Paper Round: PSG eye Anthony Martial swoop, Gareth Southgate's brave new world
England have Rooney-less potential and Mkhitaryan fights back. It's Thursday's Paper Round.
PSG eye Martial swoop
Paris Saint-Germain are hoping to buy Manchester United's Anthony Martial, according to The Sun. The 20-year-old has not featured regularly under Jose Mourinho at Old Trafford but played against West Ham in the EFL Cup on Wednesday night and scored twice.
Paper Round's view: Unusually for a transfer story of this magnitude, there is a source actually quoted in the piece, which lends some credence to the article. The United insider says:"It is well known PSG are very keen if the club does consider selling." Combine this with the fact that Mourinho has warned the Frenchman that he is fighting for his Old Trafford career and is not afraid to offload big names, plus the fact that PSG have the money, and 2+2 could, for once, equal 4 when the transfer window opens.
Southgate's England have potential...
Paper Round's view: Tell us something we don't know. Glen Hoddle's England had potential; Sven-Goran Eriksson's England had potential; Roy Hodgson's England had potential - that's the problem with England, it's rarely short of potential, it's just the delivery - or lack thereof - that hurts so badly. Potential is great, and Paper Round agrees it is not in short supply in the England team, but potential needs strength of character and a solid back-four if it's going to amount to much. Still, we're sure Graeme Le Saux covered that in the interview.
...But Rooney doesn't add to it
A couple of Thursday's back pages reference Wayne Rooney's likely place in Southgate's "Brave New World" - and they're not very hopeful for him. Now that the job is Southgate's might Rooney be dropped as England captain, despite his commitment to international duty up to the 2018 World Cup?
Paper Round's view: It's no secret that Rooney's place in the England squad has been the subject of intense speculation and for considerably longer than Southgate's short tenure. We didn't think he warranted a place in the starting XI at the Euros this summer and we're sticking with that, but this isn't really news. Rooney hasn't looked himself for a while, and we're quite sure incidents such as the reaction to drunk-hotel-gate or whatever we're calling it won't have helped. Who knows, perhaps Rooney will even be relieved to be released from duties, by this point.
Martial and Mkhitaryan make a point
Anthony Martial scored twice on Wednesday night to book Manchester United's place in the EFL Cup semi-finals. And Henrikh Mkhitaryan - recently criticised by Jose Mourinho for falling short of United's required standard - provided two of the assists in United's 4-1 victory against West Ham. Perhaps it was Mourinho's absence from the touchline that spurred them on, or perhaps the not-often dynamic duo know they have work to do if they want to stay in Old Trafford. Either way, by the end of the night the rumour mill was in overdrive as to Martial's destination come January, Paris Saint-Germain being the club some stacked their chips on.
Paper Round's view: Absentee Mourinho, who was serving his one-match bottle-gate ban, sparked all sorts of gags as he watched ominously from a "secret" destination - as if he'd been keeping these guys on the bench? If ever there were a time to silence his critics and a fashion in which to do it, Mkhitaryan succeeded on both counts and will no doubt have finally impressed taskmaster Mourinho. As for Martial, we wouldn't be all that surprised if he was looking to impress a new boss by this stage, having struggled to make an impact this season.
Wenger's young guns not blazing
Arsene Wenger was under-fire again in Thursday's back pages after his "experimental" starting XI saw his team bowed out of the EFL Cup on Wednesday thanks to a 2-0 defeat by Southampton. Wenger made a total of 10 changes to last weekend's start against Bournemouth, but even with Aaron Ramsey, Alex Iwobi and Mohamed Elneny - the only player to survive the weekend's cull - it was never even nearly enough.
Paper Round's view: Let's be honest: unlike Claude Puel, Arsene Wenger has bigger fish to fry right now - namely his upcoming London derby against West Ham on Saturday. The Gunners have had a decent start but Wenger's going to need to find something more if he's going to keep pace with a fiercely competitive top-three sitting just above his side. But not only that, Tuesday is Champions League crunch day - it's not like the EFL Cup is the only piece of silverware Arsenal could feasibly have won, this season... Is it?