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Paper Round: Liverpool to battle Real Madrid and Barcelona to keep Sadio Mane

Paper Round: Liverpool battle Madrid and Barca to keep Mane

17/09/2017 at 06:01Updated 17/09/2017 at 15:53

Barcelona and Real Madrid want Sadio Mane, Manchester United eye Saul Niguez and Radja Nainggolan, Roy Hodgson already sounds desperate and Wayne Rooney will get no special Old Trafford welcome.

Real Madrid and Barcelona want Sadio Mane

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp faces another disrupted summer as his in-form forward Sadio Mane is wanted by both Real Madrid and Barcelona. A £138m bid almost saw Philippe Coutinho leave Anfield for Barcelona in the summer, and the Brazilian has only recently returned to first-team action There is no price mentioned for the 25-year-old Senegal international, and it is not clear if Liverpool would be more willing to entertain his sale.

Liverpool celebrate Sadio Mane's goal against Crystal Palace

Liverpool celebrate Sadio Mane's goal against Crystal PalaceGetty Images

Paper Round's view: Liverpool will have been helped by their stubborn refusal to enter talks with Barcelona. Mane now knows what to expect should he fancy a move abroad to either of these clubs. In that respect, it makes it less likely that he will get his move, but on the other, there is a chance that should Liverpool disappoint this season, they could face losing both Mane and Coutinho in the same window.

Hodgson fears the worst at Palace

Roy Hodgson has talked of the painful experience of watching his Crystal Palace sleepwalk to defeat against Southampton yesterday. The new manager warned of the players digging their own graves, and of more painful episodes to come as they attempt to turn things around in training. He curtailed expectations for how much things might improve, and even suggested that displays might get worse.

Paper Round's view: David Moyes was attacked for saying that Sunderland were in a relegation battle right at the start of the season, and it's hard to see how Hodgson is doing much different here. He has sounded a gloomy note for his new players, and told them that he doesn't expect things to get much better. It's a risky strategy, as they have rarely been fired up by any incumbent before him. Just because it is the truth, it doesn't mean a manager should say it.

Rooney won't get special welcome to Old Trafford

Wayne Rooney will not be afforded the same treatment as Cristiano Ronaldo when he returns to Old Trafford for Everton today. Manchester United read out Ronaldo's name last when he came back for Real Madrid, in attempt to distract him from his performance. However, Jose Mourinho has no plans to make the day about Rooney rather than the game itself.

Paper Round's view: Cynically, one might suggest that Mourinho doesn't need to distract Rooney because he poses so little threat after years of poor form, and he is going through an especially tough time right now, too. More charitably, Real don't visit Old Trafford every year, whereas Everton do, so there is no point making a special point over what should be a routine occurrence for Rooney.

United scout for Carrick replacement

United are preparing for life without another 2008 Champions League winner. Michael Carrick is 36, and almost certainly in his final year at the club. As a result, United dispatched a scout to Atletico Madrid's Champions League game against Roma. They watched Saul Niguez, 22, and Radja Nainggolan, the 29-year-old Belgian international, as they consider transfer targets for the summer.

Paper Round's view: Both Nainggolan and Niguez would be useful additions to the United squad, but neither of them play in the same style as Carrick. They are both more traditionally destructive and energetic presences in the midfield. As Nemanja Matic and, to an extent, Paul Pogba can both play Carrick's role now, it might make more sense for United to look to these kind of players. As Nainggolan has years of games and injuries behind him, it may make more sense to go for the younger Niguez.

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