Man Utd’s foul-mouthed phone call, Liverpool’s baseball cap gremlins, and Newcastle’s dose of rationality

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All the latest Premier League transfer news. Kind of.

I regret to inform you, dear reader, that I am ill. Ill beyond belief, ill beyond compare. Iller than any mortal soul has ever been. I have been stricken by the Great Mystery Flu of 2023, kneecapped in my prime, rendered sluggish and slug-like. I write this article from my (death?)bed, where I have the simultaneous oxymoronic sensations of being rooted to my mattress like that frail kid from The Secret Garden while also feeling as if I am floating a yard or so above it.

I am reminded of that episode of The Sopranos where Tony gets food poisoning and has a heart-to-heart with a talking fish in a fever dream. Alas, I am yet to encounter any loquacious sealife, but out of the haze of my delirium stumbles a gaggle of transfer rumours that have me wondering whether I’m tripping on Night Nurse.

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First up, The Telegraph reports that Manchester United are in talks to sign Jack Butland. Yeah, that Jack Butland. And no, me neither. One can only imagine the phone call the Crystal Palace goalkeeper received from his agent to disclose the Red Devils’ interest was expletive-laden and ended abruptly with a wry chuckle, only for a second, hastily-redialled interaction to quell any suspicions of a prank. The deal, should it happen, would be a loan, presumably because at least one person at Old Trafford still possesses a modicum of common sense.

France's national football team forward Christopher Nkunku (R) reacts after injured during a training session at the team's training camp in Clairefontaine-en-Yvelines, south of Paris, on November 15, 2022, five days ahead of the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup football tournament. (Photo by Bertrand GUAY / AFP) (Photo by BERTRAND GUAY/AFP via Getty Images)France's national football team forward Christopher Nkunku (R) reacts after injured during a training session at the team's training camp in Clairefontaine-en-Yvelines, south of Paris, on November 15, 2022, five days ahead of the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup football tournament. (Photo by Bertrand GUAY / AFP) (Photo by BERTRAND GUAY/AFP via Getty Images)
France's national football team forward Christopher Nkunku (R) reacts after injured during a training session at the team's training camp in Clairefontaine-en-Yvelines, south of Paris, on November 15, 2022, five days ahead of the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup football tournament. (Photo by Bertrand GUAY / AFP) (Photo by BERTRAND GUAY/AFP via Getty Images)

Elsewhere, Liverpool reportedly turned down the chance to sign Christopher Nkunku last summer for reasons that only Jurgen Klopp, Pep Lijnders, and the two deranged gremlins that reside under their club shop baseball caps will ever truly know. The Frenchman has been one of the most scintillating performers in world football for quite some time now, but apparently barely even singed the eyebrows of the Reds’ interest. He will now join Chelsea at the end of the season, of course, and I will be putting my life savings on him scoring hat-trick when he visits Anfield for the first time with his new employers.

And finally, Eddie Howe has doused the smouldering embers of lunacy with a bucket of cool, crisp rationality by shutting down rumours of Newcastle United signing Cristiano Ronaldo on loan if and when they qualify for the Champions League. Speaking to Sky Sports, the Toon boss bluntly stated: “We wish Cristiano all the best in his new venture, but there’s no truth in that from our perspective.” In the meantime, I continue to pinch the skin on the back of my hand to double-check that the initial speculation wasn’t some kind of promethazine-fuelled hallucination.

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