The next Busquets

Sergio Busquets is set to end his 17-year stay at Barcelona by leaving next summer and Marca reveal that the Blaugrana are already preparing for his departure. Barca’s board are putting together a shortlist of players who would be able to fill the gap after Busquets ahead of an expected move to the MLS. There are two names which headline the list of targets: Martin Zubimendi of Real Sociedad and Ruben Neves of Wolves. Zubimendi is highly-rated and home-grown but reportedly has a €60 million release clause – which could prove difficult. Neves is unlikely to have a cheaper price tag but his agent – Jorge Mendes – has a strong relationship with Barcelona, which could help smooth negotiations.
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Paper Round’s view: The end of an era. If Gerard Pique follows Busquets out of the door at the Camp Nou, it will be a huge summer for Barcelona. The European champions of 2009 and 2011 will no longer be at the club. However, it’s clear the Catalan club needs a fresh start. No more politics. No more egos. It’s time for fresh beginnings under Xavi. Either signing would most likely be a class replacement for Busquets, but what about Frenkie de Jong? The Dutchman can adapt and play that role if needed. The former Ajax star has failed to live up to expectations at Barcelona, but the opportunity could give him a defining role in the team.
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Ten Hag plans to spend more

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag is already hoping to add more talent to his squad at Old Trafford, despite the transfer window only just closing. However, the Sun report that the Premier League club may have to wait until next summer after overspending this year. United paid huge fees to bring in Antony and Lisandro Martinez, while Tyrell Malacia, Christian Eriksen and Martin Dubravka also joined Ten Hag’s squad. The Dutchman is keen on signing a new right-back and the club have been linked with midfield duo Youri Tielemans and Frenkie de Jong.
Paper Round’s view: The spending never stops at Manchester United. Like Barcelona, the club are currently in the middle of a rebuild – but United’s rebuild actually started nearly 10 years ago. Obviously Ten Hag is keen to bring in his own players and assemble his own squad, but the club need to get better at selling players. There is still so much dead wood around the squad. Once the selling starts, there will be more funds freed to spend on new talent. It looks like the club is finally heading in a positive direction, but who knows how far they can actually go if Ten Hag is actually given the players he wants?
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Chelsea’s sporting director search continues

Chelsea will continue their pursuit of a new sporting director despite missing out on Red Bull Salzburg’s Christoph Freund. The Guardian state that the Blues plan to enter negotiations with Tim Steidten of Bayer Leverkusen, who joined the German club back in 2019. Chelsea are also discussing the possibility of approaching Leeds United’s Victor Orta, who could join as a technical director. The west London club have also been linked with Atletico Madrid’s Andrea Berta, Monaco’s Paul Mitchell and former Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona defender Maxwell.
Paper Round’s view: Chelsea need to accelerate their plans of hiring additions to their recruitment team. The club’s summer strategy was a bit scattergun. It did not seem like they had a plan at the time and now their business looks even worse in hindsight after the sacking of Thomas Tuchel. Chelsea need to find stability in their recruitment team if they want to continue the rebuild of their squad. There are a few ageing key players in the squad, so it’s going to be another expensive year in 2023. Hiring a sporting director now will help identify targets ahead of the January transfer window.
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England face Euro 2028 stadium shock

The British Isles are readying a bid to host the 2028 European Championships, but the Times reveal that England could have as little as five stadiums in the tournament. The stadiums will need to hold a capacity of at least 30,000 supporters and there will be 10 grounds which are guaranteed to make the cut. This number could increase if the tournament expands from 24 teams to 32. Emirates Stadium, Elland Road, Anfield and Stamford Bridge have all already been ruled out, while a handful of options – including Everton’s planned new Bramley-Moore Dock stadium – remain in the race to be a host.
Paper Round’s view: It’s good to change it up and have new stadiums at future tournaments. There will be five nations involved as tournament hosts, so you can’t just have a load of English grounds. Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland will all be keen to host matches and you’d expect them all to have at least one host stadium, while Wembley Stadium will definitely be picked. The final draft list of stadiums needs to be submitted to UEFA by mid-November so it will be interesting to see what it throws out.
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