This article was originally published on Fabrizio Romano’s Daily Briefing, a subscription service. If you would like to receive Fabrizio Romano’s exclusive articles via email ahead of publication on caughtoffside.com, please sign-up for the service here: thedailybriefing.io
Chelsea still backing Mauricio Pochettino
I want to start by discussing the situation of some managers, because after Chelsea’s very bad game against Newcastle on Saturday, I’ve received many questions on the future of Mauricio Pochettino. He described the 4-1 defeat at St James’ Park as his side’s worst performance of the season, and personally I agree that it wasn’t good enough.
Still, all the information I’m getting is that Chelsea decided to go for Pochettino because they feel he is the right man for this project, and they know it’s going to take time. This is something Pochettino is repeating in public but also in private with his conversations with people at the club.
It’s a young team, so they still need to learn and develop – of course everyone at Chelsea wants results as soon as possible, they feel this is a club that has a history of winning trophies and Pochettino is aware of that too, but it takes time. So, despite the bad result against Newcastle, nothing has changed at Chelsea – they still trust Pochettino, so he is not at risk at Stamford Bridge. They will keep trusting the manager – the owners and directors all together.
As I said, however, Chelsea want to see improvement – they are not happy with the same disappointing results, the same mistakes and these kind of things. They want to see a better level, like they saw against Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester City, but with a young team you have to be patient.
Xabi Alonso to move in the summer?
I’ve also had questions about Xabi Alonso, because what he’s doing with Bayer Leverkusen is really special. Their numbers this season are incredible – they’ve won all their games apart from one draw, and have scored 62 goals, conceding just 14.
It’s a special team, playing fantastic football, and sitting top of the Bundesliga table and their Europa League group. Alonso is a fantastic manager, and it’s no surprise to see links with other clubs now, though I’m told there is no proper release clause in his contract.
There is nothing official for other clubs to trigger – I’m told it’s just a gentleman’s agreement between Alonso and the Leverkusen board. Alonso was on the list of some clubs this summer, but Leverkusen insisted he was staying, but that they would let him go to a top, top club in the future.
Alonso will be the one with the final decision, and he will make that decision in the summer, but there is no normal release clause, so it’s about convincing Alonso, rather than paying a formal release clause to Leverkusen.
Roberto De Zerbi release clause isn’t active now
I’ve also had many questions on Roberto De Zerbi, who has done such a great job at Brighton, but one key issue with the Italian manager is that his €13m release clause is not valid now. It’s not possible for any club to trigger that clause now, it only becomes active in the summer.
De Zerbi is also really focused on the Brighton project, so there’s nothing ongoing with a potential move elsewhere. It’s not like the clause Graham Potter had when he was at Brighton, which was valid during the season and which allowed Chelsea to move for him just over a year ago.
Could Steve Cooper soon be under pressure?
Finally on the manager merry-go-round, there has been some speculation that Steve Cooper is now under growing pressure at Nottingham Forest after poor recent results. They’re on a run of just one win from their last nine, and sit 14th in the Premier League table.
For now, they’re still backing Cooper, as far as I understand, but of course they want to see different results. They also know it is about bad luck as injuries like Taiwo Awoniyi are creating an issue, it’s not easy to keep going without players like him.
Personally, I think backing Cooper was a great choice one year ago so I expect they will try to follow that way, but the situation in terms of results on the pitch certainly has to change.
A look at Arsenal links with Serie A duo
Back to the transfer market, I’m aware there have been some reports linking Arsenal with Victor Osimhen, and this follows some outlets claiming the Napoli striker’s agent held talks with the Gunners around a year ago.
We know that Arsenal and Chelsea are both keeping an eye on strikers for 2024, so it’s normal to see these links. But it’s important to reiterate that it’s very difficult to consider those links for January because Napoli insist they don’t want to sell him in the middle of the season. For the summer, anything can happen but it isn’t being decided now for sure.
There have also been some other Arsenal transfer rumours about interest in young Fiorentina right-back Michael Kayode, with the player’s former manager even name-dropping the north London club as one of the teams who could be a future destination for him.
However, he signed a new deal with Fiorentina just three weeks ago. My understanding is that he’s very happy at Fiorentina and not close to any other club, so any links with Arsenal or others would just be about regular scouting activity by multiple clubs – we expect these clubs to keep an eye on one of the most talented full-backs in Serie A. He’s a very good player and one to watch for the future, for sure.
In other news…
Alejandro Garnacho – It’s impossible not to mention the absolutely fantastic goal by Alejandro Garnacho for Manchester United against Everton yesterday. It’s one of the best bicycle kicks I’ve seen in my life. It’s a fantastic goal, and I’m not surprised because I’m told Garnacho is working hard to improve on every aspect of the game so credit to him. It’s absolutely at the level of famous bicycle kick goals by Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Gareth Bale – a wonderful strike that I think will be remembered for a long time.
Jude Bellingham – Another great performance this weekend from Jude Bellingham, who looked like a bargain since day one in my opinion. Real Madrid got a fantastic deal by signing Bellingham and it was not too expensive compared to many other deals around. For sure his market value is now way higher, though I can’t mention the exact price as it’s not my job and also Real Madrid have not even a price in mind; he’s a key piece for present and future.
Francesco Camarda – It was a memorable moment for the 15-year-old as he became the youngest ever debutant in Serie A this weekend when he got on the pitch for AC Milan. Of course all scouts in the world know Camarda, he’s been scoring goals since he was 13. But AC Milan will make him sign a professional contract, he loves AC Milan so there’s nothing to say in terms of transfers/negotiations. I rate him highly but I also think it’s important not to put too much pressure on him by making predictions about how far he can go, better to let him to his job, as he’s still just 15… step by step.