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Chelsea ready to sign Frenkie de Jong and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang if Barcelona allow both players to leave

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Chelsea are ready to sign Frenkie de Jong and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang if Barcelona allow both players to leave this month.

Manchester United agreed a £72m fee to sign De Jong last month but he is owed £17m in deferred wages and will not agree to leave until he is paid. Barcelona want him to stay but only if he agrees to take a significant pay cut and accept a £6m settlement for his deferred wages.

Chelsea are willing to match United’s £72m offer and unlike United, they can offer De Jong Champions League football.

Aubameyang moved to Barcelona on a free transfer from Arsenal in January. He has three years left on his contract. Although Thomas Tuchel has been reluctant to talk about Aubameyang in public he is keen to work again with a player who scored 79 goals for him in two seasons at Borussia Dortmund.

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Tuchel’s priority is to sign a centre-back and a forward this month and Chelsea are increasingly confident that they can agree a deal to sign Leicester defender Wesley Fofana and are preparing a third offer. Leicester do not want to sell Fofana but they would find it difficult to turn down an offer close to £80m.

Meanwhile Inter Milan are asking Chelsea to pay £12m for 19-year-old midfielder Cesare Casadei – even though he has not yet played for their first team.

Chelsea have a twin-track approach of buying players for now and the future this summer. Last week they signed 18-year-old midfielder Carney Chukwuemeka from Aston Villa in a £20m deal. They have also signed 18-year-old goalkeeper Gabriel Slonina from Chicago Fire and 18-year-old winger Omari Hutchinson from Arsenal.

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Is Aubameyang really a disruptive character?

Sky Sports News senior reporter Melissa Reddy:

“A lot of people who know Aubameyang would say they have nothing negative to say about how he conducts himself, just that he can be a little bit tardy, not that he’s disruptive on purpose or tries to bend the rules.

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“It’s just part of his character, he’s a bit flamboyant. And he was actually quite popular in the dressing room.

“I understand Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta was trying to create a culture of excellence and he couldn’t have somebody – especially the captain and a senior player at the club – consistently flouting the rules.

“So he had to make a stand there and the direction he wanted to move in was to go with a younger squad.

“Thomas Tuchel has said in the past he’s got nothing but happy memories of the player and that he enjoyed their time together.

“Jurgen Klopp has also called him a lovely player, warm-hearted and a great guy.

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“It makes sense for Chelsea.”

Manchester United, meanwhile, have continued to work on all midfield options as a deal for De Jong has been a complicated one to do.

United have not given up on de Jong and there is still a belief there is a deal to be done. Central midfield has been a priority position all summer for United, who have a broad agreement in principle for the signing of Juventus midfielder Adrien Rabiot. Signing both Rabiot and De Jong has not been ruled out.

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Former NFL star OJ Simpson dies

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OJ Simpson, the former American football star turned actor who was controversially cleared of double murder, has died aged 76.

Simpson died of cancer on Wednesday “surrounded by his children and grandchildren”, a family statement read.

San Francisco-born Orenthal James Simpson rose to fame in college before playing in the NFL.

In 1995, he was acquitted of the murder of his former wife Nicole Brown and her friend in a trial that gripped America.

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In 2008, he was sentenced to 33 years’ imprisonment on unrelated charges of armed robbery. He was released in 2017.

In 1994, Simpson was arrested as a suspect in the murder of his ex-wife Nicole Brown and her friend Ron Goldman. The pair were found stabbed to death outside Ms Brown’s home in Los Angeles. Simpson became an immediate person of interest in the case.

On the day he was due to turn himself in, he fled in a white Ford Bronco with a former teammate, and led the police on a slow-speed chase through the Los Angeles area.

That chase engrossed audiences in the United States and abroad as it was broadcast live on “rolling” 24-hour news channels still in their relative infancy.

In the ensuing court case, dubbed the “trial of the century” by US media, prosecutors argued Simpson had killed Brown in a jealous fury. Evidence included blood, hair and fibre tests linking Simpson to the murders.

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The defence argued Simpson was framed by police who were motivated by racism.

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In one of the trial’s most memorable moments, prosecutors asked Simpson to put on a pair of blood-stained gloves allegedly found at the scene of the murder, but Simpson struggled to fit his hands into them. It led to one of Simpson’s lawyers, Johnnie Cochrane, telling the jury in his closing arguments: “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.”

The jury ultimately sided with Simpson, who had declared he was “absolutely 100% not guilty”. The acquittal proved hugely controversial.

The families of Ms Smith and Mr Goldman did not give up – they pursued a civil case against Simpson in 1997 and a jury found Simpson liable for the two deaths. He was ordered to pay $33.5m (£25.8m) in damages to their families.

In 2006, Simpson sold a book manuscript, titled “If I Did It”, and a prospective TV interview, giving a “hypothetical” account of the murders he had always strenuously denied.

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Public objections ended both projects, but Mr Goldman’s family secured the book rights, added material imputing guilt to Simpson and had it published.

Simpson’s final disgrace came in 2008, when he was convicted of armed robbery for breaking into a Las Vegas hotel room with four accomplices, holding two sports memorabilia dealers at gunpoint and stealing items related to his NFL career.

He was sentenced to 33 years in jail, but was granted parole after serving the minimum of nine years.

Before his legal problems, Simpson was well-liked, known as an athlete, actor and the face of several major companies.

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He was a college football star at University of Southern California before signing with the Buffalo Bills in 1969, where he played until 1977.

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He became one of the greatest ball carriers in NFL history. In 1973, he was the first NFL player to “rush” – running to advance the ball for his team – more than 2,000 yards in a season.

He retired in 1979 to concentrate on a career in film and television. His credits include roles in the Towering Inferno, Capricorn One and the Naked Gun series.

Broadcaster Bob Costas, who worked with Simpson on NBC’s American football coverage, said that while he was not the first African American star, “he was the first to do it in a big way, an African American who broke through”.

The Heisman Trophy organization, which names college football’s player of the season, said in a tweet that it mourned the 1968 winner and extended sympathies to his family.

In a statement, the Pro Football Hall of Fame outlined Simpson’s achievements as an NFL player, and said records of those contributions would be preserved in its archive.

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Fred Goldman, Ronald’s father, described Simpson’s death as “no great loss”.

“The only thing I have to say is it’s just further reminder of Ron being gone all these years,” he told the NBC News network. “It’s no great loss to the world. It’s a further reminder of Ron’s being gone.”

Caitlyn Jenner, once part of Simpson’s social circle, echoed Goldman, posting two words on Twitter/X: “Good riddance.”

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PSG to pay huge buyout fee for Osimhen

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Both top French and Italian media outlets have reported that PSG is ready to pay the massive buyout fee set by Napoli for Victor Osimhen.

The fee is believed to be around €130 million.

Various publications from both France and Italy said Osimhen, whose valuation by Transfermarkt is put at €110 million, is the No 1 target for PSG to replace Kylian Mbappe.

Mbappe is widely expected to finally make his way to Real Madrid after many months of speculations.

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By meeting the buyout fee for Osimhen, PSG will therefore not have to negotiate with Napoli.

Osimhen has also been linked to several top Premier League clubs, but they would rather prefer to pay far less than the striker’s buyout fee.

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Liverpool back to top after thrashing Sheffield United

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Liverpool are back to the top of the English Premier League after thrashing Sheffield United 3-1 at the Anfield Stadium in London.

Liverpool took the lead in the 17th minute of the match. Keeper Ivo Grbic totally miss-kicked his clearance straight to Darwin Nunez, who rifled the ball back into the net from close range.

In the 58th minute, Conor Bradley scored an unlucky own goal. He deflects a shot into his own net to make it 1-1.

In the 76th minute, Liverpool made it 2-1. The ball rebounded and arrived at the feet of Alexis Mac Allister just outside the box. He fired a brilliant shot into the top right corner. His attempt was beyond the reach of Ivo Grbic.

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In the 90th minute, Liverpool made it 3-1. Andrew Robertson showcased his brilliant technique and produced a beautiful lofted cross into the box. Cody Gakpo got onto the scoresheet by heading it low inside the right post.

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