World Cup! It’s that special quadrennial day when everyone is full of unbridled excitement and hopeless optimism (except Spanish people) and the globe unites in its love for the beautiful game. But spare a thought for Joe Hart.
The goalkeeper’s absence from this tournament has been brought about by a series of events so implausibly unfortunate that he could not have imagined them possible in his wildest nightmares two years ago.
So it’s not a nice day for England’s abandoned number one. But weirdly, it could be a Nice day.
The Mail reports that the Manchester City outcast is set to be offered an “escape route” by an old friend – his former Etihad team-mate Patrick Vieira, who has just been appointed manager of Ligue 1 outfit Nice.
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The Arsenal legend reportedly has to make “swift decisions” in the goalkeeping department with two of his current keepers set to leave. Cue a “tentative” interest in signing Hart, who will be allowed to leave City in a permanent “cut-price deal” just to get him out of Pep Guardiola’s sight once and for all.
Spurs battle Arsenal for bargain Martins
Another man who could be available in a cut-price deal this summer is the highly rated Portugal winger Gelson Martins. The 23-year-old is one of several Sporting Lisbon players currently trying to terminate their contracts (and consequently become free agents) because they are annoyed about the club’s own fans violently attacking them last month.
The Mirror says north London rivals Tottenham and Arsenal will go head-to-head to pick up one of the potential bargains of the summer, with the player’s agent currently “working on a deal” to bring him to England.
It’s lucky for the Gunners that he won’t cost anything, because they are reportedly about to spend their entire £50m transfer budget on three players: Bayer Leverkusen goalkeeper Bernd Leno, Sampdoria’s Uruguay midfielder Lucas Torreira and Borussia Dortmund’s 30-year-old Greek defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos (Standard). So that’s Sven Mislintat’s work done for the year.
N’Golo Kante linked with Real Madrid
Spurs are also keen on Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish and have lodged a £15m bid for the young Englishman (Sky Sports). Chelsea, Leicester and Fulham are interested in the 22-year-old too, with the Blues possibly holding the trump card of letting Grealish move back to Villa Park on loan for the season. Because that’s what Chelsea players do.
Meanwhile, new Real Madrid manager Julen Lopetegui, having caused chaos in Spain, is now set to cause chaos at Stamford Bridge by targeting Chelsea’s midfield lynchpin N’Golo Kante.
The Express says Lopetegui is “desperate” to bring the Frenchman to the Bernabeu, although the Blues understandably have “no interest” in selling him.
Elsewhere, the agent of Tottenham midfielder Mousa Dembele has flown to Italy to “sound out” interest in his client from Serie A clubs such as Juventus, Inter Milan and Napoli (Talksport), Everton and West Ham are battling to sign £25m-rated Toulouse centre-back Issa Diop, 21 (Mirror) and Antoine Griezmann is set to end incessant speculation and announce his future plans today (Mundo Deportivo). Bet he’s going to Wolves.