Football news - Paper Round: Arsenal could land star Fernando Calero in cut-price deal
Arsenal want a new centre-back, Tottenham Hotspur could lose Mauricio Pochettino and Fernando Llorente, and Atlanta reject talk of Marcelo Bielsa.
Arsenal target three defenders
Unai Emery is looking for defensive reinforcements in the January transfer window. Despite the fact Laurent Koscielny is set to make his comeback on Thursday night against Qarabag, the serious injury sustained by Rob Holding has led him to maintain interest in other players. Manchester United's Eric Bailly is one target, as is Gary Cahill of Chelsea. However, Real Valladolid’s Fernando Calero could be the likeliest, as he has a £10 million release clause.
Paper Round’s view: Emery would be sensible to add to the squad while he is impressing his board, as he may struggle to convince them should he experience any downturn. Bailly has raw talent, and Cahill can be relied upon as a consistent performer, but Calero might make sense to avoid any protracted negotiations and bring him in as soon as possible.
Pochettino could leave at the end of the season
Tottenham Hotspur are preparing to fight to keep hold of manager Mauricio Pochettino in the summer. They are expecting approaches from Manchester United and Real Madrid. United considered appointing him after Louis van Gaal left, and Real are in the market for another manager should Santiago Solari not impress over the course of the rest of the season.
Paper Round’s view: Tottenham will have to offer Pochettino something that other clubs cannot, and soon. They failed to buy him a single player in the summer, and have a stadium that is increasingly delayed. The attraction of taking Spurs to the North London stadium should not be underestimated, but nor can the fact that Real Madrid would give him the best players in the world to manage.
Llorente considers Spurs exit
Someone else who could be on their way out of Tottenham is striker Fernando Llorente. The 33-year-old has failed to win his place in the starting line-up given he is back-up to Harry Kane. Llorente said he would be content to return to Athletic Bilbao, but did not know if it would happen at the end of the season when his contract runs out, or in the January window.
Paper Round’s view: Given their Champions League progress, letting Llorente leave in the winter could leave Spurs short of numbers when the busy second half of the season kicks in. However, if Athletic were able to come up with a reasonable offer for what is an ageing player, then Spurs could consider any sum too good to turn down, in order to help fund his ultimate replacement.
Atlanta United linked with Marcelo Bielsa
Atlanta United emerged as MLS champions, but that has not stopped their manager Tata Martino from deciding to leave the club. They have now been linked with Leeds boss, Marcelo Bielsa, despite his notable lack of trophies for such a well-regarded manager. Atalanta have denied claims that they are considering the Chilean.
Paper Round’s view: Bielsa has failed in the top flight of European football consistently, and has failed in the lower reaches of Ligue 1 as well. He has found his level at Leeds, and until he reaches the Premier League and overachieves, there is little reason to think that a club that is the best in its country should appoint him over someone with a more successful track record.