Cristiano Ronaldo has appeared to confirm he will make his return to the Manchester United side for Sunday's friendly with Rayo Vallecano.

The Portugal international has yet to feature in pre-season amid widespread reports he is seeking a move away from Old Trafford, less than a year on from returning to the club.

Further doubts were raised over Ronaldo's future when he was not included as part of United's 21-man travelling party ahead of Saturday's meeting with Atletico Madrid in Oslo.

However, responding to a tweet from a fan page announcing he would not play in either of United's friendlies this weekend, Ronaldo replied: "Sunday, the king plays".

Should he feature against Rayo, it will be the first time Ronaldo has put on the United shirt since the 4-0 defeat to Brighton and Hove Albion on May 7.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner sat out the final game of last season through injury and was not present for the Red Devils' four friendlies on their tour of Thailand and Australia.

Ronaldo was back at United's Carrington training base this week for talks, but widespread reports suggest he is still seeking a move to a team competing in the Champions League.

He scored 18 Premier League goals last season – only Mohamed Salah and Son Heung-min (both 23) netted more – but United still finished in sixth with their lowest ever points tally.

The 24 goals Ronaldo scored in all competitions in 2021-22 were 14 more than next-best Bruno Fernandes, with no other United player reaching double-figures in a dire season.

Ronaldo was particularly active on social media on Friday, having earlier responded to a post suggesting his agent Jorge Mendes had held talks with United's hierarchy.

"Impossible not to talk about me [for] one day," he wrote. "Otherwise the press makes no money.

"You know that if you don't lie, you can't get people's attention. Keep going that one day you [get] some news right."

Arsenal and Sevilla will observe a minute's applause in memory of Jose Antonio Reyes during Saturday's Emirates Cup clash. 

Reyes, who represented Sevilla and Arsenal during his playing career, died in a car accident in June 2019 at the age of 35. 

He lifted the Europa League three times with Sevilla and won two major honours with Arsenal. 

With two of his former clubs set to face off this weekend, Sevilla announced on Friday that a special tribute had been planned. 

Supporters inside Emirates Stadium were encouraged to applaud Reyes in the ninth minute, marking the number he wore on his shirt at Arsenal. 

There will also be a video tribute played on the big screens ahead of kick-off, while managers Mikel Arteta and Julen Lopetegui will exchange shirts before the match. 

Manchester United's players must "be ready to hear things we don't want to" from new manager Erik ten Hag if they are to avoid a repeat of last season, according to full-back Diogo Dalot.

Ten Hag officially replaced interim boss Ralf Rangnick at Old Trafford last month on the back of United posting their lowest-ever Premier League points tally (58) in the 2021-22 campaign.

The Dutchman's tenure has started in a positive fashion with three wins and a draw during the Red Devils' pre-season tour of Thailand and Australia, scoring 13 goals in the process.

However, Ten Hag criticised his team for an "unacceptable" loss of concentration in Saturday's friendly with Aston Villa, which finished in a 2-2 draw despite United leading by two goals at half-time.

Dalot, who played 67 minutes of the game in Perth, accepts that such comments must be taken on board.

"It is discipline. We need to be ready for that, to be ready to hear things that maybe we don't want to hear," Dalot said. "Everything is for the greater good of the team and that’s the most important thing.

"I feel that we start from scratch: new manager, new stuff, new energy, new players coming in, and we’re looking forward to playing with them as well. We need to build a team, a staff, a club, everyone together and go forward."

Jadon Sancho's third goal of pre-season and a Matty Cash own goal put United in a commanding position against Villa at Optus Stadium, but Leon Bailey pulled one back and Calum Chambers headed a stoppage-time leveller.

"We should have come into the second half a little bit more lively," Dalot said. "Obviously we were winning 2-0, but we need to keep the tempo, keep the ball, we don't want to concede so many counter-attacks that we conceded.

"But it is something to learn for the future. We are going to analyse the game for sure and take the lessons. We need to be proactive, not just the full-back – everyone. Read the game, be always on our toes.

"Mentally we have to be connected all the time, and hopefully we can improve a little bit more as well and go to the season."

Dalot has started all four of United's pre-season friendlies, suggesting he has dislodged Aaron Wan-Bissaka as first-choice right-back heading into Ten Hag's first season in charge.

The Portugal international has struggled to hold down a place since arriving from Porto in 2018, and was sent out on loan to Milan in the 2020-21 campaign, but he is up for the challenge of proving himself.

"I want to be ready for the manager, for the club – every time he needs me I'm going to be there," Dalot said.

"I need to show my qualities as well. This is why I came here, to show to this club I'm capable of playing many games for it. This is what I want."

Thomas Tuchel questioned the commitment of his Chelsea players and admitted they were "simply not good enough" in their heavy friendly defeat to Arsenal on Saturday.

The Blues were thumped 4-0 by Premier League rivals Arsenal at Camping World Stadium in Orlando in the final game of their pre-season tour of the United States.

Gabriel Jesus, Martin Odegaard, Bukayo Saka and Albert Sambi Lokonga were all on target for the Gunners, who looked far sharper in front of the 64,000 watching spectators.

And with the new season just two weeks away, Chelsea head coach Tuchel is worried about what he saw from his side.

"I think we deserved to lose – which is fair enough – because we were simply not good enough," he said.

"We were absolutely not competitive. The worrying part is the level of commitment, physically and mentally, was not the same – it was far higher for Arsenal than us.

"We can argue they played with I think their strongest line-up; they've had now together several weeks and for more than one year. 

"They've strengthened their line-up, played the same structure, and this is the line-up they'll try to start Premier League games.

"It was not our strongest line-up and this is part of an explanation, but only a little part. The other part is worrying."

First-team regulars Edouard Mendy, Reece James, Jorginho and Mason Mount started the game, while new signings Raheem Sterling and Kalidou Koulibaly also featured.

Chelsea were also beaten on penalties by MLS side Charlotte FC earlier in the week after a 1-1 draw in normal time, which followed on from a 2-1 win against Club America.

The Blues round off their pre-season programme away at Udinese next week before facing Everton in their opening Premier League game on August 6.

Tuchel has made clear he wants to further strengthen his squad before that trip to Goodison Park, with Jules Kounde reportedly close to joining from Sevilla.

"The analysing of the season does not change because of this game," Tuchel said when asked about the need to bring in more new signings. 

"Unfortunately, it proved my point and the last week proves my point. I would prefer to not be right and I did everything to prove myself wrong.

"But at the moment I feel I was right when I look at the last season and at the parts of the game where we struggled and how we struggled.

"We got sanctioned and players left us, we know that some players are trying to leave us, and this is where it is. 

"We've got two quality players – that is no doubt – but we are not competitive like this and unfortunately we could see it today."

Chelsea finished third in the Premier League last season, a distant 18 points behind runners-up Liverpool and 19 behind champions Manchester City.

Tuchel, who was not prepared to use fatigue as an excuse for the Arsenal loss, accepts his side cannot realistically think about making up the gap on the top two. 

"At the moment, given the last two weeks, given our last week and given the game today we should not mention the two teams in front of us," he said.

"We got absolutely beaten by a team that does not play Champions League next season, that is behind us. And it seems at the moment far ahead of us."

Tuchel added: "I am a huge fan of a strong pre-season for everything: for the atmosphere, for the feeling, for the performance, for the belief.

"We need to find solutions. We fly home now and then we have one-and-a-half days only and Tuesday afternoon we need to present solutions. 

"We need to present actions. We, me, the coaching staff, together with our team to stand up again and find a way through this because it hurts at the moment."

Antonio Conte has suggested Bayern Munich have been "a bit disrespectful" by refusing to rule out a move for Tottenham striker Harry Kane.

Kane, who has two years remaining on his Spurs contract, is reportedly being lined up as a potential replacement for Robert Lewandowski at the Allianz Arena following the prolific Poland captain's switch to Barcelona.

Bayern head coach Nagelsmann has expressed his admiration for the England skipper, but says he knows Kane may be too expensive.

The Bavarian giants' CEO Oliver Kahn had denied that the club are interested in buying Kane during this transfer window, but refused to rule out a move for the 28-year-old further down the line.

Speaking after his talisman Kane netted twice as Tottenham came from behind to beat Rangers 2-1 in a pre-season friendly on Saturday, Conte made it clear he was not impressed with Bayern.

"For sure, I'm a coach that doesn't speak about players from another team," the Italian said.

"The situation is very clear at Tottenham and Harry is a very important part of the project. [They are] only rumours, but I don't like to talk about players from another club.

"If I want to do something, I don't do it through the media. Maybe, that's a bit disrespectful for the other club."

Kane has scored five times in three games during pre-season, with Tottenham unbeaten after their 6-3 victory over a K-League XI and 1-1 draw with Sevilla.

The London club complete their preparations for the Premier League campaign against their former boss Jose Mourinho's Roma side next weekend, and Conte is pleased with the shape his squad are in.

"I'm happy because the [Rangers] game wasn't a friendly game; it was a real game," he added.

"The last game they played against West Ham, they won 3-1, and you know the fitness of Rangers is higher. But despite this, I think that we played with a good intensity, a good pressure and a good quality.

"For sure, we can improve because we conceded a goal that we can avoid, but I'm delighted with the attitude and the will and desire that the players are showing me in this pre-season. I'm very happy."

Erik ten Hag says there can be no excuse for Manchester United's "unacceptable" second-half display after they let a two-goal lead slip in Saturday's 2-2 draw with Aston Villa.

Jadon Sancho's third goal of pre-season and a Matty Cash own goal put United in a commanding position at half-time in the friendly at Optus Stadium in Perth.

However, the Red Devils were unable to see out a fourth win in four outings, as Leon Bailey pulled one back and Calum Chambers headed in a 93rd-minute leveller.

While disappointed his side dropped off after the break, Ten Hag is glad it happened in a friendly rather than in a competitive contest.

"I said in the dressing room, a drop of focus is unacceptable, but I'm happy because now I can tell them it cannot happen [again]," he said in his post-match news conference.

"[At the start of the second half you] have to get out of the dressing room and back in your plan and your focus and back to your performance and that is what we didn't do.

"We had a lot of movement behind the defending line, scored two great goals, so we were 2-0 up at half-time, and then our focus dropped."

United's fourth and final friendly in 11 days on their tour of Thailand and Australia was played in wet conditions, with concerns raised over the quality of the pitch ahead of kick-off.

Ten Hag did not want to use the playing surface as a reason for their shortcomings.

"It can be that the guys are tired, but that's not an excuse. They have to perform and it is what we didn't do in the second half," he said.

"It was the focus. I don't want to make excuses about the pitch or weather. No matter what, we have to perform.

"Football is a sport of mistakes and we have to decrease the mistakes. That's clear, but I have seen a lot of progress in these two weeks.

"In the first half I saw really good football, really controlling and dominating the game, but we have to learn from what happened in the second half. 

"It's not possible that you go 2-0 [ahead] and then throw it away."

United face Atletico Madrid and Rayo Vallecano next weekend in their final outings ahead of taking on Brighton and Hove Albion in their opening Premier League match.

Nani has implored Manchester United to do all they can to ensure Cristiano Ronaldo stays at the club amid speculation linking him with a move away.

Ronaldo has reportedly asked to leave Old Trafford in this transfer window, with Chelsea rumoured to be among the early frontrunners for his signature before the Blues signed fellow forward Raheem Sterling.

Chelsea's new owner Todd Boehly was said to have held talks with the Portugal captain before the American and coach Thomas Tuchel opted to resist the temptation to launch a bid.

Bayern Munich, who have lost talisman Robert Lewandowski to Barcelona, were another side linked with Ronaldo, but Julian Nagelsmann and chief executive Oliver Kahn were quick to rule out a move.

Erik ten Hag has repeatedly insisted Ronaldo is not available for transfer, though, with the new United coach making it clear he wishes to keep the 37-year-old at the club.

While United failed to secure Champions League qualification last season, reportedly a decisive factor in Ronaldo's dissatisfaction, former Red Devils winger Nani has urged his compatriot to stay with Ten Hag's side.

"I hope [he stays]," said Nani, who recently signed for Melbourne Victory and played a late cameo in their 4-1 friendly defeat to United on Friday.

"He's an important player and a player who always makes a difference. I hope he's in a good mood to help the club so hopefully [he'll stay]."

 

 

Nani also revealed he had tried to contact Ronaldo to discuss his future, but the five-time Ballon d'Or winner is busy on holiday.

"When he's on vacation he doesn't answer the phone to anybody," added Nani, who won four Premier League titles and one Champions League at United. "I tried to talk to him, but he said: 'I'm so busy now, we'll talk soon.'"

United will hope to have Ronaldo available to call upon when they begin their Premier League campaign at home to Brighton and Hove Albion on August 7.

 

Mikel Arteta hailed Gabriel Jesus's "chaotic" nature after the forward continued his impressive start for new side Arsenal in Saturday's pre-season win over Everton.

The Brazil international, recently signed from Manchester City in a reported £45million deal, made it three goals in two outings as Arsenal ran out 2-0 winners in Baltimore.

Jesus, who scored his first two goals for Arsenal in last week's 5-3 win over Nurnberg, also assisted Bukayo Saka for the Gunners' second goal against Everton.

Arteta has been impressed by the 25-year-old's instant impact and in particular his ability to disrupt opposition defences.

"He creates chaos, he creates uncertainty and he's always on your shoulder," Arteta said. 

"He's always there to nick the ball off you, he's always in front of the goal. He's a real threat and this is what we need.

"The moment we give the ball away he is straight away active and putting pressure and getting his team behind him. 

"He has a lot of leadership skills. I can see straight away what he's doing with the boys and he's the type of guy that we want.

"He looks really sharp, really dynamic. He's got a really good understanding with his team-mates straight away. 

"They are looking for him, he's generating chances, good connections around specific spaces we want to exploit with him especially, and yeah, we're really happy."

Excluding penalties, former Palmeiras ace Jesus averaged 0.81 goal involvements per 90 minutes between signing for City in 2016 and his departure this month.

Of players to have played at least 5,000 minutes over that period, only former City colleague Sergio Aguero (0.91) and Liverpool's Mohamed Salah (0.88) boast a better return.

Jesus was often used in a wide position at City, but Arteta has so far used the versatile forward through the middle.

"He's very versatile, but obviously, the way we would like to develop him is in that position," Arteta said when asked if he sees Jesus as a number nine.

"In relation to what the opponent does in certain games, we are going to have to use him in different positions. He's open to that and he knows it's part of his strength as well."

William Saliba was given his first run-out of the close season against Everton, the centre-back featuring for 71 minutes before being replaced by Pablo Mari.

He completed more passes (53) than any other player on the field and Arteta confirmed the 21-year-old – who has spent three seasons out on loan – is part of his plans.

"He is in the plans, yes," Arteta said. "We cannot guarantee first-team football to anybody in this team – you can ask that question to anybody.

"What we guarantee is that the ones we really see and think are going to take us to the next level, they're going to be playing a lot of minutes.

"He's a proper talent and he's shown in the last year what he can do. But in football it's about what you do the next day.

"What everybody did three months ago or a month ago, it doesn't really matter. It's about what you do tomorrow and he's going to have the chance to play."

Lionel Messi won a penalty that Sergio Ramos converted as Paris Saint-Germain got a new era under Christophe Galtier off to a winning start on Friday.

The French champions, who appointed Galtier as Mauricio Pochettino's successor earlier in July, saw off second-tier side Quevilly-Rouen 2-0 in a behind-closed-doors friendly.

Galtier named a starting XI containing a mix of big names and younger players, with Messi partnering Mauro Icardi in attack, while Vitinha, signed from Porto, was given a debut in midfield.

Messi played a big part in PSG's opener as he was brought down in the box for a penalty, which Ramos stepped up to convert midway through the first half.

Without Kylian Mbappe and Neymar for their pre-season opener, PSG were rewarded with a second goal early in the second half through 18-year-old academy player Djeidi Gassama.

PSG, who changed their entire side for the second half, will now fly out to Japan ahead of fixtures with Kawasaki Frontale, Urawa Reds and Gamba Osaka.

Jurgen Klopp has conceded Diogo Jota will likely miss the Community Shield final for Liverpool, while Alisson "should be fit" to face Manchester City.

Jota sat out of the pre-season opener in Bangkok on Tuesday, a 4-0 defeat to Manchester United, before Alisson joined the forward on the injury list ahead of the 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace on Friday.

Klopp had previously suggested he was concerned by a recurrence of Jota's hamstring issues, the forward having initially aggravated the problem he suffered when away with Portugal on international duty in June.

After victory over Palace in Singapore, where Mohamed Salah and Jordan Henderson were on target, Klopp provided an update on the injured duo.

"Ali, I think, has the chance for City and Diogo not," Reds manager Klopp told reporters as he discussed the upcoming Community Shield on July 30.

"Ali, he feels a muscle, abdominal. It's nothing serious but, again, we prepare a full season. So he can train but just not like before, so he should not play in the moment. Not normal goalie training but he has a pre-season, so he doesn't lose time. 

"But yeah, these kind of things happen. The boys have to travel a lot and train and you never know exactly. 

"It's only little things, nothing serious but we have to be careful because the rest of the season is much longer than the start."

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was another to limp off in the pre-season clash with Patrick Vieira's side, and Klopp hopes the "top-class" England international will soon recover from a muscle injury setback.

"Of course, it's very disappointing for us because Oxlade trained all the time really well since the pre-season started," he added.

"It happened obviously with Ox in the past when it gets more intense and something can happen. Now this is just a muscle thing and that's OK. We had worse situations, so I'm OK with it. 

"I don't know exactly how long it will take but he will be back and then it's all fine. He is obviously a top-class player and he can help us."

As injury fears mount, Klopp's attention turned to the upcoming Qatar World Cup, with July effectively serving as the first pre-season before unselected players will have to keep fitness across November and December.

Klopp, a regular critic of the Nations League and international football schedule, labelled this pre-season as like no other as he lamented the lack of concern for player welfare.

"Normally our pre-season is always the basis for the rest of the season, this time we have the first part of the season that's interrupted," he continued. 

"We are already kind of used to it because with the pandemic we had breaks and starting again.

"So it's not completely new to us anymore and when these players have time off, for example, if they are not at the World Cup, they never have real time off, they have a training schedule to fulfil so they don't lose a lot in these periods, which is very important for us.

"That's why we can give them at least as long as possible time off with family and holiday and stuff like this, but they just need it.

"Apart from that, the World Cup is for all top teams in football pretty much the same, especially in England it's the same because we play immediately.

"If you are in the final or the third-place [game] then you play again a week later - and then you play 26th, 31st, 2nd and stuff like this.

"Obviously the guys in the Premier League like the spectacular. I've said it often enough, nobody really cares about the players in these moments but that's how it is."

Liverpool face a nervous wait to discover if Diogo Jota is set for another injury absence, with Jurgen Klopp fearing a recurrence of the forward's hamstring problems.

Jota sat out the Reds' first game of their pre-season tour, as a heavily rotated side went down 4-0 to Manchester United in Bangkok.

The Champions League finalists have now flown on to Singapore for their next friendly, against Crystal Palace on Friday, but they are set to be without the Portugal attacker again.

Jota originally injured his hamstring while with Portugal during the international break in June, and Klopp speculated that the issue has been aggravated upon his return to training on Wednesday.

"Diogo is unlucky," Klopp told Liverpool's website. "Diogo was not involved [against United] because of an injury he got at the end of his season.

"He trained yesterday fully and got injured again, so that's really not cool. But we have to wait for the results. He had further assessments this morning, so we have to see."

Jota is not the only player who looks poised to miss the clash with Patrick Vieira's side, with Alisson a doubt.

"Ali was not 100 per cent, he finished the session earlier, was doing the warm-up and felt something, so now there we have to wait as well," Klopp added.

While Klopp's heavy rotation against United did not prove conducive to the final result, it nevertheless banked crucial minutes for several squad members, with 32 players used in all in Thailand.

Klopp hinted at a similar approach for Palace, adding: "Some might get 45 minutes tomorrow, we have to see, but again it's the period of the year where we have to be really careful with different things. 

"These are our footballers, these are the only boys we have. We have a lot of them, but these are the only ones we have, so we have to take care, and we bring them in the best possible situation."

Jordan Henderson is excited by Darwin Nunez, who he feels brings "a new dimension" to Liverpool ahead of a likely debut against Manchester United.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has confirmed Nunez and fellow new signing Fabio Carvalho are to be included in his squad to face United in Bangkok on Tuesday, as the Reds open their pre-season campaign.

Uruguay international forward Nunez was a high-profile arrival from Benfica in a deal that could reach a club-record £85million. He came in this off-season, with Sadio Mane leaving for Bayern Munich.

Nunez played against Liverpool in the Champions League last season and captain Henderson has already seen enough to believe the striker will make a big impact.

"Darwin performed well and scored in both games," Henderson said ahead of the United clash.

"That is probably a big reason why we signed him, but also the recruitment staff will have watched him in plenty of other games and will have seen a lot of quality. 

"Hopefully, he can settle in and hit the ground running. He is a new option, a new dimension for us with the way we play. We have got to adapt to that quickly and get used to it.

"Darwin certainly gives us a different option in the way he plays and is hopefully a huge player for us going forward. He can score goals, the staff will have seen a lot of quality and seen a very good player. 

"He is settling in really well. Don't get me wrong, it was his first proper session on Monday really, so [he] is still quite new into the group.

"But this group has shown in the past that it is easy to settle in quickly, he can already speak with some of the lads who speak Portuguese, but hopefully he can pick up English quickly.

"For us hopefully he can settle in and hit the ground running. Things move on, change, and hopefully we can adapt to that quickly."

Henderson was sad to see Mane depart but believes the attacking unit is still in strong shape, with Luis Diaz having impressed since joining from Porto in January.

The midfielder added: "Sadio would be a big miss for anybody, he is a world-class player, for me one of the best forwards in the world, so it's always going to be difficult losing him.

"We are sad to see him leave, but we wish him all the best. But you look at the forward line and it's still very, very strong. 

"We have brought new players in, but we also have world-class players who performed last season. Luis Diaz has come in and performed phenomenally well.

"Bobby [Roberto Firmino] coming back is a big bonus for us, he was injured for a large part of last season. We have plenty of options for sure."

With the new season fast approaching – Liverpool open their competitive campaign against Manchester City in the Community Shield on July 30 – Henderson does not believe the title race will again be between only those two teams.

"I never think it will be just us and City," he said. "Other teams strengthen.

"You look at Chelsea, they are strengthening, United will strengthen, Spurs will strengthen – they have done so quite a lot so far. 

"You look at other teams who are also going to strengthen.

"Yes, we have bought some new players and hopefully they can help us going forward and freshen things up, but we have to keep doing what we have been doing for a large period of time."

Jordan Henderson believes Liverpool are well-equipped to avoid a hangover from their Premier League and Champions League disappointments at the end of last season.

Liverpool lost out to Manchester City on the last day in their bid for top-flight glory, while Real Madrid beat them 1-0 in the Champions League final in Paris to earn continental glory.

The Reds did triumph in the FA Cup and EFL Cup, with captain Henderson confident there will be no adverse effects from missing out on the biggest two trophies that were up for grabs in their quadruple pursuit.

"There's no need for that," he said. "We have had disappointments in the past and didn't have hangovers, so we have always reacted in the right way. 

"We still won two trophies last year so it's not all negative – there were still positives to take out of it.

"It was a fantastic season. Yes, it didn't end the way we would have liked, but that’s football, that's life, you get on with it and react in the right way and we just want to go again, to perform." 

Henderson added: "I wouldn't say it [the disappointment] has made us more motivated, but you are always motivated to win the biggest trophies.

"That is why we play. We want to be successful; we want to win things and we managed to win two last year.

"It didn't end the way we would like, but we pushed all the way and that is all you can ask for, so you move on, you take the positives, improve on the things we can and try and perform in every game we play. 

"We have done that for a long period of time and now we just have to keep going, keep pushing."

Henderson was speaking in Bangkok before Liverpool get their pre-season campaign under way against rivals Manchester United on Tuesday.

"We are constantly working to improve; we can't worry about other people [teams] around us – that's not in your control," added the England international. 

"This is a good moment for us in pre-season to get everyone back to work so that when the season comes, we're at a good base level of fitness and ready to go."

Liverpool face City in the Community Shield on July 30 before opening their Premier League campaign for the 2022-23 season against newly promoted Fulham on August 6.

Nani is relishing the prospect of a Manchester United reunion after joining A-League side Melbourne Victory.

The 35-year-old former Portugal star has moved to Australia on a two-year contract, with his Victory deal announced on Tuesday.

Nani left United eight years ago and has since had spells at Sporting CP, Fenerbahce, Valencia, Lazio, Orlando City and Venezia.

He could line up against United on Friday, however, with his new team facing the Premier League giants in a friendly at the MCG.

Nani, who won the 2007-08 Champions League and four Premier League titles with United, was asked about his prospects of playing in that game.

"I would like to, I don't know. I just arrived in the country, and it's a long flight, so there are lots of things to do," Nani said.

"The body must be ready to compete. I think the fans and everyone expecting me to be able to perform with all my qualities, so playing that game could be not a good idea, but as a player I always want to play, so give me five minutes and I will be ready."

Nani won 112 caps for Portugal, scoring 24 goals for his country.

As his international career was winding down, so Bruno Fernandes was emerging as a candidate to come into the Portugal side and stamp his own mark.

The pair were team-mates at Sporting for a short time and could now go head-to-head, with Nani saying he had yet to speak to Fernandes about his Melbourne move.

"Not yet, we had to be a little bit quiet about this transfer," Nani said. "I know there will be time for us to meet here and talk about everything."

Nani was impressed with Melbourne boss Tony Popovic's plans, persuading him to try his luck in Australia for the first time.

He said: "I had some clubs interested in me, but Melbourne Victory is a club that has been trying to contact me for a long time. I had the opportunity to talk with the coach and had great feelings, and that was one of the good reasons to make me come here."

Mainz will push ahead with plans to face Newcastle United in a pre-season friendly despite backlash from their supporters.

Newcastle will face German clubs Mainz and 1860 Munich in Austria ahead of the 2022-23 season.

But the scheduled matches have not been welcomed by supporters of those clubs due to the identity of Newcastle's owners.

The consortium that bought Newcastle last October includes Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF), which owns 80 per cent of the club.

Saudi Arabia's human rights record is of major concern, along with its role in the war in Yemen.

But Mainz insist they cannot afford to cancel the Newcastle friendly, both because of the need to prepare for the Bundesliga season and due to contractual obligations.

"A friendly against a big English club is first of all a really good test for us," said chairman Stefan Hofmann in a statement in which Mainz confirmed they had held further talks with Newcastle and would plan to meet with fans. "It's also important for our team’s pre-season preparations.

"After weighing up our options and not having an appropriate alternative opponent of this standard available, we agreed to play this game.

"We didn't expect the reaction we got from some fans. We respect them and regret that these concerns have arisen because it's our responsibility to start the new season as one big unit together with our fans."

Mainz board member Christian Heidel added: "From a footballing perspective, we can't afford to miss out on this friendly.

"A one-sided cancellation of the fixture, as has been demanded by some fans, is not feasible, because were we to not honour our contractual obligations, this could have serious legal and economic consequences for us, and so we're going to stand by the contractual agreement."

Mainz coach Bo Svensson had already addressed the concerns, saying as reported by Bild: "On the one hand, I can understand the arguments.

"[But] whenever it comes to football, things get very inflated and become huge issues."

Referring to the PIF's shares in Disney, Svensson added: "How far are we going? Will we then also forego Disney films with our children?"

1860 coach Michael Kollner said to db24: "You always have to be a bit careful when conducting a moral discussion. I find that difficult. You can find something in everyone.

"We haven't done everything right in the past either – and teams are still playing against us in preparation.

"Newcastle was bought by someone with the money he has. I don't know if we are always entitled to evaluate things – especially in times when we have completely different issues in Europe.

"Unity looks different. I'm responsible for the sport – and I'm glad we got this test match."

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