Barcelona target two wingers
Barcelona are planning to skirt around their financial fair play obligations by trying to sign players on loan deals which only become permanent later down the line. Spanish newspaper Marca suggests that RB Leizpig winger Dani Olmo is one target for Xavi Hernandez, and Raheem Sterling of Manchester City is another, though Almo is believed to be too expensive.
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Paper Round’s view: At 23 Olmo would be a player that Xavi would perhaps be best able to transform into the kind of player he wants at his club, to play his particular type of football. However Sterling, 26 years old, has plenty of experience under Pep Guardiola, meaning he is probably well acquainted with the approach Xavi wants – that might make him a more suitable target.
Xavi takes Barcelona training for the first time as he starts work as head coach
Balogun considers exit
Folarin Balogun is considering leaving Arsenal, according to The Mirror. The 20-year-old striker is struggling for minutes under Mikel Arteta and said he would consider a loan move away, or more, with Middlesbrough and West Ham interested. He said: “I feel like I am definitely open to a new challenge, wherever it is I will be ready. As a striker and as a young player you need minutes. It is the best way to learn and get consistency.”
Paper Round’s view: West Ham would presumably not want to borrow such a talented striker for the rest of the season when they are on the cusp of establishing themselves as a top-half Premier League side, and they could also not promise him games unless they sold Jarrod Bowen to Liverpool, as rumoured. Boro might prove to be the best short-term option for the youngster.
Alves re-signs with Barca
Dani Alves has returned to Barcelona after spells at Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain, and São Paulo. The 38-year-old left the Brazilian club in September after a dispute over a debt regarding image rights, and he will be eligible to play for the club from January 1. He has also agreed to be paid just one euro a month according to The Sun, and is Xavi Hernandez’s first signing for the club.
Paper Round’s view: When Alves left Juventus for Brazil he was still in excellent form but it is unclear if his time away from European football, and his advancing years, have left his capabilities blunted. However, for essentially money, Xavi has been able to bring back a player who understands the standards that are required at the club, and saves the club money while rebuilding the squad.
Southgate set for new deal
The Daily Mail claims that Gareth Southgate will extend his deal as England manager. The player has a contract that runs until just after the 2022 Qatar World Cup and earns him around £3 million a year. If he signs on with the FA, then he will add another two years to take him to the 2024 European Championships, and take his wages to around £5 million a year, with bonuses.
Paper Round’s view: There has been a little bit of deflation in sentiment around the England football team, but that is inevitable after losing a final, and with the quotidien and unchallenging nature of the qualification group almost out the way, Southgate can start to refocus on bringing an in-form and refreshed England side to Qatar in order to challenge for the World Cup.
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