Five transfer grudge matches we can’t wait for, from Gordon at Goodison to Arsenal’s renewed rivalry
The Goodison Park boos will be ringing out for all of April, Liverpool v Man Utd has more needle and Arsenal angered an old rival with their January bids.
Everton v Newcastle, April 25
A Tuesday evening game under Merseyside floodlights, with Everton very likely to be scrapping for Premier League survival and Newcastle almost certain to be fighting for Champions League qualification. The appointment of Sean Dyche as the successor to Frank Lampard has already made every remaining Toffees game as tetchy, fractious and prickly as possible but this promises to be something else.
The 64-word statement released on Everton’s official website announcing the sale of Anthony Gordon confirmed his fate. The winger had already been accosted by supporters in the street as he tried to drive home after the defeat to Southampton but the revelation that he did indeed submit a formal transfer request to force through his £45m move to St James’ Park means that the sheer force of potential energy which will be generated each time he touches the ball, shows his face or dares to exist at Goodison Park – already the most boo-y stadium in football history – could power a small village for years.
“They got a lot of money for me, so I’m hoping they can reinvest it into the squad,” was an innocent message which really does sound like a sarcastic parting shot in hindsight. Godspeed, Anthony. Might not be the worst time to pick up an incredibly brief muscle injury the day before.
Everton v Tottenham, April 1
Ben Godfrey is going to have an awfully busy month. The makeshift left-back’s stellar performance in Dyche’s gruelling Finch Farm bleep tests must have solidified his starting place, had that irritable display against Erling Haaland on New Year’s Eve not already done so. Godfrey was appointed as chief wind-up merchant to the Norwegian, who scored but was also notably affected by the defender and earned a yellow card for absolutely clattering Vitalii Mykolenko.
The small matter of playing on opposite flanks to both Gordon and Arnaut Danjuma is not something Godfrey will let distract from his ultimate goal of playing up to the Goodison crowd with a few physical challenges and words in the ear of his opponents. Everton were quite understandably “shocked and angry” when Tottenham hijacked their Danjuma loan move, the winger having agreed terms, passed his medical and completed media duties for the Toffees before Antonio Conte’s side swooped in. The description of his decision to choose Spurs as “a no-brainer” probably didn’t help matters, nor Everton’s subsequent failure to sign anyone at all in January.
Liverpool v Manchester United, March 5
As if a fixture between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield needs any more needle, a good old-fashioned transfer GAZUMPING has injected even more bitter blood between these two storied rivals.
Speaking soon after joining Liverpool on New Year’s Day, Cody Gakpo admitted that in the summer he “thought I was going to Manchester United, but in the end it didn’t work out”. That interest was certain to be renewed – respected journalist Ben Jacobs noted that “Ten Hag wanted to move for Gakpo and is very disappointed that Liverpool signed him” – but the lack of funds at Old Trafford meant that their only winter recruits were signed on loan.
While the Dutchman’s slow start to life at Liverpool will have numbed the pain somewhat, the frustration shared by the manager and the fanbase at missing out on Gakpo, not least to the enemy, was most certainly real.
Arsenal v Brighton, May 13
It seemed as though scars had healed and bridges were built from Arsenal to Brighton, between whom a weird rivalry emerged during lockdown after Neal Maupay wound up the Gunners, injured Bernd Leno and then scored a stoppage-time winner during a fixture in June 2020.
Any latent issues were put to bed during negotiations for Benjamin White and Leandro Trossard to swap the Amex for the Emirates. Both parties could see eye to eye and the relationship was at least cordial.
Moises Caicedo has changed all that. The Athletic have reported that the nature of his failed move to Arsenal ‘has soured Brighton’s respect for the north London club’, thus ‘weakening Arsenal’s position in terms of any future interest in more of Brighton’s star players’, meaning they have ‘dropped down the pecking order of clubs Brighton feel comfortable about engaging with regularly’.
The blame appears to lie with Caicedo’s new representatives more than anyone, having seemingly encouraged the player to publicly air his desire to leave in an effort to force Brighton’s hand. Arsenal’s biggest crime was offering £60m and £70m with 114 total career appearances. The Gunners hardly lowballed the Seagulls; they bid what they deemed was fair and Brighton stuck to their asking price. But Arsenal and Brighton are once again at odds and that fixture in mid-May – the antepenultimate game of the season – will be spiky once more.
Chelsea v everyone
The daft sods might have made an enemy of teams including but not strictly limited to:
Arsenal, after hijacking their move for Mykhaylo Mudryk; they face them on April 29.
Brighton, for daring to make a bid to sign Moises Caicedo which was lower than their valuation (and the taking their entire coaching and scouting staff thing); they face them on April 15
Paris Saint-Germain, after mucking Hakim Ziyech about; they could face them in the Champions League.
Benfica, who were understandably said to feel “disrespected” by Chelsea’s eventually successful pursuit of Enzo Fernandez; they could face them in the Champions League.
Everyone, for just generally inflating the market beyond all comprehension.
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