Manchester United's French midfielder Paul Pogba reacts after missing a chance during the English League Cup third round football match between Manchester United and Rochdale at Old Trafford in Manchester, north-west England on September 25, 2019.
Paul Pogba may end up staying at Manchester United, Arsenal make transfer plans and the Premier League 'Project Restart' meeting is on Friday. It's Monday's Paper Round...
Pogba’s going nowhere
Paul Pogba looks likely to stay put at Old Trafford this summer after the coronavirus outbreak significantly reduced the number of prospective buyers. The French midfielder has barely featured for Manchester United this season due to injury and a summer sale seemed to be on the cards, especially after the signing of Bruno Fernandes from Sporting Lisbon in January. A return to Italian champions Juventus or a move to Real Madrid was being touted, but it seems now Pogba could be staying in England. Juventus chief football officer Fabio Paratic believes the World Cup winner's wage demands could prove to be a stumbling block for most clubs, with Pogba currently earning around £300,000 per week.
Paper Round's view: Paul Pogba's future has been up in the air for a while now. His potential move away from Old Trafford has been a transfer story all season, especially with his lack of appearances this term. A move to Madrid or a return to Turin probably would've happened if the coronavirus pandemic hadn't come along. Pogba could take a pay cut to move, but this might make him realise that it wouldn't actually be a terrible decision to stay where he is and focus on rediscovering his form. Playing in a midfield alongside Bruno Fernandes and either Scott McTominay or a rejuvenated Fred actually sounds appealing. Pogba now has the opportunity to prove his haters wrong in the Premier League and then maybe he could seek a transfer the following summer if he still wants to leave United.
Arsenal could be set to sacrifice a first-team player in order to bring in Thomas Partey from Atletico Madrid this summer. According to the Sun, the Gunners want to bring in the £43-million rated Ghanaian midfielder but would have to sell a superstar name to raise the funds, due to a limited transfer budget. The Sun state that the north London club are considering selling one of Alexandre Lacazette, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi. All four players are highly rated and would go for big fees, but Lacazette could be the most appealing for Atletico Madrid, who would be interested in a swap deal for Partey.
Paper Round's view: Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has a real rebuilding job on his hands at the Emirates Stadium. Partey looks like he would add steel and quality to a midfield that seriously lacks the ability to control a game, so the sacrifice would probably be worth it. The Gunners are very top-heavy and don't really need both Aubameyang and Lacazette. It might be their last opportunity to make money on club captain Aubameyang, with his current contract expiring in 2021. The 30-year-old is probably the best player in their squad, but financially it makes sense to sell him this summer if he doesn't sign a new deal, then the club would have the funds to sign Partey.
Premier League’s ‘Project Restart’ decision on Friday
The Mirror report that the Premier League are set for a "crunch meeting" this Friday which could make or break the conclusion of the 2019-20 season. The fate of 'Project Restart' is said to depend on the government's decision on lockdown rules, which is set to be announced on Thursday. The league needs a 14-6 majority in order to restart the season, but there are still a few issues which need to be agreed by the clubs. The Mirror have outlined four major issues: coronavirus testing (and whether it will be prioritised over NHS workers), neutral venues for matches, contracts expiring on June 30 and players who refuse to play due to safety fears.
Paper Round's view: It's become widely expected that the Premier League will be given the green light on Friday to restart the season, with the date of June 12 in mind for the first match after the extended break. The government have reportedly stated that no footballer will be prioritised ahead of frontline key workers for testing, but player safety is still the "number one concern" ahead of the season's potential resumption. Neutral venues could be a trickier issue than first imagined, with Brighton already openly opposing the idea. There's no real need for neutral stadiums, but the Mirror have also reported that the league officials are trying to use it as a "trial" in case the measures need to be taken in the 2020-21 season. The Premier League have also confirmed that players with contracts expiring on June 30 will be extended until the end of July.
The controversial idea of scrapping relegation this season is reportedly "gathering support" from a "growing set of top-flight clubs", according to the Sun. Clubs are uneasy with the Premier League's plans to play the remainder of the season at neutral venues, which would remove any home advantage. The clubs that are in danger of relegation are believed to be more comfortable with the idea of playing at neutral venues if the threat of relegation is removed. The Sun also report that the Premier League are "working on a seven week festival of football", which would allow the fixture list to be concluded before UEFA's August 2 cut-off date.
Paper Round's view: This could make things tricky. As previously stated in the Mirror, the Premier League needs to come to a clear decision by Friday and this could throw a spanner into the mix. The league's governing body will believe that if the fixtures are allowed to be finished, the usual relegation rules should apply. If no clubs are relegated, this impacts the entire Football League food chain. Would any Championship clubs be promoted? Will the Premier League have more than 20 clubs next season? It's difficult to see the relegation rules scrapped if the season is allowed to be played out in full.