Rumour Has It: Real Madrid zero in on Fabian Ruiz

By Sports Desk December 03, 2019

Real Madrid have made Fabian Ruiz their top transfer target.

According to reports, "negotiations have accelerated" as the Spanish heavyweights aim to take advantage of the disarray at Napoli.

But the midfielder also has high-profile admirers in England and France.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID STEP UP FABIAN INTEREST

Napoli midfielder Fabian is a man in demand.

Madrid appear to be in pole position, with Cadena SER claiming the Spanish giants are "very serious" about taking the 23-year-old to the Santiago Bernabeu.

Negotiations over a contract extension at Napoli are said to have stopped and the Spain international is reportedly warm to the idea of joining up with Zinedine Zidane's side.

However, Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain could look to force a three-way bidding war for the Spain international, who has previously been linked to Barcelona.

ROUND-UP

- Ex-Valencia head coach Marcelino has emerged as a left-field managerial candidate for Arsenal and Everton, according to the Daily Mail. The 54-year-old lost his job at the Mestalla in September following a reported falling out with owner Peter Lim.

- Ole Gunnar Solskjaer fears he will be sacked if Manchester United lose their next two games against Tottenham and bitter rivals City, says The Sun.

- Former Premier League striker-turned-reporter Jan Aage Fjortoft claims Liverpool are favourites to land Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho – but the winger will cost the Premier League leaders €130million.

- Chelsea have offered little-used striker Olivier Giroud to Serie A sides Milan and Inter, according to CalcioMercato.

Barcelona are keeping tabs on 16-year-old PSG midfielder Edouard Michut, reports Le Parisien.

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    Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer refused to talk about rumoured transfer target Jadon Sancho after the Red Devils advanced to the Europa League semi-finals.

    United booked their spot in the final four of Europe's secondary club competition after edging Danish opponents Copenhagen 1-0 in extra time on Monday.

    Bruno Fernandes' 95th-minute penalty secured a semi-final showdown with either Premier League rivals Wolves or LaLiga outfit Sevilla.

    But attention turned to Borussia Dortmund star Sancho post-match amid ongoing speculation over the England international's future.

    Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc, earlier on Monday, insisted Sancho will stay at the Bundesliga club, despite United's interested.

    Asked about Sancho, Solskjaer replied: "I can't comment on other team's players, I can't do that. You know that. I never do."

    On the match itself in Cologne, Solskjaer said: "I am delighted that we're through. I think we deserved to win tonight. It could have been one of those nights that you ended up with a penalty shootout. They made it hard for us.

    "It's a good team we played against, well organised. They had a gameplan – we knew they were going to be hard to break down. We knew we would get chances."

    Juan Mata was influential as a substitute at the start of extra time, his composure and passing helping United earn the decisive penalty.

    Mata has struggled for game time this season but Solskjaer heaped praise on the 32-year-old Spaniard.

    "I think you saw when he came on he's so composed, calm," Solskjaer said. "He's clever, he's got quick feet in small right areas.

    "He can pick a pass, he can calm us down at times and he's such a great influence in and around the place as well, with the culture and the dressing room. I just commend him for his professionalism.

    "Of course, he's disappointed he's not played more but he's one of the top assist-makers in the Europa League and he's really done well for us."

  • Man Utd must be more clinical as Solskjaer targets 'next step' in semis Man Utd must be more clinical as Solskjaer targets 'next step' in semis

    Ole Gunnar Solskjaer conceded Manchester United must be more clinical going forward as he aims to guide the club to their first final of the season in the Europa League.

    United were beaten in the semi-finals of the EFL Cup and FA Cup in 2019-20 and have now reached the same stage in Europe's secondary club competition after edging past Copenhagen 1-0 in extra time.

    Solskjaer's side required additional time to secure a quarter-final victory over their Danish opponents courtesy of Bruno Fernandes' 95th-minute penalty in Cologne on Monday.

    But United – 2017 Europa League champions – were not short of chances, twice hitting the post, seeing two goals disallowed for offside and drawing a remarkable 13 saves from Copenhagen goalkeeper Karl-Johan Johnsson.

    "We had to be disciplined, we had to be patient and, in the end, that patience worked for us," manager Solskjaer told UEFA.com. "We created enough chances to win the game.

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    "We need to improve on many aspects. But if you create as many chances as we did today, we'd like to be more clinical and efficient and score when we have them.

    "Even though we did create some fantastic opportunities, sometimes it looked like the boys wanted to walk the ball over the line. But there's always some defenders there and a keeper, who today was probably man of the match."

    With Premier League rivals Wolves or LaLiga outfit Sevilla up next in the final four, Solskjaer added: "I'm very happy that we're in another semi-final. We've been to the semi-final in every competition that we've been in this season.

    "Now it's time to hopefully take the next step and go to the final and hopefully win it."

  • From Sancho talks to Europa League semis, Man Utd are labouring to better days From Sancho talks to Europa League semis, Man Utd are labouring to better days

    Manchester United win and Bruno Fernandes scores a penalty? Sounds familiar enough. But Monday's Europa League quarter-final against Copenhagen, a peculiar one-off meeting in the strangest of seasons, was fittingly weird.

    United mostly dominated, had 26 shots, hit the target 14 times, hit the post three times, but needed an extra-time spot-kick to progress 1-0. Copenhagen defended, failed to test Sergio Romero once in 120 minutes, but never looked out of the game - one that finished at close to midnight in Cologne with the temperature still at 28 degrees Celcius.

    In United red, there were performances that were brilliant and infuriating in equal measure. Anthony Martial led the Copenhagen defence on a merry dance but finished as though he had two left feet; Brandon Williams controlled the left flank but gave the Danes their best opening; Juan Mata was exceptional off the bench and still made a mess of three chances for a second goal.

    United can be certain of one thing, though: this is the sort of game where smashing the British transfer record for Jadon Sancho would come in handy.

    Monday marked Borussia Dortmund's deadline for a Sancho deal to go through. The player travelled with the squad for their pre-season training camp and sporting director Michael Zorc declared the matter was at an end, saying: "We plan on having Jadon Sancho in our team this season. The decision is final. I think that answers all our questions."

    It doesn't, of course. United never looked likely to strike a deal so early in a transfer window that runs until October and it's largely expected they will continue to seek an agreement that won't threaten the stability of either the club's finances post-pandemic or the dressing room. Their latest performance is unlikely to change that.

    Copenhagen had conceded more than one goal just twice in their previous 42 games in Europe. They knew the onus was on United to dictate and, presumably, also knew the difficulty the Red Devils have had in breaking down sides this season. Their approach was not a surprise, and nor was United's inability to unsettle them.

    Luck was against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side, it's true. Mason Greenwood had a goal disallowed for offside, a penalty was overturned because of Harry Maguire straying beyond the last man, and Greenwood, Fernandes and Victor Lindelof each hit the woodwork.

    There was also an inspired Karl-Johan Johnsson in the Copenhagen goal. In a remarkable performance, he made 13 saves, the joint-most of any keeper in a Europa League match since the competition's rebranding from the UEFA Cup in 2009. The best came against Martial, who grew increasingly dangerous as the game wore on and was the only United forward to drive at the Copenhagen defence and destabilise their impressive rearguard.

    That's where Sancho would be invaluable. The 20-year-old has plundered the Bundesliga in a Dortmund side where he is encouraged to run straight at a full-back or centre-half at every available opportunity. Against a team like Copenhagen, built around zonal marking and covering the space in front of the box, that kind of approach can shift matters in your favour.

    Of course, United should be expected to beat teams like this without an extra-time penalty or the need to spend around £100million on a new winger, and they certainly created enough to have made the scoreline more comfortable. The inescapable truth remains that Solskjaer's side lurch from dazzling to tedious, too often attacking down blind alleys while trying to follow the trumpeted United Way.

    Sancho would change that - assuming he would want to go.

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