Man Utd handed lifeline in Sancho pursuit
Manchester United have been given hope in their pursuit of Jadon Sancho after Borussia Dortmund opened the door to a future transfer for their prized asset. The Red Devils spent their summer chasing after the 20 year old, who was publicly known to be the club's 'number one transfer target'. However, the Bundesliga club refused to budge on their £108 million asking price, which led to Sancho staying in Germany. Borussia Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke has now opened the door to a potential future deal after admitting "you can never say that a player is completely unsellable".
Paper Round's view: We all knew that Manchester United were planning to go back in for Sancho next summer. The Premier League side signed winger Amad Diallo Traore on transfer deadline day but the 18 year old isn't considered to be an alternative for Sancho. Dortmund will expect United to return again at the end of the season and - if this summer was anything to go by - they won't be willing to negotiate or budge on their asking price. It's either pay up or miss out for the Red Devils. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side are really missing a player with the direct attacking style that Sancho could bring to Old Trafford. Don't hesitate and just get the deal done this time.
Barcelona plan cut-price triple swoop
Barcelona are already planning their transfer business for January after missing out on their targets in the summer window. New Barca boss Ronald Koeman is keen on bringing in three new names in the winter window, including Liverpool's Georginio Wijnaldum, Manchester City's Eric Garcia and Lyon's Memphis Depay. The trio are all in the final year of their contracts and would be available at a cut-price in January or for free next summer. The Liga club failed in their pursuit of all three players in the summer due to a lack of transfer funds but are ready to resume their transfer chase when the window re-opens at the start of 2021.
Paper Round's view: Barcelona seem pretty strapped for cash at the moment and although these signing are all low-cost options, they're all very good players that would fit Koeman style and - more importantly - the club's style. Garcia is a product of Barca's esteemed youth academy La Masia. The centre-back moved to Manchester City at the age of 17 but has rejected a contract extension at the club and is widely expected to return to his boyhood club. Both Wijnaldum and Memphis played under Koeman for the Dutch national team, so the coach knows what he's getting with those two. It's a rebuilding job at the Camp Nou and smart, cheap signings like this could be key to the club's revival.
Van Dijk's battle to play again this season
Virgil van Dijk may not play again this season after Liverpool confirmed that the 29-year-old would undergo knee surgery. The Dutch defender suffered a grade three tear of his anterior cruciate ligament after a rash challenge from Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford in the opening minutes of the Merseyside derby on Saturday. Liverpool have not put a potential time-frame on his return to action, but the recovery period for an ACL injury can range from six to 12 months. It is accepted that he will definitely be ruled out until 2021, but there is still hope that he could feature before the end of the current campaign.
Paper Round's view: It's going to be a massive blow for Liverpool and Van Dijk. Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane might score the majority of their goals, with Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson providing plenty assists, but Van Dijk's influence and leadership cannot be understated. His impact at Anfield was immediate following his arrival from Southampton back in January 2018 as the Reds reached the Champions League final that season. Since then, Jurgen Klopp's side have won the Champions League and Premier League with Van Dijk being a major player in both triumphs. The defence has looked shaky so far this season and it will definitely continue to struggle without him. Liverpool might have to try to bring in a new centre-back in January.
Pickford could still face punishment
So Virgil van Dijk could be out for the entire season... but what about the challenge that caused the injury? Jordan Pickford could face retrospective punishment for his clumsy challenge on the Liverpool defender. The Everton stopper didn't receive a booking for the incident during the Merseyside derby as the Dutch defender was adjudged to be offside in the phase of play before Pickford's tackle was made. However, the Football Association are able to re-open the case as both the match officials and video assistant referees failed to look at the incident as a possible penalty due to the fact that Van Dijk was offside. This means the FA could hand Pickford a retrospective three-match ban for his role in the incident.
Paper Round's view: It was clearly a rash and clumsy challenge from Pickford. It's safe to say that there was no intent. The England international simply panicked seeing Van Dijk pop up at his back post and tried to spread himself but unfortunately injured his opponent. Yes - it should've been a red card but for some reason it wasn't visited in the VAR check. A three-match ban for Pickford would make sense and we have seen this happen in the past for players. The retrospective bans are rarer these days as VAR usually picks up these sort of incidents but it is probably needed in this case.