Man Utd’s joyless child, Newcastle star buys the British navy, and Burnley’s fancy French import

All the latest Premier League transfer rumours, jazzed up with some gratuitous jokes - including Manchester United and Burnley’s French connections.
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When Benjamin Pavard was a small boy, he wasn’t allowed to play with toys and there were no games to be found in the family home. The only recreation available to him was football, courtesy of what sounds like a very healthy relationship with his apparently somewhat obsessive father.

A childhood without games might sound miserable, but it does mean Pavard has never had to play Monopoly.A childhood without games might sound miserable, but it does mean Pavard has never had to play Monopoly.
A childhood without games might sound miserable, but it does mean Pavard has never had to play Monopoly.

That focussed upbringing probably made it easier to adapt to life at a club like Bayern Munich, where the concept of fun is crushed beneath the wheels of a relentless and joyless winning machine. But will he be able to handle life at a different speed? What if he went to a club who stumble their way through the seasons, maybe picking up the odd League Cup but otherwise being just as likely to get thrashed by their local rivals in comical fashion, or lose 4-0 to Brentford? Yes, this is all a weak set-up to poke some historically-dubious fun at Manchester United, who could be homing in on a move for Pavard, according to L’Equipe.

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The World Cup-winning full-back has a year left on his contract in Bavaria and is apparently looking for a new challenge, with United interested along with Inter Milan and Barcelona. No word on whether Bayern would prefer to sell or let the Frenchman run his contract down, yet.

The 3AM Verdict: Pavard is only 27 and while it’s a stretch to put him in with the elite right-backs of world football, he’s used to playing at an elite level, so if he’s available at a good price then he’d clearly be a solid addition. How much he’s worth given Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s recent form is questionable – Pavard is a solid cog in some hugely impressive machines, but not a player who would lift a team like United to another level.

Burnley’s French fancy

Another French connection comes from Burnley, with Vincent Kompany looking at a moderately audacious swoop from Paris Saint-Germain. Their midfielder Fabián Ruiz – who hasn’t made an especially big splash since arriving from Napoli last summer – is emerging as a potential transfer target and could easily become the Lancastrian town’s most popular French import since the last crate of Benedictine that they skulled. They drink tons of the stuff over there for some strange reason. Horrible stuff, but to each their own.

Anyway, Footmercato report that PSG would be pretty keen to get shot of the 16-cap Spain international after a disappointing debut season, but also that Ruiz is rather less interested in trading his €5m per year salary in for the creaking old cotton mills of the North West. Which is understandable, really.

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The 3AM Verdict: Ruiz cost €25m last summer, and while he’d probably go for a bit less than that he’d still be a very expensive signing by the standards of a newly-promoted club, especially when you factor in the wage bill. He only managed 3 goals in Paris this season, his worst return since leaving Spain back in 2018, and generally hasn’t been at his best – so to be worth the cash, Kompany would have to be confident of rejuvenating him pretty quickly. Still, you don’t get to play 16 times for Spain if you aren’t fairly handy.

Bruno’s big pay day

Finally, a quick word of praise for Bruno Guimarães’ agent, who has managed to get his man a huge pay rise by means of convincing the Newcastle brass that every club in Europe is on the verge of making a bid for the Brazilian midfielder.

The Sun say that the Magpies will apparently offer Bruno a walloping £200,000 per week. It’s the most ever paid to a Newcastle player, unsurprisingly, and to provide some sense of scale will give the midfielder enough money to buy two Craven Cottage Michael Jackson statues per week, or a British aircraft carrier if he saves up for just 307 years. Just in case any of the transfer rumours are actually true, apparently Real Madrid had a nice chat with him last year, and Barcelona and Liverpool are interested in a summer swoop as well.

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The 3AM Verdict: If there is any genuine interest from outside the North East then Newcastle will obviously be wise to hand their talisman a blank chequebook – he’s the most important player on their team by a decent distance. We do suspect, however, that financial constraints mean that the rumours may not have too much behind them – by which we mean that Barcelona are skint and Liverpool’s owners are tight.