EPL transfer tattle: Hendo future uncertain, Lingardinho to stay at United, Arsenal sign Lokonga
But even one with the most outlandish imagination could not have predicted something as odd happening as Jordan Henderson, title-winning captain of Liverpool still relatively in his prime, being made to sweat over his future at the club, while Jesse ‘Lingardinho’ Lingard, the one-time outcast of Old Trafford, being assured of a significant role at Manchester United next season.
Yet, here we are today, with credible reports indicating that the Reds are open to selling Henderson, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer publicly declaring that Lingard is part of his plans for the coming campaign.
According to The Athletic, talks over an extension to Henderson’s contract – which expires in 2023 – have taken place, but no significant progress has been made as yet.
WATCH: Henderson's road to Champions League winning captain
The ambiguity over Henderson future has put top clubs such as Paris Saint-Germain on alert, because really, which player isn’t PSG interested in these days? Spanish champions Atletico Madrid are also keen on Henderson, with Luis Suarez apparently hoping to rekindle his partnership with the England international.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is understood to be loath to sell Henderson, but owners Fenway Sports Group (FSG) have the final say in the matter, and could choose to cash in on their captain in order to fund a refresh of their squad.
A source familiar with the negotiations said: “It’s the contract that’s been spoken about the least but probably tells the biggest story. This is a critical summer for Jordan.”
Meanwhile, Manchester United will welcome the return of Jesse Lingard next season, according to Red Devils boss Solskjaer.
The ‘Eternal Wunderkid’ enjoyed a sterling half-a-season on loan at West Ham, scoring nine goals and assisting five in just 16 games for the Hammers.
Lingard was impressive for United in their 2-1 pre-season friendly win over Derby County yesterday, and after the game, Solskjaer insisted that he would find a way to fit the 28-year-old attacking midfielder into his team for the coming season.
WATCH: Highlights of Man United's pre-season match against Derby
“Jesse has come back, been bright, he wants to fight for his place and there's nothing better than seeing players want to fight for their place,” said Solskjaer.
“What he did towards the end of last season, that's the true Jesse, that's what we know he's capable of and I think we saw towards the end that we lacked some options at times and Jesse is in the plans at the moment.”
Finally, at the Emirates Stadium, Arsenal welcomed their second summer signing of the season in midfielder Albert Sambi Lokonga.
The 21-year-old joined the Emirates Stadium outfit from Anderlecht in a deal believed to be worth around £ 15m (S$28m).
The Belgian is regarded as one of the top young prospects in world football at the moment, so it is only a matter of time that Arsenal will crush his spirit and curtail his talent before sending him out on loan to a mid-tier club in France like Marseille.
WATCH: Lokonga's first interview as an Arsenal player
And even though Lokonga isn’t the usual type of signing that the Gunners go for – after all, he’s not a player from Chelsea who is way past his prime and is a client of Kia Joorabchian – manager Mikel Arteta appears pleased with the club’s latest acquisition.
“Albert is a very intelligent player who has shown great maturity in his performances,” said Arteta. “We’re confident Albert’s ready for the next stage in his development and we’re looking forward to welcoming a new member to our squad with his quality and presence.
“He has been coached well by Vincent Kompany and his team at Anderlecht. I know Vincent very well, and he talks so highly about Albert and the positive impact he had to Anderlecht in recent seasons.”