With a host of European league seasons kicking off tonight, and 18 days before the transfer window does its traditional slam-and-flounce, things are not so much heating up … it’s more a case of a handful of lethargic bubbles slowly popping after spending months bouncing around the inside of the Mill’s rusty Tefal.
All the big names are gradually getting new branded satchels for the new term. Grealish: done. Lukaku: over the line. Messi: mais oui (and apparently being paid partly in cryptocurrency). Origi: any reasonable offers accepted.
Of the serious megabucks deals mooted for the summer, that leaves Harry Kane to Manchester City still up in the air. While Daniel Levy stays resolute as the pallets of pledged cash pile up, the Mill is less interested in the fee than what the move could mean in terms of outgoings at City’s end.
Bernardo Silva has done some hands-on-hips counting at the club’s training ground and started to wonder if last season’s tally of 24 league starts may end up sagging given competition for places. Arsenal’s interest hasn’t been reciprocated, with the Portugal playmaker preferring opportunities in, say, Barcelona, perhaps overlooking that club’s current financial predicament.
Juventus are eyeing a move for Aymeric Laporte, potentially on loan, as the defender fails to be impressed by the potential to be “rotated in” for those League Cup midweeks when the John Stones-Rúben Dias axis needs a rest. City reportedly floated the idea of palleting the Spain international up as part of The Kane Package, but nah.
Juve have also repeatedly been linked to Gabriel Jesus, who is perhaps getting a bit peeved at being the club’s first-choice striker for a limited period only, during which no competitive games took place and the club did everything they could to buy a new first-choice striker. The thinking is one of Silva, Laporte and Jesus may have to give way in order to make the whole FFP thing at least vaguely make sense.
Leeds are still interested in City’s never-present Yangel Herrera, a Venezuela international and serial loanee whose defensive midfield skills have also attracted come-see-me eyes from Southampton and West Ham. Another on-books, off-site player, winger Pedro Porro, made his international bow for Spain in March but has since joked: “I’ve never talked to Pep Guardiola. I don’t think he even knows they hired me.” Sporting, where he has spent the past two seasons, remain keen. Morgan Rogers is an England youth international forward and spent last season impressing at Lincoln. Nottingham Forest have their peepers on the 19-year-old.
Away from the Etihad and its assorted satellite outposts, Arsenal’s wishlist for the creative midfield slot now has a third bullet-point: Lyon’s Houssem Aouar. Though Mikel Arteta would prefer to have Martin Ødegaard or James Maddison as permanent fixtures, a loan move for the marauding Frenchman would be better than nowt, particularly with Joe Willock all but in the clutches of Steve Bruce now.
In disgruntled aspirant England goalkeeper corner: West Brom are hopeful that Sam Johnstone is feeling a bit less harrumphy over a contractual impasse, and will remain sufficiently focused to feature between the sticks against Luton tomorrow. Slavisa Jokanovic is crossing his fingers that Aaron Ramsdale’s thwarted move to Arsenal will see him curb his ambitions for a day or so and get his head screwed on for Sheffield United’s tricky trip to Swansea.