Decision time for Man Utd

Manchester United’s search for a new manager seems to be reaching its conclusion. The Telegraph report that the club are about to enter their final round of interviews and “it appears to be a clear shoot-out” between Ajax boss Erik ten Hag and Paris Saint-Germain’s Mauricio Pochettino. PSG are prepared to allow Pochettino to leave this summer and will not expect any payment from United if he were to move to Old Trafford. Elsewhere, Ajax gave permission to Ten Hag to be interviewed by the Premier League club, but the Dutch side would not stand in his way if he were to be United’s manager of choice. Ten Hag remains the favourite – even though United are “concerned” about his lack of experience managing a club of their stature.
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Paper Round’s view: Manchester United have taken their time in this process. It seems like the club want to make it look like they have done a thorough job, while it also appears that they are really afraid of making the wrong decision. David Moyes, Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer have all been disastrous since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson back in 2013. Pochettino and Ten Hag are both successful managers in their own rights – as we saw back in the 2018-19 season. Both coaches took underdog sides, with a young core, to the latter stages of the Champions League. Pochettino might be the better choice here due to his Premier League experience, but it’s a tough decision.
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Barca target Chelsea trio

The Guardian report that Barcelona “want to capitalise on the uncertainty at Chelsea” this summer, by targeting defensive trio Cesar Azpilicueta, Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger. The Catalan club are fully committed to their rebuild and believe all three represent cut-price quality in the current transfer market. Christensen and Rudiger would both be available to join as free agents as their contracts at the west London club are set to expire at the end of the season. The current situation at Stamford Bridge means Chelsea are unable to negotiate contract extensions with any players until the club is sold. Azpilicueta’s deal was recently extended by a year due to a pre-agreed clause, but the Spaniard could be tempted to return to his home country on a multi-year contract for a small fee.
Paper Round’s view: It’s a tough situation for Chelsea and the players. There is a lack of clarity over the club’s future and the players are under pressure to make decisions over their futures. It seems like Christensen is likely to leave after a breakdown in talks over a new contract, but Rudiger’s situation is unclear. The German defender wanted a significant pay rise to reflect his recent form and knows his demands can be met elsewhere. Rudiger is wanted by Barcelona, Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus, so could easily just move abroad, make a load more money and begin a new challenge at another one of the best clubs in world football.
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Newcastle prioritise striker this summer

Newly-rich Newcastle United have started planning their summer transfer plans and the Athletic report that the club’s head of recruitment, Steve Nickson, has already drawn up a shortlist for players in every position. The Magpies have made a striker their priority but will look to enhance the spine of their team. Goalkeepers Kepa Arrizabalaga, Dean Henderson, Bernd Leno and Sam Johnstone are on the club’s radar, while Sven Botman is the top target in defence. In midfield, Yves Bissouma, Kalvin Phillips and Jesse Lingard are on the shortlist. Eddie Howe’s side have identified Darwin Nunez, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Patrik Schick as potential options to improve the attack.
Paper Round’s view: It’s going to be interesting to see what Newcastle do at the end of the season. The club already added Kieran Trippier, Matt Targett, Bruno Guimaraes and Chris Wood in the winter transfer window, but it is expected that the Tyneside club will continue to spend in the summer. There was hesitation around joining Newcastle in January because there was a real risk of relegation. Potential signings will now know the club’s aim is to break into European places next season. A lot of these transfer targets are from rival Premier League clubs – meaning they are ready to hit the ground running in England. Newcastle could become a competitive side next season in the battle for the Europa League.
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Leicester lay out summer plans

Leicester City could be set for a squad shake-up this summer, with the Mail reporting that the Foxes are targeting “at least three new players” and first-team stars could be allowed to leave. Leicester are targeting a new centre-back, a “dynamic” centre-midfielder and a right-sided attacker to move straight into the starting line-up. Harvey Barnes, Wilfred Ndidi, Youri Tielemans, Caglar Soyuncu and Ayoze Perez are the players who could be allowed to leave the King Power Stadium, with the latter trio approaching the expiry dates of their contracts in 2023.
Paper Round’s view: Things have gone a bit stale at Leicester so a squad overhaul may not be the worst idea in the world. Tielemans, Soyuncu and Perez have the option to leave for free next summer if they fail to agree contract extensions, so it makes sense to sell them if they are not viewed as part of the club’s long-term future. Ndidi and Barnes are two players that have attracted attention from rival Premier League clubs. Domestic transfers usually mean that the transfer fees involved are inflated, which would allow Leicester to have a bigger budget when they want to rebuild.
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