•Both Reece James and Mason Mount were expecting new deals with salary increases but Chelsea are not allowed to make new deals.
•Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta believes his nucleus of young players herald a new era for Arsenal and they will be right at the top of the league during the next few seasons.
Let’s be honest, the situation facing Chelsea is very bleak. Fans can no longer support their team at Stamford Bridge, can no longer buy tickets and Chelsea have severe restrictions imposed on them for the amount of money that can be spent to prepare and travel to games.
(Kai Havertz said he would pay for his own travel even if the team had to go by bus or train and most players felt the same way to help the club).
Sponsors are pulling out their investments on a daily basis and the club still have a huge £25million monthly wage bill. This summer, the Blues are worried they could lose star players such as Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christiansen and Cesar Azpilicueta.
Both Reece James and Mason Mount were expecting new deals with salary increases but Chelsea are not allowed to make new deals.
Under normal circumstances, Jorginho, Kante and Alonso would also be expected to open early negotiations having only one year left on their contracts but again this cannot now happen.
A forced sale of Chelsea is the decision of the UK government but the subsequent effect on supporters is very unfortunate. Many of the staff have also told me of their fears that they could lose their jobs.
Any new owners might not be willing to open their cheque books until they have a better understanding of the club and this again could work against Chelsea and Thomas Tuchel in their fight for a top-four Premier League place this season and next.
Arsenal’s young squad herald the future
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta believes his nucleus of young players herald a new era for Arsenal and they will be right at the top of the league during the next few seasons. He said that he is teaching his young squad to deal with pressure and Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith-Rowe, Gabriel Martinelli and Martin Odegaard will be the backbone of the Gunners during the next few seasons are perfect to build the team around. He said this week, “They are the youngest average age of any Premier League squad and the pressure of playing for this club is to be the best. We are not that yet but our motivation is to be the best.”
Haaland in line for staggering salary at City
My sources revealed this week that Manchester City are willing to pay Erling Haaland £25million-a-year to become their central striker. This would make him City’s biggest earner, beating Kevin de Bruyne who is on £17million. The staggering wage would also defeat bids of both Paris St-Germain and Real Madrid.
Respect for Wenger
I was amused to see at Arsenal’s training ground recently the respect shown for former boss Arsene Wenger. Current manager Mikel Arteta has moved his quiet office in a corner of the training ground to an area which is much more central and where players get together. Outside the door, there is a life-size picture of Arsene Wenger with his hands held up in a winning gesture. As players come in off the training ground many of them give his picture a high five!
Conte will leave Spurs if Levy does not share his vision
I have heard Antonio Conte issue several vague threats to leave Tottenham at the end of the season and he was at it again this week.
He is insisting that club chairman Daniel Levy supplies financial muscle in June to rebuild the team. To emphasize his position, he said, “My vision is the same and it does not change. I will stop if others do not share my vision.”
Much depends on whether Spurs can make a top-four finish. Champions League qualification is the only way Harry Kane will stay at the club and Conte added, “This is the moment. I have asked a lot of the big players and Harry, Hugo (Loris) and Sonny are giving 100 per cent but it is not enough. We need 120, 130, 140 per cent.”
Martial rejects Rangnick’s offer
The failure of Manchester United to progress to the quarter-finals of the Champions League has plunged the club to new depths with so many problems.
Ralf Rangnick is deemed to be a failure given no Champions League and they are unlikely to qualify for a top-four place and are no longer involved in any other competitions.
This and the fact that Anthony Martial played only eight minutes under Rangnick before going out on loan to Sevilla in the Spanish La Liga has convinced him to leave permanently in the summer.
Rangnick tried to persuade him to stay saying that if he trained well he would play but Martial decided he wants to leave. He said this week, “I feel very good in Seville, the city is good and we have a great team. For me it’s perfect and I am playing so I am happy.”
Tuchel tells Christiansen to stay
After a training session this week, Thomas Tuchel spent some time in his office talking to Andreas Christiansen.
Tuchel is aware that Chelsea cannot issue new contracts but has told Andreas that he is upset the Danish centre back has been talking to other clubs in search of a possible move in the summer when his current contract expires.
Tuchel told him that moving to Barcelona or Real Madrid would not be a step up in his career and the club provided the best in support, trophy chances and mentality.
He said, “There is no need to go now because he is right at the edge to finally take the next one, two, three steps at Chelsea. Given our defence formation, the partners at his side and his status and age: this is his moment…I can’t understand if he leaves now.”
He is however currently one the lowest earners at the club on £70k-a-week.
*22-year-old Reece James is expected to be out of action for a couple of weeks after sustaining a muscle injury to his right leg last Saturday and had only just returned to the side after recovering from a torn hamstring.
Villa wait to buy Coutinho
Villa boss Steven Gerrard says the club is in no hurry to negotiate a permanent deal for Philippe Coutinho but admits that the Brazilian’s form has been a game-changer for the club.
Coutinho has one year left on his contract with Barcelona where he earns approximately eight million pounds a year! Villa have an option to buy him at the end of his loan period in the summer for £33million and Barca are anxious to offload his salary so they can re-invest in other positions.
The attacking midfielder has four goals and three assists so far since arriving in January. After unhappy periods at Barcelona and on loan to Bayern Munich the attacking midfielder has said he is very happy at Villa and enjoying his football and looks up to Gerrard with enormous respect.
Lampard is an inspiration on the training field
Despite everything not currently going to plan I was delighted to witness a complete change of attitude amongst the players at Everton.
During training this week at Finch Farm they were surprisingly in great spirits and it is all down to newly appointed manager Frank Lampard. “Enjoy having the ball” he kept shouting during training and Andres Gomez and his teammates were definitely listening to his instructions.
German coaching doesn’t always bring success
I shared an interesting thought with a fellow journalist this week. Following the amazing success of German managers Thomas Tuchel at Chelsea and Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool, fans around the world until recently believed that German managers all have that magic touch.
This definitely worked against Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa as he struggled and was finally sacked. German managers have enjoyed considerable success in the Premier League and Klopp, Tuchel and even Pep Guardiola agreed that Bielsa is a brilliant coach but the fans expected success to be automatic. Sorry Leeds fans, much as you still love Bielsa but it doesn’t work like that.
Neto signs for Wolves on his birthday
Wolves attacking midfielder Pedro Neto celebrated his 22nd birthday by signing a new contract which keeps him at the club until 2027.
He is a very popular member of the team and has a fresh and strong upbeat personality. Scott Sellers, the Wolves technical director said, “It’s great news for the football club and Pedro, it’s a deserved reward for him and he has returned from injury and put in some very hard work to get fit.
He was badly injured last April and spent ten months working in our medical rehabilitation facility every day. But he always had a smile on his face and I admire his professionalism.
There is no pressure from us and he must take time to get fully fit either for the end of this season or the beginning of the next.”
Liverpool players delighted for Matip
Joel Matip is one of the most popular players at Liverpool and when he won the Player of the Month award the team celebrated as though they had won the FA Cup! There was a party atmosphere at the training ground when the announcement was made.
He is the first Cameroon player to win the award. The panel judging the award consisted of Rio Ferdinand, Gary Neville, Alan Shearer, and women's England star Alex Scott. He was at the centre of the Liverpool defence which won all four matches in February and conceded only one goal.
Eriksen is back on international duty
Congratulations to Christian Eriksen who has been selected by Denmark for their international team. It is the first time he will appear since his near-fatal heart attack last summer when Denmark were playing against Finland. Eriksen has been in great form for Brentford and has been an inspiration to the team and played a major part in their 2-0 win over Burnley.