Barca target Aguero
Spanish club Barcelona are weighing up a move for Manchester City’s striker Sergio Aguero. The 32-year-old Argentine has six months left on his current deal, meaning he can now strike a pre-contract deal with any club in a foreign league. He has not yet been offered a new contract by City, and he is currently out of action following knee problems, as he has to self-isolate.
Paper Round’s view: City might have seen that Aguero’s injury problems are starting to become more of a problem, and at 32 those difficulties are unlikely to become easier to manage. Given the vast wealth at their disposal, moving Aguero on now - and maybe Gabriel Jesus - would free up funds and space in the squad to secure a younger and more reliable striking pair.
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City target Locatelli
Former AC Milan midfielder Manuel Locatelli is wanted by Manchester City. The 23-year-old Italian is now at Sassuolo and continues to impress as one of Serie A’s best players. He is rated at £30 million and Pep Guardiola wants to strengthen in the middle of the park. Competition could come from Juventus, who have tried to sign him already, and his former club Milan.
Paper Round’s view: Given Ilkay Gundogan’s disappointing stay at City so far, and the inevitable departure of Fernandinho, there will be room for a new midfielder to stake a place in City’s midfield. Italian players often struggle in the Premier League and while the focus on technique has improved over the years, the pace and physicality of it has barely diminished.
Pogba happy at Manchester United
The Mirror claims that Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba has contradicted his agent Mino Raiola. The 27-year-old Frenchman was said by Raiola to be keen on a move away this January, and he would not entertain a new contract. However Pogba said that he was "happy" when his current club wins, which the paper takes as a sign that an exit may not be imminent.
Paper Round’s view: Given Raiola’s approach to diplomacy, it would probably be no great shock if doubling Pogba’s wages and giving his agent a wedge would be enough to quieten him down for six months or a year. The coronavirus pandemic does make big transfer harder, but Pogba’s declaration of happiness with a win does not erase his agent’s constant, dramatic interventions to disrupt the club.
Neymar changes heart over PSG stay
Paris Saint-Germain striker Neymar has had a change of heart over his decision to stay in France. Spanish newspaper Marca reports that the 28-year-old Brazilian had looked destined to return to Barcelona, but his relationship with club figurehead Leonardo has dramatically improved, and he is now seen as a vital part of the team. That means a contract renewal could come in days.
Paper Round’s view: Neymar has often cut a disconsolate figure while in Paris, and while the amount of money he earns makes it harder to feel much sympathy for him, the differences between Barcelona and Paris are stark, and if he was unhappy then that simply proves he is not solely motivated by cash. PSG now seem to be a more established force in European football, and that may have convinced him to stay.