Transfer talk: Real Madrid to rival Chelsea for Stones; Balotelli and Gotze on the way to Liverpool?

The biggest European football transfer stories circulating the media all in one place.

John Stones is attracting interest from some of Europe's biggest clubs. Jason Cairnduff / Reuters
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A round-up of the biggest transfer rumours and stories doing the rounds, including Real Madrid’s interest in John Stones, and the future of Mario Balotelli.

Real Madrid

Could John Stones be on his way to Real Madrid? That is the story being reported by the Daily Mail as the Primera Liga giants look to bolster their defensive ranks with the Everton centre-back.

Stones, 21, is regarded as one of the most promising young defenders in world football, and is attracting the attention of some the biggest clubs in Europe.

Chelsea remain keen admirers having failed with a succession of bids last summer, while Manchester United, and Barcelona have also been credited with an interest.

The Mail’s report claims Madrid’s interest emerged on the recommendation of then manager Rafael Benitez, who had reportedly targeted Stones last summer.

Despite Benitez’s exit, Madrid are reportedly still keen on Stones, although any potential move will likely take place at the end of the season.

Given Stones’ unquestionable talent and age, he could find himself in the middle of one of the summer’s biggest transfer tussles. Expect this one to drag on.

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Mario Balotelli could be back playing in a Liverpool shirt by the end of the season, according to reports in Italy.

Balotelli, 25, is on-loan at AC Milan for the season after falling out of favour with former Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers.

However, current manager Jurgen Klopp has told Balotelli’s agent, Mino Raiola, that he wants the Italian striker back at Liverpool.

Since arriving at Liverpool in October last year, Klopp has had to contend with a constant striker shortage, with Danny Ings a long-term absentee, and Daniel Sturridge still battling his injury problems, while Christian Benteke is yet to win over the German.

This has led to Klopp offering Balotelli, who scored one league goal last season, a lifeline at Liverpool.

Bayern Munich

Mario Gotze has said he could leave Bayern Munich at the end of the season, while his praise of Jurgen Klopp has led to speculation he could be on his way to Liverpool.

Gotze, 23, became the most expensive German player in history when he moved from Borussia Dortmund to Bayern for €37 million (Dh148.4m) in 2013, but has found his chances limited this season to seven Bundesliga matches.

The arrival of Carlo Ancelotti in the summer to replace Pep Guardiola as manager could offer Gotze a second chance at Bayern, but the World Cup winner has said he wants regular football.

“I haven’t decided what will happen after the season,” Gotze told Bild.

“Everything depends on the plans of the new coach. I have not thought about my future much due to my recent injuries but as I said: nothing has been decided yet.

“I want to play. Everything else, we’ll see in the summer.”

Gotze’s special praise of Klopp, who he worked under at Dortmund, in the same interview, combined with his unhappiness at Bayern has naturally resulted in reports claiming he could join his compatriot at Liverpool.

“I know Klopp really well, our cooperation was outstanding,” Gotze said. “He is definitely a very good coach.”

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Manchester United

There may be a slight upturn in form from Manchester United, but that has not stopped speculation surrounding the future of manager Louis van Gaal.

The latest report from the French media claims United have made an inquiry to Paris Saint-Germain about the availability of coach Laurent Blanc. The report from Le10 Sport even suggests that United could install Blanc as manager during the current season, although should a deal materialise, a move in the summer is more likely.

Not only has Blanc impressed in his role at PSG, where he has guided the club to successive Ligue 1 titles as well as the domestic treble last season, but has close ties with United having spent two seasons at Old Trafford, winning the 2003 Premier League title.

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