Barca trying to sign Cancelo for a bargain price

Cancelo wants to stay at Barca and they want to make his loan deal permanent.

In Summary

• When asked what his plans were he replied: “Zero, zero. I don’t have a club. I’m free. But I want to work, in the summer. I want to work.”

• Chelsea are also looking at a new shirt sponsor for the 2024-25 season to bring in extra funding.

Barcelona Joao Cancelo (R) dribbles past Dion Lopy of Almeria
Barcelona Joao Cancelo (R) dribbles past Dion Lopy of Almeria

Barcelona are short of cash but hope to persuade Manchester City to release full-back Joao Cancelo for a bargain price at the end of this season.

Cancelo wants to stay at Barca and they want to make his loan deal permanent. 29-year-old Cancelo has a contract until 2027 but he wants to stay at Barca and then end his career in Portugal with Benfica.

He cannot return to City because of a fall-out with Pep Guardiola last season and the Spanish giants are hoping City will accept £20m (Sh2.6bn).

Martinez and Maguire hope to face Brentford

After spending time with Argentina during the international break, the signs are that Lisandro Martinez could be available for Manchester United this weekend.

The centre-back has missed seven matches due to a knee injury and has played just 10 times for United this season. Harry Maguire is another player Erik Ten Hag is hoping to have but the England man left the national squad early because of injury.

Jose Mourinho
Jose Mourinho
Image: FILE

Mourinho looking to return to Premier League

Jose Mourinho expects to return to management next season.

The controversial Portuguese coach spent over two years with Roma in Serie A — won the Europa Conference League and secured a place in the Europa Cup final.

When asked what his plans were he replied: “Zero, zero. I don’t have a club. I’m free. But I want to work, in the summer. I want to work.”

He has been linked with a return to the Premier League with Chelsea and Newcastle being favourites. He is also linked to Saudi Arabia and even Portugal, where he made his name with Porto by winning the Champions League.

Chelsea look at big clear-out this summer

Chelsea have a decision to make about Romelu Lukaku this summer. After signing for a record Chelsea fee, he could not perform to the heights reached at Inter Milan and was sent out on loan to Roma.

He has rediscovered his scoring touch with 18 goals in 37 matches. Whether Mauricio Pochettino wants him back and in his plans for next season, providing he is still coach, remains to be seen. Either way, Lukaku has increased his value with his latest performances.

Chelsea owner Todd Boehly is under pressure to explain to his shareholders how a £1b (Sh166bn) investment in Chelsea has failed to bring results.

In response, he is putting together a plan to recoup some of the vast sums of money and flew out to Saudi Arabia to discuss offloading some of his expensive players. There have been whispers of a 15-player clear-out and Boehly had talks with Saudi’s sports minister and the Saudi Pro League director of football. The meeting took place in the Saudi capital, Riyadh.

Chelsea are also looking at a new shirt sponsor for the 2024-25 season to bring in extra funding.

The Blues made a pre-tax loss of £90.1 million (Sh14.9bn) last season despite Boehly selling Kalidou Koulibaly and Edouard Mendy to Al-Hilal.

Kepa Arrizabalaga, on loan at Real Madrid, is unlikely to be retained for another season at the Bernabeu Stadium. Marc Cucurella is the third name on Boehly’s list although the Spaniard has been playing well when fit.

There is still speculation regarding a move to Tottenham Hotspur for Conor Gallagher. Trevoh Chalobah is another on the list and like Gallagher, would be sold as pure profit since they are Chelsea Academy players.

Gary O’Neil
Gary O’Neil

O’Neil will make Wolves fight on

Wolves coach Gary O’Neil, spoken of as a possible “coach of the season”, admits it will be tough to carry on after the amber and gold’s elimination from the FA Cup by Championship side Coventry.

Their star performer, Pedro Neto, could be out for the rest of the season. Matheus Cunha, Hwang Hee-Chan and Craig Dawson all missed the 3-2 defeat. O’Neil says it is his job to get the players over the disappointment.

He said: “It’s going to be tough to win games because we’re going to Aston Villa and they will have Watkins, Bailey, Ramsey, Zaniolo and Tielmans. It will be a tough spell but we will have to fight, to scrap and I hope the fans understand that.”

De Zerbi in Bayern and Liverpool’s sights

Roberto De Zerbi says he is flattered by the approach from Bayern Munich to take over at the Bundesliga giants.

De Zerbi has performed miracles with Brighton, making them a threat to any side and his exploits as one of Europe’s most exciting young coaches have been noted around the globe.

Xabi Alonso, who has taken Bundesliga club Bayer Leverkusen to the top of the table, and De Zerbi are probably the two most admired coaches. Both have also been linked with taking over from Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool. De Zerbi said he is flattered to be considered for the Liverpool role but his priority is winning Brighton a European place.

Burnley manager Vincent Kompany shakes hands with Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola
Burnley manager Vincent Kompany shakes hands with Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola

Kompany learning coaching the hard way

When you have been one of football’s most successful and admired players of your generation and moved into coaching and taken the Championship league by storm, winning by an incredible 10 points, failure on Europe’s biggest stage, the Premier League, is a bitter disappointment.

Step forward Vincent Kompany, who guided Burnley to promotion in his first season in charge.

This season, however, has been a completely different story and the claret and blues are in a relegation battle.

Kompany admits his main influence is the years spent with Guardiola at City and he built his team playing out from the back using Guardiola’s strategy at Maine Road.

With the youngest team in the league, Kompany is building for the future and he kicked off this season with a goalkeeper who had never played higher than league one.

Last season, Burnley lined up with a 4-2-3-1 formation which was often changed to a 3-2-5 and even a 2-3-5 which attacked from the back and moved forward to a packed front line to give them an advantage over defences. They scored 101 goals in one season.

That worked for the Championship but Premier League players are better and Kompany learned the hard way. Arsenal, Liverpool and Aston Villa pressed them harder upfield and put them under pressure resulting in conceding plenty of goals. Kompany realised the situation and changed to a 4-4-2 set-up.

Burnley’s £100m (Sh16.6bn) player investment has not paid off and few have impacted the league by playing successfully. Kompany says it takes 120 training sessions and 100 team meetings for a new player to understand his methods.

The most successful imports have been Sander Berge, Wilson Odobert (23), Zeki Amdouni (23) and 19-year-old Luca Koleosho. Chelsea’s on-loan Ian Maatsen was a vital cog in Burnley’s success last season but he has now gone. Burnley offered to pay £31.5m (Sh5.2bn) to keep him but he opted to stay at Stamford Bridge and then joined Borussia Dortmund on loan.

The bigger picture is of course the gap between the quality of football in the Championship and the Premier League. Of the 30 teams relegated from the Premier League during the past ten years, 10 have returned after one season and that looks like it will happen again this year with Leicester and Leeds leading the Championship.

The supporters and the club hierarchy have remained faithful to the Dutchman and still believe he is the future. He signed a five-year contract to keep off advances by Tottenham and Chelsea.

But this season has been a dramatic learning curve for Kompany who has stuck to his task of rescuing the club like the charismatic leader he is. His vision goes well beyond this unfortunate season and all is not lost, yet.

The final word goes to Vincent himself: “For those teams who are promoted from the Championship to the Premier League, it’s a tough ask. It’s a difficult job. For any of us that make it and survive, it’s an exceptional achievement.”