Manchester United won their first trophy under Erik ten Hag as Newcastle United were beaten 2-0 in Sunday's EFL Cup final at Wembley.

Casemiro's opener came somewhat against the run of play as United started slowly, but the Red Devils assumed control before the break as Marcus Rashford's shot deflected in off the unfortunate Sven Botman.

Newcastle faded following a positive start as United kept them at arm's length, ensuring there was to be no end to the Magpies' 68-year wait for a major domestic trophy.

For United, a first trophy since 2017 validates Ten Hag's impact at Old Trafford, and with the Old Trafford outfit still competing in the Premier League, Europa League and FA Cup, there could be more to come. 

David de Gea was tested at his near post by Allan Saint-Maximin as Newcastle started brightly, but United soon took charge with two goals in the space of six minutes. 

The first came when Casemiro nodded Luke Shaw's free-kick into the bottom-right corner after 33 minutes, with a VAR check adjudging the Brazilian to have remained onside. 

There was a hint of fortune about United's second as Rashford took Wout Weghorst's pass in his stride and saw a shot deflect off Botman, only for the ball to spin beyond stand-in Magpies goalkeeper Loris Karius.

Karius prevented further damage with a flying save from Weghorst's strike before the break, when Newcastle introduced club-record signing Alexander Isak in search of a response.

Joelinton saw efforts blocked by Lisandro Martinez and Aaron Wan-Bissaka as Newcastle threw men forward, before De Gea palmed away a dangerous cut-back from Kieran Trippier.

United went close to a third as first Rashford and then Bruno Fernandes forced Karius into smart stops, but it mattered little as the Red Devils stood firm.

What does it mean? Landmark moment for resurgent Red Devils

Ten Hag's revival of United's fortunes has been nothing short of spectacular, but the importance of capping their impressive displays with a piece of major silverware was not lost on anyone at Old Trafford.

United had not won a trophy since claiming an EFL Cup and Europa League double under Jose Mourinho in 2017. Having passed a stern test on Sunday, the Red Devils will hope they can at least replicate the achievements of that season with three trophies still to play for.

While Newcastle will fancy their chances of returning to this stage soon, there was to be no fairytale ending this time around as their record losing streak at Wembley stretched to nine games.

Casemiro the man for the big moment

While Casemiro has been credited with having a transformative effect on United's defensive efforts this term, the Brazil international put the Red Devils on the path to glory with a decisive contribution at the other end.

Casemiro has scored four goals in his last 12 games in all competitions, one more than he managed across his previous 89 matches at club level, while he is just the third Brazilian to net in an EFL Cup final – after both Philippe Coutinho and Fernandinho were on target in the 2016 showpiece.

Bad luck for Botman

Newcastle's Botman became just the fourth player to score an own goal in an EFL Cup final, following in the footsteps of Roger Kenyon (1977), Gordon Chisholm (1985) and Steven Gerrard (2005).

In truth, there was little the defender could have done to keep Rashford's strike out. The England forward was lively throughout at Wembley, creating a joint-high two chances for United as well as forcing Botman's own goal.

What's next?

United will bid to seal an FA Cup quarter-final place when they host West Ham on Wednesday. Newcastle, meanwhile, must turn their attentions back to the Premier League when they visit Manchester City on Saturday.

Marcus Rashford was passed fit to start for Manchester United in the EFL Cup final against Newcastle United.

Rashford had been a doubt for Sunday's game at Wembley after coming off in the 88th minute of Thursday's Europa League playoff-round victory against Barcelona with what appeared to be a slight injury concern.

However, the in-form forward, who has scored 24 goals in 37 games this season, was named in a forward line alongside Wout Weghorst and Antony, who came off the bench to score the winner against Barca at Old Trafford.

The Brazilian replaced Jadon Sancho in attack, with the only other change seeing Diogo Dalot come in for Aaron Wan-Bissaka.

Callum Wilson returned to the starting line-up for Newcastle in place of Alexander Isak, with Loris Karius coming in for the suspended Nick Pope to make his competitive debut for the club.

Bruno Guimaraes was back from suspension, replacing Elliot Anderson in the only other change from last weekend's 2-0 home defeat to Liverpool, with Allan Saint-Maximin and Miguel Almiron named either side of Wilson in attack for Eddie Howe's men.

Kieran Tripper does not understand why people are "kicking off" at Newcastle United's perceived time-wasting after Erik ten Hag called it "annoying".

The Manchester United manager made the comment ahead of Sunday's EFL Cup final meeting with Newcastle at Wembley, saying thee Magpies are an "annoying team to play against".

Eddie Howe's men have the ball in play for just 52.3 per cent of a match, the second lowest in the Premier League this season behind Leeds United.

But Howe's tactics are working as Newcastle are competing for European qualification while also having the chance to end a 54-year major trophy drought against the Red Devils.

Trippier is confused over the criticism his team is receiving, telling reporters: "I love it. Everyone is entitled to their opinion.

"But I have experienced it a lot in Spain. It's about knowing when to slow a game down. If the opposition are having more of the ball and are on top, of course you've got to kill the game. You're not going to take a quick throw-in and say, 'Carry on'. You have to manage the game.

"Some teams are not happy with us this season, but it's about being clever in that moment, about using your experience. Opposition fans are not going to like it either, because it's against their team. But as a neutral, I think it's good to see. I don't see why everyone's kicking off about it, it's good!"

Asked whether Newcastle plan to use the same tactics at Wembley, Trippier replied: "Of course we will.

"You've got to have that mentality. If you want to win, if you want to be successful, you have to be cute in every single game.

"You look at teams like Real Madrid and how successful they have been, and they've had players like Sergio Ramos, Marcelo, and they were the best at it. If you want to be successful, you have to manage the game well, and at the right time."

Marcus Thuram will leave Borussia Moenchengladbach at the end of this season when his contract expires.

As a result, the 25-year-old French forward is garnering plenty of interest from top European clubs.

Thuram has scored 14 goals in all competitions this season for Gladbach, having been part of France's 2022 World Cup squad.



Marcus Thuram's agent has offered the French forward to Barcelona as an off-season signing, according to Mundo Deportivo.

Thuram has interest from Chelsea, Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain, Atletico Madrid and Inter.

Barcelona's economic challenges mean they have prioritised signing players on free transfers in recent times with Thuram offering that plus flexibility in attack.



– Fichajes claims Cristiano Ronaldo wants Sergio Ramos to join him at Saudi Arabian club Al Nassr, with the defender's contract with PSG to expire at the end of this season. Ramos will leave it late to make a decision, holding out hope for a PSG extension.

Liverpool will battle Bayern Munich in the off-season for the signature of Juventus striker Dusan Vlahovic, reports Calciomercatoweb.

Barcelona, Real Madrid and Chelsea are all interested in Inter's Marcelo Brozovic, with the Serie A club open to selling him, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Manchester United are weighing up a move for Bayer Leverkusen right-back Jeremie Frimpong, reports Football Insider. Fabrizio Romano claims numerous top clubs are interested in the Dutch defender.

– La Gazzetta dello Sport claims Liverpool are tracking Inter's Nicolo Barella as they look to bolster their midfield options.

West Ham, Fulham, Crystal Palace and Brentford are all circling for Milan forward Olivier Giroud,  who is open to a return to England, claims The Sun.

Newcastle United manager Eddie Howe wants his players to grow accustomed to playing for trophies in finals ahead of Sunday's EFL Cup decider against Manchester United.

The Magpies have not featured in a domestic final for 24 years, while they have not won a major trophy since lifting the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup in 1969.

Expectations have grown around Newcastle since the change of ownership in October 2021 enabling greater financial expenditure on the squad, with the side currently contending for a Champions League spot, sitting fifth in the Premier League.

Since Howe's appointment in November 2021, the Magpies improved from relegation battlers to finishing 11th in the 2021-22 campaign, with their 2022-23 league position and cup final appearance seen as another step forward which the boss wants to become the norm.

"We want the players to become accustomed to these days and expect them, not look at this final as a one-off and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Howe told reporters.

"In our position, that wouldn't be a healthy way to look at this game. We want to be very controlled in our emotions, use the energy of the crowd, but also have high expectations.

"This is the future we all want and we know only hard work and staying true to our principles will earn us the right to achieve it. We hope this is the start of an era where we compete for honours on a more regular basis."

Howe was hopeful his side could use the final as a springboard to bigger and better things but insisted that defeat would not be devastating for the club.

"Winning would help us accelerate the process, for sure, but it isn't the be-all and end-all for what lies ahead," he said.

"Regardless, the club is in a good place and can grow from here. Of course, we want to put pressure on ourselves to achieve. There is no part of me that's going to Wembley just to enjoy the day."

Erik ten Hag says the constant public commentary and criticism from former Manchester United players of the team in the media is "difficult" for his players.

Former United players Gary Neville, Roy Keane, Paul Scholes Rio Ferdinand and Peter Schmeichel all work in the media nowadays and regularly scrutinise the plight of the club.

This week, Ten Hag has won plaudits from some of those former players following their Europa League triumph over Barcelona, with Schmeichel calling it "vintage Sir Alex Ferguson", inviting comparisons to previous sides.

The Dutchman conceded that constant discussion and scrutiny weighed on the players but acknowledged they needed to be able to accept it as part of the job.

"Sometimes it's difficult for the players of today because there are so many references to the past, a big history which former players made and I can imagine those players [say it] because they love the club, it's part of their lives," Ten Hag said.

"What they most love is what they most criticise often, so I can understand, but sometimes it affects the players, it's clear, but I also think it's part of our job, you have to live with criticism and see it as a gift to do better.

"They want to help you and as a player for Manchester United, you know you have to perform, win games and trophies. That can only be possible with togetherness, you can't do it on your own, you need the team to perform."

Ten Hag added that the only way to handle United's trophy-laden past was to be part of a successful future. United can claim their first piece of silverware under Ten Hag when they face Newcastle United in Sunday's EFL Cup final.

"That's the point, you're a player for Manchester United and you have to create your own legacy, therefore you have to win trophies and we have that opportunity on Sunday," he said.

"After Sunday, we are still in three competitions and good opportunities to win something."

Antony says victory for Manchester United in Sunday's EFL Cup final would represent a crucial step towards putting the club "back where it belongs".

United are bidding to end a six-year trophy drought when they face Newcastle United at Wembley Stadium, having last lifted major silverware when they won an EFL Cup and Europa League double under Jose Mourinho in 2017.

Erik ten Hag's side remain in contention for four trophies in his first season at the helm, with Antony hitting the winner against Barcelona on Thursday to keep their Europa League hopes alive.

As the Red Devils turn their attentions to Sunday's showpiece meeting with Newcastle, Antony is in no doubt as to the importance of ending their long wait for a trophy.

"When I came here, I said that Manchester United is a huge club and we're going to put this club back where it belongs – fighting for and winning trophies," he told the club's website. 

"We know that it'll be a tough task, but we're aware of how big we are as a club and how good we are. 

"It'll be a dream come true, in my first season, if we can win a trophy. I hope that I can keep at this so more glory follows."

United have not played at Wembley since 2018's FA Cup final defeat against Antonio Conte's Chelsea, and Antony cannot wait to step out at the famous stadium for the first time.

"I'm really excited. I was talking to my mates at home about this, it's going to be my first time there," he said. "It'll be a huge day for me, I can't wait for this day to come around. 

"Your first final in your first season is always going to be special."

Sunday's game will represent United's 53rd at Wembley – at least 11 more than any other team, while they will bring up 10 EFL Cup final appearances, with only Liverpool (13) bettering that tally.

They will hope Newcastle's dreadful record at the national stadium continues, with the Magpies' eight-match losing streak at Wembley the longest in the venue's history. 

Bruno Fernandes believes the form of Newcastle United is "the biggest surprise of the season" and is expecting a "pretty difficult" EFL Cup final.

Manchester United face Newcastle at Wembley on Sunday, with both teams impressing this season after struggling in the 2021-22 campaign.

As well as reaching the final, United have worked their way into the Premier League title race, while Newcastle remain in the hunt for a top-four spot and Champions League qualification.

"I think everyone knows that Newcastle is being probably the biggest surprise of the season," Fernandes told Sky Sports. "Not because of their qualities, because the quality has been always there, but because last season they struggle to stay in the Premier League and this season they're doing really well.

"I think everyone knows [they are] a pretty strong and intense team. They haven't conceded many goals this season. I think probably the best or the second best in Europe.

"But it's more about us. It's more about what we can do towards them, what we can do in our intensity levels, passion levels and quality-wise. Because we know that it will be a pretty difficult final whoever the opponent will be. It's always difficult because it's a final, the desire, the passion to win a trophy is always at the highest."

United's resurgence has been swift since Erik ten Hag came in as manager from Ajax, including Thursday's victory against Barcelona in the Europa League playoff round.

"He brought his ideas, the discipline during the training sessions, during the week, during the games," Fernandes said. "Obviously I think the most important change is the results and confidence is much higher now at this moment.

"We believe that the process that we are going through is the right one. I think everyone has the right belief. Everyone is following the ideas that the coach has brought to the club, to the team."

The 28-year-old has seven goals and nine assists in 37 games for United this season, and understands that he and his team-mates must keep up the high standards implemented by Ten Hag if they are to have sustained success.

"The process is still on and we have to understand that it's still a long way for us because we want to achieve much bigger things and obviously the manager demands that from us," he said. 

"I have been talking with him sometimes and he's always saying that he has the same desire as me. He is not happy with being behind anyone. So that's a good thing. He brought that culture that we can't be happy to be behind anyone and whenever we are in front, we can't be happy to be with a smaller gap.

"I think that's a great thing to have because we can't be satisfied playing for Man United and not winning trophies and not being in the position of winning trophies.

"But as I said, it is a process. It's six or seven months now and things are going pretty quickly. I think from outside probably more because people never thought that United will be in this position at this time because all the changes, because the new manager, because the results in the beginning. 

"But obviously it's up to us, up to our qualities, up to what we have been doing really well... it's [up to] us to carry on doing our best because we don't want people to forget how good we are."

When Alex Ferguson addressed Manchester United's fans at Old Trafford in 2013 asking them to support his chosen successor, David Moyes, few would have anticipated what the next decade would be like for the club.

In the final nine years of his near 27 in charge of United, Ferguson won five Premier League titles, three EFL Cups and the Champions League.

The nine seasons following his retirement brought the Red Devils just one FA Cup, one EFL Cup and the Europa League.

That Europa League success in 2017 was the last time United won a trophy of any kind, with a rare gap of six years without silverware for the club with the most league title wins in England.

However, Sunday gives them an opportunity to bring that drought to an end when they face Newcastle United in the EFL Cup final, and it could be the latest step on the impressive return to form overseen by Erik ten Hag since his arrival ahead of this season.


The Dutch coach was the eventual replacement for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, with Ralf Rangnick's interim spell in between, but it's easy to forget how badly things started for Ten Hag.

United's first two games of the season saw them lose 2-1 at home to Brighton and Hove Albion before being thrashed 4-0 at Brentford.

Since then, Ten Hag's side have won 28 of their 37 games in all competitions, scoring 74 goals and conceding just 32, and overall they have a win percentage of 71.8.

Between Ferguson leaving and Ten Hag arriving, United have had Moyes, Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho and Solskjaer as permanent managers, none of whom had a win percentage as high after their first 39 games, with only Mourinho's above 60 per cent (61.5).

In fact, Ten Hag has already won more games than Moyes did in his entire 51 game spell (27).

Interestingly, Ten Hag's United have only scored a few more goals than Mourinho's did in his first 39 games (75-71), and have actually conceded more (38-30).

In terms of goal output, this United team has not outperformed previous ones across their first 39 games by all that much, with Moyes' side scoring 66 and conceding 39, Van Gaal's scoring 68 and conceding 38 and Solskjaer's scoring 58 and letting 43 in.

Ten Hag's side have clearly been more efficient in finding the goals to win games though, forcing those fine margins in their favour that are so often the difference between what is perceived to be success and failure at top clubs.


Statistically, the only noticeably significant difference in Ten Hag's United compared to his predecessors during their overall tenures at the club has come in the intensity of the team's pressing game.

Under the former Ajax boss, United have been winning possession in the final third at an average of 5.5 times per game, compared to Solskjaer's era when it was 4.2, Van Gaal's at 4.1, Mourinho's at 3.9 and Moyes at 2.7.

The trend was developing that way under Rangnick's brief interim spell at 4.7 times per game, but Ten Hag has taken it up another level again this season, making them look more like the aggressive high-octane United people remember under Ferguson.

The addition of Casemiro to the midfield has undoubtedly helped, with the Brazilian one of the best in the world at winning possession and putting pressure on opposition players.

He has produced all-round performances for United though since arriving from Real Madrid, with only Bruno Fernandes (201), Marcus Rashford (153) and Christian Eriksen (116) recording more than his 102 attacking sequence involvements, with all three having played more minutes than him.

In fact, the additions of Casemiro and Eriksen seem to have brought Fernandes back to the form he showed when he first joined from Sporting CP in January 2020.

It is Rashford, though, who has been the undoubted star of the season so far.

The England international scored just five goals in 32 games in 2021-22, but has hit 24 in 37 this season, already his most in a single campaign for United and including 17 goals at Old Trafford, the most at home by a player in a single season for the Red Devils since Wayne Rooney in 2011-12 (19).


United find themselves in a title race after recent stumbles by Arsenal and Manchester City, while also into the FA Cup fifth round and getting past Barcelona in the Europa League play-off round.

The fans are onside again with prospect of new ownership possibly also round the corner, and there generally seems to be a genuine feel-good factor that has been missing outside of some false dawns in recent years.

When Ferguson spoke to the fans in 2013, it would have been hard to imagine a possible EFL Cup win being seen as such a potentially significant moment for such a proud club, but United fans know as well as anyone that one trophy can often lead to more.

Ten Hag said as much at his press conference on Friday, stating: "I see [the season] so far not as a success. It's more the road to hopefully success. It's only success when you win trophies, but on Sunday we have an opportunity to get success."

It did not prove to be a sign of things to come for Van Gaal, who was sacked after winning the FA Cup, or for Mourinho, who could not follow up his EFL Cup and Europa League double.

It feels like there's more substance to this United revival though, and there are few better ways to cement that than by ending their trophy drought at Wembley on Sunday.

Erik ten Hag warned his Manchester United team not to be "distracted" by their "annoying" EFL Cup final opponents Newcastle United.

United face Newcastle in Sunday's Wembley showpiece, bidding for the first major silverware of the English season.

But Ten Hag is not expecting a free-flowing encounter, having noted Newcastle's gamesmanship during the campaign.

"I think it's a great team," Ten Hag said of Newcastle, who held United to a goalless draw at Old Trafford in the Premier League in October.

"It's a clear philosophy about how they play the game. The key word is 'intensity'. They do really well. They're an annoying team to play against, so we have to find a way to win."

Asked if he had meant to describe Newcastle as "annoying", Ten Hag confirmed and replied: "They try to annoy you. So, we have to make sure we play our game and focus on our game."

Pressed further on the matter, Ten Hag highlighted Newcastle's perceived time-wasting.

It was the subject of some contention when the Magpies lost at Liverpool early in the season – one of only two Premier League defeats for Eddie Howe's side.

According to Opta data, only Leeds United matches have seen less time with the ball in play than those involving Newcastle. However, Aston Villa lead the way for yellow cards for time-wasting, with 11 to Newcastle's five (Fulham have six).

"They are quite successful with it," Ten Hag said. "It's up to us that there's speed in the game, but we are also dependent on the refereeing as well."

At Anfield, Nick Pope was the subject of some criticism for his role in these tactics, but he will miss Sunday's match through suspension, meaning Loris Karius is in line for a Newcastle debut in their biggest match of the season.

"It's an issue for them that they have to sort. Of course we know it," Ten Hag said. "It's definitely not an advantage.

"We can't influence it; the one who is holding [the gloves] can influence it. We have to test him, it's quite obvious."

Asked if Pope's absence would impact Newcastle's gamesmanship, Ten Hag replied: "I don't know the instructions of the opponents. I cannot influence that.

"We have to make it our game, so focus on the job we have to do, focus on football when the ball is in the game. It's about that, being fully concentrated on that and don't get distracted by whatever is on the pitch.

"We have to focus on the job, find our way and find the moments when we can strike."

Erik ten Hag was unsure on Friday if Marcus Rashford would be fit to feature in the EFL Cup final for Manchester United.

Rashford, the form man both for United and among players across Europe, was substituted with two minutes remaining of Thursday's 2-1 Europa League win over Barcelona.

The England forward had stayed down for a period after tangling with Ronald Araujo and did not move easily when he returned to his feet.

United play Newcastle United at Wembley on Sunday, but Ten Hag will have to wait to see if he will be able to call on Rashford, who has scored 16 goals since the World Cup break.

"I don't know. The players are now coming in," Ten Hag said. "We have to check the medicals – of course yesterday we did.

"So straight after the game, you can't say. We have to wait for 100 per cent diagnosis."

Ten Hag, who definitively ruled Anthony Martial out of the final, is relishing the opportunity to win his first trophy as United manager.

"It's a great opportunity to get silverware in," he said. "It's about glory and honour in football.

"We deserved to play the final, and now we have a great opportunity to win the cup. We have to put everything in to take that cup to Manchester."

Indeed, despite leading United to third in the Premier League, the last 16 in the Europa League and FA Cup, and the EFL Cup final, Ten Hag does not yet see this as a successful season.

"I see it so far not as a success. It's more the road to hopefully success," he said.

"It's only success when you win trophies, but on Sunday we have an opportunity to get success."

Manchester United have been drawn to face Real Betis in the Europa League's round of 16, while Arsenal will battle Sporting CP for a quarter-final spot.

United came from behind to clinch a 2-1 victory over Barcelona at Old Trafford on Thursday, and their reward for a 4-3 aggregate triumph over the Blaugrana is a tie against another Spanish opponent.

Having not lifted any silverware since winning this competition in 2017, United are in the hunt for four trophies this term, though Erik ten Hag's men will be tested by a side sat fifth in LaLiga.

Betis boss Manuel Pellegrini has faced United on four previous occasions in European competitions, with all four games finishing goalless during his time with Villarreal (in the 2005-06 and 2008-09 Champions League group stages).

Premier League leaders Arsenal will face Sporting after Ruben Amorim's team thrashed Midtjylland 5-1 on aggregate in the knockout round play-offs.

Sporting have progressed from each of their previous six ties against English teams in the knockout stages of the UEFA Cup/Europa League, with all six coming against different teams.

The other standout last-16 ties see Juventus meet Freiburg, while Jose Mourinho's Roma will take on Real Sociedad as they bid to follow up last season's inaugural Europa Conference League triumph.  

Feyenoord, who Roma beat in the final of that competition, have been paired with Shakhtar Donetsk, while surprise Bundesliga challengers Union Berlin will face Belgium's Union Saint-Gilloise.

Six-time winners Sevilla – the most successful club in UEFA Cup/Europa League history – will face Fenerbahce, while Bayer Leverkusen will take on Ferencvaros. 

The first legs of the last-16 ties will take place on March 9, with the group-stage winners hosting the return fixtures one week later. 

Europa League last-16 draw in full

Bayer Leverkusen v Ferencvaros
Juventus v Freiburg
Manchester United v Real Betis
Roma v Real Sociedad
Sevilla v Fenerbahce
Shakhtar Donetsk v Feyenoord
Sporting CP v Arsenal
Union Berlin v Union Saint-Gilloise

Miguel Almiron has signed a new contract at Newcastle United and hopes to have further cause to celebrate after the EFL Cup final on Sunday.

Almiron joined Newcastle from Atlanta United in January 2019, signing a five-and-a-half-year deal that was to expire at the end of next season.

Signed by Rafael Benitez, who soon left the club, Almiron initially struggled to replicate the form that had made him such a star in MLS.

His first Premier League goal did not come until December 2019, and he had netted only nine times in the competition heading into this campaign.

But Almiron has been a key man in an impressive Newcastle team under Eddie Howe, and is their top scorer with 10 goals in the league.

He has earned a three-and-a-half-year contract that will add two years to his previous agreement and keep him on Tyneside until 2026.

Newcastle are fifth in the Premier League, with a game in hand over fourth-placed Tottenham, and will face Manchester United in a Wembley final this weekend.

For Almiron, apart from the extension, playing a role in the club's first domestic cup win in 68 years would be reward for years of toil.

"The truth is that I've worked really hard since I came to Newcastle to improve my level and to be where I am at the moment," he said upon signing his contract.

"I also thank the staff and my team-mates, who have helped me a lot during these four years. I think this is a reward for that hard work, and I am very happy.

"On Sunday, we have a very important match, and while the new contract makes me really happy, the most important thing is that we celebrate this contract with a victory on Sunday."

Almiron is yet to score in the EFL Cup this season but provided assists in both the quarter-finals and semi-finals.

The rapid rise of Napoli centre-back Kim Min-jae has not gone unnoticed, with Manchester United reportedly investigating a potential transfer for the end of the season.

Kim, 26, played in Korea and China until he was 24 years old, eventually catching the eye of Fenerbahce, who purchased him for a €3million fee.

After one season in Turkey, Napoli scooped him up for €18m, and he has played a big part in their best season in the 21st century. He has played in 22 of runaway leaders Napoli's 23 Serie A matches this campaign, starting all of them.

The powerfully-built defender has emerged as one of the league's top talents, and unfortunately for Napoli, he has a surprisingly affordable release clause in his contract.



According to Calciomercato, United have been targeting Kim for months, and have been in contact with his agents to gauge his interest in a potential Premier League move.

Kim reportedly has a £44m (€50m) release clause in his contract, but Napoli officials are desperate to award him a new contract to at least raise that figure to their valuation of £61m (€70m).

United are expected to make him a primary target at the end of the season.



– Football London is reporting Arsenal have made 24-year-old West Ham midfielder Declan Rice their top target after acknowledging they will not be in the running for Borussia Dortmund's Jude Bellingham.

– According to the Evening Standard, Arsenal will have to battle Juventus, Borussia Dortmund and Newcastle United to secure 18-year-old Real Valladolid full-back Ivan Fresneda in the next transfer window, with his £26.5m (€30m) release clause drawing plenty of interest.

Chelsea will allow midfielder Mason Mount to leave before the beginning of next season if he does not agree to a new contract, per The Athletic.

– Sport Witness is reporting Everton had a £22m (€25m) offer for 25-year-old Udinese forward Beto rejected late in the January window, and it is believed they could return with an improved bid. 

– According to Football Insider, Tottenham are viewed as the favourites to land 26-year-old Leicester City midfielder James Maddison, who will be allowed to leave the club if he does not sign an extension.

The suggestion Manchester United are enduring a trophy drought might feel frankly offensive to followers of Newcastle United, their EFL Cup final opponents.

When Newcastle last won a domestic cup, the 1955 FA Cup, they had twice as many major honours to their name (10) as Man United (five).

Since then, though, the side from Old Trafford have won 17 league titles, 15 domestic cups and five major European competitions.

In the same period, Newcastle have celebrated success only in the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup – a competition not recognised by UEFA.

Newcastle can end their 68-year wait for a domestic triumph on Sunday but must beat these most familiar of foes, for Man United have done more than most to extend that barren run on Tyneside.

Before this season, the Magpies' last semi-final was a 4-1 FA Cup defeat to Man United in 2005. Their last final was a 2-0 FA Cup defeat to the same opposition in 1999.

Those are counted among seven cup meetings between the sides since 1955, of which Man United have won six, including a 4-0 victory in the 1996 Community Shield.

That, like the 1999 FA Cup final, contributes to Newcastle's eight-game losing streak at Wembley – a record – having won on each of their first five trips to the national stadium.


Even in the league, Newcastle's best two campaigns since 1955 have seen them finish as runners-up to Man United. They have not finished above Man United since 1976-77.

This looked like being a season in which that sequence at least could be ended, but Newcastle have slipped below Man United and out of the top four since their semi-final win over Southampton.

In fact, only Aston Villa and Leeds United have collected fewer points than Newcastle in that time, while no Premier League team have earned as many as Man United.

Eddie Howe's men have understandably been distracted by their looming Wembley date, for which there could hardly be more fitting opponents.

"We're pleased the final's here. I didn't want the wait to be any longer," Howe said after Saturday's defeat to Liverpool, adding: "I wouldn't criticise the players in terms of focusing on the final ahead of the Premier League, but the talk of it has been there."

Yet even before this final, Man United have managed to hurt Newcastle again.

Nick Pope's red card in the Liverpool game saw him ruled out of Sunday's match, and Martin Dubravka cannot play either after spending the first half of the season out on loan at Man United of all teams.

Having played twice in the EFL Cup at Old Trafford, Dubravka is cup-tied and will receive a winners' medal only if his Newcastle team-mates lose. They will be relying instead on Loris Karius, making his debut for the club.

Even had Dubravka been available, Pope would be a big miss. He is so key to the way Newcastle play – with a high line but a slow defence – ironically due to his ability to do the thing that saw him sent off.


Pope leads the Premier League in keeper sweepings (24), mopping up passes in behind the back line effectively when not comically handling the ball outside his area.

No goalkeeper in the country then might have been better suited to combatting Man United's approach, which relies heavily on the speed of Marcus Rashford. They rank joint-first for fast breaks (22), joint-second for shots from fast breaks (16) and first for goals from fast breaks (seven), with Rashford scoring two of those.

Karius, now tasked with stopping Rashford, last appeared for an English club in another final, making two awful errors for Liverpool in their 2018 Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid after sustaining a concussion.

His potential redemption tale in this showpiece adds another layer of narrative that was scarcely needed.

"It would be a magnificent chance for him to rewrite the story of his career," said Howe, while Dubravka added: "It's like the script from a movie. So incredible."

It is not a plot twist anyone involved with Newcastle would have chosen – except perhaps for those following the club this season for a documentary series. "Now we want a happy ending," said Dubravka.

Bruno Guimaraes is at least back from suspension to help with that, although so too is Brazil team-mate Casemiro in the Man United camp.

The former Real Madrid midfielder, like Rashford, provides a very physical threat, but of comparable concern to Newcastle and to Karius might be the considerable mental hurdles they must clear to finally bring silverware back to St James' Park.

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