Manchester United have left it late again, but they are finally adding more new faces to the squad in this transfer window in the form of Edinson Cavani and Alex Telles.

Cavani, who has been a free agent since leaving Paris Saint-Germain in June, is reportedly joining the Red Devils on a one-year contract with the option of a second, while Telles arrives from Porto in a deal worth in the region of £15.4million (€17m).

Cavani became PSG's record goalscorer in his seven years in France, scoring 200 times in all competitions to help them to win 19 trophies.

He certainly has the pedigree to be a strong addition to the United ranks, but they have endured mixed fortunes in the past when it comes to South American signings.

Here are their previous 18, ranked from worst to best...

18. Rodrigo Possebon (2008-10)

Possebon squeaks onto this list as a Brazil-born player, even though he represented Italy at youth level.

Signed by United from Internacional in 2008, he mustered three league appearances before a fruitless loan to Braga and then a return to Brazil. He last played for Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.

 

17. Radamel Falcao (2014-15)

Falcao, the man who tore through defences for fun with Porto, Atletico Madrid and Monaco, looked as though he had practically forgotten how to play football when he pulled on the red shirt at United, even if he did manage four goals in 26 Premier League appearances.

Just to rub it in, he returned to Monaco in 2016 and promptly became brilliant again. He's now at Galatasaray.

16. Kleberson (2003-05)

A World Cup winner snapped up for approximately £6.5million - what could possibly go wrong? Pretty much everything, it turns out.

Kleberson played 20 league games between 2003 and 2005 before being shipped out to Besiktas.

 

15. Guillermo Varela (2013-17)

Becoming David Moyes' first signing was probably never going to work out for the best.

Varela spent four years at United, two of which saw him leave on loan, before he went to Penarol to get his career back up and running. He now plays for Copenhagen and started in the 1-0 loss to his old club in last season's Europa League quarter-final.

 

14. Alexis Sanchez (2018-19)

He had some moments - the winner in the comeback against Newcastle United, the FA Cup strike against old club Arsenal - but they did not exactly justify the reported basic wage of £300,000 per week.

Sanchez has gone some way towards rekindling his career alongside good friend Romelu Lukaku at Inter - another player who could not convince Ole Gunnar Solskjaer of his importance.

 

13. Angel Di Maria (2014-15)

His audacious lob against Leicester City showed the sort of quality he could offer United as a then-British record signing (£60m, according to reports). Sadly, in that same game, United collapsed to lose 5-3 and Louis van Gaal seemed to lose all faith in attacking football of any kind.

Di Maria never seemed to gel with Van Gaal, nor did he ever settle in Manchester, and he was sold to Paris Saint-Germain for a loss within a year. He has, of course, been exceptional in France.

 

12. Andreas Pereira (2011-)

A Brazil international born in Belgium, Pereira had a long wait to break into United's first team on a regular basis. Many supporters are still wondering when he will justify the patience.

The midfielder has talent, for sure, but whether he has enough to become a mainstay over the coming years remains to be seen. He was given plenty of opportunities to impress last season but failed to do so consistently, and a loan move to Lazio for 2020-21 was considered the best for all parties.

 

11. Juan Sebastian Veron (2001-03)

Veron is another expensive Argentina star who scored a memorable goal in a 5-3 game for United - on that occasion, it was when they came from 3-0 down to beat Tottenham at White Hart Lane.

Veron was a good example of the right player signed at the wrong time. United still had great quality in midfield in 2001, when Veron joined from Lazio; within a couple of years, that strength in depth had evaporated, and the world's most right-footed footballer would have been a welcome addition.

 

10. Anderson (2007-15)

A combative, hard-working presence in the United midfield, Anderson seemed to have a peculiar habit of kicking the ball as hard as possible regardless of whether he was shooting from 35 yards out or passing to a team-mate behind him.

He certainly got a huge medal haul – seven major trophies in eight years, no less – but his crowning achievement at Old Trafford was having a song to the tune of Black Lace's 1984 hit 'Agadoo'. And, yes, he was better than Kleberson.

 

9. Fred (2018-)

Like Sanchez, Fred was said to be a man coveted by Manchester City only for United and Jose Mourinho to get in the way. Like Sanchez, the £47m midfielder proved initially to be a redundant presence in the squad, apparently not valued by Solskjaer.

Unlike Sanchez, Fred has managed to prove his worth to the manager and was arguably their most consistent midfielder in 2019-20. His place in the first XI is far from guaranteed, though, after Donny van de Beek's arrival from Ajax.

 

8. Marcos Rojo (2014-)

Injuries, including serious knee damage, and a proclivity for a reckless challenge or two have dogged Rojo's past couple of seasons and may leave many wondering why he is so high in this list.

Well, it's easy to forget the important part he played in Mourinho's first season, when United won the EFL Cup and Europa League. Such was his determination to run through the proverbial brick wall for his boss, he asked for a banana to give him an energy boost while playing in the last-16 win over Rostov.

 

7. Fabio (2008-14)

Whether or not he really was the most talented of the Da Silva twins, as was claimed, Fabio was certainly not the most effective in his Old Trafford career, although he won plenty of silverware.

Although a full-back by trade, Fabio made two rather decisive appearances in midfield for United. One was in a 2-0 FA Cup victory over Arsenal, when Alex Ferguson somehow pulled off a win with Fabio, Rafael, Darron Gibson and John O'Shea as the central four; the other was during a 3-2 home defeat to Blackburn Rovers on New Year's Eve in 2011, a match that convinced Paul Pogba he had no immediate future at the club.

 

6. Diego Forlan (2002-04)

Forlan's best days were after he left Old Trafford, when he would become a fine forward for Villarreal and Atletico Madrid. He retired last year to a general hum of respect and admiration.

United fans will always remember him for a winning double against Liverpool in 2002, but his talent was just a little too raw for him to establish himself in the north west permanently. Still, he won the Premier League and FA Cup and cost under £7m.

 

5. Rafael (2008-15)

A popular figure like his brother, Rafael simply offered more quality and consistency in the United team, his best season coming as first-choice right-back when they last won the league in 2012-13.

Van Gaal was not a big fan, so he was sold to Lyon in 2015. Five good years in France came and went and he now plays for Istanbul Basaksehir, meaning he will get an Old Trafford reunion in this season's Champions League group stages.

4. Gabriel Heinze (2004-07)

Although he was a touch heavy-handed with challenges at times - he really did like to lead with his elbows when jumping for headers - Heinze was an excellent player for United despite his second season being ruined by a major knee problem.

In fact, he would likely have stayed for longer had his place not been usurped by Patrice Evra, who was signed as cover following that injury and went on to become one of the club's finest full-backs in years.

 

3. Sergio Romero (2015-)

Okay, he has not played as often as others on this list, but Romero has essentially established himself as the most accomplished back-up goalkeeper in the world at United.

Hugely dependable when called upon, he was also first choice in the successful Europa League campaign of 2016-17 and kept a clean sheet in the final against Ajax. He has barely put a foot wrong.

 

2. Antonio Valencia (2009-19)

Some fans lost patience with him in his final few months, when he seemed to be phased out of the squad by Solskjaer with little explanation, but Valencia had a commendable career at United after joining from Wigan Athletic in 2009.

His decade at Old Trafford yielded two Premier Leagues, two EFL Cups, an FA Cup and a Europa League, as he marauded down the right flank as a wide midfielder and later as a first-rate converted full-back. He was the club's Players' Player of the Year twice, in 2011-12 (as a winger) and 2016-17 (as a defender), and served as club captain.

1. Carlos Tevez (2007-09)

He's not exactly the most popular man in the red half of Manchester given his move to City in 2009, but even the angriest of Red Devils cannot deny Tevez's impact.

He spearheaded an attack containing Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo - one of the most fearsome United have ever had - and led Ferguson's side to two Premier Leagues, an EFL Cup, a Club World Cup and the Champions League in just two years.

Barcelona forward Antoine Griezmann has no interest in leaving the LaLiga giants.

Speculation over the France international's future has increased amid his, and Barca's, struggles.

But the 29-year-old seemingly wants more than one season at Barcelona.

 

TOP STORY – GRIEZMANN NOT INTERESTED IN BARCELONA EXIT

Griezmann has no interest in leaving Barcelona, according to Le Parisien.

Since arriving from Atletico Madrid for €120million, Griezmann has managed just 14 goals in 43 games this season.

Griezmann was introduced as a 90th-minute substitute in Barca's 2-2 draw with his former club on Tuesday.

ROUND-UP

- Staying at Camp Nou and Quique Setien's future as Barcelona head coach remains a talking point after one win in four games. AS reports Setien is not in immediate danger but is far from safe, while Sport says his future is uncertain, although the club are hoping to keep him at the helm until the end of the season.

- Manchester City look set for a rebuild in the close season. The Guardian claims Bayern Munich defender David Alaba, who is out of contract next year, is a target for the Premier League giants.

- After making a stellar start to the season with Lyon before suffering a serious knee injury, Memphis Depay has been linked with a move. Le 10 Sport reports Arsenal want the attacker, who has 14 goals in 18 games this season.

- Carlos Tevez's future remains uncertain. Ole says the former Manchester United and Manchester City forward, 36, could retire as he struggles to agree to a new contract with Boca Juniors.

- With Bruno Lage on his way out as Benfica coach, the Portuguese giants are searching for a new boss. According to A Bola, Benfica have looked at the likes of Mauricio Pochettino, Ernesto Valverde and Laurent Blanc, but are now considering former Paris Saint-Germain and Arsenal coach Unai Emery.

- Tottenham defender Serge Aurier could be set for a move. Sky Sports reports Monaco are interested in the Ivory Coast right-back.

Arjen Robben's retirement lasted just a single season, as the Netherlands and Bayern Munich great announced on Saturday he is to return to boyhood club Groningen for the 2020-21 campaign.

Robben, 36, brought an illustrious playing career to an end last July shortly after his 10-year spell with Bayern came to an end.

Although at the time he was linked with a potential return to the team that gave him his professional debut, Robben - who suffered with numerous injury problems throughout his career - opted to retire.

But now he looks set to return, not only to top-tier football, but at the place where it all began.

In honour of Robben's return to his first club, we identified some other high-profile players who went to finish their careers back home.

Juan Roman Riquelme - Argentinos Juniors

Perhaps more synonymous with Boca Juniors, where he made his professional debut and also spent most of his final years, Riquelme also had a strong affinity with Argentinos Juniors. He came through the club's academy in the early-to-mid 1990s, before then finishing his immense career at Estadio Diego Maradona in 2014, having also played for Barcelona, Villarreal and Argentina. Although the iconic attacking midfielder appeared close to joining Paraguay's Cerro Porteno the following year, the move never materialised.

Dirk Kuyt - Quick Boys

Kuyt briefly came out of retirement two years ago to help Quick Boys, with whom he spent 13 years as a youth. Playing in the Derde Divisie Saturday league, Kuyt was already working as assistant at the time, but made himself available for selection during a striker shortage and he made three appearances. The former Netherlands and Liverpool forward had retired the year before following a second spell with Feyenoord, where he had made his initial breakthrough in the mid-2000s, his form at the time earning a move to Anfield.

Rafael Marquez - Atlas

One of Mexico's greatest players, Marquez's longevity at such a high level was nothing short of incredible, as he accumulated 147 international caps. After breaking into the Atlas team as a teenager having come through their academy, the elegant centre-back enjoyed a sparkling career in Europe, winning 14 titles across spells with Monaco and Barcelona. Time with New York Red Bulls, Leon and Hellas Verona followed, before a final two-year stint back at the Jalisco ended in 2018. Although plagued by off-field allegations towards the end of his career, Marquez went on to become the club's sporting president, before standing down last year to focus on other areas of the sport.

Juan Pablo Angel - Atletico Nacional

Angel perhaps never quite lived up to the expectations he set during his early days as part of River Plate's so-called 'Fantastic Four' with Javier Saviola, Ariel Ortega and Pablo Aimar, having joined from Colombia's Nacional. Nevertheless, he became a fan favourite at Aston Villa in the Premier League, before spending six years in MLS with New York Red Bulls, Los Angeles Galaxy and Chivas USA. In 2013 he returned to Nacional for two seasons, having left them in 1997. He called it quits in late 2014, just a few days after losing to his former club River in the final of the Copa Sudamericana. "I am ending my career with a final between the two clubs I love the most," he said.

Henrik Larsson - Hogaborgs

While the Swedish club most may associate with Larsson is Helsingborgs, he actually made the breakthrough at a smaller side – Hogaborgs. It was here where he trained from the age of six, before eventually becoming a regular in the senior side and earning a move to Helsingborgs. A trophy-laden career followed, taking him to Feyenoord, Celtic, Barcelona and Manchester United. Although he retired in 2009, he returned to the pitch for Raa in the Swedish third tier three years later, before then finding himself back in the team at Hogaborgs in 2013, helping out due to an injury crisis despite him only previously being registered to a casual team for 'seniors'. This gave him the chance to play alongside his son, Jordan.

Carlos Tevez - Boca Juniors

The Tevez-Boca love affair has dominated most of the striker's successful and complex career. After coming through their youth ranks, the feisty forward was seen as the heir to Maradona. A brief stint in Brazil with Corinthians followed, but Europe had long since beckoned, even if West Ham was by no means the expected destination. He went on to play for Manchester United and Manchester City, increasing tension between the clubs, before then going to Juventus, but throughout this time Tevez seemed to long for a return to Boca. He went back to La Bombonera in 2015, his homecoming interrupted by a brief spell with Shanghai Shenhua in 2017 in the Chinese Super League, though even Tevez acknowledged he saw his time in China as a "holiday". "He filled Santa's sack with dollars and now he has returned to Boca" was Maradona's assessment upon 'El Apache's' return from the CSL.

'Next Generation' is a series focusing on the young players tipped to establish themselves as the elite in the 2020s.

 

Fuerte Apache, Buenos Aires is an imposing sight. Like a skyrise jungle domineering over the run-down surroundings of small shops and bars, it holds a certain aura that is probably not helped by its reputation.

Ejercito de los Andes, to give its original name, received its more familiar moniker after a shootout in the estate was broadcast live on the news. The 1981 film 'Fort Apache, The Bronx' is where the nickname came from, and it stuck.

Carlos Tevez is the barrio's most famous son. The former Manchester United, Manchester City, Juventus and Argentina star's face is prominent in numerous places around the estate, with several murals dedicated to him.

While the biggest – and most iconic – piece in tribute to the forward can be seen on the north edge, facing away from the estate, there is another deep inside Fuerte Apache.

Here, fittingly, Tevez looks out over the football pitch of Roger 'Didi' Ruiz, the coach who discovered him, and where Argentina's next great hope crafted his skills.

First there was Tevez, now Fuerte Apache expects of Thiago Almada.

From Tevez's patch to Velez

As early as four years old, Almada – like Tevez before him – was playing with Club Santa Clara in Fuerte Apache. By five he was signed up by Velez Sarsfield, but he continued to represent his local side as well.

For Almada, a silky attacking midfielder, football has offered a legitimate route to a better life. Even though he accepts the area isn't quite as dangerous as it was in Tevez's time, trouble was still frequent in his youth.

"In the neighbourhood, there are a lot of people who chose the wrong path. It is one way or the other, and I also chose," he told Diario Clarin in 2017, when he was still a part of Velez's youth setup.

But he wouldn't be for much longer. A little over a year later, in August 2018, Almada made his first-team debut as a 17-year-old, appearing for 26 minutes in the 2018-19 Superliga opener against Newell's Old Boys.

He went on to play a total of 16 league matches that season under the tutelage of Gabriel Heinze, generally operating through the middle or off the left, but such prominence at a young age in Argentina does not go unnoticed by bigger European clubs, and it caused fractions.

Velez were understandably concerned about Almada being poached and, with his contract set to expire in June 2020, for a period it seemed realistic he could leave for pittance.

The situation led to speculation claiming Heinze had grown frustrated with Almada, though the coach furiously denied this in a news conference last year, saying: "Tell that journalist that he is a liar and he is absolutely wrong. There are two people here, it's me and it's Thiago. I tell him that they have a lying journalist and the information is a lie. My relationship with Thiago remains the same."

"All the goals were scored by him"

In September, Velez finally tied Almada down to a new four-year contract. As much as anything, it provided the Liniers club with greater financial security, increasing his release clause from a reported €14million to a figure that will reportedly reach €25m after August 31. Directors could breathe a sigh of relief.

Man City had been lurking. With reports of Almada's agent travelling to Europe for talks with other clubs, a feeling of deja vu would have been justifiable for Velez, who lost Benjamin Garre – a former youth-team colleague of Almada – to the Premier League giants for a nominal fee in 2016.

While Almada's rise has been impressive – he has played 22 times in the Superliga this term – it cannot be said that no one saw it coming.

Turu Flores, a former Velez player, spent five years on the coaching staff of the club's senior side, including a 12-month stint as head coach. In that time, watching the youth teams was a regular occurrence for him, and one kid always seemed to stand out.

"I've known Thiago since he was a child," Flores told Stats Perform News. "He is a friend of my son and already had an incredible impact when he was 14 years old. I remember him when he was 12, 13 or 14 years old. At that time I was working for Velez and I used to go and see him playing. He used to start as a central midfielder, but the matches would finish 3-0 or 4-0 and all the goals were scored by him. So, you could already envisage that he has the potential to make important things in football."

'Welcome to Manchester', part two?

A wonderful technician, it's easy to see why City might see Almada as a long-term replacement for David Silva, even if they already possess Phil Foden. But having missed out on him last year, there's reportedly growing interest from elsewhere – United, Inter and Atletico Madrid have all been mentioned as admirers.

It remains to be seen if Almada emulates Tevez and causes another tug-of-war between the Manchester giants, but whoever manages to prise him away from Velez will potentially get themselves a generational talent.

"He is very young and has a long journey ahead of him, a lot to learn, but he has incredible conditions," Flores adds. "He's got a great shot and amazing vision. His vision is not common anymore, you don't see it, or we haven't seen it for a long time. This kind of player comes from the playground, how he controls the ball, how he hits the ball. He is one of the last players that grew up in the street playgrounds."

That style of play is also reflected by his idolising of Juan Roman Riquelme, who invited him to a barbecue after seeing him play earlier this season. "He got my number, texted me and invited me. He is my idol – I could not believe it," Almada told Infobae in October.

Like Riquelme at Boca Juniors in the 1990s, Almada is already a significant influence at Velez despite being a teenager, even if only 10 of his league appearances this term have come as a starter.

With nine goals since making his debut, he is – remarkably – Velez's top-scorer, and only five players have featured more regularly than him.

In terms of chance creation, he's laid on 54 key passes since August 2018, the second most of Velez players, and his dribbling excellence is also quantifiable.

He has attempted 121 take-ons in senior football, completing 60 per cent – of Velez players, only Gaston Gimenez (67 per cent) has a better completion rate than Almada.

Explosive, technically outstanding and creative, there is much to like about his game. More dynamic than Riquelme and arguably a greater natural talent than Tevez, Almada's future looks exciting.

Tevez may have blazed a trail out of Fuerte Apache for Almada to follow, potentially even to Manchester, but there's every chance the teenager could one day be held in even higher regard than Carlitos.

'Next Generation' is a series focusing on the young players tipped to establish themselves as the elite in the 2020s.

 

Fuerte Apache, Buenos Aires is an imposing sight. Like a skyrise jungle domineering over the run-down surroundings of small shops and bars, it holds a certain aura that is probably not helped by its reputation.

Ejercito de los Andes, to give its original name, received its more familiar moniker after a shootout in the estate was broadcast live on the news. The 1981 film 'Fort Apache, The Bronx' is where the nickname came from, and it stuck.

Carlos Tevez is the barrio's most famous son. The former Manchester United, Manchester City, Juventus and Argentina star's face is prominent in numerous places around the estate, with several murals dedicated to him.

While the biggest – and most iconic – piece in tribute to the forward can be seen on the north edge, facing away from the estate, there is another deep inside Fuerte Apache.

Here, fittingly, Tevez looks out over the football pitch of Roger 'Didi' Ruiz, the coach who discovered him, and where Argentina's next great hope crafted his skills.

First there was Tevez, now Fuerte Apache expects of Thiago Almada.

From Tevez's patch to Velez

As early as four years old, Almada – like Tevez before him – was playing with Club Santa Clara in Fuerte Apache. By five he was signed up by Velez Sarsfield, but he continued to represent his local side as well.

For Almada, a silky attacking midfielder, football has offered a legitimate route to a better life. Even though he accepts the area isn't quite as dangerous as it was in Tevez's time, trouble was still frequent in his youth.

"In the neighbourhood, there are a lot of people who chose the wrong path. It is one way or the other, and I also chose," he told Diario Clarin in 2017, when he was still a part of Velez's youth setup.

But he wouldn't be for much longer. A little over a year later, in August 2018, Almada made his first-team debut as a 17-year-old, appearing for 26 minutes in the 2018-19 Superliga opener against Newell's Old Boys.

He went on to play a total of 16 league matches that season under the tutelage of Gabriel Heinze, generally operating through the middle or off the left, but such prominence at a young age in Argentina does not go unnoticed by bigger European clubs, and it caused fractions.

Velez were understandably concerned about Almada being poached and, with his contract set to expire in June 2020, for a period it seemed realistic he could leave for pittance.

The situation led to speculation claiming Heinze had grown frustrated with Almada, though the coach furiously denied this in a news conference last year, saying: "Tell that journalist that he is a liar and he is absolutely wrong. There are two people here, it's me and it's Thiago. I tell him that they have a lying journalist and the information is a lie. My relationship with Thiago remains the same."

"All the goals were scored by him"

In September, Velez finally tied Almada down to a new four-year contract. As much as anything, it provided the Liniers club with greater financial security, increasing his release clause from a reported €14million to a figure that will reportedly reach €25m after August 31. Directors could breathe a sigh of relief.

Man City had been lurking. With reports of Almada's agent travelling to Europe for talks with other clubs, a feeling of deja vu would have been justifiable for Velez, who lost Benjamin Garre – a former youth-team colleague of Almada – to the Premier League giants for a nominal fee in 2016.

While Almada's rise has been impressive – he has played 22 times in the Superliga this term – it cannot be said that no one saw it coming.

Turu Flores, a former Velez player, spent five years on the coaching staff of the club's senior side, including a 12-month stint as head coach. In that time, watching the youth teams was a regular occurrence for him, and one kid always seemed to stand out.

"I've known Thiago since he was a child," Flores told Stats Perform News. "He is a friend of my son and already had an incredible impact when he was 14 years old. I remember him when he was 12, 13 or 14 years old. At that time I was working for Velez and I used to go and see him playing. He used to start as a central midfielder, but the matches would finish 3-0 or 4-0 and all the goals were scored by him. So, you could already envisage that he has the potential to make important things in football."

'Welcome to Manchester', part two?

A wonderful technician, it's easy to see why City might see Almada as a long-term replacement for David Silva, even if they already possess Phil Foden. But having missed out on him last year, there's reportedly growing interest from elsewhere – United, Inter and Atletico Madrid have all been mentioned as admirers.

It remains to be seen if Almada emulates Tevez and causes another tug-of-war between the Manchester giants, but whoever manages to prise him away from Velez will potentially get themselves a generational talent.

"He is very young and has a long journey ahead of him, a lot to learn, but he has incredible conditions," Flores adds. "He's got a great shot and amazing vision. His vision is not common anymore, you don't see it, or we haven't seen it for a long time. This kind of player comes from the playground, how he controls the ball, how he hits the ball. He is one of the last players that grew up in the street playgrounds."

That style of play is also reflected by his idolising of Juan Roman Riquelme, who invited him to a barbecue after seeing him play earlier this season. "He got my number, texted me and invited me. He is my idol – I could not believe it," Almada told Infobae in October.

Like Riquelme at Boca Juniors in the 1990s, Almada is already a significant influence at Velez despite being a teenager, even if only 10 of his league appearances this term have come as a starter.

With nine goals since making his debut, he is – remarkably – Velez's top-scorer, and only five players have featured more regularly than him.

In terms of chance creation, he's laid on 54 key passes since August 2018, the second most of Velez players, and his dribbling excellence is also quantifiable.

He has attempted 121 take-ons in senior football, completing 60 per cent – of Velez players, only Gaston Gimenez (67 per cent) has a better completion rate than Almada.

Explosive, technically outstanding and creative, there is much to like about his game. More dynamic than Riquelme and arguably a greater natural talent than Tevez, Almada's future looks exciting.

Tevez may have blazed a trail out of Fuerte Apache for Almada to follow, potentially even to Manchester, but there's every chance the teenager could one day be held in even higher regard than Carlitos.

In all probability, Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool would have been emerging through a Newcastle United guard of honour on Sunday.

The conclusion of a stunning Premier League campaign was scheduled to see the Reds run out at St James' Park in the final round of fixtures.

However, the continued pause brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic means Liverpool's coronation remains on ice.

In the meantime, remember some incredible instances of dramatic final days from previous top-flight seasons.

 

2012 – AGUEROOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!

"I swear you'll never see anything like this ever again – so watch it, drink it in!" hollered hoarse Sky Sports commentator Martin Tyler. It was hard to argue. As their game against relegation-threatened Queens Park Rangers ticked into stoppage time, Manchester City were 2-1 down and throwing it all away. Edin Dzeko nodded in David Silva's corner to equalise but Roberto Mancini's men still needed to match Manchester United's result to claim a first title for 44 years on goal difference.

United's game at Sunderland had finished, with the Reds poised to celebrate on the field at the moment Mario Balotelli lost his footing but found a return pass for Sergio Aguero to blast beyond Paddy Kenny. Cue complete and utter bedlam.

2007 – TEVEZ HAULS HAMMERS TO SAFETY

Carlos Tevez's most notable contribution to that unforgettable final day drama in Manchester was a somewhat theatrical tumble to get Joey Barton sent off. He'd been substituted before the late goals, but over at Old Trafford five years earlier the Argentinian forward was undoubtedly the main attraction.

A long wait for Tevez's first goal in West Ham colours ended with a spectacular free-kick against Tottenham in March. However, defeat in that London derby left them 10 points adrift of safety. An astonishing turnaround followed, with Tevez to the fore as Alan Curbishley's men won seven of their final nine matches, culminating in their star man coolly clipping a dropping high ball past Edwin van der Sar on the half-volley for a 1-0 win over Manchester United. The champions would sign Tevez that close season.

2000- BANTAMS CONDEMN DONS TO THE DROP

Bradford City and Wimbledon were level on points heading into the final day of 1999-2000, with the Dons boasting a superior goal difference and having the theoretically easier assignment against Southampton.

But Paul Jewell's Bantams ripped up the script and defeated Liverpool 1-0, with experienced centre-back David Wetherall planting in a 12th-minute header to send Valley Parade into raptures. Nerves were shredded thereafter, but Bradford held on.

1995 – PREMIER LEAGUE TITLE LIFTED AT ANFIELD

Blackburn Rovers were wobbling heading into the finale of the 1994-95 campaign, having won only two of their past five to leave reigning champions Manchester United – five wins from seven games unbeaten – breathing down their necks. Alan Shearer rifled the visitors into a 20th-minute lead at Anfield, which was gripped by a surreal atmosphere throughout as their favourite son Kenny Dalglish sought to deny bitter rivals United the title.

Things looked good for Rovers at the interval as United, two points behind them, trailed 1-0 at West Ham to a Michael Hughes goal. But John Barnes levelled after the hour and Jamie Redknapp drew gasps from the home faithful with a 90th-minute winner. Luckily for Blackburn, United had run into a masterclass from Hammers goalkeeper Ludek Miklosko either side of Brian McClair's equaliser and they were champions by a point.

1993 – LATICS SNATCH SURVIVAL IN THRILLER

Arguably the most implausible escape from Premier League relegation came in the first season after England's top flight rebranded. Joe Royle's Oldham Athletic were eight points from safety heading into the final week and needed to win each of their remaining three matches while hoping results elsewhere went for them. A 1-0 win at Aston Villa had the added impact of confirming Manchester United as champions, before Liverpool were defeated 3-2 in midweek at Boundary Park.

Oldham's resurgence meant Crystal Palace were hauled into unlikely trouble. The Eagles were unable to rouse themselves, losing 3-0 at Arsenal as Latics served up a high-octane classic at home to Southampton. They overcame the inconvenience of a Matt Le Tissier hat-trick to triumph 4-3, with right-back Gunner Halle scoring one and making two more in an inspired showing. Their goal difference of minus 11 set against minus 13 kept Oldham up at Palace's expense.

Gary Neville has admitted he may have been "a little bit crass" when claiming Carlos Tevez "downed tools" in the final months of the Argentinian's Manchester United career.

Former United defender Neville made the accusation earlier this week, sparking a stinging riposte from Tevez's representative Kia Joorabchian.

Neville stands by the crux of his argument, which was that Tevez's contribution and his engagement dropped off towards the end of the 2008-09 season.

But his comments were challenged in a lively head-to-head with Joorabchian on Sky Sports News, causing Neville to accept his verdict could have been better put.

"What I would say is, 'down tools' might be a little bit crass," Neville said on Friday.

"But Carlos was distracted, he was different, and he certainly wasn't anywhere near the level in that last four months at the club, you must accept that?"

Joorabchian said Neville had been "absolutely wrong" with his initial assessment.

"I often let things go," Joorabchian said. "But I think that when you go after somebody and you have made a lot of wrong and incorrect statements, then by letting it go will not do the benefit to the public of listening to fake information."

Joorabchian questioned how Neville - now a Sky Sports pundit - had gained such insight that he could possibly know, as he had claimed, that Tevez had people "in his ear" during his second year at Old Trafford.

And broadening his defence of Tevez, Joorabchian asked whether Neville was casting aspersions on former United boss Alex Ferguson's leadership.

"By Gary making those comments of the second year, he's in some way questioning whether Sir Alex had his finger to the pulse," Joorabchian said.

"Because Sir Alex picked Carlos 51 times during that season of 2008-2009 - 51 times. He picked [Wayne] Rooney 49 times, [Dimitar] Berbatov 44 times, and Gary himself only played 29 in that season.

"In those moments Carlos played 51 games picked by Sir Alex: 15 goals, seven assists. Berbatov: 14 goals, 11 assists. And Rooney: 20 goals, 13 assists.

"Sir Alex would not have picked someone 51 times during that season, as Gary well knows, if they were down-tooling or being unprofessional, unless Gary thinks that Sir Alex took his eye off the ball."

Neville was given the chance to justify his remarks and largely stayed true to his original script, saying there was "no doubt" Tevez lost focus when it became known he would be leaving United.

At the end of that 2008-09 campaign, Tevez made the rare switch of leaving United to join neighbours Manchester City.

Neville said Tevez at United "went into more of a sulky mood because he was disappointed the club weren't signing him", and produced his own statistics, looking at Tevez's modest Premier League contribution.

According to Neville: "The drop in his manner and his performances - just because maybe he was not being taken on by the club - was alarming."

Gary Neville has slammed Carlos Tevez for his behaviour and professionalism towards the end of his second season at Manchester United, adding he "couldn't stand" it.

Tevez won two Premier League titles in as many seasons with United between 2007 and 2009, as well as the Champions League.

He acrimoniously left the club for rivals Manchester City after his two-year loan stint at Old Trafford came to an end.

While many United fans were angry at the Argentine for joining City, it was his deteriorating attitude after a stellar debut campaign at United that irritated Neville.

"What annoyed me about Tevez was that he downed tools in his second season," former United captain Neville told Sky Sports.

"He started sitting on the treatment table, started coming out late for training, started messing around.

"He was playing the club and I couldn't stand that, particularly being how I was at the time, which was a ferocious Manchester United person who never thought of anything else in my life.

"I understood that he had circumstances, but his people were in his ear all the time and he was so led by his people. It was always going to come to an end like it did.

"I felt disappointed that, as a professional, he didn't act the right way.

"The problem that I had with Tevez wasn't that he went to play for Manchester City. That wasn't the main issue for me. It was the way it played out in those last few months. I didn't like it."

Cristiano Ronaldo, who also departed at the end of the 2008-09 season, was an example of a player who left United in the right way, according to Neville.

"I never had a problem with people leaving the club," he said. "David Beckham left the club, Cristiano Ronaldo left the club, Ruud van Nistelrooy left the club. Great, great players.

"But there was a way to leave the club and the way to behave while you're there."

Neville was keen to stress he was an admirer of Tevez's ability, as he formed a devastating front three with Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney.

He added: "Let's be clear here, Tevez, for a year, with Ronaldo and Rooney, was just breathtaking.

"It was out of this world, not just because of the quality of the players, but because there was a real selfish, horrible, nasty determination to those three.

"Ronaldo in a different way on the pitch, in the sense that he wouldn't go around kicking people, hassling people and hustling.

"He was just immense in terms of his performance levels. But Rooney and Tevez were street fighters, with unbelievable ability. 

"We talk about the best front threes in the Premier League - you'll never beat those three for me."

Carlos Tevez believes professional footballers at the highest level should offer to cut their wages amid the coronavirus crisis.

Like the rest of the world's elite players, Boca Juniors star Tevez is on hiatus after the domestic season in Argentina was suspended.

Barcelona's squad have all taken a 70 per cent wage cut to ensure the club can continue to operate during Spain's state of emergency, while players such as Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Kylian Mbappe and Robert Lewandowski have all made donations to support charities and organisations battling the spread of COVID-19.

Premier League club Newcastle United, Tottenham, Norwich City and Bournemouth have put non-playing staff on furlough to take advantage of a scheme recently introduced by the British government, while discussions between the top flight, the English Football League (EFL), League Managers Association (LMA) and Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) are continuing over whether players in England should take wage cuts.

Former Manchester United and Manchester City forward Tevez has now weighed in, insisting players should be able to support themselves without being paid in full.

"A footballer can live six months or a year without receiving [wages]," Tevez said on America TV in Argentina.

"We are not in the same despair as those who live with kids every day, who have to leave their house at six in the morning and return at seven in the evening to feed the family. 

"We are not an example in this case; yes in other things. We have to be there and help. It is easy for me to speak from home, knowing that I have food for my children. 

"But desperate people, who cannot move and cannot leave the house. That is worrying."

Tevez also insisted clubs must do everything to support their communities.

"The clubs have to get involved. Instead of going to train in the morning, they [should] demand that you do things for the people," he said. 

"For example, go to the dining rooms in La Boca. I would be delighted to go. I know that my family is fine.

"That's where the great example begins. You can make videos, like me at home from my living room, but the great example would be that we all go out and help."

Tevez hopes one positive impact of the pandemic will be people becoming more supportive of each other, regardless of wealth.

"There are no shirts here. Social class does not matter. We all want to help," he added.

"Hopefully the world will be more supportive. We are realising that we are all the same. Hopefully we grow as a society and tomorrow this has changed the world for good. This virus teaches us that. Hopefully it is for the good and that we are all one and come out of this together."

The Christian Eriksen saga could reach an end point as soon as Monday.

Reports in Italy indicate the midfielder's move to Inter is all but complete and a medical has been scheduled.

Eriksen's uncertain future has troubled Tottenham since well before Mauricio Pochettino's departure, with the Denmark international due to become a free agent at the end of the season.

 

TOP STORY – ERIKSEN DEAL AGREED

Eriksen, 27, will undergo a medical in Milan at the beginning of next week, according to various reports in Italy.

CalcioMercato claims Tottenham owner Daniel Levy has accepted an offer from Inter worth €15million (£12.6m), plus €5m (£4.2m) in add-ons.

Eriksen's new contract will reportedly run through to 2024 as the playmaker looks for a fresh start after growing stale in the Premier League.

If the move goes ahead, he will become Antonio Conte's third signing of the January transfer window after wing-backs Ashley Young and Victor Moses.

 

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United could face frustration in their long-running negotiations for Bruno Fernandes, which The Sun says have "collapsed" due to Sporting CP's valuation.

- United, meanwhile, are considering a shock move to bring Boca Juniors striker Carlos Tevez, 35, back to Old Trafford, claims Tuttosport. The Red Devils are in need of attacking reinforcements after losing Marcus Rashford to injury.

- Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has given LaLiga giants Barcelona the green light to begin transfer talks, according to Mundo Deportivo.

- Bayern Munich have commenced "concrete discussions" with Lyon over 19-year-old winger Yaya Soumare, reports L'Equipe. Salzburg and Bayern's Bundesliga rivals RB Leipzig are also said to be interested.

- Brazilian attacking midfielder Lucas Paqueta asked Stefano Pioli to be left out of Milan's match against against Brescia because he is keen to leave the club, claims CalcioMercato. Paris Saint-Germain are said to be interested.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants to see Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood take up the mantle of Manchester United's last ruthless front three of Cristiano Ronaldo, Carlos Tevez and Wayne Rooney.

One of United's finest modern forward lines led Alex Ferguson's side to two league titles, an EFL Cup, the Club World Cup and back-to-back Champions League finals, one of which they won, between 2007 and 2009.

Ronaldo and Tevez left for Real Madrid and Manchester City respectively that year and United have struggled since to form a similarly effective trident in attack.

However, there are encouraging signs around Rashford, Martial and Greenwood, who have scored more goals combined in all competitions this season than Liverpool trio Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino.

Solskjaer thinks it will take time to match the understanding of the Premier League leaders' attacking players but, ahead of Sunday's trip to Anfield, he believes in the potential of his forwards.

"The front three that they've got have been playing together for ages, not ages, but for seasons now," he said. "You can see the rotations, movements, the understanding between them, and we hope that our three get that understanding. I've probably only started them once together, the Newcastle United game, so we've got a way to go to get to the level of the three [at Liverpool], the understanding and consistency they have. But we scored four goals in that game [against Newcastle], so it's probably something I've got to look at more often.

"I believe in ours. We're going to add to them as well, definitely, but in the years to come I'm sure we'll see lots of them three. But Liverpool have scored more goals than us outside the front three so I'm not going to say ours are better than theirs or theirs are better than ours.

"We've got them on long contacts, developing into a very, very exciting front three. Ronaldo, Tevez, Rooney were different, floating, but that's what we want as Man United supporters - you want to see them express themselves, go to places like Anfield and put fear into their defenders. But we've got Dan James as well, who adds to that, so I'm very excited about it."

Solskjaer agrees that United's goalscoring threat belies the insinuation made by Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, after the 1-1 draw at Old Trafford in October, that the Red Devils are overly defensive against their fierce rivals.

"I don't think it's an accusation. You take it as a compliment that they didn't create chances against us," Solskjaer said. "When the opposition manager is frustrated, that's a good sign for you as a manager. Of course, I think we've been closer to winning both those games, so I don't know what the problem has been."

Ashley Young is set to join Inter provided he passes a medical on Friday and Solskjaer confirmed there were no plans to sign a replacement full-back.

For now, the United boss is putting faith in young Brandon Williams to rise to the challenge of playing at Anfield.

"Does he look like I need to speak to him? I don't think so," Solskjaer replied when asked if Williams might need guidance ahead of a traditionally tempestuous match.

"He's been absolutely outstanding since he's come in. Every challenge we've put in front of him, he's tackled head on and he's only 19, had 10, 11 starts. He reminds me so much of the mentality of Gary Neville and I think he'll enjoy going to Anfield, put it that way."

There is continued speculation United are trying to finalise the signing of midfielder Bruno Fernandes, but Solskjaer would only say: "I can't tell you about any players that play for other teams. We're focusing on this game at the moment. That's my only concern."

With United's arrival expected to be greeted by Liverpool fans outside the ground, Solskjaer says he has no particular concerns about a hostile atmosphere.

"No safety fears, no," he said. "They want to try to intimidate us but as long as it's within the boundaries. I've been sat in a coach going into Europe or Anfield and whatever they shout and scream at you, you don't really notice.

"We need a very, very good performance to go there and win, but we beat Manchester City last month, we had the Paris Saint-Germain game – we need to get to the level of those performances definitely when you go away to a team that's top of the league.

"The last two performances we've had against Liverpool, we've played at Old Trafford twice, drawn twice and been closest to winning both those games, so we've got games to look back at that will give us lots of belief.

"if we perform to our best, we've got a chance to win."

With Liverpool looking likely to end a title drought stretching back to 1990, Solskjaer thinks such an unexpectedly long gap between league triumphs for their bitter rivals should serve as a warning to United.

"We're working hard to make sure it doesn't happen," he said when asked if he feared United, who last won the title in 2013, could experience a similar dry spell. 

"Let that be a lesson for us. They've been close a few times and we can't let ourselves for another 24 years without winning the league. I'm sure we won't. I believe in this club. We've started something that takes a little bit of time, but we'll get there."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer compared Manchester United's current strike force to the combination of Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez as he hailed the versatility of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Daniel James.

Rashford and Martial were on target as United beat Manchester City in last weekend's derby at the Etihad Stadium, and Solskjaer believes the young England forward is showing signs he can follow in the footsteps of five-time Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldo.

Solskjaer and Ronaldo spent four years together as players at Old Trafford, before the Norwegian worked with his former team-mate as a forwards coach, and few people are better placed to compare the Juventus star with Rashford.

Speaking about the fluid movement and interchanging positional play of Rashford, Martial and James, Solskjaer told Sky Sports: "I think that's a big strength of ours as a team.

"If Marcus runs in behind, Anthony will get some space because it stretches the opponent. It can be the opposite way around too, with Anthony and Dan running in behind and Marcus coming to feet to get on the ball.

"I see this attack as being quite similar to the one we had with Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez, with the interchanging of positions and the fast, flowing football."

Under Solskjaer, Rashford has equalled his best Premier League goal return in a single season within the first half of the 2019-20 campaign.

Rashford's 10th league goal of the season came from the penalty spot against City and Solskjaer praised the 22-year-old's versatility while drawing comparisons with Ronaldo, who played on the wing and as a striker during his time in Manchester.

"Of course it's hard to say with certainty that he's going to be as good as Cristiano, but you can see the similarities more and more in terms of Marcus' traits on the pitch," said Solskjaer.

"He can play through the middle, he can play as a number nine, he can cut inside from the left and finish. He can even play on the right, as Cristiano did when he came here. He's got the same physical stature and more or less all of his attributes are very, very similar. Even their stats are similar, in terms of goals scored after a certain amount of games."

"You have to remember that, as well as playing with Cristiano, I coached him in my first year as a forwards coach here," he added.

"Both players are very professional, very dedicated, very in love with football. And you can see that Marcus is getting more of a taste for that now, both with us and with England. He is pushing himself and seeing the results."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.