Liverpool football club news, Liverpool transfers, Premier League
The Dutch have cancelled their domestic football season. And it’s bad news for Liverpool and very good news for Norwich and other teams facing relegation from the Premier League. There will no champion of the Eredivisie, the Netherlands’ top league. There will be no relegations. One option was to take an average of points scored so far and add them to games still to play. But that would have made no difference to the teams qualifying for the Champions League and Europa league, respectively. In the Premier League, it would – and it means Arsenal (currently in 9th spot) qualifying for the Europa League ahead of Spurs (8th).
Manchester City’s (2nd) ban from the European competition means Manchester United (5th) take their place in the Champions League, where they will be in the mix with Leicester City (3rd) and Chelsea (4th).
It is the most likely scenario. Already all football in England below the three divisions that make up the National League has ended and all results expunged.
It’s time for the upper tiers to follow suit and present a clear path ahead. The Dutch have set the agenda – and it’s the right one.
Liverpool have listened to the fans and media who decried their decision to place some non-playing staff on temporary leave and take advantage of the Government’s furlough scheme to let the taxpayer pay 80% of their wages. Liverpool – owned by a billionaire and posting profits last season of £43m – will muddle along some how. Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur, Bournemouth and Norwich City are sticking with their plans to furlough some non-playing staff. Bournemouth and Norwich are not big clubs. Newcastle are a basket case. But Spurs with that swanky new stadium and billionaire owner can afford it, surely? With Liverpool no longer doing the wrong thing, Spurs might be the world’s greediest football club. Finally, they win something.
Who decides on your pay cut to help the struggle against the coronavirus? Your employer? You? If you’re a professional footballer should it be up to The Professional Footballers’ Union, the players’ trade body led by the absurdly well-paid chief executive Gordon Taylor? The Premier League wants elite players to take 30 per cent reduction in wages. For the same reason that politicians call footballers role models, health secretary Matt Hancock wants top footballers to “take a cut and play their part”. Why? And why them and not, say, firefighters, teachers at private schools or Matt Hancock?
The PFA says:
“The proposed 30 per cent salary deduction over a 12-month period equates to over £500m in wage reductions and a loss in tax contributions of over £200m to the government. What effect does this loss of earning to the government mean for the NHS? Was this considered in the Premier League proposal and did the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock factor this in when asking players to take a salary cut?”
Clubs like Norwich, Bournemouth, Newcastle, Spurs and Liverpool have applied to use the UK government’s furlough scheme to fund the wages of non-playing staff, without having first agreed cuts with their high-earning footballers.
David Lammy, Labour MP for Tottenham, is not impressed. “The public rightly expect highly paid footballers at top clubs to be asked to shoulder the burden of football clubs’ financial losses over the coming months, ” he says, “rather than those on modest salaries in cleaning, catering or security having to be supported by the taxpayer.”
Spurs and Liverpool are owned by billionaires. The Spurs owner is, as the Sun bills him, “the billionaire Spurs owner that lives on a boat worth £112m, gave The Nolans their first ever gig and counts Tiger Woods and Sean Connery as mates.” He needs your help to pay the bills. Liverpool owner John W. Henry is also a billionaire.
Meanwhile… Her Majesty the Queen (worth: lots) says we’re all in it together. Maybe her grandson, Prince William, chairman of the FA, can chip in to the football clubs’ fighting fund?
With top-flight football banned until April 4 at the earliest as the coronavirus bites, fair minds have been pushing their agendas. West Ham United’s vice-chairman Karren Brady insists that the Premier League season has to be declared void if no more fixtures are possible. “Sorry Liverpool,” says the woman to the table toppers and whose club is only out of the Premier League relegation zone on goal difference. “As games in both the PL and in the EFL are affected, the only fair and reasonable thing to do is declare the whole season null and void,” says Brady in her Sun column. “Who knows who would have gone down or come up if the games have not actually been played in full?” Can we guess? It is, she concedes, “A huge blow to Liverpool who might be robbed of their first title in 30 years.” But robbery is fine so long as it’s “fair and reasonable”.
But over in the Telegraph, we learn: “Liverpool are still likely to be crowned Premier League champions, even if the coronavirus crisis causes the season to be abandoned… a senior club executive revealed on Friday night that there was little opposition to awarding Jurgen Klopp’s men their first English title for 30 years following what threatened to be the longest suspension of the professional game since the Second World War.” An unnamed senior Liverpool FC executive says the Reds win the title because it seems likely they would have won it anyhow. Sport isn’t unpredictable. Liverpool won’t do a Devon Lock. Liverpool get the the Coronavirus Cup and the other teams get… Well, what? To applaud from their sick beds?
There are, of course, financial implications, wages and transfer debts must be paid and there is lost broadcast revenue,” says Brady, “lost matchday income but this pales into insignificance as the health and well-being of everyone must come first.” To say nothing of the cost of West Ham’s relegation from the Premier League, which she doesn’t.
Now that Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has tested positive for coronavirus, surely the football season is over. Arsenal have closed their training ground and Arteta and all members of the first team squad have gone into isolation. Chances are that Arteta caught the virus when Arsenal played Olympiakos two weeks ago – Olympiakos owner Evangelos Marinakis, who has coronavirus, met a number of Arsenal players and staff after the match. Since then Arsenal have played West Ham and Portsmouth. What price their staff have also contacted the illness? On top of that, Leicester City players have gone into isolation, Manchester City defender Benjamin Mendy is self-isolating as a precaution after a member of his family was admitted to hospital displaying symptoms of coronavirus and Arsenal’s training ground is adjacent to Watford’s practice pitches. And what of all the media who cover the matches, attend press conferences and post-match interviews? The Premier League season must be cancelled. Hard luck on Liverpool, who lead the table, and sides vying for promotion in the Championship, but needs must.
Sky Sports says its reporter Kaveh Solhekol has the inside line” on Jadon Sancho’s future. Sky tweets: “@SkyKaveh has the inside line on Jadon Sancho’s future.” And the future is linking him with move to Liverpool. So what is the ‘inside line” from “The Insider”?
It is difficult to say where Jadon Sancho will be playing next season because so many clubs want him…
But The Insider knows:
Manchester United are confident they can get Sancho in the summer…
Bayern Munich would love to keep him in the Bundesliga…
…I was a betting man my money would be on Liverpool.
The inside line is that the insider doesn’t know where Sancho will be playing next season, but if he does leave Dortmund it will be very possibly for a big club with lots of money. You heard it here second, folks. And you can read it all over Google, too, where the thoughts of a man who doesn’t know are big news:
Such are the facts…
“Well, I have two clubs. They are Arsenal and Barcelona. That is my ultimate dream.” So said Hakim Ziyech, the Ajax wing whose just agreed to join Chelsea for (£33.3m).
That’s not to say Ziyech won’t one day live his dream – nor is it to suggest that reporting on the Moroccan players is of any use. Here are some other things we’ve read about Ziyech in the trusty media:
“Ajax playmaker Hakim Ziyech has an agreement to leave the club this summer amid links to Everton and Liverpool” – HITC.com, 2018
“Liverpool boosted following Hakim Ziyech transfer revelation – Liverpool target Hakim Ziyech has agreed to leave Ajax for an unnamed club” – The Metro, July 2018
“Hakim Ziyech Agrees Personal Terms With Bayern Munich” – 90minutes.com, May 2019
“Ajax sensation Hakim Ziyech available for £25m as Moroccan star reveals move to Arsenal is his ‘ultimate dream’ so he can link up with idol Mesut Ozil” – Daily Mail, May 2019
“Ajax confirm Hakim Ziyech to leave” – May 2019, The Official Liverpool FC website
“Ajax boss confirms Roma will sign Hakim Ziyech” – Calciomercato.com, June 2019, –
“Hakim Ziyech Signs Ajax Contract Extension Amid Bayern Munich Transfer Rumours” – Bleacher Report, August 2019
February 2020 – Hakim Ziyech signs for Chelsea. Such are the facts.
The Mirror tells readers that Manchester United are “confident” of signing Borussia Dortmund’s England winger Jadon Sancho, 19, this coming January. Number of facts to support this story: none.
Indeed, the Sun says Sancho is “more likely” to join Liverpool. Number of facts to support the news: none. “Jadon Sancho ‘more likely to join Liverpool’ than transfer rivals Man Utd and Chelsea,” says the Sun. Who says the words “more likely”? Er, the Sun.
talkSport muses: “Jadon Sancho to Chelsea?” It doesn’t know. It has no idea. But the broadcaster’s man in the don’t-know will bash out a few words on maybe and maybe not. So maybe Chelsea.
“Jadon Sancho makes Liverpool and Man Utd transfer decision,” says the Express. He does? No. But if he has done, no-one’s telling. Utter tosh.
But hold on a moment. The Liverpool Echo has a scoop. It says Sancho joined them in January – next January! “This is what happened when we ‘signed’ Jadon Sancho for Liverpool in January,” reports the paper. And readers get to read about a football game that guesses about stuff – much like the Press.
How does Liverpool find players? Ian Graham, a theoretical physicist and Liverpool’s director of research, has been talking to Freakonomics Radio. “We get data on every ball touch that every player makes in a game, where it was on the pitch and what happened next,” says the man who played a key role in Mo Salah’s recruitment. “We can see where all the players are at 25 frames per second. We try to put everything into one currency. Football is measured in goals, so we try to take whatever action a player does on a pitch – a pass, a shot, a tackle – and ask the question, ‘What was this team’s chance of scoring before this action and what was the team’s chance of scoring after?’”
So will Liverpool win a trophy this season? Yes, probably. The club has a probability of over 0.5 trophies.
It’s not a perfect science:
In Premier League football and European football in general, there’s a worldwide free market of football players. So if we spot a player that we would like to play for Liverpool and we can pay the price that the selling club demands, then we can buy him. And the real power of data analysis is when the data set is large. We have detailed data on hundreds of thousands of players. Maybe only five percent of those would be anywhere near a Premier League level player. But that’s still 5,000 players, which is too big a set of players to scout everyone in depth and in detail. So we can really help that filtering and identification process.
He goes on to say that managers can define a good player by their ability to interpret instructions, obedience and simply turning up on time and to every training session; a player can think themselves a good player for other reasons, such as being mercurial. This can mean that the more free-spirited players get less game time and are overlooked. Graham says the problem is that “if everyone has that rule [not to employ the outsiders] there’s gonna be a surplus of really talented dickheads that could win you the league.”
Liverpool fans are under investigation by UEFA because one or more of their travelling fans unfurled a banner in Genk that was “highly offensive and inappropriate”. A matter of taste, then? The banner featured Divock Origi’s head superimposed on to the body of a naked black man with a large penis stood next to the European Cup.
When you consider all the stages from production – ‘brilliant’ idea in pub; search for pictures of naked man; get new Windows program to mock up image; go to printers; print and pay for the thing; take it to Belgium; tie it to a fence in Belgium – it’s mind-blowing to think that at no point did anyone think, ‘Shall we bother? It made us hoot with laughter after ten shandies but now that we’re sober and in Belgium, we look like perverts, bigots and bigger bellends than the bloke on our screensaver.
So it wasn’t a great idea for lads, to reduce their “cult hero” (source: Daily Mail) to a stereotype that portrays black men as something freakish – base, lower in IQ, animalistic, physically strong, brutish, mentally negligible and all the exactly the same. One black man is all black men, say the idiots. The big ones and the small ones are all the same size. They each personify and epitomise those same traits the slave masters gave them all those moons ago. Well, in a Liverpool fan’s moist dreams they do.
Who let those massive knobs into the ground?
And can we take a moment to wonder why there are so few black managers in top-flight football?
Anything to sully the mood around Liverpool FC? It could come in the compact form of the overrated Philippe Coutinho. In 2018, a desperate Barcelona signed the player for £142m. He’d be a replacement for Andres Iniesta (cost: nothing at age 12). Coutinho flopped. He’s now on loan to Bayern Munich.
So what about the bad news for Liverpool? Well, the Daily Mirror has it. The paper says Liverpool are still owed £84m for the transfer: “But Liverpool will only be receiving a further £4.5m from Barcelona, because £75.5m of the fee appears to be payable to a third party lender, according to the club’s accounts.”
Got it? Well, now forget it because the Mirror then produces a passage that is utterly confusing:
Liverpool received £105m up front for the sale of Coutinho, with the remaining £37million set to be paid in installments. The vast majority of this money has already been paid to Liverpool but Barcelona’s financial accounts for last season showed the Reds are still owed £84m for the Brazilian. Of this amount £24m is due in the short term, and will be paid by the end of the season, with the remaining £60m set to be paid on an unspecified date in the future.
The “vast majority” of £142m – £105m – has been paid but according to the Spanish club’s books, Liverpool are owed £84m? Which, aside form being utter trash, makes it appear to be a story about Barcelona’s accounting and not Liverpool’s earnings.
The Mirror is utterly clueless. Having said Liverpool received £105m “up front” but are owned £84m, the “intelligent tabloid” adds:
But Liverpool will only be receiving a further £4.5m from Barcelona, because £75.5m of the fee appears to be payable to a third party lender, according to the club’s accounts.
Dire reporting. Total and utter tosh. The Liverpool Echo does better:
That fee appears to be payable to a third party lender, however, with Liverpool owed just €5m from Barcelona, having already banked – and spent – €155m.
And blessedly the Mail nails it: “Barcelona still owe £84 MILLION to the banks over Philippe Coutinho deal.”
Spotter: Barcelona FC annual report
Manchester United will pay £6.2m-a-year for Mario Mandzukic, 33, says the Mail. Juventus want a fee of £15m for the Croatia international – which may be included in a bigger swap deal involving United’s 26-year-old Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku. Napoli also want the striker. Sources for the Mail’s story: none. It sounds like bunkum. Why would united want the ageing Croat?
Better news for United is that Real Madrid have finally made a decision on Pogba: they don’t want him. Spanish papers say to get the ambulatory marketing machine they would need to sell Bale, James and Mariano. They can’t. Real did offer James plus a lot of cash for Pogba. United rejected the deal. So Real will move for Ajax’s 22-year-old Dutch midfielder Donny van de Beek.
Liverpool are to replace Simon Mingolet with former West Ham goalkeeper Adrian. Mingolet joined Club Bruges for £6m.
Liverpool have signed Harvey Elliott from Fulham. He’s 16, wears his hair in a bun and boasts the record of becoming the youngest player to feature in the Premier League when at at the age of 16 years and 30 days old he played against Wolves.
Big clubs are chasing youth.
Xavier Amaechi has left Arsenal for £2.25m. The 18-year-old has joined Hamburg on a four-year contract. The hope is that these young players go on to command very high transfer fees. If Harry Maguire can be worth £80m to Manchester United – the fee his current club Leicester City are asking for the defender – the sky’s the limit.
Manchester United are spending big and have agreed a £65m deal for Sporting Lisbon’s Portugal midfielder Bruno Fernandes, 24. And money is scheduled to come in: noises from Spain indicate that Real Madrid or Juventus are to offer £150m move for Manchester United and France midfielder Paul Pogba, 26. United also fancy Lyon’s Moussa Dembélé if Romelu Lukaku joins Internazionale and view Lazio’s Sergej Milinkovic-Savic as replacement for Pogba.
Even Spurs have £80m for Argentina forward Paulo Dybala, 25. But he wants to stay at Juventus.
Liverpool beat Spurs 2-1 in today’s Premier League match, the winning goal coming in the 90th minute courtesy of a Tottenham player. Lucky? Let’s see what the club’s respective websites say:
Spurs see a “save” from their ‘keeper and a Mo Salah “strike”:
…in the last minute of normal time, goalkeeper Hugo Lloris saved but couldn’t hold Mo Salah’s back-post strike from Trent Alexander-Arnold’s cross and the ball trickled in off the legs of defender Toby Alderweireld, consigning us to a 2-1 defeat.
Liverpool, on the other hand, see Mo Salah head tamely in the general direction of the Spurs goal and a rubbish bit of goalkeeping:
The contest looked to be heading for stalemate until Hugo Lloris pushed Mohamed Salah’s header against the shins of Toby Alderweireld and over the line to give Liverpool what could prove a crucial victory in the race to be crowned champions.
Robertson hoisted a half-cleared corner back into the area, picking out Salah. His header across goal was fumbled by Loris, with the ball edging over the line off the shins of Alderweireld
For reasons of balance, this is how the Guardian saw it: “The more you see the winning goal, the more it looks like a bad mistake by Hugo Lloris, who should have caught Salah’s header. Instead he dropped it onto Alderweireld’s shin and it rebounded into the net.”
And the BBC: “Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris failed to hold Mohamed Salah’s routine far-post header and the ball ricocheted into the net off Alderweireld.” But to Spurs fans it was a Lloris “save”.
The BBC says former Chelsea and Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho is “almost 100% certain” to rejoin Real Madrid this summer. In 2013, Mourinho left Real to return to Chelsea. The Daily Telegraph agrees that the Portugueses is heading to Spain. But neither broadcaster nor newspaper can cite a source for their story. The roots of the story are unnamed “sources”.
Mourinho is currently taking time out from coaching to work on his insults having been sacked by United and replaced by Ole Gunnar Solskjær. He’s looking for work. And his agent could use a few quid. Maybe the ‘sources’ are pretty close to the subject?
And then talkSport pops up to say “Jurgen Klopp is reportedly Real Madrid’s No.1 target”. Reported by whom? talkSport links to the Independent. It declares: “Next Real Madrid manager: Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp made No 1 target in wake of Champions League exit.” The website cites not a single source for its news, only that:
Jose Mourinho has not been completely ruled out, and still has a good relationship with president Florentino Perez and director general Jose Angel Sanchez, but there is a view at the top level of the club that the Portuguese is “finished”.
Whatever the facts, Klopp or Mourinho to Real is good news for Spurs fans because back in June, Mauricio Pochettino suggested that “when Real Madrid call you, you have to listen”. He later responded to interest from Spain: “It is like you are with your wife and you are holding hands, walking down the street,” he told the Guardian. But because you are so handsome, another woman is looking at you. But your wife is so proud and, rather than worrying, she is so happy to be with you and falls more in love with you.”
The Argentine earns £8.2m a year at Spurs. He’d earn a lot more at Madrid and maybe even win something. “Jorge Griffa [his former coach] told me once that I have to let football take me wherever,” Poch opined “to not get bogged down in trying to change my own destiny.”
Clear as mud, then. And the media hasn’t a clue. So they’re guessing. Which can men only one thing: Unai Emery to Madrid.
Liverpool are willing to spend £35m on Celta Vigo and Uruguay striker Maxi Gomez. The BBC says Liverpool will spend all that money after the club’s former player Luis Suarez recommended his compatriot. And what better pat-time job for ‘Honest Luis’ Suarez than being a respectful football agent? You can imagine how his first foray into recruitment went down:
A phone rings at Fenway Sports Group.Luis Suarez: “It’s me…” Receptionist: “Fernando!” LS: “No. It’s me Luis.. Luis Suarez.” R: “Who?” LS: “The guy who nearly won you the title…” R: “Oh, the biter. The guy who hand-balled at the World Cup, admitted to diving and called…? LS: “Yes. Tell Mr Henry to buy my friend Maxi Gomez.” R: “OK. Will do!”
The Sun says Chelsea also want Gomez – a player who back in January was said to be on his way to West Ham. The Guardian reported that the Hammers were prepared to trigger the striker’s £43.5m release clause.
If not Gomez, then Liverpool will move for RB Leipzig and Germany striker Timo Werner, 22. Luis Suarez’s views on him are not revealed. But the Liverpool board will be doubtless hoping for his call.
Ahead of Bayern Munich’s Champions League tie with Liverpool, the German’s club’s Arjen Robben is talking to the Sunday Times.
“If you ask the worst stadium for me, it’s probably Liverpool,” says Robben. “You always have your favourite opponent and there always has to be a negative one. There is only one [exception],” Robben says, his eyes widening: “Anfield.”
Anfield is where the diving Dutchman’s Real Madrid side lost 4-0. It’s where he lost two Champions League semi-finals with Chelsea. In one, Robben missed the first penalty in a shoot-out. In another, Chelsea were undone by a goal that wasn’t, the col-called ‘ghost goal’.
“The atmosphere at Anfield is probably one of the best you can imagine in Europe,” he adds. “It’s always like a big boost to them [Liverpool]. But we’re used to playing in big stadiums, so we just have to focus on ourselves.” about the little details.”
He calls Liverpool a cup-fighting team. And they’re a lucky one.
Luis García is still asked about the “ghost goal” and José Mourinho is still moaning about it. The Spaniard’s fourth-minute finish for Liverpool in the 2005 Champions League semi-final second leg against Chelsea was the strike that took Rafael Benítez’s team to Istanbul, where they came back from a 3-0 half-time deficit against Milan to be crowned European champions.
It didn’t go in, right? But that comeback in the final was worth the referee’s error…
Sadio Mane was “offside” (BBC) when he opened the scoring in Liverpool’s 3-0 win at Bournemouth. Mane has scored in four successive Premier League games for the first time in his career. The first goal should not have stood. What says the media – is it biased?
The AFC Bournemouth website says, “the Senegalese frontman was offside as James Milner’s delivery was swung into the box”. Bournemouth manger Eddie Howe added: “VAR will help us in those situations, I think that will benefit everybody, it was tight but offside was the right decision.”
The Liverpool FC website makes no mention of VAR, noting, “Sadio Mane set them on their way to victory with a header midway through the first half.” The offside goal was not one of the site’s ‘Talking Points”. This is how the LFC liveblog saw the goal:
Breakthrough for Liverpool and yet again it’s Mane.
The Senegal international meets Milner’s delivery from the right with a firm downward header beyond Boruc. A lovely goal.
Liverpool 1-0 Bournemouth
Offside! Not on Liverpool where it was a “lovely goal”. Liverpool scored their first goal during a 1-1 draw at West Ham from a blatant offside position. The LFC website reported that egregious error thus: “Sadio Mane’s swift spin and finish put the away team ahead midway through the first half at the London Stadium.”
Lallana’s immaculate control and quick feet on the right touchline freed Milner to roll a pass to the front post and Mane. The No.10 artfully rolled around Issa Diop and planted a confident left-foot finish beyond Lukasz Fabianski.
Or as the official West Ham United site put it:
West Ham looked to have valid protests that Milner was in an offside position, but the linesman’s flag stayed down.
They say luck and bad decisions even out over a season. Liverpool will be hoping that’s not the case. If it is, they’re in big trouble.
The less he plays the better he gets. News is that Liverpool have joined Bayern Munich in the chase for Chelsea and England youth winger Callum Hudson-Odoi, 18.
Bild says Hudson-Odoi’s brother and advisor has met with Liverpool representatives. The club’s manager, Jürgen Klopp, likes the player whose Chelsea contract expires in 2020. The German paper adds that Chelsea are moving heaven and earth to keep their man, offering him more money and playing him for a whole ten minutes as they went down 2-0 at Arsenal. It might not be enough.
Having introduced a player apparently worth over £30m to Chelsea fans in dribs and drabs, the Blues are keen to insert a buy-back clause in any deal. Chelsea want to avoid making the kind of mistakes that saw them miss out on Romelu Lukaku when their former striker joined Manchester United. Although how big of a miss that was is debatable.
A round-up of today’s transfer rumours and other fluff and nonsense in the Press. Let’s kick off with Liverpool, who’ve bid £61m bid for Portugal Under-21 attacking midfielder Joao Felix, 19. Correio da Manha says Benfica, his current club, think the teenager is worth more. Someone arguably worth less is Philippe Coutinho. The Liverpool Echo in a no-news special says Liverpool won’t be resigning the Brazil midfielder, 26, they flogged to Barcelona for a whopping £142m just 12 months ago. Many other clubs also won’t be buying Coutinho.
One player who could be finally on his way to the Premier League is Juventus and Argentina striker Gonzalo Higuain. Chelsea want to sign the 31-year-old before week’s Carabao Cup semi-final second leg against Tottenham, says the Sun. That’s the same paper that told us Higuain played for Arsenal. That story remains live on the paper’s website. Chelsea fans shouldn’t buy those Higuain replica shirts just yet.
In the sunny uplands of Manchester United, Anthony Martial, 23, is all set to agreeing a new five-year contract, says Sky Sports. And Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (aka Fergie Mark 2) wants to leave his rooms at the Lowry Hotel in Salford and find a permanent address in Manchester.
Everton have £40m for Chelsea and Belgium forward Michy Batshuayi. Everton are determined to catch the so-called Big 6. That means gaining ground on Arsenal, a club seemingly determined to return to a state of mid-80s torpor. News is that James Rodriguez, 27, will remain at Bayern Munich for the rest of season. The Express says Arsenal have as much chance of signing him as they have of keeping a clean sheet.
And finally Barcelona have had enough fo Malcom, 21. ESPN says that any club offering the £35.2m they paid Bordeaux for the player last July can have him. Spurs are interested.
The Manchester Evening News rivals the Daily Express for Transfer Balls – that strain of football reporting that treats readers as mugs. The latest tosh is that former Liverpool players Phillipe Coutinho will leave Barcelona for Manchester United. This would be quite some transfer given that Coutinho played for United’s rivals and became the world’s this most expensive player when he moved to Barcelona in 2018 for £106m. But news and no news is coming thick and thicker in the MEN:
“Manchester United ‘open talks’ to sign former Liverpool FC midfielder Philippe Coutinho and more transfer rumours” – January 7, 11.20am.
“Manchester United fans are saying the same thing about Philippe Coutinho transfer rumour” – January 7, 14.17pm.
“Why Manchester United won’t move for Philippe Coutinho in the January transfer window” – January 8, 5am.
“Manchester United favourites to sign Philippe Coutinho in the January transfer window” – January 8, 11.21am.
“Philippe Coutinho, Toby Alderweireld and the 30 players bookies are linking with a transfer move to Manchester United” – January 9, 6:30pm
Any Manchester United fans dreaming or dreading Coutinho joining the club can read another story by Aidan McCartney. This one was also published on Jan 9:
The choices cut of the tosh linking Coutinho to Manchester City being: “Pep Guardiola’s side have been handed odds on signing some of the biggest names in world football.” Pep had no idea which players he was going to sign until Paddy Power and the mugs who make them rich told him.
Football journalism is a tricky affair. The need to create sensation from dust is testing. Before Manchester City and Liverpool’s big Premier League title decider last night (there are 18 games to go! – ed), the Sun’s Neil Ashton told us that Liverpool are on the up: “Recent history is with them. The night they shook the Kop in last season’s Champions League quarter-final and the stirring 2-1 victory at the Etihad in the return leg are in their favour.” Indeed. And last night Liverpool could easily have drawn a tight encounter that ended 2-1 in the host’s favour. Ashton continues: “The 5-0, when City ripped apart Liverpool’s defence in September 2017, is a distant memory. Notably, that scoreline was also prior to the arrival of the Dutch colossus, Virgil van Dijk.”
Van Dijk has been terrific. But you’d expect little less from the world’s costliest defender. “At £75million, Van Dijk is starting to feel like a snip,” says Ashton. Or as he put it previously:
Ashton told us: “…the Reds blew their brains out to sign the Dutchman.” It was suicide. No worries, though – Liverpool fans don’t read the Sun.
More on how football is all better for the mistakes and the cheating. Liverpool scored the opening goal of their match at Bournemouth – but goalscorer Mo Salah was offside. Sure he “reacted first” as the Liverpool twitter line says, but he had the extra yard on the Bournemouth defence because he was offside.There will be calls for VAR – but they should be ignored. It’s not a computer game organised by maths.
GOAL FOR LIVERPOOL
Firmino hits one from range and Begovic parries it straight into the path of Mo Salah.
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) December 8, 2018
What says Bournemouth manger Eddie Howe? “many complaints. He [Mo Salah] was offside [for the first goal]. It has a huge bearing on the match. We were fine until that moment. It changes the game.”
And the Liverpool twitter page says…
GOAL!! GET IN REDS! Bobby's shot from distance saved but Mo is quickest to react and slots home from close-range. 🙌
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) December 8, 2018
Words on his being offside: nil. Mistakes and cheating are never a problem when you’re the beneficiary. And because we all like the emotion and the theatre, we all win. Don’t let VAR spoil football. It’s not a leisure activity not risk analysis.
Let’s kick off today’s Transfer Balls with news of Ousmane Dembele’s desire to leave Barcelona and play for Arsenal, Liverpool or any other side that can afford* a £100m transfer fee for a player who enjoyed one decent season at Borussia Dortmund before being flogged for an eye-watering sum to the Spanish giants. The BBC has news: “France forward Ousmane Dembele, 21, has told Barcelona he does not want to leave in January.” That’s according to an unnamed source talking to ESPN. It might be the same source who gave the Mail the story just two days ago: “Ousmane Dembele asks Barcelona if he can leave in January.”
Google News updates the breaking non-story:
In other transfer gossip, former England, Chelsea and Arsenal left-back Ashley Cole, 37, has been offered a new deal by LA Galaxy – just days after being released by the club. But he fancies swapping LA for life in Birmingham. Aston Villa want him. Why is uncertain. Experience counts – but if he can’t make the LA Galaxy side, why would an ambitious Championship club seek his services?
At Liverpool, missing midfielder Fabinho is to be the subject of a post-match chat with Paris St-Germain when the sides meet in the Champions League. PSG will offer a lot of money for the Brazilian. And Liverpool will wonder who they’re talking about. Fabinho joined Liverpool for around £40 million in July. He’s been less than spectacular. But that’s what £40m buys you these days: a squad player who can afford a well-paid agent.
In the obligatory news on Manchester United’s search for a defender, Jose Mourinho wants to sign Porto defender Éder Militao. He’ll be great – right up until Mourinho calls him rubbish, unfit, fat and useless.
* Not Arsenal.
Good news for Chelsea fans: N’Golo Kante has signed a new five-year deal. “It has been two beautiful years and I wish for more to come,” he said after signing the news contact. “Since I came, I have completely improved as a player, challenged myself and got some awards I never thought about. I like the city, I like the club and I am happy to be here for more time.” Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia hails him for his “tireless and unselfish displays”. Kante is the player every other side wants in their team.
Liverpool, however, are still chasing Nabil Fekir. Jurgen Klopp is said to be keen to rekindle a move for the France midfielder. Fekir was on his way to Liverpool in the summer. He never arrived. But Liverpool still want him. They also fancy Dortmund’s Julian Weigl. Arsenal like him, too, chiefly because they like pretty much anyone that plays for Dortmund with a hard to spell name. If he comes to the Emirates, Weigl will join fellow ex-Dortmund players: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and head of recruitment Sven Mislintat.
Over at Old Trafford, news is that Marcus Rashford would find it hard to refuse a move to Real Madrid. He would also find it hard turn down the job of Prime Minster, the manager for Victor Secrets On Tour, £1bn in spun gold and the French throne. The odds of Rashford playing for Real are slim. But with two years to go on his current deal, rumours abound that United must do more to keep him happy or else another huge club will. So Real Madrid it is. Or Wolves. Or maybe Everton. Or, well, anywhere that will give him a game. “Manchester United’s England striker Marcus Rashford, 21, is ready to talk to Real Madrid if he fails to win a regular first-team place at Old Trafford,” says the BBC. To which the obvious answer from United is: “Let us know how it goes.”
Finally, Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez wants to sign Atlanta United’s attacking midfielder Miguel Almiron. Arsenal, West Ham and Everton also like the Paraguay international. Magpies owner Mike Ashley will surely swoop to get his man, sealing the deal with a 10% discount is one of his Debenhams stores (not applicable with any other promotion) and a Saturday job for any of Almiron’s loved ones in Sports Direct.