Report Claims Villarreal & Chelsea Are Set for Transfer Tug of War over Napoli Star Raul Albiol

Villarreal and Chelsea are reported to be set to battle it out for Napoli defender Raul Albiol – who’s contract is set to run out in June 2020 – after it was revealed that Spaniard is not part of Carlo Ancelotti’s plans for next season.

The defender has a release clause of just €6m, and is reported to have two offers to pick from. One is from Spanish side Villarreal, and one is from Premier League giants Chelsea where Albiol will likely link up with former Napoli manager Maurizio Sarri.

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Albiol signed for Napoli in 2013 from Real Madrid, and he was an integral part of Napoli’s squad last season – playing 39 games in all competitions.

The 32-year-old is reportedly almost certain to leave Napoli this summer, and  CalcioNapoli24 have stated that he has offers from Chelsea and Villarreal, which all but confirms his departure.

Despite his contract running out in the summer of 2020, Albiol is allowed  to leave I Partenopei as he is not part of new manager Carlo Ancelotti’s plans – who looks set to change up Napoli’s back-line.

Albiol isn’t the only defender linked with a move away from Napoli. Kalidou Koulibaly has been linked with a host of Premier League clubs, with Chelsea and Manchester United being rumoured to be interested in Senegalese defender.

It would seem like the Italian club is set for a busy transfer window, with there being constant rumours linking players to and away from the club.

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Jorginho is one of the many Napoli player’s linked away with a move, with  Premier League champions Manchester City reportedly set to sign the midfielder for £50m.

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Chelsea Youngster Set For World Cup Start as England Look to Secure Place in Last 16 With Panama Win

??Chelsea youngster Ruben Loftus-Cheek is in line to make his first World Cup start against Panama on Sunday, with Dele Alli expected to miss out due to a minor thigh strain. 

England ran out deserved 2-1 victors against Tunisia in their World Cup opener on Monday. Having missed a number of opportunities early on, Harry Kane prodded in the first goal following a scramble in the box. Kyle Walker’s lackadaisical defending then gifted the Tunisians a penalty in the 38th minute, which Ferjani Sassi duly dispatched. 

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Following a bright first half, the Three Lions looked ponderous after the break, but Kane was once again at the rescue deep into stoppage time, heading past Farouk Ben Mustapha from close range to spark scenes of jubilation both in Volgograd and back home. 

As per the ?Guardian?Spurs midfielder Alli, who appeared to pick up an injury towards the end of the first half, underwent a scan at a private hospital in St Petersburg on Tuesday, and the results revealed the 22-year-old had suffered minor damage to his quad muscle.

The England medical staff are set to monitor his condition over the coming days, but it’s unlikely Gareth Southgate will risk playing him against Panama in England’s second group game on Sunday. 

Instead, Chelsea youngster Loftus-Cheek could be handed his first World Cup start after impressing in his 20 minute cameo performance against the Eagles of Carthage. 

The Blues midfielder, who spent last season on loan at Crystal Palace, made his international debut against Germany in November and was voted as the Three Lions’ man of the match. 

Thereafter, his season was heavily disrupted by a number of injury setbacks, but he returned to the Eagles’ starting lineup against Bournemouth in April, proving his fitness just in time to be included in Southgate’s 23-man World Cup squad. 

Tunisia v England: Group G - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia

If Tunisia fail to beat Belgium on Saturday and England then defeat Panama the following day, Southgate’s side will have secured their place in the round of 16. The subsequent game against Belgium in Kaliningrad would then decide who finishes as the winners of Group G. 

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Chelsea Winger Accuses Belgium Teammate and Man Utd Forward of ‘Hiding’ in First Half of Panama Win

Belgium captain Eden Hazard had some constructive criticism for his international teammate and Premier League rival Romelu Lukaku following ?Les Diables Rouges’ victory over ?Panama in group G’s opening match on Monday afternoon.

The first-half saw Los Canaleros put up a sterling defensive effort and effective ‘gamesmanship’ (Panama ended the match with five yellow cards) as they frustrated Lukaku and the Red Devils to enter the break 0-0.

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Belgium came out for the second half with far more cutting edge as Dries Mertens’ spectacular volley broke the deadlock, before Lukaku added two goals of his own – the second following a sublime through ball from Hazard.

And Hazard revealed to reporters that he had some choice words for the Man Utd striker during the halftime break, saying via the ?Sun: “I told Romelu at half time that we needed him. He was hiding away on his own up front in the first half.

“Even though we have good players, it is not easy for us to play with a man short. Once he got involved in the game, as if by magic, he scored two goals. I hope he will understand.

“He did not have a bad game. He scored twice, so everyone is happy. It is good for his confidence. But I want him to try to get more involved in the game, especially during the first half – as we know what he can do.”

“We showed we were present. We scored goals, kept a clean sheet and everybody was able to play. Let’s see whether the best is yet to come.”

Hazard is clearing taking his captain’s duties seriously at this summers World Cup as Belgium look to reach their potential, considering the wealth of talent within their ranks.

He may also look to keep Lukaku on his toes after playing with him briefly at ?Chelsea, where the 25-year-old was sparsely used by then-manager Jose Mourinho – who, ironically enough, is Lukaku’s manager once more at ?Manchester United.

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Fans of the Red Devils and Les Diables Rouge will draw confidence from Hazard’s man-management of Lukaku, given how he responded in the second half, and will hope that it inspires the powerful forward to greater heights at the World Cup and next season in the ?Premier League.

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Chelsea in Crisis as Senior Players Grow ‘Increasingly Concerned’ Over Lack of Transfer Activity

?The summer doesn’t seem to be getting any easier for Chelsea after the latest gossip claims that senior players are ‘increasingly concerned’ over a lack of activity in the transfer market, leading to fears of a repeat of last summer and an unprepared squad in 2018/19.

Chelsea didn’t complete their first signing of last summer until 1 July and it was underwhelming when it happened, as back up goalkeeper Willy Caballero joined as a free agent.

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Then, rather than strengthening, it seemed to be a case of one in/in out as the arrivals of Alvaro Morata, who was bought after Manchester United hijacked Romelu Lukaku’s expected return to west London, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Antonio Rudiger and Danny Drinkwater were little more than straight replacements for the departures of Diego Costa, Nemanja Matic and John Terry.

Reports of genuine substance regarding any possible Chelsea incomings have been noticeably absent from the typical media buzz since the end of the season.

Given that Chelsea finished fifth in the Premier League in 2017/18, serious strengthening is needed ahead of next season. But a report from the Evening Standard cites an ‘insider’ to suggest that a lack of solid recruitment, while not improving the current squad, could have the added effect of driving star duo Eden Hazard and Thibaut Courtois out as they grow tired of the perceived lack of ambition.

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Hazard, who like Courtois is only under contract until 2020 and has held off on signing an extension despite Chelsea’s best efforts to convince him, publicly warned just this week that he will not be sticking around if things do not get any better.

“I do not want to stay [at Chelsea] if we are less good. Real Madrid can interest me, everyone knows that…if they want to buy me they know what they have to do,” he said. “If I stay [at Chelsea], it will be because the team will be better than the season we have just experienced.”

Courtois has also been heavily linked with Real for some time and has been earmarked as an alternative to primary Bernabeu goalkeeper target Alisson Becker if a deal with Roma fails.

Even N’Golo Kante has been rumoured to be delaying a decision on his future until the situation at Chelsea become clearer, with Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain both linked.

While main rivals Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal have all already confirmed or are close to confirming new signings, Chelsea’s lack of summer recruitment is hardly surprising given how the managerial situation remains in limbo.

Despite suggestions that a deal has finally been reached for Maurizio Sarri to take control, Antonio Conte still remains in charge until the club can come to an agreement over sacking the incumbent, who has long maintained that he has no intention of resigning and walking away.

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It is also worth noting that Chelsea are yet to replace Michael Emenalo, who left his role as technical director and was a key part of the transfer process back in November. 

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Chelsea Target Maurizio Sarri Eager to Sign Napoli Striker If He’s Appointed as Blues Boss

Italian manager Maurizio Sarri will launch a bid to bring Belgium international Dries Mertens to Stamford Bridge this summer if he is appointed as Antonio Conte’s successor at Chelsea, according to reports.

?The managerial merry-go-round in west London appears to be drawing to a close ahead of the new season, with Sarri – who is still under contract at ?Serie A outfit S.S.C. Napoli – expected to be brought in by the Blues as early as this week.

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Chelsea have been quiet in the transfer market so far as they look to resolve the appointment of their new manager, but the Telegraph report that top target Sarri has already informed the club’s hierarchy that he wants Napoli striker Mertens to join him at Stamford Bridge next season.

It is also suggested that Chelsea officials are interested in bringing OGC Nice midfielder Jean Michaël Seri to the club this summer, a move which has likely already been run past their proposed manager Sarri.

Mertens’ rise to stardom in European football has largely been down to Sarri at the Stadio San Paolo. The 31-year-old was somewhat of a journeyman before settling in Naples, playing for five different clubs in Belgium and Holland before joining the Ciucciarelli in 2013.

Mertens had spent the majority of his career deployed as a winger but Sarri implemented the forward as Napoli’s regular striker in 2016, with the Belgium international going on to be directly involved in 83 goals over the last two season.

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Mertens is currently away on international duty at the World Cup, and the forward played a crucial part in Belgium’s 3-0 win over Panama on Monday. The Napoli star scored an incredible volley to break the deadlock at the start of the second half, with Manchester United’s Romelu Lukaku notching a brace late on to round off the scoring.

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