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Alonso extends Bayer Leverkusen contracts

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Xabi Alonso extended his contract as coach of German club Bayer Leverkusen through to 2026 on Friday after a strong first season led to speculation linking him with some of Europe’s top teams.

Alonso, who won the Champions League as a player with Liverpool and Real Madrid and the World Cup with Spain, took over Leverkusen in October when it was second-to-last in the Bundesliga. The team finished the season in sixth and reached the semifinals of the Europa League.

“I see last season as a positive. But I want more, exactly as the club does. We are now working on that with ambition,” Alonso said in a statement.

His contract had previously been due to run out at the end of the 2023-24 season. The Leverkusen job is Alonso’s first as coach of a senior team after stints in Spain with Real Sociedad’s B-team and as a Real Madrid youth coach.

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Transfers

Osimhen wants to join Chelsea – Mikel

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Former midfielder John Obi Mikel suggested that Napoli star Victor Osimhen ‘wants to come to Chelsea’ ahead of the summer transfer window.

The 25-year-old Nigerian striker is widely expected to leave the Partenopei at the end of the season, having recently told the press that he’s ‘already decided’ his next step. He penned a new contract with Napoli in December that contains a release clause in the region of €120-130m.

Osimhen has been widely linked with a move to the Premier League in the summer, with a long list of possible suitors including Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United.

Speaking at the Web Summit Qatar via Calciomercato.com, Mikel first discussed the links between Osimhen and Chelsea.

“I think there is genuine interest on both sides. I’m convinced that Victor wants to come to Chelsea, obviously he wants to follow in my footsteps and the Nigerian players who played for Chelsea, such as Victor Moses, Celestine Babayaro…”

Finally, Obi Mikel discussed the other clubs interested in signing Osimhen this summer.

“He also has many clubs interested in him, such as PSG, Manchester United, but I am pushing, sending him messages, trying to make sure that there is only one club in his mind: the Blues!”

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Transfers

INEOS ‘surprised’ Man Utd didn’t consider signing Tino Livramento

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Sir Jim Ratcliffe recently completed his purchase of a 28% stake in the club and is busy working on internal restructuring, with Manchester City’s Omar Berrada appointed as their new chief executive starting this summer and Newcastle’s Dan Ashworth closing in on being confirmed as the sporting director.

INEOS and Ratcliffe are also beginning to identify positions and profiles for the summer transfer window – 90min recently reported they are looking to sign a striker, centre-back and versatile full-back, while a midfielder will also be on their radar with Michael Olise already an approved target. Even a defensive midfielder could arrive if Casemiro departs, with interest coming from Saudi Arabia.

Man Utd’s need to bring in a quality option at full-back has been evident for a while. Sources have told 90min that INEOS are admirers of Livramento and there have questions why he was not considered last summer. Livramento left Southampton following their relegation from the Premier League and joined Newcastle for an initial £32m fee plus a further £8m in add-ons.

The need for a left-back is perhaps more pressing for Man Utd, but Livramento can switch from the right if needed. He has filled in at left-back for Newcastle and proven to be one of their most promising players across an indifferent campaign thus far and has also put his injury problems behind him, missing out on only one Premier League matchday squad this season, and this was due to illness.

Man Utd may not have viewed an approach for Livramento as within their financial means, but INEOS believe transfers for young profiles like him should be viewed as investments not expenses, so it would have been worth paying more for a youthful player with great ability. The 21-year-old’s wages would also have been lower compared to Man Utd’s median, while his price tag would stand to grow with good performances.

 

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Transfers

Cheick Doucouré extends contract

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Crystal Palace can just concentrate on finishing the campaign as high as possible before a decent summer holiday and total reset.

They’ll be doing so in the knowledge that powerhouse midfielder, Cheick Doucoure will remain at the club for another five years, having signed a new deal with the club according to Fabrizio Romano.

Cheick Doucouré has signed a new long-term contract with Crystal Palace until June 2029.

Huge one for #CPFC after Doucouré was on many club’ list last summer including Liverpool.

“I’m looking forward to getting back on the pitch as quickly as possible”, Cheick says.

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