Down-on-their-luck Aston Villa are facing up to the reality that they will have to accept reasonable offers for their best players. Soon it may dawn on them that their definition of reasonable needs to be downsized. And that unreasonable offers must also be considered. And that’s when Daniel Levy is expected to pounce. Tottenham Hotspur reckon Jack Grealish could be worth a punt, and while Villa are gabbling about £40m, Tottenham are thinking of offering about a fifth of that amount along with a pat on the head and/or a boot up the hole.
And good luck to Villa as they plead with Mike Ashley to go easy. Newcastle are said to be toying with the idea of making a bid for Jonathan Kodja, for a fee that would have Villa fans barfing into the nearest fireplace. Manchester United, meanwhile, are attempting to put the squeeze on Levy over Toby Alderweirweld but so far Spurs are holding firm, refusing to let go of the want-away Belgian for less than £55m, apparently. United are also trying to prise the Brazilian midfielder Anderson Talisca from Benfica but are finding that the price is being driven up by a pair of pesky Chinese clubs.
Sporting Lisbon could prove to be even more pesky to fans of English football because they are hoping to appoint Marcelo Bielsa as their manager, a development that would come as a shattering blow to anyone keen to find out what happens when a uniquely intense Argentinian technician tries to put a bit of oomph back into Leeds United. Still, if they miss out on Bielsa, Leeds may make a move for Mick McCarthy, an idea that is not without charm of its own.
Yaya Touré is said to be in talks about joining West Ham, a club that in February sacked its then-head of recruitment, Tony Henry, for suggesting the club did not want to sign any more African players partly because “they can have a bad attitude”. Meanwhile, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, whose attitude towards African players has been questioned by Touré, is said to be keen on signing not only Riyad Mahrez but also Southampton’s Mario Lemina, a tidy midfielder and a Gabon international, by the by.
Concussion or not concussion, Loris Karius is going to find it hard to keep hold of his starting place at Liverpool, especially if the club completes the signing of Bayer Leverkusen’s Bernd Leno, who is reputed to be available for far less than Jan Oblak and Alisson.
Real Madrid’s hunt for a new manager is turning into an undignified experience for the Spanish aristocrats. Seemingly thwarted in their efforts to lure Mauricio Pochettino, Max Allegri and Joachim Löw, they are now said to be giving seriously thought to appointing Míchel, who was a terrific player for them in the past but flopped as a manager of Málaga and Marseille.
Speaking of Marseille, the French club’s Japanese right-back, Hiroki Sakai, has caught the eye of Crystal Palace.