Liverpool will need to pay at least €30 million (£26.7m) if they want to sign young Ajax defender Perr Schuurs, according to reports.

The Reds were first linked with the 20-year-old at the start of November following injuries to several defenders.

Virgil Van Dijk is set to miss the rest of this campaign, while Fabinho is only just back in training.

READ: Klopp refuses to rule out Salah after positive coronavirus test

Schuurs emerged as a target for Reds officials to improve their centre back options for the future.

According to Italian source Sempre Milan (via the Liverpool Echo), Ajax have now told Liverpool their asking price.

The €30 million fee being cited is good considering the player’s potential.

Schuurs has already been likened to Juventus wonderkid Matthijs De Ligt due to his playing style and size.

The report states that Liverpool face competition from Italian side AC Milan for the player’s signature.

Schuurs first came to prominence during the 2019/20 campaign, when he played in the Champions League for the Dutch club.

He’s since played against Liverpool in this season’s competition, which the Reds won 1-0.

Schuurs was impressive during that match and didn’t seem to be overwhelmed by Liverpool’s front three.

He is a calming presence at centre back, similar in a way to Van Dijk.

Standing at 6ft 3in, Schuurs is also a threat from set pieces.

Schuurs could be brought in to provide boss Jurgen Klopp with extra options.

The German has suffered since selling Dejan Lovren in the summer.

Injuries to Van Dijk, Fabinho and Joe Gomez mean they are currently relying on the inexperienced Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams.

Joel Matip is their only senior centre back, which could cost them in their next few games.

Schuurs is one potential signing alongside Dayot Upamecano from RB Leipzig.

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Posted in EPL, FA Premier League

Manchester United are reported to be ready to move again for Matthijs de Ligt after a difficult first year at Juventus for the Holland centre-back.

The Red Devils were firmly in the hunt for De Ligt last year when he was one of the most in-demand stars of the summer window. Barcelona were also keen but the defender opted to join Juve from Ajax for £67.5million.

However, the 20-year-old has endured a tough debut season in Serie A, failing to hold down a place in Maurizio Sarri’s first-choice XI.

The Daily Mail claims United are monitoring De Ligt’s situation – and Juve may be willing to move the defender on this summer.

United have plenty of options in central defence but Ole Gunner Solskjaer is still short of a top-class partner for Harry Maguire.

De Ligt could also help grease the wheels to move Paul Pogba out of Old Trafford.

The France midfielder is desperate to leave United with Juve and Real Madrid most heavily linked. But Pogba has not started a Premier League match since September and with the coronavirus pandemic causing chaos across European football, it seems unlikely that either Juve or Real would be willing to meet United’s £100million valuation.

But United could be interested in a part-exchange deal, which would be made easier by both players being represented by Mino Raiola.

The F365 Show is on hiatus until the football returns. Subscribe now ready for its glorious comeback. In the meantime, listen to the latest episode of Planet Football’s 2000s podcast, The Broken Metatarsal.

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Posted in EPL, FA Premier League

Harry Kane scored an unbelievable goal from the halfway line as Tottenham beat Juventus 3-2 in the International Champions Cup.

Erik Lamela gave Tottenham the lead in the first half before Gonzalo Higuain and Cristiano Ronaldo struck back after the break for Juve.

Lucas Moura leveled things up on 65 minutes before England international Kane pulled off a wonder strike in injury time to win the match for Spurs.

Unlike Manchester United v Inter Milan on Saturday, there were a few empty seats at the National Stadium – although those in attendance were arguably more excitable.

There was a strong South Korean contingent at Singapore’s National Stadium and they made themselves heard whenever Son Heung-min got on the ball.

Excitement rose when he hit the outside of the post after four minutes, while Ronaldo tried an overhead kick in a promising start to the International Champions Cup encounter.

The Portuguese flashed a fierce shot wide but Spurs were looking brighter and broke the deadlock on the half-hour mark.

Son showed good composure and awareness to lay off to the overlapping Troy Parrott. The 17-year-old saw a low shot was saved by Juve goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, but Lamela was on hand to direct home.

A drinks break followed a goal that took the sting out of the remainder of the opening period, with the Mexican waves in full flow as the whistle was blown for half-time.

Both sides made a variety of changes at half-time. Moura was among the Spurs introductions and saw a penalty appeal rejected shortly after the restart.

Spurs were pushing but Juventus levelled in the 56th minute as former Chelsea man Higuain hit a low shot past Paulo Gazzaniga.

Kane clipped the post as Mauricio Pochettino’s men looked to immediately regain the lead, only for Ronaldo to pop up at the other end and smartly direct into the far corner.

The Singapore crowd were witnessing an entertaining encounter, with Matthijs de Ligt brought on for his first appearance since signing from Ajax.

Tottenham brought on summer signing Tanguy Ndombele at the same time and he quickly made an impact, threading a pass through for Moura to smartly direct home.

The France midfielder curled just wide and Federico Bernardeschi stung the palms of Gazzaniga as the match continued to ebb and flow.

Kane poked an effort just wide and would settle the match just as a penalty shoot-out loomed large.

Moura won possession and the England captain unleashed a stunning first-time shot from just inside the Juventus half that beat Wojciech Szczesny, sending the crowd wild and securing a 3-2 win in scarcely believable circumstances. It is a goal that will live long in the memory.


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Posted in EPL, FA Premier League

Mediawatch assumed that Manchester United releasing the full footage of Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard’s supposed ‘public spat’ on the pre-season tour of Perth would bring an end to this tiresome line of reporting.

After all, does this really look like the furious bust-up it was framed as?

There they are, at each other’s throats, smiling, laughing and generally being unable to stand one another’s company.

Mediawatch is, of course, stupid. Why would The Sun see the above and admit they made about 427 mountains out of a single molehill when they can duly double down on this emergency?

‘Land Down Blunders’ is the headline to a double-page spread on Wednesday, with the tagline of ‘UNITED OZ TOUR SHAMBLES’. Have we missed something?

The sub-headlines offer yet more misery:

‘JESSE TRIES TO SHRUG OFF POGBA ROW’ – because there wasn’t one.

‘LINDELOF’S READY TO GO, CLAIMS AGENT’ – who says nothing of the sort.

All of this accompanies an article from Neil Custis which gives a whole new meaning to the term ‘artistic license’.

‘Just as one player tried to make peace, another was throwing a spanner in the works,’ he begins.

‘In fact, there are so many spanners being tossed around at Manchester United right now,’ he continues, resisting the obvious gag, ‘it is a wonder the big red machine is moving at all.’

‘Well, it has been moving – but unfortunately in the wrong direction. And the build-up to the new season does not suggest that is going to be reversed.’

Yep, they’re absolutely sh*te. Although Custis did say ‘United have been made into a team to be feared again’ in February. Still, carry on.

‘Shortly after the team landed here in Perth on Monday and went for a walk to stretch their legs following the 16-hour flight, the video of Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard arguing and being separated by Victor Lindelof emerged.’

It did not ’emerge’; it was literally posted by Manchester United’s official Twitter account. And it was not a video of them arguing; it was a video of the squad walking around that potentially showed a couple of seconds of two players having a heated discussion – a theory which has since been disproved.

Oh, and the claim that Lindelof ‘separated’ them is a load of b*llocks and you know it. They weren’t squaring up outside Wetherspoons in Manchester city centre at 2am on Saturday morning.

‘Twenty four hours later, United did not feel they needed to delete the footage from their social media accounts.’

Because that would have been the most stupid idea possible, giving rise to suggestions that there had been some sort of altercation. They ‘did not feel they needed to delete the footage from their social media accounts’ because they released an extended version that proved there was no problem.

‘Lingard was quick to post a picture on Twitter yesterday of him training next to Pogba, as if to say they were still pals.’

It’s almost as if they’re still…ah, forget it. There are two pictures on this article alone showing them both next to each other. Pogba is doing kick-ups as Lingard watches on in one, and we are told that ‘Pog shows off’. The flashy get.

‘Soon there was more trouble as peacemaker Lindelof’s agent Hasan Cetinkaya said: “Lindelof is on the radar of a great European club, but leaving United depends on the English club.”

‘It could be pointed out that he is already at a great European club but the agent is clearly stoking the fire of rumours that Barcelona are interested in signing the Swede, who moved to Old Trafford from Benfica in 2017.’

Can a pot tell a kettle that they’re ‘stoking the fire’?

But enough about Lindelof, who is ‘just another unwanted distraction’. This is about Pogba, whose ‘demeanour’ before the tour ‘suggested he was less than keen’ on heading to Australia to get annoyed by Jesse Lingard.

‘Indeed, it was reported he had told team-mates last week that he was not coming at all.’

That’s nice. You do realise he’s there though, don’t you?

‘Coaching staff were holding their breath on Sunday as to whether the club’s record £89m signing would turn up. That is some way to treat a club that pays you £290,000 a week.’

Neil, he’s there. He’s on the tour. He’s with the club. What are you on about?

Of course, the Frenchman ‘does not seem to be alone in wanting out of United’. David de Gea ‘has still not signed a new contract’, Romelu Lukaku ‘is looking to move to Italy’, Ander Herrera ‘has already gone to Paris Saint-Germain’ and ‘the club are keeping their fingers crossed on’ someone coming along to pay Alexis Sanchez’s ridiculous wages.

So that’s one player United want to keep, two players United want to sell and one player United did not show enough intent to keep before he left. Along with Pogba, who is apparently staying, this is clearly a ‘mass exodus’.

The problems really do ‘just seem to mount up’. Particularly when you invent at least half of them, Neil.


Wheeler dealer
Let Chris Wheeler show Custis how it’s done (in the Daily Mail‘s solitary page of football coverage).

‘There was uncertainty that Pogba would even show up for the tour but he reported for duty on Sunday.’

Making it clear Pogba has not actually done anything wrong. Lovely.

‘He was then involved in a supposed spat with team-mate Jesse Lingard that transpired to be nothing more than friendly banter when the United players went on a walkabout following their arrival.’

Pointing out that the ‘supposed spat’ actually ‘transpired to be nothing more than friendly banter’. Delightful.

‘Victor Lindelof was the third player involved in the video clip and the Sweden defender’s own future at United was called into question when his agent confirmed interest from a top European club – believed to Barcelona if they lose out to Juventus over Ajax defender Matthijs de Ligt.’


‘”Lindelof is in the orbit of a great European club, but leaving United depends on the English club,” said agent Hasan Cetinkaya, presumably a reference to United’s pursuit of Leicester’s Harry Maguire.’

Suggesting that the quote is likely more to do with United signing someone else than Lindelof wanting to leave? Wonderful.

Three huge issues worthy of a double-page spread in one desperate newspaper, and clarified as absolutely nothing by another happy to simply report on other sports instead of pretending something is happening. Textbook.


Mirror, Mirror
But here is David McDonnell of the Daily Mirror to prove that more than one newspaper is willing to completely ignore context and fact to pretend that Manchester United are in crisis.

‘Victor Lindelof has piled more misery on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer after his agent claimed he is being targeted by Barcelona.’

‘Agent says really big club wants to sign a player he represents’ really is a miserable state of affairs.

‘With Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku already trying to quit Old Trafford this summer, and David de Gea so far refusing to sign a new deal, the Manchester United boss is fighting to hold his squad together.’

Losing three players from a 28-man squad – and receiving plenty of money to reinvest in replacements – really would be cataclysmic.

‘The Sweden star’s agent, Hassan Cetinkaya, claimed Lindelof could move on this summer, suggesting the 24-year-old is keen to make the switch.’

He suggested no such thing.

‘A spat between Pogba and Jesse Lingard – filmed and posted on the club’s official social media feeds – hinted at further tensions.’

For fu…


Stay with me
Pogba even makes The Sun‘s back page because, well, obviously.

‘STAY!’ is the headline as we are told that ‘Paul Pogba will be asked to wait a year before quitting Manchester United.’

Fair enough. It worked with Cristiano Ronaldo a decade ago and with countless other players. It will show that they’re in control of the situation as they get another year out of a clearly talented player, whose ambition to leave will be realised eventually. There have been worse ideas.

‘Right now the midfielder, who is unhappy at being on United’s summer tour to Australia, is going nowhere.’

Yep, he’s miserable. So very, very miserable. And nice one. This is United’s and Solskjaer’s decision, then?

‘Italian giants Juve do not have the cash to fund a deal for the player they sold back to United three years ago.

‘Real boss Zinedine Zidane is also on record as being an admirer of his fellow Frenchman. But he has already blown most of his £300m transfer budget since returning to the Bernabeu.

‘And United have not had an approach from either Real or Juventus for Pogba – who was filmed having a spat with team-mate Jesse Lingard after they landed in Perth (No he f***ing wasn’t).’

So United are deciding to keep a player for one year…because they’ve had no offers for him and his two potential suitors can’t afford it? A rare victory for this absolute SHAMBLES of a club.


You’re kidding?
The efforts of the MailOnline in not pretending Manchester United are about to fold is appreciated. Their definition of ‘kids’ needs some work, mind.

‘The 25-goal hot-shot, a rampaging right-back, classy midfielders and a dreadlocked defender – meet the kids looking to break into Chelsea’s first team as Lampard plans his assault on the Premier League’ is the rather wordy headline to an article that puts forward the cases of Ian Maatsen (17), Ethan Ampadu (18), Marc Guehi (18), Billy Gilmour (18), Dujon Sterling (19), Jamie Cumming (19) and Conor Gallagher (19), among many others. They are hardly ‘kids’ in a traditional sense, but football logic dictates that any teenager is basically still a child.

Mediawatch can even let Mason Mount (20), Ike Ugbo (20) and Trevoh Chalobah (20) go; they are certainly young. But a line surely has to be drawn at Lewis Baker, the 24-year-old ‘kid’ who made his debut five and a half years ago.


Roll the Dyche
The following is presented to you entirely without comment. Good lord:


Recommended reading of the day
Caitlin Murray on Jill Ellis.

Melissa Reddy on Tottenham.


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Posted in EPL, FA Premier League

Harry Maguire is a man in demand but, as it stands, he is going nowhere. Literally, rather than metaphorically, because the centre-back and Leicester are on to a good thing together. If that is to change, then the responsibility for breaking the current impasse around the England star falls very much on Maguire’s suitors.

There are only two and both are casting envious eyes towards the King Power Stadium from Manchester. United and City are working through very different summers following hugely contrasting seasons, but the one thing the derby rivals share is the need for a top-class centre-back.

There aren’t many around. United have been linked with a few – Matthijs De Ligt, Toby Alderweireld, Kalidou Koulibaly, Samuel Umtiti and Issa Diop – but Maguire appears to be their primary target. For City it seems the 26-year-old is their only target.

You can’t blame United for keeping their options open because their need is so bleeding obvious. Jose Mourinho recognised a gaping void in the centre of his defence a year ago, but Ed Woodward reckoned he knew best. The United boss was sacked in December with his browbeaten, barely-arsed team having conceded 29 goals in 17 league games at an average rate of 1.7 goals per game, giving them the fifth-worst defensive record in the league. They had shipped only 28 during the entirety of the previous Premier League campaign.

It didn’t get much better under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, with that ‘goals conceded’ figure dropping to 1.4 per game despite a run that saw United lose only one of their first 17 matches under the caretaker boss. The conclusion is clear: Mourinho was right, United need a top-class centre-back. Perhaps two.

City’s need is rather less desperate, especially when you consider that the champions conceded only one more goal than the Liverpool defence which was lauded as the best in Europe. But Pep Guardiola is short on quantity rather than quality. Vincent Kompany’s departure leaves a void while Nicolas Otamendi is said to be considering following the former City skipper out of the Etihad door.

From four quality central defenders, Guardiola is facing the prospect of being down to two. And doubts still persist over just how much faith he retains in John Stones.

The England centre-back endured a miserable Nations League campaign but his problems began well before the end of the domestic season. Stones started only two of City’s final eight Premier League games and featured in none of City’s Champions League knockout matches. Prior to being dropped from the match-day squad for the Manchester derby at Old Trafford in April, he had started just three of the previous 15 games in all competitions, with 33-year-old Kompany trusted instead to guide City’s defence through the run-in.

The preference for Kompany suggests Guardiola would not be too concerned by the absence of rapier-like pace the City manager identified in Maguire in November 2017, when Amazon’s behind-the-scenes documentary showed him telling Kevin De Bruyne to look for space around the centre-back because “the guy is not fast”.

Maguire has other attributes Guardiola demands in his centre-backs. Explaining his tendency to rotate in the centre of his defence, the City boss said: “Sometimes I play Nico and Vincent because they are both amazing at winning duels. Defensively, winning duels, both are perfect. In some games, I need that. In other games I need more of the build-up.”

Maguire does both. He won 73% of the 249 duels he competed last season – Otamendi was City’s best with 66%. In possession, Maguire has demonstrated his credentials for England, with Gareth Southgate encouraging his defenders to play like Guardiola’s. Maguire looks more comfortable with that brief than Stones.

Still, despite the fact that Maguire looks a seamless fit and a ready-made solution for both United and City’s problems, both clubs are apparently refusing to budge on their £65million valuation of the England defender. Which isn’t going to satisfy Leicester now or any time before the deadline.

The Foxes are refusing to let Maguire go for anything less than the figure Southampton squeezed out of Liverpool for Virgil van Dijk. The Dutchman has made £75million look a bargain, though few anticipated the instant and substantial impact he would have upon the Reds’ ropey rearguard.

Leicester’s valuation is entirely justifiable and given they have no pressure to cash in on Maguire, the price won’t be coming down any time soon. So United or City must come up.

There have been reports that Maguire would prefer a move to City, which may explain the champions’ stance. City have spent big in recent years but they have yet to go above £60million for anyone. They will break that barrier for Maguire but their desire to avoid straying closer to the very top end of the market is clear. If City are aware of Maguire’s preference for them over their neighbours, then they can afford to bide their time and prod Leicester into reaching a mutually agreeable deal.

United are negotiating from a far weaker position. Their tactics didn’t work with Crystal Palace, who eventually wrung out of Ed Woodward the amount they wanted from the start for Aaron Wan-Bissaka, despite the absence of any bidding war. A similar approach won’t wash with Leicester.

Woodward appeared reluctant to get involved in the fight for De Ligt’s attention for fear of being used but playing it cool over Maguire will only play into City’s hands. The only ace up Woodward’s sleeve is United’s financial clout and now – with Maguire at stake – is not the time to get shy. Coming up closer to Leicester’s valuation, above the sum City are comfortable paying, seems to represent their best and only chance of success.

United cannot still have reservations over paying such a huge sum for a defender. They only have to look at Liverpool for a reference over the difference a top quality centre-half can make or, if they prefer to look closer to home, Rio Ferdinand offers an encouraging precedent for paying a record-breaking sum for a stopper.

And this is where United’s priority must lie. Though they need perhaps two more midfielders and a centre-forward should Romelu Lukaku leave, a more potent attack will be somewhat futile while the back door remains wide open.

Woodward kept the money in his pocket last summer and look how that turned out. Both City and United need Maguire but the champions can afford to take a more patient, prudent approach. United’s bargaining position makes this no time for penny-pinching, especially in the absence of credible alternatives.

Ian Watson

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Posted in EPL, FA Premier League