Todays Tales

Having played the “manflu” card a little too early into the season, Alexis Sanchez needed to come up with some creative solutions to avoid actually having to play and football for Arsenal this season. Therefore it was announced yesterday that the Chilean want-a-way star has an “abdominal muscle strain”. Now, I accept that the vast majority of my readers will have heard of “abdominal muscles” even if they do not actually have any so some of you might need some guidance. You know when you look at other people and they don’t have that belly that you seem to have. You know what I mean, you’ve noticed that you and Alexis aren’t exactly twins, right? Yeah, well so where your beer gut is athletes (or even people keen not to die earlier than needs be) have “abdominal muscles”. Anyway, Alexis has allegedly pulled one of the six he has in a pack and will miss the first two matches of the season. Again Arsene is rubbing his hands with glee at a convenient excuse for Arsenal getting off to a bad start. And, having not lost to Leicester in the league for 21 years, losing to Leicester would be a bad start. Even on a Friday.

One player that Arsene will claim in years to come that he could have signed but didn’t is Virgil van Dijk. Southampton would rather let him “rot in the reserves” than leave in this transfer window which is football club PR speak for “you’ll still need to pay the going rate if you want to sign him, but we might be more open to him getting tapped up now”. After all these years, I am yet to see a player of genuine talent or value “rot in the reserves” when there are clubs out there willing to pay a significant fee for them. And no, Winston Bogarde does not count.

Diego Costa won’t be “rotting” anywhere other than his gut which I presume is starting to look less like Alexis’ and more like yours right now. The Chelsea striker, another unhappy soul, is currently partying in his hometown back in Brazil, waiting for news of a transfer out of Stamford Bridge. Yesterday Diego was playing with a circus act, which is only one step removed from playing most of last season with a different Brazilian circus act in David Luiz.

Richard Scudamore, some kind of important suit though I can never remember if he is with the FA or the Premier League and, frankly, I cannot be bothered to check right now, has said: “he cannot see £200m fees ever being spent in the Premier League”. Richard, Richard, Richard, Dick. I think you will find Mini Raiola, Jorge Mendes and all their buddies have slightly different ideas to you and, let’s say this out loud, they are the guys who run the beautiful game now, not you. Give it three years tops and someone like Dele Alli will be the first English £200m player. Give it four years and PSG will massively regret signing him and he will be labelled the worst ever English £200m player. That will soon fade into insignificance as we giggle about the days when Manchester City used to pay only £50m for full backs.

Speaking of talent that will cost PSG an arm and a leg, and probably literally when you consider the potential fallout from this move – Kylian Mbappe is likely to turn down the chance to play for French legend Zinedine Zidane and Real Madrid in favour of a nation full of cash and the Parisian night life. That’s right. Monaco could have probably stomached Mbappe going to La Liga, but if he turns out for their biggest rivals this season then it will hurt them big time. Monaco will feel like their beautiful girlfriend has run off with their nemesis, just because he has a bigger car and more cash in his wallet. But hey, Monaco. Always remember you have the personality and that shines through in the end. So I am told, anyway.

Barcelona have more money in their pocket than is good for them and are feigning shock at every player they are wanting to buy costing more than £100m. Philippe Coutinho will cost them at least that, if Liverpool suddenly become a selling club that is, and if they want Borussia Dortmund’s Ousmane Dembele then he will cost an extra £20m on top of that. That is a lot of £100m deals being quoted folks, a lot of £100m deals.

Liverpool may not be keen to sell Coutinho, but they did get a shot in the arm yesterday. Well, a shot in the sleeve to be more precise. The club announced their major signing of the season, that of Western Union. Yes, money and football linked up once again with Western Union becoming the sleeve sponsor at Anfield. Seriously, folks, we’ve seen it elsewhere. It won’t be long before player names are bumped to the arse area of the shirt and replaced with a sponsor. The socks will carry a name. Hell, even the wrist bands might be up for grabs. Stoke City announced that Currencies Direct were coming on board at the bet365 Stadium which is great news for Mark Hughes as he will be able to get a great exchange rate when he heads out to the Costa del Sol to get away from the shame of being the first manager sacked come mid-September.

We need to come crashing back down to earth, so we should probably talk about Watford who are always good for a cheap foreign loan signing. But no, even Watford are at it in their own small way. They’ve only gone and spent £18.5 on Burnley’s Andre Gray in what is the ultimate sideways move for the striker. Maybe it was the thought of linking up with the Brazilian U20 with the finest name of the season so far Richarlison that has made Hertfordshire so tempting to Andre. Mind you, he started his professional career in Luton, then went to Burnley so Watford probably feels like Los Angeles to him right now.

Finally, I give you a chance to all say out loud what you and everyone else said when Southampton announced the signing of Mario Lemina from Juventus on Tuesday. If the words “Liverpool”, “next season” or “two-year loan deal” didn’t get uttered then you weren’t doing it right.