While the nation spent their bank holiday Monday nursing a hangover – or doing whatever it is people do for fun these days – Ed Woodward was hard at work.
Football never sleeps, you see, a lesson the Mill learned long ago. Manchester United’s executive vice-chairman gave José Mourinho a tour of the training ground, parading his new manager in front of the camera like a man just a little too pleased to have a girl on his arm, providing an essential service to the Portuguese by asking “John” if he should go upstairs, making excruciating small talk with Sir Bobby Charlton (most of which is drowned out by Club Tropicana-esque background music) and pointing aimlessly into an empty car park, his hand just a little too tight around Mourinho’s shoulder.
But Woodward’s real work starts here. And by work, the Mill means giving José the four-digit-pin code to United’s bank account and promising Zlatan Ibrahimovic that, should he sign for the club, he won’t be subjected to the same training-ground tour. Because, you see, while most people assumed that the Swede’s signature was as much a formality as Mourinho’s, it appears Ibrahimovic still needs some convincing. Much like Simon and Garfunkel, Woody and Drake, the 34-year-old striker wants to go home. “I love Malmö and I wish I could play today,” Ibrahimovic said. “I apologise for that, but I will, I will. Just wait for me.” Zlatan’s Mr 15%, smelling the chance for some leverage, echoed the sentiment: “We have not decided anything yet,” said Mino Raiola. “I think it will be a surprise in the end. Everyone is harping on about only United, United, United. There are some clubs in England, a few clubs in Europe, clubs outside Europe, but everyone assumes that he must go to Manchester United, but it is not true.”
Ouch. There is more encouragement, however, from Álvaro Morata, who says he is keen to return to Real Madrid and succeed there, but also admits that a move to the Premier League “would be a great destination”, that he has had some offers from these here shores, and that a move to the Premier League would not be a step backwards. “With what I have learned in Italy, if I have the chance to learn something more in England I think it would make me a more complete, better player,” the Spaniard said. “There are some offers from England that are tempting, not only by contract.” Having sold him to Juventus in 2014, Real have the option to re-sign Morata for £24m this summer, with the forward expected to fetch nearly double that should he move on again to pastures new.
Fresh from helping England’s Under-21s win the Toulon tournament, Calum Chambers has said that he “just wants to play games”, presumably of the football variety, and could leave on loan this summer. Southampton, who got the thick end of £16m for Chambers not two years ago, head the queue, with Crystal Palace, Bournemouth, Swansea and Watford all in the reckoning.
Chambers’s potential departure means there could be a spare peg in Arsène Wenger’s dressing room for the Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly, who would be expected to cost around £20m.
The Barcelona full-back Adriano is set to become the Lazio full-back Adriano after agreeing a four-year contract with the Rome club, according to reports in Italy.
After Saturday’s Championship play-off final, Hull City are winding up to kick Sheffield Wednesday when they are down and bid £3m for goalkeeper Keiren Westwood, who is also attracting interest from Everton, West Brom and newly-promoted Middlesbrough.
This article was written by Michael Butler, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 31st May 2016 09.01 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010