Having publicly dug out Luke Shaw recently for being “a long way behind” several of his Manchester United team-mates in terms of the effort he puts in on the training ground, José Mourinho was full of praise for the full-back after starting him against Sunderland yesterday. “He didn’t make mistakes, he was confident on the ball and he was focused so [it was] easy for me to tell him it was good, solid performance,” said Mourinho, after a routine win over the Premier League’s worst side, prompting talk of “redemption” for the left-back in some media quarters which made the Rumour Mill chuckle. Call us cynical, but short of patting the 21-year-old on the head as he spoke it’s difficult to know how the Portuguese could have been more patronising.
As futile as it is to try to analyse the inner-workings of the Manchester United manager’s mind, the suggestion from the Mirror is that his apparent volte face may be down to the fact the club’s board have issued a diktat stating Shaw must be given more playing time in order to drive his price up ahead of a possible summer move. Going on TV to talk about how great he is might help in that regard, even if a “good, solid performance” in defence against a team that hasn’t scored for seven matches is probably the bare minimum you’d expect from any grown man physically co-ordinated enough to put one foot in front of the other without falling over. While Shaw recently announced his intention to stay at United despite his manager’s barbs, he will have no shortage of suitors should the club decide to move him on. Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool and Manchester City have all been mentioned as possible destinations.
Despite drawing with Atlético Madrid over the weekend, Real Madrid remain top of La Liga after Barcelona lost to Málaga. Real now lead the table by three points having played one match fewer than their Catalan rivals, but reports emanating from Spain suggest all is far from harmonious in the Bernabéu dressing room. According to Don Balon, a number of senior players including Gareth Bale and Luka Modric are unhappy that Cristiano Ronaldo continues to get game time despite a dip in form and have voiced their displeasure with Zinedine Zidane, saying players should be picked on the strength of their performances rather than their exalted reputations. While five goals in his past nine games is a fairly low return by Ronaldo’s lofty standards, it’s hardly the stuff of nightmares. We’re taking this one with a pinch of salt.
Romelu Lukaku has been the subject of much speculation regarding a possible summer move and the Real Sociedad striker Willian José is being lined up as a possible replacement should the Belgian bid farewell to Everton. The 25-year-old has also been linked with Watford and Newcastle, having previously spent time at Real Madrid without ever breaking into the first team. Following spells with Real Zaragoza and Las Palmas he pitched up at Basque club Real Sociedad, for whom he has scored nine goals this season. £27m is the figure being bandied about as the amount he could go for.
Despite remaining resolutely coy about his own future plans, Arsène Wenger wants Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jack Wilshere and Kieran Gibbs to ink new deals with Arsenal. The Ox is the subject of interest from Manchester City and Liverpool, but Wenger has said “it is vital that Chamberlain stays at Arsenal”. Like Rumour Mill staples Mesut Özil and Alexis Sánchez, the aforementioned trio all have 14 months left on their current contracts.
Juventus hope to sign Chelsea winger Juan Cuadrado on a permanent deal in a state of affairs that comes as a surprise to those of us who mistakenly thought they’d done so last summer. Meanwhile back in Spain, Real Madrid mischief-maker Sergio Ramos has suggested Antoine Griezmann should join the club from city rivals Atlético, who will hose the France striker with money in a bid to keep him at the Vicente Calderón. And finally, Chelsea are interested in signing Pepe, who scored for Real on Saturday, when his contract expires this summer but the Portuguese pantomime villain would rather stay where he is.