Barcelona say they will only sell Philippe Coutinho if his £355 million release clause is triggered

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Barcelona have moved to quash speculation about forward Philippe Coutinho leaving the club by saying he will only be allowed to go if a club triggers his £355 million release clause. 

Coutinho only joined Barcelona in January 2018 for £142 million, but he hasn’t had the impact he or the club had hoped for – despite his goal against Manchester United in the Champions League last night. This has led to speculation that the 26-year-old could move on, with United and Chelsea both rumoured to be interested in a deal.

However, Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu has spoken out and made clear that Coutinho remains an integral part of manager Ernesto Valverde’s plans and he will only be sold if a club meets his astronomical release clause.

Bartomeu told Spanish TV station TVE that Coutinho “will remain with the team unless [another club] meet his release clause.

This statement is designed to put potential suitors off – neither club could afford the fee – but this stance could change if Barcelona pursue a deal to re-sign Neymar from Paris St-Germain. If that happened, then they may be tempted to listen to offers.

Real Madrid told they will have to pay £130 million to land Paul Pogba from Manchester United

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Manchester United bosses have said that star midfielder Paul Pogba will not be allowed to leave Old Trafford for less than £130 million (€150 million) amid continuing interest from Real Madrid, according to reports.

Spanish newspaper Marca report Pogba’s agent Mino Raiola being told this, with United wanting to keep hold of the French international.

Madrid have been linked with Pogba, 26, for some time, and this speculation has increased since his countryman Zinedine Zidane came back to the Bernabeau as manager. Zidane is known to be a fan of Pogba and he would fit as a marquee signing as it is expected that there will be major changes to the Madrid squad over the summer.

However, United want to keep hold of Pogba. While his relationship had seemingly broken down with previous manager Jose Mourinho, he has hit top form under new boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and is thought to be happy in Manchester. That said, he is thought to like the idea of playing for Zidane.

In addition, whether or not United qualify for next year’s Champions League could have a bearing on Pogba’s thinking – the club are locked in a 4-way battle with Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal for the final two spots.

Madrid however are believed to be planning other targets if it is decided that £130 million is too much for the player, or if United reject all offers for him.

All the factz on Manchester United v West Ham United, including which TV channel its on

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The tea-time kick-off in the Premier League sees Manchester United host West Ham United at Old Trafford. 

United need a win to boost their chances of claiming a Champions League spot, while West Ham want 3 points to keep alive their hopes of finishing 7th, which could be enough for a spot in the Europa League next season.

The match kicks off at 5.30pm and it is live on BT Sport 1. Here are the factz you need to know:

* West Ham took a 3-1 win at the London Stadium in the reverse fixture.
* Manchester United have lost 4 of their last 5 matches in all competitions.
* The Hammers have lost 3 of their last 4 matches, all by a 2-0 score line.
* The Red Devil’s have not kept a clean sheet in their last 8 matches in all competitions.
* However, the Hammers have kept just 5 league clean sheet all season. Only Fulham have recorded fewer.

Manchester United and AC Milan to battle to sign Sporting Lisbon’s Bruno Fernandes this summer

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Sporting Lisbon midfielder Bruno Fernandes is attracting interest from Manchester United and AC Milan who are both lining up summer bids, according to reports. 

Fernandes, 24, has been in sparkling form for Sporting this season, scoring 27 goals in 46 appearances in all competitions and providing 15 assists.

Portuguese news site A Bola has claimed that United representatives have already begun informal talks with Sporting over a transfer.

However, United will face strong competition for the Portugal international, with AC Milan thought to be safe interested. He spent several seasons in Serie A at Udinese and Sampdoria and could be tempted by a move back to Italy.

Sporting appear willing to do business with suitors – they have a history of selling if the price is right.

Fernandes has a release clause of £86 million, but interested clubs will be hoping to secure his signature for less than that.

Manchester United and Bayern Munich set for battle to sign Gareth Bale

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Gareth Bale seems set to leave Real Madrid this summer and Manchester United and Bayern Munich are at the head of the queue to sign him. 

Real manager Zinedine Zidane is planning a major overhaul of the squad in the summer, with several players set to be shipped out, including Bale, according to Spanish newspaper AS.

AS reported a meeting between Real and Bale’s representatives where it was said that Bale could choose his next club, as long as the bids were roughly equivalent.

Bale, 29, has had a fractious relationship with the Real fans recently and it is thought that the club’s top brass have become frustrated with his recent injury record.

During his time in Madrid, Bale has scored 102 goals in 227 appearances. Among other trophies he has won three Champions League trophies.

Manchester United have long been linked with the Welsh international and could come in for him again. However, new boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has signalled that his transfer policy will focus on younger players this summer, so it remains to be seen.

Any deal could also hinge on whether Madrid make a move for Paul Pogba. This rumour has again resurfaced today and he would be the sort of target Zidane would be looming for.

Bayern Munich are also planning a major squad overhaul and Bale would be the sort of marquee signing they are looking for to replace the likes of Arjen Robben.

Munich could also afford Bale’s wages, which is something that could put other potential suitors off signing him.