The Fiver | Football’s constant evolution and the ‘Frenkie de Jong saga’

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The Guardian

DE JONG ONES

One of the beautiful game’s many enduring beauties is its constant evolution. Whether it’s changes to the laws: interfering with play, not interfering with play, lines drawn on screens – or tactical revolutions: changing “deep-lying centre-forward” to “false nine”, “defending from the front” to “pressing” and “midfielder” to “eight” – this thing of ours is a dynamic dialectic that keeps us young, enthused and virile. OK, we made up that last bit – but you get our gist.

Yet, even in such context, never did The Fiver ever think that the global sport of football would become subservient to the stratospheric sport of transfers – but what a joy that is. Who does not quiver when remembering the first time they saw that vivid green (inside an agent’s wallet); fails to thrill at the familiar smells (BO generated by frantic purple-d1ldo waving); enjoys a surge of electricity when the yellow ticker announces the possibility of a potential $extuple-swoop, odds available on Sky Bet, it matters more when there’s money on it, please gamble sensibly (once you’ve bussed all your money).

Naturally, these electrifying developments appeal to incels tea-time emails and toddlers alike, which is why we can now gorge on babble teaching us which club has “had a good window”, “had a bad window” or “won the window”; all that’s missing is commentary from Floella Benjamin, Humpty and Jemima. Yes, the age-old process of waiting to see how players play before handing down judgment is now consigned to history along with all other outdated methods of evidence-based thinking; we’ve had enough of experience in this country.

The particular joy of this transfer period has been the “Frenkie de Jong saga” – one which, at the time of writing, looks like it’s crawling to exactly the staggering denouement we were told it would six weeks ago. De Jong is not only the Pink Panther’s favourite footballer, but one of Erik ten Hag’s too, their relationship the only reason any player possessed of self-respect will entertain the soul-crushing talent-hoover formerly known as Manchester United. Consequently, it appears that he will soon be doing his thing in “this league” and, despite it all – “it all” being the ludicrous financial chicanery that has delivered us to this point – the opportunity to see what happens should be an enticing one. Except who can still get excited about Pelé’s beautiful game when we now have the beautifulest game? Well, anyone who’s seen his advert – but again, you get our gist.

LIVE ON BIG WEBSITE!

Join Daniel Harris from 5pm BST for MBM coverage of Italy 2-1 Iceland at Euro 2022, before Sarah Rendell is on deck for France 4-1 Belgium.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“We are offering a contract that is extremely lucrative to him as a player but we are also hardwiring in [it] a guaranteed first-team roster spot in Europe with the clubs in which we have ownership. We are offering him a chance to not jump off the cliff. Kids go [to Europe] and they are not ready. Their development is broken, their lives are broken, they get demoralised. There is so much that could go wrong” – Botafogo owner and US businessman John Textor, whose stable of clubs also includes Crystal Palace and Lyon, thinks he knows how to ward Real Madrid off teenage tyro Matheus Nascimento.

Botafogo’s Matheus Nascimento (left) in action. Photograph: Alexandre Loureiro/Reuters

FIVER LETTERS

“Re: David Lessiter’s pondering on footballers’ architectural features (yesterday’s Fiver letters). Well, it’s a team game, so let’s build a Florian Neuhaus. Rangers have a Roofe, Columbus Crew have a Room and a Kitchen, Hoffenheim have another Raum, KVC Winkel Sport have a Doore, Weston-super-Mare have a Bath, and Heracles Almelo have a Van Loo. As for windows, this transfer one is about as tiresome as ever” – Richard Prangle.

“May I suggest a more refined summer cocktail for Fiver Towers (yesterday’s letters)? Simply throw a couple of tinned olives into the can and, there you have it, your very own Mar-Tin-i” – Gerry Rickard.

“Following this image of Lisandro Martínez holding the Rinus Michels trophy, can your other reader name a football trophy that looks more like it’s been lifted from the local museum of antiquity?” – Niall Flanagan.

Some trophy, earlier. Photograph: Maurice van Steen/ANP/AFP/Getty Images

Send your letters to the.boss@theguardian.com. And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’ the day is … Gerry Rickard.

NEWS, BITS AND BOBS

The Netherlands are top of Group C at Euro 2022 after an entertaining 3-2 victory over Portugal. “We are a good team but we are trying to become a great team,” tooted manager Mark Parsons. “There is a lot to improve.”

Sweden are still level with the Dutch, getting the better of Switzerland 2-1. “We prepared for it, but doing it online is not the same,” sighed the Swiss team’s manager Nils Nielsen, getting the full daily Fiver experience.

Fair enough. May as well ask for a shirt, no? Photograph: Robbie Jay Barratt/AMA/Getty Images

Marcus Rashford can’t wait for a new start under Erik ten Hag after the shambles that was Manchester United last season. “It is a lot easier to make mistakes in a team that is winning,” he cheered.

Having held talks with Cristiano Ronaldo’s team, Chelsea aren’t going to be signing Cristiano Ronaldo.

Diogo Jota’s Liverpool pre-season isn’t proving to be a memorable one after he suffered a setback from his twanged hamstring.

Eindhoven awaits for Everton defender Jarrad Branthwaite, who is joining PSV on a season’s loan.

Ousmane Dembélé will be staying in Barcelona with a freshly-extended contract.

Istanbul Basaksehir have procured Mesut Özil’s services after he left Fenerbahce.

Looks a bit like a talk show. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

And Derby’s new owners will give Liam Rosenior the chance to land the manager’s job in the longer term. “Liam will retain the title of interim manager and will be given every support and encouragement to make the job his,” whooped the club.

STILL WANT MORE?

People ragging on Euro 2022 after that 8-0 rout forget that high-profile drubbings aren’t unique to women’s football, writes Anita Asante.

England’s Chloe Kelly gets her chat on with Suzy Wrack.

And the Rumour Mill has talk of some intriguing moves for Leeds.

And if it’s your thing … you can follow Big Website on Big Social FaceSpace. And INSTACHAT, TOO!

July 14, 2022 at 08:48PM Daniel Harris

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