Transfer news and rumours: Chelsea 'confident' of £60m Romelu Lukaku deal, Manchester United target defender

The latest news and speculation on Sunday 31 July with just one month remaining in the transfer window

Jack de Menezes
Sunday 31 July 2016 12:31
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Romelu Lukaku looks to be heading back to Chelsea for £60m
Romelu Lukaku looks to be heading back to Chelsea for £60m

Chelsea are closing in on bringing Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku back to Stamford Bridge in a club record transfer after growing increasingly confident of landing the Everton forward in a £60m deal.

The Blues saw a £57m offer rejected during the week, two years after allowing the Belgian to leave the club in a £28m deal to move to Goodison Park. With the London club already signing Lukaku’s compatriot Michy Batshuayi in a £33.2m deal this summer, Chelsea manager Antonio Conte remains determined to add to his strike options, and Lukaku has emerged as their top priority target ahead of the new season.

The Evening Standard reports that Chelsea are ready to launch a £60m offer to land Lukaku and are confident that they can talk Everton down from their £75m valuation. With Lukaku determined to leave the Toffees after making repeated comments of his desire to play in the Champions League, Everton face a losing battle to keep hold of the 23-year-old, and there is a resignation on Merseyside that they will inevitably have to sell the forward in the near future.

Eden Hazard cracks joke as Chelsea unveil new kit

However, the move for Lukaku could well have dramatic consequences for Chelsea after it emerged on Saturday night that Diego Costa could still leave the club, with Conte admitting he cannot confirm that the striker will still be a Chelsea player come the transfer window deadline.

Atletico Madrid completed the signing of Sevilla forward Kevin Gameiro on Saturday in what appeared to be an acceptance of defeat in their pursuit of Costa, but Conte’s comments following the 3-2 loss to Real Madrid has reignited the transfer rumour mill, and with Costa not playing in the Michigan friendly due to a back complaint, his future remains very much unknown.

“I speak for today and today Costa is Chelsea’s player. Tomorrow if you ask me if Costa will remain with us, I don’t know,” Conte said.

“I can say that today Costa is a Chelsea player. He didn’t play in these games because of injury and if he solves the injury and I see in training he’s in good shape it can be possible to see him in the next game against AC Milan [on Wednesday]. But I can tell you only this."

Conte admitted Costa could leave Chelsea in the coming weeks 

While Manchester United continue to push forward with their £112m move for Paul Pogba that will smash the world transfer record, it’s claimed by the Sunday Times that the France international will not be the final arrival of the summer at Old Trafford.

It’s reported that Jose Mourinho still wants to sign a new central defender, and the worrying first 45 minutes in the 5-2 victory over Galatasaray on Saturday night will go a long way to convincing the manager that he needs defensive reinforcements. With Mourinho happy with his attacking options, he will look to add another centre-back despite acquiring £30m Eric Bailly at the start of the summer.

United are close to sealing their £112m deal for Paul Pogba (Getty)

Zenit St Petersburg’s Ezequiel Garay remains on United’s radar, having been targeted by Louis van Gaal in previous years, while Southampton’s Jose Fonte and Juventus’ Italian international Leonardo Bonucci also options.

United’s rivals Manchester City are also of course to make more signings this summer after it emerged that they are close to completing the drawn out transfer for Leroy Sane. According to the Daily Mail, City have been able to talk German side Schalke down from their original £50m valuation to an initial deal of £31.2m.

City manager Pep Guardiola confirmed last week that the club are keen on signing Sane and Everton defender John Stones, but admitted that a disagreement in Sane’s valuation was holding up the deal. Having only played one season in the Bundesliga, City have shown caution in their pursuit of Sane, and it is now reported that they will pay the initial fee with a number of performance-based add-ons included that could take the deal to as much as £46.5m.

Finally, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has spoken once more of his desire to sign two more players this summer after targeting a new striker and a centre-back to cover Per Mertesacker’s absence. As revealed by The Independent on Friday, Arsenal have contacted the agent of Germany defender Shkodran Mustafi following the news that Mertesacker will not play again this year due to a knee injury.

They also remain interested in Lyon striker Alexandre Lacazette with a £35m offer reported to be in the pipeline, and Wenger admitted on Saturday that it could still be a struggle to land his intended targets,

“I don’t count that Per will be back before the end of the year and I will miss him deeply, we have lost a heavyweight in our dressing room,” Wenger said.

“We are still in the market for players, whether it is at the front or the back. Unfortunately we are not alone.

“I can understand the expectation level and anxiety level of our fans because they see other clubs bringing players in.

Arsenal target Lacazette returned to action for Lyon in the pre-season friendly against Sporting Lisbon

“Despite all the money clubs have, not too much has happened until now. We know from experience the most active period is in the last week of August and at the moment it is still a big poker game everywhere.

“The best way to conclude transfers is not to talk about it, but we are in the market. Do I think we will sign an experienced central defender before the season starts? Yes, I do.”

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