• With many Premier League clubs probably facing financial problems and possible meltdowns after the Covid-19 virus, the group see a definite opportunity to buy a club for a bargain price.
• In Italy Sassuolo and Bologna started training on Tuesday although Sassuolo have given their players the choice of whether to attend or not.
I picked up an interesting story this week involving Arsenal legend Dennis Bergkamp. The Dutch international is rated as one of the Premier League’s best-ever players. I saw him many times and his amazing skills never ceased to impress me and he always reminded me of that other Dutch great Johan Cruyff.
I understand that Dennis has not been involved in football since leaving his coaching position at Ajax during Christmas in 2017 after disagreements with former Dutch teammates Edwin van der Sar and Marc Overmars. I have been told he is teaming up with Derby manager Phillip Cocu, ex-Liverpool player Dirk Kuyt, the current Dutch national team manager Ronald Koeman and the great Swedish player Henrik Larsson with the intention of going into club management.
With many Premier League clubs probably facing financial problems and possible meltdowns after the Covid-19 virus, the group see a definite opportunity to buy a club for a bargain price. Dutch super-agent Rob Jansen is employed by the global marketing company Wasserman Media Group and he is the mastermind behind the project.
He believes that financial pressures in several Premier League boardrooms will lead to possible club sales. Jansen has been a top agent for many years and represented all of his potential co-partners during their playing days.
The difference between this group and many other would-be buyers is that all the members are prepared to put their own money into the project together with some wealthy investors. The team consist of some of football’s golden elite and any club would welcome their experience and it is Bergkamp’s ambition to be hands-on so we may yet see him back at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium but this time in the opposition dugout.
Players reporting on virus concerns
Players are being fully consulted on the league restarting amid fears and worries from some quarters that it might put them in danger from Covid-19. The Professional Footballers Association has appointed one player from each club to report issues from Project Restart. Chelsea’s captain Cesar Azpilicueta, Kevin De Bruyne of Manchester City and West Ham’s Mark Noble are representing their clubs and they are in contact each day with the PFA. Most players have said they will do what they are instructed by their clubs however some are concerned about returning while the UK is on lockdown.
Many players have also expressed concerns about taking regular virus tests while health workers are being denied testing. The PFA is pleased with progress so far and I am told they are expanding the plan.
PFA meeting to discuss possible restart adjustments
The Professional Footballers Association have proposed some new adjustments for a restart. I asked for a rundown on what is likely to happen and was told that matches could be played behind closed doors, game time cut from 90 minutes to 80 minutes although I personally don’t believe that will happen, more substitutes being allowed during the match (currently 3 substitutes) and no spitting or close contact talking during a match.
The PFA is meeting again on Monday to discuss all these possibilities as a June restart to the season edges ever closer.
Manchester United foreign stars told to return
Manchester United tell me that they have instructed their foreign players to return from abroad during the next seven days. When the league was suspended in March several of them flew home. Fred is in Brazil with his family, Victor Lindelof is in Sweden and Sergio Romero is in Buenos Aires.
Several foreign players stayed in Manchester including Nigerian striker Odion Ighalo, who is on loan from Shanghai Shenhua. He has scored four goals in his eight appearances and is anxious to see out the season with United, hoping that the club will sign him permanently. However,
Marcus Rashford is back to full fitness and will be ready to start which makes things more difficult for Ighalo to realise his wish to stay at Old Trafford.
Willian and Mourinho could relink
Despite saying that he could return to South America to finish his career, Chelsea’s Willian is not ruling out a reunion with Jose Mourinho at Tottenham.
The two have remained close since their Chelsea days and have texted each other regularly during the Covid-19 lockdown with Willian back home in Brazil.
Willian is only 31 years old and he and his family enjoy living in London but he is almost certain to leave Chelsea. No new contract discussions yet. Tottenham have not made any approaches as yet but as the manager and player are in such close contact this could happen in June when Willian’s contract with Chelsea expires.
Barcelona players up for sale
I have learned a sensational piece of news this week from Barcelona.
The Spanish giants are suffering financial problems due to the football shut down. They have therefore decided to give Premier League clubs the pick of several of their star players. Barcelona have let it be known that they would be willing to discuss selling Antoine Griezmann, Luis Suarez, Ousmane Dembele, Arturo Vidal and Samuel Umtiti. In fact, Barca have said they would be willing to discuss almost all players with the exception of Lionel Messi.
Manchester United are bound to be interested in Griezmann and when I spoke with my contacts, I was told that they would certainly be involved in any discussions to sign the striker. United tried to sign the 29-year-old before he moved to Barca from Atletico Madrid.
Could Grealish wear the iconic No7 at United?
When you think of Manchester United’s iconic No7 shirt you think of the famous names who have worn it in battle…Cristiano Renaldo and David Beckham for instance. The shirt has been available since Alexis Sanchez left the club. United are very keen on Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish and talks have been taking place between the two clubs. This has prompted Grealish to reveal that he would be honoured to wear the shirt because, as he said this week, “I used to love No7 growing up because of Cristiano.”
Training starting again across Europe
Players returned to training in Spain on Monday and the plan is for matches to resume, without supporters, on June 13. Like the plans at Arsenal, the Premier League’s first club to get back to training, players will arrive separately and be kept apart. Clubs have been given permission by the Spanish government and also tests will be available for players to see if they show any signs of the Covid-19 virus.
In Italy Sassuolo and Bologna started training on Tuesday although Sassuolo have given their players the choice of whether to attend or not.
Everton must not squander transfer money
Everton’s new manager Carlo Ancelotti and the club directors are determined to turn the club into a top four outfit as soon as possible.
However, they have to get their transfer policies in order before that ambition can be realised. The Toffees have spent extravagantly in the last few years, bringing in Gylfi Sigurdsson for £40million and Richarlison for £50million. Alex Iwobi and Moise Kean cost a combined £50million. Most of the signings have not lived up to their huge sign-on fees. Kean, for instance, has scored only one goal since moving from
Juventus and last week was spectacularly caught having a house party and therefore breaking government and club lockdown regulations.
Kean will be fined heavily for his indiscretions. As many critics have pointed out, manager Carol Ancelotti has all the credentials to bring the best out of Everton and make them a force to be reckoned with. However, he must be supported by a good transfer policy which means bringing in quality players who can make a difference.
New central defender for Manchester United?
In 2017 Manchester United offered £3million for 17-year-old youngster Marco Moreno who plays centre-back for Atletico Madrid’s ‘B’ team. United have once again approached Atletico but this time the price has risen by £20million even though Moreno is yet to make his first team debut.
He is a right-footed central defender, fast and confident with great strength.
Despite playing in defence, he has also scored five goals for the ‘B’ and youth team this season.
Atletico are in financial difficulties because of the season’s shut down and would be willing to discuss the possible transfer.
City’s Laporte return on hold
Manchester City’s Aymeric Laporte has been discussing how the shut down of the Premier League caused him disappointments. Laporte was injured for much of City’s season but he has now recovered from hamstring problems. He played only eight games before the league was shut down. At the end of last year he suffered with a knee injury and was out of the team for four months. He commented this week, “It was a long time without football and so difficult. This shut down is also difficult — we don’t touch the ball and can’t be in the stadium playing in front of our fans… It is so disappointing.”