European elite chase free-agent Ben Arfa

7 May

The summer transfer window will be opening before you know it, and rumours around the world are picking up steam. As always, Transfer Talk has its finger on the pulse when it comes to the latest gossip. See the latest deals here.


TOP STORY: Barca, Chelsea, Juve chase Ben Arfa

The contract of Nice No. 10 and France international Hatem Ben Arfa expires after the 2015-16 season, and the free-agent-to-be is attracting attention from across Europe.

Club president Jean-Pierre Rivere confirmed that Barcelona are just one of the clubs who’ve contacted the Cote d’Azur side to express interest in Ben Arfa. According to the Times, Chelsea too would like to bring in the former Newcastle man, while Gazzetta dello Sport reports that Juventus have had similar ideas.

The Times goes on to suggest that one of the reasons for Ben Arfa’s remarkable rise to prominence has been Nice’s indulgent attitude toward their budding star. After his dreadful final two seasons in England (with Newcastle and on loan at Hull City), questions must be asked about the player’s ability to adapt to the demands of Europe’s strongest leagues and biggest clubs.

Conte searches for new Chelsea spine

In addition to pursuing Ben Arfa, incoming Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has drawn up plans to reinforce the West London club this summer. The current Italy boss has nearly tied up a £31 million deal for Roma midfielder Radja Nainggolan, reports the Times, but the Belgian is just one of several names on Conte’s list.

Leonardo Bonucci, as has been rumoured for some time, tops that list, while Rennes starlet Ousmane Dembele is also on the Italian’s wish list. Both will prove to be problematic gets for Chelsea.

Bonucci still has four years left to run on his Juventus contract, which could make any transfer fee prohibitively expensive, even for owner Roman Abramovich. And the Premier League club’s failure to qualify for the Champions League in 2016-17 will only hinder their ability to recruit a world-class talent like Bonucci. Meanwhile, Borussia Dortmund are reportedly in pole position to land Dembele.

One way Chelsea could entice Juventus to lower the asking price on Bonucci is to offer up a player in exchange. And according to the Star, the Blues have already tied up a £20m sale of midfielder Nemanja Matic to the Turin giants. Could the Serbian’s sale be just the first shoe to drop in a protracted summer saga between the two clubs?

Real Madrid contemplate Courtois chase

Having missed out on David De Gea last summer, Real Madrid are now weighing up an offer for Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, according to the Mail. The big Belgian’s future has been the subject of speculation for months amid reports of disagreements with the club’s goalkeeping coach Christophe Lollichon.

The Mail reports that if Courtois is to leave West London, a return to Madrid (where he spent three seasons at Atletico) would be his priority. Chelsea reportedly have set the asking price at an eye-watering £65m, but their openness to conclude a deal has given Madrid hope that a lower fee could be negotiated.

Tap-ins

– As John Terry‘s Chelsea career nears its conclusion, the former England centre-back has told his representatives to secure a move to Major League Soccer this summer, according to the Mail.

– Should Newcastle be relegated from the Premier League come season’s end, West Ham and Southampton both will look to trigger the £8m release clause in the contract of Andros Townsend, reports the Telegraph.

– Watford are ready to join the chase for West Bromwich Albion striker Saido Berahino this summer, a source close to the Hornets has told ESPN FC.

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