• Spur’s fans have been vocal in local bars this week and Diego Costa is the man they all want.
• Carlo Ancelotti, Everton’s highly regarded manager, has closed in on two of his transfer targets. Real Madrid’s James Rodriguez has undergone a medical at Everton and has agreed a £4million a year contract for three seasons.
Arsenal fans around the world can celebrate because Real Madrid have allowed Dani Ceballos to remain at Arsenal for another season. The Gunners still hope to sign him on a permanent deal.
Real want to remain on good terms with Mikel Arteta, who they see as a possible future manager at the Bernabeu Stadium and this persuaded them to let Ceballos remain in north London. Once again Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil has turned down a move and once again it was for a huge weekly wage.
Al-Nassir in Saudi Arabia and a club in Qatar had offered the German playmaker £15m a year which is only £3m less than he earns at Arsenal where he did not play a single minute for Arteta after the Covid-19 lockdown period ended. Arsenal want to offload Ozil’s huge wage bill but this week stepped a close nearer to balancing the financial books by allowing Henrikh Mkhitaryan to join Roma on a free transfer.
That saved the Gunners £200k a week in wages. Arteta met with Mkhitaryan and told him that he could see no way the Armenian national team captain could be included in his plans so it made the decision easy for them both.
And now that central defender Gabriel Magalhaes has signed for the Gunners it means that Rob Holding and possibly Sokratis Papastathopoulos could leave. Newcastle want Rob Holding, Italian clubs are circling around Papastathopoulos and Kolasinac.
Other European clubs are chasing Hector Bellerin, Calum Chambers and Shkodran Mustafi. I am told that Paris St Germain have already opened the bidding on Bellerin at £30million although he is one player Arteta does not want to lose.
This coming week, prior to the start of the season, is going to be a busy one for Arsenal.
Rakitic/Wijnaldum/Thiago all change
Liverpool have a new supremo boss. American Billy Hogan has taken over as CEO and he has immediately set up a close relationship with Jurgen Klopp. However, before Hogan starts to get to know players and staff properly (he has visited Anfield several times previously) he has told us that his priority is to get fans back into Anfield as quickly as possible.
The Covid-19 shutdown has cost the club around £3million per home game. Hogan recognises that fans inside Liverpool, including the iconic Kop, gives Liverpool an advantage at home. Having been to Anfield many times, I can tell you that the atmosphere is very emotional and when you hear their anthem “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, it sends tingles down the spine!
Meanwhile, an interesting scenario is unfolding with Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitic signing for Spanish club Sevilla because it could open the door for Barca manager Ronald Koeman to make a bid for Liverpool’s Georginio Wijnaldum as he rebuilds the Catalan club. Koeman wants to play Wijnaldum alongside his Dutch international colleague Frankie de Jong. Reds fans are worried they might lose such an important player.
However, if that happens, I have been told from inside Anfield that Liverpool will go for Bayern Munich’s brilliant Thiago Alcantara! Liverpool tell me that they have not received an approach from Barca. It could end up being a Rakitic/Wijnaldum/Thiago merry-go-round.
Mourinho to link up with Costa again?
Spur’s fans have been vocal in local bars this week and Diego Costa is the man they all want. One of Jose Mourinho’s priorities is to find a backup to Harry Kane and someone who can also play alongside him. Injury to Harry during last season left Spurs sadly short and Mourinho has had talks with managing director Daniel Levy to release funds. The manager knows Atletico Madrid’s Diego Costa well and the two are close and I am hearing his name mentioned as the possible solution for Mourinho. Costa was with Mourinho when Chelsea won the league in 2014. Atletico need to let Costa go because he is out of contract at the end of next season and therefore can leave for free. Mourinho thinks his strike force needs more muscle and aggression which is something Costa would bring to the party.
Lampard goes for experience
You might wonder why Chelsea manager Frank Lampard is still busy in the transfer market. I was talking to some Chelsea assistants this week and their views expressed perfectly why the manager is out there spending big-time.
Chelsea have some awesome youngsters coming through such as Billy Gilmour, Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Reece James. However, as former Liverpool full-back and TV pundit Alan Hansen once said: “You don’t win anything with kids.”
Lampard knows that club owner Roman Abramovich expects big things this season and that is why he has brought in 35-year-old Thiago Silva from Paris St-Germain and he hangs on to players such as 33-year-old Olivier Giroud and 31-year-old Cesar Azpilicueta. Despite Lampard’s belief in his youngsters, I know that Abramovich wants a top three finish and that requires experience as well as talent.
Why Van de Beek is moving to United
Bringing Ajax midfielder Donny van de Beek to Old Trafford means Ole Gunner Solskjaer’s squad will have to lose a player which is bad news for either Jesse Lingard or Andreas Pereira. Solskjaer wants to strengthen his midfield and Van de Beek has scored 28 league goals and made 21 assists in the last three seasons. Solskjaer has options with Van de Beek because he averaged 7.8 touches inside the penalty area last season but he can also play in a deeper role behind Pogba and Fernandes. He is mentally aware of all going on around him and constantly finds space and opportunities. Ole courted the Dutchman online and they chatted about the manager’s plans to make United a powerhouse in Europe and the two have remained in close contact. Van de Beek visited Old Trafford this week with his father and expressed how much this “dream” move means to him.
Wolves manager delays new contract
Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo is determined to push his side further up the league table after finishing in seventh place for two consecutive seasons. He has called a halt to signing a new contract with less than 12 months to go on his existing deal. Nuno wants guarantees that money is available to strengthen his squad. Wolves have already lost Ireland full-back Matt Doherty to Tottenham for £15million and he wants to use that money to chase Arsenal’s Ainsley Maitland-Niles. However, the Gunner’s have changed their minds about letting him go especially after claiming man-of-the-match in the Charity Shield
against Liverpool. Nuno also wants to sign Atletico Bilbao defender Unai Nunez but he has a £27million release clause in his current contract. It all comes down to how much money Wolves are willing to spend.
Wolves suffered a hammer blow this week as we approach the start of the 2021 season. Star winger, arguably Wolves best player, Adama Traore, tested positive for Coronavirus on Tuesday and will miss Spain’s match this weekend and the start of the new season.
Leeds wallet opened even further
Leeds United are determined to bring back their glory days of the 1980’s and do not intend to be also-rans in this season’s Premier League. The newly-promoted side have delighted their manager Marcelo Bielsa by signing Rodrigo from Spanish
club Valencia. Leeds broke their transfer record by paying £27million for the striker and immediately hailed Rodrigo as a “world class” player. Now they are turning their attention towards Italy’s Udinese club and their midfielder Rodrigo De Paul.
Bielsa’s plan is to score more goals from midfield and De Paul has netted 24 in the last three seasons. Having opened up their wallet, Leeds are heading for a £100million payout as they also want one more big signing. In addition to Rodrigo, they have also invested in Germany’s Robin Koch at centre-half.
Heads up for Rashford
Before he was injured last season, did you notice that prolific goalscorer Marcus Rashford rarely scored with his head? Although he stands at 6ft tall, he has scored 31 of his Premier League goals with his right foot, three with his left foot and only four headers. It is something that Ole Gunner Solskjaer intends to concentrate on in future training because he can see more goal opportunities for the England striker.
Ancelotti rebuilding Everton
Carlo Ancelotti, Everton’s highly regarded manager, has closed in on two of his transfer targets. Real Madrid’s James Rodriguez has undergone a medical at Everton and has agreed a £4million a year contract for three seasons.
He will play alongside Niels Nkoundou, who signed on a free from French club Marseille. The Toffees are also close to signing Napoli’s Brazilian midfielder Allan for £22million.
Ancelotti was Rodriguez’s boss at Real Madrid when he was manager there from 2013 until 2015. Ancelotti is also hoping
to sign Watford’s Abdoulaye Doucoure, who will cost another £20million. The two clubs have been talking all week and Ancelotti is confident Doucoure will be at Everton next season. The Toffees finished 12th in the Premier League and Ancelotti thinks he can make them a top-five side by the end of his first full season.
Happy Birthday Ainsley!
Ainsley Maitland-Niles revealed this week the best day of his life. He played for Arsenal when they beat Liverpool to the Charity Shield and was named Man-of the-Match during which he also scored a vital goal in the penalty shoot-out. Then, as he sat with the other players celebrating in the dressing room, his phone received a text from England manager Gareth Southgate. “I couldn’t believe it,” Ainsley said: “The text told me I have been called up to play for England! And you know what day it was? It was also my birthday!”