Versatile defender David Alaba becomes a free agent this summer after rejecting a new deal with Bayern Munich. He wanted to sell his talent to Spanish clubs however his high wage demands are enough for Real Madrid and Barcelona to distance themselves from entering a bidding war for his services.
Consequently Premier League elite clubs Chelsea and Manchester City are hurriedly putting together plans to come up with a financial package which would attract Alaba.
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The Austrian international wants £400k a week and Chelsea’s Thomas Tuchel is a known admirer of his talent. Rivals City will not pay £400k a week as this would break their pay structure and leave players such as Kevin de Bruyne and Raheem Sterling rushing to renegotiate their contracts.
A bonus structure looks the best way to make up some of the difference between basic pay and extras to boost Alaba’s salary. Watch this space for further news.
Arteta’s action could backfire
Given that Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta is attempting to rebuild the club with his style of management I was surprised that he made a big deal of disciplining captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for arriving late. He was only a few minutes behind everyone else and claimed traffic problems as the cause however he had been late on several occasions previously. I do hope Arteta’s actions do not backfire on him. Aubameyang was furious and sat silently in the stands and drove away in his hi-tech £250k Ferrari sports car before the post-match warm-down which most teams complete. Arsenal played well but need everything to be working for them at the moment and Aubameyang sitting in the stands feeling angry is not a positive step. Having spoken with several people at the club, the general feeling is that the manager would have been much wiser to have dealt with his complaints about the striker on Monday during training and quietly and discreetly rather than cause Pierre-Emerick much embarrassment and annoyance. No player is bigger than the club but Arsenal are in a delicate stage of their rebuild and Arteta needs everybody on side.
How Liverpool can regain their confidence
What can Liverpool do to rescue their season and return to playing the quality of football which made them runaway winners last season. I have been speaking with an expert psychologist this week and one thing emerges more than any other. There is nothing wrong with the team and nothing wrong with Jurgen Klopp. It is all down to confidence. They are losing regularly because of a psychological barrier which prevents them from playing to their strengths. There are 92 clubs in the four divisions of top tier English football. Up until last week Liverpool ranked 92nd on form. Six defeats out of seven matches left them totally demoralised and suffering from a lack of confidence. The one hope which will help them regain their previous form, according to my specialist psychologist is motivation and their successful run in the Champions League is the thread of light in their current dark tunnel. RB Leipzig are a competent team but they were soundly removed from the competition by a Liverpool side which threw off their shackles and released them from their Premier League nightmare. The Champions League is where Jurgen Klopp can rebuild their confidence and make a difference according to my expert psychologist.
Tuchel: “Close your eyes and shoot!”
We have to listen to Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel talking about training players because he has demonstrated with Chelsea’s run of form that he is indeed a very good manager. He was telling us this week how a good striker should score goals consistently. He said, “I truly believe the best strikers were always strikers, it’s not so much about the coaches who train them, it’s just in their blood…it’s the positive thinking that matters and you escape the pressure of having to score. They ask themselves if their decision to shoot is good and the vision clear enough. So if you just hit the ball and more or less close your eyes and hope to God that it’s in, you just focus on the result and that’s what we try to implement and how we try to help. Of course, we show videos and train but for a striker it’s most important to be confident to score.”
New/old Newcastle deal emerges
Newcastle are in complete disarray at the moment. Hovering dangerously close to the relegation zone, bust-ups between the manager and senior player Matt Riche, dissent in the dressing room and a long injury list have all brought misery and upset to the Black & Whites. However, there is one small shaft of light at the end of the tunnel with the immergence of a potential buyer in a deal we all thought was dead. The Saudi Arabian sovereign investment fund who walked away from a possible deal last year have come forward again and the club believe an agreement can still be accomplished. Asked if he would still be at Newcastle next season, manager Steve Bruce said, “I sincerely hope so. I’m never going to walk away from this.”
Man United to lose two goalkeepers
At the end of this season Manchester United are getting rid of three of their goalkeepers so they can cut down on the £600k a week they are currently spending. Only David de Gea, who is United’s top earner on £350k a week and Dean Henderson earning £100k a week, will stay. Sergio Romero and Joel Pereira will leave plus one of the junior goalkeepers. 33 year-old Romero is stranded at United for the moment because no one made a bid for his services during the January transfer period and the Argentine goalkeeper’s agent is contacting clubs to see if any are interested.
Players looking to move away from agents
If you read this column regularly, you will be aware of my dislike for football agents. They suck huge amounts of money out of our game which is ultimately paid for by the fans. I am pleased to say that Raheem Sterling is the latest player to leave his agent and a lawyer is now handling his contracts and personal affairs. Rap singer Jay Z’s entertainment agency, which helped Marcus Rashford in his high-profile school dinners for needy children, has attracted the attention of many players who are taking a closer look at their personal agents. Sterling’s close team-mate Kevin de Bruyne has been negotiating his own new contract with Manchester City.