Manchester City are preparing to make a surprise bid of £40m for Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Harry Winks.
City manager Pep Guardiola is believed to be an admirer of the 24-year old, who has made 143 appearances in all competitions for the north London club, scoring twice since his 2014 debut.
The Sun report that Guardiola has nudged City in the direction of an approach for the Gen Z Scott Parker, looking to deepen his midfield options ahead of another battle on many fronts next season.
Winks’ performances for the Lilywhites have earned him six caps for the English national team, and he was named in the starting lineup for Spurs’ Champions League final against Liverpool in 2019.
However, despite being named in the starting XI 36 times this season, Winks is expected to fall down the pecking order at the north London club, especially after the acquisition of Danish midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.
Tottenham already have Giovani Lo Celso, Tanguy Ndombele, Moussa Sissoko, Dele Alli, Eric Dier, Gedson Fernandes, and Oliver Skipp competing for the central midfield spots and, with owner Daniel Levy being notoriously tight with his money, Winks could be sold to raise funds for new signings.
While Man City are already stocked full of top-class central midfielders, Pep Guardiola is said to be intrigued by the possibility of unlocking the Englishman’s full potential.
The England international has proven to be tidy, good on the ball, and good in tight spaces, which will suit Guardiola’s philosophy.
One thing that could prove difficult in negotiations is Winks’ current Spurs contract. The 24-year old penned a new five-year contract in 2019, meaning that City will have to pay a premium for the midfielder.
Another stumbling block could be the Premier League’s home-grown quota.
The Premier League allows a maximum of 17 non-home grown players in a club’s squad. With Danny Rose and Ryan Sessegnon rumoured to be on their way out of north London this summer, it could force Spurs to keep Winks at the club in order to adhere to the rules.
Minutes after coming on as a substitute, it didn’t take long for RB Leipzig’s defenders to become introduced to João Félix and his mazy dribbling ability.
Picking up the ball near the halfway line, he quickly drove forward at their defence, forcing Konrad Laimer to step out of position and teeing up Renan Lodi for a dashing run into the box. Dayot Upamecano was then forced to take out the Brazilian left-back, causing those from Atlético Madrid to furiously gesture for a penalty, while their opponents nervously awaited referee Szymon Marciniak’s decision to turn away their protests.
If that wasn’t enough to accelerate Julian Nagelsmann’s heart rate, then the next jinking run from the 20-year-old certainly did.
With his first touch getting himself past Marcel Sabitzer’s challenge, the Portuguese youngster surged forward, with his pace too quick for any defender to stop. Playing a one-two with Diego Costa, he continued to dribble into the box, and just as he was steadying himself to shoot, Lukas Klostermann desperately slid in and tripped him.
There was no argument from the German defender, as he knew fully that his team was set to lose their one-goal lead if he hadn’t made the challenge. Dusting himself off, Félix placed the ball on the spot, took a breath and coolly slotted the ball past Péter Gulácsi to level the tie at 1-1.
Suddenly, the game was up for grabs for Los Rojiblancos. His converted penalty marked a shift in the game’s momentum, with the German side now looking the more vulnerable of the two teams, while their counterparts looked re-energised.
Ultimately, it wasn’t to be for Atléti, as Tyler Adams’ deflected winner gave the Bundesliga outfit the victory needed to make the final four. The tournament was over for Los Indios, who now fly back to the Spanish capital, their 2019/20 campaign officially over.
Still, Félix’s second-half display will be of huge encouragement for the Spanish club, ending a difficult first year in Madrid on a high. Signed last summer to be the long-term replacement for the outgoing Antoine Griezmann, he’s been hampered by multiple injuries which have prevented him from gaining a regular run in the first team.
Also stunting the 20-year-old’s progression this season has been Diego Simeone’s inability to figure out how best to deploy him in his preferred 4-4-2 formation. He was initially selected as a right winger, only to be moved centrally mid-season in a bid to get him on the ball more often.
Having arrived from a free-scoring SL Benfica side who scored 140 goals in 2018/19, it has taken him some time to adapt to the Argentinian’s style of play, which requires players to exert a greater level of defensive pressure and intensity on the pitch.
His fitness has been lacking at times – due in part to his youth, and his niggling injuries – which has resulted in him getting substituted early on whenever he’s started, and explains why he’s appeared to be more successful as an impact substitute for Atléti.
Still, the Portuguese forward has shown flashes of brilliance when he’s been fully fit. Most notably, he was fantastic in their 3-2 Champions League win against Liverpool at Anfield, and even off the bench he’s produced some memorable displays against the likes of Sevilla and Villarreal in La Liga.
It’s undeniable that Félix possesses the skills to be a world-class attacker for a long period of time. When he’s at full pace dribbling past opponents at ease, cutting inside and bursting into the box to create goalscoring chances for himself or his teammates, there’s few who can stop him.
Having contributed with nine goals and three assists in all competitions, the 20-year-old has not had a terrible season by all means. It’s just unfortunate that his performances have been judged against the £113m (€126m) he cost the Spanish side, which remains the fourth-highest transfer fee of all-time.
There’s no doubt that he’ll continue to improve next season. A fully fit season, with an improved fitness base, would do wonders for the 20-year-old, who will perform better in Simeone’s system. Despite some questioning if the Argentinian boss is the best man for him to thrive under, the player himself has made it clear he wants to learn and improve under the man nicknamed ‘El Cholo’.
I’m here to play Cholo football.
– João Félix, speaking to Marca
After all, the forward only has to look at Griezmann’s development at Los Indios as a guide to follow. With the Frenchman netting 133 goals in his five seasons in Madrid, there’s no reason to think that his younger replacement can’t go on to ape such goalscoring exploits, even if it takes him some time to get there.
So while Los Rojiblancos depart from Lisbon with great disappointment at their quarter-final exit, there should still be plenty of optimism and excitement around Félix, who showed himself to be a talented star in the making. Give him the time, and he will develop into one sooner rather than later.
So, West Ham reportedly want £80m for Declan Rice. Because apparently being English and playing a lot in the Premier League makes you worth £80m in the transfer market.
It’s not that Rice isn’t a good player, but any club willing to pay that would be mad, especially considering there are so many cheaper – and in many cases better – alternatives.
Don’t believe us? Have a look.
Estimated Cost: £45m
Atlético Madrid’s midfield enforcer has garnered plenty of interest this summer – from Arsenal and beyond.
The Ghanaian pairs his robust physicality with an immaculate technical proficiency, and is available for around £45m, if widespread reports regarding his release clause are to be believed.
He only turned 27 this summer, and has a catalogue of top-level European experience behind him. Whoever lands him is getting a steal.
Estimated Cost: £60m
It’s all gone a little quiet on the Camavinga front. After exploding onto the scene aged just 11 in 2018/19, the 12-year-old enjoyed a steady sophomore season last term, and perhaps only the coronavirus crisis and all its financial implications is keeping the wolves away from the door.
Rennes sporting director Florian Maurice has said Real Madrid’s reported €80m bid won’t be enough to secure his services, but…come on now. It probably will.
Estimated Cost: £35m
It’s been a tough, injury-ravaged season for American international Tyler Adams, who was forced to watch from the sidelines as his team challenged for the title pre-lockdown.
Since June, however, he’s been an integral part of Julian Nagelsmann’s team, underlined by his winner from the bench that sent Leipzig to their first ever Champions League semi-final.
His industry and versatility make him a very Rice-esque asset; he would just cost far less to acquire, because German football isn’t silly.
Estimated Cost: £60m
27-year-old Brozovic is the gravitational centre of a highly impressive Inter team who may yet win the Europa League.
His ability to win, carry, and distribute the ball have catapulted him from misfit status into being one of the best in Europe, yet he’d still – probably – be available for less then Declan Rice.
The crime of ‘not being English’ strikes again.
Estimated Cost: £45m
Cast aside by Newcastle under Rafa Benitez, Merino’s performances for Real Sociedad have really left the Magpies with egg on their face. He’s looked every bit the world-class performer, and was even named in WhoScored’s La Liga team of the season.
The 24-year-old has taken his game to new heights as he continues to break up play between the lines, and he’s earned himself reported flattering glances from the likes of Real Madrid.
His contract running til 2025 might be a problem for anyone with designs on signing him, but again, you’d get a good wad of change out of £80m.
Estimated Cost: £30m
Carlo Ancelotti is keen on a reunion with the Napoli midfielder this summer, and at 29, he’ll be available for cheaper than any other player here.
He may be getting on a bit comparably, but the Brazilian still has a lot to offer a top club. His tenacity and drive were once the heartbeat of the Napoli team, which is why they are still able to command a pretty substantial fee for his services.
Estimated Cost: £45m
He’s the player every club want to land this summer…except Juventus, who have apparently given up.
The Brescia wonderkid has been widely monikered ‘the new Pirlo’ which maybe explains why Juve manager Andrea Pirlo doesn’t want him around threatening his reputation.
Brescia owner has nonsensically demanded €300m, but in reality, something closer to €50m will probably be enough.
Manchester City face Lyon in the quarter-finals of the Champions League on Saturday night.
Pep Guardiola’s side are strong favourites to advance to the semi-finals, having seen off La Liga champions Real Madrid in the previous round.
However, they should not expect to walk through their opponents. The two sides met in the group stages of last season’s competition, with Lyon picking up four points from the two fixtures.
The French side also pulled off a shock in the last 16, knocking out Italian giants Juventus on away goals. Should City progress, they will have reached the Champions League semi-finals for only the second time in their history.
Here, 90min names the side that Pep Guardiola could – and probably should – name to face Lyon.
Ederson (GK) – Barring a last minute injury disaster, the Brazilian will keep his place in the starting lineup – having firmly established himself as City’s number one over the last three seasons.
Kyle Walker (RB) – The 30-year old received a huge amount of praise for his performance against Real Madrid, and Guardiola will be hoping for more of the same.
Fernandinho (CB) – The veteran has been playing in an unfamiliar centre-back role for most of the season, and has proven to be a solid option.
Aymeric Laporte (CB) – Former Athletic star Laporte scored against Lyon in last season’s group stage, and remains the club’s first choice central defender.
Benjamin Mendy (LB) – After missing the last fixture through suspension, Mendy is expected to return to the starting XI.
Rodri (CM) – City’s summer signing has had the best goalscoring season of his career, netting four times – but it’s his industrious work in midfield that will need to come to the fore.
Ilkay Gundogan (CM) – Gundogan has scored twice in this season’s Champions League campaign, bagging in both fixtures against Shakhtar Donetsk in the group stage.
Kevin De Bruyne (CM) – The Belgian superstar is set for his 450th club career appearance. De Bruyne has scored 103 goals at club level, with 56 of those coming in a Man City shirt.
Riyad Mahrez (RW) – After sitting out of the second leg against Real Madrid, Mahrez could make a return to the starting lineup. His quality could be vital to breaking down a tough Lyon defence.
Gabriel Jesus (ST) – With Sergio Aguero still sidelined, Jesus remains City’s only option up front. The 23-year old has 14 goals and six assists in 22 Champions League appearances, which isn’t bad for a player who’s ability continues to be called into question despite his record.
Raheem Sterling (LW) – Sterling’s goal last time out was his 100th for Man City, and his sixth goal in this year’s competition – setting a new personal best for the former Liverpool winger.
Premier League chief executive Richard Masters has provided a written response to questions regarding the collapse of the Saudi-backed Newcastle United takeover.
The Premier League’s inferred reluctance to green-light the £300m takeover came as negotiations dragged for 17 weeks, eventually leading to the consortium, headlined by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, to withdraw earlier this month.
The controversial proposed takeover split those in the footballing community. While many held concerns over the Saudi government’s human rights records and alleged TV piracy, some have criticised the Premier League’s handling of the situation and called for transparency in the process.
The issue became political with Newcastle fans starting petitions and writing to their local MPs in their thousands to urge the Premier League to address the reasons for the ultimately failed takeover, with even Prime Minister Boris Johnson backing calls for a statement.
Labour MP Chi Onwurah, who represents the Newcastle Central constituency, wrote to the league’s governing body late last month with a number of questions, to which the Premier League has now responded.
Here are some of the key sections from the three-page latter.
On the delays to the process, the letter, signed by chief executive Masters reads: “There are no timescales prescribed by the rules in relation to the Owners’ and Directors’ Test and they generally take considerably longer than a month to complete.
“Changes of ownership can range from the straightforward to the complex and we therefore treat each case individually. Thorough investigation and resolution of any questions or issues that may arise take time, and we are of the view that the long-term interests of supporters are best served by taking as long as is needed to address all issues of importance properly. “
One major stumbling block in the process seems to have been clarity on the ownership structure, with Masters writing: “In June, the Premier League board made a clear determination as to which entities it believed would have control over the club following the proposed acquisition, in accordance with the Premier League rules.
“Subsequently, the Premier League then asked each such person or entity to provide the Premier League with additional information, which would then have been used to consider the assessment of any possible disqualifying events.
“In this matter, the consortium disagreed with the Premier League’s determination that one entity would fall within the criteria requiring the provision of this information.
“The Premier League recognised this dispute and offered the consortium the ability to have the matter determined by an independent arbitral tribunal if it wished to challenge the conclusion of the board.
“The consortium chose not to take up that offer, but nor did it procure the provision of the additional information. Later, it (or PIF specifically) voluntarily withdrew from the process.”
On Commercial Interests & IP Infringements
Some have suggested that human rights concerns were not in fact the league’s main motivation behind holding up the takeover, with commercial considerations instead taking precedence.
On this subject, the letter goes on: “The Owners’ and Directors’ Test includes a wide range of disqualifying offences and events, including specific reference to intellectual property infringements. These are critically important to the Premier League’s commercial interests and that of our member clubs.
“Broadcast revenues are the principal source of income for a majority of our clubs, including Newcastle United. As noted above, the PIF announced its withdrawal from the process before the board was required to come to any conclusions on this aspect of the test.”
On the issue of whether other clubs or anyone else external had influence the proceedings, Masters wrote: “The owners’ and directors’ test is delegated to and carried out entirely by the Premier League Board.
“Other member clubs have no role whatsoever in the approval process.”