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Aug 17, 2014

Wenger pursues Rabiot; Benatia battle

These four men cost a grand total of £116 million and could be just what their respective clubs need to stake their claim for the Premier League title.

The Premier League is back -- but the transfer window still has time to run and managers are sure to be busy in the final days. Here's the latest rumours from around the world ...

Top pick: Following Manchester United's shock opening day defeat to Swansea City, manager Louis van Gaal is stepping up his efforts in the transfer market and has made Roma's highly-rated centre-back Medhi Benatia his primary target -- although Sport Bild says the player is heading for Bayern Munich.

- Arsenal have reportedly been given permission to speak to talented Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Adrien Rabiot ahead of a potential seven million pound deal.

- Tottenham are refusing to surrender in their pursuit of Southampton midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin and Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino hopes to poach the France international from his former club with a third bid.

- Fiorentina have entered the race to sign Sami Khedira and reports in Italy speculate that the Viola could snap up the World Cup winner for as little as 10 million euros.

22.59 BST: That's it for today, but Monday's first installment is coming up very soon.

22.22 BST: QPR manager Harry Redknapp wants to sign two midfielders and a striker before the transfer window closes. "We need to get a couple more in, we're short in some areas,'' Redknapp said. "I've got three central midfield players -- Joey Barton, Alejandro Faurlin and Karl Henry -- when you need six midfield players really at this level. So we're looking to get one or two midfielders in and maybe a front man as well because we need a bit of cover there. You need four strikers in an ideal world.''

21.19 BST: Speaking after Liverpool's opening Premier League win at home to Southampton, manager Brendan Rodgers -- a man who has had a pretty busy summer -- said more business could yet be done at Anfield, telling reporters: "We know where we want to add. At this moment, the group are up and running, and we're looking forward to the next game."

20.35 BST: Reports on Saturday may have suggested that highly-rated Roma centre-half Mehdi Benatia was heading for Manchester United -- but Sport Bild says he is actually heading to Bayern Munich in what it describes as a "mega-transfer."

20.05 BST: And according to Sky, Tottenham's Andros Townsend is the man he has pinpointed - but Tottenham, managed by ex-Saints boss Mauricio Pochettino, have turned down that offer. It is also thought that Townsend would like to stay with the White Hart Lane club.

19.50 BST: Southampton boss Ronald Koeman has said he would like to bring a new winger to the south coast club before the transfer window closes.

19.45 BST: Reports from France suggest that Marseille midfielder Morgan Amalfitano is on his way to pastures new - and potentially in the Premier League -- after an alleged bust-up with coach Marcelo Bielsa.

18.50 BST: Norwich manager Neil Adams has said he wants to keep Leroy Fer, reported on Saturday to be on his way to QPR after an eight million pound fee had been agreed, at Carrow Road - but says the matter could be out of his hands. The Eastern Daily Press quoted him as saying: "Leroy hasn't said anything to me about where he sees his future. These things don't tend to go between player and manager these days. It is all done by agents and those above me in the club. We have to accept that business is business, and if and when the right offer came along we would have to consider that. It hasn't at the minute."

18.30 BST: Ex-Manchester United boss David Moyes has said Cristiano Ronaldo was a target last summer, telling the Daily Mail: "There was talk of Ronaldo when I first arrived. We were close to getting a couple of major names. I'm not getting in a blame game here, but things just didn't materialise.

18.00 BST: Manchester City's new 32 million pound defender Eliaquim Mangala has told The Telegraph he is not going to let that price tag bother him, saying: "The price was not set by me, and it's something you don't pay attention to. It is something the fans and press might talk about but I remove myself from those thoughts.

"And if you can't live with that sort of pressure, if it does bring any pressure, football is not the job for you. You should be staying at home and doing another type of job. You have certain dreams, like playing in the Premier League or playing in the Champions League, but you never think: 'One day I will be the most expensive defender in England.'"

17.25 BST Sunderland, West Bromwich Albion and Crystal Palace are locked in a three-way battle to sign Southampton midfielder Jack Cork, according to The Sun.

Saints manager Ronald Koeman is reluctant to allow any more players to leave the club this summer but Cork is not believed to be part of the Dutchman's first-team plans.

The 25-year-old midfielder has just one year left on his current deal at St Mary's and his future is now in doubt as he looks unlikely to agree fresh terms.

17.15 BST 

17.05 BST With just two weeks remaining until Serie A football returns, ESPN blogger Sumeet Paul takes a look at how Milan are rebuilding this summer under Pippo Inzaghi as they aim to get back into the Champions League places.

17.00 BST DONE DEAL! Shakhtar Donetsk have completed the signing of Brazilian defender Marcio Azevedo.

The 28-year-old left-back has signed a four year contract with the Ukrainian champions and joins for an undisclosed fee from rivals Metalist Kharkiv.

16.50 BST Napoli are closing in on a deal for Villarreal's Jonathan de Guzman.

The Netherlands midfielder impressed during his two-year loan spell with Swansea City but the Welsh side failed to negotiate a permanent deal with the Yellow Submarine.

Reports in Italy claim that Rafael Benitez's side have now stepped in to meet Villarreal's seven million euro asking price and the transfer could be announced as early as tomorrow.

Netherlands midfielder Jonathan de Guzman is expected to be unveiled as a Napoli player next week.

16.35 BST Netherlands international Daley Blind has refused to rule out a move to Manchester United but insists that he is happy to stay at Ajax.

16.25 BST Sporting Lisbon are hopeful of finding an agreement with Lorient for Cameroon international striker Vincent Aboubakar.

The 22-year-old was the second-highest scorer in Ligue 1 last season with 16 goals and has already attracted interest from the likes of Monaco, Benfica and Wolfsburg this summer.

L'Equipe says that the Portuguese side have made a 10 million euro bid for the powerful forward and are confident that a deal can be completed within the next week.

16.15 BST How do you fit Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi and Neymar into the same Barcelona side? ESPN blogger Francesc Tomas discusses Luis Enrique's ideal starting XI here.

16.05 BST Tottenham are hoping to offload misfiring striker Roberto Soldado after just one season at the club and have reportedly offered the Spaniard to Roma in an attempt to convince them to part with Mattia Destro.

The Giallorossi are not totally convinced by a swap deal however and it is rumoured that they are demanding 30 million euros in cash for their 23-year-old talisman.

15.50 BST Could Samuel Eto'o be on his way to Arsenal this summer? The player himself certainly does not appear to be giving up hope of the possibility...

15.40 BST Jose Manuel Jurado is on the verge of sealing a return to Atletico Madrid after four years away from the club.

The Spanish champions are showing no signs of relent in the summer transfer window and they have reportedly agreed a deal with Spartak Moscow to take the 28-year-old midfielder on a season-long loan.

Marca says that a loan deal is economically viable for both teams as Spartak are desperate to lower their wage bill while Diego Simeone's side will only be required to pay half of Jurado's wages. 

15.25 BST Pep Guardiola could be tempted to dip back into the transfer market following the news that Javi Martinez is set for an extended spell on the sidelines with a cruciate ligament problem.

Having already seen Daniel van Buyten leave the club this summer, the Bundesliga champions are short of numbers in defence -- especially considering the Spanish coach's potential transition to three at the back.

While Sport Bild speculate that Bayern Munich are preparing a 30 million pound bid for Roma defender Medhi Benatia, Marca says that Guardiola has identified La Liga duo Aymeric Laporte and Diego Godin as potential transfer targets.

However, neither player would be available on the cheap, with both Athletic Bilbao and Atletico Madrid eager to hold onto their defensive leaders ahead of their respective Champions League campaigns. 

15.10 BST ESPN blogger Wally Downes Jr says that Queens Park Rangers must sign a playmaker if they are to survive in the Premier League. Read his article here

15.00 BST Reports in Chile claim that Arsenal are in talks to take Chile international Eduardo Vargas on loan, with a future option to buy.

The Napoli forward impressed for La Roja at the World Cup but has struggled to establish himself in Italy, enjoying loan spells at Gremio and Valencia over the last two seasons.

Arsenal have not yet negotiated a loan fee with Rafael Benitez's side for the 24-year-old but a deal is expected to be completed by Wednesday at the latest.

Chile's bold, fearless style of play was more than enough to close the book on Spain's brilliant generation.
Could Eduardo Vargas join his international compatriot Alexis Sanchez at Arsenal?

14.45 BST A number of English and Italian clubs are preparing to battle it out for the signature of Paris Saint-Germain forward Ezequiel Lavezzi.

The Argentina international has been constantly linked with a move away from the French champions this summer but an exit is now looking increasingly likely after his contract negotiations broke down earlier this week.

Paris Saint-Germain are reportedly prepared to cash in on the 29-year-old and The Daily Star says that it would cost suitors 20 million pounds to lure the former Napoli man away from the Parc des Princes.

14.30 BST West Bromwich Albion coach Alan Irvine insists that highly-rated forward Saido Berahino will stay at The Hawthorns this summer.

The 21-year-old scored both goals in the Baggies' opening 2-2 draw with Sunderland on Saturday and Irvine is confident that the club would not consider a sale for their rising star.

"I think everybody should know about him already, but I can't see any way this club would be interested in letting Saido go. You can't let top young English talented players go," he said.

"It could be a very big season for him. He is a terrific lad, he is very talented and he works very hard at his game. He is a pleasure to work with."

14.20 BST Arsenal and Tottenham have been put on alert after Shakhtar Donetsk admitted that Bernard could leave the club on loan.

The Brazilian playmaker is unsettled in Ukraine amid the country's hostile political situation and he was recently involved in a public spat with head coach Mircea Lucescu who claimed that he was taking advantage of his extended international break and isolating himself from the club.

The 21-year-old joined Shakhtar in a reported 22 million pound deal last summer and the Ukrainian champions are reluctant to let him leave on the cheap, preferring a loan deal instead.

A Shaktar club source told Izvestia: "It is obvious the Brazilian does not want to stay in Ukraine, where he will only complain and spoil the atmosphere in the team.

"But to let him go for free or for pennies won't work. The club will not allow it. In such a situation it is better to give the Brazilian a one year loan.

"If Bernard is able to establish himself well [at another club] Shaktar will then be in a better position to negotiate a subsequent sale."

Should Brazil need a spark in a match, Bernard is likely the man who gets that shot.
Bernard looks destined for a loan spell away from Shakhtar Donetsk this season.

14.05 BST Barcelona have made a non-negotiable offer to Sao Paolo for ambidextrous defender Douglas, according to Sport.

The Catalan club have been heavily linked with a right-back this summer to replace Dani Alves and they have reportedly turned their attentions to the 24-year-old Brazilian after being priced out of a move for Fiorentina star Juan Cuadrado. 

Barcelona have told Sao Paolo president Carlos Miguel Aidar that they want a response quickly and with the Brazilian club in financial difficulty, it is likely that Barcelona's estimated six million euro bid will be accepted.

13.55 BST Southampton have plenty of funds to play with in the final 15 days of the transfer window and the Saints board have reportedly made Tottenham winger Andros Townsend one of their priority targets.

13.45 BST Atletico Madrid are weighing up a bid for out-of-favour Liverpool centre-back Daniel Agger.

The Denmark international has fallen down the pecking order at Anfield following the arrival of Dejan Lovren from Southampton and he is reportedly determined to leave the club in search of regular first-team football.

The Daily Star says that the Spanish champions could be prepared to offer Agger that solace, though Arsenal are also keeping tabs on the defender's situation.

Daniel Agger is desperate to leave Liverpool this summer in search of regular first-team football.

13.35 BST Jose Mourinho has admitted he was "blind" to spurn the chance to sign a teenage Diego Costa for Chelsea eight years ago. Read the full story here.

13.25 BST The agent of Lyon midfielder Clement Grenier says that Milan are among three clubs interested in signing the France international.

The 23-year-old was strongly linked with a move to Arsenal last summer while Newcastle manager Alan Pardew is rumoured to be a keen admirer of the playmaker's qualities.

Milan are in the market for a man to fill the boots left by Kaka following his return to Brazil and an offer from the Rossoneri could be imminent.

"We will wait and see, as the transfer window is still open. There are three interested clubs, including Milan," Grenier's agent Frederic Guerra told Foot Mercato.

"I have been in contact with the Rossoneri, as he is a player who is of interest to them. In any case, Clement isn't determined to leave Lyon at all costs."

13.10 BST Benfica have threatened to report Juventus to FIFA after an illegal approach for Luisao, according to O Jogo.

The Brazilian centre-back is under contract to the Portuguese champions until 2017 but it is speculated that Juventus contacted him in an effort to convince him to terminate his contract by mutual consent so that he could join on a free transfer.

Benfica President Luis Filipe Vieira has warned the Old Lady over her actions, demanding that the Italian champions make a formal approach for Luisao if they are interested in signing him.

"Luisao has three years left on his contract and therefore if Juventus want him, they have to contact us first," he said. "In his latest interview Luisao said he wanted to end his career here and that is what will happen."

13.00 BST Inter remain in the hunt for Torino winger Alessio Cerci, despite reports that Atletico Madrid are on the verge of sealing the Italy international's signature.

Tuttosport claims that the Nerazzurri are prepared to offer Fredy Guarin as part-exchange, though it is believed Torino would prefer a cash-only sale.

Inter president Erick Thohir has also identified Brazilian playmaker Roberto Firmino as a priority target but he is reluctant to meet Hoffenheim's 25 million euro asking price.

Parma winger Jonathan Biabiany remains an alternative option, while Ezequiel Schelotto, Ruben Botta and Ricardo Alvarez could all leave the Serie A club before the transfer window closes.

12.45 BST Leicester City manager Nigel Pearson has reiterated his desire to bring Argentine veteran midfielder Esteban Cambiasso to the club.

The 33-year-old is currently a free agent following the expiry of his Inter contract earlier this summer and is reportedly keen for a move to the Premier League before he hangs up his boots.

"Whether we can do the deal depends on things I am not prepared to talk about," Pearson told BBC Radio Leicester.

Leicester played out a 2-2 draw with Everton on their return to the Premier League yesterday and Pearson insists that he is still keen on bringing in some new faces, with a striker a primary target.

"It would be nice to have more scoring options. We have to score enough goals to stay up this season so I will continue to see what is available," he added.

Leicester boss Nigel Pearson is desperate to bring decorated Argentine midfielder Esteban Cambiasso to the club.

12.35 BST Atletico Madrid are on the verge of sealing the 20 million euro transfer of Torino winger Alessio Cerci.

The Spanish champions have already completed deals for Mario Mandzukic, Antoine Griezmann and Raul Jimenez this summer as they look to defend their La Liga title ahead of big-spending rivals Real Madrid and Barcelona.

AS says that both parties are close to finding an agreement, with Atleti fans licking their lips at the prospect of the Italy international's arrival. 

12.20 BST DONE DEAL! Brighton have completed the signing of versatile Dutch midfielder Danny Holla on a three-year contract.

The 26-year-old joins on a free transfer from Eredivisie outfit ADO Den Haag and becomes Sami Hyypia's sixth new addition.

12.15 BST Chelsea midfielder Josh McEachran is poised to join Dutch feeder club Vitesse Arnhem on loan.

The 21-year-old was tipped for stardom after making his breakthrough at 17 but his progress has stalled in recent years after a series of mediocre spells in the Championship.

12.05 BST Despite already bringing in over 150 million euros worth of talent this summer, Barcelona coach Luis Enrique says the club are not finished just yet.

11.55 BST Lewis Holtby will look for a move away from Tottenham before the end of the transfer window after the North London outfit made it clear he is surplus to requirements.

The former Schalke midfielder came on as a substitute during Spurs' last gasp 1-0 win at West Ham yesterday but Mauricio Pochettino has been told that he must trim down his squad if he wants to bring in new faces.

Holtby appears to be one of those who will be sacrificed at White Hart Lane and The Mail says that Aston Villa, Queens Park Rangers, Crystal Palace and Leicester City are all interested.

11.45 BST Liverpool defender Thiago Ilori is set to join Bordeaux on loan, according to The Mirror.

The 21-year-old centre-back was signed by Brendan Rodgers from Sporting Lisbon last summer but he is yet to make a first-team appearance for the club, after being farmed out on loan to Granada last season.

Ilori does feature in Rodgers' long-term plans for the club however and the Northern Irish coach hopes that a second season in a competitive European league will help him develop and prepare him for Premier League football in the future. 

11.35 BST Sampdoria are lining up a bid for Monaco defender Nicolas Isimat-Mirin as replacement for Shkodran Mustafi.

The 22-year-old centre-back was left out of Leonardo Jardim's lineup for the opening Ligue 1 defeat to Lorient and is reportedly surplus to requirements at the Stade Louis II this campaign.

L'Equipe says that the Italian side are keen to sign the former Valenciennes star on a season-long loan, with an option to buy.

11.25 BST Bayern Munich have joined Manchester United in the race to sign highly-rated Roma defender Medhi Benatia.

Pep Guardiola admitted last week that the German champions had finalised their transfer activity for the summer but Javi Martinez's cruciate ligament injury has forced the Spanish coach to reassess his options.

Reports in the English press claim that Benatia could be on his way to Old Trafford as Louis van Gaal continues his search for a third centre-back but Sport Bild says that Bayern are prepared to test Roma's resolve with a 30 million euro bid.

With the lure of Champions League football, Bayern certainly appear to have the upper hand at this stage. Time will tell...

11.10 BST West Bromwich Albion are hopeful of tying up a deal for out-of-favour Atletico Madrid winger Cristian Rodriguez.

The Uruguay international moved to the Vicente Calderon from Porto in 2012 but struggled to establish himself in Diego Simeone's lineup last season.

Baggies boss Alan Irvine has admitted that he is desperate to sign at least one wide midfielder before the window closes in 15 days and The Mirror claims that West Brom are keen on signing both Rodriguez and West Ham winger Matt Jarvis.

11.00 BST Liverpool have not ruled out the prospect of signing Radamel Falcao this summer, despite admitting that Real Madrid is a more likely destination for the Monaco striker.

Brendan Rodgers has made a bold promise to Liverpool fans that he will sign a world-class striker to replace Luis Suarez and The Daily Mail says that the club are convinced that they can negotiate Monaco's 12 million pound loan fee for the season while the Colombian's 200,000 pound weekly wages are unlikely to prove a stumbling block.

Real Madrid remain the favourites for Falcao but a switch this window is looking increasingly unlikely as the European champions do not want to fall foul of UEFA financial fair play regulations while Carlo Ancelotti has admitted the club have finalised their transfer activity.

Meanwhile, Liverpool are also interested in signing Fiorentina goalkeeper Neto as a deputy to Simon Mignolet, following the departure of Pepe Reina to Bayern Munich.

Barcelona's attempts to sign Colombia star Juan Cuadrado have been hampered by UEFA financial fair play regulations.

10.45 BST Manchester United's opening defeat to Swansea City offered almost indelible proof that the club no longer has the personnel to compete to win the Premier League.

ESPN correspondent John Brewin says that Louis van Gaal needs reinforcements urgently if he is to restore Manchester United to the peak of English football. Read his article here.

10.35 BST Verona director Giovanni Gardin has confirmed the club's interest in Udinese forward Nicolas Lopez.

The Uruguay under-20 international has struggled to establish himself in Italy since moving from his homeland in 2012 but Verona are confident that they can get the best out of Lopez who they view as the ideal replacement for new Roma signing Juan Iturbe.

The Gialloblu are in negotiations with Udinese and hope to negotiate a loan deal with view to a permanent 15 million euro transfer.

Gardini told Rai Radio 1: "We like Nico Lopez and are following him with particular attention, but he belongs to another club,"

"We need to figure out what could be the interlocking interests between us and Udinese. We have ideas, we're evaluating alternatives and want to find players suitable for our style of football."

10.25 BST Montpellier coach Rolland Courbis has mocked Swansea for their pursuit of 24-year-old midfielder Benjamin Stambouli.

Garry Monk is reportedly eyeing up a move for the versatile Frenchman but Courbis says that the Welsh club do not have the reputation or financial muscle to accomplish such a deal.

"Our players who are internationals or future internationals attract the attention of big clubs. Montpellier is a big club, but Swansea is not a big club," he said, as reported in The Mirror.

"I don't think Swansea is the Montpellier of England. It is not in England, it is in Wales. I see Stambouli as a 15 million euro player. I'm not trying to sell him.

"I'd like to keep him and if he is sold in a year he will go to a bigger club who can double or triple what we can propose. But when Swansea's interest came to my ears, I almost laughed. I took a nervous giggle." Ouch. 

10.15 BST Is Marcos Rojo close to becoming a Red Devil? Reports in Portugal speculate that Manchester United are in advanced negotiations with Sporting Lisbon for the Argentina left-back, with the Portuguese side eager to take Nani or fellow misfit Anderson on a season-long loan deal in part-exchange.

10.05 BST Queens Park Rangers have moved a step closer to signing Netherlands international midfielder Leroy Fer.

The Daily Mail says that the Hoops have agreed an eight million pound fee with Norwich City after having two previous bids rejected by the Championship outfit.

Harry Redknapp has made it no secret that he wants to sign a central midfielder this summer though he has been frustrated in his efforts to sign Villarreal's Jonathan de Guzman and Lokomotiv Moscow's Lassana Diarra.

QPR are also keeping tabs on Arsenal and Valencia target Eduardo Vargas should Loic Remy complete a move away from the club while Brazil international goalkeeper Julio Cesar looks set to leave Loftus Road to join Portuguese champions Benfica. 

09.55 BST Aston Villa midfielder Karim El Ahmadi has announced his intentions to return to Holland after just two years in the Premier League.

The Dutch-born Morocco international has just one year left on his existing Villa contract but says that he hopes to return to his homeland this summer as he feels homesick.

The 29-year-old started on the bench for Aston Villa's 1-0 opening day win at Stoke City and the arrival of Colombia international Carlos Sanchez could pave the way for his exit.

"There is a big likelihood I will go back to Holland," he said, as reported in The Sun. "I've lived in England for several years but Holland remains my home.

"I miss my family and whenever I have free time I go back. This would be a good time for me to play a few seasons in Dutch football."

09.45 BST Arsenal got their Premier League campaign off to a winning start with a last-minute 2-1 victory over Crystal Palace yesterday but Arsene Wenger remains in the transfer market for defensive reinforcements.

Calum Chambers, 19, has excelled in his first two senior appearances in defence but Wenger is aware that he needs another centre-back to provide stability and added cover for the entire season.

The Gunners have been linked with Manchester United and Juventus target Kostas Manolas and Goal.com claims that the Greece international defender is in London to undergo a medical ahead of a 10 million euro move.

Meanwhile, Liverpool have reportedly launched a shock bid for Arsenal forward Joel Campbell but Wenger has rejected the Reds' attempts as he wants to retain hold of the Costa Rica star until at least January and is reluctant to assist a fellow title competitor. 

09.30 BST Barcelona's attempts to sign Colombia star Juan Cuadrado have received a huge blow after he was deemed unfeasible with regards to UEFA financial fair play regulations.

The Catalan club have spent over 120 million euros on Luis Suarez, Jeremy Mathieu and Thomas Vermaelen alone -- while they are dangerously close to the salary cap imposed by the LFP.

With Fiorentina demanding 40 million euros for Cuadrado, Sport says a transfer looks unlikely at this stage -- unless Luis Enrique's side can free up some funds from the sales of Alex Song and Dani Alves. The clock is ticking. 

Barcelona's attempts to sign Colombia star Juan Cuadrado have been hampered by UEFA financial fair play regulations.

Arsene pulls a Rabiot from the hat?

(We're really sorry for that pun.) Arsene Wenger has been busy in the transfer market this summer, but he says he could still make more additions to his title-chasing squad. Among those in his sights is Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Adrien Rabiot -- and the manager could be in luck here.

RMC Sport believe Rabiot has been given permission to discuss terms with Wenger and Arsenal ahead of a possible move to the Emirates. The France U21 international is tipped for a bright future and Wenger's said to be a huge fan of the 19-year-old, so watch this space.

Adrien Rabiot is rumoured to want out of Paris, and a journey to London's French quarter at Arsenal appears on the cards.

He won't cost too much either, with around 7 million pounds expected to be enough to seal the deal.

Tottenham try for Schneiderlin again

We suspect Southampton fans would be pretty happy to see the window close right this second. There's still time, though, for their club to be picked apart and Tottenham are like a dog with a bone when it comes to Morgan Schneiderlin.

Not content with being rejected twice, The Mirror reckons Spurs will go back in for the midfielder for a third time, despite Saints' refusal to play ball.

Third time lucky for Mauricio Pochettino?

Man Utd might actually sign someone

Viewers of Sky Sports News will know Jim White as the excitable transfer-rumour king who comes into his own on deadline day, yelling down the screen at 11:59 p.m. as Stoke manage to sign a left-back on loan for the season.

He's also on Twitter, and the presenter believes Manchester United are about to sign Roma centre-back Medhi Benatia.

In the interests of balance, chief football writer of the Guardian Daniel Taylor has "ins" at United and says the club is denying this tale.

The plot thickens...

Khedira a wanted man

He's been central to so many transfer rumours so far this summer and here's another team to add to the growing list of Sami Khedira admirers: Fiorentina. As is custom when two teams play each other in preseason, all sorts of theories get trotted out concerning potential deals and Tuttosport reckons La Viola are ready to take advantage of their friendly with Real Madrid to strike a deal for Khedira.

The World Cup winner's price tag is quoted as a quite-stunning 10 million euros, which seems very short. Will Fiorentina take the plunge? Arsenal are still lurking, by all accounts.

The Daily Express, meanwhile, reports Real Madrid's business is done for the window -- and that means no departures for either Khedira or Angel Di Maria.

Nani to return home?

Louis van Gaal is expected to trim his Manchester United squad and make some additions in the final days of the transfer market and one player widely tipped to leave Old Trafford is winger Nani. He has struggled with injuries and inconsistency during his seven years at the club and now could be the time to cut him loose. Given the debacle of the Dutchman's opening first game, you'd imagine quite a few futures are under threat.

Sporting Lisbon are waiting in the wings to take Nani back to the club he left in 2007, according to transfer rumour king Gianluca Di Marzio.

It's only a loan deal for now, though, according to Di Marzio, presumably because Sporting want to see if Nani is still in working order before committing themselves to a full purchase.

A Vidal update, naturally ...

The most curious thing about the Arturo Vidal transfer saga as that neither party, whether the player himself or Manchester United, has denied the rumours when given the chance. Van Gaal says he won't talk to journalists about the Juventus midfielder and the player himself remains coy over his future.

The Daily Mirror says the Chilean has refused to rule out a move to Old Trafford, so this one will run for a while yet.

Can't someone just end this now?

Wickham in Palace's sights

Crystal Palace might not have a permanent manager, but this is transfer window season and anything goes -- and The Mirror reckons they're after Sunderland's Connor Wickham.

The Black Cats almost used all nine lives last season, but Wickham saved them and he could be heading to Southeast London if Palace get their act together and pay the 8 million pounds Sunderland apparently want.

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