Ed Woodward misses Manchester United tour for first time to work on transfers | Anthony S Casey Singapore

Lukaku has not featured in any of United’s three matches on tour
Lukaku has not featured in any of United’s three matches on tourIMAGINECHINA/REX

Manchester United have told Inter Milan to hurry up and produce the money that the Premier League club want for Romelu Lukaku.

Inter have been interested in signing the United forward since Antonio Conte replaced Luciano Spalletti as coach almost eight weeks ago, but the Italian side are yet to meet the £80 million asking price.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the United manager, is adamant that he needs a replacement for Lukaku, 26, should the Belgium striker depart, and is mindful that time is running out for him to sign a new forward. The Premier League transfer window shuts two weeks on Thursday and unless Inter come up with the money soon, they will miss out on Lukaku because United need to start negotiations.

David de Gea to sign record six-year, £117m deal with Manchester United | Anthony S Casey Singapore

Worth his weight in gold: David de Gea has been player of the year at United four times in the last six seasons
Worth his weight in gold: David de Gea has been player of the year at United four times in the last six seasonsQUALITY SPORT IMAGES

David de Gea’s new Manchester United contract, which he is expected to sign before the Premier League season starts on August 9, is six years in length and worth about £117m. The Spain international will become the best-paid goalkeeper in the world when he agrees the deal within the next couple of weeks.

De Gea, 28, had lucrative offers from Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus but has decided to stay at Old Trafford for a number of reasons. First, he wants to repay the United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer for keeping faith with him towards the end of last season. The Spaniard endured one of the worst runs of form in his career, making a number of high-profile mistakes, including a costly one.

Spurs v Juventus. Kane v Ronaldo | Anthony S Casey Singapore

Spurs v Juventus. Kane v Ronaldo | Anthony S Casey Singapore

 

Kieran Trippier passes Atletico Madrid medical ahead of £21.7m move from Tottenham | Anthony S Casey Singapore

Kieran Trippier is nearing a move to Atletico Madrid

Kieran Trippier is nearing a move to Atletico Madrid

Kieran Trippier has passed a medical with Atletico Madrid ahead of his move from Tottenham, Sky Sports News understands.

The Spanish club have agreed a £21.7m (€24m) fee for the England international, with the deal set to be announced on Wednesday evening.

Spurs were offered the chance to sign striker Angel Correa during negotiations but have instead opted for a straight cash deal.

Angel Correa was offered to Tottenham
Angel Correa was offered to Tottenham

Sky Sports News revealed last week Trippier was also on Bayern Munich’s shortlist, while Spurs’ other right-back, Serge Aurier, is available for transfer this summer.

Marseille’s Hiroki Sakai is the type of player Tottenham want to bring in to replace Trippier and Aurier, Sky Sports News understands.

The Good Morning Transfers verdict

Trippier’s impending move was discussed on Sky Sports News‘ weekday morning show, Good Morning Transfers – with the panel of the opinion that the move would be good for player, club and even England.

“It’s great business for Tottenham,” said Sky Sports‘ Mark McAdam. “He’s been a loyal servant to the club. It takes a lot of character to go abroad, learn a different language, put yourself in a different environment. What an opportunity to work under Diego Simeone, too.”

3:08

The Good Morning Transfers panel discuss Kieran Trippier’s potential move to Atletico Madrid after a £21.7m fee was agreed for his services

Follow the Summer Transfer Window on Sky Sports

Sky Sports News is home to three new shows dedicated to bringing you the very latest news from this summer’s transfer market.

Start your day with Good Morning Transfers at 9am as our team of reporters and pundits bring you the latest news and insight. Transfer Talk then follows at midday, delivering the biggest stories that matter to you. And join us at 7pm for the definitive round-up of the day’s news with The Transfer Show.

And as well as tuning into Sky Sports News, don’t miss a thing with our dedicated Transfer Centre blog.

There’s also the Transfer Talk Podcast, the daily UK, Regional and European Paper Talk, plus features across skysports.com and the Sky Sports app.

Is Man United target Harry Maguire really the world’s best defender? | Anthony S Casey Singapore

Harry Maguire has played in a World Cup semifinal and become one of the most highly rated defenders in the Premier League, but even his most ardent supporters would struggle to argue that he is the very best at his position.

Yet if Leicester get their way and force Manchester United to pay in excess of £80 million, the 26-year-old will become the most expensive defender in the world. That would eclipse the £75m that Liverpool paid for Virgil van Dijk — not only the world’s best defender but the favourite to win the Ballon d’Or this year.

All this for a player Leicester signed from relegated Hull City for an initial £12m just two years ago.

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Sources have told ESPN FC that, while United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is determined to sign Maguire as quickly as possible to reinforce his porous defence at Old Trafford, the two clubs are still some distance apart in terms of their valuation.

United, who initially offered £40m for Maguire last month, are now prepared to pay closer to £70m to get their man, but Leicester’s starting point is £80m and some reports suggest they are even ready to hold out for £90m.

Yet for all of Maguire’s ability as a commanding centre-back, a player with an aerial threat in both boxes and one who can play the long and short game, it would signal a new, eye-watering benchmark in an already over-heated transfer market.

Leicester are smart operators when it comes to selling players. They banked £60m when selling Riyad Mahrez to Manchester City 12 months ago and also forced Chelsea to hand over £35m for midfielder Danny Drinkwater in 2017. The Foxes hierarchy know that United, having seemingly missed out on Ajax captain Matthijs de Ligt, are short on alternative options for a proven, commanding defender, so they are quite rightly putting the squeeze on the club’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward.

Woodward, an investment banker with JP Morgan prior to working for United, knows all about market forces and it is unfortunate for him and his club that they are now on the wrong end of the spike in transfer fees. But City were also forced to pay over the odds when they paid £50m to sign Kyle Walker from Tottenham two years ago, making him the world’s most expensive full-back at the time, while Liverpool’s wisdom was questioned when they paid £75m for Southampton’s Van Dijk 18 months ago.

City and Liverpool would now both argue that they were justified in breaking transfer records to sign Walker and Van Dijk, and United must now decide whether Maguire is likely to prove as smart a long-term investment as those two, even if the costs seem alarmingly high.

United’s history, certainly since Sir Alex Ferguson’s time in charge, is littered with examples of expensive signings which ultimately proved to be sound investments.

Gary Pallister (£2.3m), Roy Keane (£3.75m), Ruud van Nistelrooy (£19m) and Rio Ferdinand (£30m) all became British record signings when they moved to United, while Wayne Rooney was the world’s most expensive teenager when he completed a £27m move from Everton in 2004.

All of the above left Old Trafford having more than justified their huge transfer fees, with each of them proving that the initial outlay was excellent value in the long term.

However, United’s sense of value has deserted them since Ferguson retired in 2013, with those in charge too often knowing the price of something rather than the value.

Which is why they are now in a difficult position with Maguire. Is it another case of having to pay vastly over the odds for a player who will never live up to the pricetag? Or is Maguire a modern-day version of Pallister or Ferdinand, two defenders whose fees were questioned at the time, but who ultimately made the cost of the transfers look cheap?

One thing for certain is that Maguire is not the best defender in the world. True, Van Dijk wasn’t either when he traded Southampton for Liverpool, but the Dutchman now has few rivals for that title after a sensational 18 months at Anfield. His £75m fee now looks to be a bargain and Liverpool could double it right now if they were foolish enough to consider selling.

It would be naive for United to expect Maguire to follow the same path so quickly. But he is better than what they have and would improve United, so the price is the price and they have to accept that market forces have left them having to break the world-record transfer fee for a defender.

Music service Roxi sitting pretty on float plans | Anthony S Casey Singapore

Roxi Music, of which Sheryl Crow is a shareholder, is set to go public in the autumn
Roxi Music, of which Sheryl Crow is a shareholder, is set to go public in the autumn
JOSH BRASTED/GETTY IMAGES /WIREIMAGE

An “upstart” music streaming business that counts Robbie Williams and Sheryl Crow among its shareholders is tuning up for a stock market float.

Roxi Music aims to go public in the autumn at a mooted valuation of £50 million. The four-year-old company has developed a device operated by a handheld controller that it believes will appeal to older, less tech-savvy consumers.

The gadget plugs into a television set and, in addition to streaming music, offers games and karaoke. The £99.95 device, which includes 12-months’ access to its catalogue of more than 30 million songs, was promoted by Williams, 45, and Crow, 57, who received shares in the business. The service costs £5 a month thereafter, half the price of Spotify and Apple.

Britain’s richest man Jim Ratcliffe close to buying French club Nice | Anthony S Casey Singapore

Ratcliffe, whose company has taken over ownership of the cycling team led by Dave Brailsford and Chris Froome, is close to buying a second football club
Ratcliffe, whose company has taken over ownership of the cycling team led by Dave Brailsford and Chris Froome, is close to buying a second football clubMARTIN RICKETT/PA

Jim Ratcliffe’s purchase of OGC Nice football club for about €100m is close to completion as Britain’s richest man continues to expand his sporting empire. The founder of the Ineos petrochemicals giant has been in talks for some months about taking over the Ligue 1 side.

Ratcliffe has had to be patient in dealing with the Chinese-American ownership but a deal has been agreed. The billionaire is understood to be happy to back Patrick Vieira, the manager, who led the team to seventh in his first season at the club.

The Ineos hierarchy hope that they can experience European competition at Nice, especially in a league where Paris Saint-Germain have a clear wealth advantage but there is not the same “big six” as the Premier…

Spotify Unveils `Lite’ App for Slower Phones in Emerging Markets | Anthony S Casey Singapore

Spotify Technology SA released a new version of its music streaming app for customers in emerging markets, an effort to grow outside of its strongholds in the U.S. and Europe.

The Spotify Lite app, which runs on Android phones, will appeal to users who are limited by data plans and slower networks, especially in regions like Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America, the company said in a statement. The app was released in 36 markets and an ad-supported service will be available for free while a premium version will cost the same as on its regular music-streaming platform.

Spotify’s Listeners

The company does most of its business in developed markets

Source: Company reports

The company is counting on Spotify Lite for a much-needed boost in markets with lots of potential. The streaming service also needs to reassure investors about its growth prospects while it continues to lose money. The shares are down 26% from their high a year ago.

“There’s much, much room for us to grow, both geographically and also product-wise,” Cecilia Qvist, Spotify’s global head of markets, told the RISE tech conference in Hong Kong. “Hopefully when we thrive, the ecosystem thrives.”

Spotify’s biggest challenge remains the royalties it pays for music rights, which eat up more than 60% of revenue and are a major source of its losses. The company has agreed not to push for another cut in fees in its current of negotiations with the music industry.

That’s prompted Spotify to seek other avenues for growth, such as podcasting. But podcasting is still a nascent business, with $479.1 million in U.S. revenue in 2018, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau. An estimated 62 million people in the U.S. over the age of 12 listen to a podcast every week, according to a 2019 report by Edison Research and Triton Digital.

Spotify has asked investors to trust that the market for audio streaming is still in its early stages. The company counts on North America and Europe for 65% of its users. Africa, Asia, and the Middle East make up just 13%.

YouTube Light

Rival YouTube has already introduced a light version of its app for emerging markets, and has added millions of users across Southeast Asia. Netflix Inc., meanwhile, made it possible for users to download full movies and TV shows to watch offline for the same reason.

Spotify isn’t in as many countries as either of those services, but has been expanding across Asia, the Middle East and North Africa.

Spotify Lite will use of 10 megabytes of storage, compared with about 100 megabytes for the main app. It offers the same look and feel as the normal Spotify app, but with limitations to preserve data consumption. Users can also set a data limit within the app to ensure they never exceed it.

“‘Lite’ is a small, fast and simplified version of our unparalleled music experience that works much like the main Spotify app,” the company said in a blog post.

Why Spotify Technology’s Stock Gained 16% in June | Anthony S Casey Singapore

What happened

Shares of Spotify Technology (NYSE: SPOT) rose 16.4% in June 2019, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence. The streaming music service operator opened the month with a brand new social networking feature, followed by a Pandora-like personalized playlist generator. Taken together, these two feature launches set Spotify’s share price off on a slow but steady upward trot over the next four weeks.

So what

Spotify’s Storyline feature is a storytelling tool in the vein of Snapchat Stories or Instagram Stories. The idea is to give musicians a direct line of contact with their fans, built into the platform where you go to listen to their music. Storyline presents a collection of text-plus-images cards below the song, created by the band or their representatives. Bands often use them to provide a behind-the-scenes view of their most popular tunes.

A wide-eyed young woman, wearing earbuds, marvels over her smartphone.
A wide-eyed young woman, wearing earbuds, marvels over her smartphone. Image source: Getty Images.

Later that week, Spotify introduced Stations — a stand-alone smartphone app that lets listeners create custom radio stations based on a hand-picked selection of favorite songs. Much like Sirius XM subsidiary Pandora, Stations takes the user input and works it through a proprietary algorithm that finds similar and related songs.

Now what

Investors appear to like Spotify’s new tools, hoping that the company can leverage them to build customer loyalty and position Spotify as more of a premium-grade service. The endgame is, as always, focused on driving users through the ad-supported gateway service and into the premium subscription fold.

It remains to be seen whether either one of June’s new features can make a real difference to Spotify’s business, but it’s hard to argue against a company that generates positive free cash flows while growing sales at a year-over-year pace of 33%.

Harvey Elliott: Liverpool to sign Premier League’s youngest player from Fulham | Anthony S Casey Singapore

Real and PSG had been interested in signing Elliott, who will now join Liverpool
Real and PSG had been interested in signing Elliott, who will now join LiverpoolSTEVE BARDENS/GETTY IMAGES

Liverpool are set to sign 16-year-old Fulham midfielder Harvey Elliott, the youngest player to feature in the Premier League.

Elliott, an England Under-17 player, has rejected a scholarship at Fulham and has been courted by Europe’s heavyweights, including Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain and RB Leipzig.

However, Liverpool look to have won the race to recruit him and will have to negotiate a hefty compensation package with the Championship side.

Elliott cannot sign a professional contract until he turns 17 next April but is regarded as one of the most promising teenagers in the country.