Football transfer rumours: six starlets heading to Manchester United?

Simon Burnton

A swarm of bees; a herd of deer; a pack of wolves; a kettle of vultures. What, though, is the collective noun for transfers? By common consent it would seem to be a spree, which is what the Sun’s back page suggests that Manchester City are about to indulge in as they “Sheikh it all about” and make yet another serious dent in Abu Dhabi’s oil reserves. Though it then goes on to mention only two incoming transfers, which falls some way short of qualifying as a spree in the Mill’s humble opinion. Let’s not go overboard, linguistically. There must be a minimum of four transfers in a spree. Two transfers are just two transfers, even if they cost £155m.

One of the players in question is Harry Maguire, who is set for yet another summer of being linked with a move to Manchester even if City’s bean counters are reeling at the discovery that Leicester now value him at £90m. Meanwhile Rodri, as regularly touted, could arrive from Atlético Madrid for £65m, with Nicolás Otamendi potentially heading the other way. Meanwhile the Bayern Munich president, Uli Hoeness, says that talks over a deal for Leroy Sané are already under way: “We are dealing with this player,” he said on Thursday.

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Manchester United meanwhile are planning a proper spree, with squad-rejuvenating deals for Swansea’s Dan James, Norwich’s Ben Godfrey, Newcastle’s Sean Longstaff and the 18-year-old Stoke defender Nathan Collins all in the pipeline according to the Sun, while Crystal Palace’s Aaron Wan-Bissaka is also wanted and the Mirror reports the imminent arrival of Ajax’s 16-year-old striker Dillon Hoogewerf. The Mirror also claims that Romelu Lukaku is terrified his “Inter dream” will be turned into a nightmare by United’s refusal to accept a massive loss on the £75m they spent on him, with the Italian club willing to offer about £50m. Ed Woodward will apparently “dig in his heels and demand nearer £70m”, putting the entire business in jeopardy. This is mildly disappointing news for Everton, who according to the Times would earn a £5m bonus if a move goes ahead any time before Lukaku’s contract expires in 2022. Heading out of Old Trafford, meanwhile, are Matteo Darmian, Marcos Rojo and Juan Mata.

Newcastle are weighing up a bid for CSKA Moscow’s Mário Fernandes, who despite being a right-back who will turn 29 in September is nevertheless valued at £26.4m. In similar valuation news, Fulham have slapped a £30m price tag on their Serb striker Aleksandar Mitrovic, an £8m profit on the price they reportedly paid to bring him from Newcastle last summer. They have already decided who they want to replace him with – the London Evening Standard says they fancy forming a fearsome frontline composed of another Newcastle forward in the shape of 28-year-old Dwight Gayle, valued at £20m, and the £15m-rated Middlesbrough goal-getter Britt Assombalonga.

Maurizio Sarri has come up with “a plan to liberate himself” from Chelsea and join Juventus, according to the front page of Friday’s Corriere dello Sport. The evidence they present for this story appears to be a little on the thin side, resting on the fact that the manager’s son, Nicolè, isn’t answering his phone. “Over the last few days his mobile phone has been going crazy – unknown or private numbers – and it does not take a genius to work out what these calls concern,” it writes. “‘Is your father going to Juve?’ Silence. It often works this way: when you’re looking for confirmation, you approach relatives, colleagues, close friends.” This seems to be true, with the Gazzetta dello Sport claiming that while Fabio Paratici, Juve’s sporting director, has indeed met Sarri in London and the Italian remains favourite for the job – hence their main headline, “Juve-Sarri Oh Yes” – contact has also been made with Mauricio Pochettino’s brother.