Barcelona offer Antoine Griezmann for Joao Felix in swap deal with Atletico Madrid – Paper Round
Barcelona are attempting to negotiate an ambitious swap deal with La Liga rivals Atletico Madrid to bring wonderkid Joao Felix to the Camp Nou. Elsewhere, Arsenal are in talks for Wolves midfielder Ruben Neves, Tottenham Hotspur have targeted Southampton striker Danny Ings and the scenes at Wembley on Sunday have hurt England's chances of hosting the 2030 World Cup. It’s Wednesday’s Paper Round…
Joao Felix of Atletico de Madrid jocking with Antoine Griezmann of FC Barcelona during the La Liga Santander match between Atletico de Madrid and FC Barcelona at Estadio Wanda Metropolitano on November 21, 2020 in Madrid, Spain.
Barcelona have attempted to table an ambitious swap deal with Atletico Madrid which would see the unwanted Antoine Griezmann return to his former club in exchange for wonderkid Joao Felix. However, Marca report that the Liga champions "refused to discuss" a deal that included Felix, who joined for a club-record fee of £113 million back in 2019. Barca are planning to reduce their wage bill this summer in order to re-sign Lionel Messi and Griezmann is likely to be sacrificed by the Blaugrana. Diego Simeone "would welcome Griezmann with open arms", but not in a swap involving Felix. Marca state that Saul Niguez could potentially be involved in a swap deal with Barcelona.
Paper Round’s view: Why would Atletico Madrid give up a supremely gifted, young talent like Felix for a 30-year-old Griezmann? Obviously, the World Cup winner had a special time during his five years at Atleti, but Felix has a very bright future in the Spanish capital. Saul – who famously signed a nine-year contract with Atleti back in 2017 – is more expendable. Simeone’s side are more likely to accept a swap deal including Saul, and the 26-year-old could be a great addition for Barcelona. Saul would probably have more modest wage demands than a player who was purchased for £113 million like Felix, which is what Barca desperately need.
Arsenal have identified Wolves midfielder Ruben Neves as a potential replacement for Granit Xhaka, who is expected to leave for Roma this summer. The Sun state that the Gunners’ technical director Edu is in contact with super-agent Jorge Mendes, who represents the Portuguese midfielder. Wolves' asking price could prove a stumbling block, with Neves valued at £35 million. The Sun also report that Anderlecht midfielder Albert Sambi Lokonga is close to completing a move to north London, while Brighton’s Ben White, Lyon’s Houssem Aouar and Leicester’s James Maddison could all follow in future weeks.
Paper Round’s view: Arsenal really need to make some waves in the transfer market if they want to break back into the Premier League's top four. The squad just isn't good enough at the moment. Neves would be a decent replacement for Xhaka, who has enjoyed a mixed five seasons at the Emirates Stadium, but will the Gunners cough up £35 million? Either way, some of the names listed in the Sun's report are quite encouraging. Lokonga, White and Aouar are a few that have been linked for a while and could genuinely materialise this summer. Maddison might just be out of reach due to his price tag, though.
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Tottenham target Ings amid tactical shift
Tottenham Hotspur have made Southampton striker Danny Ings their "priority" signing this summer, with the Telegraph reporting that new head coach Nuno Espirito Santo is planning a tactical shift for the upcoming season. Nuno is set to shift to a striking duo and wants Ings to partner Spurs' talisman Harry Kane in attack. The 28-year-old has already informed Southampton of his desire to leave the south coast this summer and has rejected a four-year deal that would have made him the best-paid player in the club's history. Ings would be valued at around £20 million and has also attracted interest from Manchester United and Manchester City.
Paper Round's view: Ings wants to test himself at a higher level and he has shown real ambition by rejecting a mouth-watering contract offer from his parent club in search of a move. The problem for Southampton is that they can't do too much about it if they want to sell the England international for a transfer fee before his current deal expires next summer. A fee of £20 million is a bit disappointing for a main striker who has scored 38 goals over the past two seasons, but it's better than nothing. It will definitely be interesting to see whether Ings partners Kane in a front two, or if Nuno sticks with the exciting duo of Kane and Son Heung-Min.
The disgusting scenes at Wembley for Sunday's Euro 2020 final have reportedly hurt England's chances of hosting the 2030 FIFA World Cup, according to the Telegraph. Britain and Ireland were set to launch a joint bid which would have seen England host the World Cup for the first time since 1966. However, only one European bid will be put forward by UEFA and Sunday's scenes have put Spain and Portugal's joint bid in the driving seat.
Paper Round's view: Are we surprised by this news? Why would UEFA put England forward as a potential host nation for the biggest tournament in football after seeing pictures and videos of Wembley on Sunday? Obviously it's hugely disappointing for the true England supporters, the rest of Britain and the Republic of Ireland - but they were let down by the so-called England 'fans' who threatened Wembley Stadium workers, forced their way into the ground without tickets and attacked innocent supporters - including family members of the players. Do we want to risk a repeat of this? No.