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Transfer news: Maresca to Chelsea, Liverpool duo to Barcelona, Cristiano Ronaldo’s future & more
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Transfer news: Maresca to Chelsea, Liverpool duo to Barcelona, Cristiano Ronaldo’s future & more

May 29, 2024

Enzo Maresca is on the brink of becoming Chelsea’s new head coach. He is expected to sign a minimum five-year guaranteed contract. Compensation is being finalised with Leicester in the region of £8-10m.

Maresca wants to bring the majority of his staff with him, including his assistant and former Chelsea goalkeeper Willy Caballero.

Cole Palmer and Romeo Lavia have worked with Maresca before from their time at Manchester City.

Although it’s true several players were disappointed to see Mauricio Pochettino leave, there is already excitement at what Maresca can bring.

Chelsea’s players believe momentum is on their side and Maresca’s favoured 4-3-3 should favour the squad he inherits.

Sporting directors Laurence Stewart and Paul Winstanley led the process replace Pochettino, whilst co-owner Behdad Eghbali was in London and heavily involved.

Chelsea feel they have got an incredible manager. The ownership have always looked to the early days of Mikel Arteta, and the patience shown to him, and have even watched Amazon’s ‘All of Nothing’ documentary.

Chelsea’s leadership team want to be patient, despite Maresca being their fourth permanent manager. The belief is Maresca is the perfect profile: young, progressive, possession based and, of course, a Pep disciple.

The future of Erik ten Hag is expected to be resolved this week, and sooner rather than later. At the time of writing, the end-of-season review is being completed.

Ten Hag wants to stay at Manchester United and is hoping for quick clarity. The longer the decision takes the more uncertainty brews.

Ten Hag has some support from senior figures at Manchester United, including Jean-Claude Blanc.

The whole season will be looked at. INEOS want to make the decision disappointedly and data will help them do so.

Mauricio Pochettino and Thomas Tuchel are both keen on the Manchester United job should a vacancy emerge, but the first task is to decide on Ten Hag.

Kieran McKenna is not expected to be available since a new long-term deal with Ipswich is close. All that’s lacking is the paperwork. We should get an announcement today or tomorrow.

Al Nassr are expected to open talks with Cristiano Ronaldo about a new one-year extension.

Ronaldo’s current deal ends in summer 2025, but dealmakers want him to stay for another 12 months. This would see Ronaldo playing beyond his 41st birthday. It could also give him a shot at the 2026 World Cup.

Ronaldo finished the Saudi Pro League campaign with 35 goals, a record for a single season, and is settled living in Riyadh. He is believed to be open to extending.

Links with a move back to Europe, and specifically Bayer Leverkusen, are wide of the mark, as Fabrizio Romano reported.

Kevin De Bruyne remains a Saudi target, but the Belgian has not yet given any indication yet he wants to leave Manchester City. A transfer is also arguably harder to pull off this summer because of Euro 2024. Players like De Bruyne will only be focused on that tournament and the season will start shortly after.

De Bruyne is not the kind of player that will want uncertainty over his future. If he was to move he would want to do so before the season start rather than at the end of the window. It’s been clear for some time Manchester City want him to extend.

Saudi dealmakers are prepared to be patient. They will try for De Bruyne in 2025 if they feel it’s a lost cause this summer. But until De Bruyne puts pen to paper, Saudi officials will continue to take meetings with the De Bruyne camp and are prepared to offer over £100m to Manchester City.

It is an ambitious swoop to pull off, but the Saudi project isn’t afraid to try for these kind of bold moves.

Liverpool want to keep Luis Diaz. It’s really as simple as that. Diaz is contracted until 2027 and there are no plans to sell him this summer despite ongoing links with Barcelona.

Diaz would like to play in Spain one day, as his father has hinted at in public in recent months, but that’s more a long-term goal. He has given no indication he wants to leave Liverpool now, nor can Barcelona afford him without significant outgoings first due to Financial Fair Play issues.

I recently reported on potential Barcelona sales here – Jules Kounde and Raphinha are clearly two sellable assets, but neither want to leave. Andreas Christensen and Ronald Araujo may also be two names to watch.

Thiago Alcantara is still assessing options having left Liverpool. His priority is to stay in Europe. Saudi dealmakers tried to get him to agree a pre-contract in January but couldn’t persuade him to join the Saudi Pro League.

Barcelona have been linked with Thiago as well, but it’s still too early to know for sure what his next move will be after leaving Liverpool at the end of his contract.

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