Football news - Paper Round: Ander Herrera set for Barcelona free transfer
Ander Herrera and Adrien Rabiot could leave their clubs on free transfers, Bernd Leno is growing restless at Arsenal, and Newcastle have no plans for January.
Barcelona attempt fresh Herrera move
Spanish champions Barcelona are interested in making another move for Manchester United’s midfielder Ander Herrera. The 29-year-old’s deal runs out at the end of the season, meaning he can sign a pre-contract from January, and can leave on a free in the summer. Barcelona tried unsuccessfully to sign Herrera last summer, though Herrera wants to sign a new two-year deal at United that has been negotiated slowly.
Manchester United's Ander Herrera celebrates scoring their second goal with Jesse LingardReuters
Paper Round’s view: United appear to be dragging their heels on a new deal. They already have Marouane Fellaini, another awkward, bumbling defensive midfielder, and it is not clear exactly why United need another one. After the arrival of Fred and the emergence of Andreas Pereira, it makes tying down Herrera far less urgent, and having his wages off the books might be the best for the club.
City monitor Rabiot contract situation
Another midfielder who could be leaving his current club on a free transfer is Adrien Rabiot. The 23-year-old’s current deal expires in the summer, meaning he too can sign a pre-contract as soon as January. Rabiot spent a year as a teenager at Manchester City before returning to France due to homesickness, and is now open to a return. However, City aren’t his only option. Juventus and Barcelona are both considering an offer, and Paris Saint-Germain might yet offer him an acceptable new deal.
Adrien RabiotGetty Images
Paper Round’s view: Rabiot has exceptional talent and if he is available for nothing, then most of the clubs around Europe will be taking a look. At 23, Rabiot is now at the age where more consistency is expected, so a move to the more demanding Premier League or Liga might be the ideal change in circumstances to help him to improve.
Leno frustrated at Arsenal
After making a £19.2 million move from Bayer Leverkusen to Arsenal in the summer, goalkeeper Bernd Leno made his debut on Thursday in the Europa League against Vorskla. However, the 26-year-old is growing frustrated at his lack of opportunities, as Petr Cech has retained his place in the Premier League so far this season. Leno is nevertheless prepared to show patience as he waits for his chance.
Bernd Leno (FC Arsenal)Getty Images
Paper Round’s view: Cech has been unconvincing so far this season, showing some of the old weaknesses from the last couple of seasons under Arsene Wenger. The time for a change is probably soon, but Unai Emery is making fundamental changes to the side, and probably does not want to move too fast and upset the stability in the side that he inherited. Putting Leno under pressure early on in his career may be counterproductive, too.
Benitez still in the dark over transfers
Confusion still reigns over transfer plans in the next transfer window at Newcastle. Rafael Benitez has not yet been told how by the club how much he has to spend in January. Newcastle had a scout in the stands for the recent Champions League game between Bayern Munich and Benfica, but there is no concrete plan for action in January yet.
Paper Round’s view: Perhaps counterintuitively, Benitez’s hand could be strengthened the worse he performs with his current squad. If relegation looms, owner Mike Ashley may release funds to preserve their Premier League status and keep the value of the club intact. If he outperforms again, then Ashley could well be tempted to skimp again in the hope of maximising the profit made at the club.