Ronaldo can go

Cristiano Ronaldo is free to leave Manchester United this January, the Telegraph reports. Erik ten Hag will not stand in the forward’s way if the club receive a suitable offer for the 37-year-old, having initially wanted to keep him in the summer. Ronaldo remained an unused substitute against Manchester City in the heavy 6-3 defeat on Sunday, with Ten Hag claiming it was “out of respect” for the player’s career. Only Saudi club Al Hilal made a concrete proposal for Ronaldo, who is said to want Champions League football.
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Paper Round’s view: We go again in January, then, and if Ronaldo remains adamant on joining a Champions League side, it will be fascinating to see which clubs have changed their mind from the summer. It went from courting PSG, Chelsea and Bayern Munich to potential loan moves to Napoli or Sporting as the window dragged on, with nothing materialising. Let’s see who’s struggling in November or December to make a January pursuit possible. Maybe Todd Boehly can convince Graham Potter?

Rafa in at Forest?

A fifth straight defeat in the Premier League last night leaves Nottingham Forest rooted to the bottom of the table, and with Steve Cooper under pressure, the Telegraph reports that Rafael Benitez is in the frame to replace him. The former Liverpool, Chelsea, Newcastle and Everton manager could be viewed as the man to reverse Forest’s fortunes, with their return to the top tier after 23 years away getting off to the worst possible start.
Paper Round’s view: The team that Cooper guided to the Premier League back in May is essentially not the team in front of him, and after a staggering summer where 23 new players were signed, it is no surprise to see the momentum from their play-off win was non-existent. This would come as no surprise, but you have to feel for Cooper and wonder what might have been if there weren’t so many changes.

Chelsea’s Leipzig double

With Chelsea already agreeing a deal for Christopher Nkunku, the Telegraph claims the club are looking to complete a double RB Leipzig raid by bringing in defender Josko Gvardiol next summer as well. Chelsea paid above Nkunku’s £52.58m release clause to sign the French striker at the end of the season, and they are now willing to pay Gvardiol’s release clause as well. The Croatian defender could leave for £43.6m, with Chelsea holding advanced talks for the 20-year-old in the summer.
Paper Round’s view: No messing from Boehly, who remains the man in charge of transfers until a sporting director comes in. That shouldn’t be far off, but it may be a quiet summer for them if Chelsea already have a double signing under their belts. Where else they need to strengthen will depend on how their season pans out, most likely.

Chelsea lead Leao race

Speaking of Chelsea, the club are leading the race to sign AC Milan striker Rafael Leao, The Sun reports. The two sides will meet this week in the Champions League, which will be an opportunity for Leao to strut his stuff, having scored four and assisted seven so far in Serie A. He was the league’s MVP when AC Milan won the title, but with a contract expiring in 2024, the club will not entertain offers under £87m.
Paper Round’s view: It looks as though Boehly is willing to keep chucking money at the Chelsea cause, but how much truth there is to this move is unclear, especially as the Nkunku deal looks a near certainty. And as the report points out, Leao will have no shortage of interested parties, although clubs able to pay £87m are few and far between.
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