Juve and Atletico plot Saka swoop

Juventus and Atletico Madrid are keeping tabs on Arsenal forward Bukayo Saka, CalcioMercato report – via the Daily Mail. The England star has become a key player for Mikel Arteta, and apparently Arsenal would be reluctant to sell the 20-year-old for less than £43m. Saka signed a new four-year contract in July last year.
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Paper Round’s view: At least £43m?! You can’t help but feel even Arsenal’s own board, players, coaches and basically anyone associated with the club will have a giggle at this one. The Gunners would surely seek around double that price, and given he only turned 20 earlier this month and still has three years left on his contract, they could easily ask for more. One thing’s for certain (or at least should be), if the club don’t return to the top four in the next couple seasons, Saka will surely fancy a crack at Champions League football, but next summer for £43m? No chance.
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Kessie in if Pogba goes

Manchester United are looking at the possibility of signing AC Milan midfielder Franck Kessie as a replacement for Paul Pogba, should the Frenchman leave the club next summer – the Mail reports. Pogba’s contract expires at the end of the season, and with Kessie also nearing the end of his deal at Milan, the Ivory Coast international could end up moving to Old Trafford. That will depend on what Pogba decides to do, with a contract extension not out of the question, while Kessie has also attracted interest from Barcelona, PSG, Tottenham and Liverpool.

Franck Kessié durante Milan-Lazio - Serie A 2021-22

Image credit: Getty Images

Paper Round’s view: United will face competition for Kessie, but they would much prefer to tie Pogba down to a long-term deal. It looks to be results dependent. After United were gripped by Ronaldo mania in the win over Newcastle, Pogba was said to be leaning towards an extension, but that talk has gone quiet again after his agent Mino Raiola sounded out the possibility of returning to Juventus. It’s always a roller-coaster with Raiola and his clients, so it’s going to be a while before this one’s resolved.
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Atleti rejected Ronaldo?

The Mirror have picked up on Spanish radio station Cadena Ser’s report that Atletico Madrid opted against pursuing Cristiano Ronaldo this summer. The players’ agent was sounding out a return to La Liga for the former Juventus forward, with Jorge Mendes in talks with Atleti over a possible move. However, the Liga champions rejected the opportunity as they did not want to sign someone who goes down as a Real Madrid club legend. Atleti are said to have missed out on signing Ronaldo from Sporting Lisbon in 2003.
Paper Round’s view: It would be interesting to know how far these talks went, because surely it was a non-starter from the very beginning. That said, it did not appear as though Ronaldo had problems with pulling on the sky blue of Manchester City before a late intervention from former Manchester United team-mates, and Sir Alex Ferguson, so you’d have to wonder which Real players would have clogged his WhatsApp had he neared a move to Atleti. We’ll just never know…
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Christensen nears new Chelsea deal

Andreas Christensen is close to signing a new Chelsea contract worth £120,000-a-week, The Sun reports. That comes after the club offered him a new deal worth less than his current £78,000-a-week contract, but with the defender emerging as a regular under Thomas Tuchel, the Dane’s worth has increased and now Chelsea are looking to tie him down given there are less than 12 months remaining on his existing contract.
Paper Round’s view: File this under the handful of remarkable turnarounds in fortune under Tuchel. Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso safely fall into this category too, with Christensen joining the pair in becoming difficult to drop in light of recent performances. Hence the new and improved deal.
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