Football NewsFriday 1st April 2016

Hot Football Transfer Gossip: Messi, Ibrahimovic, Pochettino, Mourinho

Hot Football Transfer Gossip: Messi, Ibrahimovic, Pochettino, Mourinho

April Fools’ is a meaningless concept in the world of Hot Football Transfer Gossip, where every day is a minefield of made-up nonsense that is often impossible to distinguish from fact.

Today, naturally, is no different, and as such it’s unclear whether the Sun’s claim that Manchester City have had their “hopes boosted” of signing Lionel Messi is supposed to be a joke or something we are meant to take seriously. Tragically, we fear it may be the latter.

According to the tabloid, the Barcelona man’s contract talks have “stalled” and there are a bunch of Mancunian sheikhs waiting in the wings with an £800,000-a-week deal for the Argentinian superstar, who they want to be the “fulcrum” of Pep Guardiola’s side. There’s something inexplicably disgusting about the word fulcrum.

If £800,000 a week sounds like a lot, wait until you see what Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been offered to play in China. The Mail claims it’s £1m a week, but Zlatan is not just interested in money, and therefore he is apparently prepared to join an English club for a knockdown £600,000 a week. Basically just enough to get by on - food, a roof over his head, cinema tickets, a life-sized solid gold giraffe and a spaceship.

In what is either exciting manager gossip or an even more exciting romantic revelation, Ed Woodward’s interest in Mauricio Pochettino is - in the words of the Sun - “hotting up”. The Manchester United chief executive is said to be consulting “influential people” about the Tottenham manager - presumably Poch’s exes. The paper adds that “close allies of Pochettino are well aware of Woodward’s liking for him” - which sounds as if Ed has already been drunk-texting the handsome Argentine.

And if this is just a ruse to make Jose Mourinho jealous then it seems to be working, because the Portuguese coach has given Woodward an ultimatum to make up his mind about their relationship by next month, reports the Guardian. Meanwhile, the former Chelsea manager has told Valencia he is not interested in replacing Gary Neville, says the Star.

Elsewhere, Man City have been told (by Andrea Pirlo) that it would take a “world record bid” to prise French midfielder Paul Pogba away from Juventus (Mirror), Stoke will make a £20m bid for Saido Berahino in the summer but will face competition from Spurs and West Ham (also the Mirror) and Chelsea manager-elect Antonio Conte is “determined” to keep Diego Costa at Stamford Bridge (Standard), either as a striker or a personal security guard.