Rumour Has It: Ronaldo's warning, Bayern to consider Lewandowski sale

By Sports Desk January 20, 2022

Cristiano Ronaldo's dream homecoming to Manchester United has not gone quite to plan so far.

While Ronaldo has scored 14 goals in 22 games – double the amount of any other United player – his team have otherwise struggled this term.

And with United in a serious battle to qualify for next season's Champions League, an early parting of the ways could be on the cards.

 

TOP STORY – RONALDO'S TOP-FOUR ULTIMATUM

Ronaldo's representatives have informed United that the superstar forward will leave if the club miss out on a top-four finish in the Premier League, according to The Sun.

The Portugal international, who penned a two-year contract in August with the option of a further year, is said to be concerned by the direction in which United are heading.

Ralf Rangnick's side beat Brentford 3-1 on Tuesday but still remain seventh, albeit now just two points off fourth-placed West Ham with a game in hand.

Serial winner Ronaldo last week questioned the attitude of some of his United team-mates and then reacted angrily to being substituted off during the win at Brentford.


ROUND-UP

Bayern Munich will consider selling Robert Lewandowski at the end of the season if their talisman turns down the offer of a new deal, according to Bild. Lewandowski, who received The Best FIFA Men's Player of the Year on Monday, is out of contract at the end of 2022-23.

– Goal reports that Atletico Madrid have no intention of allowing Luis Suarez to complete a sensational return to the Premier League this month. The former Liverpool striker had been touted as a target for Aston Villa, who are now under the management of his old team-mate Steven Gerrard.

Chelsea have set their sights on a trio of Barcelona players, reports El Nacional. Blues boss Thomas Tuchel is said to be particularly keen on Frenkie de Jong, while full-back Sergino Dest and youngster Gavi are also targets.

– Meanwhile, Sport say that Barca are interested in Chelsea's Andreas Christensen. Barca are hoping to reach a pre-contract agreement with the defender this month.

Newcastle United must fend off competition from another Premier League club for the signing of Sevilla centre-back Diego Carlos, claims Sky Sports. The Magpies are also reported to be interested in Jesse Lingard.

Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is the subject of a loan bid, with an obligation to buy, from Saudi Arabian club Al-Nassr. The Gabon international is out of the picture under Mikel Arteta and may be granted permission to leave for the rest of 2021-22. Goal are reporting that story.

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  • Lewandowski salutes Barcelona teenage rampagers as mature beyond their years Lewandowski salutes Barcelona teenage rampagers as mature beyond their years

    Robert Lewandowski has been blown away by Barcelona's flood of teenage talent and believes there is no better place for young footballers to blossom.

    The 34-year-old Poland captain was brought in from Bayern Munich to provide a quick fix and give Barcelona a reliable goalscorer in the short term.

    But there is long-term vision at Barcelona too, with the likes of Pedri, Gavi, Ansu Fati and Alejandro Balde all emerging as first-team players while still in their teens.

    Pedri arrived from Las Palmas in 2020 and was quickly assimilated into the senior set-up, bypassing the system at La Masia, the Barcelona academy, because he was considered so advanced already.

    Most have come through years of training in the academy system, however, which is churning out top-class footballers at a rapid rate.

    Lewandowski counts on such players as team-mates now, and says their style of play, having been training to follow Barcelona principles, is "noticeably distinct" to other youngsters in the game.

    "I'm impressed by the fact of how at that age one could be so mature in football," Lewandowski said, speaking to Polish online sport channel Kanal Sportowy.

    "I don't mean mature mentally. I meant if they thought differently about football. I wouldn't even compare it, if there are any differences there.

    "A man can't change his age. People abroad who are 18 years old can't think as it they were 26. People here live and grow in the same way. However, thanks to these academies it's much easier for them.

    "Being well trained at the age of 18 and really talented, they may reach a higher level. Additionally, they're really familiar with the world of football which Polish players miss."

    Lewandowski opened up on a host of themes in the interview, and said he intended to stay involved in sport once his playing days are over.

    He might find a coaching role one day, and his experiences in Barcelona should stand him in good stead.

    "It's the best possibility for a young player, to be able to observe experienced football players in order to become one of them in the future," said Lewandowski.

    Such players also point to a bright future for the Spain national team, with the emergence of a possible new golden generation.

    At first-team level, Barcelona are attempting to knock Real Madrid off their perch.

    Madrid won last season's LaLiga title and added the Champions League to boot, while Xavi's mid-season arrival began to turn around a Barcelona team who made a rocky start under former head coach Ronald Koeman.

    Xavi's Barcelona are level on 19 points with Madrid through the first seven rounds of this campaign, and the two current co-leaders will face off at the Santiago Bernabeu on October 16 in the season's first Clasico.

    Lewandowski hit the only goal at Real Mallorca on Saturday, with a hard-fought 1-0 win showing Barcelona have tenacity to complement their more obvious flair.

    The close-season recruit said he was "positively astonished" with how intense his early training experiences had been at Barcelona, after last season's "tough" experience for the club.

    Lewandowski is confident Xavi has a firm grip on what needs to be done to turn Barcelona into trophy winners again.

    "He's aware of what went wrong in the last season, in contrary to what he dreamed of, and I see that he wants to make it better," Lewandowski said.

    "Mentally they were really focused, but their bodies couldn't manage. I think that with every week and every match, we'll be growing, and I strongly believe that with time it'll get better."

  • Ancelotti refuses to criticise Benzema after Real Madrid surrender perfect record Ancelotti refuses to criticise Benzema after Real Madrid surrender perfect record

    Carlo Ancelotti refused to single Karim Benzema out for criticism after the striker's penalty miss saw Real Madrid drop points in LaLiga for the first time this season against Osasuna.

    Despite Benzema's return from a three-week injury lay-off, Madrid produced a disjointed performance on Sunday, squandering a first-half lead when Kike Garcia cancelled out Vinicius Junior's fortunate opener.

    Benzema had the chance to fire Madrid to a seventh consecutive league victory when David Garcia was sent off for a push on the striker six yards out, but the France star crashed his spot-kick against the crossbar.

    Osasuna's 10 men held on for a point in comfortable fashion thereafter, and Benzema has now missed three penalties against Jagoba Arrasate's team in LaLiga this year.

    Ancelotti refused to blame Benzema for the result, however, and insisted Madrid had not performed badly, telling DAZN: "Karim usually scores. 

    "The match wasn't spectacular, but after the goal we conceded, the team played as it had to play. 

    "Karim had no problems starting to play 90 minutes. He has to get in the best shape by playing. 

    "It's a footballing accident that can sometimes happen. We've been quite solid at the back, we had a good balance, we hardly conceded any counter-attacks."

    Osasuna have now claimed three draws against Madrid since the start of the 2020-21 campaign, more than any other team in LaLiga.

    Madrid's failure to find a winning goal means they remain behind Barcelona on goal difference at the summit, and midfielder Dani Ceballos says they lacked dynamism in Sunday's draw. 

    "We wanted the three points, we tried until the end, but we have lost two points," he said. "We improved in the last minutes, but we have not been able to get the victory.

    "We were not good facing the goal, nor with the ball, we lacked a bit of dynamism. We have another game on Wednesday [against Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League] to face in a good way."

  • Fernandes says Man Utd can bounce back, but Haaland boasts: 'Manchester is blue!' Fernandes says Man Utd can bounce back, but Haaland boasts: 'Manchester is blue!'

    Bruno Fernandes admitted Manchester United were destined to lose the derby from the opening minutes because they did not trust themselves.

    The midfielder was part of a team over-run by a vibrant Manchester City, who tore to a 6-3 victory thanks to hat-tricks from Erling Haaland and Phil Foden.

    City led 4-0 at half-time and later held a 6-1 cushion, before United grabbed a pair of late replies from substitute Anthony Martial.

    It was gruesome watching for anyone on the red side of Manchester, particularly as United had been on a four-game winning run in the Premier League going into the game.

    "The belief from the beginning was not the best and I think that caused us many problems and made us concede early goals," said Fernandes.

    Fernandes captained United in the absence of the injured Harry Maguire, but he could not imbue the side with the confidence to shake off a rocky start.

    "I think the second half was much better," Fernandes said. "We kept control more, we controlled the game whenever we had the ball. We were down on the result, so we had to take some risks.

    "And obviously, when we took that risk, we scored straight away. We tried to [go forward] a little bit more, but then we conceded more goals. You can't give that much space to City."

    United 'won' the second half 3-2, but it was emphatically City's day.

    Fernandes has just one goal and one assist in seven Premier League games this season, after 10 goals and six assists last term.

    In the previous campaign he managed 18 goals and 12 assists, so new boss Erik ten Hag will be hoping to draw that mercurial level of form from the Portuguese playmaker, rather than the watered-down version that has been served up of late.

    "Obviously, we are really disappointed," said Fernandes, speaking to MUTV. "But now it is time to focus on the next game and understand we have to get back the performances we did before [the international break], and the belief and togetherness, and understand that this cannot get us down. It has to make us improve for the future."

    The next game for United is a Europa League meeting with Omonia in Cyprus on Thursday, while they return to Premier League duty at Everton on Sunday.

    Haaland used his social media accounts to gloat after his and City's sublime performance, declaring: "Manchester is blue!"

    Fernandes and United are in no position to question City's superiority at present, and it is a rebuilding job again, just as it was after the early season losses to Brighton and Hove Albion and Brentford.

    United followed those setbacks by beating Liverpool, Southampton, Leicester City and Arsenal.

    Everton, Newcastle United, Tottenham and Chelsea present their opposition over the next four games, with Fernandes eager to banish the derby blues.

    "We knew it was going to be a tough game, but we've had tough games before and won them," he said, "so I think it's about mentality, attitude, togetherness and belief in the process."

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