Football transfer rumours: Philippe Coutinho to leave Barça for Chelsea?

Today’s fluff is going to have to make a dash for it

Chelsea are already busy trying to figure out how to replenish their creative juices when Eden Hazard drops his shoulder and shoots off to Real Madrid this summer. One plan involves shovelling millions of pounds into the bank of Barcelona for Philippe Coutinho, who has looked like a little boy lost in Catalonia at times this season. The club are confident they could pluck the tricky little Brazilian from the Camp Nou for a cut-price £86m – more than £50m less than Barça paid Liverpool for him in January 2018. Mind you, someone ought to remind Stamford Bridge decision makers that, you know, there’s a transfer ban on the way, chaps. Christian Pulisic is also on his way to Chelsea, too, despite no one seeming to know who signed him. They might want to remember that. And they say Manchester United lack direction upstairs.

On the subject of which, Barcelona would waste no time in slapping in a £100m bid for Marcus Rashford, who was left so distraught by Manchester United’s schooling in the Manchester derby that he may leave his pen hovering above a new £300,000-a-week contract while he listens to what Camp Nou suits have to offer. It promises to be a busy summer for Ed Woodward, who will also have to use his pound coins of persuasion to convince Paul Pogba that playing in the Europa League at a leaky Old Trafford is preferable to joining Hazard and Zinedine Zidane at Real Madrid.

Another player who may leave Old Trafford for Spain is Juan Mata, who has impressed most in recent seasons when writing searingly honest and well-crafted blog posts after humbling defeats. Perhaps Diego Simeone has read them, because it says here Atlético Madrid are considering a bid for the 30-year-old occasional playmaker. Oh, and Internazionale will give a home to Alexis Sánchez and his dogs providing the Chilean takes a massive cut on his £500,000-a-week wages, because they’d rather not go bankrupt anytime soon.

Everton will try to thrash out a deal with Barcelona for their dashing on-loan midfield metronome André Gomes before Arsenal slap in a £25m bid for him. They will also see if the same figure persuades Chelsea to part with Tammy Abraham. The 21-year-old striker has fuelled Aston Villa’s push into the play-offs with 25 goals while there on loan. As for the Gunners, they are also interested in Manchester United’s Eric Bailly, who was bundled into an Old Trafford storage cupboard at the beginning of March and has not been seen since. Unai Emery is hopeful that £20m will cover the transfer fee and delivery costs.

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Wolves are keen to sign the generic movie villain lookalike Domagoj Vida from Besiktas. The 29-year-old, who looks like he should be chasing Bruce Willis around a bullet-pocked film set, will cost around £13m. Jack Butland has had enough of the Championship and may be offered a route back into the Premier League by Bournemouth, who will offer Asmir Begovic to his former club Stoke in part exchange with £20m.

West Ham are hoping to nip in front of other potential suitors to sign Dani Ceballos from Real Madrid. The wispy midfield creator has fallen out of favour under Zidane and may be available for as little as £18m. But Liverpool are also lurking.

And QPR have held talks with Darren Moore about succeeding Steve McClaren as QPR manager. He can only look good after that disastrous tenure, can’t he?