Ten Hag eyes another (ex-)Ajax reunion at Old Trafford
Manchester United are hoping to strengthen at right-back and have enquired for Barcelona defender Sergino Dest, according to Spanish media outlet Sport. The 21-year-old has struggled for consistent games at the Camp Nou since joining back in 2020 and his future at Barca remains “uncertain”. The Blaugrana are linked with Chelsea defender Cesar Azpilicueta, which could open the door to Dest’s exit. Barca would demand at least €20 million and United boss Erik ten Hag is a fan of the former Ajax right-back.
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Paper Round’s view: It could be another reunion in Manchester. United have already signed Lisandro Martinez from Ajax and have previously been linked with the likes of Frenkie de Jong, Brian Brobbey and Jurrien Timber, who have all spent time at or are still at the Amsterdam club. Knowing a player personally obviously helps when identifying transfer targets, but United will be in trouble if things don’t work out with Ten Hag. The Manchester club are really putting all their eggs in the Ten Hag basket in the summer transfer window.
Man City identify Cucurella alternative
Manchester City have ended their pursuit of Brighton defender Marc Cucurella and have enquired after Anderlecht left-back Sergio Gomez. The Premier League champions were in pole position to sign Cucurella but were put off by Brighton’s £50-million asking price and now Chelsea have hijacked the transfer. City are now chasing Gomez in an attempt to strengthen at full-back after allowing Oleksandr Zinchenko to leave for Arsenal earlier in the summer transfer window.
Paper Round’s view: Manchester City are very short at full-back right now. Zinchenko has departed, leaving Kyle Walker, Joao Cancelo and maybe Nathan Ake as their only real full-back options in the squad. It looked like they would be signing Cucurella, but they actually decided against meeting Brighton’s huge demands. Gomez might be a deal that gets done quickly. The Barcelona academy graduate is represented by Pep Guardiola’s brother, Pere, so he might even complete his move ahead of the Premier League opening weekend.
Newcastle’s summer plans stall
Newcastle United have seen their latest bid for James Maddison rejected by Leicester City. The Guardian confirm that the Magpies tabled an offer of £45 million plus £5 million in add-ons, but Leicester are holding out for around £60 million for the midfielder. The report also reveals that Newcastle are interested in Maddison’s Leicester team-mate Harvey Barnes, who is also valued at £60 million, and Burnley winger Maxwel Cornet, who has a £17.5 million release clause.
Paper Round’s view: Newcastle have completed some smart and impressive transfers so far this summer. Nick Pope, Sven Botman and Matt Targett have all signed up to the ambitious project that is brewing at St James’ Park. Maddison would represent something new for Newcastle though. Signing a luxury attacking player from a fellow Premier League club for an eye-watering fee of £60 million would reveal Newcastle’s real intent. The Tyneside club are hoping to weaken their rivals and become part of the group hunting down the Premier League’s top six.
Ronaldo to start season on bench
The Sun reveal that Cristiano Ronaldo will start the Premier League season as a substitute for Manchester United. The 37-year-old has only played 45 minutes of pre-season after missing the club’s tour of Bangkok and Australia due to family reasons. United’s new manager Erik ten Hag believes Ronaldo’s level of fitness is not up to scratch and reportedly wants to stick with Jadon Sancho, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford after the trio impressed during pre-season.
Paper Round’s view: This was expected. You wouldn’t think that a player in their prime would be ready to start the first Premier League match of the season after just 45 minutes of pre-season – so why would a 37-year-old Ronaldo be ready? The report labels Ronaldo’s substitute status as “humiliating”, but it just realistic. Maybe he will be able to offer his side an effective Plan B if he does get his chance from the bench against Brighton on Sunday.
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