It’s not often we start off our paper round-up with a rumour from the continent, but when the news in question is a £120 million bid for Wayne Rooney we’ll make an exception.
You read that right: Spanish publication Sport claims that Paris St Germain will make the vast bid – equal to one and a half Cristiano Ronaldos – to bring in the striker from Manchester United.
The story claims that PSG’s Qatari backers are sick of the difficulty they are having persuading the best players in the world to come to the club, so will make the move as a statement of intent that they will not rest until they are Champions League winners.
It might seem a daft idea initially, but the more you think about it the more it seems to make sense: when you think how many years Manchester City wasted spending £20 million here and there on the likes of Roque Santa Cruz and Emmanuel Adebayor, why not splurge properly in the first place even if it means paying massively over the odds?
Thursday’s back pages – like this website – all lead on one big story: Brendan Rodgers becoming the new Liverpool manager.
And given that the news broke on Wednesday afternoon, the papers have had plenty of time to gather the verdicts on whether the former Swansea boss is the right man for the job.
In the Daily Mirror, former Liverpool player Mark Lawrenson is highly sceptical: “It’s an incredible throw of the dice and perhaps illustrates the American owners do not understand the soul or heartbeat of the club… Liverpool just seem to keep getting it wrong.”
It’s a nice line, though if it were true then they’d never have installed Kenny Dalglish as manager last year. And look where that got them.
The Times makes a similar warning, however, claiming that “the spectre of Dalglish looms” despite Rodgers apparently having bowled over Liverpool’s owners with his vision for the future of the club. They even claim that Rodgers’s gamble is bigger than that of the club itself, since he has placed “his own reputation in the hands of novice owners and a declining group of players.”
The Mail asks if “Britain’s brightest young manager” can save Liverpool, a question which seems several years late if it’s referring to their hopes of fighting for the title, or ridiculously premature if it’s genuinely suggesting the club could slip out of the top flight. Not that it much matters, since they don’t bother providing an answer either way.
There are plenty of voices of optimism, however, all echoing our own Jim White’s opinion published on this site yesterday. Richard Williams in the Guardian is full of admiration for Rodgers as a man, though we doubt whether their praise for his grace in handling the negotiations will count for much once the defeats start flying next season.
But it’s in the Daily Mirror that the loudest voice of approval comes, with former Northern Ireland manager Nigel Worthington backing Rodgers in glowing terms under a headline that the new boss will probably want to get framed and stick on his wall: “The fans wanted Jose as boss, instead they got the next best thing.”
On to the rest of the days gossip, and with Rodgers joining Liverpool, Swansea want Brighton manager Gus Poyet to replace him, according to the Daily Mirror, with a source at the Seagulls telling the paper that, “the most important thing for the new manager is he will play the same style of football.”
The Sun, meanwhile, reports that the vacant job at Aston Villa is to be taken by Norwich boss Paul Lambert. The paper actually claims that Lambert quit the Canaries on Wednesday night after the Norfolk side refused him permission to talk to Villa and see what was on the table. If it proves to be true it will be a sad and bitter end for a man who took the side from League One to mid-table in the Premier League inside three years.
Manchester United are to make a move to sign Luka Modric from Tottenham, according to the Daily Star, with Alex Ferguson believing that the lure of Champions League football will persuade the Croatian midfielder to agree a £40m switch.
Following Wednesday’s reports that Tottenham are considering a move for Demba Ba making the most of his release clause, the Daily Mirror follows up with a few more details: the clause apparently comes into action today, and lasts for two months. Chelsea are also in the mix for the Newcastle striker.
Chelsea are also said to be keen on Fulham striker Moussa Dembele, according to The Sun, with a £10m deal in the offing. But with the same paper reporting that Cottagers strike duo Andy Johnson and Clint Dempsey are expected to leave this summer (apparently headed for the UAE and Arsenal respectively) it’s hard to see Martin Jol agreeing to let another attacking option walk out of the door.
Manchester City look increasingly certain to sell Edin Dzeko to Bayern Munich, with reports coming in from all over the place suggesting as much, with the Daily Mirror claiming that City cannot make a move for Arsenal’s Robin van Persie until they offload Dzeko and his £5m-a-year wage bill.
Yet a report in Italy’s Gazzetta dello Sport flies in the face of those reports, quoting Mancini as saying that he is happy that “we are OK up front” since City “already have four very strong strikers”.
QPR are trying to lure Chris Samba back to the Premier League just a few months after he made a £12m move from Blackburn to Anzhi Makhachkala, Tottenham and Newcastle are both in the running to sign Manchester City’s Adam Johnson (The Sun) and Sunderland boss Martin O’Neill wants to sign Wigan’s Senegalese midfielder Mohamed Diame (Daily Mirror).
And finally, Tottenham could lose Rafael van der Vaart this summer because his wife is sick of commuting. Sylvie van der Vaart (who regularly crops up in photo-heavy features about the best-looking WAGs) is sick of spending several days a week travelling back and forth between her English home and her job at German TV station RTL in Cologne. Schalke, roughly 100km from Cologne, will be the likely benficiaries if the Van der Vaarts leave London.