Summer sale at Old Trafford
Around 10 Manchester United players could leave this summer as Erik ten Hag takes the reins at Old Trafford. The Mail report that Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard, Edinson Cavani, Nemanja Matic, Juan Mata and Lee Grant will all leave as free agents when their contracts expire. There will be a defensive clear out too as Aaron Wan-Bissaka will be allowed to leave, just three years after joining from Crystal Palace for £50 million. Eric Bailly and Phil Jones will be offloaded, while club captain Harry Maguire’s future could be in doubt if Ten Hag’s centre-back targets are acquired. Back-up goalkeeper Dean Henderson is linked with a season-long loan at Newcastle United, but there is also interest from newly-promoted Bournemouth.
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Paper Round’s view: Realistically, Manchester United won’t miss any of these players (except Maguire who surely won’t leave). Wan-Bissaka has proved an expensive mistake due to his limited ability in attack compared to his rival modern-day full-backs and Bailly simply cannot stay fit. Henderson could have been a solid goalkeeping option, but David De Gea is one of the only consistent players in the United squad right now. It’s safe to say that it’s time for the rest to leave. It just has not worked out for them over the past couple of years and it’s time to bring their journeys at Old Trafford to an end.
Arsenal out-priced in pursuit of Jesus
Arsenal are unsure whether to continue their pursuit of Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus after the Premier League leaders slapped a £55-million asking price on the Brazilian. ESPN report that the Gunners are hoping to sign “at least one forward” this summer and have made Jesus one of their top targets. However, Arsenal “baulked at City’s valuation” due to the fact that the 25-year-old has just one year remaining on his current contract at the Etihad Stadium. The north London club are also interested in Juventus forward Paulo Dybala, who will be a free agent this summer.
Paper Round’s view: It is probably just a negotiation tactic from Manchester City – who will most likely sell Jesus this summer due to the signing of Erling Haaland and the fact that the Brazilian will be a free agent next summer. However, Arsenal need to pay up if they want their first-choice targets. The Gunners risk being left behind by their rivals, especially now that it looks very unlikely that they will be competing in the Champions League next season. It is a big transfer fee but signing your first-choice transfer target can be priceless if it helps you secure top four next season.
The battle for Johnstone is on
West Bromwich Albion goalkeeper Sam Johnstone is being targeted by five Premier League clubs this summer. The England international is set to become a free agent and will return to England’s top-flight after spending a season back in the Championship with the Baggies. The Sun reveal that Tottenham Hotspur lead the race as they have already made contact with Johnstone, but Newcastle United, West Ham United, Leicester City and Brighton are also interested in signing the 29-year-old.
Paper Round’s view: It’s going to be a huge decision for Johnstone. Tottenham are closing in on a place in next season’s Champions League, so it is an exciting prospect. However, club captain Hugo Lloris is their number-one choice stopper and that is unlikely to change if Johnstone arrived in north London. Would the England keeper be happy to be a back-up? Surely he has more ambition than that. West Ham would be an interesting move. The Hammers will be playing in Europe again next season and Lukasz Fabianski is 37 years old now. There’s a starting spot up for grabs at the London Stadium.
Man Utd hit new low
Manchester United have decided to cancel their end-of-season awards ceremony after another disappointing campaign. The Mirror reveal that United players were “too embarrassed” to hold the event due to their “worst-ever Premier League season”. The club usually hold the awards during the final two weeks of the season, but club officials decided to call it off due to the players’ concerns. A Player of the Year trophy will still be awarded to a member of the squad, but there will not be an awards night.
Paper Round’s view: It’s a dire situation at Old Trafford, but at least the players have acknowledged it. They must feel like no one in that squad deserves any kind of award after the campaign they endured - and they are right. Hopefully the team realises they need to step up next season. Hiring Erik ten Hag ahead of the summer gives them a clean slate heading into 2022-23 and will give them extra motivation (should they need it?) to impress from pre-season.
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