Barcelona president Joan Laporta insists the club have "no intention" of selling Manchester United target Frenkie De Jong, but says the midfielder may have to accept a salary adjustment to remain at Camp Nou.

De Jong, who emerged as one of European football's hottest properties under Erik ten Hag at Ajax before joining Barca in 2019, has been strongly linked with a move to Old Trafford since his former boss took over at United.

The Netherlands international said in May that his preference would be to remain at Camp Nou, which he labelled his "dream club", but the Blaugrana's financial difficulties have given rise to speculation he could depart.

Barcelona's desire to recruit wantaway Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski has only amplified such rumours, but Laporta believes De Jong is happy at the club and could stay – if an agreement over his salary can be reached.

"Frenkie de Jong is a Barca player and is recognised as one of the best players in the world," Laporta told reporters.

"We know of clubs that want him, not only United, and we have no intention of selling him. The player, I get the impression, wants to stay. 

"He is comfortable at Barca and I will do what is in my power so that Frenkie stays here, but it is also a salary issue and it would have to be adjusted.

"What is certain is that the salary levels of some players are not in line with the salary levels that the board of directors that I have the privilege of presiding over have set."

 

De Jong made 47 appearances for Barcelona during the 2021-22 season, scoring four goals and boasting the best passing accuracy (91.18 per cent) of any of the club's midfielders to play at least 20 games in all competitions.

Laporta refused to be drawn on Barcelona's interest in Lewandowski, however, only affirming his respect for the Poland international's current club. 

"He is a Bayern player," he said of the striker, who plundered 50 goals for the Bundesliga champions last season. 

"Everyone knows that he is a great player, but I would prefer to be reserved because he is a Bayern player. 

"We know that he has publicly stated that he wants to come to Barca and we are very flattered, but we have respect for Bayern Munich, which is one of the best clubs in the world. Between clubs, we respect each other."

It seems Cristiano Ronaldo's second stint at Manchester United might be cut short.

Ronaldo returned to United at the end of August 2021, but after a season back at Old Trafford, the 37-year-old apparently wants out.

According to multiple reports, Ronaldo has informed the club that he wishes to leave should an acceptable offer be received.

Ronaldo was United's top scorer last season, though it would be fair to say his comeback did not go entirely to plan, with the Red Devils finishing sixth and recording their worst Premier League points tally.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was sacked in November and interim manager Ralf Rangnick hardly made a lasting impression.

Erik ten Hag has now been tasked with the rebuild, but would doing that without Ronaldo be a negative, or a positive? Two of Stats Perform's writers have had their say.

Ronaldo's want-away wish bad news for United - Patric Ridge

Sure, United's season might not have gone according to plan, but without Ronaldo, it could have been a lot worse. United ultimately scraped into the Europa League despite a dismal end to the campaign, and the fact that they have continental club football of any description to look forward to in the coming season is, in large part, down to the 18 league goals Ronaldo scored.

His record speaks for itself, and the task of replacing him is put into even more of a stark light when you compare Ronaldo's statistics to the rest of United's squad last term.

His 24 goals across all competitions is 14 clear of second-best Bruno Fernandes (10). Indeed, only Ronaldo (27), Fernandes (23) and Paul Pogba (10) hit double figures for direct goal contributions.

Can United really lose two of those players in one window and expect to be challenging for Champions League qualification next term, especially with Arsenal, Tottenham and Chelsea all looking to strengthen? Marcus Rashford looks like a player in need of a reset, and Anthony Martial is seemingly surplus to requirements.

Ronaldo scored a goal every 132 minutes last season, recording a shot conversion rate of 16.9 per cent. With Ronaldo in the team, United won 17 of 38 games (44.7 per cent). That win rate dropped drastically to 27.3 per cent (3/11) without him.

In this writer's opinion, Ronaldo leaving would leave Ten Hag with even more work to do, on top of what is already a hugely difficult task.

Ronaldo departure would provide opportunity for reset - Ryan Benson

Goals win football matches. Cristiano Ronaldo scores goals – we know this. But did he make United a better team in general? Few would claim he did.

Granted, some might suggest that is a harsh way to judge him given he played in – and scored 18 league goals for – arguably the worst United team (at least in terms of seasonal statistics) in over 30 years, but who's to say only he could have netted that amount for this side? Don't forget, they did finish second in the 2020-21 campaign.

Even before he returned to Old Trafford, there were plenty of critics warning fans United could potentially be worse off than before with Ronaldo because of how little he offers to the wider team.

Yes, he scores goals, but what's stopping United signing a replacement who does that but also works hard off the ball and adds dynamism to the attack? Maybe that's easier said than done, but those players do literally exist.

United are in a transitional stage, the middle of a rebuild. With that in mind, no one will be expecting them to mount anything close to a title challenge next season, Ronaldo or not.

Therefore, they might as well allow Ten Hag to bring a striker he deems to be tailor-made for the way he wants to play, rather than shoe-horn into the side a Ronaldo who offers precious little outside of the box.

Ronaldo is 37. United would've needed to replace him soon anyway, so at least this provides them with an earlier opportunity to sign, and start building around, someone much younger.

Cristiano Ronaldo is poised to become the biggest news of the transfer window, with reports stating he is keen on leaving Manchester United to continue playing in the Champions League.

The Portuguese superstar has played in Europe's elite competition for 19 consecutive seasons since first moving to United from Sporting CP in 2003 and stands as the highest-ever scorer in the tournament with 140 goals.

However, United's sixth-placed finish in the Premier League last season means that Erik ten Hag takes over a side who are set for Europa League football – and it is now reported that Ronaldo is pushing for an exit.

If he does get his wish, there are only a few likely destinations for the 37-year-old and Stats Perform has assessed some of them.

Napoli

A return to Serie A has been touted for Ronaldo, with The Athletic naming Napoli as potential suitors – they have a void in their team following the exit of Lorenzo Insigne.

In Ronaldo's three years in Italy with Juventus, no player scored more Serie A goals than his tally of 81 and, despite spending the past year with Manchester United, only Ciro Immobile has scored more Serie A goals since 2018.

Napoli, having finished third in Serie A last year and nine points ahead of Juventus, would match Ronaldo's desire to play Champions League football – although the club's finances and Ronaldo's wage demands may prove to be restrictive.

 

Chelsea

Fresh from Todd Boehly's takeover, Chelsea are looking to rejuvenate the squad and finances do not appear to be a problem, given they have allowed Romelu Lukaku to return to Inter on loan just a year after spending a club-record £97.5million on the Belgium forward.

Interestingly enough, it has been reported that Ronaldo's agent, Jorge Mendes, has already met with the new Chelsea owner this summer and the Blues are in need of a striker having lost Lukaku, with Timo Werner performing better from a deeper role.

Whether Ronaldo would accept a move to a Premier League rival, given his status at Old Trafford, is the biggest question regarding any hopes the Blues may have in signing the veteran forward and, if he is keen, United would likely demand a significant return on the investment they paid last year.

Chelsea also have interest in Raheem Sterling and Leeds United attacker Raphinha, but Ronaldo would be a statement of intent for the new owner.

Sporting CP

With a United homecoming already under his belt, could Sporting secure a sensational return of their own and bring Ronaldo back to where it all began? It's certainly not beyond the realm of possibility.

Second in Primeira Liga last season, Sporting have the Champions League football that Ronaldo craves and he is already a great at the club – though his success has come in his years since he left his home country in 2003.

Ronaldo had just a single season in the senior squad with Sporting before he moved to United, so he may feel he has unfinished business – and it is a side that can definitely compete, having ended a 20-year barren spell without a league title in the 2020-21 season.

 

Bayern Munich

Ronaldo has shone in three of Europe's top-five leagues, the Premier League, La Liga and Serie A, with only the Bundesliga and Ligue 1 left standing – and Bayern have been touted as potential suitors, though Paris Saint-Germain are not said to be interest (sorry, no link up with Lionel Messi just yet, sports fans).

With Robert Lewandowski's future at the Allianz Arena continuing to be shrouded in speculation, it may fall into place for the Poland international to get what he wants, a move to Barcelona, and for Bayern to land Ronaldo as his replacement.

In the past five years, no player has scored more league goals than Lewandowski (193) but Ronaldo, along with the addition of Sadio Mane, should be able to fill any goalscoring void that would be left in the event of a departure.

Real Madrid

Another possible return destination... could Ronaldo wind back up in the Spanish capital?

The Champions League winners are hardly in need of another superstar forward, given the incredible form of Karim Benzema, but bringing Ronaldo back to the club where he scored 450 goals would surely appeal to president Florentino Perez? 

Madrid missed out on Kylian Mbappe, much to their frustration, and having Ronaldo in their side would plug a gap, so to speak, until the PSG forward is further into the new, three-year contract he signed with the French club in May.

MLS

Champions League football has been documented as the reason for Ronaldo's desire to leave but, if such offers are not forthcoming, could a move to MLS be on the cards? 

Financial rules and designated player spots would make a switch complicated, with there only being a handful of teams likely to be able to make a move possible – likely to be those in Los Angeles, Miami and New York.

With the 2026 World Cup taking place in North America, bringing Ronaldo to MLS would raise the profile of the league further – and would undoubtedly be the biggest acquisition for the league since David Beckham's move to LA Galaxy in 2007.

That move marked the start of a new era of soccer in the US and has evolved considerably since, though Ronaldo's arrival would send things to a completely new level.

It has been reported that United do not wish to sell Ronaldo, but with his contract being up next year, could a switch to North America be likely? 

Cristiano Ronaldo should have told Manchester United he wanted to leave at the end of last season rather than drop a July bombshell, according to former Liverpool star Jamie Carragher.

Superstar Ronaldo returned to Old Trafford last year, having enjoyed a remarkable career in 12 seasons away with Real Madrid and Juventus, but widespread reports on Saturday said the 37-year-old wants to leave again.

He is said to want to play in the Champions League, according to The Times, which first reported the news, and United cannot offer that after a disappointing sixth-placed finish last season.

The Portugal striker has been a mainstay in that competition throughout his career, and the prospect of being away from the frontline of elite European football would be a step down.

New United manager Erik ten Hag will target a return to the Champions League, but that is at least a year away, and veteran Ronaldo does not have time to waste.

Unless Ronaldo has been given unexpected information about his role at United in the new season, Carragher said he could not understand the timing of his apparent request to move on.

Carragher sparked a debate with former United captain Gary Neville on Twitter when he wrote: "Ronaldo did exactly what I thought he would do, score goals but make the team worse. The transfer request also kills the idea he turned down Man City because of his love for Man United."

That was a reference to the saga that saw United seemingly pip Manchester City to the signing of Ronaldo last August, when Alex Ferguson appealed to his former star player to return to the Red Devils.

Carragher's comments triggered a rebuttal from Neville, who said: "I get it, you’re full of yourselves but he can turn down City for United because he likes them more and still want to leave this summer. He left before but still loved the club. Enjoy Saturday night and your short period of success."

Carragher, who has seen Liverpool rack up a string of trophies during a lean recent period for United, did not leave it at that.

"City didn’t want him you [clown] and you're the same fella who kept saying it was like Elvis had arrived in Manchester! Elvis has left the building," Carragher replied.

Carragher added: "Also, why now? Has ETH [Erik ten Hag] told him he is not part of his plans or will play a limited role?? Surely the end of last season was the right time to tell the club."

Ronaldo scored 24 goals in all competitions last season, including 18 in the Premier League.

United finished with their lowest points tally in the 30-year history of the Premier League, a competition Ronaldo won three times during his first United stint from 2003 to 2009.

Five-time Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldo has recently been linked with United's domestic rivals Chelsea and Jose Mourinho's Serie A outfit Roma. The Italians would be unable to offer Champions League football in 2022-23, but Chelsea could, having finished third in last season's Premier League.

Cristiano Ronaldo wants to leave Manchester United for a second time, according to a report.

Ronaldo returned to Old Trafford last year, having enjoyed a remarkable career in 12 seasons away with Real Madrid and Juventus.

But the veteran striker's homecoming campaign did not go entirely to plan, even if he scored 24 goals in all competitions.

United finished sixth in the Premier League, enduring a fifth successive season without silverware and finishing with their lowest points tally in the competition.

Ronaldo, who won three league titles and the Champions League during his first United stint, has since been linked with moves away from the club.

And The Times reported on Saturday that the 37-year-old has now asked United to be allowed to leave if they receive "a satisfactory offer".

The report suggests Ronaldo wants to spend the final years of his career playing in the Champions League, with United having to settle for Europa League football in 2022-23.

United are expected to bring in the first signing of the Erik ten Hag era in the coming days, with Feyenoord defender Tyrell Malacia reportedly set to join. According to widespread reports, the club are also in talks with Barcelona over Frenkie de Jong.

Former Rangers and Scotland goalkeeper Andy Goram has passed away aged 58 after a short battle with cancer.

The ex-Gers shot stopper revealed in May that he had been given a terminal diagnosis of stage four oesophageal cancer and had less than six months to live.

"The thoughts of the directors, management, players and staff are today with Andy's family, and would ask that their privacy is respected at this sad time," Rangers said in a statement on Saturday.

Goram is fondly remembered for his seven-year spell at Ibrox between 1991 and 1998, when he was a five-time league champion, as well as winning three Scottish Cups and two Scottish League Cups.

He turned in a string of impressive performances in the first iteration of the Champions League, helping Rangers to a second-place group finish, a point off qualifying for the final.

Goram became something of a journeyman player following the end of his tenure in Glasgow, and became a Premier League winner in 2001 after a short loan spell with Manchester United.

At international level, he won 43 caps and was named in the squads for the Mexico 1986 and Italia 1990 World Cups, plus Euro 1992 and Euro 1996, when he was first-choice goalkeeper.

Goram was a member of the Scottish Football Hall of Fame, and was also named both the Scottish PFA and Football Writers’ Player of the Year in 1992-93 for his efforts in Rangers' treble-winning campaign.

Manchester United and England goalkeeper Dean Henderson has completed a season-long loan move to Premier League new boys Nottingham Forest.

Henderson has been with the Red Devils since the age of 14 and has 49 top-flight appearances to his name but has found himself largely acting as understudy to David de Gea at Old Trafford.

The 25-year-old previously enjoyed two loan spells with Sheffield United, helping the Blades to promotion from the Championship in 2018-19 and earning international recognition with the Three Lions in an impressive 2019-20 campaign.

Speaking to Forest's official website, Henderson said: "I'm absolutely delighted to be joining such a fantastic club with an amazing set of fans and a wonderful history.

"I want to thank the manager and owners at Nottingham Forest for the great opportunity to play for this club in their first season back in the Premier League. I'm really excited to work with everyone at the club from the manager, players and goalkeeper coach Danny Alcock.

"Finally, just a massive thank you to the fans for the welcome I have received and I can't wait to celebrate some brilliant moments together this coming season."

Forest head coach Steve Cooper added: "Dean is a top-class goalkeeper and he's hungry for more opportunities to play and to continue to prove himself at the highest level.

"He's played multiple times in the Premier League but has also experienced the Champions League and international football.

"Again, Dean is someone who has attracted a lot of interest from other clubs and we're delighted that he has chosen to Nottingham Forest for our return to the Premier League."

Henderson is the second arrival of the window at the City Ground, with forward Taiwo Awoniyi having joined from Union Berlin.

Forest defeated Huddersfield Town in May's Championship play-off final to earn promotion back to the Premier League for the first time since 1999.

Cooper's side start their campaign at Newcastle United on August 6.

Brazil star Neymar is reportedly interested in a move to the Premier League after being informed Paris Saint-Germain will not stand in his way if he wishes to depart.

ESPN is reporting that Neymar's agent has been in touch with Chelsea to gauge their interest in bringing in the 30-year-old, who scored 13 goals and added six assists in 22 Ligue 1 contests this past season.

While Neymar's talent is not in question, his health may be, having missed over two months of this campaign after suffering an ankle injury, and that is coming off a 2020-21 season where he only played 18 league games due to ankle and adductor injuries.


TOP STORY – NEYMAR WEIGHS UP CHELSEA MOVE AS PSG GIVE GREEN LIGHT

ESPN's report mentions that Neymar's agent, Pini Zahavi, believes there are only "two or three teams" that would be able to meet his wage demands, and it is thought that Chelsea are hoping to make a splash under the new ownership of Todd Boehly.

Spanish publication Sport claims Neymar activated a clause in his PSG contract as soon as he possibly could on July 1 to add one extra year to his deal – tying him to the French giants until 2027 – but that does not rule out a move happening.

Chelsea's Brazilian centre-back and Neymar's former PSG team-mate Thiago Silva has been vocal about his desire to recruit the superstar forward, but his salary of €43million could stand in the way if the Stamford Bridge club decide they would rather use this transfer period's resources in defence.


ROUND-UP

– The Star is reporting that Manchester United are closing in on a deal with Christian Eriksen as his contract with Brentford has expired and he is available on a free transfer.

– Barcelona forward Ousmane Dembele is expected to leave on a free transfer, with Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich the three teams listed by Marca as his potential landing spots.

Everton are hoping to replace Richarlison with Watford striker Emmanuel Dennis after their Brazilian forward departed for Tottenham this week.

– According to The Sun, Fulham are finalising a £17million move for 26-year-old Sporting defensive midfielder Joao Palhinha.

– ESPN is reporting Fulham have offered £10m for Manchester United's Andreas Pereira as the 26-year-old returns from his loan stint with Flamengo.

Lyon director Vincent Ponsot says "the club's integrity is more important" than any signing after conceding defeat in his side's pursuit of Feyenoord left-back Tyrell Malacia.

Ligue 1 side Lyon reportedly negotiated a €13million fee for Netherlands international Malacia, plus €2m in add-ons, and had hoped to conclude the deal this week.

However, it has since been reported that Manchester United trumped Lyon with a £14.7m (€17m) offer for the 22-year-old, with an official announcement said to be close. 

Speaking at the unveiling of Corentin Tolisso on Friday, Lyon chief Ponsot suggested his side are no longer in the running for Malacia due to the spiralling cost of the transfer.

"If we don't have the means to recruit, we can't bring in players of that level, generally speaking, whatever their love for Lyon might be," he said.

"So it's not a case of having the means, but I'm going to be very clear: the institution is always stronger than any player.

"Sometimes there are demands – that's how it is in the world of football – that can't be made. 

"It's true that it can sometimes collapse deals, but we want a left-back and we'll find a good left-back.

"I think the president [Jean-Michel Aulas] is happy to be able to sleep soundly at night and not see the police show up in the morning. Likewise for me."

Malacia came through Feyenoord's youth system and played 136 games for the Dutch side, including 50 appearances in all competitions last season.

The 22-year-old, capped five times by his country, is expected to be announced as Erik ten Hag's first signing as United boss in the coming days.

"I can't say everything. It's still not been completed, ask yourself that question," Ponsot said of interest elsewhere in Malacia.

"He still hasn't signed, but for us it's over. Because the club's integrity is more important. We're proud to be working for a club like this."

Bruno Fernandes has addressed speculation Cristiano Ronaldo is seeking to leave Manchester United, saying he "doesn't believe" such a move will materialise.

Ronaldo returned to Old Trafford from Juventus last year and finished as United's highest scorer in the Premier League with 18 goals – only behind Tottenham's Son Heung-min and Liverpool's Mohamed Salah in the division (both 23).

However, it was a disappointing season for United as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer lost his job and Ralf Rangnick failed to steady the ship, with the club missing out on a top-four finish and Champions League football.

Recent speculation has suggested Ronaldo is unhappy with United's direction and is seeking a move, and Chelsea have reportedly shown an interest.

Fernandes does not believe a departure will follow, however, and expects to see his compatriot in United training when the pair return from holiday next week.

"From what I've talked to him – we're both on vacation still, and no-one bothers friends on holiday – I hope in four days to find him to train there. I'm not expecting more than that," he told reporters on Thursday.

"As far as I know, there's nothing more to it than that, but everyone takes care of their future. I do not believe that the club is willing to lose an asset like Cristiano."

Fernandes was then asked about the possibility of Ronaldo returning to Sporting CP, where his career began, and acknowledged he was hopeful such a move would happy in the future.

"It would be a great moment for Sporting, almost everyone expects this; I'd like that to happen," Fernandes, also a former Sporting man, added.

"He has the ambition to continue playing for many years. We will see what he will decide, I hope, when the contract with United is over, but the ambition and dream of the fans would be to see Ronaldo playing with the Sporting jersey."

Paul Pogba is seemingly closing in on a return to Juventus after the club's CEO claimed talks are progressing "very, very well".

Manchester United confirmed at the start of June that Pogba was set to leave at the end of his contract, with former club Juventus his likeliest next destination.

His United contract officially expired on Thursday, and although he has not already reached an agreement with another club, it would appear to be a formality.

Nevertheless, reports suggest Pogba will be paid significantly less than he was at United, with Juve said to be the only club taking an interest in him.

As such, Juve chief Maurizio Arrivabene seems confident a deal is likely, and the Frenchman will be considered a major signing from a "commercial" perspective.

"We are talking to him, things are evolving very, very well," he told Tuttosport. "[The idea came about] in our meetings, when names are mentioned.

"It was like that with [Dusan] Vlahovic. You open the door, throw a name and everyone looks at you like you're crazy. Then, little by little, the machine starts up and the operation is built.

"[The idea of] Pogba was born this way. His presence will also be fundamental from a commercial point of view, even if my dream is to have an Italian player who is internationally recognised, like a [Francesco] Totti, a [Alessandro] Del Piero, a [Gianluigi Buffon] Buffon."

Arrivabene also expressed regret over last year's departure of Cristiano Ronaldo, who returned to Manchester United.

Ronaldo spent three years at Juve and has been tentatively linked with a move back to Turin – Arrivabene appeared to dismiss that idea, even if he believes the club needs experienced players to guide their more promising youngsters.

"He was not fully exploited because of COVID [the pandemic], but I am convinced that Juve goes beyond every player," he said.

"125 years of history are not written by a single player; the team is more important than individuals, and here everyone has to respect the rules.

"It's not a change of course, but we need points of reference. I saw the Ronaldo effect on our young players, now players like [Nicolo] Fagioli, [Matias] Soule and [Fabio] Miretti must have players to learn from."

Manchester United have agreed a deal to sign Feyenoord left-back Tyrell Malacia, according to the Eredivisie club's director Frank Arneson.

Lyon had been linked with a move for Malacia, but United have reportedly agreed to a deal worth an initial £12.9million (€15m).

Having come through the youth system, Malacia has played 136 games for Feyenoord, making 50 appearances in all competitions last season as Arne Slot's men finished third in the Eredivisie and reached the Europa Conference League final.

Speaking to 1908NL, Arneson said all that remains is for the 22-year-old to agree personal terms with the Red Devils, revealing: "The agreement with Man United is there. We are now waiting for Tyrell.

"If Malacia says yes, then a transfer to Manchester United is imminent."

Malacia made his senior debut for the Netherlands last September and has since won a further four caps for his country.

Only two Feyenoord players made more appearances in all competitions than Malacia last term, winger Bryan Linssen (53) and midfielder Orkun Kokcu (51), with the young full-back featuring in 17 of their Europa Conference League contests.

The addition of Malacia would represent new United boss Erik ten Hag's first move to strengthen a defence which conceded 57 Premier League goals last campaign.

United returned for pre-season training this week as they build towards Ten Hag's first competitive match in charge, a Premier League trip to Brighton and Hove Albion on August 7.

Patrick Kluivert hopes Barcelona will retain his compatriot Frenkie de Jong, amid reported interest from Manchester United.

Despite his own reported intentions to stay in LaLiga, De Jong has been linked to a reunion with Erik ten Hag - his former boss at Ajax – with Barcelona attempting to break even on an €85million package.

The 25-year-old has struggled to find a role that best suits him since arriving at Camp Nou in 2019, with Sergio Busquets still starting as Barcelona's deepest midfielder.

Kluivert believes De Jong would flourish in Busquets' role but it would be hard to supplant the veteran, but despite this and Barcelona's recent financial troubles, they should try to keep him.

"I hope that they will keep him," Kluivert told Cadena Ser. "If they sell him it is clear that the club would receive a lot of money, but it is a long season and Frenkie is not just any player. I wouldn't sell him.

"Busquets is there, who has had an impressive year and it is difficult to remove him but Frenkie can play in various positions. For me, the best is the 6, but Busi's there."

The 45-year-old scored 91 times in 192 LaLiga appearances for Barcelona, while he remains an ambassador for the club and his son Shane plays in the youth setup.

Kluivert added that with the likes of Ansu Fati, Pedri and Gavi, Barcelona's future can be bright under Xavi, who he believes needs time after replacing Ronald Koeman during last season.

"They are fantastic, I know them very well, they have grown up in the club and they know the values," he said. "Ansu is a pity, for injuries this year but he scores important goals for the club. If he is at 100 per cent we are going to enjoy him at Barça. Pedri has not grown in the club but he is a player of another level.

"Xavi, he is the ideal, but you have to give him a little time. Entering how he has entered in a difficult situation, he did very well.

"I don't know if they were fair to Koeman, but they are situations that happen, and I don't know everything that happened, I can't comment. I didn't speak to Koeman when he came out."

Erik ten Hag is the latest boss Manchester United have turned to in their pursuit of success in the post-Alex Ferguson era.

David Moyes, Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer have failed to meet expectations since Ferguson's retirement in 2013, leaving Ten Hag with a difficult challenge on his hands.

Aside from getting results right on the pitch and challenging for honours, Ten Hag also has the task of bleeding young talent into the first-team fold on a regular basis – something his predecessors have all continued to do despite their eventual failings.

The likes of Marcus Rashford and Scott McTominay have capitalised on opportunities in the past decade after rising through the club's youth ranks – and United have no shortage of players who can follow suit.

Three players in particular are ones that Ten Hag should be keeping close tabs on, and they could become integral.

Facundo Pellistri

The highly rated winger has spent the past 18 months on loan in Spain with Deportivo Alaves, accumulating plenty of first-team opportunities with a total of 33 appearances across all competitions in that period, but just 11 have been as a starter.

United may feel they can provide those limited opportunities off the bench themselves and, if utilised, can expect plenty of link-up play down the right side from Pellistri – with the majority of his final-third passes during his spell with Alaves coming in that area.

No team in the top six of the Premier League last season scored fewer goals than United last term (57), with seventh-placed West Ham (60) and eighth-placed Leicester City (62) also bettering that tally.

The attacking third is an area where Ten Hag needs to find more threat and Pellistri may provide that option, albeit he failed to register a goal or an assist during his spell in Spain. He created seven chances in 753 first-team minutes last season, but none of those were converted.

With more creativity in the squad at United and better support, Pellistri should be able to improve on his direct return to register more influential moments in matches.

James Garner

Garner has helped turn Nottingham Forest from second-tier middlemen to a Premier League outfit – with a play-off victory against Huddersfield Town bringing an end to a 23-year wait for top-flight football.

In Forest's promotion-winning campaign, loanee Garner was a regular fixture in the side with 41 appearances, 36 of which were as a starter, resulting in four goals and eight assists – with only Brennan Johnson, Lewis Grabban and Philip Zinckernagel being involved in more direct goal contributions.

Seven of Garner's assists came from set-pieces, with United's overall total in 2021-22 being 10 in that regard – so Garner could play an integral part in improving that return with his deliveries from corners and free-kicks, if Bruno Fernandes can occasionally be shuffled off such duties.

Crucially for a club like United, Garner has shown he can perform under pressure given his display in the Championship play-off final against Huddersfield – where his accuracy of 88 per cent from 48 attempted passes included completions across the field.

Forest, understandably, are reportedly interested in bringing Garner back to the City Ground again next season in their bid to remain in the Premier League, but United will assess the 21-year-old in pre-season before making a final decision.

Alejandro Garnacho

Earning his senior debut for United in the Premier League clash against Chelsea in April, Garnacho's introduction to the Premier League was merely a cameo at the end of that clash.

On the final day of the season, in a 1-0 defeat to Crystal Palace, Garnacho again came off the bench for an 11-minute appearance and was once more limited with his opportunity to make an impression – though that has already been done in the youth ranks.

He scored in UEFA Youth League matches against Atalanta and Young Boys. However, it was in the FA Youth Cup where Garnacho made perhaps his biggest impact, scoring in every round bar the fourth as United lifted the trophy – with a seven-goal haul in the competition including a double in the 3-1 victory against Nottingham Forest in the final.

With Jadon Sancho struggling for consistency down the left for United since his arrival from Borussia Dortmund, Garnacho could return to the first-team fold during the 2022-23 season.

Opportunities could well come in the cup competitions, including the Europa League, in what will be a frantic season due to the disruption caused by the World Cup in Qatar.

Liverpool have reportedly placed a £60million price tag on star Mohamed Salah after it became clear he is unlikely to remain with the club when his contract expires at the end of the upcoming season.

Salah arrived at Anfield in 2017 in a £36.5m move from Roma and during his time with the Reds he has become one of the best players in the world.

In his five Premier League seasons, Salah has tallied 118 goals and 50 assists in 180 games, been named PFA Players' Player of the Year twice, collected three Premier League Golden Boots and won the Puskas Award in 2018.

 

TOP STORY – LIVERPOOL LOOK TO CASH IN BEFORE SALAH WALKS FOR NOTHING

Liverpool have long since been in contract talks with the Egypt superstar, but recent developments have caused the club to investigate what they could get in return for him entering the final year of his deal.

The Mirror is reporting Liverpool have decided that £60m is the number they would be comfortable with, but it remains to be seen if there is interest from rival clubs given he could leave Anfield for nothing next year.

Meanwhile, The Sun claims Liverpool are confident they can land Borussia Dortmund's England midfielder Jude Bellingham at the end of next season.

Liverpool have already seen Sadio Mane depart for Bayern Munich.

 

ROUND-UP

– According to Sky Sports, West Ham are exploring a potential move for Villarreal winger Arnaut Danjuma, who is said to have a £40m release clause in his contract.

– Sky Sports also claim  West Ham are interested in signing Southampton midfielder James Ward-Prowse .

Manchester United are hoping to sell young defender Brandon Williams for £10m, according to the Daily Mail, while The Sun claims the club have made around £100m available for Erik ten Hag to rebuild the team.

– United have declined Barcelona 's request for the Red Devils to include Harry Maguire in their bid for Netherlands midfielder Frenkie de Jong, according to The Sun.

– The Athletic say  Crystal Palace are confident they will land 22-year-old Lens midfielder Cheick Doucoure .

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