Barry Glendenning on 5 October 2018
A party boy who spent the early years of his career in Europe in a dense fog of alcohol, racking up a record number of club fines for booze-fuelled off-field indiscretions at Valencia, Éver Banega had more in common with the famously hard-drinking members of pre-Wenger Arsenal’s Tuesday Club than the club’s current crop of comparatively clean-living saints. Now 30, having long since seen the error of his ways, the Sevilla midfielder could be reunited with his former coach Unai Emery at the latest incarnation of the Gunners. With Aaron Ramsey headed for the exit next summer, there is talk Emery is considering signing the 30-year-old Spanish newspaper Marca famously said “robs like an Italian, shoots like a German and plays like the Argentinian he is”.
On the subject of misspent youth, it would be unkind to read too much into the failure of Chelsea youngster Jake Clarke-Salter to impress on loan at Sunderland as they slid from the Championship into League One last season. Considering the dysfunction of the club at the time we should probably salute him for escaping with his reputation still intact. Currently on loan at Vitesse in the Eredivisie, the 21-year-old centre-back has recently been linked with Fulham and Burnley, but Borussia Dortmund are now being touted as potential suitors who may try to lure him to the Bundesliga come season’s end.
A star with Mexico during the World Cup, PSV winger Hirving Lozano appears to have got antennae twitching at Tottenham Hotspur, who will get the chance to see him up close and personal when the sides meet in their forthcoming Champions League group games. Lozano is expected to move next summer and any interested parties will have to come up with around £25m.
Having previously expressed interest in bringing Atlanta United midfielder Miguel Almirón to the Emirates, Arsenal may try to do so again in the January window once the current MLS season has concluded. A Paraguayan international, the 24-year-old they call “Miggy” has been described as “the heartbeat” of his side and is clearly a big hit with the fans and a very obliging fellow.
Tabloid reports yesterday suggested José Mourinho had no more than seven days to save a job he doesn’t appear to particularly want at Manchester United, but today the time frame has been put at a slightly less hysterical seven matches. United entertain Newcastle ahead of the imminent international break, after which they’ll face Juventus (twice), Chelsea and Manchester City, among others, in make-or-break contests that seem likely to decide his future – or lack of one – at Old Trafford. Despite rumours that United have already approached Zinedine Zidane with a view to replacing Mourinho, Tottenham fans will be nonplussed to hear that Mauricio Pochettino is rumoured to be Ed Woodward’s preferred choice.
And finally, screenwriter William Goldman’s adage that “nobody knows anything” seems particularly pertinent as the soap opera regarding the international future of Declan Rice rumbles on and on. Having “liked” an FAI tweet quoting Martin O’Neill saying he was “hopeful” the West Ham player would declare for Ireland, Rice (or his “people”) promptly “unliked” it as Sky Sports News announced he was ready to nail his colours to England’s mast. It was subsequently reported that Rice’s dithering over whether or not to pledge his allegiance to an Ireland team he has already represented in three friendlies has nothing to do with Roy Keane being difficult to deal with, and the player is believed to remain torn over his international future.