“Keep your friends close but your enemies closer,” purred Michael Corleone in the Godfather Part II (1974), possibly making a great impression on a watching 11-year-old Jose Mourinho, who resolved that day to base his ensuing management career (whether it be in football, banking or leisure centres) on the maxims of the mob.
So it is that just when Juan Mata thought Mourinho had actually started to like him, the Manchester United boss is set to send the Spanish midfielder out in a small rowing boat to be shot dead.
Mourinho is not literally planning to do that, obviously. He has actually just offered the 29-year-old playmaker to Inter Milan in a potential swap deal with Joao Mario. But for Mata, that will hurt just as much.
The Mail reports that Mourinho has proposed Mata as a “makeweight” in a January deal for the 24-year-old Mario.
It would signal a sad end to the long working alliance of Mourinho and Mata, who were fierce adversaries at Chelsea before appearing to rebuild their relationship at Old Trafford. But of course it is now clear that Mourinho neither forgave, nor forgot.
Unfortunately for him, United’s offer for Mario is one that Inter very much can refuse. Not only do the Italians have no interest in Mata (apparently preferring Henrikh Mkhitaryan), they also reportedly have a rival bid from Paris Saint-Germain, who are offering Argentine midfielder Javier Pastore in part-exchange and – probably – more money.
Evans race hots up
Today is a very unexciting day for Jonny Evans, who is being linked with moves to two clubs that he probably has no interest in joining.
The Mirror reports that Everton and West Ham have “joined the race” to sign the West Brom centre-back, who is likely to be unmoved by this development given that he has previously been pursued by Manchester City and Arsenal.
It will therefore come as a relief to learn that those clubs also still appear to be keen, while Evans is also set to be offered to an improved Baggies contract too. Whichever way you swing it, he won’t be signing for West Ham.
Meanwhile, City are battling with Liverpool to sign the Nice midfielder Jean Michael Seri, according to the Star. The 26-year-old Ivorian was targeted by Barcelona in the summer but is apparently keen on a move to England. He loves Sunday roasts.
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Elsewhere, Real Madrid are interested in Liverpool midfielder Emre Can, who can speak to overseas clubs about a free transfer next month (Mirror), Southampton have been scouting 23-year-old Basel winger Mohamed Elyounoussi (Bild) and Barcelona midfielder Arda Turan has been pictured in London while tweeting the words, “Winter is coming” (Sun).
Which has fuelled speculation that he is set to sign for Arsenal or possibly join the cast of Game of Thrones.