In reverse order, here are the latest occupants of Manchester United’s iconic No.7 shirt. Cristiano Ronaldo, Michael Owen, Antonio Valencia, Angel Di Maria, Memphis Depay… can you spot the trend?
It’s quite simple: the players are getting worse. Much worse. So much so that the Red Devils have kept the hallowed jersey vacant this season – presumably out of fear of ending up with a player even less effective than Memphis.
But it’s OK, because they have a plan to end the Curse of Seven – and that is to spend £100m on the next player who wears it. No pressure, Antoine Griezmann.
The Daily Star Sunday “exclusively” reveals that United have intentionally not allocated the No.7 shirt this season because they are holding it for Griezmann, who they will buy next summer “if not before”.
And when they say “exclusively”, they mean that someone in the office just made the story up after noticing there is no No.7 in United’s current squad. This is the kind of thing gossip mongers must do to survive in the lean autumn months.
Interestingly, however, there could be competition for that No.7 shirt from another tricky forward in the France squad, and that’s Thomas Lemar.
The Sunday Mirror says Jose Mourinho is ready to take on Arsene Wenger in January and snatch the £92m-rated Monaco star away from Arsenal’s grasp. Whether he’s doing this because he wants the player, or merely because he knows it will annoy his nemesis Wenger, is unclear.
READ MORE: Does changing stadiums ever really work?
Arsenal still want Sterling
Just in case, the Gunners are considering other wingers too, with the Mail on Sunday claiming Wenger is set to make another approach for Raheem Sterling in January.
Manchester City rejected a swap deal involving Sterling and Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez last month, but the England star is said to be “open to a move to London” because he believes he will get regular first-team action.
The Mail adds that City are already planning to return with a cut-price £20m bid for Alexis in January, potentially eating into Sterling’s game time further.
Meanwhile, a combination of Vincent Kompany’s latest injury and Davinson Sanchez’s assured start to his Tottenham career could be pushing Toby Alderweireld closer to an inevitable move to the Etihad.
READ MORE: Why Mourinho is the joker to Wenger’s Batman
The Sun on Sunday says Pep Guardiola is plotting a £60m move for the Belgian centre-back, who has failed to agree terms on a new Spurs contract and could get a Kyle Walker-style salary hike by heading north.
Staying north could be Philippe Coutinho, who may turn down a future move to Barcelona because he is “hurt” by the Catalan club’s lack of effort trying to sign him from Liverpool in the summer, according to Don Balon. Repeated bids culminating in one worth £138m not enough for you, Philippe?
Elsewhere, the Reds’ main competition to sign Virgil van Dijk from Southampton in January will be Italian champions Juventus (Sunday Mirror).
Leicester and West Brom are vying to sign the clubless former Man City right-back Bacary Sagna (Mail on Sunday) and West Ham believe highly rated Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri is the man to replace Slaven Bilic and take them to the next level (Sunday Express). Whether highly rated Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri believes West Ham are the club to take him to the next level is another matter entirely.