- Van de Beek's arrival needs to be just the start for United
- Barca torn on Messi punishment amid training snub – Paper Round
TUESDAY’S BIG STORIES
Messiest yet to come
At first it was Messi. A convenient pun to describe a story not yet a saga, but a tad more complicated than your typical tale of player wants out. This one was after an 8-2 defeat, after a change of head coach, after a change of technical director, after your close friend was told he was no longer needed by the club, after the presidential elections were brought forward, but not called immediately. This one, involved Lionel Messi and Barcelona.
And so it quickly got messier. Talk of exit clauses, release clauses, club holding firm, player still wanting out, missing the Covid-19 testing, and even La Liga weighing in. All the ingredients of a transfer saga like no other.
It got even messier on Monday, with Messi snubbing training given he no longer considers himself a Barcelona player, or so reports claim, while the club are torn on whether to punish him for the no-show through fear of pushing him even closer to the exit door.
Despite all this. All that. It still feels as though the messiest is yet to come. This deteriorating relationship between club and club’s (football’s) greatest ever player is only going to keep spiralling out of control.
With showdown talks between Josep Maria Bartomeu and Jorge Messi on the way on Wednesday, perhaps then we will hit peak mess, but you feel this one will rumble on well beyond the talk between president and dad and end up in the courts. The dispute to end all footballing disputes.
All the while, it’s now September. Wow this year has gone fast/slow etc, delete as appropriate. It means the 2020-21 season is upon us, and after a week of this Messi uber-sage we seem to be moving rapidly but treading water all at the same time. So much has happened, so many updates, so much speculation, but still we are none the wiser as to how this will play out and when it will eventually be over.
It’s becoming quite a sorry story now, for all involved, but the worst is on the way.
AWOL Lionel Messi's delight at Barcelona release-clause bombshell - Euro Papers
That’s right. The first Donny to hit these shores since Osmond was a special judge on Strictly Come Dancing six years ago is on soon on his way to Manchester United.
And just like Van de Beek pushed Osmond down a peg in the game of Donny autofill on Google, the Dutchman will soon have to elbow a few midfielders out the way too at Old Trafford.
A deal which looks almost done after Rio Ferdinand and Edwin van der Sar’s playful emoji exchange on Twitter means United are finally in business this summer, but in an area where they hardly needed to strengthen.
Still, it’s time to boost the bench, where Van de Beek could well find himself when he returns from international duty and gets going with United. A quality signing, but it’s difficult to see where he fits in the XI – Alexander Netherton has considered this conundrum here – while United fans will feel it is time their side sorted out a couple new defenders, maybe a striker, and actually table a bid for Jadon Sancho to test Borussia Dortmund’s resolve.
C’mon Ed Woodward, they’re waiting.
Jack the England lad
If there were still an England B team (it was a thing, children) then perhaps Jack Grealish would have had some more international experience by now, but instead the Aston Villa skipper has somehow made it to 24 years old without a senior cap to his name.
The wait for a call-up at the very least is finally over by virtue of a Marcus Rashford withdrawal, and now Grealish will be working towards making his debut against Iceland later this week.
Only invited because of a few dropouts, Grealish may well feel like he is crashing the party, but rather than hide in the corner he will know this is his chance to show off some moves. Dance-off anyone?
Moving on from that vision of Grealish and Mason Mount squaring off on a dancefloor as the other England players gather round in a circle, and heading back to reality, it is clear the former must try and grab the opportunity that the latter is more likely to get. There is time to convince Gareth Southgate otherwise, but still it feels like Grealish’s late call-up means he is only on the periphery of the England manager’s plans.
The midfield places are up for grabs, Mount will likely take one in Reykjavik on Saturday, but Southgate clearly sees Grealish as an option out wide, where he would normally have Rashford but now has Raheem Sterling, Jadon Sancho and Mason Greenwood for company.
Tough crowd, but one Grealish is happy to be part of instead of playing against.
"When you look around the England squad, they are not just the best players in the country - they are the best in the world,” he told The Sun. "I've played against these guys when they've been playing for Liverpool, Manchester City and Spurs, with not a lot of success!
Now I can't wait to actually train beside them and, hopefully, team up with the likes of Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling and Trent Alexander-Arnold, rather than trying to stop them. I know I can become an even better player by learning from these amazing players.
IN OTHER NEWS
It’s worth giving a shoutout to Shamrock Rovers drawing AC Milan in the Europa League second qualifying round, and adding what a shame it will be for the Irish side to play this match behind closer doors. Milan may not be the beast they used to be, but Transfermarkt reckons their squad is worth a combined 393.2 million euros compared to Shamrock's 1.95 million euros. Truly David vs Goliath, behind-closed-doors, obviously.
Because of course you should spend four minutes and 45 seconds of your Tuesday morning watching England spank Germany 5-1 in Munich, with even Heskey scoring.
Nineteen years ago today. Pinch and punch, (realise how old you are) first of the month.
Not his article, as is usually the case here, but very good human being Marcus Rashford is at it again, this time forming a task force with some of the biggest food brands to tackle child poverty.
He told the BBC: "I feel like at times people think they are being looked down on if they ask for help, and I think in this generation... that is something that should change. You should feel free if you want to ask for help for anything. Hold your head up high and if you need help go and get help."
More cycling. More tennis. More transfer news. Very little actual football, but hey, nice to have some quiet time before the internationals roll around.
Ben Snowball will find something to talk about tomorrow, anything will do.