Chelsea 'want Lautaro Martinez', Newcastle 'make £85m Vlahovic transfer bid', Pep Guardiola negative Covid test

NEWCASTLE are reportedly making a shock £85m transfer bid for Fiorentina's Dusan Vlahovic.

The in-form Serb has refused to sign a new contract with the Italian side and has been a target for Tottenham, Arsenal and Man City among others.

Meanwhile Chelsea are said to be keen to rekindle Lautaro Martinez's partnership with Romelu Lukaku.

The two fired Inter Milan to the Serie A title last season before Lukaku headed to Stamford Bridge.

Get all the latest transfer news, gossip and updates here…

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  • Etienne Fermie

    MORNING FOOTBALL FANS

    Unvaccinated Prem stars MUST isolate for 10 days if they are in close contact with anyone who is Covid positive.

    The new hardline directive under the Government’s Plan B, which has NO exceptions, has already left some Premier League squads skeleton-thin.

    Premier League chief executive Richard Masters plans to confirm the Festive football programme is ON at a summit meeting on Monday.

    The chief executive laid down the law in a letter sent to all 20 clubs as he put the onus on them to drum home the need for vaccinations to prevent a serious shutdown.

    Masters wrote: “Everyone needs to be aware of the importance of completing the season, while maintaining the safety of players, staff and fans.

    “We have collectively highlighted the importance of vaccination and it has never been more important.”

    Elsewhere, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been banished from Arsenal first-team training and will continue to be exiled from Mikel Arteta’s plans until the end of 2021 at the earliest.

    The striker’s future at Emirates is looking increasingly bleak following the decision to strip him of the club captaincy on Monday, for what Arsenal called his ‘latest disciplinary breach’ after returning late from an agreed trip to France to collect his sick mum.

    The Telegraph report the 32-year-old has not been involved in first-team training at the club’s London Colney HQ this week, a development that casts further doubt over his future in north London.

    Instead, the striker has been training alone, away from the squad. Arteta confirmed on Friday that Aubameyang would not be considered for the weekend game versus Leeds and it is understood his non-inclusion in first-team affairs will continue until he leaves for Africa Cup of Nations duty at the end of the month.

    In other news, Inter Milan have officially terminated the contract of Christian Eriksen by mutual consent.Eriksen has not been allowed to play in Serie A after the league banned the heart-monitoring device fitted to the playmaker following his cardiac arrest at Euro 2020.

    Reports have emerged in recent days that a contract termination was imminent.
    And now in an official statement, Inter wrote: “FC Internazionale Milano can confirm that an agreement has been reached to terminate Christian Eriksen’s contract by mutual consent.

    “The club and the entire Nerazzurri family wish Christian all the very best for his future.

  • Kealan Hughes

    No new deal for Arteta

    Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has revealed he has held NO talks with the club about extending his contract at the Emirates.

    Speaking in his pre-match press conference ahead of Saturday's trip to Leeds, Arteta was asked whether he has held discussions with the Gunners over his future.

    To which he said: "No, we haven’t discussed anything like that.

    "I think we have many other priorities at the moment that are far more important than that.

    "I don’t know [if we will have talks in the summer], really I’m not thinking about that.

    "I’m just trying to get the best out of the team, trying to cope with all the situations that we are facing at the moment. Things will happen naturally.”

  • Kealan Hughes

    'I hope to kick on'

    Jack Grealish admits he expected to double his Aston Villa goals and assists tally when he signed for Manchester City.

    That’s why his headed goal against Leeds on Tuesday night was a huge relief – and he hopes it will be the moment that kick-starts his Man City career.

    Grealish said: “It has probably been a bit more difficult than I thought it was going to be.

    “I thought I was going to come here and maybe double my goals and assists tally that I had at Villa. It hasn’t been the case at the moment, but I still feel like I have done OK.

    “The one thing I probably have struggled with a little bit is the goals and the assists.

    “Hopefully now I am settled here and starting to get used to the players, the team, the management staff and just the club as a whole really. I hope I can just kick on now."

  • Kealan Hughes

    Late nights for City star

    A dominatrix has boasted of a late-night visit by a jubilant Man City ace after his team’s 7-0 spanking of Leeds.

    Mistress Estée, who hands out a good thrashing herself, claims she held the kinky session with the elite player at her red-walled dungeon.

    She bragged of the encounter on her TikTok page saying: “When he wins 7-0 for Man City against Leeds then comes to me afterwards!”

    In the video, the 21-year-old dominatrix, who has a large social media following, is seen dressed in a long black PVC dress, dancing provocatively to Rod Stewart’s hit Da Ya Think I’m Sexy.

    The clip has been watched 1.3million times and liked by 63,000 people.

  • Kealan Hughes

    Liverpool interested in MLS wonderkid

    Liverpool have offered Toronto wonderkid Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty the opportunity to train with the club, according to the Liverpool Echo.

    Several European giants including Arsenal – where he has trained previously – Bayern Munich and Juventus are also targeting the Canadian prodigy, who has made 11 appearances so far this season.

    Marshall-Rutty, 17, is currently impressing for MLS side Toronto, and put pen-to-paper on a first team contract with the club as a 15-year-old back in January 2020.

    The teen sensation made his professional debut a month later, coming on against Philadelphia Union and replacing former Swansea City midfielder Alejandro Pozuelo.

  • Kealan Hughes

    Robert Lewandowski creates German history

    Robert Lewandowski has broken Gerd Muller's record for most German league goals in a calendar year.

    The Bayern Munich striker scored late on against Wolfsburg to round off a 4-0 win – his 43rd league goal of 2021.

    He equalled Muller's record in mid-week and Friday was his last opportunity to break the record, with Bayern now set to start their winter break.

    The match also marked Thomas Muller's 400th appearance for the club, and he notched his 222nd goal for Bayern.

  • Kealan Hughes

    Lukaku shares update with fans

    Romelu Lukaku has posted an encouraging update following confirmation that the Belgian striker had tested positive for Covid-19.

    He said: "A few days ago I tested positive for COVID.

    "I am feeling good now and I am [in] isolation for the next few days.

    “I’ve seen the messages thank you for that. Stay safe people.”

  • Kealan Hughes

    'We can help each other'

    Joel Piroe has revealed he gets tips on how to score goals and wreak havoc up front with Swansea from a leading expert… his GIRLFRIEND.

    Piroe’s better half Naomi Pattiwael happens to be a striker herself – playing for the PSV Eindhoven women’s team.

    Piroe told SunSport: “We went to the same school doing our education together while we were at PSG.

    “The two of us train together in the summer to get ready for the new season.

    “We’re always giving each other advice. We watch each other’s games and she will often ask me why I made a particular decision and how maybe I could’ve done something better.

    “The two of us are always talking about football because Naomi knows about it very well. She is a great player and it’s a good thing that we can help each other.”

  • Kealan Hughes

    Conte shares his Covid woe

    Antonio Conte has explained his team have taken a hit from being unable to train due to the Covid outbreak.

    He told Sky Sports: "We were working very well for two weeks and then the Covid problems started. Now, we played the last game two weeks ago.

    "We had three days at the training ground closed and we didn't have a training session.

    "And then many players were affected with Covid, and for this reason, we had many training sessions with only 11 or 12 players.

    "It's not easy, you need the whole squad [in order] to work."

  • Kealan Hughes

    Insigne loves Pep's City football

    Napoli star Lorenzo Insigne says Liverpool and Manchester City would be the 'perfect' Champions League final.

    The 30-year-old has faced both clubs in the knockout stages of the Champions League in recent years, but the Serie A club only qualified for the Europa League this season.

    He told Italian magazine Undici: “Compared to England and Spain, tactics are paramount in Italy, so initially, foreigners find it hard to settle in when they arrive in Serie A.

    “On TV I don’t miss a football match, but if I had to buy a ticket at the stadium I would do it for a Champions League final.

    “A team that I always like to watch are Manchester City, Guardiola’s football has been unmissable since his time at Barcelona.

    “The perfect final for me would be [Manchester City] against Liverpool.”

  • Kealan Hughes

    Pep tests negative for Covid

    Pep Guardiola gave Manchester City a huge Covid scare when he was forced to sit out training on Friday.

    The Catalan boss reported to the training ground in the morning but returned an ‘inconclusive’ test – meaning he immediately isolated.

    Guardiola, 51, did two further tests – one a PCR and another lateral flow – and was relieved to discover that both were negative.

    He will be back to take charge of his squad on Saturday morning and can travel north with his squad ready for Sunday's game at Newcastle.

  • Kealan Hughes

    Nations League set to expand?

    UEFA is working with the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) on a joint Nations League, report The Athletic.

    It would see countries such as Brazil and Argentina play in the competition.

    Both associations have opposed FIFA's plans for a biennial World Cup and this week signed a renewed and extended Memorandum of Understanding to co-operate until June 2028.

    A spokesperson told Reuters: "UEFA is working on a number of projects with CONMEBOL, including a joint Nations League but nothing is finalised and no decisions have yet been made.

    “We do not know yet in what formula, in what form … we signed a memorandum about cooperation between CONMEBOL and UEFA and from 2024 these teams will play in the Nations League.”

  • Kealan Hughes

    Vlahovic ‘could fit the bill’

    Arsenal legend Alan Smith has backed the club to sign Fiorentina striker Dusan Vlahovic if they are ‘clever and quick’ in January.

    Mikel Arteta’s side are understood to face competition from Manchester United and Tottenham in the race to secure his services.

    Smith told Sky Sports: “Getting a proven Premier League striker is big bucks. Do Arsenal have that kind of cash?

    “If they did fork out £60m or £70m it stops them from strengthening other areas of the team in the transfer market. They’d be putting all their eggs in one basket.

    “I’d probably guess they’d go down the road of a younger player from Europe. Somebody like Dusan Vlahovic, who still won’t be cheap, could fit the bill.

    “Like I said before, a lot of clubs are after that type of striker so let’s hope Arsenal can be clever and quick in the transfer market. They’ll need to be.”

  • Kealan Hughes

    Trent shows his Liverpool loyalty

    Liverpool star trent Alexander-Arnold was asked by Sky Sports whether he would rather play for Manchester United or retire.

    It didn't take long for the Liverpool man to think about it.

    He answered: "Right now? Retire to be honest. I could not do that…" he said without any thought.

  • Kealan Hughes

    Sanchez departing amid Conte rebuild?

    Napoli are reportedly interested in Tottenham Hotspur defender Davinson Sanchez and could make a move for him this January as Antonio Conte sets about rebuilding the Spurs squad.

    Italian outlet Calcio In Pillole claims Napoli are on the lookout for a Kostas Manolas replacement, with the Greek defender due to return home and sign with Olympiakos.

    The Serie A club view Sanchez and Torino’s Gleison Bremer as possible options, with £25million mooted as a potential fee to complete the transfer of the Spurs star.

    Spurs may be disappointed not to recoup closer to the £42million paid to sign Sanchez from Ajax, but his inconsistent form and lack of regular game time do hurt his overall value and mean a cut-price deal might have to be accepted.

  • Kealan Hughes

    Masters speaks on Covid crisis

    Unvaccinated Prem stars MUST isolate for 10 days if they are in close contact with anyone who is Covid positive.

    The new hardline directive under the Government’s Plan B, which has NO exceptions, has already left some Premier League squads skeleton-thin.

    Premier League chief executive Richard Masters plans to confirm the Festive football programme is ON at a summit meeting on Monday.

    The chief executive laid down the law in a letter sent to all 20 clubs as he put the onus on them to drum home the need for vaccinations to prevent a serious shutdown.

    Masters wrote: “Everyone needs to be aware of the importance of completing the season, while maintaining the safety of players, staff and fans.

    “We have collectively highlighted the importance of vaccination and it has never been more important.”

  • Kealan Hughes

    'I'd expect him to impress'

    Arsenal cult hero Jack Wilshere has been backed to return to the club on a short-term deal by former team-mate Emmanuel Frimpong.

    Speaking to SunSport via Freebets.com, the 29-year-old insisted Wilshere would be one of the best midfielders at the club.

    He said: "Why not? If it's for a month to give him a chance to prove himself.

    "Obviously, Jack is very close to Mikel, but it’s going to be a big ask for Jack as he's not played all season. To come straight back into the Arsenal team, that’s a lot of pressure.

    "People will be looking at him, expecting him to deliver and I don't think it's fair to put that much pressure on anyone, no matter how good a player Jack is.

    "I'm not at the training ground but I’d expect him to be impressing in training – he’s still one of the most technically gifted and he's as good as any midfield player within the current Arsenal squad."

  • Kealan Hughes

    'They have to change something'

    Chelsea face being left in 'no man's land' in the Premier League title race if Thomas Tuchel fails to arrest their worrying slide, says former Blues defender Frank Leboeuf.

    He told ESPN: "We’re going to know very soon whether it’s a two-horse race or a three-horse race because Chelsea play Liverpool and Manchester City at the beginning of next year.

    "But we have to be realistic right now, the way they [Chelsea] play comparing especially to Manchester City – because I think even Liverpool are struggling as well – there is no way they can cope with Manchester City right now.

    "They have to change something, they have to have those men, the fit guys coming back very, very soon and they have to find solutions.

    "Otherwise, they’re going to be in no man’s land. They’re much better than West Ham and Manchester United, but I think they’re not as good as Liverpool and Manchester City."

  • Kealan Hughes

    Gone from bad to worse

    Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been banished from Arsenal first-team training and will continue to be exiled from Mikel Arteta’s plans until the end of 2021 at the earliest.

    The striker’s future at Emirates is looking increasingly bleak following the decision to strip him of the club captaincy on Monday, for what Arsenal called his ‘latest disciplinary breach’ after returning late from an agreed trip to France to collect his sick mum.

    The Telegraph report the 32-year-old has not been involved in first-team training at the club’s London Colney HQ this week, a development that casts further doubt over his future in north London.

    Instead, the striker has been training alone, away from the squad. Arteta confirmed on Friday that Aubameyang would not be considered for the weekend game versus Leeds and it is understood his non-inclusion in first-team affairs will continue until he leaves for Africa Cup of Nations duty at the end of the month.

  • Kealan Hughes

    Liverpool Conte's template for success

    Antonio Conte believes he must use Jurgen Klopp's transformation of Liverpool as a recipe for success at Tottenham.

    Ahead of the meeting between the two this weekend he said: "On Sunday, we play against a team that can teach us a lot, because I think Jurgen Klopp, when he arrived at Liverpool, he started a fantastic job. But the first season they didn't [achieve] so much, but the work began.

    "If you want to reach this level, you need work, time, patience and investment [on transfers].

    "Yes, Liverpool have many solutions during the game. It won't be easy but we have to work as a team. We prepare for the game.

    "We know very well we are facing one of the best teams in the world, but, at the same time, I think that it's good to have this type of game, because we want to understand [how to face] these top teams."

  • Kealan Hughes

    ‘I have to appreciate him’

    Manchester United forward Cristiano Ronaldo has picked out the one thing he cherishes most during his time under Sir Alex Ferguson.

    He said: “It’s hard to mention just one [moment]. There were so many beautiful moments that we had together. Not just winning things. But in my heart I keep the most difficult things.

    “Probably he doesn’t remember, but I will say it because it’s a beautiful story. One day, my father was in hospital, and I was so emotional, very low. And I spoke with him and he said: ‘Cristiano, go there for two or three days.’

    “We had difficult games [coming up] and I was a key player in that moment.

    “He said: ‘It will be tough because we have difficult games, but I understand your situation and I’ll leave you [out] and you can go and see your father.’

    “For me, these are the most important things – apart from winning Champions Leagues, to win the Premier League, to win cups and stuff. So I have to appreciate him, because what he said to me, he always did. I have to appreciate that.”

  • Kealan Hughes

    'He just needs to play'

    Manchester United forward Anthony Martial could reportedly join Juventus on a loan deal until the end of the season in January.

    The 26-year-old has been heavily linked with a move away from Old Trafford in the New Year with his agent declaring he wants to depart.

    His representative Philippe Lamboley told Sky Sports: "Anthony wishes to leave the club in January.

    "He just needs to play. He doesn’t want to stay in January and I will speak to the club soon."

  • Kealan Hughes

    'He is a natural leader'

    Mikel Arteta has dropped a hint that youngster Martin Odegaard is in contention to become the next captain of Arsenal.

    Speaking during his Friday press conference ahead of Arsenal facing Leeds, Arteta told reporters: "He’s a very young player but already has a lot of experience at different clubs and international level.

    "I agree in the last few weeks he’s getting close to his best level and the ceiling for him I don’t know where it is because of talent and desire he has and how much he wants to improve.

    "We have a tremendous player.

    "He is a natural leader if you look for perfect professional he wouldn’t be very far from that."

  • Kealan Hughes

    'A lot of unanswered questions'

    Steven Gerrard has confirmed that Premier League managers will convene on Monday to discuss the growing number of Covid-19 cases at top flight clubs.

    Half of the Premier League’s fixture list this weekend has been postponed, with Aston Villa’s meeting with Burnley at Villa Park one of just five games still going ahead.

    Villa will be without six players for the match with Burnley, while Ashley Young is ‘50/50’ to take part.

    Gerrard said: “On the back of what a lot of managers have said, we want the same thing which is for the game to continue.

    “There are obviously a lot of concerns and a lot of unanswered questions. That's the reason that the Premier League have put in place an opportunity for all the managers to get together and I am hoping that there will be a lot of clarity which will come off the back of that meeting.

    "There is also an opportunity for the captains to get together to speak and have a debate on what is the best thing to do in the current situation.”

  • Kealan Hughes

    Gunner leave in january window?

    Arsenal are exploring January loan options for Omar Rekik as they look to aid his development with first-team action, report The Athletic.

    Rekik is highly thought of at London Colney and has been a key figure for Kevin Betsy’s youth side this season.

    Two muscle tears halted the centre-back’s progress after his arrival in January 2020 from German side Hertha BSC, but he has played more regularly this campaign, making 13 appearances in all competitions.

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