Tough-tackling card collectors highlight Thursday’s transfer rumor mill, as ex-Premier League bosses Jose Mourinho and Ronald Koeman eye reinforcements.
Mourinho is said to want an Arsenal player he’s faced plenty over the years, while Koeman is close to locking up a young right back to join USMNT star Sergino Dest.
Emerson to Barcelona
No, not that Emerson.
Emerson Royal is a 22-year-old (January) right back at Real Betis with a single Brazil cap to his name.
He’s been with the Andalusian club since 2019, a veritable every-week starter with five goals and 10 assists across all competitions.
What would this mean for American right back Sergino Dest, who is sometimes used on the left with the USMNT and arrived for solid money from Ajax last season? Dest has been unused in more advanced roles, and could become a midfielder under Koeman, too.
Emerson is a fireball, with nine yellow cards and as red in La Liga this season, and he’s not as smooth a passer as Dest. But Emerson is superior in almost every defensive metric — noting of course that Betis has to play quite a bit more defense than possession-centric Barca.
While Betis was sixth in possession amongst La Liga team, they had 10 percent less of the ball than Barca, who would’ve won the league if it could, well, defend anyone.
Xhaka to Roma
Jose Mourinho apparently liked what he saw when he led Manchester United or Tottenham Hotspur against Arsenal.
The new AS Roma boss is apparently ready to woo Swiss star Granit Xhaka to the Eternal City this summer, a report from our partners Sky Sports saying that the Gunners want $30 million for his services.
Roma is thinking more like $15 million, and the question is whether the market will be down or up given how many teams have either revealed budgetary woes this season or flat out claimed they needed a Super League to survive (lol, amirite?).
Xhaka turns 29 in September and has 92 caps with Switzerland. He’s been relied upon in every year of his pro career since his time at Basel, chewing up minutes for Borussia Monchengladbach and joining Arsenal in 2016.
He’s played 220 times for the Gunners, 94 times for Arsene Wenger, 51 for Unai Emery, four for Freddie Ljungberg, and 71 for Mikel Arteta.