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Frenkie de Jong saga enters pivotal hours as Chelsea swap transfer talks underway

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Frenkie de Jong is holding crunch talks with Barcelona as Chelsea look to complete a double swoop for the Dutch midfielder and striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, with Marcos Alonso going the opposite way.

It comes amid a protracted saga over De Jong with both Manchester United and the Blues pursuing a transfer. Red Devils boss Erik ten Hag recently instructed his side to remain patient on a deal after holding fresh talks with the player but the Blues are believed to be becoming increasingly confident of securing his signature.

While United have an initial fee in place with the Catalan club over a transfer, which would reunite De Jong with his former Ajax boss Ten Hag, no final agreement is yet in place for a move. With negotiations over that transfer now spanning three months, Chelsea have registered an interest in gazumping the Red Devils. Blues chiefs have made contact with Barca and held discussions with De Jong’s representatives and are now strong contenders to sign him from under United’s noses.

Unlike United, Chelsea are able to offer the Dutch midfielder Champions League football. It comes amid reports that De Jong’s contract situation has caused tension in Barca’s dressing room while the player was insulted by a group of the Blaugrana’s fans outside their training facilities on Wednesday, amid calls to lower his salary.

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One of the key reasons that the move has been so protracted is that De Jong is owed €17million in amortizations and back payments by Barca. That is related to the renewed contract he signed with the club in October 2020, under former president Josep Maria Bartomeu, who, alongside the rest of the board, resigned weeks later.

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De Jong was one of four players to pen new contracts at that time alongside Marc-Andre Ter Stegen, Gerard Pique and Clement Lenglet. Pique has this week accepted a fresh salary reduction with the club while midfielder Sergio Busquets is restructuring his contract. De Jong has rejected the club’s request to accept a wage cut, which AS claims has caused tension in the dressing room.

Have Your Say! Who will De Jong be playing for this season – Barcelona, Man Utd or Chelsea? Tell us what you think here.

Barcelona are reportedly considering taking legal action over De Jong’s contract after asking him to take a pay cut, while also examining the deals of Ter Stegen and Lenglet. The Catalan giants have been unable to register their five new signings and two contract renewals this summer with La Liga and have been told to reduce their financial outgoings.

This financial situation has also opened the door for Chelsea to land Aubameyang, in a sensational move that would come a little over six months after he moved to the Camp Nou from Arsenal. This year’s arrivals of Lewandowski, Ferran Torres and Raphinha have ramped up competition for attacking players.

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Aubameyang is close to Blues boss Thomas Tuchel after their time together at Borussia Dortmund and the two may be reunited at Stamford Bridge this summer as Chelsea look to replace Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner. Blues wing-back Alonso is set to join Barca following Marc Cucurella’s arrival at Stamford Bridge, pushing him further down the pecking order on the left side of the defence.

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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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