Credit to Zlatan. If Zlatan doesn’t want to go all the way to China to play in a pointless pre-season tour, Zlatan doesn’t go all the way to China to play in a pointless pre-season tour. Jose has “decided” to rest all Euro 2016 players ahead of the new season, but having watched Zlatan stroll around the pitch with minimal effort during Sweden’s doomed campaign I am confident he is as fresh as a daisy.
Maybe the decision to leave him behind is commercial, as an unknown Chinese club was prepared to pay Higuain £800k a week to join. If a Chinese club offered that, surely Zlatan would forget that United were the only club he wanted to sign for?
Staying at Old Trafford, Paul Pogba has dropped two massively unsubtle hints that he is open to being Jose’s most recent Michael Essien. Firstly, he described United as his “first family” in the kind of way a stroppy teenager runs away from home, moans about the way he was treated by the family and tries to build a life in a different country would describe his “first family.” Secondly, he refused to commit his future to Juventus. Yes, he refused to. I presume the question was “Paul, can you commit your future to Juventus?” and the midfielder replied, “no, I refuse to!” Nothing smacks of a bargaining chip for a new black and white contract than this.
There is quite the tedious link coming together here. Juventus to Stoke next, in the form of Mario Lemina trading in the Old Lady for the Old Barcelona team. Lemina is a Gabon international and not a name I am familiar with, which means the bid is a mere £12m.
I’m not intentionally getting Football Manager references in here daily, but the Premier League are dangling them on the sort of length a horse loves when it is a carrot. Conte, who will face Stoke this season and managed Juve in a past life (yes, tedious) is determined to snap up the new Pele/Robinho/Neymar/Fred/delete where applicable. Santos’s Gabriel Barbosa is the subject of a sub £30m offer which means (a) he is a proper international prospect and (b) I have heard of him. Gabigol and Kennedy in the same squad, almost as Brazilian tasty as Juninho and Emerson back in the day. One manager who loves a Brazilian pairing is King Klopp, with Firminio and Coutinho. Players who King Klopp doesn’t love include Skrtel, on his way to Turkey and Ibeeeee Ibeeee who has joined Bournemouth for a club record £15m.
Bournemouth are managed by Eddie Howe who, thankfully, has slipped behind Sam Allardyce and Steve Bruce in the race to be England manager. Sam is the current and Steve is the former manager of Sunderland, who are now facing an entirely new situation. They may have to replace a manager in July rather than when they looked destined for relegation. Never fear, if they bring in David Moyes they will give themselves the perfect opportunity to revert to type come February.