Barcelona links to Luis Diaz? Will PL scrap VAR? Anthony Gordon’s future? Ask Ornstein

Once a week for an hour, The Athletic’s subscribers can ask me for my views on anything from the world of football.

I have pulled together some of my favourite questions and my answers to them from the latest Q&A below. Thanks to all who took part today.

Want to ask me a question? I’ll be back next week for another session.

Get the latest transfer news on The Athletic

Brandon T asked: Reports from Spain claim Barcelona’s desired winger this summer is Luis Diaz. Do you have any information on this? Are there any signs that Diaz would want a move away from Liverpool?

David Ornstein: I have no information on this reported interest in Diaz, Brandon. Never say never but, given Barca’s financial position, I would be very surprised if they could afford the level of fee Liverpool would demand and meet the Colombian’s salary expectations.


Liverpool are not looking to sell Diaz — he is 27, under contract until 2027 and a really important member of their squad. What we don’t know for certain is his intentions. It is quite unusual for such a key player at Anfield to be two and a half years into their deal and not have seen their terms improved/extended.

Equally there is a lot going on at Liverpool right now and the contract situations of Salah, Van Dijk and Alexander-Arnold (mentioned below) are of more immediate concern.

Clearly, this is one to watch, although that certainly does not mean he will be leaving.

Ian K: Hi David, is there any truth in the rumour of Anthony Gordon moving to Liverpool?

DO: Liverpool (like Manchester City and many other clubs) really like Gordon, Ian. But they are not expected to pursue the winger because Newcastle have no intention of letting him go.

Even if that stance was changeable, the potential level of fee it would take to do business would be astronomical. I’m certain Gordon is staying at Newcastle this summer.

Simon G: Hi David, Do you believe Premier League clubs will vote to scrap VAR for next season and if so, how would that affect the rest of Europe?

DO: I’ve spoken to a range of clubs on this and it is clear that opinion is split… or certainly not unanimous. There is a lot of unhappiness towards VAR but is it strong enough to achieve the two-thirds majority required to pass Wolves’ resolution to abolish the system?

There are strong arguments for and against, while the debate is actually pretty complicated and nuanced. You also have the Premier League’s central stance supporting VAR.


Executives are suggesting to me that it will be a complex and emotional discussion that is not as clear-cut as many might think. But early indications suggest there will probably not be enough support to pass this proposed rule change.

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(Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

Perhaps it is more likely the Premier League and Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) boss Howard Webb will convince clubs to wait until they’ve seen the impact of semi-automated offside and possible in-stadium referee communication.

If it goes well, great. If it doesn’t, the the clubs can always bring another vote. Whatever happens, I feel it is a good debate to have.


Collin J: What seems to be the reaction from the Tottenham leadership after Ange Postecoglou’s rather scathing comments towards their fans’ mentality?

David Ornstein: Nothing remarkable, to my knowledge. All the reaction I’ve picked up on has been calm. It was a strange scenario and night, packed with emotion and exhaustion at the end of a long season.


I imagine the Spurs hierarchy will have known — and respected — what Postecoglou was getting at. He wants to change/improve the mentality at Tottenham and help create a winning club. Once the dust settled and everyone took stock — including Postecoglou — you suspect all connected with the club will have realised that ultimately they want the same thing.


They’ve had a decent first campaign under the Australian, but expectations and ambitions are obviously higher and they’ll recognise the need to raise the level in 2024-25.

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(Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Shaun Y: Hi David, what is your understanding of Manchester United and other clubs’ interest in Kieran McKenna?

David Ornstein: I imagine he is among many names they are looking at if they undertake a managerial change.

McKenna is young (which is something I hear Sir Jim Ratcliffe is keen on should Manchester United need to make an appointment), has been doing fantastically well at Ipswich and has close ties to the club.


But from the checks I’ve made, there has been no movement from United towards McKenna and at present the prospect is not expected to develop.

Stephen B: Hi David, can you please give us your insight into the situation surrounding the contract negotiations for Trent Alexander-Arnold, Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah?

DO: With Richard Hughes soon to formally start as sporting director and Michael Edwards as CEO of football at FSG, the initial conversations that I suspect have taken place can start to ramp up.


As far as I know, Liverpool’s preference would be to retain all three… but there are many considerations on both sides before we establish an outcome.

Liverpool would prefer none of the trio to enter their final 12 months but that is possible if they cannot agree new contracts or generate offers that the club are willing to consider.

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(Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

Haris H: Hello David, have you any information on Manchester United working on free transfers? And if so which free agents are they eying?

DO: I’m not aware of them working on free transfers, Haris. That is not to say they aren’t, just that it’s something I’ve not heard about.

The players most credibly linked with United at present would all require fees… however, we are still at a very early stage and obviously things can change.

Mark C: Is Michael Olise likely to move this summer? Any clues as to what the release clause is and how it works?

David Ornstein: There’s plenty of interest in Olise — from Manchester United, for example — and therefore it is possible a move could happen. The ban his agent has been handed starts in October, so that will not be a prohibiting factor. But there have been no concrete talks or developments between suitors and Crystal Palace so far and it is not guaranteed he will go, as we saw last summer with Chelsea.



What makes Michael Olise so special?

Olise is said to be the type of person to think these decisions through very carefully and will not depart unless it is right for both him and Palace. It has been well documented there is a release clause, which it is believed could facilitate his exit for a fee in the region of £60million, however from everything we hear it is a complicated mechanism and not as straightforward as paying the fee to get him.

Michael Olise

(Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

There’s a similar clause in Eberechi Eze’s deal but not that of Marc Guehi. If Olise leaves, I don’t imagine there will be any panic at Selhurst Park; in fact, their impressive recruitment operation will probably already have his successor in the building or lined up externally — should that course of action be required.

David B: Hello David. Do you expect Dougie Freedman to leave Crystal Palace for Newcastle as has been speculated?

DO: Newcastle are yet to make a final decision on their appointment, David, and until that happens it doesn’t matter if candidates (including Freedman) are keen to join or not. Newcastle need to get through the first stage and then tackle the second.

Han Boon L: Hi David, what do you think of Michael Carrick? Is he ready to make the step up — are any clubs interested in him?

DO: I really like what I’ve seen and heard about Carrick, his style of play and backroom team.

He scores very well on the data analysis conducted by clubs who have been/are looking at the managerial market (even Liverpool when they were in the process of finding Klopp’s successor) and he looks to be building an impressive early career in the dugout.

Chris D: Hi David. I’ve seen lots of stories that Saudi Pro League clubs will target specific players this summer window. Any ideas on who?

DO: My information at the moment is that a list of targets has been drawn up but nothing has been seriously discussed or proposed just yet.



Who’s thriving – and who’s struggling – in the Saudi Pro League?

The SPL squads are pretty well stocked after the heavy investment of last summer, so I’m told they will be looking to make a sprinkling of star-name acquisitions and then focus on improving young talent, which is helped by the increased foreign signing spots from next season.

Mads H: What is the latest on the investigation of Manchester City’s 115 alleged breaches of Premier League financial rules? When is a conclusion expected?

DO: The expectation within football is that City’s case will be heard in the autumn. That is unconfirmed, though, and the truth is we don’t know for certain.



One year on, why have Man City’s charges not been dealt with?

The various parties have been gathering witness statements in preparation for the case, but that is standard practice and we know very little more at this juncture.

(Top photo: PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

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