Welcome to the Times of Malta football transfer blog. With the 2019-20 football campaign just weeks away, clubs around the European continents will be stepping up their efforts to try and strengthen their squad ahead of the upcoming season. Stay with us to follow all the latest news....

11.45am We start off the day with news from the Italian Serie A.

Juventus look like finally closing a deal for Ajax defender Matthijs de Ligt after they raised their bid to €67m plus bonuses.

According to Gazzetta dello Sport, agent Mino Raiola is in Milan to reach a final agreement with Juve sporting director Fabio Paratici.

The newspaper dismisses late interest from Manchester United and expects De Ligt to sign a five-year contract worth €12m a season.

The so-called ‘white smoke’ would also be on its way after the Old Lady raised their bid to €67m plus bonuses.

11.30am Good morning everyone and welcome to our transfer blog. Stay with us to follow all the major news from the summer window from around the European leagues, including the BOV Premier League.

9.50pm That's it for today. We'll be back tomorrow with more transfer stories. Good night.

9.45pm Mosta announced the signings of Brazilian duo Carrara and Weverton Gomes Souza.

Carrara, 24 and who plays as a forward, has been recently playing for Uniao Recreative dos Trabalhadores in the Brazilian Serie D.

Meanwhile, Gomes Souza, who is also a striker, was on the books of Londrina Esporte Clube, in the Brazilian Serie B. 

9.30pm Former Chelsea striker Diego Costa is prepared to return to the Premier League, with Everton linked with a surprise move for the Spain international, according to The Sun.

The 30-year-old left Stamford Bridge to return to Atletico Madrid after winning the title in 2017, but he has failed to rekindle the form of his first spell at the La Liga club.

The permanent signings of Joao Felix and Alvaro Morata look set to limit the amount of playing time on offer for Costa, and he’s wants to return to England after a two-year absence.

8.15pm Manchester United are confident of beating rivals Manchester City to signing of Leicester defender Harry Maguire, reports the Daily Mail.

United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is keen to rebuild his side around the 26-year-old England international.

Talks between the two clubs are ongoing as United look to seal a £75m deal for the centre-back.

7.30pm Stefan de Vrij has promised that Inter’s players will ‘sweat’ for Antonio Conte so they can ‘bring the club back where they deserve to be’.

Conte has already made an impact, just three days into his first training sessions as Inter boss, with new signings Valentino Lazaro and Stefano Sensi admitting the Coach convinced them to join the Nerazzurri.

“I want to raise my level of play and grow so I can become an important player for this team,” De Vrij told Tuttosport.

“Conte’s a winning Coach, it’s very clear. He always makes us work at high intensity in training and demands the same in matches. We’re working in a great way.

6.45pm Milan have reportedly been offered the chance to sign PSV and Uruguay attacking midfielder Gaston Pereiro.

According to Gazzetta dello Sport, Pereiro is ready to leave PSV and his €15m valuation is ‘within Milan’s reach’.

The 24-year-old has managed double digits in goals in each of his four seasons with the Dutch side.

6.30pm An important update regarding Miguel Alba's situation, the Argentine player who went rogue and attempted to sign with Bolivian side Jorge Wilstermann despite signing a contract with Premier League side Birkirkara.

Sources close to the Bolivian side told Times of Malta that the Argentine player won't be joining Jorge Wilstermann after presenting himself with an injury, in addition to his agreement with Birkirkara prior to his trip in South America. 

6pm Sampdoria midfielder Gaston Ramirez is reportedly close to joining Spartak Moscow.

According to Telenord, Ramirez has no place in Eusebio Di Francesco’s plans for Samp.

That is because whereas he was the No 10 in Marco Giampaolo’s 4-3-1-2 formation, Di Francesco will line the Blucerchiati up in a 4-3-3.

Spartak are willing to spend around €12m on the Uruguayan.

5.40pm Frenkie de Jong has revealed he thought he would have played for Arsenal before joining Barcelona.

The Netherlands international was presented as a Barcelona player at the Nou Camp last week, after a deal was agreed between Ajax and the La Liga club in January.

"I actually thought Arsenal was pretty beautiful in the past," he told Voetbal International. "In my mind I have had the following list for a long time: Ajax-Arsenal-Barcelona, ​​call it the Marc Overmars route.

"But yes, if you can go directly to Barcelona, then you are also right where you want to be. Faster than you ever dared to dream."

5.10pm RB Leipzig are interested in signing Everton forward Ademola Lookman on a permanent deal, according to SkySports.

So far there has been contact between the clubs.

Lookman scored five goals in 11 games for RB Leipzig during a loan spell in the 2017/18 season.

4.35pm Rodrigo Moreno’s agent-father insists the Valencia forward could still join Napoli this summer, calling them ‘an excellent choice’.

Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis claimed Rodrigo had told him he preferred to stay in Spain, but Adalberto Machado was adamant the Partenopei remained an option for the 28-year-old.

“A great team like the Azzurri would be an excellent choice for Rodrigo, even if he has a contract with Valencia,” Machado told calciomercato.it.

“There needs to be an agreement between the clubs, and I don’t have any news at this time.

“I’ll only comment when there are signatures. Let time run its course...”

4.05pm Paris Saint-Germain are in talks over whether to withhold Neymar's monthly bonus after he failed to attend their pre-season training sessions this week, Sky Sports News is reporting.

It is believed the club are treating his no-show seriously after claiming there was no agreement for him to extend his stay in Brazil after Copa America.

PSG's version of events are disputed by the player following a strongly-worded statement on Monday.

3.50pm Real Madrid’s presentation of new €50 million defender Eder Militao was cut short when the 21-year-old Brazil international complained of feeling dizzy and had to be helped away to recover.

The midday event at a sweltering Bernabeu was proceeding as expected, with the former Porto player having spoken of his joy at arriving at the “biggest club in the world” and promising to “give everything on the pitch” for his new team.

Then just as a reporter was beginning a question about the future of his international teammate Neymar, Militao began to loosen his tie and took a deep drink of water before saying: “I feel dizzy, I feel dizzy, it’s so emotional. I can’t do anything more.”

Madrid’s press officer immediately ended the news conference, and the player was quickly helped away from the room.

3.30pm Stephan El Shaarawy is hoping to find happiness after joining Shanghai Shenhua.

Shenhua have committed to paying El Shaarawy a reported €15m salary for the next three years after he rejected a new contract with Roma, and the winger is ready to make the most of his move to China.

“I hope to find my happiness,” the 26-year-old told Gazzetta dello Sport.

“I’ve talked to some players who have lived here, and they felt good. I hope it’s the same for me too.

“Choosing Shanghai Shenhua has led me to change my life, but I’m determined to face this challenge.”

3pm Spain international goalkeeper Pau Lopez has completed his move from Real Betis to Serie A giants Roma, the two clubs announced late on Wednesday.

The 24-year-old has signed a five-year deal with Roma paying 23.5 million euros ($26.48 million).

"It is almost impossible to say no to a club like Roma. It represents a step forward in my career and I am ready to rise to this new challenge," Lopez said in a video on the Roma website.

Lopez is Roma's fourth signing of the summer after Amadou Diawara, Bryan Cristante and Leonardo Spinazzola, taking their spending to over 100 million euros.

2.35pm Barcelona have signed youngster Louie Barry from West Brom, the La Liga champions have confirmed.

The 16-year-old, who joined the Baggies when he was six, joins up with Barca's Juvenil A side.

West Brom are expected to recoup just £235,000 compensation for Barry.

2.20pm Sta Luċija have announced the signing of Brazilian winger Maycon Santana.

The 27-year-old is a gifted right winger who had sepll with top Brazilian side Flamengo.

He has also boast to championship medals in Nicaragua.

2.05pm Sevilla are reportedly interested in signing Roma captain Alessandro Florenzi.

Roma are understood to be open to selling Florenzi for the right price, and Il Messaggero claims Monchi has informed the 28-year-old of his desire to bring him to Sevilla.

The sporting director knows the player well, having worked at the Olimpico between 2017 and 2019.

However, the newspaper warns the Giallorossi will only consider offers of ‘at least €30m’ for the right-sider.

1.55pm Sky Sports News is reporting that Laurent Koscielny’s refusal to travel on Arsenal’s pre-season tour of the United States relates to the defender wanting to leave and be released for free from his Arsenal contract.

Koscielny has entered the final year of his deal and it’s thought he wants to go back to his native France.

1.35pm Sam Allardyce has revealed he turned down the chance to take the vacant manager’s job at Newcastle.

The former England boss, who held the position at St James’ Park from 2007 until 2008, was under consideration to replace Rafael Benitez, who left the club at the end of June.

“I was very flattered that I was considered but it’s that thing… ‘don’t go back’,” Allardyce told talkSPORT.

“It never got to the type of talks people are suggesting but it wasn’t for me. I politely said ‘no’.

1.20pm Parma have agreed a deal in the region of €13m for Inter winger Yann Karamoh.

Sky Sport Italia and Calciomercato.com both report Karamoh will complete a permanent transfer to Parma in the coming days, for a fee ‘close to €13m’.

Although Inter will not retain a buyback option, they will receive 50 percent of a future resale.

The Nerazzurri paid €6.5m to sign the 21-year-old from Caen in the summer of 2017.

He managed just one goal in 17 Serie A appearances and spent last season on loan at Bordeaux, back in his native France.

1.05pm Major news coming from Australia as Romelu Lukaku is missing from Manchester United training session on their pre-season tour of Australia at the WACA in Perth.

Serie A giants Inter have been reportedly set to meet with Manchester United officials today to try and trash out a deal. Could this be a sign that the Belgian could be heading away from Old Trafford?

Stefan BajicStefan Bajic

12.55pm Floriana are continuing their search for a central defender.

The Greens, who so far have been very active in the transfer market, currently giving a trial to Montenegrin defender Stefan Bajic.

Bajic has spent the majority of his career in Italy.

The 21-year-old started his career with Pro Piacenza before having a short stint at Trapani.

After returning back to Pro Piacenza for another season, Bajic then moved to Triestina.

Floriana are planning to leave Bajic train with the team till early next week before making a decision on whether they will sign the player.

12.35pm Arsenal captain Laurent Koscielny has refused to travel with the squad on their pre-season tour to the United States, the club have announced.

The Frenchman was expected to be part of the squad flying to the USA on Thursday but the club have now said the 33-year-old will stay behind.

Arsenal said in a statement: “Laurent Koscielny has refused to travel to the US for our pre-season tour.

“We are very disappointd by Laurent’s actions, which are against our clear instructions.

“We hope to resolve this matter and will not be providing any further comment at this time

12.30pm Good afternoon everyone and welcome to the Times of Malta transfer blog. Stay with us to follow all the latest news...

9.15pm That's it for today. We'll be back tomorrow with more transfer stories. Good night.

9pm Roma defender Federico Fazio is ready for the Paulo Fonseca era but warns ‘the start of the season will be hugely important.’

Fazio is entering his fourth season with Roma, but the 32-year-old goes into the campaign without his usual partner Kostas Manolas and with a new Coach, who is known for his use of a high line at the back.

When asked about his future and Fonseca, he told Roma Radio: “I was Roman as soon as I arrived – I felt comfortable here immediately.

“My family did too – from the start we’ve all felt really settled here in Rome. it’s an intriguing season ahead for us players too."

8.45pm Former Genoa midfielder Miguel Veloso is expected to join Coach Ivan Juric at newly-promoted Hellas Verona.

According to Sky Sport Italia, Veloso will reunite with ex-Genoa boss Juric at the Stadio Bentegodi.

The 33-year-old Portuguese player is currently out of contract and will be a free agent, signing a one-year deal.

8.30pm Maurizio Sarri’s Juventus coaching staff has been confirmed, including assistant manager Giovanni Martusciello and ex-Milan fitness coach Daniele Tognaccini.

As reported, Andrea Barzagli is not going to join the staff just yet, as he will take a little time after his retirement to rest and reflect on his options.

Sarri is reunited with Martusciello, who had worked with him at Empoli and was until recently assistant manager to Luciano Spalletti at Inter.

The other major addition is Tognaccini, who founded Milan Lab in 2002 and was with the Rossoneri up to 2018.

8.15pm A source close to Wilfried Zaha says there are doubts about whether Arsenal can afford to sign him this summer.

Palace have rejected a £40m Arsenal bid and they value Zaha at closer to £100m.

Sky Sports News are told Palace would not be interested in taking players as part of a swap deal – that would only ever happen as a last resort.

8pm Vincenzo Montella has praised new Fiorentina owner Rocco Commisso for his transparency and is confident Federico Chiesa will ‘grow’ with the club.

Commisso has repeatedly stated that Chiesa is not for sale, and Montella is ‘very pleased’ that the Italo-American billionaire is keeping to his promise.

“President Commisso has been clear on his future, both in private and in public, and I’m very pleased about that,” he told Sky Sport Italia.

“Federico’s a good player who can still grow and will do so with us.”

7.45pm Bologna are reportedly showing strong interest in Sampdoria striker Manolo Gabbiadini.

Gabbiadini only re-joined Samp in January from Southampton and scored four goals in 18 Serie A appearances.

However, Sportitalia warns Bologna are in to take the 27-year-old back themselves, while the Blucerchiati are prepared to sell.

He spent the 2012-13 campaign with the Rossoblu, netting seven times in all competitions.

7.15pm Divock Origi has signed a new long term contract at Liverpool.

“I’m very happy to be able to sign this contract and it gives you a boost at the beginning of the season, as well as the end of the season last year. So I’m very happy,” Origi told Liverpoolfc.com. “I always felt comfortable here. I made steps during my career, I say that I became a man here at this club, I signed when I was 19.

“When we had to make the decision I just wanted to speak with the club first and my entourage, but the feeling was always that I wanted to stay and extend my contract. It’s an amazing club, we have a good group, the staff are amazing. Even coming into Melwood, the people that work here and everything, you feel there is something special going on here.

“We’re still young so there’s a lot of potential in the group. I’m just having fun in training and on the pitch. Those are all important factors as a player.”

6.36pm Wolves have confirmed that managing director Laurie Dalrymple has had his contract ended and has been placed on garden leave with immediate effect.

Sky Sports News understands there is no suggestion of misconduct on the part of Dalrymple - rather, there has been a gradual deterioration in relationships between the outgoing managing director and chairman Jeff Shi, which has led to today's decision.

6.15pm Empoli President Fabrizio Corsi assures only ‘details’ separate Milan and Ismael Bennacer, who would be ‘foolish’ not to make the move.

Links between Bennacer and Milan have gone quiet since it was reported they had agreed a deal for the midfielder, but Corsi is still expecting the transfer go through.

“Something’s still missing between his representatives and Milan, but I don’t think it’s anything big,” he told Calciomercato.com.

“They’re discussing the final details and I hope everything can be resolved in 24-48 hours.

5.30pm Premier League side Sheffield United have added Ashton Hall to their youth ranks.

Hall has signed his first professional contract after a spell at Matlock Town where he was under the wing of former Birkirkara and Valletta player Justin Tellus.

Click here to read the full story. 

5.15pm Aston Villa are closing in on the signing of Brentford centre-back Ezri Konsa, Sky Sports News understands.

Talks are understood to be progressing over a £12m deal, which would trigger a release clause in his contract.

Earlier this month Sky Sports News revealed that Brentford’s West London rivals Fulham were keen to sign Konsa on loan. But he looks set to join back up with ex-Bees boss Dean Smith at Villa Park, as the newly-promoted side add more defensive options on top of the signing of Tyrone Mings.

4.45pm As expected, Olympique Marseille have confirmed the departure of Italy striker Mario Balotelli.

Balotelli joined Marseille in January on a contract until the end of the season and scored eight goals in 15 Ligue 1 appearances.

However, the French side are clearing the decks, starting with former Roma boss Rudi Garcia making way for Andre Villas-Boas.

4.30pm Gianluigi Donnarumma says he is ready to start the new season with Milan and use the disappointment of last term as ‘an extra push’.

Milan beat SPAL 3-2 in their final game of the previous campaign, but Donnarumma went off with injury and the Rossoneri ultimately failed to qualify for the Champions League.

That led some to speculate the goalkeeper had played his last match for the Diavolo, but he has now assured that his mind is set on staying put.

“I came back a little earlier to be ready for today and start preseason with the rest of the team,” the 20-year-old told Milan TV.

“I was sorry to leave the field after only a few minutes in Ferrara, but I’m ready to start this season.

“The first day of preseason always gives you very strong emotions. It always seems like the first time, so I’m excited and I can’t wait to start giving everything."

4pm Sky Sport Italia is reporting former Roma midfielder Daniele De Rossi has decided to retire from professional football.

De Rossi ended his career-long association with Roma in May and had initially been tipped to join an MLS club or Boca Juniors.

It was then reported he had become open to the idea of staying in Serie A, with Fiorentina the frontrunners.

However, Sky is now echoing Il Tempo in claiming the veteran will hang up his boots shortly and focus on coaching.

3.40pm Milan are reportedly interested in signing Arsenal and Poland Under-21 midfielder Krystian Bielik.

According to the Evening Standard, Bielik is ready to leave Arsenal after they informed him he was still another season away from their first team.

The newspaper explains the 21-year-old does not agree with the Gunners’ assessment and that a move to Milan could be ‘difficult to turn down’.

Rossoneri CEO Ivan Gazidis knows the player, having overseen his arrival at Emirates Stadium in January 2015.

3.20pm Roma are interested in Tottenham centre-back Toby Alderweireld, according to Sky in Italy.

The Serie A club want to sign two new defenders this summer – the Atalanta player Gianluca Mancini and one of either Alderweireld or Real Betis’s Marc Bartra.

Spurs are yet to receive a formal offer for the Belgium international, who is available for £25m until the expiry of a clause in his contract later this month.

3.05pm Mario Lemina gave an interview to France Football in the last few hours confirming his desire to leave Southampton.

He confirmed he is training at Staplewood with other players set to leave the club including Charlie Austin and Jordy Clasie.

"There is no turning back, I’m not afraid, I made a choice and I take it to the end,” he said. "I stand by my plan, I decided to tell the leaders that I wanted to leave, there is no turning back."

2.50pm Gimnasia La Plata have accepted an offer from Genoa for Venezuelan forward Jan Hurtado, but Boca Juniors are ‘optimistic’.

Gimnasia announced on Tuesday evening a fee had been agreed and that Genoa had permission to negotiate personal terms with the player.

However, Boca sporting director Nicolas Burdisso made it clear his club were still in the running for the 19-year-old.

2.30pm Juventus fans have called for Gonzalo Higuain to stay at the club after he arrived for his preseason medical.

Higuain was included in Maurizio Sarri’s first training squad on Tuesday, and he checked into J Medical the following morning.

It was there that a group of Juve supporters made no secret of their desire for the striker to be retained.

“Stay with us, Gonzalo,” was one of the chants that could be heard.

2.05pm Fenerbahce have distanced themselves from a move for Mesut Ozil and insist they cannot afford to sign the Arsenal forward.

The Turkish Super Lig outfit have been linked with Ozil in recent weeks, with the Gunners reportedly keen to offload the 30-year-old from their wage bill.

1.45pm Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is positive on the chances that goalkeeper David De Gea will remain at Old Trafford, despite only one year remaining on his contract.

"David has had a summer where he's been negotiating and we hope we're going to get it sorted," Solskjaer said.

"I'm positive, of course with David I've said many times how lucky I am and happy we are to have him in goal."

1.30pm Good afternoon everyone and welcome to another day of activity. Stay with us to follow all the latest news.