• Mesut Ozil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Laurent Koscielny, Nacho Monreal, Calum Chambers and Shkodran Mustafi are among those players who Arsenal would consider selling.
• Spurs’ manager Mauricio Pochettino has insisted that his board of directors must open their cheque books to bring in more talent to a team which has not been revitalised in the last two transfer windows.
It is no secret that Wilfried Zaha wants to leave Crystal Palace for a top six Premier League club and this exciting player has instructed his representatives to get in touch with the Gunners to see if they are interested. The talented Ivorian was a boyhood fan of Arsenal and would jump for joy at moving to the Emirates Stadium.
In fairness, he told Palace earlier this year that he wanted to play Champions League football and believes Arsenal are going to continue to strengthen their chances of playing in Europe by finishing in the top four of the Premier League. The problem for Unai Emery’s side is that Arsenal have a pot of money available amounting to around £40million and that is double the price Palace have placed on Zaha.
That would mean no money for other players without making some major sales. Mesut Ozil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Laurent Koscielny, Nacho Monreal, Calum Chambers and Shkodran Mustafi are among those players who Arsenal would consider selling.
Lampard finally returns home
On Wednesday evening, Chelsea legend Frank Lampard arrived at Stamford Bridge where he finalised his return to the club as their new manager. The 41-year-old was at the club for 13 years and won three Premier League titles and also the Champions League marking this incredible success by becoming the Blue’s record goalscorer with a tally of 211.
I wish him the best of luck and I will be spending time at their Cobham training ground and monitoring his progress for you over the coming months. He met his new squad within 24 hours and now undertakes a pre-season agenda in Ireland which was arranged by outgoing manager Maurizio Sarri.
Spurs looking to strengthen squad
Spurs’ manager Mauricio Pochettino has insisted that his board of directors must open their cheque books to bring in more talent to a team which has not been revitalised in the last two transfer windows. Pochettino’s choice of Tanguy Ndombele from French club Lyon has signed for £53.8m and Leed’s winger Jack Clarke has also moved to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium for around £10million.
Clarke had a medical last week and everything went well. Pochettino wields considerable influence because the board want to keep him and know that he is attracting considerable interest from other European clubs. I was sent a tape of an interview he did for Spanish Radio during which he said: “This should allow us to strengthen. At Manchester City and Liverpool, both Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp are free to decide which players they want to keep and also buy.
At Tottenham, Chelsea and Arsenal it is the management who decide and not the coach, although my board is listening to me. I have to make the team work with the players I have.” Chairman Daniel levy was hoping to fund new players by selling on Christian Eriksen, who has expressed his wish to leave and also Kieran Trippier but so far no serious offers have been received for either player. Real Madrid’s midfielder Dani Ceballos remains attractive to Spurs and Real are willing to do business for around £30million.
Loyalty and respect for David Silva
David Silva has been an excellent servant for Manchester City and without doubt one of the Premier League’s finest players. He intends to quit at the end of the upcoming season when his contract expires. I have been told that Pep Guardiola has handed David the captain’s arm band as a mark of respect and loyalty. It became available with the retirement of Vincent Kompany. Silva is the club’s longest serving player. He arrived from Valencia in 2010 for £24million which was a hefty fee in those days. He has won four Premier League titles, two FA Cups and four league Cups with City.
No holiday for key players
Liverpool have concerns for some of their players before the season begins. Many of them have not had a holiday after being selected for their home countries to play Copa America and the Africa Cup of Nations. Two players, Roberto Firmino and Alisson will not be back at the club until August and Sadio Mane, Mo Salah and Naby Keita could be involved in the final stages in Africa until the third week of July. Fernandinho and Gabriel Jesus have the same problem at Manchester City and are unlikely to have a break from football before the new season begins on August 8.
Solskjaer moves on his youngster policy
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s plan of working the ball from the back and moving it through direct passing up to his forwards suits perfectly the skills of Leicester’s Harry Maguire. He is strong in holding a defence together at centre back and his passing ability is excellent. The only problem is Leicester’s valuation of £90million which would make Harry the most expensive defensive player in the world.
Solskjaer has made it clear to his management that he wants Maguire and I have been told that they will try and negotiate to lower the fee. Manchester City are also interested but have not tabled an offer whereas United have put in a £70million bid. Backing his masterplan to reinvent Manchester United using plenty of youngsters who he can mould into top players, Solskjaer has pushed through the signing of Crystal Palace full back Wan-Bissaka.
It is a big gamble because the youngster is largely untested having played only 42 Premier League games. His five-year deal at £80k a week is a dream for the youngster and the plan is that he will benefit from being helped by veteran and club captain Ashley Young. The right-back is now the world’s fifth most expensive defensive signing. United are leaving for a pre-season tour of Australia this weekend.
A warning to Vieira about Newcastle
I wouldn’t wish my worst enemy the manager’s job at Newcastle and it concerns me that Arsenal legend Patrick Vieira considered giving up his successful coaching job at Nice in the French Ligue 1. I am sure he is ready to show the Premier League his managerial skills but dealing with the poison chalice at Newcastle could seriously affect his career.
A few kind words of warning from former manager Rafa Benitez might be very valuable to any incoming manager because he could not deal with owner Mike Ashley. Also, the club is likely to be sold very soon to, possibly, Sheikh Khaled bin Zayed and I am told that negotiations are going well with an offer of £350million on the table which is what Ashley wants. However, deals to sell the club have come and gone and it is always possible that current efforts could fall through.
Another warning to possible managers is that if Sheikh Khaled is successful he is likely to want to bring in his own manager and therefore any replacement for Rafa could be a very short appointment. The Magpies leave for a pre-season tour of China in eight days time (it is ironic that outgoing manager Rafa Benitez will also be in China when that happens) and the club want a new manager in place by then which has prompted Pep Guardiola’s assistant Mikel Arteta, Porto’s Sergio Conceicao and Burnley’s Sean Dyche to be added to the list of possible managers at St Jame’s Park. Both Nice and Manchester City have warned Newcastle not to try and poach their key coaches and Viera has told friends that he intends to stay in France with Nice.
Cahill wanted by four Premier League clubs
Following his departure from Chelsea England defender Gary Cahill has Arsenal, Crystal Palace, West Ham and his old club Aston Villa chasing him for his services. As a free agent, now that his Chelsea contract has expired, he can play as a full back or centre half and following his rejection to join Championship side Fulham he will decide his future in the coming days. Whilst playing for Chelsea, Gary won the Champions League, two Premier league titles, two Europa League titles and two FA cups.
Arsenal could look at these players for free
Arsenal manager Unai Emery is still looking to strengthen his defence for the approaching season. As I have told you, his budget is tight but there are some player options who would not cost any transfer fees. Despite his age, ex Barcelona and PSG player Dani Alves would boost any defence and he is the most decorated player in football history. A hugely influential player in any match and he always gives 100% effort.
Filipe Luis is leaving Atletico Madrid and although he has failed once in the Premier League with Chelsea, the 33-year-old has performed well this season which has attracted Barcelona who are discussing him as a back up to Jordi Alba. Gary Cahill is only 30 and after 11 years at Chelsea, was frozen out by outgoing boss Maurizio Sarri. He is still a solid defender with bags of experience.
Adrien Rabiot would be expensive in terms of wages but the Paris St Germain star is determined to leave the French capital in time for the new season and he is the highest-profile player available for free at the moment. Juventus are favourites to sign him but he would definitely consider Arsenal. Yacine Brahimi is a talented winger who is leaving Portugese club Porto after turning down an improved offer. This talented winger can take on players, beat them and cut inside to create chances for the main strikers.
Villa aim to stay in Premier League
Many football commentators predict Aston Villa will be relegated this coming season. Villa, however, are determined to succeed in the Premier League and have completed a club-record signing in Wesley Moraes, who passed a medical last week. Belgian club Bruges received £22million for his signature. The Brazilian striker is Villa’s fourth signing this summer and joins Jota, Anwar El Ghazi and Kortney Hause.
Villa are targeting another six players but I am reminded of Fulham who did the same thing when they were promoted and spent a fortune only to end up with a dysfunctional team that could not play together. In my book, two or three strong players are better than seven or eight who have no particular pedigrees.
When I spoke to Villa it is obvious they are very much aware that of the last five clubs to win promotion, through a play-off final, only one has survived their first season in the Premier League and that was Huddersfield. Villa pocketed £170million for their promotion and manager Dean Smith is already looking to spend some more of that money on Stoke’s England goalkeeper Jack Butland.