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Transfer Talk: Barcelona a 'priority' for in-demand Ajax captain De Ligt

ESPN FC's Shaka Hislop can't understand why Real Madrid would even entertain the thought of bringing back Jose Mourinho to manage the club.
Paul Mariner and Ross Dyer dissect the latest transfer rumours, including Antonio Conte and Jose Mourinho making surprise returns to former clubs.
Mark Donaldson and Shaka Hislop weigh up which players at Real Madrid should be kept and offloaded to improve the squad in the summer.

The transfer window for Europe's biggest clubs is closed, but click here for all the deals, and keep track of who has joined the big boys. Transfer Talk will continue to scour the world's media and set correspondents loose to see what's on the agenda for the summer.

TOP STORY: Barca No. 1 for De Ligt

Ajax captain Matthijs de Ligt has made joining Barcelona this summer above any other suitor a "priority," according to Catalan-based Sport.

Bayern Munich, Juventus and Manchester City are interested in signing the 19-year-old, but there is growing optimism at Camp Nou that they can land the Ajax defender.

Having already signed Frenkie de Jong from the John Cruyff Arena for €75 million, Barcelona will need to sell before they can bring in De Ligt.

Matthijs de Ligt is a wanted man, but he is keen on a move to Barcelona.

LIVE BLOG

23.03 GMT: That's going to bring to a close Monday's live edition of Transfer Talk. Thanks very much for joining us, and be sure to check back in a few short hours when we return with the latest gossip pulled from Tuesday's back pages.

21.26 GMT: Never again will Arsenal be burned by the likes of contract rebels Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey. The Mirror reports that moving forward, the Gunners will sell any player who is unable to agree a new contract before their deal reaches the final two years of its term.

19.49 GMT: AC Milan could be in the market for a new defender this summer, and Calciomercato reports that Marseille's 19-year-old Boubacar Kamara has caught the attention of the Rossoneri, who would be interested in adding the France U20 international if Mattia Caldara has any further setbacks with his recovery from a ruptured Achilles and if Cristian Zapata's contract is not extended.

18.12 GMT: The Independent is reporting that with Zinedine Zidane now back in the dugout, Real Madrid will undergo a £300m summer overhaul that could include as many as three Galactico signings, with Neymar, Eden Hazard, Christian Eriksen and Kylian Mbappe said to be at the top of their list.

16.35 GMT: Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan said he has not made a decision over where his future lies.

"There is no decision yet otherwise I would have signed or rejected a contract," he said ahead of the Champions League clash with Schalke. "We are still in talks but I don't feel there is much pressure, maybe also because we are still competing in all the competitions.

"Obviously one day there has to be a decision but I am very happy at the moment here especially about the way we play and how we play under Pep, and that is the main thing."

15.37 GMT: Jordi Alba's new five-year contract at Barcelona was made official on Monday, and he said he hopes he's not alone in extending.

"I hope [Lionel] Messi stays until 2024 as well, so we can enjoy him more. I have grown a lot alongside him, because he makes you a better player."

14.41 GMT: Marca are reporting that Zinedine Zidane will be announced as Real Madrid manager at 5 p.m. GMT today, replacing Santiago Solari.

In two and a half seasons at the club, Zidane won the Champions League for three successive seasons but would return to a club in turmoil.

13.43 GMT: Manchester United are pushing for a breakthrough in their contract stand-off with David De Gea before the summer to avoid fielding cut-price bids for the goalkeeper during the transfer window, sources have told ESPN FC.

United have been negotiating with the Spain international over the terms of a new five-year deal for more than a year and there are fears that if the stalemate stretches into the last 12 months of his contract, due to expire in 2020, offers from Europe's heavyweight clubs could further complicate the situation.

12.46 GMT: Wolves will make the signing of Raul Jimenez from Benfica permanent, according to Portuguese outlet Record.

The deal will cost €41m and make Jimenez Benfica's costliest sale, taking the Mexico international above Ederson and Axel Witsel (both €40m) to Manchester City and Zenit. St. Petersburg respectively.

11.47 GMT: Catalan-based Sport are reporting that Celta Vigo's terrible form increases the possibility of Maxi Gomez joining Barcelona.

Should Celta, who are in the relegation zone, go down to the second tier, Gomez's buy-out clause halves from €50m to €25m.

10.50 GMT: The reports linking Real Madrid full-back Marcelo with a move to Juventus won't go away, with Calciomercato reporting that the Brazilian has been dealt a "final humiliation" from the club.

The Italian outlet claims that Marcelo's late cameo appearance as a substitute in Madrid's 4-1 humbling at the hands of Ajax in the Champions League last week was the final straw for him. It also references reports that the 30-year-old had a row with Sergio Ramos at the club's training ground.

Marcelo, who has been a regular for Madrid for most of his 12 years at the Bernabeu but has this season seen his place taken by Sergio Reguilon, appears to be closer than ever to reuniting with ex-teammate Cristiano Ronaldo in Turin.

10.00 GMT: Manchester United caretaker Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has rejected suggestions from Gary Neville that David De Gea's form is suffering because of uncertainty over his future.

De Gea, who is approaching the final year of his deal at Old Trafford, was wrong-footed by Granit Xhaka's speculative 25-yard strike after 12 minutes of Sunday's 2-0 defeat at Arsenal to set United on their way to a first Premier League defeat under Solskjaer.

Neville suggested "noise in his ear" surrounding the contract stand-off might be affecting the 28-year-old, but Solskjaer insisted his goalkeeper, the club's player of the year in four-of-the-last-five seasons, is focused.

United have been negotiating a new five-year contract with De Gea for more than a year but without fresh terms he will be allowed to leave for free in 2020.

"I don't class [the goal] as a mistake," Solskjaer told a news conference. "I'm stood right behind the ball. We don't put pressure on Xhaka, he must be Brazilian because the way he struck the ball and it swerves and moves in the air, goes towards David's left and then changes direction completely. That's just one of those things.

"David is really focused and concentrated. He's too professional to let his mind wander. The best players know how to focus and he's been absolutely fantastic."

- Dawson: De Gea's error dooms United to defeat

09.05 GMT: Marca has a story about a South American star moving from Paris Saint-Germain to Real Madrid... Argentine midfielder Giovani Lo Celso.

Lo Celso is already playing in La Liga, on a season-long loan at Real Betis where he has scored 12 goals in all competitions so far this term. He played the full 90 minutes when Real Madrid visited the Estadio Benito Villamarin in January and escaped with a 2-1 win via Dani Ceballos' late winner.

According to Marca, that form has attracted interested in the 22-year-old from the Bernabeu, and he could be set for a summer move.

08.00 GMT: North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal are set to battle for the signature of Spain international Pablo Fornals this summer, according to the Express.

The 23-year-old Villarreal midfielder has previously been linked with Serie A side Napoli, but could now move to the Premier League. Fornals enjoyed a breakout year at Villarreal last season, scoring four goals including the winner at Real Madrid, and he has already matched that tally this term.

Tottenham have a midfield berth in their squad to fill following Mousa Dembele's January move to China. Arsenal, meanwhile, need to start planning for life without Aaron Ramsey, who will join Juventus as a free agent in the summer, and possibly Mesut Ozil, who has fallen out of favour with manager Unai Emery.

PAPER TALK (by Nick Judd): Pep losing patience with Gundogan?

Upheaval could soon be the order of business at Manchester City too, with the Mirror speculating on Pep Guardiola's frustration about Ilkay Gundogan holding out on signing a new contract.

Since arriving from Borussia Dortmund in 2016, the midfielder has risen to prominence at the Etihad Stadium as Fernandinho's understudy, but he is set to enter the final 12 months of his existing deal this summer and has currently shown little willingness to agree an extension.

"Hopefully he can stay. I would prefer him to stay, but at the same time I want to feel he wants to stay, too," said Guardiola.

"If he doesn't want to stay, he has to leave. But we would like to continue. I said before, if he wants to stay, we will talk to him and we can sign the contract.

"We signed the contract with Kevin De Bruyne in a few days, and with other players -- with Gabriel Jesus. But he [Gundogan] doesn't want to right now, so we will wait. When he wants it, we will be here."

Everton handed Meunier boost

Money has been no object for Paris Saint-Germain but it is now set to come at a price, with Telefoot claiming that Thomas Meunier is set to be sold. The Ligue 1 champions are preparing to part with the defender, 27, as he prepares to enter the final 12 months of his current deal.

Meunier's expected departure is aligned to Les Parisiens' need to comply with UEFA's Financial Fair Play regulations and could lead to the Premier League. Everton are said to be tracking the Belgium international, potentially as a long-term replacement for Seamus Coleman.

Meunier hasn't played as many games as he would have liked and he has made it no secret that he is prepared to join a club that offers him a guaranteed start every week.

Tap-ins

- The chase for Federico Chiesa's signature is intensifying with Calciomercato suggesting that Inter Milan have made the Fiorentina winger their top priority this summer. AC Milan, Juventus and Napoli are joining the Nerazzurri in the hunt for the versatile 21-year-old.

- Kilmarnock are plotting an ambitious move to re-sign Derby County midfielder Craig Bryson, the Express have revealed. The 32-year-old is currently set to end an eight-year association with the Championship outfit when his contract expires this summer.

- Slavisa Jokanovic could be in line for a swift return to English football as West Brom's new manager, reports the Telegraph. Talks are ongoing with the Serbian, who heads up a four-man shortlist alongside ex-Huddersfield boss David Wagner, Preston's Alex Neil and former Sheffield Wednesday and Swansea City boss Carlos Carvajal.

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