Jose Mourinho is already plotting his moves in his first transfer window at Roma, where he will take charge at the end of the season.

The Portuguese reportedly is hoping to bring players he already knows to Serie A.

Could a pair of Red Devils and Spurs be headed to the Italian capital? 

 

TOP STORY – MOURINHO EYES FAMILIAR FACES

Jose Mourinho may turn to his Premier League connections to bolster his first Roma side. 

Manchester United pair Nemanja Matic and David de Gea are among the players with Old Trafford legacies on Mourinho's wish list, according to the Daily Mirror and Todofichajes. 

Among more recent Mourinho pupils, Eric Dier and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg are among the Spurs players who stand as possibilities, says Corriere dello Sport. 

Football London also linked Erik Lamela and Lucas Moura with possible Roma moves as former Tottenham head coach Mourinho prepares to replace Paulo Fonseca ahead of the 2021-22 season.

 

ROUND-UP  

- Corriere dello Sport reports Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain are eyeing Napoli star Fabian Ruiz and Lazio's Sergej Milinkovic-Savic. Spain international Fabian has been heavily linked with Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid. Fellow midfielder Milinkovic-Savic, meanwhile, continues to be linked with the likes of Inter, Juventus, United and PSG.

Yves Bissouma could be headed to Manchester City as a replacement for Fernandinho, the Daily Star claims. City are said to be confident they can strike a £30million deal for the 24-year-old Brighton and Hove Albion midfielder. The Daily Express, however, has Arsenal leading the fight for the Mali international, with TottenhamWest Ham and Everton also potential landing spots. 

Chelsea may bring back striker Armando Broja on a lucrative contract after loaning the 19-year-old to Eredivisie outfit Vitesse Arnhem this term, Fabrizio Romano says, but other big clubs are circling as well.

- Juventus centre-back Giorgio Chiellini is considering a move to MLS after his contract ends in June, Calciomercato reports. 

Miralem Pjanic could leave Barcelona as Sport claims the midfield outcast attracts interest from the likes of Chelsea and Inter

- Barca are considering the idea of allowing Francisco Trincao to leave on loan amid interest from Milan and Roma, according to Calciomercato. 

- RMC Sport says Milan have reached an agreement in principle to sign Lille goalkeeper Mike Maignan at the end of the season. It comes amid doubts over the future of star Gianluigi Donnarumma, who is set to become a free agent. Yet to renew, Donnarumma has been linked with Juve, Tottenham, Chelsea and United.

Real Madrid and Kylian Mbappe – the two parties have long been tipped to come together.

Mbappe is out of contract at Paris Saint-Germain in 2022 and no closer to renewing his deal.

Madrid are reportedly moving closer to prising the France international to the Spanish capital.

 

TOP STORY – MBAPPE POISED FOR MADRID MOVE?

Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe is edging closer to joining LaLiga giants Real Madrid, according to Diario AS.

Mbappe has long been tipped to swap PSG for Madrid, though the Ligue 1 holds continue to try to re-sign the World Cup-winning forward.

PSG's Mbappe is determined to win the Champions League as he eyes the Santiago Bernabeu.


 

ROUND-UP

- Le Parisien, though, claims PSG are holding out hope on teaming Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi with Mbappe and Neymar in Paris. Messi is set to become a free agent at the end of the season and he has been linked with PSG and Manchester City. Neymar has also been linked with a Barca return. However, Le Parisien reports PSG are prioritising a move for Messi while trying to retain Neymar and Mbappe.

Lautaro Martinez is on the verge of signing a new contract with Serie A champions Inter, says Gazzetta dello Sport. The Inter forward has been linked with Barca previously.

- Tuttosport reports star Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma is a primary transfer target for Serie A rivals Juventus. Donnarumma is out of contract at the end of the season and the Italy international has not agreed fresh terms with Milan.

Borussia Dortmund will ask for less than €100million (£86m) to sell Jadon Sancho amid interest from United, Chelsea and Liverpool, says Fabrizio Romano.

- The Mirror says Liverpool are eyeing Roma star Lorenzo Pellegrini as incoming Giallorossi boss Jose Mourinho looks to overhaul the squad in the Italian capital. The front page of Thursday's Gazzetto dello Sport, meanwhile, claims Mourinho is looking to bring Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic and Madrid's Isco to Roma.

- Soon-to-be free agent and City star Sergio Aguero is dreaming of a Barcelona move, according to Romano. InterTottenham and Chelsea have also emerged as options for the veteran forward.

Maurizio Sarri is a candidate to take charge of Milan if Stefano Pioli fails to guide the Rossoneri into the Champions League, claims Gazzetta dello Sport. Sarri was reportedly set to join Roma before Mourinho's appointment.

- Rennes sensation Eduardo Camavinga, Sassuolo's Manuel Locatelli and Mikel Merino of Real Sociedad are on Barca's shortlist to replace Sergio Busquets, reports Mundo Deportivo.

Manchester United will go all guns blazing into a pivotal week in their season as they pursue silverware, says Nemanja Matic.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side head to Milan for the second leg of their Europa League last-16 tie on Thursday, with an FA Cup quarter-final against Leicester City at the weekend.

With the Premier League title surely heading across Manchester to City's Etihad Stadium, United's hopes of success hinge on how they fare over these two crunch clashes.

A 1-1 draw at Old Trafford left their European fate hanging in the balance, but Matic insists they will look to get on the front foot at San Siro.

"We are coming to the end of the season so the quarter-finals and semi-finals are waiting for us," Matic told United's official website.

"We have to show our character, our quality, and we have to show that we are ready to win some titles.

"We will play our football because we are not a team that only defends. We always want to score more goals. I think we will play our football the same way we are always trying. 

"We train every day and we will see. We are ready to compete and we have 90 minutes to show our quality."

Speaking about the challenge facing them against Stefano Pioli's side, Matic underlined his respect for the Serie A high-flyers and revealed he was looking forward to playing at San Siro.

"Now we know more about them. We know the way they play. We have to be wary that they are a top team," he said.

"They play good football, they have a good coach and it's going to be an interesting game. It's going to be hard for us again, but we are confident and we will try to win the game.

"I never had the opportunity to play at the San Siro, this is my first time, so I am looking forward to that. 

"It's an iconic stadium as everyone knows and we are happy that we can go there and compete with them again."

Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel has been given the all-clear to chase Erling Haaland, while Liverpool are also eyeing a forward.

Borussia Dortmund star Haaland is wanted by numerous European giants, with Manchester City among those reportedly interested.

But Chelsea are also targeting the 20-year-old forward.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA GIVEN ALL-CLEAR TO CHASE HAALAND

Chelsea boss Tuchel has been given the green light to go after Dortmund star Haaland ahead of next season, according to Bild.

Haaland has scored 27 goals in 25 games for Dortmund this season.

Chelsea spent big ahead of 2020-21, but are seemingly eager to land Haaland to strengthen further.

 

ROUND-UP

- Liverpool are apparently eyeing a forward of their own. Diario Gol reports Jurgen Klopp wants Real Madrid forward Rodrygo.

- After starring for Burnley, Nick Pope is linked with a move. LancsLive reports the Premier League club want around £50million for the goalkeeper, who is said to be a target for Tottenham.

- Manchester United continue to be linked with West Ham midfielder Declan Rice. 90min reports United are willing to offer any of Jesse Lingard, Nemanja Matic and Phil Jones to West Ham in their bid to land Rice.

- Staying at Manchester United and the Daily Express reports they may give up on Norwich City right-back Max Aarons due to a £35m asking price.

- With Napoli seventh in Serie A and out of the Europa League after being eliminated by Granada, the pressure is on head coach Gennaro Gattuso. But CalcioMercato reports Gattuso is safe for now despite his side's struggles.

Manchester United are better placed to defeat Manchester City in the EFL Cup semi-finals this year than they were last, according to Nemanja Matic.

Matic played the full game as late strikes from Edinson Cavani and Anthony Martial gave United a 2-0 away win over Everton in Wednesday's quarter-final.

The draw immediately after the tie pitted them against rivals City once more, while Championship side Brentford will face Tottenham in the other last-four contest.

City defeated United 3-2 on aggregate in last season's semi-finals despite a goal from Matic, with Pep Guardiola's team going on to win the competition for a third straight year.

In a one-off tie this year, Matic is optimistic there will be a different outcome.

"This time I hope we will use our chance; we will do our best," Matic said to MUTV.

"I think that we are now in a better condition, a better moment. 

"We play better football than last year, in my opinion. I'm very confident."

This is the 16th time United have reached the last four, second only to Liverpool (17) in the competition's history.

United, who have won all nine of their domestic away matches so far in 2020-21 and 14 in a row dating back to last season, made a fast start at Goodison Park.

They remained on top in the second half – when Everton failed to register a single shot on target - but it was not until a wonderful strike from Cavani two minutes from time that they finally moved ahead.

Matic had the most pass attempts (103) and successful passes (93) on the pitch, while also having the most passes in the opposition half (52) and best success rate in that category among the 22 starters (88.5 per cent).

But he felt there were so many good performers on the night.

Alongside Matic in midfield, Paul Pogba continued his United revival by creating three chances, tied for a game high with team-mate Alex Telles.

Matic added: "Was it frustrating we hadn't scored before half-time? Yes, especially after the first 10 to 15 minutes. We had a lot of chances. 

"We hit the post, some the keeper saved, but that's football. Sometimes you score, sometimes not, but the most important thing was that we kept that level of football for 90 minutes. 

"We controlled the game and, at the end, the most important thing is [that we are in the] semi-finals.

"Everyone did a great job. I'm happy with everyone who played. Let's keep this momentum and this level of football.

"I think everyone who supports Manchester United is happy, because to come here to Goodison Park, it's not easy to control 90 minutes, and I think we did it.

"We didn't allow them to create a lot of chances. So I think that we absolutely deserve to be in the semi-finals, and with some fantastic football also. 

"We scored two goals, we created a lot of chances. I'm happy with everything that we saw in our team."

Nemanja Matic believes Manchester United can challenge for the Premier League title, claiming that, for the Red Devils, "every game is the game of our lives".

United came from behind to win 3-2 at bottom club Sheffield United on Thursday to move within two points of second-place Tottenham, with a game in hand.

Two goals from Marcus Rashford and one from Anthony Martial saw Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side become just the fourth team in English top-flight history to record 10 consecutive away league wins.

They have also scored at least twice in 10 away league matches, the longest such run in the top tier since Spurs did so in October 1960.

United would be just two points behind leaders Liverpool if they win their match in hand against Burnley and, although they have won just one of their past eight league games at Old Trafford, Matic is confident they can battle the champions for glory.

"Yeah I think so," he told United media when asked if United can win a first league title since 2013.

"I always say if you want to win a title, you have to win five or six consecutive games - then you can drop some points in maybe one or two games. Then you have to win five or six games again to win the league.

"We have to forget the game [against Sheffield United] and focus for the next one. For us, every game is a final. Every game is the game of our lives for us. I believe that we can do something."

Solskjaer's men fell behind at Bramall Lane when David McGoldrick scored following an error from goalkeeper Dean Henderson, but they recovered to move 3-1 ahead through Rashford and Martial.

Rashford's second proved pivotal given McGoldrick bundled in with three minutes of normal time remaining to set up a nervy finish.

"Up front, they played some amazing football," Matic said of his attacking team-mates. "We scored very nice goals, but that's exactly what we expect from them.

"That's why they are Man United players: they have to decide the games; they have to make the game easier for us to score goals and to create, so I'm not surprised."

If rumours are to be believed, Hakan Calhanoglu is tipped to swap Milan for Manchester United at the end of the season.

Calhanoglu is out of contract in June and the midfielder's negotiations with Milan over a new deal at San Siro have so far proven fruitless.

Up step United, who according to Sport Bild, are "90 per cent likely" to sign the 26-year-old Turkey international – Serie A champions Juventus and Inter have also been linked.

Calhanoglu has been rejuvenated under head coach Stefano Pioli as Milan enjoy an unbeaten start to the Serie A season, but how does he compare to stars Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba and United's current crop of midfielders?

For example, Calhanoglu completed 668 passes ending in the final third last season – more than Fred (476), Fernandes (408), Nemanja Matic (354), Pogba (343), Scott McTominay (273) and Juan Mata (246).

Calhanoglu – who has called Milan home since leaving Bayer Leverkusen in 2017 – created 70 chances in 2019-20 to go with nine goals and as many assists. By comparison, Fred led United with 35.

With help from Opta, we look at the numbers of Calhanoglu and potential new team-mates in their respective leagues in 2020-21.

 

Hakan Calhanoglu

Games: 9
Goals: 0
Shooting accuracy: 31.25
Shots on target: 5
Assists: 1
Goal assist at set play: 1
Chances created: 34
Passing accuracy: 85.79
Crosses/corner accuracy: 35.21
Passes ending in final third: 168
Passing accuracy ending in final third: 77.38

Bruno Fernandes

Games: 9
Goals: 7
Shooting accuracy: 66.67
Shots on target: 14
Assists: 3
Goal assist at set play: 0
Chances created: 27
Passing accuracy: 75.74
Crosses/corner accuracy: 31.48
Passes ending in final third: 264
Passing accuracy ending in final third: 68.94

Paul Pogba

Games: 7
Goals: 0
Shooting accuracy: 66.67
Shots on target: 2
Assists: 0
Goal assist at set play: 0
Chances created: 2
Passing accuracy: 79.92
Crosses/corner accuracy: 0
Passes ending in final third: 97
Passing accuracy ending in final third: 72.16

Fred

Games: 8
Goals: 0
Shooting accuracy: 0
Shots on target: 0
Assists: 0
Goal assist at set play: 0
Chances created: 6
Passing accuracy: 89.24
Crosses/corner accuracy: 0
Passes ending in final third: 98
Passing accuracy ending in final third: 80.61

Scott McTominay

Games: 7
Goals: 0
Shooting accuracy: 0
Shots on target: 0
Assists: 0
Goal assist at set play: 0
Chances created: 8
Passing accuracy: 86.87
Crosses/corner accuracy: 25
Passes ending in final third: 66
Passing accuracy ending in final third: 72.73

Donny van de Beek

Games: 7
Goals: 1
Shooting accuracy: 100
Shots on target: 1
Assists: 0
Goal assist at set play: 0
Chances created: 1
Passing accuracy: 83.78
Crosses/corner accuracy: N/A
Passes ending in final third: 49
Passing accuracy ending in final third: 71.43

Nemanja Matic

Games: 6
Goals: 0
Shooting accuracy: 100
Shots on target: 2
Assists: 0
Goal assist at set play: 0
Chances created: 3
Passing accuracy: 87.58
Crosses/corner accuracy: N/A
Passes ending in final third: 73
Passing accuracy ending in final third: 78.08

Juan Mata

Games: 4
Goals: 0
Shooting accuracy: 100
Shots on target: 2
Assists: 1
Goal assist at set play: 1
Chances created: 7
Passing accuracy: 87.5
Crosses/corner accuracy: 36.36
Passes ending in final third: 72
Passing accuracy ending in final third: 86.11 

Nemanja Matic wants Manchester United to kill opponents off when they have the chance after struggling West Brom made them work for a 1-0 victory on Saturday.

The win was United's first in the Premier League at Old Trafford since July and came with a slice of VAR fortune after an incident-packed start to the second half.

Bruno Fernandes was penalised for a foul on Conor Gallagher in the United box, only for the decision to be overturned when referee David Coote reviewed replays on the pitchside monitor.

Fernandes then had the chance to score from the spot himself, at which point the Portugal midfielder earned another reprieve.

Replays showed West Brom goalkeeper Sam Johnstone came off his line to save Fernandes' initial effort and the United playmaker made no mistake from the retake.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side were unable to build upon that slender advantage against an Albion side still without a win nine games into their top-flight return.

Johnstone was in inspired form against his former club, making six saves over the course of the 90 minutes, but Matic feels his team-mates could show more cutting edge.

"When we score first, we have to go on and kill the game as soon as possible, especially in the Premier League. We have to improve on that," he told MUTV.

"Every team has quality, every team is dangerous. One-nil is not enough. They almost scored, they had one [shot] hit the crossbar. So, they were always dangerous.

"We have to make sure that next time we have more concentration in attack and make sure we try to kill the game early."

On Opta's big chance conversion metric this season, United actually perform fairly well, converting 57.1 per cent – the seventh-best return in the Premier League and only half a percentage point shy of reigning champions Liverpool.

Leaders Tottenham have netted 62.1 per cent of their big chances, while out-of-sorts Manchester City, who United leapfrogged as they moved into the top half on Saturday, rank 19th with 26.7 per cent.

United's numbers suggest Matic might soon be more impressed by their efforts in front of goal, although the Serbia international insists there is only one statistic that truly interests him.

"Wins are the most important, of course, because at the end of the season nobody will ask you how you played, if you were amazing. The most important is you collect points," he added.

"Manchester United want to win titles and our aim is to be in first position and we will do everything for that. We can do that only as a team."

Manchester United star Nemanja Matic believes the Red Devils can win the Premier League, warning there are no excuses in 2020-21.

United enjoyed a 14-match unbeaten streak to finish third in the Premier League last season, behind champions Liverpool and Manchester City.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's United, who reached the semi-finals of the Europa League, FA Cup and EFL Cup in 2019-20, also qualified for the Champions League for the first time since 2017-18.

United finished 33 points adrift of rivals Liverpool, but veteran midfielder Matic is bullish about the club's chances heading into the new campaign.

"From the next season there is no excuses," Matic told the UTD Podcast. "We have to go with everything. We have to fight for the title because I felt that this year we dropped some points too easy. 

"We allowed Liverpool to win [the title], I don't know, 10 games before the season finished. They won the league, so we cannot allow that. We need to fight to the end. We have to play with more confidence, with more responsibility. 

"My personal target is to win the league with United and I am sure that everyone wants to do the same. We have to promise our supporters that we will do our best - exactly what we have done after [the coronavirus lockdown] when we started to play again. That's Manchester United. 

"We have to win five, six consecutive games then you can drop some points, then again you have to do that run. Like that we can win the league. In the beginning of the season we were not stable, we won one or two games then we lost and we drew.

"Proper United is exactly what we did after [lockdown] and I hope we can continue like that next season."

 

Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic has retired from international football, according to Serbia's sporting director Vladimir Matijasevic.

Reports began to circulate on Thursday claiming Matic had opted to quit Serbia despite being named in their most recent squad.

Matijasevic, who works as a director for the Football Association of Serbia (FSS), confirmed the decision on Friday.

He claims Matic has brought his international career to a close to allow for younger players to have prominence in the senior side.

Matic, 32, played 48 times for Serbia since 2008 and represented them at the 2018 World Cup, but he will now give United his sole focus.

"When I came to the FSS, I talked to [Aleksandar] Mitrovic, [Luka] Milivojevic and Matic," Matijasevic is quoted as saying by Serbian publication Tanjug.

"Nemanja said then that he would return, but he had some decisions of his own that have nothing to do with us.

"We talked a few days ago, I called him on the phone, we also agreed to have coffee if our time and obligations allowed it.

"It was an extremely pleasant conversation. He is determined to put an end to his national team career.

"He did not state more specific reasons – he knows why this is the case and pointed out that it is time for younger players to take his place.

"I repeat, it was not persuasion, but only a conversation. I respect his opinion. He is 32 years old, he had a difficult season behind him, it is necessary to have understanding.

"The selector [Ljubisa Tumbakovic] also talked to him, about which you will surely hear more at the press conference on Monday. This is Nemanja's decision, we must respect that."

Matic's days at United looked numbered towards the start of the 2019-20 season as he showed significant signs of decline and the improvement of younger players such as Fred and Scott McTominay led to reduced playing time.

But the former Chelsea midfielder enjoyed a resurgence after the turn of the year, with 15 of his 18 Premier League starts last term coming in 2020.

He was then handed a new three-year contract in July, a reward for particularly fine form following the Premier League's return from the coronavirus-enforced hiatus.

Nemanja Matic has vowed Manchester United cannot present youth as an excuse if they fail to challenge for next season's Premier League title.

The Serbian midfielder twice won the English league title while at Chelsea, and he joined United in 2017 with the aim of chasing more silverware.

Yet in three years at Old Trafford, Matic, who turned 32 on Saturday, has yet to capture a trophy with United.

United remain in the hunt to win the Europa League later this month, but the Premier League is their prime target, particularly given it is neighbours Manchester City and fierce rivals Liverpool who have been setting the highest standards.

The Red Devils finished the 2019-20 domestic season strongly under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, with young players such as Mason Greenwood, Marcus Rashford and Aaron Wan-Bissaka prominent.

But United's squad is chock-full of experience too, so in Matic's eyes there is no reason for them not to battle for top honours.

He told Inside United, the club's official magazine: "I would like to win the Premier League with Manchester United. I think that our club always needs to fight for the title.

"We always need to try to do the best for this club, which we are doing at the moment, and I think we cannot allow any club to win the league seven or 10 games before the season finishes. So we have to fight until the end."

Liverpool had seven games to spare when they clinched the Premier League title in June, and United ended the season 33 points adrift of their perennial foes, despite going 14 matches unbeaten in the competition at the end of the campaign.

"Of course, we have a young team, but this cannot be an excuse," Matic said. "I think these young players already have a few seasons behind them playing.

"So, from the next season, we have to fight for the title. I don't know if we're going to win [the title] but I'm sure that we can fight until the end.

"That's my personal target and I think the rest of my team-mates think the same."

Milos Ninkovic believes Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is perfectly suited to the Premier League as he compared the in-demand Lazio star to Paul Pogba.

Milinkovic-Savic has long been linked with a Lazio exit following his exploits for the Serie A side, where he arrived from Genk in 2015.

Chelsea, Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid, Juventus and Inter have all emerged as reported suitors for the Serbia international midfielder.

As speculation grows over Milinkovic-Savic's future in the Italian capital, former Serbia international Ninkovic feels it is time for the 25-year-old to leave Lazio.

"He is an unbelievable talent," Ninkovic, who now plays for Sydney FC in Australia, told Stats Perform News. "Probably one of the best midfielders in Italy. He reminds me of [United star] Pogba, he is that type of player because he is good on the ball, tall, strong, can score outside of the box and he is good in the air.

"For him, the most important thing is to be happy. If he is happy at Lazio, he should stay there. But if he wants a different challenge, than he definitely needs to leave. They talk about PSG, Man Utd… but it depends on how he feels.

"I think if he makes the right choice, he will be one of the best midfielders in the world.

"Personally, I think he needs a new challenge in his career because he's spent three or four years at Lazio. It's hard when that's the first time in the last years they're fighting for the Scudetto and probably next season it will be the same or fourth or fifth. For him it would be better if he can go somewhere else to play Champions League as well.

"Of course it also depends on his president and how much he wants. Especially now after coronavirus, everything won't be like before in terms of transfer fees and salaries."

Milinkovic-Savic has scored five goals and supplied four assists in Serie A this season and Ninkovic, 35, added: "I think England is perfect for him. Even France, when you have good players around you it's much easier to play.

"If he goes to Manchester United, Real Madrid or PSG, there's not much of a difference because they're all good players there. It will be even much easier for him, I think he will score more goals and supply more assists."

Another Serbian player in the headlines recently has been United midfielder Nemanja Matic following his form for the Red Devils.

Out of favour and looking set for a move away from Old Trafford at the start of the season, Matic has forced his way back into Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's plans and signed a new three-year contract.

Ninkovic played alongside Matic for Serbia and he hailed his 31-year-old compatriot, saying: "I spoke with him maybe a month ago. Obviously he didn't know anything and he said he would like to stay. I'm very happy for him because he is an unbelievable player and a very nice guy which is the most important thing.

"But I thought maybe there was a chance if he didn't re-sign that he could come to Australia. Maybe we will have to wait two or three more years. Maybe now it's easier for him because they started to play with one six and two eights or 10s, which is much better for him. We used to play that formation in the national team and he was unbelievable.

"You need to be strong mentally, especially at Manchester United with so many great players."

United, who sat fifth in the Premier League ahead of Thursday's trip to Crystal Palace, have strung together an 18-game unbeaten streak across all competitions, with Matic, Pogba and Bruno Fernandes earning plaudits.

Ninkovic believes the Red Devils now boast a better midfield than champions Liverpool and can challenge for the title next season.

"I think they needed some player like Fernandes and now they have Pogba, Fernandes and Matic in the middle," Ninkovic said. "I think they have one of the best midfields in the Premier League – maybe Manchester City [have the best]. I would say a better midfield than Liverpool.

"Probably they will try to sign one or two more players and definitely they will fight for the title."

David de Gea is one of the best goalkeepers in the world having saved Manchester United many times in his career, according to team-mate Nemanja Matic.

After a shaky start to life at Old Trafford following his arrival from Atletico Madrid, Spaniard De Gea became a pivotal part of a United team in transition, winning player of the year for three successive seasons.

However a slip in his previously lofty standards has led to greater scrutiny on his performances, with former Red Devils skipper Roy Keane even declaring he was "sick to death" of the keeper following Tottenham's goal in the 1-1 draw back in June.

Commenting on Steven Bergwijn's opener on Sky Sports' live coverage of the Premier League fixture, Keane said: "I would be fighting him at half-time. I would be swinging punches at that guy."

However, speaking to Stats Perform News, Matic explained that while he understands the role of those working in the media, De Gea remains in the top tier at his position.

"I didn't see what he [Keane] said but I think we have to agree David is one of the best goalkeepers in the world," the United midfielder said  

"He has saved us many times, saved points. Everyone is allowed to have mistakes - we are human.  

"The pundits, their job is to say their opinions. They have to speak because one team loses. No problem - we respect them, and we will always try to improve."

De Gea kept three clean sheets in four league outings after the draw with Spurs, though he was beaten twice as United drew with Southampton on Monday in his 400th appearance for the club.

The result saw Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side miss the chance to climb into third place in the table above Chelsea, who duly won 24 hours later against Norwich City to increase the gap to four points.

Frank Lampard has the Blues on course to qualify for the Champions League and while in direct competition for a top-four finish with his old club, Matic is impressed at the job done by his former team-mate at Stamford Bridge.

"I am happy for [Frank Lampard], I have to say that he is doing good. Of course we are fighting with them for that Champions League spot, but I have to be honest and say that I am happy he is doing great, because he is a great, great guy," Matic said. 

"I played with him when I signed for Chelsea in 2009, he was one of the best midfielders in the world, so when I trained with him he was a big example for me as a professional and I am happy for him after being a player, he's continued to do a great job as a manager.

"I wish him all the best, but of course this season I wish to be ahead of him in the Champions League spots."

Bruno Fernandes' start at Manchester United has shocked Nemanja Matic, who did not expect the Portugal international to adapt to life at Old Trafford so quickly.

United are unbeaten in 18 games across all competitions having been boosted by the arrival of Fernandes from Sporting CP in January after a lengthy transfer saga.

The midfielder has more than lived up to the hype, scoring seven goals and adding a further seven assists in just 11 Premier League outings.

Fernandes was short of his brilliant best in Monday's dramatic 2-2 home draw with Southampton, but still laid on an assist for Anthony Martial.

His immediate importance to United has been acknowledged by midfield colleague Matic, who knew United were getting a capable player from the Primeira Liga, but did not expect him to shine so quickly.

"Obviously he is a player with a lot of quality," Matic said to Stats Perform News.

"I have to say that he was the best player in Sporting Lisbon, one of the biggest Portuguese clubs. 

"To play and be the best player of Sporting is not easy, because there is a lot of pressure on you, there is a big expectation from the supporters to play for that club.

"I know because I played for Benfica, so the pressure is high and when you play on that level there then you are ready for the Premier League. 

"I didn't expect him to adapt that quick, I knew that he will be good for us but he adapted from the first minute that he stepped on the pitch - he was great.

"I like him because he wants to take responsibility, he always looks to receive the ball, he always finds good space to receive the ball and to hurt the opponent. It is always good to play with him." 

Matic continued: "If we take risks from the back and lose the ball we are in trouble, for him and in his position he needs to take the risks because we bought him because of that.

"He is doing well, he takes the risk and it is very important that when he takes the risk 50 per cent of the time he is successful.

"He is a player with quality, and of course when he takes a risk I am not afraid that he is going to do bad, most of the time he is going to do it correctly."

While Fernandes has impressed Matic, he stressed the whole team deserved credit for United's impressive revival under Ole Gunnnar Solskjaer this season.

"If I mention him then I have to say the rest of the squad is also great," added Matic, who signed a new contract with United this month.

"At the moment everyone is playing well, everyone is ready and the games we played these last few months is teamwork.

"I think everyone on the pitch is doing great. Everyone on the pitch knows their job, so hopefully we can continue like that."

Nemanja Matic is optimistic Paul Pogba will remain with Manchester United "for a long time".

The Serbian has formed an impressive midfield trio with Pogba and Bruno Fernandes since the Premier League's resumption, helping United extend their unbeaten run to 18 matches in all competitions.

Pogba's future at United has long been the subject of intense speculation, with comments from his agent Mino Raiola causing controversy earlier in a 2019-20 season where he struggled with injury.

But the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic and the club's upturn in form since the World Cup winner returned to the pitch to join new signing Fernandes have led to increased hopes he will stay.

Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has expressed confidence that Pogba – who is contracted until 2021 with the option for a further year – would sign a new deal and Matic thinks his team-mate is enjoying life at the club.

"I think at the moment he is happy," Matic, who himself signed fresh terms with United this month, said to Stats Perform News.

"When you are injured and outside of the pitch people will always talk and rumours will always be around him, but he can do anything. 

"As soon as he came back to training with us and playing I think he has shown that he is happy to play football and he is a great guy. 

"I think for me it is very important that Paul stays because that gives us more quality. Also, with his personality, he brings a lot to the team. 

"Of course, you never know what is going to happen in life but I see him happy at the moment.

"I wish for him to stay, I wish for the team. It is good he is a great guy for the group there is always fun around him. I will be happy to see him for a long time at Manchester United."

Pogba said this week United felt like "a proper team" again and he does not think they can be stopped if they continue on their current path.

He also praised the balance of the starting XI under Solskjaer and Matic feels the arrival of Fernandes is what has helped get the best out of Pogba.

Matic added: "With him and Bruno, I think that Paul can now, in my opinion, do what is his job.

"He is the player and kind of midfielder that can play box to box, he is not only an attacking midfielder like people were thinking. 

"He is a box to box player because he is strong, he can run, he can shoot, he can also defend very well, he can read the headers. 

"So now with Bruno, Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard, when they play in front of him, then in my opinion he can do the best.

"He is a player for everything, so I don't think he is a typical playmaker to be behind the strikers, but that player like a number eight, box to box.

"For me he is one of the best players in the world. So, I expect him next season to be even better, but what we saw in the few games of him [after the restart] he was absolutely fantastic, a proper player."

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