LIVE Transfer Talk: Inter Miami, Barca hatch plan to thwart Messi’s Saudi deal

The summer transfer window may not be open yet in Europe, but teams are getting ready for it, and there’s plenty of gossip swirling around. Transfer Talk brings you all the latest buzz on rumours, comings, goings and, of course, done deals!

TOP STORY: Miami, Barca to team up and land Messi?

Inter Miami CF and Barcelona have joined forces in an unexpected collaboration to thwart Lionel Messi‘s proposed move to Saudi Arabian club Al Hilal, according to L’Equipe.

Speculation about Messi’s next destination is rife, with the 35-year-old set to leave Paris Saint-Germain as a free agent at the end of June.

Sources told ESPN in April that Al Hilal — city rivals of Cristiano Ronaldo‘s Al Nassr — had tabled a lucrative deal to sign the Argentine superstar, and Fabrizio Romano confirmed on Tuesday that offer still remains. However, Inter Miami, co-owned by former Manchester United and England player David Beckham, and Barcelona have hatched a plan to intervene.

The partnership between the two clubs reportedly proposes that the Major League Soccer side sign Messi before immediately loaning him to Barcelona, allowing him to play one final season for the his beloved Blaugrana before heading off for an international swansong with Argentina at the 2024 Copa America, which will be hosted in the United States.

The deal will have the dual benefits of allowing Barcelona to circumvent the strict financial restraints they face in LaLiga while also giving Inter Miami the perfect platform to parade their new signing, but will they pull it off? Watch this space.

Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, more (U.S.)


11.12 BST: Benfica forward Goncalo Ramos has the quality to play at Manchester United, according to Portugal teammate Bruno Fernandes.

Ramos, 21, has been linked with the Red Devils after scoring 19 goals and setting up seven more in 30 appearances to help Benfica win the Portuguese league title. Also reported target of Real Madrid, Ramos is under contract with Benfica until June 2026 and has a €120m release clause.

“I think Goncalo has all the conditions to play in the Premier League,” Fernandes told Sport TV. “If he continues to work as he has worked so far, I believe he has the potential to become one of the best strikers in the world. He is already close to that level, but he still needs to go to a more competitive league and prove it there, something I believe he has all the capabilities to do.

“He has a lot of intensity, presses very well and is very good inside the penalty area. He is strong. Obviously he is still very young and will improve a lot.”

Asked if Ramos could succeed at United, Fernandes said: “Here, the best always come in handy, be it Goncalo or someone else. I think he has all the qualities to play in the Premier League, and when I say in the Premier League, I also mean Manchester United. I think he could become a great reference in the coming years, but it is still not in my hands to be sporting director. When it is, I will make those decisions.”

10.33 BST: Sporting CP midfielder Manuel Ugarte has turned down a move to Paris Saint-Germain and will instead join Chelsea this summer, according to A Bola.

Ugarte, 22, is expected to leave Sporting at the end of the season, with both PSG and Chelsea prepared to pay his €60m release clause.

The Uruguay international reportedly prefers a move to the Premier League and, with Chelsea having already confirmed the appointment of coach Mauricio Pochettino earlier this week, his transfer could be completed this weekend.

Ugarte joined Sporting in the summer of 2021 from Famalicao and was part of Uruguay’s 2022 World Cup squad.

10.00 BST: Brentford have signed goalkeeper Mark Flekken from Bundesliga side Freiburg.

Flekken, 29, kept 13 clean sheets in 34 Bundesliga matches and the Netherlands international could replace David Raya if he departs this summer.

“We’re very happy to have signed Mark,” head coach Thomas Frank said. “He’s a player with a lot of quality who will strengthen our goalkeeper group. He has big experience and joins us after two great seasons with Freiburg, who have just had a top season in the Bundesliga, finishing fifth and qualifying for the Europa League.

“He was a big part of the team there and now he’s coming to us and will hopefully make the group better and the team better. He’s a very good shot-stopper and comfortable with the ball at his feet. His distribution is very impressive.”

09.50 BST: Alvaro Morata is in talks to sign a contract extension with Atletico Madrid, according to AS.

Morata, 30, is under contract with the Rojiblancos until June 2024 and the club are prepared to offer him a three-year contract extension. But the deal would see the Spain international striker have to accept a cut in wages.

AC Milan and Juventus, where Morata spent two successful seasons on loan, are closely monitoring the player’s situation. He has scored 13 goals in 35 league appearances this season to help Atletico qualify for the Champions League.

09.11 BST: Real Madrid will not exercise their option to sign right-back Vinicius Tobias permanently, according to UOL.

Tobias, 19, has played the last two seasons on loan at Real Madrid Castilla, Madrid’s B team, from Shakhtar Donetsk.

Madrid hold an option to acquire Tobias on a permanent transfer for €20m but consider the fee too high for a player that has not broken into the first team.

The Brazilian, who has made 40 appearances across all competitions for Real Madrid Castilla this season, is under contract with Shakhtar until June 2026. He is now evaluating offers from other European clubs, including Sporting CP.

08.28 BST: Napoli are monitoring dozens of managers as a successor to Luciano Spalletti but Luis Enrique is not among them.

According to Napoli president Aurelio de Laurentiis, Luis Enrique wants to coach in the Premier League next season.

“Luis Enrique is a great coach, he did very well at Barcelona, ​​but I think he has the Premier League in mind,” De Laurentiis said. “Unfortunately, some leagues are more attractive than ours. I can tell him that there is no gulf [of Naples] there and the food is not as good as ours, but not more than this…

“We are monitoring coaches for the 4-3-3, I have evaluated a dozen profiles and I will choose the best one to continue the Napoli cycle”.

08.00 BST: Juventus are leading the race to sign Christian Pulisic, sources told ESPN, with Chelsea prepared to offload the United States forward for a £20m fee this summer.

Although Chelsea have now confirmed the appointment of Mauricio Pochettino as the new head coach at Stamford Bridge on a two-year contract, sources have said that the arrival of the former Tottenham Hotspur and Paris Saint-Germain boss will not signal a U-turn on the club’s decision to listen to offers for Pulisic.

Pulisic, a £58m signing from Borussia Dortmund in 2019, has 12 months remaining on his contract at Chelsea. With the club needing to reduce the size of their squad and wage bill after spending £585m on new players since a consortium purchased the club a year ago, sources have said that Pulisic is high on the list of potential departures.

A number of clubs have been approached about the prospect of signing Pulisic, with sources telling ESPN that Manchester United, Newcastle, Napoli, AC Milan and Galatasaray have all been made aware of the player’s likely fee and salary, which sees him earn £13m per year at Chelsea.

But Italian club Juve have emerged as the front-runners, despite their reluctance to match Pulisic’s Stamford Bridge pay deal.



Ogden: No surprise Pulisic on way out of Chelsea

Mark Ogden gives the latest on Christian Pulisic’s future after Juventus emerge as front runners to sign the USMNT forward from Chelsea.


– Liverpool are interested in Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder Manu Kone, reports Bild. The Reds are reported to have already made an enquiry about the 22-year-old, identifying him as a potential midfield upgrade. Kone is also seen as a less costly alternative to Borussia Dortmund‘s Jude Bellingham, who has been linked with a €150m move to Real Madrid or Manchester City.

Villarreal are keen on Real Madrid centre-back Nacho Fernandez, says Marca. It is reported that the Yellow Submarine are actively on the lookout for a defender as they prepare for a summer where they could part ways with Pau Torres. The report indicates that the 33-year-old Nacho, whose deal at Madrid expires next month, could be at the top of their shortlist. Internazionale are also believed to hold interest in his services.

– Inter striker Lautaro Martinez is on the radar of Real Madrid, writes Ekrem Konur. Carlo Ancelotti’s side are keeping close tabs on the 25-year-old Argentina international, as Los Blancos continue their search to identify a long-term replacement for 35-year-old Karim Benzema in the No. 9 position. Lautaro has previously been linked with Arsenal.

Atletico Madrid are willing to listen to offers for forward Joao Felix, says the Here We Go Podcast. The 23-year-old has enjoyed a positive spell on loan in the Premier League with Chelsea this season but the latest indicates that Los Colchoneros would be willing to part ways with him on a permanent basis. According to Atletico president Enrique Cerezo, incoming Chelsea coach Mauricio Pochettino does not see Felix as part of his future plans.

Liverpool have made an approach to sign Nice midfielder Khephren Thuram, according to L’Equipe. The 22-year-old has been on the radar of a number of Premier League clubs recently, but it is reported that the Reds are looking to position themselves at the front of the queue to land him as soon as the transfer window opens.

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