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We round up the week’s Crystal Palace transfer rumours and gossip.

Palace are on the verge of agreeing a deal with Swansea City over making forward Jordan Ayew’s move permanent. The Ghana international, who played 24 games and scored two goals while on loan last season, is expected to cost around £2.5m including add-ons. (BBC Sport)

Eagles attacker Wilfried Zaha is refusing to rule out a switch to London rivals Arsenal. The Gunners reportedly placed a £40m bid with Zaha’s brother saying he is keen to join them. When asked if he’d like to play for Arsenal, Zaha said: “I don’t know, we’ll see in the future.” (ON Sport)

Atalanta wing-back Timothy Castagne is close making a €20m transfer to Palace. The 23-year-old Belgian right back, who plays in a wide midfield position for his club, scored five goals and produced five assists last term. (Sportitalia)

Palace are lining up a swoop for Rangers striker Alfredo Morelos. The Scottish club would want a fee in the region of the £20m for the Columbian, though they say they are yet to receive any enquiries. (Daily Record)

Blackburn are keeping tabs on Palace’s veteran defender Scott Dann. The 32-year-old is back-up to James Tomkins and Mamadou Sakho and his acquisition would be a bit of a coup for his former club. (Football League World)

Palace and Aston Villa are considering a transfer for AC Milan striker Fabio Borini. The former Liverpool and Sunderland player is deemed not part of boss Marco Giampaolo’s plans and would cost around €15m. (Football Italia)

Fulham midfielder Jean-Michael Seri is still on Palace’s radar as the Ivory Coast star is desperate to leave. Inter, Napoli and Galatasaray have also enquired about the 27-year-old who wants to remain in the Premier League.

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Leeds United are exploring the possibility of signing Italian goalkeeper legend Gianluigi Buffon and Marseille playmaker Dimitri Payet, according to eyebrow-raising reports this weekend.

With the silly season about to enter full swing, the Mail on Sunday, via Italian newspaper il Corriere della Sera, claims the ambitious Championship side are among a trio of clubs vying to sign the veteran 41-year-old keeper.

The paper claim that Leeds, along with Brazilian side Fluminense and Portuguese giants Porto, are the three clubs who have made contact with the player’s agent over a potential deal.

Buffon is a free agent after leaving PSG at the end of a one-year stay with the club and has already spoken of his determination to play on in what will likely be the last move of his illustrious career.

The keeper is, of course, best remembered for the 17 hugely successful seasons he spent with Juventus, where he enjoyed incredible success and won the Serie A title seven seasons in a row.

His potential signing for Leeds, however, seems highly unlikely with the club looking to offload goalkeeper Kiko Casilla after just six months at Elland Road due to his high wages. Casilla joined Leeds from Real Madrid in January, but his deal to 2023 – and wages of £30,000 a week – were designed purely with promotion in mind and look unsustainable in the Championship.

Which is why links for Buffon seem all the more unlikely and it would take a considerable drop in wages for Buffon for Leeds to even come close to signing the 176-times capped former Italy star.

This is why a loan swoop for Bournemouth’s young keeper Mark Travers looks far more likely for Leeds.

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Dubai is a top destination for sports figures and athletes. Real Madrid and France national football team player Karim Benzema arrived in the emirate for a vacation. He shared a picture on his Instagram account.

After a season without Cristiano Ronaldo and his goals, Real Madrid took a step toward filling that hole on Tuesday by signing Serbia forward Luka Jovic.

Jovic will compete with French forward Karim Benzema at Madrid, which also has forwards Gareth Bale, Lucas Vazquez, Mariano Diaz and Vinicius Junior.

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Arsenal are being linked with a move for 18-year-old defender William Saliba. He is dubbed as the ‘next Raphael Varane’, which sounds quite alright to me.

We really are beginning to hit the silly season. The summer transfer window is looming, the gaze of fans and media alike has shifted towards the assembling of teams, and the rumours are starting to flow in. Predictably, Arsenal are at the centre of it all, as they so often are.
Find the latest episode of the Pain in the Arsenal Podcast here — Death, Decay, Despair

The latest name to be linked with a move to north London is Saint-Etienne defender William Saliba — his full name is actually William Alain Andre Gabriel Saliba, for those so inclined to know.

I know nothing about Saliba other than what a quick Google search can tell you. And I am not going to try and pretend that I do, as I am sure plenty of other fans and ‘analysts’ might. There is a nice rundown from football.london, which you can check out here, and that does give plenty of the basic details, as well as some interesting quotes from some rather significant figures regarding his qualities, including one Jose Mourinho, who stated that he has all the tools to succeed at the top level.

One thing that seems consistent with a description of Saliba is that he has regularly been labelled as the ‘next Raphael Varane’. Labelling an 18-year-old as the next version of arguably the best centre-half in world football is bold, to say the least. But as someone who has never seen him kick a football, that sounds quite alright to me.

I have previously expressed slight hesitation with Arsenal investing in the centre-back position. It is a need and I understand that improving the position, at some point during the Unai Emery rebuild, is essential, but I feel that there are other positions that should be prioritised this summer, which is especially true given the limited budget.

That said, if they are to sign a player who they believe could develop into one of the best central defenders in the world, which is seemingly the case with Saliba, I am all for it. Positional value is important. Spending £35 million on another centre-forward would not make all that much sense. But at some point, the value of the signing comes purely from the quality of the player, and not the position that they play.

I have no idea if Saliba is as good as advertised. And even if I had watched him play, there are plenty of smarter people than me who would be able to give you a more accurate assessment of his qualities and potential. But if Emery and Arsenal believe him to be ‘special’, they should be looking to sign him.

Special talents do not come around all that often. Sometimes, you just have to pull the trigger. If Saliba is really special, then, and the ‘next Varane’ as many claim him to be, Arsenal should be chasing him. Hard.

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Malheureusement, ce retour a été marqué par une grossière erreur défensive. Rami s’est ainsi mis à la faute face à Ajorque, concédant un penalty alors que l’OM avait le match en main.

Pour Rami, cette prestation est à l’image d’une saison à oublier où le défenseur aura semblé bien loin de son niveau et de sa motivation habituels.

Alors qu’un départ a été évoqué lors du prochain mercato, ce nouvel accroc pourrait peser dans la décision des dirigeants marseillais.

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Impact goalkeeper Evan Bush really needs to make a trip to the South Shore soon and drive over the Jacques Cartier Bridge.

After making five saves in the Impact’s 1-0 win over the Columbus Crew on Saturday afternoon at Saputo Stadium, Bush said he has yet to see the giant billboard the Impact put up beside the bridge that has him appearing to have his feet in the St. Lawrence River while wearing his Impact goalkeeper’s kit and protecting the bridge in the background with the words “ALLEZ MTL”. It really is cool and it’s part of the Impact’s much-improved marketing plan under new team president Kevin Gilmore.

“I knew it was coming,” Bush said about the billboard. “I knew the marketing campaign. There’s going to be other ones throughout the course of the year, I’m sure. Myself, Sam (Piette), Nacho (Ignacio Piatti), Maxy (Maximiliano Urruti) and I think Bac (Bacary Sagna), we had a photo shoot early in the season. The idea and the marketing campaign around that is quite cool. I haven’t seen the billboard yet. I don’t go to the South Shore often. At some point, I’ll drive by and probably take my kids and kind of show them because it’s a cool thing. The poster’s cool.”

The Impact improved their record to 3-2-2 with Saturday’s win in front of 18,634 fans in their home opener. Harry Novillo scored the game’s only goal in the 55th minute and Bush recorded his third straight shutout after 0-0 ties against New York City FC and DC United. The three straight clean sheets came after a 7-1 blowout loss to Sporting KC.

“I think it was just kind of a freak of a day in Kansas City because otherwise we’ve given up four goals in six games,” Bush said. “So if you look at it that way, that game was just kind of the blip in the radar, the outlier — if you will — as opposed to being truly who we were.”

The Impact played their fourth straight game without their best player, Ignacio Piatti, who is sidelined with a knee injury. Piatti led the Impact with 16 goals last season and Novillo’s goal provided a big confidence boost for the Impact, proving they can score without their star player on the pitch.

“Piatti is a big piece in this team,” Novillo, who signed with the Impact last December, said after scoring his first goal with the team. “To take his position is a big responsibility. I’m trying the best that I can to fill the gap and trying to help the team as maximum as I can with the quality that I have. It’s sure 100 per cent we’re missing him. We’re missing him really bad and we just hope that he’s going to be back with us as soon as possible.”

Coach Rémi Garde said Piatti’s status will be re-evaluated in the coming week. The Impact play again next Saturday against the Union in Philadelphia.

In an interview with TSN 690 Radio’s Tony Marinaro on Friday, Gilmore said Piatti is “probably the best player you’ve never heard of in MLS” and added “making Nacho more of a household name is a box I’ve got to check. It’s definitely on the list.”

One thing the Impact hasn’t done a good enough job at is making their players known around the city. The billboard of Bush is a giant step and the goalkeeper said he’s starting to get recognized more now.

“But I’m also the longest tenured guy,” Bush said. “I’ve been here for nine years, so it would be kind of strange if I wasn’t noticed occasionally. With Kevin, one of his main things is for us to be more noticeable and to be more involved. Not necessarily just in the community with helping out and stuff like that. That’s certainly part of it. But just being more visible all around the city, not just in certain pockets. I don’t know what the visibility is like on the South Shore, but on the West Island, where I live, it’s kind of hit and miss. If we can spread out the visibility all over the island and off the island throughout the Greater Montreal area, I think it will only be good things for the club.

“Kevin sat down with the whole team at one point and then myself, Sam and Nacho. We are kind of the liaison, if you will, between the team and Kevin. He’s a very easily approachable guy. He’s been on the road with us just about every game. He’s an easy guy to talk with. He’s got a great vision. And you can tell the way he talks about his vision that it’s going to come true and he’s motivated to do it.

“It’s an exciting time to be part of things, for sure.”

A win in the home opener can only add to that excitement.

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Yıldız ismin Sarı Lacivertliler’le sözleşme uzatıp uzatmayacağı belirsizliğini korurken, Yunan gazeteci Kostas Nikolakopoulos, Spor FM’e yaptığı açıklamada Olimpiakos’un transfer listesindeki en önemli isimlerden birinin Valbuena olduğunu söyledi.

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Roy Hodgson says there is “no question” Crystal Palace will feel Mamadou Sakho’s absence after he underwent knee surgery on Thursday.

The central defender suffered the injury in last week’s victory at Leicester, and there remains a risk he will not return this season.

Sakho has formed a solid partnership with James Tomkins during Roy Hodgson’s time at Palace, and the manager is in no doubt that the France international will be missed.

He said: “We are going to miss him until such time as he gets fit again. There’s no question of that. He has been very, very good for the bulk of the time I’ve been here.

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“When I first came he was shrugging off some injuries but since he got fit, he has been exceptional, the latter half of last season and the whole of this season.

“Him and James Tomkins together have formed a fantastic partnership. There’s no way you can lose a player like that without missing him, but I am fortunate that in Scott Dann and Martin Kelly there are two experienced Premier League players (capable of deputising).

“The most important thing was the surgery was successful. There’s no timescale being put on that, but obviously it’s a surgical operation, so he’s not going to be coming back next week.”

Hodgson, at 71 the Premier League’s oldest ever manager, also expressed his “disappointment” that former club Fulham “harshly” chose to sack Claudio Ranieri after just 106 days at Craven Cottage – but he believes that in Scott Parker they have a potential successor with the ability to excel.

“Scott was an exceptionally good player, and had a wonderful career at West Ham and Tottenham,” said Hodgson, having managed the then-midfielder while with England.

“I’ve no doubt about his credentials, his potential. He has a nice personality and he has worked hard on his coaching badges, and to develop himself as a coach, though I have no dealings with him on those side of things.

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“I can only wish him well, while bemoaning it is at the expense of someone like Ranieri. He (Parker) was a very, very dedicated professional and someone who maximised his career, who really brought out the best in what he had.

“He was an important member of my team going into the Euros in 2012. We will see how he does.

“I think it is harsh (on Ranieri). It doesn’t please me to see this situation, not only for Ranieri, but for Fulham, a club that is close to me.”

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After Lucas Digne left Barcelona for Everton last summer, Jordi Alba is the only recognised left-back available at the Camp Nou.

Barcelona wanted to bring in a replacement, but were unsuccessful in their efforts.

Monday’s edition of Catalan newspaper Sport claims that one of the players the Blaugrana held talks was with Ferland Mendy of Lyon, but the fullback continued with the Ligue 1 outfit.

Earlier this month, Mundo Deportivo reported Barcelona have identified him as one of the targets for the summer, given his fine form for the French club this season.

Sport now claims that Mendy has been on the ‘agenda’ of Ernesto Valverde’s side for a long time.

Barcelona will face Lyon in the Champions League knockout stages and technical secretary Eric Abidal will take the opportunity to have talks with the player.

Abidal loves Mendy and the European giants’ transfer chief will check with the defender if he is ‘ready to play’ for Barcelona.

Last July, Mendy signed a new five-year deal at Lyon and he will not be available for cheap in the summer.

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Laurent Koscielny has rejected the idea that Arsenal need to sign a new right-back after Hector Bellerin suffered a ruptured cruciate knee ligament against Chelsea on Saturday.

The north London club have confirmed the Spaniard’s recovery will “take between six to nine months,” so he is definitely out for the remainder of 2018-19.

As a result, head coach Unai Emery will need to call on Ainsley Maitland-Niles or Stephan Lichtsteiner to deputise.

Koscielny, 33, is confident the pair have enough quality to cover for the remainder of the campaign, per Sky Sports (h/t Malik Ouzia of the Evening Standard):

“We have some players who can play right-back. We have one young [Maitland-Niles] and one old but with experience [Lichtsteiner]. So no [we don’t need to sign anyone], I think we have the players. They played some games this season in the position and they played well. We are all together. Whichever player plays will give 100 per cent for the team and to have the best result for the club.”

Despite Koscielny’s confidence in Maitland-Niles and Lichtsteiner, they are not at the same level as Bellerin, who started vs. Chelsea for the first time since returning from another injury picked up against Southampton on December 16.

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Lichtsteiner, 35, has struggled somewhat since moving to Arsenal from Juventus in the summer.

Age seems to be catching up with him, and he does not provide anything like the attacking threat Bellerin does.

Meanwhile, Maitland-Niles, 21, is not a natural right-back, preferring to play as a winger or central midfielder.

As explained by Squawka’s Mohamed Moallim, Bellerin is arguably the player in the Arsenal squad that Emery will find it most difficult to replace.

He provides vital balance to Sead Kolasinac on the left side of defence and is essential to Arsenal’s attacking movement, as well as their defensive shape:

Emery admitted earlier this month that Arsenal can only make loan signings in the January transfer window.

Given how important Bellerin is to the side the Gunners should arguably be looking to get in someone with similar attributes to help them in their pursuit of a top-four Premier League finish.

But Koscielny believes the replacements already in the Arsenal squad are adequate for the remainder of the season.