Far be it from Hot Football Transfer Gossip to dredge up that old line about Jose Mourinho not giving young players a chance, but it does seem to be the wee lads in the Manchester United squad who are having the least fun since the Special Happy One arrived at Old Trafford.
This time last year, no one would have batted an eyelid if you’d described Anthony Martial (21), Marcus Rashford (19) and Luke Shaw (21) as the three most exciting players in the Red Devils squad, but this season such a claim would be met with ridicule and being told you know less about football than Garth Crooks.
The youthful trio have been left playing second fiddle to more experienced men in recent months, and today’s papers are of the opinion that this state of affairs could push at least one of them out of the exit door soon.
It seems the most likely to leave is Martial, who the Mirror says is a target for Tottenham. Mauricio Pochettino allegedly tried to sign the French forward from Monaco 18 months ago before Ed Woodward swooped in waving huge sums of money in his face.
That money is still causing problems, with it being reported that United will have to pay Monaco another £8.5m (on top of the £38.5m they have already paid them) if he scores one more goal – potentially hastening his exit.
Meanwhile, the Times reports that Rashford has snubbed a double-your-money new contract offer after growing “frustrated” at his lack of playing time this season. The teenager has apparently “noted” that young players at Liverpool and Tottenham get “greater opportunities”. Yes Marcus, they do don’t they.
So is this the Mourinho effect? We could never say for sure, or for Shaw (terrible pun attempt – huge apols to all concerned). The Independent says the young left-back has been told by Mourinho to “keep working hard” and await his chance, in the kind of patronising way you might tell a child to do their homework to increase their chances of becoming an astronaut.
If Martial and/or Rashford do leave Old Trafford, the Star suggests Torino hotshot Andrea Belotti is the kind of guy who could replace them. United are said to have joined Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool in tracking the 23-year-old striker, who has a £84m buyout clause, which sounds about average in the current climate.
Across Manchester, Pep Guardiola is “keeping tabs” on a couple of cool-sounding brothers who play for Atletico Madrid named Lucas and Theo Hernandez, says the Sun. The defenders, aged 20 and 19, would be available for about £40m and are allegedly better than Rafael and Fabio and the Proclaimers put together.
Elsewhere, Everton, Middlesbrough and Watford are tracking Ingolstadt forward Elias Kachunga, who is currently banging in the goals on loan at Huddersfield (Mirror), Arsenal and Man Utd are “in talks” to sign Monaco full-back Fabinho but the Brazilian has a “soft spot” for Man City (Mirror) and referee Mark Clattenburg may make a big-money transfer to China or the USA (Mail). His buyout clause is very reasonable even if his wages aren’t.