A Champions League mini-tournament is set for August, Manchester United give Jude Bellingham the 'red carpet treatment', Carlo Ancelotti closes in on his first Everton signing and Steve Bruce is set to stay in charge at Newcastle despite a potential takeover. It's Friday's Paper Round...
UEFA plan Champions League conclusion
UEFA are proposing a new plan to complete the current Champions League campaign, which could see the final taking place on the last weekend of August. According to reports from the Telegraph, European football’s governing body are exploring the possibility of playing the quarter-finals at the end of July, with a mini-tournament conclusion at the end of August. The plan would give European domestic leagues additional time to try and finish their seasons - if current lockdown restrictions are ended. UEFA president Alexander Ceferin has admitted he would prefer games to be played behind closed doors instead of cancelling the elite European tournament, and the possibility of single-legged ties are being discussed. The new Champions League final date would be August 29, with the Europa League ending a few days earlier on the 26th.
Paper Round's view: It's understandable that UEFA are worrying about this season's Champions League campaign. There's so much money involved in football these days and the Champions League revenue is at the top of the pile for club competitions. It's all well and good making plans for quarter-finals in July and then a mini-tournament in August to decide the European Cup winners, but nobody knows what the situation will be like by then. It's obviously just an ongoing plan created by the European governing body, but it might never come to fruition. A mini-tournament would certainly appease fans, but if footballers have had numerous months away from regular matches, it would represent a demanding return to the sport.
Manchester United reportedly lead the chase for Birmingham City wonderkid Jude Bellingham, who has also attracted the attention from the likes of Borussia Dortmund and Chelsea. The Sun state that the 16-year-old was "blown away" by the Red Devils when they gave him the "red carpet treatment" during his visit to their Carrington training complex in March. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is said to be keen to complete a deal for the teen star, which would be worth a huge transfer fee of £50 million. The Sun report that Birmingham are looking to add a season-long loan clause back to the Midlands club in any potential summer transfer. In regards to wages, United are only willing to give Bellingham around half of Dortmund's £60,000 salary offer.
Paper Round's view: £50 million and a £60,000-per-week contract is an eye-watering offer for a 16-year-old. United and Dortmund were both keen to complete a deal for Bellingham back in January, but the teenager stayed at Birmingham City. However, due to the current coronavirus crisis, the Championship club could be in desperate need for the cash and it's probably very tough to turn down such a huge transfer fee. Bellingham is probably looking at someone like Jadon Sancho who is flourishing in Germany away from the pressures of the Premier League - and the contract offer at Dortmund is even more attractive than at Old Trafford. It looks like Sancho has used Dortmund as a stepping stone to secure a move to a club like United, so maybe Bellingham could eventually do the same.
Carlo Ancelotti is closing in on his first signing at Everton - with the Guardian reporting that the 60-year-old is ready to complete a £30 million deal for Lille's Brazilian centre-back Gabriel Magalhaes. The Toffees are set to gazump Premier League rivals Chelsea and Arsenal to bring the 22-year-old to Goodison Park once the transfer window opens. Gabriel Magalhaes has admitted that a move to the Premier League would be a "dream" and Everton had already sent scouts to France earlier this season to analyse their target.
Paper Round's view: Everton are in need of a top quality centre-half. The current crop of central defenders includes Michael Keane and Yerry Mina, who were both overpriced when the club bought them, and Mason Holgate. It's no wonder that Carlo Ancelotti is looking at his defensive options and thinking that it is a priority to improve the quality in this area of his squad. £30 million is another huge fee for a centre-back, but the club needs to invest in its defensive if it wants to compete for a European spot next season.
Steve Bruce is set to stay in his position as manager of Newcastle United - even if their proposed takeover is complete, according to the Mail. The £300-million deal is being brokered by Amanda Staveley for the Saudi-backed consortium, but Staveley is reported to believe that it would be "wrong to make an immediate managerial change". The 47-year-old businesswoman's camp is said to have a "strong relationship" with former Magpies manager Rafael Benitez, who was in charge at St James' Park before Bruce. The Premier League club have also been linked with an ambitious move for former Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri, who has been out of work since leaving the Serie A side last summer.
Paper Round's view: It's great news if you're Steve Bruce. The 59-year-old has received a lot of stick since taking charge of the dugout at St James' Park, but Newcastle were sitting safe in 13th place and eight points off relegation before the coronavirus crisis halted the football season. Obviously the Saudi-back consortium have ambitions to take the club back to becoming Premier League title challengers again, but it will take time. It's unlikely that Allegri will take up the offer of becoming Newcastle boss until they are qualifying for Europe, at least. It would be surprising to see Rafa Bentiez return to Tyneside so quickly, but he had a strong relationship with the supporters during his time at the club. However, the Mail report states it would cost £20 million to bring Benitez back from China, which doesn't make sense for Newcastle to pay in the current climate.