Ryan Fraser picks Tottenham over Liverpool and Arsenal, UEFA confirm Champions League conclusion, Palace plan Burnley triple-swoop and Celtic set for nine in a row. It's Monday's Paper Round...
Fraser selects Spurs over 'Big Six' rivals
Bournemouth winger Ryan Fraser is closing in on a move to Tottenham when his current contract at the south-coast club expires. The Scotland international has attracted interest from both Liverpool and Arsenal, but the Mirror report that Spurs have "emerged as serious candidates" in the race for his signature and Fraser views a move to the white side of north London as a "big step up" from Bournemouth. Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho is expecting his transfer kitty to be low this summer following the coronavirus pandemic and Fraser is looking like an appealing acquisition as he will be available for free when his contract expires on June 30.
Paper Round's view: Ryan Fraser has proven himself as a consistent performer in the Premier League. Bournemouth will be gutted to lose him for free but they have failed to come to an agreement to extend his deal. Arsenal were reportedly interested in the 26-year-old last summer for a cut-price, but eventually ended up signing Nicolas Pepe from Lille for a club-record fee. It seems like Fraser prefers the move to Tottenham this summer and it makes sense. Arsenal have been underwhelming in recent years and their local rivals have outperformed them over the last few seasons. Fraser probably knows he is unlikely to be a starter at Liverpool, so a move to Tottenham makes the most sense.
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has confirmed that the Champions League and Europa League will be concluded this season. The Standard report that UEFA believe this term's European tournaments will resume with plans for two-legged quarter-finals and semi-finals to take place in August, with the finals at the end of that month. Ceferin also stated that both Paris Saint-Germain and Lyon could look to organise their Champions League ties abroad at neutral grounds after the French government suspended professional sport until September. UEFA also admitted three of the rearranged 2020 European Championship host cities "have some issues" which could result in relocating some matches at the other nine other host venues.
Paper Round's view: It's difficult to state that the Champions League and Europa League will definitely be concluded when the majority of Europe's top leagues are yet to return. We've only just seen the first set of Bundesliga matches since the coronavirus outbreak and they were successful, but we haven't heard results from the players' and staff's tests just yet. Premier League, Serie A and La Liga all plan to return to training soon and matches are expected to take place in June, but who knows if everything will go plan? UEFA will have to wait and see before they confirm any plans for European cup ties as it will involve international travel. Countries are forcing incoming travellers to self-quarantine for a period upon arrival which would ruin the plans if that doesn't change before August.
Crystal Palace are preparing a triple swoop on Burnley this summer, according to the Mirror. The Eagles have identified Burnley boss Sean Dyche as the perfect replacement for Roy Hodgson, who is turning 73 years old in August. Hodgson only signed a contract extension for the 2020-21 season back in March, but the Mirror state that Palace are ready to bring their long-term plans forward a year due to fears they could miss out on Dyche. The south London outfit also want the Clarets' manager to bring Dwight McNeil - as a Wilfried Zaha replacement - and James Tarkowski with him to Selhurst Park.
Paper Round's view: It's an odd decision to u-turn on Hodgson's contract extension after just two months, but Dyche is definitely highly rated. He took Burnley from the Championship to Europa League qualifiers, but you have to think that he may have taken the Clarets as far as he can. The 48-year-old has been in charge at Turf Moor since 2012 and a move to Palace could be attractive for him. McNeil is probably the most exciting young player at Burnley and Tarkowski has been trusted in the heart of defence by Dyche since Michael Keane's departure to Everton in 2017. Palace view McNeil as a replacement for Zaha and he is certainly showing glimpses of quality at a young age, but probably needs to improve his end product.
Celtic are set to be crowned Scottish champions for the ninth year in a row on Monday, according to reports from the Telegraph. The story states that the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) has decided to bring the 2019-20 season to an end after UEFA demanded all its leagues to come to a decision on how they plan to be concluded by Monday. Celtic currently sit at the top of the SPFL table and are 13 points clear of second-placed Rangers, who have a game in hand. Ending the season prematurely would also confirm the relegation of Hearts, who are four points adrift at the bottom of the table.
Paper Round's view: It's obviously not been an easy decision but as Scotland are still under a strict lockdown, it was kind of inevitable. There's not enough money in the Scottish leagues to afford the coronavirus testing like in the English Premier League. It's going to be absolutely gutting for Rangers, who performed well throughout the season and came closest to toppling their bitter rivals for the first time since their liquidation in 2012. Realistically, this is the fairest way to conclude the season and it was never going to please all football fans. Safety of players and staff should always come first.