It would seem that the manager of the Napoli of England is starting to annoy his previous employers, the actual Napoli, with his targeting of their players. Maurizio Sarri has been Chelsea manager less time than it took to sack Antonio Conte and already he is creating waves.
Having already got his cigarette-stained mitts on the Italian-or-maybe-he-is-Brazilian deep-lying midfield type Jorginho, Sarri has apparently gone back to Naples with a view to ‘dismantling’ his former squad. This is according to Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis, a man who has an utterly impeccable record when it comes to saying sensible things in interviews.
De Laurentiis has suggested that he had to “lay down the law” to Chelsea supremo Marina Granovskaia who, ironically, is actually a trained lawyer. De Laurentiis didn’t go as far as giving us any names in terms of players Sarri wants to take to London but that gives us the perfect opportunity to throw some out there just because we can.
World Cup 3rd place winner Dries Mertens likes London, so he’s coming. Lorenzo Insigne sees Sarri as a slightly batty uncle figure so he’s definitely on his way to Stamford Bridge. Allan almost sounds like he was born in South West London so he will be Chelsea captain next season.
Of course, none of those things are going to happen but one deal that is being talked about is Juventus (and former Napoli) striker Gonzalo Higuain swapping Ronaldo for Ross Barkley and leading a new look Chelsea strike force. If Higuain did end up at the Bridge, where would that leave the other random collection of Chelsea number nines? Michy Batshuayai isn’t really being linked with anyone, not even West Ham or Everton. Olivier Giroud is getting some interest from Germany, and not just from the ladies and nobody really knows what to do with Alvaro Morata. And it is not just Higuain getting closely linked to the club, oh no. Aleksandr Golovin, he of a decent World Cup for Russia fame, is being hunted down though Monaco are believed to be close to doing a deal. Roman had better get on the phone and pull in a few favours. Actually, where is Roman?
It’s not just players being linked to coming through the revolving door marked “arrivals” at Chelsea, oh no. Players are being linked with leaving the club too. Imagine wanting to quit the circus? Eden Hazard is jostling with Neymar and Kylian Mbappe to be the player who Real Madrid fans dislike “because he isn’t Ronaldo”. Thibaut Courtois is also being tracked by Madrid and it is unlikely that this one is going be a De Gea style saga. Willian wants to go too, news with has got Jose Mourinho hounding Mr Ed until he increases the bid to the £70m Chelsea want.
And if people are leaving, more players must be coming in, right? AC Milan’s once-a-child-star goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma is going to replace Courtois, some are saying. I’m not. I’m saying nothing. Actually, that’s a lie. I’m saying Petr Cech might make a sure-to-be-emotional return to the club where he was last believed to be world-class.
Anyway, that is enough about Chelsea – we need to all gather round to laugh at Everton Football Club.
The arrival of Marco Silva as Head Coach and Marcel Brands as Director of Football was supposed to stop all the transfer tomfoolery that occurred last summer at Goodison Park. Yet someone sent that fax. What fax? A fax that had ‘£50m’ scribbled in next to the question ‘value of bid?’. Yes, Everton are going to pay £50m for Watford’s Richarlison, presumably because he played quite well for five games under Silva at Watford last season. Better still, Everton are going to sell Ademola Lookman for £12m despite the fact the young English talent is better than the Brazilian. The medical is due to happen on Monday – the medical for Richarlison that is, not the person who authorised the bid.
And with Unai Emery clearing out some of the rubbish he has found in the basement at Arsenal, he needs to find people stupid enough or willing to part with money for the likes of Danny Welbeck, Lucas Perez and David Ospina. Having seen the rip-roaring success of Theo Walcott last season, you just know who want to sign Welbz, don’t you? Emery is getting rid so he can keep working on “Operation Find Some Winners”. Uruguayans seem to be the flavour of the month at the Emirates as Juventus’ Rodrigo Bentancur is being lined up to double the South American nation’s contingent in the dressing room.
Liverpool have also been active in the transfer market in the last week and by ‘active’ I mean ‘have spanked a load of money on a goalkeeper in a blind panic to replace Loris Karius’. Why the blind panic? Have you seen the goal Karius conceded against Tranmere in a friendly? My word, that concussion is hanging around. Liverpool have paid a world-record transfer fee for a goalkeeper in bringing Allison Becker to town. He has joined from Roma where he must have massively impressed Anfield bigwigs when the Reds stuck five past him at Anfield last season. But, don’t forget folks – Liverpool are not spending big. This is the Coutinho money. How much did they actually get for Coutinho, because at the last count that deal seems to have brought in enough dough to pay for Virgil, Naby Keita, Fabinho and now, Allison. It’s OK though because Liverpool are flogging Danny Ward to Leicester for £12.5m, probably because it must have been easier to find a buyer for him than for Karius or Simon Mignolet.
Other than just waiting for Mr Ed to buy him a Willian, what else has Jose Mourinho been up to? He watched Croatia in the World Cup and decided here was a nation that could provide him more hard-working front men who will track back so bids are being fired in for Ivan Perisic and Ante Rebic. Jose still doesn’t care if Paul Pogba has won a World Cup and been honing his motivational leadership skills. If he doesn’t play the Jose way he can go, and Mini Raiola fancies Pogs in a Barcelona shirt. Don’t worry though United fans, you’ll get someone like Sergej Milinkovic-Savic as a replacement and just think of him as an equally tall yet far-from-equally talented Paul Pogba.
Wilfried Zaha has broken the hearts of all the Crystal Palace fans by saying he wants to play for a better team. Quite how he is then being linked to West Ham and Everton is beyond me. Tottenham are also keen but then they also believe Jack Grealish is worth £40m so I wouldn’t trust anything they do.
Some people will have been wondering what Arsene Wenger’s next move might be. Well, how about making him the new manager of Japan? Sounds far enough out of the way to me, excellent work.