After deducing that defenders who can defend are useful components of a football team, Pep Guardiola is in search of his next tactical revelation. He’s planning to make Matheus Nunes the latest signing whose success is almost irrelevant because if it fails, he can just buy someone else. Manchester City have submitted an improved £51.5m bid to Wolves for the 25-year-old midfielder.
Otherwise, much of today’s chatter takes place across Manchester, where hilarity abounds. With Luke Shaw joining Tyrell Malacia on the injured list, United are in search of a left-back no one else wants to fill space and, if necessary, hinder their play over the next couple of months. For reasons known best to Erik ten Hag, if they’ve a past, so much the better, the shortlist comprising Marcos Alonso – whose lack of pace and defensive nous are attractive though he’s keen to stay at Barcelona; Marc Cucurella, whose general ineptitude could be available on loan from Chelsea; and Sergio Reguilón, whose lack of power and positioning is also attractive, though Fulham remain favourites to take him from Spurs.
United are also keen on a midfielder and, by amazing coincidence, the most suitable candidate is yet again a player already known to Ten Hag. Ryan Gravenberch is the man in question and, in this entirely normal world of football, Bayern Munich might be persuaded to release him if United will loan them Scott McTominay – not words anyone was ever supposed to type – who they apparently consider the perfect on-pitch coach to improve Joshua Kimmich, Leon Goretzka and Jamal Musiala.
Down the East Lancs Road, Everton – bottom of the Premier League with no points and no goals – are in the market for a striker with Udinese’s Beto primed to arrive at the vortex of hopelessness occasionally known as Goodison Park. Famously, the Gwladys loves a number nine and, at £24m, may finally have found a successor to heroes such as Paul Wilkinson, Stuart Barlow, Brett Angell and Ibrahima Bakayoko.
Sean Dyche would also like a defender; of course he would. As such, Everton are in talks with Borussia Dortmund over Nico Elvedi, but in an ideal world, they’ll just sign James Tarkowski again. Across Merseyside, Liverpool have apparently decided that, should Mohamed Salah move to somewhere in Saudi Arabia, anywhere in Saudi Arabia, they’ll get João Félix in instead. Because what could make more sense than paying cash money for a less good player, who plays a different position, whose current club have been desperate to shift him for at least a year?
In other striker news, Paris Saint-Germain have offered Eintracht Frankfurt £69m for Randal Kolo Muani and, with no better offers looking likely, we might soon be hearing of his lifelong ambition to face the giants of Clermont Foot and Brest. Meantime and in a separate deal, Hugo Ekitiké could move in the opposite direction for a fee of £17m, while Marco Verratti is close to joining Al-Arabi, his boyhood Saudi side.
Back in England, Chelsea are still trying to throw Romelu Lukaku as far as he can trap a ball, with Roma hoping to agree a loan fee of £7m. In order to make the move happen, they’re asking the player take a pay cut of similar size; whether Dan Friedkin, their billionaire owner, plans to do the same, remains to be seen.
And finally, Tottenham intend to offer Nottingham Forest £50m for Brennan Johnson, who would join Fraser Forster, Emerson Royal and Manor Solomon in their first-name-that’s-actually-a-surname contingent. Forest, meanwhile, are interested in taking José Sá from Wolves, with Dean Henderson close to packing his best baseball cap and leaving Old Trafford for Crystal Palace.