Roberto Mancini and Philippe Coutinho could link up at Manchester United. Or not. One of them is certainly more likely to join than the other.
Not many managers have taken charge of more than two Big Six teams, but Roberto Mancini might beat Mauricio Pochettino to becoming the latest. He is said to be a ‘wild card candidate’ as one of eight contenders currently ‘under careful consideration’ by Manchester United.
Mancini finds an ‘appeal’ in returning to the Premier League, despite enjoying his time with the Italian national team. He is committed to that post until 2026, although the Daily Telegraph suggest that failure to qualify for the 2022 World Cup could intensify Manchester United’s interest.
The 57-year-old’s Manchester City past ‘is a potential complicating factor’ – it would certainly be a change of course from devoted United disciple Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – but he is on the shortlist regardless.
So, too, is interim manager Ralf Rangnick, who could potentially ‘convince’ the suits to give him the job on a permanent basis. Mauricio Pochettino is being watched and ‘has a strong interest’, while Erik ten Hag of Ajax ‘could also come into the reckoning’.
Leicester would want £20m in compensation for Brendan Rodgers. Zinedine Zidane is in the running but ‘it is thought he has more interest in taking over at PSG’. Graham Potter ‘cannot be discounted’. Sporting Lisbon coach Ruben Amorim is a genuine surprise challenger and is ‘being pushed forward in some quarters’ at Manchester United. He counts Cristiano Ronaldo among his former teammates, apropos of nothing.
PHIL THE SILENCE
Whoever Manchester United choose, their first act might be the ceremonial ribbon cutting at an elite club that is ruling out a move for Philippe Coutinho. Barcelona have been trying to hawk that particular ware ever since they purchased it, but to no avail.
Spanish newspaper Sport detail Barcelona’s recent trip to Manchester, which was ostensibly to discuss the future of Ferran Torres with City. Xavi is also said to admire Raheem Sterling, with similar discussions held over the England forward.
But Barcelona found time to chat with Manchester United representatives, too, when it came to Edinson Cavani and Anthony Martial. Both have been linked with a move to the Camp Nou recently, and Coutinho was floated as a part-exchange option to United and City.
In one of the saddest lines in modern football journalism, we are told: ‘The response from United and City, in relation to Coutinho, has not been positive for the moment.’
Never give up. But both teams would, rather unsurprisingly, ‘prefer the option of not including players and receiving money’.
The same outlet pits Barcelona against two more Premier League clubs in Chelsea and Liverpool, with Ronald Araujo in the middle.
With a contract that expires in summer 2023, the centre-half is locked in negotiations at Barcelona and things are going well. The club even want things finalised before the end of the year. Araujo, however, is ‘not ruling out the possibility of signing a huge contract elsewhere,’ which could prove problematic.
Chelsea and Liverpool are ready and waiting, both safe in the knowledge they can offer more than Barcelona in terms of money. That might well be the sticking point as while Araujo is happy and ‘wants to stay’, it is difficult to justify how little he gets paid in comparison to many others in Catalonia.