Tottenham and Celtic are reportedly going head-to-head for the signature of Nice winger Deji Sotona, who looks set for a move back to the Premier League.
The Daily Telegraph reports that Sotona is on his way back to England, having left Manchester United back in 2020. The pacy attacker quit Old Trafford to join Nice on a free transfer, having featured regularly for United’s youth teams.
The 19-year-old, who hails from Ireland, showed some real potential at Old Trafford before moving on.
He scored four goals and added two assists in 16 Under-18s Premier League outings for the Red Devils before his exit.
His claim to fame during his time at Manchester was being recorded as the club’s fastest player, ahead of Marcus Rashford.
Chelsea reportedly tried to complete a deal for Sotona last summer and remain keen. However, the report from Telegraph states that both Spurs and Celtic are looking to complete a transfer.
Sotona has yet to make a first-team appearance for Nice. However, it appears that his reputation has got a number of clubs chasing his signature.
The report does not state what sort of a fee Sotona will command, although it’s likely to be minimal.
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Tottenham star set for January exit
Meanwhile, a Tottenham exit in the January transfer window looks to hold serious potential, with Fabio Paratici soon set to face a crunch call on the player’s future.
Next month offers Antonio Conte the first chance to make his impression on the Spurs squad. The new era for the club should truly start to take shape, with arrivals and departures expected.
The Italian manager has had plenty of opportunity to assess his current crop of players. One who does not seem to figure in his plans is Steven Bergwijn.
The winger has played just 15 minutes since Conte’s arrival in north London in early November.
Understandably so, Bergwijn, 23, wants more game time than that. As such, Ajax have been heavily linked with a move for him.
And those links are only growing stronger. The latest report on the situation comes from Algemeen Dagblad (via Soccer News), who claim he is one of their targets for the winter.
The Tottenham board, led by Paratici, is said to have told the Eredivisie side to wait for discussions until after the festive period earlier this month.
Paratici has tough call to make
The clock is therefore ticking for the director of football to decide whether to grant Bergwijn his wish or keep him for Conte’s disposal.
Spurs now have just three matches remaining in 2021. After those it seems clear that Ajax will be eagerly knocking at the door.
Reports from Bergwijn’s homeland indicate the Dutch club would like a six-month loan deal before having to buying him next summer.
All Bergwijn is conscious of is the World Cup at the end of 2022. He has been involved with Netherlands this season despite his lack of appearances.
More action with Ajax will further his case for a place in the tournament squad. He missed out on Euro 2020, and will be desperate to avoid that fate again.
READ MORE: Tottenham lock horns with Mourinho over bargain midfield transfer target
Agent reveals Arsenal interest in Gabriel Martinelli-style ace, with transfer labelled ‘ideal’
An agent has revealed Arsenal are hoping to sign a young star who is drawing comparisons with Gabriel Martinelli.
20-year-old Martinelli has been impressive over the last couple of months, hitting four goals and two assists in his last eight Premier League outings. That includes two strikes in December’s 4-1 victory over injury-hit Leeds United.
Following the 2-0 win against West Ham earlier in the season, during which Martinelli got on the scoresheet, Arsenal legend Martin Keown said: “In view of the backdrop, the manager taking the captaincy away from [Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang, the team showed it didn’t affect them at all in their performance.
“The youngsters, again, leading from the front. Martinelli, a player I just love watching. I just believe in what he does. The pace for that goal was outstanding.”
The skilful Brazilian is forming a deadly attacking partnership with the likes of Emile Smith Rowe, Bukayo Saka and Alexandre Lacazette. Their form means Aubameyang faces a fight to get back into the team upon his return.
The Gunners are looking to sort out a Martinelli repeat by signing a wonderkid with similar attributes.
The man in question is Atletico Mineiro’s teenage winger Savio. During a recent interview, the starlet’s agent confirmed Arsenal were keeping tabs on him.
Arsenal offer yet to arrive, says agent
“There are these surveys from Red Bull Bragantino and Arsenal, but nothing official. No offer has arrived for Savio,” representative Juliano Rodrigues said (via HITC).
The Brazil U18 international has admirers in his home country but is struggling to get into the Atletico Mineiro team.
Rodrigues went on to explain how a permanent exit is the ‘ideal’ solution.
“He needs to play to evolve. Atletico don’t play him. So the best thing would be a transfer, with Atletico getting part of the rights for a future sale (a sell-on clause).
“This way, Savio will be able to take off in his career, as he is one of the best players of his age in Brazilian football.
“Going out on loan now is not interesting. The ideal (thing) is to leave permanently.”
Savio has exceptional pace and great dribbling ability, hence the comparisons with Martinelli.
D’Margio Wright-Phillips the latest in a soccer dynasty to rival the Maldinis, Alonsos and Kluiverts
Aubameyang provides health update
Meanwhile, Aubameyang has given a promising update on his health.
The goalscorer contracted Covid earlier in the month and was sent home from the Africa Cup of Nations due to ‘heart lesions’.
But Aubameyang is likely to make a full recovery. He posted the following statement on social media: “I came back to London to do some additional checks, and I’m very happy to say that my heart is absolutely fine and I’m completely healthy!!
“Really appreciate all the messages over the last few days and I’m already back at it.”
Aubameyang’s future at the Emirates is still up for debate, however.
According to CBS Sports, Saudi Arabian outfit Al Nassr are hoping to take him on loan for the rest of the season. They want to include an option to buy worth €8million (£6.6m) which will become active in the summer.
The Gunners are yet to respond to that offer. But they could also face bids from several other teams.
Sky Sports journalist Dharmesh Sheth reveals a number of European clubs are aiming to secure Aubameyang’s signature. AC Milan, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain, Marseille and Sevilla are among them.
READ MORE: Arsenal swiftly make serious move for replacement after Newcastle approach fringe player
Ousmane Dembele hits back at ‘blackmail’ as forward contests Barcelona version of events
Ousmane Dembele has issued a powerful response after Barcelona confirmed they are expecting to sell him before the end of the month.
Dembele’s future has been a hot topic for Barcelona for a number of months. He is out of contract at the end of the season. Signed for a nine-figure sum in 2017, losing him for free would be a big blow.
But Barcelona have been unwilling to meet his extortionate wage demands. And the situation reached boiling point on Thursday when their director Mateu Alemany confirmed the forward is up for sale.
“It seems obvious to us that the player does not want to continue at Barcelona,” Alemany said. “He is not committed to Barca’s future project.
“We told him and his agents that he must leave the club immediately. Barcelona only want to have players committed to the project.
“We expect a transfer to take place before January 31.”
It has led to heightened speculation over where Dembele may end up. Chelsea have been named as the early frontrunners; they could reunite him with his former Borussia Dortmund manager Thomas Tuchel.
There have also been links with the likes of Man Utd and Newcastle if he is to move to the Premier League.
It will be a busy couple of weeks to determine Dembele’s future. Immediately, he has been left out of Barcelona’s squad for their Copa Del Rey clash with Athletic Bilbao on Thursday.
While his teammates were preparing for that fixture, though, the 24-year-old was speaking up on his future.
In doing so, Dembele defended himself and his representatives and contradicted his club’s claims that he is no longer at their disposal. Rather, he insisted he is there for coach Xavi and complained of blackmail.
Ousmane Dembele issues Barcelona response
Dembele wrote on Instagram: “Hello, everyone. It’s been four years since I’ve stopped reading things about myself without ever trying to justify myself.
“Gossip about me has been piling up for four years. It’s been four years that people have spoken for me, shamefully lied with one sole purpose, the intention of harming me. I have been following my line of never answering for four years, of never justifying myself.
“Has it been a mistake? Surely. As of today, it’s over. Starting today, I will answer honestly, without giving in to any kind of blackmail.
“I am 24 years old and like every man, I have flaws, imperfections. I have lived through complex moments, injuries, Covid has affected me. Without the slightest training session, the mister has asked me and I have always complied… without question.
“Perform as well as I have always done because it is my PASSION. I am fully aware of my luck to dedicate myself to the most beautiful job in the world. Also, my message is transparent.”
D’Margio Wright-Phillips the latest in a soccer dynasty to rival the Maldinis, Alonsos and Kluiverts
Dembele insists he’s involved
The 2018 World Cup winner continued: “I forbid anyone to give the impression that I am not involved in the sports project. I forbid anyone to attribute intentions to me that I have never had. I forbid anyone to speak for me or my representative, whom I trust completely.
“Still under contract, I am fully involved and at the disposal of my club, my coach. I have always given everything for my colleagues and also for all the partners… it is not now that that is going to change. I am not a man who cheats and even less a man who has a habit of giving in to blackmail.
“Surely love is a variant of blackmail. As you know, there are negotiations. I let my agent handle it, it’s his turf. My field is the ball, simply playing soccer, sharing moments of joy with my colleagues and all members.
“Above all, let’s focus on the essentials: WIN.
“Take care of your own. Ousmane Dembele”
Dembele has scored 31 goals from 129 appearances in a Barcelona shirt. But there are now serious doubts as to whether he will add to them.
READ MORE – Euro Paper Talk: Barcelona in panic mode as Man Utd step in to snatch powerhouse