Barry Glendenning on 30 March 2018
Following his eye-catching hat-trick in Spain’s 6-1 demolition of Argentina, Isco celebrated by voicing his general discontent with his current lot at Real Madrid. “When a footballer doesn’t feel like he has a leading role and consistent playing time with his club, the national team gives him life,” he said, going on to add that Zinedine Zidane isn’t giving him the consistent playing time he needs. In the interests of harmony the Spanish playmaker tactfully added that “the problem is mine and I have to be able to earn it”, but managed to imply that the three goals he’d just fired past Willy Caballero are all the evidence anyone in their right mind should need to know he’s well worth a regular place in Zizou’s starting XI.
It’s difficult to imagine any club bar the one that currently employs him not being delighted to have a player of Isco’s undeniable talents, so it’s little surprise that reports in the back pages suggest his comments have piqued the interest of several top-end English sides who hope they might be able to get him on the cheap. Pep Guardiola is said to have already approached Real with a view to rehoming Isco at Manchester City, while Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur also fancy their chances of signing the £88m-rated star.
As is customary at this time of year, Robert Lewandowski remains eager – or to at least be seen to be eager – to force a move away Bayern Munich. Chelsea and Manchester United have already been mentioned in dispatches as potential new destinations for the Polish striker. With Bayern reported to be keen on Álvaro Morata, the Mill can’t help but feel some sort of mutually beneficial swap deal could be arranged.
Before his club’s French League Cup final against Paris Saint-Germain on Saturday, Monaco vice-president Vadim Vasilyev has rubbished claims that Leonardo Jardim is planning to exit and succeed Arsène Wenger at Arsenal come season’s end. Vasilyev went on to hint that these scurrilous rumours are being spread in order to unsettle Monaco’s players. “That such rumours should be spread two or three days before a cup final seems strange to me,” he fumed.
Barcelona remain hopeful of bringing Antoine Griezmann to the Camp Nou but have earmarked Chelsea’s Willian as a considerably cheaper alternative should they fail to land the Atlético Madrid striker, who is also wanted by Manchester United. Reports from Spain say Atlético are hopeful of keeping hold of their prize asset and plan to raise the release clause of a player currently available for £87.5m to somewhere between £175m and £262m (those numbers look far rounder and less random when converted into euros). Pulling off such an audacious move would require the full co-operation of the player, whose new and improved contract would earn him a bumper £235,000 per week.
And finally, West Ham are ready to splurge £15m on Russia skipper and striker Fyodor Smolov, while Hatem Ben Arfa has announced he’ll be leaving PSG this summer, with Leicester reported to be his next port of call. Having failed to feature under Unai Emery, the midfielder will be a free agent when his contract expires. “Soon my PSG adventure ends and despite the difficult moments, I am happy to have worn his shirt,” he wrote on Instagram. “I will keep wonderful memories of my teammates, I appreciate their continued support and I will always love this club.” Awww.