BENFICA SLAP £100M PRICE TAG ON FERNANDEZ
Manchester United will have to splash out over £100million to bring Argentina star Enzo Fernandez to Old Trafford in the January transfer window, according to the Daily Mirror. Fernandez, who struck a sensational goal in the 2-0 win over Mexico at the 2022 World Cup, has reportedly got a £103m release clause in the five-year contract he signed with Benfica in the summer. The 21-year-old has scored three goals and contributed with five assists this season having joined the Portuguese club from River Plate in July for £10m.
Enzo Fernandez esulta in Argentina-Messico – Mondiali 2022
Image credit: Getty Images
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Paper Round’s view: With Benfica flying high in the Champions League and in their domestic league, it will obviously take a huge bid to lure their star midfielder from the club. It seems unlikely that Erik ten Hag’s side will spend the cash that Benfica are demanding for the young international. Not in January, anyway. It’s more realistic that United continue to monitor the situation and consider a bid in the summer.
JUVE READY TO BATTLE MAN UTD FOR WILLIAMS
Manchester United face stiff competition from Juventus for Spain star Nico Williams, report The Sun. The 20-year-old has caught the eye at the Qatar World Cup and has three goals and registered four assists in 14 La Liga games for Athletic Bilbao this season. Williams’ contract expires in the summer of 2024. But Bilbao are keen on tying him down to a new contract and want to begin discussions after the World Cup.
Paper Round’s view: There is money in the bank at Manchester United following the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo, and considering Williams’ contract expires in the not-too-distant future, perhaps it’s an opportune time to make a serious bid for the talented forward. Times are uncertain at Juventus and it’s unlikely they will be able to compete with United in the transfer market. If Old Trafford chiefs believe they can make the move happen in January, it would make sense to test Athletic’s resolve.
HENDERSON AND WALKER IN LINE FOR ENGLAND START
England’s Jordan Henderson and Kyle Walker could be handed their first starts of the Qatar World Cup in Tuesday’s match with Wales. The Daily Mail report that Henderson could replace vice-captain Jude Bellingham in midfield, while Walker – who has recently recovered from injury – may also feature from the start. The inclusion of Walker would allow Southgate switch to a back-five for the first time in the tournament. Harry Kane is expected to start, but Southgate is considering a change in attack, with Raheem Sterling, Bukayo Saka and Mason Mount’s places under scrutiny. The big question, the Mail say, is whether Phil Foden will finally be called into the starting XI.
Paper Round’s view: Progression to last 16 is not yet guaranteed and it would be a risk for Southgate to make wholesale changes, particularly as Wales will be desperate to cause an upset. The Three Lions will be craving top spot in Group D to potentially avoid a tricky clash with the Netherlands in the next round. One addition which would almost certainly be beneficial is Foden. He could play centrally, in place of Mount, or out wide, possibly replacing Raheem Sterling.
LAPORTA KEEPING QUIET ON MESSI
Barcelona president Joan Laporta will not discuss the future of Lionel Messi again, according to quotes carried by Marca. Laporta has reportedly been talking up the possibility of the 35-year-old returning to Camp Nou when his contract expires in the summer. However, Laporta has had a change in heart in terms of discussing Messi with a commitment to stop discussing his future while he remains at Paris Saint-Germain. “Leo is a player who will always be present at Barcelona,” Laporta said on Monday. “Barca is his home. I won’t comment on any more topics related to him because he has a contract with PSG and talking about him would be bad taste. I won’t go into any more topics on him.”
Lionel Messi (Argentina)
Image credit: Getty Images
Paper Round’s view: Many will see this as Laporta accepting defeat in luring Messi back to Barcelona. But should we read too much into these comments? Probably not. Messi has not decided anything yet, it appears, and will not be thinking about his next move until after the World Cup.
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