European Paper Talk: Barcelona eye Christian Eriksen as Andres Iniesta replacement

The rumour mill never stops spinning and our friends at Football Whispers have rounded up the best stories from around Europe…

Spain

Barcelona have identified Tottenham’s Christian Eriksen as a possible replacement for Andres Iniesta. Barca still expect to complete the £87m signing of Antoine Griezmann from Atletico Madrid but are concerned at a lack of creativity in their midfield following the departure of Iniesta to Vissel Kobe in Japan. Eriksen has emerged as the club’s preferred candidate to fill that void but Barca are unsure if they can afford the Danish playmaker. (Sport)

Signing Alisson is one of Real Madrid’s priorities this summer as the European champions want to add a goalkeeper and striker plus strengthen in defence. The club’s scouting department have presented coach Zinedine Zidane a shortlist which includes the Roma No 1, Atletico Madrid centre-back Jose Gimenez, who would cost in the region of £52m, and £35m-rated Real Sociedad full-back Alvaro Odriozola. Madrid are also considering buying back Mariano from Lyon, independent of their pursuit of Neymar. (Marca)

Barcelona will pay Clement Lenglet’s £30m release clause and the Sevilla defender has agreed a five-year contract at the Camp Nou. Lenglet, 22, only signed for Sevilla in January 2017 from Nancy but was one of La Liga’s outstanding centre-backs last season. Lenglet’s arrival is not linked to the situation surrounding countryman Samuel Umtiti with the France international still to agree a new contract in Catalonia. (Cadena Cope)

Angel Di Maria wants to sign for Atletico Madrid this summer with Diego Simeone keen to add a creative attacking midfielder. Di Maria, 30, has long been linked with Los Rojiblancos and has even called Simeone several times to tell him that he wants to play under him. However, as yet Atletico are yet to make an approach to Paris Saint-Germain who signed Di Maria for £44m from Manchester United in 2015. (AS)

Italy

Juventus have offered Inter £43m plus Gonzalo Higuain for striker Mauro Icardi. Juve value the bid at £96m which matches Icardi’s release clause, although that is only valid for clubs outside of Serie A. Inter, however, are yet to reject the approach and Icardi’s wife and representative Wanda Nara plans to hold talks with the club next month over a new contract for the Argentine who will not be playing at the World Cup having not been selected. (Corriere dello Sport)

Juventus expect Maurizio Sarri will try and sign Higuain if he becomes the new Chelsea manager. Sarri is a free agent having left Napoli last week and is believed to be Roman Abramovich’s favoured pick to take over at Stamford Bridge should he dispense with Antonio Conte. Juve are in two minds over whether to sell Higuain, who guarantees goals but turns 31 in December, however will listen to offers of around £55m or a deal which also includes Blues striker Alvaro Morata. (Gazzetta dello Sport)

Napoli want to make Real Betis midfielder Fabian Ruiz the first signing of the Carlo Ancelotti-era and are prepared to meet his £26m release clause. Ruiz, 22, who is also a target for Atletico Madrid and Roma, was one of the outstanding central midfielders in La Liga last season as Betis secured a top-six finish. His impending arrival will be a “welcome present” for Ancelotti who takes over at the Stadio San Paolo on July 1. (Corriere dello Sport)

Germany

David Alaba has insisted he will be playing for Bayern Munich next season and believes an interview published in Spain quoting his father was “invented”. George Alaba claims that Real Madrid have long been interested in signing his son but the Bayern left-back said his father doesn’t have any knowledge of giving the interview. (Sport Bild)

Borussia Dortmund want to sign Matthijs De Ligt from Ajax but accept the number of clubs pursuing the Dutch teenager makes it highly unlikely. Defender De Ligt, 18, is being monitored by Premier League giants Tottenham, Manchester United and Manchester City and Dortmund have long been interested but believe the idea of bringing him to the Westfalenstadion is, at the moment, a “dream”. (Kicker)

France

Mino Raiola has outlined Roma and Napoli as his preferred destinations for Mario Balotelli. The Italy international, who scored twice in Monday’s 2-1 friendly win over Saudi Arabia, looks set to leave Nice this summer on a free and had been linked with a move to Borussia Dortmund where he would rejoin former coach Lucien Favre. However, Raiola is working hard on a deal in Italy with Napoli and Roma seen as “nice projects” for the striker. (L’Equipe)

AC Milan have expressed an interest in signing defender Marcelo from Lyon. The Brazilian, 31, only arrived in France last summer from Besiktas but has impressed in his debut season in Ligue 1. Centre-back Marcelo, 31, however is reluctant to leave France having settled well into life in Lyon and is under contract until 2020. (L’Equipe/RMC)

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