OH DEAR, OZIL
Just before last Christmas, The Independent’s Miguel Delaney claimed that Arsene Wenger ‘hugely resented sanctioning’ the contract that made Mesut Ozil the highest-paid player in Arsenal history. In Delaney’s word, the decision ‘has left his successor with a problem’.
Quite. Less than a month later, the Daily Mail are telling us that Unai Emery’s ‘trust in Ozil is now non-existent’, and he wants to sell him in January to rid the club of the financial millstone weighing heavy around their necks.
Adam Crafton, he of not putting Ozil into combined Tottenham v Arsenals XI fame, says Emery is eager to sell the German ‘to free up funds to sign his own players’. Leaving him out of the squad in the defeat to West Ham was a message to the board.
There is only one problem: ‘Arsenal are still to receive credible interest for the player’. It’s almost as if no-one wants to take on £350,000-worth of wages for someone who bloody loves Fortnite so very much.
It is pretty safe to assume Jurgen Klopp and Brendan Rodgers still talk to each other. The former is renting the latter’s Liverpool house in both a literal and metaphorical sense, after all.
To that end, Klopp has perhaps asked Rodgers of the availability of some of his better Celtic players. He might wonder whether Kieran Tierney fancies a move to Merseyside, or if Odsonne Édouard wants to cut his teeth in the Premier League. He has surely enquired as to how much Scott Brown would cost, before realising he cannot afford him.
One player you might not expect Klopp to be interested in is a 27-year-old winger who has never scored more than eight league goals in a single season, nor plied his trade outside of Scotland. Would Liverpool really want to sign James Forrest?
The Scottish Sun say so. And if anyone is going to have the inside track on what Liverpool think, it is The Sun, Scottish or otherwise.
Klopp has apparently ‘been tracking’ the winger ‘for several months’, and is already considering his summer targets. January deals are unlikely. So Forrest could be the first signing made by the Premier League champions come June.
The story says that Celtic ‘would demand at least £8million for the Scotland star’. We scoffed at Liverpool’s interest earlier, but Forrest has a deal until 2020, is an international and a key part of Rodgers’ side. We’re talking eight figures as a minimum.
Also, wouldn’t he have to join Southampton for a bit first?
Speaking of mad valuations, Bournemouth want £75m for Callum Wilson.
With Dominic Solanke’s arrival on the south coast, Chelsea might have fancied their chances of prising Wilson away. Yet it seems to have strengthened their resolve. They want a British record fee for him.
‘That is the club’s public stance,’ say the Daily Star. ‘But, behind closed doors, the general consensus of the Bournemouth hierarchy is they would listen to any offer above £70m.’
For some reason, that has made us howl with laughter. Publicly, they are demanding £75m. But privately, they would probably accept £5m less. Driving the hardest of bargains.
AND THE REST
Chelsea also want to re-sign Bournemouth defender Nathan Ake just two years after selling the 23-year-old Dutch centre-back to the Cherries… Inter Milan coach Luciano Spalletti says 23-year-old Slovakia defender Milan Skriniar, who has been linked with Manchester United, is “out of everybody’s price range”… Spurs and Spain striker Fernando Llorente, 33, is a target for Barcelona… Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola says the club will not meet the reported £100m valuation for Wolves and Portugal midfielder Ruben Neves, 21… Guardiola also fears City will lose out to Barcelona in the race to sign Ajax’s 21-year-old Netherlands midfielder Frenkie de Jong, who is also a target for Paris St-Germain… Everton are interested in signing Lyon midfielder Tanguy Ndombele but will have to pay £75m for the 22-year-old France international… Watford’s French striker Abdoulaye Doucoure, 26, has told a French TV station he “is going to leave” the Hornets.