Anyone who has watched Arsenal this season would know exactly what it is they need to take that next vital step towards becoming a fixture of the Premier League’s top four again. Unfortunately “anyone” is not in charge of recruitment at north London’s premier entertainment business, so instead of making a defender who can actually defend a priority, the Gunners will join the queue of clubs looking to sign PSV Eindhoven’s £50m-rated striker Donyell Malen, who has scored 10 goals in 13 games this season. That’s the same Donyell Malen who Arsenal sold to the unbeaten Eredivisie side for just £500,000 two years ago. Even if they really did need a forward, to save face and look vaguely competent, they really shouldn’t let it be known they’re interested in that one. It says here the Gunners will have to duke it out with 45 other unimaginative clubs who have a member of staff who knows how to type “in-form Dutch striker” into Google. Liverpool is on that lengthy list too.
While we’re on the subject of young strikers who have made lazy scouts sit up and take notice, Erling Braut Haaland’s hat-trick for RB Salzburg against Genk has got antennae twitching furiously at Juventus, Manchester United and Manchester City (where his dad plied his trade with reasonable success until his knee bumped into Roy Keane’s studs). The gigantic 19-year-old striker once stated his “dream is to win the Premier League with Leeds”, the city of his birth. So, Turin or east Manchester it is then. Another stumbling block for United is that Haaland’s agent is Mino Raiola, who is mightily miffed at Ole Gunnar Solskjær for not letting Paul Pogba leave Old Trafford last summer, which would have enabled him to trouser another astronomical fee. Poor Mino.
Manchester United may have better luck in chasing a couple of Tottenham players who have retreated to the fringes of Mauricio Pochettino’s squad. Lucas Moura and Eric Dier are both being watched carefully. While Moura has flitted in and out of the team this season despite having a decent impact at times, it’s hard to know just what Dier does any more. He’s played exactly zero minutes for Spurs this campaign. With Nemanja Matic seemingly on his way out of Old Trafford soon, United may have room in their squad for another chugger in midfield – and one-gear Dier could fit the bill.
If United were to sign Dier in January, would Solskjær even be at Old Trafford to tell him what to do? The word is that Thomas Tuchel is United’s No 1 candidate to rescue the club from a poor start this season if Ole can be wrenched away from the wheel, that is.
Over in Spain, Florentino Pérez’s trigger finger is starting to get twitchy and Real Madrid’s 1-0 win over Sevilla may not be enough to steady it. Having invested £275m into the squad last summer in exchange for an average start in La Liga and a dire one in the Champions League, Zinedine Zidane’s days may be numbered. Xabi Alonso, who is a year into his coaching career (which so far consists of a season with Real Madrid Under-14s and a few months with Real Sociedad’s B team) is being tipped to make a shock return to the Bernabéu as Zidane’s successor. Another man on the “shock return” list is José Mourinho, who seems to have got as bored with doing Premier League punditry as he did with managing Premier League teams. Read More