PLAY IT SHORT: Biggest week for Everton; Balotelli NEEDS Rodgers rethink; Quintero Arsenal sensation; Fletcher brilliant for Man Utd
THE GREATEST 7 DAYS FOR EVERTON THIS CENTURY
Take a bow Bill Kenwright. Has there ever been a bigger week at Everton this century? Just days after securing Ross Barkley to a new, long-term deal, they smash their transfer record with a £28 million swoop for Romelu Lukaku. Not even the most faithful Blues will have seen that one coming. It's a stunning show of intent. But the news didn't end there. Business hadn't yet closed on Friday before Roberto Martinez was welcoming Brendan Galloway from MK Dons. Galloway, a young defender likened to Rio Ferdinand, was named last season's League One Apprentice of the Year. You hope Evertonians acknowledge the role Kenwright has played in all this. Martinez, Lukaku, Barkley - none of it would've been possible without the stability Kenwright's leadership has brought the club. With another chairman, another personality, Everton could've gone the same way as Leeds United or Birmingham City. Everton are now reaping the rewards from the work of a chairman who truly puts the club ahead of himself.
FLETCHER ABSOLUTELY MAGNIFICENT
Darren Fletcher was absolutely magnificent in the first-half of Manchester United's victory over Real Madrid. It wasn't vintage Fletcher - it was much, much more. He broke up Real's attacks, kept the ball and sprayed it when opportunities beckoned. But he also broke the line multiple times, charging past Real tackles. It's still early doors and perhaps the Scot benefited on Saturday from kicking off his preseason several weeks earlier than Real's players. But signs are more than promising. A stunning achievement, given we were all just happy seeing him get back on the pitch last season. Now he looks the part. Not a bit-part player, but someone who can take a leading role in Louis van Gaal's new-look United.
KAGAWA MOVE SHOWS ATLETICO INTERNATIONAL AMBITION
Don't be surprised if Atletico Madrid is the next destination for Manchester United midfielder Shinji Kagawa. The Bundesliga appears the obvious option, where both former employers Borussia Dortmund and cashed-up Wolfsburg are eager to ferry him away from his United nightmare. But Atletico have the spending power, thanks to Chelsea's multiple raids, and most importantly the ambition to make a deal happen. The Spanish champs have launched a major effort to expand their profile across Asia, buying into India's new Super League competition with Atletico de Kolkata - and now eyeing off the Japanese market through Kagawa. We know all about the on-field strength of Diego Simeone's Atletico, but there's some innovative work happening off the park also.
PULIS PROVES CANNY FOR PALACE
It's been a good week for Tony Pulis at Crystal Palace. Brede Hangeland, on a free, is a great signing. As is Fraizer Campbell, for less than £700,000 from Cardiff City. Inside a few days, Pulis has strengthened at both ends of his team for chump change. A centre-half pairing of Hangeland and Scott Dann will be assuring for Pulis. Then there's Campbell, who with Cardiff last season rattled some of the best defences in the country. He's definitely Premier League class and at 26 still has his best years ahead of him. Some great business from Pulis.
QUINTERO A STUNNER FOR GOONERS
Juan Fernando Quintero. If he does sign for Arsenal this week, he'll be one for the future. But what a future! The Porto youngster is a genuine South American No10, full of invention and flair - with a wand of a left-foot. As with Calum Chambers, the Quintero move does bring into sharp focus the failings of Arsenal's much vaunted youth system. But casting those concerns aside, if Arsene Wenger can get a hold of Quintero and bring him on as he has Aaron Ramsey over the last 18 months, then Arsenal will have an absolute world beater on their hands - and the Premier League one of the most exciting players in the game. A breathtaking market move by Wenger.
HODGSON KEY TO LAMPARD MAN CITY SHOCK
Did Roy Hodgson have an influence on Frank Lampard's Manchester City decision? It's no coincidence that within days of Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard announcing his international retirement, Lampard, after joining New York City FC, ends speculation over his immediate future by committing to the first-half of the new season with City. The Chelsea legend wants to play on for England - and he wants to be match-ready for their opening Euro2016 qualifier. The question is whether he actually had a word with Hodgson about his chances of selection. Gerrard's departure leaves a huge void in that England dressing room and Lampard feels he still has plenty to offer the national setup, otherwise he and Christine would be packing their bags for Australia and a stint alongside David Villa at Melbourne City - before joining NYCFC in March. Tough for Chelsea fans. But it was the club's decision to let Lampard leave. If he feels he can still compete at the top level - and a manager as canny as Manuel Pellegrini believes the same - then he surely deserves this late autumn chance.
BALOTELLI NEEDS RODGERS TO RETHINK STAND
It's unfortunate Brendan Rodgers has shutdown talk of Mario Balotelli moving to Liverpool. If there's one club and one manager who can help the AC Milan striker reach his amazing potential, its Liverpool and Rodgers. There's a genuine, world class player inside Mario Balotelli. But Milan, engulfed by internal problems, isn't the place to bring out the best in the former Manchester City man. The greatest thing Mino Raiola can do for his client is get on the phone to Rodgers and Ian Ayre, the Liverpool managing director, and attempt to convince them to take Balotelli on. Liverpool are no charity - but when you think of the work Rodgers and the club has done reviving and rebuilding the careers of Philippe Coutinho, Daniel Sturridge and Jordan Henderson, along with the management of Luis Suarez, there'd be good odds of more success if Balotelli was to walk through the Shankly Gates before the deadline falls.