Exclusive: Mail Reporter Talks Arsenal & Man City Transfers, Liverpool Tactics & More


Our writer Chris Baker has had an exclusive interview with Daily Mail reporter Jonny Singer. They spoke about the summer 2016 transfer activity thus far.

Karanka has already completed some very good signings for Boro, including Victor Valdes and Negredo, do you think they will stop there?

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It’s a really interesting situation at the club – a talented manager, a squad that played really well last season, and now some huge names arriving. Viktor Fischer is another that I think could be a very exciting deal.

I think they are the best-placed of the promoted sides to stay up without any serious squad modification, but they love the big names up there – think Juninho and Ravanelli in the 90s – so those will be popular additions.

The money floating around – and the Negredo deal is the best example of this we’ve seen all summer – means that they could probably bring in one more huge signing, as any Premier League club can. But whether that would be in the best interests of what is, I think, a pretty strong squad, I’m not sure.

A constant rumour that has circulated this summer is Alexis Sanchez & Mesut Ozil leaving Arsenal, what are your thoughts on what the future holds for the pair?

I’d say either leaving is extremely unlikely. Where would they go? Real Madrid and Barca are out for obvious reasons. Arsenal won’t sell those two to a rival. Juve, PSG? Not impossible, but I don’t really see it at this stage.

I think Arsene Wenger believes he has a title-winning squad on his hands, perhaps with one or two additions. He trusts this squad, which has been build very patiently since that Ozil signing three years ago. I’d be shocked if either wanted, or were allowed, to leave.

But, hey, it’s football. It can always shock us.

Arsene Wenger is entering his final 12 months of his Arsenal contract, do you think this will be his last?

I keep changing my mind on this. He was never going to leave before the end of the contract, but I also think he wants to bow out on a high.

If the board offer him a new deal, which I think they will, and he still thinks he is the right man for the club, which I think he does, and next season, come say February, doesn’t look like producing a title or a Champions League, there’s a pretty decent chance he’ll extend.

Wenger recently rebuffed interest in the England job, is this a clear indication he intends to stay with the Gunners?

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I certainly don’t see him going elsewhere any time soon. If he leaves Arsenal my feeling is that it will be for a job in journalism, as a sort of consultant, or as a director of football.

I very much doubt he’ll manage another club side in the near future, and I’m not convinced he’d really want the England job either. Maybe if the France job came up in two years… but still I suspect he’s in his last ‘proper’ job.

Pep, Klopp, Ancelotti are all now settled with new clubs and were certainly on Arsenal’s managerial list were Arsene to leave, who would be best suited for the Arsenal job were Arsene to leave in 12 months time?

Simeone would be great. But it’s hugely unlikely for lots of reasons – not least because he’s built a club that are out-performing Arsenal. Why would he risk his sensational reputation, built at a club that knows him so well, for the unknown, at a club of a similar stature?

I think the most likely next man in would be someone slightly off the beaten track. Perhaps Jogi Low – OK, a World Cup winner isn’t out of the blue, but not much club management experience – or someone who has done very well slightly below the radar in Europe.

It’s also worth noting that Pep, Jose, Klopp and Conte can’t all win the league next season. Two of those four, Arsenal and Spurs – at least – are going to finish outside the top four. So, in a year or two, there are going to be some pretty unhappy chairmen.

There’s no reason to think that Wenger will be out of Arsenal before any of them – perhaps even all of them – have left their clubs. The options available now, and the options available in 12, 18, or 24 months, will be very different.

Arsenal are reportedly interested in signing a striker this summer, can you see them spending big to do so?

It’s so hard to think in terms of ‘spending big’ right now. What is big? Michael Keane is apparently worth more than £15m. Odion Ighalo is valued at about £40m? In that context, almost any decent striker will require a club to ‘spend big’.

Arsenal have money to spend. But only on the right player. Wenger is naturally cautious, and that is why he has kept the club at the summit of the English game for so long, despite testing financial times.

He has Olivier Giroud, who he trusts, and who scores decent numbers of goals in the top flight. He won’t win you the title single-handedly, but he is a good player at the top level, he links the play well, he suits the style of play.

Then you also have Alex Iwobi, who could develop into a striker, and has serious quality. Theo Walcott had a good spell up front last season before disappearing. I think the player he really wants to lead the line is Danny Welbeck, but injuries, obviously, have hampered that.

So while I think Arsenal want, and probably need, a striker, neither I, nor I believe Wenger, are as worried about the position as fans or other journalists.

He’ll know who he wants to bring in, and if they are available, he’s shown he’s not afraid to spend money. At £40m, £50m, for the right player, I think it’s possible. At £70m or £80m, I suspect he’ll think it’s not value.

 Klopp has added a few very gifted players to the squad already this summer, do you think they are still looking for one more marquee signing?

Liverpool next season will be interesting. They have good players, but much more important will be the system. If it clicks, they’ll be a force.

Klopp looks to me like he is investing in energy – players who will run, be dynamic, help in that pressing game that he loves. Yes, you need quality, but, in Coutinho, Firmino, Sturridge and the like, they already have that.

So I don’t necessarily expect another ‘huge’ move. Just sensible, high-level players that fit the template – exactly like Wijnaldum was. Those players can be expensive, but they aren’t marquee signings really.

City are yet to spend massively in the market thus far, they have arguably the best manager in the world, could Guardiola spend £50m+ on a player this summer?

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I’m fascinated by how Guardiola gets on at City. I look at their squad, and it’s still one of the best in the league, but there are half a dozen ‘key’ players who feel wholly unsuited to his style of play. I can’t see him changing his ways, but can they adapt to his style?

With that in mind I thought we’d see more signings. Gundogan and Nolito both make sense, neither cost as much as players of similar standard, so he won’t pay over the odds. But, if he wants a John Stones, a Marc-Andre ter Stegen, or someone else who will cost a lot, they obviously have the money.

The longer it goes on, though, the less likely it is. Pep needs time to mould this squad to his type of football, and that means the longer he waits, the less likely a signing is to fit in quickly. My instinct says he’ll change our views of the current squad more than completely reshaping it with new players.

We’re in July and there is still plenty of time left for business, looking at current squads who do you think is best equipped to win the league next season?

I backed City last year, because, man for man, they should be the best. Now with a top manager, and a footballing identity, I’ll go with them again.

Never write off United, because of their spending power and Mourinho’s incredible winning mentality, but their squad looks unbalanced to me. Arsenal have the best ‘settled’ squad, that can help. They’ve improved the squad since last year (Xhaka and Elneny vs Arteta and Flamini is a huge upgrade) but not made massive alterations. If they hit the ground running, they could do it. I suspect it’s a year too soon for Conte’s Chelsea, and Liverpool will be too hit and miss.

So, for now, I’m sticking with City.

Mourinho has a theme of doing well for the first few years and then finding himself unsettled and moving on, is Mourinho’s appointment for United a short-term or a long-term success?

No club functions without a long-term plan – and Mourinho, I’m sure, would like to stay there 10 years – but it’s a question of how much you are willing to sacrifice in the short term. Neither United, nor Mourinho, are prepared to have any sort of failure short term to justify a long-term plan.

That means Mourinho must win the league in the next two years. He will demand nothing less. To do that, he’ll create an intensity that isn’t – or at least hasn’t been in the past – sustainable. It’s happened everywhere he’s been. That means it’s incredibly unlikely he’ll last more than one ‘cycle’.

Could he be there more than three years? It’s not impossible. Do I expect him to be? Not really.