Is another move on the cards for Keylor Navas?

Navas felt he had little choice but to leave when Real Madrid signed Thibaut Courtois in 2019.

He is facing a similar situation at Paris Saint-Germain, who are trying to lure Gianluigi Donnarumma to the French capital.

 

TOP STORY – TRIO EYEING NAVAS

Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper Keylor Navas is attracting interest from Manchester United, Juventus and Milan, according to Marca.

Navas' future is in doubt, with PSG reportedly poised to sign Milan star Gianluigi Donnarumma on a free transfer.

This comes despite Costa Rica international Navas extending his PSG contract until 2024 in April.

 

ROUND-UP

- Diario AS reports Real Madrid are prepared to offer star captain Sergio Ramos a new contract. Ramos is set to become a free agent and the Spaniard is said to have been unhappy with the club's offering of a short-term deal on a reduced salary. The 35-year-old has been linked with former club Sevilla, United and PSG among others.

- Juventus have started preliminary talks to sign Bayern Munich's Corentin Tolisso, says Sky Sport Italia. Juve are also interested in Sassuolo midfielder Manuel Locatelli.

- The Telegraph reports Manchester City are now open to giving Raheem Sterling a new deal. Sterling has been linked with Arsenal and Madrid.

- Atalanta are dreaming of signing Juve defender Merih Demiral, reports Calciomercato. Lille's Sven Botman and Torino defender Lyanco are also targets amid centre-back Cristian Romero's links with United.

- Fabrizio Romano says there have been no talks between Arsenal and United regarding Donny van de Beek. The Netherlands international struggled for game time in his first season at Old Trafford.

- According to the Daily Star, United could tempt Tottenham into selling Harry Kane by offering Anthony Martial, who has also reportedly been offered to Madrid. Kane is believed to be keen on an exit amid links with City, Chelsea, Madrid, Barcelona and PSG.

The 12-month delay to Euro 2020 has provided an easy angle for debate ahead of the finals this week.

Which teams might have benefited from the postponement? Italy are back in the groove, Spain were surely buoyed by a 6-0 win over Germany, and England continue to develop exciting young talents.

It works both ways, though, as Germany might have preferred the tournament to go ahead in 2020, prior to their heaviest competitive defeat and before Joachim Low confirmed his exit plans.

Meanwhile, neither situation necessarily suits the Netherlands.

The Oranje have a youthful, talented, newly settled side, but there is the suspicion they have already peaked.

Ronald Koeman, appointed in February 2018, had the Netherlands playing some thrilling, effective football in his first 18 months in charge, narrowly losing the showpiece match at the Nations League Finals while easing to Euros qualification.

Since then, the coach has departed, a number of his young charges have seen their careers stall somewhat and Virgil van Dijk, the team's standout star, has been ruled out by injury.

It means there is plenty of scepticism as Frank de Boer leads the Dutch into their first major tournament in seven years.

 

COACH ACCUSTOMED TO CRITICISM

Koeman left the national team to be appointed by Barcelona. It is highly unlikely De Boer could walk into such a role regardless of his success with the Netherlands.

Since leaving Ajax as a four-time Eredivisie champion in 2016, the coach has endured short, miserable stints with Inter, Crystal Palace and Atlanta United.

De Boer won just 36.4 per cent of his Serie A games, the second-worst rate of an Inter boss this century.

Only Gian Piero Gasperini was less impressive as he went winless, an unfortunate feat De Boer would repeat at Palace as the Eagles did not even score or earn a point in his four Premier League outings.

Atlanta faded from MLS Cup champions to also-rans under De Boer, too, before he was handed an unlikely Oranje opportunity, only to go four without a win at the start of his tenure.

The Netherlands' fortunes have since improved, winning five of seven – albeit while losing a key World Cup qualifier in Turkey and scraping to a friendly draw against Scotland.

Off-field faux pas have also persisted, including media conference mix-ups involving Queensy Menig and Donny van de Beek while Jasper Cillessen was controversially cut from the Euros squad following a positive COVID-19 test.

"It seems clear that things need to get better," De Boer acknowledged after the Scotland game, although he was more optimistic in the aftermath of a subsequent 3-0 win against Georgia.

Having made only two changes to his 5-3-2 line-up – one in goal, the other enforced by injury – De Boer declared: "We're ready."

 

YOUNG STARS' STUNTED PROGRESS

Six players who started the Nations League Finals matches should make De Boer's XI for the Ukraine game, but these stars are not necessarily in the same shape as they were in 2019.

Matthijs de Ligt, Daley Blind and Frenkie de Jong were all coming off an outstanding campaign with Ajax in which they reached the Champions League last four, swatting aside Real Madrid and Juventus on their way before coming within seconds of the final.

Van de Beek, called from the bench against England, was also part of that superb club side.

While Blind remains in Amsterdam and will surely now only start if De Ligt is injured – as he was against Georgia – the other three, who should fit well within De Boer's fluid formation, moved on with mixed success.

De Ligt's first season with Juve was tough, including two errors that led to shots (including one to a goal) and three penalties conceded, before he improved in 2020-21.

De Jong followed a similar path of slow progress at Barca, the highlight of his Camp Nou career so far – now under Koeman – a goal and two assists in April's Copa del Rey final.

That single-game contribution matched Van de Beek's meagre haul for his entire debut season at Manchester United, concerningly. A year behind his two younger international team-mates, the midfielder joined United in 2020 and his three goal involvements came across 36 games but just 15 starts.

Van de Beek's season has ended in miserable fashion, forced to withdraw from the Euros squad this week. Far from a regular at international level, too, this might be a bigger setback for the player than for the Netherlands.

 

DETERMINED TO MAKE THEIR MARK

The absence of Van Dijk means the other Ajax graduates unquestionably maintain key roles in the defensive third, but the Netherlands are relying on older heads in attack, even if they are without the sort of superstar Dutch forward of years past.

This country once had Patrick Kluivert and Ruud van Nistelrooy born on the same day; now they rely on a midfielder and a converted winger for their goals.

It was effective in qualifying, though. Georginio Wijnaldum, 30, was their leading marksman with eight, while Memphis Depay, 27, either scored or assisted every 38 minutes – six goals and seven assists in 495 minutes the best rate among the 54 players to have five or more goal involvements.

Depay netted twice against Scotland and once against Georgia, along with an assist, and will be eager to establish himself on the European stage.

The Barca-linked Lyon forward was an under-19 international when the Netherlands last appeared at the European Championship in 2012, while he made only a single start at the World Cup two years later.

Wijnaldum was at least a regular at Brazil 2014, scoring in the third-place play-off, but both he and Depay have been robbed of a huge chunk of their major tournament careers by the team's failings.

Even with a kind group-stage draw, as they chase a first Euros win since the first round in 2008, the Oranje will need Wijnaldum and Depay to deliver. Neither should be lacking motivation.

Netherlands midfielder Donny van de Beek has been ruled out of Euro 2020 due to injury.

Van de Beek endured a difficult 2020-21 season with Manchester United, making only 15 starts for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side.

The 24-year-old played no active role in the Netherlands' European Championship warm-up fixtures against Scotland and Georgia.

It was announced by the Dutch federation – the KNVB – on Tuesday that Van de Beek will miss the tournament, and head coach Frank de Boer has decided against replacing the former Ajax man in his squad.

"Van de Beek has to let the European Championship pass by," the KNVB announced on Twitter.

"The midfielder is struggling with an injury. As a result, he is not available in time for EURO 2020. Frank de Boer will not call a replacement for Van de Beek."

The nature of Van de Beek's injury blow was not specified, but he had been seen training away from the main group.

Van de Beek may have seen the tournament as an opportunity to prove a point, having been frequently sidelined at Old Trafford following his £34.7million move from Ajax last August, but he must now get himself fit for the 2021-22 campaign.

Will Lionel Messi stay or leave?

The superstar Barcelona captain is set to become a free agent, though the LaLiga giants are determined to re-sign Messi.

Paris Saint-Germain are interested but Messi could reportedly extend his Camp Nou career.

 

TOP STORY – MESSI SET FOR BARCA STAY?

Lionel Messi is closer to staying at Barcelona than joining Paris Saint-Germain, according to L'Equipe.

Messi's future has dominated headlines, with his contract due to expire at season's end amid interest from Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City.

Barca are keen to re-sign Messi, who is encouraged by the Copa del Rey triumph and Joan Laporta's plans, despite an offer from PSG.

 

ROUND-UP

Barca have reached out to PSG regarding a possible reunion with Neymar, however, RAC1 says the Ligue 1 holders are not willing to sell the Brazilian superstar.

Everton are plotting a bid for soon-to-be free agent and City star Sergio Aguero, reports the Daily Star. Aguero will leave the Etihad Stadium on a free transfer and the forward has been linked with Chelsea, Barcelona, Inter and Tottenham.

- Fabrizio Romano says Leicester City are working on a deal to sign Lille star Boubakary Soumare, who has previously been linked with Manchester United, Tottenham, Inter and Napoli.

- The Sun claims Borussia Dortmund have joined United and PSG in the battle sign Brighton and Hove Albion defender Ben White.

- Sky Sport Italia claims Milan ultras met with star goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma and demanded he sits out the fixture against Serie A rivals Juventus if he does not renew his contract. Donnarumma is set to become a free agent and he is yet to re-sign amid reports he is in talks with Juve. The Italy international has also been linked with United, Chelsea and PSG.

United are prepared to sell Paul Pogba if he does not commit to a new contract, according to The Sun. Juve and Real Madrid are reportedly eyeing the French star. It comes as The Sun also claims United are not willing to part ways with Donny van de Beek following a difficult first season at Old Trafford.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insisted he had no regrets over his team selection after Manchester United lost 3-1 at Leicester City in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup.

Former Manchester City striker Kelechi Iheanacho scored twice either side of Youri Tielemans' solo strike as Brendan Rodgers' men booked a Wembley semi-final against Southampton.

Mason Greenwood equalised shortly before half-time in a rare moment of inspiration for United, as Paul Pogba and Donny van de Beek combined to fine effect.

But the midfield duo were only fit to play for an hour, having recently returned to action, and Bruno Fernandes was unable to have a decisive impact from the bench.

Solskjaer felt such juggling was a necessity after a packed schedule in which his side overcame Milan in the Europa League on Thursday.

"I would have started the same team again. We felt [Pogba and Van de Beek] had more than 45 minutes in them," he said.

"They're important players for us, that's why we started them.

"We picked a team that we felt was going to win the game or give us a foundation to win the game.

"We knew players like Donny and Paul wouldn't last more than an hour."

Fernandes' 23 goals and 13 assists mean he leads the way in both categories for United this season.

However, among outfield players, only captain Harry Maguire (3,945) and fellow defender Aaron Wan-Bissaka (3,651) have played more minutes than the Portugal playmaker's 3,488 for the Red Devils across all competitions.

"Every team selection has reasons behind it. Bruno has played very, very much football," Solskjaer said.

"The boy is a human being. He has played a game every three or four days.

"It was a chance to start both Donny and Paul. The accumulation of games maybe caught up with us.

"With Bruno, I know he wants to play but sometimes you make decisions for the benefit of both the team and him."

While plenty of managers will be apprehensive about the forthcoming international break and what it might mean for their players at the business end of the season, Solskjaer believes it comes at a good time for certain members of his squad.

"I think the international break will give Paul and Donny chances to play, it'll give Anthony [Martial] a chance to go away," he said.

"They will get a change of scenery. You get energy from that. The boys have been at Carrington training ground now every day for a long, long time.

"The break comes at a good time and we'll be ready at Easter, don't worry about that."

Solskjaer added: "If and when we're successful, we have to handle [fixture congestion] and hit a higher level than we did today.

"That's what we're striving towards and, under these circumstances, which are unprecedented, I've been impressed by my boys.

"They've been excellent. The run we've been on has been excellent. Unfortunately we couldn't find our normal selves tonight and sometimes that happens."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes success in the Premier League will be the ultimate barometer of whether Manchester United are "back".

The 20-time English champions have not lifted a trophy since Jose Mourinho led them to EFL Cup and Europa League glory in 2016-17.

United are back in Europa League action against Milan at San Siro on Thursday, with a place in the last-16 on the line after a 1-1 draw in last week's home leg.

Solskjaer, who succeeded Mourinho midway through the 2018-19 season, would love to bring silverware back to the club he played for in such decorated fashion.

However, he feels United's position in second place in the Premier League – and as the only team to beat leaders Manchester City in their past 32 matches – stands as the best measure of their progress, irrespective of whether there is an new addition to the Old Trafford trophy room at the end of the campaign.

"I've been here two-and-a-half of those [trophy-less] years now. I felt a big rebuild had to be made," he told a pre-match news conference.

"It's in the league position where you see if there's been any progress. That's the bread and butter of the season. You see how capable you are, coping with ups and downs.

"A cup competition can give you a trophy but sometimes it's more of an ego thing – we've finally won something!

"We need to see progress and if we progress and perform well enough the trophies will end up at the club again.

"But it's not like a trophy will say that we're back. It's about the gradual progression and consistency of being in and around the top of the league.

"Sometimes a cup competition can hide the fact that you're still struggling a little bit."

One United player who is struggling is Anthony Martial, who will be absent as he recovers from the hip injury he suffered during last week's game against Milan.

David de Gea is back in contention following paternity leave, although Dean Henderson has been Solskjaer's first choice for Europa League matches this season.

Edinson Cavani, Paul Pogba and Donny van de Beek are all back in contention after returning to training this week, although Solskjaer did not wish to discuss speculation over the future of the latter midfielder after an underwhelming maiden campaign at Old Trafford to date.

"There's always speculation here," he said.

"As we've said they've been involved in the training session, so let's see if there's any reaction or not.

"Donny has been working really hard to get back available for the final stages of the season."

Loanee Diogo Dalot is set to feature once more for Milan against his parent club but Solskjaer insists the Portuguese full-back has a future at United.

"Yeah, the plan was always for Diogo this season to get fit. He never managed to be fit for a long spell when he was here, unfortunately," he explained.

"Now he's kept fit all season. He's playing at a big club with big expectations and a great history. It's been a good year for him.

"He's our player and we're looking forward to getting him back."

Where will Erling Haaland be playing in 2021-22?

That is the question everyone is asking as clubs queue up to sign the Borussia Dortmund goalscoring machine.

Manchester United are reportedly determined to prise the Norway international to Old Trafford.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED SET SIGHTS ON HAALAND

Manchester United have settled on Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland as their centre forward priority in the transfer market, according to Manchester Evening News.

United tried to sign Haaland before he joined Dortmund from Austrian champions Salzburg last year.

Eyeing a long-term replacement for Romelu Lukaku, with United veteran Edinson Cavani linked to Boca Juniors after signing a one-year deal at Old Trafford, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and football director John Murtough have agreed to target Haaland.

Haaland has also been linked with Real Madrid, Barcelona, Chelsea, LiverpoolManchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus.

It comes after United reportedly received little encouragement of the possibility of signing Tottenham star Harry Kane.

 

ROUND-UP

- Fabrizio Romano claims Madrid midfielder Luka Modric has an agreement in place to sign a new one-year deal with the LaLiga champions.

- Arsenal are keen to keep Martin Odegaard – on loan from Madrid – beyond the 2020-21 season, reports the Daily Mail.

- The Daily star says Donny van de Beek wants to quit United. Van de Beek only joined from Ajax at the start of the season but he has been unable to cement a spot in the starting XI.

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel wants to keep Antonio Rudiger as the Blues seek to avoid losing him on a free transfer in 2022 by offering a new contract, reports the Daily Mail.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hopes to have four or five players back from injury when Manchester United face Milan in the Europa League last-16 second leg on Thursday.

United manager Solskjaer expects forwards Edinson Cavani and Anthony Martial to be fit, the former having missed seven of United's last eight matches and the latter having limped out of the 1-1 first-leg draw against Milan with a hip problem.

Donny van de Beek, who has been sidelined since February 22, may also be ready to return, while Paul Pogba – who last played in the 3-3 Premier League draw with Everton on February 6 – could also be back in the squad.

With Marcus Rashford having returned from ankle trouble in the 1-0 Premier League win over West Ham on Sunday and David de Gea now free to return after self-isolating, United could look in much better shape for the return fixture at San Siro, where the tie is poised at 1-1.

"Injury-wise, I hope that we have four or five players back for that game," Solskjaer said after the win over West Ham. "We hope, or it's very likely that Edinson and Anthony are fit. Donny, hopefully as well. Paul even might make the trip. David is back from isolation.

"That's more numbers. Today, we even had two goalkeepers on the bench, so we need them back."

United's hard-fought win over the Hammers, earned through a second-half own goal from Craig Dawson, lifted the Red Devils back into second in the Premier League table.

While they are 14 points behind leaders Manchester City with a game in hand, they now have a nine-point cushion to West Ham in fifth, putting them in a strong position at least for a top-four finish.

Solskjaer was delighted with the attitude his players displayed three days on from conceding an injury-time equaliser to Milan, even if the performance was not quite up to scratch in attack.

"It's been a big week for us. We're starting to build some momentum in the league. We've opened the gap further to West Ham, which was important to us," he said.

"We want to improve on last season. We want to get to a final, we want to move up the table. This week was always going to be massive. The reaction after the late equaliser that Milan scored was really good because you never know how that can affect you.

"It looked like everyone wanted to show what they could do, the first 15, 20 minutes, maybe a little bit too eager, lacked a bit of composure. The attitude was spot on, When we got the composure, we built more and more pressure and momentum.

"We had to readjust a little bit. After 15, 20 minutes, there was a break in play and we just had to get to grips with our composure. We kept firing passes into each other and couldn't find a red shirt whatsoever.

"We've had four clean sheets now [in a row] and that's always the foundation. We want to score goals, we're creating big chances. I feel we're getting back to what we can. It's only a week ago we beat City 2-0, so I don't want to be greedy. Nobody can score four or five goals in every game in the Premier League. You've got to earn it. We always back our players to score enough goals."

Mason Greenwood performed well as the central striker but was unable to end his goal drought, with Lukasz Fabianski making a fine save to deny him in the first half before he smashed a shot off the post in the second.

The 19-year-old has only scored once in 23 league games this season, having managed 10 in just 12 starts in 2019-20, but Solskjaer is not concerned.

"His performance was really good, he deserved a goal," said the United boss. "He's played really well lately. He linked the play well for us, he held it up for us, and he had our two best chances, a great save by Fabianski and unfortunately, he hit the post on the second one.

"He kept creating chances for others as well. I'm very pleased with Mason at the moment."

United have kept four straight clean sheets in the Premier League for the first time under Solskjaer, last doing so in January 2018 when Jose Mourinho was at the helm.

Solskjaer's United have only lost one of their last 23 Premier League games (W14 D8), this after suffering three defeats in their opening six games of the season.

Manchester United's FA Cup win over West Ham wasn't the easiest watch for the neutral, but the average armchair fan likely had a better time than Donny van de Beek.

The Netherlands midfielder was granted the chance to impress in the number 10 role in just his 12th start for the Red Devils. With Bruno Fernandes resting on the bench and Paul Pogba out injured, this was Van de Beek's latest opportunity to show his creative mettle.

After 73 lacklustre minutes, he headed ruefully back to the bench. He had completed 28 passes and touched the ball 46 times, the lowest numbers of any starting outfield player for United. Fernandes, on as his replacement, surpassed both those figures in normal and extra time, with fellow sub Scott McTominay scoring the winning goal.

This was the latest unspectacular outing for a player who caught the eye of the world's biggest clubs at Ajax. An initial fee of £34.7million that looked a bargain at first is beginning to seem a bit of a waste as a player so in tune with that wonderful Ajax harmony looks increasingly disconnected in a United shirt.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has certainly not given up on Van de Beek just 25 games into his United career and has repeatedly called for patience as he beds the 23-year-old into his plans. But as Europa League football returns and fixtures pile up again, and with Pogba sidelined at least for a few weeks, Van de Beek is under mounting pressure to prove his worth.

 

BEEN THERE, DON THAT

During his final three seasons in the Netherlands, in which time he had established himself as first choice at the Johan Cruijff ArenA, Van de Beek registered 39 goals and 29 assists in 132 games in all competitions. No Eredivisie midfielder scored more in that time, and only former team-mate Hakim Ziyech had more assists (54).

Ziyech is an interesting comparison. From 2017-18 to 2019-20, the playmaker, now with Chelsea, was consistently the only Eredivisie midfielder with superior attacking numbers to Van de Beek. They were top two in that time for chances created from open play (275 for Ziyech, 192 for Van de Beek); top two for shots (543 and 242); and top two for efforts on target (180 and 101).

Van de Beek was also third for passes ending in the final third on 1,938, while only two midfielders (Ziyech and AZ's Fredrik Midtsjo) started more sequences to end in a shot, underlining his importance when it came to synchronising the Ajax attack. The fact he did all this from a deeper starting position than Ziyech is notable: the majority of his touches came in the left-centre of the pitch, an area that served as a springboard for forays forward that yielded 28 chance-creating carries in the Eredivisie alone.

 

ILL-FITTING

There is a notion that Van de Beek was an opportunistic signing by Solskjaer, who had no guarantees over Pogba's future or the chances of bringing in top target Jadon Sancho.

You can understand his desire to cover that base. Over those same three seasons (2017-18 to 2019-20), Pogba was the United midfielder with the most touches (7,909), the most goals (23), most assists (26), most chances created from open play (163), most passes ending in the final third (2,358) and most shots (180). And, like Van de Beek, Pogba mostly thrived to the centre-left of midfield in that time – nearly 20 per cent of his total touches all came in that general area of the pitch.

Yet a key difference lies in their possession play: during that same time frame, Pogba averaged roughly 20 more completed passes and 32 more touches in each game than Van de Beek, who was happier to let others have the ball as he took up threatening positions. Once it became clear he was spending another season at United, this gave Pogba a distinct advantage in Solskjaer's system.

The arrival of Bruno Fernandes last January more or less prompted the United boss to give up on a 4-3-3 and use a predominant 4-2-3-1, in which the attacking players are afforded relative free reign to produce match-winning moments in front of a stable base. This has often meant Pogba dropping deeper into a position that, while not his favourite, is one in which those ball-playing numbers make him a distinctly valuable asset, just as they did in France's World Cup win three years ago. Van de Beek has proven less adaptable.

 

MAKE OR BEEK

Solskjaer tends to have two versions of deep central midfielders. Playmakers like Pogba and Nemanja Matic are generally used in matches where more penetrative passing is needed to unlock low blocks who are happy to give up the ball. When facing stronger, more possession-hungry sides, the United manager has found comfort – and success – in a double pivot of Fred and McTominay, who bring far greater dynamism without the ball.

Van de Beek has, so far, failed to convince as either.

Among United midfielders to play more than three games this season, Van de Beek has produced just one goal and one assist, with only Fred and Matic yet to have a direct goal involvement. Per 90 minutes, he averages roughly three passes into the final third and just 0.3 shots, comfortably the lowest, while only substitute winger Dan James averages fewer touches (60.95).

He appears little better suited to the disruptive role, either. Per 90 minutes this season, Van de Beek averages less than one tackle, half the number of interceptions as McTominay and fewer successful duels than any midfield team-mates except James and Juan Mata. Pogba is top of that particular chart with eight.

Right now, Van de Beek appears suited neither to the recycling service of United's deep midfield nor to the attacking quartet where spontaneity is king. He must adapt soon if his Old Trafford career is going to take off.

Manchester United eventually saw off West Ham 1-0 after extra-time to reach the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, substitute Scott McTominay getting the winner at Old Trafford on Tuesday.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took the opportunity to give a few United fringe players opportunities to impress but ultimately had to turn to his regulars on the bench, with McTominay the one to make the difference.

United were frustrated in the first half as they struggled to make the most of their dominance over a West Ham side who offered very little in attack, with Victor Lindelof going closest for the hosts when denied by the upright.

Aside from United managing fewer shots, the pattern of the match hardly deviated after the break and it was no surprise to see it remain goalless at the end of the regulation 90 minutes.

But the hosts' superiority told in the end with West Ham unable to cancel out McTominay's 97th-minute strike.

It quickly became apparent that West Ham's plan was to pack their defence with as many players as possible and it was nearly undone just 11 minutes in, but Anthony Martial was denied by a crucial Angelo Ogbonna intervention that resulted in the Italian sustaining an injury.

But United's best chance fell to Lindelof in the 27th minute, his header from an Alex Telles corner taking a slight deflection before Lukasz Fabianski tipped it on to the post.

West Ham lost Ogbonna's replacement Issa Diop – who had clashed heads with Martial – at half-time as the recently introduced concussion substitution was used for the first time in English football, and they soon saw Andriy Yarmolenko forced off as well, former Manchester United trainee Ademipo Odubeko replacing him.

United wasted another chance a minute before Yarmolenko's exit, as Fabianski rushed out to thwart Marcus Rashford after Mason Greenwood's low cross was deflected through.

Extra-time was inevitable despite the likes of Bruno Fernandes and Edinson Cavani coming on, but a penalty shootout was not necessary, with McTominay running on to Rashford's smart lay-off and rifling a low volley into the bottom-right corner.

Bruno Fernandes can fully understand Donny van de Beek's unhappiness and says his midfield team-mate's lack of playing time highlights Manchester United's strength in depth.

Netherlands international Van de Beek was handed his 10th start of the season in United's FA Cup fourth-round win over Liverpool on Sunday.

He struggled to make much of an impact at Old Trafford, however, as he touched the ball just 23 times and attempted 18 passes before being substituted with 66 minutes played.

Fernandes was brought on for the Dutchman and once again proved the difference for United by scoring a free-kick 12 minutes later to earn a 3-2 victory.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitted on the eve of the game that Van de Beek is not happy with his lack of minutes and Fernandes has sympathy for the £40million close-season signing.

"Donny had a great game," he told MUTV. "Playing in the position I play, watching him he moves really good and played really well. 

"It's important for us. If I was in the position of Donny I would not be happy at all but the most important is doing what he does today, coming in and helping the team.

"We have a really good squad and we have options. If you look at the bench and the first XI today and the ones at home we have a really good squad.

"It will not be a problem if we change the team or someone is tired because we have really good players."

Fernandes has now scored 28 goals for United in all competitions since his debut in February 2020, which is more than any other player for a Premier League club.

His latest strike sets up a home tie with West Ham in the fifth round next month and, with United also top of the Premier League, Fernandes has his sights set on silverware.

"They're all important competitions for us," he said. "We have to go in the same way whatever the competition.

"We play in them all to win. Everyone knows winning the league is more special but for us players, it's about winning trophies regardless and this is a trophy we want to win."

United have now eliminated Liverpool from the FA Cup proper on 10 occasions - only the Reds themselves have knocked out a single team more often, beating local rivals Everton 12 times.

On a day when Donny van de Beek hoped to show why he deserves more minutes for Manchester United, up stepped Bruno Fernandes to show why that simply isn't happening.

The eye-catching selection of Van de Beek ahead of Fernandes for this FA Cup clash of giants at Old Trafford was all about "rotation", according to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

United's manager clearly felt his team could combat a faltering Liverpool team without their star man, albeit leaving him on the bench in case of emergency.

"Donny needs to be playing games as well and it's a big game for Donny to come into," Solskjaer told the BBC.

Van de Beek has not started a Premier League game since he was hauled off with United trailing at half-time at West Ham in early December, and he might not be starting any soon either given how this game transpired.

A 66th-minute switch of the Portuguese for the underwhelming Van de Beek proved pivotal, and the delightful free-kick from Fernandes that settled an absorbing game 3-2 in United's favour was one that had been conceived on Saturday.

"I think he stayed about 45 minutes after training yesterday shooting free-kicks, so I was quite confident that he was going to hit the target," Solskjaer said.

Solskjaer, the erstwhile supersub, knew the calibre of replacement that was up his sleeve, and the rotation worked in a roundabout way. Are we looking at more proof that United's once-maligned Norwegian boss is actually a tactical master?

Liverpool's season, meanwhile, takes another negative turn.

Donny fluffs his big chance

With a mere 18 passes and 23 touches, Van de Beek was peripheral in a midfield where Paul Pogba shone and Scott McTominay fought for every ball.

The former Ajax man had a glorious early chance to stamp his mark on the game when he burst into space on the right and looked sure to dart towards the penalty area, as Edinson Cavani waited for a pass in the centre.

But no. Van de Beek paused and decided to go backwards, and the chance was gone.

This game was a world away from the Anfield snore draw seven days previously in the Premier League, yet Van de Beek largely let it pass him by.

By the time Fernandes cracked his sublime winner into the right corner, Van de Beek must have been wondering when such an opportunity will arise again.

Salah shows he must start

Like Fernandes, Salah has seen his form and contribution questioned in recent weeks, and just as United's match-winner dispelled such criticism, so did Liverpool's main man.

After all the talk about front threes, and which of these sides had the most deadly attacking trio, Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp went with a two-man strikeforce, Salah and Roberto Firmino linking up and Sadio Mane on the bench.

Both Salah and Firmino had been substitutes on Thursday for the defeat to Burnley, but they were a combination that United struggled to contain at times here.

Salah struck twice, the first a sublime chip, and Firmino set up both. The Brazilian has now assisted Salah for 18 goals during their time together at Liverpool, the most any player has set up another during Klopp's reign.

Unlike Firmino and Mane, Salah has exceeded his expected goals (xG) in the Premier League this season, with eight non-penalty goals from an xG of 5.3, and if Liverpool are to resurrect their season, the bench is surely no place for the Egyptian.

Glorious Greenwood

Mason Greenwood has not scored in the Premier League since that West Ham game, when he helped United turn their half-time deficit around and earn a 3-1 victory.

Here he looked lively from the early stages, albeit with one too many lollipops and insufficient tasty final product until he cancelled out Salah's opener.

The way the 19-year-old ended an 10-game barren spell spoke volumes of his belief, with Marcus Rashford's sweeping pass over the Liverpool defence finding his wing twin on the right and allowing Greenwood to thump a low shot past Alisson.

With Rashford also on target, this was quite a day to savour for the hosts.

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer left Bruno Fernandes out of his starting line-up for Sunday's FA Cup clash with Liverpool.

Fernandes, who has been United's shining light since arriving from Sporting CP almost 12 months ago, was only a substitute for the fourth-round game.

This season he has scored 15 goals and supplied nine assists in 28 games across all competitions from his advanced midfield role, but there have been questions asked about his form in recent weeks.

He has just one goal and no assists in four Premier League appearances since the turn of the year.

Into the United team went former Ajax midfielder Donny van de Beek as Solskjaer decided the game presented a chance to rotate his squad, making five changes to the side that won 2-1 at Fulham on Wednesday.

Solskjaer explained why Fernandes did not start, saying on BBC One: "It's rotation in the squad.

"Donny needs to be playing games as well and it's a big game for Donny to come into.

"He's done nothing wrong when he's been around the club so I'm looking forward to seeing him in there."

Premier League leaders United also brought in goalkeeper Dean Henderson, centre-back Victor Lindelof, midfielder Scott McTominay and forward Marcus Rashford, as David De Gea, Eric Bailly, Fred and Anthony Martial dropped out.

Liverpool also showed five changes as Jurgen Klopp looked for a response to Thursday's shock 1-0 home defeat to Burnley, which ended a 68-game unbeaten run at Anfield in the Premier League.

Teenage centre-back Rhys Williams came in for the absent Joel Matip, while James Milner and Curtis Jones were selected as Xherdan Shaqiri and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain dropped to the bench.

Sadio Mane and Divock Origi were also substitutes as Klopp gave starts to Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino, with the Old Trafford clash coming a week on from these two sides battling out a dreary goalless draw at Anfield in the league.

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says he can fully relate to Donny van de Beek's unhappiness after being used sparingly during his time at Old Trafford.

The Netherlands midfielder has made nine starts for United since arriving from Ajax for a reported £40million in the close season, just two of those coming in the Premier League.

He has not featured at all in United's last three games since the 1-0 FA Cup win over Watford on January 9, but he will play a part in Sunday's fourth-round tie against Liverpool.

Solskjaer himself found regular starts hard to come by during his playing days at the club under Alex Ferguson and has praised Van de Beek for remaining professional.

"I wouldn't say that Donny is happy," he said. "Of course, he wants to play more, but he gets about his job in the right manner.

"He reminds me a lot about myself, when I first came in, that he understands my difficulties and challenges

"We are doing well and have got players who are playing really well in his position.

"I was the same with Sir Alex. When he left me out I understood and I was happy for the team to win – and Donny is that type of guy."

Van de Beek has made 10 Premier League appearances for United in total and scored his only goal in the 3-1 win over Crystal Palace in September.

The 23-year-old has yet to assist a goal and has created just two big chances for his team-mates across those 10 matches.

His average of 50.2 passes per 90 minutes ranks below fellow midfielder Bruno Fernandes (60.17), Paul Pogba (62.02), Fred (62.85) and Nemanja Matic (76.08) but above Scott McTominay (48.37).

Van de Beek ranks higher for dribbles completed (1.43), however, with Pogba (1.75) the only midfielder above him in that metric.

Solskjaer continued: "He knows he is important for us and knows he is going to play many games.

"He will definitely be involved in this game against Liverpool and he might be the deciding factor in the game.

"He trusts his own quality. He is a quietly confident guy who deep down knows he is good enough and is just waiting for his opportunity."

Having been used in a variety of roles in United's midfield, Van de Beek – utilised as a box-to-box threat during his Ajax days – scored 28 goals in total in the Eredivisie. 

Arguably his most impressive form for Ajax came in the 2018-19 Champions League campaign, with his four goals helping the Dutch giants to the semi-finals.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has underlined his desire to keep Donny van de Beek at Manchester United despite a difficult start to his Old Trafford career.

Since arriving from Ajax in a reported £40million deal in pre-season, the Dutchman has made just eight starts in total, with only two of those coming in the Premier League.

That lack of action prompted Van de Beek's boss at international level, Frank de Boer, to suggest this week that the midfielder might need to move on in January in order to strengthen his chances of featuring in the Netherlands' European Championship squad.

However, Solskjaer has reiterated his faith in the 23-year-old and revealed he will be handed a rare opportunity to start when United face Watford in the FA Cup on Saturday.

"I've answered this question so many times," the Norwegian said.

"There are so many examples of players needing a little bit of time – quality players. We have many players ourselves and there are other clubs with examples. Sometimes it takes time. You don't expect people who care for him to be quiet at times, especially when they want the best for them.

"Donny is going to play tomorrow. There's another chance for him. Yes, I've spoken to him and reiterated and made him aware how much we rate him. But he'll play tomorrow, and that's a good chance to kick on."

One player who could be set for a January departure from Old Trafford is Timothy Fosu-Mensah.

The 23-year-old, who is out of contract at the end of the season, has made just three appearances this term, including one start.

And Solskjaer is open to the idea of allowing him to move on should the right offer arrive.

"I'm not sure if Tim is going to stay or [if] he's going to take an option now," he said.

"He's not played enough, so of course he's been allowed to speak to clubs, with a view to leaving now in January. It's difficult when you've got good players, talented players, and you can't give them game time.

"He's now at the stage where he needs to go and play again.

"It might be [at the] end of January, or it might be in the summer that he finds somewhere else. So, he's working hard, Tim, he's ready for a move for any club that he feels ready for."

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