Sterling decides City future amid Real interest and European ban - Paper Round
Raheem Sterling makes a decision on his future, while Manchester City anticipate a potential summer exodus. Chelsea move closer in Jadon Sancho battle and Manchester United plan to poach Celtic striker. It's Monday's Paper Round...
Sterling set to stay at City
Raheem Sterling has reportedly made up his mind about his Manchester City future, deciding to stay at the Etihad Stadium - even if their two-year Champions League ban were to be upheld. According to the Mirror, the England international is set to stay at the Premier League club with his agent Aidy Ward stating, "Raheem is solely focused on Manchester City". Real Madrid were quick to register their interest in a potential £150 million summer deal for Sterling, as the Liga leader looked to take advantage of the current crisis at the Etihad Stadium. The Mirror also report that City are "confident of overturning" the ban and club officials are "updating the players on their appeal process on a daily basis".
Paper Round's view: It's all well and good for Sterling's agent to say that now while City officials are telling the player and his entourage that they remain "confident" in their appeal, but the situation could rapidly change if the ban is upheld. Sterling is 25 years old and has won every trophy available at City... except the Champions League. So why wouldn't he move away from the Manchester club if they were banned from Europe's elite competition for two season? If the ban isn't overturned and Real Madrid come knocking, Sterling would be silly to turn them down.
City officials accept potential exodus amid Europan ban
Contrastingly, the Telegraph report that Manchester City officials have accepted that if the two-year Champions League ban is upheld, it could result in some of the club's top players leaving this summer. The ban could see the likes of Sergio Aguero, Kevin de Bruyne and Bernardo Silva leave the club, but it could also result in manager Pep Guardiola walking at the end of the season. The club are planning to appeal the ban and City officials expect the situation to be concluded in May which would allow the club, its players and its staff to plan their futures accordingly before the end of the season.
Paper Round's view: It wouldn't be a surprise to see City lose a handful of their superstars if the two-year Champions League ban was upheld after the appeal process. Europe's elite clubs will be sniffing around the club for cheap deals on world-class players who will be desperate to leave in a bid to play Champions League football. Guardiola could also join his players on their way out at the Etihad. The 49-year-old signed a contract extension until 2021 after winning the Premier League in 2018, but he has made it clear that his main aim in Manchester is to lift the Champions League trophy. Juventus have been the most recent club to declare their interest in prising Pep from the Premier League.
Chelsea step up in fight for Sancho's signature
Chelsea have reportedly taken the lead in the chase for Jadon Sancho, with the Sun reporting that the Premier League side have opened talks with the teenager's representatives. The Borussia Dortmund winger has attracted the attention of some of Europe's top clubs, including Manchester United, Liverpool and Barcelona, but the Blues seem to have made an early move ahead of a potential summer transfer. Chelsea are looking to add more young talent to their squad after last summer's transfer ban restricted business, with Ajax's Hakim Ziyech already having agreed a move to Stamford Bridge at the end of the season.
Paper Round's view: The battle for Sancho's signature is going to be a nail-biter. The England international is being touted at around £120 million, despite only being 19 years old. Sancho has been one of the most exciting attacking wide players over the past two years and he has gathered plenty of interest in his home nation, even though he plays in the Bundesliga. A move to Chelsea actually seem quite reasonable... if they were to qualify for next season's Champions League. He would be a confirmed starter for Frank Lampard's side, whereas he probably wouldn't be at Liverpool or Barcelona and a move to Manchester United doesn't seem too appealing just yet as they continue their rebuild. It also helps that he's admitted to being a boyhood Blues supporter.
United plan to poach Celtic striker
Manchester United have identified Celtic star Odsonne Edouard as a potential option as they look to sign a new striker this summer, according to the Sun. The French forward has reportedly been added to the Red Devils' list of summer targets as the club looks to revamp Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's squad. Edouard has bagged 24 goals already this season for the Scottish Premier League leaders and United are looking for a goalscorer to finally replace Romelu Lukaku who joined Inter Milan last summer. The Sun also states United are interested in bring ex-Celtic forward Moussa Dembele to Old Trafford, as well as in-demand RB Leipzig striker Timo Werner.
Paper Round's view: United were said to be interested in signing Edouard's former teammate Dembele since Lukaku left, but a deal with Lyon's stubborn president Jean-Michel Aulas could prove to be difficult and very expensive. Edouard would be a cheaper alternative and he certainly looks like an exceptional player. Top clubs in England have been reluctant to sign players from the Scottish league in the past, but players like Dembele and Virgil van Dijk are proving that there are superstars north of the border and they can perform at the elite level. Arsenal bought Kieran Tierney straight from Celtic last summer and it wouldn't be surprising if Solskjaer looked at bringing in Edouard this summer.