Liverpool join battle to sign Frenkie De Jong from Barcelona, Manchester United target AC Milan’s Rafael Leao

Liverpool join De Jong race

Liverpool are ready to rival Manchester United for the signing of Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong in the January transfer window, according to the Mirror. The Dutchman was linked with a move to Old Trafford all summer, but eventually ended up rejecting the Red Devils due to his ambitions to stay in Barcelona and play in the Champions League. However, De Jong has struggled to break into Barca’s starting XI this season and there are question marks over his long-term future at the Camp Nou. Manchester United are still hoping to convince him to join, but Liverpool will battle their domestic rivals for De Jong’s signature in a bid to improve their midfield options.


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Paper Round’s view: Liverpool’s midfield has been seen as a weakness this year. Jurgen Klopp’s side have suffered a few injuries during the early stages of the season, but there’s no doubt that it is slightly ageing. Jordan Henderson, James Milner and Thiago Alcantara are all featuring regularly, while Klopp cannot rely on the fitness of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keita. De Jong would be a player that can be part of a new midfield era at Anfield. If Liverpool sign De Jong and also manage to convince Jude Bellingham to join in the summer, it would give their midfield a complete redevelopment.

Ten Hag wants Leao at Man Utd

Manchester United sent scouts to watch AC Milan forward Rafael Leao against Chelsea in the Champions League, according to the Sun. Erik ten Hag is already preparing a transfer shortlist ahead of next summer and is reported to be a “huge fan” of the Portuguese international. Leao has just 18 months remaining on his current contract at Milan and has already rejected the offer of an extension. The Serie A side are hoping he will accept a pay rise to £110,000 per week, but Leao is reported to be keeping his options open amid interest from Premier League trio Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea. The report states that it would cost around £60 million to sign Leao from Milan next summer.

Paper Round’s view: There’s no doubting Leao’s talent. He took a huge step up last year as he became the main man in Milan, scoring hugely important goals towards the end of the season as the Rossoneri secured their first Scudetto since 2011. There seems to be some solid interest in Leao from the Premier League and it would be an interesting prospect for him. The Portugal forward could see his value rocket if he enjoys an impressive World Cup campaign this winter in Qatar. It’s a tough situation for Milan. If he wants to leave for a new challenge, there’s not much more they can do. They might hope his value rises and they can get a decent fee for their star man.

Contract extensions at Spurs

Harry Kane and Antonio Conte are both open to signing contract extensions at Tottenham Hotspur, according to Football London. Kane’s current deal runs until 2024 and the north London club have the option to extend Conte’s contract to the same time period. However, Spurs are planning to use the World Cup winter break to enter negotiations with the Italian coach, while Kane would be willing to extend his stay at his boyhood club is Conte is sticking around. The former Chelsea and Inter Milan manager believes he has an emotional connection with the supporters and his squad and also thinks the club is heading in the right direction.

Paper Round’s view: Everything is going well at Tottenham at the moment. Obviously there was the north London derby defeat, but it’s still been a blistering start to the season for Conte’s side. Signing Kane and Conte down to new deals would be a huge statement too. The Italian seems like he might be the man to finally bring some silverware to Spurs – so extending his stay at the club would not just be a symbol of faith. Keeping Kane and Conte would be tying down world-class talent to the club for another few more years. Kane has been linked with Bayern Munich recently too. So a new contract would dismiss those rumours and let him focus on building success at Spurs.

Laporta’s Clasico fury

Barcelona president Joan Laporta reportedly went to the match officials’ dressing room following the Catalan club’s 3-1 defeat in Sunday’s Clasico against Real Madrid. Goal report that Laporta was furious with the match officials and stormed down to their dressing room after the match had finished. The Barca president “confronted” the officials and “repeatedly requested explanations” for a number of decisions that were made during Real Madrid’s win. Laporta was asked to leave, and the referee noted the incident in his match report.

Paper Round’s view: There are many different ways to react to losing a Clasico, but this is not one that would immediately spring to mind. Laporta must have been absolutely fuming to actually go down and question the match officials in their dressing room. It’s been a tough week for Barcelona – and therefore Laporta – after a terrible result that edges them closer to being knocked out of the Champions League and then Sunday’s Clasico defeat. Shouting at the referee was never going to help the scenario though. Maybe the financial pressure has really hit the club (and Laporta).


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