One of the weirder experiences you can have in football is to wake up bleary-eyed on a Sunday morning and mistakenly misread the word “Conte” as the world “Cottee”. Because then the Sunday Express headline, “Conte’s on the brink”, which is about the Chelsea manager having one game to save his job, reads “Cottee’s on the brink”, as if the West Ham legend Tony Cottee is about to die.
So without wanting to sound unkind about the Italian, it’s a relief today to find out his job is in danger rather than Cottee’s life.
According to the story, Blues owner Roman Abramovich will sack Conte if he loses to Watford on Monday, continuing the Russian’s trend of firing managers who have recently won him the Premier League.
Disappointingly, there are no further details about Conte’s imminent sacking in the Express’s article. The possibility is only mentioned in the headline, as if they wrote that first and then realised they didn’t have a shred of evidence to substantiate it. Oh well, Tony Cottee is fighting fit and that’s the important thing.
— Matt Law (@Matt__Law__DT) January 31, 2018
The man in line to replace Conte could be Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri, whose £7m release clause is apparently tempting Abramovich to make the Neapolitans an offer they can’t refuse (Gazzetta dello Sport).
Gunners join race for AWOL Mahrez
On a completely unrelated note, does anyone know where Riyad Mahrez is? No one at Leicester has seen him since Wednesday, when his proposed £60m transfer to Manchester City collapsed, and it’s starting to get a bit worrying now (Mail).
They should look in the arcade – you can imagine Mahrez going down there and letting off some steam with a few rounds of Dance Dance Revolution or House of the Dead, like Alan Partridge.
Anyway, if you do find Riyad, could you let him know that Arsenal have entered the race to sign him. The Daily Star Sunday claims the Gunners, who are feeling all jazzy after buying Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and tonking Everton, will compete with Man City for the Algerian this summer.
Hilariously, the Star “exclusively reveals” that Arsene Wenger has “regularly made checks on the Leicester star by inquiring about his character and how he trains”. Well Arsene, the training is an easy one to answer – he doesn’t.
READ MORE: Conte tells Chelsea board how to catch City
READ MORE: Aubameyang’s warning to the Premier League
Things are looking up for Joe Hart, who could go from being West Ham’s reserve keeper to Chelsea’s number one. The Sun on Sunday says the Blues will move for the Man City outcast if current goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois is lured to Real Madrid in the summer. Sadly, the move might not happen in time to save Hart’s World Cup place, unless something terrible happens to Hammers keeper Adrian between now and May.
Meanwhile, Manchester United are being linked with a move for Kluivert for the first time since 1997, but this time it’s not Holland legend Patrick but his son Justin. The 18-year-old winger is in “advanced talks” to seal a £10m move to Old Trafford this summer, says the Sunday Mirror.
Elsewhere, Arsenal are willing to sell young centre-back Rob Holding if they can get £15m for him, with Burnley interested (Sunday Mirror), Napoli have joined Manchester United and Real Madrid in pursuit of Inter Milan forward Mauro Icardi (AS) and moody Cristiano Ronaldo is set to get a pay rise at Real Madrid despite his La Liga scoring rate dropping by about 200 per cent this season (Marca). It pays to complain, people.