Round about a year and a half ago, Moisés Caicedo was playing for Independiente del Valle in his native Ecuador, making a name for himself as a skilful and physical all-round midfielder. As such, he was offered to Manchester United, who’ve been in desperate need of that since God was a lad, and Ole Gunnar Solskjær was keen, only for those above him to deem the deal too complicated, demanding, as it did, the payment of money.
So Caicedo went to Brighton, whose negotiators somehow navigated the torturous path of handing over the asking price, and has been excellent ever since. He stood out in his new side’s 4-0 thrashing of United last season and also in their opening-day win over them, such that United now want to sign him in what would be yet another triumph for football’s most-fabled recruitment department. However, Arsenal, West Ham, Juventus, Atlético Madrid and Bayer Leverkusen are also monitoring the situation.
Nor is he United’s only target – they are also feigning interest in Espanyol’s Raúl de Tomás. Expect them to be enthusiastic right until they discover the price is determined, not by the buyer but by the seller.
Meanwhile, the astute decision to first buy Cristiano Ronaldo, then retain him against his will, continues to bear fruit. Ronaldo, it is said, is knocking about Carrington with all his usual grace and humility, so United have offered him to both Milan clubs. Amazingly, neither are keen to disturb their playing system or dressing-room equilibrium for a past-it prima donna, so he remains at Old Trafford – at least until his contract is cancelled, at which point the number of clubs keen on him, currently zero, is expected to increase.
But all the discussion of United’s behaviour should not distract us from that of Barcelona. They’d like to rid themselves of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – some might say they have no choice but to, given their general indebtedness and the wages they owe Frenkie de Jong – but have rejected a £12m bid from Chelsea. In the meantime, Xavi is acting with all the sensible frugality of a man who spent six years playing and managing in Qatar, mithering Joan Laporta to resign – sorry, to re-sign – Lionel Messi from Paris Saint-Germain.
But all the discussion of Barcelona’s behaviour should not distract us from that of Chelsea, blazing money despite exchanging an owner who is one of the richest men in the world for an owner wanting to cosplay director of football. As well as offering for Aubameyang, Todd Boehly is also interested in signing Anthony Gordon from Everton, while Everton would like to relieve Chelsea of Armando Broja – who they are reluctant to lose. All in a day’s work for an expert of Todd’s standing.
But all the discussion of Barcelona and Chelsea’s behaviour should not distract us from that of Nottingham Forest, who are busy swapping the squad that got them promoted for a squad of expensive randoms – such activity having such a strong history of success. The latest player on whom they’re keen is Houssem Aouar of Lyon, who it appears, actually exists – like Leandro Damião and Nico Gaitán before him, there were strong rumours that he was a figment of the now-sentient transfer window’s imagination – but it now looks that, at long tedious last, he is heading for Premier League.