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Gossip: Chelsea 'could sack Conte over Costa text', Liverpool 'want Swiss hero Shaqiri', Man City 'eye Boateng reunion'

Switzerland star Xherdan Shaqiri could be set for a big move to Liverpool from recently-relegated Stoke, according to reports

We’ve all sent a text when we’re angry and regretted it the following day. But have you ever sent a text when you’re angry and regretted it the following year? That’s the situation Antonio Conte reportedly finds himself in this morning, 12 months after he pinged a message to Diego Costa telling him he was rubbish.

Back then, the Chelsea manager was untouchable. A newly crowned Premier League champion who could have WhatsApped a picture of his bum to Roman Abramovich’s wife and got away with it. A year later, the Russian is actively looking for ways to sack the Italian – and he thinks he’s found one.

The Express says the Blues are eyeing a “legal loophole” that would enable them to dismiss Conte without having to pay him £9m in compensation – and it all dates back to last summer’s ‘Textgate’ affair.

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By sending a message to Costa informing the Spanish Brazilian striker that he was no longer part of his plans, Chelsea will try to allege that Conte was guilty of “mismanagement” on the basis that his actions cost the club millions of pounds.

That snarky text alerted other clubs to Costa’s availability, consequently driving down his price tag, while it also prompted Costa to spend the ensuing five months in his mum’s front room in Brazil watching telly, which didn’t help his value much either.


Liverpool eye Xherdan Shaqiri

Someone whose market value has just rocketed is Xherdan Shaqiri, the Stoke City winger whose last-minute goal secured victory for Switzerland against Serbia last night. Unfortunately for the Potters, the 26-year-old has a £12m release clause that will be unaffected by his exploits at the World Cup.

The team being tipped to take advantage of this potential bargain is Liverpool, with the Star saying the Reds could turn to Shaqiri as a much cheaper alternative to £53m-rated Lyon playmaker Nabil Fekir. The tabloid gets this idea from an interview it did with Chris Kamara, so make of it what you will.

Fekir, meanwhile, is being linked with a move to Real Madrid – by his agent anyway (Mirror). Another Liverpool target is already at the Bernabeu, with the Spanish giants snapping up Ukrainian goalkeeper Andriy Lunin despite the Reds’ “last-ditch attempt” to bring the highly rated 19-year-old to Anfield (Express).

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Germany defender Jerome Boateng could return to Manchester City for £50m, seven years after they sold him to Bayern Munich to £12m, which doesn’t like very smart business by the English champions (Manchester Evening News). In better news, Citizens midfielder Ilkay Gundogan is set to snub interest from Barcelona to sign a new contract at the Etihad (Sun).

Elsewhere, Tottenham are interested in £25m-rated Nice striker Alassane Plea to provide competition to Harry Kane up front (Sun), Fulham have made a £10m offer for Southampton left-back Matt Targett (Sky Sports) and departed Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere will decide his future “while on holiday” this month (Talksport). Maybe he’ll just get a job in a bar in Tenerife and stay there.