A stoppage time Nemanja Matic wondergoal might have brought Manchester United three points at Crystal Palace last night but this morning José Mourinho is more interested in delivering three players. Not just any players, either: Barcelona players. Three of them.
Their victory at Selhurst Park might have been jolly entertaining but in falling 2-0 down to a relegation-haunted side it became glaringly obvious that some current United players simply can’t be relied upon to perform to their highest level, leaving Mourinho a stark and troubling choice: either actually do a bit of coaching to improve them, or simply buy some other ones. And he’s going for option two.
Don Balon reports that he is already in talks with not one, not even two, but three Catalonia-based players. In declining order of apparent unlikeliness they are Marc-André Ter Stegen, the German goalkeeper who has been identified as the ideal replacement for a possibly Madrid-bound David de Gea and who “has a €180m release clause, but Mourinho is convinced that €100 could be enough to take him”. Then there is Samuel Umtiti, a key member of the Barcelona first team when fit but whose release clause is currently set at a derisory €60m. “Mourinho,” Don Balon claims, “considers that price quite a bargain.” And finally André Gomes, the 24-year-old Portuguese midfielder, who was booed and whistled by his own fans after he came off the bench against Atlético Madrid on Sunday because they think he’s rubbish.
Ramires wants to go back to Chelsea and, more importantly, thinks he can – despite leaving the club for China’s Jiangsu Suning two years ago. “I’ll always have special affection for Chelsea, and I want to play for them again before finishing my career,” he said. “I know the doors of Stamford Bridge will always be open to me, and that wearing their jersey again would be spectacular.” Eden Hazard however could be on the way out of the club: the Telegraph reports that “team-mates fear he is becoming exasperated with being asked to play in the false nine position” and that “there is genuine concern that Antonio Conte’s approach will force Hazard to consider whether or not the Blues can match his ambitions.”
Another André – Milan’s Silva – is also in the news today, with speculation mounting that Wolves, who were linked with the player in January, will now fling themselves into a summer transfer tussle for the 22-year-old Portuguese international, for whom Monaco and Valencia are also ready to scrap.
And talking of three-way summer transfer tussles, Arsenal have entered one of those as well, joining Liverpool and Manchester United in the race for Napoli’s Jorginho. “We’re waiting for May. We wish Napoli could win the league, then if they want to renew the contract, we talk about it,” says his agent, João Santos. “The same if they want to sell him. There are no official and concrete proposals for him from the UK. We are available to deal with.”
Southampton are drawing up a shortlist of potential replacements for Mauricio Pellegrino, who they will almost certainly sack in the summer no matter what happens in the final months of the season. “Fulham’s Slavisa Jokanovic and the Ostersund chief Graham Potter are among those on the radar,” reports the Mirror.