PSG to offer contract for Man United midfielder as Barcelona weigh up Mesut Ozil move

David Cooper 24/11/2017
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The transfer window may not open again until January 1 2018 but that hasn’t put an end to plenty of speculation throughout Europe.

Here, we take a look at three big stories dominating the headlines on Friday.

Will any of the following deals happen?

Let us know your thoughts.

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MAROUANE FELLAINI 

Paris Saint-Germain are plotting a surprise move for Manchester United midfielder Marouane Fellaini, according to Le 10 Sport.

The big Belgian will enter the final six months of his United deal in January and Unai Emery is said to be in the market for a back up to aging midfielder Thiago Motta.

RATING: 6/10

VERDICT

There’s talk of a four-year deal being offered to Fellaini next summer but it’s an odd move for PSG considering he’d be 34 by the completion of such a contract.

There is an extension on the table at Old Trafford but for the same terms as his current deal and Fellaini is said to be unhappy with his fringe status so could well be leaving the club next summer, whether that be PSG or elsewhere.

MESUT OZIL

Barcelona are weighing up a move for Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil, reports Sport.

The Catalan giants were said to be very interested in securing a deal in January but there is now concerns over his busy lifestyle and how that could effect his impact on the pitch.

RATING: 5/10 

VERDICT

As is well documented, Ozil’s current contract is up next summer and as a result he’s been perpetually linked with a move away from the Emirates Stadium ever since the summer.

Barca need an injection of creativity from their midfield and Ozil certainly provides that. Whether their concerns about his private life are legitimate or not, there will be stiff competition for his signature so the Spanish club won’t be alone in possibly making a move in January.

Ozil will be available on free next summer

Ozil will be available on free next summer

GIOVANNI VAN BRONCKHORST

Arsene Wenger has apparently picked Giovanni van Bronckhorst as his eventual successor at Arsenal, reports the Daily Star.

Wenger’s contract is up in 2019 and he has reportedly stated the Feyenoord boss will be the right man for the job should he decide to make an exit in two years time.

RATING: 6/10

VERDICT

Van Bronckhorst is a former Arsenal player and after a successful playing career has transitioned nicely into management with the Eredivisie club.

He has taken on Wenger’s attacking philosophy since assuming the managerial reins in 2015 and it’s led to trophy triumphs with the KNVB Cup and league title all in the cabinet. It’s a surprising rumour in terms of timing but perhaps not a surprising choice should Wenger call it quits in 2019.

Feyenoord's Dutch head coach Giovanni Van Bronckhorst

Feyenoord’s Dutch head coach Giovanni Van Bronckhorst

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Higuain and Suarez's struggles are mirrored and other things learned from Barca's draw

Alex Rea 23/11/2017
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Barcelona advanced to the Champions League last 16 after clinching top spot in Group D following a 0-0 draw against Juventus in Turin.

Last season’s finalists Juve remain second in the group, a point ahead of third-place Sporting Lisbon, and can secure their qualification with victory at Olympiakos on December 5.

Here are three things learned from the Juventus Stadium.

RAKITIC NEEDS TO BE DROPPED

Pre-game Ivan Rakitic touchingly talked about giving up his World Cup spot for the heartbroken Gigi Buffon.

Barca fans would probably wish the same sentiment was shared for his midfield position with the Blaugrana because he was the target of yet more vilification.

Suffice to say a trend is appearing in which the Croatian has become a scapegoat but the agenda may have some justification.

If ever a sequence summed up his struggle it was in the second half when Andres Iniesta made a clever interception, laid a one-two with a backheel pass to Busquets who shifts away from the attention of Miralem Pjanic with a roulette only for Rakitic to misplace the back pass.

Everything from his touch, to his passing was way short of the standards expected at Barca and perhaps Ernesto Valverde would be wise to consider taking him out of the spotlight and giving him a rest.

Gigi Buffon shares joke with midfielder Ivan Rakitic

Gigi Buffon shares joke with midfielder Ivan Rakitic

HIGUAIN AND SUAREZ’S TWIN STRUGGLES

Two players way off top form and a duo who spent most of the clash looking for free-kicks rather than goals.

The parallels between Luis Suarez and Gonzalo Higuain were all to obvious in Turin and the irritation they caused each set of fans was palpable.

Higuain looked utterly pedestrian with criticism predictably levelled at his lack of movement.

Likewise, Suarez having broken his duck at the weekend looked out of ideas at the point of Barca’s attack.

The closest he came to scoring was a deflected free-kick but that’s more than can be said of Higuain who mustered one shot and only five touches more than his goalkeeper Buffon.

And delve deeper, Suarez managed only 34 touches – the least of any Barca player from the starting XI – just two more than the Argentine.

Both struggled to make an impact and it’s very much been the narrative of their campaigns so far.

Luis Suarez does down injured during the draw with Juve

Luis Suarez does down injured during the draw with Juve

VALVERDE DOES WHAT HE WANTS

If one thing is clear from Valverde’s tactical and personnel decisions it’s that he will very much be his own man.

A pragmatic approach in Turin was summed up by the almost unthinkable decision to drop Messi for Paulinho.

The Brazilian operated as a false nine and if the decision to rest the Argentine genius left fans aghast then the formation deployed will have only added to their skepticism.

Traditionally, Barca have almost exclusively stuck to a 4-3-3 or a 3-4-3 but Valverde has used a variation of a 3-5-2 and against Juventus a 4-2-3-1.

Granted, they only needed a point for progression and it was achieved with relatively little fuss in the end but the system left Suarez dreadfully isolated and Barca short of ideas even if they retained defensive rigidity.

Valverde is clearly content to play for a draw in Europe for key games and given their unbeaten record is now 18 games with 13 clean sheets it’s hard to argue with his approach.

This is Valverde’s team and so far the results have been nothing short of impressive.

Ernesto Valverde looks on during the clash with Juve

Ernesto Valverde looks on during the clash with Juve

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Bosz is on the brink and message from Dortmund fans must be heard loud and clear

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In trouble: Borussia Dortmund boss Peter Bosz

“Doesn’t matter what happened yesterday, doesn’t matter what happens today – on Saturday it counts.”

In typical fashion, the vocal Borussia Dortmund fans have left sinking head coach Peter Bosz in no doubt about the stakes for this latest instalment of the Revierderby versus Schalke.

Rather than concentrate on Tuesday’s meeting with Tottenham and the expected elimination from the Champions League’s group stages which followed after another loss, a fourth in six harrowing fixtures, this was the forthright message delivered to the Dutchman from the Sudtribune.

The banner said it all about a time of reducing expectations and rumours of an impending dismissal for the man poached from Ajax.

Saturday’s fight for Ruhr supremacy could provide both the cure to all ails, or an unforgivable stain on a tumultuous reign which began with such positivity.

In this winter of BVB’s discontent, it is easy to forget the immediacy of Bosz’s impact.

A counter-pressing style redolent of celebrated predecessors Jurgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel appeared to make him the perfect fit as a five-point lead in the Bundesliga and dominant goal difference of +19 was recorded by September 30. Then the wheels, spectacularly, fell off for Bosz.

A rot catalysed by last month’s 3-2 home defeat to RB Leipzig has also included star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang going four games without a goal and being banned for persistent internal rule breaking, Germany defensive midfielder Julian Weigl suffer persistent – and critical – losses of concentration which belie his soaring reputation plus Switzerland goalkeeper Roman Burki continue to provide bloopers.

Dortmund are now fifth in the Bundesliga having led the charge at the start of the season

Dortmund are now fifth in the Bundesliga having led the charge at the start of the season

The squad’s brittle confidence was on show again in midweek. After they deservedly went in ahead at the break following a best performance since September, from the moment Harry Kane equalised in the 49th minute they appeared utterly helpless.

Throughout this time, Bosz has scrambled for a solution. An ideologue first remained welded to the Dutch principles of a high defensive line and constant possession, prior to failed attempts to play deeper against the likes of Bayern Munich and now Spurs.

These stabs only appear to have further confused players whose minds were already fried in the hothouse final months of Tuchel’s disintegrating two-year spell.

But should this precipitous drop even be a surprise? The Dutch principles of ‘totalvoetbal’ have suffered critical blows after the nation’s successive failures to make tournaments, with high-profile disciples such as Louis van Gaal and Ronald Koeman appearing badly out of step at United and Everton.

Ronald Koeman was sacked by Everton last month

Ronald Koeman was sacked by Everton last month

The Ajax stint also stands out in an otherwise-undistinguished coaching career spent scrambling around the Netherlands and Israel. Does he possess the reserves to come through this?

Worryingly for Bosz and BVB, they could not be playing Schalke at a worst time. Inspired by the brave decision to put 32-year-old Domenico Tedesco in charge, they have left Hamburg behind in the Bundesliga’s basketcase.

In contrast to their Ruhr rivals, an uncertain beginning has flourished into a run of four wins and one draw to put them second.

The prospect of blooming Germany midfielder Leon Goretzka let loose against them will strike fear into the hearts of even the most belligerent Dortmund fans.

With enthusiasm waning and doubts growing, Bosz surely cannot survive disappointing the Sudtribune again. He has to make this one ‘count’.

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