Arsenal have accepted that they will have to pay West Ham more than £100million for Declan Rice if agreed club performance targets are achieved by Arsenal next season. Talks are progressing well and I have been told that both clubs are confident the deal will go through making Declan a record signing for the Gunners. Nicolas Pepe was the previous highest purchase at £72 million in 2019. My sources tell me that several interested clubs have now backed off from pursuing Rice including Bayern Munich, Chelsea, Newcastle and Manchester United.
Arsenal want to move out Pepe and Soares in order to pave the way for Declan’s entry into the club. Arteta is confident Rice will strengthen his midfield and has allowed German club Bayer Leverkusen to negotiate a move with Granit Xhaka. Arsenal also have eyes on Brighton’s highly rated Moises Caicedo and are trying to sign City’s Ilkay Gundogan on a free transfer although I know Jack Grealish has been begging him to stay with the club as their captain. The Chelsea clear out has begun and Kai Havertz is up for sale and the Gunners are interested.
Mbappe will probably join Real and United cool on Kane
Kylian Mbappe’s falling out with Paris Saint-Germain is a bonus for Manchester United. The hierarchy at Old Trafford very much wanted to sign Harry Kane but it looked like a fight with Real Madrid for his signature. Since Mbappe said he definitely wants to leave Paris the Spanish giants have turned their attention away from Kane and Mbappe is top of their list. Erik Ten hag has restored confidence and energy into a United dressing room which was sadly lacking in both and he now needs to upgrade several positions including his attack. Champions League qualification for next season is a large carrot to entice Harry who still has an empty trophy cabinet after his long career at Tottenham but chairman Daniel Levy is still the major block in Harry leaving despite Ten Hag’s enthusiasm. Levy’s problem is that with one year remaining on his contract Harry could walk away from Spurs next summer for nothing instead of the club collecting up to £100million for him now. United want to complete their new signings quickly in order to prepare for the new season and therefore because of the difficulty in dealing with Levy they are turning away from Kane. Wout Weghorst has returned to Burnley and will not re-join and Ten Hag needs to strengthen his attack.
Eriksen sounds out Rasmus Hojlund for United
One football season runs into another these days and Manchester United will be back in pre-training in four weeks time. Prior to that many players will be involved in matches for their national teams. At United most eyes will focus on Christian Eriksen’s return to national duty because he will be playing alongside Rasmus Hojlund who scored five goals in two matches during previous international matches and also hit an impressive hat-trick against Finland. He then scored twice against Kazakhstan.
The Atalanta striker will be spoken to by Eriksen who will judge if Hojlund would be interested in joining United. Fortunately he is already a Reds fan and when he was a teenager he idolised Cristiano Ronaldo. United will carry out checks on his fitness and personality before putting money on the table but again Eriksen will be able to judge him and pass on the information to Old Trafford. * Declan Rice did the same thing when he asked Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw about Manchester United during the last international break. Eriksen’s report will undoubtedly influence the United staff because he is highly respected at the club.
A game of numbers for Mac Allister
Choosing a shirt number at Liverpool would cause most newly signed players sleepless nights and much agonising over the decision. But not for new boy Alexis Mac Allister. Many would choose No.7, made famous by club legends Sir Kenny Dalglish and Kevin Keegan and later by Luis Suarez and James Milner. The No.9 shirt will forever be remembered for the countless goals scored by Ian Rush and later Fernando Torres and of course Bobby Firmino. The No.8 shirt will be forever Steven Gerrard’s as the great leader of the Liverpool side. But for Mac Allister it is not the No.7 or the Nos. 8 & 9. Mac chose the No.10 shirt of his Argentine idols Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi.
Moyes stays at Hammers with plenty to spend
Make no mistake about it, David Moyes was one game away from being sacked as coach at West Ham. Winning the Europa Conference League saved his career and he will see out the remaining year on his contract and be in charge of rebuilding the team once Declan Rice leaves in a couple of weeks. Moyes has been rewarded for his triumph with £100 million to spend on strengthening the squad of players. The 60-year-old was given a hero’s welcome in the open top coach parade as they displayed their first trophy in 43 years.
The Hammers are talking to Ajax’s Edson Alvarez, Fulham’s Joao Palhinha and relegated Southampton’s James Ward-Prowse ready for next season
Emery firing on all cylinders to bring Villa success
Unai Emery is determined to turn Aston Villa into a top force next season. The club has completed the purchase of Leicester’s Youri Tielmans and he will join on July 1st. Emery said he will turn the midfielder into world class player. Emery sees 26 year-old Belgian Tielmans as is his personal project.
In order to start the season on a high note the club’s preparations for next season are already underway. Villa will play five friendlies and the squad will fly to America to compete in the Premier League Summer Series tournament. Their opponents will feature Newcastle, Fulham and Brentford. After the series a big game back in the UK on August 3rd will be against Italian giants Lazio.
Villa management were in Spain on Tuesday to complete a deal to bring renown transfer specialist Monchi to the club. Monchi has a £1.7million release clause in his contract and Sevilla are expected to allow him to leave. He is another of Unai Emery’s high profile targets to improve organising a squad capable of fighting at the top of the Premier League. Monchi will open the doors to many top players and is skilled at negotiating.
In a new move I understand that Emery has also been talking to Liverpool outgoing midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. His Liverpool contract expired this week.
Between the posts at Brentford and Spurs
Tottenham have a deal in place to sign Brentford keeper David Raya. The Bees have one of the best managements in football and they have steered the club to great financial security over the years with skilful player investments and careful sales. The two clubs have not yet agreed a price for Raya. Brentford want £40million but Tottenham have offered only half of that. However, there is room for negotiation because Spurs want to replace long serving captain Hugo Lloris between the posts. Brentford want the deal done and know that with only one year left on Raya’s contract they cannot sell him in 12 months. Brentford have already signed Raya’s replacement Mark Flekken from German club Freiburg for £11million.
PSG line up for Zaha
Paris Saint-Germain have approached Crystal Palace star Wilfried Zaha’s agents to discuss signing him on a free transfer this summer. 30-year-old Zaha is out of contract on 30th June and he is deciding his future after Palace offered him £200k a week to stay. He has also been offered £45 million over three years to link up with Cristiano Ronaldo at Saudi club Al-Nassr. Atletico Madrid are also interested in the Ivorian however Zaha’s main motive is playing in the Champions League. PSG want Zaha as a replacement for Lionel Messi who is going to Inter Miami. Make no mistake, his loyalty to Palace is still preventing him from making the final move and he could still stay.