Edin Terzic was unsure whether Jadon Sancho will return to Borussia Dortmund but said the "brilliant" winger will play in more Champions League finals.

The on-loan Manchester United attacker was unable to stop Real Madrid from securing their 15th title in Europe's top continental club competition on Saturday.

Dani Carvajal and Vinicius Junior did the damage late on for Carlo Ancelotti's side at Wembley Stadium, where Sancho was playing on home turf at England's national home ground.

Sancho is set to return to Old Trafford after being dismissed following his widely reported fallout with manager Erik ten Hag, though Terzic hailed the BVB loanee.

"I am very happy to work with Jadon," Terzic said after the 2-0 defeat. "I don't know what the future will bring, but for sure it will bring him another Champions League final.

"I didn't speak about his future [at Dortmund} because we have been talking about the present and the present is playing a Champions League final in his hometown, a very special moment for him.

"He is very happy with us and you can see the joy he has and the joy he brings to us. For the last six months, he has been brilliant for us.

"Of course, he took time to get into shape, but you can feel his quality and skills improved our game immediately.

"He not only improved his game, but those around him. He is very gifted."

Terzic's Dortmund will feel they should have, at the very least, got something out of the first half against Madrid.

Madrid's left-hand post denied Niclas Fullkrug, while Karim Adeyemi rounded Thibaut Courtois but could not find the target.

Dortmund have now lost each of their last three major European finals in a row, against Feyenoord in 2002, Bayern in 2013 and Madrid this year.

Yet veteran centre-back Mats Hummels, who played every minute of this Champions League campaign, remains proud of Terzic's men.

"We showed a lot of courage, heart and footballing skill," speaking with Germany's ZDF network.

"We missed out on scoring and then conceded the goal. That's how they always do it.

"That shows their quality, but it also took a bit of luck today."

The biggest game of the European club season is upon us, as Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid face off for the Champions League trophy at Wembley Stadium.

It's fair to say Edin Terzic's side were not expected to get this far, particularly when they were drawn into a tough group containing Paris Saint-Germain, Milan and Newcastle United.

However, they passed that test with flying colours before seeing off PSV, Atletico Madrid and PSG – for a second time – to book their ticket to Wembley, where they suffered final heartache against Bayern Munich 11 years ago.

Madrid, on the other hand, always expect to feature in this game.

They have had to do things the hard way this term, coming from behind in heavyweight ties against Manchester City and Bayern to emerge as favourites for a record-extending 15th European crown.

Jude Bellingham has been their talisman in his first season after leaving Dortmund, being crowned LaLiga's Player of the Season after leading Los Blancos to their 36th domestic title.

Few would bet against him having a decisive impact upon his return to England on Saturday.

The game will also represent a swansong for two iconic figures in German football, as Marco Reus prepares to leave Dortmund after 12 years and Toni Kroos plays the final game of his glittering club career.

Two DFB-Pokal wins are all Reus has to show for his distinguished spell with BVB, having also missed Germany's 2014 World Cup win due to injury. Kroos, on the other hand, could cap his career with a record-equalling sixth European crown, with his first coming with Bayern against Dortmund.

Whoever lifts the trophy, expect emotional scenes. 

What's expected?

Unsurprisingly, given their continental pedigree, Real Madrid enter Saturday's showpiece game as favourites, with the Opta supercomputer giving them a 55.6 per cent chance of victory inside 90 minutes.

Dortmund are assigned just a 21.4 per cent chance of claiming the trophy within regulation time, with 23 per cent of simulations seeing the final go to extra time and potentially penalties.

This will be Madrid's 18th appearance in a European Cup or Champions League final, with their 17 previous finals already the most of any club. They have lifted the trophy on 14 of those 17 appearances.

Dortmund, meanwhile, are making just their third appearance in a Champions League final, having overcome Juventus 3-1 in 1997 before losing 2-1 to Bayern in 2013. This will be the first Champions League final between a Spanish team and a German team since 2002, when Los Blancos overcame Bayer Leverkusen 2-1.

 

Only Man City (28) have bettered Madrid's 26 goals in this season's edition of the Champions League, while only City (25.1) and PSG (24.9) have topped their total of 24.3 expected goals (xG). Dortmund rank seventh for goals scored (17) and eighth for xG (15.2), with both finalists outperforming their underlying attacking metrics in the competition, Dortmund by 1.8 and Madrid by 1.7.

It is at the other end where BVB might have been a little fortunate. Their average of 1.9 expected goals against (xGA) per Champions League game in 2023-24 is the highest of any team to progress beyond the group stage, and they have been indebted to goalkeeper Gregor Kobel. 

According to Opta's expected goals on target (xGoT) model, he has prevented 7.1 goals in the Champions League this term, conceding seven times from 14.1 xGoT faced. Madrid, meanwhile, have conceded 15 times from 15.6 xGA.  

Sancho to cap underdog story?

When Jadon Sancho was unceremoniously exiled from the Manchester United squad by Erik ten Hag last September, few would have expected to see him play in European football's biggest game within the same season. 

Sancho was initially slow to get going upon his loan return to the Westfalenstadion in January, but he has found his feet in recent months, particularly in Europe.

The winger produced a talismanic display in the first leg of Dortmund's semi-final triumph over PSG and has completed 25 dribbles across his six Champions League appearances this season.

That is the most by any player in the knockout stages of a single edition of the tournament since Neymar recorded 32 for losing finalists PSG in 2019-20.

Should Sancho inspire Terzic's men to victory, it will go down as one of the greatest comeback stories in recent memory.

Moreover, having finished fifth in the Bundesliga, Dortmund will be the second-lowest ranked German team to ever compete in a European Cup/Champions League final, after Bayern won the 1974-75 edition while finishing 10th domestically. 

Fans of an underdog story will be right behind Sancho and Dortmund on Saturday.

 

Is Madrid's name on the trophy?

When Carlo Ancelotti led Madrid to their most recent European crown in 2021-22, it sometimes felt like a greater force was at work.

Los Blancos came from behind in three successive knockout ties against PSG, Chelsea and City, pulling off increasingly unlikely rescue acts to reach the showpiece game in Paris, where Thibaut Courtois' heroics set the stage for Vinicius Junior to down Liverpool.

There has been a greater degree of control about Madrid this season, but their European aura certainly remains intact. 

Madrid have only trailed for 7.5 per cent of their total game time in the Champions League this season (90 minutes out of 1,200), the lowest percentage of any side. 

They have, however, fought back to win four matches in which they've been behind in the competition this term, with only Barcelona in 1999-00 and Madrid themselves in 2016-17 (five each) having more comeback wins in a single edition.

The most memorable of those saw Joselu's late brace dump Bayern Munich out in the semi-finals, but they also had to hold firm to keep RB Leipzig and City at bay in their previous knockout ties.

Teams are advised to play the game rather than the occasion, but Madrid often find something extra when it matters most in a tournament they regard as their own.

PREVIOUS MEETING

The teams last faced each other in the Champions League in 2017-18, with Los Blancos winning both games in the group stage, triumphing 3-1 away and 3-2 at home.

Neither side has previously managed to win three straight European games against the other, though.

Dortmund did memorably overcome Madrid en route to their last Champions League final in 2013, with Robert Lewandowski scoring all four goals in a 4-1 first-leg triumph before they held on in the second leg, a 2-0 defeat sending them through 4-3 on aggregate. 

However, BVB have only won three of their 14 previous Champions League meetings with Madrid overall, drawing five and losing six.  

Among teams they have faced at least five times in the competition, only against City (17 per cent) do they have a lower win percentage than versus Madrid (21 per cent).

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Borussia Dortmund: Mats Hummels 

Dortmund have had to stand firm in the face of pressure en route to the final, and if they are to overcome the might of Madrid, another solid rearguard action will be required.

Hummels has not missed a single minute of Champions League football this season, and he could become the first outfielder to be ever-present for the eventual winners since Cristiano Ronaldo for Madrid in 2017-18.

Like departing team-mate Reus, he could appear in his second Champions League final 11 years on from his first. Juventus icon Gianluigi Buffon (12 years between 2003 and 2015) was the last player to appear in two showpiece games with a longer wait between them.

Real Madrid: Jude Bellingham

Who else but former Dortmund star Bellingham?

The England international has earned a reputation as a player for the big occasions this season, and few would bet against him having a decisive impact against his old club at Wembley.

He has created more chances while under pressure (19) than any other midfielder in this season's Champions League, with four of those resulting in assists. The only player to provide more assists while under pressure from at least one opposition player in the 2023-24 tournament is Dortmund's Marcel Sabitzer (five).

Just as importantly, Bellingham never shirks his off-the-ball work. He has made the most high-intensity pressures of any player in the 2023-24 Champions League overall (572) and in the knockout stages specifically (344).

Borussia Dortmund ace Jadon Sancho revealed he has been in contact with Real Madrid stars Jude Bellingham and Vinicius Jr ahead of the Champions League final.

Sancho and Bellingham were former teammates at BVB before the former departed for Manchester United in July 2021.

Bellingham left Germany for Madrid last June and has been a phenomenon at the Santiago Bernabeu, while conversely Sancho sealed a return to Signal Iduna Park in the January transfer window after struggling for form at Old Trafford and falling out with boss Erik ten Hag.

The 24-year-old winger has been rejuvenated back in Dortmund, though, helping Edin Terzic's men to Saturday's showpiece European fixture at Wembley and he spoke of how he reached out to his pals after the semi-finals.

Speaking to TNT Sports, he said: "It’s going to be a great game. Madrid, their history speaks for itself, they’ve got a lot of great players. I’ve got a few friends over there, Vini and Jude.

“I actually messaged them after they won against Bayern Munich. I said, ‘I’ll see you there.’ It’s going to be a tense game, for sure. I can't wait.”

Sancho's falling out with Ten Hag played out in public and he was often the focus of criticism at United.

However, he said he always knew he could play in these marquee fixtures.

"It’s a big family, everyone respects each other, everyone helps each other. Especially for me, a young player, you need this foundation and especially the fans," he added.

“The fans always support me through good and bad times, and that is what keeps me - and young players - motivated to do their best.

"I always knew one day I would play in a game like this.

"For it to be London, and for me to be only 24, to get my first experience in a Champions League final is actually surreal. It hasn't really sunk in yet, but when we travel to London the occasion will start to hit me."

 

Marco Reus scored and assisted in his final Bundesliga game for Borussia Dortmund as they thrashed already-relegated Darmstadt 4-0. 

The German teed up Ian Maatsen for the opener on the half-hour mark before scoring a stunning free-kick eight minutes later to put Dortmund in control.

Donyell Malen scored his 13th goal of the season to round things off after substitute Julian Brandt had latched onto Jadon Sancho's ball for a third.

Dortmund could have had more as Reus, Malen and Marcel Sabitzer struck the woodwork in either half, but it did not matter as Darmstadt struggled to show a threat.

Edin Terzic's side finished fifth in the final Champions League spot, while Darmstadt are relegated as the bottom club. 

Data Debrief:

Reus has been directly involved in 251 goals in the Bundesliga (156G 95A in 391 games), making him just the third player to reach 250 goals and assists since his Bundesliga debut in August 2009, behind Thomas Müller 318 and Robert Lewandowski 367.

The German bids farewell to Signal Iduna Park having scored nine goals and assisting seven in all competitions this season, though he will be hoping to add to that tally in his final match for Dortmund - the Champions League final against Real Madrid on June 1.

Borussia Dortmund coach Edin Terzic said he was not surprised by Jadon Sancho's quality after the on-loan forward helped the German side to a 1-0 win over Paris Saint-Germain in the first-leg tie of their Champions League semi-final.

Sancho joined Manchester United from Dortmund for 85 million euros ($91.11 million) in August 2021 but failed to hold down a regular spot and returned to Germany after becoming embroiled in a row with manager Erik ten Hag.

After impressing on the right wing against PSG, Terzic said he always sees Sancho's quality in training.

"It's maybe not so easy to bring it onto the field, especially when you haven't had rhythm for a while," he told reporters.

"We know his quality, and we saw it again today. We knew we needed a performance like that from Jadon."

Dortmund bagged the winner in the 36th minute through Niclas Fullkrug to take a slim advantage going into Tuesday's return leg in Paris.

Despite winning the first leg, Terzic knows that the tie is still all to play for in the second leg.

"We showed a very good game, a narrow win but a deserved one. It was a great teamwork performance that got us there. We wanted that small advantage. We know next week will most likely be tougher than today," he said in a press conference.

"This is just half-time and next week will be a different story. It won't be easy to deal with their power play in front of a home crowd. We felt it today from the 45th to the 60th minute.

"We felt their quality. We showed our best game against PSG, but next week they will have a euphoric backing of their fans, and they will want to turn the tie around.

It is a victory that, coupled with Bayern Munich’s draw with Real Madrid on Tuesday, secures Germany a fifth automatic Champions League spot next season.

"We wanted to qualify for the Champions League through the Bundesliga and not this way. But the fact that it will be enough to qualify as fifth is also partly down to our success, our contribution," Terzic added.

"Our minimum goal was to qualify for the Champions League. Now it [added spot] does not improve our Bundesliga season, but it does offer a softer landing."

Manchester United loanee Jadon Sancho issued a reminder of his star quality as Borussia Dortmund beat Paris Saint-Germain 1-0 in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final tie on Wednesday.

Niclas Fullkrug scored the winner after 36 minutes, taking in Nico Schlotterbeck's floated pass before driving a low shot beyond PSG goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma.

Fullkrug has now been involved in six Champions League goals this season (three goals, three assists), the joint-most by a German player in their debut campaign in the competition, alongside BVB team-mate Marco Reus in 2012-13 (four goals, two assists).

The star of the show, however, was undoubtedly Sancho.

He tormented Nuno Mendes throughout a lively performance, creating three chances for his team-mates – a game-high tally alongside Julian Brandt, Kylian Mbappe and Achraf Hakimi.

Sancho had completed seven dribbles by the halfway point, more than he managed in any full game for the Red Devils.

By full-time, that number had crept up to 12, the most by any player in a Champions League semi-final since Lionel Messi completed 16 for Barcelona against United in April 2008, and the most on record by an Englishman at any stage of the competition (since 2003-04).

Sancho even outshone Mbappe, who struck the far post with a curling effort early in the second half but was limited to just three shots totalling 0.17 expected goals (xG). 

PSG did have their chances, though, with their total of 14 shots their most without scoring in any Champions League game since the second leg of their 2020-21 semi-final against Manchester City (also 14), when they were beaten 2-0 and eliminated from the competition. 

Dortmund are now unbeaten in 11 straight Champions League home games, winning seven and drawing four. 

It's their longest ever such streak at Signal Iduna Park, and they have also won four straight knockout games on their own turf for the first time in their Champions League history.

While Dortmund have a valuable lead to protect in Paris next Tuesday, Edin Terzic will be expecting a strong reaction from PSG.

The Ligue 1 champions have progressed from two of their last four Champions League knockout ties when losing the first leg, with the first of those successes coming against Dortmund in the last 16 in 2019-20 (1-2 away, 2-0 at home).  

Champions League semi-finalists Borussia Dortmund suffered a crushing 4-1 Bundesliga defeat at the hands of RB Leipzig on Saturday, denting their hopes of a top-four finish.

Manchester United loanee Jadon Sancho put Dortmund ahead after 20 minutes with a curling effort from the left corner of the box, but Edin Terzic's team couldn't hold on.

Lois Openda levelled within three minutes, and Benjamin Sesko pounced with a close-range finish to put Leipzig ahead on the stroke of half-time.

Mohamed Simakan made it 3-1 just one minute after the restart, then Christoph Baumgartner came off the bench to add a fourth with 10 minutes to play.

Dortmund, who host Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final tie on Wednesday, stay fifth, five points behind fourth-placed Leipzig.

They will likely have to wait on confirmation of Germany earning a fifth Champions League qualification place for next season, which was made more likely by a dismal set of results for England's clubs throughout the European quarter-finals earlier this month.

Data Debrief: Dynamic duo lead Leipzig to victory

Goals from Openda and Sesko ensured Leipzig turned Saturday's game around before the halfway point, both players netting in their fourth successive Bundesliga game together. 

They are the first pair of team-mates to achieve that feat since Dortmund's Marco Reus and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang did so in February 2015.

 

What the papers say

Jadon Sancho would be open to an attempt to relaunch his Manchester United career if manager Erik ten Hag leaves, The i reports.
Sancho returned to former club Borussia Dortmund on loan in January.

Liverpool are set to appoint David Woodfine as the assistant sporting director to work alongside Richard Hughes, with Woodfine returning to Anfield less than a year after leaving, according to the Liverpool Echo.

The Sun writes that Manchester United will open talks with 18-year-old Kobbie Mainoo over a new contract.

Social media round-upPlayers to watch

Arthur Okonkwo: The Athletic reports that Wrexham want to turn the 22-year-old’s loan from Arsenal into a permanent deal.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin: Football Insider says Everton are keen to extend the 27-year-old striker’s contract, which is due to run out at the end of next season.

Federico Chiesa: Juventus will listen to offers for the Italian player, who has been linked with Liverpool and Newcastle, after disagreements between the 26-year-old forward and Massimiliano Allegri, reports Tuttosport.

What the papers say

Jadon Sancho may yet make another appearance at Old Trafford, with the Manchester Evening News reporting Manchester United appointing Southampton’s Jason Wilcox as their director of football would clear the way for the return of the 24-year-old, who is currently on loan at Borussia Dortmund. The pair worked together at Manchester City’s academy.

The Daily Mail says Barcelona’s Mikayil Faye is on Manchester United’s wishlist for defensive reinforcements in the summer. As well as the Senegal international, 19, United are keen on Jarrad Branthwaite, 21, at Everton and 18-year-old Aaron Anselmino at Boca Juniors.

Barcelona are said to be eyeing a deal for Sporting Lisbon boss Ruben Amorim as a replacement for the departing Xavi. According to The Independent, club bosses have considered themselves frontrunners for Amorim, but Xabi Alonso’s decision to remain at Bayer Leverkusen for one more season has opened a window for potential rivals for the 39-year-old’s signature.

Social media round-upPlayers to watch

Florian Wirtz: Xabi Alonso’s decision to stay at Bayer Leverkusen is set to frustrate Manchester City and Liverpool’s quest to sign the Germany midfielder, 20, reports HITC.

Archie Gray: Real Madrid and Bayern Munich have joined Premier League clubs in watching the Leeds United and England Under-21 midfielder, according to HITC.

What the papers say

Chelsea forward Raheem Sterling will give Saudi Arabian clubs the cold shoulder this summer, the Evening Standard reports, with the 29-year-old England international – who was booed  by Blues fans at the weekend – set on helping the Stamford Bridge club get their hands on silverware next season.

Borussia Dortmund would be keen to bring on-loan winger Jadon Sancho back to the club on a permanent basis, but only if Manchester United are willing to accept half the £73million they bought the England international for in 2021, the Mirror reports.

Chelsea striker Cole Palmer, 21, is to be rewarded with a new and improved contract after an impressive start to life at Stamford Bridge following his summer move from Manchester City, says Football Insider.

Social media round-upPlayers to watch

Joshua Kimmich: Bayern Munich are open to selling the Germany midfielder, however he is only interested in joining Manchester City, Arsenal, Liverpool, Real Madrid or Barcelona, writes Florian Plettenberg.

Eddie Nketiah: Wolves are in the hunt to sign the England striker, 24, who may leave Arsenal in the summer, reports Teamtalk.

Manchester United’s squad at the end of last season was the most expensively-assembled on record, according to a UEFA report.

The Red Devils’ squad at 2023’s financial year-end cost a collective 1.42 billion euros (£1.21bn) in transfer fees, eclipsing the figure of 1.33 billion euros recorded by Real Madrid in 2020.

The United squad at the end of 2022-23 included £82million Brazilian winger Antony, £80m England defender Harry Maguire, £73m signing Jadon Sancho and the £60m Brazil midfielder Casemiro.

Further recruits last summer such as Mason Mount, Andre Onana and Rasmus Hojlund are not counted within the figures.

UEFA’s European Club Finance and Investment Landscape report found three other clubs’ squads – Manchester City, Chelsea and Real Madrid – cost more than one billion euros in transfer fees in their most recently disclosed financial year-end figures. Chelsea’s most recent figures go up to the year end June 30, 2022, and therefore do not include their heavy spending in the summer of that year or the January 2023 window.

United have become one of 15 English top-flight clubs recognised within the report as being part of a multi-club investment group, with the purchase of a 25 per cent stake by Ineos founder Sir Jim Ratcliffe almost complete. Ineos also holds majority stakes in French side Nice and Swiss club Lausanne.

In all, 105 top-division European clubs (13 per cent of the total number) have a cross-investment relationship with one or more other clubs, the report found.

There were 31 purchases of majority stakes and seven purchases of minority stakes in 2023 by groups holding a stake in at least one other European club, according to the report.

However, less than one transfer per club on average is actually executed within the same multi-club structure, the report found.

As the size of multi-club investment groups has increased, that proportion has even decreased (0.6 transfers per club in 2023 compared to 0.8 in 2021), suggesting the multi-club investment trend is not entirely driven by player transfer considerations.

Andrea Traverso, UEFA’s director of financial sustainability and research, said: “More than 300 clubs are part of multi-club investment groups, leading to an increased risk of seeing two clubs with the same owner or investor facing each other in the same competition, creating potential integrity risks at the European level.

“The current context demands strict enforcement of cost control regulations and more harmonisation of financial rules between leagues. This is paramount to limit overspending, ‘creative finance’, and rules circumvention.

“As long as differences on key regulatory matters continue between leagues, inflationary tensions will persist, contributing to imbalances and instability.”

Elsewhere, the report found spending on player wages dropped by 1.1 per cent among the clubs with the 20 largest player wage bills, with United spending 88m euros (£75m) less on player wages in 2023 compared to the year before. Barcelona and City had large increases in player wages spending – 158m euros and 68m euros (£134.8m and £58m) respectively.

Erik ten Hag says top players should not have to be reminded what is acceptable as the Manchester United boss looks to move on from Marcus Rashford’s reported Belfast escapades.

Having scored 30 goals for the Red Devils in 2022-23, things have gone awry this term and the forward’s paltry four-goal haul has been compounded by some off-field matters.

Ten Hag called Rashford’s decision to go to a party after October’s derby defeat to Manchester City “unacceptable” and stories emerged in recent days of more late-night exploits.

The 26-year-old is reported to have gone out in Belfast last Thursday night until 3am and was unable to train the following day through illness, going on to miss Sunday’s FA Cup win at Newport.

United later said in a statement that “Marcus has taken responsibility for his actions” and the “internal disciplinary matter” is closed – something Ten Hag referred to ahead of Thursday’s trip to Wolves.

“So, he has taken responsibility and for the rest it’s an internal matter,” the Red Devils boss said. “Case closed.”

Ten Hag used the phrase “case closed” repeatedly, including when asked outright about Rashford’s reaction and whether the player had apologised for his actions.

But the Dutchman was more forthcoming on the obligations for elite players and the onus being on them to maintain high standards.

“First of all, the players at this level have to manage themselves,” Ten Hag said. “That is what you can demand from the player.

“A player has to know what is good and what is no good. When you want to play top football, it demands a certain way of life. Always.”

Pushed on whether he needs to reinforce that message, he interjected: “No. No, come on. We are talking about top football players.

“I don’t have to educate them anymore. When you are playing for Man United, they should know.”

Ten Hag underlined the need for accountability but says he takes potential matters going on behind the scenes into consideration when dealing with player behaviour.

“Of course, that is part of the job to support your players,” he said. “But also we have people in this club who are helping the players on that.

“But, as I said before, at the end of the day when you are a player at Man United you have to manage yourself and you have to take responsibility for your performance and your performance in a team.

“At Man United it’s winning football games. It’s all about that. It’s not so complicated.”

Rashford is not the first player to face internal disciplinary proceedings, with Jadon Sancho banished from September and Cristiano Ronaldo released by mutual agreement during Ten Hag’s first season.

Ten Hag brushed aside questions about whether the Rashford situation was a distraction or a test of his authority, but did speak about the difference to his handling of Sancho.

The 23-year-old claimed on social media in September he had been made a “scapegoat” after Ten Hag said he left him out of a matchday squad due to his training levels, leading to the exiled player leaving in the transfer window.

Asked to explain the difference in his approach with the pair, Ten Hag said: “We can sort out everything internal, but Jadon chose to go public.”

Sancho trained away from United’s first team before returning to Borussia Dortmund on loan, whereas Rashford is in contention for Thursday’s trip to Wolves.

The England international scored the winner as a substitute on the Old Trafford side’s last trip to Molineux, having been dropped to the bench for poor timekeeping.

Ten Hag disagrees that starting Rashford on Thursday may send out the wrong message and pointed to his absence at Newport, where he rejected the player’s offer to travel down on Sunday after two days off ill.

“I didn’t pick him on Sunday,” the United boss added. “We draw the line and from that point on we move on.”

What the papers say

Manchester United are keen to offload embattled winger Jadon Sancho in a permanent deal, putting the England international – currently on loan at Borussia Dortmund – on offer to Saudi clubs for around £50million, the Evening Standard reports.

The club have also opened offers up for Brazil winger Antony, to Saudi sides for a similar price tag, writes the Standard, as United look to claw back some of the heavy investment they made in the two 23-year-olds.

West Ham are inching closer to striking a deal for Manchester City midfielder Kalvin Phillips, however the Daily Mail reports that there may be some late interest from Juventus in the 28-year-old England international.

Social media round-upPlayers to watch

Kieran Trippier: Newcastle are demanding that Bayern Munich pay a fee of around £12million for the 33-year-old England full-back who is open to moving to the German giants, says Sky Sports.

Armando Broja: West Ham’s hopes of signing the Albania forward in the January transfer window look slim, as Football Insider reports that Chelsea want at least £50million for the 22-year-old.

Abdoulaye Doucoure: The Everton and Mali midfielder is understood to be a target for Saudi side Al-Ettifaq, writes the Guardian.

Erik ten Hag wished Jadon Sancho luck at Borussia Dortmund but would not be drawn on the winger’s long-term future following the Manchester United misfit’s temporary return to his former club.

The 23-year-old left the Bundesliga side for Old Trafford to much fanfare in 2021, joining in a £73million deal after a long, well-documented pursuit of the England international.

But Sancho has struggled to live up to the hype and been banished since claiming he had been made a “scapegoat” after Ten Hag said he did not reach the “level” required to be involved in their squad at Arsenal.

 

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The winger has been training away from the main group since September and has now returned to Dortmund on loan for the remainder of the season without an option to buy, saying it felt like he was “coming home”.

 

“I hope he’s doing well, so I wish him the best of luck,” Ten Hag said. “That’s it. I hope he’s doing well and he will be a success.”

The Dutchman has been reluctant to speak about Sancho during his four-month absence and quickly shut down further talk about the United man.

Asked what Sancho has to do at Dortmund in order to get back in the United team, he replied curtly: “No, I already replied. I think it’s enough.”

Sancho followed Donny van de Beek in leaving on loan, with other peripheral players likely to follow as United’s injury issues begin to ease.

The Red Devils have been beset by problems this term, but they are easing ahead of Sunday’s Premier League clash against Tottenham.

Lisandro Martinez could be involved for the first time since injuring a foot in September, while Casemiro has been out with a hamstring complaint picked up in October.

“We have had a lot of injuries,” Ten Hag said.

“This week in training, so the last couple of days, Licha Martinez training, Casemiro training, Luke Shaw training, so there are players returning. They are coming in for selection for Sunday.

“(Christian) Eriksen was ill in the week, he will return. Antony will return. Amad (Diallo) will return.

“We have more choices in this moment in the squad to put out a starting XI and to create a bench that is stronger.”

Ten Hag’s options are improving and the United boss will be hoping that is matched by an upturn in players’ form.

Antony has been particularly underwhelming after joining from Ajax for 100million euros (£84.8m) in 2022, with a slow first season following by a poor second campaign.

The Brazil international was given a leave of absence in September to deal with allegations of abuse against him that the winger has always strongly denied.

Police inquiries in Brazil and the UK are ongoing and Ten Hag believes off-field issues have had “an impact on him”.

“I can explain (his struggles),” Ten Hag, who worked with Antony at Ajax, said. “I think it’s very simple.

“I think his off-field issues stop him playing. I think first year was OK and I think in the pre-season he was very OK. First four games were very good.

“He was out and then he came back. He didn’t deliver the performance we should expect from him and he can do so much better.

“You mention Ajax, also I look back there so his effectiveness, his end product was very high there and also in the Champions League very high.

“So, I am sure he’s capable of doing this.”

What the papers say

Tottenham will have to battle Bayern Munich to sign their top defensive target Radu Dragusin from Romania after the German giants tabled a late offer, the Telegraph reports. The 21-year-old defender plays for Genoa in the Serie A and has scored two goals and added an assist in 19 games in the competition this year.

The Mirror says Jadon Sancho, who was confirmed to be in negotiations with Borussia Dortmund, will return to Manchester United after a loan deal with the German club as they can not afford the transfer fee. The 23-year-old has only played three games this year for Erik ten Hag’s side.

Newcastle United will staunchly reject any offer from Paris St Germain for their Brazilian midfielder Bruno Guimaraes, the i reports.

Tottenham will join Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool in the race for 21-year-old Middlesborough midfielder Hayden Hackney, the Evening Standard reports.

Social media round-upPlayers to watch

Jordan Henderson: The former Liverpool captain, now at Al-Ettifaq in the Saudi Pro League, has drawn interest from Ajax, but will have to stave off competition from British and German clubs, ESPN says.

Vangelis Pavlidis: The Evening Standard reports the Greek striker, 25, is now on the Fulham’s radar. Pavlidis, who is at AZ Alkmaar, is also being monitored by Chelsea, AC Milan and Barcelona.

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