Pep Guardiola wants a throbbing brain on the pitch with toes of steel to replace Fernandinho, whose creaking limbs are undergoing a late-career slow rust. In an ideal world, Pep would Marty McFly his way back to the January transfer window and pip Barcelona to the signature of deep-lying Ajax passmaster Frenkie de Jong, but the ability to travel through time is something he’s not yet been able to master, even if he thinks really hard and flaps his arms around like an angry cormorant.
So, he’ll instruct Manchester City beancounters to shovel £60.6m into Atlético Madrid’s bank account in exchange for their 22-year-old join-the-dots man Rodri. City scouts have been watching the midfielder closely all season and believe he is worth breaking the club’s transfer record for because he could probably beat Pep at chess and think his way out of any problem, even a sudoku puzzle with an 18,000 difficulty rating.
Stop the Mill if you’ve heard this one before but Gareth Bale’s days at Real Madrid appear to be numbered. The forward has been whistled by throngs of entitled Madridistas in the past two games and club suits believe now is the time to try to recoup some money on a player who will be 30 this summer. Step forward Manchester United, the go-to landing ground for players lacking motivation. Mind you, if they can snaffle Bale for a £5m loan fee with an option (but not an obligation) to buy, Ed Woodward might just feel that this time he’s done that rare thing at Old Trafford: moderately good transfer business.
Perhaps because they know how reluctant Daniel Levy is to pay over the odds for anything, Juventus have joined Tottenham in the chase to sign Fulham’s 18-year-old winger Ryan Sessegnon, who is valued at £40m by the relegated Cottagers. Another player who looks likely to turn his nose up at the chance of digging in for a slog in the Championship is Alexander Mitrovic. West Ham and Crystal Palace would be more than happy to part with £30m for the barrel-chested striker, who has somehow managed to score 11 goals this season in a team made up of candy floss, string and mashed potato.
Meanwhile, Tottenham will listen to offers for right-back Kieran Trippier this summer. And it says here Napoli are readying a £15m bid plus add-ons. So we’re guessing they’ll be told to “jog on”. Manchester United (obviously, he’s 28 and just past his peak) and Atlético Madrid are also sniffing around.
Crystal Palace are preparing to slap an £80m price tag on Wilfried Zaha and invite clubs to come and see how shiny, skilful and lovely their winger is. And if he’s snapped up by some rich suitor they plan to replace him with jumping Jack Grealish, who Aston Villa will be resigned to selling if they fail to climb back into the Premier League via the play-offs.
Unai Emery plans to place Shkodran Mustafi, Carl Jenkinson and Mohamed Elneny on Drayton Park in the hope that Islington Council, or perhaps even another football club, will take them away from Arsenal.
And despite being older than the moon and not having kicked a ball in anger or otherwise this year, Yaya Touré has issued a come-and-get-me-plea to, well, anyone who will have him. “No one can stop me from playing football, I just decided to take important time off for myself and it is very important to carefully weigh the options,” he told Canal+. “It’s not the end or retirement from the game because I believe I can still play on for another two or three years. “Why not in the United States, or in the Gulf or in Asia?” Hmmmm. The Mill’s five-a-side team’s a man short this week.