Arise, Sir Gareth?
Gareth Southgate is set to become a ‘Sir’ in the New Year Honours list with Prime Minister Boris Johnson keen to recognise England’s run to the Euro 2020 final, The Sun reports. After Southgate was handed an OBE when England made the World Cup semi-finals in 2018, the Three Lions boss could be knighted at the end of the year despite Sunday’s shootout defeat to Italy, with sources telling The Sun that Johnson is “supportive” of the manager getting the top honour.
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Paper Round’s view: There are few footballing knights and the fact the 1966 squad were initially handed MBEs – bar OBEs for Jack Charlton, Bobby Moore and Gordon Banks – shows how much the goalposts have changed. It’s unlikely the prospect of a knighthood would faze Southgate, to some it matters, but no doubt his proudest achievement would be building on 2018 and 2021 and turning these near-misses into something won on the pitch.
Juve eye Jesus
Juventus have put Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus top of their transfer targets this summer in a move that would see him join Cristiano Ronaldo in Turin, the Daily Mail reports. Amid claims Ronaldo will stay at Juve, the club are still keen to build around him and would like Jesus in to add firepower up front. Juve finished fourth last season after relinquishing their title to Inter, who were 13 points ahead of them. Juve are also eyeing Moise Kean, Mauro Icardi, Dusan Vlahovic and Andrea Belotti.
Paper Round’s view: After losing Sergio Aguero, the prospect of City willingly selling Jesus does not seem likely unless they have at a couple names set to come in. One of course could be Harry Kane, but unless City need to sell to raise funds it would be a surprise to see Jesus going without any player coming to Manchester in return.
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Varane to Man Utd close
Manchester United are close to agreeing personal terms with Raphael Varane, the Manchester Evening News reports. Sources have told the paper a deal for the Real Madrid defender is not far off, with the French centre-back currently on holiday and likely to head to Manchester rather than return to Madrid for pre-season training. With terms being finalised, it could be concluded in a few weeks.
Paper Round’s view: Quite the coup for United and undoubtedly an upgrade. Harry Maguire proved his doubters wrong at the Euros and he could form a formidable partnership with Varane. With Jadon Sancho on the way too, United mean business.
Coutinho to Marseille?
Marseille could swoop in for Barcelona midfielder Philippe Coutinho, The Sun reports. Apparently the Ligue 1 club are looking for a huge sponsor to help them afford to buy Coutinho, who would be handed an £8.5m signing-on bonus despite the fact the club could only offer him half of his current salary – so around £6m a year.
Paper Round’s view: Just £6m a year… It will test Coutinho to see whether he wants to play football more regularly or stay and fight for a role at Barca. That doesn’t seem likely, but you never know, and at 29 he still has more to give.
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