Manchester United target Erling Haaland or Harry Kane to replace Anthony Martial - Paper Round
Manchester United eye up a move for a big-name striker this summer, with Erling Haaland and Harry Kane on their shortlist. Elsewhere, Manchester City are no longer targeting Lionel Messi, Chelsea identify Kingsley Coman as a potential replacement for Christian Pulisic and Premier League chiefs ask clubs for help to improve VAR. It's Friday's Paper Round...
Anthony Martial of Manchester United during the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 First Leg match between Manchester United and A.C. Milan at Old Trafford on March 11, 2021 in Manchester, United Kingdom.
Manchester United are preparing to target a big-name striker this summer, with the Mirror revealing that the Red Devils are targeting Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland and Tottenham Hotspur's Harry Kane this summer. The Premier League side are in the market for a new forward, and the pair are currently leading United's shortlist of strikers. However, the signing of a new striker could spell the end for Anthony Martial's time at Old Trafford.
Paper Round's view: A world-class forward like Haaland or Kane would definitely help propel Manchester United in their bid to win their first Premier League title since 2013. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side are currently in second place in the league table, but aren't really seen as serious title contenders at the moment. You'd expect the club to add a centre-back and maybe a winger to their wishlist, but a striker is definitely needed. The club lacks a true number nine, especially if Edinson Cavani leaves this summer. Martial really isn't proving himself to be that striker, with just three goals in his last 19 appearances.
Lionel Messi is no longer a transfer target for Manchester City, with the Independent reporting that the Premier League club will turn their attention to younger players. Man City were previously linked to the 33-year-old, whose current contract at Barcelona is expiring this summer. However, City's plans have now shifted, with their targets "all under the age of 24" as the club looks to maximise the "value" of their signings in the transfer market. The Independent reveal that Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland and Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe are on Man City's striker shortlist ahead of this summer.
Paper Round's view: Obviously signing Lionel Messi is massively appealing. No club would be happy to pass up the opportunity to sign one of the greatest players in the history of football... but it just doesn't make sense for City. Messi is turning 34 years old this summer and his wage demands won't get much lower than they already are. Contrastingly, Manchester City are in the middle of a squad rebuild. David Silva has just departed and Fernandinho and Sergio Aguero look set to exit the Etihad this summer. Targeting a younger striker like Haaland or Mbappe makes complete sense for a team looking to build a new dynasty.
United ready to pounce as Varane 'wants to leave Madrid' - Euro Papers
Is Coman the man to replace Pulisic?
Chelsea have identified Kingsley Coman as a potential replacement for Christian Pulisic, who is reportedly unsettled at Stamford Bridge. The American is yet to start a match since his former Borussia Dortmund boss Thomas Tuchel arrived in west London in January. The Mail reveal that a host of top clubs, including Liverpool, Manchester United and Bayern Munich, would be interesting in signing Pulisic should he wish to leave. Bayern would be open to selling Chelsea target Coman if the two parties fail to negotiate an extension to his current contract, which is set to expire in the summer of 2023.
Paper Round's view: This could be a satisfying swap deal between Chelsea and Bayern Munich. If the German champions are interested in signing Pulisic and Chelsea want Coman as his replacement, the two clubs could negotiate a deal which would see the players swap sides. Ideally, the Blues wouldn't sell a player of Pulisic's quality to a direct domestic rival like Liverpool or Manchester United so Bayern would make more sense. However, you'd think that Chelsea would be keen on keeping the American and that the club hopes that he will win the new manager over in the near future.
Barca to steal Bayern target from Real as Laporta returns - Euro Papers
Help us fix VAR
Premier League officials will write to top-flight clubs in an attempt to gather information and advice on how to improve the use of the Video Assistant Referee (VAR). The Star report that chief executive Richard Masters is "increasingly concerned" by the mistakes and wrong decisions involved in using the technology and will try to rectify the problems. All 20 Premier League clubs will be able to fill out a survey to assess previous subjective calls in order to help referees find consistency in their decision making.
Paper Round's view: VAR is never going to be perfect with subjective calls. It isn't an issue with the technology, it's an issue with the calls from the referees on the pitch and the referees in the VAR rooms. There has always been a lack of consistency in refereeing decisions in football, but you'd think that would be minimised if more professional referees are able to assess the same phase of play with replays of the fouls. Hopefully the standard of refereeing in the Premier League will improve with help from the this survey.