Crystal Palace close to signing Cheick Doucouré from Lens for initial £18m

Crystal Palace are closing on the signing of Mali’s midfielder Cheick Doucouré after agreeing an initial £18m fee.

The 22-year-old emerged as one of Patrick Vieira’s key targets after excelling in Ligue 1 last season as Lens finished seventh, with Doucouré expected to agree a five-year contract at Selhurst Park after agreeing personal terms. Palace had an initial £14m offer rejected last week but returned with an improved bid potentially worth more than £22m.

Vieira is in need of reinforcements in midfield after Conor Gallagher returned to Chelsea and with doubts over the future of Cheikhou Kouyaté, whose deal expires at the end of this month. Talks over a new contract with the Senegal international have so far failed to bring an agreement, with clubs in Turkey believed to be interested in the 32-year-old.

With the captain Luka Milivojević out of favour and concerns over the injury record of James McArthur despite the 34-year-old signing a contract extension, Doucouré will be expected to occupy the holding role in Palace’s midfield. Eberechi Eze should be available more after making only 13 Premier League appearances on his return from an achilles injury last season but it is understood Palace are still targeting more midfield recruits as well as a right-back.

A loan for Manchester United’s Aaron Wan-Bissaka back to his former club remains an option, and Palace have been linked with a permanent transfer for Chelsea’s defender Levi Colwill. The former Derby forward Malcolm Ebiowei has signed a five-year deal after Palace saw off interest from Manchester United in the 18-year-old.

“I’m delighted that Malcolm has chosen Crystal Palace as the best place to continue his development, following his impressive breakthrough into senior football in recent months,” said the chairman, Steve Parish. “He is a highly coveted young player, and we very much expect to provide a platform for him to flourish at the highest level.”

Takumi Minamino has completed a permanent move from Liverpool to Monaco in a deal worth €18m (£15.5m). Liverpool will receive €15m and €3m in add-ons for the Japan international, who was unable to secure a regular first-team role under Jurgen Klopp but made important contributions during his two and a half years at Anfield. The 27-year-old was Liverpool’s top scorer in last season’s victorious FA Cup and Carabao Cup campaigns.

Minamino, who has signed a four-year deal with Monaco, cost Liverpool £7.25m when they activated a release clause in his contract with Red Bull Salzburg in January 2020. He spent the second half of the title-winning 2019-20 season on loan at Southampton and made 55 appearances for Liverpool, scoring 14 goals.

The forward follows Sadio Mané and Divock Origi out of Anfield in a summer when Klopp has reshaped his attack with the signing of Darwin Núñez from Benfica.