McManaman to stay?
He hasn’t played an awful lot of football this season but Callum McManaman was handed a start down at Reading on Saturday, and perhaps showed exactly why he maybe should have played more football this season under Chris Coleman.
Whilst he didn’t get himself on the score-sheet, the former Wigan Athletic winger came close on a number of occasions and was a constant thorn in the side of the Royals’ defence all afternoon.
In the aftermath of the game the Sunderland gaffer spoke to the press about McManaman’s impact, and perhaps hinted towards the fact that he might have a more integral part to play next season when we’re relegated to League One.
Callum is a really good lad, he hasn’t always started but nevertheless his attitude in training is first class, he always wants the team to do well.
He has a genuine love for the game, he wants to play football, I was pleased for him.
It is hard to play in that position when you haven’t had so many games, a lot of running, he affected the game for us.
Most crucuially, however, he added:
For what we want to build, it is mentalities like his, more and more of that.
There have been calls from sections of the Sunderland’s support for Coleman to hand bigger roles to players that will still be here next season, and I suppose that in many ways that would explain McManaman’s surprise inclusion in Saturday’s starting eleven.
He was handed the opportunity on the right hand side of our midfield ahead of Joel Asoro, who as we know is currently sitting on a contract offer from the club that he’s yet to decide upon.
Ben Arfa to replace Wahbi Khazri?
The complicated situation surrounding Wahbi Khazri’s future beyond the end of the season has led to speculation in the French media that Rennes could be exploring other options - and the name on everyone’s lips is that of former Newcastle United man Hatem Ben Arfa.
The 31-year old maverick playmaker has been frozen out at Paris St Germain by head coach Unai Emery, and with his contract due to expire upon the culmination of the current season he’s apparently got a large number of clubs sniffing around him.
The talk in France is that despite Khazri’s undoubted success at Rennes this season he’ll simply prove to be too expensive. In figures released earlier this year it was claimed that Khazri earns around £40,000 per week, a percentage of which is still paid by Sunderland.
The findings showed that Khazri is the top earner at the Brittany-based club and whilst that has been manageable this season, his form coupled with the fact any potential buyer will have to take on all of his wages if they want him permanently likely means that clubs without financial clout will struggle to justify the potential costs.
This means that instead Rennes are apparently looking into the possibility of signing Ben Arfa who, despite having a reputation as a trouble-maker, is supremely talented and has shown at other smaller clubs like Nice that he’s capable of performing at the very top level when a team forms around him.
Khazri will not struggle to find a new club in the summer provided he stays injury free. With eleven goals this season he’s undoubtedly been Rennes’ star player and he’ll be given just as big a spotlight at this summer’s World Cup, where he’ll be the centre of attention in a Tunisia side that features in a group that includes England, Egypt and Belgium.
Borini keen to prove himself in Milan
Another player that is out on loan, Fabio Borini, isn’t enjoying as much of a successful time as perhaps Wahbi Khazri is, and in an interview with Sky Sports he has expressed his desire to prove himself under the management of Italian legend Gennaro Gattuso at AC Milan.
Borini was brought to the club by Vincenzo Montella but hasn’t been able to knuckle down a place in the side ahead of some extremely talented players, and as such he’s been shifted around the pitch in order to ‘do a job’ where required.
The former Liverpool and Chelsea man was most recently used at right back, but after making a costly error in a game with Chievo has not been given any game time, and in his chat with Sky revealed that he’s asked to retrain in that position if that is where Gattuso would like him to play in the future.
They often define me as a generous player, but sometimes I’m a little bit annoyed by it.
It’s a name given to me because I run a lot and I adapt to every role, but I do not want it to be the only thing that defines my characteristics.
Here at Milan I want to show that I can stay in Italy, that I have not run away from here and that I’m one from Milan, and I’ve already demonstrated it.
Whilst it’s thought that Milan have a deal in place to purchase the Italy international on a permanent basis in the summer, it’s common in Italian football for clubs to quickly move on recently-signed players and even when the Rossoneri do complete the deal they could look to shift him on to another Serie A side.
Milan are paying 100-percent of the 26-year-old’s wages but the final transfer fee already agreed includes provision for three or four payments - but they only start at the end of this season and are spread throughout the next.