MAN UTD CHASE MONACO DEFENDER
Manchester United have opened negotiations with AS Monaco over the potential signing of centre-back Axel Disasi. The Mail report that the 24-year-old is being tracked by a number of Premier League clubs, including West Ham United and Tottenham Hotspur, but Manchester United have already entered discussions with Monaco. United are hoping to sign a new centre-back amid the uncertainty around the future of club captain Harry Maguire, who has fallen out of favour under Erik ten Hag. Disasi is expected to leave the Ligue 1 club either this month or in the summer transfer window.
Paper Round’s view: It seems like Maguire has no future at Manchester United and that would be confirmed if the Premier League club pursue a deal for Disasi. We have seen left-back Luke Shaw start in the heart of defence ahead of his England international team-mate in recent weeks, which is a clear message to Maguire. It’s a shame because the 29-year-old has proven his class as recent as the World Cup in Qatar but has failed to mirror that form in a Manchester United shirt. Disasi would be a great signing for the Red Devils and it would be a step in the right direction for Ten Hag if he manages to pip his Premier League rivals to the signing.
TEN HAG EYES ANOTHER AJAX REUNION
Erik ten Hag is ready to return to former club Ajax to poach another one of their young stars, according to the Star. The Dutch manager brought Antony and Lisandro Martinez with him from the Johan Cruijff ArenA to Old Trafford during his first transfer window as Manchester United manager. The Star report that Ten Hag hopes to sign Mohammed Kudus from Ajax to boost his attacking options following the exit of Cristiano Ronaldo in November. However, the Eredivisie club are demanding a whopping £40 million for the 22-year-old after his impressive performances for Ghana at the World Cup, which could deter United this winter.
Paper Round’s view: You can’t really blame Ten Hag for trying to bring more Ajax players with him to Manchester United. He trusts these players. He knows how they train, what they are like and their level of potential. The problem is that the Manchester United recruitment team seem to be non-existent. Why is Ten Hag constantly leading the transfer policy? Surely the club should’ve anticipated a potential Ronaldo exit and had a list of strikers ready ahead of the winter transfer window. It’s the sign of a badly-run club and Ten Hag won’t be happy with what he has to deal with after joining from a team like Ajax.
RONALDO REQUESTS TO BE JOINED BY PEPE AT AL-NASSR
Cristiano Ronaldo has reportedly requested for his new club Al-Nassr to sign his compatriot and former-Real Madrid team-mate Pepe. Spanish media outlet Marca reveal that Ronaldo is keen to “surround himself with some of his friends” in the Middle East and Pepe’s name has already been mentioned in talks between the 37-year-old and Al-Nassr officials. Marca also state that the Saudi Arabian club are also interested in another couple of Ronaldo’s ex-Real Madrid team-mates, including Sergio Ramos and Luka Modric.
Paper Round’s view: There’s no way that Ronaldo would’ve wanted to be isolated in the Saudi Pro League, so it’s no surprise that he is being given the opportunity to have a say in the club’s transfer policy. Pepe might be closing in on his 40th birthday, but he showed at the World Cup in Qatar that he can still do a job at the top level. As for Ramos and Modric – they are both still playing for Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid respectively. They might see Al-Nassr as an opportunity for one final pay day when their current contracts expires, which would lead them to playing alongside Ronaldo once again.
MESSI FEVER TAKES OVER ARGENTINA
Lionel Messi was obviously already a huge superstar in his home nation of Argentina, but his popularity has flown through the roof since he helped La Albiceleste win their first World Cup title since 1986. Marca state that one in 70 babies born in December 2022 were named either Lionel or Lionela after the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner. It is also revealed that names such as Julian (Alvarez) and Emiliano (Martinez) have spiked since the World Cup-winning campaign.
Paper Round’s view: That’s the magic of the World Cup. There’s always going to be plenty of babies named after Messi whatever he does, but you couldn’t have predicted newborns being named after Julian Alvarez and Emiliano Martinez. One in 70 babies is a huge number and there are going to be lots of Lionels and Lionelas that become friends with each other in a few years time.