WEDNESDAY’S BIG STORIES
Mino Raiola starts Erling Haaland gesturing?
Mino Raiola is unashamedly Mino Raiola. If the man has an opinion, the man speaks that opinion. He has one on both Pep Guardiola and Manchester United. Those opinions are strident. In a joint interview with fellow super-agent Jonathan Barnett with the Athletic, he let said opinions be known, but were those statements part of a wider subliminal message?
Raiola plans Haaland talks with Man City in January – Paper Round
First up, Guardiola:
As for Mr Guardiola, I’ve closed the book already a long time ago. Everybody knows what I think of him personally and he can say what he thinks for me personally. For the rest, I think he’s a great trainer. And that’s how it is. I will not shut up for anybody. I’ll give my opinion, I think that it is my right.
Fairly strident that. Mino has no time for Pep the man. The trainer, who is on for a potential quadruple, he quite reasonably has time for. Raiola then segued from Pep to United with the skill of a man potentially trying to send a message ahead of a busy summer of transfer wrangling over his prized asset, Erling Haaland.
With Mr Ferguson or Guardiola, I have this problem — and I think that it is changing now — that (they believe) we should submit to them because ‘otherwise, tomorrow, you don’t do a player with Manchester United’. I don’t give a f**k if I never do another player with Manchester United. I’m not in their hands. I’m independent. We have only one party that we take care of: our players. And as long as our players like us, you do what you have to do.
Now, there could be some genius at play here. Raiola, in pure Raiola terms, has softened relations with Guardiola - paying him a professional compliment wrapped in a personal attack. Thus, while he dislikes the Catalan coach in the extreme, in a professional capacity he respects him. Thus opening the door to him putting personal grievances aside for the betterment of his client, Haaland.
It has been widely reported - and chiefly by Dean Jones in Inside Football - that Manchester City are keen on Haaland. Was the "I don’t give a f**k if I never do another player with Manchester United" in fact a thinly-veiled broadside at City ahead of a summer of potential transfer wrangling? Do not f**k Raiola or his clients around because Raiola does not care about your reputation or standing in the game. Mess Raiola or Haaland about and they will take their wares elsewhere, you hear that City?
Is the above conjecture? The answer to that is, it is international week. You're welcome.
'Why not?' - Salah hints at Liverpool exit in interview - Euro Papers
Mongolia 0-14 Japan
Type '14' and 'Japan' into Google and, usually, the auto-fill will produce 'Japan 14-day itinerary' and, alas, 'Japan 14-day quarantine', with the second result potentially making the first redundant.
Anyway, type '14' and 'Japan' in today and, well, it is all about the almighty shooing Japan handed out to Mongolia in World Cup qualifying for Qatar 2022.
The result means that Japan are a step closer to qualifying from Group F with 15 points from five games and Mongolia are bottom on three points after seven games with a goal difference of -25 - which is not bad considering they just took a 14-goal loss.
The new Inter badge...meh
Inter are an iconic club. They have an iconic stadium, and they look set to knock it down; they had an iconic sponsor, and they are going to sack it off; and they had an iconic crest that they have decided to redesign.
The decision, reports the Independent, is an attempt to broaden the club's international appeal.
There seem to be more effective ways of broadening a club's appeal. Winning the Champions League would be a very effective method - granted, that is fairly difficult, but the last time the club got past the group stage was in 2012 - so maybe improve that.
Anyway, back to the view on the badge. It is, in this humble and often incorrect opinion, a downgrade.
This section is usually reserved for an interesting interview or a piece of long-form journalism published in a more traditional form.
However, today it is a Twitter thread explaining the origin of the Qatar 2022 WC boycott movement that has garnered quite the momentum during the international break.
It is Sergio Ramos’ birthday. 35 years young and still scoring goals and putting in reducers.
It is all or nothing for England today at the U21 Euros. And on the basis of their performances thus far, it is probably going to be nothing. They take on Croatia and need a favour from Portugal.
Andi Thomas, a man whose appeal is broader than your average Champions League-winning football club, is here on the 'morrow.
UEFA Nations League
'Nobody understands Enrique's choices' - Why Spain is divided ahead of Italy clash
'Liverpool is greater than this' - Man City claim fan spat at member of staff