The latest stage of Manchester United’s seven-years-in-the-making post-Ferguson rebuild is upon us, and this one can be added to the clear-out category of reboot. Ole Gunnar Solskjær is going to wield his viking axe and get rid of some of his flops, to use the tabloid parlance. Perhaps more properly United, whose financial results this week suggested they were not as flush as they would like, are going to have to sell to buy.
Jesse Lingard will be taking his fashion and fragrance sidelines elsewhere, and he will be joined in the departure lounge by Andreas Pereira, who despite trying very hard, seems to be destined to be one of those Sporcle answers everyone will fail to recall when trying to recall Ole’s starting XI from the 2019-20 season. The doubtlessly vast riches that pair will command will go some way to paying for Jack Grealish, Aston Villa’s mainstay of this august column. Gent’s Jonathan David, a 20-year-old Canadian striker, is also in the sights of United’s mob-handed scouting department.
What may keep young Jack in Brylcreem and blonde tints, however, is the sale of David de Gea, with Real Madrid a possible destination again after Thibaut Courtois’ performance against Manchester City on Wednesday opening up a possible vacancy. After all, United already own Dean Henderson, tearing it up at Sheffield United, and whom it is hoped does not become a Ben Foster de nos jours. Cashing in Chris Smalling will also bring in some funds and Roma are very happy with the player they have had on loan this season.
Another player who would cost United serious cash is Timo Werner, even though Liverpool remain favourites to sign the Leipzig forward, and ahead of Barcelona to boot. If Bayern Munich get their way, then Werner could be stepping in for Roberto Firmino, who FC Hollywood would like to partner Robert Lewandowski. And if Real Madrid get their way, and manage to cash in Gareth Bale, a late sub against City, then they will go all out to sign Mohamed Salah from Liverpool for a fee well north of £100m.
Jan Vertonghen has been leaving Tottenham for a long time now, and with him approaching him free-agent and veteran status, where else could be headed than the Premier League legends retirement home that Antonio Conte has set up at Internazionale? Conte has more Barclays talent in mind to freshen up the Nerazzurri, and is going back to his old haunt Chelsea to find a left back. One of Marcos Alonso or Emerson Palmieri will do nicely. And Willian could be heading that way too, as he is none too happy at the contract offer he has received from Chelsea.
And there are plenty of other Chelsea players who could be open to offers. Ross Barkley, Kepa Arrizabalaga, Jorginho, Kurt Zouma and Pedro will all be cashed in by Frank Lampard, or whichever manager is in charge next season, as pushes are made to sign Leicester’s Ben Chilwell and Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund. It seems Tuesday’s humiliation at the hands of Bayern was a step too far, even if only Barkley, Jorginho and Alonso actually started in that debacle.
David Beckham has got the hang of this clickbait football rumours business, and he’s targeting a couple of unknowns for his Inter Miami MLS franchise. “If we have the opportunity to bring in players like Cristiano [Ronaldo] or Leo Messi, I’ve got such admiration for them as athletes,” he said during his Wednesday chinwag on the Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. “If we can bring those players in, then great.”