Manchester United refuse to meet Sevilla defender Jules Kounde's £68m release clause - Paper Round
Manchester United's search for a new centre-back continues with Sevilla defender Jules Kounde. Elsewhere, Hector Bellerin needs to make a decision on his Arsenal future, Norwich youngster Max Aarons is targeted by Europe's biggest clubs and Youri Tielemans is set to sign a new contract at Leicester City. It's Thursday's Paper Round...
Jules Kounde of Sevilla FC reacts during the La Liga Santander match between C.A. Osasuna and Sevilla FC at Estadio El Sadar on February 22, 2021 in Pamplona, Spain.
Manchester United's search for a new centre-back continues with Sevilla's Jules Kounde, but the Mail report that the Premier League club are unwilling to meet the defender's £68-million release clause. The Red Devils are hoping to agree a fee lower than the clause, but Sevilla seem reluctant to budge on their asking price. Kounde's clause saw Manchester City fail in their approach to sign him last summer and instead turn their attention to Ruben Dias, who was playing for Benfica. Manchester United have also been offered the opportunity to sign Nikola Milenkovic from Fiorentina, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is not interested in the Serbian.
Paper Round's view: Negotiation tactics never seem to work with Manchester United. We've seen it happen before and we'll see it happen again. The club faced the same issue when they signed Harry Maguire from Leicester City in 2019. The Foxes demanded £85 million for the England international, there was a bit of back-and-forth all summer and it ended up with United paying £85 million for Maguire. Last summer, we saw the Premier League side give up in their chase for Jadon Sancho after Borussia Dortmund were unwilling to budge on their £100-million asking price. If the club want to sign Kounde, they will have to meet Sevilla's demands... and - from the looks of things - the 22-year-old Frenchman might just be worth every penny.
Arsenal right-back Hector Bellerin will be forced to make a decision over his future in north London this summer. The Mirror takes a closer look at his current situation - with his contract expiring in 2023 and interest from European super clubs like Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona and Manchester City. Arsenal rejected a bid worth over £40 million last summer from PSG, but Bellerin now feels frustrated with the lack of silverware and success so far in his career with the Gunners.
Paper Round's view: Yes - Bellerin has won three FA Cups with Arsenal, but that isn't enough for an ambitious player such as himself. Mikel Arteta's side are a long way away from challenging for the Premier League title and are far from the strongest side left competing in the Europa League this season. Bellerin knows that PSG and Barca are both interested in signing him. Barca may be priced out of a move due to their financial troubles - but a move to PSG would mean playing alongside the likes of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, while challenging for the Champions League and winning domestic trophies. It's certainly more appealing than staying at Arsenal right now.
Chelsea line up Haaland-plus with £260m summer war chest - Euro Papers
Where will Aarons end up?
AS Roma had a bid rejected for in-demand Norwich right-back Max Aarons in the winter transfer window, according to the Sun. The 21-year-old was wanted by Barcelona last summer before the Catalans signed Sergino Dest and it seems like the interest from Europe's top clubs has not cooled. Norwich rejected a £20 million bid from Roma in January, with Canaries sporting director Stuart Webber admitting the club wanted to "keep the squad together" as they look to win promotion back to the Premier League. The Championship side may be willing to sell Aarons in the summer, but the club value their youngster between £30-35 million.
Paper Round's view: It's not surprising that top clubs are looking to sign Aarons. The 21-year-old showed his quality during the 2019-20 Premier League season, which saw Norwich relegated from England's top tier. Barca were out-priced by the Canaries' financial demands last summer, but it looks like Bayern Munich will lead the race for Aarons at the end of this season. Eurosport's Dean Jones revealed in his Transfer Notebook earlier this week that Aarons is open to moving abroad and Bayern are at the front of the queue to sign the promising defender.
Leicester City have opened talks with Belgian midfielder Youri Tielemans over a new contract, according to the Sun. The 23-year-old's current deal runs until 2023 and the report states that the Foxes are ready to tie Tielemans down to a new contract worth £100,000 per week. The Belgium international is said to have snubbed interest from Premier League champions Liverpool in order to extend his stay at the King Power Stadium.
Paper Round's view: This is great news for Leicester. It will be a tough battle to keep their young core from being poached by bigger clubs. We've seen it before. Ben Chilwell left his boyhood club last summer for Chelsea and Harry Maguire joined Manchester United the year before. Foxes boss Brendan Rodgers is doing a great job at Leicester and will be playing a huge part in convincing the players to commit their long-term futures to the club. The 2015-16 Premier League champions have now solidified their place in the top six and are gunning for a Champions League spot. Tielemans signing a contract extension will be a huge boost to morale around the club as they head into the final stretch of the season.