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LIVE Transfer Talk: Karim Benzema set for new Real Madrid deal

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Why Real Madrid could be the perfect escape for Ronaldo (1:18)

Ale Moreno makes the case for Real Madrid as the ideal January move for Cristiano Ronaldo. (1:18)

The summer transfer window is closed for the major leagues in Europe. However, with an eye on January, there's plenty of gossip swirling about who's moving where. Transfer Talk brings you all the latest buzz on rumours, comings, goings and, of course, done deals!

TOP STORY: Benzema nears new Madrid deal

Karim Benzema is nearing a contract extension with Real Madrid, according to Fabrizio Romano.

The talismanic France forward's current deal is set to run out in the summer of 2023, but an extension is expected to keep him at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium for another season.

Benzema has already confirmed to Los Blancos that his intention is to accept the club's contract proposal, and it is deemed as being just a matter of time before the deal is completed.

The club's board -- as well as president Florentino Perez and manager Carlo Ancelotti -- are all in agreement in the decision to keep Benzema around for an extra season.

This shouldn't be a surprise considering the impact the former Lyon man has had since his move to Spain. Last season alone, he scored 44 goals and assisted another 15 in just 46 matches, with 15 of those goals coming in the Champions League on the way to his fifth final victory with the club.

His tally this season is four goals and an assist in eight matches, contributing to a very impressive overall Real Madrid tally of 327 goals and 160 assists in 613 appearances.

There has been talk that Los Blancos could look to move for Manchester City's Erling Haaland in 2024, but Benzema remains the undisputed main man up top for now.

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LIVE BLOG

22.44 BST: That's it for another edition, thanks so much for reading. Tune in later for Saturday's rolling live file!

22.02 BST: Roma are interested in Lyon outcast Houssem Aouar, according to Calciomercato.

Aouar has been forced to watch Lyon from the bench for much of this season, following a damaged relationship with the club in contract negotiations. While there is reported interest from La Liga, Roma are seen to be the only club ready to make a move for the 24-year-old in January.

21.30 BST: Nottingham Forest announced a new contract for manager Steve Cooper that will keep him at the City Ground until 2025.

Despite strong rumours that the 42-year-old was on the verge of being sacked, the Premier League outfit have stuck by Cooper, who won them promotion to the top-flight in May and thus ending a 24-year absence.

The statement on the club website stated that: "It is now important that our focus is solely on football."

21.08 BST: Napoli keen to tie down several players to contract extensions, following extensions of Alex Meret and Alessio Zerbin, as reported by Corriere Dello Sport.

The priority of the Italian club is to extend contracts of players who are nearing the end of their current deals, such as Amir Rrahmani. However, players who have also impressed recently, namely midfielders Stanislav Lobotka and Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa, could also see extensions to their current deals.

20.33 BST: Inter Milan in the race for left-back Remy Bensebaini, according to Calciomercato.

The full-back's current deal with Borussia Monchengladbach expires in June 2023, which could open up the perfect opportunity for Inter to sign the 27-year-old. Bensebaini has been linked away from Germany previously, and the Algeria international could be swapping Germany for Italy in the not too distant future.

20.11 BST: Juventus set their sights on young talent in a letter to shareholders by President Andrea Agnelli, per Tuttosport.

In a letter that outlined Juventus' investment plans to shareholders, a wealth of talent was mentioned as potential signings. Vitor Roque and Endrick (just 16 years old), who ply their trade in Brazil for Atletico Paranaense and Palmeiras respectively, were discussed for the future.

Elsewhere, Slovenian striker Benjamin Sesko was mentioned, along with Shakhtar Donetsk's Mijailo Mudryk.

19.47 BST: Impressive young goalkeeper Djordje Petrovic is set to sign contract extension at New England Revolution, according to reporter Tom Bogert.

The shot-stopper has made a huge impression in the MLS in his debut season, making seven clean sheets in 20 games. Petrovic's form for New England saw him attract the attention of clubs in Europe, but New England will be glad to keep their talented 'keeper on the books until at least 2025.

The Serbian's impressive debut season sees him on the MLS Goalkeeper of the Year and Newcomer of the Year ballots, highlighting the impression the 22-year-old has left in the US.

19.13 BST: Arsenal scouts watched Club Brugge youngster Ferran Jutgla during the match against Atletico Madrid, as per Ekrem Konur.

Club Brugge provided an upset, running out 2-0 winners against the Spanish giants, and Jutgla's impressive showing would have done nothing to deter Arsenal from cooling their interest in the Spanish striker.

Jutgla has been in spectacular form this season, netting 10 goals in 14 appearances in all competitions - including two in the Champions League that sees Brugge sit top of Group B. After signing for the Belgian side in the summer from Barcelona, he may be on the move again in the near future if the 23-year-old can maintain his current performances.

18.47 BST: Tottenham Hotspur prepare to sign Dejan Kulusevski permanently for €35m, according to Calciomercato.

Spurs have already paid a loan fee of €10m for the Swedish winger, but are prepared to add an extra €35m to secure the services of the 22-year-old on a permanent basis.

Kulusevski has impressed so far in North London, establishing himself as a vital player in the current set-up under Antonio Conte. If the correct loan provisions are followed, it looks likely that the winger will end up at Spurs on a permanent basis, with the London club having no doubts about what he brings to the squad.

18.11 BST: RB Leipzig are set to sign Norwegian shot-stopper Ørjan Nyland on a free transfer, according to Fabrizio Romano.

Romano has reported that Nyland, 32, will sign a contract with the German outfit within the next few hours. He has been a free agent since July, having failed to win a new contract with Championship club Reading. Meanwhile Leipzig have been looking for a new goalkeeper to replace Peter Gulacsi, who is set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines with a knee injury.

17.39 BST: Do Chelsea finally have their sporting director? Sources tell ESPN's James Olley that they have, and that the Blues are set to announce Christopher Vivell after his departure from RB Leipzig.

From James's story on the topic:

Vivell's arrival would mark a notable step forward for Chelsea's new owners, who are also keen to appoint a sporting director alongside a new technical director. Chelsea owners have been frustrated in their pursuit so far having been rebuffed by former Liverpool sporting director Michael Edwards while talks with RB Salzburg's Christoph Freund broke down last month.

Boehly and Clearlake are keen on building a multi-club model and Vivell's experience of working within a structure made him an obvious candidate. The aim remains for both positions to be filled before the World Cup begins in November so planning can ramp up for the January transfer window.

16.53 BST: Barcelona have held internal talks about the possibility of bringing Lionel Messi back but various sources told ESPN's Sam Marsden and Moises Llorens the chances of a deal happening remain remote.

Messi, 35, will not entertain any discussions related to his future until after the World Cup in Qatar this year, with Barca among the clubs waiting to see what he decides to do when his Paris Saint-Germain contract expires in June.

Messi joined PSG in 2021 on an initial two-year deal with an option for an additional season if both parties wanted to extend their relationship. PSG are keen to renew Messi, who has started his second season in France in fine form, scoring eight times in 13 appearances, and some sources said continuing in Paris is the most likely scenario at the moment.

Barca president Joan Laporta told ESPN in the summer that Messi's "chapter" at the club deserves a better ending than the one it got last year. Xavi Hernandez is also open to the return of his former teammate.

Vice president Eduard Romeu, meanwhile, has said a deal would be possible financially if Messi were to join as a free agent, although sources told ESPN it would not necessarily be an easy deal to do. Barca still owe Messi money from deferred wages during the pandemic.

Messi also has interest from Major League Soccer, where Inter Miami would be his most likely destination. Sources say Argentina's recent game against Honduras in Miami served to lay the foundations for a possible move at some point the future.

16.08 BST: Real Madrid are "already working on the signing of Jude Bellingham," Marca reports in its front-page story on Friday, saying there's "optimism" at the club about a €100 million deal for the England midfielder.

Bellingham, 19, is starring for Borussia Dortmund this season, and scored while captaining the side in their 4-1 Champions League at Sevilla on Wednesday.

Madrid are "more convinced all the time" that Bellingham is the player they need to complete the renewal of their midfield alongside Aurelien Tchouameni, Eduardo Camavinga and Fede Valverde, according to Marca.

Executives at the LaLiga giants have a good relationship with Dortmund CEO Aki Watzke, the newspaper says, which could help them conclude a deal ahead of interest from the Premier League.

15.21 BST: Manchester United are confident Cristiano Ronaldo will stay at the club in January mainly because of a lack of interest in him, sources told ESPN's Rob Dawson.

United are prepared for Ronaldo to mount another push to leave Old Trafford if he cannot win a regular place in Erik ten Hag's team. United are aware that he could look to move in January in a bid to find regular first-team football.

UEFA rules would allow Ronaldo to sign for a team in the Champions League in January and play in the knockout rounds in the new year despite having made three appearances for United in the Europa League this season.

Despite Ronaldo's well-known desire to move in the summer, United only received one firm offer from a club in Saudi Arabia, a bid that was dismissed by both Ronaldo's camp and United. But sources close to the club insist it remains unclear how much of a market there would be for the 37-year-old in January.

Speculation in the summer linked Ronaldo with Champions League sides including Chelsea, Napoli and Bayern Munich, but United never received a proposal from any club in Europe. Sources told ESPN there's an acceptance Chelsea's stance may have changed after Graham Potter replaced Thomas Tuchel as manager, although they eased their problems up front with a move for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang late in the window.

Ronaldo has endured a difficult start to the season, scoring one goal -- a penalty in the Europa League against Sheriff -- and United boss Ten Hag recently revealed how the No. 7 is "pissed off" with his lack of game time.

Sources have told ESPN that Ten Hag is understanding of Ronaldo's situation but would be reluctant to let him leave in January. The Dutchman has already been told it is highly unlikely there will be money to spend until next summer, reducing the possibility that a replacement could be found for the Portugal forward.

14.33 BST: Romeo Beckham is training with Premier League side Brentford's B team, sources have told ESPN's James Olley.

The 20-year-old, son of former England captain, David, accepted an invitation to work at the west London club after the end of the Major League Soccer Next Pro season.

Beckham is one of the latest in a number of players to train with the B side, and sources have told ESPN he is not on a trial nor is there any suggestion of a permanent move to Brentford at this stage.

Beckham is contracted to Inter Miami II, the reserve team of MLS side founded by David in 2018, but is in London and has taken advantage of Brentford B's flexible schedule given they do not play in a competitive league.

13.46 BST: Carlo Ancelotti refused to be drawn on reports linking Real Madrid with a move for Erling Haaland as he looked to calm fears that key players Karim Benzema and Thibaut Courtois could miss next week's El Clasico clash with Barcelona.

Haaland, 22, is off to a flying start to the season after joining Manchester City in the summer. He has scored 14 goals in eight Premier League games, including a hat trick in Sunday's Manchester derby, and five more in the Champions League.

Reports in Spain this week suggested that a clause in Haaland's five-year contract at City would allow him to join Madrid in 2024.

"I don't talk about Haaland," Ancelotti said, bluntly, when asked about the forward in his Friday news conference ahead of Madrid's LaLiga game at Getafe.

Haaland was linked with Madrid -- as well as a string of other top clubs -- before City won the race to sign him from Borussia Dortmund, with his father and agent visiting the club's Valdebebas training ground for talks in April 2021.

Madrid eventually opted not a sign a centre-forward this summer after missing out on Kylian Mbappe, backing Karim Benzema, 34, to deliver for another season.

12.58 BST: N'Golo Kante is looking for a new club as he does not believe that Chelsea will offer him a new deal, FootMercato reports.

Kante, 31, is out of contract at the end of the season, and his future at Stamford Bridge is unclear.

The France international has won almost all there is to win at club level win his seven years with the Blues including the Champions League and the Premier League. However, his recent injury woes have limited him to just two appearances this season, and so far there is no offer of a new contract to replace his current £9m-a-year deal.

FootMercato reports that Kante would be happy to stay in London, raising the prospect of a move to one of Chelsea's local rivals, Arsenal or Tottenham.

12.09 BST: Barcelona are considering signing Athletic Bilbao defender Inigo Martinez in the winter transfer window, according to Mundo Deportivo.

Barca, who have four defenders out injured, are looking to reinforce their options at the back and are eyeing Martinez, who is out of contract at the end of the season.

The 31-year-oldhas been slowed by knee problems and has made just three league appearances this season. Barca would only make a move for Martinez if the player's knee issues are resolved and if the transfer fee is reasonable.

11.21 BST: AC Milan technical director Paolo Maldini recently confirmed that Chelsea made a late summer offer for Rafael Leao but ESPN's James Olley can reveal just how late the Blues left it to make their interest known.

Chelsea made contact with the Serie A side over the Portuguese winger earlier in the summer but waited until the final three days to make a verbal offer -- not a formal, written bid -- thought to have been below €100 million, significantly lower than Milan's valuation and his €150m release clause. The move was a non-starter given just how late Chelsea's interest appeared as there was so little time to identify and sign a replacement.

Milan also have a firm desire to retain the 23-year-old by agreeing a new long-term contract -- his existing agreement expires in 2024 -- with talks expected to begin soon over an extension.

Whether Chelsea can resurrect a move for Leao in January or next summer remains to be seen. He fits the younger, progressive profile of player co-owners Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital have identified as central to the club's future. But they will need to get their act together much earlier before the deadline to land their man.

10.37 BST: Premier League club Wolverhampton Wanderers have identified Julen Lopetegui as their preferred candidate to become their next manager, Sky Sports reports.

Lopetegui was dismissed following Wednesday's 4-1 Champions League defeat to Borussia Dortmund, Sevilla's sixth loss in 10 games, and replaced by Jorge Sampaoli.

During his time at the club, Lopetegui guided Sevilla to Champions League qualification for three consecutive seasons and also won the Europa League in 2020. Despite Sevilla's terrible start to the season, Lopetegui received an ovation at the Sanchez Pizjuan stadium by the club's fans after Wednesday's game, and Wolves now want to appoint him following the sacking of Bruno Lage.

10.09 BST: Sporting Lisbon have agreed to extend the contract of young attacking midfielder Mateus Fernandes, according to Record.

Fernandes becomes a free agent next summer, but Sporting have offered the 18-year-old a new deal until June 2026 which will see his salary increase and his release clause set at €60m.

09.23 BST: After failing to find an agreement with Inter Milan over the transfer of Milan Skriniar, Paris Saint-Germain will try to recruit the Slovakia defender again in January, sources told ESPN's Julien Laurens.

PSG had bids of around €60m rejected by Inter who wanted €80m. Now, the Ligue 1 champions are preparing a new €30m offer for the winter transfer window.

Skriniar, 27, is out of contract at the end of the season and does not want to extend his deal with Inter. The Nerazzurri, who announced losses of €140m last week, can't afford to let Skriniar leave on a free transfer so they could be open to accepting PSG's new offer.

By holding on to their player, Inter were hoping that they could convince him to sign a new deal but they have, so far, failed to do that.

08.41 BST: Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers claims he has turned down approaches from two clubs to leave the King Power Stadium.

Rodgers has endured a difficult start to the season, winning none and losing six of the team's first eight games before Monday's 4-0 win over local rivals Nottingham Forest.

The former Liverpool boss has also been linked with several vacancies at other Premier League clubs, including Arsenal and Newcastle United, but told a news conference that he is committed to Leicester.

"I don't need it. I really don't. I spoke to [chairman Aiyawatt 'Top' Srivaddhanaprabha] before the game but he has been over for other games when we have been losing.

"He and his family and the other staff here have always been super supportive of me. They understand the challenges we've had over the summer. They understand the difficulties and where I'm coming from.

"But they know they have total respect from me so I don't need Top or anyone to sit me down. They trust I can do the job. They know my loyalty to here because I stayed when maybe I could have left.

"But that doesn't mean they owe me anything. I want to do it for the club, the fans, the supporters and they trust me to do that. And if I don't, they'll tell me."

08.00 BST: Spanish giants Barcelona are working to sort out their finances and believe they can restore the club's equity balance -- total assets minus total liabilities -- by the 2024-25 season, financial vice president Eduard Romeu said.

Barca's board of directors will on Sunday present the club's assembly of committee members with the 2021-22 financial year results showing €98 million in post-tax profits after a €97m loss the previous year due to the pandemic.

Romeu said Barca had closed 2021-22 with operating income of €1.017bn and operating expenses of €856m. As for the budget, the objective for the 2022-23 season is turnover of €1.452bn and a profit after tax of €275m.

"When we were elected we asked for five years to redirect the equity imbalance, but with the financial levers that we made, this year we will already be close to the objective," Romeu said in a presentation of the financial year to the media.

Romeu said the club's debts that totaled €1.35bn -- €673m of which was owed to banks -- were reduced to €1bn, according to Barca's estimates. However, the club's biggest problem is still the first-team wage bill which is €518m, 51% of the budget.

"€500m would be the ideal number now to be competitive, but we will have to use debt to pay those large contracts," said Romeu. "I think we won't be able to fix it until the 2024-25 season."

However, increasing talk of the possible return of club great Lionel Messi, who will be a free agent at the end of the season when his current Paris Saint-Germain contract expires, means the Argentine would still be on their radar.

"Messi is an asset to Barca and the club's doors are open to him obviously. It is well known that we can perform miracles here," Romeu added.

PAPER GOSSIP (by Danny Lewis)

- AC Milan are looking at signing Midtjylland winger Gustav Isaksen in the January transfer window, according to Calciomercato, who add that the Rossoneri scouted the 21-year-old as he scored the Danish club's first goal in a 2-2 draw against Feyenoord in Europa League action on Thursday. Isaksen is seen as a possible reinforcement due to the injury issues that Alexis Saelemaekers and Junior Messias are facing.

-- Massimiliano Allegri's decision to play Danilo at centre-back could mean that Juventus will step up efforts to sign another full-back, according to Calciomercato. Danilo helped anchor Juve's defence in their 3-1 Champions League win over Maccabi Haifa on Wednesday, which could happen with greater regularity moving forward. Therefore, Juve will want to add another player and improve the quality that can be called upon in the wide areas.

- Fabrizio Romano has reported that many clubs are tracking the progress of Guimaraes midfielder Ibrahima Bamba, who has even been considered for an Italy call-up by Roberto Mancini. This comes despite the 20-year-old having signed a contract extension that will keep him with the Portuguese club until 2026.

- Moses Turay is attracting interest from numerous clubs across Europe, according to Foot Mercato. Bayern Munich, Borussia Monchengladbach, Eintracht Frankfurt, Lille and Lazio are just several of the sides looking at the talented winger. The 18-year-old has been called up to the Sierra Leone national team despite never making a first-team appearance at Troyes, who want him to sign his first professional contract with them.

- Rayo Vallecano captain Oscar Trejo has signed a contract extension to stay at the LaLiga side until 2024, the club has confirmed. The 34-year-old has started all seven of Rayo's league matches this season, recording one goal and two assists.