The phrase “contract rebel”, which has been applied to both Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez in recent months, has certain rockstar connotations. It suggests you’re the kind of guy who cannot be tamed. You’re fiercely ambitious, socially explosive, you’ll flirt with anyone to get what you want and wear sunglasses at the merest hint of blue sky.
Women wanna be with you, men wanna be you, other clubs wanna buy you.
And Ozil has played the role to the tee, except – unfortunately – that last bit about clubs wanting to buy him. Awkward.
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While his fellow rebel Alexis has been using interest from the likes of Chelsea and Juventus to toy with Arsenal’s emotions, the Mail reports that Ozil has failed to seduce a single suitor from Europe’s elite.
The only club that want to sign him are Fenerbahce (along with the obligatory handful of Chinese sides he doesn’t know the names of). But let’s be honest, if he’s going to go there, he may as well just stay at Arsenal.
And this, the Mail suggests, seems an increasingly likely outcome. The paper says the German is set to make an “embarrassing climbdown” in contract negotiations with the Gunners, having realised he doesn’t have much to negotiate with. Kind of serves him right for playing rubbish for three months, really.
It was also apparently Ozil, rather than Sanchez, who was involved in a dressing room bust-up at Bayern Munich in February.
Assistant coach Steve Bould threw a plastic bottle at the German following the 5-1 defeat, according to, erm, Alan Davies. You know, the fella with curly hair on QI. How he purports to know this information, we have no idea, but it’s in the Star. (Just next to a intriguing headline entitled, ‘Is crotch the new cleavage?’ Hot Football Transfer Gossip will look at that later to find out if it is).
Moving on from Ozil, and focusing instead on a playmaker who is actually making things when he plays, Philippe Coutinho appears to be edging closer to a move to Barcelona.
The Express says the Catalan giants are in “advanced talks” with Liverpool over the signing of the Brazilian, who only signed a new contract at Anfield in January.
If there’s any solace to be taken from this story for Reds fans, it’s that Barca are also said to be in “advanced talks” with nine other potential summer signings, and they surely can’t buy all of them. Can they?
Liverpool are also said (by the Mail) to have “joined the race” to sign Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk, although we thought they were already in it, along with Everton, Chelsea, Man Utd, Man City and basically every other team currently above Saints in the Premier League table.
In other centre-back news, Leicester are set to make a £30m summer move for Middlesbrough defender Ben Gibson, says the Telegraph. The Foxes spent all of last summer trying to buy Burnley’s Michael Keane and now everyone wants him and they’ve been gazumped, so let’s hope the same doesn’t happen with Gibson (which it almost certainly will).
Elsewhere, Chelsea have had a £51m bid for Torino striker Andrea Belotti rejected by the Italian club, who want £85m (Mirror), Everton have told Ross Barkley he must sign a new £100,000-a-week contract in the summer or be sold (Telegraph) and Leicester’s reserve goalkeeper Ron-Robert Zieler has “threatened to quit the club” over a lack of playing time (Sun). Foxes fans must be really scared.