Barry Glendenning on 25 October 2017
He may have steered Southampton to an eighth place finish in the Premier League last season, but in doing so Claude Puel seemed to leave regulars at Saint Mary’s decidedly underwhelmed by the manner in which he went about his work. The Frenchman’s on-pitch tactics were widely reported to be a reflection of his personality off it: quietly efficient but decidedly dull. Ultimately, they cost him his job in the summer, despite the decent league position and an appearance in a League Cup final Southampton were unlucky not to win. Nevertheless, it seems Leicester City are of the opinion that Puel’s is the safe pair of hands the club needs to steady a ship that had begun listing under Craig Shakespeare and he has emerged as a surprise contender to take over at the King Power Stadium. The 56-year-old is the new odds-on favourite to be next manager of Leicester and is reported by several newspapers to be in talks about who would make up his backroom team, a state of affairs that suggests the job is his to turn down.
Antonio Conte’s future as Chelsea manager looks increasingly bleak, with reports in Italy suggesting the club have already sounded out Napoli manager Maurizio Sarri as a potential replacement for the man who won the title last season. With Napoli leading Serie A, Chelsea could offer Sarri €12m a year to abandon his tilt at the title, while Milan are understood to be monitoring Conte’s situation after their poor start to the season. Having been binned off by Bayern Munich, Carlo Ancelotti was linked with the Milan gig, but he could be off to China to replace Luis Felipe Scolari, who is ready to leave his post at Guangzhou Evergrande.
German newspaper Bild say both Manchester United and Arsenal are mulling over the possibility of bringing Marco Reus to the Premier League. Having raised eyebrows with his surprise decision to snub Bayern Munich for Borussia Dortmund when leaving Borussia Mönchengladbach in 2012, the German winger’s career has been severely disrupted by injuries that were directly or indirectly responsible for him missing out on World Cup 2014 and Euro 2016. The 28-year-old winger is currently out until around March with a cruciate knee ligament injury and it is thought Dortmund might cash in on him next summer, rather than let him run down his contract and let him leave for a free a year later.
ESPN have been scanning the Spanish press and note that the Barcelona-based newspaper Sport has made some bold but not entirely implausible claims about life at Liverpool. They say the relationship between Philippe Coutinho and Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp is fractured beyond repair after the latter blocked the former’s move to Barcelona during the summer. Reporter Joaquim Piera also claims that Klopp threatened to resign if the Liverpool board agreed to sell Coutinho and that the club subsequently fabricated the back injury cited as the reason for the Brazilian’s absence from their Champions League play-off against injury in order to give both parties a chance to spend time apart and cool down. You remember it; the one that cleared up just in time to allow Coutinho to play for Brazil and score a splendid goal against Ecuador in a World Cup qualifier. Sport go on to say that Coutinho remains eager to leave Liverpool for Barcelona and would ideally like to do so in January.
No longer in the Porto first team and with the club eager to get him off their wage bill, former Real Madrid skipper Iker Casillas could be available to interested parties for a small fee in January and might constitute a good bit of business for a Premier League club. West Brom, Watford and Newcastle are all in the market for a goalkeeper and are understood to be interested in Wayne Hennessey, who is not enjoying the best of times at Crystal Palace.