Jack Grealish of Aston VIlla celebrates scoring their first goal during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Aston Villa at Old Trafford on December 01, 2019 in Manchester, United Kingdom.
It's Jack Grealish in, Paul Pogba out for Manchester United as Alexis Sanchez prepares to return to Old Trafford. Manchester City refuse to sell Leroy Sane to Bayern Munich and the Premier League's 'Project Restart' could be a non-starter. It's Friday's Paper Round...
Goodbye Pogba, hello Grealish
Manchester United are ready to step up their chase for Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish, according to the Sun. The Red Devils have been tracking the 24-year-old for the past 18 months and manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is desperate to partner him alongside Bruno Fernandes in his midfield - which would allow record-signing Paul Pogba to leave this summer. The Sun state that United will allow their World Cup winner to leave "if the right offer was to come in". Grealish's asking price is dependant on Aston Villa's Premier League status at the end of the season - with the Midlands side set to demand £70 million if they manage to stay up or £50 million if they are relegated.
Paper Round's view: United seem to have settled on signing Grealish this summer. There was a point when they were debating whether to sign Grealish or Leicester City's James Maddison but with the Foxes likely to secure Champions League qualification, it makes sense for the England international to stay at the King Power. Grealish has proven his quality consistently throughout the season so it would be a great signing for United. The disappointing part of the story is seeing United happily let Pogba leave. Obviously he has failed to find form since his record-breaking return to Old Trafford, but there is clearly still a world-class footballer there. United will be hoping they can still get a decent fee for the Frenchman amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Staying in Manchester, United are expecting Alexis Sanchez to return to training in Carrington when his loan at Inter Milan expires in June. According to the Star, the Red Devils will ask their Chilean forward to come back as the current Premier League season extends into July and potentially August. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is intending to welcome Sanchez back to prove himself at the club after a disappointing first 18 months since joining from Arsenal. However, the 31-year-old is said to want to stay at Inter until the Serie A season is finished.
Paper Round's view: United are still competing in the FA Cup and Europa League as they battle for a top-four place in the league, so any additions to their squad would be welcome. However, if the player wants to stay in Italy and Inter want to keep him, it becomes a difficult situation. It's unclear what the official rules are on loans and contracts that expire on June 30, but the rulings are likely to be cleared up as soon as possible. Title-chasers Inter will argue that they loaned Sanchez for the entirety of the season so the deal should be extended until the Serie A season comes to a conclusion.
Manchester City have rejected claims from German media outlet Sport Bild that Bayern Munich have agreed a five-year contract with Leroy Sane. Reports circulated on Wednesday afternoon that the Bundesliga club were in advanced talks to sign Sane for a £35 million fee, as the 24-year-old's contract edges closer to its 2021 expiry date. The Times report that City have not received any formal bids for Sane, but they would instantly reject any offer as low as that. Last summer, the Manchester outfit demanded £135 million for their German forward and the club have reportedly stated they would rather allow Sane's contract to run down, so he would be allowed to leave without a transfer fee, than accept a bid as little as £35 million.
Paper Round's view: £35 million for a player of Sane's quality sounds like an absolute steal - so there's no wonder why City are fuming. The German international has missed the entire 2019-20 season so far after suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury in Manchester City's Community Shield victory over Liverpool last August, but everyone is still aware of his world-class ability. There's a worry he could lose some of his acceleration and pace but his technique will still be there and Bayern are clearly still sniffing around him. It makes no sense for City to sell him for such a small fee as they're not short of funds. Bayern will have to up their offer if they want to bring him to the Bundesliga ahead of next season... otherwise they will have to wait until his contract expires in 2021.
The Premier League's 'Project Restart' could be a non-starter if the clubs fail to come to an agreement over completing the remaining matches at neutral venues. According to the Mirror, Brighton chief Paul Barber has sent a warning to the Premier League that there could be a "full scale revolt" against the proposal to use neutral stadiums to conclude the current season. The motion needs a majority of at least 14 clubs in agreement for it to be passed, but Brighton chief Barber doesn't believe that will happen - which would bring 'Project Restart' to a premature halt.
Paper Round's view: This could be a disaster for the Premier League. It was probably expected that clubs would simply accept all changes and view them as being beneficial and purely safety precautions. However, the neutral venues proposition has really faced a lot of criticism. It's completely understandable that clubs want to maintain their home advantages as the season comes to a conclusion and the Premier League should trust the clubs to keep their facilities clean, so it's quite baffling why there is a need for neutral stadiums. If the league's governing body doesn't come to an agreement with the clubs, it could end the hopes of English football returning.