Gregg Bakowski on 1 December 2017
Rafael Benitez is going to try do something kind this Christmas by giving a lonely, forgotten and unhappy left-back a home. He’s had a enough of seeing Luke Shaw soak up the blame for everything bad that has ever happened to Manchester United and will offer the 22-year-old a warm embrace and a regular starting place at Newcastle if Old Trafford bean counters lower their £20m valuation. Meanwhile, José Mourinho has asked the club’s talent-spotters to find him a “magician” of a player in January. But probably not Mohamed Salah, as that would make him look daft.
Pep Guardiola wants to whisk Jonny Evans away from West Bromwich Albion so he can get him in a headlock and tell him what a solid defender he is before berating him violently for not having realised that he is in fact a ball-pinging genius in the mould of Franz Beckenbauer who must now prove it at Manchester City. Arsenal are keen on Evans too but they may be preoccupied with trying to cling on to Alexis Sánchez, who is out of contract in June. You see, they’ve received two offers already and now City have got wind of those they will double-down on their efforts to persuade the Chilean that strolling to the Premier League title from January to May more than makes up for the constant Manchester drizzle.
Ernesto Valverde has the hots for Willian and will instruct the club to bring the Chelsea forward to Barcelona if Liverpool won’t budge on their whopping €200m valuation of Philippe Coutinho. One player who could be on his way out of Camp Nou, though, is Javier Mascherano. “‘I think that my stage here is ending,” he sniffed. “It makes sense that after such a long time there’s not much more I can do in this club.” He fancies bringing his combustible qualities to the superclásico and River Plate is his likely destination and not a return to Anfield. Sorry Liverpool fans.
Tottenham believe an injection of guile is what they need after their season coughed and spluttered to a temporary halt a couple of weeks ago – so look out West Ham because Manuel Lanzini is their No1 target. He’s scored three goals against Spurs since his time in England and that feat has not gone unnoticed by Mauricio Pochettino.
And Real Madrid admin bods are replenishing the toner in their fax machine in preparation for signing a goalkeeper to replace Keylor Navas. But good news Manchester United fans. It’s Athletic Bilbao’s Kepa Arrizabalaga and not David de Gea who has got Zinedine Zidane all hot and bothered.