United chase Baumgartner
Manchester United have been linked with a transfer for Austrian midfielder Christoph Baumgartner. The 21-year-old midfielder has impressed as he has developed with German side Hoffenheim and has a contract that expires in 2023. A bid in the summer transfer window is expected, according to The Sun, but United could act quickly in order to get him closest to the current £16 million asking price.
Paper Round’s view: Baumgartner is just 21 meaning that if he has the talent to hold down a first team spot then there is a chance he could occupy a place in the squad for a decade, at least. For only £16m then United can afford to take a chance on him, and they need midfield reinforcements given Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba could both leave in the coming months.
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West Brom target Benteke
West Bromwich Albion boss Sam Allardyce is targeting Crystal Palace striker Christian Benteke to help his club escape relegation, reports the Mirror. The 30-year-old Belgian striker is out of contract at the end of the season, so might prefer to wait until the summer to negotiate a big contract on a free transfer. However he faces competition at Selhurst Park after the arrival of Jean-Philippe Mateta from German club Mainz.
Paper Round’s view: If Palace are willing to sell Benteke, then they would likely only charge a small amount as a transfer fee so as to cut their wage expenditure and make sure they don’t lose him for nothing in the summer. For West Brom, Benteke offers plenty of Premier League experience and would be a physical and skilful presence for Allardyce’s direct approach to the game.
Tuchel changes Chelsea transfer plans
The Daily Mail reports that Thomas Tuchel’s arrival at Chelsea has altered the club’s transfer plans. The first detail not to change, though, is that youngsters Reece James, Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham will be given the chance to develop further. However Declan Rice is no longer a target for the club, and they will put most of their focus on bringing in Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund.
Paper Round’s view: Chelsea have been fortunate to see three youngsters grow into the first-team squad and as well as the emotional connection they will have with fans, it is also a way to save money. Rice had looked like a sensible addition given his potential and versatility, but it is impossible to argue that Haaland - perhaps Europe’s most talented youngster - is a more exciting target.
Solskjaer yet to be offered new deal
Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has yet to be offered a new contract, according to the Telegraph. The manager has a contract that lasts until 2022, but with the club at the top of the Premier League and enjoying a huge change in fortunes, there is still no suggestion that Solskjaer is in negotiations over extending a stay that will end in a little over a year, as things stand.
Paper Round’s view: Given the wild fluctuations in United’s fortunes since Alex Ferguson retired, and even since Solskjaer’s appointment, it is wise that Ed Woodward is a little circumspect about whether to give the Norwegian a new deal.