B/R Football Ranks Transfer Rumours: Neymar, Joao Felix, Kalidou Koulibaly

Dean Jones@DeanJonesBRFootball Insider at Bleacher ReportJune 21, 2019

Neymar (R) and Lionel Messi (L) of FC Barcelona warm up before the International Champions Cup (ICC)  match between Juventus FC and FC Barcelona at the Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, on July 22, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / DON EMMERT        (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)

The B/R Football Ranks transfer column is your guide to which transfer rumours are legit and which ones you can dismiss.

Our secret sources have top intelligence on the inside stories, and our informants have details on the delicate dealings of talks between top clubs and superstar names.

The aim here is to open up the truths inside this transfer window—and this week, we have delved inside five huge storylines that centre around both the Premier League and La Liga.


Nailed On: Rodri to Manchester City

Back in March, reports emerged that Pep Guardiola was targeting Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul Niguez as a top priority for this transfer window. It was never the case—Guardiola had already identified his team-mate Rodri as the perfect player to blossom into Fernandinho's long-term replacement. 

Very soon, he will have his man.

Manchester City met his £63 million release clause but have been waiting for the player to commit. They have now had the green light, and sources indicate that all that remains is for the paperwork to be formalised before an announcement.  


Looking Likely: Joao Felix to Atletico Madrid

LISBON, PORTUGAL - APRIL 22: Joao Felix of SL Benfica celebrates scoring SL Benfica first goal during the Liga NOS match between SL Benfica and CS Maritimo at Estadio da Luz on April 22, 2019 in Lisbon, Portugal. (Photo by Carlos Rodrigues/Getty Images)
Carlos Rodrigues/Getty Images

This story accelerated quickly this week, and what started as an exaggeration has developed into a genuine move. When the stories cropped up on Monday that Joao Felix was close to a move from Benfica, it was not true. There had been contact, but talks were not advancing fast.

Benfica's stern statement seemed to move things on, though. Within 24 hours, the terms of the deal were being ironed out, and it would now be a surprise if the transfer did not go through.

His contract is agreed and a medical has taken place, meaning the only obstacle is the transfer fee. Benfica have a clause of £107.3 million set in the player's contract, but there is negotiation over how that figure might be broken down into instalments.

It's a busy time for Atleti, who just announced Marcos Llorente's move from Real Madrid and plan to make Felix one of four further deals before the transfer window closes.


Don't Rule Out: Neymar to Barcelona 

This transfer is being driven by Neymar and his entourage. Since the end of last year, the player has begun to wonder whether there could be a path for him back to the Camp Nou, and talks are open over whether something can be arranged.

All the leaks have come from Neymar's end; Barca are merely dipping their toes in the water to discover what terms would be needed for it to actually happen.

Interestingly, Paris Saint-Germain are no longer as bothered about holding on to him as they once were. There is a feeling his heart is not in their project and that his attitude is not fitting their ambition.

There are so many hurdles to get over for this transfer to  happen—least of all that Barcelona are already far down the line with Antoine Griezmann and Atletico Madrid over a deal.

But never say never.


Big Doubts About: Declan Rice to Manchester United

West Ham United's Irish defender Declan Rice (L) vies with Manchester United's Brazilian midfielder Fred during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and West Ham United at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on A
PAUL ELLIS/Getty Images

First things first: Manchester United have huge interest in Declan Rice.

They turned their attention toward him once it became clear Lyon midfielder Tanguy Ndombele did not want to join them. United officials have touched base with West Ham United over an offer but were not met with a cheery response.

West Ham are adamant the player will not be leaving them yet. He has progressed through their youth academy to become a key member of the first team, and they see him as a future captain.

So while United want him, it will not happen unless they make an outrageous offer. There are plenty of other midfield options still being pursued, with Youri Tielemans and Sean Longstaff also high on the agenda. 


Never Happening: Kalidou Koulibaly to Manchester City

At the end of the season, we were given word that central defenders Matthijs de Ligt and Harry Maguire were the top targets for City, but the club was not going to be held to ransom over a transfer fee.

Ajax and Leicester City started to make it clear that neither player would be available for less than £70 million, so City backed off.

Now we hear rumours of an £85 million offer for Napoli's Kalidou Koulibaly—but everyone usually in the know at City says the deal does not seem to fit with this summer's policy.