'Operation Mbappe' is underway

Real Madrid are itching for 1 January 2022 - the day they can finally open talks with Kylian Mbappe. Marca report that 'Operation Mbappe' is already underway as Los Blancos look to secure the services of the Frenchman. Mbappe's current contract at Paris Saint-Germain is set to expire at the end of the season, meaning he can enter negotiations with foreign clubs from the beginning of January. Real Madrid trust that the 22-year-old will "stick to his original plan", despite some small concerns that PSG could convince him to sign a contract extension. The Parisians will table a final contract offer worth €25 million-per-year to Mbappe.
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Paper Round's view: This transfer story has been going on for a while. Mbappe's desire to join Real Madrid has not been private. The World Cup winner insisted he asked to leave PSG back in July, but the French club refused to sell him. If he doesn't sign a contract extension, Mbappe will leave for free next summer... and Madrid looks the likely destination. Playing alongside Lionel Messi and Neymar doesn't even seem like enough to convince Mbappe to stay. It looks like Real Madrid could become a huge force once again... especially if they add Paul Pogba, Erling Haaland and Antonio Rudiger to their ranks too.
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Koeman decision cuts Barca's transfer budget

Barcelona have informed new manager Xavi of the club's transfer budget for the winter window and the Mirror report it has been severely limited following the sacking of Ronald Koeman. The Catalan club will have less than €10 million to spend in January because of the money spent on ousting and replacing the Dutch coach. Koeman will be paid €12 million in compensation, while Barca paid €5 million to Al Sadd to activate Xavi's release clause. Barcelona have "prioritised signing a forward" in January and have eyes on Premier League trio Raheem Sterling, Edinson Cavani and Timo Werner.
Paper Round's view: €10 million isn't going to be enough to cover the wages of those three - let alone any transfer or loan fees. Barcelona clearly thought it was worth the financial risk to sack Koeman and hire Xavi, despite knowing that it would limit their January spending power. The Blaugrana currently sit in ninth in La Liga and the club won't want to miss out on Champions League qualification for next season. The money brought in from reaching Europe's elite competition may be worth it in the long run, which is why they decided to spend over half of their winter transfer budget on hiring a new manager.
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Norwich narrow manager search to two names

Norwich City are making their final moves ahead of appointing a successor to Daniel Farke, who was sacked last weekend. The Mail report that the Canaries have narrowed their search to two final candidates: Frank Lampard and Dean Smith. The pair have both been interviewed for the vacant role at Carrow Road and further talks will take place on Friday. Lampard was originally the first-choice manager for Norwich, but Smith's sacking at Aston Villa gave him the opportunity to emerge an alternative option.
Paper Round's view: It will be interesting to see which route Norwich go down. Smith has more managerial experience, but Lampard showed how well he can work with young, exciting talent during spells at Derby County and Chelsea. Norwich have a brilliant youth system, which will be promising for whoever ends up with the job. The main task will be attempting to avoid relegation. The Canaries sit rock bottom of the Premier League. Smith's experience might be vital here and it might end up swaying the vacancy towards the former Villa boss.
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Should Southgate stay or should he go?

Gareth Southgate has been offered a bumper new contract by the FA to extend his stay as England manager. The 51-year-old, who led the Three Lions to the Euro 2020 final, has an existing deal to stay in his role until after the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. However, the Sun reveal that the FA are fearful that Southgate could be tempted by a Premier League job, so have tabled a contract extension worth £6 million per year. The former Middlesbrough boss is currently earning half that fee. The new contract would run until Euro 2024, which is being hosted by Germany.
Paper Round's view: Southgate has been a revelation since taking the job as England manager. He has overseen a run to the World Cup semi-finals and his team lost the Euro 2020 final to Italy in a devastating penalty shoot-out. Many things have changed under Southgate and the FA are clearly happy with the job he's done. England's current generation are on the cusp of glory and Southgate could be the manager that finally gets them over the line. The FA will be hoping he signs the contract extension.
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