Saudi government backs United and Liverpool bids
Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Faisal, the sports minister of Saudi Arabia, has said that the country would "definitely support" any bid from the private sector to buy one or both of Manchester United and Liverpool, who have both been put up for sale by their respective American owners. A Saudi-backed investment fund already owns Premier League side Newcastle.
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Paper Round’s view: As with other countries in the Middle East which have become rich through fossil fuels, separating the state from the private sector is particularly difficult. Quite apart from the human rights concerns which many feel are not properly considered, it would be tough for the FA to come to a clear conclusion over whether Newcastle would be owned by the same entity, should United or Liverpool seek approval for a Saudi-backed takeover.
Saudi also keen on Ronaldo
Turki Al Faisl has also said that he would welcome Cristiano Ronaldo joining the Saudi football league, as the 37-year-old Portuguese striker looks for a new club after leaving Manchester United following a controversial interview. Al-Nassr were already linked but now rival club Al-Hillal are reportedly considering a huge offer for the forward.
Paper Round’s view: Sums exceeding £300 million have been mentioned when referencing an offer for Ronaldo as he approaches what is probably the last big contract of his career. Again, there would be concerns about sportwashing if Ronaldo was at a Saudi club.
Arsenal target Asensio wants to stay at Real
Arsenal target Marco Asensio wants to stay at Real Madrid, the Sun reports. The 26-year-old said of his contract expiring soon: “Hopefully the renewal can be done and I will be very happy at Real Madrid. Hopefully it’s to stay for 10 more years here at Real. It’s not just me deciding - it’s also up to the club.” That means Arsenal’s chance of a deal being made currently look slim.
Paper Round’s view: Asensio is not the player he threatened to be when he broke onto the scene for the Real Madrid first team, but he clearly wants to stay at the club and performs more than adequately when he is called upon. Mikel Arteta has done well to convince players to come despite interest from other big sides, and from traditionally more glamorous teams, so he may yet convince the Spaniard.
Spanish company emerge as potential United bidders
Spanish newspaper Marca reports that while Apple and David Beckham have both been linked with bids to buy Manchester United after the Glazer family put them up for sale, there is also interest in Spain. The fashion company Inditex is linked with a move for them as United is seen as an asset that is attractive enough for businesses with no experience in sport.
Paper Round’s view: Over time there is a track record of companies adding businesses outside of their core competencies and operating areas, and both Apple and Inditex, and other multinationals, would be at risk of buying a business that they lack expertise for, that attracts more attention than is needed compared to its profit, and which can alienate other fans.
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