Summer sales at Old Trafford
A dozen Manchester United players could leave this summer as Erik ten Hag takes over at Old Trafford. The Mail reports that Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard, Edinson Cavani, Nemanja Matic, Juan Mata and Lee Grant will all leave as free agents when their contracts expire. There will also be defensive clearance as Aaron Wan-Bissaka will be cleared to leave, just three years after joining Crystal Palace for £50million. Eric Bailly and Phil Jones will be offloaded, while club captain Harry Maguire’s future could be in doubt if centre-back targets Ten Hag are acquired. Substitute goalkeeper Dean Henderson is linked on a season-long loan from Newcastle United, but newly-promoted Bournemouth are also attracting interest.
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Paper Round’s point of view: Realistically, Manchester United won’t miss any of these players (except Maguire who surely won’t leave). Wan-Bissaka has proven to be a costly mistake due to his limited attacking ability compared to his rival modern full-backs and Bailly simply cannot keep fit. Henderson could have been a solid goalkeeper option, but David De Gea is currently one of the only regular players in the United squad. It’s safe to say it’s time for the others to go. It just hasn’t worked out for them over the past two years and it’s time to bring their journey to Old Trafford to an end.
Priceless Arsenal chasing Jesus
Arsenal are unsure whether to press ahead with their pursuit of Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus after the Premier League leaders imposed a £55million asking price on the Brazilian. ESPN reports that the Gunners are hoping to sign “at least one striker” this summer and have made Jesus one of their top targets. However, Arsenal ‘backed away from City’s valuation’ due to the fact that the 25-year-old has just one year left on his current contract at the Etihad Stadium. The north London club are also interested in Juventus striker Paulo Dybala, who will be a free agent this summer.
Paper Round’s point of view: It’s probably just a negotiating tactic from Manchester City – who will most likely sell Jesus this summer due to the signing of Erling Haaland and the Brazilian being a free agent next summer. However, Arsenal have to pay if they are to achieve their first-choice goals. The Gunners risk being left behind by their rivals – especially now that it looks highly unlikely that they will make the Champions League next season. £55m is a lot of money, but signing your first-choice transfer target can be priceless if it helps secure the top four next season.
The battle for Johnstone is on
West Bromwich Albion goalkeeper Sam Johnstone is targeted by five Premier League clubs this summer. The England international is set to become a free agent and will return to the English top flight after spending a season in the Championship with the Baggies. The Sun reveal Tottenham Hotspur are leading the race as they have already made contact with Johnstone, but Newcastle United, West Ham United, Leicester City and Brighton are also interested in signing the 29-year-old.
Paper Round’s point of view: It’s going to be a huge decision for Johnstone. Tottenham are closing in on a Champions League place next season, so that’s an exciting prospect. However, club captain Hugo Lloris is their number one choice and that is unlikely to change if Johnstone arrives in north London. Would the England keeper be happy to be a substitute? Surely he has more ambition than that. West Ham would be an interesting move. The Hammers will play in Europe again next season and Lukasz Fabianski is now 37. There is a starting place up for grabs at the London Stadium.
Man Utd hit new low
Manchester United have decided to cancel their end-of-season awards ceremony after another disappointing campaign. The Mirror reveal United players were ‘too embarrassed’ to stage the event due to their ‘worst season in the Premier League’. The club usually holds the awards during the last two weeks of the season, but club officials decided to cancel it due to player concerns. A player of the year trophy will still be awarded to a member of the team, but there will be no awards night.
Paper Round’s point of view: It’s a dire situation at Old Trafford, but at least the players have acknowledged that. They must feel like no one in this squad deserves any rewards after the campaign they’ve endured – and they’re right. Hopefully the team realizes they need to step up next season. Hiring Erik ten Hag ahead of the summer gives them a clean slate ahead of 2022-23 and will give them extra motivation (should they need it?) to impress already in pre-season.
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