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Arsenal interested in Fiorentina’s Michael Kayode

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The 2004-born defender was a product of the Juventus youth academy and played for fourth-tier side Gozzano before joining La Viola in 2021, and he is starting to make a name for himself at senior level.

After amassing six goals and four assists in 71 games for Fiorentina’s Primavera side, Kayode made his senior debut as a starter on the opening day of the 2023-24 Serie A season, playing 81 minutes in a 4-1 thumping of Genoa.

Kayode had previously made the bench for the Italian giants in the 2022-23 season, and he has made another three top-flight appearances for La Viola, registering an assist in a 3-0 win over Cagliari on Monday.

In addition, the teenager earned his first continental start in Fiorentina’s Europa Conference League opener with Genk last month, playing the full 90 in a 2-2 stalemate, and he is expected to nail down a place in the first XI as Dodo recovers from a severe ACL injury.

Standing at 5ft 10in tall, Kayode was a key player for Italy’s Under-19s during their run to European Championship glory this summer, scoring the only goal in the final against Portugal.

The right-back – who has also been deployed as a left and right-winger – has since earned his first call-up to the Azzurri’s Under-21s, and his exploits over the past few months have inevitably attracted attention from some of Europe’s leading clubs.

According to Calciomercato, Arsenal have sent scouts to Italy to monitor Kayode’s progress, and they have had their eye on the defender since his European Championship-winning contributions over the summer.

Kayode is only contracted to Fiorentina until the summer of 2025, although his terms include a 12-month extension option, and the report adds that the Europa Conference League finalists are determined to tie him down to a new long-term deal.

La Viola supposedly want to extend his stay in Serie A until 2027 or 2028, but Arsenal remain attentive to the situation and will be ready to pounce if talks between Kayode and Fiorentina lead to nowhere.

Juventus could also try to bring Kayode back to Turin, as the Bianconeri allegedly regret releasing the defender from their academy, having believed that he would not make it to the top level.

Arsenal strengthened their defensive ranks over the summer with the acquisition of Jurrien Timber from Ajax, but the Dutchman sustained an ACL injury on his Premier League debut and will miss most – if not all of – the rest of the season.

Nevertheless, Ben White, Takehiro Tomiyasu and Cedric Soares all represent out-and-out right-back options for Mikel Arteta, while Thomas Partey has also filled in on that side when needed.

The Gunners are believed to have begun contract talks with White and are confident of reaching an agreement with the Englishman, but Cedric has made just one substitute appearance in the EFL Cup this season and is expected to leave when his deal runs out in 2024.

Arsenal sit third in the Premier League table and can leapfrog current leaders Manchester City should they overcome the champions on Sunday before the international break.

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Transfers

Sesko to sign new deal with RB Leipzig

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RB Leipzig striker Benjamin Sesko is set to sign a new deal with the Bundesliga side despite reported interest from a number of Premier

RB Leipzig striker Benjamin Sesko is set to sign a new deal with the Bundesliga side despite reported interest from a number of Premier League clubs, BBC Sport understands.

The 21-year-old had been linked with a move to Arsenal this summer, as well as Chelsea and Manchester United.

Sesko scored 14 goals in 31 games during his first Bundesliga season and is part of the Slovenia squad for Euro 2024, where his country will face England, Denmark and Serbia.

Having agreed to join Leipzig in the summer of 2022, Sesko remained at Red Bull Salzburg for the following season before arriving in Germany on a five-year contract that contained a release clause of around £55m.

But amid interest from elsewhere, he will now sign an improved deal with a club who finished fourth in the Bundesliga last season.

 

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Tottenham to break bank for Eberechi Eze ‘release clause’ emerges

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Eberechi Eze's hefty Crystal Palace release clause has come to light, giving Tottenham food for thought as they reportedly weigh up a summer

Eberechi Eze’s hefty Crystal Palace release clause has come to light, giving Tottenham food for thought as they reportedly weigh up a summer swoop. Eze’s stellar form at club level has earned him a spot in the squad Gareth Southgate selected to represent England at Euro 2024.

The 25-year-old made only his third senior international appearance in Monday’s 3-0 win over Bosnia and Herzegovina, showcasing his dazzling dribbling ability from the left-hand side and breezing past players with ease.

That game, coupled with an 11-goal season at Palace, has seen him included in Southgate’s final 26-man squad while the likes of Jack Grealish, James Maddison and Marcus Rashford were left out.

Spurs are already believed to be admirers of Eze but a positive Euro 2024 will undoubtedly draw even more eyes towards the wide man. Any interested party will be forced to fork out a sizable fee.

According to The Daily Mail, the Palace contract Eze signed last November includes a £60million release clause, but any potential buyer will also need to commit to approximately £8m in add-ons, bringing the total package to a dizzying £68m.

Palace face a fight to keep both of their most influential playmakers, with Eze and Michael Olise attracting interest from top Premier League sides. It remains to be seen whether suitors for either player are prepared to cough up the necessary cash.

The Three Lions are among the favourites to win this summer’s Euro 2024 tournament and you can get your hands on the brand new Nike home and away kits before the first whistle.

Spurs are already flush with options out wide but Ange Postecoglou may be given license to sign a player of Eze’s calibre if Richarlison is sold this summer. The Brazilian is reportedly the subject of serious interest from the Saudi Pro League but he played down speculation surrounding a move last month, insisting that he expects to remain in the Premier League next campaign.

As the 2023/24 season drew to a close, Postecoglou made it clear that another squad reshuffle would be required this summer due to the differences in playing style between him and his predecessor, Antonio Conte.

 

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Lukaku: Why I was afraid to join Al-Hilal

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Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku rejected a transfer to Al-Hilal last summer but has revealed that he is now ready to make the

Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku rejected a transfer to Al-Hilal last summer but has revealed that he is now ready to make the move to Saudi Arabia.

After a successful loan stint at Inter Milan, Lukaku was heavily linked with a move to Saudi Arabia, with the Pro League looking to add to their evolving collection of superstars.

Al-Hilal, who had already signed names like Neymar Jr., Ruben Neves, and Kalidou Koulibaly among others, were the front runners for the Belgian. However, the striker decided to make the loan move to Roma instead, and he has explained why he rejected the move to the Middle East.

Speaking to Belgian broadcaster VTM, Lukaku said: “Saudi Arabia wouldn’t stop me. The level will only increase to a much higher level than many people think. More and more football players will tend to play there, also because of how the fans there experience football. The infrastructure still needs to be improved, but all major European clubs know, ‘Saudi Arabia is coming’. You already see that in boxing, golf, Formula 1…”

Speaking of his proposed move to Al-Hilal last summer, he added: “That was really intense at the time. For two weeks. For two days in a row I thought, ‘Yes, I’m going’, ‘No, I’m not going’.

“Because everyone only went to Saudi Arabia after I could sign there, I was scared for a moment.”

After another successful loan spell, Lukaku will return to Chelsea but is unlikely to be a part of Enzo Maresca’s plans for his debut campaign at Stamford Bridge. As per reports, Lukaku will be available for £37 million ($47.3m) for any club to secure his services and it is possible that the Saudi Pro League might look to make a move for the Belgian, who is also a target for Paulo Fonseca at AC Milan.

The striker will now be focused on Belgium’s Euro 2024 campaign as they will look to gain some momentum heading towards the knockout stages. They will start their campaign with a clash against Slovakia on June 17.

 

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