United dealt transfer blow as top target close to contract renewal
Manchester United target James Maddison is close to agreeing a new contract at Leicester City, according to the Telegraph. The England international has taken the Premier League by storm since his arrival from Norwich City in the summer of 2018, attracting the attention of United and Arsenal. However, Maddison's representatives are in "advanced negotiations" with the Foxes in a lucrative deal that will see the 23-year-old receive a pay rise from his current contract worth £55,000 a week. The new deal is also not expected to include a release clause, meaning any future transfer would allow Leicester to demand a huge asking price.
Paper Round's view: Getting Maddison to sign a new contract will be seen as more important than any potential incoming transfers this year for Leicester. The Foxes need to hold onto the youngster, who had recently been labelled as "United's top transfer priority" alongside Aston Villa's Jack Grealish. The Foxes sold centre-back Harry Maguire to the Red Devils last summer, but with no release clause in his contract, the club were able to command an enormous £85 million for the defender. A similar situation is likely to occur with Maddison in the future, but for now, the "Champions League chasers" will be confident in getting the most out of their star man for at least another 18 months.
Juve plan £150m summer bid for Van Dijk
Italian giants Juventus are going to continue their quest for Champions League glory by launching a world-record bid for Liverpool centre-back Virgil van Dijk this summer. According to the Sun, the Bianconeri want to add the Dutch defender to their squad and are willing to pay a mammoth £150 million for him. Juve are hoping that Van Dijk will leave Liverpool after adding the Premier League trophy to his list of accolades at Anfield. The 28-year-old has already won the Champions League, European Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup with the Reds, so the Serie A side plan to offer him a new challenge this summer.
Paper Round's view: It's a very audacious plan from the Old Lady. Juventus are top, top club, but is Van Dijk really going to leave Liverpool without taking the chance to defend the long-awaited Premier League title that his side are likely to win in May? It's tough. The Netherlands international is showing no signs of slowing up, which means he still has plenty of time to fulfil his dreams of winning trophies abroad. In fact, Van Dijk just looks like he's getting better and better. A transfer to a club like Juventus wouldn't be out of the question, but it seems more likely to happen at the end of the 2020-21 season - instead of this summer.
Desperate United wanted deadline day deal for Murray
Manchester United reportedly considered a deadline day swoop from Brighton striker Glenn Murray, according to the Mail. The Red Devils were desperate to bring in a replacement for the injured Marcus Rashford in January and ended up signing Odion Ighalo on loan until the end of the season from Chinese Super League side Shanghai Shenhua. United thought about using Brighton's Murray, who has started just once in the Premier League since September, as a short-term replacement. The veteran forward was also wanted by Celtic, Newcastle and Aston Villa, but he eventually signed a one-year contract extension with the Seagulls.
Paper Round's view: Where to start with this one..? It just shows how far United have fallen. Rashford suffered his back injury against Wolves in the FA Cup third-round replay on January 15. This meant Solskjaer's side had over two weeks to sign a replacement... but they waited until deadline day until they got their deal done. What exactly were the club doing during that fortnight? The replacement ended up being a loan move for a 30-year-old striker who has been playing in China since 2017. No offence to either Ighalo or Murray, but United should be making moves for elite-level forwards. Imagine Alex Ferguson's United desperately trying to sign a 36-year-old Brighton benchwarmer on deadline day... it just wouldn't happen. Embarrassing is an understatement.
England's World Cup dream rocked by FIFA
England's bid to host the 2030 World Cup could be over before it's even begun as FIFA president Gianni Infantino has revealed potential plans to play the tournament across multiple continents. According to the Telegraph, the bid has been "complicated" as the FIFA officials are ready to "shake up football’s competition structures" in order to grow the game on a global scale. The 2030 World Cup tournament would be the 100-year anniversary of the first-ever World Cup, which was hosted (and won) by Uruguay. The tournament's host nation(s) is not decided until 2024.
Paper Round's view: International tournaments have been successfully hosted by multiple countries in the past, but they have never been hosted by multiple continents. This summer's European Championship's host cities span from Dublin to Baku, which is already a strange idea to process due to the distance between the countries. The 2024 World Cup will see Mexico, Canda and the United States share matches and there are already questions over the amount of travelling involved for players and fans. It might been seen as inclusive to allow tournaments to have multiple hosts, but spreading them across separate continents just doesn't make any sense.