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Barcelona chief Josep Maria Bartomeu makes Neymar and Lautaro Martinez transfer decision

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Barcelona chief Josep Maria Bartomeu had planned to complete the signings of Neymar and Lautaro Martinez earlier this year before the coronavirus crisis called football to a halt. Now the La Liga giants are plunged into crisis and can no longer afford to finance the deals, meaning they may have to settle for cheaper alternatives.

Having missed out on the title to Real Madrid, Barcelona know there is work to do to catch their rivals, particularly in the transfer market.

They need to make an addition that elevates the dressing room with Lionel Messi evidently deflated by the way this season has panned out.

For a while, he has longed for a reunion with Neymar in Catalonia.

The Brazilian has been unsettled during several transfer windows while in France with Paris Saint-Germain.

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“The situation is what it is: the club lost €200m between March and June. And in the 2020/2021 season, we expected to raise €1.1 billion [in revenue], but surely we will have 30 percent less.

“If the pandemic situation does not improve, there will be no crowd [at the games], no museum, no stores, and money will continue to be lost.

“It forces us to be very rigorous in management: we must review which investments are essential and which can wait. You have to adapt.”

Barcelona stance will also prevent them from landing Inter Milan forward Lautaro Martinez.

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The Argentine is seen as the ideal replacement for Luis Suarez, who is approaching the final chapter in his career.

Inter sporting director Piero Ausilio has already laid down that Lautaro will only leave if his £100million release clause is met.

“As far as Martinez is concerned, there is only one way that he will leave Inter and that is by paying his clause,” Ausilio told Sky Italia.

“A clause that everyone knows – there is no point in hiding – is demanding, because it has both deadlines and commitments that must be kept very precise.

“It is a clause that expires in the early part of July so it won’t last for a long time. And it is the only possibility that exists to take Lautaro away from Inter today.”

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What Man Utd’s plan for Jadon Sancho ‘has always been’ as transfer edges closer

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“Manchester United need a right winger,” Neville told Sky Sports’ The Gary Neville podcast.

“He’s a big, big talent, honestly he really is.

“I always think, particularly as a wide player, what would I have not wanted to have played against?

“The first thing is pace. And then you’ve got to think about, can he use his pace? Well yes he can, because he makes really good quality runs: the spin in behind, straight, but also the run inside in between full-back and centre-back – which I always think is the most difficult to mark.

“And then you think, well has he got quality on the ball? Could you just left him have it? Sometimes you’ve got quick players, let him have the ball.

“But when you let him have the ball, he can get it out of his feet and whip ridiculously good crosses in. So that’s when you’re thinking about the fact that you’ve got a real problem, as a full-back.

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Jurgen Klopp tipped to face key problem if Liverpool complete Thiago Alcantara transfer

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Liverpool hero John Barnes believes Jurgen Klopp risks disrupting the balance of his team if he brings Bayern Munich star Thiago Alcantara to the club.

Thiago is widely considered to be one of the most technically gifted midfielders in the world with experience playing for Bayern, Barcelona and Spain.

After seven seasons with Bayern, the 29-year-old is seeking a fresh challenge and is plotting a move to the Premier League.

Klopp has made clear he is an admirer for Thiago and is weighing up whether to add more midfield creativity to his team.

But Barnes feels the balance of Liverpool’s team is perfect at the moment and reckons Thiago’s arrival would leave them more vulnerable defensively.

“With the midfield being very workmanlike, they are a lot of points better off than everybody else,” he told the BBC.

“The reason you can have two full-backs attacking at the same time and three strikers is because they have three hard-working midfielders to protect that situation.

“If you get another creative midfielder and you want your full-backs and front three to attack, then maybe you are going to concede more goals.

“Manchester City have got how many creative players in their midfield? But Liverpool finished 20-odd points ahead of them. Maybe Manchester City should say: ‘Let’s get more hard-working players in midfield so we can catch Liverpool’.”

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Meanwhile, Andre Ayew has tipped Liverpool starlet Rhian Brewster for a bright future after an impressive loan spell at Swansea.

Brewster’s loan with the Championship side came to an end last week when they were beaten in the play-off semi-finals by Brentford.

Following his arrival in January, the 20-year-old scored 11 goals in 22 appearances and formed a strong partnership with Ayew in attack.

Brewster will return to Liverpool for pre-season training ahead of the new campaign and will now be aiming to break into Jurgen Klopp’s starting XI, which Ayew has no doubts he is capable of doing.

“Rhian has everything to play for,” Ayew said. “He has goals, he has speed, and he has power.

“He is still young, and he has a few things to learn and improve on, but when we are talking about a pure finisher and talent in front of the goal, he has it all.

“He has everything a striker needs to get, and that is very important.

“When you are 19 or 20, and you see the season he has had. If he continues to work hard, he is going to be a top, top player.”

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Arsenal transfer news: Aubameyang contract problem, six players eyed, Coutinho condition

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Arsenal transfer news is pouring in with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Philippe Coutinho both subject to speculation. Mikel Arteta’s side is eager to improve his squad this summer in the wake of their FA Cup triumph. So Express Sport will now take a look at the latest gossip regarding the north London giants.

Aubameyang contract problem

Arsenal star Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will snub any contract offer unless his wage demands are met, reports say.

The Gabon international’s currently deal expires in 2021 and, as of yet, he’s not signed a new contract.

And the Daily Mail say Aubameyang is unwilling to settle for anything less than £250,000-a-week.

It’s claimed he doesn’t want to be ‘lowballed’ in negotiations and that means Arsenal must stump up the cash.

If not, there’s a chance he may leave this summer. Should he stay, Arsenal then face the prospect of their talisman leaving for nothing in 12 months time.

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Six players eyed

In order to satisfy Aubameyang, Arsenal are supposedly planning to sign six players this transfer window.

Le10 Sport say the Gunners want Coutinho, who is primed to leave Barcelona with the La Liga giants determined to cut him loose.

Lyon pair Moussa Dembele and Memphis Depay are also being targeted, despite the latter previously flopping at Manchester United.

Wolves’ Raul Jimenez is another player being eyed, with the Mexico international shining in the Premier League this term.

And Thomas Partey and Allan Saint-Maximin, of Atletico Madrid and Newcastle respectively, are also being pursued.

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Coutinho condition

Arsenal could sign Coutinho this transfer window – but only on loan.

Barcelona want to get the playmaker off the books permanently, as they look to raise funds for a summer spending spree.

But the Mail say Arsenal could agree a loan deal for the Samba star instead, with the Gunners unable to afford the 28-year-old.

Coutinho is being offered to clubs around Europe.

But it’s Arsenal who appear to be in pole position to secure his signature.

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Arteta on transfers

Arsenal boss Arteta has claimed he’s given a plan to the Gunners hierarchy regarding potential transfer business this summer.

“I have presented my vision and my plans and all together we will try our best to get the club in the best possible position,” he said.

“I know how important it was as we needed to be in Europe.

“It is a must for our club and financially because it is a bigger step forward in order to allow us to do more things in the future and have a better structure financially.

“I am very pleased for both things – winning the trophy and having the option to play in Europe.”

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