Gossip: Man Utd 'want to swap Martial for Rakitic', Mata 'snubs China deal', Mourinho 'to sign £65m deal'

Manchester United’s French striker Anthony Martial, who may be used as bait in a move for Ivan Rakitić.
Manchester United’s French striker Anthony Martial, who may be used as bait in a move for Ivan Rakitić.

Greatest ever Premier League transfer swap deals?

Gallas and Cole, obviously. Luiz for Matic – that was a good one.

Then, erm, Jose Antonio Reyes for Julio Baptista? Michael Owen for Antonio Nunez? Robbie Slater for Matty Holmes? Struggling now… are there any others? The thing about swap deals is that for every 500 suggested by the tabloids, only one of them actually happens.

But does it stop the tabloids suggesting them? Of course not.

Today’s Star, for instance, declares that Manchester United and Barcelona are set to engage in a complex player exchange that involves Anthony Martial moving to Catalonia and Ivan Rakitic coming to Old Trafford.

It’s all Jose Mourinho’s idea, apparently. The Red Devils manager has reportedly proposed the swap to the Spanish league leaders because he is a “huge admirer” of the Croatian midfielder’s “dynamism and tactical awareness”.

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By contrast, Martial has never quite appeared to be Mourinho’s cup of tea, and the Portuguese believes Barca will “take the bait” and agree to the deal.

The Star supplements this story with an interesting photo-based article entitled “Anthony Martial, Matteo Darmian, Morgan Schneiderlin and WAGs go bowling”.

Fans of bowling will be disappointed, though, as there are no snaps from inside the bowling venue, nor any details of who won. Instead it’s just some pictures of the three couples greeting each other at the entrance and then, later, leaving.

However, if you look closely, in one of the photos Schneiderlin appears to be looking in Martial’s direction mouthing the word “Rakitic”. Impossible to know for sure though. Equally he could be saying “kebab” or “yeah” or just yawning.

Mourinho commits future to United

Another man with the chance to leave Old Trafford is Juan Mata, who the Mirror says has been offered a “mega-money move” to an unspecified club in the Chinese Super League.

The Spaniard will, however, snub this advance to instead extend his United contract beyond its projected 2019 end-date. Think it’s safe to say that Mata and Mourinho have made up.

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Also set to remain in Manchester is Mourinho himself, who the Sun says is ready to sign a new five-year contract worth £65m. That would make his Old Trafford tenure the longest of his entire career. Unless he has a meltdown half-way through it and gets sacked, of course.

Elsewhere, Crystal Palace could sell England winger Andros Townsend to Leicester in order to fund a January bid for a much-needed new striker (Sun), Newcastle are set to make a loan move for fit-again Liverpool forward Danny Ings (Shields Gazette) and Mesut Ozil’s talks with Arsenal about extending his Gunners contract are “going in a positive way”, according to the German’s agent (Independent). In other words, it’s the only contract offer he’s got so might just sign it.



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