Chelsea, United and City to battle for Europe’s most creative midfielder

Former Chelsea playmaker Kevin De Bruyne is being chased by three Premier League clubs after impressing with Wolfsburg this season and the Blues are joined by Manchester United and Manchester City in their £40 million pursuit for the Belgian star.

De Bruyne has been the most creative midfielder in Europe this season after racking up an incredible 24 assists in 39 games across all competitions with Bundesliga side Wolfsburg, who he joined from Chelsea for £18 million in January 2014.

He has only been with Wolfsburg for 14 months but is already being tipped to move again and the Premier League trio will have to fight Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain for the 23 year old’s signature.

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De Bruyne is reportedly keen on a move back to Chelsea, despite the fact he struggled to see much game time under Jose Mourinho, and ESPN are reporting that the talented playmaker could return to Stamford Bridge this summer.

Any move is likely to depend on whether Wolfsburg qualify for the UEFA Champions League next season. They have two chances to do as they currently sit second in the Bundesliga table behind Bayern Munich, and are also in the Europa League quarter-finals. The Europa League winners will automatically qualify for next season’s Champions League and Wolfsburg are currently the tournament favourites.

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Manchester City are also keen and director of football Txiki Begiristain has already met with the player’s representatives, according to the Daily Mail. City are willing to spend £40 million on the Belgian star as they look to challenge Chelsea for next season’s Premier League by revamping their squad over the summer.

Meanwhile, a report by talkSPORT claims that Manchester United are the front-runners in the race to sign De Bruyne and are willing to splash the cash to land the former Chelsea man.

All three Premier League giants could still be beaten to the player however, as Bayern Munich have already prepared a £35 million offer, while Paris Saint-Germain are monitoring the situation closely.

Kevin De Bruyne could find himself at the centre of Europe’s biggest transfer battle this summer and after contributing to 38 goals in 39 games in all competitions for Wolfsburg, it’s hardly a surprise.

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Arsenal, Man United & Chelsea face tough battle for Real Madrid star

Germany World Cup winner and Real Madrid midfielder Sami Khedira has finally confirmed he will leave Los Blancos at the end of the season after five years in the Spanish capital.

The defensive midfielder has been restricted to just 11 appearances this season due to injuries that have troubled him since November 2013. He returned towards the end of last season to play a part in Madrid’s tenth European title (La Decima) and his country’s World Cup triumph in Brazil.

It’s no secret Real have tried to tie him down to a new contract but Khedira has rejected the contract offers and in December he said, “if we can reach a solution, I’ll be very happy.” But now it seems Khedira is all but gone from Madrid.

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“I will give everything for this shirt until the last day of my contract, there should be no doubt about that. 

“It’s not a decision against Real Madrid. I want to find new challenges for my career and continue to grow as a player,” Khedira told Spanish newspaper Marca.

The German has lost his place in the Real Madrid starting lineup with Carlo Ancelotti preferring Luka Modric and Toni Kroos in the heart of the midfield.

The news is sure to alert a whole host of Premier League clubs, including Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United. The Gunners have been known to be huge admirers of the in-demand midfielder and his best friend Mesut Ozil plays at the Emirates.

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho brought Khedira to Real Madrid in 2010 and would love to be reunited with him.

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The former Stuttgart man has also been linked with a move back to his homeland with interest from Bundesliga clubs Bayern Munich, Schalke and Wolfsburg. But Khedira says he is yet to reach a deal with anyone over his future.

“I don’t have an agreement with any club nor any preferences as to who I would like to join,” Khedira told Kicker.

If Khedira is to leave this summer, it would surely be one of the biggest bosman transfers in recent years.

Bayern Munich planning summer moves for Chelsea and Everton defenders

German giants Bayern Munich are looking to bolster their backline this summer and want Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic and Everton’s Seamus Coleman, according to reports in Germany.

Pep Guardiola sees the right-back spot as an area which needs strengthening and is looking to the Premier League for a replacement for current starter, Rafinha.

Bayern’s interest in Coleman was reported last month but now the Bundesliga leaders are looking at Ivanovic too, according to Bild.

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Guardiola is believed to be a big fan of the versatile Serbian defender, who can operate at right-back or in the heart of defence, but Chelsea would be reluctant to letting him leave.

Ivanovic’s current Chelsea contract expires in the summer of 2016 so Bayern are hoping to sign the 31 year old in a cut-price deal.

Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid are also keeping an eye on Ivanovic’s situation and if he is not offered a new deal at Chelsea in the coming months, the Blues can expect to receive offers.

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Ivanovic has played in all 29 of Chelsea’s Premier League games this season, scoring an impressive four goals with five assists, and is an integral part of Jose Mourinho’s team.

As well as Coleman and Ivanovic, Bayern are also said to be looking at Italian right-back Matteo Darmian, who plays for Serie A side Torino and is also a target of Manchester United.

Who would be a better signing for Bayern Munich – Coleman or Ivanovic?

Chicago Fire take former Liverpool, Bayern Munich midfielder on trial

The Chicago Fire are currently in England on a preseason tour as they prepare for the 2015 MLS season and they have made use of the trip by taking French midfielder Alou Diarra on trial.

Diarra has been without a club since leaving West Ham United last July and the former Liverpool and Bayern Munich midfielder will hope to impress coach Frank Yallop enough to earn a long-term deal with the Fire.

The 33-year-old Frenchman has made 44 appearances for his country and was a part of the French squad at the World Cup in 2006 and 2010.

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He has spent most of his career in France but the chance to play football again with the Chicago Fire will be a challenge Diarra will hope becomes a reality.

The experiences midfield enforcer is a natural leader and his combatative style of play has seen him compared to Michael Essien and Patrick Vieira throughout his career.

The Fire squad drew 0-0 with Norwich City on Thursday and they are now in London training with Queens Park Rangers ahead of a friendly with the Premier League side this Thursday.

Diarra will hope to impress in that game and he could be the latest addition to a Chicago squad that has seen 13 players brought in this offseason.

Would Alou Diarra be a good signing for the Chicago Fire?

Franck Ribery hints that MLS move could be on the horizon

Bayern Munich star Franck Ribery has dropped a hint that he would consider playing in Major League Soccer when his contract with the German giants expires in three years.

The highly-skilled French winger is one of the best players in Europe, and is currently in his eighth season with Bayern, looking to win his fifth Bundesliga title.

At 31, Ribery has plenty still to offer and with his contract with Bayern set to expire in 2017, the Frenchman has set his sights on a challenge outside of Europe to end his playing career.

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“Bayern and I are like a married couple. I bought us a house here. My son was born here. I raised my daughters here. They speak better German than me; articulate and grammatically perfect. I could play for another club in Europe but my heart is beating too much for Bayern.” he told German magazine Welt am Sonntag.

“But I could imagine going to the US, Qatar or Dubai for a new experience.”

With two new MLS franchises set to enter the league in 2017, one of whom will be the wealthy Los Angeles FC, Ribery could find himself a part of the rapidly growing soccer scene in America.

His wage demands will be high, but club’s such as LAFC will have the financial backing to make such a move possible, and it would certainly not do the league any harm.

Would you like to see Franck Ribery playing in MLS in a few years?

Premier League Transfers: Quality over quantity is the only way forward

Jamie Ives looks at where Premier League clubs are going wrong with regard to transfer policies and why the number of quality players in the top flight may be decreasing…

Over the past five years the Premier League has become more and more competitive and predicting outcomes has become a betting man’s worst nightmare due to the unpredictability of the league.

The Premier League is still viewed as the best league in the world by many. And the main reason for the more competitive structure is the transfer policy of Premier League clubs nowadays.

World-class players at their peak are leaving England’s top division and are not being replaced by world-class players. The best examples of this in recent years are Liverpool and Tottenham, who, over the last two summer’s have lost Luis Suarez and Gareth Bale to Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively.

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Spurs replaced Bale with an array of players that have yet to make up for the loss of the Welsh wizard. Attacking players Nacer Chadli, Erik Lamela and Christian Eriksen were all brought in using the Bale money but have not made the same impact in the side on a consistent basis.

It’s a similar issue with Liverpool. They used the money they acquired through the Suarez deal to bring in Adam Lallana, Lazar Markovic and Mario Balotelli – all of whom have failed to make up for the Uruguayan’s absence.

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And thus with this policy, both teams have lost pace with other big clubs in the league, such as Chelsea. The Blues have adopted the opposite strategy this year and it looks to have paid off. Bringing in Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa has fired them to top spot and they don’t look like they’ll fall away anytime soon.

It seems modern football clubs value a large squad, which has its obvious advantages due to injury problems and long fixture lists. However, there is no substitute for a world-class player, no matter how many players you bring in.

The amount of world-class talent in the Premier League is decreasing and England’s UEFA Champions League teams failures are fundamentally the reason for this.

Germany’s Bayern Munich and Spain’s Real Madrid and Barcelona are the dominant forces in the game today, and the very best players are signed by these clubs at all costs. That has ensured they remain competitive in every competition they are in.

Premier League clubs should be keeping hold of their assets, and if they do decide to sell, replacing them with players of the same calibre is a must, and not three or four average replacements.

Julian Green: Wildcard wonderkid

Julian Wesley Green was born in Tampa Bay, Florida, but moved to Germany with his parents when he was two-years-old.

Born from an American father and German mother, the talented striker possesses dual citizenship with both nations vying for his allegiance.

He has played at youth level for both nations, but on the 24th march FIFA accepted his request to change nationality to American with immediate effect.

And he has now been selected by Jurgen Klinsmann as a part of the USMNT preliminary World Cup Squad.

After having been educated in Germany, Green possesses the ability to play as either a striker or a winger, a philosophy created by Klinsmann during his time coaching the German national team.

The 18-year-old is currently playing for Bayern Munich, and he made his professional debut in the UEFA Champions League in November 2013, and now looks sets for a bright future.

Since changing allegiance, Green has already made his USMNT debut, coming off the bench in a friendly against Mexico in April.

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(Photo: Julian Green in action against Mexico in his USMNT debut)

A bit of an unknown commodity amongst fans, Green has the potential and the skillset to transform American soccer.

In a new age where US soccer is constantly evolving, Green could be the man to guide them through the transition.

Critics will question why he decided to change allegiance, seeing as he played for the German under-19 side at the young age of eighteen.

However, having scored fifteen goals in twenty-three games this season for Bayern Munich II, it looks as though he may have the tools to transform the USMNT into a dangerous attacking force.

All we know about him so far is that he has bags of potential, but selecting him to go to the World Cup could do one of two things for Green; he could be selected with the aim of gaining valuable experience, or he could go and set the group alight.

Oh, and he could also line-up against Germany when the two sides meet in Group G, the country he opted against playing for.

The forward clearly has talent, as he looked set to play for Germany, but the option to play for USA may prove to be the right choice, as he will certainly win caps quicker due to less competition in the US side.

Green will know if he’s on the plane by the 2nd June, although with Klinsmann being German and Green giving the team a new dimension, don’t be surprised to see him make the final 23.