Exclusive: Man Utd’s long list of striker targets, Newcastle’s potential £40m Arsenal raid & more – Ben Jacobs

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David Raya attracting interest as United, Chelsea & Spurs chase new goalkeepers

Brentford are resigned to losing David Raya, who has already turned down two new deals – one last year and another offer in January. Manager Thomas Frank has already said that only the unlikely feat of Champions League qualification could get Raya to extend. Frank has also placed a price tag on Raya of £40m+.

Raya has made 148 appearances for Brentford keeping 50 clean sheets and is being tracked by Manchester United, Chelsea and Spurs.

Raya is an excellent shot stopper and composed playing out from the back making him a very modern keeper. His outfield qualities come in part from the fact he grew up playing futsal (much like Wolves centre-back Max Kilman) and make him calm, technical and direct on the ball. It’s also why Jurgen Klopp said Raya could “wear the No.10 shirt” following Liverpool’s 3-3 draw with Brentford in 2021.

Raya is seen as a good fit to replace David de Gea, who he’s already moved ahead of in the pecking order for the Spain national team, although Athletic Bilbao’s Unai Simon remains the No.1.

David Raya of Brentford

Chelsea’s interest is real and they are also considering Brighton’s Robert Sanchez. But it’s still not clear whether they’ll move for a No.1 or No.2. Graham Potter and Chelsea’s new recruitment team will decide towards the end of the season after Kepa (who has been in relatively consistent form) and Edouard Mendy are assessed. Raya is friendly with Cesar Azpilicueta and has spoken about the club with him when on international duty.

Spurs are looking to replace Hugo Lloris. They have Raya on their radar. Valencia goalkeeper Giori Mamardashvili is another name pretty high up on the list of possibilities. Milan’s Mike Maignan was also watched closely in Tottenham’s loss to Milan, and his late save from Kane’s header in injury time to stop the tie going to extra-time won’t have gone unnoticed.

And, as revealed last year, Spurs are big fans of Jordan Pickford. The Everton keeper recently extended his contract until 2027 and there’s no formal relegation clause. But it is thought if Everton do go down there will be an opportunity to get a deal done.

Liverpool and Man Utd join growing Antonio Silva fan club

Benfica’s Antonio Silva has a growing fan club. The 19-year-old centre-back was promoted from Benfica B this season and has since played 20 games and scored two goals.

The tough-tackling, right-sided centre-back is very mature and has great awareness. There’s also the added bonus of being able to play on both sides because he’s comfortable with his left foot.

Silva is contracted until 2027 with a €100m release clause. Real Madrid, Liverpool, Dortmund, Napoli and Manchester United are amongst the clubs who have recently sent scouts to see Silva play. But there’s nothing to get too excited about just yet. It’s normal to watch top young players at this stage of the season and it will take time before it’s clear if any club moves.

A lot of the linked teams are just exploring the market and it’s not thought anyone is prepared to (or even considering) triggering the release clause or is willing to offer anywhere close to it.

It will be interesting to see how Benfica handle summer suitors if they do arrive. They really don’t want to lose Silva yet, and although Rui Costa said the same about Enzo Fernandez, the fact they got €121m from that deal leaves them with no need to sell.

Speaking of centre-backs, but a left-sided one, plenty of the clubs scouting Silva are also intent on trying for Leipzig’s Josko Gvardiol. There is a £98m buyout clause, but it doesn’t become active until summer 2024. Gvardiol is contracted until 2027 and Leipzig want to keep him for as long as they can. As reported previously, Liverpool are tracking the talented Croatian. Jude Bellingham remains the priority since a midfield revamp is needed. But Liverpool will look at centre backs as well. That’s why qualifying for Champions League is going to be important since it will define their summer budget.

Chelsea almost pre-agreed a deal for Gvardiol last summer. They were prepared to go as high as £80m. But I don’t think Chelsea would mind if Gvardiol stayed another year at Leipzig since with Benoit Badiashile, Levi Colwill and Kalidou Koulibaly they are well stocked for now.

Gvardiol scored against Manchester City in the Champions League, and Pep Guardiola is another manager who rates the player. Real Madrid have admired Gvardiol for a while. But they may be priced out of the market, especially if they spend budget on other pricey targets. Remember, they are still very much in the race for Bellingham.

I am also told Gvardiol wants a Premier League move and any notion he’s already ‘picked’ Real is incorrect. He’s also on record as saying Liverpool are his “dream club” because he watched many of their games with his dad when younger.

Gvardiol will have a lot of options, and staying at Leipzig beyond this summer is still one of them. He will assess his future at the end of the season. Right now he’s not thinking about his next move, which is understandable given Leipzig are still in the Champions League and looking to upset Manchester City tonight. They are also in a tight race for Champions League qualification, and only seven points off the top, plus they have a German Cup quarter-final against Dortmund.

Whoever signs Gvardiol is going to get an elite centre-back, who has already proven his quality for club and country. It’s incredible to think he’s only 21 and has played close to 150 games, won 19 caps for Croatia and scored at both the World Cup and in the Champions League. And… I am also assured clubs won’t have to pay extra for the mask if he does move!

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More Stories Antonio Silva Ben Jacobs David Raya Dusan Vlahovic Harry Kane Josko Gvardiol Kieran Tierney Mohammed Kudus Robert Sanchez Victor Osimhen