Hot off the heels of winning the tightest Premier League title race in aeons by a nose, Manchester City could conceivably find themselves subjected to an embarrassing one-season ban from the competition their Gulf owners are most desperate to win, according to the New York Times. The American newspaper says an investigation into accusations that the club “misled European soccer’s financial regulators in pursuit of its success on the field is expected to recommend that the team be barred from the Champions League”. According to reporter Tariq Panja, who knows a thing or two about the goings-on in football’s corridors of power “it remains unclear if any Champions League ban, if levied, would be enforced next season or in the 2020-21 campaign”. Whether or not Uefa would be willing to cast such a wealthy, high profile club into the European football wilderness even for just one season, is another matter altogether.
Surplus to the requirements of his manager Zinedine Zidane but with a £14m-per-year contract that could keep him at Real Madrid for another three years, Gareth Bale has quite the dilemma. Specifically, what to spend all that money on? As reported in Monday’s Rumour Mill, his employers are eager to sell him on and Juventus has been identified as one particular destination. However, reports on the back pages suggest Real have offered him back to his former employers Tottenham, who would have to stump a £10m loan fee and pay around half the Welshman’s £600,000 per-week (before tax) wages. Whether or not Spurs are interested remains to be seen, but Paris Saint-Germain could ride to Real’s rescue if speculation that they’re interested in taking a job lot of big-name talent comprising Bale, Isco and Toni Kroos off their hands turns out to have any basis in reality.
Tottenham are close to signing Ryan Sessegnon from Fulham for £25m, following the 18-year-old’s rather underwhelming maiden season in the Premier League. So instrumental in helping his club win promotion from the Championship last season that he almost earned a call-up to England’s World Cup squad, the full-back/winger was far from the only Fulham player to be unsettled by the club’s subsequent, ill-advised £100m summer trolley dash and remains an incredible talent.
Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers is eager to make the loan signing of Youri Tielemans from Monaco more permanent before any other clubs try to turn the Belgian international’s head, while Atlético Madrid are about to haul their striker Antoine Griezmann before the headmaster to explain rumours that he has agreed to leave them for Barcelona.
Meanwhile at Anfield, Liverpool’s hopes of making a Premier League star of RB Leipzig striker Timo Werner were rumoured to have evaporated after it was reported that he was off to Bayern Munich. However, Leipzig chief executive Oliver Mintzlaff has told Sky he has no idea what Werner wants to do. “We haven’t talked to Bayern Munich about Timo Werner yet,” he said. “Maybe he doesn’t even want to go to Munich. Maybe he would rather join [Thomas] Tuchel in Paris, [Jürgen] Klopp at Liverpool or [Lucien] Favre at Dortmund.”
And finally, anyone old enough to remember German striker Jürgen Klinsmann’s comical penchant for diving to win penalties during his time as a striker with Tottenham Hotspur will be unsurprised to learn that his son, Jonathan, has grown up to become a goalkeeper. Dissatisfied with the lack of game time he’s getting at Hertha Berlin, the 22-year-old is being linked with a move to Rangers.