Paper Gossip: Chelsea Chase Cesc Fabregas on the Cheap, Griezmann to PSG?
This time next week the World Cup will be two days old, but for now transfer stories remain a key part of every newspaper's daily output.
The main characters involved have not really changed in recent days, however, with Saturday's stories revolving around many of the usual suspects—Cesc Fabregas, Antoine Griezmann and Loic Remy.
Click on for the latest developments according to the papers.
Premier League Clubs Trailing PSG in Race for Antoine Griezmann
It looks like it could be a big summer for Antoine Griezmann. With Franck Ribery ruled out of the World Cup, it looks very likely the Real Sociedad winger could start for France in Brazil, while a big-money move could be on the horizon in his club career.
The Daily Star reports that Paris Saint-Germain have jumped ahead of Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United in the race for the 23-year-old after the club were disappointed in their initial pursuit of Chelsea's Eden Hazard.
Nick Lustig writes:
Griezmann, who is rated at £25m, has not hidden his desire to move one of Europe's elite clubs and, according to reports in Spain, Sociedad are willing to sanction a quick sale with PSG frontrunners to clinch his signature.
Sociedad are resigned to losing Griezmann, but want to secure their full asking price and believe they can before the World Cup.
PSG manager Laurent Blanc has given up hope of luring No.1 target Eden Hazard to the Parc des Princes and views Griezmann as a cheaper alternative.
The French champions were fined a whopping £50m by UEFA for breaching Financial Fair Play rules and, despite club president Nasser Al-Khelaifi assuring supporters it would not prevent them pursuing their top targets, are expected to balance the books this summer.
Chelsea Confident of Signing Cesc Fabregas for Less Than £30m
The Times (subscription required) is reporting that Chelsea are confident they will have a deal in place to sign Cesc Fabregas from Barcelona before Spain's World Cup opener against Netherlands on June 13.
According to the paper, the Blues have lodged an initial bid of less than £27m but are confident of getting a deal done for around that sum as Barcelona look to raise the funds to sign their main target, Atletico Madrid's Koke.
Matt Hughes writes:
Chelsea are confident of securing Fabregas for a lower fee however, as they are aware that Barcelona need the money to fund the purchase of Koke, who had been their primary target.
The Atletico Madrid midfielder has made it clear he wants to stay in Spain however, which has led Chelsea towards Fabregas. They have also considered making bids for Paul Pogba, of Juventus, and Tottenham Hotspur’s Paulinho, but have concluded that Fabregas will be a more straightforward deal to complete.
Chelsea have yet to discuss personal terms with Fabregas, but will have no problem improving his existing £100,000-a-week wages and his agent Darren Dein is due to fly to Brazil next week for talks about his client’s future. Spain begin their World Cup defence with a repeat of the 2010 final against Holland next Friday, and a deal to take Fabregas to Chelsea could be in place before the start of the tournament.
Manchester United, Manchester City and Arsenal had previously been linked with Fabregas, but it appears the path has cleared for Chelsea to secure the midfielder's signature.
Liverpool Closing in on Xherdan Shaqiri Deal
Liverpool are close to finally completing a deal for Bayern Munich attacker Xherdan Shaqiri, claims the Daily Star.
Nick Lustig reports:
Shaqiri admitted last month he was ready to quit Bayern after failing to establish himself as a first-team regular since the arrival of Pep Guardiola as manager last summer.
Liverpool, as exclusively revealed by Starsport, lodged a £15m bid for Shaqiri last week with manager Brendan Rodgers intent on bolstering his squad ahead of a return to the Champions League next season.
And according to reports in Shaqiri's native Switzerland, Liverpool are close to clinching his signature.
Additionally, the paper reports Liverpool hope to complete deals for Adam Lallana and Alberto Moreno as soon as possible.
Romelu Lukaku Tells Chelsea He Wants out in Wake of Diego Costa Signing
Romelu Lukaku has told Chelsea he wants to leave the club ahead of Diego Costa's impending signing.
The Belgian, who spent last season on loan at Everton, does not want to fight for his place at Stamford Bridge—having grown tired with the club's tendency to sign a new striker every summer.
According to the Daily Mail, Lukaku said:
I remember me coming into the dressing room last year and seeing Samuel Eto'o and Demba Ba and going: 'Whoah! What's happening here?'
But it's no problem. Many clubs are interested in me. At this stage I have to look to myself. I have to play a good World Cup.
That's very interesting for all the players looking for a transfer. And I must be one of them. Chelsea know my point of view.
No news yet on who might sign the Belgian, but Atletico Madrid, Tottenham and Everton have all been credited with an initial interest.
Bits and Pieces: Ramires Interests Real Madrid, Nasri Set for New Deal
The Sun (subscription required) reports that Real Madrid are ready to lodge a £25m bid for Chelsea midfielder Ramires.
Sunderland have lodged a bid for Swansea defender Ashley Williams, according to Sky Sports.
The Daily Mail claims that Aston Villa have joined the race for Rio Ferdinand's free agent signature.
Loic Remy is desperate to join Arsenal despite other interest, says the Daily Mirror.
West Ham and Tottenham are competing for the Napoli's Blerim Dzemaili, reckons TalkSPORT.
Marseille are ready to offer Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa an escape route from Newcastle, according to the Newcastle Chronicle.
The Guardian reports that Samir Nasri is close to signing a new five-year contract with Manchester City.