Paper Round: Manchester City ready £167m move for Kylian Mbappe
Manchester City want Kylian Mbappe and Thiago Alcantara, Manchester United consider Harry Maguire, and Chelsea are linked to Robert Lewandowski.
Manchester City ready Mbappe bid
Manchester City had been preparing a bid for Eden Hazard, but may now turn their attention to Paris Saint-Germain striker Kylian Mbappe. The 19-year-old French forward is set to join PSG on a permanent deal in the summer, as they are contractually obliged to pay Monaco £167m for the player. However, after also spending £198m on Neymar from Barcelona, they are under investigation for artificially inflating the sponsorship deals that allow them to handle the constrictions of Financial Fair Play.
France's forward Kylian Mbappe celebrates after scoring a goal during an international friendly football match between Russia and France at the Saint Petersburg Stadium in Saint Petersburg on March 27, 2018.Getty Images
Paper Round's view: It is faintly amusing to think that Manchester City's reactions to a club being investigated for FFP abuse is not to make sure that their own sponsorship deals are above board, but to spend even more money. They must be extremely confident that their accounts are flawless. Mbappe is a potentially brilliant player, and for the price and age, still something of a bargain if he turns out to be the player many expect. It would perhaps lead to the exit of one or two City forwards, though, with Sergio Aguero the most likely casualty.
Guardiola wants £50m Thiago
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola won't just stop at Mbappe. With Fernandinho, David Silva and Yaya Toure in their thirties, and Toure expected to leave in the summer, he wants midfield reinforcements. To that end, he wants to be reunited with Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago Alcantara, who he managed both at Barcelona and in Germany. The 27-year-old has been called the new Iniesta, suggesting a new playmaker for City is on the list for their Spanish manager.
Bayern Munich's Spanish midfielder Thiago Alcantara (C) celebrates with teammates German forward Thomas Mueller (L) and Brazilian defender Rafinha (R) after scoring his team's first goal during the second leg of the last 16 UEFA Champions League footballGetty Images
Paper Round's view: Alcantara occasionally has problems with injuries, and Ilkay Gundogan similarly struggles to keep his fitness intact over the course of the season. That doesn't normally matter with a huge squad - and City have that - but at crunch periods of the season that could be a vital factor. Guardiola will hope that he and City's doctors can work together to make sure their team is the fittest and most injury-resistant in the country.
Mourinho to replace Smalling
Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho has tired of Chris Smalling's attempts to fill a central defensive position for the team, and is ready to replace him. Raphael Varane and Marquinhos are the more famous names he has in mind, but he is aware that Leicester City's 25-year-old Harry Maguire would be an easier signing. A transfer fee of £35m would represent more than 100% profit for Leicester following his transfer from Hull City last summer.
Leicester City's Harry Maguire scores their second goalReuters
Paper Round's view: Smalling earned some praise following his winning goal against City last weekend, but he should have been replaced five years ago when it became clear he was unable to improve his awareness and passing to anything like the required level of the Premier League. His wages may make it hard to move him on, so United could have to subsidise some kind of transfer to Leicester to lighten the burden of his wages for wherever he moves.
Chelsea weigh up Lewandowski transfer
Chelsea are one of the sides ready to move for £70m-rated Robert Lewandowski, should he become available for a move in the summer. Bayern Munich are not ready to sell, but Lewandowski's new agent Pini Zahavi is sounding out clubs who might be interested. Real Madrid are the favourites, but his previous managers Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp might have an interest, as could Manchester United.
Bayern Munich's Polish forward Robert Lewandowski sits on the pitch after being fouled during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final second leg football match between FC Bayern Munich and Sevilla FCGetty Images
Paper Round's view: It certainly appears that Lewandowski has decided that it is time to move on from Germany, and there are only a few clubs who could afford him. United don't need him, and Liverpool don't seem the kind of club to bid for a player almost in his thirties. Real Madrid seem the obvious choice, given he is a similar age to Gareth Bale, likely to leave, and because they can afford him. Chelsea already have one ageing striker in Olivier Giroud, so were they to replace Alvaro Morata it would be with someone younger.