Football NewsWednesday 19th October 2016

Hot Football Transfer Gossip: Chelsea ‘chase Pepe’, Man City ‘target Messi’

Hot Football Transfer Gossip: Chelsea ‘chase Pepe’, Man City ‘target Messi’

We’re not saying Antonio Conte doesn’t rate Chelsea’s centre-backs, but he does seem to spend most of his time trying to sign new ones.

As long as they’re continental, expensive and not Gary Cahill, Conte is interested - and the latest man to fit that not-very-strict criteria is Pepe.

The Portuguese defender has been involved in what the Mirror describes as an “ugly contract stand-off” with Real Madrid, who have only offered him a one-year deal when he wants two.

The tabloid suggests the 33-year-old is therefore poised to take advantage of his imminent free agent status and sign a pre-contract agreement with the Blues in January instead. 

Conte would happily offer Pepe the two-year deal he craves, or probably longer if he wants. As long as he can defend a bit, he’s got a job for life.

Conte is also still keen on AC Milan’s young defender Alessio Romagnoli, according to the Sun. Chelsea reportedly had a £35m bid for the 21-year-old turned down in August but are ready to return with a £49m offer in January. They may even go up to £50m if Milan ask nicely.

Meanwhile, the Blues are said to be “heading for a tug-of-war” with Manchester United and Liverpool over Paris Saint-Germain centre-back Presnel Kimpembe (Sun).

Could Pepe force a move to Chelsea? (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)

The 21-year-old has excelled after forcing himself into the PSG starting line-up this season, aided in no small part by the departure of David Luiz. Sounds like Conte signed the wrong centre-back.

Kimpembe may get even more games at the Parc des Princes if PSG captain Thiago Silva follows through on his threat to leave the club - issued via the mouth of his agent.

Thiago’s representative Paulo Tonietto said the Brazilian has received offers from “three or four big teams” to join them next summer, reports the Mail.

The agent can’t be that good with figures if he’s not sure whether the number is three or four. Or possibly he’s not convinced that one of the teams is actually that big. Maybe it’s West Ham.

The queue for Silva is nothing compared the one that will form for Lionel Messi if he decides to leave Barcelona. Pep Guardiola suggest that “seven or eight clubs” would try to sign the Argentine, prompting the Mirror to declare that “Pep Guardiola is eyeing a sensational move for Lionel Messi.”

What Guardiola actually said was that he had never tried to sign Messi and had no plans to do so, adding, “I hope he ends his career at Barcelona.”

Elsewhere, Liverpool are interested in Hoffenheim’s £9m-rated Swiss defender Fabian Schar (Star), Arsene Wenger has insisted that Olivier Giroud is not for sale despite never getting in the Arsenal team (Express) and Roy Hodgson has been offered a job in the Chinese Super League that would earn him £8m a year (Mirror). That sounds like the gig Sam Allardyce wanted.