The Warm-Up: Let the race for Jadon Sancho’s signature begin
Sancho's leaving Dortmund, Chelsea steal a march on the rest, and West Brom consolidate their lead.
THURSDAY’S BIG STORIES
On your marks, get set … Sancho!
Just as films are teased with trailers and, er, teasers, so transfer sagas are now announced several months in advance. It’s a kindness, really. They’re just letting you know that you’ll need to devote a certain amount of the summer to thinking: where should Jadon Sancho go?
And also: how much?!
Manchester United are apparently interested, because of course they are. At this point, Manchester United’s interest in an expensive player is less news, more punctuation. A transfer story isn’t really complete until it’s been rounded off with the promise of Ed Woodward grinning vacantly and holding a massive cheque.
But even if United could persuade him to consider spending some time with Phil Jones, you’d expect Sancho to have more and better options than United. He’s young, he’s brilliant, and he’s doing the business for Dortmund’s first team. There aren’t many teams he wouldn’t make better, in the Premier League and beyond. Dortmund are going to get paid.
On your marks, get set … Ziyech!
Getting ahead of the transfer game are Chelsea, who are reportedly taking care of their summer business before the clocks have even gone back. Or forward. Whichever it is that returns the sunshine to our lives.
Ajax have been the best story in European football over the last couple of seasons, and Ziyech has played an integral part. He dribbles with cocksure confidence, he shoots with well-founded optimism, and he hits long flat crossfield passes with his left foot like …
… like somebody who is really, really good at hitting long flat crossfield passes with his left foot.
Obviously this move comes with all the usual caveats about players transferring from the Eredivisie to the Premier League, but really, Ziyech has been making Champions League opponents look pretty silly for a couple of seasons now. This should work.
Even better, it should be entertaining. By our calculations, he will make the Premier League precisely 2.3% more fun, which is decent going for one man.
On your marks, get set … Bartley!
Away from the truly important business of transfers, there was a little football happening Wednesday night as well. While the Premier League is off sunning itself, the Championship keeps plugging away, bringing the people of England the deeply silly football they crave.
Last night, West Brom had an opportunity. With Leeds dropping points again, to nobody’s great shock, a win away at 16th place Reading would move them six points clear of what is becoming a frankly murderous bunfight. Two teams on 56 points, two on 54, another two on 53? No thanks.
So obviously, after 11 minutes the leaders were a goal down. Under minimal pressure, Kyle Bartley waved his hand at the ball. Perhaps he was trying to scare it away. It didn’t work. Instead it hit his hand, and the referee was watching, and then came the penalty.
For a minute, it all looked like it was going to go Full Championship. But back came the Baggies. 15 minutes later Matheus Pereira levelled things up, and then shortly after half-time Bartley redeemed himself with a looping header.
After going seven games without a win, West Brom have now won three on the bounce, and it’s good to see their boing boing principles being applied at an ever-more granular level.
IN OTHER NEWS
Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Tom Davies are on holiday in New York. And they are looking tremendous.
As Liverpool rumble on, comparisons are being drawn with Manchester United’s treble-winning side of 1999. But they’ll have to go some to beat this stylish, natural, commanding performance. Look at Roy Keane’s face. Look how much fun he’s having.
"Football’s embrace of unregulated hyper-capitalism has created a growing financial disparity that is now destroying the inherent unpredictability of the sport. This is not just the big clubs often winning, as has been the case since time immemorial. It is that a small group of super-wealthy clubs are now so financially insulated that they are winning more games than ever before, by more goals than ever before, to break more records than ever before. They are stretching the game in a way that has caused the entire sport to transform and shift."
Tomorrow, after we’ve expelled the mighty from their palaces and toppled the statues in the squares, you’ll probably be wanting something to read. Tom Adams has got you covered.