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Fulham ‘consider’ £50m Arsenal youngster to replace Mitrovic

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Fulham are reportedly interested in signing Folarin Balogun as an Aleksandar Mitrovic replacement.

Fulham are eyeing up an unwanted Arsenal player to replace Saudi Arabia-bound striker Aleksandar Mitrovic, according to reports.

Mitrovic – who has also been linked with a move to Tottenham – only played 23 minutes in pre-season as he pushes to join Serbia teammate Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and ex-Wolves captain Ruben Neves at Al-Hilal.

The Cottagers reportedly received a derisory €30million (£25.6million) bid from the Saudi Pro League outfit earlier this summer.

Fulham were not entertaining offers in that region after Mitrovic’s impressive 2022/23 campaign in which he scored 14 goals in 24 Premier League appearances.

The Serbian international is eager for the payday in the middle east with personal terms already agreed.

It all went a bit quiet in recent weeks but Al-Hilal appear to have reignited their interest with a “new proposal on the table”, as per Fabrizio Romano.

A deal now seems imminent. On Wednesday evening, Romano posted on Twitter: “Understand Al Hilal are finalising move to sign Aleksandar Mitrovic!

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“Deal now imminent, waiting for final approval as formal bid has been sent Mitrovic agreed terms with Al Hilal in July.

“He’s just waiting for Fulham green light to make it happen in the next hours.”

Fulham will need to recruit a new striker if Mitrovic departs, even with Raul Jimenez already through the door.

Replacing the former Newcastle United striker’s output in front of goal will be a huge task but Marco Silva reportedly believes Arsenal and United States youngster Folarin Balogun is the man to fill that void.

According to the Daily Mail, Silva is ‘considering’ Balogun, who scored 22 goals on loan at French club Stade Reims last season.

The Gunners want £50m for the 22-year-old and have received enquiries from Inter and AS Monaco in recent weeks, with RB Leipzig also linked at the start of the summer transfer window.

The report does not give much away but it is added that Fulham are also interested in signing Manchester United outcast Eric Bailly and Benfica’s 22-year-old central defender Morato.

Balogun is clearly not in Mikel Arteta’s plans as the Arsenal manager looks to add funds to his transfer kitty after the big-money signings of Declan Rice, Kai Havertz and Jurrien Timber.

The American striker was not included in the Gunners’ squad for their Premier League opener at home to Nottingham Forest on Saturday.

It is quite surprising to see Arteta not give Balogun much of an opportunity after such a successful season with Reims.

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European Leagues

Europa League leading scorers ahead of semi-final fixtures

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Marseille’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is the leading scorer in this season’s UEFA Europa League ahead of the semi-final fixtures in May

Marseille’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is the leading scorer in this season’s UEFA Europa League ahead of the semi-final fixtures in May.

The former Arsenal captain is ahead of Roma’s Romelu Lukaku and Brighton’s João Pedro on the goal chart.

The Gabonese has ten goals to his name so far.

UEFA Europa League top scorers ahead of semi-final fixtures:

10 goals – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Marseille)

7 goals – Romelu Lukaku (Roma)

6 goals – João Pedro (Brighton)

5 goals – Victor Boniface (Leverkusen), Michael Gregoritsch (Freiburg), Viktor Gyökeres (Sporting CP), Fotis Ioannidis (Panathinaikos), Juninho (Qarabağ), Mohammed Kudus (West Ham), Darwin Núñez (Liverpool), Mohamed Salah (Liverpool), Gianluca Scamacca (Atalanta) and Patrik Schick (Leverkusen).

Meanwhile, Marseille will face Atalanta in the semi-final stage, while Bayer Leverkusen will tackle AS Roma.

 

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European Leagues

Liverpool defeat Atalanta 1-0 but crash out of Europa League on aggregate

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Liverpool were knocked out of the Europa League by Atalanta with the Italian side reaching the semi-finals 3-1 on aggregate on Thursday.

Liverpool were knocked out of the Europa League by Atalanta with the Italian side reaching the semi-finals 3-1 on aggregate on Thursday.

Atalanta are in the last four of a European competition for the first time since 1988, despite Mohamed Salah’s early penalty giving Liverpool a 1-0 second leg win, thanks to their three-goal lead established in the quarter-final first leg at Anfield last week.

In what is becoming a sobering climax to the season, Liverpool have won just three of their last nine games in all competitions and again looked tired after already having played 52 games this campaign.

Jurgen Klopp may well only have the League Cup to show for his final season on Merseyside as the German’s team have been eliminated from the FA Cup and Europa League and trail Manchester City in the Premier League title race.

Gian Piero Gasperini called Thursday’s match probably the most important Atalanta had ever played and his players were hailed as heroes at the final whistle by a pulsating crowd at the Gewiss Stadium in Bergamo.

Fireworks were shot into the air from behind the stands while in the ground supporters bounced and roared at a huge victory for their team against giants of European football.

Atalanta last reached the semi-finals of a European competition in 1988 when they were knocked out of the old Cup Winners’ Cup by Mechelen.

Atalanta were then a Serie B team but the future is increasingly bright for a historically small, provincial club which has been punching well above its weight ever since Gasperini took charge in 2016.

Reaching the last four even trumps their run to 2020 Champions League quarter-finals, where they were desperately unlucky to lose to Paris Saint-Germain.

That run came at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, as Bergamo became the epicentre of a deadly global health crisis.

And Atalanta still have the opportunity to crown Gasperini’s reign with the club’s first major trophy since the Italian Cup in 1963.

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European Leagues

Bayer Leverkusen qualify for Europa League semis after edging West Ham

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Newly-crowned Bundesliga champions Bayer Leverkusen reached the Europa League semi-finals on Thursday and stretched their undefeated

Newly-crowned Bundesliga champions Bayer Leverkusen reached the Europa League semi-finals on Thursday and stretched their undefeated run in all competitions this season to 44 matches.

The German side drew 1-1 at West Ham in the second leg of their quarter-final tie and went through 3-1 on aggregate.

Michail Antonio put West Ham ahead on 13 minutes before Jeremie Frimpong levelled in the 89th minute for Xabi Alonso’s side.

Bayer Leverkusen will face Roma for a place in the final.

“I think we felt it in the first half, for me, it was a typical English crowd. They were pushing West Ham unbelievably. We were lucky in the first half if we’re honest,” Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Granit Xhaka told TNT Sports.

“It was a different phase in the second half, we controlled the game. We are happy we got through.

“We competed much more. If you see over 180 minutes, the better team go through.”

Last weekend, Bayer Leverkusen won the Bundesliga for the first time, ending Bayern Munich’s 11-year grip on the title.

They remain in contention for a treble trophy haul this season as they also face second-division Kaiserslautern in the German Cup final on May 25.

 

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