Paper Round: Chelsea Manchester United and PSG chase Everton's Romelu Lukaku
Chelsea are favourites to sign Romelu Lukaku, Manchester City want Leonardo Bonucci, England are getting over their Six Nations disappointment, and Arsene Wenger clings on.
Man City target £50 million Bonnucci
Pep Guardiola is targeting Juventus central defender Leonardo Bonucci. Guardiola is said to want to add three new defenders to his squad and Bonucci, 29, could be available for £50 million after falling out with Max Allegri at Juventus. Bonucci has, according to the Sunday Star, has told friends that he considers it a dream to play for Guardiola.
Paper Round's view: Bonucci is exactly the kind of clever, poised and experienced defender that John Stones currently is not. If Guardiola still believes in Stones, then Bonucci would be the perfect example for him to learn from. Added to that is Guardiola's poor record in signing defenders, so going for one of the obviously best defenders in the world is a sensible way of mitigating any incompetence on Guardiola's part. While old, City need some instant improvement as well as younger additions.
Wenger not quite ready to announce his future
Arsene Wenger watched his side capitulate to a 3-1 defeat to West Brom at the Hawthorns on Saturday, but he was still unwilling to clarify when, or if, he will resign from his post at Arsenal. He said he will let people know his decision, 'very soon,' with no indication of what he is planning to do. Arsenal are enduring their worst run since 1995.
Paper Round's view: If Wenger is going to continue the same approach of underperformance, hubris and failing to sign the players he actually needs, then there really is no point him staying. The competition for the top four is so tough that the same methods will no longer be effective. If he is prepared to change, spend money and bring in some tougher players, then Wenger has earned the right to try it out.
Jones refuses to panic after Grand Slam hopes dashed
After seeing his side's winning run coming to an end on the verge of claiming the sole record for consecutive wins, Eddie Jones changed his usually tough tone. After victories, Jones has called upon his side to improve their performances and focus. Now the run has come to an, he has been more sanguine: “We are batting at a pretty good average – even Don Bradman got zero when he played his last Test. Obviously we are disappointed – but we will fight another day. It is not the end of the world.”
Paper Round's view: The players have shown that they have the mentality to win consistently, so there's nothing to be gained from being hard on them just as they feel their first disappointment under Jones. Jones is more interested in using the defeat to propel them onto more victories in the future, and his approach needs to be trusted after another Six Nations title.
Chelsea keen on re-signing Lukaku
The Mail reports that Chelsea manager Antonio Conte is keen on re-signing Everton striker Romelu Lukaku for the club. Diego Costa's future is unclear, and he could rejoin Atletico Madrid in the summer, or make a long-anticipated transfer to the Chinese Super League. Chelsea are favourites for the signing, but they will face competition from Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United.
Paper Round's view: Lukaku would be able to play in a similar manner to Costa, if not in exactly the same way. Lukaku has room to improve, but can lead the line, be part of lightning-quick counterattacks, and is an impressive finisher much of the time, too. He also has the benefit of being less tediously abrasive than Costa. Given he spent time at Stamford Bridge already, he should adapt to the move quickly.