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Chelsea have enquiries for midfield trio rejected

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Chelsea have had enquiries for Moises Caicedo, Yves Bissouma and Franck Kessie rejected this week, 90min understands.

The Blues have spent an incredible amount of money since the Todd Boehly-led acquisition from the club from Roman Abramovich was completed at the end of May.

Mykhailo Mudryk, Wesley Fofana and Marc Cucurella have all cost Chelsea well in excess of £50m, while the two-time Champions League winners have also lavishly spent on Raheem Sterling, Kalidou Koulibaly and Benoit Badiashile among others.

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90min revealed on Thursday that a deal worth £35m for PSV Eindhoven winger Noni Madueke has also been agreed, and he’s set to undergo a medical with the club before putting pen to paper on a long-term contract.

But Chelsea’s spending will not stop there, as they look to reverse an alarming Premier League slump under Graham Potter that has left them in tenth place – 19 points behind leaders Arsenal and ten behind fourth-placed Newcastle.

One area Chelsea are desperate to strengthen in is central midfield, and their interest in Brighton midfielder Moises Caicedo has been well documented.

Listen now as Scott Saunders hosts Graeme Bailey and Toby Cudworth in the latest episode of Talking Transfers. This week’s agenda includes Jude Bellingham, Harry Kane, Declan Rice, Hakim Ziyech, Leandro Trossard, Pedro Porro, Mykhaylo Mudryk and more!

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If you can’t see this embed, click here to listen to the podcast!

Brighton are adamant they are not interested in selling the Ecuadorian, though, and such is their desire to keep hold of Caicedo they have asserted that no amount of money will convince them to part ways – Chelsea had suggested a deal of £55m plus add-ons but that was swiftly rejected.

Interest in Tottenham midfielder Yves Bissouma stems from his days working under Potter and his Chelsea coaching staff at Brighton, but sources have told 90min Antonio Conte’s side have absolutely no interest in negotiating a deal after an enquiry was made.

The Malian isn’t yet a regular starter at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, but the club believe he has a lot to offer in the future and Bissouma himself is happy at the club.

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Franck Kessie’s future at Barcelona has been called into question in recent days, with speculation mounting that a swap deal involving Inter’s Marcelo Brozovic could be on the cards.

90min has learned Chelsea enquired about the possibility of prising Kessie away from Camp Nou, but he’s not interested in a short-term loan deal and is instead keen to fight for his place under Xavi after only joining the Catalan giants on a four-year deal last summer.

Chelsea are continuing to weigh up a move for Southampton’s Romeo Lavia, 90min further understands, but the Saints will not discuss an exit for the talented Belgian this month.





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RB Leipzig End Liverpool’s Hopes of Early Naby Keita Move

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Naby Keita will not be allowed to ditch Leipzig for ​Liverpool in January, regardless of progression to the knockout stages of the Champions League, according to Leipziger Volkszeitung.

It was announced during the summer that Liverpool had met Keita’s release clause and the Guinean midfielder would move to Anfield at the end of the 2017/18 season. 

However, recent speculation suggested that die Roten Bullen could be persuaded into letting Keita leave the club during the winter transfer window.

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“Even if we should not reach the knockout stages of Champions League, it would make no sense to allow Naby to join Liverpool earlier,” said RB Leipzig sporting director, Ralf Rangnick.

“We want to qualify for Europe again, and we need Naby for that.”

Leipzig have won just one Champions League game this season, with defeats to FC Porto and Besiktas making progression to the knockout stages a difficult task this year.

Following their impressive maiden season in the Bundesliga, in which RB Leipzig finished ahead of Borussia Dortmund, the Red Bulls will be desperate to make sure their Champions League status continues next season.

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The 22-year-old has struggled to replicate the incredible form he showed last year since the announcement of his move next summer. 

Questions about Keita’s disciplinary record have also arisen this season, the midfielder seeing three red cards for club and country in less than one month.



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Man Utd’s fixture list up to Carabao Cup final including Barcelona & Leeds clashes

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Manchester United reached their first final under Erik ten Hag by securing safe passage through the Carabao Cup semi finals at the expense of Nottingham Forest.

The Red Devils have enjoyed a brilliant run of form after their infamous defeats to Brighton and Brentford to start the season. They’re firmly in the Champions League qualification mix and remain alive in the FA Cup and Europa League.

However, their commitments in cup competitions means Ten Hag faces a tough February as he tries to balance the playing time of a squad that has recently been struck by injuries to key players.

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Here’s United’s truncated schedule leading up to the Carabao Cup final, including some juicy derbies and European fixtures.

Michael Olise, David De Gea

Olise denied Man Utd with a late free kick last time out / Justin Setterfield/GettyImages

Fresh from sealing their spot in the Carabao Cup final against Newcastle, United are back into Premier League matters when they host Crystal Palace at Old Trafford on Saturday 4 February in a 15:00 GMT kick off.

The two sides duked it out earlier a few weeks ago in their first meeting of the season as a late Michael Olise free-kick earned Palace a point after Bruno Fernandes’ strike just before half time.

Manchester United and Leeds are fierce rivals and the tension between the two teams has risen again following Leeds’ promotion to the Premier League.

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The Red Devils have scored 15 goals in the four meetings in that time, only failing to win once when they were held to a goalless draw in April 2021. The fixture was originally postponed following Queen Elizabeth II’s death in September and will take place on Wednesday 8 February at 20:00 GMT.

Fred, Anthony Elanga

Fred and Elanga struck at Elland Road last season / Shaun Botterill/GettyImages

That fixture rearrangement means the two Uniteds will face each other twice in four days.

In this fixture last season, two headless chickens went at it as Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds were downed 4-2 by Ralf Rangnick’s Man Utd. Goals from Harry Maguire and Bruno Fernandes had the visitors 2-0 up before two goals in two minutes from Rodrigo and Raphinha squared things up.

Substitutes Fred and Anthony Elanga gave the Red Devils all three points. However, they would win only three more league games before the end of the season.

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The stakes are really upped in mid February when Man Utd travel to Barcelona to face the Catalan giants at Camp Nou in the Europa League knockout play-off round.

It’s Barça who hold the edge in recent meetings, having won the past four games between the two sides.

Once they return home from the trip to Catalonia, United have a home game against Leicester to contend with.

The Foxes have endured some turbulent form this season but have mostly been a mess at the back, though the sides were only separated by Jadon Sancho’s strike they met back in September.

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Lionel Messi

A lot has changed since United and Barça last met in 2019 / Etsuo Hara/GettyImages

The return leg of the Europa League knockout play-off round will determine who between United and Barça continue in the continent’s secondary club competition.

United’s last win over Barça came at Old Trafford in 2008 when Paul Scholes scored the only goal of a Champions League semi final tie to send his side to final in Moscow.

Two of the most improved sides this season meet in the Carabao Cup final in late February when Newcastle face Man Utd.

Both sides are eyeing up Champions League qualification and each sit in the top four currently and this meeting could be an opportunity to land a significant psychological blow.

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Player rating as Red Devils seal passage to Wembley

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Manchester United secured their place in only a second major final in six seasons on Wednesday night with a 2-0 victory over Nottingham Forest at Old Trafford.

Goals from Anthony Martial and Fred decided the game, bumping up an already comfortable aggregate lead from the first leg to 5-0, setting up a clash with Newcastle at Wembley this month.

The hosts had mild penalty appeals when Alejandro Garnacho went down under pressure from Neco Williams and Willy Boly. But nearly half an hour had passed before either side had a clear sight of goal, with a powerful Casemiro header saved by Wayne Hennessey’s outstretched right foot.

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Despite chasing an aggregate deficit, Forest had seen very little of the ball but probably should have taken the lead on a rare foray forward. A throw-in gave Brennan Johnson the chance to dribble his way through, but the pacey Welshman’s finish straight at Tom Heaton lacked conviction.

Antony’s cleanly hit strike from outside the box in the closing stages of the first half had Hennessey worried as he flew to his left, seeing the ball just rise over the crossbar.

Wout Weghorst then struck the post right before the interval after an otherwise quiet opening 45 minutes from the Dutchman, while Forest winger Emmanuel Dennis had his head in his hands when his goal-bound effort was inadvertently blocked by teammate Sam Surridge.

United had stronger penalty appeals not long into the second half when Weghorst nicked the ball in front of Forest defender Scott McKenna, whose attempt to clear then upended the forward. It was given the VAR treatment but the on-field decision surprisingly stood.

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Tempers flared a little around the hour mark, with tackles flying and Alejandro Garnacho involved in an ongoing fracas with Johnson and Williams on Forest’s right flank. The young Argentine forced Hennessey into a good save at the near post in one of his final acts before Ten Hag made a flurry of changes, including the return of Jadon Sancho after more than three months out.

With United already starting to turn the screw, those changes triggered the second half goals. The first went to Martial, capitalising on a rebound after fellow sub Marcus Rashford had seen an attempt blocked following an initial run by the Frenchman.

Sancho was then involved in the second goal not long after, feeding Bruno Fernandes on the right. The United skipper’s exquisite outside-of-the-foot ball to the far post was then put back across the box by Rashford for Fred to score an easy tap-in.

Heaton still had to have his wits about him late on to preserve his clean sheet, throwing a big hand up to parry a powerful drive from Danilo as Forest searched for a very late consolation. With the goal gaping, Surridge skied his own attempt on the rebound.

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GK: Tom Heaton – 6/10 – A deserved opportunity but hardly a busy night until a spectacular late save.

RB: Aaron Wan-Bissaka – 7/10 – Took up an interesting position relatively high up the pitch and often tucked inside that made it difficult for Dennis and made space for Antony.

CB: Lisandro Martinez – 7/10 – Commanded every situation.

CB: Raphael Varane – 7/10 – Always composed and in control.

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LB: Luke Shaw – 6/10 – Back after illness and can be satisifed with this performance.

CM: Casemiro – 8/10 – Another fine example of the type of performance that has really driven the whole team’s resurgence this season.

CM: Fred – 7/10 – Has been thriving alongside his fellow countryman and could play an awful lot more now that Christian Eriksen is out for a few months.

RM: Antony – 6/10 – Inches away from a great goal and posed a threat early on.

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AM: Bruno Fernandes (c) – 8/10 – Put in a star turn, especially after moving to the right in the seconc half. Went close to a goal of his own late on.

LM: Alejandro Garnacho – 7/10 – Becoming more and more at home in this team.

ST: Wout Weghorst – 6/10 – A quiet opening 45 minutes until hitting the post on the stroke of half-time. Probably deserved a penalty after the break.

Substitutes

SUB: Marcus Rashford (62′ for Garnacho) – 7/10

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SUB: Jadon Sancho (62′ for Antony) – 7/10

SUB: Anthony Martial (63′ for Weghorst) – 7/10

SUB: Victor Lindelof (80′ for Casemiro) – N/A

SUB: Harry Maguire (80′ for Varane) – N/A

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Manager

Erik ten Hag – 9/10 – Went with a strong side to avoid any slip-ups, but it was the substitutions and slight tweak in shape as Fernandes moved to the right that made the difference.

GK: Wayne Hennessey – 6/10 – Made a handful of saves to keep it 0-0 for at least a while.

RB: Neco Williams – 7/10 – Had his hands full with Garnacho but ultimately outlasted his imprssive opponent, before switching to the other side.

CB: Scott McKenna – 5/10 – Arguably fortunate not to give away a penalty for a swinging leg that caught Weghorst.

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CB: Willy Boly – 6/10 – Stood tall for long periods until the resistance finally broke.

LB: Renan Lodi – 5/10 – Barely touched the ball and had a tough night of defending.

CM: Remo Freuler (c) – 5/10 – Tough night against a very good United midfield.

CM: Orel Mangala – 5/10 – Similar story to Freuler, found it hard going.

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RM: Brennan Johnson – 6/10 – Should have done with a great first half chance that he created himself, having already done the hard bit.

AM: Gustavo Scarpa – 6/10 – Had promising moments just as in the first leg.

LM: Emmanuel Dennis – 5/10 – Late replacement for the injured Jesse Lingard and initially struggled to get into the game. Had one decent chance blocked by his own teammate.

ST: Sam Surridge – 5/10 – With little of the ball, frustrations got the better of him when he cleaned out Raphael Varane to pick up a yellow card.

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Substitutes

SUB: Alex Mighten (64′ for Johnson) – 5/10

SUB: Danilo (64′ for Freuler) – 6/10

SUB: Serge Aurier (65′ for Lodi) – 5/10

SUB: Oliver Hammond (86′ for Scarpa) – N/A

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SUB: Detlef Osong (86′ for Surridge) – N/A

Manager

Steve Cooper – 7/10 – Set up his side well and they did admirably to hold out for as long as they did.

Player of the match – Bruno Fernandes (Man Utd)



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