Naked, ecstatic and still moist with sweat, Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic towel themselves down in the Croatia dressing room after a well-earned shower following their 3-0 win against Argentina.
But what do they talk about? Not the possibility of winning the World Cup; not Modric’s stunning strike or Rakitic’s cool finish; not even big Willy Caballero flopping in goal. Nope, according to Diario Gol, they talk about Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Spanish newspaper, which is starting to run Don Balon close with the ridiculous audacity of its rumours, claims the Portugal superstar is “more likely” to join Manchester United this summer than he is to stay at Real Madrid.
And the reason they know this is because it’s reportedly what Modric – Ronaldo’s Bernabeu teammate – told Rakitic in the dressing room last night.
How Diario Gol became privy to this private conversation is unclear. Perturbingly, it seems to suggest that a member of the paper’s staff was hiding somewhere in that dressing room like some kind of pervert – gaining illicit access to a safe space where nude young men frolic safe in the assumption that they are not being observed.
Either that or they have just made the whole thing up. Not sure which is worse really.
The Express seem convinced by the claim anyway, adapting it into their own story in which they say Ronaldo is “hellbent” on securing a return to Old Trafford in this transfer window.
Tottenham want Croatia star Rebic
Meanwhile the other impressive goalscorer in that Croatia victory, Ante Rebic, is being lined up for a transfer of his own. The Express says Tottenham are plotting a £26m swoop for the forward, who plays for German side Eintracht Frankfurt.
In fact, this story was first published on the paper’s website at 20:19 yesterday evening, which is precisely nine minutes after Rebic arrowed a stunning strike over Caballero for Croatia’s opener. So presumably Spurs decided to sign him immediately after witnessing that goal (and then called the Express to tell them about it).
Also in the Express (sorry about this, I did look at the other papers too) is an “exclusive” about incoming Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri compiling a “£140m transfer wishlist” for when he takes over at Stamford Bridge.
The Napoli coach’s list apparently includes Napoli forward Dries Mertens (£28m), former Napoli striker Gonzalo Higuain (£60m), Napoli right-back Elseid Hysaj (£23m), Napoli winger Jose Maria Callejon (no price given) and a couple of other players who don’t play, or never have played, for Napoli.
The Blues will top up Sarri’s transfer budget by selling Alvaro Morata, who German paper Bild says is wanted by Borussia Dortmund and would cost about £45m.
Elsewhere, Liverpool are closing in on the £30m signing of Lazio’s Albanian goalkeeper Thomas Strakosha (Sun), Juventus are favourites to sign Russia midfielder Aleksandr Golovin despite interest from Arsenal, Chelsea and Barcelona (Tuttosport) and Man Utd are considering a move for 21-year-old Lyon midfielder Tanguy Ndombele, who only signed permanently for the French club a few weeks ago (Manchester Evening News). He cost Lyon £8m, but United could be willing to pay £45m, because that’s how obscenely decadent Premier League clubs are.