On another slow news day in the world of football, how are major media outlets coping? Let’s find out. At lunchtime on Monday morning, these headlines are the top stories on the following websites.
‘Now even Branson’s Virgin are on board as Manchester United sponsor… joining staggering list of 69 companies bankrolling club’
The Daily Mail lead with Manchester United announcing a new club sponsor. Wonderful.
‘Pogba warned over Utd return’
Sky Sports go with quotes from Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri on Paul Pogba. Quotes from Saturday.
‘Revealed: Chelsea boss Antonio Conte’s tactical masterplan as he plots Premier League success’
The top story on The Sun is a picture exclusive. They have images of the tactics used by Antonio Conte during Chelsea’s friendly defeat to Rapid Vienna. Are we to assume that the Italian will use the exact same 4-2-4 formation next season, considering this was the club’s first pre-season friendly, and many of his players are yet to return to training?
‘Snapped: Ex-Man Utd boss Van Gaal is back in Manchester’
‘Man goes to restaurant’ is not deemed a good enough headline by The Metro.
Football, we miss you.
Be honest, did any of you use a unique algorithm to rank transfer rumours out of five based on the likelihood they’ll really happen over the weekend? No? Well, you haven’t lived then.
Sky Sports did use such a unique algorithm, and they did so on Sunday.
‘Here are the top 10 hottest whispers right now, according to our friends at Football Whispers,’ reads an update on their transfer blog at 8:01pm.
Who tops the leaderboard of the ‘top 10 whispers’, you ask? It’s a rumour you might not have heard: Paul Pogba is rated at 4.6 whispers to join Manchester United.
If there is one word you cannot associate with the Pogba to United rumours, it is ‘whisper’. But he is just as likely to move to Old Trafford as Alexandre Lacazette is to join Arsenal.
The Gunners are also included in the fifth and sixth most likely whispers, with Julian Draxler and Gonzalo Higuain linked.
Apropos of nothing, below are quotes from Wolfsburg director Klaus Allofs made over the weekend.
“The situation with Draxler is 100 per cent certain that he will be staying at Wolfsburg. There is no discussing that.”
Ssshhh, whisper that Klaus. Or people will hear you.
Even more careless whisper
Sticking with Sky Sports, and in particular their esteemed transfer centre, they provided an update for Liverpool fans at 8:13 on Monday morning. It reads:
‘Liverpool are also reportedly closing in on £3.5m Estonian defender Ragnar Klavan from Augsburg, say the Daily Telegraph.
‘The 30-year-old has been at Augsburg since 2012, and has 108 caps for Estonia.’
A full 96 minutes later, at 9:49, they posted the following:
‘LIVERPOOL CLOSE TO SIGNING KLAVAN
‘Sky Sources understand Liverpool are close to completing the signing of defender Ragnar Klavan from Bundesliga side Augsburg.
‘The 30-year-old Estonia captain is valued at around £4.2m – plus add-ons – and he’d act as cover for the Mamadou Sakho, who is expected to miss the start of the season with an Achilles injury.
‘He would become Jurgen Klopp’s fourth signing of the summer.’
‘Sky Sources understand’ – also known as ‘say the Daily Telegraph’.
Mediawatch also finds it curious that neither their sources nor the esteemed individuals at Football Whispers identified the Klavan link on Sunday evening, when they posted the ten ‘hottest Liverpool whispers‘. The 30-year-old did not warrant a single mention.
The following is the list of players considered more likely to move to Anfield than the Estonia captain on Sunday: Mahmoud Dahoud, Lucas Moura, Jeremy Mathieu, Mario Gotze, Danny Drinkwater, Jonas Hector, Nicklas Sule, Jonathan Tah, Moussa Sissoko and Marcelo Brozovic.
It’s almost as if ‘using a unique algorithm’ means nothing at all.
A bit Kante
‘Kante is Chelsea’s second significant piece of transfer business after the acquisition of Michy Batshuayi, the Belgium striker, from Marseilles.
‘The midfielder is the first big-name player to depart Leicester since their title triumph…’
Harsh on Paul Konchesky from The Times.
Star’s in their eyes
With Kante departing the King Power Stadium, attention at Leicester now turns to whether they can keep the rest of their title-winning side.
Jamie Vardy has rejected overtures from Arsenal, and will stay. Liverpool briefly flirted with a move for Danny Drinkwater, but the midfielder remained loyal. The only doubt for Claudio Ranieri is whether Riyad Mahrez will stay.
The Daily Mirror and The Times do not see a positive prognosis. They both write the following identical line on his Player of the Year:
”Reports persist that winger Riyad Mahrez could also soon be on his way out.’
Over to the Daily Star, who claim ‘Leicester are confident Riyad Mahrez won’t be following N’Golo Kante out of the door.’ ‘Mahrez ready to commit,’ reads the headline.
For Ranieri’s sake, let’s hope he only reads the third newspaper. Although hardly anybody does.
Make it Varane
Eric Bailly played for Manchester United on Saturday. He did a flick over Will Griggs’ head. He did some good passes and looked alright. Here is a selection of how certain newspapers reported on both his performances and the subsequent reaction from manager Jose Mourinho.
‘Bailly’s the real deal,’ screams the headline on the Daily Star. ‘Jose Mourinho is backing new boy Eric Bailly to be as good as Real Madrid’s Raphael Varane,’ reads the first paragraph.
‘Now Bailly’s Varane man,’ reads The Sun headline, failing the pronunciation test. ‘Jose Mourinho says he can turn Eric Bailly into the new Raphael Varane’ is the first paragraph.
‘Mourinho: Bailly is new Varane,’ say the Daily Telegraph, who add ‘Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho believes he can transform £30m signing Eric Bally into the next Raphael Varane.’
Actual quotes from Mourinho: “I will give Eric everything to try to make him better and better like I did with other central defenders I’ve had in my hands. Like for example Varane and I will try to make him the best I can.”
Alternative headline: ‘Mourinho: Bailly is new Papy Djilobodji.’
Nkoudou you think you are?
Tottenham will sign Georges-Kevin Nkoudou soon. You may not have heard of him; Mediawatch certainly hadn’t. But many clubs had. Only the newspapers cannot decide which ones.
‘N’Koudou is a skillful and quick winger who can also play behind the striker and has been followed by West Ham, Arsenal and both Manchester clubs’ – Daily Mail.
‘N’Koudou had offers from Hambrug and Seville, and has interested West Ham, Manchester United and Liverpool’ – The Sun.
‘Bournemouth, Liverpool and West Ham have also watched the 21-year-old’ – Daily Mirror.
At least we can all agree on one thing: West Ham were interested.
Three ridiculous headlines from elsewhere
‘League One gossip: Leeds United eye Euro 2016 star as Burnley move closer to double Charlton Athletic swoop’ – Coventry Telegraph.
The ‘Euro 2016 star’? Conor McLaughlin, who played 90 minutes of Northern Ireland’s first game this summer, before being dropped for the next three. ‘Star’.
‘Man United announce very famous ‘new signing’ as part of new partnership’ – Metro.
Virgin Money. Richard Branson. F***ing hell.
Jose Mourinho catches Paul Pogba playing Pokemon GO at Old Trafford [hilarious spoof clip] – Daily Express.
If you yourselves define it as a ‘hilarious spoof clip’ – in the headline, no less – the rule is that it is not a hilarious spoof clip.
Recommended reading of the day
Tom Phillips interviews Roberto Di Matteo.
Iain Macintosh on N’Golo Kante.
Glenn Billingham on Dirk Kuyt.