in his plans for the forthcoming campaign. 

17.20 BST Southampton manager Ronald Koeman insists that Morgan Schneiderlin will remain at the club beyond the summer, despite the midfielder admitting that he is "not mentally or physically ready" to play.

Saints turned down a bid from Tottenham for the France international last month -- prompting Schneiderlin to criticise Southampton on Twitter -- but Koeman maintains that the club's position has not changed. 

"The situation is difficult, the player makes it difficult," Koeman told BBC Sport. "I spoke to him with our chairman and the situation has not changed -- we don't sell Schneiderlin and he has to accept that.

"Tomorrow he is not in the squad. He said he is not physically and, even more, mentally prepared for tomorrow. On one side I can understand that. We told him to take the weekend off and think about the situation."

"He will continue as a football player of Southampton. Now it is up to him."

Southampton manager Ronald Koeman has announced that Morgan Schneiderlin will not be sold this summer.

17.08 BST West Ham have stepped up their attempts to sign a new striker, with Sunderland forward Connor Wickham and Stoke City targetman Peter Crouch at the top of their list.

Andy Carroll's long-term ankle ligament injury has forced Sam Allardyce to dip back into the transfer market and the Hammers boss hopes to take advantage of Wickham's sticky contract situation on Tyneside or Crouch's disillusionment at the Britannia Stadium following the arrivals of Mame Biram Diouf and Bojan.

17.00 BST Everton are prepared to offer out-of-favour Newcastle playmaker Hatem Ben Arfa a way out of St James' Park.

The French midfielder was fined by the Magpies for being out of shape on his return to pre-season training and his relationship with manager Alan Pardew is believed to have reached an all-time low.

The Sunderland Echo claims that Martinez is keen to take Ben Arfa, as well as Chelsea's Ghanaian international winger Christian Atsu, on loan as he looks to boost his squad numbers ahead of the club's respective domestic and European campaigns. 

16.50 BST Milan's attempts to sign Real Madrid goalkeeper Diego Lopez have hit a snag, according to reports in Italy.

The Rossoneri had agreed a fee with the European champions for the 32-year-old but negotiations have come to a standstill as the club are struggling to meet the player's wage demands.

Lopez is reportedly requesting an annual salary of four million euros -- almost double what Milan are currently offering -- and the Serie A side could therefore turn their attentions to free agent Victor Valdes, Sampdoria's Sergio Romero or Genoa's Mattia Perin as their new No.1.

16.40 BST Swansea City hope to sign Napoli centre-back Federico Fernandez as a replacement for Qatar-bound defender Chico Flores.

Flores is reportedly close to linking up with former Swans coach Michael Laudrup at Lekhwiya and the BBC says Garry Monk has identified Fernandez as the man to shore up his defence ahead of the new season.

Fernandez impressed for Argentina during their route to the World Cup final and Swansea hope to land the 25-year-old for seven million pounds. 

16.30 BST Spartak Moscow have completed the transfer of Netherlands international Quincy Promes from FC Twente for an estimated 15 million euros.

The 22-year-old forward exploded onto the Eredivisie scene last season, helping Twente qualify for the Europa League with 11 goals in 31 appearances.

16.22 BST Galatasaray have confirmed the signing of midfielder Yasin Oztekin from Erciyesspor for a fee of 2.5 million euros while Arsenal's Champions League play-off opponents Besiktas have completed a 4.5 million euro deal for Turkey international Gokhan Tore.

16.10 BST Southampton are closing in on the signing of Steaua Bucharest defender Florin Gardos, according to reports in his native Romania.

Ronald Koeman is desperate for defensive reinforcements following the departure of Dejan Lovren to Liverpool and the Dutch coach has reportedly identified Gardos as a viable replacement.

Gardos, 25, has been capped on 12 occasions by Romania and is also capable of filling in at defensive midfield.

15.57 BST Fiorentina president Andrea Della Valle admits that he faces a difficult task in keeping Colombia winger Juan Cuadrado at the club.

The 26-year-old enjoyed a fine season in Serie A and his impressive form continued for Los Cafeteros at the World Cup where he attracted the attention of Barcelona and Manchester United. 

Speaking in a press conference today, Della Valle said he would not stand in the player's way if a big offer came in but insisted that Cuadrado would not be sold on the cheap.

"If an important offer were to come in we would have to let him go," Della Valle told reporters. "However, I have reiterated that he could stay another year. The chances of him staying? I don't know but it will be difficult to keep him.

"Some offers could come in next week. The negotiations will be done very openly, we won't hide anything. If there is a chance we can keep him we will do it. There is still hope for everyone and for the fans. In the past I have managed to keep hold of important players."

Fiorentina president Andrea Della Valle has admitted the club could sell Juan Cuadrado this summer.

15.42 BST DONE DEAL! Bayern Munich have completed the signing of Pepe Reina from Liverpool for an undisclosed fee.

The 31-year-old goalkeeper has signed a three-year contract with the Bundesliga champions and will provide competition to Manuel Neuer for the No.1 spot.

"I came here as I want to win as many trophies as possible," Reina told media after penning the deal. 

15.30 BST It's been a summer to forget for Southampton so far, with the likes of Mauricio Pochettino, Luke Shaw, Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana and Dejan Lovren all leaving the club.

However, one man who will not be joining the Saints exodus is Portuguese centre-back Jose Fonte who has today signed a new three-year contract. The 30-year-old has also been announced as the new Southampton captain by newly-appointed coach Ronald Koeman.

15.21 BST DONE DEALS! Reading have announced that 28-year-old striker Jamie Mackie has joined the club on a season-long loan from Nottingham Forest while Scotland under-21 international Matthew Kennedy has agreed to join Hibernian on an initial six-month loan from Everton.

15.13 BST Manchester United and Tottenham have been dealt a major blow in the transfer market amid reports that Netherlands winger Memphis Depay is set to extend his contract at PSV.

15.06 BST Javi Garcia could be the next big-money star to leave Manchester City after the club received a 12.5 million pound bid from Zenit St Petersburg. 

The Spanish midfielder has failed to hold down a regular starting role since joining from Benfica in 2012 and with City struggling to meet UEFA guidelines, The Mirror says they could be forced to sell the 27-year-old.

Manuel Pellegrini have already allowed Jack Rodwell, Gareth Barry, Joleon Lescott and Costel Pantilimon to leave the club this summer and Garcia could be the next man to pack his bags as Manchester City look to free up space for Porto centre-back Eliaquim Mangala. 

14.52 BST DONE DEAL! Few teams have been more active than Atletico Madrid this summer and the Spanish champions have announced Jesus Gamez as their latest signing.

The 29-year-old has been one of the most consistent right-backs in La Liga over the past few seasons and he leaves Malaga for an undisclosed fee after nine years at La Rosaleda. 

Gamez's arrival gives Diego Simeone more defensive options following the departure of Javier Manquillo to Liverpool on loan and he becomes the eighth new face at the Vicente Calderon this summer.

14.37 BST DONE DEAL! Spanish midfielder Andrea Orlandini has become the newest recruit at Blackpool. 

The 30-year-old has signed a one-year contract at Bloomfield Road and joins on a free transfer following his release from Brighton earlier this summer.

14.32 BST Valencia left-back Aly Cissokho, who spent last season on loan at Liverpool, is currently undergoing a medical at Aston Villa ahead of an estimated 2.5 million pound move.

14.26 BST BREAKING! Chelsea striker Didier Drogba has announced his retirement from international football. Read more here.

14.20 BST Villarreal have announced that 25-year-old centre-back Victor Ruiz has joined the club on a season-long loan from Valencia, with the option to buy. 

14.10 BST Fulham manager Felix Magath has revealed that Maarten Stekelenburg has announced his intentions to leave the club.

The Dutch goalkeeper was bought from Roma last summer to become the No.1 at Craven Cottage but a downturn in form ensured he lost his place in the Cottagers lineup and missed out on a spot in Louis van Gaal's World Cup squad.

14.00 BST Could William Carvalho be heading to Arsenal? Well, despite reports in the Portuguese press claiming that the Gunners have made an initial bid for the Portugal midfielder, Sporting Lisbon have announced that they have, in fact, received no offers.

Juan Cuadrado converted a late penalty to help seal Colombia's win over Jordan.
Sporting Lisbon say they have received no bids for highly-rated defensive midfielder William Carvalho.

13.48 BST Newcastle United are reportedly close to sealing the signings of Nottingham Forest duo Jamal Lascelles and Karl Darlow

The highly-rated pair are expected to join Alan Pardew's side in a combined seven million pound deal plus add-ons but will be loaned back to Forest for the 2014-15 campaign.

13.40 BST Former Netherlands international Richard Witschge, part of manager Frank de Boer's coaching staff at Ajax, has revealed that Manchester United target Daley Blind is likely to leave the club in the near future. Read the full story here.

Could Daley Blind be on the verge of reuniting with former Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal at Manchester United?

13.25 BST Monaco vice-president Vadim Vasilyev is adamant that Radamel Falcao will remain at the principality club this summer.

Falcao returned from six months out injured with a cruciate ligament injury to score against Arsenal in the Emirates Cup last Sunday and Vasilyev insists that the club have not been in contact with Real Madrid over a potential deal for the Colombian striker. 

"I have met several times with Real's representatives, but we never spoke about Falcao at all. We are not involved in negotiations and the truth of the matter is he will play for us next season," Vasilyev told L'Equipe, as reported in AS.

"Sunday's performance confirms Falcao's status as a great forward. He missed the World Cup through injury and that's always tough psychologically, but he has character and I hope this will be his season at Monaco."

13.10 BST DONE DEAL! Wolfsburg have completed the signing of Josuha Guilavogui from Atletico Madrid on a two-year loan deal.

The French midfielder joined the Spanish champions from Saint-Etienne last summer but failed to establish himself in Diego Simeone's lineup and was consequently loaned back to Les Verts for the second half of the season.

Guilavogui's arrival is likely to cast doubt on Luiz Gustavo's future at Wolfsburg, with Arsenal and Real Madrid strongly linked with the Brazil international. 

12.58 BST Josh McEachran is on the verge of becoming the third Chelsea player to be farmed out to Vitesse Arnhem on loan this summer.

Burkina Faso talent Bertrand Traore and Brazilian right-back Wallace have already joined the Dutch feeder club on season-long deals and The Daily Mail says that talks are already underway between the two clubs regarding 21-year-old midfielder McEachran.

12.52 BST Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has played down reports that the club are close to signing Porto centre-back Eliaquim Mangala.

The France international has been strongly linked with a 32 million pound move to the Etihad all summer but Pellegrini told reporters at a press conference on Friday that he was more concerned about the players that were currently under contract at the club.

12.42 BST Tottenham are rumoured to be closing in on the signing of Villarreal centre-back Mateo Musacchio.

Newly-appointed manager Mauricio Pochettino has expressed his desire to strengthen the Spurs backline and has identified his 18 million pound-rated Argentine compatriot as the ideal candidate. 

12.33 BST Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has reportedly made a new centre-back his No.1 priority in the transfer market following news that captain Thomas Vermaelen is set to join Barcelona in a 15 million pound deal. 

12.20 BST After failing in their attempts to convince Arsenal to part with Joel Campbell on a season-long loan, Galatasaray have now turned their attentions to signing his Gunners teammate Lukas Podolski.

Galatasaray sporting director Cenk Urgan met Arsenal officials to discuss a potential deal for Campbell last week and Turkish newspaper AMK says that although Wenger has no interest in letting the Costa Rica forward leave on loan, he is prepared to allow Podolski to depart the club.

Podolski is widely regarded as a fan favourite at Arsenal but the arrival of Alexis Sanchez from Barcelona and the return of Campbell from Olympiakos could see the 2014 World Cup winner largely restricted to a bench role at the Emirates Stadium for the forthcoming season. 

12.07 BST Alex Song's Barcelona nightmare could be about to come to an end, with reports that the Cameroon international midfielder is on the verge of joining Milan on a season-long loan, with an option to buy.

11.55 BST Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina has successfully completed his medical at Bayern Munich.

The 31-year-old Spaniard is expected to finalise his move to the Bundesliga champions within the next 24 hours and will provide competition to Germany international Manuel Neuer for the No.1 spot. 

11.45 BST DONE DEAL! Sevilla have announced that Spain one-cap wonder Manu del Moral has joined Eibar ahead of the club's first ever top-flight campaign.

The 30-year-old striker joins on a season-long loan after spending last term at Elche.

11.35 BST Former Spurs goalkeeper Kasey Keller has told U.S. international defender DeAndre Yedlin that he could struggle to get first-team football if he moves to Tottenham. Read the full story here

11.20 BST Everton have beaten Sunderland and Swansea in the race to sign Chelsea winger Christian Atsu on a season-long loan.

Jose Mourinho reportedly had doubts over loaning the Ghana international to the Goodison Park outfit but The Mirror says that Roberto Martinez has convinced the west London club that he will gain plenty of game time in both the Premier League and in Europe. 

11.07 BST The Barcelona spending spree looks set to continue, with reports that the Catalan club have agreed a 15 million pound deal with Arsenal to sign Belgium international centre-back Thomas Vermaelen

10.58 BST West Bromwich Albion coach Alan Irvine has admitted that Claudio Yacob could be sold this summer.

The defensive midfielder is believed to be on the radar of several clubs throughout Europe and would be allowed to leave for a fee in the region of five million pounds.

"If someone comes in and makes a decent offer, the club will decide whether to do business or not," Irvine said. "We're not actively looking to sell Claudio, definitely not. But could it happen? Could someone come in for him? Possibly."

Irvine also admitted that the Baggies are still active in the transfer market -- despite bringing eight new faces to The Hawthorns -- and he has stated the need for attacking reinforcements.

"We still don't have wide men or another centre-forward," he added. "We need another option up front, so those are areas we are looking to strengthen.

10.47 BST Zlatan Ibrahimovic's former coach Stefan Hansson has accused TuttoSport of inventing quotes in which he said the Paris Saint-Germain forward wanted to return to Juventus before he retires. Read the full story here

10.40 BST Newly-promoted Leicester City are preparing an audacious swoop for Argentine free agent Esteban Cambiasso.

The former Real Madrid and Inter midfielder turns 34 later this month but will no doubt bring valuable experience and leadership to Nigel Pearson's side.

The Mirror says that Cambiasso has long dreamed of testing his abilities in the Premier League and could be tempted to the King Power stadium by the Foxes' offer of a two-year contract worth five million pounds.

10.30 BST Following Arsene Wenger's comments that Arsenal were never interested in signing Real Madrid midfielder Sami Khedira, the media focus has immediately switched to Sporting Lisbon star William Carvalho.

And ESPN blogger James McNicholas believes the Portugal international would be a tailor-made fit for the Gunners. Read his article here

10.19 BST Manchester United have pulled out of the race to sign Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen.

Arsene Wenger admitted in a press conference yesterday that he would prefer to sell the Belgium international abroad and it appears that Vermaelen could now be on his way to Barcelona after Manchester United refused to consider an exchange deal. 

10.07 BST BREAKING: Celtic have been reinstated to the Champions League after Legia Warsaw were found guilty of fielding an ineligible player.

That news will not please Southampton who had hoped to tie up a deal for Fraser Forster after the Scottish side's elimination. Somebody give them a break...

10.00 BST Juan Cuadrado's future at Fiorentina is set to become clearer when he holds talks with club president Andrea Della Valle on Friday.

Manchester United and Barcelona will both be awaiting developments in Florence to see if the Viola will consider selling the Colombian. Read the full story here.

Colombia winger Juan Cuadrado will meet with the Fiorentina president today to make a decision on his future.

09.50 BST It's hardly been the most glamorous of summers for Aston Villa so far, has it? Having brought in Philippe Senderos, Joe Cole and Kieran Richardson for a combined 600,000 pounds, it's understandable that Villa fans are biting their fingernails anxiously as they new season draws nearer.

However, things could be about to change for the Midlands side, amid reports that club owner Randy Lerner has handed Paul Lambert a 10 million pound transfer kitty to bring in some more faces.

Spanish newspaper Super Deporte says that Aly Cissokho, who spent last season on loan at Liverpool, is likely to be the next man to arrive at Villa Park in a 2.5 million euro deal.

It is believed that the French left-back has already flown to Birmingham to discuss personal terms and will undergo his medical in the coming days.

09.38 BST Liverpool have reportedly asked about the availability of Paris Saint-Germain striker Edinson Cavani as they continue to hunt for a replacement for Luis Suarez.

Cavani's agent Claudio Annelluci said: "He would love to play in England, but has not yet made a final decision. He is not interested in money and fame -- he just wants to be happy playing football." Read the full story here.

09.30 BST Bordeaux coach Willy Sagnol is to use his links with former club Bayern Munich to secure the services of Diego Contento on loan.

The 24-year-old has been a largely peripheral figure since Pep Guardiola took over last summer and L'Equipe says the left-back is free to join the Ligue 1 side after being told that he does not feature in the Bundesliga champions' plans for the forthcoming campaign. 

09.20 BST Contrary to reports in the English media today, Spanish journalist Guillem Balague says that Barcelona are confident of winning the race for wantaway Arsenal skipper Thomas Vermaelen

Varane and Cech to trade places?

Raphael Varane is one of football's brightest defensive talents right now, and it is claimed Chelsea are keen on the France international. The Express report the Blues could move for the centre-back, and use goalkeeper Petr Cech as a makeweight in the deal. It remains to be seen who will be Chelsea's No. 1 shot-stopper this season following the return of Thibaut Courtois on loan, sparking speculation about Cech's future.

Varane, meanwhile, is alleged to be unhappy with his current contract at Real and hence could have his head turned by what are presumably numerous suitors in such a prodigious talent. As for Cech to the Bernabeu? Well, Los Blancos already have Iker Casillas, albeit an out-of-form Casillas, while they only recently signed Keylor Navas.

Stop us if you've heard this, Part I

Though we love it so, we have to admit that the time of year really can be like Groundhog Day at times. And so it is that we bring you the latest 'confirmation' -- this time from The Daily Star -- that Arturo Vidal will be a Manchester United player. All he has to do is pass a medical, which, if reflective of this saga overall, should probably be started now in order to get the deal done by Sept. 1.

Stop us if you've heard this, Part II

Meanwhile, according to the back page of Friday's Mirror, Thomas Vermaelen is set to win what the paper, in an ever-so-understated way, are calling "his war with Arsene Wenger" and also head for Old Trafford.

Man United transfer madness

To be honest, if every supposed 'target' actually ends up at Old Trafford, Louis van Gaal's side will look a lot different to the one that recently won four of five games on their American tour, and the canteen at the training ground will need an extension. 

OK, deep breath, here we go ... According to The Express, in addition to Vermaelen, two more defenders -- Mehdi Benatia (who played for Roma versus United in Denver recently) and Daley Blind (who can also play in midfield) -- are all on the wanted list, as is Fiorentina forward, Juan Cuadrado.

United also want Memphis Depay, but Tottenham are reportedly at the head of that queue. 

Fair Kop

The Mirror hints that Liverpool have shown an interest in Edinson Cavani , but, over in The Sun, the suggestion is that the Paris Saint-Germain striker will simply be too expensive for any Premier League side, as will another Ligue 1-based South American, Falcao. The latter man, say a multitude of outlets, is Real Madrid-bound anyway.

And finally ...

It's not a transfer story as such, but we just could not let this one pass without mentioning that, according to The Mail, Rihanna wants to buy a football club. There's no suggestion as to which one, although might Transfer Talk suggest Steve McClaren, who just signed a three-year contract extension with Championship side Derby, as a possible manager?

He could stand under her umbrella (ella ella eh eh eh eh eh eh) ...

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