Wed. Feb 28th, 2024

Earlier today, we held our latest subscriber-exclusive Ask Ornstein session.

Once a week for an hour, The Athletic’s subscribers can ask me for my views on anything from the world of football. I have pulled together some of my favourite questions and my answers to them from the latest Q&A below. Thanks to all who took part.

Want to ask me a question? There will be no Q&A next Thursday, as it will clash with transfer deadline day, but please join us in two weeks for another session.

The Insiders WhatsApp group is back this January transfer window! In the lead-up to and on deadline day itself, our unrivalled team of writers, including David Ornstein, Laurie Whitwell, and James Pearce, will be breaking all the latest transfer news in this group first.

Join The Insiders WhatsApp channel to be the football fan in the know.

Th W asked: Any latest news about Manchester United’s new sporting director and technical director? Is Paul Mitchell still on the list, or he will join Roma? Will ex-Bayern Munich technical director Marco Neppe be on INEOS’ radar?

David Ornstein: I would expect that, now a CEO has been appointed, other key roles (sporting director, head of recruitment, or whatever the job titles may be) will follow as a priority.

United/INEOS will want to get as much as they can sorted before the summer transfer window, but that’s easier said than done because CEO-to-be Omar Berrada is not permitted to work for the club during his six-month gardening leave, and any such appointments will require meetings with — and the blessing of — the CEO.

Also, even when such positions are filled, the chosen candidates may similarly have their start dates bound by contractual restrictions.

GO DEEPER

An emergency meeting and shock on both sides of Manchester: Inside the Omar Berrada deal

Liam C asked: Any updates on Tottenham target Antonio Nusa?

Ornstein: This one has not developed significantly since last week’s reports, so it’s close but not done. This is a top young player who many other big clubs are also looking at, so Spurs won’t be getting ahead of themselves.

A lot of work has clearly gone into it and they’ll hope to get this over the line — but only at a price they deem to be fair. The expectation is any deal would involve Nusa returning to Club Bruges for the rest of this season.

Charles L asked: You said at the start of the window that Spurs had no money to spend. Not sure you’ve got your finger on the pulse of what’s going on in N17 as much as you do at other clubs…

Ornstein: Thanks for that, Charles. Tottenham barely spent on (loan signing) Timo Werner. They spent on Radu Dragusin but the year-one financial fair play cost will be more than covered by the departures of Eric Dier, Hugo Lloris, Sergio Reguilon, Japhet Tanganga, Ivan Perisic and Djed Spence (Genoa’s option to buy the latter would raise good money if activated).

Nusa is not done yet, so we don’t know the finances involved and a midfielder like Conor Gallagher could probably only be funded by a significant departure.

Is that sufficiently on the pulse?

Stephen B asked: Any news on Newcastle incomings and outgoings?

Ornstein: There is a strong chance Newcastle sign a midfielder on loan before next Thursday’s deadline, Stephen. Kieran Trippier is staying and Callum Wilson is expected to stay as well. It’s not impossible that Miguel Almiron departs but, as we speak, that situation is also quiet.

GO DEEPER

Your Newcastle transfer questions answered: Almiron, Trippier, Wilson, Isak and more

Any business Newcastle do in this window will impact what they can afford to do in the summer — that is a much better market to operate in, not to mention their financial situation should be better then than it is now.

There will have to be exits of fringe players, whether it be now or in the next window, and maybe even a bigger name, too. Remember, the sale of a homegrown talent represents pure accounting profit and therefore we should keep an eye on the likes of Elliot Anderson and Sean Longstaff.

Conor Gallagher (Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Liam C asked: What is the status of Conor Gallagher in this window?

Ornstein: No change yet, Liam. He’s set to be out of contract in June 2025 and therefore, ideally for Chelsea, he would sign a new deal or be sold. A new contract is not close at present and if a suitable offer for him was to arrive, Chelsea would very possibly sell. But that’s a big ‘if’, and it hasn’t happened so far.

We know Tottenham are firm admirers; they tried to sign Gallagher last summer and perhaps they would like to do so again, but it would require a player such as Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg to be sold first and currently there doesn’t seem to be anything developing on that front.

The ‘ideal’ situation is not a firm rule, so it’s plausible the window closes without either a new contract or sale — and right now Armando Broja is looking a more likely departure from Chelsea than Gallagher.

To be clear, Chelsea are extremely fond of Gallagher as a player and character. He is an important part of coach Mauricio Pochettino’s plans, but we know there are other factors involved, so let’s see how the next week pans out.

Thorthunder O asked: How do you manage your unread messages across many platforms? At any given point, you must be getting barrages of info from all sorts of different directions — how do get through everything? Do you get most of your updates and contacts via WhatsApp? How crazy does it get in the final week of the transfer window?

Ornstein: If you imagine a circus performer juggling many balls or spinning many plates, that’s what people like me are trying to do at times like this.

Everyone is so busy during January (even if there are not so many deals coming to fruition, it doesn’t mean there aren’t as many conversations as ever taking place behind the scenes) that I don’t tend to meet nearly as many people face-to-face at this time of year as I do outside the transfer windows.

Most communication is by phone, WhatsApp, SMS and email. It’s about constantly jumping between all of those platforms, and also our communication systems at The Athletic, to make sure you’re up to date with everything.

Often you go through them all and then by the time you have, you have to do it again… and again… and again. The hours are long, because you never know when you might hear from someone or need to contact them, when you might receive or obtain some information, when you might have to spring into action by looking into, breaking or reacting to a story — and fulfil print or broadcast commitments.

You have to be alert, focused and sharp, have constant phone signal and/or wi-fi connection, keep your schedule relatively clear, be ready to do things at short notice et cetera. If you don’t or aren’t (or people have better contacts than you or move quicker on certain stories), you have to accept you might miss out to others in what is an increasingly congested, competitive and high-quality environment.

Ultimately, you win some, you lose some, but you must always work in a correct, proper and professional manner, follow due process… and enjoy it!

Dami asked: Just wanted to know if Mohamed Salah will be sold this summer…

Ornstein: Not aware of any decision on that yet, Dami.

I’m sure Liverpool would like to extend Salah’s contract but, of course, that is his decision and if he doesn’t, then all involved will need to decide whether he goes into his final year or if a sale is best (depending on offers coming in).

(Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

The strength of interest from Saudi Arabia last summer suggests they will have another go in the next transfer window — but as I’ve said on here before, I have heard suggestions that Salah would be keen to keep playing at the highest level in Europe.

On this one, we’ll need to be patient.

Calvin M asked: Why do clubs like Manchester United not try to go for South Americans, like Manchester City just have? Claudio Echeverri for £12.5million seems like a low-risk, high-reward purchase, akin to what they did with Julian Alvarez. I know United got Facundo Pellestri like that, but he seems to be the only one.

Ornstein: City have a better recruitment operation than United at present. It will be interesting to see if United begin to close the gap once INEOS are in, Berrada starts work and others come on board.

GO DEEPER

Echeverri transfer: Similar path to Alvarez but will take longer to reach City’s first XI

Benjamin M asked: What’s the likelihood of Adam Wharton to Crystal Palace?

Ornstein: When I broke the news earlier that Blackburn Rovers had rejected Palace’s £18.5million bid, I got the impression it was looking unlikely another offer was coming, but let’s see on that.

To be honest, the bigger issue seemed to be that Blackburn wanted Wharton back on loan until the summer and that scenario does not work for Palace. With time in short supply, I could envisage Palace turning to other midfield targets (which would be great news for Blackburn), but nothing is set in stone at this point.

Jagger D asked: What are the realistic chances Arsenal sign a striker in this window?

Ornstein: At the time of writing — as I’ve reported for months — I’m not aware of a striker arriving at Arsenal, or even one having particularly been on the agenda for this month.

Arsenal believe in the players they already have and their financial situation is tight, but it is a position I would not be surprised if they address in the summer, and I’m sure much of the groundwork and due diligence has already been done in preparation.

The likes of Evan Ferguson, Benjamin Sesko, Ivan Toney and Victor Osimhen will be on the radar of Arsenal, and of plenty of other clubs, too. Then it’s about executing, and that involves many factors — not least the amount of money required, the preference of the player(s) and competition from elsewhere. In that sense, the next window will be fascinating.

•• asked: Anything new regarding Alphonso Davies for next summer? Are Real Madrid the favourites?

Ornstein: The Madrid interest is well documented, but the last I heard, the Bayern Munich new-contract proposal was superior, so unless that has changed or does subsequently, the expectation is that Davies will renew.

(Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)

Ryan Swift asked: Any news of Leeds incomings?

Ornstein: They have asked about Ben Godfrey but are a long way off what it would take to convince Everton to do business. Godfrey is also open to playing abroad, so that will expand the options if he is to leave.

Vas K asked: What’s the consensus on the new Arsenal managing director?

Ornstein: Richard Garlick is well-regarded throughout the industry and has done a good job at Arsenal so far.

As a club, they tend to prefer continuity and internal solutions for such roles, provided there are no external candidates they deem superior and gettable. Arsenal believe Garlick was their best option and are confident he will continue to help them progress, as they have since his arrival from the Premier League.

(Top photo of Antonio Nusa: Bruno Fahy/Belga/AFP via Getty Images)

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