'Perfect timing' for Birmingham starlet's trip to Carrington, reports SSN's Kaveh Solhekol in his latest column
Wednesday 11 March 2020 16:15, UK
In his latest column, Sky Sports News reporter Kaveh Solhekol examines Manchester United's pursuit of Jude Bellingham, looks at Nigel Pearson facing Leicester for the first time since leaving the club, and picks apart Manchester City's European ban...
Birmingham City will make up to £50m if they sell Jude Bellingham this summer. The 16-year-old is being chased by clubs including Manchester United, Chelsea and Borussia Dortmund but he and his family have not decided where he will move yet.
Bellingham is enjoying playing first-team football, registering four goals in 32 appearances for the Blues this term, and the youngster wants to make sure he plays wherever he is next season.
He was driven to United's Carrington Training Ground on Monday by his parents for talks with Manchester United. They were given a tour and introduced to Sir Alex Ferguson.
The timing of the visit was perfect for United as it came less than 24 hours after they had beaten Manchester City 2-0 at Old Trafford.
Birmingham have given him permission to speak to interested clubs and he is taking his time before making up his mind about his future. Talks are continuing with various teams but no deal has been agreed yet.
All the speculation about his future has not been affecting Bellingham and the teenager is expected to feature at West Brom on Saturday. He is keeping his feet on the ground and is humble and well-liked by his team-mates.
The midfielder is said to have an old head on young shoulders and loves playing for Birmingham. Bellingham has been compared to Dele Alli, but he is seen as having the potential to develop into a box-to-box player like Steven Gerrard.
Are United the favourites to sign him? It is difficult to say, but he was impressed by what he saw on Monday. Playing regularly is his priority.
At just 16, he has the world at his feet.
Nigel Pearson has a very firm handshake. The kind of handshake that lets you know who's boss. He is a football manager who doesn't seem to be that in love with football.
For him, management is a job, a job which he is very good at. When he is out of work he has a life away from football which involves reading, writing and travelling.
You sense that he was in love with football once, but that there are many aspects of the modern game that leave him cold.
Pearson does not enjoy being interviewed and you can't blame him for wanting to keep his private life private in this social media age.
Ask a stupid question and he will put you in your place. Try and get a headline out of him and his response will be: 'Is that a question or a statement?'
The 56-year-old hides his emotions and things will be no different when he faces Leicester City on Saturday for the first time since they sacked him almost five years ago.
The ex-Foxes boss thought he was building something at the King Power Stadium and he was right. It's just a shame he wasn't around when all his hard work paid off in spectacular fashion less than 12 months after he was sacked.
Pearson wasn't watching when the Leicester side he built went on to win the title the following season.
He was out of work and far away from a television when Claudio Ranieri's side lifted the Premier League title after they beat Everton in May 2016.
Looking back now, Pearson admits he had mixed emotions.
Although he won't say it himself, it's obvious he's proud that so many of the players he bought went on to become champions, and the current Watford boss remains disappointed that he wasn't managing Leicester when they lifted the Premier League trophy.
"I know the part I played in it," is all he will say now.
Pearson lost his job after a turbulent season which involved several memorable press conferences, a bust-up with a Leicester supporter and a touchline clash with Crystal Palace's James McArthur.
Leicester were fighting relegation all season until they won seven of their last nine games to finish 14th in the Premier League table.
Six weeks after the end of the season, Pearson lost his job after his son James was one of three Leicester players sacked for taking part in a racist sex tape during the club's end of season tour in Thailand.
Twelve of the 14 players who featured in Pearson's final game in charge that season - a 5-1 win against QPR - went on to win the title under Ranieri 12 months later.
In his time at Leicester, Pearson signed future title winners Jamie Vardy, Wes Morgan, Danny Drinkwater, Robert Huth and Riyad Mahrez for a combined £7m and a deal had almost been completed for N'Golo Kante when he was sacked.
Leicester's title was one of football's greatest fairy tales and without Pearson, none of it would have happened.
That's why he will get a great reception from Leicester fans at Vicarage Road on Saturday. It's the least he deserves.
Zinedine Zidane's car came out of the underground car park of the Bernabeu two hours after his Real Madrid side had lost to Manchester City last month.
A few fans were hanging around and two TV crews were filming across the road. The car was black and the windows were black and there was zero chance of Zidane stopping.
That didn't stop two kids running after it, though. One shouting abuse and one filming his friend's big moment. Minutes later they were crouched on the pavement uploading the video onto social media.
These kinds of stunts happen regularly in Spain and they are becoming more and more frequent over here.
The video of Jesse Lingard being abused while getting on the Manchester United bus at Derby last week has been viewed more than a million times.
The video is still up on Twitter. The social media giant says it has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to abuse, but yet again they are letting football and the police clear up the mess.
If I was Lingard, the first thing I would do is delete my Twitter account.
Liverpool are only six points away from winning the title for the first time in 30 years, and in the next few days and weeks we are going to read a lot about what life was like when they last won it in 1990.
Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister, inflation was at nine per cent, the first episode of Mr. Bean had just come out, and New Order were putting the finishing touches to World In Motion.
Thatcher's policies affected Merseyside more than many other parts of the UK, but Liverpool still produced some great football and music in the 1980s.
Liverpool dominated English football and lifted two European Cups and Everton won two titles and would have been real contenders for the European Cup had English clubs not been banned from playing in Europe for five years.
If you want to know what life was really like when Liverpool last won the title 30 years ago, read Promised You A Miracle by Andy Beckett and listen to Up Here In The North Of England by The Icicle Works. Preferably at the same time.
Who is being punished most if the Court to Arbitration for Sport (CAS) confirm this summer that Manchester City will be banned from the Champions League for two seasons? The club, the players, or the fans?
The City executives who were responsible for making sure the club complied with UEFA's Financial Fair Play rules are unlikely to lose their jobs, even though the ban will cost City an estimated £200m.
The players will keep getting paid handsomely even though they will have to make do without their sizeable European bonuses.
Looking from the outside, it seems City fans are the ones who will suffer the most.
City play an average of 10 Champions League games a season, so a two-season ban is likely to mean City fans will miss out on 20 games. That will hurt.
If CAS confirm that City have broken the rules, it could be argued that UEFA should increase their £25m fine and cut the Champions League ban.
Financial crimes should be punished with financial penalties. Don't punish the fans.