The battle for Bellingham
Jude Bellingham is set to be the centre of a transfer tug-of-war next summer, with the Athletic reporting that the 19-year-old has admirers at Liverpool, Real Madrid, Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea. The England international is said to be a long-term target of Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp, but Manchester United were also close to signing Bellingham before he joined Dortmund back in 2020. Bellingham is valued at €150 million by Borussia Dortmund, who are reportedly keen on offering him a contract extension to stay in Germany.
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Paper Round’s view: It’s going to be another year of Europe’s finest battling over a Borussia Dortmund wonderkid. We’ve seen the same stories in the past with Jadon Sancho and Erling Haaland, but now it is Bellingham’s turn. He keeps being linked with Liverpool. The club obviously view the Three Lions star as a priority target to revamp their midfield. Manchester United and Chelsea seem a bit risky at the moment, while Manchester City may not suit his playing style like Liverpool would. It’s unlikely he will sign a new deal at Dortmund so everyone should strap themselves in for the year-long transfer saga.
Man Utd and Barca target Monaco defender
Manchester United and Barcelona are set to go head-to-head over the signing over Monaco right-back Vanderson. The Mail (via Sport) report that the pair approached Monaco over the summer but their enquiries for the Brazilian defender were immediately met with an asking price of £52 million. Manchester United are ready to launch a bid for Vanderson at the end of the current campaign and will reportedly face more competition, with Newcastle United also interested in signing the 21-year-old. Vanderson only joined Monaco in January this year and already signed a new five-year extension in August.
Paper Round’s view: The next jewel in Monaco’s crown? Vanderson seems to be very highly rated in Ligue 1. The Brazilian right-back was signed for £9.5 million in January before Monaco slapped a whopping £52-million asking price on him in the summer when the big boys came calling. The club responded by tying him down to an improved contract, but let’s see what happens next summer. Erik ten Hag was keen on signing a right-back this summer and does not seem set on Diogo Dalot just yet. It’s clear that United need to improve in that area and Vanderson could be worth it if he is their new right-back for the next 10 years.
Plans to manage the FA Cup fixture pile-up
A number of Premier League clubs will be offered the chance to play one-off FA Cup matches in the third and fourth rounds as tournament officials acknowledge the stretched football calendar. The Sun state that clubs competing in Europe will be given special exemptions by the FA and will be allowed to scrap replays in the early rounds to ease fixture pile-up. The winter World Cup combined with postponements due to the death of the Queen has meant that the calendar has become congested for clubs taking part in European competitions.
Paper Round’s view: This makes sense. There is no real need for clubs to play replays in the early rounds of the FA Cup. Obviously it is always nice to see the minnows take a Premier League side to their grounds or seeing a smaller club sell out an away end at a top-level stadium, but something has to give this season. There are too many matches to be played this season and just not enough dates in the football calendar.
A new Super Cup?
UEFA are considering the possibility of expanding the Super Cup and may even invite American teams to a “revamped” tournament. The current UEFA Super Cup sees the Champions League winners take on the Europa League winners, but the introduction of the Europa Conference League has sparked ideas of a four-team tournament to open the season. The three European cup winners would need another opponent and the Guardian reveal that the MLS winners could be invited as soccer continues to grow in popularity throughout the United States.
Paper Round’s view: It’s an interesting idea but you already know the argument against it. It will involve more travel and more matches for the players before the season has even started. Maybe it could be accepted if it is viewed as part of pre-season, but you know that clubs will want to put out a strong side to try and win the tournament due to the money involved. Footballers don’t need to play more unnecessary matches – especially with the seasons constantly getting longer and longer.
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