TRANSFER CONFIDENTIAL: Man City eye up Mateo Kovacic

TRANSFER CONFIDENTIAL: Man City eye up Mateo Kovacic – with FOUR Chelsea stars prime candidates to leave – while Everton are keen on a speedy Almeria striker and Aston Villa plot an overhaul

  • Manchester City are plotting a move for Chelsea midfielder Mateo Kovacic
  • Conor Gallagher could be set for a summer transfer to join Newcastle
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Manchester City are maintaining a watching brief on Mateo Kovacic, who is ready to leave Chelsea this summer.

The 29-year-old is admired by Pep Guardiola and would be keen to join the Premier League champions elect. City will take stock of their squad at the end of the campaign as Guardiola awaits a decision from Barcelona target Ilkay Gundogan over his contract offer, while Kalvin Phillips also wants to stay.

City have also discussed the merits of West Ham’s Declan Rice, but his style could cut across that of Rodri who is hugely instrumental to Guardiola’s side. Arsenal are considered favourites but their concern over Rice is the price. 

Manchester United are firm admirers too and have players such as Scott McTominay who West Ham would consider as part of a £120m package.

Chelsea’s new boss Mauricio Pochettino is expected to fly into London from Barcelona on Tuesday before signing his three-year contract but expects departures with Kovacic, Mason Mount, Conor Gallagher and Edouard Mendy among the prime candidates to go.

Chelsea midfielder Mateo Kovacic is a summer transfer target for Manchester City

Kovacic (blue top) is tipped to leave Stamford Bridge this summer and wants to move elsewhere

Chelsea scouts watched Napoli’s £130m-rated striker Victor Osimhen on Sunday during Monza’s surprise 2-0 win over the Italian champions. Pochettino also expects talks over Romelu Lukaku’s situation at the end of the month.

Passing king Parejo sounds out Villa

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Villarreal pass master Dani Parejo is eyeing a return to England at the age of 34. Having played 41 consecutive matches for Villarreal this season, Parejo will miss the forthcoming fixture against Girona as he’s suspended for accumulation of yellow cards. 

Parejo regularly tops the passing statistics charts and has amassed almost 2,000 completed passes. He had a brief spell with QPR in 2008 while on loan from Real Madrid and is considering another attempt in England now. 

Aston Villa are among those to have been sounded out because of Parejo’s relationship with Unai Emery but others are weighing up an offer. 

Villa are keen on Tottenham’s Giovani Lo Celso for their midfield, as previously reported in Confidential, and want a more technical presence on the flanks hence their interest in Barcelona’s Ferran Torres. 

The likes of Leon Bailey, Bertrand Traore and Philippe Coutinho could all depart if they can find the right offers.

Clarets could move for ex-United coach

Former Manchester United coach Warren Joyce is in the running to head up Burnley’s academy. The 58-year-old has been coaching Nottingham Forest’s U18s and took them to the FA Youth Cup final against United last year. 

However, despite the work done by Joyce and academy manager Gary Brazil, with four of their youngsters making first team debuts and several earning international call-ups, Forest have still to offer new contracts. 

With their futures up in the air, that has alerted Burnley who are looking to revamp their academy following promotion to the Premier League.

Forest are expected to make a lot of changes in the summer with staff and players expected to leave. One new arrival is expected to be Southampton’s former head of player insights Tom Stockwell.

Former Manchester United youth team coach Warren Joyce is in the running to head up Burnley’s academy

Rangers eye Pandur between the sticks

For Rangers boss Michael Beale this summer the bare necessity is to strengthen his defence. So club scouts checked on Fortuna Sittard goalkeeper Ivor Pandur against PSV Eindhoven on Sunday. 

The Croatia U21 international is on loan from Hellas Verona and is under consideration as Rangers look to add a new keeper. The 23-year-old had a busy afternoon but was unable to keep PSV at bay as they ran out 2-1 winners. 

Rangers, who last week agreed a four-year deal with Chelsea right-back Dujon Sterling and want Arsenal centre back Auston Trusty, have maintained contact over Crystal Palace keeper Jack Butland also but that deal, so far, remains too expensive.

Leeds keen on young City midfielder Breckin

Manchester City prospect Kian Breckin is emerging as a target for Leeds United. The 19-year-old is the son of former Nottingham Forest and Wigan defender, Ian ‘Breckinbauer’ Breckin, and has shown some silky touches of his own playing in midfield for City’s U21s this season. 

Breckin has four years left on his contract but with a difficult pathway ahead, City may sell if the right offer comes in. Leeds, who admire a number of City’s youngsters, could face competition from Newcastle United for Breckin.

Manchester City academy talent Kian Breckin is emerging as a target for Leeds United

Everton alerted to Mali striker who’s as fast as an iguana!

Everton’s search for a striker has led them to Almeria’s El Bilal Toure. The Mali international has missed the end of the season after tearing a thigh muscle which Almeria’s doctor said occurred when he set off to sprint at 35km/h – that’s as fast as a spinytail iguana for those of you wondering…

Anyway, Everton have been assured the 21-year-old can make an equally swift recovery but fans will be wary. 

Dominic Calvert-Lewin was taken off as a precaution against Manchester City on Sunday and without him Everton have carried little or no threat up front leaving them perilously close to the drop.

Toure has also had interest from Brentford who are weighing up options as they fear a lengthy ban for Ivan Toney.

Almeria’s pacey attacker El Bilal Toure has caught the interest of both Everton and Brentford

Gallagher might be perfect fit for Toon

Newcastle United scouts checked on Red Bull Leipzig midfielder Dominik Szoboszlai once again on Sunday as he scored a dramatic late winner in their 2-1 victory over Werder Bremen. 

However, it’s understood the Hungary international is not top of Eddie Howe’s menu. Howe would prefer Premier League experience and a deal that could yet emerge as the simplest is for Chelsea’s Conor Gallagher. 

Conor Gallagher’s Premier League experience has made him a possible target for Newcastle

Newcastle face stern competition from Spurs for Leicester City’s James Maddison and have greater financial restrictions than their top five rivals.

It’s still Rome sweet Rome for Smalling

Chris Smalling has agreed his new two-year contract with Roma. Smalling’s agent James Featherstone flew into Rome on Thursday morning to wrap up business and returned to England on Friday. 

Now 33, affirmed vegan Smalling, has made 42 appearances this season though has been sidelined in recent weeks with a hip flexor injury.

Chris Smalling is staying in Rome after signing a new two-year contract extension at the Serie A side

Saints eye Tanzania left back with exodus set to begin

Middlesbrough and Southampton have checked on 20-year-old Tanzania international left-back Novatus Miroshi at Zulte Waregem. 

Southampton will look to re-shape their squad this summer with the likes of Romeo Lavia, James Ward-Prowse and keeper Gavin Bazunu among those ready to leave. 

Gavin Bazunu has emerged as a target for Tottenham after Southampton’s relegation was confirmed

Bazunu is among the keepers being considered by Tottenham as Hugo Lloris weighs up a move to Saudi Arabia. Saints centre back Armel Bella-Kotchap, meanwhile, is a target for Eintracht Frankfurt.

Sunderland in pole position to land Jude’s younger brother

Birmingham City midfielder Jobe Bellingham was spotted at Sunderland’s play-off game against Luton Town on Saturday. 

Confidential readers will be aware of Sunderland’s interest in Jobe, the 17-year-old younger brother of Jude, and it is anticipated he will become a permanent fixture at the Stadium of Light next season.

Jobe Bellingham – the younger player of Jude – was spotted at Sunderland’s play-off clash with Luton

Arsenal kid would give Hammers a speed boost

West Ham are keeping an eye on former Arsenal trainee Yunus Musah at Valencia.

The super-quick Musah was at Arsenal between the ages of nine and 16 before moving to Valencia where he made his first team debut as a 17-year-old.

West Ham retain an interest in Bristol City’s Alex Scott, also wanted by Wolves, but they are reluctant to meet the £25m asking price.

Wolves anticipate offers for £45m-rated Ruben Neves this summer but, despite links with Barcelona’s Nico Gonzalez, they would prefer straight cash rather than swap deals.

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