Xavi makes plans for the winter transfer window
Xavi is preparing for his first transfer window in charge of Barcelona and the Mail reveal that the Catalan club have four players on their winter wishlist. The Barca boss has made RB Leipzig forward Dani Olmo his “priority” signing for January. The former academy product is reportedly keen to return to his boyhood club, which could help with negotiations. Barcelona are also ambitiously targeting Manchester City’s Ferran Torres, but view Raheem Sterling as a back-up option on loan. Finally, Xavi sees Valencia left-back Jose Gaya as someone who can be a leader for his side and may use Jordi Alba as a makeweight in any potential deal.
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Paper Round’s view: The next couple of transfer windows are going to be huge for Barcelona as they undergo a rebuild. Xavi will want to bring in players that he believes will work for him, but the club’s finances may restrict him. It’s very unlikely that they will make three big-name signings in January, but just one of these could be a game-changer. Obviously Olmo is the top target, but he would command a significant transfer fee. It seems like Barca need to target loans, free transfers and bargains. Olmo, Torres and Gaya might be out of reach… but a loan move for Sterling could be a successful signing.
Man Utd’s crisis talks ahead of Watford
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reportedly held “crisis talks” with his senior Manchester United players on Thursday ahead of their must-win match against Watford. The under-pressure manager spoke with Harry Maguire, Cristiano Ronaldo, Bruno Fernandes, Luke Shaw, Victor Lindelof and Nemanja Matic to discuss how their season can be salvaged and their thoughts on the tactical switch to a back three. Solskjaer has continued to receive support from club officials, but it is reported that he could be in trouble if his side fails to get a result at Vicarage Road this weekend.
Paper Round’s view: It’s crisis time at Manchester United. Solskjaer is underachieving in his role and has failed to win any silverware since taking charge back in 2019. The club has continued to back him in the transfer market and the summer signings of Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane have piled even more pressure on the Norwegian boss. The big question is: who can replace Solskjaer? The lack of feasible options is probably the only thing keeping him in his role right now. If he fails to win a trophy this season, it will surely spell the end of his time at United.
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Lingard to leave Man Utd as early as January
Jesse Lingard has decided against extending his contract at Manchester United, with the Mail stating that the England international “has no plans to re-open negotiations” with his boyhood club. Lingard will demand to leave Old Trafford as early as January and is planning to depart on a short-term loan before his contract expires in the summer. The 28-year-old can open talks with foreign clubs over a summer move in January and he has already attracted attention from European giants Barcelona and AC Milan. A representative from Lingard’s camp reportedly travelled to Spain last week to sound out any prospective clubs.
Paper Round’s view: This is a brave decision from Lingard. He has been at Manchester United for 22 years so it will be very tough for him to leave. However, it will be a great decision for his career. We all saw how he took the Premier League by storm during his short-term loan spell at West Ham United last season. There’s a quality player in there, but he doesn’t seem to be getting any chances at Old Trafford – even despite their well-documented, recent struggles. A fresh new start would be ideal for Lingard and a move abroad would be very intriguing.
Conte identifies long-term Lloris replacement
Tottenham Hotspur are planning to target Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford as new manager Antonio Conte begins to plan for the club’s future. Club captain Hugo Lloris is approaching 35 years old and his current contract is set to expire at the end of the season. Spurs are not ruling out extending the French stopper’s deal, but the Telegraph reveal that Conte wants to sign a home-grown goalkeeper as his long-term replacement. Pickford is Tottenham’s top target and it is likely that Everton will demand a fee in excess of the £25 million they paid for him when he joined from Sunderland back in 2017.
Paper Round’s view: Pickford is a top-class goalkeeper and he proved this with his impressive performances for England during their run to the Euro 2020 final last summer. However, for reasons unknown, his club form rarely reflects his international performances which might mean that he would be open to moving on to try and fix this problem. Playing under Conte would be a huge pull for Pickford and he would relish the opportunity to play for a club that are trying to challenge for a spot in the Premier League’s top four. He would be a superb signing for Spurs.
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