Football transfer rumours: Mesut Özil tells team-mates he is off to Manchester?

Simon Burnton on 20 October 2017

Mesut Özil has told team-mates that he’s going to sign for Manchester United, screams the Mirror in their exclusive back-page lead. The 29-year-old, they say, “is ready to make the bombshell switch and is confident he will move to Old Trafford”, the only doubt coming at the Manchester End, as “it remains to be seen whether the Old Trafford giants will push through on a deal”. Internazionale, or indeed a lack of Mancunian interest, could get in the way, though “José Mourinho has publicly admitted that he regards Özil as the best No10 in the world”, which is probably a good sign, and as an added bonus the move “would also see Mourinho get the chance to put one over on his bitter managerial rival”, Arsène Wenger. United are also keen on a couple of Benfica youngsters, namely the 17-year-old winger-cum-striker Umaro Embalo – there are “a number of interested clubs” at play here, apparently including Real Madrid – and Joao Felix, a forward who is also 17.

And then there’s Gareth Bale. Diario Gol report on a deliberate campaign of silence and subterfuge on the part of Real Madrid when it comes to reporting on Bale’s injury troubles, one that could be motivated by a desire to sell him in the near future. “The club have decided to maintain secrecy when it comes to Bale,” they report, saying that Zinedine Zidane knows more about the player’s problems than he is letting on and that he is under instruction from Florentino Pérez to keep quiet. “He is a player with whom there are many issues, both sporting and economic,” they continue. “The aim is to do business with Bale in the near future. In fact, Madrid regret not having sold him this summer to Manchester United, though they do not say it. You cannot confess something like that. But the truth is that with the money they would have got for selling Bale they could have bought Kylian Mbappé.”

There’s another exclusive on the back of the Times, who believe that Chelsea’s players are starting to get a bit miffed with their manager, believing “that the high workload is hampering their title defence and exacerbating the club’s injury problems”. Antonio Conte’s regime apparently involves “an emphasis on physically demanding sessions, lots of tactical meetings and very few days off”, and they go on to say that “Chelsea’s players remain supportive of Conte but would like him to tweak his approach to guard against the possibility of burnout”. Even worse, the Sun’s back-page exclusive is a report that Conte “is coming under increasing boardroom scrutiny” and that club suits have launched a new game which involves “predicting which excuse Conte will use to explain his side’s woes”.

Meanwhile the Manchester Evening News report on Pep Guardiola’s desire to add two players to the large and ludicrously quality-laden Manchester City squad that is romping clear at the top of the Premier League and skipping blissfully to simultaneous success in Europe. “The Catalan fears his side could be left short at left-back,” they insist, “and still believes he needs reinforcements in attack”. With just 29 goals in their eight league games so far you can certainly see why he feels his side need improvement in that department. The club’s shortlist of potential left-back recruits includes Napoli’s Faouzi Ghoulam, Southampton’s Ryan Bertrand and Aarón Martín. That’s Aarón Martín, the 20-year-old Espanyol defender, and not Aaron Martin, the 28-year-old who can’t get a game for Oxford.

Meanwhile “a number of Premier League clubs” are monitoring James Milner’s status after the former England midfielder spent the early part of the season warming various benches. However according to the Mirror Jürgen Klopp “feels Milner still has a significant role to play this season” and “will rebuff any offers”, so that’s that then. In other positive news, Barcelona appear to have given up on Virgil van Dijk because they think he might not be good enough, leaving Liverpool, who do think he is good enough, one less rival for his signature if and when Southampton finally decide to cash in on him.

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