• Newcastle coaches are astonished by midfielder Jonjo Shelvey’s fitness progress whilst on lockdown.
• After just one season, West Ham are looking to sell record-signing Sebastien Haller.
Arsenal have been given a June 15 deadline to decide on the future of striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Real Madrid have expressed interest in signing the Gunner who, I am told, is reluctant to stay in the UK beyond his contract expiry in 13 months.
The Spanish giants are looking at offering Dani Ceballos in a swap deal which could be the way many clubs will negotiate due to lack of funds after the Covid-19 shutdown. Arsenal will get a much better deal in letting Aubameyang go now rather than waiting for his contract to end. Spoiling Real’s option to swap Ceballos is, however, under threat since he wants to return to Spain after a year at the Emirates.
He has let it be known that he would prefer Spain but only if manager Zinedine Zidane assures him regular first-team football.
Gareth Bale for America?
When a world top-five player like Gareth Bale talks about moving clubs the football world sits up and takes notice. Bale has always endured a difficult relationship with current Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidan since he took over.
Bale is not the easiest player to handle as he does things his own way… for instance, he plays a lot of golf when other players are bonding together in team sports and he often misses club dinners and when he does attend, he often leaves early. I can, however, tell you personally that he is a very likable young man and is popular at the club with players but Zidane does not like his solitary approach.
For some time, Zidane, despite his denials, has hoped that he could move Bale on to another club and has looked at the Premier League which would be a natural place for his talents. Real are feeling the pressure of lost revenues due to the coronavirus and Bale’s £600,000 a week wages could ease a lot of financial pressure. He was all ready to join Chinese club Jiangsu Suning on a £1million a week wage but the deal fell through when Real asked for signing on fee. Now Bale has revealed an interest in the American MLS and Real might see a way of transferring him. Bale said this week: “I’d be interested. I really like the league, it’s grown so much over the years. The standard is getting better and better.”
Bayern drastically reduce their offer for Sane
The long-running saga of will Leroy Sane join Bayern Munich or not has taken another step towards the Manchester City winger leaving.
City originally valued Sane at £145million but that was last year when he had two years to run on his contract. Sane suffered a serious knee injury which had kept him on the injury list for seven months before the lockdown and suspension of this season. My contacts in Germany tell me that Bayern will now start negotiations at around £35million.
United’s midfield strength
Manchester United coach Ole Gunner Solskjaer has been talking excitedly about linking up new recruit Bruno Fernandes with Paul Pogba which he says could create a world-beating midfield partnership. The pair have not been able to link up as yet because of the ankle injury which forced Pogba out of the team in the last few months. However, Solskjaer said a few days ago: “I have several options and good players can always play together. I also have Scott McTominay, Fred and Nemanja Matic and they are all fine players so in midfield we will be very strong.”
Jonjo’s fitness astonish coaches
Newcastle coaches are astonished by midfielder Jonjo Shelvey’s fitness progress whilst on lockdown. Each day the players send data to the club’s sports science team and the stats in Jonjo’s case are quite amazing. He is even fitter now than he was when in full club training and playing every week! That is two months of self-fitness using the training programme provided by the club. Jonjo has a gym at home and a mini-pitch where he trains with his brother-in-law. Both families are self-isolating together. Jonjo says: “I’m probably fitter now than when lockdown began because I have been training three times a day. You cannot get away with not putting the work in.”
Sterling deal upsets Puma workers
Sporting goods company Puma have angered their workforce after offering Manchester City striker Raheem Sterling a £100million contract to promote their merchandise. The company have already accepted money from the German government and furloughed their staff to save money during the Covid-19 pandemic with workers taking pay cuts. Sterling already has a relationship with Puma because they are the official supplier of squad kits at City.
Kante a target for Real Madrid
Few would disagree that Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante has been one of the most influential and impressive players in Europe during the last five years. Real Madrid, who are trying to drum up funds to bring in new players, have the French international on their radar.
Kante himself is not looking to leave but if the right offer came in for him then the Blues would think seriously about the approach. They see West Ham’s Declan Rice as a natural replacement and at 21-years of age, he could become the creative defensive midfielder of Chelsea’s team. Real originally targeted Manchester United’s Paul Pogba but my sources in Madrid tell me that Kante is now the preferred choice.
West Ham to sell Haller
After just one season, West Ham are looking to sell record-signing Sebastien Haller. He cost the Hammers £45million from German club Eintracht Frankfurt. Unfortunately, Haller has not found it easy to settle in London and has scored only seven goals in 29 matches. If West Ham are successful in selling him, it could provide funds to purchase Chelsea’s Michy Batshuayi who has been on their shopping list for the last two years. Chelsea have told me that Batshuayi will almost certainly leave this summer.
Kyle Walker apologises to City supporters
The current lockdown has probably affected Manchester City’s Kyle Walker more than most. First, he was criticised and fined by his club for breaking lockdown rules by holding a party with young ladies in his flat in Manchester. Then, he broke the rules again by visiting his mother and sister in Yorkshire which is a lengthy drive from Manchester. He dropped off a birthday card for his sister and then went to his mother’s house to collect some food which she had cooked for him and ended up staying for four hours. Walker also seems to be in trouble with his private life and this has not helped. He is separated from his childhood sweetheart Annie, with whom he has three children and he has not seen them since the lockdown began. Kyle wants reconciliation but it is difficult to see how that will happen given that he has had another child with a model named Lauryn Goodman.
Kyle has struggled with the lockdown and knows that he has done wrong. To partly make amends he has written to several of the club’s supporters apologising for his behavior and also to his manager Pep Guardiola. The club are not fining him financially at the moment but I suspect it is only a matter of time because City want to be seen to be doing the right thing.
Another objection to Newcastle sale
The storm which has surrounded the Saudi Arabian buy out of Newcastle took another turn when the fiancée of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi lodged a plea that the Premier League should put moral values above the interests of Newcastle United.
He said they should look very carefully at the £300million bid for the club by Saudi’s Public Investment Fund. Khashoggi was an outspoken opponent of the ruling regime and the Royal family in Saudi Arabia. He was also a Washington Post Correspondent and general manager and Editor in Chief of the Al-Arab-News. According to various anonymous sources, he was assassinated inside the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul by a team brought in from his homeland. Fiancee Hatice Cengiz said: “There should be no place in English football for those accused of atrocities and murder.”
Sterling getting better and better
Manchester City striker Raheem Sterling thinks he would have scored 35 goals this season if games had not been stopped. He said: “I’d say I am about 15 goals off where I want to be and even this season I was on 20 goals and wasn’t satisfied. I haven’t scored since December 20th and I think I put too much pressure on myself. If you look at my record this season I’m pretty close to bettering my goals from last season which was fantastic.”