Manchester City clearly needed a holding midfielder and a striker, not more creativity. And that is before we count the wages of Jack Grealish.
In The Sun, Dave Kidd believes that Pep Guardiola has reached his ‘peak’ form with the imminent signing of Jack Grealish. Manchester City, you see, were ‘panned for picking five creative players and no genuine centre-forward or holding midfielder in the Champions League final defeat by Chelsea’.
So obviously everyone declared that Guardiola needed to bring in Lee Cattermole and Victor Anichebe.
‘Yet you have to admire the Catalan’s pig-headed unwillingness to follow conventional wisdom and keep ramming his squad with dribblers and pass-and-move artists.’
Well Manchester City conceded the fewest goals in the Premier League last season. They also let in just five in 13 Champions League games, with only Arsenal in 2005/06 keeping more clean sheets in a single campaign.
One might suggest the ‘conventional wisdom’ after having one shot on target and facing just two in the Champions League final was to bring in more elite attacking variation like Grealish and not mess up the team selection.
Jeremy Cross of the Daily Mirror has some words of caution, too:
‘That could see the new season begin with Guardiola having more creators of goals than he can shake a stick at, but without a world-class striker to finish off the chances they make.’
That really held them back when they scored 131 goals in 61 games last season.
‘But with just Gabriel Jesus to call on as a recognised No.9, Guardiola’s own version of the Harlem Globetrotters will also look like one of the most imbalanced in history.’
In the most basic of terms, no, they might not have an established and recognised starting striker. But they were the Premier League’s top scorers while conceding the fewest goals last season so suggesting signing Grealish makes this squad ‘one of the most imbalanced in history’ seems a bit weird.
The next thing to sort is how much Grealish will be paid…
‘The Aston Villa skipper, 25, flew north last night to seal his British-record move and will have a medical this morning, before signing a deal worth over £200,000 per week’ – Martin Blackburn, The Sun.
‘The England ace, 25, will sign a five-year deal worth £300,000 a week in the next 48 hours’ – Jeremy Cross, Daily Mirror.
Well at least they can agree he is 25 and will sign until 2026. And in fairness, £300,000 a week is definitely ‘worth over’ £200,000 per week. It’s just a strange way of putting a £26m discrepancy over five years.
Luk who’s talking
Duncan Wright has the latest on Chelsea’s move for Romelu Lukaku on the back page of The Sun, with this paragraph featuring towards the end:
‘Chelsea showed why owner Roman Abramovich is again ready to splash out as they blew a 2-0 lead against Tottenham last night.’
Roman Abramovich wants to spend well over £100m on Lukaku because a Chelsea team that made ten changes – including bringing on Matt Miazga, Davide Zappacosta and Kenedy – scored twice and still drew against Tottenham?
Sounds like they need defensive reinforcements more than anything. Or for their owner not to put so much stock into a pre-season friendly.
Mind you, this was the reaction from The Sun when Chelsea beat Bournemouth last week:
‘Thomas Tuchel gave Tammy Abraham a chance but the Chelsea ace fluffed his lines in a 2-1 win over Bournemouth.
‘And the Blues boss should make another SOS (Save our Season) call to Borussia Dortmund for striker Erling Haaland.’
Chelsea have scored 12 goals in four pre-season friendlies. If they want a new striker that is fair enough. But don’t pretend only putting six past Peterborough last month has had any bearing on that decision.
The Daily Mirror saw the game between Chelsea and Tottenham at Stamford Bridge and decided that actually, the visitors should be the ones worrying.
‘Tottenham finally gave their fans something to smile about, coming back to snatch a pre-season draw with Chelsea,’ Matt Barlow writes.
‘But while their fightback against a superior Blues side showed resilience, it also showed how limited they are without their talisman Harry Kane.’
Yeah, only scoring two goals against the defensively resolute European champions really ‘showed how limited they are without’ Kane.
On the subject of Kane, Sami Mokbel has a scoop in the MailOnline:
‘Harry Kane has effectively ruled himself out of Tottenham’s season opener against Manchester City – the team he wants to join – by spending another day outside the UK.’
That is huge news. Or at least it was when Mike McGrath of the Daily Telegraph exclusively reported on July 24 that he would miss the match in question anyway, quarantine rules or not.
Can’t believe Kane ‘has effectively ruled himself out of’ a match he wasn’t going to play in.
Ode to joy
‘Martin Odegaard has told James Maddison what it’s like to play for Arsenal under Mikel Arteta’ – Daily Mirror website.
More accurately, Martin Odegaard has told everyone what it’s like to play for Arsenal under Mikel Arteta when he told the club’s website in April:
“As I’ve said many times, I always enjoyed the way Arsenal play football and now especially after Mikel took over, this style suits me really well. I’m having a good time, the manager is great and the team is good. So many good players and the way we play suits me really well.”
So the headline might be technically accurate but the implication Odegaard has advised Maddison – a direct competitor in terms of players Arsenal want to sign – specifically over WhatsApp or something is fun.
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‘Crystal Palace are plotting a move for former Fulham wide man Ademola Lookman.
‘Lookman had a successful loan spell at Craven Cottage last season from his parent club RB Leipzig but new Palace boss Patrick Vieira is considering another loan approach’ – Tony Banks, Daily Mirror.
Not sure four goals in 34 games en route to relegation really counts as ‘successful’.