Steve McManaman: Why I hope to see Adayar in October's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe

The St Leger or Arc? Which race will Adayar target later in the season?
The St Leger or Arc? Which race will Adayar target later in the season?

As we look ahead to some standout races in coming months, Steve McManaman returns with his column to discuss his favourite Autumn race meetings, why he won’t be backing anyone just yet for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and whether he believes it’s a good idea for Adayar to compete in the St Leger...

I’m hoping to see this year’s Epsom Derby winner Adayar compete at the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe this October.

I thought Adayar was incredibly impressive when he won in Ireland recently. If all the horses that have been talked about turn up in the Arc then it’s going to be one of the best Prix de l'Arc de Triomphes in a long, long time. When you throw in a horse such as Snowfall for example, then it really could be one of the most exciting races we’ve seen for a while. I must admit, I like Adayar and he was very impressive and did everything from the front in Ireland. He’s a serious animal isn’t he?

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Battaash has officially been retired after five brilliant years of racing. He has to rank amongst the best sprinters of all time.

He always gives value for money when he races, even if he doesn’t win, he runs a decent race. A lot of time it’s ground dependent, but he’s got a great constitution. He’s always at the star-studded events, he’s always in the top three and he gets his fair share of wins, so I think he’s been an absolutely wonderful horse.

Adayar is due to compete in the upcoming St Leger even though the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe is approaching fast.

The Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe is a more prestigious race but the St Leger is still a classic in England. Because Adayar is a Godolphin horse and he has a lot of other Godolphin horses around him, they can pick and choose which races they go for and they can try and win the Classics. It all depends on the breeding rights, if you want a classic in England or a prestigious race like the Arc. Maybe they feel like the l'Arc de Triomphe is a bit more difficult and that they can win the St Leger quite comfortably, before going onto the Arc.

All being well and if Adayar wants to, then it will have a great chance and there is the QIPCO Series at the end which is very valuable.

At this moment in time, I can’t predict who will be victorious in this year’s Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.

It's late in the year, it’s in France and the ground can be a little heavy, so it’s too early to call. However, Hurricane Lane & Adayar’s form have been excellent and Snowfall has been absolutely out of this world. Winning by the distances it has this year, Snowfall looks like an absolutely incredible horse and looks unbeatable at times.

I won’t decide until a couple of days before the race, depending on the weather and how wet or dry it is. The Ballydoyle horses may come to form late-on throughout the season, then with the Aga Khan horses and throw in a few French horses, and it could be the race of the decade. It just depends if they all turn up, but it could be a thriller.

The Arc has to be my favourite Autumn racing event.

I love the Arc. It’s got that special bit of glamour about it. You go to the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and then once it’s over you talk about the Breeders’ Cup and the American meetings and they’re all very important. I enjoy the St Leger too, along with the QIPCO Champions Day which is a very valuable series and horses can still aim for something at the latter end of the season. However when you go to the Arc, there’s just something really special about it, so I always look forward to that meeting.

Onto the football, and Andy Robertson’s injury in the friendly against Athletic Bilbao could be a big blow for Liverpool.

It’s very important that he can come back quickly as he had a really good season for Liverpool, followed by representing Scotland in the Euros. He would obviously start every week at left-back. Konstantinos Tsimikas has played in pre-season and James Milner can also play in that position, so they have cover and you can’t harp on about injuries all the time, because they happen, but hopefully he will respond to treatment and get back quickly.

Despite being brilliant for Liverpool last season, it may be time for Nat Phillips to opt for pastures new. 

With Gomez and Van Dijk returning from injury, in addition to the signing of Ibrahima Konate, then Nat Phillips could now be fifth or sixth choice in the pecking order. He deserves a really good career, so rather than another loan, if a good option for a permanent move comes along then I think he should go for it. It’s different for Joel Matip, he’s older, he’s had more injuries, and a good career. Nat is just starting out so if he got the chance to play for another Premier League team, where he plays every week then I think it’s only natural he’d want to take that option.

I don’t think Saul Niguez is the answer for Liverpool...

I’m not particularly bothered about that move if I’m being honest, though he is a really good central midfielder. Everybody is obsessed with replacing Gini Wijnaldum but Liverpool have a plethora of midfielders. You just need them to stay fit. They've got Henderson, Thiago and Fabinho. In addition to that they have Oxlade-Chamberlain, Keita, Milner, Jones and then the kids looking to break through. So a central midfielder is not the priority. 

Don’t get me wrong, I think Saul is a wonderful player. I watched him a couple of seasons ago against Liverpool when Atletico Madrid knocked them out of the Champions League. But from what I saw, would I say he’s a superstar midfielder? Probably not. He’s as good as what Liverpool have already got but not better. If he came in tomorrow I wouldn’t be singing from the rooftops, as Liverpool are already well equipped in central midfield.

One player who would be a good fit for Liverpool’s squad is Wolves’ Adama Traore.

“I think that type of player would be a good option to bolster Liverpool’s squad. but I wouldn’t want to pay a lot of money for him.

“I think Liverpool could do with a different type of player from what they have currently and Adama Traore can bring something different. He’s a wide player who wants to go round the outside of defenders, he wants to get crosses in from the byline and I think that would help Liverpool if ‘plan A’ wasn’t working for them. Last season they relied a lot on Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson, which I think was unfair on them because you shouldn’t expect your full backs to be your wide men.

It may not be the right time for reported Liverpool target Renato Sanches to make a move to the club. 

“I don’t know whether he’s consistent enough just yet to make a return to the Premier League. He played well in patches for Portugal during the Euros and won the league with Lille which is an incredible achievement, but I don’t necessarily believe that he's a player that Liverpool need. You would want a player who would come straight into your starting eleven or push your club’s top 13 or 14 players and can threaten players in occupied positions and can also improve the team when they’re called upon. 

A lot of French sides try and cash in on their talent, so if Lille want a fortune for Sanches then I would decline, as Liverpool already have enough in his position. 

Of course £100m is bonkers but Jack Grealish will give you that something extra. I’m a big fan.

Will he be rotated? Yes, because their squad is so strong and they will have so many games. That doesn’t bother me. Jack Grealish knows that he’s going into a Manchester City squad that already has Bernardo Silva, Riyad Mahrez, Phil Foden and Raheem Sterling. You instantly know Pep’s going to be changing stuff around, or people will be moved on. They’ve got 38 Premier League games, they’ll go far in the Champions League, they’ve got the FA Cup and the League Cup games that they’ll always try and challenge for. They’ll be playing 60 odd games, so he’ll get plenty of chances.

£100m barrier? I don’t think it will bother Jack Grealish. I’m a big fan of his, I really am. I like the way he plays. I think £100m is bonkers, of course it is, the whole world thinks it’s bonkers, but that’s just the way of the football at the moment. His clause was that much, Manchester City have paid it, and that’s the end of it. Will he be successful? There’s a good chance, because Manchester City are successful. And if Pep’s still going to target Harry Kane - and they need a striker more than a midfielder - that will only improve them more. You want people going into your team who are better than what you’ve already got, who will give you something extra. I think Jack will do that, and if they can Harry Kane, he’ll do that as well.

Just because you’re the best player, you shouldn’t be able to force a move out.

By all accounts Kane should have returned to training. He said he didn’t, but I don’t know the full story. No doubt it will come out in time. If he had a set date to turn up for training my personal opinion is, you shouldn’t try and force a move. I think you should just have to play by the rules and that’s the end of it. If you’ve got a three-year contract, you serve your three-year contract if they don’t want to sell you. 

I don’t know whether he’s had a gentlemen’s agreement with Daniel Levy and not specific to Harry Kane, but you sign a contract for good or bad and I don't like players trying to force a move, but as I say I don’t know facts on this one.

I have met Harry, I know him. He’s the England captain and he comes across as a lovely lad who conducts himself really, really well, so it would be surprising if he did force a move through, but you have to wait until we hear both sides of the story. You can see that people are trying to make a lot of money from it and trying to hurry it up. You don’t want it to get messy. He’s served his time at Tottenham, he’s done an incredible job, they picked him up for nothing, he’s now worth over £100m. There has to be a handshake, a ‘thank you very much’, and that should be the end of it.

To see Lionel Messi line up in the Premier League for Manchester City would be incredible, but he’s just one of the three options the club could pursue. 

As a football fan, to see Lionel Messi line up in the Premier League, would be incredible, wouldn’t it? The Premier League is powerful and dominant enough already, but to throw in the world’s greatest player (Ok we’ve already had Ronaldo) even late on in his career, would be incredible. Shirt sales, merchandise sales, the popularity of the league, would go through the roof. That would be an incredible thing to see. The more pragmatic approach would be to go for Erling Haaland, who is 21 and would probably cost the same as Harry Kane. But Harry Kane is a $200m deal with no resale value, so from a club's point of view it’s how you make the books balance, that’s all it really is in the end. 

Real Madrid have got to give the fans something.

Real Madrid have got a bigger budget than Barcelona because they’re in less financial trouble. I know they’ve brought in [David] Alaba on a free, but they’ve not really bought anybody else in. They’ve got rid of a few - they’ve sold [Raphaël] Varane, so I think they will bring somebody in. They’re trying to make a splash. They’ll have a pot of money they’ll be able to do a bit of damage with, but whether they can bring in Mbappé, I don’t know. He’s only got a year left on his contract, so the £200m price tag seems high.

Fiorentino [Pérez] got voted in recently. He’s got to give the fans something. Ramos has gone. Varane has gone. There’s a bit of a warchest being built up because they haven’t brought anybody in. And they’re going to need to. 

Raphael Varane’s got to come into England and hit the ground running.

He’s a great player who’s been highly successful. You don’t win all those medals if you can’t play. You don’t win four Champions Leagues if you can’t play. He’s been brilliant in Spain, so you just hope he comes in and hits the ground running in England. He’s got the credentials, he’s a great lad, he’s a great player, he’s got a great attitude. It’ll help him having played for Real Madrid. The pressures at Real Madrid are huge. And the pressure at Man Utd’s going to be massive as well.

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