n typical José Mourinho style, José Mourinho has again made fools of all those who said he was predictable parody of himself. When he arrived at Spurs, it appeared clear the player he planned to needlessly persecute was Tanguy Ndombele but it’s since turned out that the wily, crafty, sly old fox was misdirecting all along – the real receptacle for his angst is was Dele Alli all along.
In retrospect, this is not especially surprising: Alli is an improvisational talent and independent thinker, aspects which do not sit well with Mourinho’s desire for monomaniacal deference. As such, the player has been omitted from Spurs’ past two squads, because if there’s one thing Spurs absolutely do not need it’s a big-game specialist who plays with joy while scoring and creating important goals. Spurs would prefer to loan Alli – presumably because they know that whoever they appoint to perform the post-Mourinho salvage job would definitely love to have him – but Paris Saint-Germain would like to take him on a permanent deal.
Though that may seem like a slight, it’s got nothing on the one handed by Frank Lampard to Antonio Rüdiger; being deemed not good enough for Mourinho’s Spurs is one thing, but being deemed not good enough for Chelsea’s defence is quite another. Rüdiger was left on the bench last week for the visit to Brighton, where he must’ve perpetrated ill posture or bad conversation because he was then left out of things entirely for the visit of Liverpool on Sunday – or, put another way, deemed even worse than Andreas Christensen and Kurt Zouma. Rüdiger was, apparently, instrumental in persuading Timo Werner to move to Stamford Bridge from Leipzig but, it seems, exhausted his usefulness at precisely that point.
Across London, Mikel Arteta has taken a hacksaw to Arsenal’s heritage in suggesting there is no longer a place at the club for the occasional goalscoring and cringeworthy celebrations of Alexandre Lacazette. “Laca”, as he’s known by the infants of the internet, has just under two years left on his contract but the club have yet to offer him a fresh one and, according to some interpretations, are not minded so to do.
Arteta would also like to sell Shkodran Mustafi, and both Napoli and Lazio appear to have vacancies in the draft excluder department. According to reports, Arsenal would like £13m for the player but might be willing to accept £11m or a bag of cinema pick’n’nick.
Nor is that all – Arteta is also keen to lose Lucas Torreira. Previously he was thought to be heading to Torino for a season-long loan followed by a permanent transfer, but Arsenal are now endeavouring to package him into a deal which will send him to Atlético Madrid with Thomas Partey coming in the opposite direction.
Elsewhere, Ole Gunnar Solskjær has realised that what his defence needs is another player unable to run fast, so he is trying to sign Alex Telles from Porto. Telles, though, insists he remains focused on competing for his current club, while Luke Shaw has called on United to add to their squad, in a classic case of a turkey voting to be twizzlered.
Finally – and also in Manchester – City are seeking centre-back reinforcements, with reports suggesting Sevilla have rejected their opening bid for Jules Koundé. The player, though, is excited by the prospect of being coached by Pep Guardiola – most particularly the opportunity to collapse in a Champions League quarter-final – and has already agreed personal terms. The deal, though, will only go through if City cannot sign Kalidou Koulibaly from Napoli.