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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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Olise’s late strike gets Palace point against United

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Michael Olise has helped Crystal Palace get a point against Manchester United in their 1-1 draw at Selhurst Park Stadium on Wednesday night.

The midfielder’s late strike in extra-time, 91′, levelled the game against United, who had controlled the lead since the 43rd minute of the first half after Bruno Fernandes’ fine finish put the Red Devils ahead just before the break.

A relentless Olise scored from a free kick with a left-footed shot to the top right corner. The equalising goal saw United’s dream of replacing defending EPL champions City in the second place on the league table, fade away, as they remain third with 39 points, having played a game more than City.

Crystal Palace remains in 12th place with 23 points.

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Atletico Madrid head coach speaks on leaving Atletico Madrid

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Atletico Madrid head coach, Diego Simeone, has insisted that nobody has personally told him to leave the club.

Rumours have persisted that Simeone, 52, could be set to end this 11-year stay at Atletico Madrid at the end of the season.

However, the Argentine has now stated that no one at the club has asked him to quit the La Liga giants.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference ahead of Atletico Madrid’s Copa del Rey tie with Levante on Wednesday night, Simeone said when asked about reports suggesting he would leave the club at the end of the season: “No one has personally asked me to leave.”

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However, having already been eliminated from UEFA Champions League and sitting 13 points behind leaders Barcelona in the La Liga table, the Copa del Rey is Atletico Madrid’s last realistic opportunity for a trophy this season.

It has been a disappointing campaign for Simeone’s side, as they sit fourth in the league.

Simeone added, “The boys are enthusiastic to reverse this situation that we have experienced since the break and prior to the World Cup. It’s been a regular to a bad season. For me, there is growth after the break, hopefully, we will continue in that line.”

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EPL: Frank Lampard won’t run away – Shaun Wright-Phillips

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Former Chelsea player, Shaun Wright-Phillips has backed his former teammate, Frank Lampard to stay at Goodison Park and turn things around.

Wright-Phillips said his former team-mate does not run away from challenges such as Everton is facing now but would face them squarely

Lampard is in danger of being sacked any moment from now after yet another defeat on Friday.

Everton crashed out of the FA Cup on Friday after they were beaten 3-1 by Manchester United at Old Trafford

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Frank Lampard has now led Toffees to six defeats in their last seven matches and they have also crashed out of the Carabao Cup and are currently 18th in the Premier League.

“Frank Lampard has always been a player and a person that won’t run away from things not going well,” Wright-Phillips told the BBC.

“He is the type of person to try and solve it or try and make the situation a lot better…”

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