• Our system does not suit him like it does for Roberto Firmino and if Harry is not scoring or assisting then he not of use to us whereas Firmino gives us so many scoring options and he works perfectly with Sadio Mane and Mo Salah — Liverpool
• Manager Ole Gunner Solskjaer has decided that Niguez would be the ideal replacement for Paul Pogba if he leaves at the end of the season.
Harry Kane moving from Spurs was hinted at by the player himself recently if the club fail to win any silverware next season. Consequently, Europe’s elite clubs have been alerting their Directors of Football and financial executives to examine the possibility of signing Harry for what would likely to be a fee in excess of £150million. Liverpool have been mentioned and written about. However, I can reveal that the management of the club do not intend to join the queue should Harry become available.
Comments coming from inside Liverpool explained their reasons. “He is not our kind of player. Our system does not suit him as it does for Roberto Firmino and if Harry is not scoring or assisting then he not of use to us whereas Firmino gives us so many scoring options and he works perfectly with Sadio Mane and Mo Salah.” Kane is not a lot younger than either Sane or Salah and therefore he would not be a long -term replacement for them and Jurgen Klopp will not change Liverpool’s style of play to accommodate Kane no matter how good he is.
Players setting a splendid example
I was proud to learn that 20 Premier League club captains have organised a charity fund to help people who are in financial difficulties because of the coronavirus. Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson played a key role while his club were being criticised for taking government money to fund staff wages, a decision they have now reversed following a crescendo of criticism. The fund will be administered by the Professional Footballers Association.
Manchester United captain Harry Maguire suggested that he and fellow players donate 30 per cent of their salaries to help various charities but they will now join the charity fund and hand over donations. What is also amazing and little known is that some players have said that with their huge salaries, they could make the arrangements permanent, even after the virus goes away.
The captains are also determined to stand strong as clubs seek ways to cut their salaries. Players are fighting this and several top players have told me their fear is the money saved by the clubs will not benefit needy people but go back into the club’s bank accounts. They have also set up a WhatsApp group to enable them stay strong and support, ensuring no one chickens out.
Soyuncu staying at Leicester
Usually, when Manchester City come calling, players sit up, thinking of big wages and silverware on their dining room tables. However, Leicester centre-back Caglar Soyuncu has assured his club that he is staying at the King Power Stadium. The Turkish player filled in the gap left by Harry Maguire when he went to Manchester United and has been very successful.
The 23-year-old joined the Foxes from Frelburg in August 2018 and has featured in 33 games this season. In private telephone conversations with his club, Soyuncu told them that he didn’t think it was right to go anywhere just now as the club had shown him loyalty and he is still learning under an excellent coach in Brendan Rogers.
Atletico’s Niguez being courted by United
Despite the current cash restrictions due to closed grounds and no paying customers, Manchester United told me this week they are still confident of signing Saul Niguez from Atletico Madrid. The figure of £135million is being rumoured and this would be a club record for United.
Manager Ole Gunner Solskjaer has decided that Niguez would be the ideal replacement for Paul Pogba if he leaves at the end of the season. United value Pogba at £100million and Real Madrid are the likely buyers. Executive Vice Chairman Ed Woodward has said he would make the £100million available to fund the arrival of Niguez.
United sent scouts to watch the Spaniard in the match which saw Atletico push Liverpool out of the Champions League and their report back to United was glowing with positives. United have also shown interest in Dutch star Donny van der Beek but he is known to favour a move to Real Madrid.
Why Liverpool are now paying full wages
The controversial Liverpool decision to originally take government money in what is called furloughing was attacked by many influential footballing people. The powerful supporters fan club ‘Spirit of Shankley’, named after Liverpool’s legendary manager, also joined in the criticism. Liverpool are a wealthy club and to arrange for non-playing staff to receive 80 per cent of their wages from the UK government with Liverpool paying the rest appeared to be a greedy way of coping with the coronavirus economic difficulties.
Ex-players Didi Hamann and Jamie Carragher also joined in the criticism. ‘Spirit of Shankley’ sent a letter to the Liverpool management to express their dismay and frustration at the club’s original decision. They said: “We would have expected the club to pay 100% of club staff wages.” Liverpool had a turnover of £533million last year and made a profit of £42million. The situation shamed the Liverpool directors and that is what caused them to change their minds.
Cantona could return to Old Trafford
Eric Cantona is a god at Manchester United’s Old Trafford. He is often said to be manager Sir Alex Ferguson’s most influential signing. The Red’s board of directors are considering offering Cantona an ambassadorial role at the club to join with two other greats Bryan Robson and Denis Irwin. At 53, Cantona is an incredibly popular figure and he would be working alongside that other legend, Ole Gunner Solskjaer.
United believe in keeping their ex-stars close and Sir Alex is often seen at the training ground and former players Gary Neville and Paul Scholes own a hotel at the club. Regaining the services of Cantona would be a big boost to United’s list of super stars associated with the club and bring in extra revenue because he would attract advertisers and sponsors. Eric has yet to make a decision but he contacted the club by phone this week to discuss the plan.
United’s massive support base in China
Manchester United still top the ‘most supporters’ club statistics with a massive fan following of 253 million in China alone! That is an increase of 145 million in the last seven years. Football is on the rise in India and they aim to be a major world team within the next 10 years. United have 35 million supporters in India following their special video released last year called ‘Standing United’ which was released specifically for India. Before the coronavirus spoiled their plans, United were going to make a stop off in the Indian capital Delhi to play exhibition matches for three days but regrettably, this has now been cancelled.
Is this the toughest training regime?
One of the reasons why Sheffield United have been so successful this season is down to manager Chris Wilder’s ‘Terror Tuesdays!’ Sheffield were on the edge of being in a Champions League spot before the coronavirus break which is astonishing for a newly promoted club.
Wilder says it is a mixture of team-work, dressing room camaraderie and spirit but wing-back George Baldock has spilt the beans on what really has set the Blades on their course of success.
He said: “It is largely down to the manager’s Terror Tuesdays. It’s not nice. The whole week the manager would be talking about it, walking past you in the breakfast room and saying ‘Not long till Tuesday, get your running spikes on.’ You have to start with a jog, reach a pole and then run as fast as you can for one minute, jog for five, run as quick as you can for two, jog for four, run as quick as you can for three, jog for three, all the way around the whole pitch. I remember doing it with everyone on their knees and then the gaffer said: “Okay, now go around again!”
"Then you’re doing it for six minutes, running for five, then he’s got us all to the halfway line. Right, you’ve got to run 1,200 metres as quick as you can.” When I look back it was a clever way to test how mentally strong you are. He just wants to see you go to the absolute maximum.” It reminds me of that saying, “No Gain Without Pain!”
An expensive evening for Kyle
When Manchester City’s Kyle Walker ignored government and club rules about self isolating during coronavirus and invited two young ladies to his luxury home in Manchester, little did he realise that it would cost him far more than the £2,000 he paid the girls.
He called an agency and asked for two expensive girls with ‘class’ and when they turned up, he was pleased to find that one of the girls is a student at Manchester University. However, Kyle was photographed handing over the money and the story reached the media. After speaking with City, I learned that Klyle is likely to be fined £250,000. What you might call a very expensive evening’s entertainment!