Sports news, commentary and scores with wit and added value. We compare and contrast the best and worst sports reporting in the mainstream press, blogs, TV and online. We love the English Premier League (Arsenal, Liverpool, Spurs, Manchester United and Manchester City) and all things football but we cover cricket, rugby, the Olympics, tennis, golf, F1 and highlights of the sporting year.
Transfer Balls spots this utter drivel in the Daily Telegraph. Arsenal’sSerge Gnabry has been called up to Germany’s Olympic football team. Lest you suppose news that a bit-part Arsenal player missing a few games with an Olympic hangover was not big news, the Telegraph says you’d be wrong. It is huge.
Gnabry featured on loan for West Brom last season [3 matches played], but has impressed Arsene Wenger this pre-season, and has been tipped for a more important role at the Emirates this season.
More important than no games for Arsenal last season?
His departure for the Games leaves Arsenal a man short in their midfield, and could even force Wenger’s hand in the transfer market.
Who could replace Gnabry, the player who made nine starts for Arsenal? Richard Amofa Harry Yorke have an idea.
Who would be a suitable replacement? Either Alexandre Lacazette and Riyad Mahrez could probably do the job. Many would feel Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is also capable, but the forward today distanced himself from a move to the Gunners.
Got that? The Premier League’s best player last season, the exciting young French striker or the thrilling Dortmund striker could do the job of Gnabry.
Indeed. What about Ronaldo? Surely he deserves the chance.
Paul Pogba Watch: Six days since the Daily Mirror stated that Manchester United had “signed” Paul Pogba, we read on Sky Sports:
Manchester United transfer rumours: Paul Pogba deal – on or off?
So much for United having “clinched” Pogba, as the Mirror told us. Sky hasn’t a clue. It asks: “Which are the most credible Manchester United transfer rumours right now?”
None of them, which is they they are rumours. None of them are credible.
Daily Star balls
Sky then says only United are in for Pogba, which sounds absurd. Are they bidding against themselves?
It is understood Juventus have now accepted Pogba wants to leave the club, although the cost of the deal has already priced Real Madrid out of the market.
It is all laughable. Indeed, Paul Pogba and his agent Mino Raiola are laughing themselves silly.
The Mirror sees that photo are conjures the news:
Pogba is close to completing his £100million transfer to United but has kept tight-lipped over his future despite posting a cryptic post on Instagram
Got that? According to the Mirror, Pogba is now talking in codes via Instagram. What can it all mean? He and his agent are laughing in Miami. The soon-to-be stinking rich player and his soon-to-even-richer agent are laughing.
AS says Raiola is looking at a €20m commission from any sale. The Spanish paper also says Pogba is waiting for Real Madrid to make their move.
Vacations in Palm Island, Miami, United States. A 7,758 kilometers from Turin, on an artificial island of Key Biscayne where the famous mobster Al Capone lived his last days in a luxurious mansion of 2,800 square meters, Pogba hung yesterday a photo in bathing suit with his agent, Mino Raiola, and a message: “we say everything without saying anything. Holidays”.
The Indy says Paul Pogba’s move to Manchester United is nothing to do with Pogba’s “dream” to play for Real. It’s being held by a disagreement over who pays Mino Raiola’s £25m agent fee, according to the Sun.
United and Raiola are happy for both clubs to pay £12.5m. But Juve refuse to pay Raiola a penny from the money they will get from United for Pog, 23.
Raiola is laughing. Pogba is laughing. United are desperate and sweating. The Press are clueless.
Paul Pogba Watch: It’s been five days since the Daily Mirror reported that Manchester United had “clinched” Paul Pogba. Five days on from that scoop, the Guardian writes:
Juventus tell United to add another €10m to their €120m bid for Paul Pogba
As the Mirror redefines “clinched”, the rest of us realise that Pogba has not left Juventus. We might also wonder if the French player is waiting for Real Madrid to make their move. Not so, says the Guardian:
Paul Pogba is keen to return to Manchester United despite them not being in the Champions League… Juve are seeking an additional €10m and have informed United that their €95m signing of Gonzalo Higuaín from Napoli does not mean they will be forced to sell Pogba.
There are no guarantees. And the Guardian now says “if the transfer takes place” not ‘when’ it will.
It’s fitting to end this Transfer Balls update with a look at what the trusty Mirror are reporting.
It is understood United have agree personal terms worth £250,000-a-week to re-sign the player they let leave for just £800,000 four years ago… Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho is hoping Ed Woodward will get the
This is what the Mirror said last week:
Such are the facts.
PS: Higuain to Juve. No. The Sun told us he plays for Arsenal.
Transfer balls: Arsenal fans reeling from yesterdays BBC news that the club are not spending big money can today read the BBC news of a “£75m double deal to bring Leicester City winger Riyad Mahrez, 25, and Lyon striker Alexandre Lacazette, 25, to the Emirates Stadium.
Winger Mahrez, voted Player of the Year by footballers’ union the PFA last season, and Lyon striker Lacazette are top of Wenger’s wanted list…Mahrez – who has three years left on his contract with the new champions – would cost around £35m.
Over in the Metro, the news is that “Adidas start selling no.7 Riyad Mahrez Chelsea shirts”. Has the Algerian signed for The Blues?
How could he have? The Telegraph reported on July 23 that Mahrez had “agreed to join Arsenal”. The fee: £41m. Have Adidas, the Press or both made an error? The Metro’s source is a twitter account called @Chelseaolic, currently followed by 202 people. The picture is below. Yes, it could be a rough and ready bit of photoshop-style fun. And that’s good enough for The Metro to report it as fact:
The Metro says “The option to buy Mahrez no.7 shirts has since been removed”. Er, no. there is no proof it was ever on offer.
So, the Arsenal move is till on, then?
No. The last word is with Claudio Ranieri, the Leicester manager, who states: “Maybe now (£47m) and maybe tomorrow another newspaper says £100m. Keep going! Mahrez is okay with us. He understands that’s someone loves to put some speculation but it is only speculation.”
Arsenal are having a tough time. Yeah, really. The BBC says Arsenal are “braced” for complaints from fans after “warning them not to expect expensive summer signings.”
That would be the Arsenal who this summer signed Switzerland midfielder Granit Xhaka from Borussia Monchengladbach for £35m (source: BBC)? It would be. That sounds like an expensive signing. It isn’t. As Alan Smith writes in the Guardian, £30m is the “norm” for a decent player.
The Times has more on why the BBC says Arsenal are expecting their fans to complain. Ivan Gazidis, the Arsenal chief executive, says not-big-spending Leicester are the model.
Gazidis said that Arsenal should be inspired by Leicester even after he recruited Ben Wrigglesworth, who was head of technical scouting at the champions. “Leicester identified players from the French second division, so maybe there’s talent that we’ve been overlooking,” Gazidis told ESPN.
“They did their talent identification [well], they had great unity within the group, as well as quality. It wasn’t built on money. It was built on the great fitness work they did. It was built on all of these other elements. I think that’s going to be a continuing trend within the Premier League.”
Or as the Mail says, also today:
Arsene Wenger insists he is ready to spend BIG
Says Wenger: “It’s not over. Today we are in July, and the transfer market finishes on the 31st of August. We know as well that a lot happens many times in the last week.”
The media really have no idea who Arsenal will buy.
Liverpool FC striker Danny Ings writes exclusively for the Liverpool website. In case you missed it, “For the duration of the Reds’ tour of the USA, Danny Ings will be writing an exclusive blog for Liverpoolfc.com.”
Good oh. We like a footballer’s diary. We recall when Finland’s Aki Riihilahti wrote a diary of life with Crystal Palace, which The Times sensibly picked up. It was witty, concise, pithy and engaging
August 26, 2002:
HAVE YOU EVER HEARD A secretary starting to yell and run around the office just because she succeeded to answer the phone? In football this is considered normal. If you score you often just bellow like a horny animal and do these ridiculous madman celebrations that would in the normal life get you hospitalised. And when the ball goes a bit wide from the target everybody raises their hands, throws their neck and sighs ooooh! Can’t really see a barber doing that just because he cut the customer’s mullet a bit too short.
September 9 2002:
So the truth is, Roy Keane is a much better player but also a very different type of person than I am. Well, I prefer it to stay this way. And maybe after this article I have to be careful if I ever play against him. But whatever happens, I am not going to sue him, because I enjoy watching him playing.
October 7 2002:
A FOOTBALLER ATE GREASY fries, coke and a burger and actually played like Ronald McDonald next day.
Highlight October 21, 2002:
“RIIHILAHTI WON THE game for Finland”. “Finnish football is flying high thanks to Riihilahti”. “Riihilahti is leading Finland to his nation’s first European Championship tournament”. These are the headlines I could have made. Instead I just got 5 in the players’ ratings in the local papers and a little mention in the side paragraph: “Riihilahti could have won the game for Finland but finished poorly
Brilliant. So to Danny Ings.
Usually at this level, a lot of players do actually know each other from previous experiences, but of course some don’t. Things like we did today, going to Alcatraz and having a walk around together, means people can get to know each other’s personalities a bit better, find out who can speak which languages and find out who has got banter and who hasn’t.
To be fair, the majority of the new boys have got banter…
Aki wrote in English as his second language. Danny Ings is English.
It’s been two days since the Mirror newspaper reported that Paul Pogba had signed for Manchester United. Today the BBC reports that Man United are “keen to sign” Paul Pogba.
Mourinho said of Pogba:
“We set four targets for us, we got three of them and we are going to get the fourth… Everybody speaks about one, but it wouldn’t be a surprise for me if it is not him and it is another one because we went for profile.”
The Telegraph says Pogba to United is just a “rumour”.
“Paul Pogba believes he is heading back to Old Trafford, according to reports,” says the Star.
The Express says “Jose Mourinho to pull plug on deal if Juventus continue to stall.”
A quick reminder, then, of what the Mirror stated:
No. They haven’t. As the Mirror says today, the deal to sign Pogba has not been done:
Mino Raiola, agent Pogba, denied yesterday on Twitter that Manchester United have completed the signing of French after Italy leave all the covers wearing his player Red Devil: “There is no closed Pogba agreement, much blah, BLA bla…”.
The Daily Mirror says Manchester United have signed Paul Pogba for £100m. The Juventus and France midfielder will very soon be back at Manchester United, the club he left when they didn’t give him enough playing time.
The Mirror delivers the Pogba facts:
Man United CLINCH Paul Pogba deal
Manchester United have now SEALED a world-record £100million deal to sign Paul Pogba .
They have agreed to pay Juventus the massive fee for their France superstar and will hand Pogba a five-year contract worth £210,000-a-week, net.
Marca agrees that Pogba has agreed to join Manchester United for 120 million euros.
The Mail says “Manchester United have agreed personal terms to re-sign Paul Pogba’.
But Sky Sports Italia says nothing has been signed, and Real Madrid are set to make their move.
Transfer Balls: Is Mauro Icardi heading to Arsenal? Maybe. The Sun has news that the “Inter Milan star’s sexy wife and AGENT ” is in London to broker her husband’s £43m move to the Gunners. She is “JET WAGGED” Wanda Nara.
Less anyone think it a bit sexist of the Sun to be astounded that a woman can be a man’s agent, the paper features a picture of her backside. This picture:
The bigger shock than seeing an agent losing their shirt is news that on July 18 the Sun told us: “MAGIC WANDA – Arsenal set to miss out on Mauro Icardi as agent reveals Juventus interest.”
The Sun then added: “His wife Wanda Nara, who bizarrely is also his agent.”
Why is it bizarre that a husband and wife are in business together? If you are going to be shafted by anyone, might as well make it your beloved.
And it’s big money. The Guardian says Incardi “would command a cool £5m in wages this season, should he sign for the Gunners.”
In other Arsenal transfer news, the Indy says Arsenal tare in for Arda Turan for £20m. The paper says Barcelona are willing to sell the Turkish midfielder. They are? No. “Arda Turan pledges Barcelona allegiance,” says the Sun.
The Daily Pogba: an at-a-glance look at news of Juventus and Franc footballer Paul Pogba, wanted by Manchester United.
The Daily Star says Manchester United have bid £85m for Pogba. It’s not enough. Juventus have snubbed “Jose’s offer”. The idea that United manager Jose Mourinho has any say in how much the club should pay for the player is fanciful. United is run by the Glazer family from a shopping mall in the USA. They do the business.
The Guardian says the opening offer is not £85m, but £100m. And it’s not yet been made. The Guardian appears to be acting as a negotiator, adding: United are expected to make an opening bid of £100m with £13m of that performance-related add-ons.”
The Mirror also trumps the Star. Pogba is the paper’s “£100m man”. But it agrees with the Star that the money is Mourinho’s. According to both papers it is the manager not the Glazers who will make Pogba the world’s costliest player.
The Sun, having told us Pogba joined United for £105m last weekend, focuses on the player’s private life.
Today the Sun’s Phil Cadden reports: “MIAMI VICE Paul Pogba pictured smoking E-cigarette while on holiday with Romelu Lukaku in Miami.”
“These snaps of the £105million Manchester United target will have Jose Mourinho fuming,” writes Cadden of the player he told us had already joined United and is now reduced to a “target”. He adds: “Pogba, who met up with Everton’s Romelu Lukaku, is wanted by United and Real Madrid.”
Ah, yes, Real Madrid. AS (Spain) says Pogba has been using his clothes to speak of his desire to play for Real. Below the headline “Pogba’s little message to Real Madrid? He is ‘all in white'”, the Spanish tabloid reports:
Pogba posted a photo on Instagram, along with the words “all in white”, which of course set off speculation, some of it fevered, that this was a clear wink to Real Madrid, who of course play in all white…
Footballers are always hinting at things. Long gone are the plain-speaking days when they’d tell you to ‘f*ck off”. Nowadays it’s all subtlety and codes. From Everton to Manchester City and Barcelona, footballers are holing their hands over their mouth and giving it the eyes.
The Metro says “Neymar’s sister hints at Barcelona exit with cryptic Instagram post.” Neymar’s sister doesn’t play for Barcelona, but player power is high and if the Brazilian player made his sister’s inclusion in the side a condition of his patronage, would we be surprised?
Neymar’s sister, Rafaelle, hinted at a huge transfer by “uploading a picture of a train carriage with the caption: ‘I hope you’re going to a place that makes you happy.’”
Hints. They look a lot like bollocks.
The Sun spots another hint. Everton’s John Stones could be off to Manchester City. “Everton ace hints deal to join Pep Guardiola is close as he crosses M62 for shopping spree,” says the paper.
Stones’ hint involves walking about Manchester with “long-term partner Millie Savage” – “Stones looked extremely relaxed as he marched around with a number of bags including one from Dior.” Nothing relaxes the mind like a good march to Dior.
Stones to Manchester City it is, then. We have peered into the crystal balls Dior bags and seen the future.
The Guardian says it’s “bad news” for Arsenal fans. Arsène Wenger wants to buy Gonzalo Higuaín for £50m. Drat! With bad news like that, fans of Wigan Athletic, QPR and more must be feeling they got off lightly. The “bad news” is that in the insane world of football transfers, the GDP of a mid-sized Pacific island is not enough to hire an ageing striker.
Higuain is not far off 29-years-old. He has been likened to a “block of concrete” by Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis. Not because he’s durable, no-nonsense and tough. The comparison was made in light of Higuain’s girth and mobility.
Napoli, Higuain’s current club, value the Argentine at £80m. Although Sky Sports “sources” say “Higuain won’t leave Napoli for under £78.5m”.
But hold on! The Telegraph reports has news from the inside. A “presenter on official Napoli radio station [Radio Kiss Kiss] says Gonzalo Higuain ‘will almost certainly join Arsenal for €50m plus Olivier Giroud'”. Almost certainly. Or definitely uncertainly.
Of course, this is Anorak’s Transfer Balls, and any mention of Higuain would not be complete without harking back to the fact that he already plays for Arsenal. We read it in the Sun. In fact, the story of Higuain joining Arsenal is still live on the Sun’s website.
More top-notch reporting on overrated France and Juventus footballer Paul Pogba, currently valued at £100m.
TheManchester Evening Newsspins no news into the news that Paul Pogba’s agent “has not set a deadline for the player to complete a move to Manchester United”. In other words, Pogba has not agreed to join Manchester United.
The paper than adds that “all parties want to conclude the deal quickly”. What deal? Samuel Luckhurst’s entire story is thus:
Paul Pogba’s agent Mino Raiola is understood not to have set Manchester United a deadline to sign the Juventus midfielder. However, it is understood all parties are thought to want to conclude the deal quickly and do not want to drag the saga out all summer.
Understand? No, us neither.
The Timessticks to the facts and reminds readers that Poga plays for Juventus. It then quotes Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri: “Anyone who has the opportunity to leave Juventus has to consider things very carefully, because right now Juve are among the top four European clubs. This is not a selling club that just lets its players go. Pogba belongs to Juve.”
True enough. Pogba is under contract to a resurgent Juve.
Over in Spain, AS reports: “Real Madrid asks Pogba and his agent to be patient as they work out their finances.” The paper says Real don’t have a 120 million euros to buy Pogba, and need to make a big sale to raise funds. Real have debts of 620 million euros. Pogba will wait for Real because his “dream is still to be at the orders of Zidane”.
Raiola hasn’t set a deadline because Pogba is waiting for Real to make their move. Well, maybe.
The Indy reminds its readers that Pogba “described the Old Trafford club as his ‘first family’”. It fails to add that Pogba also called Juventus his “family” and Real Madrid the “white house” of football teams. When handed a Manchester United shirt, Pogba’s first reaction was to laugh.
And so begins the break-up of the Leicester City team that one with Premier League. The Telegraph says Chelsea have agreed to sign Leicester midfielder N’Golo Kante, 25, at the weekend for £29m. Kante, we read, will soon tell Foxes manager Claudio Ranieri he wants to leave Leicester.
Of course nothing has been decided. Kante has signed no contract.
Jamie Vardy, Kante’s Leicester team-mate rejected a £20m move to Arsenal and committed to Leicester earlier this summer. Or did he?
The Express told readers on June 7, “Jamie Vardy verbally agrees three-year Arsenal deal”.
Today the Express says, “Arsenal have already missed out on Jamie Vardy, who has verbally agreed a new contract with Leicester.”
Verbal agreements appear to be no agreements at all. Can we deduce from the news that Vardy to Arsenal remains on?
Juventus and France midfielder Paul Pogba, 23, says Manchester United “are his first family“. The BBC says this “confirms” the player’s interest in joining the club.
The BBC’s story is rooted in a TV interview Pogba gave to Spanish TV. The headline of the story is “Manchester United target Paul Pogba unsure on future, happy at Juventus”. Pogba spoke in Spanish to ESPN Deportes.
Sun: “Paul Pogba receives Manchester United, Juventus and Real Madrid shirt on pre ESPYS award talk” – but not in that order.
The interviewer showed Pogba shirts from Juventus, Real Madrid and Manchester United, asking him for a view on each.
On Juventus, the first shirt produced, Pogba said: “This is my team, my family, where I am playing. I am happy there, I play football, and do things I wanted to do when I was small.”
On Madrid, the second shirt produced, Pogba said: “…the white house — which won the Champions League this year, a great club.”
On Manchester United, the last shirt produced, Pogba said: “I don’t know this one… It was my first family.”
Was his family. Not is his family, as the BBC put it.
On getting a call from Jose Mourinho to join United, Pogba added: “My response would be ‘I don’t know.’ I don’t know when. We will see. For the moment, I am here [Juventus] and I am happy here. I don’t know where I want to go.”
Which when put through the journalisamobile, becomes:
The Guardian: “Paul Pogba hints that he is open to joining Manchester United”
The Telegraph: “Paul Pogba refuses to rule out Manchester United transfer”
The Sun spins the shirts, noting: “ESPN host awkwardly hands Paul Pogba a Juventus shirt before laying a Manchester United and Real Madrid shirt alongside.” The United top was third out of the bag.
In other words, and as they say at Real, United are in Pogba’s past and only his third choice of three.
Liverpool are panicked by the sight of Mario Balotelli returning from his season-long loan at AC Milan.
Balotelli joined Liverpool for £16million on a three-year, £125,000-a-week deal from AC Milan in August 2014. In his time at Liverpool, the Italian striker has scored four goals.
Balotelli’s contract offers him the option of a fourth year when this deal runs out.
Understandably, current Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp wants shot of the overpaid Italian signed by his predecessor, Brendan Rodgers, now the Celtic boss, who opined in 2014: “I think to get someone of that quality in this market is a very good deal for us.”
Balotelli cost Manchester City £22.5m when he signed from Internazionale in 2010. He was sold to Milan for £19m and to Liverpool for £16m. It was a risky singing, which Rodgers acknowledged.
But Rodgers and the Liverpool transfer committee should have paid more heed to José Mourinho, his old boss who coached Balotelli at Inter.
“We went to play Rubin Kazan in the Champions League. All my other strikers were injured. No Diego Milito, no Samuel Eto’o,” recalled Mourinho. “I was really in trouble. Mario got a yellow card in the 42nd minute and when I got into the dressing room at half-time I spent 14 minutes of the 15 available speaking to Mario. I said to him: ‘Mario, I can’t change you, I have no strikers on the bench, don’t touch anybody and play only the ball. Mario, if someone provokes you, don’t react. If we lose the ball, no reaction. If the referee makes a mistake, no reaction…. The 46th minute: red card.”
Klopp has seen and heard enough.
“He’s not at the stage of his career where he should be battling with four or five players for one or two positions,” says Klopp. “So it’s clear we need a solution. There will be a club who would be happy to have the new Mario Balotelli.”
But will there be a club willing to cough up a big whack of cash and pay the likeable lunk half a million pounds a month?
As Mario Sconcerti put it in Corriere della Sera, Balotelli possesses “the strange talent of making everyone happy when he arrives and even happier when he leaves”.
The Daily Pogba: is the France player heading to Manchester United for £100m? News is that Juventus, his current club, are to offer the player a pay rise. Stick with Juve and earn £130,000 a week (source: The Times). Manchester United are willing to pay him – get this – £200,000-a-week. Given Pogba’s showing at the Euros, Manchester United are rich, desperate and a touch mad.
So, Pogba’s a shoo-in to join them, says the Sun, which declared on July 9:
PAYING THE PRICE Paul Pogba transfer news: Real Madrid turned Juventus star down because he was too CHEAP… and have now been priced out by Manchester United
Priced out by United. Fact. Or as the Sun puts it today:
Reports the Spanish giants are out of the race… were wide of the mark. A top source said: “Madrid are very much still in for Pogba.”
Of course, Sun readers know that. After all, on July 2, they read:
POGBA WANTS SPANISH SWITCH Paul Pogba would rather join Barcelona, Real Madrid or even Manchester City than link up with Jose Mourinho at Manchester United
One thing the Sun can agree with itself on: Pogba is leaving Juventus. As the paper says today: “Paul Pogba must make his mind up whether to move to Man Utd or Real Madrid.”
He MUST. Or as his agent tells the Times: “Paul is not desperate to move. We are very happy at Juventus.”
Arsenal are under “threat”. In an “exclusive”, the Mail’s Charles Sale thunders beneath the headline “THIERRY THREAT” that Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has delivered an “extraordinary ultimatum”. He has “ruled” that Henry must leave his punditry role at Sky Sports if he wants to be an Arsenal coach.
Wenger “feels his fellow Frenchman cannot work within the club during the week and then criticise their players at the weekend”. Well, quite. That seems obvious. Henry has been highly critical of Olivier Giroud, the Arsenal and France striker.
But then Sale says Wenger is “hypocritical” because he worked as a pundit for beIN Sport during Euro 2016. That job ends when the season begins. Henry’s job just gets going.
Move with the times, Spain. In Minnesota men inside Zorbs – inflatable bubbles – are getting tossed into the air by bulls. It’s all good, clean harmless fun at the Waconia Minnesota Professional Rodeo.
Who will be the next England team manager? Will it be Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger?
Metro says “Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger gives massive England job hint”. Really? This is Wenger who saw England’s desire to recruit foreign managers and mused: “In a country of 50 million people, you would think you could find one of your own.”
The Times says: “Wenger keen on England if FA waits a year.”
Is Wenger worth waiting for? Is he The One, the figure so vital to the FA they will wait? In 1996 Wenger arrived at Arsenal from Nagoya Grampus Eight. He was a sensation. Why can’t England be as bold and go for someone young and innovative?
For years the FA has been eyeing Wenger – the manager who became “the first to pick a 16-man Premier League squad that did not feature a single Englishman”.
Does Wenger really want the job? When asked about managing England, the Arsenal manager told BeIn Sports:
“Could I manage England, why not? I would never rule that out, but I am happy and focused in club football… I have one more year to go with Arsenal and I have been with them for a long time. I have always respected all my contacts [throughout my career] and will continue to do that. What will I do after that? Honestly, I don’t know.”
Arsenal have already lined up a two-year extension to that deal. They want him to agree to it by October. Wenger knows his value to the Gunners.
Here are a couple of stories that offer insight into how football transfers work. First up the news that last January Manchester United offered a massive £35m for Watford’s Odion Ighalo. You didn’t know about this because both clubs kept quiet. Watford didn’t want to upset their striker. Manchester United didn’t want the markets and money men to know their pulling power was so diminished that signing a Watford player for a huge fee was beyond their reach.
On the upside, Marcus Rashford got his chance and the then United manager Louis Van Gaal looked like he knew what he was doing.
The second story is that Barcelona have not bought Liverpool’s Nathaniel Clyne. Barcelona don’t buy lots of players, of course. Clyne’s story is newsworthy because the story goes that his people offered him to Barcelona. The Catalans weren’t interested. Good for Clyne that he sees himself in one of Europe’s top sides but surely bad for his Liverpool career.
Rub your eyes Arsenal fans. The Telegraph says Arsenal are planning to gazump Chelsea and bid – get this – £65m for Real Madrid’s Alvaro Morata.
The Sun tells us Arsenal will offer Morata £144,000-a-week, making him their third highest paid player behind Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez.
The Daily Mirror says Morata to Arsenal is very much on because the player wants Champions’ League football, something Chelsea can’t offer.
But would Arsenal really bid such a huge sum for a talented but far from sensational player? The Tele says Chelsea are “more than willing to pay that price”. The Blues want to stick Morata up front with new boy Michy Batshuayi. But Morata “would rather move to the Emirates than Stamford Bridge”.
The Standard says Arsenal are offering too much. “Chelsea bid £51m for Alvaro Morata,” says the London free paper.
The Indy says Morata to Arsenal is on. But in case it isn’t, the paper of record names NINE other strikers who could join Arsenal. The list is a sensation, featuring, as it does, Brazilian superstar Neymar. Neymar to Arsenal! That would be the same Neymar of whom the Indy wrote on July 1 this year:
Neymar’s contract with Barcelona has been extended until 2021… The announcement ended speculation that Neymar was unhappy in Spain and was looking to move to another club.
It did – unless the Indy has to find 10 names for a dire story on Arsenal strikers.
Of course, there is balls and there is utter balls. We’ll leave you with the news from 2014 that Morata already plays for Arsenal: