In his fourth Exclusive Column for caughtoffside, super-agent Rob Segal lifts the lid on what’s really going on in British football.
The season’s conclusion is fast approaching and naturally, attention is beginning to turn to the summer transfer window. Although there are many clubs who are still competing for something, Manchester United’s season is well over and one player who is seeing his future speculated is Cristiano Ronaldo
When it comes to the possibility of seeing him leave Old Trafford this summer – it won’t happen. He’ll stay. He’s Man United’s best player. His body is like a vintage Rolls Royce. He did it the right way round – he didn’t start looking at himself at 35-years-old, he was looking after his body at 18-years-old. A role model for all. Who is to say that he doesn’t stay at United beyond next season as well?
He’s got to stay because he’s the benchmark. Come the age of 37, what will the likes of Marcus Rashford be doing? – not at Man United, that is for sure.
The difference is, Ronaldo is consistently good. Yes, he’ll be substituted more next season than he ever has been before in his career, but if he gets the same amount of starts as Rashford, he’ll deliver more, I guarantee it.
One player who is certain to leave though is midfielder Jesse Lingard. No surprises there, but he’s in limbo. Where will he go? West Ham doesn’t need him. They’ve moved on. The club won’t want to be lumbered with his wages, even if he is going to be available on a free transfer – they won’t spend what is required to bring him back to London.
Interestingly, another club that could soon have multiple players available is Everton. If the Toffees go down, there will be an absolute fire sale. The value of their players, who have massively underperformed this season, will plummet and they’ll basically be given away just to get them off the club’s books. There will be a huge re-think from the very top – lots will have to go.
If Frank Lampard goes, that could very well be him done in the Premier League. It hasn’t been an inspiring relegation fight from Everton. But with Leeds United struggling too, this relegation battle could be decided on the final day and even right up until the final whistle. It’s going to be very interesting to watch how it plays out – fantastic for the neutral.
From Everton’s point-of-view, there are players who went there in the winter, who were free transfers, but are on big contracts. Dele is a player who, since being at Goodison Park, just has not delivered, so I would be surprised if any of the top clubs are considering him even if Everton does end up going down. Dele didn’t go in there as an £80m player – he was a free transfer. To add insult to injury, to turn up on his first day in a Rolls Royce was really rubbing it in the fans’ faces, well documented and ill-advised, so the boy has to be careful because Everton’s fans are some of the most loyal in the world and they deserve so much more.
When it comes to the likes of Jordan Pickford – England’s number one, surely the world would be his oyster when it comes to potential suitors? – but That isn’t the case.
Money is still really tight and there is a winter World Cup coming up, so who knows if there is even going to be much of a summer transfer window.
I also don’t know what clubs are desperately in need of a goalkeeper. Tottenham Hotspur is fine in that area, Arsenal is certainly fine, Chelsea is sorted too, as are City and United – so where would Pickford go? There aren’t going to be many top opportunities for him.
On the subject of Spurs – manager wise, I think a lot will depend on assurances from Daniel Levy. Whether they’re in the Champions League or not probably won’t matter too much. The Champions League isn’t really enough on its own for Conte anyway – he lives for winning leagues.
Levy really isn’t stupid though – when he hired Conte at the end of last year, he knew exactly what he was taking on. He knew the Italian’s temperament. He knew the good and the bad points. I think this is going to be all about what Spurs can deliver this summer.
What the club may have to do is put it all in the hands of Fabio Paratici and let him try and do some dealings both in and out and make sure it all gets reinvested back into the team. I suspect Spurs will be one of the busiest clubs this summer. Levy will know the club needs to be sensible though.
Although Conte’s future could be considered a bit up in the air, when it comes to Harry Kane – he will stay this summer. I believe Spurs will support him but other players will go. They’ve got to get rid of five or six players and if they were able to offload that many, everyone will benefit. The players will benefit and so will the club. But the same problem comes back again, finding homes for these players isn’t easy.
Lastly, with the Champions League semi-finals set to conclude tonight, now is a good time to give my winner’s predictions.
I think the Premier League is Man City’s and I think the Champions League is also Man City’s.
They have enough experience of big defeats now and that will set them straight this time around – so I am going to go for a Pep Guardiola double.