Southgate considers Smalling recall - Paper Round
Chris Smalling could be recalled to England, Lazio want Memphis Depay, Paolo Maldini may be sacked by AC Milan, and Barcelona players are upset by Eder Sarabia.
Smalling set for England return
Manchester United’s on-loan defender Chris Smalling could be in line for a return to the England national setup. The 29-year-old former Fulham centre-back has not played for England for two years, but a recent scouting trip by the team’s boss Gareth Southgate has confirmed his dramatic improvement while in Italy, playing for Roma. The Mirror believe he could now be set for an international recall with Michael Keane's chances in the balance.
Paper Round’s view: Smalling is a perfectly capable defender if he has plenty of midfield assistance, but he can't be relied upon as a leader. He is also prone to the occasional mistake. If England can't do better than that then their chances at Euro 2020 are limited, but Smalling has certainly improved upon his last few years for Manchester United, when he was a constant source of worry.
Lazio target Depay
Former Manchester United winger Memphis Depay is a target for Italian side Lazio. The 26-year-old Dutch international is recovering from a serious knee injury at his current side Lyon, and his contract is up at the end of next season. The Sun believes that Lazio, who sit two points clear of Juventus, could want the player to partner Ciro Immobile up top.
Paper Round’s view: Depay has a buyback clause with United, and looking at their current options, he could be considered if they land neither Jack Grealish nor Jadon Sancho. However, Depay deserves praise for rebuilding his career at Lyon after it appeared he had wasted a golden chance at United. He perhaps has one more chance to earn a move to one of the biggest European sides.
Maldini faces Milan sack
AC Milan legend Paolo Maldini could soon be sacked as sporting director of the club, according to the Daily Mail. The paper reports that Ivan Gazidis, the Italian side’s chief executive, could act after the Maldini’s predecessor Massimiliano Mirabelli lambasted the current employee. Mirabelli said: 'Maldini is as if he had become a doctor in one of the most important hospitals in the world without having attended the right schools.'
Paper Round’s view: AC Milan are currently owned by a hedge fund that came to take charge when its former owners could not service their debt, which suggests that they are not up to speed with running a football club. The sustained underperformance of one of the most famous clubs in Italy, and this latest crisis, suggests they are no nearer a renaissance.
Barca keen on Sarabia to stay calm
Barcelona executives are concerned over the image that the club’s assistant coach Eder Sarabia is giving to the public. Sarabia was filmed ranting at players during the Clasico at the weekend, and it has become a talking point in Spain. Spanish newspaper Marca says that while those higher up at the club aren’t worried over his actions, they don’t want them to take place where fans and the press can see them.
Paper Round’s view: Given the fragile nature of the club, and the relationship between the players and executives, you can understand both reactions. Sarabia needs to have authority over the squad, but at the same time the club might want to protect their players from any more criticism, given how tight it is at the top of the league, and with Lionel Messi reportedly considering his future.