Is Zinedine Zidane's second spell in charge of Real Madrid coming to an end?

Zidane guided Madrid to three successive Champions League titles in his first stint, and last season's LaLiga crown after returning to the Santiago Bernabeu in 2019.

But the Los Blancos great is under mounting pressure amid the club's struggles this season.

 

TOP STORY – ZIDANE IN DANGER

Mauricio Pochettino and Raul are waiting in the wings to replace Zinedine Zidane at Real Madrid, according to widespread reports in Spain.

Madrid head coach Zidane is in danger of losing his job following Tuesday's Champions League loss to Shakhtar Donetsk.

Los Blancos have suffered back-to-back defeats and three in their past five outings across all competitions to be seven points adrift in LaLiga and on the cusp of Champions League elimination.

Thursday's Mundo Deportivo, Diario AS and Sport report former Tottenham boss Pochettino and Madrid Castilla coach Raul are eyeing the hot seat.

ROUND-UP

- Calciomercato claims the race to sign Rennes and France sensation Eduardo Camavinga is down to Madrid and Manchester United. Serie A champions Juventus had also been linked, though there has been talk of Paul Pogba returning to Turin after leaving for Old Trafford in 2016.

- Bayern Munich star David Alaba is hoping to strike a January agreement with Chelsea, according to Fabrizio Romano's 'Here We Go Podcast'. Alaba is a free agent at the end of the season and he has been linked to the likes of Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain.

Juventus have shown an interest in Barcelona centre-back Samuel Umtiti, according to Calciomercato. Arsenal's Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Fiorentina defender Nikola Milenkovic are also on the shortlist.

Madrid are eyeing Benfica forward Darwin Nunez, reports Calciomercato. The Uruguay international has also caught the attention of LaLiga rivals Barca.

- What does the future hold for Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland? Heavily linked to United, Madrid, Liverpool, PSG and even Barca, Calciomercato says Juve are monitoring the Norwegian closely.

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 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay are "very unlikely" to be fit for Manchester United's Premier League trip to Southampton on Sunday.

Pogba has been sidelined by an ankle injury, which the United boss revealed is not related to the issue that he struggled with last season.

McTominay also missed a 4-1 midweek Champions League win over Istanbul Basaksehir with an unspecified injury.

Solskjaer does not expect the midfield duo to be involved when the Red Devils go in search of a fourth consecutive win at the expense of the high-flying Saints.

There was better news of Marcus Rashford, Victor Lindelof and Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who were withdrawn in the victory over Basaksehir, but trained on Friday.

"Scott and Paul didn't train this morning," Solskjaer said on Friday. "They weren't on the grass, so look very unlikely for the weekend.

"Marcus, Victor, Aaron came through the session today, so hopefully they should be okay but still not 100 per cent."

Jesse Lingard is back in contention, having finished a period of self-isolation after coming into contact with an individual who tested positive for coronavirus, but Luke Shaw (hamstring) is not ready to return.

Donny van de Beek and and Edinson Cavani caught the eye after being given the chance to start against the Turkish champions and Solskjaer suggested they will get another opportunity at St Mary's Stadium.

"Luke has just started his rehab, out on the grass, not out with the team yet. Jesse's back from his isolation period, so he had a couple of days training with the group. Apart from that, Phil Jones is out until after Christmas sometime," Solskjaer said.

"We played on Tuesday then don't have a game until Sunday, so it's been a long period for us, we managed to give the boys a day off during this difficult time. [Van de Beek and Cavani] will both be available to play and I'm sure if they do they'll be capable again."

Edinson Cavani was handed his first start for Manchester United for Tuesday's Champions League clash with Istanbul Basaksehir.

The experienced Uruguayan striker was named at the spearhead of an attack that also included Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial.

Teenager Mason Greenwood was among the substitutes, having not played since the 2-1 defeat in Turkey three weeks ago.

Paul Pogba, who has been nursing a knock, was not included in the squad.

Donny van de Beek was selected alongside Fred in midfield, with Alex Telles continuing at left-back for the injured Luke Shaw.

David de Gea was chosen in goal, despite pre-match speculation suggesting Dean Henderson would be involved from the start.

Facundo Pellistri, the 18-year-old signed from Penarol in the previous transfer window, was also among the substitutes.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side went into the match as leaders of Group H, with six points from their opening three matches.

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has denied Dean Henderson wants a move in January and revealed Paul Pogba could return against Istanbul Basaksehir on Tuesday.

It was reported by The Sun at the weekend that goalkeeper Henderson is eager to make another loan switch to give himself every chance of being selected in the England squad for Euro 2020 next year.

Henderson was outstanding for Sheffield United in the Premier League last season but signed a new long-term deal with United after returning to Old Trafford.

The 23-year-old has been limited to two EFL Cup appearances and one Champions League outing in Istanbul in the 2019-20 campaign, with David de Gea Solskjaer's first-choice keeper.

Henderson is thought to be set to start when Group H leaders United go in search of revenge against the Turkish champions and Solskjaer says further opportunities will come his way.

He said in a press conference on Monday: "Dean wants to stay at Man United and play for Man United.

"I can't see the logic in [Henderson making] only one more appearance before Christmas. Do you know how many games we have?

"He is training well, he has potential to be one of the best. I don't buy the argument it is make or break for him [on Tuesday]."

There was further speculation over Pogba's future after the midfielder was not included in the squad for a 1-0 win over West Brom on Saturday, an absence Solskjaer revealed was due to a knock.

The France international may be back at Old Trafford for a crunch encounter with a side that beat them 2-1 earlier this month.

Jesse Lingard is unavailable as he has gone into self-isolation after coming into contact with an individual who tested positive for coronavirus.

Asked about Pogba's fitness, Solskjaer said: "We hope he is going to be available. We will see when we report tomorrow. [Luke] Shaw, [Phil] Jones out. Lingard is self-isolating after contact with a positive case."

Paul Pogba has not been included in Manchester United's squad for Saturday's Premier League clash with West Brom after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer revealed he picked up a knock in training.

United boss Solskjaer this week acknowledged Pogba is unhappy at Old Trafford, having started just five games for the Red Devils in all competitions this season.

France head coach Didier Deschamps also stated during the international break that the out-of-sorts midfielder is not satisfied with his "situation" at United.

Pogba was not even named among the substitutes for the encounter with struggling West Brom at Old Trafford and athough Solskjaer said he is not fully fit prior to the game, that will not stop further speculation over the former Juventus man's future.

Alex Telles makes his Premier League debut, replacing Luke Shaw in the starting line-up after the left-back suffered a hamstring injury in the victory over Everton last time out.

Nemanja Matic comes into the United midfield, with Scott McTominay dropping to the bench.

What does the future hold for Manchester United star Paul Pogba?

Out of form and out of favour, Pogba has found himself out of the starting line-up this season and the Frenchman is not happy.

Could Pogba be prepared to wait for his perfect move away?

 

TOP STORY – POGBA EYEING EXIT

Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba could leave Old Trafford on a free transfer, according to The Athletic.

Pogba left United for Juventus on a free transfer in 2012 before returning to Manchester for a then-world record €105million (£89.3m) in 2016.

But the France international is unhappy at the Theatre of Dreams, where he is contracted until 2022, amid links with former club Juve and LaLiga champions Real Madrid.

 

ROUND-UP

- Tuttosport says Juve have turned their attention from Pogba to his countryman and Rennes sensation Eduardo Camavinga. The 18-year-old has been tipped to join Madrid, while Paris Saint-Germain are also reportedly interested.

- Bayern Munich centre-back Niklas Sule is dreaming of a move to United, claims Bild. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's United are believed to be pursuing a defensive partner for Harry Maguire, with Madrid's Raphael Varane and RB Leipzig star Dayot Upamecano reported targets.

Isco is ready to leave Madrid in January, reports Marca. The attacking midfielder has been linked with Everton, following previous links to Juve and Manchester City.

- Liverpool Echo claims Liverpool have been quoted £26.7million (€29.8m) to sign Ajax defender Perr Schuurs. The 20-year-old is also reportedly wanted by Milan.

Arsenal are working on a structured payment plan to sign Salzburg sensation Dominik Szoboszlai, says the Mirror.

Juve are targeting Sporting CP defender Nuno Mendes, A Bola reports. The 18-year-old has also been linked with Milan, Arsenal, Manchester United and Wolves.

Inter and Antonio Conte have reached an agreement over a new contract but Corriere dello Sport says there will be no contract extensions during the season. Barcelona target Lautaro Martinez is the most problematic case for the Nerazzurri.

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer acknowledged Paul Pogba is unhappy but insisted the midfielder has all the "qualities" to deliver for the struggling Premier League side.

Pogba's future has made headlines again following comments made by France head coach Didier Deschamps, who suggested the star midfielder was not satisfied with his "situation" at Old Trafford after struggling to find his best form.

The Frenchman, who started all three of Les Bleus' internationals over the past fortnight, has started four of United's seven Premier League fixtures this season.

Through three Champions League matchdays, Pogba has only been named in Solskjaer's starting line-up once.

Pogba has created two chances in the Premier League and his passing accuracy stands at 79.9 per cent, while he has three chances created and two assists in the Champions League.

Asked about Pogba amid links with former club Juventus and LaLiga champions Real Madrid, Solskjaer – speaking ahead of Saturday's visit of lowly West Brom – Solskjaer told reporters: "We always get questions and we try to answer as well as we can.

"I think the press sometimes makes more of it and people maybe at home not having the whole interview make more of it. We're all experienced enough to try to avoid big massive headlines.

"I spoke to Paul today about it. Of course he's not been happy when he's not playing, and not playing really well. He's not been happy with his performances. He plays in the same position for France and he does for us, so that's not a different scenario.

"It's about getting momentum and rhythm and, as I said earlier, he felt really strong towards the end against Portugal and towards the end of the game with Sweden which is natural because he had COVID and he needed time. That's the same with all of our players, they look stronger and fitter and he's the same.

"There are always discussions about players who can play in different positions because they have the quality to do so many things and they can play in different positions.

"Paul is the same, he can do the role and he has the qualities to do many things, it's about the balance of the team, that's on the XI you pick that day, that's the key.

"Sometimes it's an eight, sometimes a 10, sometimes in off the left in a diamond, sometimes one of the two, he can do everything. And now, the fitter he gets the more he can do."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says people need to "step back" and appreciate the progress Mason Greenwood has made at Manchester United amid ongoing reports about his poor application in training. 

The 19-year-old enjoyed a stunning breakout season for the Red Devils last term, scoring 17 goals across all competitions. 

He has struggled on and off the pitch so far this campaign, though, scoring just twice in eight appearances and suffering the indignity of being sent home from England duty following a 1-0 win over Iceland in September for breaching coronavirus protocols. 

Greenwood was absent for United's 3-1 Premier League win over Everton a fortnight ago, while he was not selected by Gareth Southgate for England's recent internationals.

Reports have surfaced suggesting Red Devils boss Solskjaer has grown frustrated with the teenage academy product and warned the youngster about his punctuality. 

Speaking ahead of United's top-flight clash with West Brom on Saturday, Solskjaer revealed Greenwood has not been feeling well and wants people to recognise the strides he has made over the past 12 months.

"You have to take a step back sometimes," he told a media conference. "The boy's only 19 and he's had a fantastic year. 

"If we go a year back, I left him out of the EFL Cup against Chelsea. Mason stayed back and played against Doncaster Rovers in the Checkatrade Trophy to get game time, that's how far he's come. 

"Now he's got lots of goals, made his England debut, scored in his first Under-21s game and, of course, the headlines are going to be about when he scores and doesn't play.

"Everyone's allowed to not be well. If you're not well you can't train. He's been away eight or nine days from training so we're just building him up again and I have no doubts about him.

"He has a very good head on him and the talent is there for all to see."

Another United player to have struggled this season is Paul Pogba, who has failed to score or create an assist in his seven Premier League appearances. 

He has also created just two chances for his team-mates. By comparison, Bruno Fernandes has laid on 10 times as many, just one shy of Mohamed Salah's league-high 21.

France coach Didier Deschamps recently suggested Pogba is not satisfied with his "situation" at United after struggling to find his best form.

Solskjaer, however, believes Pogba will be rejuvenated after starting all three of Les Bleus' internationals over the past fortnight and expects the 27-year-old to be an integral player for United as the season progresses. 

"Paul had a difficult season last season and had COVID-19 in this one, but those three games he played for France helped," he added.

"I spoke to Paul and he felt towards the end of the Portugal and Sweden games he felt stronger. He played well and I think he's only going to improve.

"Paul is a very important player and very important person for us and to have him in form and happy is going be important."

France head coach Didier Deschamps hopes Paul Pogba's form during the international break can help him at Manchester United.

Amid his struggles with the Premier League giants, Pogba played 90 minutes in France's 4-2 Nations League win over Sweden on Tuesday.

Pogba had the most interceptions (four) of any player on the pitch, and his eight possessions gained were the equal most.

Deschamps lauded Pogba and hopes the midfielder can take a boost from his international form when he returns to United.  

"I don't want to criticise anyone... but I know him, I know how he is. He has pride, but even more importantly, he has talent," he told a news conference.

"When he has to defend, he is able to defend. He can make assists. Paul is a top player. I hope his recent time with us will help him."

Pogba is yet to register a goal or an assist in seven Premier League games this season, while his 57.7 passes and 46.1 successful passes per 90 minutes are his lowest since his return to United in 2016.

France had already clinched a place in the Nations League Finals, and the win over Sweden saw them to a fifth victory in six Group A3 games.

Kylian Mbappe made his return from injury off the bench and set up Olivier Giroud's second goal, and Deschamps was pleased to have the Paris Saint-Germain star back.

"He was good, he had good sensations. He was coming back and he made an assist. He enjoyed being on the pitch again," he said.

"Now, he will go back to his club. I think they have a game very soon [on Friday against Monaco] like other players. He wanted to play.

"First, it was not possible [against Portugal]. Our medical staff made an incredible job for him to be fit and on the pitch. And he will be available for his club from [Wednesday]."

Former Juventus midfielder Claudio Marchisio told Manchester United star Paul Pogba to return to the Serie A giants and "be happy again".

Pogba has been linked with a move away from United, where he returned from Juve in 2016.

The 27-year-old sparked fresh speculation over his future when he discussed his happiness to be on international duty, saying "the French national team is a breath of fresh air".

Pogba is reportedly a target for Juventus and LaLiga giants Real Madrid, and former team-mate Marchisio would love to see him back in Turin.

Replying to a tweet from Pogba, Marchisio wrote: "Please @paulpogba.

"Come to @juventusfc… you will be happy again. Me too #tilltheend"

Pogba spent four seasons at Juventus between 2012 and 2016, winning Serie A in each of those campaigns to go with two Coppa Italia trophies and a pair of Supercoppa Italiana crowns.

The 2018 World Cup winner has won the EFL Cup and Europa League since returning to United.

Pogba has made seven Premier League appearances for United this season, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men 14th in the table.

He is without a goal or an assist in the league this season, while his passing accuracy (79.9) is his lowest since arriving at United.

Pogba's 46.1 successful passes and 57.7 passes per 90 minutes are also the lowest since his return to the club, while his 10.9 passes into the final third per 90 is his second lowest.

United return to action when they host West Brom on Saturday.

Manchester City could be set to strengthen in attack ahead of next season, with Erling Haaland and Lautaro Martinez reportedly their main targets.

The Premier League giants may be looking for a forward amid uncertainty over Sergio Aguero, whose contract expires at the end of the season.

And two of Europe's top talents are apparently top of their list.

 

TOP STORY – MAN CITY EYE HAALAND, MARTINEZ

Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland and Inter forward Lautaro Martinez top Manchester City's wish list next year, according to 90min.

Haaland and Martinez have been heavily linked with Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively.

The report says with Aguero's future unclear and some questions over Gabriel Jesus, City are prioritising a forward.

Haaland is the equal top goalscorer in the Champions League this season with four, converting 60 per cent of his big chances.

Martinez has a goal and an assist in three Champions League games, while creating five chances.

Meanwhile, the Daily Star reports City are weighing up using their £25million buy-back clause on Aston Villa midfielder Douglas Luiz, while they are also looking at star Jack Grealish.

 

ROUND-UP

- While Paul Pogba is reportedly unhappy at Manchester United, Fabrizio Romano says the Premier League giants want to extend the midfielder's contract, although nothing is advanced. Pogba's current deal runs until 2022.

- Hakan Calhanoglu seems set to leave Milan. Mundo Deportivo reports Atletico Madrid are in pole position to sign the midfielder, who has also been linked to Manchester United, Juventus and Inter. Calhanoglu is out of contract at the end of the season.

- Staying at Milan and Milan Live claims the Serie A outfit are looking at Bayern Munich defender Jerome Boateng, another player whose deal expires at the end of the campaign.

- Barcelona could be looking to raise funds in January. Sport says Riqui Puig and Carles Alena are set for January exits.

- Also at Barcelona and Mundo Deportivo reports the LaLiga giants will rely on Oscar Mingueza, Arnau Comas or Santiago Mingo from the B team if Manchester City do not lower their asking price, believed to be €15m (£13.4m), for defender Eric Garcia in January.

Paul Pogba has described playing with France as a "breath of fresh air" in the context of his bleak situation at Manchester United. 

Pogba completed 90 minutes as N'Golo Kante netted the winner in Saturday's 1-0 Nations League victory over Portugal in Lisbon. 

Didier Deschamps still counts the former Juventus man as a key pillar of his World Cup-winning team, somewhat in contrast to Pogba's falling stock at United. 

Amid an underwhelming start to the season at Old Trafford, the 27-year-old has only started half of United's 10 games across the Premier League and Champions League. 

"This is a period, the kind of which I have never experienced in my career," Pogba told RTL. 

"The French national team is a breath of fresh air. We are very happy to come here and all very happy to see each other again. It is not the same as with the club. 

"We all group together, it is magical. We realise that everyone is happy to come and that makes a difference."

Pogba felt claiming three points against the country who beat France on home soil in the final of Euro 2016 provided the perfect response to a 2-0 friendly defeat to Finland.

“We are still excited, joyous, it is true that we really savoured this one," he said.

"We played like a mature team. We attacked and defended together as one and we felt this feeling again that we had at the World Cup.

"The response was quick and immediate after the defeat to Finland and we will remember this one."

While his future prospects at United appear increasingly uncertain, Pogba has a clarity of purpose when it comes to France building on their triumph in Russia two years ago.

"Our aim is to win the Euros," he added. "We want to win. It is meaningless if we cannot go all the way.

"We need to continue on what we did at the World Cup."

Paul Pogba's struggles at Manchester United are impacting the star midfielder mentally and physically, according to France head coach Didier Deschamps.

Pogba has struggled for form and consistency this season amid links with a return to Serie A champions Juventus and blockbuster switch to LaLiga holders Real Madrid.

The France international, who previously flagged an exit last season, has found himself on the bench at Old Trafford this term – Pogba has started four of United's seven Premier League fixtures.

Through three Champions League matchdays, Pogba has only been named in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's starting line-up once.

Pogba has created two chances in the Premier League, while his passing accuracy stands at 79.9 per cent, while he has three chances created and two assists in the Champions League.

After struggling in the midweek friendly loss to Finland, Deschamps was asked about Pogba ahead of Saturday's Nations League showdown against Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal.

"He is not at his best, I knew that before," Deschamps told reporters. "This match against Finland was supposed to give him rhythm, so did Olivier Giroud.

"I had talked to them, they knew they would play for an hour at most. When you see the result, it's hard to remember the positive. Paul is not in his best period, I said that before Finland.

"Like all players who have a complicated situation at a club, they are impacted mentally, not just physically."

France sit second behind Portugal on goal difference after four games in League A Group 3.

Deschamps' France have won three matches and drawn once as they prepare for a Nations League double-header against Portugal and Sweden, who are winless.

Frank de Boer "said bad words" upon seeing Virgil van Dijk suffer a serious injury in action for Liverpool, though he is far more relaxed about Donny van de Beek's situation at Manchester United.

Van Dijk is likely to be out for the rest of the season after sustaining significant damage to his anterior cruciate ligament in last month's Merseyside derby.

The 29-year-old centre-back was on the wrong end of a dreadful challenge from Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, who remarkably avoided a red card.

Of course, Van Dijk's absence does not only impact Liverpool, it also affects the Netherlands, who could ultimately be without him for next year's delayed European Championship.

"I saw it live. I was shocked. I said some bad words," De Boer said on Tuesday ahead of a friendly against Spain on Wednesday.

"It was a shock, because he's such an important player, our captain, and he's so important in our squad. We will miss him."

De Boer was less concerned about the position Van de Beek finds himself in at United, however.

The midfielder, a pre-season arrival from Ajax, has been a bit-part player for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer this term, making only four starts across all competitions – none of those have been in the Premier League, in which he has seen just 75 minutes of action.

De Boer acknowledged that the player has reason for frustration but urged patience.

When asked if he wanted to give the 23-year-old a sympathetic hug, De Boer said: "I can't hug him right now of course! I try to give him as much confidence as possible, which I showed by starting him against Italy.

"I think he did well in the games he played, I saw him a few times at United. He's doing well, but they have a great midfield with [Bruno] Fernandes, [Paul] Pogba, Fred, [Scott] McTominay and [Nemanja] Matic.

"It's difficult, but I'm sure he will play his minutes. I can understand he wants to feature more frequently, but on the other hand, it's always normal that you have to adapt when you go to a new league.

"Let's hope he will get his playing time. I am happy that he's well-rested. We can use him here."

After the international break, Van de Beek will likely target Pogba's position in the United team.

The Frenchman has created just two goalscoring chances in the Premier League this term, only one more than Van de Beek despite playing 298 more minutes than him.

Pogba also has no goals in the top flight – Van de Beek netted his first for the club against Crystal Palace.

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