Paper Round: Manchester City give Manchester United free run at Alexis Sanchez
Manchester City will not compete with United for Alexis Sanchez, Pep Guardiola also wants Fred, Arsenal will keep Mesut Ozil and Jack Wilshere, and Jose Mourinho holds Antonio Conte in contempt.
City will not compete with United's Sanchez interest
Manchester City are not prepared to compete with Manchester United's offer for Arsenal's striker Alexis Sanchez. Sanchez has been offered a higher wage by United as they try to secure his signature, and have offered Arsenal £25m. City will not go over £20m, and are prepared to make Sanchez's desire to join Pep Guardiola instead of United make up his mind. The Etihad bosses are also ready to see the 29-year-old Chilean join United.
Paper Round's view: If City were desperate for Sanchez, they could outbid perhaps any club in the world. That they would let their rivals sign their main target suggests they are content with Gabriel Jesus's recovery from injury, and know that they can find an alternative target in the summer. Despite that, it would be a risk to upset Guardiola by not delivering a target he had expected to sign in the summer, and at the very least this transfer window.
City prepare £45m bid for Fred
Mancheter City will turn their attention from Alexis Sanchez and towards Shakhtar Donetsk's Brazilian midfielder, Fred. Fred is playing in Ukraine, and Pep Guardiola wants to bring him in during the January transfer as he builds for the second half of the season. Manchester United are also interested in the 24-year-old, and City have been informed that the £45m bid they are preparing will not be enough to secure his release.
Manchester City's Ilkay Gundogan in action with Shakhtar Donetsk's FredReuters
Paper Round's view: United and City now seem to be prepared to use the winter transfer deal not for minor deals, but for major parts of their spending. This appears to be another example of the increasing reliance upon money instead of coaching the existing players at the club. City need to replace Fernandinho, because of age, not quality, and United would be well served by finding someone to take over from Michael Carrick.
Mourinho's contempt for Conte
Jose Mourinho has drawn a line under his disagreement with Chelsea boss Antonio Conte. Conte had called Mourinho, 'fake,' and, 'a little man,' after Mourinho had pointed out that he was banned for match fixing. Mourinho has now replied to Conte's insult by saying he no longer feels the need to insult Conte, because he knows he has hurt him, and now merely feels contempt.
Paper Round's view: Conte has come off worse in this exchange. When Conte tried to draw a line under it with his barbs, they were pretty weak, and has left himself open to another dig. While not a Mourinho classic, announcing that your opponent is not worthy of an insult because you have contempt for him is a strong reply. Mourinho can also point out that since the exchange began, Conte has not won a single game, and was unwise to get involved.
Wilshere and Ozil to stay at Arsenal
Mesut Ozil looks like he may remain at Arsenal and sign a new contract. He is confident of a 30% wage increase to keep him at The Emirates, and also wants the number 10 shirt currently worn by Jack Wilshere. The 29-year-old has been in good form of late and wants reassurances over the future of the club. United have not yet made contact over any deal. Wilshere could also sign a new contract.
Paper Round's view: Retaining Ozil for Arsenal would be vital, because it would be a blow to lose both their best players in such a short space of time. It would also mean they would not need to spend to replace in two key positions, and that is a reason why Wilshere may be kept on, too. He has failed to properly kick on with his career and fitness, but Arsenal will need to keep some players to fill out their squad.