Transfer Talk: Chelsea front-runners to sign Philippe Coutinho

The coronavirus pandemic has made the summer transfer window uncertain, but here are the rumours floating around Europe's big leagues and beyond.

TOP STORY: Chelsea and Spurs lead the way for Coutinho

Philippe Coutinho is a player Barcelona are keen to sell but Bayern Munich -- where the 27-year-old is currently on loan -- are reportedly unwilling to buy. Now, however, the Express says Chelsea are front-runners.

Coutinho's agent, Kia Joorabchian, has been busy trying to relocate his client, and the Premier League looks the most likely destination, with Chelsea rumoured to be willing to pay his €220,000-per-week wages in a loan deal.

Barcelona are looking for a €10 million loan fee in addition to his wages paid. In an ideal world, they would rather sell Coutinho to free up some cash for their own recruitment plans, but no club appears willing to part with the €80m they're asking for.

Newcastle United, Manchester United and Leicester City have all inquired but not taken their interest any further.

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22.00 BST: That's it for the live blog today folks, but we'll be back with Monday's paper round shortly and do the whole live thing again tomorrow. Thanks as always for checking in!

21.10 BST: LA Galaxy striker Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez has said that his loan move from Manchester United to Real Madrid in 2014 was a "dream come true," but said in his heart he'll "always be a Red." The Mexico international also had some very candid comments about the decisions made by David Moyes after he replaced Sir Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford in 2013.

20.05 BST: Manchester City's Claudio Bravo is a target for Scottish champions Celtic, according to Chilean outlet the Times. The report says that Celtic boss Neil Lennon would like to see Fraser Forster make his loan spell from Southampton permanent, but is preparing for other situations should the England international return to St Mary's.

Bravo has been used mainly as a cup goalie in recent years after Ederson established himself as Pep Guardiola's first choice following his arrival in 2017.

19.10 BST: Manchester United are reportedly close to extending Odion Ighalo's loan at the club, according to Sky Sports.

Shanghai Shenhua have allegedly softened their stance on letting Ighalo stay in Manchester longer due to travel restrictions in place before of the coronavirus pandemic.

Originally, the club said they would only agree to extend his loan if an obligation to buy was incorporated into the deal.

His current contract expires at midnight on Sunday but the new deal would see him stay on at United until the end of January.

17.15 BST: Ryan Fraser has taken another set towards joining Arsenal after leaving his long-term agent for the same agent as Mikel Arteta, according to the Mirror.

The Bournemouth winger has left the control Jon McLeish as he nears becoming a free agent.

The Gunners are confident that they will be able to sign the Scotland international on a free transfer.

He scored eight goals and managed 15 assists last season but has struggled this year with just one goal and four assists.

16.20 BST: Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul Niguez has got Manchester United fans excited after he tweeted that he would announce a new club in three days.

The 25-year-old has been linked with United and his cryptic tweet has led many to believe that he will soon be appearing in the Premier League.

15.05 BST: Arsenal are considering offering David Luiz a contract extension on reduced terms, according to the Telegraph.

The 33-year-old defender joined the club from Chelsea on a one-year deal last year. However, there was an option to extend this for another year which has yet to be triggered by Arsenal.

Luiz has started every Premier League game since December under manager Mikel Arteta.

While William Saliba will also be back from Saint-Etienne next season, adding to Arteta's options in defence, sources close to Luiz have not ruled out him staying.

14.25 BST: Rennes midfielder Eduardo Camavinga is one of the hottest prospects in world football right now. The 17-year-old's performances in Ligue 1 have drawn interest from Europe's biggest clubs, but Diario AS say he only has eyes for Real Madrid.

"He loves [Madrid coach Zinedine] Zidane and he loves Madrid," sources close to the player told the Spanish newspaper.

AS report that if he leaves Rennes, where he has a contract until 2022, it will only be for Madrid -- providing they take their interest to the next level.

Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain have also been credited with an interest in the France U21 international, but Madrid know the teenager would prefer a move to the Santiago Bernabeu.

13.40 BST: Athletic Bilbao have extended manager Gaizka Garitano's contract until June 2021.

Garitano joined the club at the end of 2018 and helped navigate them away from the relegation zone.

This year, he led them to the Copa del Rey final where they were to play Real Sociedad before the coronavirus pandemic resulted in the postponement of the match.

"I'm very happy that the club has shown confidence in me, it is the team I have supported since I was a boy and to coach them is a great responsibility," Garitano told the club's website.

13.01 BST: Manchester United are interested in signing Adrien Rabiot as part of a swap deal for Paul Pogba, according to Calcio Mercato.

Pogba's future in Manchester has long been the source of transfer rumour as both the player and his agent Mino Raiola have made it clear that he is looking for opportunities elsewhere.

However, while United are said to be interested in Rabiot, the midfielder's value is a stumbling block as Juventus value him at £27m.

The France international also earns a whopping £5m to £6m a year in Italy and United are reportedly not prepared to give him that much.

12.09 BST: Paris Saint-Germain have signed Mauro Icardi from Inter Milan on a permanent four-year deal, the French club have announced.

The striker spent the 2019-20 season in Paris on loan, and the French champions have taken their option to sign the Argentine permanently.

Sources had previously told ESPN the deal would be worth €50 million euros plus €7m euros in potential add-ons, which is significantly less than the €70m release clause included in his loan agreement.

11.40 BST: Fabian Ruiz has been linked with Barcelona since he emerged on the scene at Real Betis and Mundo Deportivo claim the midfielder remains a target.

Barca are in talks with Juventus over a swap deal for Miralem Pjanic, but with Arthur Melo reluctant to move in the other direction, negotiations have stalled.

If they can't land Pjanic, they will turn to Fabian, according to the report. However, that won't be straight forward, either.

Napoli want €60 million for the Spain international, who previously worked with Barca coach Quique Setien at Betis.

10.49 BST: Bayer Leverkusen forward Kai Havertz was Real Madrid's 'secret target' for next season until the coronavirus pandemic left their plans up in the air, according to Marca.

Havertz has been one of the stars of the Bundesliga's return, scoring five times in four games before getting injured in Friday's win over Freiburg. Spanish newspaper Marca claims Madrid had been working on a deal for months but that the financial consequences of the coronavirus crisis have put the brakes on any move.

Bayern Munich are also keen but club chief Uli Hoeness has admitted he does not envision the Bundesliga giants being able to sign both Havertz, who will turn 21 in June and has already been capped seven times by Germany, and long-term target Leroy Sane this summer.

"We would certainly like to have [Havertz]. But at the moment it is the case that you obviously do not know exactly what the economic future of football as a whole is," Hoeness told radio station Bayern1. "I would love to see him in Munich for sporting reasons, but frankly, as of today, I can't imagine that he's coming."

09.55 BST: Barcelona forward Ousmane Dembele remains on Liverpool's radar, according to Mundo Deportivo.

RB Leipzig striker Timo Werner is the Premier League side's top target, but they are also making plans in case the fail to land the German international. Their back option, according to the report, is Dembele.

The French winger joined the Spanish champions from Borussia Dortmund for €105m in 2017 but has struggled with injuries at Camp Nou. He is currently sidelined until August with a ruptured tendon.

Sources have told ESPN that Barca are open to offers for the majority of their squad, with a few notable exceptions. Dembele is not one.

09.00 BST: Tigres goalkeeper Nahuel Guzman has said he has a clause in his contract that would allow him to leave the Mexican club to follow Lionel Messi to Newell's Old Boys.

Guzman, 34, played for Newell's before joining Tigres in 2014 and wouldn't want to miss the chance to return should Barcelona forward Messi choose to end his career at his hometown club.

"When I proposed the clause [to Tigres], they told me they would include it," Guzman told TyC Sports, who has played alongside Messi at international level for Argentina.

"The only way they will let me return to Newell's while I have a contract, even if it is for just six months, is if Messi goes back there, too.

"I would be delighted if it happened because Messi wants it [to happen] and is motivated to play in Argentina, although it is difficult to imagine. We all have our own family situations and I imagine there is also the issue of exposure."

PAPER TALK (by Nick Judd): Juve look to Fati and other rising stars

The Miralem Pjanic-to-Barca deal continues to rumble on without a definitive conclusion and the stumbling block appears to be about who Juventus can take in return. The Bianconeri are desperate to sign Arthur, who doesn't want to leave, and they're now facing difficulty getting Ansu Fati thrown into the bargain too, reports Tuttosport.

The Pjanic deal appears to be done and dusted, with a fee of €60m agreed, but both Barca and Juve are looking to include other players as part of the transfer.

Arthur has made it clear he doesn't want to leave, and while Nelson Semedo and Ousmane Dembele could be included if a deal can be agreed for Juve right-back Mattia De Sciglio, Juve are particularly keen to sign 17-year-old Fati.

Barcelona appear unwilling to let the youngster go, however, which means Juve could switch their intentions to other promising starlets including Carles Alena, Riqui Puig, Ilaix Moriba, Francisco Trincao and Pedri.

Chelsea front of the queue for Bernardeschi

Chelsea lead a number of top clubs in the chase for Juventus star Federico Bernardeschi, reports Gazzetta dello Sport.

The Italian is apparently eyeing a move to the Premier League this summer and Chelsea lead rivals Manchester United and Arsenal as the trio monitor the situation.

Bernardeschi has struggled for game time this season but has been a solid squad member since joining the club from Fiorentina, and now the 26-year-old is chasing more first-team action.

Gazzetta dello Sport believes the winger is keen on a move to England if his situation under Maurizio Sarri doesn't change.


- Barcelona and Inter Milan continue to discuss the future of Lautaro Martinez, but Arsenal's Alexandre Lacazette could be key to the transfer, according to Gazzetta dello Sport. The Frenchman is wanted by Inter as one of several replacements for Martinez, and they're unwilling to part with their Argentine asset until any such reinforcements are sorted.

- David Luiz is close to sealing a return to Benfica, reports the Mirror, but he'll need to take a £38k-a-week pay cut in order to seal his move. Luiz is currently waiting on whether the Gunners will trigger a one-year extension to his contract, but the Brazilian has already spoken to his former employers at Benfica about a possible return, nine years after he left the club to join Chelsea.