Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes Manchester United are still a fair way off being Premier League contenders.

Ahead of hosting Bournemouth on Saturday, United are on a 15-match unbeaten run and just three points behind third-placed Leicester City.

But amid hopes United could be close to challenging for the title once more, former captain Gary Neville warned they still had "work to do in the transfer market".

Solskjaer agreed with his former team-mate and said the transfer window would be key for United, who are 34 points adrift of newly crowned champions Liverpool.

"Gary's right in a lot of things he says and of course we cannot think we're there," the United manager told reporters.

"If you look at the table, we're nowhere near where we should be. Consistency has to be improved and we still have to improve on many aspects of the game.

"I don't know how many points we're behind the top two but Gary's right – there's definitely not going to be any complacency and thinking we've cracked it because we've so much to do.

"We can see improvements but, yes, we need to make one or two – or more – very good decisions. It's going to be an important summer, definitely."

With six league games remaining, United are just two points behind fourth-placed Chelsea in the chase for a top-four finish.

Solskjaer expects that race to go down to the final day of the season, when United visit Leicester City.

"It's a short space of time and so many games in that time but I think it will go down to the last game," he said.

"You have got Chelsea against Wolves and us against Leicester – so it might be a three-point advantage for us or Leicester and it is still an important game.

"And I can't see the difference between us and Leicester being a lot more than three points either way and it is the same with Chelsea and Wolves.

"It's looking exciting, it's a short space of time and so many games in that time but I think it will go down to the last game."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insists he does not need to receive acclaim for Manchester United's turnaround as he paid little interest to criticism earlier in the season.

Solskjaer has United in the mix for Champions League qualification, two points behind fourth-placed Chelsea in fifth, which may also secure a spot in Europe's elite club competition depending on the outcome of Manchester City's appeal against their two-year ban.

United's form has picked up dramatically since the January arrival of Bruno Fernandes and they are now 15 unbeaten in all competitions.

But Solskjaer says he will not let listen to outside voices regardless of results.

"If you're worried about what others write about you, think about you, say about you, you shouldn't be in this job," he said on Friday.

"What I feel [about praise] doesn't really matter. What I do is with the coaching staff, with the club, trying to improve us. I don't need anyone to say that was the right thing or wrong thing or feel that we've shown we've done the right thing.

"For me, it's just about next game and improving all the time. I believe in a certain way of managing the club, managing players, the staff, and I'm just doing what I think is right.

"That's what I've done all my life more or less, working in football, and sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn't."

United will be expected to continue their impressive run against struggling Bournemouth in the Premier League on Saturday, but Solskjaer suggests their schedule is not as straightforward as it looks.

"I've seen lots of quotes saying we have an 'easy' run-in," the manager added.

"But the next five games are against Bournemouth, who we lost to in the previous game, Aston Villa, who we drew [with] at Old Trafford, Southampton, we drew with them, we lost to Crystal Palace, lost to West Ham.

"These are teams we've got a point to prove against and we have to improve on the last performance.

"I don't think it's an easy game. What anyone else thinks doesn't matter. We know [that] to win a game of football we'll have to perform."

On the atmosphere at United, he added: "It's been a while since we've been on a run like this. When I first came in, the run was obviously a good one.

"But now definitely we are feeling confident, we are feeling in good form, and [the players] should be, because they worked so hard over the lockdown period.

"They're just getting their sharpness and fitness and match fitness back. And when you perform like you have done - the Sheffield United and Brighton games were really good - they should be confident."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admits Mason Greenwood has more talent as a teenager than the Manchester United manager possessed as he lauded the 13-goal forward.

Greenwood has enjoyed a breakout season at Old Trafford and provided both a goal and an assist in the midweek win at Brighton and Hove Albion.

The England youth international has often played out wide, but Solskjaer on Friday discussed the possibility of the 18-year-old soon moving into a central striking role he occupied in the academy.

Speaking ahead of Saturday's Premier League meeting with Bournemouth, the manager says Greenwood has made much more progress than he had the same stage of his career.

"We have done well over the course of the season, giving him more and more exposure, more and more game time," Solskjaer said of Greenwood.

"It's not easy being a young boy. He could still play in this season's FA Youth Cup team, so he's a young boy we have to look after.

"But he's performing off the bench or when he starts and he's developed fantastically this season. The sky's the limit - it's up to him.

"He knows what he should do, can do and must do to continue playing, but that's between us.

"He's a centre-forward by trade, but he likes to drift wide, he likes to face forwards, and that's a different role from being the forward up through the middle.

"You see some centre-forwards who have their back to goal, get hold of the ball, link it, which Mason is improving on. His body is filling out and he can play that position.

"I think we can see maybe like we have done with Marcus [Rashford] and Anthony [Martial] as well: they are good centre-forwards, very good footballers, good goalscorers and with good movement. They're not stuck between the posts.

"Mason's way ahead of where I was when I was 18 or 19, that's for sure. He's got a knack of scoring goals - it's difficult to say anything different because it's natural for him. It was what I felt I could do as well.

"He's a brilliant boy to work with. If he keeps on learning, keeps on making better and better decisions, he'll be good."

There had been reports United were looking to boost their squad with another teenager, Birmingham City's 17-year-old Jude Bellingham.

But the midfielder now appears set instead for Borussia Dortmund, although Solskjaer brushed off a question on the youngster.

"I think there's been loads of speculation linking us to every single talented player from the age of 15 to 25 really, so I can't comment on every single player that's been linked with us," he said. "So, no, I can't really comment."

Raul Jimenez is happy at Wolves, where the players are focused only on team success until the end of the season, according to Diogo Jota.

Striker Jimenez has been outstanding for Wolves since his arrival from Benfica in 2018, scoring 41 goals in all competitions.

The Mexico international's performances have even prompted reports of a potential move to Manchester United or Juventus at the age of 29.

But team-mate Jota is confident Jimenez will not become distracted as Wolves battle United, Chelsea and Leicester City for Champions League qualification.

"I think he, like us, is happy here. I think everyone is," Jota told Sky Sports. "And if we are happy, we always play better.

"After, when the season is finished, I think everyone can think about their own career, but until then we go as a team, thinking to do our best each game."

Asked to describe Jimenez, his strike partner added: "I think he's an unbelievable player.

"We signed him when we came to the Premier League and, [although] not from the beginning, I started to create a good relationship with him, not just on the pitch but out of the pitch as well.

"That helps me, it helps him, it helps the team. In the end, that's all that matters, that we can have a great relationship between players.

"Obviously, a clever player like Raul is a finisher, he decides matches. He is really important to us and he is in a good moment now."

Lionel Messi's future is often a topic of discussion.

Messi has an early break clause in his Barcelona contract.

As Barca look to re-sign Messi, the 33-year-old superstar is reportedly ready to walk away next year.

 

TOP STORY – MESSI WANTS BARCA EXIT

Lionel Messi will leave Barcelona when his contract expires at the end of 2020-21, according to Cadena SER.

Barca captain Messi – previously linked to Inter and Manchester City – has reportedly been in talks over a new two-year deal at Camp Nou.

However, the six-time Ballon d'Or winner and Barca's all-time leading scorer is reportedly tired of being blamed for issues at the club, with the LaLiga champions set to be dethroned by Real Madrid.

ROUND-UP

- Staying at Camp Nou and club legend Xavi has agreed to become Barcelona head coach next season. Mundo Deportivo journalist Francesc Aguilar says the Al-Sadd boss has agreed a €6million salary to replace under-fire coach Quique Setien.

- Mundo Deportivo reports Manchester United and neighbours City have asked Barca about the availability of out-of-favour forward Antoine Griezmann. A big-money signing from Atletico Madrid at the start of the season, Griezmann has struggled and found himself on the bench in recent weeks. However, the report claims Barca are not considering a transfer.

Liverpool are poised to sign Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago Alcantara, says Sport. Thiago is out of contract at the end of 2020-21 and the Spaniard is not willing to re-sign. Now, Liverpool are believed to be in advanced negotiations as Bayern seek £31m (€35m) for Thiago.

- Everton full-back Lucas Digne has emerged as a target for City and Chelsea if they fail to land Leicester City star Ben Chilwell, according to ESPN.

Borussia Dortmund have completed the signing of Birmingham City teenager Jude Bellingham, reports Bild. United were also chasing the 17-year-old sensation.

- After signing Achraf Hakimi from Real Madrid, Sky journalist Fabrizio Romano claims Inter have opened talks with Chelsea for Italian full-back Emerson Palmieri.

Juventus are hoping to settle Paulo Dybala's new contract between July and August, says Calciomercato.

- The Telegraph reports Chelsea are ready to step up their pursuit of Bayer Leverkusen star Kai Havertz after Saturday's DFB-Pokal final against Bayern. Havertz has been linked to Bayern, Madrid, United, Liverpool and Barca.

- Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga could be shipped out on loan to Sevilla, claims The Sun. The world's most expensive keeper has been criticised for his performances this season.

Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho insists he would not swap Giovani Lo Celso for Manchester United star Bruno Fernandes or any other midfield player.

Fernandes revealed last year he had agreed to join Spurs but the north London club were unwilling to match Sporting CP's valuation and instead turned to Lo Celso.

The Portugal international went on to join Tottenham's Premier League rivals United in January and has proved good value for the reported £67million (€80m) spent to sign him.

He has been directly involved in eight goals in eight league outings, while Lo Celso - whose loan switch from Real Betis was made permanent in January - has yet to register a goal or assist.

Mourinho says he is not bothered Spurs missed out on Fernandes' signature during Mauricio Pochettino's time in charge, however, as he rates Lo Celso just as highly.

"I don't know anything about [an agreement], but if that is true, and if Giovani Lo Celso was the player that came to Spurs instead, then I would say I wouldn't change Giovani Lo Celso for any player," he told Sky Sports.

"[I wouldn't swap Lo Celso] for any player. It's not just for Bruno, but for any player."

Lo Celso struggled for minutes when Mourinho succeeded Pochettino in November but has since started 11 of Tottenham's last 15 matches in all competitions.

Mourinho has been pleased with the Argentina international's positive attitude and believes there is still plenty more to come from the £27m (€30m) signing.

"When I arrived I went in other directions and he did exactly what I love a player to do: 'I'm going to show you'," Mourinho said.

"[There was] no spoiled kid reactions, no crying, no moaning, no agents and family throwing messages to the press and to the social media. 

"It was just between him and me: I'm going to show you', and he showed me step-by-step.

"The way he was working every day, the way he was coming to matches, the way he was changing matches."

Mourinho added: "I remember the match against Liverpool: he was on the bench, he came on for the last half an hour and he changed the game. 

"The only thing that didn't happen was us changing the result because we were so unlucky, but he changed the game.

"When he had his first start: 'Goodbye, I give you no chance and this place is mine'. In this moment, what people can see from him is an injured player playing, or a player that during the week is not working like the others.

"He's working with lots of different conditions to try to play and to try to resist until the end of the season so what you see from Gio now is not the end product - he's a fantastic player for us."

Raul Jimenez insisted he was "very happy" at Wolves amid links to Manchester United.

Jimenez, 29, is enjoying another prolific season, scoring 24 goals in 47 games for Wolves to lead to apparent interest from United.

But the Mexico international said he was happy at the Molineux, where he arrived from Benfica in 2018, initially on loan.

"It feels very good. Two years here have been unbelievable, I think we made that connection since the beginning, since my transfer here," Jimenez said, via the club's website.

"I'm very happy to be here."

Jimenez has helped Wolves sit sixth in the Premier League, with his team-mate Adama Traore also attracting interest from elsewhere.

The forward praised Traore, who has scored four goals and provided nine assists in the league this season.

"Every striker wants a team-mate with his conditions. He can cross from anywhere, you know he's going to be at the final line and he's going to cross, so you have to be there at the right time to score," Jimenez said.

"We train on it in the week. We talk to each other before the games, or in the training sessions, so we know where we’re going to be, his crossing and where I have to move.

"It's not a coincidence, it's something we train and work for."

Wolves are next in action on Saturday when they host Arsenal.

Chelsea head coach Frank Lampard lamented his team's inconsistency and errors after suffering a surprise loss at West Ham in the Premier League, which opened the door for rivals Manchester United and Wolves.

Andriy Yarmolenko came off the bench and scored the 89th-minute winner as West Ham stunned London rivals Chelsea 3-2 on Wednesday.

Willian had netted a brace with a wonderful free-kick 18 minutes from the end to restore parity after Tomas Soucek and Michail Antonio had put West Ham ahead following the Chelsea star's 42nd-minute penalty.

But Yarmolenko's last-gasp goal lifted West Ham three points above the relegation zone, while ending Chelsea's six-game unbeaten streak in all competitions.

The result left Chelsea just two points clear of in-form United and Wolves in fourth position – the final Champions League spot – with six matches remaining.

Lampard vented his frustration afterwards, insisting Chelsea should have won at the London Stadium.

"It's the story of our season," Lampard told Sky Sports. "It's been a good season but there have been so many of these moments. We had an opportunity today to go through but you have to do every part of the game to get results.

"If you switch off or make one or two errors then you will encourage teams. Players have to show an extra mentality to get through these games.

"I get to see this group closely and I've seen us play great games then have moments where there's the opportunity to capitalise and that's the difference at the moment. We have work to do.

"There's without a doubt a good group of players in there but then when you analyse the consistency, you feel a game like this is coming. Again, that shows there's work to do.

"If we are opening up to try and score that winning goal then we have to be prepared to run back the other way and defend. And defend better.

"We are two points ahead of Manchester United, who have been playing fantastic and are on a great run, Wolves are having a great season and they're behind us, Leicester have had a great season and we're just behind them.

"It's about perspective. We are upset because we wanted to win the game, we're footballers and we're in a good position. So there's no point in being down but I can't help but say the truth today which is that it's a game we should have won tonight."

Manchester United have confirmed Alexis Sanchez and Chris Smalling will remain at Inter and Roma respectively for the remainder of the Serie A season.

Defender Smalling moved on loan last August and has made 30 appearances in all competitions, impressing to such an extent that coach Paulo Fonseca has said he would like to keep hold of the centre-back for longer.

"I will do everything I can to keep him at Roma next year too. I know he wants to stay, let's see what happens," Fonseca told ESPN.

Sanchez, meanwhile, has featured 19 times for Antonio Conte's side during a campaign that has been disrupted by injuries.

The forward, who previously played in Serie A with Udinese, has scored just once so far for the Nerazzurri, his solitary strike coming in a 3-1 league win away at Sampdoria.

With the coronavirus pandemic forcing a lengthy suspension to the schedule, United have agreed both players can stay at their current clubs to see out the Italian campaign, which runs until early August.

The Red Devils had already announced goalkeeper Dean Henderson will continue at Sheffield United until the Premier League season is completed.

Jurgen Klopp vowed Liverpool will go on the "attack" when they look to defend their Premier League title next season. 

The Reds celebrated ending a 30-year wait to be crowned champions of England last week when second-placed Manchester City were beaten at Chelsea. 

Liverpool have won their first Premier League title with ease, leading City by 23 points with seven games to spare ahead of their encounter at the Etihad Stadium on Thursday. 

Klopp says the Merseyside club are determined to finish in style as he wants his players to be hungry to retain their crown in 2020-21. 

"As long as we stay humble and greedy, we have a good chance to remain a really uncomfortable opponent," the Liverpool boss said on Wednesday. 

"When you are a really uncomfortable opponent, you have a chance to win. And when you have a chance to win, then sometimes you have to win. 

"There are a lot of challenges, life is constantly a challenge, and our challenge is now being champions and playing seven games against teams that will fight for everything. 

"We can show that we don't run because we have to, we run because we want to. 

"Next season, you can write stories about us being the defending champions or whatever, but that is why I say - we will not defend anything, we will attack it." 

Klopp expects Liverpool to face strong competition next year – and not just from Pep Guardiola's City squad.

He added: "City will be strong next season, Manchester United will be strong next season, Chelsea will be strong next season. 

"We have to play 38 games during the year. What we achieved last week is something for the history books." 

Add Tottenham to the list of Sergej Milinkovic-Savic admirers.

The Lazio star and Serbia international has teams queuing up for his services, with Paris Saint-Germain reportedly tipped to secure his signature.

However, Premier League outfit Spurs are now eyeing Milinkovic-Savic.

 

TOP STORY – MILINKOVIC-SAVIC WANTED BY SPURS

Jose Mourinho is interested in bringing Lazio star Sergej Milinkovic-Savic to Tottenham, according to Foot Mercato.

Milinkovic-Savic is a player in demand, having been linked with the likes of Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid, Manchester United, Juventus, Manchester City and Chelsea.

While a move for Milinkovic-Savic appears out of reach for Spurs, Jose Mourinho is still dreaming.

 

ROUND-UP

- While Milinkovic-Savic is a dream for Spurs, The Telegraph says Tottenham are confident of signing Southampton's Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg. Mourinho, however, must raise transfer funds through sales from his squad.

Inter are in advanced talks with Brescia to finalise a deal for star Sandro Tonali, according to journalist Nicolo Schira. Inter have agreed a five-year deal with Tonali.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic's future at Milan beyond the 2019-20 season is complicated, says Calciomercato. Ibrahimovic is out of contract at the end of the campaign and the 38-year-old striker is no closer to signing an extension. While he would like to remain at San Siro, an extension looks set to be postponed until the proposed arrival of Ralf Rangnick as head coach.

- Sport Bild reports Bayern Munich are hopeful of extending David Alaba's contract, despite failing to come to an agreement at a meeting last week. Alaba has been linked to Chelsea recently. Meanwhile, Sky Sport says Bayern are not prepared to exercise their option to sign Ivan Perisic permanently from Inter following his loan spell.

- ABC says Real Betis have been in negotiations with former West Ham, Real Madrid and Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini about their coaching vacancy.

Milan and Napoli are both interested in Fiorentina defender Nikola Milenkovic, claims Le10 Sport. The Serbian could be a replacement for Napoli centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly, who has been linked to the likes of Manchester City, Liverpool and Real Madrid.

- The Daily Mail reports Arsenal are ready to use out-of-favour midfielder Matteo Guendouzi as a bargaining chip in a potential swap deal. United, PSG, Madrid and Barca have emerged as possible destinations.

Manchester United star Bruno Fernandes said strength in depth is behind the club's unbeaten run after his brace helped see off Brighton and Hove Albion.

Fernandes scored twice as in-form United outclassed Brighton 3-0 in the Premier League on Tuesday to stretch their undefeated streak to 15 matches across all competitions.

After Mason Greenwood's opening strike, January recruit and former Sporting CP captain Fernandes stole the show with goals in the 29th and 50th minutes at the Amex Stadium.

United have gone eight Premier League games without defeat to be fifth and two points adrift of Chelsea – who face West Ham on Wednesday – with six matches remaining in the Champions League qualification race.

"In the last games, before the stop, Scotty [McTominay] and Fred played very well and we have a lot of good results," Fernandes, who has scored five goals in eight league appearances, told MUTV.

"Now it's Nema [Matic], Paul [Pogba] and me, sometimes Andy [Pereira] or Juan [Mata] can play no.10, or Jesse [Lingard] - we have a lot of qualities and I don't think it is fair on the guys who are out to just talk about me and Paul.

"We have so much quality and this becomes higher because we train together and we push [each other]. I know if I'm not okay, another player will play. So I need to be at my best on the training field.

"I need to be better and better to help the team. Everyone thinks the same way and that's why we are playing this way and the results are coming. We know we need to give our best because we have such good quality."

United have not tasted defeat since losing 2-0 to Burnley in January – keeping 11 clean sheets – and Portuguese midfielder Fernandes added: "You need to be focused and give everything for the team, for the club.

"I think everyone here knows that we represent a big team, so we need to give our best and to push forward and to keep trying.

"This is what the players are doing now - that’s fantastic. It doesn't matter if we are tired, other guys are coming in and playing such a good game.

"They can bring more intensity because they are fresh, so we know we can give everything and if you are tired, you can come out. Now we have five changes this is better for us. The most important thing is the result at the end."

Manchester United's willingness to defend as a unit has been key to their recent success, according to manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The Red Devils have been in superb form since football resumed after the enforced break caused by the coronavirus pandemic, claiming seven points from their three Premier League games and beating Norwich City in an FA Cup semi-final.

Their latest win came on Tuesday, as a fine Mason Greenwood goal and two strikes from Bruno Fernandes sealed a 3-0 league win over Brighton and Hove Albion at the Amex Stadium that moved United back into fifth, two points behind Chelsea in fourth.

That result means United have conceded just twice in their last eight Premier League games, with Solskjaer keen to stress it is because of a concerted effort from the whole side and not just the defence.

"You can see with the quality of the talent we have going forward that we have a foundation to play from," he told a media conference. "We have a good shape, do good pressing and have a back four that's used to each other.

"There's lots of reasons behind the clean sheets, which is the foundation for any good team.

"We know that we are 11 men attacking and defending – we defend from the front. We know how difficult it is to play Brighton and to stop them getting into a rhythm. We have a screen in front of the back four, which is difficult to get past. We're very happy with the shape and intensity."

Solskjaer is pleased with United's form since the return to action but is keen not to get carried away, given they are a whopping 34 points behind champions Liverpool.

"It's been good since the restart," he added. "We agreed what we wanted to do and we have come back fitter and stronger and we are ready to challenge.

"We have many games coming up we will keep changing, players are getting better and sharper and we have players who had a fantastic season who haven't played.

"We are too far behind to be on the road to something special [this season] but the team is improving. We are still in the FA Cup, Europa League and in the race for the Champions League."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has described Mason Greenwood as a "special kid" following his superb display in Manchester United's 3-0 Premier League win over Brighton and Hove Albion on Tuesday.

United cranked up the pressure on fourth-place Chelsea with an effortless win at the Amex Stadium, with Greenwood getting them on their way early on.

That was followed by two Bruno Fernandes strikes – the second of which was superbly set up by Greenwood after a flowing counter attack.

Solskjaer was full of praise for the 18-year-old and says he is destined for a bright future.

"Mason's first goal was brilliant and he played fantastically," he told Sky Sports. "He's a special kid, we know when he gets faced up he looks dangerous. His link up play was great today.

"He's got a knack of that. He can go inside or outside and he is developing into a fine player."

Solskjaer was also fulsome in his praise of Fernandes, who took his tally to five goals in eight Premier League games following his January move from Sporting CP.

The 25-year-old has quickly become an instrumental figure for the Red Devils and his boss is delighted with his "winning mentality".

"We have some top players and Bruno has come and been fantastic," he told BBC Sport. "He has brought that winning mentality with him; that 99 per cent is not good enough – it has to be 100 per cent."

Bruno Fernandes insists Manchester United can secure a top-four finish in the Premier League this season.

The Portuguese was in scintillating form on Tuesday, scoring twice as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side ran out 3-0 winners over Brighton and Hove Albion at the Amex Stadium.

The result moves United two points behind fourth-placed Chelsea, who play their game in hand against West Ham on Wednesday.

Fernandes – who has now scored five goals in his first eight Premier League games for the club since his January move from Sporting CP – is unfazed by a potential five-point gap with just six games to play and remains confident they can secure Champions League football for next season.

"We are fighting for a place in the Champions League and we know we can achieve this," he told Sky Sports.

"The most important thing is the three points but we played well and the result was good. We didn't concede again, which is important.

"We knew that we needed to push forwards and to try and score from minute one. I was lucky with the first goal and the second goal was amazing, an amazing pass from Mason [Greenwood]."

Paul Pogba teed up Fernandes for his first goal but the 25-year-old did not want to single out the French World Cup winner for specific praise.

"I don't want to talk too much about me and Paul Pogba," he added.

"We are happy to play together but I am happy to play with everyone. We can combine together, we have qualities, but we know that we have team-mates who can do well."

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