The football transfer food chain is a merciless linear structure. Those at the bottom are powerless to prevent the teams above devouring their best players, but those in the middle are equally vulnerable. And even at the top, no one is truly safe – not even England’s biggest clubs.
Arsenal, for example, who are the “only club in London”, according to Arsene Wenger, are still not sexy enough to keep hold of Mesut Ozil, who the Sunday Mirror reports is the subject of a “stunning summer raid” from Manchester United.
Red Devils boss Jose Mourinho worked with the German at Real Madrid and was apparently “furious when the player was sold by Bernabeu bigwigs without his blessing” in 2013. Bigwigs is a funny word, isn’t it?
The Mirror says Mourinho would like to take advantage of Ozil’s contract stand-off with the Gunners and rekindle the relationship, and it then quotes an excerpt from Ozil’s autobiography as evidence of the player’s “admiration” for his former coach.
READ MORE: Mourinho plots striker swoops this summer
Hot Football Transfer Gossip copy and pastes it in full here, just on the off-chance you might be able to work out what on earth they are talking about.
“He pauses. Stares at me with his dark brown eyes. I stare back. Like two boxers at the stare-down before the first round. He shows no emotion. Just waits for a response from me. How much I hate him right now. And I love Mourinho actually.
“Oh, are you giving up now? You’re such a coward. What do you want? To creep under the beautiful, warm shower? Shampoo your hair? To be alone? Or do you want to prove to your fellow players, the fans out there, and me, what you can do?”
Answers on a postcard. All we’re reading into this is that Mourinho and Ozil have, at some point, had sex?
Moving on, although not very far – just to the other side of north London, United are also reportedly targeting one of Tottenham’s star players, Hugo Lloris.
The Sunday Express says Mourinho is locked in a “tug of war” with Paris Saint-Germain to sign the French goalkeeper.
But United should not be feeling too smug about their place at the top of the English football food chain, because they are about to have another plan scuppered by an even bigger beast.
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The Sunday Express says No1 Red Devils target Antoine Griezmann is set to “snub” a move to Old Trafford to sign for Real Madrid instead. (Although he will first spend one more season with Atletico before abandoning them for the club’s arch rivals in 2018, which is nice of him.)
Real Madrid are set to further demonstrate their transfer market muscle by making a move for Chelsea lynchpin N’Golo Kante. The Daily Star Sunday says the Spanish league leaders are preparing a £51m bid for the Frenchman, while also maintaining an interest in his Blues team-mate Eden Hazard (L’Equipe).
N'Golo Kanté's first half by numbers vs. Bournemouth:
100% take-ons completed
2 tackles won
1 chance created
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) April 8, 2017
Manchester City are pushing their weight around too, with Etihad boss Pep Guardiola aiming to pip Tottenham to the signing of Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha (Sun on Sunday) and foil Arsenal’s plan to buy Lyon striker Alexandre Lacazette (Sunday Mirror).
Elsewhere, Everton are planning a move for Tottenham’s Kieran Tripper (Mirror), Sunderland goalkeeper Jordan Pickford is wanted by Arsenal, Man City, Spurs, Everton and West Ham (Sun) and Arsene Wenger will sign a two-year contract extension that keeps him at the Emirates until 2019. That’s probably the biggest story of the lot actually, but it’s only in the Star so they’re probably just guessing.