Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has defended Jesse Lingard's poor start to the season, insisting his "energy" is important to the way Manchester United play.

Lingard, 26, struggled in the opening two games against Chelsea and Wolves and was hauled off after 56 minutes in Saturday's dismal 2-1 home defeat to Crystal Palace.

The England international has not scored in the Premier League since Solskjaer's first game in temporary charge against Cardiff City in December, but the United boss is adamant that he will remain an integral part of his side.

When asked if he was concerned by Lingard's form, Solskjaer said: "No. We stick together.

"Jesse's not scored any goals in the last three games, no, but he's been a big part of our team and will continue being an important part.

"The energy he gives us is lively, but we felt Mason [Greenwood] had to come on and create something and we'll see more of Mason."

Alexis Sanchez was once again overlooked amid the possibility of a switch to Serie A side Inter.

Solskjaer concedes the Chile international might well leave Old Trafford but is prepared to use him if he stays.

"Alexis is a quality player and we don't have loads of options," he added. 

"So, if there's an offer good enough for the club and him, maybe he'll go. If not, he's still our player and he's a quality player, no doubt. He's been training well."

Luke Shaw was replaced in the first half by Ashley Young after feeling tightness in his hamstring, although Solskjaer is hopeful he will be fit enough for the trip to Southampton next weekend.

"We will do the scans [Sunday] but he felt something in his hamstring," the manager said. "Hopefully he won't be too bad and will be back for Southampton."

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said he was "lost for words" after Marcus Rashford suffered racist abuse on social media on Saturday.

Rashford missed a second-half penalty as United suffered a shock 2-1 defeat to Crystal Palace at Old Trafford - their first loss of the new season.

The Red Devils were trailing to Jordan Ayew's first-half effort when Rashford smashed a spot-kick off the inside of the left-hand post, just five days after Paul Pogba had missed from 12 yards in the 1-1 draw with Wolves.

Pogba was subjected to vile social media abuse after that miss and there were similar posts targeting Rashford after the Palace game.

Solskjaer called on companies such as Twitter to do more to stop abusers "hiding behind fake identities" after Pogba was targeted, and he has again called for action to be taken.

Speaking after the match, Solskjaer said: "It's the same as we spoke about before the weekend: it's unheard of and it needs to stop.

"I'm lost for words. We keep having all these campaigns, and they keep hiding behind fake identities. It's just crazy that we talk about this in 2019."

The abuse was condemned by anti-discrimination body Kick It Out, who tweeted: "This problem will not go away and needs decisive action - that's what we'll be making clear to Twitter when we meet."

United levelled late on through Daniel James only for Patrick van Aanholt to snatch a winner in the third minute of injury time.

Solskjaer's side next face Southampton away from home next Saturday.

After Manchester United put four past Chelsea in their opening Premier League game of the season, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was not fixating on the three points.

"We have to look behind the results. I would have said the same if we'd had a different result," he insisted. "We know it's just the start and there are relationships to be worked on. The more we understand each other and get to play with each other and show that we're a team, it's going to improve."

The United manager will doubtless look beyond the result on Saturday, when Crystal Palace produced a true smash-and-grab at Old Trafford to win there for the first time in the Premier League era. Solskjaer could argue the Red Devils were dominant, committed to attacking football, unlucky at crucial moments. They were.

But that 4-0 win over Chelsea is United's only league victory at home since April 13. In that sense, Palace's victory is no aberration; it's a pattern to home games that Solskjaer seems unable to address.

The statistics tell you this was a match United should never have lost. They had 22 shots to Palace's five, 71 per cent of the possession, and a second missed penalty in as many games. The visitors scored with two of their three efforts on target, the first a simple finish for Andrew Ayew, the injury-time winner yet another moment to forget for David de Gea in 2019 as Patrick van Aanholt's strike found its way through the Spain goalkeeper.

United can also point to some bad luck, and two questionable decisions from referee Paul Tierney. Debutant Gary Cahill was fortunate not to be sent off for stopping Anthony Martial's clear route to goal, and Martin Kelly's manhandling of the forward as he drove into the penalty area in the second half went strangely unpunished.

They will also likely highlight how Palace contrived to score with their first shot at the end of their first foray into the United box, all from goalkeeper Vicente Guaita's clearance. But that was a goal of United's own making.

Victor Lindelof will probably bear most of the criticism for failing to win the header against Jeffrey Schlupp that sent Ayew through, but there should be a serious inquest into how the goalscorer was able to wander past Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay in midfield and not be tracked by £80million man Harry Maguire.

Then there was the penalty, Luka Milivojevic rightly punished for tripping McTominay only for the frustrating Marcus Rashford's effort to clatter the inside of the left-hand post, cross the six-yard box and go out for a goal kick. At least there had been no argument about the taker this time.

Even after Daniel James scored a fine equaliser, United still found a way to ruin their day in the Salford sun. With too many tired players committed forward, Wilfried Zaha broke through, the ball fell to Van Aanholt, and De Gea was beaten at the near post after an hour of having nothing to do.

Solskjaer will feel aggrieved about losing a match where his side had such dominance and where fortune simply wasn't in their favour, but no amount of bad luck should excuse a first home defeat to Palace in 30 years, especially a Palace team that have already lost to Sheffield United and failed to score against Everton.

Instead, the manager should consider whether his vaunted backing of a young and - against Palace, too often naive - attack might hold him back in his first full season in charge. Would it really be so terrible to give Alexis Sanchez, a player apparently being encouraged to leave on loan to Inter, another chance in the squad? Would restoring Fred and Nemanja Matic to the first-team picture at least give Solskjaer more options to change difficult situations for the better?

This is not quite the time for panic at United. Four points from Chelsea at home and Wolves away was a solid start, even if this was an appalling way to come back down to earth, and not even the most optimistic of fans have ever really considered them title challengers to Manchester City and Liverpool anyway.

But Solskjaer would do well to look very closely at this 2-1 scoreline, at how his team contrived to hand victory to their opponents as they chased a winner themselves, and give very serious thought to how he can stop it happening again.

Crystal Palace recorded the biggest shock of the new Premier League season by winning away to Manchester United thanks to Patrick van Aanholt's stoppage-time strike.

Roy Hodgson's men had taken only one point from their opening two games but triumphed 2-1 at Old Trafford, with Marcus Rashford missing the first penalty of his career.

Chelsea recorded their first victory under Frank Lampard by winning 3-2 away to Norwich City in the early game, with table-toppers Liverpool and Arsenal facing off in the late kick-off.

Prior to the game at Anfield, all five away teams won in the top flight on Saturday - Southampton, Leicester City and West Ham defeated Brighton and Hove Albion, Sheffield United and Watford respectively.

PENALTY PROBLEMS PERSIST FOR SOLSKJAER'S SIDE

United dominated at home to Palace, yet lost Luke Shaw to injury and found themselves beaten by a pair of goals scored on the break – securing Palace their maiden Premier League victory at the home of the Red Devils.

Having been pegged back at Wolves on Monday, United again struggled for attacking fluency. Rashford endured a difficult day in attack and Jordan Ayew's first-half goal opened the scoring against the run of play.

Replays appeared to show United should have been given a penalty when Martin Kelly seemed to drag Anthony Martial to the ground in the box, but they could not take advantage when Paul Tierney did point to the spot when Luka Milivojevic felled Scott McTominay.

Paul Pogba failed to score a penalty at Molineux after Rashford threw him the ball and this time the England striker stepped up, his effort crashing back off the inside of the post.

United did level late on, Daniel James curling home a beauty after he was booked for simulation for the second time this term, but Palace snatched it at the death when David de Gea let Van Aanholt's drive through his hands.


YOUNG LIONS GET LAMPARD UP AND RUNNING

Chelsea were winless in their first three games under Frank Lampard but triumphed in a five-goal thriller at Carrow Road thanks to two of their youngsters.

Mason Mount scored for the second Premier League game in a row yet it was Tammy Abraham who grabbed the headlines with a brace, including the winner.

Norwich equalised twice, the second time thanks to Teemu Pukki's fifth Premier League goal of the season, but were overpowered by the Blues in the end.

HALLER OFF THE MARK AS WATFORD LOSE AGAIN

Sebastien Haller scored his first Premier League goals as he scored twice in West Ham's 3-1 win at Watford, with Javi Gracia's side bottom of the table following a third straight defeat.

Southampton were also without a point after two matches but Moussa Djenepo inspired them to a 2-0 victory at Brighton, scoring within two minutes of his arrival as a second-half substitute. Nathan Redmond wrapped up the result in added time.

Harvey Barnes' stunning strike earned Leicester their first Premier League win of the season, firing home a first-time thunderbolt after Oliver McBurnie's header cancelled out Jamie Vardy's opener at Bramall Lane.

Manchester United slumped to their first Premier League defeat of the season as David De Gea's mistake handed Crystal Palace a 2-1 win at Old Trafford.

Daniel James' superb 89th-minute strike looked to have salvaged a point for United, who fell behind to Jordan Ayew's first-half effort.

Luka Milivojevic's 69th-minute foul on Scott McTominay had handed United a lifeline, but Marcus Rashford - who Ole Gunnar Solskjaer confirmed is one of two designated penalty takers following Paul Pogba's miss against Wolves - struck his spot-kick against the upright.

James' sensational finish seemed to have sounded a victory charge, but De Gea failed to make what should have been a simple near-post save from Patrick van Aanholt's 93rd-minute attempt, as Palace claimed their first league win over United since 1991.

Manchester United suffered a potentially significant blow after Luke Shaw sustained an apparent hamstring injury against Crystal Palace.

Left-back Shaw has been plagued by fitness problems throughout his United career and looks set for another spell on the sidelines.

Shaw darted forward just before the half-hour mark before offloading possession while clutching his right hamstring.

The England international walked off the pitch after receiving medical attention and, although he attempted to play on, Shaw was replaced by club captain Ashley Young in the 34th minute, just after Palace took the lead through Jordan Ayew.

United's backline had looked generally settled in the opening weeks of the season, with Shaw joined by Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof as the first-choice back four.

Shaw's injury is the first disruption of the season to that area of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's team.

He could also potentially now be a doubt for England's upcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers against Bulgaria and Kosovo in September, though he was not selected for the Nations League Finals earlier this year.

Barcelona have a plan to land Neymar and the star forward's demands now appear to be known.

The Neymar saga is not yet over and it remains to be seen if the Brazil international will leave Paris Saint-Germain before the transfer window closes on September 2.

But Barcelona have a new plan to bring Neymar – who they sold to PSG for €222million two years ago – back to Camp Nou.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA HAVE NEYMAR PLAN AS STAR DEMANDS €35M PER SEASON

Barcelona have worked out a new formula to convince PSG to sell Neymar to them, according to Spanish newspaper Sport.

The LaLiga champions will offer cash and a player to the Ligue 1 giants this year and PSG can choose between either another player or more money in 2020, the report says.

Meanwhile, Neymar, 27, wants €35m net per season and a five-year deal, according to Spanish television show Jugones.

ROUND-UP

- Alexis Sanchez's possible move from Manchester United to Inter is developing slowly. The Serie A giants are confident of signing the attacker in the next few days amid talks about the division of Sanchez's wage, according to Italian journalist Fabrizio Romano.

- With Renato Sanches having left for Lille, Bayern Munich may be looking for a replacement. The Bundesliga champions remain interested in Espanyol midfielder Marc Roca, according to AS. However, Bayern want to pay €18m while the LaLiga side are hoping for Roca's release clause – €40m.

- Valencia are eyeing a move for Radamel Falcao after the Monaco striker ended talks with Galatasaray, reports AS. The Colombia international was heavily linked with a move to the Turkish giants, but Valencia may be looking for cover for Rodrigo, who could leave for Atletico Madrid.

- Also in Turkey, Rafinha is close to leaving Barcelona for Fenerbahce, according to O Jogo. Rafinha had been linked with a move to Valencia, but the 26-year-old could now be heading to Fenerbahce.

- Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting has had few chances since joining PSG in 2018, but the forward has no plans to leave, according to L'Equipe. Lecce had been linked with a move for the Cameroon international.

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer played down expectations around Paul Pogba, saying the midfielder could not be Roy Keane, Juan Sebastian Veron, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and Eric Cantona in one player.

Pogba remains at Old Trafford despite being linked with a move away throughout the close season, but the 26-year-old was criticised after missing a penalty during a draw at Wolves on Monday.

Solskjaer has praised the France midfielder's all-round abilities, but warned United could be asking for too much from Pogba.

"We can all see Paul was disappointed when he missed a penalty. He doesn't deserve this," he told reporters on Friday.

"He is, as I've said so many times, and he's said it himself, when you sign for Man United, you become a Manc and, once a Manc is always a Manc, and he gives his absolute everything for the club every week.

"He expects a lot from himself as well, so it doesn't frustrate me. We expect a lot from him, but we know we can't get Roy Keane, Veron, Scholes, Giggs, Cantona in one player. It's hard, but he's a top, top player.

"I know people expect him to do absolutely everything on a football pitch, but he's got so many qualities that we're seeing different qualities from Paul this year, compared to last season, and he's a leader in the group. So, I expect the fans to be behind him, yes."

Pogba was criticised for taking the penalty against Wolves just a week after Marcus Rashford had converted a spot-kick in a resounding victory over Chelsea.

But Solskjaer, whose side host Crystal Palace on Saturday, confirmed that duo were still on penalty duties for United.

"I'm sure you're going to see Paul Pogba score a pen for United again," he said.

"We're practising pens still and Marcus and Paul are still on them."

Aaron Wan-Bissaka insists he was not nervous before his Manchester United debut and says his confidence grows with every tackle for the Premier League giants.

Wan-Bissaka joined United from Crystal Palace during the close season for £50million and has impressed in his early appearances.

The England Under-21 international only became a regular at Palace last term, yet he insists there have been no nerves since the switch to the grander surroundings of Old Trafford.

Indeed, Wan-Bissaka, who has made 75 tackles in the Premier League in 2019, more than any other defender, is thriving from the support his combative displays are receiving.

"I just like to play my game, play without fear, do what I'm capable of doing," he told United's official website before facing Palace for the first time this weekend.

"Was I nervous before my debut? No. Me? I block it out. I know what nerves can do. Nerves keep you quiet.

"I'm just waiting for the game to start. I'm in the changing room, just waiting, thinking, 'Can this game hurry up and start?'

"The longer it takes, that's when the nerves could come in. So I just want to get the waiting over and done with. I just want to get into the game, get the ball as much as possible. That stops the nerves.

"Then I like to get the tackles in, because I get a lot of confidence from tackles. The fans help as well, cheering them, so, after that, I want to get into the next one, then the next one. That helps."

Further discussing his approach, Wan-Bissaka added: "I love tackles, man. I want to come out with the most tackles from each game. That's my aim.

"I'm not really happy when I come out of a game without many tackles. At the same time, when I look back at it, it doesn't mean anything negative, necessarily.

"It might mean that the winger's not confident to keep on coming at me, for me to have the chance to tackle him.

"Wingers hate it. When I was a winger, I hated being tackled. When I attempted to beat a player and he slide-tackled me, I'd just think, 'I don’t want to go down there again', and change the route, change my play."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer praised Paul Pogba's character and expressed disbelief over the racism directed at the Manchester United midfielder on social media.

World Cup winner Pogba was the subject of discriminatory posts online after failing to convert a penalty in the 1-1 draw at Wolves on Monday.

United condemned the abuse and pledged to take the "strongest course of action available" ahead of a meeting between the club, Twitter and anti-discriminatory body Kick It Out.

Pogba's team-mates have spoken out in support of the France international in recent days while advocating for stricter identification protocols for social media users.

"Paul's fine, Paul's a strong character and it makes him stronger," Solskjaer said, speaking ahead of Saturday's match against Crystal Palace.

"When you speak to him he's fine and I just cannot be believe we're still sitting here in 2019 talking about these instances.

"Social media is a place where people can hide behind fake identifies. It's not down to me to change it but there are so many Ole Gunnar Solskjaers on Twitter, and I know it's not me.

"We've got to do something about it and the authorities have got to do something about it.

"You feel sorry for [the social media trolls], they must have problems themselves."

Solskjaer added: "We need to protect individuals and protect people. When there are death threats and racism, it's serious allegations, serious incidents.

"Sometimes you get annoyed, what can we do about it as Manchester United? We're not going to ban our players from using social media. We have to spread the good word instead.

"We can use it to spread good and have to stop those incidents."

Pogba's role as penalty taker at Molineux raised eyebrows, as Marcus Rashford had successfully converted a spot-kick in the 4-0 win over Chelsea on the opening weekend.

Solskjaer confirmed the pair would continue to share the responsibility but denied the players were left to their own devices when making decisions.

"It's not that I've left it to the players, we've nominated two and throughout the season you'll have games where they are not playing and it's good to know they're there and trusted to take penalties," the Red Devils boss said.

"It's not like anarchy and they can do whatever they want, we have a few, last year we had Marcus, Jesse [Lingard] and Paul.

"It's not left to them."

Alexis Sanchez is not certain to leave Manchester United even though there are ongoing transfer talks with interested clubs, according to manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Chile forward Sanchez was not in the matchday squad for United's first two Premier League games of the season with Chelsea and Wolves, having not taken part in any pre-season fixtures following his efforts at the Copa America.

The 30-year-old has been heavily linked with Inter, who have already signed Romelu Lukaku from United in this transfer window and are said to be interested in a loan deal.

It is claimed Sanchez's wage demands are proving a problem for the Nerazzurri, though, with Italy's transfer deadline just 10 days away.

Solskjaer appears unsure of what will happen with Sanchez, but he was pleased with his efforts in a behind-closed-doors friendly match against Sheffield United this week and does not seem desperate to see the player go.

"There's still talks with some clubs, but he played in that game and played well," Solskjaer told a news conference on Friday. "So, as I've said, he's working hard and let's see in September what's going to happen."

Lukaku caused a stir this week when a podcast apparently recorded while he was still a United player was published, in which the striker accused United of effectively nudging him out of the club by failing to protect him from public criticism and transfer speculation.

Solskjaer refused to become embroiled in the matter, saying: "I'm not going to dive into that one. That interview was made before the summer, wasn't it? When he was a Man United player? So, I think I'd rather not."

United host Crystal Palace at Old Trafford on Saturday after taking four points from their first two league matches of the season at home to Chelsea and away to Wolves.

Solskjaer has been encouraged by the fitness displayed in those performances, having been concerned by the way his players allowed their intensity to drop in matches towards the end of last season.

"The team spirt is great, we've got loads of energy and passion. You can see that with the way we went about the game with Wolverhampton," he said.

"I thought our pressing was excellent. We gave them five minutes in the second half and that was it, really, when they had the ball and pushed us back but, apart from that, the engine looks so much better.

"Everyone's fit and when you're physically fit it's easier to be mentally strong as well.

"[Palace] are a very organised team. They've got pace up front for counter-attacks, strong on set-pieces, so, of course, we know we have to do all parts of the game.

"We have to attack well, we have to win the ball back when we're losing it and we've got to be strong on set plays."

Solskjaer also confirmed that full-back Diogo Dalot is likely to be out of action until after the international break next month due to injury.

Will they, or won't they?

Barcelona are trying to re-sign wantaway Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar before the transfer window closes on September 2.

LaLiga rivals Real Madrid are also interested, so this is set to go down to the wire.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA RENEWING NEYMAR EFFORTS

According to Sport, Barcelona are preparing a fresh offer to prise Neymar from Paris Saint-Germain.

Barcelona have already reportedly had an initial loan deal turned down by PSG, who are determined to recoup the world-record €222million fee they spent on Neymar in 2017.

Real Madrid, however, are still said to be determined to trump Barca to the signing of the Brazilian forward.

 

ROUND-UP

- Should Neymar be granted his wish to leave PSG, the Ligue 1 holders are reportedly considering a move for Juventus forward Paulo Dybala. That is according to Tuttosport, after Dybala had been linked to Manchester United and Tottenham prior to the Premier League's transfer window closing.

- Marca also reports goalkeeper Keylor Navas is close to leaving Real Madrid for PSG. Navas wants out after reportedly being told he will be Thibaut Courtois' understudy this season.

Manchester United will not make an offer for Fernando Llorente, according to the Daily Mail. Llorente is a free agent after leaving Tottenham and reports in Italy linked the Spaniard to Old Trafford following Romelu Lukaku's move to Inter. However, the Red Devils are reportedly not interested in the veteran.

Inter are close to signing full-back Cristiano Biraghi from Serie A rivals Fiorentina, reports Calciomercato. Biraghi was part of Inter's youth academy before moving on to the likes of Cittadella, Pescara and Fiorentina. Inter are said to be looking to include Dalbert in a swap deal for the Italy international.

Inter and United are continuing talks over Alexis Sanchez, claim Sky Sport Italia and Sportitalia. More discussions are reportedly planned, with United wanting Inter to cover more of the Chilean's salary during the proposed loan spell.

- According to The Telegraph, Leicester City midfielder Adrien Silva is poised to return to Monaco on loan. The Portugal international spent the second half of the 2018-19 season on loan at the Ligue 1 side. It comes after Sky Sport Italia reports AC Milan and Franck Kessie rejected Monaco's proposal for the midfielder.

Roma are weighing up a move for Atletico Madrid striker Nikola Kalinic, says Italian journalist Gianluca Di Marzio. After re-signing Edin Dzeko, Roma are reportedly considering Atletico fringe figure Kalinic if Patrik Schick and Gregoire Defrel leave.

Anthony Martial believes his training ground scoring competitions with Marcus Rashford are helping to give Manchester United an extra edge this season.

Romelu Lukaku's departure to Inter has placed an extra onus upon Rashford and Martial, who have two goals apiece in the Premier League after United's opening games against Chelsea and Wolves.

Martial has regained the club's number nine shirt and is revelling as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's attacking spearhead, with Rashford operating to the left of the France international and linking pleasingly.

"At training, we have this competition between us about scoring goals," Martial told Sky Sports. "We measure who does the best finishing and who scores the most.

"Who's winning? Well, that depends... Sometimes it's him, sometimes it's me. In games, Marcus likes to play in the middle, like me. I don't mind dropping off, dropping out, we interchange during games.

"It doesn't bother me to let him take the lead occasionally. It helps us to terrorise opposition defences and I hope we can keep it up over the course of the season."

Martial joined the ranks of players expressing solidarity with Paul Pogba, after his countryman was subjected to online racist abuse in the aftermath of his penalty miss in the 1-1 draw at Molineux.

"It's something you can't really eradicate from society," he said. "Out there on the pitch, we can't do anything about it per se.

"As players, we are there among white people, black people, people of all colours.

"The French expression is 'we're all the same'. Bans should be brought about for people who give out this hatred.

"People go to football stadiums to have a good time and enjoy the game, and there's no place for it. I'm in favour of the love, not the hate."

United are set to meet representatives from Twitter over the coming weeks to discuss possible solutions with regards to players being abused on the social media site.

Axel Witsel could have joined Real Madrid, Juventus, Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain at various points in his career but feels vindicated in his decision to sign for Borussia Dortmund last year.

Witsel is in his second season at Dortmund, having joined the Bundesliga club from Chinese side Tianjin Quanjin on a four-year contract.

He narrowly missed out on the Bundesliga title in his debut campaign. However, Witsel believes he is at the right club after possible moves to other European heavyweights did not come to pass.

Speaking to Goal and DAZN, the former Zenit midfielder detailed how he missed out on joining Madrid from Benfica before electing to return to Zenit ahead of moving to Juve.

"I could have joined Real Madrid when Jose Mourinho was there," Witsel said. "But then Real signed Luka Modric, so a transfer to Madrid made no sense to me.

"Shortly before the end of the transfer period Zenit called. I had good discussions with the people responsible and finally agreed. I am an open person and was not afraid of Russia.

"My contract with Zenit expired and I wanted to move to Turin to Juventus. I had already passed the medical check and actually only had to sign the contract.

"I waited all day in the office and Zenit told me to come back. In retrospect, that was perhaps a twist of fate. Maybe it was just not the right time."

United and PSG were said to be in the running for his signature in 2018, but the prospect of regular first-team football convinced Witsel to choose Dortmund instead.

"First [Dortmund sporting director] Michael Zorc approached me, then [coach] Lucien Favre called me," Witsel added.

"I also had other offers, maybe I could have gone to Paris or Manchester, but I did not want to wait. And I had the feeling that I was the first choice for Dortmund. It is important to feel good when you go to a new club.

"So after the talks with Zorc, Favre and [CEO] Hans-Joachim Watzke, I decided to join BVB. Dortmund is a top club - and I really wanted to join a top European club.

"Maybe it was my last chance at 29 years old. It was the right decision."

Ryan Giggs is pleased Gareth Bale's Real Madrid future has for now been resolved but he still would have picked the forward for Wales had he moved to China.

Bale appeared to be on the brink of a switch to Chinese Super League club Jiangsu Suning amid an apparent breakdown in relations with Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane.

However, that prospective transfer fell through and Zidane has since indicated Bale will be staying at Madrid beyond the end of the transfer window.

Speaking after naming his squad for the Euro 2020 qualifier with Azerbaijan next month, Wales manager Giggs said: "I kept in touch with him [Bale] to see if he was all right.

"It was a strange situation but hopefully now it's sorted out - Gareth stays and plays games.

"It's obviously positive at the moment, I'm really pleased with the situation and looking forward to meeting up."

Asked what impact a move to China would have had on Bale's international career, Giggs replied: "It wouldn't have been ideal.

"It's a preference for your players to be in Europe with the travelling and the different calendars, but I'd still have picked him."

Former Manchester United star Giggs believes the Red Devils' Welsh winger Daniel James requires more protection from referees.

James was booked for simulation in United's 1-1 draw with Wolves, in which he was persistently fouled.

"You've seen he gets kicked a lot," Giggs added of James.

"Sometimes when you anticipate it, it can look live a dive. The speed he's going at it can look worse, but I'm not worried about that.

"He gets a lot of stick and referees need to protect him."

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