Rumour Has It: Man Utd considering moves for Vardy and Aubameyang

By Sports Desk August 16, 2022

Manchester United have come in for huge criticism following their poor start to the season.

United have failed to land major off-season transfer targets and are eager to add reinforcements.

The start of Erik ten Hag's tenure as manager has been hugely disappointing, with back-to-back Premier League defeats.

 

TOP STORY – MAN UTD TURN TO VARDY TO SOLVE STRIKER ISSUES

Manchester United are considering a bid for Leicester City forward Jamie Vardy to solve their striker conundrum, claims The Athletic.

The Red Devils have endured a frustrating transfer window and have only netted once in their opening two league games.

Vardy is among a number of targets United are keen on, having also been linked with Barcelona's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, according to The Sun.

 

ROUND-UP

– TalkSPORT claims Manchester United are getting close to a €50million (£42m) deal for Atletico Madrid's Brazilian forward Matheus Cunha. The 23-year-old joined Atletico from Hertha Berlin last year on a five-year deal.

Chelsea are closing in on a deal for Inter's Cesare Casadei, according to Calciomercato. Inter have set their asking price at €15m (£12.5m) plus €5m in bonuses, which the Blues are edging closer to meet. The deal may aid Romelu Lukaku sealing a permanent switch to the Nerazzurri.

– Talks are ongoing between Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus on agreeing a move for Leandro Paredes, reports Fabrizio Romano. Personal terms have been agreed between the Argentinian and the Bianconeri on a long-term deal.

Wolves will sign Portuguese midfielder Matheus Nunes for a club-record fee of €45m (£38m) plus €5m in add-ons from Sporting CP, according to Record. Liverpool, West Ham and Manchester City had been tracking Nunes.

– Diario Sport claims Barcelona may be willing to let Samuel Umtiti exit as a free agent amid interest from various unnamed clubs. Umtiti, who is contracted at Camp Nou until 2026, has struggled with injuries during his time at the Blaugrana.

Related items

  • Onana decided to 'stand up and fight' after Man Utd criticism Onana decided to 'stand up and fight' after Man Utd criticism

    Andre Onana says he decided to "stand up and fight" after a tough start to life at Manchester United.

    The Red Devils are preparing to face Manchester City in the FA Cup final for a second consecutive season on Saturday after a poor campaign saw them finish in their lowest-ever league position in the Premier League.

    Certain players were singled out throughout the season due to their performances, with Onana coming under fire for a string of errors early on after taking over from David de Gea when he joined from Inter last July.

    However, the goalkeeper was adamant he did not let the criticism get to him.

    "I arrived as the best goalkeeper in the world and 'boom' it went down. It was like 'What happened?'," he said.

    "But that is how difficult football is sometimes. It depends if you want to stay down there or stand up and fight. I know what I did to arrive here. I know who I am. I decided to stand up and fight."

    Onana compared his experience to that of team-mate Marcus Rashford, who was left out of Gareth Southgate’s England squad for Euro 2024 after scoring just eight goals this season.

    "We are talking about the same player [Rashford]. So now he's a bad player? No. You can have a bad season or a bad start, but the most important thing is how you end," he added.

    "Rashy, for me, is one of the best players in the world. But he is facing difficulty. It's not only him and me, but the whole club.

    "But he will come back. I know my killer will score some important goals for us. Hopefully, against City, he will score two, and we win the FA Cup."

    There is also a lot of speculation around the club concerning the future of Erik ten Hag, with reports suggesting he could be relieved of his position no matter the result in Saturday’s final.

    Onana, however, has thrown his support behind his manager, who he also worked with at Ajax for five years.

    The Cameroon international said: "I'm not here to back him because he's big enough to back himself, but he's a really good guy, a positive coach and, tactically, he is good.

    "If he had all his squad together, it would probably be different for him, for us, the club and the fans."

  • 'In our job, you have to win' – Guardiola on Xavi's Barcelona sacking 'In our job, you have to win' – Guardiola on Xavi's Barcelona sacking

    Pep Guardiola said "in our job, you have to win" when he was asked about Xavi's dismissal by Barcelona.

    Barca confirmed on Friday that Xavi had been dismissed, and would not take charge of the club next season.

    Xavi's final game in charge of the Blaugrana is set to come on Sunday, when Barca face Sevilla.

    Barca's decision comes just 30 days after Xavi announced he had decided to stay on, having initially expressed his intention to leave back in January.

    Xavi was a key player for Guardiola during his successful stint as Barcelona coach, and the Manchester City boss was asked about his old club's decision.

    "What can I say? It's always not good news because something didn't work, one club sacking the manager. [The] reasons [for] what happened, I don't know," Guardiola said ahead of the FA Cup final against Manchester United.

    "We spoke today at breakfast [about manager sackings]. Normally [managers] move a lot.

    "In our job, you have to win otherwise you're in a dangerous position. No matter [if you're] new or old, you have to win, do a good job and be good with many things, otherwise it happens."

    Sevilla coach Quique Sanchez Flores, who will leave his post after Sunday's meeting with Barca, was rather more scathing of the Blaugrana, however.

    "I shouldn't say this, but how badly Barcelona treats its legends. What a bad streak," Flores said.

    "With [Ronald] Koeman, with [Lionel] Messi, with Xavi now, how bad. I wish clubs treated their legends well. That would be fantastic.

    "That is a legacy of connection from the managers to the fans. This connects a lot, treating legends well.

    "Xavi is a legend of the club. He won the league last season and football has a short memory. He was questioned this year from the first minute. I have doubts that the criticism about him is correct.

    "Xavi has experienced many things as a player and has done a good job as a coach. I'll give him a huge hug, we'll talk."

    Barcelona are expected to appoint former Bayern Munich and Germany coach Hansi Flick as Xavi's successor.

  • The Numbers Game: Man City set on double repeat with Ten Hag on the brink The Numbers Game: Man City set on double repeat with Ten Hag on the brink

    The Premier League season is over, Euro 2024 is approaching, and now it is time for the FA Cup final to round off the English domestic season.

    Manchester City and Manchester United, as they did last season, will face off at Wembley Stadium on Saturday.

    City won 2-1 in June 2023, with Ilkay Gundogan's stunning volley after just 12 seconds setting the tone for a dominant performance from Pep Guardiola's side, who were en route to winning a treble.

    There's no treble on the cards for City this season, though after clinching an unprecedented fourth straight Premier League title, another double is in their reach.

    "We play FA Cup [and] we can do back-to-back doubles, we have [a] chance to do this," Guardiola said on Friday. "The FA Cup for itself is FA Cup, Wembley, all our fans going to London. It's the last game of season, last effort. 

    "I'm impressed how well we have trained after a few days off, so focused, everyone wants to be involved, we will do our best for sure."  

    United boss Erik ten Hag, meanwhile, looks set to take charge of his final game at the club, with the Red Devils reportedly having made the decision to sack him regardless of Saturday's result.

    Using Opta data, here's all you need to know...

    What's expected?

    Unsurprisingly, Opta's model makes Man City the favourites, with a 68 per cent win likelihood. United's chances are rated at just 14.4 per cent, with a 17.7 per cent chance it finishes level after 120 minutes, meaning penalties would be needed.

    City are unbeaten in their last 35 matches in all competitions (W29 D6) – it’s the second-longest run by a top-flight club in English football history, after Nottingham Forest’s run of 40 in 1978.

    There has been a gulf between the rivals this season. City won both of their league meetings against United by an aggregate of 6-1. The last time they beat their neighbours three times in the same campaign was in 1969-70.

    City fare well in some significant data points. They have the biggest positive difference (+83) between total shots (127) and shots faced (44) in the Premier League this season, and the biggest positive difference (+9.6) between their expected goals (xG) of 14.8 and expected goals against (xGA) of 5.2.

    With City topping the Premier League and United way down in eighth, 31 points separated the rivals.

    City scored the most goals in the Premier League, with 96, 29 more than United (57), whose xG was also 57.

    United's defensive issues have been well-documented. Their xGA stood at a whopping 70 across their 38 league matches, with only the three relegated sides and West Ham having a worse figure, while only Sheffield United (678) allowed more shots than the Red Devils (667).

    Ten Hag on the brink

    United are looking to win the FA Cup for the 13th time, something only Arsenal (14) have ever done more. However, the Red Devils have failed to win the trophy in four of their last five final appearances, with the exception coming in 2016 against Crystal Palace under Louis van Gaal (2-1).

    There have been six previous occasions of a side finishing 8th or lower facing that season’s champions in the showpiece – Aston Villa (10th) beat Manchester United 2-1 in 1957, but since then such sides have lost all five finals by an aggregate score of 15-0.

    United have won five of their last seven FA Cup games against City. However, both defeats in that run have come in games at Wembley (2011 semi-final, 2023 final).

    The Red Devils have lost six of their last seven meetings with City in all competitions (W1), including each of the last three in a row. They last lost four consecutively against them between 2013 and 2014.

    United have lost 19 games and conceded 84 goals in all competitions this season. They last lost 20 in a campaign in 1973-74 (22) and last conceded more than 84 in 1963-64 (89).

    This is only the second time in FA Cup history the same fixture has been played in the final in consecutive years, after Blackburn Rovers v Queen's Park Rangers in 1884 and 1885, and the sensible money would be on City repeating their victory from last year.

    Serial winners

    Much has been said of City's dominance in the Premier League, but Guardiola's team just have to be lauded for their incredible hunger to keep winning.

    City could complete the league title and FA Cup double for the third time, something only previously achieved by Manchester United (1993-94, 1995-96 and 1998-99) and Arsenal (1970-71, 1997-98 and 2001-02). The Citizens did so in 2018-19 and 2022-23 and thus could become the first team to do so in consecutive campaigns.

    They are aiming to win the FA Cup for the eighth time and for the first time ever in consecutive years.

    Guardiola's side have won each of their last 11 matches in the FA Cup; excluding byes and void games, there have only been two longer winning runs in the competition’s history – Blackburn Rovers (20 between 1883 and 1886) and Chelsea (13 between 2009 and 2011).

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Man City: Erling Haaland

    Phil Foden is the Premier League Player of the Year, while he has been involved in 10 goals in his last nine appearances in all competitions, scoring nine and assisting one. He has also netted six goals in his last five games against United, while only against Brighton (eight) has he scored more career goals than his six against the Red Devils.

    Yet it is Haaland who United's ramshackle defence will be most fearful of.

    Haaland is the top-scoring Premier League player in all competitions this season with 38 goals. He netted 52 times last season and could become the first Premier League player to score 40+ in consecutive campaigns.

    He has also been involved in nine goals in five appearances against United in all competitions (six goals, three assists), more than he has against any other side as a City player.

    Man Utd: Bruno Fernandes 

    Fernandes scored from the penalty spot for United in last season's FA Cup final.

    He could become the fifth United player to score in the showpiece in two different years, after Bryan Robson (1983 and 1990), Norman Whiteside (1983 and 1985), Mark Hughes (1990 and 1994) and Eric Cantona (1994 and 1996).

    Marcus Rashford, having been left out of the England squad for Euro 2024, will be looking to offer a reminder of his qualities, too.

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