What the papers say
If he can lift the Champions League trophy next season, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is considering a sabbatical, the Daily Star reports. The Spaniard has signed a contract which will keep him at the Etihad until 2021, but the paper quotes an unnamed source saying the stresses of the job mean it is “inevitable he will have to take a step back”. City will reportedly target Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino if Guardiola goes.
Talks have reportedly begun between Chelsea and Derby manager Frank Lampard. The Daily Mail says Lampard may return to Stamford Bridge after just one year with the Rams, with Blues boss Maurizio Sarri apparently preparing to leave Chelsea for Juventus this week.
Manchester United have reportedly found a replacement for goalkeeper David De Gea, if the Spaniard leaves the club summer. The Independent says the Red Devils are looking at Ajax’s Andre Onana as their first choice, although Barcelona’s Jasper Cillesen has also been linked with a move to Old Trafford.
Arsenal have made contact over Roma star Lorenzo Pellegrini and could pay his £27million transfer fee in instalments, according to reports. The Daily Mirror says reports in Italy suggest Pellegrini’s agent has already fielded a call from the Gunners.
England midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is set to extend his current deal at Liverpool until 2023, the Daily Mail says. His current deal will run out in three years, but he will agree to an additional one-year extension, the paper claims.
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Players to watch
Louie Barry: Barcelona are hoping to secure the services of the 15-year-old England Under-16 striker from West Brom, the Birmingham Mail reports.
Paul Pogba: Manchester United’s France striker is being closely courted by Real Madrid, according to Marca. The Spanish newspaper’s website says Real will do all they can to take Pogba from Old Trafford this summer.
Rio Ferdinand believes Frank Lampard would be the perfect choice to manage Chelsea if current boss Maurizio Sarri departs this summer.
Sarri has been tipped to fill the vacant managerial role at Juventus with his Stamford Bridge future in doubt.
The former Napoli coach only took charge of the Blues last summer and secured the Europa League title, a third-place Premier League finish and reached the Carabao Cup final.
Despite that, he sometimes felt the wrath of fans for his approach and is now reportedly being lined up to succeed Massimiliano Allegri at Juventus.
Lampard, Chelsea’s record goalscorer and someone who won 11 major honours during a 13-year spell in west London, spent last season in charge of Sky Bet Championship side Derby.
He guided the club to the play-off final where the Rams lost to Aston Villa but has been heavily linked with a swift return to Chelsea,
“I think he has done a good job,” said Lampard’s former West Ham team-mate Ferdinand.
“He has lowered the playing age at Derby – his remit before the season would have been around that.
“He hit all the nails on the head in that regard. But more than that the way Frank has conducted himself has been exemplary, especially in the situation with the Leeds manager (Marcelo Bielsa, during the ‘Spygate’ scandal), he handled that very well.
“He is the perfect choice. People talk about experience and what-not but what experience did Pep (Guardiola) have when he went into Barcelona’s first team? He trained the younger kids at the club.
“Frank knows the club and he knows the players and the players will respect him. You can see he can carry himself in a particular way in front of the media and in the football club and he can change things within a season.
“We have seen that at Derby. I know it’s a smaller club but we have seen him do it. I don’t think he would go in there and be phased by big personalities in that changing room.”
Chelsea have appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport to have a transfer ban overturned.
But the club have not asked for the two-year ban, imposed on the club by FIFA after allegations Chelsea broke regulations over signing young players, to be frozen.
That means they may not be able to bring in any new signings this summer, having already sold talisman Eden Hazard to Real Madrid.
If that proves to be the case, Ferdinand feels that only improves Lampard’s chances of landing the job.
“If Chelsea are going to get a ban transfer-wise I don’t think they can look anywhere but Frank if I’m honest.
“Because he and Jody (Morris, Derby assistant manager) they know all the kids from 16 upwards. They know what they can all do.
“Chelsea have had the best young kids in the country for a while now – Man City are coming around that but for the good years they have had the best kids and none of them get in the first team.
“As a football club, you would think they would like to change that. If they want to change that there is no one but Frank.
“(Do you) keep blowing money away with these managers who you have to pay up after two years? Or are you gonna go with someone who the fans are going to love to have back?
“Someone who the young players are going to say ‘oh my god, Frank is going to play us.’ At a time when managers are scared and under pressure not to play kids, I think it will be refreshing.”
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Gareth Southgate believes his group made a mental leap at the Nations League as England’s attention turns to Euro 2020 glory.
Jordan Pickford was the penalty shoot-out hero against Switzerland on Sunday as the Three Lions prevented the inaugural finals ending in deflating fashion, just three days after Holland came back to win their semi-final 3-1 in extra-time.
It was England’s second penalties triumph in the space of a year and victory saw them improve on last year’s fourth-place finish at the World Cup, with Nations League bronze medals acknowledgement of the progress being made.
Southgate knows they hit a “certain level” on the field in Portugal and need to kick on, but England’s manager has been impressed by the group’s winning mentality and hunger.
“I think, for me, the significant step is the level of disappointment that we haven’t left here having gone to the final and won the trophy,” the former defender said after the 0-0 draw with the Swiss was followed by a 6-5 penalty shoot-out win in which Pickford scored before saving from Josip Drmic.
“And that took, I have to say, some lifting over the last couple of days for everybody because none of us were satisfied.
“We think we played fine on Thursday but made ridiculous mistakes, so it was important that we responded with a high level of performance.
“The players adapted really well, we changed the shape, and they carried that out really well and we should have won the game.
“We deserved to win the game with the opportunities we created and the number of times we hit the woodwork so the healthy thing for me was that it was a good response.
“Some really good discussions over the last couple of days about our dissatisfaction with only getting as far as we have, and a real determination for all of us that we recognise now that you don’t get many opportunities as an international team and we need to make sure that we really strive to take the next step over the next couple of years.”
Euro 2020 looks a fantastic opportunity for England, with the squad full of talent and the tournament ending on home soil.
Preparations should certainly be easier than for the Nations League, with the Champions League finalists arriving just two days before the Holland loss.
“It’s been a fascinating few weeks really, because I’ve never known such a complicated period of players’ availability and preparation,” Southgate said.
“The last two days were fascinating in that whenever you lose a big game, there’s all sorts of theories and regret and emotion and that all needed pulling together.
“But fundamentally what underlied everything was the desire for the players to respond, and the realisation that none of us were satisfied with two semi-finals. We all wanted to move forward further.
“The determination that we finished what has been a good year, a good season with international teams, that we finished it with a strong performance.
“The fact that we, as a group, owed it to ourselves, owed it to the 98 per cent of fans who’ve supported us incredibly, and to see so many of them here and the support they gave was brilliant. So that was what pleased me.”
Southgate has some thinking to do over the coming months as he prepares to start the 2019-20 campaign with fresh impetus and issues ironed out.
The error-strewn display against Holland showed the issues of playing out from the back, while on Sunday their profligacy in front of goal nearly cost them as they failed to score from open play in Portugal.
“I think we’ve created some really good chances,” he said.
“I mean (Ross) Barkley has played some fantastic through passes, he passed for Jesse (Lingard)’s goal that was disallowed the other night, he passed for Trent (Alexander-Arnold) today.
“I think we’ve looked a threat in open play over the last 12 months. We scored goals in Spain that way.
“So, I think we’re improving as an attacking threat, and part of that is (because of) players that are emerging and gaining confidence, and part of that is consistency of playing together and the understanding of what’s needed to open teams up who defend in such depth.”
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