Paper Round: Manchester City in frame for Pogba as Barcelona back away from £85m deal
This weekend, Paul Pogba's switch to Barcelona seemed a done deal. Come Monday morning, it's all change.
Manchester City set to swoop for Paul Pogba as Barcelona back away from £85m deal
This weekend's Spanish media were full of how Paul Pogba was "in love" with Barcelona, so much so that Juventus would drop his price in order to let him follow his dream - and his other suitors were said to be following suit. Monday's Daily Mirror carries a story that flies in the face of that report, saying that Barcelona have been forced to pull out of the transfer. "The Catalans had an outline agreement to sign the French midfielder this summer but financial restrictions have forced them to scrap it," the Mirror reports, adding that it was, "a structured deal worth in excess of £85million. But, aware of their own self-imposed financial restrictions, they have communicated to Juve this month that they won’t be splashing out on Pogba."
Paper Round's view: If true this a stunning development, and it's hard to understand what sort of financial restrictions Barcelona might be under, such is their vast wealth. When it comes to a fringe player you might understand some cold feet, but for a player who could be the lynchpin of the side for five or 10 years you wonder why they don't simply find a way around the problem by economising elsewhere. Certainly, City will have no such troubles - they desperately need a new Yaya Toure, and Pogba looks the likeliest candidate out there right now.
Jose Mourinho to be parachuted in at Manchester United 'this month'
Manchester United's brutal 2-1 defeat by Sunderland has forced the hand of United's chiefs, according to The Sun, and the worst-kept secret in football is about to be revealed: Jose Mourinho will the next manager at Old Trafford. "Jose Mourinho could take over Manchester United this month as board lose faith in Louis van Gaal," blasts The Sun's headline, with the story going on to add that the weekend's awful result was key.
"Saturday’s 2-1 capitulation at Sunderland alarmed the club’s board," the paper added. "But just as concerning was Louis van Gaal giving up on a top-four spot. United had been ready to stick with the Dutchman, 64, until the summer. Now they believe they will lose nothing by swooping for the ex-Chelsea boss before their next league game at home to Arsenal on February 28."
Jose Mourinho at Manchester United's Old Trafford stadiumReuters
Paper Round's view: The Sun run another story elsewhere revealing that Van Gaal has just moved house - but that he's paying over the odds for his new mansion in order to make sure that he's on a rolling month-by-month rental deal, rather than committing to a 12-month contract. Normally we scoff at tabloids drawing conclusions from this sort of nugget - but in this case the message is clear. Van Gaal's days are numbered, and he knows it.
Newcastle set to fire Steve McClaren
Magpies owner Mike Ashley is all set to fire Steve McClaren, according to the Sunday Mirror journalist Dean Jones, speaking in a video snippet with Bleacher Report. Jones claims that Ashley's fear of relegation is greater than his fear of the instability that might follow giving McClaren the chop.
Paper Round's view: This is a tough one. Newcastle have looked by turns pretty decent and utterly atrocious most of this season. And often both in the same match: even in their 6-1 thrashing by Manchester City last October they actually led and looked good value to it, right up until that Sergio Aguero bloke scored five goals in 20 minutes. A mauling by a Chelsea side just getting their mojo back is no reason to make a panic move, however. Newcastle have seven points in their last six matches; if they replicate that form in their next 12, they'll finish on 38 points, and that's a total which would have kept them safe in all but two of the seasons since 2002-03.
'Even £100 million not enough' for Chelsea to replace John Terry
Martin Samuel in the Daily Mail writes an eloquent tribute/shameless puff piece about Chelsea's captain, leader and legend John Terry, saying that he is irreplaceable. "No centre half, however gifted, can bring what Terry does to Chelsea. Not the experience, not the leadership, not that knowledge of where to be, or what to do... Even for an outlay of close to £100million, Chelsea would be buying bodies, not another Terry."
Chelsea's John Terry at full timeReuters
Paper Round's view: Crikey. Is Samuel on a percentage commission from JT if he helps pile on the pressure for the Blues to give Terry a new contract? From the things he's written in the last few weeks, it's beginning to look that way.