Napoli favourites to swoop for Mata: Juan Mata features heavily in the back pages after he was again left out of Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea side. The manager hit out at Sky pundits Jamie Redknapp and Ruud Gullit on Saturday after their criticism of his selection policy. Meanwhile the Sunday Mirror reckons ex-Chelsea gaffer Rafa Benitez is ready to take Mata to his new club Napoli. The paper quotes a source as saying: “The players are as surprised as everyone over Mourinho’s treatment of Mata. Most of the players thought Mata was Chelsea’s best player last season and would never have imagined his place would be under threat.”
Paper Round’s view: As much as Mourinho has been adamant Mata is not for sale, this situation cannot continue. If the Spaniard remains on the sidelines until January, he will almost certainly leave. And, apart from the personal enmity between Mourinho and Benitez, Chelsea would be happy to sell to Napoli as they are not a direct rival.
Benitez taunts Jose over David Luiz: Another Benitez-Mourinho angle comes from the Sunday Times, which carries an interesting interview with the Spaniard. Benitez praises David Luiz, another player shunned by Mourinho, and delivers a thinky-veiled barb at his successor at Stamford Bridge: “He’s one of the best central defenders in the world - because he has everything. You just have to manage him properly.” This has unsurprisingly led to speculation Luiz could also be on his way to Napoli.
Paper Round’s view: For all Napoli’s ambition, they can’t have everyone. While it’s true the Serie A contenders could probably do with another good centre-back, this one feels like a leap. After all, Benitez is clever enough to know that if he really wants Luiz, he doesn’t want to be crowing about his interest in a player also coveted by the likes of Barcelona.
Arsenal plot raid for Reus and Draxler: Having successfully wooed Mesut Ozil, Arsene Wenger wants more Germans – Marco Reus and Julian Draxler, says the Sunday Express. The pair are among the most highly rated young players in Europe and come priced accordingly - £34m apiece.
Paper Round’s view: Wenger famously convinced Ozil to sign by chatting to his in German, but that’s about all this story has going for it. It would be a major surprise if he spent that sort of money on yet another attacking midfielder when his squad has far greater needs in defence and up front.
Manchester giants battle for Iniesta: Let us to try to keep a straight face as we report this from the Daily Star on Sunday. Andres Iniesta's contract wrangle with Barcelona has put both Manchester United and City on alert. Even the Star doesn't sound too convinced, admitting the situation is more than likely to be sorted out - but given Iniesta is probably the third best player in the world after Messi and Ronaldo it's probably true that United and City both want to sign him.
Paper Round's view: It's simply not going to happen. Iniesta is one of the world's greatest players, enjoying his prime at the heart of a wildly successful side that fits his style perfectly. There is no reason why he would want to move. Still, made you look.
Di Canio has two games to save himself: Sunderland’s disastrous start to the season has landed Paolo Di Canio’s head on the chopping block, according to the Sunday People. The club will review Di Canio’s position during the international break, in two games’ time. The Italian has won just three of his 13 games since his appointment in late March, while rumours abound about squad discontent.
Paper Round’s view: It may seem ridiculously early to have a sack race winner, but October sackings are not that rare. Sunderland’s poor results have been accompanied by some dreadful play, and unless they pick up their first win quickly, it is easy to imagine Di Canio getting axed.
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- Rafa Benitez
- Jose Mourinho
- David Luiz