Welcome to ESPN’s Insider Notebook, featuring contributions from our reporters across the top leagues around the world.
In this edition, there’s a frantic contract scramble brewing in the Premier League. Plus: The secret behind Mikel Arteta’s fabulous hair.
Jump to: United not giving up on Bellingham | Arteta’s hair secret | Messi’s ex-coach a Barcelona scout | Ronaldo: Who is Werner? | Arthur fights for Barcelona future | Why Kouassi chose Bayern over PSG | Neymar’s party in St. Tropez
Premier League clubs’ frantic transfer scramble
The transfer window might be closed, but deadline day still looms large and a frantic few days of negotiations are ahead for top clubs, including Arsenal, Tottenham and Chelsea.
– What did you miss? The latest from Europe’s top leagues
– Transfer Q&A: How will summer transfers work?
The standard June 30 expiration date for contracts was highlighted early on in the coronavirus pandemic as a potential issue, and it has now become a reality for many clubs. Although the revised Premier League schedule has been in circulation for some time, several clubs delayed making firm decisions about extending players’ contracts, even on a temporary basis, due to uncertainties over future income as a result of COVID-19. This partly explains why David Luiz is one of four Arsenal players with less than two weeks left on their existing agreements and just days to resolve the situation.
Clubs agreed a June 23 deadline to give players being released a full week to find another team. Arsenal must also decide whether to extend the loans of Cedric Soares and Ceballos, with a key factor being the overall injury situation and whether head coach Mikel Arteta will be short of options if they are returned. Arsenal are expected to make Pablo Mari’s loan deal permanent, but wider concerns about the financial pressures mean every penny counts, so even a modest transfer fee of around £8 million warrants serious consideration — especially considering Mari potentially has a serious injury following the 3-0 defeat at Manchester City.
This situation is replicated at other London clubs but is complicated further by Chelsea and Tottenham finding themselves in the curious position of trying to negotiate extensions with players they’re prepared to let go once the protracted season is over.
Jan Vertonghen is close to leaving Spurs on a free transfer, but Tottenham are hopeful he will play out the remaining nine matches of their league campaign despite the potential risk of injury jeopardising a move elsewhere. Michel Vorm is also out of contract and likely to depart, but Jose Mourinho confirmed on Thursday he wanted the goalkeeper to stay in the short term.
Across the capital, Chelsea are not prepared to offer Willian the three-year deal he craves but would still like him to complete the existing campaign. Pedro is set to join Roma and is therefore reluctant to stay on to play for a club ready to dispense with his services. A hectic few days of negotiations await. — James Olley
United still fighting Dortmund for Bellingham
Manchester United are surprised at reports in Germany that Birmingham City’s Jude Bellingham has chosen to sign for Borussia Dortmund because of assurances over playing time, sources have told ESPN.
United believe they’ve made a strong case to Bellingham, built around the plan for his development. The midfielder, 16, has been told he would immediately be part of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first-team squad rather than being placed with the academy, while the rapid progression of 18-year-old Mason Greenwood has also been highlighted as a selling point to Bellingham’s family and representatives.