The January transfer window is closed around Europe, but teams are looking ahead to the summer and there's plenty of gossip swirling around. Transfer Talk brings you all the latest buzz on rumours, comings, goings and, of course, done deals!
TOP STORY: MLS mulls audacious Messi plan? Probably not
In what would be an incredibly unique turn of events, Diario Sport have reported that all MLS clubs could chip in to pay Lionel Messi's wages in an effort to bring the Paris Saint-Germain talisman to the league.
There has been plenty of talk surrounding the 35-year-old's future, with his PSG contract expiring in the summer, and Inter Miami CF regularly linked as a potential destination. However, the Catalan outlet claims that the MLS salary cap structure could prohibit signing the Argentina star to what would likely be a record deal, which has reportedly produced one creative solution.
The report states that team owners met six weeks ago and floated the option to jointly pay Messi's wages and allow him to choose the club he plays for.
However, there is a fairly glaring hole in this story. An MLS source confirmed to ESPN that the league's Designated Player rule would allow Messi to join the Herons without going over the salary cap, making such an out-there concept entirely unnecessary.
There has been speculation that Messi would consider a return to Barcelona, with club president Joan Laporta saying last week that "[Messi] has the doors of Barca open ... He knows that. He's part of our emblem."
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21.46 BST: Chelsea have made progress in their move to sign midfielder N'golo Kante to a new contract extension, writes Sky Sports Deutschland's Florian Plettenberg.
With just months remaining on his current deal, it looks as though the 31-year-old is set to dismiss interest in his signature to remain at Stamford Bridge. It is reported that positive talks have been held, with indications suggesting that he will stay with the club through the 2023-24 season.
Kante hasn't featured for the Blues since August after sustaining a hamstring injury, though he returned to first team training earlier this month.
21.06 BST: Wingback Denzel Dumfries is expected to leave Internazionale in the summer, reveals Fabrizio Romano.
The 26-year-old has previously been linked with Manchester United and Chelsea, and it is understood that a switch to the Premier League would be his preferred destination.
Having recently changed representatives, the Netherlands international is believed to be plotting the next step in his career, though no clubs have secured the advantage in the race for his services yet.
20.34 BST: Arsenal and Brentford are among the teams who are interested in signing Eintracht Frankfurt winger Jesper Lindstrom, understands Sport1.
It is reported that the 23-year-old could be allowed to leave Deutsche Bank Park for a fee of €30m, and the latest indicates that there are now up to four clubs who have made an enquiry over a potential move for his signature.
Lindstrom, capped nine times by the Denmark senior national team, has contributed to nine goals in 22 Bundesliga appearances this season.
19.54 BST: Bayern Munich have no interest in signing Chelsea midfielder Mateo Kovacic, reports Sky Sport Deutschland's Florian Plettenberg. The 28-year-old Croatia international has been linked with a potential switch to the Allianz Arena where he would join up with former manager Thomas Tuchel, but it is said that the Bundesliga side aren't currently looking to upgrade their squad in his position, even though Kovacic will enter the final year of his contract at Stamford Bridge in the summer and could be signed at a discount.
19.21 BST: Barcelona are confident of being able to transfer centre-back Samuel Umtiti out of the club in the summer, according to Sport. The 29-year-old former France international has enjoyed a positive loan spell at Lecce this season, and the Blaugrana reportedly believe that's enough to capture the attention of potential suitors, although a permanent move with the Serie A side is unlikely.
18.48 BST: Leeds United striker Rodrigo will be asked to take a salary reduction if he wants to remain at Elland Road, reports Football Insider. The 32-year-old will enter the final year of his deal worth around £100,000 a week in the summer, and it looks as though the club are prepared to part ways with him if he expects to maintain his current salary.
18.15 BST: AC Milan attacking midfielder Brahim Diaz is keen to stay at San Siro, reports Gazzetta dello Sport. The Rossoneri have the option to sign the 23-year-old once-capped Spain international permanently from Real Madrid for a €22m transfer fee, but the arrangement would also allow the LaLiga side to sign him back for just €27m -- with the expectation that Los Blancos would then move on Diaz for a higher fee -- and that could see Milan reluctant to sign him on those terms.
17.39 BST: Borussia Dortmund are hopeful of persuading midfielder Jude Bellingham to remain at the club beyond this summer, according to BILD. The 19-year-old England international has been heavily linked with a move away from Signal Iduna Park this season, with Real Madrid, Manchester City and Liverpool most routinely linked with his signature, but the Bundesliga side are set to offer €15m annual wages in an effort to keep him in Germany.
17.00 BST: Barcelona are looking to make Athletic Club centre-back Inigo Martinez the first of up to four signings this summer that must arrive as free agents, according to Mundo Deportivo. It is reported that the Blaugrana will attempt to reduce their salary bill by around €200m, hence the emphasis on Martinez (who's also being monitored by Atletico Madrid) and similar pending free agents, and there are still a number of contract situations yet to be resolved, including those of Gavi and Ronald Araujo.
16.11 BST: Sport Bild reports that Borussia Dortmund could be targeting another young player from England, having enjoyed huge success nurturing Jadon Sancho, Jamie Bynoe-Gittens and Jude Bellingham.
Now the Bundesliga club are said to be looking at Shea Charles, who is a Northern Ireland youth international who, like Sancho and Bynoe-Gittens, came through the Academy at Manchester City.
The 19-year-old midfielder is under contract until 2027 but is unlikely to get first-team football, and could be persuaded to head to Germany.
15.30 BST: Gazzetta dello Sport reports that Paris Saint-Germain are preparing to rival Manchester United for the signing of Napoli striker Victor Osimhen.
The 24-year-old is set to be one of the most in-demand players in the summer, with United long thought to be leading the race for his signature.
Gazzetta adds that Napoli president Aurelio de Laurentiis is to prioritise getting the player to sign a new deal, with his current contract expiring in the summer of 2025. Right now, Napoli's position is weakening with each passing month and they need an extension to protect his value. The report states that Napoli will have to increase his wage from €4.3m per season to €6m.
If Osimhen doesn't commit, De Laurentiis is hoping for a transfer fee of €150,
14.42 BST: Hector Bellerin is closing in on a move to Real Betis in the summer, according to Fabrizio Romano.
The 28-year-old left Arsenal last summer to sign for Barcelona on a free transfer, but made just seven appearances in all competitions before moving onto Sporting CP in January on a short-term contract.
The right-back is now set to return to LaLiga next season for a second spell with Betis, where he played 32 games on loan in the 2021-22 campaign.
Understand Real Betis are in advanced talks to sign Hector Bellerín on free deal from Sporting at the end of the season 🚨🟢 #RealBetis— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) March 28, 2023
Negotiations are progressing to the final stages, as former Barça and #AFC right back is keen on returning to Betis soon. pic.twitter.com/ZAZMT5eLA1
14.00 BST: Flamengo vice-president Marcos Braz has confirmed his club are looking into signing Benfica defender Mateus Uribe. The Brazlian giants are looking for a replacement for Joao Gomes, who joined Wolverhampton Wanderers on a permanent transfer in January.
"We lost Joao Gomes, we are interested in Uribe," Braz said."Flamengo always have a disadvantage when talking about the European market because of the finances. It will depend a lot on him [Uribe] to come here."
Uribe, 32, becomes a free agent in June. The Colombia international has been offered a contract extension to remain at Benfica but has not made a decision.
13.14 BST: Chelsea must find new clubs for many of their squad players this summer if they are to avoid breaching the Premier League's financial fairplay rules, according to The Times.
The Blues recorded an overall net loss of £121.3m ($148.65m) for 2021-22 due to "extraordinary expenses and loss of revenue," with the club blaming sanctions imposed on previous owner Roman Abramovich. But that came on the back of losses of £153.4m for 2020-21.
Chelsea have spent £600m on new players in the past two transfer windows, though have tried to offset that for FFP with long contracts.
Premier League rules allow maximum losses of £105m over a three-year period, so Chelsea have no choice but to try to trim their bloated squad and bring in transfer fees -- a situation which will be made worse if, as expected, they don't have Champions League football next season.
12.30 BST: The Daily Mail reports that Bukayo Saka will become Arsenal's highest-paid player when he signs his new contract.
The 21-year-old has agreed in principle to a long-term deal that will be worth £10m-a-season, but once you include bonuses and other attached payments he could earn up to £15m -- meaning he will get £300,000-a-week.
While he will become the Gunners' highest earner within the current squad, it won't get him close to the £350,000-a-week that Mesut Ozil received before his mega-bucks contract was ripped up.
11.43 BST: Barcelona want Ansu Fati to remain at the club beyond this summer, Sport reports. Ansu is reportedly considering his future after falling out of favour at the Camp Nou.
A Barca youth product, Ansu has struggled with knee injuries and in a meeting with Ansu's father, Bori, executives reiterated their wish for the 20-year-old to continue at the club.
Ansu, 20, is under contract with Barca until June 2027. With the player being Barca coach Xavi Hernandez's fifth-choice striker right now, Ansu's agent, Jorge Mendes, is reportedly looking at options in the Premier League even though the player's priority is to succeed at Barca. Manchester United are among the English clubs that have monitored Ansu.
11.01 BST: Manchester City's Kalvin Phillips is not considering moving on at the end of the season, despite his lack of first-team football.
The former Leeds United midfielder was injured for the first half of the season, but was fit to be part of the England squad at the World Cup. Coach Pep Guardiola then criticised the player's fitness levels upon his return to the Etihad, and he is yet to start a Premier League game for the reigning champions.
There had been specilation that the 27-year-old was being tracked by West Ham United and former club Leeds, but Football Insider reports that wants to stay at City and prove he has what it takes to play for a Big Six club.
10.15 BST: Inigo Martinez wants to sign for Barcelona this summer, according to Mundo Deportivo.
The Spanish centre-back has not signed a contract extension with Athletic Club, with his current deal expiring in June.
Martinez, 31, has offers from Atletico Madrid, Inter Milan and Napoli, but it is his desire to join the Catalan club despite their financial problems. LaLiga president Javier Tebas recently warned that Barca must raise €200m in order to spend money in the summer transfer window.
Martinez has been a long-term target of Barca and the Catalan club has offered the player a three-year contract. The former Real Sociedad star is in his fifth full season at Ahtletic and has made 14 appearances this season.
09.26 BST: Netherlands international Stefan De Vrij is on the verge of signing a contract extension with Inter Milan until June 2025, according to Sky Italia.
The defender becomes a free agent this summer and has been offered a two-year contract extension.
De Vrij, 31, joined Inter in the summer of 2018 from Lazio. Despite wanting a longer contract, the veteran centre-back has accepted Inter's offer as he wants to remain in Milan.
08.59 BST: Barcelona president Joan Laporta will meet with Lionel Messi's father and agent Jorge Messi in the coming days to discuss the player's potential return to Camp Nou, Catalunya radio reports.
The Argentina forward is in his second season at Paris Saint-Germain but there has been speculation that Messi, who becomes a free agent in June, will return to Barca.
Laporta recently said that "Messi has the Barca doors open" and, according to the Catalan radio, the 35-year-old has given his blessing for his father to sit down with Laporta and discuss his return to Barca.
Messi spent 20 years at Barca and helped the club win 35 trophies but left for PSG on a free transfer in August 2021 because of the Catalan outfit's financial crisis.
08.00 BST: The revised bids to buy Manchester United will fall short of the Glazer family's valuation, although there is still hope a buyout can happen, sources have told ESPN.
Second offers were lodged by interested parties last week, including from public bidders Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Al Thani, Sir Jim Ratcliffe and Thomas Zilliacus.
Sources have told ESPN that bids from Sheikh Jassim and Ratcliffe have been increased from around £4.5 billion but remain below the asking price of around £6bn -- although there is hope that the Glazers might still accept a compromise fee to allow a takeover at Old Trafford.
After the latest round of offers, bidders are waiting to hear from Raine Group, the U.S. bank working with the Glazers, on what the next stage of the process will look like. Raine could invite a third round of offers or name a preferred bidder.
United staff have been told to expect "clarity" on the ownership situation by the end of the season.
Mark Ogden breaks down the decision that lies ahead for Harry Kane and his future with Tottenham.
PAPER GOSSIP (by Danny Lewis)
- New Bayern Munich manager Thomas Tuchel is pushing to sign Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane in the summer, according to Football Insider, which adds that the 29-year-old is now a transfer priority. Kane, who is Spurs and England's all-time top goal scorer, is entering the final year of his contract but the London side are likely to demand at least £100m for his transfer. Manchester United also remain interested.
- RB Leipzig midfielder Konrad Laimer's move to Bayern Munich as a free agent is close to being 100% complete, according to Sky Germany's Florian Plettenberg, who added that the 25-year-old has already completed the first part of his medical. Plettenberg also stated that Bayern are monitoring Gavi due to Barcelona's ongoing struggles to register the 18-year-old midfielder's new contract, although there are currently no negotiations and a deal is deemed unlikely.
- Paris Saint-Germain are hoping to take advantage of a clause in Napoli defender Kim Min-Jae's contract that would allow the 26-year-old to leave for €52.5m during the first two weeks of July, according to Foot Mercato. As well as bringing in Internazionale's Milan Skriniar as a free agent, PSG are looking at Sporting CP's Goncalo Inacio and Villarreal's Pau Torres.
- After Memphis Depay moved from Barcelona to Atletico Madrid in January, Mundo Deportivo are reporting that Yannick Carrasco could go the other way in the summer. Barca currently have the option to sign the 29-year-old winger for €15m, although will negotiate in an effort to bring that number down.
- USMNT full-back Sergino Dest will return to Barcelona in the summer to discuss his future, states Fabrizio Romano. This comes with AC Milan having long decided that they will not trigger the clause to make Dest's loan permanent, as he has only managed 635 minutes across all competitions this term.
- With James Milner's contract set to expire at the end of the season, Liverpool are yet to open contract talks despite Jurgen Klopp wanting the 37-year-old to stay for another year, reports The Athletic. The versatile midfielder is keen to continue playing and would ideally stay at Anfield, although the lack of movement opens up the possibility of a summer departure.