Football transfer rumours: Aaron Ramsey to swap Arsenal for Chelsea?

Simon Burnton on 16 March 2018

First they tried to sign Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, an Arsenal player whose contract was coming towards its end, and then they signed Ross Barkley, whose contract was also coming towards its end, and Olivier Giroud, an Arsenal player. Now Chelsea’s next target as they focus their recruitment efforts on domestic players who are approaching out-of-contract status and ideally also play for Arsenal is Aaron Ramsey. The midfielder’s current deal at the Emirates Stadium runs to the end of next season, with talks over a renewal yet to begin, allowing their London rivals to start dreaming of another potential bargain.

But perhaps they should worry about their own players’ contracts, with a fog of rumour gradually building around Thibaut Courtois, who will be available for nothing in the summer of 2019 and thus a potential bargain for someone as early as this summer. With Eden Hazard disgruntled about how poorly the team has played this season, and allegedly ready to leave should they miss out on the top four, plus Antonio Conte almost certain to depart, this could be a summer of bewildering change at Stamford Bridge.

Talking of goalkeepers, there’s some confusion about the future of Roma’s Alisson. According to L’Equipe, the Giallorossi have identified Toulouse’s highly-rated 19-year-old Alban-Marc Lafont as his potential replacement, encouraging those teams – primarily Liverpool, Napoli and Paris St-Germain, though Real Madrid have suddenly emerged as credible suitors – who want to sign the 25-year-old Brazilian. But then according to the Gazzetta dello Sport, Roma are locking Alisson inside a notional fortress and raising the drawbridge – or, in plainer terms, offering him a bumper new contract with a massive release clause – having no desire to let him leave for at least another year or so. And while on the subject of Italian clubs, Juventus have started to raise funds ahead of a summer swoop for Manchester United’s Anthony Martial, having been led to believe that they can have him for a mere £57m as United try to raise funds for yet another summer blowout transfer splurge.

Good news for firework salesmen everywhere: Mario Balotelli is about to be on the move again! After two years at Nice, and an impressive 22 first-team goals this season, his contract is up in the summer and according to Tuttosport Napoli and Roma are both interested in a fee-free transfer, despite the Nice president, Jean-Pierre Rivère, claiming just yesterday that “he won’t leave for nothing” because of some kind of mysterious “written deal” with the player and his agent – a certain Mino Raiola.

In managerial news, the former Liverpool defender Didi Hamann – who is German, so should know – says Bayern Munich want Mauricio Pochettino to be their next manager. A few months back, Tottenham’s manager declared that “I hope to stay 10 or 15 years here”, but Bayern have not been offput and according to Hamann “might still be” in contact with the talented tactician.

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