UEFA Nations League, Deutschland - Italien 14.06.2022 Der Spielball des FIFA World Cup, WM, Weltmeisterschaft, Fussball 2022 Quatar UEFA Nations League, Deutschland - Italien, Moenchengladbach, BORUSSIA-PARK *** UEFA Nations League, Germany Italy 14 06 2022 The match ball of FIFA World Cup 2022 Quatar UEFA Nations League, Germany Italy, Moenchengladbach, BORUSSIA PARK Copyright: xBEAUTIFULxSPORTS/Wunderlx

Dear reader, that’s another week of the close season we can tick off and we are officially in what we like to call pre-season. Exciting stuff, no? Far more exciting than what has actually happened in the last seven Premier League days, I can assure you.

As I scan through the news from the last week, I am scrabbling around to come up with anything that is (a) remotely amusing and (b) interesting enough to talk about to keep you here just that little bit longer. But, I have nothing. Nothing!

Unless, of course, we take a look at the latest from Newcastle United. They seem to have managed to dodge the Joey Barton bullet and Mike Ashley has decided to push the boat to it’s fullest capacity with his choice of next manager – step forward ex-Sunderland manager (even though he is a true Geordie) Steve Bruce!

Better still, Bruce isn’t even Ashley’s first-choice given that he spent 24 hours begging Big Sham to forgive him for sacking him all those years ago and return to St James’ Park. Needless to say, Allafarce wasn’t too keen on the idea.

One of the reasons Ashley is hot for Brucey is not because of his actual managerial acumen, his new svelt-ish figure or the fact that he could loosely claim he is ‘one of their own’. Oh no. It’s because Michael believed he could get him out of Hillsborough for £1m – leading to an official approach to Wednesday. And you know where this is going – Wednesday aren’t keen on letting Bruce go for such a measly sum. After all, they are not Army and Navy, or HMV.

Peter Crouch has officially announced his retirement from football as opposed to unofficially announcing it back in January when he signed for Burnley. No, honestly – he was at Burnley at the end of last season. Crouch has an England record that Danny Welbeck can only dream of. He is hated in Trinidad and Tobago yet loved at most of the English grounds he has, er, graced over the last 19 years or so. 100 Premier League goals, pulling Abby Clancy and having an award-winning podcast are hardly likely to have been believable to Crouchy when Spurs loaned him out to Dulwich Hamlet as they didn’t think he was much good.

Manchester United don’t have to sell anyone, according to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – but boy would they like to. Top of that list right now, and there is some competition, is Romelu Lukaku who is wanted by Antonio Conte at Inter. The only issue is that of the price. United value him at X. Inter value him at X minus £13.5m. To be fair, whatever X is, I reckon Inter are right – even if X is £13.5m.

Tottenham Hotspur have really got the taste for signing actual footballers now and there’s every chance they are going to follow up the signing of N’Dombele by gazumping their neighbours for defender William Saliba. Arsenal wanted the Frenchman for £30m with a view to then loaning him back to his club – now, considering that Arsenal are believed to only have a transfer kitty of £40m this summer and need some serious signings to be made to have any hope of being in the top six (let alone top four) this doesn’t sound like the wisest move. That said, Ed Woodward is nodding his head in approval.

Arsenal really do need defenders, especially given the fact that their skipper Laurent Koscielny has gone on strike and refused to travel to the USA for Arsenal’s pre-season tour. I can’t say I blame him, I’m sick of those money-orientated pre-season tours too. Kos wants to move back to France with Lyon believed to be favourites to sign him providing Arsenal rip the last year on his contract and let him go for nothing.

And, knowing Arsenal at the moment, it’ll probably happen.

Don’t panic though, Gooners – you’ve still got Carl Jenkinson and Rob Holding.