WHERE WILL SPURS FIND THEIR MATCHWINNER?
The matchwinner merry-go-round. Real Madrid get Gareth Bale, Manchester United get Cristiano Ronaldo and Tottenham get ... a shed load of cash. Joe Lewis and Daniel Levy are absolutely correct in pushing Real to the limit over Bale's transfer fee. But no matter the amount the Welshman goes for, it's a struggle to see how he can be replaced without Champions League football on offer. And it has to be raised inside the White Hart Lane boardroom, if Real are so prepared to pay upwards of £80 million for Bale they must be confident of raking much of that back through merchandise and sponsors' endorsements. What price can Spurs put on such a loss of potential revenue?
SCHOLES TOLD US ALL ABOUT LINGARD TWO YEARS AGO
Jesse Lingard's success on tour last month will have brought a knowing smile from Paul Scholes as he adjusted to life in retirement back home in Manchester. It was the usually reticent Scholes, during his previous spell working alongside Manchester United U21 coach Warren Joyce, who highlighted Lingard as one to watch before he cut short his new career for that famous comeback at Manchester City. Scholes could see a lot of himself in Lingard and wasn't shy in talking up the then teen on the club's in-house TV channel. Lingard's form across Asia has quickly put to bed any doubts after last season's struggles at Leicester City. In the great Fergie traditions of Lee Martin and Clayton Blackmore, Lingard could be the latest homespun youngster to find a place in United's squad by grabbing his preseason chance.
GARLICK SHOWS KINNEAR HOW IT'S DONE
Nicolas Anelka and Diego Lugano. This summer has been a triumph for West Bromwich Albion's new technical chief Richard Garlick. Any doubts over the 36 year-old's ability to successfully succeed Dan Ashworth have been put to bed. While Joe Kinnear was banging on about how he was “head and shoulders” above anyother technical director in the country, Garlick was in the background, putting together deals for two veterans of multiple World Cups and Champions League campaigns. It's a triumph for Garlick, but also chairman Jeremy Peace, whose management structure has not skipped a beat despite Ashworth's departure to the FA.
CARDIFF PULL OFF MULTILPLE TRANSFER COUPS
Andreas Cornelius, Steven Caulker and possibly Etienne Capoue? It's been a stunning first summer market as a Premier League club for Cardiff City. If Malky Mackay can convince Capoue, who resisted interest from Arsenal and Spurs only 12 months ago, to move to Wales, it will herald a great platform to launch Cardiff as a top-flight club. Danish striker Cornelius, who was watched by Arsenal chief scout Steve Rowley and Manchester United's Jim Lawlor last season, is absolutely tailor-made for the Premier League. Caulker has a great chance of making England's World Cup squad - as does Capoue with France. When you think of the struggles at the likes of Arsenal and Newcastle United to get quality players through the front door, Mackay and owner Vincent Tan deserve great credit for their work over the past two months.
HECTIC FEW WEEKS FOR UNITED WITH MOYES HOME
It promises to be a helter-skelter final month of the summer market for Manchester United. David Moyes and the club's new chief executive Ed Woodward have discovered it's far easier doing business at the top table face-to-face than over the phone. Even Real Madrid president Florentino Perez needs to meet with Spurs owner Joe Lewis in Miami to thrash out terms over Gareth Bale. Why should United be any different? If Moyes keeps to type, It will be new ground for United. Where Sir Alex Ferguson and David Gill preferred the cloak-and-dagger approach to transfer talk, Moyes and Woodward have been very much upfront about their intended targets. For some it's been refreshing, for others frustrating, as the Cesc Fabregas saga has dragged on. But with all the main players now back home and behind their desks, United's transfer business is sure to ramp up over the next three-and-a-bit weeks.
ARE CITY SERIOUS ABOUT ACADEMY?
There's been a lot of bluster about Manchester City's academy and the plans of Txiki Begiristain and Ferran Soriano. But what chance of someone like Denis Suarez, now 19, when Stevan Jovetic and Alvaro Negredo arrive for huge fees? It's difficult to see where Suarez, good enough for Barcelona to make a play for him this summer, fits in Manuel Pellegrini's thinking this new season.
LIVE IN HOPE, ARSENAL FANS
Maybe a long shot. Perhaps clinging at straws. But Joel Campbell being sent on-loan to Olympiakos last week, despite the Costa Rican gaining a UK work permit, does suggest Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger was making room for an imminent striker signing. Live in hope, Gooners.