ON THE VIRG
Forgive the rare show of cynicism (and sarcasm), but disbelief really does have to be suspended long before reading The Sun’s huge transfer exclusive on Sunday.
The claim that Juventus ‘are plotting a stunning’ move for Virgil van Dijk is hardly surprising. They really are desperate to win the Champions League and pursuing one of the players who helped transform the current European champions is as good a plan as any.
But the suggestion that anyone from an outlet banned on Merseyside ‘understands’ that the centre-half ‘may be open to a move abroad’ if when Liverpool win the Premier League this season is surely bollocks? How would they have any idea whatsoever what he is thinking? And why would he be contemplating his future midway through a potentially historic campaign?
It is neither here nor there, of course. Van Dijk has more than three years left on his contract so the reported £150m bid won’t tempt Liverpool anytime soon. The Old Lady will have to reconsider their options, you’d imagine. But then what do we know? We’re not the biggest-selling newspaper in the entire nation.
PLAY IT KOUL
Perhaps Kalidou Koulibaly could be a suitable alternative? Liverpool themselves certainly thought so once. And so do Manchester United, to the tune of £90m.
The Daily Mirror describe them as ‘hell-bent’ on bringing the Napoli defender to Old Trafford in the summer. He is seen as ‘the perfect partner’ for Harry Maguire and is ‘their defensive priority’ in terms of new signings.
Koulibaly is ‘open’ to the idea of a Premier League move, but Champions League qualification will be ‘absolutely imperative’ for United as they face competition from Chelsea, PSG and Real Madrid.
United are even ‘willing to make him the highest-paid player at the club’ after – and mentally and physically prepare yourself for this hyphen – ‘a relatively-quiet January window’.
MESUT IN THE MIDDLE (EAST)
The Mirror are full of exclusives. They also say that Mesut Ozil ‘had an offer on the table from a club in Qatar’ on deadline day.
Arsenal are described as ‘reluctantly turning their back on the proposed switch’ because it came too late in the window to sign a replacement. So while the player ‘would have been willing to listen’, and manager Mikel Arteta ‘was likely to have pressed the button and given the move the go-ahead’, it made little sense.
Dani Olmo and Yannick Carrasco are mentioned as targets but the former joined RB Leipzig last week and the latter returned to Atletico Madrid on Friday.
AND THE REST
Barcelona are close to agreeing a deal for Chelsea’s Brazil winger Willian, 31, whose contract expires at the end of the season…Arsenal must pay £8m to turn the loan signings of Spain defender Pablo Mari, 26, and Portugal right-back Cedric Soares, 28, into permanent deals… Chelsea turned down a deadline-day transfer for Dalian Yifang and Venezuela striker Salomon Rondon, 30… Juventus have already begun work on summer deals for Brescia’s 19-year-old Italy midfielder Sandro Tonali and Manchester United’s 26-year-old France midfielder Paul Pogba.