Yes, it’s officially the Premier League offseason. But there are still two European championships involving English teams. Also, the transfer window is open, so there’s plenty of stuff to catch up on from the past week. Let’s get to it.
Big Ban is Back?
Ever since Tottenham’s last-minute miracle win over Ajax in the Champions League semi-finals, there has been great anticipation over whether or not star striker Harry Kane would be fit in time to play in the final. This past week, manager Mauricio Pochettino confirmed Kane has returned to training and in “the final stage of his recovery.” Pochettino then mentioned starting, coming off the bench, and providing moral support in the locker room as possible methods that Kane could “give us a hand” against Liverpool. In short, it’s anybody’s guess, but if he’s cleared by the team’s doctors, there’s every reason to expect he’ll play.
Not Making the Trip
When Chelsea and Arsenal meet Wednesday in Azerbaijan for the Europa League final, Gunners midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan will be noticeably absent. Mkhitaryan is from Armenia, a country that has strained relationships with Azerbaijan. UEFA has worked with Arsenal to help secure a visa and ensure Mkhitaryan’s protection while the team travels to the capital city of Baku for the game, but after discussing the matter with his family, Mkhitaryan has decided not to travel.
Most are expecting that Europa League final to be Eden Hazard’s last game in Chelsea blue. The Belgian international is expected to depart for Real Madrid this summer. However, the London side is playing hardball, asking for a transfer fee of £130 million ($165 million), but Real Madrid is reportedly willing to go any higher than £88 ($112 million). At some point, one of those clubs will have to concede in order to complete a deal that appears inevitable.
Asking A Lot
Another team looking to make a lot of money this summer on a disgruntled star is Manchester United. The Red Devils reportedly have a high price tag on Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku, who is a top target for Inter Milan, who is expected to hire former Chelsea manager Antonio Conte. Lukaku appears to be on board with a move to Italy, although Inter is more interesting in a loan with an option to buy. Meanwhile, United is holding firm to their high price on Lukaku.
Maybe He Stays
Speaking of United, reports out of Old Trafford indicate that manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may offer Paul Pogba the position of captain as a way to get him to stay at the club. Current captain Antonio Valencia already has one foot out the door, leaving the captaincy vacant. Pogba previously had his captain duties taken away by Jose Mourinho. Solskjaer would like to limit the turnover at the club this summer as much as possible, and with Real Madrid keen on adding Pogba, this could be the only way to keep Pogba from leaving Old Trafford.
Who’s Coming with Me
Soon after announcing that he’s leaving Manchester City to become player-manager at Anderlecht, Vincent Kompany has indicated he’s hoping to take several Man City coaches and players with him. City’s head of academy coaching Simon Davies is one person who could follow Kompany to Belgium. The new Anderlecht manager also says he’d be interested in taking several of City’s young players on loan, forging a strong connection between Anderlecht and the Manchester club. Kompany has also indicated that he’s like to mimic Pep Guardiola’s playing style, potentially making Anderlecht the perfect destination for City to loan out young players.
Out the Door?
Leroy Sane won’t be one of the players joining Kompany at Anderlecht, but he could be leaving Man City this summer. There is growing speculation that Bayern Munich is pushing to sign the 23-year-old German international this summer. Sane has two years left on his City contract, but after seeing his role with the club diminish this past season, he could be looking for a new home. Man City and Sane are expected to hold contract talks soon, but if they can’t agree on a new deal, the club could be willing to sell him to Munich, knowing they already have Riyad Mahrez, relieving some pressure to find an immediate replacement for him.
Just a Backup?
Everton has added goalkeeper Jonas Lossl in an early transfer window move. Lossl was previously at Huddersfield Town but was released earlier this month after the Terriers were relegated. The Danish international was far from his best this past season, although the Huddersfield defense didn’t do him many favors, nor did the team’s inability to score goals. Lossl figures to serve as the backup to Jordan Pickford, who had his fair share of disappointing moments this past season despite helping England to the World Cup semi-finals last summer.