To be fair, I was tempted to ‘do a Harry Kane’ and not show up today but then I realised nobody was likely to be putting in a €150m+ bid to remove me from my Tottenham (and by Tottenham, I mean this column) hell.
So, here I am – raising a glass to the opening of the 2021/22 English football season having watched the traditional curtain-raiser at Wembley.
It doesn’t matter how much managers like Peppy G and Brentan like to pretend that it’s a trophy worth winning, the Community Shield was nothing more than a glorified friendly kickabout with players that will get nowhere near the actual Premier League team in the case of City and a quickly scrabbled together back four for Leicester now that Wes Fofana has joined Jonny Evans, Timothy Castagne, James Justin and everyone else in the treatment room.
Understandably, much of the fanfare was to welcome the most expensive English footballer ever to Manchester City. Jack Grealish adopted his England role and sat on the bench for most of the game at the ‘Home of Football’ and got 15 minutes at the end showing off a few nice touches and not a lot else.
Leicester were handed the game on a Nathan Ake-shaped platter after the Dutch defender managed to let a pass slip under his foot, get tackled by Iheanacho and then drag the Nigerian to the floor – Iheanacho got up to fire the winning penalty home to save us all from having to watch another spot-kick showdown under the arch.
The first silverware of the season went to the Foxes and Guardiola’s attention will now switch to persuading Spurs that they want to give him Kane in exchange for around one-hundred-and-fifty million big ones.
City believe they can get a deal done this week – which will be music to the ears of the England captain who has finally rocked up at Tottenham’s training complex claiming he was not on strike, he just wasn’t at training. Kane will be spending five days in solitary confinement – not a punishment dished out by Daniel Levy, sadly – as he undergoes quarantine.
Yet, could Pep’s affections be now divided given that a certain Mr Messi is not going to be playing for Barcelona next season? Sure, PSG are already commissioning some fancy marketing agency to do a “Messi Launch Party” underneath the Eiffel Tower but it is believed that the Argentine’s preferred destination is still the rain of Manchester. Mind you, Roman Abramovich might have something to say about that having called an “emergency meeting” which his folks to pull together an immediate battle plan to take Messi to Stamford Bridge.
Defender Aymeric Laporte could not care less if Kane or Messi join Grealish at the club – he wants to go to La Liga meaning both Real Madrid and Barcelona, both massively broke remember, are being linked.
Inter Milan have “reluctantly” accepted the fact that Romelu Lukaku has unfinished business at Chelsea and Chelsea have £100m with their name on it. Lukaku is expected to be at the club some time next week. Whilst they are in Italy, Chelsea are hoping to pick up Juve’s Dutch defender Mattijs de Ligt in return for either Jorginho or Timo Werner and another wedge of cash.
This all means players lead to leave the Bridge and fast – Kurt Zouma still heads that list, winger Kenedy (yeah, he’s still there), Baba Rahman (yep, him too), Danny Drinkwater (I know, still getting paid to be a footballer), Ross Barkley and Tammy Abraham are all expected to depart at some point.
Tottenham have literally set up camp in Serie A and have signed Atalanta’s Cristian Romero, finally – £47m is all the best defender in Italy costs nowadays. Spurs would still like Japanese international Tomiyasu for under £20m – Bologna, in case you’d forgotten. They won’t be signing Philippe Coutinho, however – he, like Antonio Griezmann, is being offered to all and sundry but given he is playing in Spain Spurs have politely declined.
They’d much rather Inter’s Lautaro Martinez for £60m – spending the Harry Kane money they really don’t want to cash in on. Martinez is claimed to be up for the move – Ashley Young, Christian Eriksen, Alexis Sanchez and Victor Moses must have had quite the impression on him.
There’s lots of noise coming out of Arsenal, as usual. They will need to pay £60m plus to take James Maddison from Leicester and pay him a fair whack to take a step down in level. If he cannot be convinced, then they’d like to take Bernardo Silva off Pep’s hands as he wants to leave the Etihad. However, nobody with half a brain is convinced that the Emirates is what Bernardo was meaning when he said that.
The Gunners have also bid a mere £17m for Lazio attacker Joaquin Correra which has been described as “inadequate” – not a word Arsenal are unaccustomed to.
Arteta is still sniffing around Sheffield United’s Aaron Ramsdale and Sander Berge and thinks they are a good use of £50m.
Also, given that Manchester United have been able to get anything done, Arsenal would like to sign Atletico’s Kieran Trippier for £40m – you have to admire the ambition if nothing else.
Despite all this, Lyon’s Houssam Aouar would still join them in a heartbeat – just nobody is picking up the phone.
It’s been pretty quiet at Old Trafford in the last week other than Anthony Martial being pretty likely to leave this window – Inter Milan would like him to replace both Lukaku and Martinez which asking a bit much in the cold light of day.
The fact it is equally quiet at Anfield will not please King Kloppo anymore than last week – Liverpool are one of several teams being linked to Bournemouth’s Arnaut Danjuma. I mean, he’s alright but doesn’t really fill the big hole in the middle of the park that Gini’s gone and left.
Aston Villa love a transfer window and before their former skipper was unveiled at City they’d revealed they had signed both Leon Bailey and Southampton’s Danny Ings in the same day. Dean Smith isn’t planning on stopping there – he still fancies a bit of JWP’s dead-ball cunning and is one of the remaining people in football that believes there is a top-class striker waiting to happen in Tammy Abraham.
Brentford have the reputation of being “clever” in the transfer market so the fact nobody has heard of Yoane Wissa (a winger) and Jens Cajuste (a midfielder) would suggest they are busy being clever again.
Everton are not thought to be clever, which is why they are being linked to Solomon Rondon who, I believe, was least seen playing in China.
Leeds have asked both Noa Lang, a Dutch U21 international, and Huddersfield midfielder Lewis O’Brien if they like running and have ever heard of murderball – both gave the right kind of answer so at least one of them will be moving to Elland Road.
Southampton are looking to fill their sudden Ings-shaped hole with either Blackburn’s Adam Armstrong or Tammy Abraham. They’ll need someone or the dreaded R word will start to be whispered down at St Mary’s.
West Ham reckon they’ve got about a 10% chance of getting Jesse Lingard to the club this season so are switching their attention to various European-based central defenders. Nikola Malenkovic of Fiorentina, Duje Caleta-Car of Marseille and Nayef Aguerd are being linked to the Athletics Stadium.
Crystal Palace’s Vieira-led spending spree looks set to continue – they’ve probably signed loads more since last week and I’ve forgotten to tell you. This week, they are keen to get Armstrong ahead of Southampton and many others (I just don’t know who they are).
Norwich want USA international Josh Sargent for £10m, Brighton want Arsenal’s Eddie Nketiah for £20m and Newcastle are the latest side to show an interest in random Liverpool cult hero Nat Phillips.
Meanwhile, Burnley would like to be rejected by Leipzig’s Ademola Lookman who surely believes he can do better than that. So, rather than look for another winger Sean Dyche is up for signing Maxwel Cornet instead – a defender, in case you are bothered.