BENTEKE THE BAGGIE
Poor Christian Benteke. Eight months ago he was a £32.5million footballer starting for Liverpool, managed by Brendan Rodgers and scoring a handful of goals. The current day Benteke is wanted by West Brom as part of Tony Pulis’ plan to dominate the world.
The claim comes from Belgian outlet DH, who says Benteke is ‘living its last weeks in the colors of Liverpool’. That sounds eminently more dramatic than ‘he will probably leave in the summer’. Even worse for Benteke, who has previously spoken of his desire to stay and fight for his place at Anfield, is the line that staff at the club are ‘looking for a loophole’ in his contract. They want rid.
Would Benteke leave for a club whose primary objective is to stave off relegation? DH believe that the chance to stay in the Premier League, as well as join a club where he will face less scrutiny, could appeal to the 25-year-old. As for West Brom, Benteke ‘sticks to the desired profile’. Yes, yes he does.
CHELSEA TO RESCUE STONES
John Stones is destined for greatness. Considering his recent struggles, that may seem a questionable statement to make. But the Everton centre-half boasts the finest PR team in the country: the British football media.
‘Chelsea target John Stones transfer from Everton as first signing of the Antonio Conte era,’ reads the headline from the Daily Mirror’s Darren Lewis. The claim is that Chelsea are ready to return for the player they offered £37million to sign last summer, and new manager Conte is on board. Would money buy you Stones now if the same bid was made?
According to Lewis, Chelsea ‘remain convinced he is on course to become a high-class centre-back, with the right leadership’. Everton ‘have little chance of succeeding’ in their quest to get the young defender to sign a new contract this summer. Both Manchester clubs and Barcelona are attributed with an interest, but it seems Chelsea lead this race again.
IS IT A BIRD? IS IT A PLANE? NO, IT’S A SUPER-AGENT
From clubs racing to sign a struggling young prospect, to agents – both super and ordinary – competing to represent a player whose reputation grows and grows. Marcus Rashford is a wanted man.
Rory Smith of The Times brings us an exclusive: that a long list of well-known agents all want to convince Rashford that they are ‘best placed to guide him through his career’. There is Paul Stretford, who helped oversee Wayne Rooney’s development, Aidy Ward, agent of Raheem Sterling and Jonathan Barnett, who is connected (not literally) to Gareth Bale are interested in Rashford. But it is the link to Jorge Mendes which is the most intriguing.
Super-agent Jorge Mendes, to give him his full name, is, of course, the representative of Jose Mourinho. Mendes ‘is regarded as a trusted associate of Ed Woodward’, and his links to Manchester United are obvious. Can you tell there isn’t much gossip around today?
AND THE REST
Arsene Wenger wants to take Nottingham Forest midfielder Oliver Burke to Arsenal…Real Madrid look set to offer Cristiano Ronaldo a new two-year contract extension…Chelsea are planning a move for Romelu Lukaku and John Stones for a combined £90m…Chelsea are closing on a £35m deal for Roma midfielder Radja Nainggolan…Aston Villa want to sell Joleon Lescott, but the defender’s wages could prove a stumbling block…Crystal Palace are lining up a cut-price move for Barcelona midfielder Alex Song, 28, this summer.