Alexis Sanchez wanted to leave Manchester United following his first training session after an agreement with Manchester City failed to come to fruition.

City were expected to sign Sanchez in January 2018 but he ended up joining their rivals United from Arsenal in a swap deal that sent Henrikh Mkhitaryan in the opposite direction.

The Chile international, who was reportedly being paid £390,000 per week, failed to find the form he displayed at Arsenal, where he had become one of the Premier League's leading attackers.

He scored just five goals in 45 appearances in all competitions before spending the 2019-20 season on loan at Inter, who signed him permanently last month.

Injuries also limited Sanchez's impact at United, but he confirmed City had been his first choice and he did not feel comfortable with the Red Devils from the start.

"I want to tell you about my period at United, about many things that have been said which made me look bad," Sanchez said in a video posted on his official Instagram account.

"Before going there, I had an agreement with Manchester City but it didn't work out and I got the chance to join Manchester United. It was something nice for me, as a kid I liked the club a lot. Eventually I signed but I didn't ask for information on what was happening inside the club

"Sometimes there are things that you don't realise until you get there, and I remember the first training session I had, I realised a lot of things.

"After the session I got home and I said to my family and my agent, 'Can you not rip up the contract to go back to Arsenal?' They laughed, I told them 'There's something that doesn't sit right, it doesn't seem good.'

"But I already signed, I was already there. After the first few months I carried on having the same feeling, we weren't united as a team in that moment."

Sanchez felt he was often unfairly targeted as the team struggled in his first full season with team, which saw United slip from a runners-up finish in 2017-18 to sixth place.

"I'm telling you my experience, the journalists at times would speak without knowing the facts and it hurt, they had no idea what was going on inside the club," he said.

"They said it was my fault, and this, and that, but sometimes a player depends on the environment, the family that is created around him, and I think that in that moment we weren't really a family.

"And that translated onto the pitch, and since there needed to be someone to blame, they blamed me."

Sanchez felt a pivotal moment in his United career came when he was left out of the matchday squad by Jose Mourinho for a trip to West Ham in September 2018, a game that ended in a 3-1 loss at London Stadium.

"I remember a game against West Ham, I wasn't picked and that never happened during my career," he added.

"That changed a lot, it really bothered me and that day I told myself that it couldn't be possible to go from one of the best players in the Premier League to that in the space of five months.

"That bothered me a little, I got home and I was very sad for what happened, the next day I put in a double training session - as I've always been, I demand the best from myself in my job, I love what I do, I like football a lot."

Lionel Messi could stay at Barcelona after all.

Messi, 33, sensationally asked to leave the LaLiga giants after a tumultuous 2019-20 season, which ended without a trophy.

But the saga goes on – and it may conclude with Messi remaining at the club.

 

TOP STORY – MESSI CONSIDERING BARCELONA STAY

Messi is considering staying at Barcelona until the end of the upcoming season, according to Sport.

The Argentina star, who is contracted through until the end of June 2021, would begin negotiating with another club from January, the report says.

Messi has been heavily linked with a move to Manchester City, while Paris Saint-Germain, Inter and Juventus are also reportedly interested in the six-time Ballon d'Or winner.

The latest news comes as Marca reports Europe's top clubs have a tacit agreement to avoid aggressive tactics when it comes to transfers.

 

ROUND-UP

- Chelsea's spending spree looks one step closer to continuing. Sky Sports reports the Premier League giants have agreed a deal with Bayer Leverkusen for Kai Havertz, paying £71.4million (€80m) plus £17.9m (€20m) in add-ons. Havertz is set to join the likes of Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech, Ben Chilwell and Thiago Silva as arrivals at Stamford Bridge.

- Manchester United are not giving up on Jadon Sancho. The Daily Mail reports United are sorting out the salary and fees of intermediaries before making an official bid to Borussia Dortmund for Sancho. The Bundesliga club reportedly want £108m (€121m) for the England international.

- Barcelona are expecting to rebuild this close season. Cadena SER reports no offers have come in for Samuel Umtiti and the defender could be allowed to leave for free despite being contracted until 2023.

- Despite having a deal at Bayern Munich until next year, Javi Martinez could push for an exit. Goal reports the midfielder is keen to return to Athletic Bilbao, the club he left to join Bayern in 2012, and the Bundesliga side are prepared to negotiate a sale.

- Having struggled at West Ham, Felipe Anderson could be on the move. The Mirror reports the Brazilian has been offered to Arsenal on loan for £5m.

Luis Enrique demanded plaudits for David de Gea after the Spain goalkeeper's brilliant display during Thursday's 1-1 Nations League draw against Germany in Stuttgart.

Jose Gaya pounced deep into stoppage time to snatch a point at the Mercedes-Benz Arena after an excellent Timo Werner goal gave the hosts a 51st-minute lead.

But Manchester United goalkeeper De Gea was arguably the key to Luis Enrique's men taking a share of the spoils.

De Gea made sharp first-half saves to thwart Thilo Kehrer, Julian Draxler and Leroy Sane, while he also denied Niklas Sule at close quarters as the game moved towards its conclusion.

A string of errors for United saw the 29-year-old end the 2019-20 season at a low ebb, but Luis Enrique believes De Gea and Spain understudy Kepa Arrizabalaga, who has endured a tough time at Chelsea, have been unfairly singled out for criticism.

"He [De Gea] has played a lot of games like this in England," the Spain boss told reporters afterwards.

"We monitor him exhaustively, but he and Kepa are in the news if they make a mistake. They're used to it.

"With the game he's played we should be saying what a great goalkeeper we have.

"I'll encourage them to not fall apart and it's a position that I demand a lot from.

"But because the press give them such a hard time, I treat them more affectionately.

"They both know that their mistakes are more noticeable than those of other players, but they're used to it."

Barcelona teenager Ansu Fati became the second youngest full international in Spain's history when he came on at half-time.

Mikel Merino and Oscar Rodriguez also won their first caps from the bench, while Ferran Torres completed the whole game on his debut and the Manchester City winger's cross led to Gaya's equaliser.

"Ansu had a resounding debut," Luis Enrique added.

"There are players taking their first steps with the team and they worked well.

"They're going to play a lot more minutes. It's nice to see that people really want it."

Wolves winger Adama Traore is in line to become Luis Enrique's next debutant after he was cleared to play in Sunday's game against Ukraine, having passed medical tests following a positive test for coronavirus.

Rumoured Real Madrid and Manchester United target Benoit Badiashile will not be sold by Monaco this transfer window, according to the Ligue 1 club's head coach Niko Kovac.

The 19-year-old defender has already made 48 appearances for Monaco in all competitions and particularly caught the eye prior to the curtailment of the 2019-20 French domestic season.

Recent reports suggested Man Utd had made an opening bid of £22.28million (€25m) for the France youth international, which Monaco were quick to knock back.

Kovac has declared Badiashile, who has played a full part in Monaco's opening two Ligue 1 matches of the new season, is going nowhere for at least another year.

"Our aim is to take him to the next level," he told TF1. "If he plays a lot of matches with us in Ligue 1, which is a very good league, he will improve, that is certain. 

"We do not want to sell him that is very clear. He will stay here this season. I think that this is the best solution for him. He has his club here, his family. He knows the environment."

Badiashile made his debut for Monaco in November 2018 and signed a new deal last December that runs until 2024.

Donny van de Beek already feels at home at Manchester United after completing his move from Ajax on Wednesday.

The Netherlands midfielder joined United in a deal that could eventually be worth £39.1million (€44m), signing a five-year contract with the option of a sixth.

Van de Beek had spent his entire career at boyhood club Ajax, but is relishing linking up with his new team-mates at Old Trafford after being given such a warm welcome.

He posted on his Twitter page on Thursday: "Very excited to be the newest edition [sic] of the #MUFC family.

"Your enthusiastic responses to my announcement make me feel at home already! Can't wait to join the team in Manchester. 

"But first... focus on the Dutch Squad in preparation for the upcoming Nations League matches."

Van de Beek's agent, Sjaak Swart, claimed United were among six clubs interested in the 23-year-old, also naming Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus and Arsenal.

Swart said the coronavirus pandemic impacted the market but told Ajax Showtime: "Manchester United is certainly the right choice.

"They used to be a championship-winning club and they now want to build that way again."

Edwin van der Sar says Donny van de Beek has no better place to flourish than at Manchester United and asked fans to take good care of the midfielder in an emotional open letter.

Netherlands international Van de Beek completed his move from Ajax to Old Trafford on Wednesday in a deal that could eventually reach £39.1million (€44m).

Van de Beek became an influential member of an exciting Ajax side after rising through the youth ranks to break into the first team as a teenager during the 2015-16 campaign.

The 23-year-old won Eredivisie and KNVB Beker medals with Ajax, while he was part of the team that finished runners-up to his new employers in the 2017 Europa League final and the side that reached the Champions League semi-finals in the 2018-19 campaign.

Red Devils legend Van der Sar, now CEO at Ajax, talked up Van de Beek's talents in a classy message to United supporters in the Manchester Evening News.

"Dear Manchester United fans, I hope you're doing well," the former Netherlands goalkeeper wrote.

"It seems our paths have crossed again. One of ours is joining you this season. And like so many players before him, he's been with us since he was just a little boy.

"Shortly after his debut, he became one of our best. Especially the last couple of years were amazing. From the Europa League final (no hard feelings) to our Champions League run and winning the Dutch championship.

"The team he was part of showed the world who we are and what Ajax stand for.

"Like you, we pride ourselves on being one of the best at developing talent and giving young players a shot at the highest level. You could say your new star is the embodiment of that pride.

"That's one of the many reasons we don't like to see him leave, but we understand it's time for him to move on. To dream on.

"And where better to do so than in your theatre. Trust me, I know. Please take good care of Donny, and help him dream.

"Enjoy the future."

Van de Beek adds to a midfield that already boasts the talents of Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes, and he will hope to make his United debut when their Premier League campaign begins against Crystal Palace on September 19.

It seems little progress was made between Barcelona and Lionel Messi.

Messi, 33, has sensationally requested to leave the LaLiga giants, but the transfer saga looks set to drag on.

A meeting between the parties was tipped to provide some clarity, but it seems little has changed.

 

TOP STORY – MESSI, BARCELONA YET TO REACH AGREEMENT

Messi and Barcelona did not reach an agreement on Wednesday, according to widespread reports in Spain.

AS reports Messi is insisting he leaves, while Barca are refusing to negotiate.

Messi has been heavily linked with a move to Manchester City, while Paris Saint-Germain, Inter and Juventus have also been credited with an interest.

According to The Telegraph, Messi could leave for as little as €100million.

ROUND-UP

- Staying at Barcelona and Luis Suarez has also been linked with a move away from Camp Nou. Gianluca Di Marzio reports the forward has almost agreed terms with Juventus, who may pay Barcelona a small fee for the 33-year-old. Suarez is out of contract next year.

- Liverpool are seemingly still trying to sign Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago Alcantara. RMC Sport reports Liverpool is Thiago's only choice despite links to Manchester United.

- Inter Miami could be set for a huge signing. ESPN reports Juventus forward Gonzalo Higuain is very close to agreeing to personal terms with the MLS club.

- After a fine loan spell at Roma, Chris Smalling is wanted by the Serie A club. Gianluca Di Marzio reports there is confidence from Roma they can get a permanent deal done for the Manchester United defender, who could sign a three-year deal.

- Roma and Manchester United may yet be involved in another deal. CalcioMercato reports Roma are looking at United midfielder Fred on a loan deal with an obligation to buy for €20m (£17.8m) to €25m (£22.2m).

- Emiliano Martinez continues to be linked with a move from Arsenal. The Telegraph reports Villarreal, who have former Arsenal boss Unai Emery in charge, are considering the goalkeeper if he is told he will not be Arsenal's first choice this season.

Sandro Tonali turned down Barcelona and Manchester United because he wanted to join Milan, according to Brescia president Massimo Cellino.

Tonali is a three-time Italy international and starred for Brescia in 2019-20, although they were relegated from Serie A.

The 20-year-old was heavily linked with a move to Inter, but is now set to join Milan.

Cellino said Tonali was eager to join Milan despite offers from Barcelona and United.

"In January we received an offer of €65million from Barcelona. Not later than 10 days ago we received an offer of 10 million higher than Milan's from Manchester United," he told Top Calcio 24.

"But the boy was determined to go to the Rossoneri."

Cellino added: "I know that [Antonio] Conte has thought a lot about Tonali, but I was also convinced that he was going to Inter.

"But at a certain point the boy didn't want to hear anything anymore and went to Milan."

Dean Henderson warned David de Gea he was targeting his starting spot at Manchester United.

After impressing on loan at Sheffield United last season, Henderson has returned to Old Trafford and signed a five-year deal last month.

The 23-year-old, who is yet to make a senior appearance for Manchester United, started 36 games in the Premier League in 2019-20.

And Henderson said he was eager to make his mark for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side, with De Gea having come under fire last season after several mistakes.

"David de Gea has been a great goalkeeper first and foremost for many years. He's been phenomenal," the shot-stopper told UK newspapers.

"That’s something I aspire to be, to have a career like him at the club, so I'll be going back in first day of the pre-season working my bollocks off to get in that starting line-up because it's something I've always wanted.

"I'm so close now so I'm not going to give up. I'm going to put the pressure on. I respect David, he's been a phenomenal servant for the football club and if not one of the best in recent years. It's down to me. I know what challenges are ahead. I'm well up for it."

Henderson has been on loan at Stockport County, Grimsby Town, Shrewsbury Town and Sheffield United in recent seasons.

But his performances in the Premier League last season suggested he could replace De Gea, and Henderson knows he needs to continue playing.

"I'm under no illusions that I'm going to improve just sat on the bench," he said.

"I need that game time."

Manchester United are set to begin their Premier League season against Crystal Palace on September 19.

Donny van de Beek has chosen to wear the no.34 jersey at Manchester United, a tribute to his friend and former Ajax team-mate Abdelhak Nouri.

Van de Beek completed a transfer from the Dutch giants on Wednesday in a deal that could eventually cost United £39.1million (€44m).

Soon after his move was confirmed, the Red Devils announced Van de Beek's choice of shirt number, as the 23-year-old made a classy gesture.

Nouri, with whom Van de Beek came through the Ajax academy, had worn 34 during his time with the senior side before a tragedy cut short his burgeoning career in 2017.

Then just 20, Nouri collapsed during a pre-season match and suffered a cardiac arrhythmia attack that left him with permanent brain damage and in a coma, from which he only awoke in March after nearly two years and nine months.

Dean Henderson had been the number's custodian, but United confirmed the goalkeeper had let Van de Beek take it.

"This is a special thing for me because my good friend Abdelhak Nouri… maybe you know the story," he said to Man United's official website.

"He had a heart attack and he's a good friend of mine, and I'm really close with his family and his brother is one of my best friends. I talk a lot with them.

"So, I decided to take his old number on my shirt. I want to get good memories with this number."

Van de Beek had appeared destined to join Real Madrid earlier this year, but media reports claim Los Blancos opted to pull out of an agreement with Ajax once the coronavirus pandemic enforced a stop to top-flight European football.

The Netherlands international bolsters United's midfield options and signed a five-year contract, though the club have the option to extend it by a further 12 months.

It is expected he will make his United debut in their opening match of the Premier League season on September 19 at home to Crystal Palace.

Manchester United have completed the signing of Netherlands midfielder Donny van de Beek from Ajax for a fee that could rise to £39.1million (€44m).

United will pay an initial £34.7m for the 23-year-old, who has penned a five-year contract with the option of a further 12 months to become Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's first recruit ahead of the 2020-21 season.

Van de Beek was one of the star performers for Ajax as they embarked upon a memorable run to the semi-finals of the 2018-19 Champions League.

However, he now follows former team-mates Frenkie de Jong, Matthijs de Ligt and Hakim Ziyech in making a big-money move away from the Johan Cruijff ArenA, having sat out Ajax's weekend friendly against Eintracht Frankfurt.

"I cannot begin to explain how incredible an opportunity it is to join a club with such an amazing history," he told United's website.

"I would like to thank everyone at Ajax. I grew up there and I will always have a special bond with the club.

"I am now ready to take the next step in my career and perform at the highest level and there is no higher standard than Manchester United.

"Everyone has told me how amazing the Old Trafford atmosphere is and I am looking forward to experiencing that, once it is safe for the fans to return.

"This team has some of the best midfielders in the world and I know that I can learn from them and also bring my own strengths to the group.

"Having spoken to the manager about his vision for this team, the direction that the club is going in is hugely exciting and I cannot wait to be a part of that."

Van de Beek played 175 times for Ajax's first team after progressing through the club's feted youth categories, scoring 41 times.

He must now look to establish himself in a talent-stacked United midfield alongside Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba.

"Donny has all of the technical attributes needed to perform in this team and has the personality required to succeed at Manchester United," Solskjaer said.

"His ability to see space, time his movements and read the game will really complement the qualities that we have in midfield and his arrival really strengthens the depth of talent we have in that position.

"Donny's performances in the Eredivisie and in Europe have been excellent over the last few years and we are all looking forward to working with him."

United start their Premier League campaign at home to Crystal Palace on September 19 – a week later than the majority of their top-flight counterparts, having been involved in the latter stages of the Europa League.

Manchester United have completed the signing of Netherlands midfielder Donny van de Beek from Ajax for a fee that could rise to £39.1million (€44m).

United will pay an initial £34.7m for the 23-year-old, who has penned a five-year contract with the option of a further 12 months to become Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's first recruit ahead of the 2020-21 season.

Van de Beek was one of the star performers for Ajax as they embarked upon a memorable run to the semi-finals of the 2018-19 Champions League.

However, he now follows former team-mates Frenkie de Jong, Matthijs de Ligt and Hakim Ziyech in making a big-money move away from the Johan Cruijff ArenA, having sat out Ajax's weekend friendly against Eintracht Frankfurt.

With a crucial meeting set to take place in the Lionel Messi saga, the Barcelona star has reportedly agreed to a deal with Manchester City.

Messi, 33, has sensationally requested to leave the LaLiga giants, where he has spent his entire professional career.

But just whether a move happens could hinge on an upcoming meeting.

 

TOP STORY – MESSI AGREES €700M DEAL WITH CITY

Messi has agreed to terms on a deal worth £623million (€700m) with the City Football Group (CFG), which owns Manchester City, according to the Daily Record.

The deal is reportedly five years in length, including three in Manchester and two with MLS side New York City.

A six-time Ballon d'Or winner, Messi is set for a Barcelona exit after a tumultuous and trophy-less 2019-20 season.

 

ROUND-UP

- Messi's dad, Jorge, is set to meet with Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu, according to Mundo Deportivo. It reports Jorge is drafting an exit for Messi, but Barcelona plan to tell him the superstar has a contract and they will not negotiate. It also reports Barca are preparing to offer Messi a renewal until the 2022 World Cup.

Mason Greenwood is eyeing records as the Manchester United sensation prepares for a possible international debut with England.

Greenwood is in line to make his England bow after being called up by Gareth Southgate for the first time for Nations League fixtures against Iceland and Denmark.

The 18-year-old's inclusion comes after a stunning season at Old Trafford, where he scored 17 goals across all competitions for United in 2019-20.

And Greenwood is dreaming big as England prepare for Saturday's clash away to Iceland.

"Obviously any young football player would want to break records," Greenwood said. "And if you didn't, there's something wrong.

"It's always nice to have visions and goals you set in your football career and that goes for virtually any England forward.

"Just go out there and do your best and break records and just be remembered forever, really."

"The games have come so quick and you have to be focused 100 per cent at all times," he said. "My whole family was excited for me and it's a dream come true.

"It's happened quick. You can be called on at any time and I got called in for some Europa League games early in the season and took my chances and took every game as it came and just played my football."

Greenwood also thanked Ole Gunnar Solskjaer for his trust, especially after the United manager turned to the teenager as the Red Devils completed a stunning comeback against Paris Saint-Germain in the last 16 of the 2018-19 Champions League.

"I took a lot of belief from that, a lot of confidence to say that the manager has got the confidence in me to put me on in that state of the game," Greenwood added.

"I'm just glad he did because it's helped my career and things are more calm now. I am used to it now because the pressure was high in that game. Not many people can say they made their debut in such a special game.

"Ole says to all the young players coming up: 'Go out there with a smile on your face. You're playing for one of the biggest clubs in the world, just take it on the chin, go out there and express yourself. Think about it as a normal game because you've been waiting for that moment all your life so just go out and enjoy it'."

Dayot Upamecano admitted he is in talks with clubs after signing a new deal with RB Leipzig amid links to Premier League giants Manchester United.

United are reportedly eyeing a move for Leipzig defender Upamecano, who has also been linked with the likes of Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Arsenal.

The 21-year-old centre-back extended his Leipzig contract at the end of July, tying him to the Bundesliga outfit until 2023.

Set to earn his first France cap as the world champions prepare to face Sweden in Saturday's Nations League fixture, Upamecano addressed the speculation.

"I extended my contract with Leipzig because I feel good with my team-mates," Upamecano said.

"My coach is giving me confidence. He's learning as well, but he gives me confidence and it improves my level.

"I've been in Leipzig for more than three years, I feel good. I've been in demand, I talked to some clubs, it's true, but I'm not in a hurry.

"We'll see what happens in the future."

Upamecano earned plenty of admirers following his exploits for Leipzig during their memorable run to the Champions League semi-finals.

The Frenchman was particularly impressive against Atletico Madrid in the quarter-finals, nullifying Diego Costa and Alvaro Morata.

"Obviously when you play a Champions League semi-final, your status changes, especially because it was the first semis for Leipzig. We wrote history," he added.

"When I was in Portugal, I wasn't paying attention to what happened outside of it until the end. Because I didn't play in Ligue 1, I was just in academies in France, I became known in Germany."

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