CITY WANT SAKA
Manchester City have stepped up their interest in Arsenal forward Bukayo Saka, the Mail reports. The 20-year-old’s current contract expires in 2024, and while City are unlikely to make an offer this summer, they are eager to make the England international aware of their interest at a time where Arsenal are hoping the player will sign an extension. Liverpool have also earmarked Saka as a future target, and so City are looking to steal a march on their rivals.
Paper Round’s view: The report is interesting as it does not exactly state what ‘stepping up interest’ entails, but it would appear making it known publicly is City’s way of preventing him signing a new deal at Arsenal. This could therefore be a huge moment for Saka, Arsenal and Mikel Arteta – signing an extension now would be a big statement and a backing for the Arteta project, but if the summer passes by without a new deal, then talk of Saka moving on will only ramp up as it would signal he is prepared to let his contract run down. Let’s wait and see.
LIVERPOOL LOOKING AT NUNEZ, BAYERN BID £30M FOR MANE
Benfica striker Darwin Nunez is on Liverpool’s summer shortlist as they plan for life without Sadio Mane, the Liverpool Echo reports. Nunez is also a target for Manchester United, with the Uruguay international scoring 34 goals in 41 appearances last season, including the 3-3 draw against Liverpool in the Champions League quarter-finals in April. The 22-year-old’s asking price is reportedly £68m, while Liverpool rejected Bayern’s £25m offer for Mane on Sunday. Bayern have since gone back with a £30m offer, the Mail reports.
Paper Round’s view: If Mane leaves then the revolving door at Liverpool must see a new name arrive if they are to keep pace with Manchester City. That will take some doing anyway given Erling Haaland is now at City, and though Luis Diaz was a sensational January acquisition, Mane will still leave a hole behind if he moves on. From Nunez’s perspective, you would imagine the opportunity to play Champions League football with Liverpool trumps the Europa at United.
REAL MADRID OFFERED STERLING
Raheem Sterling has been offered to Real Madrid, according to AS in Spain, who report the Manchester City forward is looking for a new club as he believes his time under Pep Guardiola is over. The England international is not part of Real’s transfer plans, however, given their strength on both flanks, although he has opened the door to a move to Europe in the past. With that in mind, Barcelona and Bayern Munich have also been offered a chance to sign Sterling, so too Premier League rivals Chelsea.
Paper Round’s view: Something has to give at City this summer, particularly with Erling Haaland and Julian Alvarez arriving. It looks like Gabriel Jesus is on his way out, and while the Sterling rumours are nothing new, we are another year down the line so perhaps it is a greater possibility in the next few months.
DI MARIA THE CHEAP OPTION FOR BARCA
Barcelona view Angel Di Maria as their low-cost option, Marca reports, with the Argentine a free agent after leaving Paris Saint-Germain. Barcelona are keen on Raphinha, but despite being aware of their interest Leeds do not want to entertain the idea of the Brazilian leaving. Barca are also in talks with Ousmane Dembele over a new deal, but if that collapses and Raphinha stays at Leeds or moves elsewhere, then Barca could turn their attentions to ex-Real Madrid forward Di Maria.
Paper Round’s view: Hardly a long-term strategy with Di Maria 34, but Barca cannot be too picky given their financial constraints. Ensuring Dembele stays is far more important, so you would imagine this ‘low-cost option’ will also be a last resort – that is, unless Di Maria has another club lined up and Barca get desperate.